NEWS

Naiqama All Alone

The Opposition failed to support their much criticised colleague, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu in Parliament yesterday, during a vote on whether to refer him to the Privileges Committee. When the motion
19 May 2015 10:15
Naiqama All Alone
Members of the Opposition make their way out of Parliament for a break yesterday. Photo: PAULINI RATULAILAI.

The Opposition failed to support their much criticised colleague, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu in Parliament yesterday, during a vote on whether to refer him to the Privileges Committee.

When the motion by the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was put to the vote by the Speaker, the majority of Opposition parliamentarians, chose not to vote on the motion.  Eleven out of eighteen Opposition MPs present, decided not to vote.

Despite the strong rhetoric from the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) parliamentarians, only six Opposition parliamentarians rejected the motion by voting no.

There was only one abstention, Biman Prasad from the National Federation Party.

The motion by the Attorney-General was to cite Ratu Naiqama for a serious breach of privilege. There were three parts to the motion that related to slurs against the Speaker of the House, Dr Jiko Luveni.

The slurs were made by Ratu Naiqama at a SODELPA constituency meeting at Penueli Methodist Church, Makoi, last Thursday night.

Attorney-General’s motion:

“Hon. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 134(2) (b) and given the severity of the breach of privilege and thereby no denial that such reflections were made about the Honourable Speaker, I move that:

  1. Hon. Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu be cited for a serious breach of privilege and contempt of Parliament;
  2. that the matter be now referred to the Privileges Committee under Standing Order 134(2)(b) to determine the type of sanction for the breach; and
  3. that the Privileges Committee must meet today 18 May 2015, and provide its recommendations to Parliament at the latest by Thursday 21 May 2015 as to what sanctions should be imposed by Parliament against Honourable Lalabalavu, after which such action as deemed appropriate by Parliament shall be taken.

If the Opposition members had rallied and decided to block the Attorney-General’s motion, the vote would have been 23 (Government) for and 18 (Opposition) against.

It would not have been enough to stop the referral but would have been enough to show solidarity and support for Ratu Naiqama, the most experienced member of the Opposition.  The number of senior Opposition members who did not vote against the motion was quite telling.

FINAL VOTING RESULTS

Government

Present in voting: 32

Yes: 23

No: 0

Abstain: 0

Not voted: 9

There was a simple explanation from the Government side for not voting – absence from Parliament.  Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (overseas), Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola (overseas), Education Minister Mahendra Reddy were absent from Parliament. Also recorded as not voting yesterday were Government backbenchers Viam Pillay, Netani Rika, Minister for Health Jone Usamate, Minister for Fisheries and Forests Osea Naiqamu and Assistant Minister for Sports Iliesa Delana.  All were either on business travel duties or unwell.

Former Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Pio Tikoduadua’s name is still listed for voting despite his resignation. He was recorded as not voting (his replacement should be announced by the next sitting of Parliament.)

Opposition

Present in the voting: 18

Yes: 0

No: 6

Abstain: 1

Not voted: 11

Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa: Not voted

Niko Nawaikula: Not voted

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu: No

Mosese Drecala Bulitavu: No

Professor Biman Prasad: Abstain

Roko Tupou Senirewa Draunidalo: Not voted

Prem Singh: No

Mikaele Rokosova Leawere: Not voted

Anare Tuidraki Vadei: Not voted

Viliame Rogoibulu Gavoka: Not voted

Semesa Druavesi Karavaki: No

Ratu Suliano Matanitobua: Not voted

Ratu Sela Vuinakasa Nanovo: Not voted

Kiniviliame Kiliraki: No

Isoa Delamisi Tikoca: Not voted

Salote Vuibureta Radrodro: Not voted

Aseri Masivou Radrodro: Not voted

Jiosefa Dulakiverata: No

The matter is now before the Privileges Committee that needs to deliver its report to Parliament by Thursday this week. Whatever recommendations the committee makes, will still need to be debated by Parliament.

The members of the Privileges Committee are:

Members:

Chairperson, Deputy Speaker –  Ruveni Nadalo

– Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Public Enterprises, Public Service and Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

– Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya;

– Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu;

– Semesa Karavaki; and

– Salote Radrodro.

Feedback:  litia.cava@fijisun.com.fj

 




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