Analysis

Nemani Delaibatiki: Prime Minister Scores Full Marks On The Truth Barometer

Fact-checking what the PM said produces a perfect result. He meant what he said when he said: “Don’t be fearful of facts. Embrace them.”
27 Nov 2019 13:52
Nemani Delaibatiki: Prime Minister Scores Full Marks On The Truth Barometer
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

Analysis:

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has scored full marks after a fact-checking exercise on what he said in Parliament last week.

What the PM said: The iTaukei are not marginalised.

FACT:  The iTaukei are indeed not marginalised. They cannot be compared to other indigenous people from around the world who have lost their land and live in a reserve.

They have a separate ministry, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, dedicated to looking after their interests. They are the only ethnic group that have their own ministry. That in itself highlights that in the climate of the equal citizenry under the 2013 Constitution, the iTaukei have a special and privileged space. Those who say that the iTaukei are marginalised must live on a different planet or in cyberspace. They have no idea what they are talking about.

Under the iTaukei Ministry, they have three institutions:

The iTaukei Land Trust Board, which administers and protects their land and natural resources

The iTaukei Land and Fisheries Commission keeps births, deaths record, and a genealogy of the iTaukei race. It also keeps a registration of chiefly titles and is the sole arbiter in a dispute. It also adjudicates in other traditional customary titles and rights disputes that are linked to land and natural resources like fisheries.

The provincial councils govern the affairs of the 14 provinces and are overseen by the ministry to ensure that the principles of good governance like transparency and accountability are complied with in order to deliver efficient service to the people. Previously, there were governance problems and the people suffered.

PM: Do you think that I or any of the proud iTaukei leaders seated alongside me feel marginalised in our own country? It is lunacy to suggest so.

FACT: Some of the most passionate defenders of iTaukei interests and rights are with Mr Bainimarama. Cabinet members like Inia Seruiratu, Jone Usamate, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Semi Koroilavesau and Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete and Osea Naiqamu stand solidly with the PM. They will strongly oppose any move to water down iTaukei rights on their land ownership, natural resources, culture and customary practices as enshrined in the 2013 Constitution.

PM: Our culture – the iTaukei culture – is helping lead the world through great challenges by re-shaping the minds of global leaders, through initiatives like the Talanoa Dialogue which is spurring global action on climate change.

FACT: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres led world leaders in praising Fiji’s leadership in the global battle on preserving oceans and fighting climate change.

He said in May this year it was inconceivable that a country like Fiji managed to have one of the strongest influences in the work of the United Nations and the international community during these two and half years.

“I express my greatest admiration for the efforts that the Government and people of Fiji are doing to fully assume this global citizenship,” Mr Guterres said.

“Fiji citizens are citizens of the world and Fiji is today an influential country in world affairs with, I would say, an impact that is out of proportion with the dimension of the country and number of citizens of its population.”

In Bonn, the iTaukei culture and the Talanoa session had a profound impact on global leaders in climate change dialogue. Mr Bainimarama, an iTaukei, led from the front as COP23 president.

PM: We hold a total and irrevocable ownership over nearly all of the land in the country, while other indigenous people are often contained in tiny reservations.

FACT: iTaukei now own at least 91 per cent of Fiji’s total landmass. In fact, their land ownership has grown from 83 per cent some years ago after the return of land they lost during the British colonial days.

PM: When the President was re-appointed to the highest office of the land, the SODELPA Opposition boycotted the event.

FACT: Not one SODELPA Member of Parliament was present at the event. Last week’s dismissal of the President’s address during the ceremonial opening of Parliament by SODELPA members was predictable and consistent with their original position.

PM: Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka was hypocritical and had no authority to lecture Parliament on graciousness.

FACT:  Mr Rabuka praised the President as a decorated military leader on one hand, but called the President’s address ungracious on the other.

It underlined the contradictions that  SODELPA has lived with all this time.

Their leaders vehemently rejected the 2013 Constitution, particularly the provisions on the common identity and the secular state.

If they were genuine they would not have contested the 2014 and 2018 General Elections because they were conducted on the provisions of the new electoral law under the Constitution they openly rejected.

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