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Party VP quits post

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, May 09, 2014

VICE-president of the proposed Fiji First Party Bijai Prasad stepped down on Wednesday citing non-disclosure of a criminal conviction and a subsequent prison sentence as the reason.

The former Fiji Labour Party stalwart also said accusations levelled at him by FLP mentor Mahendra Chaudhry were "ironical and hypocritical".

"I have last night (Wednesday) submitted the withdrawal of my name as the vice-president of the proposed Fiji First Party to the proposed leader and to the proposed general secretary," he said in a press conference in Nadi yesterday, which was also attended by the Attorney-General, Minister for Elections and proposed Fiji First general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

"I have done so because when I accepted the position, I did not disclose the fact that over 30 years ago, I was convicted on a criminal charge and served a prison term.

"I did not disclose this information because of the fact that it was over 30 years ago and that under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Irrelevant Convictions Act 1997, records after 10 years are expunged."

Mr Prasad said statements and announcements through blog sites and social media by Mr Chaudhry and his son Rajendra, were ironic given that both had been convicted of crimes.

"It is indeed ironical and hypocritical that those like Mahendra Chaudhry engage in character assassination and refer to criminal records when he himself has been convicted twice, one conviction just a few weeks ago.

"Indeed, we have his son from Australia publishing on the social media, judgments pertaining to my conviction over 30 years ago when he himself has been recently suspended as a lawyer for professional misconduct.

"The other parties and individuals within those parties also have many skeletons in their closets. Of course my past did not matter to them when it suited them."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the manner in which Mr Prasad had handled the issue epitomised what the proposed Fiji First Party was all about.

"We have accepted Mr Prasad's withdrawal of his name as the proposed vice-president. We want to thank him for that because he has showed an enormous amount of courage and a level of dignity that, like he has said, is in fact in shortage within the political landscape in Fiji.

"Mr Prasad obviously understands the level of standards that we expect in terms of disclosure.

"But we also must add, at the same time, we look forward to working with him. He has agreed to work with the party and he has a tremendous wealth of knowledge but more importantly than that, as demonstrated through his statement, he has a particular level of conviction to the philosophy of Fiji First and that conviction obviously is something we will be committed to and we will work together with."

* MORE STORIES: PAGE 11





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