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EDITORIAL: Protecting The Institution Of Parliament

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu’s two-year suspension from Parliament because of derogatory and insulting remarks against the Speaker is a landmark decision. This is the longest time that a Member of Parliament
22 May 2015 11:09
EDITORIAL: Protecting The Institution Of Parliament

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu’s two-year suspension from Parliament because of derogatory and insulting remarks against the Speaker is a landmark decision.

This is the longest time that a Member of Parliament has been suspended. Since parliamentary democracy began in Fiji, there have been MPs ejected from the House of Representatives for unruly behaviour and contempt. Precedents have been set in the past.

The emphatic way this issue has been dealt with in relation to the Ratu Naiqama case is a healthy sign.

It reinforces Parliament’s commitment to upholding and respect the Office of the Speaker. Debate on this issue is not about Dr Jiko Luveni as a person. It is about the office that she holds. In years to come, someone from the Opposition could be sitting in the chair and occupying the office. Whoever occupies the office must be treated with respect and dignity.

The Speaker is the holder of the office 24 hours a day, whether Parliament is in session or not. Denigrating her outside of Parliament or inside Parliament is the same.

Ratu Naiqama’s censure underscores Parliament’s commitment to protect the dignity of this high office.

The Speaker is different to MPs. She was elected to be the presiding authority in Parliament. Her role is to ensure that the dignity of Parliament is maintained at all times.

The public can look up to Parliament as a model of a responsible and respectable institution as the legislature.

When she is publicly vilified, Parliament is included because she is the embodiment of Parliament. It is an act of contempt. She is in the same position as a judge and the President.

They cannot be attacked.

Hopefully, this case will be a lesson to all that no one, including Members of Parliament, is allowed to attack the Speaker.

 




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