Category Archives: Press Release

NFP President blasts FRU and Vodafone-led consortium

December 14, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

FRU IS NOT A CONSORTIUM OF CORPORATE AND FAMILY INTERESTS: – OUR GOLDEN OLYMPIC TEAM DESERVE JUSTICE, DIGNITY AND RESPECT – NOT PITTANCE: NFP

The President of the National Federation Party, Roko Tupou Draunidalo has today called on the Fiji Rugby Union and Vodafone-led consortium to fully explain the details of their sponsorship arrangements and clarify why the $40m sponsorship provides insufficient resources to allow for members of the national 7s team to receive anything more than basic allowances.

‘The game of rugby holds a special place in the hearts of all Fijians,’ said Draunidalo. ‘Time and time again when politics and our political leaders have failed this country, it is rugby that has bound us together as a community, lifted us up as a nation and shown us the way forward.’ ‘But we appear to be the only country in the world who wins Olympic gold but then fails to secure any commercial benefit for the players. Is this because of the Vodafone sponsorship deal? The FRU’s leadership is so shambolic we appear to have won gold but actually lost sponsors. Certainly what we now know is that our national 7s players are expected to play like professionals but live like paupers on the World 7s Series.’

“This government might claim there should be a separation between politics and sport. But they chose to end that separation when the prime minister accepted the presidency of the Fiji Rugby Union in 2014, and then handpicked a succession of his closest allies as chairmen of the FRU through their appointment as the PM’s nominee to the board”, said Draunidalo.

‘What is shocking is that despite all that they have achieved, it is clear the 7s players have no voice. Like so many in this country, they find themselves unable to reach out to the media to explain their situation and to press their case.’

‘That is why Fiji should be grateful that Ben Ryan has spoken up. He has shone a light where the FRU would rather was kept dark. Thanks to his commitment to do what is right, Ryan has made us aware of this deplorable state of affairs. ‘Sadly it is typical that Ryan’s legitimate concerns have been treated with such contempt by the FRU leadership. Rugby House is showing an intolerance to criticism and an inability to admit mistakes that mirrors this government, which is addicted to secrecy and only too happy to arbitrarily arrest its opponents, deport them or place them on immigration blacklists.’

In February 2014, the Fiji Rugby Union signed a five-year sponsorship agreement with a consortium of local companies led by Vodafone Fiji Ltd. Other companies included are Telecom Fiji Ltd, Fiji Airways, HFC Bank and CJ Patel.

The then-chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union, Filimone Waqabaca, announced that the Vodafone consortium was pledging sponsorship worth $8m a year or $40m over the five years of the agreement. We were promised this would be ‘a game changer’ for Fiji rugby.

Waqabaca, who was the Bainimarama government’s permanent secretary of Finance at the time, was appointed directly to the board by the prime minister. He is now Fiji’s High Commissioner in New Zealand.

‘The FRU’s 2015 financial report shows clearly that instead of the promised $8m income, the total income from the Vodafone consortium is just over $3m a year, covering cash and value in kind such as airfares. There was even less recorded cash and value in kind income report in the 2014 audited report.’

The FRU’s own financial reports show that in spite of being promised $8m a year, Vodafone and its consortium partners have paid $5m less for each of the first two years of the sponsorship agreement – a shortfall of $10m in total against a promise of $16m.

‘Now is the time for the Government to reveal what was in the June 12, 2015 letter sent by the then FRU Chief Executive Radrodro Tabualevu to the Vodafone CEO. We are reliably informed the document was a 30-day termination letter, alleging a failure by Vodafone to account for more than $5 million worth of sponsorship support in the first year of their sponsorship agreement.’

We know that the June 12, 2015 letter was also copied to the prime minister’s brother-in- law Francis Kean, as FRU chairman, the Prime Minister himself as president of the Fiji Rugby Union, and Ajith Kodagoda, as the chairman of the parent company of Vodafone Fiji Ltd.

‘Is it not the case that had the FRU followed through and terminated the relationship with Vodafone in 2015, when Fiji had already won their first of two World 7s  series titles, then the FRU would now be many millions of dollars better off?’

