Fijian Opposition Member of Parliament Ratu Isoa Tikoca has been suspended from the remaining term of Parliament with immediate effect.
MPs voted today with the majority votes endorsing the Privileges Committee report for Tikoca’s suspension.
30 Members of Parliament voted in favour of the suspension, 13 voted against while seven MPs did not vote.
SODELPA MP Ratu Isoa Tikoca went before the Privileges Committee this week over his speech in July which government members branded as racist.
Ratu Isoa was found to have breached parliament’s freedom of speech rules by his listing of Muslim officials serving in high offices.
Fijian Prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama filed the complaint against Ratu Isoa for a speech he made in July which the committee says “quite clearly and selectively and more importantly intentionally targeted Fijians who are Muslims or adherents to Islam.”
It said Ratu Isoa’s “thinly veiled attack against a minority community must not be tolerated.”
During a debate in Parliament today opposition members called for the suspension to be reduced to 30 days.
The leader of the National Federation Party (NFP) Biman Prasad says he didn’t agree with the list but the lengthy suspension was unreasonable.
Professor Biman says suspending members of parliament is not going to bring any good.
The Opposition MP spoke in support of a motion to have Tikoca apologies in parliament instead of being suspended.
“Madam Speaker, I don’t understand the point of order I am talking on the amendment motion and I am making a point why the amendment motion by honorable Gavoka is a reasonable motion is going to be a motion that will send a message to us all to those outside that we need to maintain certain standards in the house but it’s not it not going to solve this problem if we keep suspending members of parliament in an unreasonable way.”
Professor Biman says the earlier suspension of MPs Ratu Naiqamu Lalabalavu and Tupou Drainidalo according to the International Parliamentary Union was unwarranted.
The leader of the government side in Parliament, Inia Seruiratu, said it is apparent Ratu Isoa was attacking Muslims in his speech – an assumption Ratu Isoa denied.
“There is a need to strengthen the instrument of Parliament and take measures to protect the dignity and the supremeness of legislation. For this reason Madam Speaker matters of offensive conduct towards parliament must be treated seriously,” he said.
“It is even more important that Parliament upholds the required standard of behaviour in Parliament, in particular the prohibition of speaking words that are likely to provoke feelings of illwill or hositility between communities or ethnic groups within Fiji,” he told Parliament. SOURCE: FBC NEWS/RNZI/PACNEWS [/restrict]