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Record Number Attend NFP Labasa Rally

Ten days to go to polling and a record crowd turned up to listen to NFP Party Leader Biman Prasad, President Tupou Draunidalo, VP Parmod Chand and other candidates at the final Northern Division Rally at the Labasa Civic Center.

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National Federation Party: The choice of the 2014 general election

Speech delivered at NFP Rally, Labasa Civic Centre

10.30AM; Saturday September 5, 2014

By NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our meeting is shadowed by great pain today. Before I begin my address allow me to share our prayers for our brave men in uniform as they face this period of great uncertainty in the Mid East. Our prayers and solidarity are with the families of those in captivity. We join our Commander and The Secretary General of the United Nations Mr Ban Ki Moon in calling for the immediate release of all Fijian troops. The thoughts of the whole nation are with our men.

 

Ladies and gentleman

As we come towards the end of the most bitter and difficult campaign in our history, allow me to speak on the choices that lie before us.

 

Madam President and I have taken our campaign to all corners of Fiji. I have visited all our towns, 100s of villages, and met so many of you at your homes and in communities. Thank you for welcoming us so wholeheartedly.

 

For the first time in our country’s political history; tens of thousands of you have linked to us from across our country and the world through Facebook, twitter and the web. I thank so many of you who have joined up with our cause through new technology platforms. This is a significant new development that offers hope for our democracy but also hope for how we achieve greatness as a country.

 

The 2014 elections will go down as the most difficult general elections in our history. Our media remains under the tightest of Government control. Many voters are unable to speak freely because they fear being punished by the government. Our TV, radio and print media have shown an unprecedentant level of bias. Our NGO’s have been barred from promoting public debate. Our supporters have been threatened.

To the International observer group – I have said from the day I took over the leadership role – the mainstream media is fully under the control of the Government. The electoral regulations and procedures are so fully stacked against us. It is for you to make your own assessment of how free the 2014 general elections are going to be.

 

This general election reminds us as a country that the most pressing need is to restore our democracy. Our civil servants are kept under close scrutiny. Whole communities are deprived of government programs when their elders question the Government. Scholarships are terminated if you raise voices against the government. Businesses are victimized if they challenge unfair government policies. Journalists are expelled. Critics of government are barred from visiting their homeland. We are an undemocratic country.

To voters, I say these elections are historic.

In these 2014 general elections – the most basic choice is whether to restore democratic government or maintain an authoritarian government. This is the stark choice before the country.  

And so this election is historic. I ask of voters to be on the right side of history. Our children and grandchildren will judge us harshly if we waste this historic opportunity to vote for a government that promotes democracy and protects the human rights of all citizens.

 

Our message cannot be clearer. Without a genuine democracy, we cannot build our country. Investors will not invest and create good jobs; individuals will not take risks and open new businesses. We will not be able to increase your incomes; we will not be able to increase your retirement incomes. We will not be able to further reduce VAT. This is why democracy matters to you and your families.

 

If we are democratic once again, we will be able to restore economic growth. I have said before; that given the scale of challenges facing our country, we need at a minimum a decade of more than 5 percent of economic growth. This is more than 3 times the average rate of economic growth of the Bainimarama years.

We will not let the dreams of another generation of young be wasted by such an incompetent government as the one in power today. Our young have quietly but forcefully spoken – they want a change of Government. I am asking our country and especially our older voters, please listen to the young, vote for their future, and give the NFP a chance.

 

We need to restore growth to more than 5 percent per annum. We need to sustain that level of growth. We need to do that not because economists say this is a good thing. We need to do that because; we want to create 4000 new jobs per year for our children leaving schools and universities.

We want these 4000 new jobs for our children to pay no less than $8,000 per year. This Government cannot and will not do that.

We need to restore the financial health of the FNPF. We want to restore the pension’s level to at least 15 percent and higher still as financial health improves. This government cannot and will not do that.

We need to reduce the national debt built up by this wasteful government. When we reduce our debts, markets will trust us more. This government cannot and will not restore the trust of international investors.

