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#Vote2018, Opinion, Opinion

Vote2018: Profile – Who is Aseri Radrodro?

Vote2018: Profile – Who is Aseri Radrodro?
MP Aseri Radrodro in Parliament. Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.
May 18
15:03 2018

Aseri Radrodro is a SODELPA parliamentarian and Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and Finance. The views and opinions in the article are those of Aseri Radrodro and not of the Fiji Sun.

 

Bula vinaka. My name is Aseri M Radrodro and as a current sitting Member of Parliament, I feel it is important that you know a bit more about who I am and what I stand for!
I was born and raised in Serea Village in Naitasiri by my maternal family where I was humbled with the experiences of my childhood, and where I ran barefoot for many years among friends. I am currently 45 years old, vibrant and healthy to serve the people of Fiji!
I am a fairly new politician, this being my first term of Parliament, but I have a clear history of having served the people in the public and private sector. I have always believed that learning is a lifetime process. It helps us become better-informed and better versions of ourselves.

 

Education
I was educated at Soloira District School in Naitasiri where I passed and was selected to attend Queen Victoria School (QVS) when I was 11, attending as a Form One student in 1984. I left after completing Form Six in 1989 because there was no Form Seven at the time.
Some of my best memories of QVS was when I represented the school with a few fellow Victorians under the Tailevu North Scouts Group for the Scouts Jamboree held in Natabua, Lautoka, in 1984.

Studying at QVS was such a great, humbling and motivating experience. QVS equipped me with the life skills that has helped me survive and navigate life as a young man and adult. QVS instilled in us the value of sharing, family and working hard. It was at QVS that I first took up my love and passion for public speaking having taken part in various high school productions such as Julius Caesar.
Outside of the classroom, I had a natural love for athletics and rugby and participated in both. Some of the highlights of my high school experience was when I captained the QVS A Team in 1985 for the Tailevu North Junior Rugby Competition, and when I won first place in the Coke Games Final at the National Stadium in 1989 in the intermediate discus event. I was also part of the QVS Rugby Dream Team that reigned from 1987 to 1989.
Although I had a passion for rugby, my family encouraged me to realign my goals and so I went to the University of the South Pacific to get a degree first and stamp my mark in the field of finance. This was a rare qualification at the time for indigenous Fijians and so I was inspired to traverse a path that has changed my life since.
My thirst to become the best I can be, saw me continuing my education a few years later, where I graduated with my Masters in Business Administration in 2006. Furthermore, having entered Parliament in 2014, I felt the need to be better familiar with my new role as a member of the legislature. Thus, I enrolled into the Bachelor of Laws Programme at the University of the South Pacific and hope to complete my studies in 2019.

 

My professional experiences

While still at USP in 2004, I became an intern with KPMG, which was a great honour, given their esteemed reputation as a leading accounting firm in Fiji.
Once I entered the workforce, I was blessed to have great mentors who helped me along the way. As such, I started my career in the civil service at the Auditor-General’s office, where I left as a Principal Auditor of Government. I was then in my late 20s.
I have always had a hunger for self-exploration and so I decided to have a hand at working for the private sector. I thus joined Fiji Ships and Heavy Industries, where I soon rose to become Manager Finance and Board Secretary.
Later in my early thirties, I was to become General Manager Finance at the Fiji Sports Council and acted as its chief executive officer (CEO) briefly.
I moved to take up the position as Commercial Manager for Western Union around 2007.
In 2009, I became the general manager finance and administration in Land Transport Authority (LTA) and also acted as its CEO.
In 2011, I served as the acting CEO for the National Fire Authority (NFA).
My years of service have included serving on various Boards, including that of the then Fiji Electricity Authority, Fiji Television Limited and Fijian Holdings Limited where I contributed extensively to the inclusion and implementation of policies that benefited the communities we served.

 

Significant event in life
One of the most significant moments of my life was when I decided to contest the 2014 General Election.
The environment prior to the 2014 election were restrictive and there was no democratically-elected government. Times were very hard then, and a few chose to step forward to contest the election and take up the mantle of leading Fiji back into a true democratic nation.
I was therefore extremely blessed to have my dream realised to serve in Fiji’s Parliament, when I was sworn in as a Member of Parliament on October 6, 2014. I was then 42 years old.
There is still much work to be done and I aspire to continue the fight for equal justice to all.

 

Being a SODELPA member
My aspirations for being a member of the SODELPA Party remain the same. The party stands for many things but what attracted me to SODELPA was its vision to bring about peace, genuine democracy and equality for all.

 

Personal aspirations
I aspire to be an advocate and be the voice for the underprivileged and the forgotten. Likewise, I am motivated to continue to fight for all coup victims who still face victimisation.
I am also passionate about listening to and addressing the needs and fears of the minority communities. This includes their security and inclusion in Fiji.
I would also like to see the elevating of participation by indigenous Fijians in the area of commercial entrepreneurship, where resource owners can fully realise the benefits of their natural resources.

