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Big Tick For Luveni

Dr Jiko Luveni has done the women’s fraternity and Parliament proud with her  performance. From Day One, the Speaker,  came under heavy pressure from members of Parliament, particularly, from the
13 Dec 2014 09:39
Big Tick For Luveni
The Speaker of Parliament Jiko Luveni

Dr Jiko Luveni has done the women’s fraternity and Parliament proud with her  performance.

From Day One, the Speaker,  came under heavy pressure from members of Parliament, particularly, from the Opposition side.

At one point her impartiality and integrity were questioned by National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad. Mr Prasad later apologised.

Dr Luveni knew from the start that it would be no easy road for her. Despite her best efforts to protect the independence and dignity of her office and Parliament, she would always be viewed with suspicion by the Opposition. She had been the President of the FijiFirst party and won a seat after the September general election. She gave it up to run for Speaker. She was nominated by Government and elected by Parliament.

Dr Luveni is in a unique position. She is not only the first woman to become Speaker in Fiji. She is in a rare position to have ascended the Speaker’s chair without any parliamentary experience. In many Commonwealth jurisdictions, Speakers are usually those who have had years  of experience of parliamentary rules and debates.

Despite this, Dr Luveni has done amazingly well. She has evidently studied the Standing Orders which governs the conduct of Parliament. It’s obvious that she uses it like her Bible to make her decisions because of the Opposition perception that her rulings are always weighted in favour of the Government. It does not help when all motions moved by the Opposition are defeated. The simple answer is that the Opposition will not win any vote because Government has an overwhelming majority in the House.

The Opposition’s frustration is indicated by the Leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa’s statement  yesterday, outside Parliament chambers. She said the Opposition was considering future options on parliamentary procedures and what she described as” breaches to the Constitution and Standing Orders” during the sitting of the House that had just adjourned. Ro Teimumu had threatened to take the matter to court.

Dr Luveni had tried to weed out personal attacks and accusations against people and organisations in opinions in an effort to raise the level of debates.

The issue started a heated debate on the question of privilege. She had tried to steer members away from targeting individual in motions. In previous parliaments, MPs seemed to have had a free reign. But Dr Luveni is determined to bring some discipline and standards to the House. She had interrupted members from sides of the House and reminded them to stick to the substantive motions and not deviate. She had cautioned MPs in some debates while in other debates, she had allowed debates to continue.

She stuck to the time limits allotted to MPs. She had stopped a number of MPs from continuing to speak, including Faiyaz Koya, the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism.

On Thursday, she asked Opposition MP Tupou Draunidalo to meet her in the Speaker’s office to explain to her that she could not revoke a parliamentary vote on a motion.

Ms Draunidalo was trying to keep alive debate on the Cross Carriage of Designated Events Decree in relation to the sevens TV coverage after an Opposition motion was defeated. The motion sought to repeal the decree.

From what she has learned and experienced so far, Dr Luveni would not be ruffled by the latest threat from the Opposition. She has grown into the job and looks comfortable in the chair.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

 




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