We have said that we will reduce VAT levels to 10 percent. This Government is scared of even considering that as an option.

Let me go further. When we secure a 5 percent growth path, I intend to bring corporate tax levels down by 5 percent. I intend to increase tax threshold to $20,000 within 2 years of hitting the 5 percent growth target. We have done our maths. We will do what we will say. We will not shift the goalposts.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

You have asked what is the difference between the NFP and other parties. The NFP has fought for democracy and equality for all 51 years of its existence – not some of it. This Government has systematically curtailed some of the most basic of freedoms of individuals, communities and NGOS’s. Let us close that debate right here. The difference is so obvious.

 

I have listened to the nation’s concerns about a national name. A national name cannot be imposed. Throughout our meetings across the country, I have heard anxieties about the national name. I have sought the views of our elders and of linguists. They have spoken on the subject. We know we cannot do much as the constitution has been imposed on us. But the nation will have a free conversation about the national name after the elections and through that decide on the national name. This is too serious an issue to be left to the whims and fancies of two people in government to decide on.

Throughout our meetings across the breath of the country, I have heard the cry of citizens when they go to seek care in our hospitals and health centers. The Government keeps presenting one ‘spin after another’ about how health services are improving, presenting new international partnerships with healthcare providers.

But the fact is that basic medicines are in short supply at most centers, even supplies such as bed sheets and towels are missing. Many hospitals are plainly dirty. The wait for doctors and for medical procedures is long. Ambulance services non-existent even in urban areas. In short our health system is in a near state of collapse.

We need a national health insurance plan. We need health services to be managed by people who know about modern health systems – not people who are constantly scheming to profit from one government contract or another. This government cannot do anything to fix our healthcare problems. It is bereft of ideas. It has had its time.

 

Much is made of tuition free education by this government. Yes Mr Bainimarama we thank you for that. But we also tell you that the world has moved on. Our education system under your leadership has fallen way behind in the new global world.

Our schools including government schools are in pathetic state of disrepair. I have visited dozens of such schools over the last few months. In many schools, libraries are non-existent. Only a small number of our classrooms have any real Internet connections. E-learning is non-existent. No new textbooks have been developed in the last several years.

The Bainimarama Government has presided over this period of decay of our education system. This is nothing short of a crime against our children. No spin and no drama can take the responsibility for this away from you Mr Bainimarama and your Government.

We will modernize our education system. We will make preschool to university education world class within a decade.
Ladies and gentlemen,

 

The country wants to know the true cost of the Bainimarama Government. We want to know the long-term costs of the 7 years of this government. Fijians have not had the opportunity to examine the costs of government for so many years. The AG’s attempt to explain the audit reports is plain voodoo.

There are many questions that Fiji’s voters want answers for. They want to know if roads financed through the Chinese government loans are costing 30 percent more than the average cost of road construction in Fiji. Did we pay $30 million more for the Vanua Levu roads than we should have?

We want to know what are the annual maintenance costs of roads that are not made to high standards. Is it true that we will need $15 million more per year to maintain new roads that are only 2-3 years old? Has the Government wasted $50 million on roads in this way? The country wants answers.

Fijians want to know the true costs of external borrowing. Fijians want to know whether they are getting value for money from these large investments. We need a government that can restore order in the management of our nation’s wealth and that can manage its debts.

Fiji needs a break from the past. This Government has so divided our country. The other major party also sows seeds of ethnic unease. Fiji cannot move forward this way.

We have seen the impact of poor leadership and of poor policy choices. Fiji was within our lifetime the richest country in the South Pacific. Now it is an average South Pacific country. How much lower will we fall if we continue business as usual?

Ladies and Gentlemen: This Government has indulged in the biggest vote-buying campaign in our history. This is an indisputable fact. This week we saw a new dawn of vote buying when rubbish bins were distributed in Nasinu. The Electoral Decree 2014 is being breached by this Government through the use of State funds for campaign in the form of advertisements by Ministries like the PM’s Office and Ministry of Health on common name and equal citizenry and health updates respectively. We see Fiji Pine Ltd, a statutory organisation publishing advertisements in the newspaper on distribution of money to landowners.

