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Lt. Pio Tikoduadua replies to Nemani’s article.

April 20, 2017

 

Mr Nemani Delaibatiki

Managing Editor (Training)

Fiji Sun

SUVA

 

Bula Nemani

You wrote an interesting analysis piece yesterday on my understanding of Parliamentary caucus rules. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, but I beg to differ. I believe under the Media Code of Conduct I am entitled to the opportunity to reply to any commentary on me, so I am offering to you this short reply for your consideration. I hope that as a responsible newspaper and in the interests of balance – and considering an alternative viewpoint – you would consider it for publication.

 

You may reach me on my mobile 719 6802.

Pio Tikoduadua

 

On Wednesday 19 April Nemani Delaibatiki wrote an “analysis” piece in the Fiji Sun headed “Pio Tikoduadua’s Lack of Understanding of How Parties Work Shows Through Now.” He was commenting on the incident that caused me to leave the Fiji First Government in 2015. This was my disagreement with Prime Minister Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney General Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on how to handle the dissent of Fiji First MP Dr Neil Sharma.

Nemani suggests that I do not understand how political parties work or the need for party discipline in parliamentary voting.  This criticism is certainly new. I never suffered such criticism when I was a member of the Fiji First Party government!

You do not need to be a genius to know that a governing party needs all of its MPs to vote for its position on important legislation. If its MPs do not, the governing party does not achieve its policy aims and it is not being faithful to the voters who elected it.

But Dr Sharma did not vote against government legislation. He voted with the Opposition on a Friday afternoon adjournment motion, the kind where Parliament expresses a view about a particular issue, often raised by the Opposition.

Adjournment motions do not spend government money. They do not create new laws. They are a chance for MPs to discuss with each other what the people are talking about.  Often the Opposition takes advantage of this opportunity. The Opposition also represents citizens of our country and their voices should also be heard.  Adjournment motions are an opportunity for the Government to talk less and listen more.

I do not even recall the exact terms of the motion. I think it called for action on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).  Dr Sharma is a medical doctor. He is a former Minister for Health. No doubt he felt strongly about these issues. He voted with the Opposition.

There is a paranoid element in the Fiji First Party that treats any sign of dissension as a threat which must be immediately suppressed.  This is similar to the Soviet Union in the time of Josef Stalin. In Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s words, Dr Sharma had to be “made an example”. He had to be forced out of Parliament to warn other MPs not to do the same.

The Fiji First Party has 32 out of 50 seats in Parliament.  This was an adjournment motion. It did not compel the Government to do anything (except listen to some opposing views for a few a minutes).

For anyone who is paying attention, NCDs are right now the biggest threat to the health and well-being of Fiji’s people. If a Government MP votes with the Opposition, that is a wake-up call for the Government.  The Government needs to listen and learn about why that MP feels so strongly that he would put at risk his relationship with his fellow party members.

Dissent, in the right measure, strengthens, not weakens, organisations. It means that we are keeping an open mind and looking for better ways to meet our goals.

Weak people fear dissent. They are not confident that their arguments are better than the dissenters.  They are afraid of other people being seen to be better than they are.

So, Nemani, party discipline certainly has its place in Parliamentary government. But imagination, tolerance and listening to other points of view is how you strengthen your party for the future.  People who know that you are listening to them, not dictating to them or threatening them, are the people who will vote with you when you really need the support.

That is how strong political parties work. The same is true of nations.

 

NFP WILL REPEAL PARLIAMENTARY REMUNERATIONS DECREE

A National Federation Party Government will repeal the Parliamentary Remunerations Decree and will, through Parliament, establish an independent emoluments commission to look at salaries, perks and privileges of Members of Parliament.

 

Until the determination is set by a Parliamentary emoluments commission, the salaries of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers will be automatically reduced by 25% from the current exorbitantly highly and self-determined salaries done by the Fiji First Government.  Similarly, rates of allowances and per diem will be reduced.

 

The independent emoluments commission will determine the salaries of all public office holders including the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker.  Unlike before there is no relativity of the salaries of office holders to those of the Leader of the Opposition and Members of Parliament.

