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Chaudhry Takes Swipe At Govt AND Opposition

Chaudhry Takes Swipe At Govt AND Opposition
Members and supporters of the Fiji Labour Party at the official opening of their office in Lautoka on January 3, 2018. Photo: Karalaini Tavi
January 04
10:48 2018

The leader of a party which failed to win a seat in Parliament in the last elections has criticised all the parties which did.

Former Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry said his Fiji Labour Party had carried out a survey.

This, he said claimed, that people were generally dissatisfied with the FijiFirst Government and disillusioned with the Opposition (SODELPA and NFP).

He said half of the Opposition members seemed to be plagued by fear and were afraid to speak out.

“Making noise once in three months in Parliament is not enough,” Mr Chaudhry told party members yesterday while opening the Lautoka branch office.

“Our people have criticised the Opposition for not taking on issues effectively in Parliament or outside. We need members of Parliament to have the guts to speak out both in Parliament and outside.

“We need courageous leaders. We need leaders who aren’t there for themselves. The time has come for the people to wake up as they have been through a lot.”

The FLP, while criticising the present electoral system of one national constituency, has agreed that they needed to work around this concept and gain advantage.

“They (the people) cannot identify with MPs who are elected on a national roll. In fact, MPs themselves do not feel responsible for any particular constituency,” he said.

Labour believes candidates must be known to the people and they needed to get people standing for the election who were known to the people in one particular area. Lautoka will be divided into six zones and this concept would be adopted in other districts.

“The new party office will be responsible for party activities in the Lautoka and Vuda districts, and serve as campaign co-ordinating centre for the Western Division,” Mr Chaudhry said.

FLP’s Assistant Secretary-General Aman Ravindra Singh will be assisted by Management Board members Taina Bainivalu, Mikaele Mika, Vyas Deo Sharma and Narendra Padarath in the administration of the office.

Mr Chaudhry highlighted the cost of living, unemployment, poverty and the future of sugar as issues.

Mr Chaudhry outlined what he called some of the major Labour concerns. He claimed:

Farmers are complaining about escalating land rents without any recourse.

Those engaged in fishing are apprehensive of the new fees and charges to be imposed by the government for obtaining fishing licences under the new qoliqoli legislation.

Workers were angry that they were restricted to a national minimum wage of $2.68 per hour while parliamentarians draw salaries and allowances in the thousands.

Ratepayers in the Lautoka city are clamouring for an elected council which can be held accountable to the people.

“We are confident of a positive response from the people. Lautoka was Labour territory in the past and we hope to reclaim it this time around,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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