Analysis | Politics

Should The 24 Opposition MPs Be Paid?

If the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team had decided that they did not like the decision by referee Rasta Rasivhenge and chose to walk off the field, Fijians fans would be outraged.
20 Feb 2020 10:01
Should The 24 Opposition MPs Be Paid?
SODELPA Members of Parliament Peceli Vosanibola and Viliame Gavoka join other members of the Opposition in their chambers after staying away from a Parliament sitting again on February 19, 2020. Photos: Ronald Kumar

For two days now, Opposition Members of Parliament from SODELPA and National Federation Party gave the Parliament sitting a miss.

In a rugby crazy nation, an apt analogy could be drawn involving our favourite game. If, during a rugby match the referee makes a decision, which is not acceptable by one of the two teams on the field, does that team leave the field? No. They play, they perform to the best of their ability, they do not quit, they do not give up.

If the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team had decided that they did not like the decision by referee Rasta Rasivhenge and chose to walk off the field, Fijians fans would be outraged.

Something far worse than this has been happening in our Parliament. Our Opposition members have taken it upon themselves to sit in their chambers instead of holding Government accountable in Parliament. This is wrong! For two days now, these 24 MPs are being paid for doing absolutely nothing.

In the private sector, no employer would pay his employee for not turning up to work only because a supervisor had made a decision that was not liked by the employee. There are processes to address grievances and the employer would expect the employees to follow that.

SODELPA Opposition Members of Parliament hired a minivan on February 19, 2020, and took a trip to Sigatoka after they walked out of Parliament again. They travelled to Sigatoka to visit some landowners concerned about a proposed mining venture with an Australian company. Photos: Ronald Kumar

SODELPA Opposition Members of Parliament hired a minivan on February 19, 2020, and took a trip to Sigatoka after they walked out of Parliament again. They travelled to Sigatoka to visit some landowners concerned about a proposed mining venture with an Australian company. Photos: Ronald Kumar

This raises the question. Do these 24 MPs deserve to be paid for deliberately staying out from the sitting?

What is the Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka getting $150,000 for? For leading his side out every time their ill-thought out petitions are ruled against?

Which brings us to another MP, the leader of the National Federation Party, Biman Prasad. As clearly seen during the sessions, Mr Prasad is sometimes hardly in the House. He is often in and out of Parliament, but there have been far and few days when he had sat right through.

The Opposition has said it wants clarity from the Speaker, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. What clarity? Ratu Epeli was very clear in his ruling. He has said the same things several times before. If the Opposition is unable to comprehend the rulings of the Speaker, they are themselves to be blamed. Walking out helps no one.

It most certainly does not help those who voted the 24 into Parliament and the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are paying the salaries of these boycotting MPs.

Is this why they were gunning for more sittings? Opposition MPs cannot even keep up with the current sitting dates.

The Opposition 24 should not be paid for missing two days of Parliament sitting and if they decide to continue this circus today, then they should not be paid for today as well.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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