Analysis | Politics

The Rise Of The ‘Gentle Giant’

Fisheries Minister Semi Koroilavesau has earned his appointment to be acting Prime Minister. He has worked hard among the grassroots
20 Sep 2019 15:21
The Rise Of The ‘Gentle Giant’
Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Analysis:

He is described as the “gentle giant” of Fijian politics.

Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau may be an imposing figure, but he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

His close associates say he is a man of integrity. He is humble but firm in his belief and values.

Mr Koroilavesau’s appointment as Acting Prime Minister after PM Voreqe Bainimarama flies to Japan then to New York should come as no surprise.

He deserves it. He has worked hard to earn the confidence of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. He is also popular among his peers and respected by many people.

Since the 2018 General Election, he has been working hard, visiting Fijians living in rural and maritime areas.

Mr Koroilavesau, 61, has travelled from island to island from the Yasawas in the West to the Lau Group in the East. He has traversed Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

He has spent long hours in talanoa sessions explaining not only issues relating to fisheries, but other national issues.

In the traditional setting, those sit-down face-to-face meetings are well received because of the personal touch.

In areas where his FijiFirst party received low votes, they respect him and he is hoping that they will change their perceptions. And these are areas where the Government had spent a lot of development dollars for basic infrastructure work and needs.

In Parliament, he reaches out across the political divide to Opposition MPs despite the differences. That’s his nature. It’s a personal quality that he has developed over the years through his:

  • Upbringing in Nalotu, Yawe, Kadavu,
  • Experience in the Fijian Navy and,
  • his business venture, Captain Cook Cruises

There was speculation in the run-up to 2018 that he could be returning to Captain Cook Cruises. That proved to be a false alarm.

Mr Koroilavesau, his associates say, is committed to ensuring that  FijiFirst continues its development policies that have transformed the country and the people.

He has been rewarded for his loyalty.

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