The Standing Committee did not want Dr John Fatiaki but the chairman of the Rotuma Council to make the submission but the Rotumans refused to oblige. "Imagine! If their mission was to promote the Bills (Mr Pillay & Veena Bhatnagar) appear to be doing that then they should have learnt a bit of the custom & tradition. The 3 Fijian males showed understanding of the cultural & customary concerns. That came across very clear."
The Rotumans also told the visiting Committee members to take their controversial Rotuma Bill and Rotuman Lands Bill away; Bainimarama had promised to withdraw the Bills but Khaiyum pressed on with them
Aiyaz Khaiyum also neither acknowledged nor replied to letters sent to him, as far back as 2015. He was informed in no uncertain terms in a letter in June 2015:
- The definition of Rotuma now differs from the current law in that the new definition does not include “its dependencies, rocks, reefs and fisheries lying between the twelfth degree and the fifteenth degree of south latitude and between the one hundred and seventy-fifth degree and the one hundred and eightieth degree of east longitude from the meridian of Greenwich”;
- The administration and governance of Rotuma differs from the current law in that the new law proposes administration and governance by a new body called the FORUM OF THE ROTUMAN PEOPLE and a differently constituted Council of Rotuma;
- The appointment and dismissal of Rotuman Chiefs in the proposed law does not accord with Rotuman customs and traditions and differs significantly from the current law;
- A Review Committee was appointed to review the existing Act but the appointment of the members of that Committee and its deliberations have not been publicised; and
In respect of the ROTUMA LANDS BILL 2015 (Bill no. 7 of 2015):
- The provisions of s 26 dealing with the transmission of land rights on the birth or death of Rotumans in respect of hanua ne kainaga (clan owned lands) do not accord with Rotuman customs and traditions, discriminates against Rotuman women, do not comply with your Constitution or International Law and are arbitrary;
- The other provisions dealing with the transmission of land rights in respect of other types of land tenure in Rotuma do not accord with Rotuman customs and traditions, are discriminatory and arbitrary;
- The provisions of s 31 denying the lawful rights of legally adopted children are discriminatory, unconstitutional and arbitrary; and
- A Review Committee was appointed to review the existing Act but the appointment of the members of that Committee and its deliberations have not been publicised.
These proposed laws have far reaching cultural, social, economic and legal implications to us and our future generations. The current Rotuma Act and Rotuma Lands Act (having been passed in 1959) do need changing as they too have similar provisions which do not accord with the customs, traditions and wishes of the Rotuman people.
But the changes should truly reflect our wishes and aspirations so that they give hope, peace and prosperity to our people and future generations.