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A-G did not mislead Parliament, Luveni rules

Aqela Susu
Friday, March 09, 2018

SPEAKER Dr Jiko Luveni has ruled that Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum did not mislead Parliament when he told the House on Monday that no data based on ethnicity was collected during the 2017 Fiji Population and Housing Census.

In making her ruling, Dr Luveni said the Hansard - the daily written record of parliamentary proceedings - had misquoted Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said on Wednesday that Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had breached parliamentary laws while responding to a supplementary question on why the Government had not released census data based on ethnicity.

In her ruling, Dr Luveni said there were three elements that must be established in order to show that an MP deliberately misled Parliament.

She said the statement must in fact have been misleading, secondly, the member must have known that at the time it was made, the statement was incorrect and lastly, in making the statement the member must have intended to mislead Parliament.

She said in making her ruling, she had not only considered the uncorrected copy of the daily Hansard, which Prof Prasad had referred to in his complaint, but also watched the video of Monday and Wednesday's Parliament sittings.

"Having watched the proceedings of Parliament, it is quite clear that the uncorrected copy of the daily Hansard on Monday 5 March, 2018, which Honourable Prasad referred to, is not accurate," Dr Luveni said.

She said the video of the proceeding of Parliament on Monday, very clearly showed that the A-G did not make any reference to the 2000 census while responding to Prof Prasad's question.

"Given that the Honourable Attorney- General did not refer to the 2000 census as alleged by Honourable Prasad �?� the point of order is actually flawed and incorrect. Indeed we all know, and as a matter of fact, no census was conducted in the year 2000.

"Therefore, it is my ruling that Honourable A-G did not mislead Parliament, nor did he bring dishonour or disrepute to this august House."

She said in formulating her ruling, she also took into consideration a statement issued by the Government Statistician that there were anomalies in the 2017 census and that there were no aggregation of data on ethnicity.

Dr Luveni said it was important that such allegations were not made against any MP and that all necessary facts were properly scrutinised by any member who wished to make such a serious allegation against another member.

"The comments made by the Honourable Attorney-General in response to Honourable Prasad's supplementary question cannot in any way be categorised as bringing dishonour or disrepute to Parliament."

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