Speaker says his crit­i­cism of her is about seek­ing at­ten­tion by the Fiji Labour Party leader

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - ARI­ETA VAKA­SUKAWAQA Feed­back: ari­eta.vaka­sukawaqa@fi­

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.

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