4 Sep 2006

Fiji chief calls for chiefly system to be retained

7:54 pm on 4 September 2006

An attack on Fiji's chiefly system is being rebuffed by a former chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau.

Ratu Epeli says he's not sure why a former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, is calling for the chiefly system to be changed but he believes the media is not the right forum for the discussion.

He says the chiefly system is an integral part of Fiji's social structure and should be retained.

Ratu Epeli says Mr Rabuka, as a lifelong member of the GCC, should have brought the issue up at a council meeting.

He says there is room for change and improvement, and a more liberal approach by the members is needed because they have come to represent the wider community.

"People need to keep abreast of what's happening and be more responsive to the needs, not only the indigenous Fijians. There is much more interest in the Great Council of Chiefs from other communities. They view the Great Council of Chiefs as not only the paramount body for the indigenous Fijians but for the whole of Fijian society."

Ratu Epeli says GCC members need to reflect on the way they think and the way they do business to ensure that their positions not only help indigenous Fijians but all the other communities.