It is extremely pleasing to see that Hindu members of our Indo-Fijian community, who have made Fiji their home have maintained and continued their cultural and religious activities in a vibrant manner through Ramayan Mandalis and construction of temples.
This is most admirable as you are bequeathing a strong foundation of self-dignity and the virtues of respect and tolerance to future generations.
Deepavali or Diwali is the Festival of Lights. It is a time of rejoicing with family and friends. It is also a time for prayer and reflection. It is a time to remember the unfortunate, the sick, infirm and elderly.
The lighting of the traditional lamp, Diya, symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and most importantly, truth over evil.
The light from the Diya re-commits all of us to bring light to any place facing darkness. Hindus are very resilient and draw strength from their faith and a sense of solidarity in times of adversity. It is a time to remember the unfortunate, the sick, infirm and elderly
The return of Lord Rama after 14 years in exile is a triumphant occasion. Lord Rama is the embodiment of truth, justice, righteousness, honesty, integrity and humility.
The virtues of Lord Rama and the significance of Diwali are extremely relevant in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country like Fiji.
We have a newly constituted Parliament for over two years now, which is the highest court of the land. Parliament must make decisions in the national interest. Narrow and sectarian interests must be discarded.
The high cost of living, the decline of the sugar industry, the devastating effects of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston that has resulted in many thousands being homeless for the last 8 months, Cyclone victims forced to eat wild food suitable for animals, deteriorating public health system with shortage of basic medicine, rising unemployment, rising national debt levels, derogations in the Bill of Rights of the 2013 Constitution, regressive and draconian decrees, a regulated media and the deteriorating health system and medical services are fundamental problems that can only be resolved by a display of sound and sensible leadership.
To ignore these fundamental problems would be doing so at our own peril. In Fiji, calling everyone Fijians and saying they enjoy common and equal citizenry doesn’t guarantee fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the media. It does not guarantee job opportunities based on meritocracy, rendering common and equal citizenry meaningless.
These are the challenges we face as a community and as a nation, which unfortunately are not highlighted by the media. This reality may not be grasped by many of you simply because limitations in the Constitution and continuation of regressive Decrees that dilute provisions in the Bill of Rights, resulting in the inability of the media to disseminate such information.
As a party born out of the struggle for dignity and justice of all our people, the NFP will continue the struggle for the triumph of truth over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance so that our beloved nation once again becomes a beacon of hope and trust.
We wish the people of Fiji a blessed Deepavali.
Authorised by: –
Hon Prof Biman Prasad