Analysis

Different Interpretations Sometimes Muddy What It Means To Talk About Issues That Matter The Most To People

When we talk about needs, there are no barriers. Every community has needs and these have to be addressed on that basis, not on race, culture, religion or socio-economic status and background.
26 Jan 2020 15:43
Different Interpretations Sometimes Muddy What It Means To Talk About Issues That Matter The Most To People
UNITY IN DIVERSITY: Fijians coming together in unity to celebrate Fiji Day at Subrail Park in Labasa. Photo: DEPTFO News

Recently I met a young middle class family comprising the husband, wife and two primary school children.

Based on the standards in their neighbourhood, they are doing reasonably well.

Both parents work and bring home a decent income for the family to live comfortably. They live in a rental property, own a car, have no debt and plan to own a home one day.

They are not in a rush but slowly building up their savings to buy a property. They will try to avoid borrowing to invest in their own home.

They are not on medical insurance yet believing that if they live a healthy life there is no need to pay insurance. But then what about if there is an accident that requires urgent medical treatment in a private hospital here or overseas?

They are keeping their fingers crossed that it does not happen. If it happens they have no choice but to rely on the medical care in the local hospitals, which they believe has improved a lot.

On education, they are training and preparing their two children to succeed, get a tertiary-based qualification, find good jobs before they start a family just like them.

Above all, they want safety and security. That’s why they choose to live where they reside because they feel safe and secure there.

They love the FijiFirst Government because of the free education, bus fares and all the family-oriented initiatives it rolled out last year.

When we talk about public interest, this is what it means to them.

Any development that impacts on their plan, positively or negatively, is a matter of public interest.

They have little or no interest in other issues because of their irrelevance to what they encounter every day.

So the matters of public interest to them are jobs, pay, bills, food, water, electricity, transport, rent, health and recreation and education.

Any development that impacts on these issues is a matter of public interest to them.

There may be slight variations, depending on the locality. For example, a rural family may have different issues compared to an urban family.

They all have to be taken into considerations when we talk about public interest in the general sense.

But when you hear some politicians, particularly from the Opposition, speaking, you would pick up straightaway that they are either ill-informed or out of touch with the people. They fail to address the real issues facing the people.

If you draw a line right across the various communities, ethnicities and cultures, it runs on a common thread of basic needs that are not peculiar to one group.

When we talk about needs, there are no barriers. Every community has needs and these have to be addressed on that basis, not on race, culture, religion or socio-economic status and background.

All the issues addressed by the family of four are based on needs. That’s the way it should be.

There are poor people, destitute, weak and the vulnerable in all communities. They are the ones who need urgent help and attention.

So politicians, like some of those in SODELPA who are still using the race card for political expediency, must realize that they are doing this country great harm when they insist on looking at issues on racial lines.

Their negative response to the appointment of an Indo-Fijian as principal of Ratu Kadavulevu School, was a perfect example. They were alone because all the stakeholders supported him for his proactive attitude.

The family of four supported the stakeholders. They feel uncomfortable when the issue of race is brought up by some politicians. The parents were old enough to remember ugly scenes in the 1987 military coups led by Sitiveni Rabuka and the 2000 coup by George Speight. Some of those images are still stuck in their minds.

They have no issues with other races. They believe, it’s some politicians who stoop so low to appeal to the base instincts of the people, to create racial discord and division.

In our national conversation, there are enough common basic issues that we need to talk about than those, like race, that only create problems for us.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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