Opinion

Visits By Modi And Xi The Envy Of Those Who Stood In His Way

A string of coups previously for Fiji and now another coup in November 2014, barely a month after the first democratic elections on September 17, 2014 –and one which can
16 Nov 2014 00:12
Visits By Modi And Xi The Envy Of Those Who Stood In His Way
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping

A string of coups previously for Fiji and now another coup in November 2014, barely a month after the first democratic elections on September 17, 2014 –and one which can be classed as a mother of all coups. Much bigger and much better!  I can hear you muse at the use of the term “coup” and “better” in the same sentence –thinking if there was something you have just missed in the news or the grapevine!

Mother of all Coups?

Yes certainly a coup by Voreqe Bainimarama this time, and a great feather in his cap and a blessing.

Of all the coups since his leadership to move the country forward by leaps and bounds, this coup eclipses them all.

No, I am definitely not talking about a revolution, rebellion, takeover, overthrow or a coup-de-tat as such.

Instead I am referring to the coup by our PM of Fiji to be able to get dignitaries of such scale, calibre and magnitude on the international arena and stage, to grace our shores, especially at a time that is very strategic for Fiji, especially when our immediate neighbours Mr Abbott and Mr Key–right in our backyard and only 3-4 hours away by air, have been openly rebuffing Fiji –keeping all contacts at the Ministerial level so far, with no suggestion of anyone making a state visit.

The grand occasion of the visit by top international dignitaries this week to Fiji, which will be the envy of Australia, New Zealand, and all those who stood in the way for Mr Bainimarama and his visions for a forward momentum to rebuild a better, more resilient and tolerant Fiji.

I am talking about the great occasion for the visit by two of the most popular and charismatic leaders of the most populous nations on the earth at the moment. Leaders in their own right of two nations that stand above all others today, in all respects, and are an example internationally of how a nation can become the powerhouse of innovation and forward change, by sheer persistence and desire to excel beyond all odds, obstacles and barriers, put in front of them.

The Modi factor

Indian PM’s visit to Fiji will be the first by an Indian PM since September 21, 1981, when Ratu Sir KKT Mara was able to host Mrs Indira Gandhi in Fiji; the only woman PM of the most populous democratic nation on earth. It has been 33 years since then and Bainimarama has once again achieved another coup, to be at the helm of Fiji as PM to witness this historic event, and to bask in its glory. This adds to the many other positive coups in his favour in the last seven years especially during his highly visionary “Look North” policy, similar to Modi’s “Act East” policy.

Mr Bainimarama is lucky as Fiji pales in significance in size on a landmass and population basis, with our population fitting into a rural area in a sparsely populated part of India. The sheer number of people whose PM Modi is in India, can be almost unimaginable for people like us in Fiji, and the nature of politics, the state system, the parliamentary system, the justice system and all apparatus that are many times magnified, often incomprehensible to many of us in Fiji.

PM Modi is no ordinary politician and his high speed 10-day diplomacy to the region covering g three countries, four summits, meetings with over 40 leaders of the world spanning the Pacific region, North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, is definitely a high octane visit, only to elevate Fiji’s status in the eyes of the world. Fiji is blessed to have Mr Modi here amongst us, Fiji being the country with the world’s friendliest people with a diverse groups of people –that the nation derives it strength and nourishment from–including strength and determination to move forward as one people, one country.

Only five months into office as a PM Mr Narendra Modi, in charge of the world’s largest democracy, has made a very impressive debut on the international stage; like a rock star –Elvis– of politics! India is moving very rapidly and covering lost ground with high-speed diplomacy with a proactive thrust to shape an emerging world order. Fiji is blessed to have friends and connections like this, with Mr Modi’s India.

Mr Modi is charismatic and a very popular and likeable person and recently he was seen sweeping the streets in India, using a “sasa” broom, trying to set an example to his community, to do the right thing. He does not shy from breaking new ground and forever shaping and testing new limits, and can be very humble and firm at the same time, as seen by its warning of Pakistan and China using both these body languages recently.

Showcasing Bainimarama’s Fiji

Mr Bainimarama will be hosting Mr Modi, the PM of India, in Fiji on Wednesday November 19, 2014 –just two months into Fiji’s historic elections under the new 2013 Constitution; a historic occasion by any imagination, when Mr Modi will address an extraordinary session of the Fiji parliament, being the only second time since 1981 for an Indian PM to visit Fiji. Mr Modi has a full schedule for the entire day and will only be able to sleep after his plane leaves Nadi later in the night, starting his official visit as early as 5 am and ending at 10 PM, a 17-hour marathon schedule, not allowing him even an afternoon nap, when after a state dinner hosted by the PM of Fiji at the Grand Pacific Hotel in the evening of the same day, Mr Modi will fly out of Fiji after 10pm and only after inspecting a guard of honour.

Mr Bainimarama, will be showcasing to the world that Fiji is up there with all the other major players internationally, and surely very actively involved with the world’s political affairs, with a view to carve a niche out for itself as a nation; especially with the great coup of getting the PM of India, Mr Narendra Modi, to our beautiful Fijian shores – will surely be pleased with this great achievements.