‘With the FRU freed from the Vodafone deal, Rugby House would have been able to build a structure of sponsorship support that reflected the success Ben Ryan was already bringing to the country, and which reached its peak with the Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.’

Sadly this did not happen. What happened next is familiar to many who have watched this government in action. At the same time that this threat of termination was being discussed between the FRU and Vodafone, the mobile phone company announced that it was paying for the Prime Minister and his wife to attend the 2015 Rugby World Cup opening match.

Kodagoda was quoted as telling the local media that Vodafone was happy to foot all of the estimated $60,000 costs. ‘As the head of Fiji Rugby Union in the country and as Prime Minister, Mr Bainimarama has a done a lot for the development and good administration of the sport in the country and deserves to be at the Rugby World Cup.’

Vodafone and the FRU then patched up their differences but on surprising terms given the amounts at stake. Vodafone were being asked by the FRU to explain $5m in missing expenditure from 2014, but eventually settled by paying only an additional $100,000 in cash to the FRU in September 2015. This extra payment represented only two percent of what the FRU were chasing.

Tabualevu resigned from the FRU in November 2015. No explanation has ever been offered of this extraordinary compromise nor the effect that continuing with Vodafone on the same terms has had on the financial fighting power of the FRU to do its best by its players. It is with great regret that we note the FRU continues to ban media from its Annual and Special General Meetings.

As the NFP, we say that the Prime Minister has done too much for himself, for his family members at the FRU and for his allies in Vodafone and its consortium members. All of his advancement has been built on the back of the players – our best and rarest resource – of whom so much is expected and so little provided by Rugby House.

‘The government needs to come clean once and for all about this wretched Vodafone deal. Why is this country’s national sport strapped into commercial arrangements that only seem to profit the Prime Minister and his allies?

We re-iterate Vodafone’s relationship with Fiji rugby is short-changing all of the rest of the game’s stakeholders from the provincial unions and 7s players right through to those in secondary and Kaji rugby and the families who keep this great game alive.’

Authorised by: Roko Tupou Draunidalo, NFP President

Remove excessive authoritarian immigration powers: NFP President

December 7, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

The NFP President, Roko Tupou Draunidalo has called for the removal of the excessive powers given to the Minister responsible for the Immigration Department, which infringes on basic civil and political rights.

These include ending the willful deportation of individuals without any recourse to redress and the removal of the “black-list” which prevents former and current Fiji Citizens from returning to Fiji, the land of their birth.

Ms Draunidalo said the arbitrary and humiliating deportation of Koro Island resident and investor Karen Seaton for allegedly uttering a swear word to a public official, but which is not confirmed by any independent witness, reeks of a typical authoritarian and dictatorial methodology.

“The Immigration Director then confirms that it is the acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who signed off on the deportation order,” said Ms Draunidalo.

“This is the same minister who as Minister for Economy glowingly tells the whole world that Fiji is great for business, or as Attorney-General – that Fiji fully conforms to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.”

“The deportation of Karen Seaton and prior to that the deportation in September of two consultants from MWH Global, the lead contractor for the Fiji Roads Authority – is deeply worrying and troublesome.”

“The acting Prime Minister and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is fully responsible for these and must inform the people of Fiji as to why he feels the need to be authoritarian in declaring individuals persona non grata, without much of a thought.”

“He must also come out and explain why he is adamant that Professor Brij Lal and his wife Dr Padma Lal, should not return to their country and homeland, Fiji.”

The NFP President reaffirmed that the NFP will fight for the removal of the blacklist and the limiting of the powers on immigration given to any minister or public official and be guided by recognised international benchmarks and our commitments rather than anyone’s own personal version of what the standards are.

Authorised by: Roko Tupou Draunidalo, NFP President

NFP Leader calls for independent investigation into Help for Homes Initiative

December 5, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE: Independent investigation needed into Help for Homes Initiative

Government must institute an independent investigation to determine how many millions of dollars of taxpayer funds has been paid to two hardware companies despite them failing to supply building material under the Help for Homes Initiative specifically designed for swift rehabilitation following devastation caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.

