19 October 2016: Media Release – Fiji’s Disciplined Services Must Not Be Armed for National Security Purposes Until Respect for Human Rights For All is Paramount

NFP President, Hon Roko Tupou condemned in the strongest terms the latest saga of citizen based expose’s witnessing disciplined services members heavy-handed tactics on suspects or accused persons.

It is a sad day for this country when citizens are either silent or welcoming of these heavy-handed tactics, shortly after the Fiji First Government launched its campaign brochure for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council for 2018 – 2020 and when this Government passed with reservations the UN Convention Against Torture (UN CAT) in Parliament.

Every individual including suspects or accused persons have the right to be treated with dignity and getting beaten up on a major public road is validation why Fiji is not ready to preen at the global level and uphold the rights of the world, when the State can barely respect the rights of its own people.

It is noted that just recently the Geneva Mission pictorially highlighted discussions of the Deputy Commissioner of Police on the Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners aka Nelson Mandela Rules. Even that prioritizes the inherent dignity of prisoners so it is absolutely hypocritical if that kind of understanding is not filtering down to the frontline of the public interface between the disciplined forces and the citizenry.

There have been media reports of suspects or accused persons limping to court after questioning. This is absolutely unacceptable.

The 2013 Constitution makes “Freedom from cruel and degrading treatment” absolute and if disciplined forces remain undisciplined and cannot stay their hands, they have effectively taken the law into their own hands and usurped the role of the courts and they should be taken to task.

While this Government has done well to bring the rights of persons with disabilities up with various policies and ratification of the Treaty, it cannot deflect from these fundamental allegations of human rights violations.

This falls squarely at the feet of the Commissioner of Police and his constitutional mandate is to ensure that his force is fit for purpose. Instead of worrying about arming his police force, he is well advised to stick to the basics and uphold the rule of law at all times.

In addition the Fiji Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Commission would do well to  align itself to the Paris Principles so it can actually be an effective guardian of human rights protection in Fiji and take the State to task. A good start would be to re-socialize its original 2004 publication on the “Human Rights Handbook for the Disciplined Services in Fiji” that the Prime Minister endorsed when he was the Commander of the RFMF.

Furthermore all this points to the lack of clarity at the national level and the still evasive National Security Strategy which the PNG Ambassador, Commodore Esala Teleni has been charged with developing.
Hon Roko Tupou Draunidalo
NFP President

14 October 2016: NFP President, Hon Roko Tupou Draunidalo to be Chief Guest at Fiji Day Festival in Melbourne hosted by Fijian Community Association Victoria

NFP President, Hon Roko Tupou Draunidalo will be the Chief Guest of the Fijian Community Association Victoria who will be celebrating Fiji Day this weekend in Melbourne.

The theme of their Fiji Day Festival is “Multicultural Fiji”.

For more details of the event, view their website.

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Text of Speech (Please check against delivery)

The President, Executives and Members of the Fijian Community Association of Victoria, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I also wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land where we are today, the Kulin nation and thank them and their elders..past and present- for sharing this place with us.

I want to also say that we are all very proud of the Bulldogs in winning the AFL premiership – Go the doggies!

I wish to acknowledge too the Australian government for the very able assistance with my travel documents at the short notice of the invitation and my acceptance.

I mention them too here because ANZUS has been on my political radar as much as the Fijian government.

The difference of course is that one group believes in free speech and the other doesn’t.

Before I go further I wish to remember at the outset of this speech a great statesman and dear relative who was given a state and chiefly burial last week on his beloved home soil- Bau- Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

If he could hear me now he’d be twitching and groaning because he loathed self admiration which includes the admiration of relatives.

I will say though that he was totally a man of peace, matched only by his very fine intellect and great and equal love for his neighbour – which was everyone he came into contact with directly and indirectly.

I could never get near his love for peace and peaceful means but the Turaga knew that well and as if to drive the point home a few years ago – he gave me what he opined was a fitting gift.

He brought back some very heavy and beautiful, traditional wood carvings from a neighboring country where he worked.

The Turaga said he acquired two types. The carvings would be fixed to the front end of canoes on various past voyages of our Melanesian brothers and sisters.

He told me that he would keep the carving with the ancestral figure holding the symbol of peace. In the old days, all those approaching a canoe with that carving knew that the occupants came in peace.

