Legislation ‘divides’ Fijians

SODELPA member of parliament Lynda Tabuya speaking to Fiji Times in Suva. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA/FILE

Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya said at a time when Fiji was united in trying to combat the COVID-19 crisis, Government tried to sneak in a legislation which sought to divide Fijians.

She said this in Parliament, adding more than 30,000 Fijians – iTaukei and non-iTaukei – have signed a petition against Government’s proposed amendment to the iTaukei Land Trust Act or Bill No.17.

“Every time we talk about indigenous issues, the Government labels it as ‘racist’,” Ms Tabuya said.

“Being pro-iTaukei rights does not mean being anti-Indo-Fijian or any other community.

“What we, the landowners want, is to hold on to our land and develop it in a way that benefits us and the people that use it.”

Ms Tabuya said for the iTaukei, land was sacred and had been passed on through generations “from the beginning of time”.

“All we are saying is ‘come talk to us first before you do anything to benefit us’.

“What does consultation of landowners look like? It looks like this –– the number of petitions that have been filed before Parliament that contain tens of thousands of signatures petitioning the Government to remove Bill No.17.

“The coalition of NGOs and the Methodist Church of Fiji have supported this call.

“I am proud to stand here with the thousands of landowners across Fiji from Na Momo Levu na Tui Nadi and Na Momo Levu na Tui Nawaka, na Bose ni Momo of the province of Ba, the Liuliu ni Yavusa Kalabu Ratu Paula Rawiriwiri and all the signatories, both iTaukei and non-iTaukei, people of all races who have signed petitions totalling almost 30,000 signatures because they agree with the need to show respect and consult,” she said.

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