Letters to the Editor: Saturday March 28, 2020
28 March, 2020, 9:40 pm
With the arrival of the coronavirus on our shores, we have been told to make changes in how we do things; greeting, association in terms of numbers (20), movement through self-isolation etc.
Watching the presentation of the supplementary budget last night (Thursday, March 26), my hope was that the virus would also have effected change in Parliament with our political leaders working harmoniously together for the benefit of all Fijians I was disappointed.
SAILOSI BATIRATU Suva
Allow me to express my dismay at what transpired in Parliament on the night of March 26, 2020.
For the past six or so years, we — the people of Fiji — have been subjected to the tensions which appear to be not just political but very personal and ingrained, among our elected leaders.
Fiji’s current political landscape is being, sadly, carved in stone by the determination of some of our leaders to continue to be confrontational and to place political “upmanship/point scoring” at the fore of national debates. We, the ordinary people who voted our leaders in, appear to now be mere bystanders, subjects and pawns in their ongoing across the floor political battles.
On that March 26 evening, the nation witnessed an opportunity at bipartisanship go to waste — an opportunity for the political leaders to take the first step towards real nation building and even possible unanimity in the passage of the Supplementary Budget.
Sadly, the Government’s offer to extend the time allocated to debate the budget, was brushed aside and immediately “strangled” before it could even take its first breath.
I am of the view that the Speaker should have allowed the Attorney-General to move an amendment motion to allow the process to take its course.
After all, most of the night’s sitting was taken up with across the floor accusations and counter accusations about two issues: attempts to circumvent Standing Orders and the intentions behind the Supplementary Budget Bill.
The Government, through the Attorney-General offered to accommodate the wishes of the Opposition members to extend the time allowed to discuss his Supplementary Budget.
If allowed, this would have taken onboard the complaints from the Opposition members about the need for more time to properly analyse and debate the budget. It would have also demonstrated to the nation the willingness of our leaders to come together in a united front at times of national chaos.
Even in the United States — all the name calling, political power play and acrimony from the recent impeachment attempts were put aside to allow passage of recovery packages aimed at assisting the ordinary American citizens and American business.
That, is what leadership should be — a willingness, in crisis situations – to work together in the interests of the nation.
Sadly, our Speaker’s intervention cut that short.
DENNIS ANTHONY ROUNDS Lautoka
I seriously believe the Opposition could have relayed their objections cogently and concisely rather than incessantly prattling endlessly.
The prelude, though relevant in some aspects, dragged unnecessarily and was a waste of time which considerably delayed the much awaited budget delivery, and am sure many audiences would have ended up sleeping very late.
Of course it’s irrational for the Government to ask the Opposition to study the budget contents overnight and summarily have it passed the very next day with literally no scrutiny and minimum debate, but it’s even more irrational to vociferously defend your opposing views in long-winded speeches and accusations, despite knowing what the eventual outcome will be.
Most galling, and obviously erroneous, was pointedly blaming the Government for getting COVID-19 to Fiji, an inconsequential notion not even related to the parliamentary sitting!
Any grumbler with even minimum sanity would have politely narrated the same by referring to lack of sufficient screening and post-arrival monitoring instead of gushing claptrap’s that chewed more time than what the night was intended for.
BIMAL PRASAD Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi
Wear a mask
WEARING a mask in public places should be compulsory as we go through these tough times fighting COVID-19.
We still have a lot of people with very poor hygiene.
Let’s all do our bit.
MUKESH CHOTTU Naqara, Taveuni
THIS is not the time for our leaders to be belittling each other. But rather to work together to salvage the country from the prevailing doldrums.
Instead of being arrogant, we should be humble and display wisdom in both our words and action.
Let’s put politics aside for another time and join hands to fight this enemy called COVID-19. A united leadership provides more comfort and hope to the people. Because as elected leaders, you are accountable to the people of this country.
SELWA NANDAN Lautoka
CAN the government give $1000 as a grant to those who lost their jobs as the result of COVID-19 rather than withdrawing their FNPF savings?
Just as they gave out to members of the public before the election. I believe it will be much less and more meaningful this time around.
PITA SOROAQALI Rakiraki
Could this be the first budget ever, that had everyone’s attention, maybe because of captivated audiences.
NIGEL FIU Owls Perch, Lautoka
Before COVID-19 came, Sundays were choc-a-bloc days… movie theatres, internet cafes, supermarkets, beaches, ROC markets and the net waves were full… churches were empty… but last Sunday… quite the opposite… God has a unique way of telling us… “be still and know that I am God”.
JOE MATATOLU Waila 3A
Am I dreaming that our FNPF has reduced to 5 per cent?
Then what is the Government giving us? Gear up people.
Time to blast yourself. God bless Fiji. Stay safe, folks.
JAHEED BUKSH Nadi
Thank you Shalwyn Prasad for a wonderful letter on Roy Krishna’s success on the world soccer stage.
I am really happy for Roy and his entire family.
I am really happy for Roy’s dad because Roy’s success has not changed his dad even a little bit.
Every time I meet Bal Krishna (Bell) I ask him to go and have some beers, he says he only drinks grog.
Good luck to you, Roy Krishna, you are gifted.
SUKHA SINGH Labasa