Asia Pacific Report newsdesk
Fiji’s opposition National Federation Party has blamed 1150 pandemic deaths on the Bainimarama government’s “shameful and despicable” ego-driven leadership.
“Stop bragging and taking the Lord’s name in vain when you have presided over the single biggest disaster and loss of lives in our country’s 51 years of independence,” said Dr Biman Prasad, a former professor of economics at the University of the South Pacific.
“Talk about issues like how to alleviate poverty that reached almost 30 percent at the time of the so-called ‘Bainimarama Boom’ but has now escalated to about 50 percent due to economic depression caused by covid-19.”
This is the message to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama from Dr Prasad after a message posted on the Fiji government social media page this week showing the prime minister as saying the battle against covid-19 pandemic was about to end — and declaring he had proved critics wrong and was in firm control.
“This is a national leader who brags about himself and claims he will secure every Fijian from clear and present danger,” Dr Prasad said in a statement.
“The prime minister forgets what he announced at the start of the second wave of the pandemic on April 19.”
“Then, he spoke about a grave and present danger to the lives of our people and the need to comply with strict measures and enforcement of lockdowns to contain and eliminate the virus.
‘1150 citizens’ lose their lives
“Almost six months later with the virus out of control due to the PM’s egoistic and ‘My Way or the Highway’ leadership in deciding to open up containment zones, 1150 citizens have lost their lives through no fault of theirs and more than 51,200 people have so far been infected”.
The Johns Hopkins University global covid dashboard (with data supplied by the Fiji government) states 649 deaths and 51,386 confirmed cases in Fiji as at today.
“And in a bid to keep a lid on the death toll and rate of infection, the Health Ministry split the death toll into two categories as well as significantly reduced testing and contact tracing.”
Dr Prasad claimed the ministry was now announcing deaths that occurred in the last three months saying it took time to investigate and determine the cause of death.
“It is shameful and despicable that instead of sympathising with the families who have lost loved ones and offering his genuine and sincere condolences, the PM showers himself with praise for his handling of the crisis,” Dr Prasad said.
“Does he have the courage to go to each individual family, undoubtedly, still grieving the loss of a loved one, and tell them that he is in firm control and protecting them from the grave danger posed by the pandemic?”
‘From containment to containers’
It was the prime minister, his government and their “From containment to containers” policy — allowing the virus to spread freely by opening up containment zones and installing three 12m container freezers as morgues — who must be held responsible for the “needless loss of life of our citizens and heaping pain, suffering and misery on the people”.
“The nation is at the crossroads, at odds with itself, due to failed leadership. Yet, we have a PM who says he is in firm control of the situation,” he said.
“This is symptomatic of a typical dictator who thinks he or she is always right despite the fact that people are dying, poverty is increasing and people are struggling to put food on the table.
“This façade must end at the next elections,” Dr Prasad added.
Fiji faces a general election next year.