24 Jun 2005

Tailevu Provincial Council chair unhappy with government's handling of Reconciliation Bill

10:30 am on 24 June 2005

The chairman of a key indigenous Fijian provincial council has expressed strong dissatisfaction with the government over the way it is forcing its Reconciliation and Unity Bill upon indigenous Fijians.

Radio Fiji says the opposition has come from the chairman of the Tailevu Provincial Council, Josefa Serulagilagi.

Mr Serulagilagi says times have changed and the Fijian Affairs Board and the government cannot continue to think that they can do whatever they like with the Fijian people, like forcing the Bill on them and expecting them to rubber stamp it.

Mr Serulagilagi has told the Board after it summoned all 14 provincial councils to convene special meetings on the Bill, that the Tailevu Provincial Council, would not say YES or NO to the Bill on the strength of a one-hour explanation by the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale.

He said the days when indigenous Fijians remained silent on matters of importance are gone.

Mr Serulagilagi says today provincial councils have members who are experienced enough to discuss matters of crucial importance like the Bill.

He says the Tailevu Provincial Council would appoint a committee to look at the best way to deal with the issue and it would not be bulldozed to approve the controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill.