Opinion

MP Matai Akauola’s Address

It is indeed a great honour and privilege to take my place in this august house today as a Member of Parliament. First and foremost, I thank the Lord Almighty
10 Feb 2016 10:30
MP Matai Akauola’s Address
Matai Akauola.

It is indeed a great honour and privilege to take my place in this august house today as a Member of Parliament.

First and foremost, I thank the Lord Almighty for His favour and the favour of the people of this beloved nation for giving me this honour. For those who voted for me, I hope my efforts will reward your faith, for those who chose otherwise, trust that I will be working to earn your support.

In either case, I am here and ready to serve you.

I pledge to carry out my duties to the best of my abilities with diligence, integrity and accountability for all I say and do.

Being new to this august house, I am willing to learn from my leaders, my seniors, my peers and everyone that has a heart for moving this nation forward.

 

Madam Speaker,

Allow me to acknowledge those who have helped me along the way.

As briefly touched on earlier, o God Almighty I give all honour. I am eternally grateful for His guiding hands upon my life and my family.

Secondly, I would like to at this juncture convey my sincere gratitude to the honorable Prime Minister and FijiFirst Leader, Ratu Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. As a media person this last 35 years, our paths have crossed several times; however, the most vivid in my memory is when he attended my eldest son’s wedding in 2005 and patiently waited two hours of his own accord. It was then that I realised, here was a man who cares for those under his leadership.

It is no wonder that the FijiFirst Government also genuinely cares for all Fijians.

Furthermore, I acknowledge, and am deeply grateful to, the honourable Attorney General, Minister of Finance, and General Secretary of the FijiFirst Party- honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for his trust and confidence.

There are also two men who have, by way of their decisions, made this possible. These are Mr Sanjit Patel and the Acting Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces- Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto.

These noble men were in line for this position before me but have opted to serve their country in different roles instead. I am grateful to you both and I wish you every success in your endeavours.

 

Madam Speaker,

I would like to thank my family for their unwavering support before and after the elections and: especially our three sons Alipate, Tuma and Sekaia and my three grandkids and biggest fans- my namesake, Taraivini and Gabby.

I thank my close relatives- Aminiasi Niumataiwalu representing my family from Nayau, friends and my bosses at the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC), International Olympic Committee Member and ONOC President Dr Robin Mitchell and Secretary General Ricardo Blas; my Pastor Reverend Orisi Vuira and Radini for their prayers and support; and my senior Pastor and General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church in Fiji- Reverand Pita Cili for his words of encouragement before and after the elections.

I wish to thank the electorates who had confidence in me and gave me their approval. I wish to thank my immediate and extended families for their moral and spiritual support.

Lastly, and of particular importance, I wish to thank and honour my wife Mei, who without a doubt, has been a pillar of strength and is a true and shining example of the vows we took 33 years ago.

 

Madam Speaker,

My decision to apply to become a member of FijiFirst stems from the fact the party possesses a strong sense of patriotism, desiring the best for all Fijians. The FijiFirst Government has proven that it is a deeply and sincerely caring Government.

I was in Tonga last week and a media colleague of mine quipped Fiji is really progressing; ‘just look at what the Government is doing for the people. Infrastructure and wealth getting right down to even those in remote villagers and islands’. Yes, this Government is indeed putting Fiji, First and I am eagerly anticipating becoming a more active part of its journey.

 

 

Madam Speaker,

Let me now turn to what I bring to the FijiFirst Government, and our people. I have been a journalist for over 30 years; having worked in the Fiji Sun, FM96, Fiji Broadcasting, Fiji Television, Fiji Times and managed the Pacific Islands News Association for several years.

In the recent past, I was fortunate to be involved in a Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum, which brought together 70 participants from 18 countries.

Discussions and deliberations centered around regional leadership, democracy, climate change, health issues, gender equality, media and the importance of parliaments to communities, business development and job creation were among the key issues debated.

I am amazed by the fact that the FijiFirst Government is already putting to action these goals. It assures me that I am in the right place!

I can honestly attest to the fact that this Government, under the able leadership of the honourable Prime Minister, is walking the talk.

Madam Speaker, allow me to now zero in on the three areas I am most passionate about, namely: media, sports and building of strong familes.

In 2012, the Solomon Islands Deputy Speaker of Parliament, honourable Job Dudley Tausinga said this and I quote:

“The importance of the media to the Parliament in achieving its objective as the legislature of the land is very much perpetual and is a prerequisite if the people of the land are to support its very role.”

Similar sentiments have been echoed around the Pacific region by members of parliament at one time or another.

Yes, the media plays a very important role in societies today, covering a wide range of topics and creating powerful personalities who are relied upon for sources of information and commentary.

