Big Story

Paramount Chief’s Profound Message: Why Eligible Fijians Should Vote

"The overall state of interethnic relations in our society is determined by the many encounters we have with each other on a daily basis. That is with shopkeepers, teachers, taxi drivers, friends, relatives, doctors, office workers, security personnel or whoever. It is how we relate to each other that determines our social relations. Both together and individually we have the ability to be either a good or bad influence."
13 Dec 2022 17:50
Paramount Chief’s Profound Message:  Why Eligible Fijians Should Vote
Roko Tui Bau Ratu Timoci Tavanavanua. Photo: Ronald Kumar

One of the country’s paramount chief reiterated the need for all Fijians to cast their vote in this year’s General Election.

As we are days away from December 14, the Turaga Roko Tui Bau, Tatu Timoci Taniela Tavanavanua also had a word for the political parties and candidates on the importance of understanding the responsibilities they have to shoulder once they get elected.

The following is an interview with Ratu Taniela.


With pre polling now completed and the voting day set for December 14, what is your message to all Fijian about the importance of casting their vote?

Jeremiah 6:16 states: Thus says the Lord – “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.

When we are blessed with friendships in all walks of life only then do we realise how wonderful this country is because our differences become a matter of joy and not division.

The magnet that holds this country together is not our leaders but we, the ordinary decent God-fearing believers of all ethnic communities.

Our interactions with each other every day enable us to connect and unite us.


This is something that we must continue to do in the best interest of the nation as we prepare to go to the polls to choose who will govern us for the next four years.

Notwithstanding this as a traditional leader and a representative of the vanua of Tailevu and matanitu o Kubuna, I humbly plead with the chiefs and people of the 14 provinces including Rotuma and the three (3) confederacies, Kubuna ki vua na Turaga na Vunivalu na Tui Kaba, Burebasaga ki vua na Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi, na Matanitu Qaqa na Tovata ki vua na Turaga na Tui Cakau, and every single Fijian of different ethnicity in our beloved nation who is eligible to vote to please do so for it is your democratic right and duty as a responsible citizen of our beloved nation.

Every four years, every registered Fijian over the age of 18 years is given the opportunity to choose a new government through the polls.

This process began on December 5 with the pre-polling, culminating with the whole nation voting on December 14.


Every election is determined by the people who show up to vote. This is our third elections since 2014.

In 2014 and 2018 the ruling FijiFirst Party won back to back elections.

Will they be able to achieve a three-peat after December 14? Only time will tell what the future holds for our nation.

Notwithstanding this, we must never forget the importance of making our voice heard. Someone struggled for your right to vote, therefore you must use it accordingly.

Voting is as much an emotional act as it is an intellectual one. Therefore one should choose wisely, carefully and prayerfully.

Republic of Fiji Military Forces Officer-in-charge, Major Penasio Mamao, with personnel as they voted during the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) pre-polling services at the Sukanaivalu Victory Cross (SVT) Barracks, Labasa in the Northern Division Headquarters on December 9, 2022. Photo: Sampras Anand

Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another and to our nation.

Democracy is about voting and it’s about a majority vote. And it’s time that we started exercising that democratic process.

I therefore humbly encourage you to join me in exercising your democratic right.

Your vote really does matter. On December 14, we will again be choosing the government that will guide our present and our future.

If you don’t vote, you are leaving it to others to make critical decisions on your behalf regarding your future, your children, grandchildren and extended families.


Therefore, now is strategically the right time to familiarise yourself with the voting process and the respective candidates.

If you want your voice to be heard and candidates who represent your views to help shape what the future looks like, then you need to vote. This is especially important where your vote is even more impactful.

All parts of society must be included. When young people are disengaged from political processes, a significant portion of the population has little or no voice or influence in decisions that affect group members’ lives.

I therefore urge the youths to make an effort to come and vote to make a difference in the longer term and engage in formal political processes and therefore have a say in formulating today’s and tomorrow’s politics.


What is your message to all political parties and candidates who are contesting the 2022 General Elections?

There are nine political parties contesting this year’s General Election with a total of 343 candidates vying for the 55 seats.

A party has to win 28 seats or more to form the next government. There are about 694,000 registered voters.

History has proven that it will always be hard to achieve a 100 per cent voter turnout.

All the nine political parties and their candidates including the two independent candidates contesting the 2022 general elections are on the front lines of democracy and election integrity.


It is therefore important to commit to take no action to aid and abet those who seek to undermine our democracy.

As the election approaches, candidates will be asked by voters why they should vote for their party.

It’s a simple question, but the answer is not always so simple.

Candidates will need to convey their values, vision and their understanding of the issues that matter the most to voters.

