REST IN PEACE, RATU JONI MADRAIWIWI
“Ratu Joni was party to a submission by a [Bauan] delegation calling for the declaration of a Christian state in Fiji. It now transpires that he did this while being a paid consultant to the [Ghai Constitution Review Commission], which makes his position untenable.”
Frank Bainimarama, 2013
"Ratu Joni will be accorded State Honours for his funeral on the island of Bau. Government will also present its i-reguregu on Thursday morning."
Bainimarama, 4 October 2016
Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi was one of the very few leaders who assumed multi-ethnic statesmanship in a country that is still at odds with itself in trying to achieve lasting social, economic and political advancement.
One should never forget that Ratu Joni was twice a victim of military coups in this country. Following the May 2000 coup, Ratu Joni resigned as a Judge of the High Court after then government was toppled at gunpoint and the Military abrogated the 1997 Constitution.
In December 2006, in his second year as Vice President, Military Commander Voreqe Bainimarama dismissed Ratu Joni from office when he did not agree with Commander Bainimarama’s plans to execute a coup to overthrow the then democratically elected government.
Democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms were the cornerstone principles of Ratu Joni throughout his career as a lawyer, a Permanent Arbitrator, Sugar Industry Tribunal, a Judge, as a Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner in the Solomon Islands, as Chief Justice of Nauru and above all as a high chief.
Humility, care and concern for the ordinary people was also at the forefront of Ratu Joni’s public life, despite the fact that he was a high chief and the Gone Turaga Roko Tui Bau. He was truly a “man of the people”.
Ratu Joni was twice the keynote speaker at National Federation Party Annual Conventions of July 2001 and March 2014. This is symbolic because both those conventions were held on the eve of the general elections in August 2001 and September 2014 respectively. He also delivered words of wisdom to cane growers at the Fiji Cane Growers Association AGM in July 2005.
Ratu Joni brought dignity and decorum to any position and office that he held throughout his illustrious and unblemished career.
The NFP believes Fiji has suffered an irreplaceable loss of voice of reason, national conscience, hope and a unifying force in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country.
As leaders we would do well to try and emulate Ratu Joni’s principles if we genuinely believe in genuine democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms at all times.
Honourable Professor Biman Prasad
National Federation Party