MP: Our land is more important than your budget

Opposition MP Jese Saukuru. Picture: FILE/SOPHIE RALULU

Our land is much more important to us than your budget.

Social Democratic Liberal Party member MP Jese Saukuru said this in Parliament this week.

“On behalf of the 593 landowning units and the 24 chiefs of the province of Ba, let me set the record straight with this FijiFirst Government and the Attorney-General by saying that our land is much more important to us than your budget,” he said.

He said for Fijians, land was central to their identity and wellbeing.

“Land in the Fijian context is considered to be an extension of oneself, including one’s life, sustenance, and culture for the Fijians, known as the vanua in the Fijian language,” he said.

“This approval by the council of chiefs in 1936 was regarded by the governor at that time as ‘one of the greatest acts of trust in colonial history’.

“Primarily, this imposition, yet again, of changes to the management of our asset, our land, is very sad.

“Because the trustee here, the iTaukei Land Trust Board has agreed to this change without consulting the real owners of the land on whose behalf the trust holds the land.

“That is a great travesty.”

Mr Saukuru reiterated calls to remove the Consequential Bill No.17 because the people of Ba would never take it lightly and they would never give up “The majority of people and the chiefs of Ba do not support this Bill.

“They form the majority of signatories on the over 10,000 signatures tabled. With only two days of signature collection, over 10,000 people signed the petitions tabled, another 15,000 signed online petitions.

“That is why I plead with the prime minister to withdraw this Bill.”

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