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Commodore Bainimarama's 2008 New Year's Message

New Year's Message By The Prime Minister, Minister For Home Affairs, Immigration And Information, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama

Ni sa bula Vinaka, Season's greetings and a happy new year to all of you who call Fiji home. We have to come to an end of a challenging year for us all. However as we herald in the New Year we all should realise that we have also made progress on quite a few fronts.

Some of these are: we have arrested the decline in state finances; we have initiated and implemented policies of NLTB through which the indigenous land owners will reap more benefits from their lands, such as the leasing of native lands at market rates; we have returned the traditional lands of the mataqali Rara; we have implemented the deregulation of the telecommunication sector which will ensure increased economic activity and reduce telecommunication costs for our citizens; we have established FICAC; we have removed discriminatory policies; we have increased provision for legal aid services and we have ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption.

What I believe is also important is that we in Fiji are now beginning to think outside the box. We are now questioning the traditional ways of looking at our problems, of solving them and how we provide long term solutions. This I believe has been a major accomplishment.

As conditions improve we must not sit back to admire our achievements but we must take encouragement from it to forge further ahead with typical Fiji resilience.

We as a nation of diverse peoples, cultures, religions are known for many things but our unique ability as one people, is our resilience, our tenacity, our ability, to be positive and have hope.

Because hope drives us to achieve better things. Hope will help us achieve a better Fiji- despite all odds, despite all our detractors.

It is true we have some way to go to get to that ideal platform - where we all have fairness, equal opportunities and prosperity across the board

But I believe Fiji is truly standing at the start of a new dawn. A dawn where we all feel wanted, all have a sense of belonging to our country, our Fiji, which we love from the bottom of our hearts.

The people of Fiji have the potential and the ability to take it to another level. It may be a level we have not thought about or even imagined but this is because we have been prevented from getting to it in the past.

Because of unscrupulous leaders and politicians who have never thought of the nation of Fiji but only of themselves and their political ambitions.

All that is changing and will continue to change, for the betterment of our country.

But we need the help and assistance of each and every one of you to help - help each other and help this Interim Government, which wants to and will make real changes, systemic changes, structural changes that will be of benefit to all of us, and changes that will build a better Fiji.

I have a vision of Fiji once again being called the way the world should be, but only this time it will have more meaning and truly be the envy of the world.

There are many inside and outside Fiji who do not want us to progress in this way. But we all must make a firm stand, make a resolution on our sovereignty, our commitment, our independence and forge ahead as a truly united and proud nation.

Its you the people that make a nation, progress can come only through you. We must stand united, move as one group with one goal in mind - progress for us all, progress for our children and our children's children - progress in every facet of our lives - whether it be health, more benefits for indigenous land owners, better roads, better jobs and working conditions, regular water supply, better transportation, better delivery of service by government departments - everything that is important to us as a community.

I truly believe in a better Fiji, in a Fiji where all her people will be content but to do this I need your help, your assistance, your patience and your understanding.

We can do it. We can become more progressive, more modern, more prosperous, more just and more fair.

But to do this we need to work together. We must be allowed to progress the Peoples Charter, without hindrance from within or outside Fiji and with the participation of all.

We are a sovereign nation at the cross roads, where others have been. We must be allowed independently to emerge out of our own trials and challenges like every other nation has done.

We are still a young nation, the prospect of a positive future we are experiencing in such a short time took other countries decades, if not hundreds of years and at a much greater socio-economic cost.

So lets all resolve to work together as a nation, as one people and be proud of our country and ourselves. Lets resolve to find strength in and celebrate our diversity to begin afresh and build a better Fiji in 2008.

I wish all of you, the young - who I know will be celebrating hard, the mums, the dads, the families, our elderly, those in the islands, in the rural areas, the towns and cities, our soldiers and police and citizens abroad and to those visiting our shores, a very happy new year and Good evening to you all.


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