The Attorney General and Minister for Economy’s announcement that hardware companies Vinod Patel and R C Manubhai will not be part of the 2 nd phase of this Initiative and would have to pay a nominal interest and penalty due to their failure to provide hardware material to victims of TC Winston is simply not good enough. The AG’s statement is like “shutting the gate after the horse has bolted”.

These two largest hardware companies in the country have already been paid millions of dollars after they swiped the Help of Homes Initiative cards despite knowing fully well that they did not have the rebuilding material. This is similar to obtaining money under false pretences. Any ordinary citizen who would have done the same thing, would have been swiftly charged and hauled before the Court. It also shows Government’s calling for expression of interest and selecting companies to supply material appears to have been a cosmetic exercise because it failed to ascertain whether each company had the stock necessary to supply material. And in the event it was out of stock, what was the timeframe to obtain, import and supply material?

Cyclone victims are still waiting for supply, six months after they visited these hardware outlets and purchased building material under the Initiative. Many are still living in tents and temporary shelters, and even under the open sky because the small tents are being used for safekeeping of their household items. But the hardware companies have already been paid.

The AG is treating this as a trivial matter when it is an issue of rebuilding lives. He should be transparent and accountable to the taxpayers and inform the nation how much each of the two hardware companies ( Vinod Patel & R C Manubhai) have been paid from the $88 million provided under phase one of the Initiative. And what is the total amount paid to each of the two companies for non-supply of material.

The AG must also revisit his statements on this issue from April 2016 and how he glorified the whole Initiative and the ability of Government and hardware companies to help the victims swiftly rebuild their homes. At the same time Government moved the False Information Bill in Parliament, which was enacted on 26 th April, prescribing heavy fines and imprisonment terms for people who falsified claims of damages to their properties.

The Opposition had then pointed out in Parliament that while Government was going beyond the Crimes Decree to penalise people under the False Information Act, there was no legislation prescribing strict compliance by hardware companies to the Help for Homes Initiative. We had also pointed out that Government should have accepted our suggestion of providing a sum of $5,000 each to TC Winston victims to rebuild homes. This would have allowed people to shop for building material at different hardware outlets and would have been more efficient and effective.

The seconnd phase of Help for Homes Initiative is worth $20 million. But the first phase was worth $88 million. The two largest companies of R C Manubhai and Vinod Patel would have enjoyed the largest share of funds worth $88 million allocated for the Initiative, given their dominance of the local hardware industry. It is only fair that an independent investigation is instituted into the Initiative to establish claims of possible corruption and mismanagement as well as why and how these two companies received payments without supplying building material. Government seemingly ignored concerns raised by the Opposition very early into the Initiative that cyclone victims were not being supplied the material they paid for with the Help for Homes Initiative cards.

No business must ever be allowed to charge money for service it cannot provide. To do so would be considered a scam.

Authorised by: – Hon Professor Biman Prasad, NFP Leader

NFP President welcomes Appeals Court ruling

November 30, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE: REMOVE ELECTION PORTFOLIO FROM AG AND EXAMINE ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR

The President of the National Federation Party, Roko Tupou Draunidalo today welcomed the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal in favour of the Electoral Commission against the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem.

The judgment by the Appeals Court confirmed that the Supervisor must comply with all decisions and directions given to him concerning the performance of his functions.

The judgment concluded saying the time limits of 3 days after objections to proceed with the candidate draw ends at midnight on the 3rd day and not at 4pm as argued by the Supervisor who had proceeded to conducted the draw for the 2014 General Election, without hearing the result of the Commissions deliberations.

Ms Draunidalo said that the judgment validates the concerns of the National Federation Party and other opposition parties during the time of the ballot draw where the Supervisor of Elections unilaterally acted with only advice from the Solicitor-General’s Office, to proceed with the draw at 4pm that day.

“That decision of the Supervisor with legal advice from the SG’s Office, allowed the entry of Fiji First Minister Parveen Bala to be a candidate for Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s party – and at the same time removed the constitutional right of Steven Singh of the Fiji Labour Party to be a candidate.”

