5 Nov 2003

More criticism of gagging attempt of Fiji senator

7:43 am on 5 November 2003

There has been more criticism in Fiji of a chief's attempt to gag a Labour Party senator on the grounds that she was not an indigenous Fijian.

Great Council of Chiefs senator, Ratu George Cakobau, told Senator Atu Emberson-Bain that she had no right to speak on issues affecting indigenous Fijians because she was not indigenous.

The Fijian Political Party, the SVT, says Ratu George's remarks are shocking, arrogant and despicable.

SVT spokesperson, Ema Druavesi, says the party is deeply concerned that such remarks were allowed and condoned by the president of the Senate, Taito Waqavakatoga, who should be maintaining the dignity of the House.

Mrs Druavesi says senators appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs must realise that issues raised by non-Fijians regarding the exploration of indigenous workers at the state-owned tuna cannery was a matter of deep concern.

She says these chiefs claim to be the only ones who should have the right to address such issues, yet they do not contribute but condemn those who really care for them.

Mrs Druavesi said the chiefs must accept that indigenous workers at the cannery had given their mandate to Senator Emberson-Bain to voice their grievances in the Upper House.