 

It must be recalled that the Parliamentary Remunerations Decree was promulgated by the Fiji First Government on 3rd October 2014, 3 days before the resumption of parliamentary democracy. This basically means that the Fiji First Government prescribed for themselves what their salaries should be!

 

Furthermore, while paying themselves exorbitant salaries, Government is stifling resources and funding for the Opposition. Worse of all, the weekly salary and allowances of the Prime Minister is manifestly more than what an ordinary worker would earn in a year on the meagre minimum wage rate of $2.32 an hour.

 

The Attorney General and Minister for Economy’s excuse that large salaries for Government Ministers avoids corruption is pathetic and self-serving. He conveniently sidestepped the issue that was raised by students during his Budget consultation who probably know much better.

 

 

There continues to be one rule for Government Ministers and one rule for everybody else. The lower ranks of public servants are under intense scrutiny through anti-corruption laws and FICAC (Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption).

 

Against this backdrop the Attorney General justifies payment of unilaterally imposed large salaries for Government Ministers under the pretext of preventing them from being tempted into corruption.

 

On 29th September last year, parliamentarians voted for themselves, the PM and Cabinet Ministers, a massive increase in allowances and per diem. Only the NFP voted against it and refused to accept the increased allowances or personally benefit from it. Any increased allowances paid to our Members is used for relief assistance. Members of Parliament voting for a monetary increase for themselves based on a report done by themselves breaks every fibre of transparency, accountability and good governance.

 

The Leader of the Opposition and Opposition MPs have also contributed 10% of their annual salary of $50,000 towards relief work for TC Winston. The NFP Leader has contributed 50% of his annual salary of $50,000. There were no such reciprocal measures done by Fiji First Government despite enjoying massive salaries.

 

The salary levels of the PM and Government Ministers is unprecedented in our history. All except four Cabinet Ministers are earning $185,000 per annum. Three Ministers are receiving $200,000 per annum. The salary of the Attorney General is set at $235,0000 annually.

 

 

And the Prime Minister is paid $328,750 per annum. This is a 210% increase from the base salary of the PM in 2006 before the coup. The Prime Minister’s overseas travel per diem has increased by 200% from post election levels. If he travels to New Zealand, he will receive almost $3,000 per night. This is the least amount of per diems that he will receive, if compared against travel to Europe or the United States or Asia.

 

The people of Fiji need to be reminded that at the time of the coup, Commodore Josaia Voreqe famously claimed no one in his team would profit from the coup. Ten years on, he now pays himself the biggest prime ministerial salary in Fiji’s history. This is yet another forgotten and shattered promise on the part of Fiji First.

Authorised by: –

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

 

NFP LEADER- We will repeal Remunerations Decree – Media Release April 2017

 http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=397348

 

NFP- NO Principle Trade-off

THE FIJI TIMES; BY Aqela Susu Wednesday, April 19 2017

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?ref=archive&id=397227

THE National Federation Party will not compromise its principles and position in respect to coups, says party leader Professor Biman Prasad. His comment comes after the inclusion of former minister for infrastructure and transport in the FijiFirst government Pio Tikoduadua into the party.
He said NFP remained the only party in the country that never supported a coup and would never do so. “There is no compromise in the party’s position in respect to our opposition to the coups and our opposition to a government born out of the coup,” he said.
“We do not see any contradiction in what the party has always stood for and Mr Tikoduadua’s entry into the party does not change that long held and principled position of the party in respect to coups.
“Mr Tikoduadua was not even in Fiji when the coup took place. Yet he was a serving military officer, he remained in the military and he became a significant member of the civil service in the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Prof Prasad said since their meeting at the United Nations Roundtable a few years back, it was clear that Mr Tikoduadua wanted good, progressive, stable and a democratic Fiji.
“He shared the values of the NFP at that time, the principles on which the NFP stood. He has joined the party because he shares the party’s principles and the values and it is a common ground with his own thinking on where this country should go. “We have no doubts at all about welcoming him with open arms. We believe that the party must accept individuals with similar principles and
values.
“It’s not about whether Mr Tikoduadua was a civil servant in the militaryregime. There are other civil servants there and there were other military officers and non-military officers who chose to serve as civil servants. “The definition of civil servants is that they remain the servant of the people and Mr Tikoduadua in my view and in the party’s view was a servant of the people of this country as a senior civil servant.” Prof Prasad said the party has been getting positive responses from many of its supporters after Mr Tikoduadua’s declaration of interest to apply to contest next year’s poll on a NFP ticket. “I know Mr Tikoduadua has a lot of support and there have been a lot of positive reactions from all groups of people, including many young people. “Having being a significant politician and individual himself, we look forward to him playing a very important role in the party between now and the election and after the election.”

