NEWS

ANALYSIS-Speaker Holding Her Own, Making Impact In Parliament Initiatives

Members of Parliament cannot test the Speaker, Dr Jiko Luveni, anymore. After almost two years in the Speaker’s chair Dr Jiko Luveni knows the Standing Orders like the back of
07 May 2016 08:07
ANALYSIS-Speaker Holding Her Own, Making Impact In Parliament Initiatives
Speaker to Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni.

Members of Parliament cannot test the Speaker, Dr Jiko Luveni, anymore.

After almost two years in the Speaker’s chair Dr Jiko Luveni knows the Standing Orders like the back of her hands.

The first sittings straight after the 2014 General Election were nervous moments for her as she tried to familiarise herself with the Standing Orders.

MPs especially from the Opposition camp gave her a hard time but she persevered. She realised that the only way to cope was to read and know the Standing Orders better than anyone.

They became her “bible” near her pillows at night. Every opportunity she got, she flipped through the pages and learned the sections until she understood them.

She realised that if she wanted to stand her ground and ensure the dignity and respect of Parliament she had to learn and understand the Standing Orders. And she did.

In last week’s sitting of Parliament she ordered the Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca to withdraw the word rubbish. She had to say it twice before Ratu Isoa did. Dr Luveni is  cool as a cucumber. She is not a reactionary. She responds to issues in Parliament after careful consideration.

She finds words like rubbish and lying or liar which we hear from time to time in Parliament as unacceptable. She is unhappy with frivolous interjections.

They lower the standards in the House and waste precious time. She sees excellent debaters on both sides of the House who can contribute positively.

While she had a won a seat in Parliament on a FijiFirst party ticket, she does her best to maintain her neutrality and independence. Some of her decisions had surprised both sides of the House.

The tabling of a petition last week on the Great Council of Chiefs by SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka was expected to be a brief exercise. But she opened it up for debate because it was allowed under the Standing Orders.

It became a lengthy debate with the Opposition capitalising on the opportunity to express their views  on a proposal to reinstate the GCC.

On the Government side, only the Prime Minister spoke on the issue in his ministerial statement. It was an excellent response to all the issues raised by the Opposition MPs.

Dr Luveni has also been instrumental in taking Parliament to the people in its roadshows to create public awareness about parliamentary democracy. It’s one of her initiatives to raise Parliament’s profile.

The second initiative which started last month is called Parliament Speaker’s Debate. Dr Luveni engages stakeholders to discuss topical issues. Last month it was the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

On Monday at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, from 5pm to 7pm, there will be a debate on the topic: “Is Fiji making progress in tackling violence against women and girls?”

She had introduced Violence Against Women Free Zones when she was the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation. She  is still passionate about the issue and wants continued public discussions.

The debate is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

One of the indicators for this goal is to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the private and public spheres.

The debate is to find how much we have progressed.

Panelists include: Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Rosy Akbar;  SODELPA MP Salote Radrodro; Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho; Secretary for Christian Citizenship and Social Services, Methodist Church, Reverend Iliesa Naivalu and Team Leader, Young Women’s Leadership, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Maraia Tabunakawai.

Parliament is the supreme legal body in the land.

It embodies everything we stand for. Dr Luveni believes Parliament is irrelevant without the ordinary people on whose power and mandate it is functional through the ballot box.

So don’t be surprised if she adds a third initiative soon.

Edited by Maraia Vula

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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