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EDITORIAL : Setting The Right Focus On A New Parliamentary Year

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday set the tone and the pace for quality debate. This over the address by President, Major General
27 Sep 2016 08:37
EDITORIAL : Setting The Right  Focus On A New Parliamentary Year

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday set the tone and the pace for quality debate. This over the address by President, Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konousi Konrote, during his ceremonial opening of Parliament.

Mr Bainimarama eloquently laid out Government’s vision for a better Fiji. He denounced attempts by Opposition politicians to cause ethnic and religious division for cheap political gains. The days of those kinds of politics are over according to him.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum appealed for good sense and wisdom in the discussion on the economy. He talked about the need to be apolitical so that both sides of the House can work together and strengthen the foundation of the economy.

Because of global warming and climate change, Fiji is vulnerable to more cyclones like Tropical Cyclone Winston.

We were fortunate that Cyclone Winston spared the Suva and Nausori corridor and our tourism industry from the Coral Coast in Sigatoka to Nadi and the Yasawa.

We cannot rule out a direct hit in the future according to scientific predictions.

We need to prepare for any eventuality. The question now is: When it will hit?

Building our economy to be able to deal with a possible catastrophe  should be treated as a top priority. Because in an emergency, a natural disaster, does not pick its victims, whether they are supporters of the FijiFirst Government, SODELPA, National Federation Party or any other party.

So we cannot trivialise this issue and use it as a political football. Both sides of the House should be working towards setting up a resilient economy that can cushion the impact of a devastating natural disaster.

We have not had an ideal start to our Parliamentary year. The NFP boycotted Constitution Day and the ceremonial opening of Parliament to try to salvage its sagging ratings in the political opinion polls.

It tried to dramatise and gain maximum political mileage by speaking to overseas media who thrive on conflicts based on half truths and political grandstanding.

The very Constitution its leaders now oppose is the same document they used to contest the 2014 General Election which saw three of its members enter Parliament.

Secondly, this is the Constitution, especially its provisions of equal citizenry, that NFP pioneers could only dream about in the 1960’s. They were the first advocates of one-person one-vote.

The ceremonial opening of Parliament is a state occasion and requires the attendance of all MPs. The NFP should have learned from its Opposition partner, SODELPA and did the right thing.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka attended Constitution Day and encouraged his MPs not to boycott the ceremonial opening. Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa supported Mr Rabuka and while there was a split in their Parliamentary caucus, good sense prevailed and the majority voted for no boycott.

Ordinary people are sick and tired of boycotts and political sideshows for cheap political points scoring.

They know that such behaviour fails to produce positive outcomes for them. After what they have been through since 1987 and 2000, they are expecting a better performance from their elected representatives. They want to see more meaningful contributions from their MPs, contributions that will help open up new opportunities and help them improve their standards of living.

In the past they were used as pawns in a political game to satisfy the selfish and narrow sectional interests of certain politicians, at the expense of the national interests.

There has been a major shift away from that kind of politics because it is a waste of time and resources, and it has become irrelevant to the modern issues we grapple with today.

People now are more interested in the bread and butter stuff, stable jobs, education, health, business opportunities, issues that cut through political, ethnic, cultural and religious differences and socio-economic status.

That should be the focus of this new Parliamentary year.

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