The Prime Minister should get his facts straight before making unjustified allegations and trying to taint the Fiji Labour Party with the same racist brush as that of his government.
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the FLP had not been racial in the distribution of cyclone relief supplies. “We visited cyclone damaged Fijian villages and gave out food packages to the villagers as well as Indian settlements. The Prime Minister should stop telling lies.”
The FLP did not go to islands in the Lau group because understandably the Party was concentrating on its own political constituency where, however, it catered for all ethnic groups.
By hurling false counter-accusations, Mr. Qarase is trying to divert attention away from the fact that his government exercised racial discrimination in the distribution of relief supplies in the wake of Cyclone Ami.
The Prime Minister is now trying to claim that the Labour Party motion in Parliament was “flimsy and unfounded”. Yet his own official in charge of relief distribution in the North, the Commissioner Northern, did admit that there was discrimination in the distribution of relief supplies.
Leader of the Opposition, Hon Millis Beddoes is also on record accusing government of practising racial discrimination in assisting the victims of Cyclone Amy.
“In any case Mr. Qarase’s tit for tat comment is completely off the line. The SDL Government cannot equate itself with the Fiji Labour Party. As the government of the day it has a moral and statutory duty to assist all victims of cyclone damage regardless of race or creed,” Mr. Chaudhry said.
“The Government is using State funds and donations by overseas countries in its provision of the cyclone relief effort. Government cannot be discriminatory in the use of public money.”
Where donations by private individuals and organisations are concerned, they have complete freedom to decide where their assistance will be directed.
If Government has nothing to fear, why does it not accept FLP’s request for a bipartisan committee to be set up to monitor relief assistance and make recommendations to deal with such disasters in the future.
The magnitude of cyclone damage and the suffering of the people in the North is too serious for Mr. Qarase to be playing politics at a time of national disaster, Mr. Chaudhry said.