Installation as Chancellor of the Order of Fiji
July 22, 2016 State House, Suva
The Hon. Prime Minister and Mrs. Bainimarama
Honourable Cabinet Ministers and your respective spouses
Your Excellencies the High Commissioners and Ambassadors
Ladies and gentlemen
My wife Sarote and I are deeply honoured with your presence this morning, and we thank you most sincerely for gracing the occasion with your presence to witness my installation as Chancellor of the Order of Fiji.
I also wish to thank the Honourable Chief Justice for his time in administering the Oath of Office.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to announce this morning that I intend to ensure that Fiji continues to cultivate a culture of appreciation by recognising the many men, women, youth and children who have and continue to contribute to Fiji’s development as a Nation.
The Fiji Honours and Awards Act was established in 1995 for this very purpose. I am aware that since its establishment, we have yet to honour the maximum number of individuals – 35 to be exact within the General Division – that is allowed under the Act, for each year.
However, and I am certain you will all agree with me that Fiji has made significant progress since 1995. In the past decade in particular, we have made monumental transformations to reposition our Nation so that it can be among the great democracies in the world.
Domestically, our economy is experiencing positive and consistent growth and we are increasingly viewed favourably by international monetary organisations.
I have no doubt that our improving economy is not only due to the prudent financial and resources management, but it is also due to the very active participation of the private sector, the non-formal sector and the community-at-large in driving economic growth.
This positive economic growth equates to the progressive improvements in the standard of living for Fijians. It is also providing an enabling environment to enhance and advance many other spheres of our national life.
Internationally, Fiji has raised its standing in the international society of States.
Never in our young Nation’s history have we taken on significant leadership positions at the international level.
Our chairmanship of the Group of 77 Plus China and our recent and historic elevation to chair the United Nations General Assembly, among many other international roles, are classic examples of a Nation that is willing to contribute more than its fair share to the international community.
The Honourable Prime Minister in recent times has appropriately reminded the international global community, that “Fiji is punching well above its weight”. How true and let us be proud about it.
Again, all these have only been possible through the hard work of countless individuals who have developed the ability and the spirit to work in tandem to raise Fiji’s status and profile.
The adage that No Man is an Island rings true for Fiji. We have been able to achieve much within the international community due in part to the support of many ‘Friends of Fiji’. I also look forward to recognising and appropriately acknowledging the contributions of such friends.
The Order of Fiji was instituted to recognise merit and achievement by citizens of Fiji, and occasionally, as honorary appointments, by non-citizens.
The recognition is made across the whole range of human endeavour and achievement, including but not limited to Government and the civil service, local body administration, industry, diplomacy, health, education, law, the arts, sport, religion, the news media, environment, youth development, charity, and indeed, including all other areas in which service to Fiji is identified.
We can expect that for the immediate period, our sports representatives will continue to promote Fiji during the Rio Olympic Games, which starts on 5 August. In fact, in anticipation of a very fruitful outing, I have directed the College of Honour Secretariat to be prepared to honour our successful medal winners and officials.
Importantly, ladies and gentlemen, the renewed focus on recognising those who actively contribute to Fiji’s progress as a Nation, is also aimed at complementing Government’s current efforts and emphasis on inspiring all Fijians to take greater pride and be more patriotic for Fiji.
As a Nation, we cannot make much progress without the willing participation of all Fijians.
We need to work together with Government to help Fiji realize our real potential – not only to be among the great Nations in the world, but also to ensure that we build a solid and sustainable foundation for our children now and well into the future.
I have also encouraged the College of Honour and the Secretariat to ensure that we extend our appeal throughout Fiji for people to submit nominations that the College could consider for this year’s honorees. I am pleased to hear that nominations are beginning to flow in. The deadline for nominations for the General Division was set for the end of this month, but I am sure the College will be happy to consider an extension of a few weeks to allow for more nominations from the public including the conclusion of the 2016 Olympic Games. In this regard, I am proposing to extend the nominations deadline to 31 August 2016.
I also look forward to receiving nominations from the Disciplined Services and from the Civil Service.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you again for your presence this morning.
May Almighty God continue to bless our beloved nation and all Fijians.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria and Thank you all