“It was an unprecedented move by any Supervisor of Elections in the history of Fiji’s governance, who out-rightly defied the Electoral Commission and rushed into having a ballot draw which favoured the political party of the ruling Government.”

“At this point, I also emphasise my earlier call to the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, to remove the General Secretary of his Fiji First Party, the Attorney-General Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, as Minister for Elections.”

“The fact that the Minister for Elections and the General Secretary of Fiji First was publicly commenting on the case, supporting the decision of the Supervisor and even suggesting that the Electoral Commission take legal advice from his own chief legal advisor, the Solicitor-General, was extraordinary and totally inappropriate.”

“The Prime Minister should retake the responsibility of elections and ensure that that responsibility is for merely administrative purposes like that of all previous Prime Minister’s. He must ensure that this responsibility is not used to influence nor control the independence of the Fiji Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office.”

“I again state that it appears that the SOE Mohammed Saneem has not displayed the competence, neutrality, non partisanship and maturity to hold the all important constitutional role he has been given.”

“The people of Fiji deserve the highest ethical and professional standards from its election officials leading to the 2018 General Election.”

Authorised by:

Roko Tupou Draunidalo

NFP President

Government’s seed distribution policy an example of bureaucracy gone mad

November 27, 2016

The stringent requirements required by the Ministry of Agriculture in order for agricultural and subsistence farmers to qualify for vegetable seeds donated by the Government of India is yet another painful reminder of this Government’s bureaucratic and dictatorial policy.

It is adding insult to injury of victims of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston who are struggling to feed their families and in places like Koro Island are forced to rely on wild food suitable for animal consumption, as recently highlighted by the Fiji Times newspaper.

Last month the Government of India sent to Fiji five tonnes of vegetable seeds to help in cyclone rehabilitation efforts after the devastating effects of Cyclone Winston.

Cyclone-affected farmers suffered heavy losses. You would think that with five tonnes of seeds, it would not be a difficult thing for the Government to hand these out.

Instead, farmers – even subsistence farmers, who need only a few grams of seeds to re-establish their gardens – are being made to fill out a two-page form prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture. The form requires them to give the Ministry:

– their birth certificate, FNPF card or TIN number

– a passport-sized photo

– a copy of their land or lease title

– for vakavanua lessees, a consent letter from their turaga ni mataqali.

They must then write down the background of their faming experience and

sign the form.

But filling out the form does not mean the farmers get the seeds. The next step is for civil servants in the Ministry of Agriculture to process the form. They must “verify” the farmer’s

– land ownership

– consent for use of land for farming

– total acreage to be developed

– distance of farm from main road

– “accessibility”

– type of vegetation cover

– distance to market

– crops to be established

– seeds and planting materials availability

– farm labour availability.

Only then will they consider if the farmer can get the seeds. This is bureaucracy gone mad. It is worse than simply receiving the $1000 handout to supposedly start the establishment of one’s own small business.

How does the Ministry think it can distribute five tonnes of seeds with this amount of paperwork? By the time the civil servants are finished, it will take a farmer weeks or months to get his seeds. A subsistence farmer needs these seeds now, not after the Agriculture Department has worked out his “distance to market!”

Why does a farmer have to pay for a passport-sized photograph and to photocopy his land titles to get a few free seeds? It will be cheaper for him just to buy some seeds at his local store.

The Government is so out of touch with the people that it makes them run around like this, just to get a few seeds to re-establish their crops, feed their families and maybe earn some cash by selling the surplus.

Does the Indian Government know that this is going on?

Perhaps the Prime Minister should stop his climate change globetrotting for a few weeks and stay in Fiji long enough to help cyclone victims be self-reliant, feed their families and improve their food security.

Authorised by: –

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO FSC

November 22, 2016

An independent and impartial investigation must be immediately instituted into the operations of the financially stricken Fiji Sugar Corporation and its former Executive Chairman Abdul Khan.

This follows announcement that the FSC recorded a loss of $31.7 million for the 2015 financial year after making a profit of $6.9 million in 2014.

