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Biman ‘removed’

 

The Fiji Times – page 3 : Nasik Swami Friday, April 28, 2017

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=398397

OPPOSITION Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa has removed National
Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad as the shadow minister for economy after the party’s decision not to form a coalition with SODELPA or any other party for next year’s general election. Ro Teimumu told The Fiji Times yesterday that this was the decision of SODELPA caucus.
However, she personally believes Prof Prasad is the best person and most qualified to fulfil the role of the shadow minister for economy and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) until his resignation.
In a letter to Prof Prasad on Wednesday, Ro Teimumu said: “As you have publicly stated that NFP will not partner or coalesce with any other party prior to the 2018 election, it is therefore imperative to SODELPA to find a parliamentary platform to make known and publicise issues that will benefit us from the 2017/2018 Budget”.
“Our members (SODELPA MPs) now believe that it is now an opportune time for a member of the Public Accounts Committee to make the appropriate response to the 2017-2018 Budget addresses,” Ro Teimumu said.
“So now he (Prof Prasad) has resigned from the PAC and Standing Orders have changed and the chair for the committee is now a government nominee.”
Ro Teimumu said she was not forced by SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka to remove Prof Prasad.
Prof Prasad confirmed receiving the letter from Ro Teimumu.
“I have been removed as shadow minister for economy. While it means I will not deliver the official reply to the 2017-18 Budget, this will not prevent the NFP from effectively dissecting the budget and advocating issues affecting all our citizens,” he said.
He thanked Ro Teimumu for having the confidence in him to perform the roles of shadow minister for economy and chairman of PAC until he resigned in May last year after changes to the Standing Orders.
“These were important Opposition parliamentary roles required to be performed effectively and efficiently,” Prof Prasad said.
“These are parliamentary roles and have nothing to do with the fact that the NFP is a party on its own and not in a political or parliamentary coalition with any party.”

Response to Budget

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.”

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

 

 

 

Village By-Laws Will Be Revoked by an NFP Government

MEDIA RELEASE: April 7, 2017

National Federation Party Leader Hon Professor Biman Prasad says the revocation of the Village By-Laws will be a high priority of an NFP Government because it disenfranchises the rural  i Taukei community.

Professor Prasad has described the Village By-Laws as an agenda of the Fiji First Government to control and coerce people into accepting their imposition.

“We expect the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission to investigate whether the by-law’s are discriminatory and will marginalise our rural i Taukei communities.”

“The Government’s sponsorship of the by-laws points to an attempt to unilaterally force an issue that addresses social issues that are prevalent all over the country, and is not solely limited to villages alone.”

“If the Government thinks that people do not see how they are using their appointees and proxies at the local level such as the Turaga Ni Koro’s to execute their designs, they are sorely mistaken.”

“Similarly, the Rotuma Bill has already been rejected by the people of Rotuma and their traditionally appointed spokespeople. While we appreciate that a Parliamentary Standing Committee is still looking at the Bill, we will await their findings and recommendations when it comes to the Parliament and respond accordingly with what we have been advised by the Rotuman community”.

“The tinkering of age old customs and traditions of our indigenous and Rotuman communities, as well as entrenching conversational and contemporary i Taukei and Fiji Hindi languages in the 2013 Constitution to be compulsorily taught in all primary schools, is further confirmation of this Government’s scant regard for social and moral values as well as invaluable lessons contained in the formal languages of both communities”.

“Section 43 of the by-law that states that it is unlawful to enter a village without formal authorization of the Provincial Council for any other purpose than visitation, is clearly intended to limit access by political parties and is further confirmation of control of our people who should be free to make their own decisions without any State sponsored control.”

“This is symptomatic of a Government that has lost its way and is rudderless, only choosing to ride roughshod over all people and manipulate processes that they think will tilt the balance in their favour. The domino effect of the culmination of all their misplaced policies will be echoed to them loud and clear come elections in 2018.”

 

Authorised by: –

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

 

NFP LEADER – We will revoke Village By-laws

 

 

ASHWIN RAJ MUST BE DISMISSED FROM HIS POSITIONS: NFP

MEDIA RELEASE: April 3, 2017

The National Federation Party has called for the immediate dismissal of Ashwin Raj in both his positions as Chair of the Media Industry and Development Authority (MIDA) and Director of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (FHRADC), following his suggestions to stifle freedom of speech on national television.

Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad, said that the suggestions on Sunday night 2nd April) by Mr Raj on FBCTV Current Affairs Show For the Record, where he urged the State to pursue the regulation of social media are shocking and must be condemned in the strongest terms.

“The NFP strongly condemns these suggestions to the State by Mr Raj, which we know are all being said under the pretext of “responsibility.”

“It is chilling, unconstitutional and could be easily wielded as an instrument to again stifle the voices of the people of Fiji.”

“What we find further disturbing are his pointed attacks on political parties and then the further justification of these attacks, to bring in regulation over social media.”

“The NFP sees this as a blatant attempt to stifle the voices of political parties in the lead-up to elections next year.”

“Fiji already has in place a heavily regulated media industry, with draconian laws, and penalties.”

“There is no need to introduce further laws to stifle civil liberties. There is instead a great need to repeal these laws.”

Professor Prasad added that citizens had taken to Mr Raj himself, their complaints on communal antagonism against FBCTV for the program Wasea Basha.

“However Mr Raj merely brushed these off as not meeting the “threshold for inciting communal discord.”

“It seems he has conveniently changed his mind on what such a “threshold” constitutes when this has concerned the State and its representatives”

“We are also appalled with the false accusations and political commentary that have emerged from Mr Raj in defending the statement of Fiji’s Ambassador to Geneva, Nazhat Shameem at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council.”

“His statement was based on an inaccurate lengthy version of the Ambassador’s statement, which the Fiji Mission in Geneva continued to have on its website and furthermore made some serious political commentary and opinion of what he thinks is true.”

“He continued to drive that agenda on Sunday night on FBCTV.”

“As the Director of a constitutionally independent commission, Mr Raj had cast inaccurate, political aspersions on opposition political parties, without checking the basic facts, including the true record of the speech.”

“The fact that a public servant in the Director of the FHRADC, has come into the political scene, falsely accusing opposition political parties of his own opinionated conclusion, contradicts the behaviour expected of pubic servants which explicitly demand political neutrality and impartiality.”

“They contravene the constitutional values and principles expected of public servants who should display high standards of behavior, including professional ethics and integrity.”

“I call on the Chairperson and members of the FHRADC who are constitutionally responsible for the promotion, protection, observation, of human rights, to take a proactive interest in the work of the commission and its officers, particularly its Director.”

“Mr Raj should be terminated from his positions to allow other more worthy, neutral and independent Fijians to apply for the position. His utterances and accusations are damning where he has crossed the line as a public servant acting as a mouthpiece for a political agenda.”

 

Authorised by: –

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

 

NFP LEADER – Ashwin Raj must be sacked from his positions