PM's Fiji Day Address


Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, National Planning, Public Service, Peoples Charter for Change and Progress, Information, Sugar, iTaukei Affairs, and Multi-Ethnic Affairs and Provincial Development

Albert Park                                                                                                    Thurs. 7th Oct., 2010
SUVA                                                                                                             1000 Hours

Cabinet Ministers;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
My Fellow Fijians;
Children of Fiji;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and a Good Morning

Today’s ceremony is part of the Celebrations to mark our Independence Day. For us Fijians, this year’s Celebration has a particular significance since it marks 40 years of our Independence.

Independence Day for any country is always of great importance. It marks the coming of age of any nation-state. It heralds a change in guard, a new political system. It is a manifestation of the desire of a people to stand up on their own feet. It signifies maturity. It signifies a vision.

Our post-Independence history has been dissimilar to some other countries. We have had events which we could have done without. We have had politics which we could have done without. These situations led to regression as opposed to progression. It led to stagnation as opposed to modernization.

Today, however, is not a day of condemnation or recrimination. Today is a day of celebration. A celebration that says that despite the colonial legacy, despite post 1987 Fiji, which resulted in the absence of true nation-hood and political and institutional systems that were replete with discrimination, prejudices, chauvinism and marginalisation, we Fijians today are able to overcome these challenges. We have tenacity and indeed we now have a vision. A vision to modernize and liberalize.

That vision that has been set out in the People’s Charter for Peace, Change and Progress and which underpins the guiding principles of the Strategic Framework for Change.

The Strategic Framework for Change sets out the path of legal, constitutional, economic and social change for a fair, just and modern Fiji - not just for tomorrow or the next year but for the years to come.

This vision has meant amongst other things, a common name for all, which the past politics could not deliver, an issue that really should not have been an issue, but which is a feature of, and imperative for any modern nation state. We today, the citizens of Fiji, must be all proud Fijians, bound in our common allegiance to our country.

We now have laws that have been modernized, bringing about gender parity and social parity. We have implemented comprehensive laws against domestic violence. We have child welfare laws which protect children against abuse. We are in the process of removing red tape that has led to inefficiencies and corruption. We have focused on infrastructure development and agricultural output and productivity. We are now providing direct assistance to the marginalized, the poor who have been neglected. We now provide tangible assistance to our school children, who are our future.

Internationally we now have more diplomatic relations than ever before. We have ratified a number of International Conventions and Treaties. We are working in collaboration with a number of countries with the aim of sustainable peace, substantive justice, dignity and respect for all.
In all of these reforms, what is remarkable is that the people of Fiji, you all have shown a willingness to embrace and support these initiatives. The people of Fiji have shown an open mindedness.

What this tells us is that we are all ready to embrace changes, in particular changes that are fair and just, changes that are inclusive, changes that assist the marginalized, changes that rid the politics of old.

This vision, ladies and gentlemen, we must carry, we must implement. It is not only a philosophical commitment but a practical application.

If the vision is implemented with wisdom and collaboration, it will bring actual and tangible benefits to all of us, to Fiji. If addressed, it will bring long term stability to the region. If addressed, it will mean good, just and fair leadership and governance. If addressed, it will give actual and true democracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen and my fellow citizens and children, I urge you all to continue to participate in and become an integral part of the vision of a modern and just Fiji. I urge you all to also celebrate our Independence Day, celebrate the new vision.

I wish you all a happy Fiji Independence Day.
Vinaka vakalevu.

Thank you.




