Fiji Opposition Leader Says Government Imposes 'Gag' On Dissenting Voices In Parliament

Ro Teimumu 'seriously disturbed' that government only selectively allows questions, motions, petitions

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 27, 2017) – The Opposition is not happy with the way Parliament's business committee operates.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, the Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa said Government, through the committee, was imposing severe restrictions on the type of questions, motions and petitions that could be tabled by Opposition MPs in the House.

"This week, any question, motion and petition that has to do with the sugar industry, with iTaukei and indigenous rights and developments within any Opposition MP's constituency have been refused," Ro Teimumu claimed.

She said Government had been very selective, allowing only questions, petitions and motions that do not criticise them, its policies and programs or that is not likely to gather the support of the public against it.

"I have carefully considered this and after discussing the same concerns raised individually and collectively by Opposition MPs, I say in the strongest term that I am seriously disturbed by this apparent interference by the executive with the independence of the legislature that is now having the effect of gagging the voices of the people to speak through their representatives in Parliament as it should.

"This is a serious interference with the democratic process and I intend to take this up with my counterparts in other Parliaments, UN agencies and the Inter-Parliamentary Union," Ro Teimumu said.

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad shared similar sentiments yesterday, saying a lot of important motions, questions and petitions were thrown out by the committee.

Last night, Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni, who chairs the committee, said there were no restrictions and the committee followed the Standing Orders.

Dr Luveni said the sugar issue was discussed at length in the last sitting of Parliament and could not be brought before the House until after six months.

Fiji Times Online.
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