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Opinion

National Security Will Be A Top Issue For 2018 Election

National Security Will Be A Top Issue For 2018 Election
Fiji's military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama (L) prepares to cast his election vote at the Vatuwaqa Public School in the capital Suva on September 17, 2014. Polling booths opened on September 17 in Fiji's first election since a 2006 military coup, with police reporting no early problems and a festive atmosphere prevailing in the South Pacific nation's capital. AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS
July 03
20:54 2017

Nemani Delaibatiki is a Fiji Sun managing editor. He is one of Fiji’s most experienced and respected journalists.

 

 

Security will bounce back as one of the top 2018 general election issues.

 

The need to feel safe

People want to feel safe when they walk the streets at night or remain in the comforts of their homes. They want their businesses protected from would-be burglars. They want security. They want to sleep with a peace of mind at night.

In the 2014 general election security became a top issue and voters overwhelmingly chose FijiFirst as the party they could trust to protect them.

After four years the voters would have to decide whether the FijiFirst Government had delivered what they expected or they choose an alternative government.

So far it would be difficult to go past the FijiFirst Government. For peace and stability in this country we need a total commitment from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the Police to support the democratically elected government of the day.

 

Steering the nation forward

Both have worked well with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in steering the country towards a path to the future of economic progress, peace and stability.

The RFMF’s loyalty to Mr Bainimarama is based on his initiative to improve the troops’ pay and work conditions. Mr Bainimarama has achieved more than what his military predecessors did in terms of the pay, work and living conditions of RFMF members.

They support his vision for a united Fiji founded on democratic principles of equality where there is no discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, culture, religion and sexual orientation.

These are universal principles that foster peace, tolerance and unity. The older officers in the military know that these are qualities that will ensure that we have lasting peace in this country based on their previous experience.

The coups of 1987 and 2000 and the ensuing political turmoil have taught us that we cannot afford to go back to the politics of old.

Many people were hurt, including members of the military.

Some lost their lives. Some of the pain from that era is still being felt today.

However, the platform has been set to leave that past behind and rebuild a new Fiji.

 

RFMF now in charge of security

As part of this rebuild the RFMF is now in charge of security in the country.

Previously the Police were in charge. Police still assume their responsibility of maintaining law and order. In cases where they do not have the capacity to handle a situation, they will call on the military for help.

A good case in point was when the Police launched Operation Cavuraki in the Navosa highlands to hunt for marijuana farms and their cultivators.

They were accompanied by an armed unit from the military to protect the Police.

The working relationship between the military led by Commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto and the Police is much better now with Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, a former RFMF Land Force Commander, heading the Police Force.

 

Lifting morale, showing leadership

The leadership synergy facilitates better security co-ordination between the two forces.

The parliamentary approval that extends the Ex-Servicemen/Servicewomen After Care Fund to include Police officers and their families has lifted morale in the Police. It shows the Government equally values the importance of the two forces.

Security will be lumped together with jobs and food prices among the top election issues.

 

Economic growth

The climate of peace and political stability that the country enjoys has contributed to seven consecutive years of economic growth, seen only once before in the post-independence era in the 1970s.

It was forecasted last year that the economy for this year would accelerate to 3.6 per cent growth.

It was also predicted that 2018 and 2019 also looked promising. If this growth continues, this will become the longest period of sustained economic growth the country has had.

Business and investor confidence has contributed to this outcome.

The confidence is derived from the peace and stability, the knowledge that it is perfectly safe to invest here.

Security, therefore, is vital if we are to maintain our development momentum.

Political parties that undermine the role of the security forces do so at their own peril.

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