"The fact that it took two days for the Honourable Ratu Isoa Tikoca to lodge a formal complaint with the Speaker raises serious questions about his own sincerity in this matter...I referred to the Opposition member, Honourable Ratu Isoa Tikoca, as Darth Vader because of the rumbling and menacing tone of his persistent interjections. I went on to mimic Darth Vadar’s speaking style in the Star Wars movies by lowering the register of my voice and adopting a Darth Vadar pose" - Khaiyum
I am saddened that lighthearted comments and gestures I made during parliamentary exchanges on Wednesday have been deliberately twisted to imply that I made a racial slur against the i’Taukei.
Anyone who was in the parliamentary chamber who witnessed the full proceedings and read the Hansard report knows the truth: that I referred to the Opposition member, Honourable Ratu Isoa Tikoca, as Darth Vader because of the rumbling and menacing tone of his persistent interjections.
I went on to mimic Darth Vadar’s speaking style in the Star Wars movies by lowering the register of my voice and adopting a Darth Vadar pose. The video clip of the proceedings clearly shows members of the house laughing, including the Honourable Speaker, who specifically referred to me “breaking the ice”. I refer everyone to the full video clip of the proceedings in Parliament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt-Zl4JDwek
At no stage does the Hansard record me saying anything that constitutes a racial slur. So I am very disappointed and saddened that Honourable Ratu Isoa has engaged in a pathetic attempt to vilify me using parliamentary privilege and inflame ethnic division.
Ordinary Fijians know that for my entire time in private and public life, I have fought racism and promoted the interests of every citizen, regardless of ethnicity, religious belief or where they come from in Fiji. It is simply inconceivable that I would be guilty of the accusation that is now being leveled against me. It is the cheapest of political shots and totally unjustified.
The fact that it took two days for the Honourable Ratu Isoa Tikoca to lodge a formal complaint with the Speaker raises serious questions about his own sincerity in this matter. If he was so insulted, why did he not say so immediately or even the following day? I believe that most Fijians will see this for what it is – a cynical attempt to exploit parliamentary exchanges between him and I to suggest a smear on the entire ethnic group to which he belongs.
Earlier in the week, the Honourable Tupou Draunidalo was forced to apologise to the House when she called a government member a “fool”. Was she implying that everyone of his ethnic background were also fools?
Honourable Ratu Isoa Tikoca is resorting to the old politics of looking for an ethnic dimension when the Opposition is losing public support and the Government is receiving widespread acclaim for the Budget from all Fijians.
OPPOSITION CHIEF WHIP TABLES CORRUPTION CLAIM DOCUMENTS IN PARLIAMENT
Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca was today stopped from concluding a parliamentary point of order against racist ‘ape-like gestures’ and sounds made towards him by Finance Minister Khaiyum. But this was not before Ratu Isoa tabled documents that the Finance Minister challenged him to produce to support his claim of Mr Khaiyum’s alleged corruption.
In his intervention this morning, Hon Tikoca referred to the Acting Finance Minister’s racist ‘ape gestures’ directed at him in the Parliamentary Chamber. Ratu Isoa said that the Opposition office has received phone calls and emails from many indigenous and non indigenous Fijians who are angered by the Acting Prime Minister’s ‘ape’ performance.
Ratu Isoa said the actions of the Fiji First leader are completely unacceptable and have brought shame to parliament and besmirched the reputation of Fiji First. What he did is now being viewed by thousands around the world on YouTube.
He said it was an unprecedented display of outrageous parliamentary behaviour by an Acting Prime Minister to another member in Parliament. Nothing like this has ever happened before in the history of Fiji’s parliament. Ratu Isoa said that he had waited for a couple few days to allow the Acting Prime Minister time to withdraw his remarks and apologies but he had not done this.
In a statement, Hon. Isoa Tikoca said that following Minister Khaiyum’s extraordinary and insulting behaviour people are throwing heated words and racial slurs at each other on social media. They see the Acting Prime Minister’s actions as racism. We must guard against racism. Highlighting ethnic concerns and issues is not racism. But making gestures which many have interpreted as a negative stereotype is a different story.
If he refuses to accept that people are angry and making complaints, he should look at his Ministry of Information’s own Facebook page and YouTube, and read the comments there. He might want to get his QORVIS PR consultant to read for himself what people are saying about the Acting Prime Minister’s racist ‘ape gestures’ in the house.
This issue will not die away. The Opposition plans to take further action until this matter is dealt with properly and will follow up on the corruption documents tabled by Ratu Isoa.
Ratu Isoa Tikoca