Lessons We Can Learn From Our Past Political Experience

When it comes to leadership, political parties should be making genuine efforts to recognise the role that young people play in national development.
03 May 2020 14:07
Lessons We Can Learn From Our Past Political Experience
The casket of the late former prime minister lies inside the Mavana Methodist Church in Mavana. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

The late Laisenia Qarase’s political insights are interesting.

One thing is relatively clear. The future of this country lies in the hands of our younger generation, according to him.

He is not alone on this. The FijiFirst Government has been saying it all this time and has taken concrete steps to address the issue.

When it comes to leadership, political parties should be making genuine efforts to recognise the role that young people play in national development.

Many of our current political leaders are tainted with the darkest days of our past. They should make way for young blood to come in and take the country to the next level.

We need fresh minds and new ideas to move our nation forward and strategically position ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities that will open up.

If we are to progress, we need to discard the politics of old which has caused us pain, suffering and misery in the past.

Democracy is great.

It gives us the freedom to express our views and make choices.

But the law ensures that we do not go into accesses that cause hatred and division and undermine peace, security and stability.

Despite that, look at what happened in 1987 when we had our first coups. They woke up a proverbial monster that still haunts us to a certain extent today.

Some of the racist rhetorics that were prevalent then are still being heard today. They are encouraged by politicians who have not let go of their warped views and extremist ideologies.

In that dark past, it plunged our country into chaos and economic crisis.

We have turned our back on that past, anchored by the 2013 Constitution which has eliminated all forms of discrimination including racism.

We cannot afford to return there. There is so much at stake, exacerbated by climate change realities, COVID-19 and the resultant economic crisis.

The country needs more young leaders who are prepared and totally committed to step up and take us forward. Minus the counter-productive political sideshows that some of our older politicians are engaged in for cheap political gain.

A lot of words are spoken in these political exchanges that are frankly a terrible waste of energy and time. They do not do any good.

All they succeed in achieving is cause hatred, hardened feelings and negate efforts to find the positive middle grounds.

From time to time we hear of some politicians descending to gutter level politics in a game of upmanship. They may provide entertainment on national television and appeal to the base instincts of their followers. But that’s how far they go.

They do not appeal to the wider cross section of the community because their statements lack substance. They talk about bi-partisanship in and outside of Parliament.

But it is not reflected in their other utterances. It is pointless to condemn your opponents and their issues publicly and expect to sit at the table in one room to discuss those issues.

It is simply hypocritical.

The other critical issue is seeing things from our racial lenses. That was the underlying issue that sparked the political upheaval in 1987. It will always create tension, suspicion and conflicts. We need to change the racist mindset.

Any development or assistance must be provided on the basis of need not on race.

If more development dollars are allocated for maritime zones and villages in rural areas they are done on the basis of need not because the majority are iTaukei.

Conversely, if aid is directed to a settlement populated by a majority of Indo-Fijians, it is not done because they belong to a particular ethnicity but on the basis of need.

The same principle should be applied in other facets of national life like opportunities and employment.

The best candidate should fill a job vacancy. It is based on merit not on race or who you know.

If we can get that into our national psyche, we will progress a lot faster.

This concept will be more easily accepted by the younger generation than the older folks.

And that’s probably why Mr Qarase had pinned his hopes on the younger politicians to carry forward his vision of a united Fiji.


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