Biman Prasad should have spoken against this. He didn’t.
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.
National Federation Party leader and Opposition Member of Parliament, Biman Prasad.