They need to show that they understand the challenges that voters, and their family, face every day and that they have practical solutions that can make their lives a little bit better.


They need to see themselves in the voters’ narrative who need to see hope.

Election campaigns that are prepared to answer this question, ‘Why should I vote for you?’, win elections.

As a candidate or political party competing in this year’s election, one of your key challenges will be communicating with your targeted voters in a way that is meaningful, memorable and persuasive.

You will have only a certain number of opportunities to do this.

You want voters to remember who you are and to understand the difference it would make if they voted for you.

Making every communication opportunity work for you is the main goal of having a clear, succinct and powerful message.


Your message is the heart of your communications strategy.

A message is a short, truthful statement that lays out for voters why they should vote for you, and provides a contrast between you and your opponents.

This message is an important part of telling your story.

Crafting and consistently using a compelling message is essential to persuading targeted voters to choose you and motivating supporters to go and vote come December 14.


Party Message

It’s all about coming up with an authentic and compelling message that suits your candidate and political party along the following lines:

1. Defining your campaign narrative

2. What is a message?

3. Know your audience

4. The challenge: Getting heard

5. Criteria for effective messages

6. Developing your message

7. Framing policy issues

8. Testing your message

9. Using the message

10. Discipline and Repetition


Lastly, to the party or parties that will form the next government, you must look after the interest of all Fijians regardless if they voted for you or not as it is all part of good governance.

Further still, if a new government is voted in, it must make a place for the old government and be prepared to work with them and respect them as the opposition in the best interest of the nation.

Any other comments

We live with the reality of difference.

That is different cultures and religions, different political parties and opinions.


This is the reality of it and is familiar to all of us. Then we have those who are intolerant or insensitive to others who may not share the things they consider important.

As it stands there is still too much fear, suspicion and distrust of each other. Engagement with each other’s communities has progressed slowly even though we have lived side by side with each other for over 120 years. We therefore cannot expect a more open approach overnight.

Change is set in motion by our actions and initiatives when we experience the humanity in others.

It is more meaningful when we remind ourselves that we are all part of the human family where we mourn and cry in sorrow, we laugh when we are happy, we get angry when we are offended and pleased when we are acknowledged.

Living constantly in an environment of distrust, hatred and anger is not very pleasant.

It corrupts the soul and encourages a depressing life.


This is the nature of ethnic politics in this nation however despite the polarisation at one level we continue to deal with each other with some level of amiability on a daily basis and brings a glimmer of hope.

A classic example, is out of the nine (9) political parties contesting the elections, four (4) are predominantly iTaukei parties, which sort of reflects the fragmentation amongst the iTaukeis.

The more political parties we have the more the votes will be split and augers well for the ruling FijiFirst.

Despite these obstacles, it is still possible to overcome them, however we have to learn to persevere and work at it.


The overall state of interethnic relations in our society is determined by the many encounters we have with each other on a daily basis. That is with shopkeepers, teachers, taxi drivers, friends, relatives, doctors, office workers, security personnel or whoever.

It is how we relate to each other that determines our social relations.

Both together and individually we have the ability to be either a good or bad influence.

We are too preoccupied with micromanaging our lives leaving little focus on the bigger picture.

Nation building is thus a big challenge which makes life more interesting and we must be ready to compromise some things for the sake of our common destiny.


Military Message

The statement issued by the Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces Major-General Ro Jone Kalouniwai on December 5, where he urged the military institution to honour the democratic process as the country awaits the General Elections next week obviously brings and provides a level of comfort, certainty and stability to all Fijians in such a time as this as well as to the political parties.

According to the Commander, it was one of the most important speeches for him because it entailed the future of the nation and was dependent on the next few days leading up to the polls.

Furthermore, they would all have the opportunity to choose the nation’s path, by exercising their democratic right to vote.


He stressed that they were duty bound to vote to avoid complicity and injustice.

We should take our cue from his comments that as an institution if they are duty bound to vote then what about the rest of us.

He reiterated that nothing was more integral to democracy than voting, and he urged them to vote for their families, their children, the less unfortunate, the needy, and the vulnerable.

Notwithstanding this Major-General Kalouniwai also stressed the importance of honouring the democratic process and respecting the outcomes of the 2022 General Elections.


He also reminded everyone that the RFMF will respect every candidate regardless of the results, which was reassuring.

They will honour the democratic process while respecting the outcome of the votes.

The Commander also confirmed that the RFMF will always set eyes and ears and hearts upon the Lord and through the conviction of the Holy Spirit that will always be with the RFMF.

May God continue to bless our nation!


Story by: Leone Cabenatabua


Got A News Tip

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

For All Fiji Sun Advertising
Fijisun E-edition