Writing about the fourth estate in 1841, Thomas Carlyle argued that the press was an important part of a democratic society, saying that writing gives people “a tongue which others will listen to.”

Because of the importance of journalism in society, most members of the media abide by certain professional and personal ethics. Many journalists attempt to cultivate an air of neutrality, focusing on reporting of the issues as they are, so that people can judge the facts for themselves, while others focus on offering commentary and analysis from the perspective of a particular position.

This is the sort of environment that I started my career in; democracy in Fiji was still very young. People judged you by your work.

Currently, there is a bit of a  changing of the guards” situation in the newsrooms. We have an influx of young journalists as the experienced ones have either gone to greener pastures or opted out of the profession. In this context, there is definitely scope for further media training.

In October of 2008, I was part of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and UNDP team that conducted a workshop for parliamentarians and the media in Tonga, two years before ‘Tonga’s first democratically elected parliament’. My focus was on helping to build a relationship between the media and parliamentarians and I hope to bring what experience I have gained, back home for the benefit of our people.

 

Madam Speaker,

My other passion is sports, having entered the local media back in April 1981 as a sports journalist and being forever affected by that experience.

Sports is a uniting factor and an excellent tool for nation building. For someone who grew up in Raiwaqa, Toorak in Suva and Topline, Lautoka, I’ve seen firsthand how sports can transform communities.

Remittances coming through sports will continue to grow as our sportsmen and women venture into new areas and make their mark in the world of sport.

 

Madam Speaker,

I applaud the Bainimarama Government for its allocation towards sports in the 2016 Budget.

We are all in great anticipation of the Rio Olympic Games in August this year. Our men and women’s teams and the Under-23 soccer sides have qualified to compete. Our best bet for medals lie with our men’s 7s rugby team. This is the best chance our nation has ever had to make our mark on the world sports scene, of course, apart from golfer Vijay Singh and Para-Olympian gold medalist and Assistant Sports Minister- Honourable Iliesa Delana.

I also take this opportunity to thank Ben Ryan and his gallant warriors for the New Zealand and Australian legs of the World Rugby 7s Series.

Although we all wanted to win, it’s a blessing in disguise and like the coach said- ‘we are on the right track’.

We must fully support the Ben Ryan coached 7s team and the women’s 7s team. I have been to a couple of Olympic Games and have personally seen that one of our biggest down falls in the past have been funding allocations for our teams.

Athletes and players have had to sacrifice from their own pockets to place this beloved country on the world map. I hereby plead to the heart of all Fijians, that Ben Ryan needs the extra funds now to prepare well and have the right top choice players for Rio.

The spinoff and benefits and publicity from the Rio Olympics will far exceed what we put into this team.

Before the Rio Olympics, the country is hosting the Oceania Weightlifting Championships in May and the Oceania Swimming Championships in June; these are significant events, as they’ll also be used as pre-Olympic qualifying events.

In line with my work as communications manager for the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC), I have been travelling around the region setting up Sports Journalists Associations. Last week I was in Tonga to help set up the third such association after Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

I was the only local media person at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, but this time around I am proud to announce that in Rio, we expect to have five media representatives: Fiji Sun, Fiji Times, Fiji TV, FBC TV and Teivovo.

Yes, our country has come a long way and I am optimistic about our prospects for the future.

 

Madam Speaker,

The third and final area I would like to talk on is building strong families.

My wife and I have been national directors for Marriage Ministries International for over 20 years.

It is a training ministry for married couples and has been in the country since 1994.

The organisation has in the two decades trained little over 2000 couples; this is a drop in the ocean when you consider that in 2007 there approximately 170 thousand married couples or 41 percent of the population.

We have made several presentations to the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation hoping to partner with and assist the ministry in finding long- term solutions to social problems that families can tend to encounter.

We believe in better equipping the next generation and have therefore submitted a proposal for National Development 2015 on a mentoring programme for young married couples.

Everything begins from home.

In our view, there exists a link between current, poor standards in the family front and the absence of mentoring programmes within key institutions. There also appears to be no institutional mechanisms to promote the essential habits and standards of the craft of marriage within Fijian homes.

 

Madam Speaker,

When the foundational principles of marriage and the value of the family is restored, generations that follow will be blessed, the nation will be strengthened and we will continue on the path of making Fiji, once again, ‘the Way the World should be’. Again, I thank you all for the opportunity to serve my country in this role and may the rest of our term continue to move our country forward, towards prosperity and harmony.

May the Lord God and His Holy Spirit bless our beloved nation- Fiji.

 

Feedbackjyotip@fijisun.com.fj



Five Square diwali dhamaka 2021


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