Amnesty International condemns Hon. Roko Tupou Draunidalo’s suspension.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL – NEWSFLASH

3 June 2016

Fiji: Suspension of parliamentarian underlines government stranglehold on freedom of expression

The Fijian parliament must overturn the suspension of an opposition MP for merely exercising her right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

“Parliaments can only be worthy of their name when all members can speak freely on all issues,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

“Unless this suspension is immediately reversed, the Fijian authorities are proving they are intent on silencing critical voices.”

Tupou Draunidalo, an indigenous Fijian parliamentarian and member of the National Federation Party was suspended following a parliamentary motion on 3 June 2016 for calling a government minister “a fool” while responding to comments deriding opposition members of parliament.

Draunidalo asked the government minister if he was suggesting herself and other indigenous members of the opposition were “dumb natives”.

Under the terms of the suspension, Draunidalo will not be able to sit in parliament for the remainder of its term. She was elected to parliament in September 2014, in Fiji’s first election in eight years.

The suspension underlines the Fijian authorities’ ongoing hostility to criticism, including persistent and wide-ranging restrictions on what journalists can report.

Since 2010, Fiji’s media has been subject to undue restrictions laid out in ‘The Media Industry Development Decree,’ which includes potential imprisonment for news editors who do not uphold “the national interest.”

“If Fiji is serious about its bid for the UN Human Rights Council, they must demonstrate they are serious about upholding human rights at home,” said Rafendi Djamin.

“Letting Draunidalo take up her rightful place in parliament, with all due protections for her right to freedom of expression, will be an important first step.”

Hon. Tupou Draunidalo’s response on the Report that calls for suspending her from Parliament for the rest of her term

Friday 3 June, 2016

Madam Speaker

It is sad that the Attorney has seen fit to create this big drama from his and his government’s racist and insecure perspective of everything.

We in my party know only too well that this government loves the race card. Their very existence and survival depends on it.

Their movement began in December 2006 after successfully painting the SDL government as a racist government and it did not help that prominent leaders of the non-indigenous communities at the time fell for that spin and joined the then Commodore’s bandwagon.

They have since fallen out of course because those leaders saw the error of what they had joined and are now back in a large grouping of multicultural opposition parties who are opposed to the race/card playing government that sits on the other side.

This government wants everything to be about race because it suits their agenda of divide and rule.

It is sad, very sad for Fiji. A country that has had political upheavals for thirty years because politicians have played the race card – which gives the military the key to carry out their military coups.

The military coup culture that I have railed against in this House and outside, day in day out.

And really Madam speaker, that is what this government objects to. They want me and my party out of here by any means because we do not subscribe to their race relations disaster views nor do we subscribe to their pro coup culture views. We detest both and say so in their face – and they just can’t handle that.

Now to address what transpired on the day in question- it is clear to us from the video and audio that the Hon Minister for Education was insulting us, taunting us and denigrating us – all of us on the opposition benches.

The Minister was pointing at the Leader of the Opposition and Members. Nodding his head and to us – it mirrored the racist ape gesture of the AG or darth vader in this House.

And all the while telling us that no one on our side including the Hon Prem Singh was a topper, he was implying that we were intellectually inferior.

This is not the first time that the Minister has behaved in this way. He always finds a way to insult Members of the Opposition. It’s a sport for him and he visibly enjoys himself while at it. He loves to dish out the insults.

But he can’t take any retort.

Back to the relevant time – the Hon Prem Singh by the way M/S is a fourth generation native of this country. Just in case that little fact was lost on the government.

Carrying on, Hansard does not record that I referred to the Minister as a fool. It is the AG who complained that I called the Minister a fool.

The Hansard does not pick up all of the free flowing discussion, interjections and words spoken at the time. But if you listen to the audio, it clearly is different from what the Hansard records.

And this is not the first time we have had issues with Hansard or Verbatim, M/S. It has happened before in committee and it led to the suspension of an important standing orders committee meeting (with you as chair) so that the verbatim could be corrected.

Back to the recording, I got up at the relevant time to reply to the AG’s complaint and I said ‘And he implied worse in his speech…’

then I asked ‘calling us dumb natives?’

before I said ‘You Idiot!’.

At the same time, the recording picks up an Hon Member near me asking the Minister ‘Are you calling us fools?’

Let me say something else about that exchange M/S – the Minister was calling himself a ‘topper’ back in the day but this term has only become part of a government policy over the last two years? Not when the Minister was qualifying for tertiary studies. It is therefore fair to say he was misleading parliament.

