Posts tagged Fijian Prime Minister

PM BAINIMARAMA’S SPEECH AT THE SPEECH AT THE LAUNCH OF MANU KOROVULAVULA’S BOOK ON THE MALAYAN CAMPAIGN

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

I’m delighted to be here to launch these two volumes of Manu Korovulavula’s book on the Malayan campaign – one in English and the other in i’Taukei.

This is a very important occasion, not only because of the subject matter of this book but because we have so few events like this in Fiji.
Our nation’s collective memory comes from the stories that people tell about various stages of our history.

And not enough stories are being recorded so that future generations of Fijians can learn from the eyewitnesses to the events that have shaped us as a nation.

Not enough books have been written to give us a proper Fijian narrative – a permanent record of the great events that make up the story of Fiji.

Which is why I am so delighted that Manu Korovulavula has chosen to tell his own story as part of the wider story that unfolds in the pages of “Vala Mai Maleya” and “Malayan Campaign”.

The Malayan campaign or emergency took place sixty years ago and has been rapidly fading into memory as most of those who were there pass into history themselves.

But it’s wonderful that the story has suddenly been brought to life in the pages of these books and I urge as many Fijians as possible to read them.

That story is seen through the eyes of a young soldier who was there – truly an eyewitness to history in the making.

Manu Korovulavula was 17 years and four months old when he enlisted at the Nasese Camp in October 1951. Within months, he was in Malaya, -the former British colony that is now Malaysia – helping to fight a bloody guerrilla war.

It must seem strange to a younger generation today that over a four year period from 1952 to 1956, some 1,600 Fijian troops left our islands to fight in the jungles of South East Asia.

Why did they go? What was the cause? What did it have to do with Fiji? Why were Fijian lives sacrificed in the Malayan campaign? The answers are in the pages of these books.
Malaya at the time – like Fiji – was a British colony, part of the British Empire. It was also very important to Britain economically. It was the largest producer of natural rubber in the world and the second largest producer of tin. So it was a very valuable asset to the British and, in turn, for us, because in those days, we were also dependent on Britain’s wealth.

In Malaya, the British faced an insurgency from the Malayan Communist Party – backed by the Soviet Union and China – who wanted to take over the peninsular as part of the communist push through South East Asia.

The communist Malayan National Liberation Army began to wage war on British interests, killing British plantation owners, attacking plantations and destroying transport and infrastructure.

It couldn’t officially be called a war because Lloyds – the company that insured the plantations and tin mines -wouldn’t have to pay for the damage if it was classified as a war. So it was called an emergency.

And because it was a guerrilla insurgency in very dense jungle, the British looked around their Empire to see who had experience in guerrilla fighting. And their eyes settled on the brave, tough soldiers in their colonial possession in the far off Pacific – Fiji.

Less than a decade before, Fijian troops had shown exceptional skill and courage fighting the Japanese in dense jungles during the Solomons Campaign. So in 1952, the first 800 volunteer soldiers of the First Battalion, Fiji Infantry Regiment, set sail from Suva to join the struggle in Malaya to hold the Communists back.

They were led by Ratu Edward Cakobau – the father of our current President.

And they included not only the young Manu Korovulavula but his father and brother, who sadly are no longer with us today but are certainly here in spirit.

It’s wonderful that these books have been dedicated to both of them – Manu’s late father, Major Isireli Qerea Korovulavula, who won a Military Cross, and his late younger brother, Warrant Officer Class Two Nacani Naravoro Korovulavula, who was awarded an MBE for his distinguished service.

All three remind us of the sacrifice many thousands of Fijian soldiers have made over the years in the service of our nation. Those who are gone live on in our hearts and memories – genuine Fijian heroes who made their mark far from our shores and whose exploits deserve to be remembered forever.

These books ensure that the story of Fiji’s role in the Malayan Campaign will live on – to be read and re-read by Fijians today and generations of Fijians to come.

Thanks partly to our contribution, the communist threat in Malaya was eventually defeated and when the British left, the thriving independent nation of Malaysia was born. And Fiji will always have a special place in Malaysian history because of what our troops achieved there.

So vinaka vakalevu, Manu, for telling your story, for reminding us all of an episode in Fijian history that did much to cement our own national identity and certainly serves as an inspiration for every Fijian soldier today.

I again urge every Fijian to read these books and have great pleasure in launching Vala Mai Maleya and Malayan Campaign.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama officially opens Kalabu Secondary School Telecentre

FIJIAN PRIME MINISTER VOREQE BAINIMARAMA – SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF THE KALABU SECONDARY SCHOOL TELECENTRE

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

I’m delighted to be here at the Kalabu Secondary School to open yet another of the Government’s Telecentres – the latest to be established as part of our communications revolution.
It’s the second day running that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing so many bright, shining faces of our young people, eager to join that revolution by gaining access to the Internet.

