Sunvoice

Parliamentary Forum Reinforces Fijian Standing in Global Community

Twenty countries are represented in the 25th Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa at Natadola. They are Russia, Cambodia, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Thailand,
17 Jan 2017 12:01
Parliamentary Forum Reinforces Fijian Standing in Global Community
Editorial

Twenty countries are represented in the 25th Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa at Natadola. They are Russia, Cambodia, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Colombia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Indonesia, Chile, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Korea, Laos, Peru, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The decision by the organisers to hold this powerful gathering in Fiji is a testament of their faith in the remarkable changes and progress we have made since the establishment of  true parliamentary democracy based on universal values.

The significance of this Forum was recognised by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama when he opened it yesterday.

He said that “we are very proud of the recognition you have afforded Fiji by honouring us as the hosts of this year’s forum. The APPF is an esteemed and highly regarded international body – and its strength is rooted in our shared commitment to democracy. Each of us is beholden only to the people who have placed us here, to those we were elected to serve. And that underlying principle makes Fiji very proud of our membership and of what we have been able to achieve alongside our APPF partners.”

Domestic politics aside, our Constitution stands as a fine example of the universal value of common and equal citizenry and an electoral system that guarantees that every vote has equal value.

One of the great strengths of this Forum is its diversity. The member countries bring to the Forum their own unique perceptions of issues that affect them and influence their people’s lifestyles.

But unity and co-operation in finding the common grounds make this Forum a powerful group.

Fiji has led the way in the Pacific region in encouraging women to join the decision-making process at the national level.

The election of Dr Jiko Luveni as the first female Speaker of the Fijian Parliament was major step in raising the status of women. She has served with distinction.

National security has also been highlighted by Mr Bainimarama as an important issue. He says our economic security and national security are intrinsically linked.

“We cannot be prosperous if we are besieged by crime, corruption and internal or external threats, either by state actors or criminal and terror organisations.”

He says many existing laws, regulations and tactics are woefully out of date and irrelevant to the evolving threats we face.

He adds these issues demand regional action – because any weak link in the Asia-Pacific leaves us all exposed.

But one issue that we cannot escape is climate change. All the threats put together cannot compare with climate change. Many low-lying nations throughout the Pacific are in danger of rising sea levels because of global warming.

Fiji has been at the forefront of climate change awareness campaign. It’s highlighted by its election to preside over the UN climate change negotiations at COP 23 in November. It will also co-host the UN Oceans Conference with Sweden in June.

The presence of delegates from Russia and China, two countries noted for carbon emissions, gives Fiji the opportunity to lobby for support.

From Fiji’s perspective, this Natadola gathering reinforces its standing in the region and the rest of the global community.

NEMANI DELAIBATIKI

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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