He gave me the other carving which would in bygone days signify that the occupants of the canoe did not come in peace.

They were on a voyage to war.

That was the Turaga’s bad humor for you but sharper observation still.

And so in remembering him today ladies and gentleman, I will be as peaceful as I can be.

On that note, I say again, thank you all very much for the thoughtful invitation and hospitality today.

It is very thoughtful of you (FCAV) to invite a Member of the Opposition from the Fijian parliament especially a suspended one whose voters have been denied their right to representation in parliament and especially too in light of the various restrictive laws back in Fiji.

Even parliamentary privilege does not allow for free speech as it is known in the developed world.

My voters, supporters and I should know- I’ve been suspended for the remainder of my parliamentary term (for words uttered in the House) before we even got to the half way mark of the four year term.

Some noise was made by the government at the time about my having uttered words that could incite ill will in the community (they used the same terms I believe with the recent and similar suspension of another Member for the Opposition (Ratu Isoa Tikoca) but that is laughable of course ladies and gentlemen because the only time we have ill will in the community is in times of usurpation- that is, when the Fijian military interferes with the orderly and lawful governance of our country on the back of personal, political ambition.

No other person or place ever brings us that level of destruction which has damaged Fiji so much in the last twenty nine years.

So, for a group who originally took power through use of the military – to overthrow the elected government and the rule of law – it is indeed laughable and a disgrace for them to feign concern about ill will in the community.

It would be best if those who come to power through ill will to promote ill will, keep quiet. They sound silly and annoying, creating further ill will.

I’ll get back to the issue of the military.

But back to the restrictive laws I earlier alluded to, I want to mention in particular the media decree and the use of the archaic laws of contempt that have been watered down and virtually rendered obsolete in countries where they have true democracies (which allows their citizens to say all manner of things towards each other and towards their government).

Developed countries allow that because free speech is the cornerstone of not only democracy but the benefits of democracy which include flourishing private investment and basic government services and infrastructure (water, electricity, schools, roads, pensions).

Those are things that are taken for granted here in Australia and are considered basic rights.

No Australian government would dream of failing to allow or provide those basic rights and services as it would invite thousands on to the streets or on email and the national media to protest such action.

Sane governments fearing electoral backlash would immediately back down.
That’s what true democracies look like.

Some of you may ask why? Why am I going over such basics – the things that are considered basic rights and services in this country?

I do so ladies and gentlemen because your holiday destination or your former residence, country or home which is a five hour flight from here (our beautiful Fiji) is beset with the lack of the very basics in human rights, free speech, representative democracy and the benefits that come with that.

A few days ago I posted in Facebook that the summary of the news that day included:

  1. About 75% of all Fijian workers with FNPF, about 400,00 Fijians have only about $10k or less in the compulsory superannuation scheme;
  2. The Leader of the Opposition toured the red zone area affected by TC Winston which hit Fiji eight months ago but the pictures tell a different story – as if the cyclone only hit us a week prior;
  3. The Leader of the NFP was visiting depressed areas of in the Suva-Nausori corridor where there is a concentration of the population and poverty and crime was rife there;
  4. The Charity ‘HOMES OF HOPE’ started collecting funds to keep women and children away from prostitution – which they had turned to for survival; and
  5. From that same day in the news – the elected prime minister was getting ready to travel to Australia for some engagements then to NZ for the rugby and he will paid generous per diem rates for that which was just increased by his government in parliament. He’s hardly ever in Fiji and recently appointed himself Minister for foreign affairs too.

FNPF The compulsory superannuation scheme which this government plundered before the elections to fund various things and to which members, all Fijian workers turn to for financial relief for basic needs.

Ladies and gentlemen, those grim things back at home which I’ve only slightly touched on and summarized is not how Fiji has always been.

Those of us who are little older, recall stories from the olds or indeed read modern Fijian political history will know that this is not the Fiji that was.

We have a noble and classy modern political history from cession

A group of Fijian Chiefs ceded Fiji to Great Britain. Not all Fijian Chiefs but enough did.

The British took their system of governance with them to Fiji which importantly for the indigenous people – preserved what was dear to us (land/ NLTB, fisheries, kin/VKB and way of life) as much as they could in a modern system of government.

