3 Jul 2019

Fiji high chief's comments racist, warns NFP leader

7:45 am on 3 July 2019

A high chief in Fiji has come under attack for labelling the country's two oldest political parties - the National Federation Party (NFP) and the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) - as the parties of vulagi, or foreigners.

The deputy leader of the opposition in Fiji and NFP president Biman Prasad.

The deputy leader of the opposition in Fiji and NFP president Biman Prasad. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

The comment was made by Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu during the Opposition SODELPA Party's annual general meeting in Savusavu at the weekend.

Ratu Naiqama's comments are racist acording to NFP leader Biman Prasad who said they invoke painful memories of similar utterances by nationalists who wanted to rid the country of Indo-Fijians following the first coup.

"Really the use of the word vulagi invokes the memories of 87. We take exception to the use of that word and we think it shouldn't have been used," Biman Prasad said.

"And it borders on insult and racism. We hope that it will not be repeated by people like Ratu Naiqama."

Biman Prasad said it's a shame Ratu Naiqama chooses to ignore the fact his late father had been an NFP senator.

The comments could affect the SODELPA-NFP relationship, Professor Prasad said.

The two parties make up the opposition side of the Fijian Parliament.

Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry echoed Prof Prasad's sentiments.

Sodelpa president, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu

Sodelpa president, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu Photo: Sodelpa

He told FBC News anyone who resided in Fiji was a citizen of the country and that the FLP was not a party of vulagi but one for all the people of Fiji.

Ratu Naiqama also took a swing at SODELPA and Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka, who was the leader of the 1987 coup which overthrew the Labour-led government.

The high chief told delegates at the AGM that Mr Rabuka had failed to carry out his duties as party leader.