FIJI NEWS

What bias? asks Usamate

JOSUA TUWERE SUVA Religious prejudice reared its ugly head at a FijiFirst campaign meeting at Narere on Thursday night. FijiFirst candidate nominee Jone Usamate was taken back at the meeting
10 Aug 2014 10:33

Jone Usamate (right) with his campaign manager Inia Tubui in Narere on Friday night. Photo: Aqela Susu

JOSUA TUWERE
SUVA

Religious prejudice reared its ugly head at a FijiFirst campaign meeting at Narere on Thursday night.
FijiFirst candidate nominee Jone Usamate was taken back at the meeting when a participant asked why ‘most’ permanent secretaries were of a particular religious affiliation that has featured prominently in recent media reports.
“What do you mean by most?,”Mr Usamate replied. “Tell me which permanent secretaries are of this religion?” he retorted.
Mr Usamate told the woman, one of about 60 Narere residents at the meeting, that all permanent secretaries were appointed on merit.
He denied any suggestion of religious bias in the appointment of top civil servants.
The woman was not able to substantiate her claim when asked by Mr Usamate.
The current Minister for Labour joined Dr Mahendra Reddy to present FirstFiji’s vision for Fiji to Narere residents. Dr Reddy left early to speak at another party meeting elsewhere in Suva.
Mr Usamate urged residents to report any allegations of religious and racial discrimination to the Prime Minister’s Office.
‘The Prime Minister is someone who really hates this kind of discrimination, ‘’ he said.
Other questions asked by participants included the amalgamation of different educational institutions to form the Fiji National University (FNU).
‘I was director of TPAF (Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji) when they decided to form the Fiji National University. It was felt that this would be more cost-effective combining the different institutions,’’ he said.
Narere resident Jone Kalouniviti 35, noted the lack of knowledge of the Constitution by residents at the meeting.
‘’Its obvious from some of the questions that they are not familiar with the relevant provisions of the Constitution but it was good to hear the explanations from the Minister,’’ he said.
Another Narere resident, Lusiana Tikoisigapoa, 30, said she was still undecided about who to vote for.
‘’Tonight was good but I still want to hear from all the parties. They should come to Narere to explain what they want to do,’’ she said.
‘’We also want to hear from the Prime Minister here in Narere because some of the things we asked about tonight and we were referred to the Prime Minister’s Office.
josuat@fijisun.com.fj




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