 

What I’ve done as a parliamentarian
Since being appointed in 2014 as an MP, I have consistently returned to voters and served them actively throughout the country. As an MP, I hold the position of Shadow Minister for Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.
I was appointed shadow Minister for Economy in 2017 and delivered the Opposition response to the 2017-2018 budget for SODELPA. As an advocate, some of the policies I have advocated for consistently include;

  • Better improved social welfare assistance for single parents, grandparents, and needy recipients;
    • A fair employment sector for school leavers;
    • Better and safer rental accommodation for tertiary students;
    • Respect for the rule of law;
    • An independent judiciary;
    • Better scholarship opportunities for tertiary students;
    • A compulsory policy by government for paid internship for final year students in University for our people;
    • Government as a fair and equal opportunity employer;
    • Opportunities for our unemployed to be identified; Investment opportunities to be provided for indigenous people and other minority groups to also actively participate in business entrepreneurship with provided start-up capital and the extension of infrastructure services for all areas currently without electricity, roads and piped water.
    • The implementing of a threshold for the government policy to provide subsidised electricity and water by Government to families was achieved following my recommendation in Parliament as there was no threshold when this policy was first announced. Government then tagged it at $30,000 collective income per family. This ensured that it benefitted those who genuinely needed the assistance. I currently serve on the Public Accounts Committee and have been since 2014.

 

My community work

I am a qualified Chartered Accountant and an Auditor by profession, and I believe firmly in using my knowledge and experiences to build others in the community. As such, I have volunteered by assisting many schools and communities with auditing and accounting services, something I have done well before entering Parliament, and which I continue to engage in today.

 

Why am I different?

I like to be firm about the difference with me and other politicians. I tell people who ask me this question that my defining exceptions is that I am young, vibrant and have the drive to deliver and serve people irrespective of race, creed or gender. I am also open to challenges. My life’s experiences have taught me to value honesty and hard work. However, there are also things that I dislike and some of these include; nepotism, cronyism, elitism, and any other forms of discrimination including racism and religious intolerance.

My position on many of these issues are on record outside of parliament and in it. I believe I have proven my extensive leadership field in Fiji in the various institutions I have worked and lead.
I like to use my childhood and background as a motivating factor and I love to assist others who may be experiencing the life I lived whilst growing up, to be firm in themselves and understand that poverty does not have to define you. You can choose to find success and that requires hard work and perseverance.

 

My mentors

I credit all that I am to the great influence of my late mother who was a very humble and private lady, and to my grandparents who raised me and moulded me. I also credit my extended family who assisted greatly in my upbringing and my journey as a young man.
For my political accomplishments, I credit my personal friends, my fellow QVS old scholars who have been role models, my village elders and close relatives, my wife and our children, and some great professional friends. Without these significant people, I would be less of the man I am.
I also look to life itself and all its lessons and experiences as a mentor in itself that I continue to draw inspiration from.

 

My involvement in sports

I am however, not all hard work and no play! My love for sports is evident in my long association with the game of rugby.
Having been a rugby player during my younger days, my love for the game compelled me to continue supporting my Province of Naitasiri as a champion province, in this field of sports. My motivation has always been to see youths from Naitasiri being given an opportunity to showcase their talents and earn themselves a better life with employment opportunities and possible professional rugby careers.
As such, I have been a member of the Naitasiri Rugby Union Companies Directors since inception, and served briefly from December 2017 to April 2018 as the chairman for the Naitasiri Rugby Union (NRU) where I had been elected during its annual general meeting (AGM).
When I was GM Finance at the Fiji Sports Council, we held the biggest Naitasiri Rugby Awards night where players were acknowledged for their commitment to the province through the game of rugby. During this period, I also oversaw the biggest Farebrother Challenge to be held in Fiji’s history between Naitasiri and Nadroga in 2006.
This was a testimony to brilliant networking and marketing done by the team at the council and NRU at the time.

Other personal details
In my personal time, I love reading and meeting new people. My favourite author is Rick Bragg. He is an author I love because we have similar challenging upbringings, but ultimately overcame these challenges. My favorite book to read, therefore, is his book titled ‘All over but the Shoutin’. I also enjoy socialising and meeting the people that I serve and work so hard to represent.

 

My faith
I also like to attend church. I am a Christian, and while I don’t like to display my faith publicly, I will share that my daily moments with God is a must. I do not dare start or end a day without Him. He is the pillar of my existence and it is by His grace that I have lived and accomplished all that I have in this life!

 

My dreams
In my twilight years, God willing, I will want to travel the world with my wife Sai and contribute to worthy causes. I will also want to visit all our children and grandchildren wherever they are.
Then, I will choose to retire gracefully somewhere in the hills of my homeland in Serea, where I can always revisit all my childhood haunting grounds, and refollow my footprints in its mud and streams.
Thank you for taking the time to know and understand me a little bit better. I hope this puts a story behind the face that you often see on your television, that you hear on the radio and that you read about in the newspapers.
I will now end with a quote from a parliamentary address that I once made and that still resonates with me to this day: “You can dream any dream. Aspire to be anything you wish, and actually achieve it. All you need is the willingness to work hard for it and to entrust your life and plans in God. With God all things are possible!” – Aseri Radrodro

 

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