Ethnic conflict, income inequity and growth in independent Fiji
|Collections||ANU Dept. of Pacific Affairs (DPA) formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program|
|Title:||Ethnic conflict, income inequity and growth in independent Fiji|
|Publisher:||Canberra, ACT: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program, The Australian National University|
|Series/Report no.:||State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) discussion paper series: 1997/6|
Ethnic conflict in Fiji has been on the rise. The riots in Suva in September 1987 were racially motivated as were a number of criminal activities since then. The 1990 Fiji Constitution and the debate following the two coups of 1987 have brought the race issue to the forefront in a number of policy discussions in the country.1 The current debates over land tenure and the constitution are heavily flavoured with racial connotations. Despite the significance of race as an issue in Fiji, the local academia has paid little, if any, attention to race issues. One reason for this has been the political sensitivity of such discussions. Another is the fear of being labelled a ‘racist.’ Political correctness demands that one keep clear of discussions on race issues. This paper is sensitive to the above concerns but attempts to fill the vacuum of objective discussion on the race issue in Fiji. Politicians, the media, special interest groups, as well as the general public, have often discussed race issues—at times with immense heat and gross exaggeration. For example, race relations in Fiji have been compared to apartheid in South Africa. Although in relative terms Fiji is still a peaceful country, complacency is warned against, particularly in the current climate of deteriorating race relations. The view taken here is that the race issue has to be addressed objectively if social stability and economic prosperity are to be achieved in the near future.
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