Report – By Ricardo Morris of Republika
Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama has unveiled the name of his proposed party.
Bainimarama says Fiji First is a name that encompasses his political beliefs.
A 40-year-old Bedford bus, hired from Island Buses and refitted with the party logo, was presented at the My Suva picnic park in Nasese at the weekend.
This is the message Bainimarama read to journalists about the forthcoming general election on September 17:
My fellow Fijians ….Bula Vinaka and a Good Afternoon
It feels good to be among you in the park on this beautiful Sunday. We are at a special moment in the history of Fiji.
We are here today to make a very significant announcement as we get closer to our country’s first ever truly democratic elections. On September 17, the moment will come to choose whether to forge ahead or go back to the past.
Today I take much pleasure and pride in announcing the name of my proposed party….Fiji’s only political movement that will truly put every Fijian first.
People of Fiji I give you the proposed “Fiji First”.
The name of my party reflects what I truly believe in … A Fiji where every Fijian regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, status, colour, gender and creed is considered equal … where every Fijian is put first in relation to our collective progress, success and growth as a nation.
My political movement and I are getting ready to take each one of you on a journey…whether you be a commoner or a chief; a shop keeper or a consumer; a landowner or a farmer; an office worker or a labourer; a woman or a man;apensioner or a youth; a city dweller or someone living in our maritime or rural areas. We have to travel together to become the pride of the Pacific and the world.
I need you all…all Fijians to come with me on this journey, I need you to believe in my goal for a united Fiji; a honest Fiji; a corrupt free Fiji; a Fiji where the poor no matter where or who they are, are taken care of; a Fiji where the rich are more generous; a Fiji where the government is caring and loving, a just Fiji where no one is discriminated against.
I want a new Fiji where we have basic amenities for everyone, jobs for all Fijians, an educated Fiji, a smart Fiji and a happy and successful Fiji for all Fijians.
My government started this journey for a new Fiji…a Fiji where you Fijians are put First…we have had many successes in a short time:
- We now have free education for all Fijian children;
- Our roads are being upgraded and new ones being built;
- More Fijians have access to electricity now than ever before;
- More Fijians have access to drinking water than ever before;
- Our youth are now given more opportunities through the scholarship program and the tertiary education loan scheme;
- We now have pensions for those over the age of 70;
- We now have three universities all of them funded by the Fijian government;
- We have introduced new laws that protects and empowers our women and children;
- We are now giving more recognition and rights to Fijians with disabilities;
- My government has ensured that iTaukei land now has actual and real protection for the first time so the iTaukei will always keep ownership of their land;
- We have reduced corporate tax to encourage businesses to create and sustain jobs;
- We have modernised numerous laws to bring Fiji into the 21st century and clean up the mistakes of the past;
- We have created new opportunities and economic growth by putting in place fiscal policies that generate confidence and encourage investment;
- We have reduced personal income tax and increased income tax thresholds so that those who earn less take more money home; w
- We have brought about equality for all iTaukei ensuring that lease monies and access to education are not just for the elite iTaukei but for commoners also; and
- We now have free text books and subsidized bus fares for our school children who come from poor families.
These are just some of the things that we have achieved in such a short time.
My government is delivering on our vision of a Fiji that recognises, very simply, we are all Fijians. We will at the same time celebrate and protect the rich and diverse mixture of traditions and indigenous culture that builds a strong united Fijian community.
But we have much more to do. The work that we started must continue. If the work is completed under the proposed Fiji First, we will become more prosperous, Fiji will be more peaceful and Fiji will become a stronger nation. You and your families will have a better future. But the work my fellow Fijians cannot be completed without you coming along with me on this journey…we all need to put Fiji first…the proposed Fiji First needs you.
No longer do the interests of a select few come before what is good for all Fijians. We must put Fiji first.
Next week I will take leave from work and begin my journey on this bus to meet everyday Fijians like you…I need your signatures to register the proposed Fiji First…I need your thoughts, your ideas and well wishes and your support. I invite you to come and talk with me as I travel the country. Some of you haven’t chosen a party yet, others may have already registered for another party. Regardless, let’s get together and talk anyway. We must face the challenges of the future together…..you and I must put Fiji first.
My fellow Fijians it’s a great day today …..and I believe it’s going to be better as we head off home now to see our victorious Fijian 7’s team continue to do well……as we try to win back to back tournaments….it’s symbolic that the proposed Fiji First is launched on a day when all Fijians come together as a nation.
Thank you and vinaka vakalevu and have a good day.
Ricardo Morris is editor of the independent news magazine Republika.