Only an independent and impartial inquiry and forensic audit will be able to establish how Mr Abdul Khan has been responsible for running the Corporation for five years as Executive Chairman. As the sole authority in charge of everything including even marketing of sugar, Mr Khan must be held responsible for making FSC technically insolvent and totally dependent on loans guaranteed by Government and the taxpayers of this country.

And Government as the largest shareholder is equally responsible for this disastrous result. Both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General and Minister for Economy have misled Parliament and the nation respectively by claiming FSC and Mr Khan were doing a remarkable job and that the Opposition was trying to politicise the industry.

In his ministerial statement in Parliament on 11th February 2015, the PM and Minister for Sugar said, “…one of the remarkable success stories of the last few years is the remarkable turnaround of FSC…”

“…. The FSC is now able to stand on its own two feet. Government does not need to provide it any direct funding since 2013”.

On 27th May 2015, the AG and then Minister for Finance, while announcing that FSC would top up the 4th cane payment for 2014 season by nearly $8 said in the Fiji Sun newspaper “We are able to do this only because of the tremendous performance of the FSC under its present management especially its Executive Chairman Abdul Khan. We have taken politics out of the industry and given the FSC the guidance and support it needs to properly manage the industry”.

The disastrous financial performance of FSC paints an entirely different picture.

If the PM and AG can claim credit for any good that happens, in this case FSC’s profit in 2014, then they must also, under doctrine of ministerial responsibility, take the responsibility for their abysmal failure in monitoring the performance of FSC under Abdul Khan, which resulted it plummeting from a so called profitable organisation to a colossal financial disaster. This is unprecedented.

That is why we reiterate that Abdul Khan should not have been allowed to quit FSC without an independent investigation. Relinquishing his position immediately with several questions remaining unanswered about both his and the FSC’s performance and the Corporation’s lack of direction during his reign was unacceptable and against good governance in a organisation in which taxpayers have a stake through majority ownership by Government.

For the sake of accountability, transparency and good governance, we call upon the Chairman of FSC to appoint an independent investigation comprising of personnel who are experts in financial and forensic accounting and audit to extensively scrutinise all aspects of FSC’s operations and management practices in the last five years.

Professor Biman Prasad, Leader

Zoning Policy ultimatum is dictatorial

November 9, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

The Minister for Education is behaving like a dictator by giving ultimatum to schools to enroll students in accordance with his ill-conceived zoning policy for students attending primary and secondary schools in the country.

In a circular to School Head Teachers and Principals, the Minister has directed them to enroll students in accordance with his zoning policy by this Friday (11 th November). The circular is as confusing and illogical as the Minister’s education policies. He wants zoning to be enforced but at the same time provides exceptions contrary to his zoning policy. Why then have such a policy?

The Minister says new enrolments must be in accordance with his zoning policy. Then he says existing students already enrolled outside the zone or locality are not affected. This is nonsensical.

Section 31 of the 2013 Constitution that the Education Minister is vociferously promoting, has no limitations whatsoever as far as the right to education is concerned.

This is especially in respect of students who are already enrolled in schools outside of their so called zones. The circular by the Minister states that all students enrolled from another zone will not be eligible for bus fare coupons.

Section 31(5) clearly stipulates that Government must justify it does not have the resources to apply this right if it claims it does not have the resources. This contradicts his earlier statements that all students are entitled for free bus fares.

Nowhere does the Constitution state that Government can withhold resources and deny a child the right to education.

Most importantly, the freedom to choose schools and access to quality education is a fundamental right of parents and students in accordance with the Education Act, and not the Minister’s dictatorial zoning policy. This right is being duly recognised by school heads. For example the 5 th , 6 th and 7 th Forms of Labasa College were established to cater for students from throughout Vanua Levu, not just the locality within the College.

Government as well as the Education Minister must remember that less than 1% of schools are owned and administered by Government. More than 99% of schools in Fiji are community owned – either by local communities, religious and cultural organisations.

An example of such a school is the Jai Narayan College in Suva (famously known as Indian College). It was formed by the Indian Association of Fiji. It is now regarded as one of the most reputable schools in the country and its student roll is genuinely multiracial.

