REMOVE THE BLACKLIST AND SHOW FIJI IS TRULY DEMOCRATIC – DRAUNIDALO
The President of the National Federation Party, Hon Roko Tupou Draunidalo today said that the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama needs to follow through rhetoric with action and lift the travel bans on all individuals including former Fiji citizens, who have been barred from entering Fiji for speaking out against the military dictatorship in the aftermath of the December 2006 coup.
Last weekend the PM announced in Australia that any journalist would be free to visit the country and report without restriction once they have been accredited by the Department of Information. This also referred to three prominent journalists from New Zealand and Australia who were banned from entering Fiji.
The Prime Minister has also just urged Fijians in Australia to take advantage of the dual citizenship that Fiji now offers, return to Fiji and build a house or start a business and come and go as they please and be global citizens.
However all this will remain just tokenism unless bans against those who have served Fiji loyally in their capacity as expatriates as well as former Fiji citizens remain in place.
Ms Draunidalo said that the Prime Minister now needs to remove the so-called “black-list” that’s with the Immigration Department that prevents former and current Fiji Citizens from returning to Fiji, the land of their birth.
“The name of academics Professor Brij Lal and his wife, Dr Padma Lal, as well as other individuals who have been placed on this list for frivolous, undemocratic reasons, must be removed if the Prime Minister really wants to show the world that Fiji is a robust democracy.”
“Inviting Fijians to return home for simply financial and economic reasons, is not being global at all. They have their families, friends, cultural roots and identity here in Fiji and have the best foundation to contribute to Fiji’s social and economic progress. “
“The fact that remittances is reported to be easily Fiji’s second largest foreign exchange earner after tourism, says a lot for the generosity, cultural ties and the greatest asset that we have – in the Fijians overseas, who keep sending through funds to their homeland.”
Ms Draunidalo also called on the Prime Minister to be transparent with the usage of taxpayers’ funds to fund members of his entourage to Sydney and to New Zealand.
“First of all, we saw the Commissioner of Police was in that delegation. Now why was the Commissioner of Police accompanying the Prime Minister to a Fiji Day function at the same time when the DPP’s Office has confirmed the inefficiencies of his office in detaining members of the Opposition, including the NFP Leader, Professor Biman Prasad.”
“The Commissioner of Police should have been all throughout here in Fiji, attending to the spiraling crime cases, police brutality and thinking out long-term, sustainable and lawful solutions without taking the all too easy, draconian solution of arming the Police Force,” Ms Draunidalo added.
The NFP President also outlined that an NFP Government will remove the blacklist and will repeal the excessive powers given to the Immigration Minister, Prime Minister or any other minister, public official or organization that is not fair and just in a democratic society.
“This also includes removing any legislation that infringes on basic civil and political rights, and following through with action, including ceasing the harassment and arbitrary arrest of its citizens.”
“We will be guided by recognised international benchmarks and our commitments and not by anyone’s own personal version of what the standards are.”
“And as I’ve earlier mentioned, we will also reduce the allowances and emoluments of Ministers and Assistant Ministers."
The Prime Minister who is currently in Australia is enjoying a daily travel allowance that received a massive 300 percent increase on the old rate that was decreed on 3rd October 2014.
The National Federation Party was the only party that voted against the increase in emoluments and allowances and has refused to take on the increases despite a Parliamentary vote for it.
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Hon Roko Tupou Draunidalo