NFP AGM 2019 – Speech by NFP President Hon. Pio Tikoduadua

Saturday 24th August 2019

AGM held at the Lautoka Hotel

The Party elders and stalwarts, fellow members of the Management Board and Youth Wing, party supporters and friends.

Today is a wonderful day and I am especially pleased to be in Lautoka for this years AGM.

We will hear updates of what the party has been up to from our last AGM until today and have some discussions also about national issues before us.

But today I am especially happy to state that I feel vindicated and that I no longer have to defend my honour against spurious and false LIES levelled against me when I reported a violation of my parliamentary privilege as an elected member of parliament in the august House on Friday, 9 August 2019, when I was assaulted physically, verbally and mentally by the Prime Minister, Mr Bainimarama.

As the President of your Party, I am accountable to the AGM to tell you what happened.

I did not LIE and I am told that yesterday a video appeared on social media showing this.

Everything in that video is as I stated in the live press conference that I gave to Fiji Times that same day, BEFORE I went to report an official complaint with the Police at Totogo.

My parliamentary colleague, Hon Lenora Qereqeretabua is also vindicated I am sure, as an eyewitness, along with our two youth staffers, Apenisa and Dylan and Hon Suliasi Matanitobua the Tui Namosi. We have nothing to gain from lying about this. It happened. We are still awaiting the authorities to do their part.

However that video does not show the second time the Prime Minister verbally assaulted me and assailed me with swears and undignified language not befitting his station as the Prime Minister of this land. That happened when I was on green carpet at the entrance of the parliamentary premises, as I was on my way back into the house to report what the Prime Minister just did.

I responded to him in passing, that he should look at himself and his actions as Prime Minister.

That video does not show FBC reporters hounding me for a response from the time I left the House until the Prime Minister assaulted me. The FBC reporters knew full well that any public comments made by elected members of parliament while parliament is sitting is a direct breach of the parliamentary standing orders. Any public comment or social media posting has to be done after parliament has adjourned its sitting.

Yet, when the Prime Minister was assaulting me those two FBC reporters just stood there. They may have their own video recording, but it certainly did not feature on their news that night!

That video does not show the chief legal advisor to Government’s knee-jerk reaction on a Facebook live press conference where he confirmed that the Prime Minister had an audience with the Hon Speaker that very same Friday night, while a pre-scheduled appointment that I had with the Speaker on Monday was suddenly cancelled as I was on my way to him.

These are all just telling symptoms of the state of our affairs. It is not a hopeful one if the Prime Minister of this country is unable to control his own temper and lash out not just with verbal and derogatory abuse, but is now using his hands.

Violence was just a theme of the Government side on the previous Thursday night debate. Yet, as Hon Lenora said that week, showing and telling are two completely different things for them.

I am not even sure if the safety of other opposition members is guaranteed anymore given that the Prime Minister had already verbally assaulted ON the parliamentary premises, Hon Mosese Bulitavu and Hon Ro Teimumu Kepa during the previous parliamentary session.

And certainly our personal workplace safety and risk as MPs, is not a cost that any parliament should lump on already burdened taxpayers to pay for.

This all falls at the feet of the Hon Prime Minister. We all stand condemned if we cannot as adults talk about issues and ideas, and debate them properly, as the rules provide.

I have no hard feelings towards the Prime Minister. In fact I have done so already, because carrying that kind of grudge around is taxing on my spirit and has no value.

But, this incident is bigger than me. It is about Fiji. It is about leadership. It is about ensuring that our young people know what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. It is about being accountable for one’s actions and deeds, and everyone who was there knows in their hearts, what is right and wrong. I will leave that to their conscience to deal with.

I sleep very well at night, but those who are constantly manipulating all our systems and processes, to keep everybody else suppressed and on their knees have a huge weight on their shoulders to deal with. That is their burden to deal with. And we all have to answer for our actions one day.

Ladies and Gentlemen and party members — it is too easy to fall into despair and despondence, and just give up. But that is not what leadership is about. I am very aware that among our own Young Feds group and even in my own house, I have young people watching me intently, learning and possible even modelling my example. OUR EXAMPLE as a political party.

Because real leadership is about working even harder despite all the odds stacked against you, and staying true to what is right and what is just.

Certainly those are the values that attracted people like me to the party, where we stand on the wide and tall shoulders of our foremost party leader AD Patel, and of course Siddiq Koya, Harish Sharma and Justice Jai Ram Reddy.

So if there are any final words I can leave you with today it is this. Keep working, keep our hearts clean, keep hope alive.

Let’s get to work. I thank you.