This accomplishment has come almost after a generational change for many people in Fiji below the age of 40 years; most probably do not even recall the last time a PM of India visited Fiji.

Mr Bainimarama will take full credit also of organising at very short notice, a congregation of all 12 leaders and/or representatives of the developing countries of the Pacific region, to enable Mr. Modi to have consultations with them also. This would be a feat in itself and a first for the Small Island States leaders, who have never had this opportunity in their lifetime and will surely have many stories to tell their grand children in their twilight years.

A  State visit of this nature has been a long time coming, but despite that India-Fiji relations have been on the upward trajectory, by leaps and bounds, under Mr Bainimarama’s leadership of Fiji since 2007. With the entire world watching Fiji, Mr Bainimarama will further cement his relations with India, a nuclear super-power, and further prove to the world that the 2013 Constitution of Fiji for an all inclusive society with equal citizenry and tolerance for all races, is truly in motion and not only a myth but slowly becoming a reality under the helm of Mr Bainimarama and his visions beyond 2000, 2006 and 2014.

The Xi factor

Behind the heels of the PM of India’s visit to Fiji, the President of China Xi Jinping will also visit Fiji within 24-36 hours of the departure of Modi. Mr Xi is coming to Fiji with an entourage of over a 100-member government delegation.

China considers Fiji to be an important country in the South Pacific, as it was also the first Pacific island country that established diplomatic relations with China. The practical co-operation between the two countries has pushed forward and deepened in all fields such as politics, economy and people-to-people exchanges.

Fiji will also showcase to the world its very warm relations with China, as part of its Look North Policy since 2007, which has brought the two countries very close together. China respects and values Fiji’s leadership in the Pacific region very much from the point of view of its strategic location and the fact that both countries remain very eager to continue to forge greater friendship, and enhance trade and other ties between the two nations.

Mr Bainimarama has already allowed free entry to Fiji for Chinese citizens. China stood firm and supportive of Fiji’s leaders, who were shunned by Australia and New Zealand instead, all the way during its 2006 crisis and the roadmap to recovery. China stated that Fiji was a sovereign independent nation and had full rights to chart its own course and timetable for returning the nation to democracy and that no other nation should in fact dictate anything to Fiji.

In August 2008, while on a visit to China, PM Bainimarama spoke of the “very close and cordial relations that our two countries share in our trade, cultural and sporting linkages”, and added: “Fiji will not forget that when other countries were quick to condemn us following the events of 1987, 2000 and 2006, China and other friends in Asia demonstrated a more understanding and sensitive approach to events in Fiji. The Government of the People’s Republic of China expressed confidence in our ability to resolve our problems in our way, without undue pressure of interference.”

The moral support that China provided in the time of our need should never be forgotten, and Fiji needs to further sign a number of major developmental MOU’s to sustain and keep that level of involvement, momentum and interest going on; even accelerating the pace if at all possible.

Irresponsible NZ media

Radio New Zealand International, in a recent media report, continued to downplay the great importance of the two visits to Fiji, by these international leaders of the most populous nations on the earth, by quoting and suggesting from other sources, that the only reason for the visit to Fiji by Modi was to counter the great influence of China in the Pacific region.

New Zealand media should know better of the links and the bonds between India and Fiji mainly due to the Indo-Fijian population in Fiji who are direct descendents from India and have the same language, culture and religion. There is no doubt that Mr Bainimarama and India also worked since 2007 to make the relations even stronger.

Another reason for the visit by Mr Modi is explained by the PM of India himself. Mr Modi said it would be his privilege to visit Fiji soon after the return of democracy in September this year, further adding: “We also owe them a debt of gratitude for hosting our scientists on the island in support of our Mars Mission. I am excited about visiting Fiji as also with the opportunity I will have of meeting leaders and representatives of 12 Pacific island nations,” he added.

Negative notions and suggestions by the New Zealand and Australian media have time in and time out proved to be wrong over the last seven years of the Bainimarama leadership. This time again, instead of congratulating Fiji and its great coup to be dining and having a banquet with the foremost and most powerful nuclear power giants of the world, controlling over half or more of the world economy and the labour and work force, all our immediate neighbours can do is to suggest that the visit is no more than a rivalry between the two powers, and their intention to out muscle each other in the Pacific.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Mr Bainimarama will cherish with delight these international events, which can be as rare as “hens’ teeth” and will boost his already elevated, faith and confidence and resolve, to move on forward with his road map for Fiji, articulating unity with diversity, an all inclusive society, a common name and equal citizenry for all –irrespective of who you are, where you come from, and who you voted for on September 17, 2014.

Welcome to our shores

Fiji welcomes you Mr Modi and Mr Xi – very warmly indeed with our arms wide open to embrace you, with love and affection.

Thank you for the time and effort and may you always cherish this visit to Fiji in your mind for a very long time indeed. We are a good people, open, transparent, humble and hard working and have high hopes, plan and expectations for our people and will reciprocate with the same warmth and love that you have shown so nicely by gracing our shores with this magnificent personal State visit to our humble people. God Bless Fiji, India and China always.

Feedback:  newsroom@fijisun.com.fj

 




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