You are about to join the 55-thousand Fijians who already have access to Telecentres in Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Ovalau and Kadavu. And as I keep saying, I will not rest until every Fijian – wherever they live – has the same opportunity.

I want to tell you all what I told the students at the Sila Central High School yesterday; this is your chance to connect with the wider world. With the click of a mouse, you can get instant access to every piece of information known to mankind. Grab the opportunity to broaden your horizons and run with it.

Never before in Fiji’s history have our young people had so much opportunity to get on in life, to carve out worthwhile, interesting careers, to grow up with the ability to look after themselves and their families.

There has never been a better time to be Fijian, to be a citizen of a nation that stands tall and proud in the world, punches above its weight and has a wonderful future ahead of it. Provided we stay united, work together as a team, care for each other and always put Fiji first.

I know that most young people I meet share this vision, this dream. And not just for themselves but for Fiji – one nation working towards a prosperous and just future for every single Fijian.

As your Prime Minister, I urge you all to join me in this crusade. I’m relying on every one of you to do your part, to work as hard as you can so that we can all make Fiji great.

With this event and the opening of the Telecentre at Sila Central yesterday, the people of the Nasinu Corridor – the most densely populated area of Fiji – are being connected to the world.

As I said yesterday, you may be close physically to our nation’s capital. Many of you may have mobile phones. But I know that very few of you have had access to personal computers and internet connection. In the case of the Kalabu School, there hasn’t been a single personal computer in the entire school. Until now. And it’s a big reason for us all to celebrate.

This communications revolution goes hand in hand with my Government’s proudest achievement – the education revolution that is the biggest investment Fiji has ever made in the future of its young people.

Never before has even the poorest Fijian child been given such a leg-up. Because instead of the heartbreak of ordinary families unable to provide an education for their children, we have given them hope.

Every Fijian knows that education is the best way to break the cycle of poverty in any country. And we have started to break that cycle by giving every Fijian child the opportunity to get an education all the way up to tertiary level.

We are building a smarter country through our free primary and secondary schooling, plus the tertiary loans scheme to enable children from ordinary Fijian families to afford to go to technical colleges or universities. There is also our scholarship based on merit for the top 600 students for the selected courses that will propel our country forward. In addition we are continuing our scholarship for civil servants to further their skills and knowledge but now the selection is on a transparent basis.

Of course, education never stops, no matter how old you are. The Internet access here is not just for the students during school hours. As with every Telecentre in Fiji, the wider community, the adults, can come here out of hours and on weekends. And I want to encourage you all to do so to expand your knowledge of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, as you all know, I am now a civilian Prime Minister and will soon begin the process of gaining the five thousand signatures I need to register the political movement I am forming to contest the general election. At that election, I will be calling on the Fijian people to make a clear choice between my vision of a better future in the new Fiji we are building together over any return to the Fiji of old. To look to the future and not the past.

I fundamentally believe in the good sense of the Fijian people, in their intelligence and their ability to separate false promises and outright lies from the truth. So today, I want to tell you a fundamental truth about what our Constitution really says about your right to practise your religion.

I have to admit that I was astonished by the suggestion by the older politicians that our new Constitution means that God is no longer at the centre of our national life. It is a lie and I ask every Fijian to reject the idea.

The truth is quite clearly laid out in the Constitution and I urge everyone to read it. In simple terms, the right of every Fijian to follow his or her own religious belief is protected. It is enshrined in our supreme law.

Every Fijian has the right to worship privately and publicly. And every school has the right to conduct religious instruction – both religious based schools and government schools.

In other words, there is no barrier to any school holding scripture classes or holding prayers, as some people have either mistakenly or deliberately mis-interpreted the law.

What the new Constitution requires all of us to do is to respect the religious beliefs of others. It requires us not to force our own particular beliefs on others, not force others to worship as we do, not to force others to pray to the supreme being in the manner we believe in. Because they may believe just as fervently in their belief, as we do in ours and we must respect our different ways. We must give people the choice to choose for themselves.

It is a question of common decency. It is a question of fairness. That we must all have the right in life to follow our own beliefs without interference from people of other religions, denominations, the wider community or the State.

That is why our Constitution provides for a secular state. It simply means that the State – the Government of the day, the lawmakers, the judges, everyone – cannot favour any one religion or denomination.

The State must be neutral, just as they are in democracies like United States of America, France, Australia and New Zealand. We are protecting everyone’s religious rights, upholding their right to their beliefs. And rejecting the bigotry of religious extremists whoever they may be.