Instrumental to that work was Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna. He was the older brother of Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi’s father Ratu Dovi.

The British also took an indenture system to Fiji to help grow the economy and I think that all right thinking Fijians would be grateful for this as our brothers and sisters that came from India for that indenture system and beyond have contributed so much to the economy, social and political fabric of Fiji.

Without them and their input, Fiji would be less developed economically, socially and politically.

That indenture system was of course not good to our fellow countrymen and women, Fijians of Indian descent. It was harsh and largely inhumane to them and their families.

That they freed themselves from it with dignity and peace to contribute what they have to Fiji is worthy of great gratitude and love.

Their great political leader of the time was Mr. A D Patel, the founder of the National Federation Party.

And he worked closely with the great Taukei leader of that time, Ratu Sukuna to steer Fiji towards the 1970 constitution and independence.

Both great leaders died before independence but their mantle was very ably carried forward to independence by Mr. Siddiq Koya of the NFP and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara of the Alliance party and all of their colleagues.

Fiji was the jewel of the pacific in so many ways for seventeen years from independence.

Since 1987 of course, there has been a steady deterioration in the governance of Fiji. Elected and civilian governments have of course come in to try to steady and move the ship forward after every coup but no, sooner or later – the military has seen it fit to intervene and take us backwards for decades.

The Coup culture has replaced and is replacing/sidelining all cultures in Fiji. Be it Taukei, Indo Fijian, Chinese or whatever- the military culture is the dominant culture.

Like it happens in Burma, Egypt and Sub Saharan Africa. Is that what we Fijians are aspiring to – from our classy and noble, modern political history pre coups?

This is why I have been and will continue to be vocal against the prominence and power given to the Fiji military and their favorite sons ie. the coup makers.

There have been two and those who served in prominent positions under them.

This is nothing personal against any coup maker. But they’re a symbol. They are not them, the man and his personality which may be likeable or very very like able. No, nothing to do with them personally. What they are – are the wrong symbols to the governance of the nation.

The story of the Khan of Mongolia.
The Khan’s advisers told him that he must kill the recently captured Emperor of China (a child that he was getting attached to like an older relative).

The advisers told the Khan that the child was a symbol and so long as he lived, hope lived with his people that they could defeat the Khan and battles and the war would ensue everywhere all the time.

The same is true for our coup makers, they’re a symbol and so long as they hold positions of leadership – hope lives with future coup makers in the military and we must not give that hope. We must not endorse coup makers to positions of leadership.

Ladies and gentlemen, quite simply – coup makers and military personnel are not trained for civilian rule hence their great misjudgements in this area in Fiji.

They are trained to lead in the fields of war, peacekeeping etc and we thank them very much for their contributions there but usurping civilian government and running civilian government is not what they’re trained for.

It is estimated that both coup makers from that institution and the institution itself has cost us about $10b each (total of $20b) in losses to the economy over twenty nine years.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a lot of money even by Australian and New Zealand standards.

Imagine what $20b wisely invested or much better invested in the Fijian economy and people plus interest woe have done to our country. We would be the envy of Australia and New Zealand today.

As it was, I was told that the Fijian economy and the dollar was stronger than our big neighbours in 1986.

Imagine if the military served the elected governments of Fiji loyally and without military intervention since 1987?

If they just allowed the people of Fiji the freedom to choose and un-choose their governments peacefully and lawfully at the ballot box..

That’s a lot of imagining and what if/s

But going forward, what can or should we do?

We have to say no to the militarization of the state. They are not loyal to the people of Fiji.

In 1987 and 2000 they were used to say that they promoted the indigenous people over other communities but in their haste and incompetence in civilian rule the military, their coup makers etc didn’t realize that those actions were attacking the roots of the Taukei identity.

All of the things we value- land, fisheries, kin/ VKB under the separate Fijian administration is underpinned by the rule of law.

Attack the rule of law and you’re attacking what we Taukei hold dear.

Since 2006 the military and their coupmaker said that they were pro equality. But that’s also a lie.

All coups only benefit one group – the military. To the great detriment of all Fijians, Taukei , Indian descent, Chinese descent.. Yellow, black or red..

What can and should we do about it?

We must look back to our noble and classy pre and post independence, modern political history.

We must work together to remove this tyranny and militarization and get back to working together peacefully in harmony for all of our interests.

