“Former FijiFirst Party Member Turns Crossbench MP”

Former member of the now de-registered FijiFirst Party, Viliame Naupoto, spoke in the Parliamentary chamber for the first time today as a crossbench Member of Parliament. Expressing his support for the 2024-25 National Budget, Naupoto reflected on the decisions that led to his current position, decisions he does not regret, and the choices made by others outside Parliament.

Members of Parliament who are not part of the Government or the Opposition take their seats on the crossbench. Naupoto stated, “Let me at the outset say, that the decisions made outside of this Parliament were theirs to make which I respect, and the reasoning behind their decisions, I will not question.”

He continued, “I have accepted the situation I am in, and I will move on as a crossbench Member of Parliament for the remainder of this Parliament term. I have made my choice also, and as the saying goes ‘You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.’ That, I understand very well.”

Despite recent events, Naupoto expressed a sense of freedom in his new role, including the freedom to exercise his own judgment, consult across the floor, and collaborate with others to serve the citizens effectively. “Today is a new start for me,” he added.

Naupoto emphasized the essence of democracy, stating, “Democracy is only partly about votes and Legislature, but mostly about human encounter and interaction. It’s about arguing, debating, and compromising across different people with different beliefs and political affiliations. It’s about learning to say, ‘OK, I may not fully understand where you are coming from, but I’m beginning to see you and I show you respect, admiration, and reverence.’”

He criticized the past politics of division, noting that the “us versus them” mentality and the “my way or the highway” approach foster anger and hatred. Naupoto urged Parliament to set better examples for the multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-religious society they serve.

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