A-G: Let Due Process Take its Course

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - AVINESH GOPAL and SELITA BOLANAVANU­A

The Govern­ment will let due process take its course over al­le­ga­tions that Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama as­saulted Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party par­lia­men­tar­ian Pio Tikoduadua yes­ter­day.

At a press con­fer­ence last night, the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said Mr Tikoduadua al­leged in Par­lia­ment that he was as­saulted by the Prime Min­is­ter.

Mr Tikoduadua had also claimed that the PM broke his glasses, but Mr Bain­i­marama said Mr Tikoduadua broke

his own glasses when he spoke to him. Mr Tikoduadua squeezed them tightly, break­ing them.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told the me­dia what the Speaker then said and what the NFP leader Bi­man Prasad said, fol­low­ing which the three NFP par­lia­men­tar­i­ans walked out of Par­lia­ment. He said all MPs, apart from Lenora Qereqereta­bua and Mr Tikoduadua, were in­side the Par­lia­ment cham­bers when the al­leged in­ci­dent took place. “We un­der­stand that Mr Tikoduadua, Ms Qereqereta­bua and Mr Prasad gave in­ter­view to the me­dia. Mr Tikoduadua said he will re­port the mat­ter to Po­lice and write to the Speaker. We are not aware if he has done so,” he said. “Given that the mat­ter has been re­ported to Po­lice, that we know, and we have other wit­ness ac­counts that con­flict with Mr Tikoduadua’s claim, we

will let due process take its course.

“It is of course, and would be highly im­proper for a com­plainant - and also the me­dia - to act as judge and jury and ar­rive at a con­clu­sion even be­fore any Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­pleted.

“The dif­fer­ence be­tween this in­ci­dent and the mo­tion be­fore Par­lia­ment on Hon. Buli­tavu is that in this case there are only al­le­ga­tions and facts that are in dis­pute whereas against Hon Buli­tavu there was no factual dis­pute.

“He never de­nied his ac­tions and in fact, de­fended them. The mo­tion brought in Par­lia­ment was to con­demn his be­hav­iour on the ba­sis that the phi­los­o­phy, the idea and the so­cial im­pact of his com­ments were un­ac­cept­able of a par­lia­men­tar­ian there­fore needed to be con­demned.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the com­ments by Mr Tikoduadua in Par­lia­ment re­gard­ing the Prime Min­is­ter’s fam­ily was highly un­fit­ting of a par­lia­men­tar­ian.

“When the mo­tion on con­demn­ing Hon Buli­tavu’s racist and sex­ist com­ments, which ra­tio­nalised gen­der vi­o­lence, was moved, we did so on the ba­sis that it was morally and eth­i­cally wrong for a leader - a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment - to do so. “At no stage did we com­ment on any­body’s fam­ily or what hap­pened in the homes of any Op­po­si­tion Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment de­spite know­ing cer­tain in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of the Op­po­si­tion hav­ing or who have had per­sonal chal­lenges in th­ese ar­eas.

“The ar­gu­ment that a per­son can­not con­demn a be­hav­iour be­cause you know or are re­lated to some­one who may have al­legedly en­gaged in that be­hav­iour is ridicu­lous. “The mo­tion yes­ter­day (Thurs­day) was about Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment tak­ing a high moral ground and send­ing a mes­sage that, as lead­ers, we will not con­done vi­o­lence, racism or sex­ism. “In­deed yes­ter­day (Thurs­day) we main­tained that ex­pected deco­rum and ex­pected be­hav­iour. Un­for­tu­nately, Hon Tikoduadua did not do that when to­day (yes­ter­day) he re­ferred to the sub­ject mat­ter that he did not speak on yes­ter­day (Thurs­day).

“It’s also disin­gen­u­ous of Hon Prasad to say that when Hon Tikoduadua re­ferred to ‘home’ he was speak­ing about Govern­ment. This is a rather slimy and des­per­ate at­tempt to jus­tify un­ac­cept­able be­hav­iour.

“This was clearly a pointed at­tack on the Prime Min­is­ter’s fam­ily, a gross breach of the deco­rum, set­ting an ugly prece­dent for bring­ing wives, moth­ers, fa­thers, daugh­ters, sis­ters, broth­ers, sons and grand­chil­dren who have not been elected and not cho­sen a pub­lic life - into the spot­light of Par­lia­men­tary de­bate. This should be off lim­its.” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Mr Bain­i­marama vis­ited the Speaker of Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day and spoke to him about the mat­ter.

“The mat­ter re­lat­ing to the al­leged in­ci­dent is with Po­lice and the Hon Speaker of Par­lia­ment, and those two in­de­pen­dent bod­ies will deal with mat­ters through their own mech­a­nisms,” he said.

Photo: Semi Har­a­vanua Photo: Semi Har­a­vanua

LEFT: Op­po­si­tion Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Pio Tikoduadua at Par­lia­ment on Au­gust 9, 2019. RIGHT: Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama at Par­lia­ment on Au­gust 9, 2019.

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