Voreqe Bainimarama -Opening Of Telecentre at Seaqaqa Secondary School

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon.

It’s a great pleasure to be in the North again and especially here in Seaqaqa as we open yet another of my Government’s Telecentres.

This is the first of five that I’ll be launching in Vanua Levu this week for the use of students during school hours and the rest of the community in the evening and on weekends.

Our Look North policy is one of the cornerstones of my Government’s program. We want to do a lot more to develop Vanua Levu. And an important part of that is to give Northerners access to the telecommunications revolution that is transforming the lives of people across Fiji and across the world.

You all know that we’re doing a lot of work to improve the roads up here, and especially the highway between Nabouwalu and Dreketi to provide better access for people and goods across the top of the island.

Well this is a highway of another sort but just as important – giving ordinary Fijians access to the information superhighway and empowering them in a way that previous generations would never have imagined.

For all of you here today, this is the start of a wonderful journey of discovery. Some of you will already be familiar with the Internet by visiting Internet stores and cafes. Well, here that access is free and you can also perform a range of other tasks, such as scanning a document and attaching it to an email.

For others, the Internet will be a mystery and many of you may still be wondering what the fuss is all about. Please don’t be scared or apprehensive because it’s pretty easy to get the hang of it and there are people on hand to explain it all.

But essentially what it means is that with a click of a mouse, you can immediately get onto something called the Worldwide Web and get instant access to almost any information you want.

It’s one of the miracles of the modern age. It is opening up new horizons for people across the world. It is providing them with knowledge and skills. And today, it has come to Seaqaqa.

It is also a wonderful way to communicate. Because you can not only email anyone, anywhere in the world with an email address (and the people here can also show you how to get one of those) but you can also speak over the Internet.

Through one of the chat services like Skype, someone here in Seaqaqa can have a conversation with someone in Sydney or the Sinai or wherever else they might be in the world. And unlike the telephone, it’s free.

So a Fijian mother can talk to her son serving with the UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights or a daughter working in Suva. It’s all part of the telecommunications revolution that is transforming lives the world over. And my Government has been determined that no Fijian is left behind.

We already have ten Telecentres operating in various parts of the country. And as of last week, 31,500 people were using them. With this centre and the other four we are opening in Vanua Levu tomorrow and on Wednesday, this number is steadily increasing.

So this is a wonderful initiative that is empowering ordinary Fijians by giving them access to the latest technology both to acquire knowledge and communicate more freely.

If you use your imagination, the opportunities are really endless. And you can also keep up with the news during perhaps the most exciting time in Fiji’s history. You can find out for yourself what is happening, not rely on information that is second hand and may be wrong.

As many of you know, on Saturday Fiji’s new Constitution came into effect. It is the supreme law of the land and all other laws flow from it. And in a host of ways, it is fundamentally different to the three Constitutions Fiji has had since Independence.

For the first time, everyone is equal, everyone is called a Fijian and everyone’s vote will have the same value when we go to the election before the end of September next year.

Also for the first time, the 2013 Constitution guarantees and protects the rights of every Fijian – the right to housing and sanitation, the right to health and education, reasonable access to transportation, adequate food, clean water and a just minimum wage. It protects land ownership and the rights of tenants.

It includes the right to economic participation, which means the Government must do everything in its power to help people achieve a decent living for themselves and their families, no matter what they do.

These rights cannot be tampered with or weakened in any way. So they provide important protections for ordinary Fijians as well as being a blueprint for the future of our nation.

It’s important for you all to read the 2013 Constitution for yourselves. So that’s why I’ve brought thousands of copies with me on this Northern tour. Whatever language you prefer – I’Taukei, Hindi or English – the Constitution is here for you to take home with you.

Read it and talk about. It is the way forward for every Fijian as we establish the first genuine democracy in our history.

As I said on Friday, the Constitution is the culmination of the revolution that the RFMF and I launched in December 2006 to put Fiji back on track after years of corruption and the rule of self interested politicians, who weren’t really interested in providing basic services to all Fijians.

The most important thing for me is for my Government to do what other governments didn’t – deliver services to all Fijians wherever they live. Better access to electricity, clean water, affordable housing, education and transport. Not just talk but action.

We empower ordinary Fijians. We give you the basic things you need to improve your lives and the lives of your families. This includes better access to telecommunications, which is why we are all here today.

So with those words, it’s now my pleasure to declare the Seaqaqa Central College telecentre open.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.