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Analysis: MP’s Attack on Fiji Sun, A-G on Schools Consultation Warped

Analysis: MP’s Attack on Fiji Sun, A-G on Schools Consultation Warped
SODELPA Opposition members Niko Nawaikula (right) and Semesa Karavaki outside Parliament on April 20, 2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua
April 24
12:19 2018

Opposition SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula’s attack on the Fiji Sun and Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum over Budget consultations in schools is warped.

Mr Nawaikula accuses the Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General of violating the doctrine of the separation of powers by speaking directly to the students. And he criticises the Fiji Sun for not speaking out against Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

Our doctrine of separation of powers is based on the United Kingdom model as in many democracies around the world. The UK is peculiar because it is one of those few states which do not have a written Constitution. We have a written constitution. Does this mean that there is no formal separation of powers?

No, it does exist, but in a weaker form because they overlap and work together. It’s the same here. In fact as our democracy evolves, there is going to be more overlapping in a bid to improve service delivery.

As we advocate more accountability and transparency in our civil service reforms, the political masters in the legislature will also take on more responsibility and hold the executive (civil servants), tasked to implement their policies, accountable.

At the end of the day, the buck stops with the ministers and it’s in their interest that their policies and initiatives are carried out.

If Mr Nawaikula’s suggestion that civil servants conduct the consultations was carried out, it might not have produced the same results.

While we uphold the spirit of the doctrine, its application should be based on reason and common sense.

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on April 20, 2018.  Photo: Simione Haravanua

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on April 20, 2018. Photo: Simione Haravanua

If students were asked who they preferred to address them, they would most likely say Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

That should be a no brainer.

They want to hear from the number 2 in Government’s pecking order, because he drives the Budget process with the help of the civil servants.

It is a wonderful privilege to have the minister holding the purse strings of the Government come and talk to them. They are hearing information first hand and they have an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification.

They can disagree if they believe in a particular ideology that is different to the minister’s. That’s their prerogative.

Mr Nawaikula is insulting the intelligence of Year 12 and Year 13 students when he says the consultation is a vote-buying exercise. By implication, he means that the students are too young to decide for themselves and they can be easily swayed by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

It’s a perception that has no credible basis.

Mr Nawaikula cannot underestimate the students’ power of discernment.

The consultation is a forum where the students learn about the economy, economics and the budget process.

It empowers them to make intelligent decisions. Mr Nawaikula insults their intelligence.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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