The Privileges Committee has recommended that Tui Cakau be suspended from Parliament for two years for using obscene words to describe the Speaker of the House Jiko Luveni.
The Committee has an audio recording from Communications Fiji Limited where Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu calls Luveni a ‘vutusona’ and ‘cavuka’. The incident took place at a public SODELPA meeting last Thursday in Makoi.
In it’s report tabled in Parliament this morning, the committee said:
According to the audio recording, it is clear that Hon. Lalabalavu referred to the Hon. Speaker as “vutusona”. The iTaukei term is extremely obscene and gravely offensive as it literally means anal sex. Following that statement, Hon. Lalabalavu then referred to the Hon. Speaker as “cavuka”, which means retarded or mentally challenged when he had mocked her by saying that she stood up when the Opposition side stood up during a particular sitting. In all these instances his reflections on the Hon. Speaker drew laughter from the audience.
When summoned by the Committee to give his evidence, Hon. Lalabalavu was evasive about what had actually transpired at the SODELPA meeting. He also stated that the slurs in the iTaukei language may not have been necessarily directed at the Hon. Speaker.
Hon. Lalabalavu also submitted that the manner in which the slurs were said did not mean that they were abusive as such, especially since the Hon. Speaker is also a member of the Tovata Confederacy. According to Hon. Lalabalavu, that is the relationship of the “vanua” and in the context of the “vanua”, that is how they engage in such a cultural setting.
However, the fact is that this meeting was a public meeting for which a permit had been obtained. The fact is that this was not a cultural gathering of the Tovata Confederacy. This was a public meeting by SODELPA which advertised this meeting as constituency meeting in which all members of the public were invited. It was not limited to members of the Tovata Confederacy. It was covered by the media for all Fijians.
The committee’s report stated:
It should be noted that under section 20(h) of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act (Cap. 5), any person who utters or publishes any false or scandalous slander or libel on Parliament or upon any member in his or her as such commits an offence and such an offence warrants inter alia imprisonment for a maximum of two years.
Hon. Lalabalavu viciously and scandalously attacked the Hon. Speaker and made a mockery of the institution of Parliament and important arm of the constitutional system of government. It was so vicious and scandalous that it would be difficult to find such contempt in other jurisdictions.
Given the above, the Privileges Committee strongly recommends that Hon. Lalabalavu must be suspended from Parliament for at least two years of the term of Parliament, with immediate effect from 21 May 2015. During the period of suspension, he is not allowed to enter the parliamentary precincts including the Opposition Office. He must also issue a public apology in writing to the Hon Speaker. Immediately upon his suspension, he must be ordered to leave the precincts of Parliament and to remain outside of Parliament precincts. If he fails to comply, necessary enforcement measures must be imposed to ensure compliance.
The recommendation is being debated in Parliament and it is highly likely it will be passed.
Side note: When Jiko Luveni was illegal Minister for Women she blamed women for getting raped.
She said: “Women should dress modestly and help men in the national campaign to cut down sex crimes.”
“If a girl is going out to drink with guys in an isolated area wearing shorts or clothes showing off her body, she is inviting trouble.”