If he did not mean it in a literal sense then he was implying that he was an elite matriculating student while no one on the opposition bench was including the Hon Singh.

He was implying that we were intellectually inferior, dumb or idiots.
If he can dish it out M/S and you allow it- he should expect it back. And if that was his intention M/S – to denigrate all of us on this side in that way then he was a fool and an idiot for doing so.

And let me remind this government again, the Hon. Prem Singh is a fourth generation native. We don’t and did not see race. Only the government does because it suits their political agenda to carve up the country on race, gender and whatever else they can.

Divisive.

In any case M/S – you made a clear ruling after that exchange *Speaker made Ruling “Quote”

*And the House continued with its business

*We broke for morning tea and the AG joked to me while I was in line for lemon tea – about why did we get so riled up about being referred to as ‘non toppers’ and that instead of the words used I could have used the word ‘obtuse’.

I also shared a brief light moment with Minister Reddy on the way back to the House from the break.

That is where we could have left the matter M/S, but no… the AG and his government want to play the race card in bringing these shoddy charges.

Again, when I asked the Minister if he was ‘referring to us as dumb natives?’ that included the Hon Prem Singh (fourth generation native) who was sitting next to me and was certainly subjected to the Minister’s derogatory conduct.

And yes, I thought he was an idiot for doing so, behaving in such derogatory manner.

Especially when he has shifty ground to stand on- his ministry is a shambles, M/S. Children never get their materials, textbooks and learning on time.

There is mounting pressure on teachers and students. Especially regarding content and exams. 85,000 students are still under sheds and yet the Minister wants to spend his time in parliament acting in the way that he does.

So this is all a distraction from his problems, we know. And now the AG wants the distraction to last a little longer.

They should both take a leaf out of their PM’s book who made concessions in his speech yesterday instead of distractions, distractions, distractions to take attention away from the real issues of post Winston lack of finances and lack of recovery.

As for the charges of inciting ill will in the community- that is a joke coming from this divisive government that hangs on to the race card.

This government – that runs roughshod over indigenous cultural institutions- GCC, NLTB – and doing its best to tear up the social fabric or ‘solesolevali’ part of the indigenous culture… With ministers who make racist, derogatory comments whenever they feel the need…and insulting all races while they’re at it. Then they bring these shady charges to add salt to the wound.

Just yesterday, the AG implied that the Hon. Prem Singh was just a cane farmer who had no business discussing passport laws. You asked him to withdraw and he did after I intervened on behalf of the Hon Singh. Because I found his comments denigrating to cane farmers or those in cane farming in general.

I say again MS, please consider the context that I have put to you. You have the powers under S/O to put an end to all of this now without it going to a vote.

Everything that occurs here largely reflects back on you as you have the ultimate power to stop it.

And when you contemplate all of the context M/S, let me humanize this issue a bit more by telling the House (in case it needed telling) – that I come from a proud line of leaders who gave their lives to the service of racial harmony in this country.

My stepfather in 1987 and mother in the 1990s. Both removed from office (PM and DPM respectively) at gun point by soldiers with a racist and bigoted cause. My father suffered the same fate in 2006 and he had more close friends and namesakes in the other communities than the rest of us put together.

I followed both of the former into what was then predominantly parties for communities other than the indigenous community.

We could have all joined the predominantly indigenous parties and thrived, led there too in due course but we were and are about a beautiful vision for Fiji – a multicultural one where all cultures can be celebrated without offending another and where indigenous rights thrived simultaneously.

None of us could achieve any of that if we were all lumped on one side of the political divide. We needed to bridge the gap.

I am now president of the NFP, a party of fifty years plus that has always idealized multicultural harmony and peace. And by its many actions put that into practice. Working with the Alliance and later SVT governments to find common ground between the two big communities. Give and take and that is what we have preached to this divisive government day in day out… to be inclusive and to stop promoting feelings of ill will between the large communities…

As I said, others before me have given lifetimes of service to those ideals. I do and will continue to.

And all of these interruptions placed in our way are temporary in nature. History has shown – the interruptions and injustices augur well for us in the long run, history judges us very kindly.

So as PM Winston Churchill once told the fascists and Nazis of Europe – ‘Do your worst and we will do our best’. Thank you M/S.

Opposition Leader comments on suspension of NFP MP, Roko Tupou Draunidalo

Kepa: Suspension to bolster Opposition
By Nasik Swami
The Fiji Times. Saturday, June 04, 2016

OPPOSITION Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa says the suspension of Roko Tupou Draunidalo will not weaken the Opposition but strengthen it further in their fight to achieve genuine democracy in Fiji.

