|FLP has been hijacked: Anthony|
Ttitled Fiji Labour Party No Longer Represents Workers, Anthony says Mahendra Chaudhry had agreed to defer the elections for the executive positions but went ahead and conducted them with signatures from 'cronies' gathered by his lawyer son, Rajendra Chaudhry.
We publish the statement in full which follows our story Chaudhry junior tipped to assume FLP party leadership:
|Chaudhrys in 2005|
In 1987 when the Party first formed the government, four of the key portfolios were given to versatile unionists of the time. Today the Party has lost its direction and is caught in the quagmire of deceit, dishonesty and hypocrisy.
In the current climate, the Trade Union Movement and workers are facing even greater challenges to their very existence through the draconian decrees that have been imposed by the regime and human rights abuses.
Democracy now is likened to a mirage. The FLP has had a string of controversies involving senior members of the Party. These conditions call for a re-thinking of our options and political strategy. With this in mind, I had discussions with the Party Leader on a few occasions and on the morning of the Delegates Conference in Nadi last Saturday, 25th August, 2012, an agreement was reached that we needed greater consultation on ensuring that we had credible people as office bearers of the Party. The election to be held on that day was to be deferred to allow this course of action.
During the meeting I spoke at length on the need for the Party to return to its roots and become truly multiracial and that the Party makes it mandatory that all Branches must include all races and people from all walks of life.
I spoke on improving internal democracy within the Party and greater tolerance for differing views and positions. I highlighted my concerns on the fact that many well-educated, professional and people of good standing had over the period left the Party because there was no tolerance for debate, opposing views and any questions was interpreted as a challenge to the leadership.
I suggested that the Party must reach out to these people and attempt to get them back on board so that the Party can re-invent itself and be on a stronger footing to meet the challenges of the time.
I also raised concerns at the lack of Worker Representatives in the Party structures. Some of these issues would have required a Constitutional change which is not difficult. These matters were totally ignored as the Party leader and his Son thought they were unimportant to discuss.
The National Treasurer attempted to present a financial report by simply reading from some paper which made no sense to anyone. I again raised concern at the report and suggested that it be withheld and a proper report be presented to the Executive Committee.
I again stressed that the Party has come under considerable scrutiny on financial matters and there was a need for greater transparency and accountability. While this was not received well by the Leader and his cronies, the matter was eventually referred to the Executive Committee.
In the next calculated move, which has been the hallmark of the leader, he proceeded to read a motion signed by some branches to conduct elections. It is believed that the son worked behind the scene to get signatures from cronies and those who were hired as delegates. The process was over within a couple of minutes. I abstained and asked for this to be reflected in the minutes.
Again we witnessed the total manipulation of the process which is not new to the Party. Here we have a Party that preaches democracy but its practices and its operations are totally opposite to the very principles of democracy. In utter frustration and disgust, I decided to walk out of the meeting.
Those who were in the meeting would have observed the father-and-son domination on each and every discussion and allowed little room for anyone else to have their say.
My interventions were only possible as I had to stand my ground and make a point but on every other issue, Rajendra Chaudhry was allowed to have a comment before anyone else was allowed a voice. This is the antithesis of transparency and democracy.
The current lineup of officials of the Party is weak at best and none of these officers have shown any real commitment to the Party other than to the Leader only. The leadership does not represent workers nor can we rely upon them to give workers a credible voice.
Let me remind those that have forgotten that here was the Leader of the Fiji Labour Party who in March, 2007 recommended 5 percent across the board reduction in Public Service salary and wages as the then Minister of Finance announced as part of the policy measures in the 2007 Mini Budget.
He now has the temerity to talk about the hard times that workers face. If he thinks that people have short memories he is sadly mistaken once again.
The Party sadly has become the personal property of Mahendra Chaudhry. Eighty percent of the delegates are National Farmers Union officials or members. The other 15 percent are the leader’s cronies who survive in politics at his behest. The Executive Committee of the Party is no different. Now he has all his people in the Management Board. His Son, apart from being the legal adviser appointed by the Leader himself, is now also the spokesperson.
The Labour Party that we the workers formed has been hijacked and used as a personal property to advance the personal agenda of the leader and his son.
The party has really become irrelevant and is on a downward slide and will see its demise in a very short span of time.
The possible succession of Rajendra Chaudhry as the leader is an absolute disaster. This will be another reason for the ultimate demise of the party. Brash, abrupt and uncouth reaction to people is a far cry from the polished, responsive style of the founding fathers’ of the party. Fiji is too small a country to emulate the dynastic succession of autocratic countries as seen in Libya.