Fiji Sun - - Front Page - ARIETA VAKASUKAWAQA

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.

Photo: Vil­limoni Va­ganalau

Op­po­si­tion MP Ratu Isoa Tikoca at Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

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