Rabuka slams ‘those’ who boy­cotted Con­sti­tu­ion Day

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - ARI­ETA VAKASUKAWAQA Edited by Ne­mani De­laibatiki Feed­back: ari­eta.vakasukawaqa@fi­jisun.com.fj

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.

Rec­om­mended

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.

Photo: Ron­ald Ku­mar

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.

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