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HE’S OUR PICK

December 31
09:54 2013

By MAIKA BOLATIKI

It’s no contest.
The Fiji Sun has chosen Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as Fiji’s Person of the Year. And how could anyone else even be considered?
It follows a remarkable year of gains, successes and recognition for the PM at local, regional and international level.
This was without doubt the Year of our Prime Minister. It underscored all he is doing leading his Government in building a new and better Fiji. A Fiji where all are equal and governance is truly democratic.

LOCALLY
Locally one of Commodore Bainimarama’s  highest priorities as Prime Minister was to ensure that the Government delivers services to its citizens efficiently, equitably, and enthusiastically.
Better transport (such as the roads), education, health services, and power and water supplies are amongst his priorities.
The long list of service delivery successes this year is truly helping build a better nation. Nowhere was this better illustrated than in the dramatic free education reforms. These are designed to give all our young people a chance to grow in a smarter Fiji.
Everything in fact the Prime Minister did was designed to be in best interests of Fijians and to give them a lift up in life.
He was same time very much a Prime Minister of the People, travelling constantly, especially in the rural areas, He met the people and listened to them and their concerns in his “talanoa” sessions. Then he made sure there was follow up.
Rural people – so long used and then neglected by politicians of the past – responded. Some called for Commodore Bainimarama to just stay in power and not hold elections in the year ahead.
But that is not going to happen. Those elections are something the Prime Minister is also determined to deliver in 2014 – as promised.
The Constitution is in place. Voter registration is a continuing success. Structures are steadily taking shape. Even the most diehard of doubters in the international community are now believing.

REGIONALLY
Regionally Fiji continued to take a major leadership role.
The Prime Minister’s leadership invigorated the Melanesian Spearhead Group. This is an emerging economic bloc the likes of which the region has never seen before.
The acclaimed Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) was formed under his leadership. This is a body which is rapidly replacing the fading Pacific Islands Forum as the true meaningful regional body.

INTERNATIONALLY
Internationally the Prime Minister was elected chair of the G77 plus China group and gave Fiji an unprecedented stature on the world stage. To say Fiji punched above its weight is no cliché.
This was no better epitomised than when he was one of the first United Nations leaders to meet with the newly-elected President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani. And to have his photo taken with him.
Likewise, he was one of the first leaders invited to China to meet the new leadership there. Fiji-China relations continue to strengthen, and Fiji to benefit.
Then there was Commodore Bainimarama’s leadership of the International Sugar Organisation. There he spoke strongly from the heart for the cane growers – and against efforts by vested interests to politicise sugar.
He also put climate change and its impact on the Pacific Islands firmly on the agenda at the forums he chaired.
This has been a remarkable year for a remarkable leader. Fiji and Fijians are much the better for it.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. Photo: RONALD KUMAR

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