Parents prefer their children to attend this College. Even the Minister knows this. Why enforce a zoning policy to deny children their right to attend a school of their choice based on reputation, facilities, religious and cultural considerations?

For the sake of choice of quality education for our students, the zoning policy must be withdrawn immediately. And we call upon all school managements not to enforce this policy because it is unconstitutional and breaches the right of students on the freedom to choice an educational institution.

We reiterate that for the sake of our education sector and access to quality education for our students, the Prime Minister must accept our proposal for an Education Commission together with a parliamentary inquiry into the Education Ministry.

Authorised by : Professor Biman Prasad, NFP Leader

Remove Ban on the occasion of 100th anniversary of arrival of last ship carrying Indentured Labourers

November 8, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

Government should use the 100 th anniversary to commemorate the arrival of the last ship carrying indentured labourers to lift the indefinite ban on entering Fiji placed on former Fiji citizens Professor Brij Vilash Lal and Dr Padma Lal.

These two eminent former Fiji citizens were banished from the land of their birth seven years ago for defending democracy, justice and human rights.

It will be a symbolic gesture on the part of Government if the Head of State, President Jioji Konrote, while launching commemorative events in Suva tomorrow (Wednesday), makes an announcement to this effect.

The Indenture system commonly known as Girmit was another form of slavery. The arrival of the last ship Sutlej V on 11 th November 1916 signalled the beginning of the end of indenture or slavery. Banishment from the land of one’s birth for 7 years is similar to Girmit. It is a denial of fundamental rights.

After repeated attempts to seek the truth from Government, the former Immigration Minister Timoci Natuva admitted last July that the decision to put Professor Brij and Dr Padma Lal’s names on the list of people prohibited from entering Fiji came from the Prime Minister’s Office.

This is simply against the Immigration Act 2003 where recommendations are made by the Immigration Director in consultation with the line Minister. And email correspondence between Professor Lal, Mr Natuva and the Deputy Director of Immigration confirm that the Immigration Department and the former Minister had no issues with both Professor Brij and Dr Padma Lal but were powerless to remove their names from the list despite empowered to do so under the Immigration Act.

This ban is an insult not only to Professor Lal and his wife, but also to all right-thinking and law-abiding citizens and to the Indo-Fijian community whose historical background right from the days of indenture has been well researched and documented by Professor Lal.

Professor Lal was honoured by Fiji for his contribution to the country especially his work on the Constitution Review Commission, is perceived to be a threat to Fiji’s safety and security. For his work on the Reeves Commission, he was awarded the Order of Fiji. In June last year he was honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to education, through the preservation and teaching of Pacific history, as a scholar, author and commentator.

Both have been hounded or treated like common criminals. This must stop.

Professor Lal and Dr Padma Lal have much to contribute towards the development of Fiji. Government must recognise and accept the fact that Professor Lal is the pre-eminent historian and authority whose work in documenting the struggles and history of the Girmitiya and their descendants is unparalleled. Anyone around the world interested in the history of Fiji and indentured labourers cannot escape the eminent contribution of Professor Lal.

This is the perfect opportunity for Government to show it is a collective institution and not run on the whims of a few individuals.

Authorised by: Professor Biman Prasad, NFP Leader

28 October 2016: A TIME FOR REFLECTION – NFP

It is extremely pleasing to see that Hindu members of our Indo-Fijian community, who have made Fiji their home have maintained and continued their cultural and religious activities in a vibrant manner through Ramayan Mandalis and construction of temples.

This is most admirable as you are bequeathing a strong foundation of self-dignity and the virtues of respect and tolerance to future generations.

Deepavali or Diwali is the Festival of Lights. It is a time of rejoicing with family and friends. It is also a time for prayer and reflection. It is a time to remember the unfortunate, the sick, infirm and elderly.
The lighting of the traditional lamp, Diya, symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and most importantly, truth over evil.

The light from the Diya re-commits all of us to bring light to any place facing darkness. Hindus are very resilient and draw strength from their faith and a sense of solidarity in times of adversity. It is a time to remember the unfortunate, the sick, infirm and elderly

The return of Lord Rama after 14 years in exile is a triumphant occasion. Lord Rama is the embodiment of truth, justice, righteousness, honesty, integrity and humility.