Ro Teimumu said the Opposition had now lost two of its members in Parliament because of some disappointing decisions made by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.

She said the Opposition would continue to do everything within the law.

“We don’t go outside of the law to carry out a coup or to take up a leadership position anywhere. What we have done has been consistent and we will abide by what the laws say we can do,” Ro Teimumu said.

She said the suspension handed to Roko Tupou was “very harsh, inhumane and of great injustice”.

“We have heard things said about us (Opposition) and we just let it pass and in this particular case, it is unfortunate that it has come up with the committee and we have seen what has happened and that means two of our members are not in Parliament.”

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said the
suspension was a sad day for democracy in Fiji.

“It’s a great setback for any progress we might have expected towards genuine democracy in Fiji,” Prof Prasad said.

He said suspending a MP was not a way to practise genuine democracy and respect for people’s choice in Parliament.

“What this action basically does as it did in the case of Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu (SODELPA MP) is that it denies the people the legitimate representation in Parliament.

“The matter, of course, will be considered by the party at its working committee and we will be, as a party, exploring the possibility of taking this matter to court to challenge the constitutionality of the decision and procedures that might have been followed to arrive to this decision.”

He said Roko Tupou had provided strong leadership to the party since she took up the position in 2014.

“I want to say to all the supporters that Roko Tupou’s suspension creates a vacuum in the party in Parliament and that is highly regrettable but I can assure the supporters that the NFP will come out strong, out of all these events and cause of action that the FijiFirst Government has initiated and taken or forced in Parliament.”

He said the party would continue its historical and principle stand to fight for genuine democracy, freedom and human rights in this country until it was achieved fully.

Senior academic Dr Neelesh Gounder, who teaches economics of
governance at the University of the South Pacific, said although
disciplinary matters were a component of democracy, suspension of more than two years seemed over the top.

“Such a harsh punishment is not in the spirit and principles of democracy. The Government has numbers in Parliament but it is the duty of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee to take account of disciplinary options within the context of consensus building rather than confrontation,” Dr Gounder said.

Request for what is genuine – an Opinion by the NFP Leader

Request for what is genuine
Opinion by Professor Biman Prasad
The Fiji Times, Saturday, June 04, 2016

Genuine parliamentary democracy is a prerequisite for sound and sensible economic policies vital for genuine economic growth and not the consumption-driven economy Fiji is witnessing.

Most importantly the people must enjoy unfettered fundamental freedoms. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The imposed 2013 Constitution under which the 2014 general election took place was never intended to promote genuine democracy in Fiji. In fact I
believe the purpose and intention of the 2013 Constitution was to ensure those who ruled during the military regime continued into power after the 2014 election.

Decrees in force

Regressive and draconian decrees are still in force. The 2013 Constitution is subservient to these decrees, even Chapter 2, the Bill of Rights. So the claim that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land is farcical.

The Constitution prohibits any legal challenge to the validity of the decrees and promulgations made between December 5, 2006 and the first sitting of Parliament, which was October 6, 2014. And no decisions made under the decrees and promulgations can be challenged.

Section 173 (subsection 3) of the Constitution stipulates how decrees can be amended by Parliament. But at the same time no such amendments shall have retrospective effect, nullify any decision made under the decrees and promulgations, or grant any compensation, damages, relief, remedy or reparation to any person affected by these laws.

The political deception that has been created that Fiji has a genuine democracy under the 2013 Constitution is the biggest lie. Many of Fiji’s international partners, including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), have called for a review of the 2013 Constitution because they know it is not a constitution, which promotes genuine democracy.

The separation of powers, the derogations in the Bill of Rights, the ouster clauses, and the existence of the draconian decrees all render the Constitution undemocratic and unsustainable in the future.

For example, the Public Order Amendment Decree (POAD) remains in place. Under this decree an accused person could be held in custody for 16 days without being charged. The 2015 US State Department report on human rights in Fiji report specifically highlights the POAD.

Other undemocratic provisions

Section 131 (2) of the Constitution states the following: “It shall be the overall responsibility of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to ensure at all times the security, defence and wellbeing of Fiji and all Fijians”

The military therefore can define the “wellbeing” of the people and can use this quite easily to interfere in the way in which a government runs. In other words, it can legally make political decisions.

Some constitutional experts and observers have identified Burma’s 2008 Constitution as unique in its difficulty to change. Peter Popham in his book “The Lady and the Generals” (2016:67) observes, “No constitution in the world other than Myanmar’s has an amendment procedure which requires approval by more than 75 per cent of members”.

