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A-G Lambasts Opposition On Obsession Over Ethnicity

A-G Lambasts Opposition On Obsession Over Ethnicity
Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on September 14, 2017. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau
September 15
11:14 2017

Breaking down everything along ethnic lines will have a disastrous impact on the economy, says Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum delivered an explosive right of reply yesterday.

He called out National Federation Party parliamentarian Prem Singh and the ‘gang of six’ SODELPA members – Ro Teimumu Kepa, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Semesa Karavaki, Viliame Gavoka, Niko Nawaikula and Mikaele Leawere and their obsession with making everything  about ethnicity.

He also lambasted Opposition members and asked them not to resort to demagoguery and to be mindful that there are Fijians outside of Parliament who may act on their impulse after taking cue from utterings in the House.

He turned the spotlight onto NFP leader Biman Prasad and said that Mr Prasad knew very well how non-economic issues could have a negative impact on the economy.

“We cannot be beholden to ethnic thinking. It is absolutely disastrous to us,” he said.

Mr Singh’s persistent demand for a list of people employed in the civil service, broken down according to ethnicity was also severely criticised by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Singh has several times called for such a breakdown to be presented in Parliament, and yesterday also questioned why it had not been done.

“Hon Prem Singh wants a breakdown of the civil service based on ethnicity. When we have had a history, when coups have been justified on ethnicity, why does he want to perpetuate that issue? That is the problem, Madam Speaker,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum retorted.

He reminded the House and the Members what they said in Parliament had a bearing on Fijians who were listening outside.

“Whilst they may sit here and think they are speaking in Parliament, there are people outside listening and there are people listening who may clutch onto these ideas and I don’t like to say it publicly Madam Speaker but it is a fact.”

He went onto to speak out frankly what such demagoguery led the country on two very disastrous moments in Fiji’s history- during the first coup of 1987 and again in 2000.

“A lot of people have done this in our history because they want to preserve their economic status, their socio-economic status and their elite privileges.

“But, Madam Speaker, look what happened in 2000 and again I am saying this, and I caution everybody…because it did happen and people don’t want to talk about it.

“When the Government was held captive for 56 days or 54 days…, in Veiuto,  people in Muaniweni were attacked, people in Vanua Levu were attacked, women were raped and they had cassava shoved up their vaginas.

“That’s the kind of issues that were taking place. We had women in Vanua Levu and you know what ethnic group they were, they were asked to strip naked and parade in front of people and go and cook over the fire. That’s what happened Madam Speaker.

“People’s homes were robbed because they were told, that it’s okay because these people are all rich.

“This, Madam Speaker, is what this kind of racist agenda and rhetoric and demagoguery leads to. Because, Madam Speaker, it homogenizes people. But Madam Speaker what it also does, it fails to address intragroup injustices.

“It is detrimental, not only for the social fabric but also the economic fabric.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum further revealed that one unionist wrote to him saying that the recent batch of intakes by the Fiji Electricity Authority were “indo-Fijians”. He said this was ridiculous adding that in the next batch, majority could be from Rewa, or from another group. This manner of bringing down everything to ethnicity was disastrous.

He also recalled an incident where he was in Suva when a child fell out of a car. A person standing next to him questioned whether the child was “Fijian or Indian”. He said this way of thinking should not be accepted.

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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