GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO YPCN STATEMENT
The Ministry of Information permanent secretary Sharon Smith Johns released the following statement today in response to the Young People’s Concerned Network:
If the Young People’s Concerned Network seeks to represent the leaders of tomorrow, it will need to do a better job of understanding recent Fijian history and of assessing Government provisions, such as the Public Order (Amendment) Decree—which it misreads either out of a desire to manipulate public sentiment or simply because of ignorance.
To compare the Public Order (Amendment) Decree to most other government’s laws regarding terrorism and extremism, such as the United States or Australia, would reveal immediately that Fiji is in fact more liberal than other countries. The U.S., for example, under the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama, allows the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the U.S., without charge. Fiji does not even come close to this. The United Nations General Assembly further encourages all nations to be proactive in taking steps to “prevent and combat” domestic and international terrorist threats in all their forms.
To be clear: If you do not want to engage in racial or religious vilification or create public disorder, then you should not feel threatened by the amendment to the Public Order Act. The amendment is an enabling statute—one that creates a safe place for open discussion and critical thinking across Fijian society for the formation of a true liberal democratic state.
This is because throughout Fiji’s history demagoguery and religious, racial and ethnic vilification have been used openly to harass and intimidate, and at times hold Fiji for ransom. Politicians and religious leaders have used race and religion, not just to denigrate others but as a political tool of ascendency. In the process, they created public disorder, inhibiting true democracy to flourish.
The Bainimarama Government takes seriously the welfare and opinion of Fijian youth, which underscores all of its activities to strengthen the Fijian economy, create jobs, invest in education and technology, and establish the basis for a new future.