(Fijivillage) – SODELPA parliamentarian, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu has been suspended from Parliament for two years of the term of Parliament, with immediate effect.
27 Members of parliament voted in favor of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee’s recommendation while 18 members voted against and four members did not vote.
The members of parliament debated until 9pm.
Rt. Naiqama is seated between Opposition Leader Ro. Teimumu Kepa & Opposition MP Semesa Karavaki (in white blazer)
The Opposition also filed a motion that if any breach is found, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu should be asked to withdraw the comments he made and that be the end of the matter, however this motion was defeated in parliament.
As strongly recommended by Parliamentary Privileges Committee
Ratu Naiqama must also issue a public apology in writing to the Speaker.
Ratu Naiqama will not be allowed to enter the parliamentary precincts including the Opposition Office and if he fails to comply, necessary enforcement measures must be imposed to ensure compliance.
Following the decision Opposition members refused to make any comments.
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says this was a serious matter and a decision had to be made.
Sayed-Khaiyum says government members did not take it lightly as the Speaker was directly attacked.
This case is in relation to the foul language and derogatory comments made by Ratu Naiqama in a SODELPA public meeting in Makoi last Thursday when he was asked about the Speaker’s decisions.
The Parliamentary Privileges Committee says in Fiji, there is a pressing need to strengthen institutions and in particular
Parliament or the Legislature which was directly and physically attacked in the coups of 1987 and 2000.
It says it is also critical that our children and younger population are not exposed to this type of denigration as the norm or see that Parliament is condoning such behaviour by a senior Member of Parliament and someone who holds a particular social status.
The committee also highlighted that the late former MP, Anand Babla was suspended from parliament for making comments about the Speaker outside parliament.
It says as highlighted in the Babla case, Babla did not use any foul words and yet was suspended from parliament for two sittings.
The committee says the matter currently before the Privileges Committee is unprecedented and far more severe and gruesome than the matter in the Babla case.
The Opposition in the committee also gave its view in the report.
They submitted that if parliamentary privileges do not extend outside of the House then any alleged act of breach outside of the House is not a breach of privilege.
The Opposition Members also believe that in the interests of fairness and justice, the recording of the meeting ought to be subjected to expert, forensic scrutiny.
The Opposition says Ratu Naiqama was not referring to the Speaker or any one person in that part of his speech.
They also say that the words spoken by Ratu Naiqama was the wise counsel of restraint and forbearance and understanding from a paramount chief to the political supporters of the SODELPA political party that included his subjects and elders.
The Opposition says there has been no breach of privilege by Ratu Naiqama on either standard of proof.
They also say that due to the lack of consensus in the committee – parliament needs to hear the recording in question and read the minutes and verbatim of the proceedings to fairly pass judgment in their deliberations on the motion.
The Chairman of the Privileges Committee is Ruveni Nadalo.
The government members are Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Faiyaz Koya and Inia Seruiratu while the opposition members are Semesa Karavaki and Tupou Draunidalo.