Beddoes slammed for Australian radio comments
By JYOTI PRATIBHA
The head of the former United Peoples Party, Mick Beddoes, has been branded as grossly irresponsible for a media interview he gave to ABC Australia, which included scathing criticism of Fiji’s partners in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Mick Beddoes told Radio Australia that Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu were “unstable” countries that had “embraced dictatorship” through their support for Fiji.
He said “a newly-elected democratic government in Fiji” should “review its relations” with the three countries, calling into question Fiji’s future participation in the MSG.
The acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said it was clearly damaging to the interests of all Fijians that Mr Beddoes had made his comments in particular during a visit to Papua New Guinea by the biggest Fijian trade and investment mission ever to visit another country.
“Here we are trying to expand Fiji’s economic interests, create new investment and sustain and create Fijian jobs and develop Fiji’s regional partnerships and this person clearly sets out to sabotage that effort for his selfish political agenda. Insulting our Pacific and Melanesian partners in the manner he did is very unfortunate,” he said.
The Attorney-General said that far from being unstable, PNG, the Solomons and Vanuatu were laying the foundation – with Fiji – for a new era of stability and prosperity in the region.
“We are working with our MSG partners to create a single market that promises to transform the lives of all our people and provide them with prosperous, sustainable futures. The fact is that they are supporting Fiji because they can see the merits of the Bainimarama Government reforms.
“Furthermore we did not hear him criticising Australia and New Zealand when they worked with the Bainimarama Government in the EVR (electronic voter registration) exercise. Why is he singling out our Melanesian partners? Insulting some of our neighbours and not others is not only offensive but a classic case of double standards by a politician,” he said.
The Attorney-General also branded as a “lie”, Mr Beddoes’s claims in the interview that Fijians were intimidated and afraid to attend public meetings and that media restrictions meant that the local media was one-sided.
“There are no restrictions on anybody attending public meetings, either the current consultations on the draft constitution – which have been a huge success – or to meetings conducted by these old politicians. Neither are there restrictions on the media, which is free to cover those meetings and has done so.
“The fact is that ordinary Fijians and the media are seeing through these old politicians and their blatant self interest, double standards, fear mongering, and inability to focus on the future creating a modern, prosperous and just Fiji.
“That is why the ordinary Fijians are turning their backs on the politics of old and not turning up to their meetings,” he said.