Where Fiji is heading
Fiji Broadcasting Corporation TV last night aired For The Record in its new format. The first guest was Prime Minister and FijiFirst party leader Rear Admiral (Retired) Voreqe Bainimarama, host Peceli Rokotuivuna and panellists FBC Senior Journalist Edwin Nand and Fiji Sun’s Managing Editor /Training Nemani Delaibatiki.
Below is an edited version of excerpts from last night’s show:
FBC TV: In the last eight years as the Prime Minister, you’ve led a drive to change the nation’s development. Many who have come before you may have not made as many changes as you have, what’s behind this drive?
PM: As you know out of this drive in the last few years was born this movement, the FijiFirst and it came from the events of the past especially the political events in the past and most especially the political unrest in Fiji in the past. As you know and as the public know I was also the Commander of the RFMF and we felt the brunt of this political unrest especially in the events of 2000 where the deaths of our soldiers occurred. For the first time ever our soldiers died in the hands of the Fijians in Fiji. We learnt from these events especially those events in 2000, we wanted to change the ball game from what it was to where we should go. These policies that carried us from 1987 to 2000 by Nationalism, we wanted to change that so the people of Fiji can be content and feel good about Fiji and about being Fijian. That was one of the reasons we did what we did in 2006 so we can change all that and we continued from there.
FBC TV: You say FijiFirst is a movement but you’re registered as a political party?
PM: It is a party but it came out of a movement from 2000 and all the events that came in 20000. A lot of people don’t know what happened between 2000 and 2006, a lot of people knew that but they tend to ignore the facts. It is a movement to take Fiji forward, to look after the people of Fiji, the whole of Fiji at large, not just one section, not just one population and not just one race but to look at everyone in total.
Fiji Sun: Do you feel that the Constitution serves as a guarantee that there will be no more repetition of what happened in 2006?
PM: I can bet you my bottom dollar that the 2013 Constitution will protect everyone. There’ll be no repetition of 2000 and 2006 especially 2006 and that is what we have been talking about throughout, the military at least. The 2006 was to be the end of all coups and that was why we came up with the clean-up campaign.
FBC TV: Your political rivals would deny that.
PM: And what would they think?
FBC TV: No guarantee of no future coups in the 2013 Constitution, they have been doing it n their rallies.
PM: I think if you follow the 2013 Constitution there’ll be no coups.
Fiji Sun: So even if you will lose the elections there will be no coup or anything like that? In an unlikely event that you lose the elections what do you think would happen after?
PM: The unlikely event that I will lose the election, a new political party will lead our nation.
FBC TV: All the political parties have been saying that one of their top issues on their political agenda is the reviewing of the Constitution and review of all the decrees in place. If FijiFirst doesn’t win all the work that your government had done since 2006 is at risk.
PM: That’s a prerogative of a new government but let me tell you something else it is not easy to change the Constitution. You will need 75 per cent of the endorsement of Parliament, the parliamentarians and of course 75 per cent of the voting people outside parliament so it will be up to the public at large.
FBC TV: So everything that you have achieved, you relying on the Constitution to uphold?
PM: I put into the Constitution to uphold all that so that’s why I’m saying there will never be another coup if you follow that Constitution.
FBC TV: You made a statement in Rewa speaking in iTaukei addressing potential voters you explained even without the Great Council of Chiefs the traditional iTaukei system are still protected, what do you mean about that?
PM: All the other parties have been talking about the Great Council of Chiefs looking after Indigenous population so whose going to look after you? Who’s going to look after the Rotumans? Who’s going to look after the Chinese, the Pacific Islanders? I have said in the past the Great Council of Chiefs has turned political in the last 30 to 40 years.
Fiji Sun: SODELPA has been trying to target the iTaukei and we have heard that they have been spreading all these talks about land, the Constitution and the BLV. How much penetration do you think you have as a political party among the iTaukei grassroots as far as all these issues are concerned?
PM: In the last eight years our policies have been acclaimed as one of the best policies by any government. That, in itself is a penetration to the people of Fiji what we can do. We’ve gone around in our campaigns and tour as well and we have told all the people at large about the lies that have been spread but we have come up with pamphlets that talk about the issues that we talk about, all to do with the Constitution. This is one thing that my party or my movement will defend the 2013 Constitution. Everything they have talked about in this Constitution is all lies. What they have been saying in all their campaigns are all lies.
Fiji Sun: Since 2006 you have governed without an Opposition, now you will get into an election. Are you prepared to face an Opposition?
PM: That’s what democratic parliament is all about. We will win and we hope that we will continue with our policies that we have to do with infrastructure, to do with development and if the Opposition will go against them, they will have to face the public of Fiji.
Fiji Sun: One of the strengths that you have is to be able to make prompt decisions on matters of national importance and that is one of the things that people are talking about. The efficient quick delivery of your policies. After the elections when you will go through the processes of parliament you will go through that bureaucracy. Do you think that will be a problem?
PM: That should not be a problem because that is a part of the parliamentary process, its democracy that we have been craving for. This is also one of the reasons that a lot of people in Fiji don’t want this election. They want a strong decisive leader.