Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

 

Poll support

THE FIJI TIMES: Nasik Swami
Saturday, April 01, 2017

IT will be interesting to see how the approval ratings of political party leaders emerge as the country moves closer to the 2018 General Election, says an academic.

Economist Neelesh Gounder of the University of the South Pacific (USP) says political leaders have very little time remaining to build on the trust of the electorates and win their votes.

Mr Gounder said the Tebbutt-Times poll in February, which gave FijiFirst leader Voreqe Bainimarama an approval rating of 78 per cent as prime minister of Fiji ahead of Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa (44 per cent), National Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad (36 per cent) and Social Democratic Liberal Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka (34 per cent), was a base for leaders to build on their support.

“The magnitude of approval for each of the three leaders appears to be related with the other poll question on preferred choice for prime minister. Although at varying levels, the poll results show all leaders enjoy stronger approval than disapproval in their leadership role,” he said.

 

Mr Gounder said while Mr Bainimarama had a strong lead in terms of approval ratings, the leaders of other parties also fared out strongly considering the nature of media coverage of party leaders in the public arena.

“Prof Prasad’s approval is higher among the iTaukei (42 per cent) than Fijians of Indian descent (33 per cent).

“This is particularly interesting as it shows his support spans across both major communities. It also shows that the NFP leader’s message is cutting across both communities in a positive way.”

Mr Gounder said Prof Prasad’s rating was significantly higher in the Western Division (41 per cent) than in Central Division (29 per cent).

“This could potentially reflect NFP’s continuous stand on issues related to the plight of sugarcane farmers.

“The other surprising aspect is the approval rating of SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Despite not being in Parliament, his net approval is 34 per cent. It will be interesting to see how the leaders’ net approval/satisfaction ratings emerge as Fiji moves closer to the elections.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=394970

 

 

NFP to PM: Charity begins at home

MEDIA RELEASE: March 31, 2017

 

It is unbelievable that the Prime Minister, while calling for a grand coalition of nations and the private sector to tackle Climate Change, cannot even co-operate with others in his own country.

The Prime Minister, while addressing Private Sector Climate Leaders in the United States this week (29th March), called for a “grand coalition” between people in other countries on climate change.

They say “charity begins at home.”

A coalition means you must be patient, listen to other viewpoints and be open to dialogue.  You must talk to each other, not at each other. And despite finger-pointing and acrimonious debates in Parliament, the national interest must always prevail over anything else.

The NFP has repeatedly called on the Prime Minister to begin national dialogue on the sugar industry and education. But he rejected this describing our call as “politics”.

NFP has moved Parliamentary motions asking his Government to help people as diverse as dairy farmers and dialysis patients.  His Government votes them all down.

People bring petitions to Parliament. But his Government changes the Parliamentary rules so that they cannot be debated.

The Prime Minister’s biggest challenge as COP23 Chairman will be that the climate change-denying US government will not listen to him.

Perhaps that will remind the Prime Minister, while he trots around the globe, how his fellow citizens feel at home.

 

Authorised by:

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

NFP to PM- Charity begins at home

 

 

AN NFP GOVERNMENT WILL BUILD A NEW SUGAR MILL FOR RA CANE GROWERS

MEDIA RELEASE: March 31, 2017

A National Federation Party Government after next year’s general elections will build a new sugar mill in Penang for the cane growers of Rakiraki.

This will be a priority of an NFP Government because we believe social responsibility to the people by a Government is paramount above anything else. And the NFP deeply values this principle.

The permanent shutdown of the Penang Mill is not only a “ill-conceived and irrational” decision by the Board of the Fiji Sugar Corporation, but also a decision of the Fiji First Government as confirmed by the Prime Minister, while rejecting a Petition in Parliament last Thursday by Ra cane growers urging the re-opening of the Mill.

The Prime Minister’s comment that the Mill was “beyond repair” and that the “FSC Board is meeting next week on the 27th to discuss exactly these issues”, confirms the Fiji First Government’s deviousness on this issue right from the outset in 2016 following the closure of the Mill after Severe TC Winston last year.

This Government and FSC have clearly prioritized FSC’s financial viability over the survival and livelihood of cane growers, therefore treating growers as sacrificial lambs.

FSC’s claim that any repair or refurbishment of the Penang Mill will cost 40-50 million dollars is untrue. This monetary value comes only after FSC cannibalized the Mill by stripping it of its parts, shipping them to other Mills and even transporting locomotives to Labasa. Even then the cost is baseless.

The Board is misleading people by saying it was unsafe to work inside the Mill. If this was true, how did employees strip the interior of the Mill of parts after being directed to do so by the Management.

That the PM failed to answer whether an assessment was done on the future of the mill by Indian experts as announced by him (PM) in July last year, confirms beyond any doubt Government had decided long time ago to shut down the Mill without any consideration to growers and the local economy of Ra.

The absence of any response from the PM leads us to believe he misled growers by giving them false hope of an assessment.

We also ask whether the USD$70 million credit facility offered by the Indian Prime Minister during his visit to Fiji in November 2014 for co-generation project at Rarawai has been utilized?

If not, why wasn’t it used to refurbish the Penang Mill?

Cane growers of Rakiraki and indeed throughout the cane belts of the 8 cane growing districts cannot hope for any solution from this Government that will positively impact their lives.

An NFP Government after the general elections will immediately set in motion plans and policies to build a new Mill. This is our commitment to the growers and people of Rakiraki.

 

Authorised by: –

Professor Biman Prasad

NFP Leader

NFP LEADER-NEW SUGAR MILL FOR RA BY A NFP GOVERNMENT-1

 

Government Dictating Sugar Industry since 2006 coup

‘No funds’

Kalesi Mele: Fiji Times
Sunday, March 26, 2017

THE Fiji Cane Growers Association (FCGA) says they had no funds to work with for several years since the removal of democratically elected members from the Sugar Cane Growers Council in 2008.

In tabling their 2016 financial reports, FCGA treasurer Kamlesh Kumar said last year the association had no funds and therefore were unable to conduct any activities.

FCGA re-elected president Attar Singh said with the removal of the council, the council levy system which was directed to their respective organisations was also removed.

The deductions of the levy used to be facilitated by the Fiji Sugar Corporation and directed to the council and respective associations.

Mr Singh said if both the State and FSC were genuine in seeking to assist farmers, they would reinstate the council levy system.

“We are very active and we used to contest elections and people used to sit in the growers council.

“This Government came in and decided to remove the check-off facilities, the levies that farmers used to collect from farmers.

“They have removed that levy facility to try and kill the voice of farmers.

“FSC no longer deducts that money and you would have heard that trade unions had a big fight where government was stopping the check-off.

“Now after a fight with the International Labour Organization, that check-off is restored. So everybody’s check-off is restored. Trade unions are restored but the check-off facility for canefarmers is yet to be restored.

“If FSC wants co-operation of farmers and if it wants to genuinely assist farmers then it has a duty to assist the farmers’ organisation in terms of collecting the membership fees so they can run effective organisations and we are calling on them to facilitate this.”