That is why we have been calling on this Government to go into caretaker mode immediately after the Writ for Election was issued by the President.

 

We have also been told by our supporters of the dirty campaign tactics used by Fiji First and Fiji Labour Party. The Fiji First claims we are in coalition with SODELPA while FLP is spreading lies about the NFP entering into an agreement with Fiji First. This demonstrates the desperation on the part of both parties. We have repeatedly stated since 7th December 2013 that we are fighting the elections on our own and intend to solely form a majority government. Misleading the voters in an attempt to win votes is a hallmark of politicians and political parties clutching at straws.

 

Fear mongering in an attempt to scare voters is also prevalent. Team NFP has consistently practiced an issues-based campaign because the people of Fiji want answers to the social, economic and political ills plaguing our nation.

 

Furthermore, making pie-in-the-sky promises like providing free water and increasing subsidy on electricity will not work like what Fiji First has proposed. Their proposal if implemented will mean a meager saving of $1.59 on electricity bills per month and $1.16 on water charges for a month. This pales into significance with our promise to reduce Value Added Tax from 15% to 10% and review import duties on imported food items.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen: The NFP is offering a hugely talented team of individuals. It is a team you can trust. You can trust it because firstly members of Team NFP are not opportunists – We did not support Rabuka’s coups; We did not join Speight and his supporters; We did not support the 2006 coup. Team NFP has been consistently fighting for your rights and freedoms.

 

More than this members of Team NFP are self-made men and women. They are successful teachers, civil servants, unionists, community workers, sportsman, farmers and yes a few successful academics as well.

 

My team will bring into Government this culture of humility, honesty, hard work and perseverance. These are values that the Holy Bible, the Holy Bhagavat Gita, the Holy Ramayana and the Holy Koran teach us. These are values our elders teach us. We will bring these values into conduct of Government.

Ladies and gentlemen

We cannot pretend that we are country at peace with itself. We are a divided country. Our government for the last few years has deepened divisions in our country. Our communities do not trust each other. A nation so ill at ease with itself cannot achieve greatness.

 

We have listened to you – citizens from all communities. Our programs for government reflect what you want your government to deliver on. We do not have the arrogance to preach to you what is good for you and your families.

 

You have asked us that you want an inclusive government. We offer you an inclusive team; women and men, young and old, mainlanders and islanders. You have asked that you want your leaders to be humble. We respect that.

 

Ladies and gentlemen…

 

A fresh breeze of change and hope is blowing all around us. Be bold – exercise your vote wisely, ask your relatives and friends to turn up to vote. Join us in our journey to make this country great. Join the NFP in our journey to make Fiji once again a symbol of hope to our region and to the world.

God Bless Fiji

Insecure oppositions new strategies of attack

NFP General Secretary writes a letter of complaint to the Fiji electoral commission, due to yet another breach of a decree by Fiji First. But on a positive note, this just proves that NFP is not forgotten on the opposition’s mind, as it’s clear these cheap shots confirm that NFP is still very much strong competition to keep an eye out for.

The letter is as follows;

We wish to file in very strong terms a formal complaint against the Fiji First Party on their defamatory campaign advertisement, being aired on TV from yesterday on the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, depicting the National Federation Party as Liars “FF” (Fiji First) Liar Ad Campaign).

In a nutshell, the campaign advertisement it is titled “SODELPA, N.F.P and others. Don’t vote for Liars”, under:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiINH3soe6w

It makes false allegations with the voice over about the NFP, inter alia, telling lies in their campaign and when it will get into parliament, asking voters “Don’t vote for Liars” against the words NFP (and SODELPA).

There is no factual (and therefore legal basis) given for the Fiji First Liar Ad Campaign and we ask the Commission to urgently request the General Secretary of the Fiji First Party to withdraw this very serious allegation being made against our party.

