RATU ISOA TIKOCA VOTED OUT
Opposition Whip, Ratu Isoa Tikoca, was yesterday suspended from Parliament for two years. The penalty is for a religious attack on the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and a number of prominent Muslims who head Government statutory organisations. The suspension means he will stay out for the remainder of Parliament’s current term, which expires in 2018.
As part of the penalty, Ratu Isoa will issue a public apology to the House. He is not allowed to enter Parliament premises. The Privileges Committee spent days deliberating over the matter. Thirty MPs voted in favour of the suspension, 13 voted against it, while nine didn’t vote. Government MP and mover of the motion, Inia Seruiratu, said the Privileges Committee had reported on the matter of privilege. It was raised by the PM over a statement by Mr Tikoca on July 5, 2016, in relations to the 20162017 National Budget debate. He said it was sad that the Opposition could not take the matter of privileges on the Standing Order and they seemed not to understand that freedom came with responsibility.
“I have said so in the past there is a need to strengthen the instruments of Parliament and take serious matters to protect the dignity and the superiority of our legislations,” Mr Seruiratu said. “It is important that Parliament upholds the required standards in Parliament, in particular words that are likely to promote or provoke feelings of hostility between ethnic groups in Fiji,” he said. Opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, said they had two of their members suspended from Parliament, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and Tupou Draunidalo. She said Ratu Isoa was the third. She said it seemed people were terminated from Parliament for airing their views on what they thought. Ro Teimumu said outside Parliament, they were disappointed by the decision to suspend Ratu Isoa for two years in Parliament as he played a major role on their side as the Opposition Whip. Opposition MP, Semesa Karavaki, then requested the other House to forgive Ratu Isoa as it hurt him to see people dwelling in a country where people were hurting one another. Government MP, Jone Usamate said he supported the motion to suspend Ratu Isoa for two years. Outspoken Opposition MP, Mosese Bulitavo said there was not enough proof in the deliberations to determine claims made on Ratu Isoa. Opposition MP, Niko Nawaikula said he disagreed with the suspension because of the elements on which it was established on. However, the amendment motion put forward by Opposition MP, Viliame Gavoka, to suspend Ratu Isoa for 30 days rather than two years, was also thrown out of Parliament.
Opposition MP Ratu Isoa Tikoca at Parliament yesterday.