Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says they have evidence that some Opposition political parties are trying to sow division and exploit ethnicity and religion for their own purposes
He accused these parties of spreading lies.
It is the first such public airing by Mr Bainimarama of the resurgence of communalism that has been increasingly causing him concern. That he chose the opening of the country’s biggest provincial council to speak out underscores Mr Bainimarama’s worry about where this trend could lead the country.
Speaking at the Ba Provincial Council meeting in Viseisei, Vuda, yesterday, Mr Bainimarama said: “In the case of one of them, some of its politicians are going around the vanua telling people that the Government has sold Fiji to the Chinese.
“In fact, one of the MPs has been passing around an ancient photograph of an Australian Aborigine in chains and saying that will soon be the fate of Fijians. We are actually being asked in Government if it is true that we have sold Fiji to the Japanese, because I guess for some of these people, all Asians look the same. And yes, it would be a joke if it wasn’t so serious.”
He said they had heard the same kind of rubbish being spread about Fiji being taken over by Muslims.
“As if having an A-G who is Muslim and some Muslims in prominent Government positions constitutes a takeover.
“Friends, this is another lie. It is simply not true. And it is a sign of total desperation – of an Opposition so bereft of ideas and genuine policies that they resort to trying to scare people. Lies, lies and more lies.”
He said one of the saddest parts about all of this was that the other political party not only remained silent while these lies were peddled, but fuelled the same kind of fear.
He said they had evidence that certain figures in this political party had been sowing division between Hindus and Muslims within the Indo-Fijian community by making the same claim: “That Muslims – through the A-G – are taking over in Fiji. Wrong again. I repeat: There is no evidence whatsoever for this claim.”
“Depending on who they talk to, they even try and divide the Indo-Fijian community on the basis of whose ancestors came from North India or South India,” he said.
“But what a disgrace that a once great party that used to always promote unity – the party of nation builders like AD Patel, Siddiq Koya and James Madhavan – should have lost its way so badly by giving these people a platform. And to remain silent as this hatred is spread.
“Friends, let me set the record straight once and for all.
“Fact: there is no chance whatsoever of a Chinese takeover in Fiji. We owe China only 10.6 per cent of our total national debt and they are not in the position to take over anything.
“Fact: there is no chance of a Muslim takeover in Fiji. Less than five per cent of Fijians are Muslim so they are not in a position to take over either. And Fijian Muslims – like every other citizen – are an integral part of our nation. They not only belong, but are greatly contributing to our nation’s development.
“And that includes the A-G, who more than anyone else, has delivered the unprecedented economic growth we are now enjoying.
“The A-G is my trusted partner and friend, and I know more than anyone how hard he has worked with me over the past 12 years for our nation and the advancement of all our people.
“We are a team and a great team. And his religion and my religion have never influenced the way we do our jobs. We work closely together for the advancement of all Fijians, irrespective of religious affiliation or ethnicity. And that is how it should be and the results are there for all to see.”
But, he said, these politicians thought the Fijian people were stupid enough to be hoodwinked.
“And if this is happening already, imagine the lies when the formal campaign for the coming election begins,” he said.
“Friends, you think after a while in this job that you have heard it all. But when I learnt about the re-emergence of communalism among Indo-Fijians – Hindus being pitted against Muslims, North Indians against South Indians –it made me angry and very determined to fight it.
“In the same way, it makes me angry that we see provincialism in the iTaukei community rearing its ugly head again, with talk along provincial lines and with parties picking candidates depending on which province they come from rather than what they can contribute to the nation as a whole. We have even seen people trying to pit Fijians against each other along the lines of different Christian denominations.
“See, this is the difference between the Opposition and the FijiFirst Government. While they lie and treat the Fijian people as fools, I have the greatest faith in the judgment and common sense of the Fijian people.
“And I trust them to see through the lies and exercise their vote wisely. They can certainly see with their own eyes the progress we have made under this Government.”