Pio opens up

Nasik Swami
Monday, April 17, 2017, Fiji Times

FORMER minister for infrastructure and transport in the FijiFirst-led government, Pio Tikoduadua, says he is not an opportunist and can not stand to take the back seat in national affairs.

Mr Tikoduadua made this strong statement while retorting to public queries on his silence from two years ago when his resignation based on medical grounds was announced. With the 2018 General Election less than a year away, Mr Tikoduadua bounced off comments from some members of the public and on social media that his announcement of joining the National Federation Party (NFP) and revealing his reason to resign from the FijiFirst Government was opportunistic in nature.

Yesterday, the new NFP member said he had no interest in power and it took him two years to come out and make his reason for resignation public because he needed time.

“I am not opportunist,” he said.

“I have absolutely no interest in power and the thing is I want to make a contribution and that is something that has emanated after two years of my staying in the village, I just could not stand to take the back seat.”

Mr Tikoduadua said certain things needed to come out at the right time.

“The answer for that is that there is a time in space where certain information comes up that is relevant to the time, particularly, as I am sitting in the village” Mr Tikoduadua said.

He said after staying in the village for two years following his untimely resignation, he needed to get things off his chest.

“And I needed to get this off my chest. Because there is no doubt about me being sick, and I am still sick. I am taking a lot of medication.

“But it needs to come off my chest so it frees me, I am free.

“That’s why it is coming now and in my current state I want to make a contribution and I cannot make a contribution for the future, unless I, first of all, acknowledge that gap, particularly in my life.

“So that’s why it came out today (yesterday) and relevant enough, it came out on Easter Sunday.”

He said he needed a platform that reflected his inspirations in the political realm.

Mr Tikoduadua said he felt free now and was ready to engage constructively in political activities.

At a press conference on Saturday, the new NFP member claimed that apart from his health condition, another factor that led to his resignation was a disagreement he had with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“In 2015, a FijiFirst party member of Parliament who was a backbencher voted with the Opposition on a parliamentary motion on health issues. He did this for reasons of conscience.

“This was courageous and principled, even if it was politically unwise. Some of my fellow ministers called for him to resign. I was not one of them.

“I gave my opinion to the PM that we should show flexibility and forgiveness,” he claimed.

“For me, this was an opportunity for the Government to listen and learn about why that one of its MPs had felt so strongly about an issue that he would vote with the Opposition.”

He claimed Mr Bainimarama had initially accepted and agreed with his recommendation and he later informed the MP that the matter was resolved.

“Unfortunately, the PM then took advice of the Attorney-General and changed his mind. I went back to argue my case again. He then informed me that my opinion did not matter,” Mr Tikoduadua alleged.

“I took that statement as an order that my services were no longer required. I then left the Government.”

Mr Tikoduadua said loyalty must be given to a leader but it must also be returned.

Mr Bainimarama has brushed aside claims made by Mr Tikoduadua, saying his comments were “irrelevant”.

