Felix Anthony issued the following release as National Secretary of FTUC on
29th August 2012.
My reply follows the comments by Mr Anthony – Rajendra Chaudhry.
(FTUC) MEDIA RELEASE
Fiji Labour Party No Longer Represents Workers
The Fiji Labour Party was formed by the Fiji Trades Union Congress in 1985 after
the then Government imposed a wage freeze on workers of Fiji. The Workers at the
time recognized that they needed a voice in Parliament and Government so that
their interest and concerns could be effectively addressed. Workers of all races
and backgrounds supported the Party because of its social policies and the fact
that it was truly multiracial.
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.
This is utter nonsense. People left because they could not tolerate a
strong, committed and disciplined leadership which was/is the strength of the FLP.
Opposing views and divergence of opinions have always been entertained but at the
end of the day it is what the members of the FLP decide. If they choose Mr Chaudhry
over others then it is a right that the FLP membership has and exercise. What the
FLP does not tolerate is dissent and undermining the party in public and bringing
it into disrepute. Persons who have been indicted for such actions are Krishna
Datt, Felix Anthony, Atu Bain and Agni Deo Singh in 2006. Datt and Bain were
expelled from the FLP and Felix and Agni apologised and were given a reprieve.
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.
My reply: Why should the FLP get back people who have openly undermined it and
sought to weaken it? Having said this, Datt and Bain did not appeal their expulsion
and if they now choose to return then they must reapply in accordance with the
rules of the FLP.
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.
My reply: Workers representatives are part of the National Council. Felix knows
about this and has never raised any issue on this till now.
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
My reply: The audited financial report as presented by the Treasurer was proper in
every respect and was adopted.
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.
My reply: This is not correct. Felix’s comments on this matter were heard but did
not go any further as no one supported any of his motions. He was told that there
were processes in the FLP constitution to admit members or to make any
constitutional changes and that should be followed, that elections must be in
accordance with the FLP constitution and that it was the duty of branches and not
the Management Board to ensure that branches were functional and operating within
the ambits of the FLP constitution.
In the next cunningly 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.
My reply: There was consensus on the election of members of the Management Board
and even after reading out the list as endorsed by 9 branches, Mr Chaudhry still
invited nominations from the floor but none were forthcoming. This riled Felix and
he probably then realised that it was he who had become irrelevant and not the FLP
or its leadership.
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.
My reply: As can be gleaned from this statement it’s all about ‘I ’ – being
Felix. He says he wasn’t given an opportunity to speak but from his own statement
it is clear that that he was clearly given more than ample opportunity to speak.
Felix fails to forget that the FLP Delegates Conference is about branches and their
decisions and not individuals like Felix and his gun for hire on that day, Aman
Ravindra Singh. Felix was clearly unsupported by any of the delegates and left
after the election of office bearers.
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
My reply: This is nonsense. No one raised this issue at the meeting. The party
meeting was chaired by the acting president. Delegates from all branches were
present. Felix never raised any objections to the chair or any of the delegates
that were present. In fact, Felix, contrary to his statement, was the one doing the
most talking at the Delegates Conference but his comments were not finding any
traction with the delegates.
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
My reply: Felix was always given an opportunity to speak at the Delegates
Conference. My comments were only in response to the broad and sweeping allegations
by Felix Anthony – allegations unsupported by facts and neither by any other
delegate, including Daniel Urai – the president of the FTUC. In fact, FLP minutes
will show that the person who talked the most was Felix.
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.
My reply: The FLP is a democratic party with elections for principal office
bearers. All branch and national council members are elected as are branch and
constituency representatives. Felix is well aware of this and has never raised it
previously. He is only now raising it as he was not considered for a position of
vice president of the FLP – a post he formerly held. Felix was not nominated by 3
branches as required by the FLP constitution. Even his own branch – Lautoka – did
not nominate him. As for commitment to the FLP, this is best left to the FLP
membership and the electorate. Further, the FTUC disassociated itself with the FLP
in 1992 and the FLP has still been able to effectively articulate workers’ rights
as well as other issues of concern to the electorate so this statement by Felix
that the FLP does not give workers a credible voice is hollow in rhetoric as it has
been the FLP which has been at the forefront of workers issues since 1987.
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.
My reply: The 5% wage cut was imposed by the regime before Mr Chaudhry joined
Cabinet at the invitation of the President and that was subsequently restored.
Instead of criticising Mr Chaudhry, who was given the mandate by the FLP to accept
the President’s offer to join Cabinet, Felix should explain how and why he as the
leader of the trade union movement supported the Bainimarama regime, especially
after the same regime cut civil service pay by 5%? Did the FTUC or his union give
him the mandate to accept positions in the regime?
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.
My reply: This is a statement unsupported by facts. Mr Chaudhry has the support of
the FLP as he is a tried and proven leader. It is these leadership qualities that
make him the obvious choice for the leadership of the FLP – which he has held since
1991. All branches are independent of the Management Board and the Management Board
is answerable to the Delegates Conference and the National Council between
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.
My reply: This statement is incorrect as Felix had nothing to do with the formation
of the FLP and secondly the FLP is not the personal property of any person
irrespective of what Felix says. It is a case of sour grapes by Felix after not
being considered for election to the FLP Management Board. I have no interest in
any position in the FLP at present and will decide when I think the time is right.
It was for this reason I did not contest any position in the FLP Management Board.
In any event who is Felix to question my membership of the FLP? I have been a
member of the FLP since 1987 and I have stood by the FLP since then. My commitment
to the FLP is unwavering and will remain so.
The party has really become irrelevant and is on a downward slide and will see its
demise in a very short span of time.
My reply: Instead of criticising the FLP publicly, Felix should concentrate his
efforts on those who employ him – his members and fight for their rights. The FLP
has faced many challenges and survived them all. If Felix believes that the FLP
will see its demise in a very short span of time then it is his personal view along
with a few other unionists and a public relations consultant – all of whom have no
following in the FLP.
The possible succession of Rajendra Chaudhry as the leader is an absolute
My reply: The only talk of succession is only coming from Felix. No one else is
talking about it. FLP members are more focussed on the challenges ahead rather than
internal bickering. The leadership of the FLP is well settled. Any talk of
succession is premature and irrelevant. 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
My reply: Felix should be the last to talk about brash, abrupt and uncouth for it
was he who was recorded on national television in 2006 spewing expletives in public
on his fellow parliamentarian – Vyas Deo Sharma and which was then subject to a
police complaint by Mr Shamra on or around 29
June 2006. The FLP also subjected Mr
Anthony to disciplinary proceedings on this issue as well as trying to undermine
the FLP’s leader’s nomination to the Senate in 2006 and for which he then
apologised to the FLP. Fiji is too small a country to emulate the dynastic
succession of autocratic countries as seen in Libya.
My reply: The issue here is not of dynastic succession but who the membership of
the FLP wants to lead it. No one has an automatic right to leadership in the FLP.
To lead one must demonstrate the necessary qualities of commitment, perseverance
and loyalty to the party. Further Felix gets his basic historical fact of dynastic
succession wrong when he refers to Libya when in fact it was Syria.
In any event I remain loyal to the FLP and unlike Felix I prefer to raise issues
within the confines of the FLP meetings and seek solutions therein. Wailing like a
banshee and running to the media, as Felix did after being rejected by the FLP for
a Management Board position, is not my way of handling issues. It is the duty that
one owes to the party. Finally, I prefer to do my talking in the proverbial ring
and not complain after the fight as Felix has chosen to do in this case.