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Committee Infighting Rocks Hearing

A heated debate yesterday between Committee Chairman and Government whip Ashneel Sudhakar, and Opposition Member of Parliament Semesa Karavaki, rocked the Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights in
03 Dec 2016 11:00
Committee Infighting Rocks Hearing
Committee Chairman and Government whip Ashneel Sudhakar

A heated debate yesterday between Committee Chairman and Government whip Ashneel Sudhakar, and Opposition Member of Parliament Semesa Karavaki, rocked the Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights in Parliament.

Mr Sudhakar had tried to reject a question by Mr Karavaki during submissions from youth activist Peter Waqavonovono on the Information Bill 2016 when the exchange took place.

“I disallow the question,” Mr Sudhakar told Mr Karavaki.

Mr Karavaki retaliated with an aggressive tone as to why his question was disallowed.

“I am asking a legitimate question here Mr Chair and I have the right to the answer of my question, it is a legitimate question and I expect a legitimate answer,” he said.

“We have to look at the answer and determined by looking at the legislation, if that’s so, you have no right to intervene to my question.”

Mr Sudhakar responded that the Committee was not dealing with the Media Decree and he had the right to disallow Karavaki’s question in his capacity as committee chairman.

Mr Karavaki then responded that it was the Standing Committee of Parliament and it didn’t belong to Mr Sudhakar.

Mr Sudhakar said Mr Karavaki’s question was out of order and the Bill discussed would not be considered by the committee.

He said Mr Karavaki should have known better with the amount of experience he had.

Mr Karavaki responded: “I do know better than you, you are a small child, you know that.”

With that statement by Mr Karavaki, Mr Sudhakar said he would be reprimanded as the question was out of order and that the committee was not dealing with journalists.

Mr Karavaki lashed out at Mr Sudhakar as to why he was scared.

“You are asking a question that is not even in the Information Bill, I was respecting you that as a lawyer you will understand these things, and you should respect me as a chair as well,” Mr Sudhakar said.

Mr Waqavonovono in his presentation said the Information Bill 2016 was crucial to underpin constitutional rights to information, freedom of the press and access to information held by any public office.

Mr Sudhakar then intervened and said the Information Bill 2016 was designed for public to extract information held by Government offices.

He said the Bill didn’t mention any provision on certain media organisations or journalists.

Government MP Mataiasi Niumataiwalu said the Information Bill 2016 and MIDA Decree were totally different.

However, Mr Waqavonovono said he was trying to propose that media legislations and other legislations on freedom of information to be under a particular Bill.

Mr Karavaki then questioned Mr Waqavonovono on what Bill he proposed that should be reviewed.

Mr Waqavonovono responded to reintegrate all media legislation under the Information Bill 2016.

 

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj


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