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Christmas Message 2018

December 25, 2018       Executive Office, Berkeley Crescent, Suva.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Asalaamu Alaykum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia ‘e Mauri and greetings to all my fellow Fijians.

It is that time of the year when Christians around the world gather to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, over two thousand years ago. Jesus taught us about love and compassion - attributes that could bring peace to society and to the world. 

As we gather to celebrate Christmas, I would like to extend to all Fijians, on behalf of my wife Sarote and our family, our warmest wishes that you will experience the joy of love, compassion and peace. 

I also wish to thank the Government for its confidence in me and for re-appointing me as President of our beloved Nation for a second term. I ask for your prayers that Almighty God will continue to guide me in the performance of my duties.

I also thank the people of Fiji for choosing the Government to lead us for the next four years. As I mentioned in the Opening of Parliament last month, the time for politicking is now over. 

I call on all Fijians to focus on the journey ahead and especially to help Fiji grow into one of the most progressive and successful democracies in the world.  I ask that we focus on continuing to build our Nation’s economic growth and to ensure that our economic gains are felt and appreciated by all Fijians, without exception.  I ask that we continue to focus on educating our children as education will be a cornerstone of lasting growth for the Nation.  We must also continue to strengthen our democratic institutions and our institutions of justice to ensure that ordinary Fijians have access to justice. 

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, you are now aware of the passing of Fiji’s Speaker of Parliament, the Honourable Dr. Jiko Luveni.  As we commemorate Christmas, I ask that we also spare a thought for the late Honourable Dr. Luveni and her family. We remember her for the tremendous contribution she has made to our Nation not only in managing the affairs of our Parliament as Fiji’s first female Speaker, but also in reaching out to the communities around the country.  Our people now have a deeper understanding of the functions of Parliament. This is one initiative that the late Honourable Dr. Luveni undertook with unprecedented success.  

Prior to being the Speaker, Honourable Dr. Luveni served the Nation with distinction as a Fijian Civil Servant, as a staff of the United Nations, and as a Government Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.  And she, Honourable Dr. Luveni— a woman of beauty, power, and grace, who we just praised with words too vain, had left our dear Fiji all too soon.  More than a speaker, Honourable Dr. Luveni broke barriers; she inspired bright young women, and she empowered a generation.  When we, across political parties, praised her for her rise to the speakership just a couple of weeks ago, we saw beyond politics. We saw beyond gender.   We saw a woman — a powerful woman — who has helped redefine our blessed Fiji.  As your President, I am humbled to ask that all Fijian girls and boys follow in the Honourable Dr. Luveni’s footsteps.

You — you are strong. You are able. You — you are the most educated children in our history. And you — you are the future of Fiji.  

The number of female parliamentarians in Fiji is greater than ever; a clear shadow of her image. Her footprints are large, but she has paved an unprecedented path for we Fijians. May we all strive, relentlessly, to fill her steps, for the betterment of Fiji. 

I also ask that we remember all those who continue to serve our Nation either here at home or in other parts of the world. Those who proudly fly our Fijian flag and elevate the status of our country as a modern, progressive and caring Nation. 

I ask that we remember our soldiers who represent our Nation in peace-keeping duties; our health workers including our Doctors and Nurses; our Teachers and those in other professions, including our sportspeople. Sports in particular is a proven unifying factor, and I thank our National Fifteen-a-side Team for their win over France, a Tier-One rugby Nation. Our team demonstrated that our small island nation can also compete with bigger and richer nations.

My fellow Fijians, I also ask that we take stock of what we have achieved together as a Nation. Here at home, we have worked exceptionally hard to continue our economic growth for an unprecedented ninth consecutive years. 

We have started to implement our National Development Plan that will ensure we are able to realize our full potential.  The underlying goal of the National Development Plan, especially in seeking to bring greater unity among all Fijians, is similar to the teachings of Jesus Christ where the ultimate goal is to spread love, compassion and peace. 

For the first time in our history, we took our national celebrations for both our Constitution Day and Fiji Day to the Northern Division, much to the delight of our families and friends in the North. These were indications that no Fijian will be left behind as we move forward together.

We also welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to our beautiful island home with commitment and flare. I am proud of the dedication in preparing for the visit and the spirit of true Fijian unity that was portrayed.  On the last day of the royal visit, I looked around and witnessed a large group of Fijians young and old present there with my wife and me to farewell the royal couple, I was personally proud of all that we have achieved together.

At the international scene, we have handed over the presidency of the United Nations climate change negotiations to Poland. Our Prime Minister and President of COP23, Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama, has led the world well in the fight against Climate Change, another fine example of how much our Nation cares for humanity. The presidency itself was a historic achievement where we became the first small Pacific Island State to lead the world in the global negotiations. I believe that the talanoa concept that we introduced can be replicated in most other global negotiations. It could very well be a concept for peace and stability. We will continue to do all within our means to protect our environment and ensure a promising future for the generations after us. 

We are now the first Pacific Island nation to be a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, another unprecedented recognition of our efforts in advancing and protecting Human Rights. 

My fellow Fijians, Jesus was born to the world to help us sow love and compassion. It is therefore only proper that we show care for our neighbors, the elderly, the needy, the orphans, and especially our children. 

I wish to remind all parents to ensure the safety of our beloved children and to prepare them well spiritually, physically and mentally for the start of the new school year.

Also, as Fiji’s lead advocate on the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases, I wish to remind us to promote a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising regularly so that we could live longer and happier lives.

Importantly, it is my plea that we respect our brothers and sisters of other religions and also denounce the ills of society including violence against women, children and the vulnerable. 

As believers in God, we should remember that Jesus Christ was born to save the world through his teachings of love and compassion. It is through love and compassion that will help us face the challenges of the future.

To all my fellow Fijians, May this Christmas be used to bring to your families greater understanding, tolerance and peace. 

It is my prayer that God Almighty will bless all our families, communities and continue to bless our beloved Nation.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Xie Xie, Faiek’sia and Thank you.