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Qoliqoli Bill Is Racist: PM

Qoliqoli Bill Is Racist:  PM
Standing front: Khem Swagat with his family and staff at the opening Swagat restaurant at Flagstaff Plaza on November 19, 2018. Photo: Maraia Vula
September 05
10:52 2014

The Qoliqoli Bill, which is now part of the Social Democratic Liberial Party (SODELPA) campaign, has been described as racist and the same one the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Government pushed for.

Prime Minister and FijiFirst leader Voreqe Bainimarama made the comment during an interview with the Fiji Sun before his campaign meeting at Vanuakula Village in Ra on Wednesday.

SODELPA had told the media that it would bring back the Qoliqoli Bill if it formed the next government.

Party leader Ro Teimumu Kepa said the 13 chiefs signed all the iqoliqoli and land to the British during the Deed of Cession, and her stand was that the iqoliqoli should have been returned to the chiefs, not the State during independence.

Mr Bainimarama wondered why SODELPA was trying to bring it back when it caused controversy leading to the change in leadership in 2006. He said the very people who were supporting it now were trying to lead the nation.

“The way forward now is equality for all and all policies must be multiracial,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He said another reason SODELPA is trying to bring back the bill is to make some chiefs happy and in return the chiefs would tell the people to support SODELPA in the elections. “Where were these politicians when the new roadmap for Fiji was rolled out by the Government?,” he said.

He described the bill as racist and damaging to the tourism industry, which is vital to the economy and provides many jobs.

He said in reality, SODELPA was trying to kill tourism in Fiji, which meant money from the industry now used for national developments, like roads, education, health, water, etc, would be lost.

The Prime Minister said investors were back in the country because of their confidence on the security but the return of the iqoliqoli to the customary owners would really scare them to leave the country.

He said the Qoliqoli Bill that he supported was for the iqoliqoli customary owners to get compensation for the usage of their iqoliqoli.

When he was in Kadavu, at Namuana, he was told that gravel was taken from their iqoliqoli for the road and they were now waiting for the compensation which he said was being processed by those responsible. This, he said, was the bill that was good for the landowners and not the SODELPA one.

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj 

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