NEWS

Stop Racist Talk: Speaker Tells Ratu Isoa Tikoca

Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca resorted to racial villification to make a point in Parliament yesterday. In a moment of anger, he described the Government side as ‘half the people
26 Aug 2015 10:05
Stop Racist Talk: Speaker Tells Ratu Isoa Tikoca
Opposition parliamentarian Ratu Suliano Matanitobua (left) of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) with Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament yesterday. Photo: Paulini Ratulailai

Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca resorted to racial villification to make a point in Parliament yesterday.

In a moment of anger, he described the Government side as ‘half the people that side are not indigenous,’ during debate on a new public holiday, Constitution Day.

The condescending nature of his remark sparked a furious reaction.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum accused him of using ‘racial villification,’ and said the Constitution would prevent iTaukei from being exploited, like the Momi and Denarau land-grabs, under previous governments.

Speaker of the House, Dr Jiko Luveni rebuked Ratu Isoa for his ‘racist talk,’ insisting it would not be tolerated in Parliament.

Minister for Health and Medical Services Jone Usamate was ‘appalled’ at the tone of the debate, in the light of Ratu Isoa’s comments. As an iTaukei, he was confident that the 2013 Constitution protected all indigenous rights, he said, in response to Ratu Isoa.

Mr Usamate pointed out that Opposition members were applying double standards by rejected the Constititution. He pointed out that one member of the Opposition, Viliame Gavoka, had submitted petitions to Parliament and used relevant provisions of the Constitution to back his submissions.

The National Federation Party tried to distance themselves from the tone of the debate, through Tupou Draunidalo, but the damage had already been done.

The new holiday for September 7, 2016 was approved by Parliament after the motion was put to the vote.

 

Happy chairman

The chairman of the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) Ikbal Jannif was a happy man yesterday.

This was after Parliament unanimously voted to endorse a Government guarantee with a ceiling of FJ$11,320,241 in favour of Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (‘ANZ’) to enable PAFCO to access financing from ANZ.

“What a relief. We can now move ahead,’ was his initial response outside Parliament yesterday.

Parliamentarians from both sides pointed out the ernomous socio-economic benefits PAFCO provided for Ovalau and the rest of the Lomaiviti Group.

Mr Jannif, a former chairman of Transparency International Fiji, was also on hand to witness the passing of the Bill to amend the Tax Administration Decree 2009. The bill is one of the weapons used by the Government to tackle the black economy, money-laundering and tax evasion, by Fijians with off-shore assets.

“It now shows we’re on par with the rest of the world. Everyone is dealing with it,” he said.

 

Drought warning

The Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Natural Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu was commended for provided a detailed drought update yesterday.

Mr Seruiratu provided details on emergency measures in the Western Division to tackle drought-affected areas. He insisted the Government was being proactive and that additional funds had been sourced from the Prime Minister’s Office to deal with the impending crisis.

 

Two Sugar Bills

Debate on Bill to Amend the Sugar Industry Act and a Bill to amend the Sugar Cane Growers Fund did not pass without controversy.

Opposition parliamentarian Semesa Karavaki claimed the ‘end was near’ because of divine judgment for Government. He claimed the Government was trying to wrestle control from the growers. However, Attorney-General and Government members pointed out that politicisation of the industry and bureaucratisation had brought the industry to its knees.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the new laws, which were passed after debate, would streamline the industry.

Feedback: josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 

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