Bainimarama: The worst offender is Sitiveni Rabuka

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: FT FILE

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: FT FILE

PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama lashed out at Opposition political parties yesterday, singling out Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka as the worst offending critic against his Government.

In his 2018/2019 National Budget response in Parliament yesterday, Mr Bainimarama said there was a fundamental difference between criticisms that were just and what he claimed was blatant and desperate lies from the Opposition.

He said if the former prime minister and SODELPA leader wanted to see the height of irresponsibility, he needed to only look into a mirror.

“Madam Speaker, the worst offender is the leader of SODELPA, Sitiveni Rabuka. In a desperate bid to reclaim power, he has quickly resorted to spreading falsehoods as his only political strategy. It’s the only political strategy that he knows of,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Mr Rabuka, in a swift response during a press conference yesterday, said it was rather unfortunate that the PM would attack him personally especially in a House where he could not defend himself.

Mr Bainimarama claimed the lies spread by Mr Rabuka were intentionally designed to confuse and scare the public.

He said a recent interview by Mr Rabuka on an Australian television program claiming that Fiji was being taken over by the Chinese was done so for Mr Rabuka’s own celebrity and political benefit.

“Fijians need to see this behaviour for what it truly is: it is a pattern. It is outrageous. And it is dangerous,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“While Rabuka’s sensationalisation makes headlines, it certainly doesn’t make good leadership.

“If SODELPA knew a single thing about responsible fiscal management, they would know that Fiji stands absolutely no risk of losing our economic independence to China, or to Japan, or to any other country for that matter, that they try to use for their fear-mongering tactics.”

Mr Rabuka brushed off claims of infighting in SODELPA.

“We encourage freedom of expression, even if those expressions are against the party leader or any or all of the senior officials of the party,” Mr Rabuka said.

“In true democracy, people should be allowed to voice their grievances and share their differences. I always encourage members of SODELPA to share their opinions openly and debate on it.”

Mr Rabuka said the interview with the Australian television program, 60 Minutes, had nothing to do with the 2018/2019 National Budget, and that he had shared his personal views on matters of interest to the nation.

“The PM has accused me of lies and falsehoods to scare and confuse the public. He also says that I am making Fiji look foolish and weak for my own credibility and political benefit. He characterised me as outrageous and dangerous and have more devastating effect on the economy than the most recent cyclone. Why should someone call me dangerous? You only recognise danger when you have fear in you,” he said.

Mr Rabuka said the PM highlighted his weaknesses as a prime minister, he would like to ask Mr Bainimarama the same thing.

“What happened to the 100 Hundred Sands Casino deal, the $40m phase 1 of the Exim Bank Loan to be implemented by Naim Holding Ltd, the Waila City program that had raised the hopes of many that lived in the Suva-Nausori corridor, what was the cost of the cancellation of the MWH contract in the establishment of the Fiji Roads Authority, they couldn’t properly rule on the ATS grievances, what about the financial mismanagement brought up by the Auditor-General?”

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