25 Oct 2004

Fiji Information Minister faces strong criticism after dismissing Senator's coup accusations

8:33 pm on 25 October 2004

Fiji's information minister, Simione Kaitani, is under strong criticism for saying that a prominent woman senator held hostage in the Speight coup should "stop crying over spilt milk."

Adi Koila Mara Nailatikau named Mr Kaitani as one of those whom she saw several times in parliament with George Speight while she was held captive.

She has accused Mr Kaitani of taking an illegal oath behind closed doors to join Speight's failed administration, an action for which several people including vice president Seniloli and deputy Speaker Vakalalabure are already serving jail sentences.

Mr Kaitani said it was "no use crying over spilt milk" by mentioning him and the lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, years after those "unfortunate events" as it was time to move forward.

But the Fiji Democratic Party leader, Filipe Bole, says the information minister should understand and show sensitivity towards the victims of the coup.

Mr Bole says arrogant people are often insensitive to the feelings of other people, adding that Mr Kaitani should clarify whether he is speaking for the government.

The Fijian Political Party, the SVT, says the government is being arrogant and insensitive, and has called on Mr Kaitani to show respect to Adi Koila's father and ousted president, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and Adi Lady Lala.

The opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says Adi Koila was held hostage for 56 days and she has a right to feel strongly about it and not reconcile until those responsible are brought to accountability.