Opinion

Getting Up Close To Ro Teimumu

One thing that caught my eye was the comment by Mr Sukha Singh of Labasa, under the heading of Dr Biman Prasad, in the letters column on (FS 23/7/14), and
15 Nov 2014 07:25
Getting Up Close To Ro Teimumu
Dr Biman Prasad and The leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa.

One thing that caught my eye was the comment by Mr Sukha Singh of Labasa, under the heading of Dr Biman Prasad, in the letters column on (FS 23/7/14), and I have always thought about that small and simple two line letter to the editor.

As you may have noticed, Sukha is not a man of many words and sentences, but his few words are focused and hard hitting and often very witty and hilarious.  He said: “One thing that I noticed about Dr Biman Prasad is that he is always smiling. I hope that he continues smiling after the elections, whatever the outcome.”

Personally I have noticed that he is smiling even more so now than when Sukha observed him last, especially when photographed these days next to Ro Teimumu Kepa, the Leader of the Opposition.

Ro Teimumu has wasted no time either to woo him and has used him on every photo opportunity, even taking a photo together with the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, on her recent trip to Fiji.

One may wonder why the change of tune and the sudden love and affection being shown reciprocally between the two, especially when each of them have had mixed and opposite vector trajectory of their pay packets and only three seats for Biman’s NFP and 15 for Ro Teimumu’s SODELPA.

Ro Teimumu’s income from her only full time employment in the last eight years went from $0 to $120,000 as stated in the Parliamentary Remuneration Decree 2014 (Decree No. 29 of 2014) published on October 3, 2014.

Ro Teimumu as the Leader of Opposition will also get the following allowances and perks: 1. Transport –Official car with driver. 2. Telephone –Official mobile phone. 3. Internet – Internet connection at residence. 4. Superannuation – FNPF Contribution. 5. Leave – 4 weeks per annum, which must be compensated if not utilised. 6. Local Travel –Free accommodation and meals for all official local travel. 7. Overseas Travel –Business class travel for official meetings. 8. Overseas Travelling Allowance – UNDP subsistence allowance plus 50 per cent together with $150 per day incidental allowance.

Biman will drop from around $160,000 salary at USP to only a pittance $50,000, barely able to survive with his raised living standards as a professor on a higher bracket salary than even Ro Teimumu presently.

Many of the yester-years Opposition members were hard core barristers and solicitors which used to be their main income.

Biman has no such talent and it is hardly likely that he will be able to do any consulting work on the side either to increase his base salary from $50,000.

However, he will also get together with all other members of parliament including cabinet and assistant ministers, the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition, accommodation, travelling and sitting allowances.

Despite a very big slide southwards of his salary from his professorship days at USP and despite not becoming the PM of Fiji, and barely scraping through with just over five per cent of the votes nationally and thus qualifying for three seats, Biman is still smiling much more than when Mr Sukha Singh saw him last.

You may ask why? I have a theory. Every time I see the media photos of Biman and Ro Teimumu in the same photo, intimately close together and smiling with their teeth showing to the camera, it reminds me of that very famous and catchy Madonna song.

In case you forgot the words and only remember the lyrics, here are the words again, but sing with the I replaced by NFP –you replaced by SODELPA –and for even better effect try to sing along in karaoke style, reflecting back to the history of the recent September 17, elections and the present more than warm relationship between Biman and Ro Teimumu. Imagine Biman serenading to Ro:

 

“NFP made it through the wilderness

Somehow NFP made it through

Didn’t know how lost NFP was

Until NFP found SODELPA

 

NFP was beat incomplete

NFP had been had, NFP was sad and blue

But SODELPA made NFP feel

Yeah, SODELPA made NFP feel, shiny and new

 

Like a virgin

Touched for the very first time

Like a virgin

When SODELPA’s heart beats

Next to NFP

 

Gonna give SODELPA all NFP love, boy

NFP fear is fading fast

Been saving it all for SODELPA

‘Cause only love can last

 

