NATION

The Odd Couple Meet In New York

No one would have guessed that former Qarase Cabinet Minister Adi Asenaca Caucau would be sitting side by side in New York this week with rabble-rouser Rajendra Chaudhry, son of
23 Apr 2015 07:44
The Odd Couple Meet In New York
Rajendra Chaudhry (left), and former Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Culture Adi Asenaca Caucau in New York this week.

No one would have guessed that former Qarase Cabinet Minister Adi Asenaca Caucau would be sitting side by side in New York this week with rabble-rouser Rajendra Chaudhry, son of former Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.

Adi Asenaca was a former Minister  for Women, Social Welfare and Culture from 2001 to 2006 and  sparked controversy with off-the-cuff comments about Indo-Fijians, prostitution and homosexuality.

It’s the epitome of the political aphorism, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’

Both are bitterly opposed to the current Government led by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

However, Australian resident Mr Chaudhry and American resident Adi Asenaca have as much in common as night and day.  Adi Asenaca is unrepentant about her racist views, having described the Indo-Fijian community as ‘weeds’ during her time in Parliament during the government of Laisenia Qarase.

Despite calls from civil society then for her to be disciplined, Mr Qarase refused to criticise her saying her comments were part of parliamentary debate.

Mr Chaudhry’s political pedigree is the Fiji Labour Party, a long-time champion of multi-racialism, once prominent advocate of the Indo-Fijian community in Fiji, trade unions and minority groups.  He served as his father’s personal secretary during his prime ministership from 1999 leading up to the 2000 coup.

During the coup he was amongst-hostages held by George Speight and others claiming to represent the views of the iTaukei.

Along with Niko Nawaikula, parliamentarian for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), Adi Asenaca and Mr Chaudhry represented Fijian indigenous rights group, the Native Tribal Congress, during the 14th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  The meeting is being held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, this week.

The odd couple have also joined with the so-called Democracy and Freedom for Fiji Movement (DFFM), a group that was strongly opposed to the current Government and was founded in the USA in 2007.

Also making statements at the UN meeting was the President of the DFFM, American resident Tevita Korodrau.

Mr Korodrau raised concerns on the absence of iTaukei representatives during the last Universal Periodic Review Meeting that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, last month.

“We are here to tell the UN that everything claimed by the Prime Minister in the Constitution about the rights of the people being protected are all false and the cultural and financial institutions and to be consulted and to give their prior consent before any government changes,” he said.

Mr Nawaikula reportedly wants the delegation to meet the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and deliver petitions to the UN Secretary General and High Commissioner for Human Rights.

What is the UNPFII? PM’s view
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.  Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has been adamant that the iTaukei community has nothing to fear. He said all their concerns and rights were addressed in the 2013 Constitution.
He said there was no comparison with indigenous people issues in some countries.
There was no better time than now to be an iTaukei, he has said.

Feedback:  stella.moresio@fijisun.com.fj

 




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