God has always been present. God is with us now and God will be with us as we move forward.
The major religions and denominations share fundamental common values – our love of God, our love for our fellow human beings. I also believe that God stands for justice and truth. And God stands for love, compassion and tolerance, and that includes religious tolerance.

It also means that we all can pray together as a nation – to share our common belief in a supreme being greater than ourselves. And today, I would like to close by reciting the prayer that was given at the Presidential assent of our new Constitution last September. It’s a prayer that can be recited by every Fijian, irrespective of their individual beliefs – a prayer for Fiji.

Let us pray:
“Oh God, we ask you to bless us as we gather in your name.

Guide us in our prayers and thoughts and help us to do your will.

We pray for our country and our leaders and ask you to grant us wisdom.

We pray for every Fijian, both at home and abroad.

We pray for equality, justice and compassion in our national life.

Help us to assist each other and especially the vulnerable.

May we always strive for what is just and good.
In your name, Amen.”

Vinaka vakalevu, thank you.

PRIME MINISTER J.V. BAINIMARAMA – SPEECH AT THE COMMISSIONING OF DREKETI GRID EXTENSION

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Many Fijians have grown up having access to electricity all their lives. So they naturally have little idea what it must be like not to have it all.
To not be able to reach for a switch to read your book, plug a kettle into the wall, keep your food cold in the Refrigerator or turn on a television.

They’re things a great many Fijians simply take for granted. Yet for large numbers of their fellow citizens, being able to access the national power grid has been a distant dream, and that includes the people of this region.

Until now, you’ve all needed a diesel generator to have electric light and power. And for many of you, that has simply been too expensive. The cost of a generator and the cost of the fuel needed to run it has been beyond your reach.

And so here, and in other isolated parts of Fiji, many people have grown up dependent on kerosene lamps and lanterns. And you’ve learnt to do without the electrical appliances that have revolutionised household chores elsewhere.

Entire generations of Fijians like you have cooked their evening meal on a fire or a primus. Entire generations of school children have done their homework either before the sun goes down or by squinting at the pages under a kerosene lamp.

All that comes to an end today in this new phase of my Government’s Look North Policy, in which we have made it a priority to develop Vanua Levu for the benefit of its people and the entire country.

I’m delighted to be here with all of you at the Maramarua Primary School to formally turn on the power, to launch the Dreketi Electrification project.

It’s the culmination of two year’s work to install a new 33-thousand volt Transmission Power Grid from Labasa to Dreketi via Seaqaqa at a cost of more than 14-million dollars.

Jointly funded by the Government and the FEA, it will provide power along the 70 kilometres from Labasa to Dreketi to some eight communities and 243 customers, with the ability to add more as the region develops.

It’s a great occasion for you – the people in this corridor from Seaqaqa, Batiri to here in Dreketi – and an important milestone in my Government’s effort to develop the North.

Coupled with the new road from Nabouwalu to Dreketi, we are, in a very real and practical manner, finally unleashing the economic potential of northern Vanua Levu and laying the foundation for new investment, job creation and prosperity.

By providing electricity and a proper road instead of a dirt track, we are creating the basic infrastructure that every society needs to grow. From these improvements are bound to come more people, more businesses and more wealth. And that means more opportunities for the people of this wonderful but previously neglected part of Fiji.

I’m told that about 5,000 people living along the Dreketi Seaqaqa highway will immediately benefit from this project – among them, families, schools and farmers on whom so much of our economy depends.

These Fijians finally have a Government that responds to their needs. Gone are the days in Fiji when Government came to look at what you needed, pretended to listen and then went away and did nothing. My Government is here to serve, to improve the quality of your lives and provide opportunities for you and your families.

We cared that you didn’t have access to power, that many of you couldn’t afford generators, that your evenings were filled with dim lights from candlepower and kerosene. We cared that some of you couldn’t afford to send your children to school, so we got rid of the fees and are opening up new schools to provide every Fijian with education and the opportunities that come with it.

We cared that your road was a rough track that became a mud track in wet weather, that your children had to walk through to go to school, that it took you too long to get medical help, too long to get to Labasa, too long to get to Nabouwalu.

We cared, we acted and we’ve delivered. And I am humbled by the number of people who have come up to thank me and have told me how much that commitment has meant to them. In turn, I want to pay tribute to the Board, management and workers of the FEA, and its contractors, who have made this project possible. You have done us all proud and we thank you for your service.

With the 24-million dollars set aside in this year’s budget to continue our electrification program, we look forward to soon strengthening the supply to the Tavua-Korovou corridor. This will allows rural communities and businesses in Ra and Tailevu to enjoy the same benefits that have now come to Seaqaqa, Batiri and Dreketi.

