By Brij V Lal
A Time Bomb Lies Buried discusses the debates which happened in Suva and London in addition to the politics and strategies which led Fiji to independence in 1970 after ninety six years of colonial rule. It presents a vital history to realizing the crises and convulsions that have haunted Fiji ever in view that in its look for a constitutional cost for its multiethnic inhabitants.
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Additional info for A Time Bomb Lies Buried: Fiji’s Road to Independence, 1960-1970
L. 7 Their views differed considerably. Weston argued that the only way Fijians could be persuaded to accept constitutional reform was if the paramountcy of their interests was acknowledged explicitly, perhaps through extra seats in the legislature. He cited the Deed of Cession in justification. Fijians were the indigenous community, they owned more than 80 per cent of the land and had always been loyal to the Crown. The reference to loyalty was intended to remind London of the Fijian’s distinguished record of service in World War II.
The Fijian people were not unreasonable, Maddocks assured the CO; they would accept change if they felt their vital interests were protected. He continued: The type of compromise solution that I have in mind, and to which the Indians might well agree, is that when, ultimately, Fiji reaches the stage at which it is appropriate to appoint a chief minister, the chief minister should be a Fijian; that legislation affecting rights over Fijian land should require a majority of two-thirds or three-quarters of those present and voting; and that a balance in the Civil Service should be preserved.
In some respects Fiji is a very difficult proposition from the point of view of constitutional advance. We are all, very naturally inclined to think of such advance in terms of British institutions, leading in the direction of an elected assembly, universal adult suffrage, the party system, the vesting of executive power in unofficial Ministers and so forth. 43 In further discussion with Garvey in Suva in June 1957, Philip Rogers, assistant undersecretary of state, shut the door. 44 The official majority should be retained, along with nominated members who had an important role to play and who could represent minority communities that sought separate representation, such as Muslims.