Is it July the 4th? said…
Fine sentiments and a well crafted speech. But perhaps the PM is being presumptuous in boldly declaring that all Fijians share his vision. In the absence of a democratic vote, who says? Another thing is clear from this speech; the PM is doing everything he can to ingratiate himself with the Americans. Why else would he embrace American English so emphatically? Every single realise or emphasise is spelt with a "z" not an "s" in clear defiance of our British heritage and common usage among our political foes in Australia and NZ. Is this a deliberate policy change or is the PM's speechwriter spooked by the red underline cropping up on spellcheck? I think we should be told. Because if things keep going the way they are, I fear a photo of Barack Obama will soon replace that of Our Gracious Queen above the PM's desk. Better Obama than Hu Jintao, I suppose, but do we really have to kowtow to these guys so much just because they're not Aussies or Kiwis? The Macquarie Fiji dictionary sticks to the use of "s", as in realise. Why can't the PM and the rest of his regime?
Thinking...not sleeping said…
Many would be more inclined to support the PM if he really was temporary.

As time goes by it worries me that our PM and new President really do think they are more than temporary and they have some sort of peoples mandate. The PM forgets himself and what he promised the people of Fiji when together with the military he still commands they decided to overthrow the elected government of the day. It was their decision and theirs alone to act out a coup and nearly fours years later the only honest justification they can give is they did not like the elected the government or their policies. It was also their decision to continue after a court and constitution they said they respected found not in their favour. So they threw it out and continued because they believed they and they only knew what was best for Fiji and where not prepared to give up their new power to anyone or any party old or new. I imagine if a current court ruled against them they would do the same. They are nothing if not determined with a self belief that they only are right.

The reality is the PM and his military are firmly in control of Fiji. I accept that. In previous posts I have even made comments on what they have done well and acknowledged progress even though it is at times painfully slow. They have made many mistakes but they are now running a reasonable ship. What irritates and worries me is that as time progresses they see themselves as not temporary change agents but legitimate, permanent leaders doing normal “PM” and government stuff. The President also speaks as if he is some sort of legitimate President not a military appointed President who’s main role is to make the PM and Governments changes easy by way of decree.

Reading the PM’s address today I see nothing about elections in 2014. I see nothing about a roadmap to democracy. I see nothing about a new constitution in 1012. These should be the PM’s focus and he should take every opportunity to reinforce them and what better time to do so than a speech marking the nations independence. There is nothing independent about individual lives in Fiji today. The rights our friends in neighbouring countries enjoy have all been removed.

I would also like to see him to make it clear he will step aside in 2014 and accept the outcome of a fair and free election. Better still stop all this pretence about being the legitimate PM. I suggest he takes a humbler approach and refers to himself as temporary, bridge or interim PM. Perhaps then he could reasonably expect more people to then rally behind him. Maybe even one day after he has stepped down from rolls in government and the military people might talk of him as genuine leader who had a positive impact on Fiji.

It would be easy to pick holes in his speech (for example the rubbish about number of diplomatic relations designed to suggest diplomatic relations are good – when you have EU, USA and AU/NZ off side you can’t say they are good) but I will stop here. This speech is another missed opportunity to give people real hope not just grand statements of visions.

Just adding a few extra sentences would have made this speech so much better.
Lost independence said…
Another independence day without independence. I do not even have the right to vote. I cannot chhose my politicians or my leader. A sad day for Fiji.
modise said…
Free of Colonialism maybe but not free of militarisation.

A dictator standing as PM on an important day.

It makes me sick.
miltary support said…
How the hell would he know if people
are behind him. Surely he's dosn't
translate polite village welcomes or business
Wanting him to talk to him as support ?

Want to test support then have a free and fair election.

Put your toe in the water by lifting the PER.
Independent said…
The current PM has critised the the 1987 and 2000 coup but somehow thinks his own is different.

The PM talks freedom but offers none.

The PM talks change but is not prepared to start with his own shop - the military.

The PM talks leadership but lead only by gun, by threats and by force.

The PM talks dialogue but refuses to allow dialogue in Fiji.

Fijian's will probably celebrate Fiji today but the PM should not take that as a sign they are celebrating him or his military grip on the country.
The PM said, I said said…
To quote the PM "We have had events which we could have done without" like the 1987, 2000, 2006 coups and the abrigation of the constitution in 2009 ?

