The voices of hatred and division that once did untold damage to our nation are not gone.
This was part of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s keynote address at the opening of the University of the South Pacific Open Day yesterday.
He said the Government had pushed them to the fringes of society, but they still persisted.
Mr Bainimarama said he was sure students might have seen that kind of divisive and damaging thinking on social media, with people attacking those of different ethnicities and those of different religions. Unfortunately, he said they were even seeing those kinds of attacks being made by political leaders today in the country. “It’s completely unacceptable –– it’s not something we can ever tolerate as a society.”
He said as young Fijians, as the next generation, it was them who must finally shut the door for good on any and all attempts to divide our society along ethnic, religious or communal lines.
“We only beat back those old forces when the vast majority of Fijians came together and finally said: enough is enough.”
He said it was only through the will of the Fijian people, the will of their parents, their grandparents and even their great grandparents, that all emerged as a united nation, after all those lost years. “And it was their will –– the will of ordinary Fijians, everywhere –– that gave my Government our mandate to unite the country, to bring sound management to our economy, and to give all of you the unprecedented level of opportunity you now have at your disposal.”
After nine years of growing the Fijian economy, after bringing unemployment to a 20-year low, after putting more talented young people like themselves through primary and secondary school and on to post-secondary education he said it was clear that a united Fiji and a stable Fiji, was a strong Fiji.
He said Government finally had a clear national direction, that was delivering real improvements in the lives of the people, especially for young Fijians like students.
For just about all of the secondary school students at the Open Day he said this next election would be the first time they could vote.
“It’s incredibly important that you do. Your vote is the single greatest tool you wield in determining your future. You should inform yourself, you should listen to those seeking your support, and you should make your decision based on who you believe can best take the nation forward and promise a stronger, stable and even more prosperous future.”
He said they must be focused on the future, not the politics of the past.
According to Mr Bainimarama higher educational institutions, including USP, are hubs of exchange, ideas and new ways of thinking. And that is a fundamental part of Fiji’s democratic system.
At the institution he said he was sure they would find more than a few people who had no problem disagreeing with some of his Government’s decisions.
He said that was okay as it was what a healthy democracy was all about.
Source: Fiji Sun