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Opinion, Opinion

Let Go Of Our Prejudices And We’ll See Our Way Ahead Clearly

Let Go Of Our Prejudices And We’ll See Our Way Ahead Clearly
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama awards senior Police officers with medals at the Nasova ground on August 11, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
August 14
10:35 2017

If you have not heard it or read it, I ask you to read the full text of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s speech at last Friday’s medal presentation for Police officers.

The speech was published in the latest Fiji Sun Weekend edition.

The principles that he discussed in that speech can be applied broadly in all the facets of national life. They are equally important to civil servants, members of the military and Corrections, the entire executive arm of our democratic governance, Parliament, Ministries of Education, Health etc.

They are also important to civil societies, faith groups and communities.

It is about treating others equally with respect and dignity irrespective of their social, cultural, ethnic or economic backgrounds. It is consistent with the provisions of the Constitution on equal citizenry – that all citizens are called Fijians. That means they have equal status and identity. They are entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship and subject to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.

It is common knowledge that some among us still hold on to prejudices of old, against:

  • other ethnic groups;
  • Those who have different sexual orientation like gay groups;
  • Other religions;
  • Other socio-economic groups; and
  • Other schools, social groups and fraternities

We should let go of these prejudices.

Mr Bainimarama used the analogy of someone from a squatter settlement and a rich person going to lodge a complaint at the local Police station.

Mr Bainimarama said: “Every man, woman and child who calls Fiji home is a Fijian. And they are all entitled to every effort our Police force can make to keep them safe. “Fijians come from a wide range of backgrounds, religions, economic well-being and social status. Just because someone lives in a squatter area or is a labourer does not mean that his or her complaint is not as important as the rich person or well-connected or well-known person. It means that every single Fijian that makes a complaint or seeks your assistance must be treated with utmost professionalism, respect and compassion. Your level of professionalism should not depend on who is making a complaint. You must rid yourself of your personal prejudices and community prejudices and serve each and every Fijian equally.

“You are here to protect them, you are here to seek justice for them and you are here to give them peace of mind so they can sleep at night, live their lives without fear and which will as a result give them the confidence to fully participate in and contribute fully to our nation.

“That duty of service extends to every Fijian. It extends to every corner of our islands and to every community in Fiji. I’ve been made aware that some officers have disregarded that duty, and failed Fijians who sought their help and who sought justice for crimes committed against them. I’ve been made aware that some Fijians have been treated as less than full citizens by our police – and I am here today to tell you that will not be tolerated.”

These are profound words of wisdom expressed eloquently by the Prime Minister. They are like a lighthouse for mariners out in the sea on a stormy night.

It is morally wrong and unlawful to discriminate people on the grounds that I have discussed. Just because someone is of a different skin colour, speaks in a strange language and do things differently to you, it does not mean that you treat that person differently.

The Constitution, the supreme law of the land, should be our guide. Mr Bainimarama has espoused on some of its salient features, which constitute an important cornerstone of our democracy. And he could not have been more clearer.

In essence, what he is saying is that, let’s take off our glasses that are tinted with all kinds of prejudices. Only then can we see our way ahead clearly.

Edited by Paula Tuvuki

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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