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‘MPs To Think Beyond Ethnicity’

‘MPs To Think Beyond Ethnicity’
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa at Parliament on September 14. 2017. Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.
September 15
12:26 2017

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa says it is important that MPs think beyond ethnicity, religion and socio-economic status.

Mrs Vuniwaqa told Parliament yesterday that in the past few days all they heard was the usual tirade of ethnically divisive slurs from the Opposition.

“On Wednesday, we the indigenous members on this side of the House even got told that we are not indigenous or that we did not care about the welfare of indigenous people in Fiji.

“Do I lose my identity as an indigenous person because I believe in a common citizenry?   Do I lose my identity as an indigenous person because I believe that the governance of my country must be by people who have been voted in by Fijians exercising their right to choose their leaders in an electoral system that did not give me preferential treatment just because of my ethnicity?  Or a governance system that gave me preferential treatment because of my social status?”

Mrs Vuniwaqa questioned if she had forsaken her right to be called an indigenous person or an iTaukei because she wanted her children to grow in a Fiji that didn’t discriminate against them or their friends just because they came from different ethnic backgrounds?

“The answer is an emphatic No! No! No! and NO!!”

Mrs Vuniwaqa said she wanted her children to grow up as self-reliant human beings who knew that the product of hard work was not determined by their ethnic background but by the effort they put into their work.

“I want them to be eligible for a scholarship not because of their ethnicity but because they have applied themselves academically to a set standard”.

Pledge to People

Mrs Vuniwaqa said MPs must not lose sight of their pledge to the Fijian people and place upfront the heartbeat of the Fijian Government.

She said critics of the supreme law of the land such as the Opposition MPs have made the government side of the House question the integrity of those members.

“Because those same members are here on the strength of the validity and the legality of that same Constitution. They, like us have taken an oath as members of this House that they will obey, observe, uphold and maintain the same Constitution which they now so strongly question the validity of,” she said.

Mrs Vuniwaqa said that this had become a pattern of the Opposition members of whom when they talked about the Constitution they preferred to live in the past and advocate for the 1997 Constitution.

She said that the allocation of $113.4 million to her ministry was a clear signal to deserving Fijians on the social protection programmes that their livelihoods do matter.

“The increase of $46.9 million from the 2016-2017 budget brought smiles of relief to these Fijian households as they have received an increase in the welfare payments.

“Contributing to this is the positive economic growth of Fiji, and the visionary leadership of our Hon Prime Minister.”

Edited by Mohammed Ali

Feedback:  losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj

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