Remuneration and other bad governance issues – Where is the $100m? What is PAC doing to tell Fijians how much and how the post 2006 coup Cabinet was paid?

If we don’t work together to remove the militarization of the state – there will be further hardship, inequality and lack of basic rights and services to our people and our beautiful Fiji.

In a twist of irony, the militarized state has given itself (the military) overwhelming and overarching powers under the imposed 2013 constitution.

The supreme law actually encourages the state and all of its citizens to ultimately look to the military for the overall welfare of the people – over and above the elected government and parliament.

And so in my peaceful and lawyer mode, it maybe that the supreme law encourages all Fijians to unite across races and various faiths and communities to peacefully petition the military to peacefully advise the elected government that it needs to change course (policies, laws, consult opposition more) for the benefit of all Fijians especially the great majority who are poor, marginalized and struggling in many ways – every day.

In true democracies like Australia and New Zealand – the military have no such role but they don’t have our S. 131(2) of the constitution.

The supreme law actually encourages us to look to the military to police the elected leaders and that is what we must do.

Thank you all very much again for today, God bless you and your families and God bless Fiji.

Vinakwa..

 

 

14 October 2016: Media Release – Government’s plan an insult to the Girmitiya

Government’s decision to only lukewarmly observe the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the last ship carrying indentured labourers or Girmitiya to Fiji at only local government level next month is an insult to the descendants of 60,553 Girmitiya who have made Fiji their home and vastly contributed towards the social, political and economic advancement of our nation.

The Fiji First Government has therefore reduced the significance of this milestone event and the struggles and sacrifice of our Girmitiya to local municipal level and left it to the Councils to fund the event themselves. This is deplorable.

Government is paying lip-service to the Girmitiya and adding salt to their injury by asking the municipal councils throughout the country to fund the event themselves next month, moreso when the Prime Minister rejected a parliamentary motion by way of an end of week statement on 29th April 2016 by the National Federation Party calling on Government to declare a one-off public holiday and organise major national celebrations in a bipartisan manner with the Opposition on 11th November 2016.

He had described our motion as a political stunt. Nothing can be further from the truth. If anything details uncovered by the NFP on how Government intends to treat this historic event, as a cosmetic exercise is indeed a political stunt to solely benefit Government members who will officiate as chief guests and be in the limelight while the struggles of our forefathers will be put on the backburner. We have established that the programme will be launched in Suva by the Prime Minister and Attorney General, to be funded and organised by Suva City Council on 9th November.

We can confirm that the Ministry of Local Government has directed the town and city councils to organise celebrations in their respective municipalities that will involve an interfaith service, photographic exhibition and a documentary film.

Worse still Government is not funding the events with municipal councils and the ratepayers and citizens being asked to fork out finance. Government will only provide the photographic exhibition, interfaith prayer and the documentary film. The contribution of Government will be negligible.

All Councils have been directed by the Local Government Ministry to gather a group of prominent ratepayers and citizens in their respective municipalities to organise each event, with no involvement from Government.

And in a case of discrimination purely based on political affiliation of individuals, an executive member of the Fiji Girmit Council was told by the municipal organisers that the Minister did not want him as an organising committee member. Personalities of the Fiji Girmit Council may have their political affiliations but they are executives of the Council on merit as members of different Indo-Fijian religious and cultural organisations in the country. They are appointed to the Council not as representatives of political parties.

One hundred years ago, 11th November 1916 saw the arrival of the 87th and last ship, the Sutlej V from India, marking the beginning of the end of the indenture system that started on 14th May 1879 and resulted in the arrival of some 60,553 Indians from India to work as indentured labourers in our sugar plantations.

They laid the foundation for an industry that for more than a 100 years was the mainstay of our economy. Despite the sharp decline of the industry by 44% from pre coup levels, under both the military and Bainimarama governments of the last ten years, the industry directly and indirectly supports 200,000people or more than 25% of Fiji’s population.

And it is a matter of great disappointment that representatives of cane growers’ organisations, apart from the Government controlled Sugar Cane Growers Council, have not been invited to be part of events planned by municipalities in the cane belts.

Why we should commemorate the Girmitiya nationally and have a one-off public holiday
The indentured labourers and their descendants over the past 100 years have significantly contributed to the social, economic and political development and advancement of Fiji. This is well recognised.