To quote the PM "We have had politics which we could have done without" yes including the politic of the military right now. The politics of retribution against those that hold a different view.

To quoe the PM "These situations led to regression as opposed to progression. It led to stagnation as opposed to modernization." regresion as in the PER ?

PM do you even read your speeches in advance or is your power so blinding you can't see the madness in what you say ?
PM's FIJI said…
"Prime Minsters's 2010 Fiji Day Celebrations."

That says a lot. He really believes it is HIS FIJI and HIS CELEBRATIONS. His to do what ever HE LIKES with.
Croz Walsh said…
Just a note on the last comment. The 2006 coup was very different. It must have been or so many anti-government commentators would not be objecting to it.
Coups including 2006 said…
@ croz

maybe but all coups have had similar impacts. They always have..
1. Negative impacts on the economy
2. Negative impact on tourism
(thankfully it eventually recovers)
3. Nagative impacts on investment
3. Divide the nation
4. There are always victoms and
5. There is always retaliation against former opposition
6. There is always some personal winners and losers
7. The military are always involved
8. All coups reduce our international standing

The PM likes to think his coup was not a coup - it was. He likes to think it is different - it's not so different.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Coups including 2006 ...
Agree on 1-3, but these were made worse by the global recession and the sanctions of other governments; 3+ -4, the nation was already deeply divided, the victims (mainly Indo-Fijians) never compensated and the Qarase government was making it even more divided with even more victims; 5-6. Regrettably true. 7. Yes. But this coup was not in support of extreme ethno-Fijian nationalism; 8. Possibly, but opinions are divided among overseas commentators who know something of Fiji, it is a sort-term lossreputation, Fiji is still a force to be reckoned with in Pacific affarirs, but why should we be concerned about misinformed reputation?

In sum, of course there's rights and wrongs; sacrifices and errors, but we should focus on what is in Fiji's best interests as of now. How to get things moving towards a just and acceptable outcome. And we should be asking the internatripnal community to assist more than they have by their current policies.
Coups including 2006 said…
@ Croz

...and we should be asking the current government to be doing much more than they are...except we of course can't. That would be seem and critcism and that my friend is not alloud in Fiji and is a very dangerous place to go for any organisation or individual.
Cornileus said…

As every computer comes with Yankee English, and IT people are too bone lazy to set the default language as Kiwi :) English when installing software, the poor bloke whose first language is other than English thinks the computer must be right.

It's part of the insidious Americanisation of the world, and the subsequent mangling of our English.

Like you, I get brassed off at the mis-spelling, and I am sometimes called a bit of a pedant for my troubles.
sara'ssista said…
it always easy to pick over motives for a coup, i have said before if you kill someone, or in this case continually 'deflower' a country by force and you have an excuse it really doens't change why it happended the victim here is still the fijian people, so all the hand ringing about which coup was better and for what reason is disgusting. None of the coups were necessary and certainly not the attempt to legitimise the so-called governments after them without a national mandate or inquiry into the circumstances.Any garbage about there being a national emergency is entirely self-serving as the emergency was created by the military themselves.
Cicero said…
The concerns expressed about the use of the English language with Americanized spelling are rather intriguing. While agreeing that English-English is preferable in our historical context, we need to remind ourselves that back in the bad days of 2000, one Mere Samisoni advocated on a number of occasions for the use of English in Fiji to be abolished. It was an outmoded and irrelevant Anglo-Saxon construct she averred in a letter to - bien sur - the Fiji Times. This was avidly taken up by the former Editor and his like-minded zealots. So, bearing in mind the irrational mindset of the time, it is almost miraculous that any version of English has survived. Since it is undoubtedly the global language for business and for certain higher studies like Mathematics and Physics (even in France at some Grandes Ecoles), such a position would now appear redundant and ridiculous. Fiji's competitive advantage is that 90% plus of the population is literate and that they are also multi-lingual and English is the prime language of instruction. Competitive advantage for such a small nation may not lightly be discarded.

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