EDITORIAL: The Highs And Lows Of 2014

Tonight we say goodbye to 2014 and greet 2015 with a renewed sense of hope for the future. To be able to do justice to this annual celebratory ritual, we
31 Dec 2014 07:59

Tonight we say goodbye to 2014 and greet 2015 with a renewed sense of hope for the future.

To be able to do justice to this annual celebratory ritual, we need to review the highlights and the disappointments of this year             that we may learn from those experiences and help us in our New Year resolutions.

This has been a momentous year in many respects. The September general election would have to rank as the most significant event of the year. It returned the country to democratic government and laid the foundation to a bright future. The election, of course, was conducted under the provisions of an excellent 2013 Constitution, which guarantees freedom and equality of all races. The common name as our national identity anchors our hopes for unity and fosters patriotism. The return of Parliament to where it all began was not only symbolic but significant. It was the merger of the old and the new and offered a poignant reminder of the dark days of the past and the dawn of a new day in the new Fiji. It marked the end of the politics of race in an election and encouraged inclusivity in all spheres of national life. There are those who pour scorn on this ideology and opt to live in the past because it suits their political agenda.

The majority of citizens of this country want to bury the demons of the past which have divided us and cause acrimonious conflicts. They showed it by voting for Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s FijiFirst Party overwhelmingly.

Two other events that rank alongside the return to democracy were the visits by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr Xi was hot on the heels of Mr Modi who was the first to visit. The fact that they decided to travel to Fiji after the G20 summit in Australia indicated Fiji’s strategic importance in their foreign policies. They also underscored their recognition of the prominent role that Fiji plays in the region. The signing of memorandums between Fiji and the two countries has opened up training and development opportunities for Fiji. Currently Fijians are getting trained in China and India in various fields. Overall, the visits have lifted Fiji’s profile in the international community.

Perhaps, the biggest disappointment was the lack of participation by the parliamentary Opposition. The Opposition boycott of Mr Modi in particular in a special Parliament sitting showed that cheap political considerations took precedence over national interest. Modi’s visit was a matter of national interest. The other major disappointment was the Opposition walkout of Parliament during the Budget debate. Again, the debate was a matter of national interest. It gave the Opposition the opportunity to thoroughly scrutinise the Appropriation Bill before it passed. But the Opposition allowed emotions to rule its decision to walk out when a better option would be to remain in the House and challenge the bill every step of the way.

The dengue outbreak which killed 13 people was a national crisis and prompted the Government and the public to launch campaigns to destroy mosquito breeding places. It taught us that if we keep our environment clean it would lessen the risks of dengue and other diseases invading our homes and workplaces.

The capture and release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers in the Golan Heights by a Syrian rebel group brought the nation together in prayers during their captivity and jubilation and celebrations after their release. The incident highlighted the danger that our peacekeepers face in the frontline.

Last but not least the 2015 Budget, dubbed the People’s Budget, clears the way for more money to go into personal pockets through Government subsidies.

By all indications, next year will be a ripper. We wish all our readers a happy and prosperous New Year.




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