Sayed-Khaiyum rejects vote buying claim

THE age-old thinking that only elderly people should be making decisions should be swept away.

This was the comment made by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament yesterday while responding to a question by Opposition member Niko Nawaikula who claimed that the budget consultations held in schools around the country were a vote buying exercise.

The A-G had initially made a statement in Parliament in response to an oral question asked by FijiFirst member Alvick Maharaj for him to inform Parliament on how the public consultation for the 2017/2018 budget was received.

Mr Nawaikula then asked the A-G to explain why he had to directly attend the budget consultations instead of allowing teachers and the permanent secretaries to conduct the consultations, claiming it was a vote buying exercise.

“Honourable Nawaikula’s statement encapsulates precisely the thinking of the Opposition. They do not respect our youths, they do not understand where our youths are coming from, they do not see our youths as immediate future leaders of this country, that encapsulates precisely where the Opposition sees youths,” the A-G said.

He said youths needed to be empowered, hence the reason behind consultations targeting youths.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the process of consulting youths was part of a democratic process that the Opposition preached about.

He said 70 per cent of Fiji’s population was below the age of 40 and 50 per cent was below the age of 27.

“The reason why we consult the youths is because they need to be empowered, they need to be empowered with knowledge, they need to be empowered to know that part of the democratic process, they talk about democracy all the time not knowing what it means. This is part and parcel of the democratic process where you empower all members of the societies,” he said.