Several attempts to get a comment from Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum remained unsuccessful when this edition went to press last night.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is in Washington on an official trip.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=396953

NFP Boost

Aqela Susu
Sunday, April 16, 2017 Fiji Times

Former FijiFirst member and Government Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Pio Tikoduadua speaks to the media during a press conference at the National Federation Party office in Tamavua, Suva on Saturday, April 15, 2017. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

TWO years after he resigned from the FijiFirst-led Government in Parliament, former minister for infrastructure and transport Pio Tikoduadua has declared he will apply to contest next year’s election on a National Federation Party ticket.

He made this announcement during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Tamavua, Suva yesterday.

Mr Tikoduadua resigned from Government in May 2015 citing health reasons associated with cancer. He said his health had improved in the past two years, which had led to his re-entry into politics.

But yesterday Mr Tikoduadua claimed that apart from his health condition, another factor that led to his resignation was a disagreement he had with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“In 2015, a FijiFirst party member of Parliament who was a backbencher voted with the Opposition on a parliamentary motion on health issues.

He did this for reasons of conscience.

“This was courageous and principled, even if it was politically unwise. Some of my fellow ministers called for him to resign. I was not one of them.

“I gave my opinion to the PM that we should show flexibility and forgiveness,” he claimed.

“For me, this was an opportunity for the Government to listen and learn about why that one of its MPs had felt so strongly about an issue that he would vote with the Opposition.”

He claimed Mr Bainimarama had initially accepted and agreed with his recommendation and he later informed the MP that the matter was resolved.

“Unfortunately, the PM then took advice of the Attorney-General and changed his mind. I went back to argue my case again. He then informed me that my opinion did not matter,” Mr Tikoduadua alleged.

“I took that statement as an order that my services were no longer required. I then left the Government.”

Mr Tikoduadua said loyalty must be given to a leader but it must also be returned.

However, this was not the case in this matter, he claimed.

“Fiji’s biggest problem at the moment is not that my opinion does not matter. It is that nobody’s opinion matters, except those of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. No-one else’s views are sought. No concession is made to any person with a different opinion. Nobody else can ever be right and they can never be wrong,” he claimed.

“This approach is deeply destructive of democracy and national unity. It divides Fiji it means that we lack a common vision and we operate in a climate of fear and restrictiveness. This is no way to run a country. This is no way to solve Fiji’s problems.”

When contacted for comments to those claims yesterday, Mr Bainimarama labelled Mr Tikoduadua’s statement as “irrelevant” and said he would not comment further on the issue.

“I have told all the media it’s not relevant. His comments are irrelevant,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Several attempts to obtain a comment from A-G Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum regarding the claims proved futile when this edition went to press last night.

Mr Tikoduadua also addressed his decision to work with the military government after the 2006 coup saying that he personally considered this to be a continuation of his military duty to the commander RFMF.

“I was part of the military government. I cannot and do not ignore that fact.

“I believed, rightly or wrongly, that the military could help to create an effective and sustainable democracy in Fiji. And whether I was right or wrong, I must accept responsibility for that fact,” he said.

April 15, 2017: Statement by the NFP Leader on Lt-Col Pio Tikoduadua joining the NFP

(As delivered today by Acting NFP President, Semi Titoko)

I am very pleased that Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua has decided to join us. As he has said, we got to know each other well during the UN Roundtable process.

This was a man who, although he was loyal to the RFMF and its then Commander, could listen with respect to our opposing views. He could accept criticism and look for common ground.

He was never arrogant to us. He built trust with us and welcomed our ideas. If the Prime Minister had listened more to Pio and less to other people, Fiji would be a very different place now.

People should clearly understand that Lt-Col Tikoduadua is not an ordinary politician. Many Fiji First Party MPs are unhappy with the Government’s direction, but they stay silent. On the other hand, Lt-Col Tikoduadua gave up his position in 2015 as a matter of principle.

He gave up his Ministerial and Parliamentary salaries. perks and privileges. Very few politicians would make such a sacrifice. We welcome Lt-Col Tikoduadua and his supporters to our party. We are proud that they have chosen to join us.

In next year’s general elections, NFP will put before the people of Fiji a strong line-up of candidates. These will be people who are well known in the community and who have the deep skills and experience required to work in the next Government. We intend to make the next election a serious contest for the people’s votes. We will be making further announcements in the weeks and months ahead about new people, new policies and our vision for the future.

