Analysis | Politics

Traditional Lau Still A Big Challenge For PM Bainimarama And FijiFirst

Now many of these islanders may not have voted for him nor his party, FijiFirst, in 2014 and 2018. But he feels morally obligated to serve them and all Fijians because he is the Prime Minister of Fiji irrespective of political affiliation.
05 May 2020 15:25
Traditional Lau Still A Big Challenge For PM Bainimarama And FijiFirst
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama boarding the RFNS Kacau at the Republic of Fiji Navy headquarters in Walu Bay Suva on May 4 2020. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister

Analysis:

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will spend this week visiting islands in southern Lau struck by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

This is a special visit for the islanders because they don’t get this type of visit too often because of their geographical location.

However, civil servants and provincial staff routinely visit these islands as shipping permits.

Even pre-2014 election, Mr Bainimarama had visited Lau whenever he could, sat down with the Lauans and discussed their issues.

So this is a continuation of those visits except that this one doubles as a humanitarian trip to deliver supplies to cyclone victims.

It also provides an opportunity for him to hear first hand from the islanders what they need in talanoa sessions.

Now many of these islanders may not have voted for him nor his party, FijiFirst, in 2014 and 2018. But he feels morally obligated to serve them and all Fijians because he is the Prime Minister of Fiji irrespective of political affiliation.

His political detractors have a tendency of criticising him  – nothing he does seems enough – even during a  crisis.

He is damned if does and is also damned if he does not. That’s the dark side of politics. It raises the question about the role of politics in times of crisis.

Should we accept it as part of our democratic system during good and bad times?

Or should we push the pause button until the crisis is over?

The radical wing will not draw a line and will advocate for free expressions at all times. Its followers strongly feel that the Government should come under public scrutiny even during a crisis to ensure transparency and accountability.

But when criticism is all about condemnation without offering an alternative solution then it can be demoralising and counter-productive.

Mr Bainimarama in Lau this week is positive because he shows that he is committed to serving all of us despite where we come from.

Lau, traditionally, has not supported FijiFirst since its inception.

It is part of the Eastern Division which has not been a successful hunting ground in the previous two elections. In the 2014 election, 19,370 voters of the 25,121 registered voted.

12,184 voted for SODELPA while 5510 voted for FijiFirst. It is understood that many of the FijiFirst votes came from the Lomaiviti Group. Mr Bainimarama got 2663 votes.

Then SODELPA party leader Ro Teimumu Kepa polled the highest among the candidates. She polled 5199 votes.

In 2018, 25,376 were registered to vote. Only 17,181 voted. Of this figure 12,987 voted for SODELPA, 3304 voted for FijiFirst. This was a drop for FijiFirst despite the development assistance given to the division, particularly Lau.

Even Mr Bainimarama’s personal votes fell to 2469.

SODELPA party president Sitiveni Rabuka polled 2325. The rest of the party votes were shared by other SODELPA candidates.

If SODELPA fails to recover from its current split, it could benefit FijiFirst.

But given Lau’s historical and traditional history, FijiFirst could continue to fight an uphill battle there.

One thing is for sure. Mr Bainimarama – as Prime Minister – will continue to provide them support.

Feedbacknemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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