Fijian Election

Rabuka to reintroduce race based scholarship, FijiFirst blasts plan

December 5, 2022 5:25 am

In a bombshell revelation just a week away from the General Election, Sitiveni Rabuka has admitted that the reintroduction of race based scholarships will be considered if The People’s Alliance and the National Federation Party win the elections and form government.

Rabuka disclosed this discriminatory policy in Labasa last week on the back of his promise to remove TELs or the Tertiary Scholarships and Loans Service by any new People’s Alliance/National Federation Party government.

FijiFirst has blasted Rabuka and has called out his political partner Biman Prasad for not speaking out against what it calls Rabuka’s old racist policies which are regressive and will lead to racial discrimination in everyday life for all ethnic communities once again.

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Fiji’s former racist scholarship program was ceased by Voreqe Bainimarama some years ago.

But in a shocking revelation this week Sitiveni Rabuka says he’s interested in revisiting his old race based policies of the past.

“It could be depending on whether we can get back into ethnic databasing. There is a need to do that. It is a reality in modern society and only then can you target your policies.”

However, FijiFirst General Secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says this brings a lot of uncertainty.

“Once you actually start allocating scholarships based on ethnicity, jobs will be based on ethnicity. So all those young students, we want to tell you that with Rabuka’s announcement you have got an enormous level of uncertainty. Those who are currently on TELS don’t know whether they will continue with TELS or not.”

Rabuka hasn’t revealed if all nine-thousand current TELs and Toppers students will be given individual scholarships or what will be the cost of any such policy.

“We will have to restructure the scholarship scheme so that we have TOPPERS who are on government scholarship and we also catch those that don’t make it to that, maybe score not that high and tailor make them into the needs of the labour force.”

Sayed-Khaiyum adds the PA is not a fair party.

“PA’s entire modus operandi, their obsession is with ethnicity. They do not actually understand how to operate in a modern nation state. They do not understand there is a needs based approach that we need to have. They do understand that one’s you start ethnicity in this, you start ethnicity in everything. Then they start looking at taxi permits, they start looking at every single public facet of life will be based on ethnicity.”

Sayed-Khaiyum says Biman Prasad who has joined forces with Rabuka has not opposed Rabuka’s announcement.

“And here we have somebody like Biman Prasad who is just simply smiling and sitting next to him. He is a lackey of Rabuka. He didn’t object to it. Of course he didn’t object to it. He doesn’t want to object to Rabuka because he just wants to become a Minister. This is his end game.”

Since the establishment of the Tertiary Scholarships and Loans Service by the Bainimarama government in 2014, around 57-thousand tertiary students have benefitted from scholarships and means tested loans given at low interest rates ranging from zero to two percent.