This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the 4 The Record programme, aired by FBC TV last night. The walkout by Opposition SO­DELPA MPs can best
03 Sep 2018 10:36
SODELPA Members walk out during the session of Parliament on August 31,2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the 4 The Record programme, aired by FBC TV last night.

The walkout by Opposition SO­DELPA MPs can best be de­scribed as political grandstand­ing. It was designed to appeal to the base instincts of the iTaukei, the core support for SODELPA.

It’s sad really that SODELPA began its parliamentary term with boycotts and has ended it in the same way. Their issue this time is they want the chiefs to decide who should be the next Presi­dent as against who is the best candi­date for the high office.

We do not want just a figure head but someone who commands the respect and support of all people, irrespective of their ethnic, cultural and socio-eco­nomic background.

The president should not necessarily be a chief but he or she has all these qualities and credentials that fit the role.

Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote

Right now, it’s Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote.

He is not a chief and is non-iTaukei. But symbolically, he represents all of us.

His illustrious career in the military, civil service and diplomatic service qualify him for this role.

He has been a loyal and dedicated servant of this country.

His military and service records speak volumes of the kind of person he is.

And we need to recognise him and promote his example to our younger generation to emulate.

In a nutshell, he is an exemplary role model.

That’s the kind of people we should be looking at when we talk about the next President.

Someone who has proved himself and herself in a wide range of fields.

Mr Konrote served under Laisenia Qarase’s Soqosoqo Duavata ni Leweni­vanua (SDL) Government.

In 2014, he contested the general election on a FijiFirst ticket and won

his seat.

He was appointed by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama as Minister for Employment, Productivity and Indus­trial Relations.

So he has had the opportunity to see Fiji from different perspectives.

That knowledge and experience gives him an added advantage to take a ho­listic look at issues and make decisions that are inclusive.

When Ratu Epeli Nailatikau complet­ed his second term as President, Mr Konrote stepped into his shoes seam­lessly because he was the right person for the role.

He has done an amazing job in his first three-year term and he has deliv­ered more than what was expected of him. Like his predecessor, he has vis­ited and mingled with the grassroots people.

It was therefore only fitting that he carries on for another term to finish what he started.

Not only does it provide continuity it also ensures stability.

The walkout

I can only assume that the walkout by SODELPA MPs was a party direc­tive to capitalise on the occasion and highlight its pro-indigenous policies, particularly the restoration of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV) or Great Coun­cil of Chiefs (GCC).

SODELPA had also referred to the 1997 Constitution.

It’s obvious that they are still living in the past when the rest of the country has moved on.

Government’s legal minds must have looked at the law and decided it was okay to convene Parliament on Friday to decide on the President.

The National Federation Party did not join the walkout.

It was being smart because it was pointless. It realised that whether it stayed or walked out it would not change the outcome because the Gov­ernment side has the numbers.

Secondly it did not want to be seen on national television walking out with SODELPA because it could suffer from the political fallout.

I thought SODELPA had learned from its earlier experience on boycotts and walkouts. Obviously, it hasn’t.

Despite what some say, nothing posi­tive or productive is gained in boycotts and walkouts.

Friday’s sitting provided a golden op­portunity for the Opposition to put the Government side to the test. All the talking about the perceived legality of the process should have happened in Parliament not outside.

The Opposition SODELPA MPs would have gained more on national televi­sion doing that than hoisting the pro­verbial white flag and surrendering their ground on the frontline trenches of the debating chamber.

They got outwitted by their junior partners, National Federation Party members, leader Biman Prasad, Prem Singh and Parmod Chand who decided to stay in the House and see Major-Gen­eral (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote reappointed as President for his second three-year term.

SODELPA nominee

SODELPA MPs went to great lengths to hunt for a nominee.

They found one in Ratu Ilisoni Vu­idreketi, a former CEO of South Pa­cific Tourism Organisation, former Fiji Trade Commissioner to the Unted States of America (USA) and Canada, now a director of Rewa Provincial Holding Company Limited.

He accepted and must have been look­ing forward to his nomination in Par­liament. But it never happened and you can’t blame him if he was disap­pointed.

There was no harm in having a go al­though the Government side has the numbers.

Some Government backbenchers who knew they were unlikely to make the FijiFirst provisional candidates lineup could have voted with the Opposition because they had nothing to lose.

It is understood this was the argument put forward by SODELPA MPs who op­posed the walkout during the caucus meeting. But they were outvoted.

Dialogue should be the key word. It’s part of the language of responsible pol­iticians who have the interests of the country at heart. Walkouts or boycotts are pathetically irresponsible.

They are the hallmarks of failed poli­ticians.

In other words, they are a bunch of losers.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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