They have lived peacefully and harmoniously, side by side with other races, especially with our original inhabitants of these beautiful islands, the indigenous community or the i-Taukei at all times with a few exceptions, since the start of the coup culture in 1987.

But overwhelmingly this peaceful co-existence and co-operation, the willingness of our landowners to share their resources and land and the freedom for the descendants of our Indentured labourers to put into practice, their language, culture, tradition — an integral part of the Indian civilisation, together with the blood, sweat, toil, tears and lives sacrificed by our forefathers, as well as the immense contributions of other races — has made Fiji what it has been for decades — the hub of the South Pacific.

After 100 years since the last arrival of Girmitiya, the time is right, not only for the celebration of our rich history in this multicultural society, but for a reflection of the freedoms gained, and lost, on the journey.

The forefathers of the Indo-Fijian community operated on the basis of freedom, human rights, dignity and a virtuous living — the values that, over a period of time, guided our fight against the vices of the indentured system.

Today however, we seem to have forgotten and some would have us forget, those hard fought for virtues and principles in support of those who have taken our freedoms in the past. But we have the perfect opportunity to put this right.

This should be a celebration as well as a commemoration of that single momentous event that forever changed the destiny and the landscape of Fijian society. While the atrocities, trials and tribulations of the indenture system in Fiji have been well documented, the descendants of girmitiyas have moved on.

This is evident in the way the third and fourth generation Indo-Fijians have integrated themselves into Fiji’s landscape. As such, they have tied their own personal circumstances to the destiny of this country.

We need a new culture of dialogue, unity, and co-operation with political leaders of other ethnic groups to forge a new approach to politics in this country. This dialogue should never include coercion or support for coercive activities.

Moreover, the dialogue must incorporate diverse opinions from a broad spectrum of the ethnic groups that make up this nation. As such celebrations like these, highlighting a specific group of people in all their diversity, must be the cornerstones of processes of nation building.

We need to remember the struggles and sacrifices of our forefathers for equality, dignity and justice for all our people.

In 1979, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first indentured labourers with a one-off public holiday. The 50 cents coin was minted with sugarcane on one side to mark this occasion.

Surely, this Government, which prides itself about common and equal citizenry and true democracy, can at least replicate, if not do better than the commemoration of 37 years ago, instead of simply saying no based on warped logic.

Lastly, two weeks ago Parliament voted for themselves a massive increases in allowances payable to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament. Exorbitant increases have also been approved for Cabinet Ministers as well sitting allowances of backbenchers in a vote that tore apart every fibre of transparency and accountability.

On the face of this most non transparent act, the rejection of our genuine motion for a bipartisan national commemoration and a one-off public holiday to honour our girmitiya on the historic 100th anniversary of their last arrival on 11th November leads us to ask again whether Government is at all serious about common and equal citizenry and inculcating national pride and patriotism.

The Prime Minister has, time and time again, both in Parliament and during his speaking tours to former Indo-Fijians abroad who left Fiji following the first coup on May 14 1987, reminded them of the dark days of 1987, describing the coup as a racist act. The date of the first coup May 14, ironically is the same as the arrival of the first ship Leonidas carrying indentured labourers to Fiji in 1879.

If the Prime Minister is genuine about going some way to correct what he terms as a racist act and erase the painful memories of the 14th May coup, it is still not too late to accept our request and have a meaningful national celebration with a one-off public holiday to signal the end of slavery of our Girmitiya.
Hon Prof Biman Prasad
NFP Leader


 

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13 October 2016: Media Release – Zoning Policy is Dictatorial

The Minister for Education is resorting to thuggery and dictatorship in forcibly implementing his ill-conceived zoning policy for students attending primary and secondary schools in the country.

His comment in today’s (Thursday 13th October) Fiji Times that he will “fix” school principals and head teachers who allow students from outside their so-called zones by refusing to pay the per capita student grant is symptomatic of a tin pot dictator. Flip-flop policies and political immorality have been the hallmark of this Education Minister ever since he assumed office more than two years ago.

It must be remembered that on this zoning policy the Minister last year said students who chose to attend schools outside their zones would not be entitled to free bus fares beyond the bus fare stages in their zones. Now he has gone a step further and is threatening to withhold taxpayers’ funds and denying students quality education who are enrolled in schools not within their locality.

