Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama describes FRIEND as a “proxy for the opposition”. Video: Fiji Village
By Dhanjay Deo in Suva
Opposition National Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad says this week’s attack by Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on the non-government organisation, Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises Development (FRIEND) is “shameful and disgraceful”.
Prasad said this in Parliament yesterday after Sayed-Khaiyum had claimed that FRIEND was making a “lot of political mileage” for its work and was the only organisation that the opposition kept talking about.
Dr Prasad said FRIEND was doing a lot of good work for the people.
Sayed-Khaiyum had said in Parliament that there were several other faith-based organisations and NGOs that were doing their work quietly and did not seek public attention. They also did not get in touch with politicians.
He said there were many members of NGOs and civil society organisations that had given food ration packs to members of the public who needed it as they had not been working in areas like Nadi and Lautoka.
Fiji Village tried to get comments from FRIEND director Sashi Kiran, who later said she was “flabbergasted” by the attack.
Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry also described Sayed-Khaiyum’s attack on FRIEND, well known for its charitable works, as not only unwarranted but “disgusting and shameful”.
Chaudhry said FRIEND was not a political organisation and its work in promoting the welfare of the rural communities and assisting the needy was much appreciated and admired by the people.
He said thousands of people were grateful for the help they had received from FRIEND when the government failed to reach them.
Chaudhry said instead of being critical, Sayed-Khaiyum should have acknowledged and thanked FRIEND for their good work.
Dhanjay Deo is a reporter for Fiji Village.