We are inviting everyone to join us – as party members, candidates, volunteers or supporters – to help to change Fiji for the better. We believe that for NFP the best is yet to come.

Professor Biman Prasad
NFP Leader

Remember and Help Those Who Are Suffering.

As we enter the Easter long weekend and as Christians all over the world and in Fiji commemorate Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, we remember our many ordinary people who today endure suffering.

Let us remember and reach out to our suffering countrymen and women and see in them the message of Easter, and of the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Of those that are homeless and of which we see on the streets of our towns and cities; of those that are wondering what the next day will be with or without one full meal; of those that are sick or suffer from family tragedies; of those that still live and school in tents; of those whose dignity have been discarded.

Let us look and reach beyond our comfortable circle and communities – to those across from us, who endure suffering and condemnation.

Let us reach out and help them and continue with this message of Easter into our daily lives – not in just in words but in our own deeds.

May you all have a blessed Easter

Professor Biman Prasad

Leader Of NFP

Easter Message by NFP Leader

 

 

 

April 15, 2017: Statement by Lt Col Pio Tikoduadua – Member and Intending Candidate, National Federation Party

Text of Statement (please check against delivery) 
===================================================
Thank you all for being here today. I apologise to those of you that may have had to sacrifice time with your loved ones, this Saturday
of Holy Week to attend this press conference.

After consulting with my wife and our two teenage children, I am very grateful and humbled that they have given me their
unwavering support, blessings and understanding, to return to public life and service. This sacrifice made by my wife and children
comes with their conviction and understanding of the toll it could take on my health personally and my family security. However they
also understand my strong belief that contributing positively to our country – and doing so with integrity – not only pays in this life but
also in the next.

I have now joined the National Federation Party. I will be applying to be an NFP candidate in the 2018 general election.

I joined NFP after a number of conversations with its party leader, Professor Biman Prasad. In the years 2011 and 2012 the United
Nations convened a series of meetings between the military government and its opponents. This was a search for a way to
work together to restore democracy to Fiji.

That process did not succeed. But as a member of the Government at that time, I had many discussions with Professor
Prasad. I became convinced that consultation and consensus building with our opponents was the way to go. Professor Prasad
offered many positive ideas for our country that were falling on deaf ears.

I know about NFP’s deep history in Fiji. Unlike many other parties in Fiji, it was not formed for the purpose of becoming a
government. It was formed to defend people who were vulnerable and voiceless. At first this was the cane farmers. But over the
years it has become the voice of many more. These are not just Indo-Fijians. As Professor Prasad has reminded me, if NFP had
not had many thousands of i-Taukei votes in 2014, it would not be in Parliament right now.

The NFP has given to Fiji statesmen like Mr A D Patel, Mr S M Koya, Mr Jai Ram Reddy and Mr Harish Sharma. It has never
departed from its principles. At critical moments in Fiji’s history, it has always sought to do the right thing, even at the cost of votes.
At Independence in 1970, NFP allowed the Alliance Party to rule for two years instead of demanding an election. In 1999, it joined
hands with the SVT Party to offer the people a genuinely multiracial government, even though many of its supporters did not
agree. NFP has never supported a military coup.

In 2014, I had to choose sides to contest the general elections. I chose the Fiji First Party. But before I made this announcement I
rang Professor Prasad. I told him that if I had not chosen Fiji First, I would have chosen NFP. So here I am – even if it is three years
too late!

As many of you would know, I am a former Minister of the Fiji First Government and Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
Before that I was a career officer in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces for 20 years.

At the time of the 2006 coup, I was studying in Canberra at the Australian Command and Staff College. I joined the RFMF-led
Government, initially as Permanent Secretary for Justice and later serving the Commander RFMF and Prime Minister as Permanent
Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister from 2008 to 2014.

