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RESPONSE TO PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH FOR OPENING OF 2016 PARLIAMENTARY SESSION
(Thursday 24th September, 2015).
The Honorable Prime Minister
The Honorable Leader of the Opposition,
Honorable Cabinet Ministers
Fellow Honorable Members of Parliament.
I rise to make my contribution to his Excellency the President’s opening address delivered last week in this August House.
From the outset, I must state that I experienced a mixture of feelings as I listened to his Excellency’s address!
EXPIRY OF PRESIDENT’S TERM IN OFFICE
Nevertheless, I now wish to speak briefly on the last part of it.
Madam Speaker, all good things come to an end.
His Excellency has acknowledged his term as President of the Republic of Fiji Islands will end in November of this year, 6 years after he took office. I take this time to thank His Excellency, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau for his leadership to Fiji. The work could not have been easy. He would be aware Madam Speaker, of the great expectations the people of this Nation had of his services and leadership. He no doubt would also be aware, that at times, he was questioned on some of the decisions he took, or the silence he adopted, during certain times when many expected him to take a position, on matters that had a significant impact on people’s lives.
I am a great believer in the human spirit and in acknowledging that as humans, we will not always have the right answers for everything. I wish you well Sir, and pray you enjoy your twilight years, in whatever capacity you will play God willing.
Vinaka Saka vakalevu.
DEMOCRACY/ SEPARATE STATE
Madam Speaker, His Excellency took great pains to inform this house of our new found Democracy, and why it needs to be protected.
On that, I will quote from Subha Wijesiriwardena.
She is from Colombo, Sri Lanka, is a recognized blogger and a regular contributor to online discourse about Sri Lankan politics.
She made the following comments about democracy following the recent change of leadership in Shri Lanka in January of this year after a decade of authoritarian leadership by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. And I quote,
“Democracy is not just a system, a structure; it is also a feeling. It is a feeling within each one of us; a desire to be led by the things we believe in; and the people we see those things in. It is a desire to stand up, to feel powerful in our own way, to wield that power in the face of despair and frustration. It is a feeling that inspires other feelings; it gives us courage, it gives us hope. It allows for Army officials- men who have made their entire careers out of respecting rank and taking orders- to say ‘No, ’ when they are asked to deploy their troops to help a desperate and frightened man stay in power; best of all: that they say ‘NO’ with pride, that we all say ‘NO’ with pride”.
Madam Speaker I will now turn my attention to the issue of sedition or the setting up of alternative States. I noted his Excellency’s address spent a considerable time on this subject. I am of the view that any right minded, Honorable Member of this House, will take for granted the firm denouncing of any seditious acts against the ruling of any elected government. Personally, I have and will always denounce the illegal attempts by anyone whether military or civilian, for the overthrow of an elected government, for whatever purpose or argument.
I, hold the firm view, that should we the people find discontent with any ruling government, we must exercise fairness in respect of the People’s majority will, and await Elections, to express our implicit desire for the government we wish to have.
Recently, at an event for Naitasiri High School where, I spoke to my fellow kinsmen to respect and abide by the rule of Law and cautioned against negative political agitation as the mechanism of democracy has been undertaken; and that due recognition and respect is accorded to the government elected by the people.
It is the fair thing to do! Besides, when we the Opposition will become the government of the day; I would expect nothing less than the same respect and call, to be made by our fellow Honorable Members on the other side of this August House.
I reiterate that call today.
We the people of Naitasiri remember like yesterday, the experiences our people were made to go through at Kalabu and at the Tikina of Nabobuco in 2000, as a result of the political manipulation of some people, who remain ambiguous to us to this day.
Some of our people served time for their part in those events, temporarily losing their freedom.
Some nurture scars emanating from the beatings received at the hands of soldiers and the Police, sent in to disperse the groupings and bring to judgment those that it needed to.
I remain outraged with the treatment they received at the time; however, I also believe the actions of our people could have been better.
“Sa rauta na vakayagataki!”
On that note Madam Speaker I conclude by relaying the famous words of ‘Martin Niemoller’, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
He uttered these words as a result of the lack of resistance to the Nazi ordeal, which the world ignored for some considerable time, before it finally acted.
And I quote, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me” (Unquote)
The question, for Us will then be;
“In our democracy, what are we willing to sacrifice in order to achieve development?”
I look forward to this question being answered, as we approach 2016 Budget announcement.
Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.