Former Indo-Fiji Attorney General dies

Sir Vijay R Singh, former ethnic attorney-general, breathes his last at his home in Brisbane after a prolonged fight against cancer.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2006 18:37 IST

Sir Vijay R Singh, the former ethnic Indian attorney-general and speaker of Fiji, passed away at his home in Australia Monday. He was 75.

The well known Indo-Fijian politician and lawyer breathed his last at his home in Brisbane after a prolonged fight against cancer.

Sir Vijay, the first Indo-Fijian to be knighted and a lawyer by profession, held cabinet office in that Pacific archipelago in the 1970s.

Born on July 13, 1931, at Ba in the island of Viti Levu in northeastern Fiji, Sir Vijay was the eldest of 14 children in a prominent Arya Samaj family.

After doing his early education in Fiji, he went to London where he earned a degree in law from Lincoln's Inn.

He served as a barrister in the high courts of England, Australia, and Fiji.

He was first elected into the Legislative Council in British colonial Fiji in 1959. In 1965, together with Ratu Mara, he formed Fiji's first multi-racial political party, the Alliance Party.

After the Alliance Party's victory in the 1966 elections in Fiji, he was appointed Minister of Social Services. He played an active role in the multi-party held in London, which resulted in the new constitution and Fiji's independence in 1970.

He served in Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara's government in a variety of positions, including Speaker of the House of Representatives, before being appointed attorney-general in 1977, a post he held till 1979.

He was knighted by the Queen in 1976.

Following the coup in 1987, which saw the ouster of an ethnic-Indian dominated government, Sir Vijay campaigned for the expulsion of Fiji from the Commonwealth and succeeded.

He was then barred from entering Fiji and took up residence in Australia. Later, after the restoration of democracy in Fiji, he returned and resumed his law practice in Suva.

Last month he was in the news again following the release of his book, 'Speaking Out', in which he expressed his thoughts on Fiji in the period 1995-2005, including the pre-coup nationalist protest marches of 2000 against the then Indo-Fijian prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

According to his son Vinay, Sir Vijay expressed his love for Fiji just before he died. "There is no other country like Fiji," a report in the Fiji Times quoted Sir Vijay as telling his only son on Monday afternoon.

First Published: Sep 26, 2006 18:34 IST