This is shameful and despicable. He has consistently used threats against all and sundry associated with education including school management. Now he is threatening to “fix” principals and head teachers. The Minister must remember that per capita grant is not his personal money but taxpayers’ funds. Students who attend any school throughout the country are entitled to and also receive the same capita grant as students who enroll in institutions in their own zones.

Section 31 of the 2013 Constitution that the Education Minister is vociferously promoting has no limitations whatsoever as far as the right to education is concerned. Section 31(5) clearly stipulates that Government must justify it does not have the resources to apply this right if it claims it does not have the resources.

Nowhere does it state that Government can withhold resources and deny a child the right to education. Therefore the Minister’s threat to withhold per capita grant is unconstitutional. Once again the right to education and access to grant is not the personal property of the Minister.

The freedom to choose schools and access to quality education is a fundamental right of parents and students in accordance with the Education Act, and not the Minister’s dictatorial zoning policy. This right is being duly recognised by school heads. For example the 5th, 6th and 7th Forms of Labasa College were established to cater for students from throughout Vanua Levu, not just the locality within the College.

This Education Minister has become an unmitigated disaster and a national embarrassment. It is amazing that the Prime Minister continues to have him as the Education Minister despite his tearing to shreds government’s notion of common and equal citizenry by either implementing or threatening to implement warped and illogical policies to the detriment of the entire education sector.

For the sake of our education sector and access to quality education for our students, the Prime Minister must accept our proposal for an Education Commission together with a parliamentary inquiry into the Education Ministry.

 

Hon Prof Biman Prasad
Leader


 

Today’s Fiji Times headline:

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You can find the MoE policy on Zoning here, an excerpt is reproduced here:

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05 October 2016: Fiji Village – Don’t pay us the increased allowances – Prasad and Singh

“Prasad and Singh have told the Speaker in the letter that they should only be paid allowances stipulated at the old rates, if they are entitled to any allowance.:”

View online here: http://fijivillage.com/news-feature/Dont-pay-us-the-increased-allowances—Prasad-and-Singh–5r9sk2/

Please note that Hon Roko Tupou Draunidalo because of her suspension by the FFP majority, is not entitled to any parliamentary salary or allowances from the date of her suspension.

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04 October 2016: NFP Tribute to Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi

Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi is best remembered as a person whose reputation for integrity was intact because he did not succumb to the trappings of power and compromises to the rule of law in a nation plagued by military coups and political upheavals in the last 29 years.

Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi was one of the very few leaders who assumed multi-ethnic statesmanship in a country that is still at odds with itself in trying to achieve lasting social, economic and political advancement.

One should never forget that Ratu Joni was twice a victim of military coups in this country. Following the May 2000 coup, Ratu Joni resigned as a Judge of the High Court after then government was toppled at gunpoint and the Military abrogated the 1997 Constitution.

In December 2006, in his second year as Vice President, Military Commander Voreqe Bainimarama dismissed Ratu Joni from office when he did not agree with Commander Bainimarama’s plans to execute a coup to overthrow the then democratically elected government.

Democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms were the cornerstone principles of Ratu Joni throughout his career as a lawyer, a Permanent Arbitrator, Sugar Industry Tribunal, a Judge, as a Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner in the Solomon Islands, as Chief Justice of Nauru and above all as a high chief.

Humility, care and concern for the ordinary people was also at the forefront of Ratu Joni’s public life, despite the fact that he was a high chief and the Gone Turaga Roko Tui Bau. He was truly a “man of the people”.

Ratu Joni was twice the keynote speaker at National Federation Party Annual Conventions of July 2001 and March 2014. This is symbolic because both those conventions were held on the eve of the general elections in August 2001 and September 2014 respectively. He also delivered words of wisdom to cane growers at the Fiji Cane Growers Association AGM in July 2005.

Ratu Joni brought dignity and decorum to any position and office that he held throughout his illustrious and unblemished career.

The NFP believes Fiji has suffered an irreplaceable loss of voice of reason, national conscience, hope and a unifying force in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country.

As leaders we would do well to try and emulate Ratu Joni’s principles if we genuinely believe in genuine democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms at all times.

 

Hon Professor Biman Prasad
Leader, National Federation Party