Fiji's NFP to decide its fate at the weekend | Pacific Beat

Fiji's NFP to decide its fate at the weekend

Fiji's NFP to decide its fate at the weekend

Updated 4 February 2013, 18:24 AEDT

Fiji's National Federation Party will decide its fate this weekend.

The mainly Indo-Fijian party is led by trade unionist Parmod Rae, who has announced he's stepping down due to a decree by the coup installed military government forbidding union leaders from being involved in politics.

All parties in Fiji must show they have five thousand financial members by the 14th of this month in order to be eligible to apply for registration.

Mr Rae says that it may be difficult for the NFP to make the target of five thousand members, especially as many people seem to be afraid of getting involved in any political activity.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Outgoing Fiji National Federation Party leader, Parmod Rae

RAE: See we have a greater responsibility, we've been around for 50 years. This is in fact, 2013 is our 50th. year of existence as arguably the oldest, the first and oldest political party around in Fiji, but in any of the South Pacific Islands. So we have a greater responsibility to our people to continue to exist, because we have a significant support base and it fluctuates, sometimes it goes down, sometimes it comes up and so there objectives of the party that we believe in that are as proved today as they were first established, so there is no reason for us to fold up and go away, much as the regime would like that to happen.

HILL: Five thousand members in a country the size of Fiji, that's a pretty big target. Are you going to be able to meet it?

RAE: We're just comparing with Australia, where I think the number required is only 500 and a $500 fee. Yes, 5,000 is a daunting, daunting target, but we are out and about, attempting to get there. We haven't got the feedback yet as to how far we have got. We have given ourselves until the end of this week to make an assessment and we have a special general meeting of the party on Sunday in Nadi, where we will review progress and see whether we have made the target, not just the target of 5,000, also whether we have the money and whether we are able to set up the branch offices as required and a number of other requirements.

HILL: If you can't get to that target, what will you do?

RAE: If we can't get to that target, then the party will probably make a decision. I'm not sure what will happen, but our options are to do nothing and then we will be wound up anyway and all our assets will be seized by the state. We don't look at that as an option for us, because our members who have contributed to building up the party. We in the leadership now have a responsibility to ensure that at least we make an effort to survive. So that's one likely scenario. The other is for us to voluntarily wind up like some of the other parties have done, before the 14th. the 28 day deadline and to regroup at a later stage. So in order to continue to try and meet the requirement, when and after that of course, 28 days requirement no longer applies, because you have until the next election or something. So there are options, there are some of these options are possible scenarios, some are fraught with pitfalls, so we will review all this on Sunday.

HILL: You don't sound particularly happy about these new regulations on political parties?

RAE: No, I don't think anyone would be. You see in a democracy, political parties are voluntarily organisations and people support parties as they wish to sometimes, sometimes they don't. The requirement that you have, a certain number of fee paying members, it is, it is really I say unnecessary it's an irritation and all the other requirements to maintain offices and to maintain certain kinds of information and all that sort of thing. And it's a difficult task right now, because you see for the last six years, since the 2006 coup, there really has been no political activity involved in the political party and most parties are in a dormant stage and the restrictions under the public emergency regulations and then the requirement of the permits and stuff. There's been no political party . People are in a kind of psychological stage in this country right now where people really don't want to make any commitments to any kind of political calling.

HILL: Are you suggesting the people of Fiji might be openly afraid to join a political party?

RAE: I think so, yes. I think that is definitely they are. So some of the feelings we are getting is that there is a reluctance amongst people to openly commit to any particular political party.



Bruce Hill

Bruce Hill


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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