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Fiji Votes: PM Wins Leaders’ Debate Hands Down

Fiji Votes: PM Wins Leaders’ Debate Hands Down
From left: SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka, FBC Radio Fiji One host Mala Qaqacava and FijiFirst leader Voreqe Bainimarama. Photo: FBC
November 06
17:44 2018

FijiFirst leader and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama easily won the debate with Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka yesterday

The debate hosted by Mala Qaqacava on FBC Radio Fiji One, was also televised live.

Mr Bainimarama was clear in his response to questions about various issues. He corrected a lot of misconceptions.

In the exchanges with Mr Rabuka, Mr Bainimarama hit the right notes. It was obvious he went to the debate well prepared.

He kept it simple and straight to the point with his explanations.

Mr Rabuka, on the other hand, used flowery language, obviously to appeal to typical instincts of ordinary iTaukei.

In the process he lost the main points of his message.

These were some of the issues discussed:


Mr Bainimarama said the constitutional provision provided people with the freedom to practise their own religion.

Mr Rabuka said secularism should not be written in the Constitution.

He said it was being practised before and there was no need for it to be written.

He was asked about the perception of Muslim prominence and influence and claims by some SODELPA politicians that people could not pray to Jesus Christ now.

Mr Rabuka said he disagreed and he had had instructed all candidates to preach from the manifesto.

Mr Rabuka said secularism had empowered Muslims to come out into the open and wear their religious garb.

Before secularism, Muslims would only dress up after a pilgrimage to Mecca. They would carry on as normal with their prayers.

Mr Rabuka said the change should not stop people from practising their normal religious observance and practices.

Mr Bainimarama said the perception about the Muslims was because his deputy, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, was a Muslim.

He said this was the kind of religious intolerance and bigotry that secularism tried to eliminate.


Fijian as a common name

Mr Bainimarama said the common name would unite all races in Fiji. He said the 2013 Constitution removed discrimination and treated everyone equal before the law.

Mr Rabuka said he had no problem with Fijian as a common name. In fact, he said he first mooteed it in 1987 and it created differences as it was doing now.

But he said we should move forward with it because it would be a retrograde step to go back.


Land Bank
Listeners asked questions about the Land Bank.

One said iTaukei landowners would lose control of their land after they gave it to the Land Bank to lease out.

Some SODELPA politicians were claiming this, he said.

But, Mr Bainimarama said the Land Bank was set up to get idle land developed with the lease money going to the landowners.

He said at least 60 per cent of the landowners needed to sign before their land could go to the Land Bank. He said it was a contract in the same way when land was administered by the iTaukei Land Trust Board. And it was up to landowners to decide the term of the lease.
Edited by Epineri Vula

READ more here: Rabuka Versus Fact

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