For me personally, I considered this as a continuation of my military duty to the Commander, spanning some 15 years from 1999 when I served
him as his Personal Staff Officer or Aide-de-Camp (ADC). Loyalty to your superiors is the essence of soldiering. I was part of the
military government. I cannot and do not ignore that fact.

I believed, rightly or wrongly, that the military could help to create an effective and sustainable democracy in Fiji. And whether I was
right or wrong, I must accept responsibility for that fact.

I was one of the 50 people elected to Parliament in 2014. I was and I still am very grateful for the overwhelming support of the
electorate in electing me.

I resigned from Fiji First and a Member of Parliament in May 2015. The reason I stated at that time for my resignation was that I had
serious health issues developing from my cancer condition. My doctors warned me this could recur if I was not mindful of my
personal health and stress. My health has improved during the last 2 years I have lived in my home village at Delasui. I continue
to manage my personal health as anyone else would do.

But there were other reasons as well for my departure.

I spoke earlier about loyalty. Loyalty must be given to a leader. But loyalty must also be returned.

In 2015 a Fiji First Party Member of Parliament who was a backbencher voted with the Opposition on a Parliamentary motion
on health issues. He did this for reasons of conscience.

This was courageous and principled, even if it was politically unwise. Some of my fellow Ministers called for him to resign. I was
not one of them. I gave my opinion to the Prime Minister that we should show flexibility and forgiveness. For me, this was an
opportunity for the Government to listen and learn about why that one of its MPs had felt so strongly about an issue that he would
vote with the Opposition.

The Prime Minister initially accepted and was agreeable to my recommendation. I told the MP the matter was resolved.

Unfortunately, the PM then took advice of the Attorney General and changed his mind. I went back to argue my case again. He
then informed me that my opinion did not matter.

I took that statement as an order that my services were no longer required. I then left the Government.

Fiji’s biggest problem at the moment is not that my opinion does not matter. It is that nobody’s opinion matters, except those of the

Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. No-one else’s views are sought. No concession is made to any person with a different
opinion. Nobody else can ever be right and they can never be wrong.

This approach is deeply destructive of democracy and national unity. It divides Fiji it means that we lack a common vision and we
operate in a climate of fear and restrictiveness. This is no way to run a country. This is no way to solve Fiji’s problems.

During my time in “retirement”, I kept a close interest on the effects on Fijian society of the decisions made on the national front, in
particular of Parliament and of the Executive. And the more I watched and listened, the more I became convinced that most, if
not all, the aspirations we in the RFMF had stood for together for democracy and the people have been cast aside today.

I am now an intending candidate for the National Federation Party. I will defend the aspirations of both the NFP and the values that
were instilled in me from my youth and that have sustained me in my life. These are integrity, honesty and trust – the same values
that I took through my military career and which I very dearly cherish through my Christian faith. These are the same principles
that I have held as an elected MP – that no matter what your background or religion, we are all equal in the eyes of God. The
same belief of Christianity being inclusive, with the central teachings of Christ being foremost – the Command to Love,
sacrifice, show compassion, mercy and forgiveness. Today is the eve of the Resurrection, an event that Christians regard as the
epitome of their faith and belief – the victory of good over evil, of life over death, of despair of eternal death to hope in salvation and
eternal life.

So today –

I now Stand Free. I stand to defend the values that I believe in as a humane person, a Fijian, an i Taukei and a farmer with roots
embedded in the village of Delasui in Korovou, Northland, Tailevu, a steadfast career military man, and most importantly to me as a
being – my family and Christian and Catholic values of freedom, equality, justice, democracy, selflessness, and of putting God and
country before oneself. I take these with me.

Today I am urging and encouraging all Fijians to stand tall too, and stand free. Let’s take this walk and let’s stand up for the truth, for
honour, justice, and democracy and for our voices. Let’s stand up for the life that each one of us, our children, and generations to
come, deserve. Let’s demand nothing less. Let’s not take a back seat but CHOOSE to define our destiny.

Thank you very much.

Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua
Ph: 7196802
Email: viotikoduadua@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/nfpfiji/videos/668706443317782/