In fact Myanmar’s constitution requires 75 per cent of parliamentarians to amend it. We could easily add Fiji as another country in the world other than Myanmar whose constitution has an amendment procedure which makes it almost impossible to make any amendment.

Section 160 of the Fiji Constitution requires 75 per cent of the Parliament to approve an amendment — and then 75 per cent of registered voters!

Therefore the notion that the Constitution is supreme is meaningless. We have a parliamentary democracy established under a Constitution that basically plays the role of bridesmaid to decrees and promulgations.

Additionally, there are serious issues regarding the separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary and other independent State institutions.

For example the Constitutional Offices Commission is chaired by the Prime Minister, and has the Attorney-General plus two members appointed by the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and her nominee. Effectively this is a government committee with a token representation from the Opposition. It is hard to imagine how this commission can be politically neutral and independent.

No fundamental rights

Among the decrees and promulgations that erode fundamental rights and freedoms are the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Decree of 2013, the Electoral Decree of 2014 and the Media Industry Development Authority Decree of 2010.

The Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree of 2011 was twice amended in Parliament because of the threat of a commission of inquiry by the ILO. While the amending Acts give some freedom to workers for the right to organise and form trade unions, basically all industries in the country have been declared essential, thereby prohibiting strikes, pickets and protests by trade unionists.

The airline industry, banking and finance sector, communications sector, local government or municipal councils, to name a few, are severely affected by this restriction.

Similarly, the Political Parties Decree and the Electoral Decree prohibit trade unionists and employees of unions from contesting elections. They have to resign their positions in order to do so. They are ridiculously classified as public officers.

Free media

The continuation of the Media Industry Development Decree will render meaningless all talk of Fiji once again being a genuinely democratic nation.

In a real democracy people have the liberty to speak openly and candidly. The government of the day listens and the media exercises its role as the messenger and watchdog of democracy, and as an independent institution, responsibly asserts the right to speak, criticise and agree, without fear or favour, and not merely echoing the voice of Parliament or the executive government.

Only a cosmetic change to the decree was made in July last year when fines against individual journalists were reduced. But editors/publishers and media owners face stiff penalties and for supposed breaches. The owner of a media organisation faces a fine of up to $100,000 while editors and publishers can be fined up to $25,000.

The media must be allowed to freely scrutinise the consequences of actions and decisions of all of us as their representatives in the highest court of the land and Government on ordinary people, while consciously representing the interests of the disadvantaged and downtrodden in society and not just the powerful and wealthy or its owners and advertisers.

It is essential in this regard that Government treats all the media on a level playing field. We know that one newspaper, which is little more than a propaganda arm of this Government, receives about $5 million of government advertisements denied to the competing newspaper.

Proof of it is that this newspaper has barely carried any stories on the revelations of the Auditor-General reports tabled in Parliament after the elections. News releases by opposition political parties are hardly printed and when they are, the story is either a small item or given a different meaning.

For three years until last year one television station was given six monthly licences while the State-owned television station had the luxury of not only financial support but also a long-term licence.

Therefore, freedom to scrutinise and make known to all, if available to Fiji’s entire media, will ensure accountability, transparency and good governance. This is sadly lacking with a few exceptions, mainly the oldest newspaper in the country.

MOG recommendations

Genuine democracy and parliamentary democracy can be achieved to some measure if the recommendations of the annual Report of the Electoral Commission for 2014 and, especially the Report of the Multi-national Observer Group (MOG), which monitored the September 2014 elections, are implemented. It is vitally important that recommendations of the reports be incorporated in any strategic planning undertaken by the Fijian Elections Office as part of preparations for the next general elections scheduled for 2018.

This can only happen if Government brings before Parliament, the Media Decree, Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Decree and the Electoral Decree, to make the necessary changes as recommended by the MOG, to make the next elections credible.

The recommendations contained in the 53-page MOG report are credible and highlights the difficulties and frustrations faced by the political parties, candidates, the media and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) during the last elections.

On the media, MOG rightly noted that harsh penalties in the Media Decree prevented most media outlets from effectively reporting on election issues.

The MOG rightly recommended the need for regulation as well as an independent institution to prevent and adjudicate on media bias thus ensuring a level-playing field among election participants, as well as a review of penalties in the Media Decree.

The fact that MOG has recommended for an independent institution proves MIDA’s lack of neutrality because it is a body appointed by Government. A free, fair, credible and unfettered media industry in Fiji is rendered meaningless if MIDA continues to exist.

