Politics

“Government used the race card to remove me”

Opposition MP Hon. Tupou Draunidalo claimed the Fiji First government used the “race card” to remove her and her party out of Parliament.  Hon. Draunidalo made these comments in parliament today in response to a motion that effectively ended her participation in Parliament. Hon. Draunidalo said the government wants everything to be about race because it […]

Peni Shute and Nacanieli Tuilevuka

June 3, 2016 4:56 pm

Opposition MP Hon. Tupou Draunidalo claimed the Fiji First government used the “race card” to remove her and her party out of Parliament. 

Tupou Draunidalo in parliament today. (Peni Shute/Newswire).
National Federation Party (NFP) President Hon. Tupou Draunidalo walking out of parliament today. (Peni Shute/Newswire).

Hon. Draunidalo made these comments in parliament today in response to a motion that effectively ended her participation in Parliament.

Hon. Draunidalo said the government wants everything to be about race because it suits their agenda.

DRAUNIDALO: “They want me and my party out of here by any means because we do not subscribe to their race relations disaster views nor do we subscribe to their pro coup culture views.”

“We in my party know only too well that this government loves the race card. Their very existence and survival depends on it.”

The NFP President said the Fiji First Party’s “movement” began ten years ago.

“Their movement began in December 2006 after successfully painting the SDL government as a racist government and it did not help that prominent leaders of the non-indigenous communities at the time fell for that spin and joined the then Commodore’s bandwagon. They have since fallen out of course because those leaders saw the error of what they had joined and are now back in a large grouping of multicultural opposition parties who are opposed to the race-card playing government that sits on the other side.”

Hon. Draunidalo stated it was sad that the Attorney saw fit to create drama from his government’s racist and insecure perspective.

DRAUNIDALO: “It is sad, very sad for Fiji. A country that has had political upheavals for thirty years because politicians have played the race card which gives the military the key to carry out their military coups. The military coup culture that I have railed against in this House and outside, day in day out.”

The MP said the Minister for Education loved to dish out insults but could not take any retort.

DRAUNIDALO: “Now to address what transpired on the day in question it is clear to us from the video and audio that the Hon. Minister for Education was insulting us, taunting us and denigrating us all of us on the opposition benches. The Minister was pointing at the Leader of the Opposition and Members. Nodding his head and to us it mirrored the racist ape gesture of the AG or darth vader in this House.”

Hon. Draunidalo claimed that the audio recording was different from the Hansard records.

DRAUNIDALO: “Hansard does not record that I referred to the Minister as a fool. It is the AG who complained that I called the Minister a fool. The hansard does not pick up all of the free flowing discussion, interjections and words spoken at the time. But if you listen to the audio, it clearly is different from what the Hansard records.”

Hon. Draunidalo said that this was not the first time that they have had issues with the Hansard.

“It has happened before in committee and it led to the suspension of an important standing orders committee meeting (with you as chair) so that the verbatim could be corrected. Back to the recording, I got up at the relevant time to reply to the AG’s complaint and I said ‘And he implied worse in his speech…’then I asked ‘calling us dumb natives?’ before I said ‘You Idiot!’. At the same time, the recording picks up an Hon. Member near me asking the Minister ‘Are you calling us fools?”

Hon. Draunidalo said the NFP does not see race as an issue.

DRAUNIDALO: “And let me remind this government again, the Hon. Prem Singh is a fourth generation native. We don’t and did not see race. Only the government does because it suits their political agenda to carve up the country on race, gender and whatever else they can.”

Hon. Draunidalo said that history showed the interruptions and injustices augur well.

“So as PM Winston Churchill once told the fascists and Nazis of Europe ‘Do your worst and we will do our best’. Thank you Madam speaker.”

The Opposition Leader Hon. Ro Teimumu Kepa said that it was really unfortunate that Hon. Draunidalo was suspended.

Leader of Opposition Hon. Ro Teimumu Kepa outside Parliament today.(Peni Shute/ Newswire)
The leader of opposition Hon. Ro Teimumu Kepa outside Parliament today. (Peni Shute/ Newswire)

KEPA: “The two members who now have been suspended from Parliament will not be heard, that is the unfortunate part about it, because there are other means of dealing with these issues and in the standing orders it is from three days to seven days to twenty-eight days and in this regard it’s right outside the jurisdiction of the standing orders which makes it very unfair on the members that are dealt with in this manner very harshly.”

Opposition Member Hon. Ratu Isoa Tikoca with frustration said the current government was trying to portray balance in the way they service Fiji.

ratu-isoa-tikoca
Opposition Member Hon. Ratu Isoa Tikoca outside of Parliament today. (Peni Shute/Newswire)

TIKOCA: “Because he is imbalanced, he is trying to portray that this government is actually balanced in the way that they service Fiji. But it is not, all his relatives are holding big posts and not giving a chance to us other Fijians.”

Hon. Tikoca said that it was unfair for suspending Hon. Draunidalo.

TIKOCA: “No, it is unfair…these people are like animal farms all the good things for them and the rest are nothing.”

Hon. Draunidalo was suspended for the remaining term of Parliament.

Parliament has adjourned to 7.30pm 22nd of June for the National Budget address.

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