War Of Words Between Fiji Opposition, Bainimarama

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Prasad: ‘Military dictatorship’ replaced by ‘parliamentary dictatorship’

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 1, 2015) – Six months after the general election, the Government still thinks it is in election and campaign mode, says Opposition member and National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad.

Prof Prasad claimed the Government was indulging in "fear mongering" style of rhetoric in an attempt to promote dislike of the Opposition among the people of Fiji.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama retorted yesterday with the suggestion that Prof Prasad's comments should be put up a certain part of his anatomy.

Mr Bainimarama said the allegations from the Opposition member were "a big mouthful and coming from somebody who doesn't know one per cent from three and half per cent".

Prof Prasad claimed that the actions of Government were nothing but an attempt to disguise the fundamental concerns affecting the country, such as the continuing suppression of freedom of speech and freedom of association.

"The two parliamentary sittings in February and March, respectively, this year were each of five days only.

"They were rendered to a question and answer session, including questions from Government backbenchers and ministerial statements aimed at glorifying Government's policies like free milk, free water and electricity subsidy to name a few."

Prof Prasad said questions from the Opposition in Parliament were labelled anti-Fiji even though they sought answers on the restoration of rights of citizens eroded through decrees and promulgations.

"In one case, a question by a fellow Opposition parliamentary colleague seeking statistics as to the number of civil servants by ethnicity, namely iTaukei, Fijians of Indian descent, Fijians of Rotuman descent and Fijians of general descent was thrown out on the pretext it was unconstitutional," he claimed.

Prof Prasad said on instances when Government had provided answers, it rejected outright suggestions and policies on the pretext that the Opposition did not know the reality.

"At times, therefore, I wonder if our restoration of democracy has basically been a transformation from military dictatorship to parliamentary dictatorship."

He said the "I know it all" attitude should end in Fiji.

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