The MOG report also highlights the need for amendment to the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Decree. It rightly points out that the broad definition of a “public office” holder excludes a large number of citizens from freely participating in the political process. Furthermore the report describes the prohibition on trade union officials from being members of political parties, as a limitation on political freedom.

The MOG has recommended for requirements to be reduced for political party registration as well as allow public office holders and trade union officials to be political party members.

This has been the case throughout our independent history.

The MOG has recommended changes to the Electoral Decree. Most importantly, the MOG notes that the absence of political party identification from the ballot paper and National Candidates List was unusual — the lack of any names, symbols and photographs on the ballot paper.

The MOG also observed that voters were prohibited from bringing “how-to-vote” pamphlets into polling stations and anyone caught breaching this provision faced a hefty fine of $50,000 or imprisonment of a term up to 10 years, or both.

Furthermore, NGOs were denied the right to be election observers. The MOG has recommended the following changes to change to ensure credibility of the election process:

* Symbols and names of candidates to be included on the ballot paper and the National Candidates List;

* Penalties for election related offences to be reviewed in accordance with international standards and practice; and

* Government should review and finalise all existing electoral laws and regulations well in advance of the next election.

If Government truly believes in “common and equal citizenry” and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, it should have no hesitation in accepting the recommendations of the MOG, which observed the elections in strict compliance with Government’s terms of reference.

Government has so far not commented on the recommendations of the report. Nor has the parliamentary standing committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights scrutinised the reports one year after it was referred to it.

The recommendations have to be implemented to ensure the next general elections are credible, without any perceived or real fear of suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms.

The road ahead

Twenty months after the general elections, the FijiFirst Government thinks it is still in election and campaign mode. It is indulging in fear mongering and “my way or the highway” style of rhetoric in an attempt to promote dislike of the Opposition among the people of Fiji.

All these are nothing but an attempt to disguise the fundamental concerns affecting the country like continuing suppression of freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Our restoration of democracy has basically been a transformation from military dictatorship to parliamentary dictatorship.

We cannot continue like this any longer. The notion that a single individual, one party or one organisation knows all the answers has not worked anywhere in the democratic world. Similarly, “I know it all” will have to end in Fiji.

A good example of this has been Government's approach on a new flag for Fiji. While this has been put on the back burner because of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, Government is adamant that Fiji will have a new flag. It has rejected calls for a referendum — something that New Zealand adopted recently because a flag is the most important national symbol. But
in Fiji, Government thinks views received through text messages and the social media are good enough!

The PM has to honour his pledge of working together with the Opposition made during his maiden address in Parliament October in October 2014 if he genuinely believes in common and equal citizenry and building lasting social, economic and political stability.

He must accept that the draconian and regressive decrees and
promulgations that erode Chapter 2 or the Bill of Rights in the Constitution should be amended or better still repealed.

The Prime Minister must accept the fact that the so-called salient
provisions of the Constitution that he espouses as the way forward for Fiji are subservient to these decrees and promulgations.

Therefore, this necessitates a bi-partisan approach in Parliament to amend and repeal these and at the same time establish a commission to review the contentious provisions of the Constitution as highlighted by the working group of the UNHRC in late 2014.

There is no other alternative apart from this noble and sensible approach to curing the social, economic and political ills of our nation.

Severe TC Winston has been a huge setback for our people in the affected areas and for the country as a whole. However, the support that we have received and continue to receive from our international partners — co-ordinated support from both Australia and New Zealand brings home the fact that these two neighbours are so vitally important for Fiji both economically and politically.

It is perhaps time for the Bainimarama Government to rewrite its script where its strategic, economic ties are concerned with Australia and New Zealand. This means that we should work hard to forge a closer, much more deeper and meaningful integration with Australia and New Zealand.

This we can do if we move towards a meaningful political reform in Fiji so that we can achieve genuine democracy in Fiji and move away from the dictatorial decrees and indeed the dictatorial 2013 Constitution.

The first step towards these reforms is for the FijiFirst Government to set up a joint parliamentary committee to repeal and amend all draconian decrees preserved in the Constitution and further set up a constitutional commission to further change the Constitution.

For their part Australia and New Zealand must continue to also push for those political reforms as the 2013 Constitution and the so-called democracy in Fiji is not sustainable.

