Fiji's NFP meets tough membership target | Pacific Beat

Fiji's NFP meets tough membership target

Fiji's NFP meets tough membership target

Updated 11 February 2013, 19:19 AEDT

Fiji's mainly Indo-Fijian National Federation Party says it has easily met the target of getting five thousand financial members.

The coup installed military government recently issues a decree requiring political parties meet a tough list of requirements to avoid being deregistered.

Although the NFP says it has reached the level of support the decree requires, two of it's leading members, Parmod Rae and Attar Singh have been forced to resign, as they are trade union leaders.

Unionists are not permitted to belong to political parties under the decree.

Parmod Rae tells Bruce Hill he's sad at having to leave the party he's been general secretary of, but he's please they have at least ensured their survival.

Presenter:Bruce Hill

Speaker: Parmod Rae, outgoing general secretary of Fiji's Nation al Federation Party

RAE: So yesterday at the NFP special general meeting, I stepped away from my position as General Secretary, so I'm no longer General Secretary of the NFP. But I can still tell you what transpired, as the outgoing General Secretary. We presented reports to the Secretary General's meeting, and one of those concerns meeting the target in future of the divisions and yes, happy, happy to announce that the meeting received the report very positively that the recruitment drive has been excellent and well in excess of the 5,000 required and comfortable margins in basically all the divisions.

HILL: Did you run into any trouble in trying to persuade people to join a party, because some political parties have suggested that ordinary people in Fiji are shying away from political activities?

RAE: There has been some of that, but we found overall that our people found overall that people were willing and welcomed our recruiters with open arms and were very happy to sign up for us. You know you're right. There were pockets people around who were registered on the weekend and said we're a bit hesitant. But overall now, we found people were quite, as you know quite willing and happy to join us. I know reports from other parties which have been having difficulties in attracting people to sign up, but no we're quite pleased with the results we achieved.

HILL: So is the National Federation Party in full compliance with the decree on political parties? Do you think that you meet all those targets and membership and offices around the country?

RAE: Yes, I think so, I think so, but the biggest federal ones of course, the membership 5,000. The other requirements are there about offices around the country. They shouldn't, that's really not a major problem. The requirement for offices around the country kicks in immediately, but there's a whole range of information that is required to be kept at each of these offices and I'm sure there's time for that. There's no hurry for that. So yes, the physical requirements are there, the personality requirements are now being met and I think what they're doing at the party office is putting together the documents and the schedules in readiness for making a formal submission to the Registrar of Electoral Parties.

HILL: Two of the more significant personalities in the NFP are yourself and Attar Singh, whose the General Secretary of the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions Because you're both trade unionists, you've been forced to step down. Is that a blow for the party, do you think?

RAE: No, I don't think so, I don't think so. The party has been in existence for 50 years, this is the 50th. year. A number of people have come and gone in different positions and no new people have stepped forward, but as far as we're concerned personally, we have a long association with the NFP, we continue to support its policies and no, I don't really don't see any problem.

HILL: How do you feel about that personally though being forced to step aside?

RAE: It's sad that we've come to that in this country, where laws are made to target people, rather than to facilitate activities and organisations. But that's rather sad that we have to comply with something as draconian as that. But that's the way the cookie crumbles in this country these days.

HILL: Are the political parties in close cooperation with each other these days? Some parties are saying they're working together as a kind of a united front?

RAE: There was some discussions and some consultations among political parties earlier on to identify common positions on submissions to the Constitution Commission, that stage has passed. But you see in this country, people though different beliefs get together all the time and political party functionaries they'll get together now and then for a bowl of grog and discuss common issues and there is a loose kind of a grouping, the United Front for a Democratic Fiji. They are informal. People get together now and then to discuss common threats, common issues, and common positions. So there's nothing sinister about that.

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Bruce Hill

Bruce Hill

Presenter

Bruce is one of the Pacific’s most experienced journalists with nearly 20 years covering the region and has won several international awards.

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