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Ratu Epeli For New Speaker Of Parliament?

Former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, if he is available, ticks all the boxes to be the new Speaker of Parliament. Of all the names that have been bandied about, Ratu
07 Jan 2019 11:34
Ratu Epeli For New Speaker Of Parliament?
From left Tanya Waqanika, Fijian Ambassador to Japan/Russia and Philippines Isikeli Mataitoga, Former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere and Judge Justice Salesi Temo.

Former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, if he is available, ticks all the boxes to be the new Speaker of Parliament.

Of all the names that have been bandied about, Ratu Epeli has the right credentials to continue the legacy left by the late Dr Jiko Luveni in our young democracy.

Ratu Epeli, who turns 78 on July 5 this year, is in good physical condition.

He is fully versed with the policies of the FijiFirst Government and articulated these well when he was President for six years.
Epeli is a former Speaker himself. He sat in the Speaker’s chair from 2001 to 2006 at the old Parliament venue in Veiuto. He had also chaired the Parliamentary Appropriations Committee.

He is very familiar with the processes and procedures of the House. So there is no shortage of experience there. He is a potential frontrunner for those aspiring to take up the role.

He is highly respected on both sides of the House and the public after an illustrious career as a military officer, public officer, diplomat and a President of Fiji. He could very well become the compromise candidate if the Opposition knows that he will be nominated by the Government side.

Otherwise, the Opposition could resubmit SODELPA failed election candidate Tanya Waqanika who lost to the late Dr Luveni.
Because of a much stronger and bigger Opposition bench compared to the last Parliament, the House needs a Speaker who is strong and experienced and cannot be easily targeted for lack of experience.

Other names that have been suggested include:

  • Fijian Ambassador to Japan/Russia and Philippines Isikeli Mataitoga. He has been a career diplomat and could very well be an asset here in Fiji. As an ambassador the base salary is between $80,000 to $150,000 compared to $150,000 for the Speaker. But the allowances diplomats receive increase their income substantially. Whether Mr Mataitoga wants to give that up for a parliamentary job remains to be seen. But it can be seen as part of the transition process to retirement.
  • The Tui Macuata, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, a staunch FijiFirst official, has also been mentioned.
  • Judge Justice Salesi Temo’s name has also been raised in unofficial discussions. But he is doing an excellent job in the judiciary. His no-nonsense attitude in his courtroom is widely respected by lawyers and accused people. Why would he give up a salary of up to $224,000 for something much less?

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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