Prime Minister John Key’s proposed visit to Fiji would definitely be
welcomed by the people of Fiji as our people to people relationship is warm and cordial. Many would see this visit as further strengthening our ties but many would also expect some good messages to the government to improve our democracy and its institutions.

We have about two years to undertake some of the key political reforms so the 2018 general election is a genuinely free and fair election through which we can set the foundation for further reforms to bring about genuine democracy in Fiji.

* Professor Biman Prasad is the leader of the National Federation Party. This opinion is based on excerpts of his speech on May 26 at Centre for Strategic Studies, Victoria University, Wellington, NZ. The views are his own and not of The Fiji Times

 

Motion calling for independent audit of sugar mills

Motion defeated
By Felix Chaudhary
The Fiji Times, Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A MOTION calling for an independent audit of accidents which resulted in deaths at Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) mills was defeated when it was put to the vote in Parliament yesterday.

National Federation Party parliamentarian Prem Singh had called for an independent audit of the mills before the start of the 2016 crushing season with the focus to be on mill operations and occupational health and safety measures.

“The FSC executive chairman commented in the media that health and safety regulations were not being adhered to by mill workers,” Mr Singh said.

“This is preposterous. He has clearly shifted blame and ignored the failure of FSC to strictly adhere to and implement provisions of Health and Safety at Work Act of 1996.

“The FSC has been sidestepping the fundamental issue of whether there are properly constituted occupational health and safety committees at each of the four mills.

“And if so, whether the committees are functional and independent or riddled with interference from the management.”

Mr Singh was referring to the deaths of Setareki Sigatokacake and Keni Senimoli.

Mr Sigatokacake died in July, 2013 from injuries sustained when a vessel containing extremely hot liquid collapsed at the Lautoka mill.

Mr Senimoli died last July allegedly from injuries sustained from a
conveyor belt at the Rarawai mill in Ba.

Both men were sole breadwinners and left behind dependent wives and school-aged children.

Two other workers suffered extensive burns after two more accidents at the Rarawai mill.

Industrial Relations Minister Semi Koroilavesau responded to Mr Singh’s motion by saying the issue had been blown out of proportion.

“We do not need to exaggerate and be emotional about an issue for public show,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“Let me state at the outset that accidents and death is a fact of our daily life. The probability of accidental death depends on the activities that one participates in.

“We as Government do not think an independent audit is necessary.”

Mr Koroilavesau said Government had collaborated with FSC to design, develop and commission a comprehensive OHS management system with the primary aim of providing a safe and healthy workplace in all sugar mills in Fiji.

NFP Motion for Parliament to agree to an independent audit of FSC mills

Deaths at sugar mills not normal – Singh
By Dhanjay Deo. Fiji Village. Wednesday 01/06/2016

“Deaths at sugar mills are not normal.”

This was stressed by NFP Parliamentarian, Prem Singh as he moved a motion for Parliament to agree to an independent audit of the Fiji Sugar Corporation’s mills before the start of the current crushing season, focusing on mill operations and Occupational Health and Safety procedures.

He said this is in light of five accidents resulting in three deaths in the last two years in FSC’s mills.

Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations, Semi Koroilavesau stated in his response that accidents and deaths are a fact of life.

He said the probabilities of accidental deaths depend on the activities that one participates in.

The motion was defeated as 28 Parliamentarians voted against it while

16 voted in favor of it. Six MPs did not vote.

Set up Education Commission to address issues affecting the Education system: NFP Leader

Reddy reveals plans while Prasad says it is not enough
By Nirupa Siwan. Fiji Village. Tuesday 31/05/2016

Close to 82 percent of the secondary schools are having afternoon classes to improve the performance of students.

Minister for Education, Dr Mahendra Reddy revealed this in Parliament today.

Doctor Reddy said approximately 50 percent of the schools are having Saturday classes while 25 percent of the schools are ready for evening and night classes.

He also revealed that teachers are now using digital technology and full learning methods to ensure time saving and better delivery.

Doctor Reddy stressed that to improve the national literacy among the primary school students, year 1 and 2 students have now started with General Studies.

The Minister added that they are compiling the past years material for students so that they can improve their performance in the external examinations.

He said these materials will be distributed soon.

Doctor Reddy also said that to improve the performance of teachers and students, 1,805 teachers and 30,094 students in various schools of Fiji have undergone Psychological Support Management.

Meanwhile, National Federation Party parliamentarian, Professor Biman Prasad said they do not want to hear about the quantity of work the Ministry is doing but they want to know about the quality of work is done by the Ministry.

Professor Prasad said an Education Commission should be set up to address issues affecting the education system in the country.