4 Mar 2004

Racial insults traded in Fiji's Senate

10:07 am on 4 March 2004

Racial insults have again been traded in Fiji's Senate, this time involving Senator Jim Ah Koy's ancestry and Senator Apisai Tora's religion.

Senator Tora, who was appointed to the Senate by the prime minister, told the House this week that Senator Ah Koy must be "the only Chinaman in the world to be registered in the Vola Kawa ni Bula", and recognised in law as "true blue Fijian."

The Vola Kawa ni Bula (VKB) is the official register of indigenous Fijians.

Mr Ah Koy, who was not in the Upper House at the time, returned to say he was deeply offended because no gentleman would have stooped so low as to call a fellow member names in his absence.

Mr Ah Koy said chinaman is a derogatory word in today's context and a well-mannered man would never use the word when referring to a native of that great country.

Mr Ah Koy said if he was the only chinaman in the VKB, then Senator Tora must be the only Muslim in the register of indigenous Fijians.

Senator Tora, who advocated the overthrow of the Chaudhry government in the weeks before the 2000 coup, has been a practising Muslim for over 40 years.

The president of the Senate cut short Mr Ah Koy after objections from the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale.