Feature

50 Years ‘Let’s Progress And Be Better’

It was five decades ago on October 10, 1970 that Fiji became an independent and sovereign state.
10 Oct 2020 12:42
50 Years ‘Let’s Progress And Be Better’

This year Fiji celebrates 50 years of nationhood.

It was five decades ago on October 10, 1970 that Fiji became an independent and sovereign state.

In receiving the Constitution from His Royal Highness Prince Charles on the day, Fiji’s first Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara said: “The voices which prevail now are the voices of the people of Fiji. Exciting and challenging times lie ahead. We are ready and eager to meet these challenges. We have no illusions that Independence will automatical­ly will bring us all things which our people need to raise their standard of life. But I do believe that Independence will provide a framework, within which we shall have the opportunity to work with vigour, enterprise and determination towards the realization of our own aspira­tions.”

The first decade provided challenges; more than Ratu Mara had envisaged in 1970.

The international, political and economic scene was vastly different from the one that provided background to Fiji’s Independence.

From Independence until 1987, Fiji was governed by the Ratu Mara led-Alliance Party, which was pledged towards policies of multiracialism.

The only challenge to its rule occurred in 1977, when Fijian voters were attracted by Fijian nationalist candidates.

This led to the Alliance Party losing ground in the April General Election, and the Indian-dominated National Federation Party (NFP) ob­taining 26 of the 52 seats in Parliament, with 24 seats for the Alliance Party.

However, owing to a leader­ship dispute the NFP split into factions, Governor-General Ratu Sir George Cakobau in a surprise move, asked, Ratu Mara, to form a minority ad­ministration.

These events caused consid­erable political debate, and increased factionalism in NFP. Another General Election was held in September of the same year, and the Alliance Party was restored to power with a substantial majority.

50 years after Independence, Fiji has had 12 general elec­tions, four constitutions, four coups, changed voting system, resolved strikes, rehabilitated and recovered from devastating tropical cyclones.

As a nation regardless its share of sufferings has always come together to celebrate every achievement it accom­plishes like the 2016 Olympic gold medal win.

Fiji has hosted the British royals, noblemen, a Pope, dignitaries and leaders who return to their homeland with special memories of the nation summed up the late Ratu Mara as ‘the way the world should be.’

After a tumultuous first five decades as an independent state rife with ethnic conflict and po­litical instability, Fiji is emerg­ing as one of the countries at the forefront of the climate crisis.

The actions and leadership of Fiji and its Pacific neighbours will come to define and pre empt the rest of the world’s re­sponse to the climate crisis.

Fijian dedication to surviving the climate crisis has been dem­onstrated by both its interna­tional diplomacy efforts and its internal policies. On the world stage, Fiji has become a global leader in climate policy, despite its small population and lack of resources.

At home, the Fijian Government is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and adopting a multifaceted climate change plan with concrete policy rec­ommendations while support­ing its displaced communities.

Fiji has talked the talk and will continue to walk the walk. It is now up to the rest of the world to listen and to follow behind.

Our unity, resilience and soli­darity have assisted us during this pandemic, COVID-19.

This special 50 years Independence liftout we bring to you the journey from 1970 to today.

Come the next decade we con­tinue to develop and progress to be better than what we are now.

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