The virtues of Lord Rama and the significance of Diwali are extremely relevant in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country like Fiji.

We have a newly constituted Parliament for over two years now, which is the highest court of the land. Parliament must make decisions in the national interest. Narrow and sectarian interests must be discarded.

The high cost of living, the decline of the sugar industry, the devastating effects of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston that has resulted in many thousands being homeless for the last 8 months, Cyclone victims forced to eat wild food suitable for animals, deteriorating public health system with shortage of basic medicine, rising unemployment, rising national debt levels, derogations in the Bill of Rights of the 2013 Constitution, regressive and draconian decrees, a regulated media and the deteriorating health system and medical services are fundamental problems that can only be resolved by a display of sound and sensible leadership.

To ignore these fundamental problems would be doing so at our own peril. In Fiji, calling everyone Fijians and saying they enjoy common and equal citizenry doesn’t guarantee fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the media. It does not guarantee job opportunities based on meritocracy, rendering common and equal citizenry meaningless.

These are the challenges we face as a community and as a nation, which unfortunately are not highlighted by the media. This reality may not be grasped by many of you simply because limitations in the Constitution and continuation of regressive Decrees that dilute provisions in the Bill of Rights, resulting in the inability of the media to disseminate such information.

As a party born out of the struggle for dignity and justice of all our people, the NFP will continue the struggle for the triumph of truth over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance so that our beloved nation once again becomes a beacon of hope and trust.

We wish the people of Fiji a blessed Deepavali.

Authorised by: –

 

Hon Prof Biman Prasad
NFP Leader

28 October 2016: MEDIA RELEASE: NFP ASKS PM: WHO IS RACIST?

Prime Minister and Fiji First Party Leader Voreqe Bainimarama is insulting the intelligence of the people of Fiji by labelling the National Federation Party as racist just because the Party champions the interests of the cane growers.

Speaking to FBC TV News on Wednesday night (26th October) the Prime Minister said his Fiji First Party would not form a coalition with another party for 2018 general elections because “their policies don’t align”.

He also stated that “that the National Federation Party now is not the same as the NFP of old” and furthermore said, “I would think that the NFP party now is a racist party that’s why they all in the cane fields because of the vote of the Indo-Fijians. Their policies are totally at the extreme nowadays.

Nothing can be further from the truth. The Prime Minister, if he believes his warped logic must now answer the following: –

  1. Does he know that almost 30% of cane growers are Fijians of i-Taukei descent?
  2. Is he refusing to accept sound and sensible solutions proposed by the NFP to resuscitate the sugar industry and improve the livelihood of cane growers because he thinks upholding the interest of growers who comprise of 70% Indo-Fijians and who are descendants of the Girmitiya is racism?
  3. Does this mean that the Prime Minister who is the Minister for i-Taukei Affairs is a racist because the Ministry exclusively looks after the interests of our i-Taukei community?
  4. Does this also mean that the Prime Minister, who was Commander of Republic of Fiji Military Forces for 15 years, an organisation whose personnel are almost exclusively i-Taukei, is a racist?
  5. Does this mean that just because the elite arm of RFMF (CRW Unit) helped George Speight execute the coup in May 2000 to overthrow a Government led by an Indo-Fijian, make the Prime Minister racist because he was Commander of the Army?
  6. Does this mean that the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution and then Commander Bainimarama’s refusal to re-instate the Fiji Labour Party Leader as Prime Minister following the end to the hostage crisis in 2000, actions later proven in Court of Appeal to be in defiance of the rule of law was an act of racism?
  7. And does this mean that when as Commander, Bainimarama executed the coup to topple an i-Taukei led multi-party multiracial Government in December 2006, was yet again a racist act?

These are legitimate questions that the Prime Minister must now answer truthfully and he must do so by applying the same logic that he did in labeling NFP a racist party.

His political character and credibility now faces the litmus test.
Authorised by: –

Hon Prof Biman Prasad
NFP Leader