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If We Are To Work Together And If Are Indeed Genuine About It And Genuine About The Rule Of Law, Then Stop The Threats: A-G

Right Of Reply Madam Speaker, I take this opportunity to deliver my right of reply in my capacity as the Acting Prime Minister. Madam Speaker, I would like to thank
01 Dec 2018 11:22
If We Are To Work Together And If Are Indeed Genuine About It And Genuine About The Rule Of Law, Then Stop The Threats: A-G
The following is Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General’s right of reply in Parliament on November 30, 2018.

Right Of Reply

  1. Madam Speaker, I take this opportunity to deliver my right of reply in my capacity as the Acting Prime Minister.
  2. Madam Speaker, I would like to thank His Excellency the President for his most gracious speech. Madam Speaker as anybody who knows His Excellency the President would know that he is a man who is fair, a man who actually believes in common equal citizenry and a man in his role as the head of the State knows that it is his mandate, his objective to ensure that we have a unified Fiji. Having worked with him as a Minister in Cabinet and having attend- ing international meetings with him, I know that His Excellency is a man of integrity and true statesman who puts Fiji first. He will give a speech Honour- able Tikoduadua that he actually believes in.
  3. And therefore if he sees any force of division, any force of disunity, it is his prerogative to bring that to the attention of our country, to our citizens and those who are actually creating this disunity. To try and subtly undermine his authority, undermine his integrity Madam Speaker is an affront to the Office of the President, it is an affront to this highly respectable and dignified human being and statesman.
  4. Madam Speaker, in my maiden speech, I had expressed my dissent with the unfortunate personal attacks coming from those on the opposite side, the shenanigans that have taken place inside and outside Parliament and the attempt by many to again polarise and divide this country along ethnic lines.
  5. Madam Speaker, but I am not going to personalize things. I can go on about what happened in 1988 when we were arrested. I don’t come here like Honourable Bulitavu to lament about a torn blanket that he was given in a lock up. I can tell you that we were locked up in 1988. When we asked for blankets, they gave us blankets on which they urinated upon.
  6. When we started singing the national anthem, they brought the Renault trucks and started revving the engines so our voices could be drowned and carbon monoxide could fill up our cells. I can tell you that we were there with some Catholic priests, academics and members of NGOs, arrested for holding up a banner Madam Speaker that said there is only one race and that’s the human race, and that was in Sukuna Park. We of course were arrested for that.
  7. I can tell you that we were charged for holding a gathering without a permit when in fact we actually had a permit.
  8. I can tell you many things Madam

Speaker but I am not here to cry about myself. We are here about Fiji Madam Speaker, we are here about creating a Fiji that is inclusive, a fair, just society, a modern society, a society that should not shun or be judgmental of all individuals including Honourable Lynda Tabuya for her dress that she wears in Parliament. That is her right. She is to be judged on the content of her character. Content of her input in this Parliament. Not some outward manifestation of the supposed right cultural practices by somebody.

9. Madam Speaker, there has been a lot of talk about ethnicity and protection of group rights.

10. Madam Speaker, Mick Beddoes of course who now works for SODELPA, in the video that I talked about Honourable Bulanauca says, and this is the video, “I think as far as I am concerned, indigenous rights as I see it really is a struggle of minority indigenous people, in countries where they have been marginalised and I feel that this particular situation does not necessarily apply to Fiji”.

11. Madam Speaker, this is what identification based on ethnicity does. It is precisely the devil that Durutalo talked about when I quoted yesterday. The whole purpose Madam Speaker of ethnic politics is that when you homogenise people, you will always have those that will always head those ethnic groups and these are the elites and the privileged class. You will also neglect intra and inter-group injustices.

12. As Epeli Hau’ofa has said, Madam Speaker, a well-known sociologist, “As part of the process of integration in emergent and new societies, the privileged, who can afford to tell the poor to preserve their traditions but their perceptions of which traits of traditional culture to preserve are increasingly divergent from those of the poor because in the final analysis, Madam Speaker, it is the poor who have to live out their traditional culture. The privileged can merely talk about it and they are in a position to be selective about what trait they use or more correctly urge others to observe” unquote.

13. Madam Speaker the reality is that leaders of, for example NFP, the great leaders, who no longer exist in NFP Madam Speaker, have said and I quote A.D. Patel, “Won’t it be better if we thought lesser of our race and more of our nationality?”

14. Madam Speaker the reality is that the Opposition has brought about again and reduced all our discussions and arguments based on ethnicity, based on the so called divide. Madam Speaker the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, who I actually congratulated for his speech because he wants to work together and follow the rule of law. However I did say to him that when he mentioned that he wants his supporters to remain calm and restraint was inappropriate and indeed unwarranted.

15. These subtexts of threat and violence must stop. Indeed even Honourable Aseri Radrodro weighed in. Why are supposed lack of calm and lack of restraint being talked about? If you are challenging the elections results, challenge it on the legal basis where it will be decided by an independent judiciary. And like anybody else and any other citizen, you and all of us have to accept the result.

16. If we are to work together and if are indeed genuine about it and genuine about the rule of law, then stop the threats. Actively tell your supporters not to even contemplate disruption

to the rule of law or constitutional governance. Tell them to stop the vitriol and racism on social media.

17. I hope it will not mean that just because you don’t like the result, you will undermine the very institution that didn’t give you the result.

18. Indeed as shown, this will result in in- consistency and hypocrisy. As seen yesterday, Honourable Bulanauca called the 1997 Constitution put in place by Satan, yet today he finds the 1997 Constitution acceptable.

19. This type of inconsistency Madam Speaker is also unfortunately characteristic of the Leader of Opposition. He has given 5 or 6 different reasons at different points in time as to why he did what he did in 1987. In fact, he is also on record for saying that in 1987 Fiji was not ready for an Indian Prime Minister.

20. Madam Speaker, Dr Bavadra was an iTaukei from Veiseisei, a village that is said to be the first landing of the iTaukei in Fiji.

21. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition in 2006 Madam Speaker stated that all iTaukei land should be nationalised and the chiefly system abolished and there’s an article here. In other words, Madam Speaker, what he said was that Government should own it. This we understand of course is no longer his position. This we understand many on his side oppose also but that’s the level of inconsistency.

22. Our leader Madam Speaker on the other hand, has always viewed the owner-ship of iTaukei land sacrosanct. We effectively have closed down all ability to convert iTaukei land to freehold as was done in Denarau and Momi.

23. Madam Speaker as Honourable Vuniwaqa has highlighted and I find it is extremely astounding that the SODELPA members are now defending the permanent alienation of iTaukei land.

24. If, Madam Speaker, the Opposition members were honest, they would know and tell themselves and all those who they are hood winking that the very essence of communal ownership of land is to safeguard its ownership not just for now but for the future generations.

25. Again as Honourable Vuniwaqa highlighted, land is used for cultural purposes and various rituals. So Madam Speaker because the Opposition did it, is it OK? Is it justifiable? Can you imagine Madam Speaker if we had done it or more importantly the wrong government did it? All hell would break loose.

26. Madam Speaker even from an economic perspective, it does not make sense.

27. By agreeing to permanently alien- ate these lands they essentially sent a message to investors that iTaukei

CONTINUES IN TOMORROW’S EDITION




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