This complaint is made pursuant to section 3 of the Electoral Decree 2014 and section 75 of the Constitution that confers on the Electoral Commission (“the Commission”) responsibility for the Conduct of free and fair elections.
We look forward to hearing from you on the decision taken at your earliest convenience.

Yours Sincerely

Kamal Iyer
General Secretary

Link to letter: NFP ELECTORAL COMMISSION COMPLAINT LETTER

Soldiers safety, not Politics

The National Federation Party is calling on the Fiji First Party and its Leader in particular to stop the gutter- level propaganda as reported in today’s (Thursday’s) Fiji Sun newspaper, where he has now come out and used the Golan seizure of our peacekeepers to try and link that to his political campaign and any possible review of his Constitution.

We call on the Fiji First Leader, Voreqe Bainimarama to lead by example as the interim Prime Minister and exercise even more restraint and responsibility in not mixing political rhetoric or his own personal political ambitions with the security issue of the seizure of our 45 peacekeeping soldiers in the Golan Heights last week.

No other political party leader has politicized the Golan crises – and we call on everyone and in particular Fiji First to please keep it that way. The seizure of our soldiers is not anyone’s political football and let us all support the Commander and his officers in the safe release of our peacekeepers.

Let us support and pray for the safe release of our men and support their families as well who are going through such a difficult moment.

The Fiji First Party Leader was reported in today’s Fiji Sun headline written by senior reporter Maika Bolatiki, that political parties were trying to remove the immunity clause in the Constitution and linked that to the Golan crisis.

We also call on the Fiji Sun newspaper in this regard to practice ethical, professional and responsible journalism and do not encourage dissent by proving one-sided and unfounded reporting based on hearsay and innuendos from the person being interviewed.

If anything the NFP and major political parties have provided a manifesto to the people of Fiji where they outline its plans for the future – while Fiji First Party is yet to be transparent and accountable as it has not given the people of Fiji its manifesto – which is a reflection of how it prefers to govern.

Biman Prasad

Leader

September 4, 2014

Alleged incident in Fiji pre-polling referred

Fiji’s Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem has confirmed that an alleged incident during yesterday’s pre-polling for the election has been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The incident involved an elderly couple who have qualified for postal voting whereby ballot papers are delivered by the courier company DHL.

They claim the courier who brought their papers attempted to force them to vote for the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama against their wishes.

The couple subsequently lodged a complaint at the electoral office, and have been interviewed by police.

Mr Saneem says his office has been made aware of the incident, but expressed frustration that the complainant didn’t provide documentation.

“Very uncooperative with us. However having received very little information about the incident, just finding out that there is a possibility that there might be a breach of the electoral decree, we have referred the matter to FICAC (Fiji’s Independent Commission Against Corruption) and FICAC will be taking neccessary actions on this, and I understand that the matter is being investigated by the investigating authorities.”

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/253694/alleged-incident-in-fiji-pre-polling-referred

Over 200 people attend prayer vigil for detained Fijian soldiers

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NFP Party Leader Biman Chand Prasad lighting candles at the peace vigil on Tuesday

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President of the Methodist Church and members of the NFP seated at the Centenary Church.

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NFP’s Dr Eci Nabalarua lighting candles at the vigil.

More than 200 people from all walks of life attended a prayer vigil at the Centenary Church to pray for the 45 Fijian peacekeepers who are currently held captive by the Al Nusra group in Syria.

Tears flowed as the people observed a moment of silence and hold prayers.

President elect of the Methodist Church Reverend Tevita Nawadra said the lighting of the 45 candles and the prayers are to reflect on the safe return of soldiers, be in solidarity with their families and pray for all who serve the cause of the people.

27 years old Nia Waqavonovono, the wife of one of the Fijian soldiers detained said she hopes that her husband will return home safely.

The prayer vigil was attended by members of the Fiji Council of Churches, the Assembly of Christian churches and the wider Christian community and other faith groups.

