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

 

 

 

April 15, 2017: Statement by Lt Col Pio Tikoduadua – Member and Intending Candidate, National Federation Party

Text of Statement (please check against delivery) 
===================================================
Thank you all for being here today. I apologise to those of you that may have had to sacrifice time with your loved ones, this Saturday
of Holy Week to attend this press conference.

After consulting with my wife and our two teenage children, I am very grateful and humbled that they have given me their
unwavering support, blessings and understanding, to return to public life and service. This sacrifice made by my wife and children
comes with their conviction and understanding of the toll it could take on my health personally and my family security. However they
also understand my strong belief that contributing positively to our country – and doing so with integrity – not only pays in this life but
also in the next.

I have now joined the National Federation Party. I will be applying to be an NFP candidate in the 2018 general election.

I joined NFP after a number of conversations with its party leader, Professor Biman Prasad. In the years 2011 and 2012 the United
Nations convened a series of meetings between the military government and its opponents. This was a search for a way to
work together to restore democracy to Fiji.

That process did not succeed. But as a member of the Government at that time, I had many discussions with Professor
Prasad. I became convinced that consultation and consensus building with our opponents was the way to go. Professor Prasad
offered many positive ideas for our country that were falling on deaf ears.

I know about NFP’s deep history in Fiji. Unlike many other parties in Fiji, it was not formed for the purpose of becoming a
government. It was formed to defend people who were vulnerable and voiceless. At first this was the cane farmers. But over the
years it has become the voice of many more. These are not just Indo-Fijians. As Professor Prasad has reminded me, if NFP had
not had many thousands of i-Taukei votes in 2014, it would not be in Parliament right now.

The NFP has given to Fiji statesmen like Mr A D Patel, Mr S M Koya, Mr Jai Ram Reddy and Mr Harish Sharma. It has never
departed from its principles. At critical moments in Fiji’s history, it has always sought to do the right thing, even at the cost of votes.
At Independence in 1970, NFP allowed the Alliance Party to rule for two years instead of demanding an election. In 1999, it joined
hands with the SVT Party to offer the people a genuinely multiracial government, even though many of its supporters did not
agree. NFP has never supported a military coup.

In 2014, I had to choose sides to contest the general elections. I chose the Fiji First Party. But before I made this announcement I
rang Professor Prasad. I told him that if I had not chosen Fiji First, I would have chosen NFP. So here I am – even if it is three years
too late!

As many of you would know, I am a former Minister of the Fiji First Government and Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
Before that I was a career officer in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces for 20 years.

At the time of the 2006 coup, I was studying in Canberra at the Australian Command and Staff College. I joined the RFMF-led
Government, initially as Permanent Secretary for Justice and later serving the Commander RFMF and Prime Minister as Permanent
Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister from 2008 to 2014.

For me personally, I considered this as a continuation of my military duty to the Commander, spanning some 15 years from 1999 when I served
him as his Personal Staff Officer or Aide-de-Camp (ADC). Loyalty to your superiors is the essence of soldiering. 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.

I was one of the 50 people elected to Parliament in 2014. I was and I still am very grateful for the overwhelming support of the
electorate in electing me.

I resigned from Fiji First and a Member of Parliament in May 2015. The reason I stated at that time for my resignation was that I had
serious health issues developing from my cancer condition. My doctors warned me this could recur if I was not mindful of my
personal health and stress. My health has improved during the last 2 years I have lived in my home village at Delasui. I continue
to manage my personal health as anyone else would do.

But there were other reasons as well for my departure.

I spoke earlier about loyalty. Loyalty must be given to a leader. But loyalty must also be returned.

In 2015 a Fiji First 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 Prime Minister that we should show flexibility and forgiveness. 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.

The Prime Minister initially accepted and was agreeable to my recommendation. I told the MP 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.

I took that statement as an order that my services were no longer required. I then left the Government.

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.

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.

During my time in “retirement”, I kept a close interest on the effects on Fijian society of the decisions made on the national front, in
particular of Parliament and of the Executive. And the more I watched and listened, the more I became convinced that most, if
not all, the aspirations we in the RFMF had stood for together for democracy and the people have been cast aside today.

I am now an intending candidate for the National Federation Party. I will defend the aspirations of both the NFP and the values that
were instilled in me from my youth and that have sustained me in my life. These are integrity, honesty and trust – the same values
that I took through my military career and which I very dearly cherish through my Christian faith. These are the same principles
that I have held as an elected MP – that no matter what your background or religion, we are all equal in the eyes of God. The
same belief of Christianity being inclusive, with the central teachings of Christ being foremost – the Command to Love,
sacrifice, show compassion, mercy and forgiveness. Today is the eve of the Resurrection, an event that Christians regard as the
epitome of their faith and belief – the victory of good over evil, of life over death, of despair of eternal death to hope in salvation and
eternal life.

So today –

I now Stand Free. I stand to defend the values that I believe in as a humane person, a Fijian, an i Taukei and a farmer with roots
embedded in the village of Delasui in Korovou, Northland, Tailevu, a steadfast career military man, and most importantly to me as a
being – my family and Christian and Catholic values of freedom, equality, justice, democracy, selflessness, and of putting God and
country before oneself. I take these with me.

Today I am urging and encouraging all Fijians to stand tall too, and stand free. Let’s take this walk and let’s stand up for the truth, for
honour, justice, and democracy and for our voices. Let’s stand up for the life that each one of us, our children, and generations to
come, deserve. Let’s demand nothing less. Let’s not take a back seat but CHOOSE to define our destiny.

Thank you very much.

Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua
Ph: 7196802
Email: viotikoduadua@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/nfpfiji/videos/668706443317782/

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