PDP PR-Govt Tramples on Youth’s Political Freedom.pdf
Government Tramples on Youth’s Political Freedom
The People’s Democratic Party condemns outright the denial of political freedom and
rights to students who wish to participate in the political process of the country. As
reported in the Fiji Times of Wednesday 28th May, a student’s scholarship has been
terminated by the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board for simply supporting or being
an activist with the Independent Candidate Roshika Deo.
This Government has denied a large section of our community from actively
participating in the political process including Unions, NGO’s and public servants. This is
plain denial of fundamental rights and must be condemned.
Scholarships must be assessed on qualifications, need and academic performance solely
and not on one’s political affiliation. This is clearly a case of victimization. I am sure that
if any student supported the government’s yet to be registered party, the student would
probably be given a five year scholarship at once. This decision by the Board will instill
fear in our young people and discourage them from participating actively in politics.
It is not good enough for the Chairman of the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board, Mr.
Dixon Seeto to refuse to comment on the issue. He has accepted the position and must
be made accountable for the Board’s decision or for following instructions from powers
that be. The students and the people of Fiji deserve to know why the scholarships given
are conditional on students remaining politically neutral or support only one party. On
one hand we have this government saying that people over 18 years are free to vote yet
on the other hand make it a condition to remain politically neutral if they have been
given a government scholarship.
Where is the sense in this policy? Our young people must be encouraged to participate
in the political life of our country. The PDP has a policy and rule that 20% of all its office
bearers must be youth. It will also have youth candidates in its election line up. It is
important that we do not only pay lip service to our young people but include them in
the mainstream of the political life of our country.
I call on the Chairman of the Tertiary Scholarship Board to explain why the scholarship
has been cancelled and why the Board has adopted a policy to deny fundamental
political rights to our young people. The PDP urges the Chairman to reconsider this
decision and ensure that the student’s academic progress is not hindered in any way by
this unfair decision. His scholarship must be reinstated.
PDP Party Leader