LUVENI HITS OUT AT CHAUDHRY
Speaker says his criticism of her is about seeking attention by the Fiji Labour Party leader
Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni says she is unruffled by Mahendra Chaudhry’s criticism of her.
“I have a thick skin,” she said yesterday. Dr Luveni said the Fiji Labour Party leader was trying to seek attention, to be noticed, with his comments. Mr Chaudhry accused Dr Luveni of not being impartial while making his submissions on the Parliament Powers and Privileges Bill 2016 before the Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights in Parliament yesterday. Dr Luveni dismissed the Chaudhry comment. “I am impartial and I follow the Standing Orders,” she said. She said in parliaments where the ruling party had a majority the perception that the Speaker was not impartial was common. Mr Chaudhry’s party failed to win a seat in the last elections It was also embarrasingly eclipsed by its rival the National Federation Party. Mr Chaudhry appears to be trying to use as many forums as possible to resurrect his profile ahead of the 2018 elections, and making remarks that appear to be an attempt to gain headlines. Mr Chaudhry claimed there had been several instances where the Speaker’s ruling or conduct in the debate had raised legitimate questions about her impartially.
“Given the fact that prior to her appointment she was the President of the FijiFirst party, having successfully contested the general elections as a candidate for that party,” Mr Chaudhry said. Speaking on the Bill, Mr Chaudhry said that certain provisions were “draconian”. He said certain words under the Bill were not vividly defined for the public to understand. Mr Chaudhry cited words like demean, defame, undermine and sanctity. “This draconian provision is completely new and seeks to criminalise words that may be uttered or printed and actions that may be taken to criticise the Speaker, Members of Parliament, the Parliament itself or a committee of Parliament,” he said.
He also said the penalties for offending against this provision were mind blogging and revealed the true motive behind its insertion.
“That is to intimidate or plant fear in the hearts of the people deterring them from criticising the Speaker, Members of Parliament, the Parliament or any of its committee,” Mr Chaudhry claimed.