6 Oct 2006

Methodist Church hits out at Fiji qoliqoli bill critics

4:10 pm on 6 October 2006

Fiji's powerful Methodist Church has strongly championed the government's controversial Qoliqoli Bill and hit out at its critics.

A former Methodist Church president, Manasa Lasaro, expressed these sentiments when making the church's official submission to the parliamentary committee hearing public views.

Mr Lasaro said the Bill was long overdue as the promise had been made to Qoliqoli owners by Queen Victoria 125 years ago.

He attacked critics of the Bill by saying they were driven by personal political agendas and self centered property interests.

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association told the parliamentary committee the Bill was inequitable, unfair, selective, completely uncommercial and will terminally damage the reputation of Fiji as an attractive tourism investment destination.

A spokesman for the association, Patrick Wong, said the Bill removes the rights and interests of investors and hotel operators.

He said the Bill will promote disputes among indigenous Fijians and between indigenous Fijians and hotel operators.

The Qoliqoli Bill will return all the foreshore around the country to the descendants of the indigenous owners at the time Britain took over administration of Fiji as a colony in 1874.