Ladies, gentlemen and people of Fiji
As 2014 comes to an end, and as we gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day, I extend to all Fijians both here and abroad my warmest compliments and best wishes, along with those of my family.
I also take this opportunity to convey my sincere appreciation and gratitude to all Fijians for your contribution towards Fiji’s progress as a Nation.
For indeed we have so much to be thankful for:
In the first instance, the country has returned to Parliamentary Democracy through a genuinely democratic, and highly regarded, General Election in September. I thank all the members of the public who came out in record numbers to actively participate in choosing our representatives in Parliament, and our Government.
I also thank the international community for its support with facilitating the General Election.
I especially thank the countries that stood by Fiji in the past eight years as we redefined the foundations of nationhood and as we worked towards elevating Fiji to be among the greatest democratic nations in the world, a nation that promotes true equality and justice, and the highest level of respect and dignity towards all her people, without exception.
Much of what we want for Fiji is now contained in our Constitution. The Constitution, in itself, is another significant milestone to be thankful for.
Fiji now has 50 highly respected Parliamentarians upon whom the aspirations of the nation now rests. Given our social and political history, there is, before us, a strong and urgent need for men and women of goodwill and fortitude, who have the best interests of Fiji in their hearts, to come forth, and help take Fiji forward. I have no doubt that the next four years will be exciting for all Fijians as the nation continues to build on the foundation that has been laid for us.
We should also be thankful for the numerous achievements we have made together as a nation. These include, but are not limited to:
- The contributions that Fijians have made to the international community through our Peacekeepers, our Diplomatic Missions, all those in the teaching and medical professions, our sports people, and all other fields of endeavour;
- Fiji’s leadership position in the international community, firstly through the Chairmanship of the United Nation’s biggest voting bloc – the Group of 77 Plus China in 2013, which we handed-over early this year; and secondly, Fiji’s current Chairmanship of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, and the United Nations Office of Project Services;
- Fiji’s contribution to the Pacific region through the Pacific Islands Development Forum, which has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Governments, the Private Sector and Non-Governmental Organizations to collectively discuss the way forward towards sustainable development with a focus on the environment and on climate-change issues that will ultimately affect each one of us and future generations, if not addressed now;
- The release, without harm, of our Peacekeepers in Syria whilst trying to contribute to stability in a region that is currently riven with armed conflict that has cost many lives; and
- At the local and national levels, leadership across our communities that has contributed to the ability of all our people to live in peace and harmony.
We all share a genuine desire to help each other and create a new Fiji for current and future generations.
Fiji is not just our country. It is home to us all. We are one people, and one nation. As we celebrate the festive season, let us all pledge that we will continue to embrace a culture of appreciation, respect and tolerance, and that we will devote every effort to making Fiji a truly democratic, peaceful and prosperous country.
On this Christmas, I also ask that we all devote time and resources to the less fortunate and the elderly including those in hospitals and in prisons – that we put a smile on their faces and warmth and love in their hearts. Because the spirit` of Christmas is about giving. It is about touching the lives of both loved ones and those outside our immediate circle.
If our present generation is able to show love and care for the elderly and the less fortunate, I have every confidence that our children and their children will also be able to emulate these acts of kindness. And it will go a long way towards strengthening the unity we all want for Fiji.
Ladies and gentlemen, young people and children, I wish you all and your families a Blessed and Merry Christmas.
Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu, Sukria, Bahoot Dhanyavaad.