Fiji has also signed an agreement with the People’s Republic of China to construct a 700 kilowatt Mini Hydro Power Plant in Taveuni.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we begin 2014 as a nation in much better shape than when I and those around me embarked on our revolution eight years ago to create a new and better Fiji.

We now have a new Constitution that gives you more rights than ever before, we are addressing years of neglect when it comes to providing our people with basic services and in eight months’ time, we will have the first genuinely democratic election in our history.

I will soon be announcing the formation of a political party that I will lead to contest that election. We will, of course, be standing on our record of delivering basic services such as this and on the way in which we have created a fairer and more equal society, with justice and opportunity for all.

I will never accept that someone living in Dreketi deserves fewer services just because they live in a more isolated part of the country. I want you -and everyone in Fiji- to have the same basic services as people living in Suva – the same access to electricity, to water, to education, to basic health. It is an ambitious goal but I’m determined to achieve it by putting more money in basic infrastructure for the benefit of ordinary people and their families.

During the forthcoming campaign, I will also be laying out my vision for Fiji after the election, in the new and genuine democracy that we are creating and in which I want you all to play a part.
That vision is to build on the progress that we have made and the stability we have created to attract new investment to Fiji and provide new and sustainable jobs for our young people.

These young people will be prepared for life in a way that few young people in Fiji will have ever been prepared before. With our free education initiative, more of them will gain basic skills and knowledge in our primary and secondary schools and the ability to go on to higher education. With our scholarships and training programs, they will have more chance of being able to afford to acquire the specialist skills that higher education provides.

We want to provide them with more of the opportunities they deserve and that their parents could only ever dream of. And that means broadening their horizons way beyond their island home, to get more Fijians thinking of themselves as educated citizens of the world.

We see ourselves becoming the Singapore of the Pacific –vibrant, brimming with opportunity and a byword for quality, whether its our national airline, our tourism industry or the quality of the things we manufacture and export.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all this is within our reach if we can continue to think imaginatively and stay disciplined and focused. The lost years are over but only if we pursue the right course and think not just of ourselves but each other and our nation. If we put Fiji First.

All of us can detect a sense of real excitement in the air here today as we power up this area of Fiji for the first time. But I’m convinced that the future holds a promise that is limitless if we can harness the power of all Fijians to deliver our new democracy and the new Fiji.

With those words, I now have the privilege of officially turning on the electricity supply to the Seaqaqa, Batiri and Dreketi corridor and surrounding villages and communities.

Vinaka vakalevu, Thank you.

FIJI SIGNS LANDMARK AGREEMENTS WITH RUSSIA

Fiji has signed a series of  bilateral agreements with the Russian Federation during the first ever visit to Moscow by a Fijian leader. The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev witnessed the signing of new protocols on military and technical cooperation; a mutual visa exemption scheme; cooperation in tackling money laundering, the proceeds of crime and the financing of terrorism; public health assistance; and university exchanges between Russia’s Far East University and the Fiji National University.

Negotiations will also begin soon on a double taxation agreement and an air services agreement to establish air links between Moscow and Nadi and significantly boost the number of Russian tourists visiting Fiji.

The signings capped a day of intense activity in Moscow, which began when the Prime Minister laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier along the Kremlin Wall in the centre of the Russian capital. This was followed by a meeting between Commodore Bainimarama and Prime Minister Medvedev at his official residence, Gorky House, on the outskirts of Moscow.

The two leaders pledged to strengthen their bilateral relations and improve trade and economic ties. These were officially described as having been largely sporadic and uncoordinated in the past.

In his welcome statement, the Russian leader said he would like to see a celebration of the relationship between Russia and Fiji next year to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1974. To this end, he invited a Fijian delegation to visit Russia next August to mark the occasion.

Prime Minister Medvedev expressed the Russian Government’s continuing support for Fiji’s contribution to United Nations peacekeeping efforts. One hundred and eighty two (182) Fijian troops left Fiji on Thursday to join the UN contingent in the Golan Heights. Mr Medvedev said Russia wanted to pay particular attention to assisting Fiji with its UN peacekeeping deployments.

After PM Bainimarama had given him an update on Fiji’s progress towards the election in September 2014, the Russian Prime Minister said Fiji had the right to be left alone to map its own way forward without being dictated to by other countries. Russia, he said, respected the sovereignty of every nation, big or small, and their right to decide on their development and their future.

The Russian leader also accepted an invitation from the Fijian Prime Minister to send a senior representative to the summit meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Nadi in August. He indicated that his Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, would be the most likely official to lead the Russian delegation.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Welcomes Aitkens Spence to Fiji