Bi­man Prasad should have spo­ken against this. He didn’t.

Fiji Sun - - Comment - JYOTI PRAT­I­BHA Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

True lead­ers will al­ways stand up against any per­cep­tion of big­otry in their midst. Sadly, this was lack­ing when SODELPA Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Ratu Isoa Tikoca launched, let’s be frank, an at­tack on prom­i­nent Mus­lims hold­ing the roles they do. These are peo­ple who have been ap­pointed purely on merit. But Ratu Isoa can­not look past their re­li­gion. His rant had a sim­i­lar eerie feel to back when the then SDL MP Adi Ase­naca Cau­cau had called In­doFi­jians ‘weeds’. The then SDL Prime Min­is­ter Laise­nia Qarase had de­fended her free­dom of speech. Sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments have now come from Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party Leader Bi­man Prasad. Say­ing that what his Op­po­si­tion col­league said in Par­lia­ment was his free­dom is not good enough. In­stead, Mr Prasad chose to ac­cuse the Bain­i­marama Gov­ern­ment and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Aiyaz SayedKhaiyum of play­ing the race card. Se­ri­ously? Is this the best Mr Prasad can do? On his side of the House, there is a fel­low MP cast­ing as­per­sions on peo­ple be­ing ap­pointed be­cause of their faith. But Mr Prasad ac­cuses Mr Sayed-Khaiyum of play­ing the race card. Does any­one else see any­thing funny with this? Tak­ing the line that is a spat is be­tween Ratu Isoa and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is clearly wor­ry­ing. To­day the of­fen­sive has been launched on Fi­jian Mus­lims. To­mor­row, it may be another group. South In­di­ans? Methodists? Catholics? It could be any­one. Mr Prasad and Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party’s fail­ure to speak out against such re­marks is set­ting a very dan­ger­ous prece­dent. Mr Prasad’s in­abil­ity to take a stand on this is­sue gives a very wrong sig­nal to his vot­ers, some of whom no doubt would be of the Mus­lim faith. Adi Ase­naca’s re­marks are still in the minds of many and Ratu Isoa’s com­ments no doubt will not be for­got­ten in a hurry ei­ther. What will also not be for­got­ten is NFP hypocrisy in Mr Prasad blam­ing Mr Sayed-Khaiyum for play­ing the race card when Mr Prasad clearly chose not to de­nounce his Op­po­si­tion col­league Ratu Isoa. A very dan­ger­ous prece­dence has no doubt been set. Our elected lead­ers have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to set wrongs right.

Photo: Vil­imoni Va­ganalau

Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party leader and Op­po­si­tion Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, Bi­man Prasad.

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