5 Jul 2004

Fiji politicians condemn Senator's call to discard the term

10:32 am on 5 July 2004

Fiji's National Federation Party has described as despicable the call by Senator Adi Litia Cakobau that the use of the term Indo-Fijian should be criminalised.

Adi Litia told the Upper House on Friday that the use of the term Indo-Fijian should be criminalised because it was identity theft by the Indian population in their lust for land.

She accused Indian academics, Professor Subramani, Dr Brij Lal, Dr Ganesh Chand and Dr Biman Prasad, of being social engineers and identity usurpers engaged in a process of mass deception.

The NFP leader, Prem Singh, says her comments brought shame and disrepute not only to the Upper House but also to the Great Council of Chiefs.

Mr Singh says Adi Litia's speech seemed to have been doctored by someone else because she had voted for the 1997 Constitution and travelled to Scotland as part of the official delegation when Fiji was re-admitted to the Commonwealth after its expulsion in 1987.

Mr Singh says he is concerned that representatives of Indian people in the senate, who are all Labour Party senators. did not protest strongly enough during her comments and at least stage a walkout.

Meawhile, opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says Adi Litia's comments are a disgrace and unbecoming of a person of her chiefly rank.

Mr Beddoes says leaders like Adi Litia, who are supposed to be Christian, do little to promote national harmony among their own people, let alone others, with their hardline and divisive approach on almost every issue.

He says they seem to blame Indians and other minority communities for just about everything that goes wrong in their society.

Mr Beddoes says it is precisely her kind of leadership which divides, threatens and attempts to intimidate that slows down progress for her own people.

He questions how the indigenous community can ever hope to make progress and aspire to do well when they have non-elected leaders spinning their web of destruction and division at every opportunity.

The leader of the Democrats, Filipe Bole, also attacked the Senator's comments, saying, if the Qarase government hopes to retain whatever credibility it has left, it must publicly disown Adi Litia's statement and similar ones by its senate nominees.

Mr Bole says Adi Litia's statement is the result of the government's oblivious attitude to similar statements made in the senate by its nominees which have not contributed to harmonious relations among the races in Fiji.

Mr Bole says Adi Litia should accept the advice of the attorney general that the term Fijian comes from the word Fiji, and is accepted internationally to mean people who are Fiji citizens.

Mr Bole says by extension, an Indo-Fijian is a Fiji citizen of Indian origin.

He says Adi Litia should be aware that a lot of indigenous Fijians are comfortable with and use the term Indo-Fijian in their daily conversation.