Rabuka slams ‘those’ who boycotted Constituion Day
Those who didn’t turn up to celebrate Constitution Day with the intention to boycott it had missed their chance of showing their true capability of national leadership, says Sitiveni Rabuka.
The SODELPA leader made this statement after the first Fijian Constitution Day celebrations at Albert Park Pavilion and Grounds in Suva yesterday. He was the only leader from the Opposition political parties who attended. The National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad, Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry were conspicuously absent. Mr Prasad instead gave Radio Australia an interviw in which he claimed that Constitution Day was a sham and meaningless exercise. But Mr Rabuka said: “It was a great celebration and very well organised. I enjoyed the participation of young people and also seeing people turning up in large numbers.”
He said it was the first time that our nation celebrated Constitution Day.
“We celebrated it on the refurbished Albert Park and we are renaming Southern Cross Road as Constitution Avenue, so the whole the thing was good, I had very good vibes and happy to be there,” Mr Rabuka said.
He said some critics had opposed his decision to join the occasion. “The invitation was given to me on Monday; some people that I spoke to last week recommended that if I attended the occasion it would show that I endorse the Constitution.
“I said No! The invitation is from the Prime Minister, for me personally.” He said someone told him that he shouldn’t have attended the occasion as it was not his Constitution.
“I said it doesn’t matter, you people can change the constitution, you can have another new constitution, amend this constitution, it is the constitution of this Republic I declare, and it’s my Republic, a new constitution, so I went along,” Mr Rabuka said. He said SODELPA party supported his decision to attend the Constitution Day. Mr Rabuka said his invitation was personally delivered at his home in Namadi Heights. “In 1990 we passed the new constitution for Fiji, many people were against it so they decided to stand for elections, because only through Parliament can we amend and re-engineer the Constitution. “A lot of people who fought the elections didn’t like the Constitution but they had to go in to fight according to the provisions of the Constitution so that they could get into Parliament with the specific reason to makes changes to the Constitution, we went there made the changes in 1997 and came out with the Amendment Act,” he said. Mr Rabuka said when he was Prime Minister there were people who didn’t like his political ideologies, but he still invited them to such occasions. “They came because I invited them as the chief executive officer of Fiji and Prime Minister. Out of respect for the office they accepted my invitation even though they disagreed with my politics,” he said. Mr Rabuka said we must attend invitations from the Prime Minister. He said he had the chance to speak to some Government MPs who were close to him. “These are personal friends whom I know personally, why lose your friendship because of politics? Today was a great opportunity for elders of the nation to come together. “We cannot be behaving like children, demeaning ourselves,” Mr Rabuka said. He said when people attended such events they tended to overcome their own personal prejudices.
“It’s a great thing , and those that didn’t come deliberately because of the differences in politics, they missed a great opportunity to show they are capable of national leadership and going above their personal differences, thinking about things in the national interest rather than personal or political party interest,” Mr Rabuka said.
SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka (right, third row from bottom) and wife, Sulueti, joined Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (bottom row, middle), Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (bottom row, left), with other key Government Members of Parliament and invited guests during the Constitution Day celebrations at Albert Park yesterday. He was the only Opposition party leader to join in the celebrations.