Also present at the Centenary church were some family and friends of the 45 soldiers, NFP leader Dr Biman Prasad and People’s Democratic Party President Lynda Tabuya.

http://fijivillage.com/news/Over-200-people-attend-prayer-vigil-for-detained-Fijian-soldiers-k9r25s/

Political parties speak out against Bainimaramas statement

Political parties have reacted to the strong statement over the weekend by Fiji First Leader Voreqe Bainimarama that the 2014 Polls will be nothing more than a two party horse race.

Bainimarama had said the real battle is now between his Fiji First party and SODELPA.

Today other parties came out firing saying we will only know for sure, come September 17th.
The Fiji First leaders strong statement that it was now only a two horse race between them and SODELPA has certainly irritated other political players.

“The leader of Fiji First obviously has jumped the gun, the race is not over, we haven’t yet reach the finish line, so we have the next two weeks…and any political leader who’s jumping the Gun is not respecting the wish and will of the voters…so he should wait, respect the will of the voter,” said NFP party leader, Dr Biman Prasad.

As expected, other parties are also confident of their chances.

“We believe, there is certainly some misunderstanding and quite possibly misinformation about ground support. We firmly are of the view that the One Fiji Party is going to compete and compete very well in this elections,” said One Fiji Party leader, Filimoni Vosarogo.

PDP thinks this is nothing more than just political maneuvering.

“Fiji First does not want to have to deal with multiple parties in opposition…so for Frank to talk down the chances of any other parties is really a strategy for him; he wants the people of Fiji to think that its just a two horse race,” said Peoples Democratic Party general secretary, Lynda Tabuya.

Not wanting to be ruled out, political parties say it’s not over, until the final ballot is cast and tallied up.

“This might be the record for NFP in terms of attracting the number of Fijian votes to the party and for one good reason…because we have some of the best indigenous Fijian candidates including the Party President, our women candidates , our men candidates…people of repute, people of intergrity, honesty and a record of service,” Prasad said.

“We are also on the ground, and our support we’ve being talking to people all around the country and we feel it is not going to be just a two way race…its obviously going to be a very exciting election and weare looking forward to occupying seats in the next parliament,” Vosarogo said.

“This is something that we need to address to look at very carefully because this is the beauty of this electoral system is that the voter who vote individuals that have the chances of winning the majority is low..that is the first thing that will happen in this system…and that any coalition formed will be forced to build relationship, to negotiate and compromise with the greater
voting section of the public,” Tabuya said.

http://fijione.tv/political-parties-lash-out-at-bainimarama-statement/

Fiji’s NFP reports confusion over pre-polling

Fiji’s National Federation Party says pre-polling due to start this week is confused, rushed and disorganised and there are voters who still don’t know they are meant to vote before election day.

Elections authorities announced a week ago voting for the September election would take place in remote areas over a ten-day period starting on Wednesday.

The police, military and prisoners are among other voters also allowed to vote during this time.

The NFP’s leader Biman Prasad says he’s spoken to voters at a community near Sigatoka who were not aware they had to place their vote during the pre-polling period.

“The area that I was in last evening is not a remote area. The reason that the people gave there is it’s a flood-prone area so perhaps that was the reason they used. But to me it didn’t sound a very convincing reason to have pre-polling in that area which is very accessible and two or three kilometres from Sigatoka town.”

Dr Prasad say the NFP wants a concerted campaign from the election authorities to ensure all communities in pre-polling areas do not miss out on their chance to vote.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/253478/fiji’s-nfp-reports-confusion-over-pre-polling

NFP Calls for nation to keep Fiji’s 43 Peacekeepers in their prayers

NFP President Roko Tupou Draunidalo has called on the nation to remember and pray for its 43 peacekeepers who are in Golan Heights and currently being held captive by rebels, as news of their capture broke this morning in Fiji.

“In moments of anxiety like this when sons and daughters of Fiji are on the frontlines of peacekeeping, their safety and wellbeing becomes the main priority and we urge the nation to keep them in their prayers” said Draunidalo.

Draunidalo also urged that negotiation efforts by both the RFMF and the international community be further intensified so that their safe release be realised sooner.

