Letters To The Editor, 21st April 2017
Reply to Fiji Sun
Pio Tikoduadua, Suva
On Wednesday April 19, Nemani Delaibatiki wrote an “Analysis” piece in the Fiji Sun headed “Pio Tikoduadua’s Lack of Understanding of How Parties Work Shows Through Now.”
He was commenting on the incident that caused me to leave the FijiFirst Government in 2015. This was my disagreement with Prime Minister Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on how to handle the dissent of FijiFirst Member of Parliament Dr Neil Sharma.
Nemani suggests that I do not understand how political parties work or the need for party discipline in Parliamentary voting. This criticism is certainly new. I never suffered such criticism when I was a member of the FijiFirst Party Government!
You do not need to be a genius to know that a governing party needs all of its MPs to vote for its position on important legislation. If its MPs do not, the governing party does not achieve its policy aims and it is not being faithful to the voters who elected it.
But Dr Sharma did not vote against government legislation. He voted with the Opposition on a Friday afternoon adjournment motion, the kind where Parliament expresses a view about a particular issue, often raised by the Opposition.
Adjournment motions do not spend government money. They do not create new laws. They are a chance for MPs to discuss with each other what the people are talking about.
Often the Opposition takes advantage of this opportunity. The Opposition also represents citizens of our country and their voices should also be heard.
Adjournment motions are an opportunity for the Government to talk less and listen more.
I do not even recall the exact terms of the motion. I think it called for action on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Dr Sharma is a medical doctor. He is a former Minister for Health. No doubt he felt strongly about these issues. He voted with the Opposition.
The FijiFirst Party has 32 out of 50 seats in Parliament. This was an adjournment motion. It did not compel the Government to do anything (except listen to some opposing views for a few a minutes).
For anyone who is paying attention, NCDs are right now the biggest threat to the health and well-being of Fiji’s people. If a Government MP votes with the Opposition, that is a wake-up call for the Government.
The Government needs to listen and learn about why that MP feels so strongly that he would put at risk his relationship with his fellow party members.
Dissent, in the right measure, strengthens, not weakens, organisations. It means that we are keeping an open mind and looking for better ways to meet our goals.
Weak people fear dissent. They are not confident that their arguments are better than the dissenters. They are afraid of other people being seen to be better than they are.
So, Nemani, party discipline certainly has its place in Parliamentary government.
But imagination, tolerance and listening to other points of view is how you strengthen your party for the future.
People who know that you are listening to them, not dictating to them or threatening them, are the people who will vote with you when you really need the support.
That is how strong political parties work. The same is true of nations.
Coca-Cola Games is here
Michael Chambers, Lautoka
The sounds of chants by competing schools aired over the media over the last couple of days just ignites the much needed hype culminating into the biggest school athletics competition in the Pacific – The Cokes 2017.
Another fun-filled and exciting three days to witness the best compete in secondary school athletics.
Electrifying atmosphere serenaded by the echoes from chants complemented by a sea of colours from the different schools that line the stadium.
What an awesomely beautiful sight. What else can one expect in being part of this annual event?
The support from old scholars is always a source of strength for these schools that are destined to lay a grip on the boys’ and the girls’ titles for 2017.
The level of competition keeps increasing every year with new records set and new talent unveiled. I only wish I could be there.
Oh yes, my family and i will definitely be glued to the television set this weekend cheering my son on.
Best of luck to all the schools participating and may athletics be the winner.
Vinaka vakalevu to the bosolevu of Coke Fiji, Lawrence Tikaram, Master Vuli and his crew for always ensuring the programme and the whole works run well, including the safety of everybody at the venue.
Toso Coke Toso!
Kirti Patel, Lautoka
School holidays are here. Once again students and teachers will be going on their break. Let’s hope the most paramount issue which is the safety of children is being seriously considered. Most of the children prefer to go around places and explore them during this transition. It will be better if parents are always informed of the whereabouts of their children.
To the students, this will be the idlest time to catch up with their studies and homework. Surely do enjoy, but with precaution and do so safely. To the hardworking teachers it’s time to put your feet up.
The city and beaches will be packed as the students would be having several plans to enjoy their holidays.
There still will be some school staff who would be working around this time. We wish them all the best as well. The first term just went by so fast which makes us realise how fast time is flying. To the students, please do some reading – either of story books or newspapers as it will be of assistance in many ways.
We wish all the very best. Enjoy, but make good use of the time.