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Fiji National Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad has labelled the Privilege Committee report tabled in Parliament today as a hogwash.
Prasad claims the report is designed to put an end to Police investigation into the alleged assault and get the police off the case.
He says for the 56-year-old National Federation Party which has survived and emerged unscratched in terms of maintaining its principles, ethics, without for once shirking our fight for equality, dignity and justice for all our ordinary citizens, today is a day of shame for the highest court of the land that for a very long time, will not become a thing of the past.
Prasad says this is due to this Motion asking them to give our seal of approval or otherwise to untruth over truth, injustice over justice and tear to shreds the virtue of righteousness – the most important cornerstone of any democracy.
He said the report is suggestive that Tikoduadua be a metaphorical ‘sacrificial lamb’
“Parliament has made Honourable Tikoduadua or is proposing to make honourable Tikoduadua a sacrificial lamb with the Privileges Committee requiring him to apologize to the honourable Prime Minister or face six months suspension from the Parliament”
Prasad maintains his stance that Tikoduadua did not make any personal attack at the Prime Minister and his comment was targeted at the Fiji First Government and not the PM’s family.
The NFP leader maintaining that Tikoduadua is being treated like the instigator of the alleged altercation between the two and is being punished for making a pointed attack at the PM’s family – something that Tikoduadua never did.
“One wonders why was honourable Tikoduadua referred to the privileges committee in the first place – was it to balance the scales for the PM’s assault? This is a legitimate question that I ask on behalf of thousands of our supporters. Now he is asked to apologise for saying own House – in reference to accusations hurled from the Government on this side of the House or the Opposition responsible for many things. We are sure honourable Tikoduadua explained this to the committee – but we perfectly well understand the committee’s modus operandi.”
Prasad says from its line of questioning – especially of him – he could clearly see how desperate the government members on the committee were to exonerate their boss – the PM – of any wrong-doing.
“Here a person is being asked to apologise for something that he did not say, nor mean nor think about – except one or two MPs on Government benches by asking the PM to look at his own House – also with capital “H” as shown in Hansard and correlated with video footage and I hope the Committee looked at because he gestured towards.. in fact I was here Mister Speaker that day. When he was responding, he gestured towards the other side.”
Prasad says the best remedy for justice to prevail or even being seen to prevail in the interest of democracy and permanent viability of our law and order is to withdraw the report and let the rule of law take its course.
Meanwhile, Parliament must be consistent in their decisions rather than giving special treatment to some MPs simply because of their privileged position.
This was highlighted by Fiji opposition leader, Sitiveni Rabuka while speaking on the motion by Ro Filipe Tuisawau that the Prime Minister apologise today and be suspended for 2 years.
Rabuka says this is not the first case to be referred to the Privileges Committee adding that he voters of this country know that some of the decisions are biased towards the interest of the governing elite rather than the nation as a whole.
Rabuka says parliament should not interfere with the constitutional role of the Police particularly with incidents that are criminal in nature and that the constitution guarantees the right to equality before the law.
The Leader of Opposition says this requires that all citizens whether members of parliament, heads of government or cabinet ministers be treated equally just as any ordinary citizen who is alleged to have breached any criminal law is investigated by the Police.
Rabuka adds that parliament therefore must not give parliamentarians special treatment or exemptions to criminal law which applies to ordinary citizens.
He says decisions in parliament against other members have been biased, vindictive and inconsistent with parliamentary norms, conventions and the rule of law because it is intended to suit somebody’s agenda.
Rabuka also stated that he believes that parliament should be a guiding light for this nation and adds that the picture that people are seeing is far from ideal and not consistent with the principles underlying the motto of Parliament which is “Our Parliament Our Pride.”
He also highlighted that the opposition have refrained from signing the report in the spirit and respect of good governance, transparency, accountability, and consistency.
SODELPA MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu said it shouldn’t have come this far.
Those are the words of Opposition MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu while debating the Privilege motion in Parliament.
He says the whole situation could have been avoided if there was an earnest attempt at reconciliation.
“We now have a Prime Minister about to come before us, to come and apologise. It shouldn’t have come this far. We could have resolved it there and then if only we had listened to your (Speaker) attempt Sir. If only we had made genuine efforts to respect the Office of the Prime Minister and respect the individual members here cause everyone is equal here”.
Following the incidents of 09 August sitting of Parliament, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama visited the Speaker of the House.
He apologised to the Speaker for the incident and offered to apologize to Pio Tikoduadua as well.
Ratu Epeli then asked Tikoduadua to attend a meeting with the Speaker and the Prime Minister so that Bainimarama could offer an apology the NFP President and put an end to the matter.
However, Tikoduadua was unavailable for the meeting
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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