“Let us also keep the families of our our peacekeepers in our thoughts and prayers and reach out to them in whatever way possible to demonstrate that their honourable duty of peacekeeping is, while thankless, a noble one that Fiji has never shirked from” added Draunidalo.

A-G SHOULD STOP COMMENTING ON ELECTORAL PROCESS

Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is not a neutral voice and should be cautious in what he says in his different roles. He has compromised himself by holding too many conflicting positions as General secretary for the Fiji First Party, candidate and Attorney General and Minister for Elections. He is not an objective voice.

In the last few days we have read and seen the Minister Responsible for Elections, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, make  statements to the media which cannot remain unchallenged. This is on the electoral process, in relation to the appeals and objections to the Electoral Commission and on the High Court case between the Commission and the Supervisor of Elections.

The NFP further states that he Electoral Commission was correct in seeking independent legal advice, when required, even if this is obtained off-shore. It is preposterous of Mr Sayed-Khaiyum to suggest that the Commission obtain advice from his Chambers, or from the Solicitor General. The Commission must be seen to be independent from Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s office, one of which is the office of the Attorney General whose most senior officer is the Solicitor General.

In the past elections, it has been the custom that legal advice from both the Supervisor of Election’s Office and its Commission be sourced from non-government sources – for obvious reasons! This is obviously not apparent to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and we spell it out here – this to ensure there is transparency and independence between the two offices when they make important decisions in the electoral processes.

More importantly, it also protects the offices from charges of bias towards any political party especially in the particular circumstances that we have spelt out. The task of conducting elections is the responsibility of the Commission and the Elections Supervisor, not the Minister for Elections.

We would therefore urge both offices to continue to seek legal opinion as and when the need arises from outside government sources because of the clear conflict and compromised position of the Attorney General and Minister of Elections and the general secretary of Fiji First. We re-iterate that the Supervisor and Electoral Commission must be allowed to perform their constitutional role without any semblance of interference from the current government.

Kamal Iyer

General Secretary

 

 

Candidate Numbers Are Out!!

The following three digit numbers represent the NFP candidates representing you in the upcoming general elections. TRUST NFP, VOTE NFP!

Subramani Bal(Bala Dass) No: 137
Reddy Narendra No: 141
Ravulo Emasi Sorokila No: 151
Lata Ansu Vikashni No: 154
Singh Attar No: 155
Koya Siddiq Faizal No: 157
Naituku Simione Vuasevuraki No: 166
Nabalarua Eci Kikau No: 175
Naidu Davendra No: 177
Rae Pramod Kumar No: 186
Nand Satya No: 191
Naidu Latchmaiya No:192
Rabukagaga Kavai Vunidogo No: 193
Singh Raman Pratap No: 199
Ali Khalid Ahmed No: 201
Chand Parmod No: 202
Magan Deven No: 204
Kumar Sunil No: 206
Ratutila Sakiusa Masinivanua No: 207
Draunidalo Roko Tupou Takeiwai Senirewa(President) No: 213
Volatabu Fay Evangeline No: 214
Naicker Sadasivan No: 221
Kumar Rakesh No: 225
Singh Shiromani Priscilla No: 233
Prasad Bimal No: 248
Titoko Semi No: 249
Nand Ragho No: 256
Naidu Dorsami No: 261
Murti Sant Kumari No: 270
Radogo Tuinadave No: 273
Prasad Amrit No. 285
Savea Pino Venasio No: 290
Lote Etonia No: 305
Baravilala Manasa Sumaisuea No: 307
Rafiq Mohammed No: 311
Leawere Senikavika Kelemete No: 316
Ram Bijend Prasad No: 322
Singh Prem No: 324
Raj Bhim No: 326
Sami Jagannath No: 333
San Rainjesh Shayalandra No: 339
Moli Usaia R Ciriwai No: 340
Nabou Leba Seini Lutu No: 341
Chand Anishini No. 343
Prasad Biman Chand (Leader)  – No: 347
Ram Rishi No: 349
Maopa Eroni No: 353
Ratuwara Kalisi Makaba No: 364
Tamani Inia Tubukoso No: 374