SODELPA’s so fine and SODELPA’s mine

Make NFP strong, yeah, SODELPA make NFP bold

Oh, SODELPA’s love thawed out

Yeah, SODELPA’s love thawed out

What was getting cold

Like a virgin, hey

Touched for the very first time

Like a virgin

With SODELPA’s heartbeat

Next to NFP

 

SODELPA You’re so fine and you’re mine

NFP will be yours ‘til the end of time

‘Cause SODELPA you made me feel

Yeah, SODELPA made me feel

NFP has nothing to hide

 

Like a virgin

Touched for the very first time

Like a virgin

With SODELPA your heartbeat

Next to NFP

 

Like a virgin, like a virgin

Feels so good inside

When SODELPA you hug me

And SODELPA your heartbeats, and SODELPA love me

 

(Original lyrics and words written by: Steinberg, Billy, Kelly and Tom)

Biman is more than excited, like a virgin in the song, being a freshman to parliament but Ro Teimumu has seen and done all that and is now fully exploiting the intellect of Biman.

SODELPA has nothing to lose in this game, and at least it can hide its non-existent economics policy behind Biman as the spokesperson. This will provide leverage and increase the ratings for SODELPA only at the expense of the further demise and decline of NFP in future polls.

The reason is quite simple. The NFP supporters will never forgive Biman, as he has now adulterated himself simply by association with Ro Teimumu, a union not to be made in heaven with a party who has been at the other polar end of their future aspirations and expectations. The general public will no longer be able to distinguish the differences between the policies, at least the economic policies of the two, and no longer be able to make an informed choice.

Further for a person who vehemently at every photo opportunity pre-election boasted  that they are the only party who are not in an alliance, not associated with any coup makers and always stand on their principles, this about turn by 180 degree to the north will never be forgotten by anyone, more so not by the Indo Fijians.

Biman is a novice and Ro Teimumu is playing him like a veteran, with a rod and reel with a little earthworm at the other end, knowing when to strike with many fish trying to nibble the wriggling bait.

Biman is nothing more than that wriggling earthworm, being used as a bait, but the worst part is that he has not even been able to realise that in this power play politics, one has to stand the ground, on  a matter of principles and ideology.

FijiFirst has destroyed any hope of any party now being able to identify itself as the champion of any important unique ideology or principle, as it has wholeheartedly come to the middle ground, spanning its eagle like wings horizontally, capturing supporters from both the polar ends and the centre, at the same time moving longitudinally, self secure and confident.

Thus is was very important that both SODELPA and NFP fully operate in all sense of the word as independent, unassociated with each other apart from being on the opposition side of the parliament, and slowly but incrementally work on their support base, and do some work towards differentiation of their ideologies from each other.

Biman in association with Ro Teimumu, now prides himself and makes public statements that in the last parliament there were non-NFP candidates and now there are three, suggesting that somehow akin to Neil Armstrong, the first man of the moon in July 20, 1969 10:56 PM EDT saying that: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Can you imagine Biman suggesting the same by winning only three seats of the 26 that he was sure to get by now being fully contented and thinking that the work is done and now NFP is towards the road to recovery: “That’s one small step by Biman, one giant leap for NFP”? How hollow and fickle this is and Biman has let the NFP down badly indeed, acting far beyond his mandate and the expectations of his voters.

Also all this confidence and school boy excitement for the first day at school, after the eight years instead of weeks holiday, with ironed shirt with starch that we used to use in the older days, making us scared to droop our arms vertically downwards, for fear of spoiling the ironed looks.

Bags packed, shoes polished and brimming with excitement and pride, only to arrive and have the master yell at us and tell us to hold onto a knife and cut grass the whole day, as the school compound was full of weeds and overgrowth over the past holiday period.

It’s like an anticlimax really, and all that adrenalin and rush of fresh blood to the head, slowly receding. The symbolism and simile could not be more clearly defined than this.

Biman reminds me of that boy’s excitement at school, as despite a huge salary downwards spiral, and other things not going to his plans, he keeps smiling, like nothing ever happened.

I personally can understand that but am unable to reconcile in my mind why and how he managed to get seduced, and ended up so close to Ro Teimumu, especially when he is a married man – yes married to NFP—that is and he should always be faithful and not lead this adulterous life associating with SODELPA.

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