First 20

Five of the first 20 list of pro­posed candidates announced in the FijiFirst line-up yesterday hold master's degrees.
07 Oct 2022 14:30
First 20
FijiFirst general secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, with the party’s first lot of proposed candidates who were announced at the party’s office in Brown Street, Suva, on October 6, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Five of the first 20 list of pro­posed candidates announced in the FijiFirst line-up yesterday hold master’s degrees.

There are six former school teach­ers, with former Commander of the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces Retired Rear Admiral, Viliame Naupoto, and former Commission of Police and diplomat, Ioane Na­ivalurua also in the list.

Notably; the former Land Transport Authority chief execu­tive officer, Naisa Tuinaceva, is also in the line-up.

During a party press conference at its office in Brown Street, Suva, general secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, also revealed that only one of the 27 current Members of Parliament has not reapplied.

“We have a good mixture in terms of age and professional skill sets,” he said.

“We have had close to 200 applica­tions and we are still are finalising the rest of the names.

“As far as the rest of the proposed candidates, we will be announcing them in the weeks to come. We ex­pect more women candidates.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that their selection criteria was that they had to believe in the ideals, values and principals of the party.

“Once you have that threshold, then we will look at other skills set that people may have.

“We were in fact, I have to say without necessarily revealing all the details, we had a large number of young people who applied.

“We had people who just started their first year of university, people who just finished university have applied.

“A lot of young people find Fiji­First attractive in the sense of val­ues, principles and ideals.”

Provisional candidates and who they are:

  • Asesela Cokanacagi, 60, was the general manager operations at Fiji Pine Group of Companies, where he spent 11 years working closely with the board and land­owners and retired in August, 2022.
  • Aliki Bia, 33, an experienced journalist and a youth advocate. He has worked as a senior television producer and senior news editor at CFL, Fijian Broadcasting Cor­poration, Fiji TV and just recently MaiTV. He holds a Diploma in Tropical Forestry and a Certificate of Emerging Leaders from the Aus­tralasian Leadership Institute.
  • Elaine Chandra, 32, is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education Research from the Atlantic Univer­sity of America. She is the only teacher in the country who served as a national youth advisor to the Fiji Youth Council. She has been in­volved closely in the national policy making process involving youths and climate change.
  • Hem Chand, 52, started his ca­reer as a teacher before becoming a Senior Lecturer in Education at the Fiji National University. He holds Masters in Education from Griffith University, Queensland in Austral­ia and a Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership from the University of Fiji.
  • Ifereimi Waisale Soata, 63, is currently pursuing his law degree at the University of the South Pa­cific. He holds a Diploma in Youth Development and a Diploma in So­cial Services.
  • Ioane Naivalurua, 64, is a for­mer Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, former Fiji’s Ambassa­dor to the People’s Republic of Chi­na, former Commissioner of Fiji Corrections Service, former Com­missioner of Police and Contingent Commander of UNAMIS (1FIR) to Iraq. In 2001, he attended Harvard University for the Senior Execu­tives in National and International Security Programme.
  • Jacob Abraham, 47, until re­cently was a Senior Committee Clerk to the Fiji Parliament Stand­ing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. He holds a Master of Arts in Governance and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Good Govern­ance.
  • Meleti Raimuria, 70, is a com­mercial farmer. He has a Certificate in Tropical Agriculture, a Certifi­cate in Timber Processing and Cer­tificate in Land Development. He is also the Chairman of Bulavou Cooperative Limited in Loa Village.
  • Mohammed Rafiq, 65, is a for­mer teacher and Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji Cane Growers Association. He has worked exten­sively with the cane farming com­munity.
  • Naisa Tuinaceva, 61, a former chief executive officer of the Land Transport Authority. He is cur­rently the chief executive officer at Vishnu Holdings Limited and Coastline Buses Limited. He has a Master’s in Business Adminis­tration from the University of the South Pacific and a Bachelor of En­gineering from Bolton University in the United Kingdom.
  • Peniasi Rawaidranu, 42, is a former teacher and the current President of Fiji Disabled People’s Federation. He worked with the Government on the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabili­ties (CRPD) and also on the Rights of Persons with Disability Act of 2018. He holds a Certificate in In­formation Technology from the Fiji National University.
  • Penijamini Vukivou, 55, is flu­ent in French. He obtained his Cer­tificate in French Language from University of Brussels, in Belgium. He also holds a Diploma in transla­tion French to English and English to French. As a Police Sergeant he held the post of Cluster Chief and was involved in community polic­ing.
  • Penioni Ravunawa, 50, is a registered dental practitioner. He holds a Master of International Relations and Diplomacy, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Law, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Inter­national Relations, and a Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching.
  • Ratu Josaia Niudamu, 34, is a lawyer. He was a Senior Legal Of­ficer at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He is cur­rently the principal at Niudamu Lawyers based in Rakiraki.
  • Rinesh Sharma, 29, represented Fiji at the Youth Co: Lab Summit in Singapore and at the Gen-Next De­mocracy Program in India earlier this year. A winner of the Common­wealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development in 2020, he was also the winner of Queen’s Common­wealth Trust Award in 2019. He was nominated for Forbes Asia Maga­zine 30 under 30 by UNDP- Asia in 2021. He has also won the Prime Minister’s International Business Award for entrepreneur in 2018. He also represented Fiji at the Young Pacific Summit in PNG.
  • Shalen Kumar, 40, was the As­sistant Principal at Dilkusha Meth­odist High School. He holds a Mas­ter of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language from the Univer­sity of Fiji, two Post-Graduate Di­plomas- one in Teaching English as a Second Language and one in Hin­di Literature and a Bachelor De­gree and a Diploma in Counselling from the Australia Pacific-Training Coalition.
  • Vereniki Sauturaga, 33, is a for­mer teacher. He is currently pursu­ing his Bachelor of Arts Language and Literature at the Fiji National University and a Diploma in Office Management at the University of the South Pacific.
  • Viliame Naupoto, 61, is the former Commander of the Repub­lic of Fiji Military Forces. He was the Minister for Youth and Sports in the Bainimarama Government before the 2014 general elections. Prior to that, he was the Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and Forests. He is also a former Director of Im­migration.
  • Watisoni Raikadroka, 43, is a former Assistant Roko Tui Lau and Namosi Province. He was a televi­sion and radio journalist. He holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Gen­der, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Gender, Global Change and Devel­opment in Comparative Perspec­tive and a Diploma in Leadership, Governance and Human Rights and a Diploma in Music. He is from Va­toa in Lau.
  • Zarina Begum Reece, 63, is a social worker and is a trained com­munity service provider. She was a collective member and full-time volunteer at the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and a legal rights training officer at the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement. She was also a project assistant for UN Women on various projects aimed at improving the lives of women and children. She is a Council Member for Fiji Crop and Livestock Council and President of Fiji Queen Bee Farmers Associa­tion.


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