Issue No: 1000 3 August 2001
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry is the Labour Party's choice for Prime Ministership if the Labour Party wins the
Under the Constitution, the Prime Minister is appointed by the President. The person so appointed should have the
support of a majority of the members of the House of Representatives.
Chaudhry stated earlier that ethnic Fijians were ready and willing to accept an ethnic Indian as a Prime Minister if he
was capable of delivering the people from their miseries.
Labour's President, Jokapeci Koroi stated on Saturday that the opponents of Chaudhry did everything possible to paint a
negative picture of Chaudhry. But the grassroots support for Chaudhry continued to swell. Koroi stated:
In order to further isolate Chaudhry, every possible attack has been and continues to be made against his personality
and character. He is even being blamed as THE cause of the Coup, the division and devastation in the country today, when
instead he was a tragic victim. While it may be made to appear that a Labour party led by a new person of indigenous
ethnicity would pave the way for easing tensions and better the opposition orchestrated by foes, this is a trap to
divide and weaken the Fiji Labour Party at its heart. We must not be fooled by people hinting that their attitudes may
be influenced by a change of a leader. They will not accept Chaudhry and furthermore will not accept a Labour-led
government of any sort. In 1987, under an indigenous Fijian leader they wrestled power away forcefully and again in
2000, with Mr Chaudhry at the helm, they again acted illegally and without the mandate of the people. I remind you again
ladies and gentlemen, as a party we have offered on both occasions (1987 and 2000), two gentlemen with exemplary work
ethics and humanitarian attitudes. What we haven't offered are sauve, executive-type, high-flyers. WHY?.because we are a
party "of the people for the people". I suggest that the primary difficulty which others have with us lie firmly within
the people-based policies that form the foundations of the Labour party's principles. The scud missiles persistently
directed at us with the 'race card' labels are foils. They conceal a much larger reality and that is, Labour party
policies threaten the interests of the elite and its aspirants, because we are THE party for ALL people.
Irrespective of who is elected as the Labour leader, our detractors will continue unabated to oppose and discredit
Labour, its policies, its leader and his personality, etc. A period of co-operation or going a bit easy will only be a
pretence in the initial stages if Labour elects a new leader to calm the opponents. To expect anything else would be
By inventing such ploys now, our opponents and its fringe groups hope to divide and weaken Labour as a political force.
They are out to exploit some within Labour who out of ambition, rivalry or personal agendas can be expected to deliver
substantial boon to their foes. But the fact is that the unity and discipline within Labour has hitherto remained
intact, despite all the traumas. And the fact is also that under its present leadership, Labour remains the single most
popular political party among voters in Fiji. Given this combination of solidarity and leadership team, Labour will
continue to be the dominant force in the foreseeable future, and the aim of those seeking to break up our winning
combination will remain but a pipedream.
Should we, the FLP today, fall into the trap of changing or attempting to change the leader now, on the mistaken notion
of appeasing racist sentiments and gaining some acceptability by its opponents who did the unthinkable to destabilise
and depose it unlawfully, then the FLP would be taking the first step towards its own fracture and demise. It would be
yielding to the temptation of illusionary immediate gain at the expense of its founding egalitarian principles of
social, political and economic justice for all, multi-racialism and non discrimination on grounds of race, colour,
gender, creed or religion.
Labour would then unravel the fabric of values and ideals that compose the core of its being as a democratic socialist
Party. It will become the butt of criticism and jokes each time thenceforth if it ever tried to oppose racial
discrimination. It will lose its credibility.
Its leadership will become divided and the base of its voter support inevitably erode. All this is not to say as a Party
the FLP should not honestly look at the question of leadership from time to time and engage in the healthy process of
internal elections. But the very thought of using race as a factor in any such consideration instead of merit should be
shunned at all times.
A good deal of the thrust at the present time for a change is clearly racially-biased and externally influenced by
opponents of Labour. When any house is under siege as Labour has been throughout its history, it sorely needs solidarity
and unflinching loyalty within the leadership ranks and not division on leadership quarrels.
THE TRAP IS LAID, DO NOT FALL IN IT Human experience has taught humanity that "ALL EVILS COME RELYING ON DIFFERENCES.
ALL GOOD COMES FROM FAITH BY EQUALITY IN THE UNDERLYING SAMENESS AND ONENESS OF THINGS.