Fiji government challenged over Indonesian soldiers in school rebuild

Indonesian soldiers working at Suva's Queen Victoria School ... "How much are these 20 pieces of silver helping to seal your government's mouth on the issue of genocide in West Papua." Image: FijiTVOne

By Nasik Swami in Suva

The Fiji government has no say in the Adopt a School programme by donor countries, Parliament has been told in response to opposition criticism over Indonesian soldiers being involved in the rebuilding of a local school.

Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy told Parliament this following a supplementary question by Opposition MP Roko Tupou Draunidalo about why the reconstruction of Queen Victoria School was not given to the British government since the school had been named after Queen Victoria.

Roko Tupou asked Dr Reddy on Tuesday why the reconstruction work was given to the Indonesian government as the country was allegedly responsible for genocide in West Papua.

“How much are these 20 pieces of silver help to seal your government’s mouth on the issue of genocide in West Papua and why has the government not sought assistance from other governments like the British government if it required, or a Commonwealth country to build a school named after Queen Victoria?” she asked.

In response, Dr Reddy said the question was totally irrelevant.

‘Open to anyone’
“Madam Speaker, totally irrelevant question but I just want to say that the Adopt a School programme is open to anyone,” he said.

“Anyone can go to the homepage, get to the site and express their interest to take up a particular school like the Chinese students did last week – they took Yasawa High School, Australians, and they have taken 26 schools, New Zealand and government of Japan.”

Dr Reddy also told Parliament that the reconstruction work at QVS would be completed by August.

“Apart from the adversities, Cyclone Winston has also provided us opportunities to, in this case, construct, replace old, aging infrastructure.

“At the moment we have got 30 Indonesian army engineers on the site and 15 Republic of Fiji Military Force (RFMF) engineers there as well, travelling daily to the site.”

Nasik Swami is a Fiji Times reporter.

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