Opinion

PM: Fijians Should Reject Politics of Division

The following is a statement from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. This week, Fiji moved to forever cement the future of our democracy as we celebrated the historic achievement of the
03 Oct 2018 11:27
  • The following is a statement from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

This week, Fiji moved to forever cement the future of our democracy as we celebrated the historic achievement of the 2013 Fijian Constitution in action.

This week, we began preparations to hold our second General Election under an equal and inclusive voting system, as Fiji proudly stands as a nation whose electoral process is driven by a guiding principle: one person, one vote and one value.

Come 14 November, we will witness this principle in action. Every Fijian’s voice will matter equally, regardless of where they live or their social status, regardless of their family name and their ability, and regardless of their religion, province, ethnicity or gender.

Like in 2014, the outcome of this election will reflect the will of the Fijian people; that same mandate that endowed my Government with our sacred duty to build a better today and brighter tomorrow for every Fijian.

Over the coming weeks, there will be much debate between the politicians.

It is important that we all listen to what everyone has to say — but when we do, we must always lend a careful ear to the promises and positions of each party and, above all, we must always listen for the truth, and actively demand it.

During this election, I am concerned that many politicians will try and divide up our people by instilling them with fear and mistrust of their fellow Fijians.

We’ve seen that many times in our history — but we cannot tolerate that old, hateful style of politics any longer.

Every Fijian should reject those politics of division, lies and animosity, by shunning any who attempt to pit Fijian against Fijian on the basis of religion, ethnicity, gender, province, socio-economic status, or background.

While these political tricks may be old, the methods by which they are spread are new; today, they are being spread with a heightened level of animosity, hatred, and prejudice and also through social media.

Since the last election, tens of thousands more Fijians have gone digital; they have more mobile devices and computers, more access to affordable data and internet services, and a larger presence on Facebook than ever before.

When used responsibly, social media can be a powerful tool for good; it can create a more informed democracy and facilitate fruitful and meaningful discussions online.

But when used irresponsibly, it can be an equally powerful tool for evil.

Between now and election day, I urge all party leaders to hold social media behaviour to a higher standard, as a leader, it is your duty to ensure your candidates, officials and supporters conduct themselves with the same dignity and decorum online as we expect them to in person.

By not openly condemning this hatred, you are complicit in it. Let us come together, irrespective of party, and root out these destructive acts, for the good of our nation.

But it’s not just our political leaders who can be an agent for change; I encourage all Fijians to look at posts they read online with a critical eye, respect the privacy of their fellow citizens, and be cautious about unwittingly participating in dangerous group or mob mentality by sharing unverified rumours. Trust should not be given blindly. Because while some may try to tear down our democracy by spreading lies and falsehoods, by seeking the truth, we are all actively protecting everything Fiji has worked so hard to build.

The stakes of a civil and truthful campaign season are higher than this election alone — no leader, no candidate, no person should seek to undermine our economy, or tear at our social fabric, for their own short-term political gain.

No matter how fierce the political debates may rage in the coming weeks, we must always remain true to the core values of the Fijian spirit: our unity, our commitment to the strength of Fijian families, our love of country, our love for our fellow Fijians and the future we share, united as one.

The better and nobler parts of our nature must always prevail, regardless of our political differences.

The most important aspect of any healthy democracy is the participation of its citizens. You are the fuel on which this machine of our democracy runs.

Educate yourselves on candidates’ positions. Ask questions. Seek the truth.

Look to and demand a secure, stable and prosperous future.

And, most importantly of all, make plans to vote on 14 November. Your nation is counting on you.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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