Letters To The Editor, 24th November 2017

Response to Naca Nabutu’s letter  titled ‘Selfish Agenda’ Nilesh Lal, Dialogue Fiji Executive Director I refer to the letter by one Naca Nabutu from Naulu titled “Selfish agenda” published (Fiji Sun
24 Nov 2017 10:24
Letters To The Editor, 24th November 2017
Nilesh Lal, Dialogue Fiji Executive Director

Response to Naca Nabutu’s letter  titled ‘Selfish Agenda’

Nilesh Lal, Dialogue Fiji Executive Director

I refer to the letter by one Naca Nabutu from Naulu titled “Selfish agenda” published (Fiji Sun 15/11/17). In that letter, Mr Nabutu makes a series of false claims which unfortunately the Fiji Sun has deemed fit to publish without verification.

One such preposterous claim is that the Non Government Organisations (NGO) which organised a Dialogue on Ethnic Relations that included a panel discussion on the common national identity is a “front for a political party”.

I fail to understand how Mr Nabutu got the impression that Dialogue Fiji (DF)is aligned to any political party.

We have always guarded our reputation as a credible, independent and non-partisan NGO zealously.

Needless to say that this is critical for NGOs like ours which seek to create engagement between actors across social, political and ethnic divides.

Mr Nabutu, who was not even present at the dialogue, makes further claims which are also bereft of facts.

He claims that some “hand-picked speakers questioned that fact that we are all Fijians”.

He insinuates that Dialogue Fiji picked a number of anti-Government speakers to present on the panel discussion on the national identity and these speakers spoke against the policy of everyone being called Fijians.

On the contrary, all speakers including the chairperson acknowledged the common national identity as a very positive policy and one critical for building a sense of nationhood in a fragmented society like ours.

It is preposterous for Mr Nabutu to make such blatantly false claims without an adequate knowledge and understanding of what transpired.

The speakers “hand-picked” by Dialogue Fiji for this particular panel also included the Attorney-General and the SG, both of whom were not available to attend, due to duty travel.

To suggest that we hand-picked speakers to speak against the common identity policy, is, therefore mischievous.

NGOs such as Dialogue Fiji and the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum have always advocated for a common national identity. NGOs have the role to bring about social change that would create the right conditions for a peaceful and stable society.

Peacebuilding analyses done by Dialogue Fiji reveal that many factors responsible for the ethnically motivated political and social crises of the past continue to exist.

As independent actors, NGOs are in a pivotal position to develop trust and understanding across divides, something which the adversarial and competitive nature of politics impedes.

Consensus building across political and ethnic divides is critical for a united, cohesive and stable Fijian society.

We are encouraged that the Prime Minister emphasised the need for dialogue or talanoa at COP23 and that is precisely what Dialogue Fiji has been working on since its inception- building a culture of dialogue for sustainable peace in Fiji.

The common national identity, amongst other issues, continues to be a contentious one in Fiji.

Removing it from the public discourse or “wishing it away” will not address the misconceptions (such as difference between nationality and ethnicity) that revolve around the issue.

Dialogue Fiji, while recognising the sensitivities around the topic, took the bold step of putting this on the public agenda for deliberations.

There were some very positive outcomes from the deliberations which will be communicated to the government and other stakeholders in due course.

There were other issues which impact ethnic relations in Fiji such as indigenous rights, political representation, etc which were also discussed.

The second half of the three-day dialogue was dedicated to deliberations on how to build social cohesion given our dynamics and there were some significant commitments made by the actors present.

For a number of reasons, the Dialogue on ethnic relations was a resounding success and touted by participants and observers as one of the most significant interventions by NGOs in recent years on a politically and socially sensitive issue.


Suresh Chand, Nadi

There is no doubt in my mind that footpaths play a huge role promoting pedestrian safety and easing their movement at the same time to a large extent.

People have and continue to die because there are no walkways along many local roads.

Human foot traffic is huge out there but are we doing enough in terms of their movement and safety.

The answer lies in the statistics.

I don’t think it is too late to start work to improve the safety standard on our roads in terms of pedestrian movement.

Without footpaths, people are forced to share the road with speeding traffic which is never safe.

So let’s make/create footpaths and save lives as far as possible.

At this juncture, I note the footpath upgrading currently underway in Nadi Town.

It is good polishing the town what about other areas in the boundary?

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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