Address at the Special Investiture Ceremony for the 2016 Honours Roll.
April 7, 2017 State House, Suva.
The Chairlady of the College of Honour, Dr. Akanisi Kedrayate;
The Members of the College of Honour;
Recipients of the 2016 Honours and Awards;
Ladies and gentlemen.
Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Aslaam Alaykum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia ‘e mauri, and a very good morning to you all.
My wife Sarote and I are deeply honoured with your presence at this special investiture ceremony for the recipients of the 2016 honours and awards.
I wish to welcome and congratulate all the recipients including Mr. Ikbal Jannif, Mr. Hafizud Dean Khan, Commander Francis Kean, Mrs. Jane Ricketts and Ambassador Major-General (Ret’d) Ioane Naivalurua.
I wish to make special mention of the contribution of Mr. Jannif to the Fiji College of Honour as the longest serving member and immediate past-Chairman.
Ladies and gentlemen, today is a unique opportunity to celebrate the distinguished and selfless services rendered by our award-recipients to our beloved nation.
I have publicly expressed my commitment to cultivate a culture of appreciation for individuals like you. I intend to continue to advocate this philosophy because I wish to see more Fijians doing great for our Nation.
I strongly believe that when we recognise the exceptional and outstanding contributions of individuals, we are directly elevating them to a status that they rightfully deserve.
And importantly, we are challenging others to rise to the occasion to do well for the nation.
Fiji is experiencing a period of significant socio-economic growth. Our economy had a positive growth for the past seven consecutive years. It is projected to also have positive growth from 2017 to 2019. If this happens, we would have achieved an unprecedented growth of 10 consecutive years. The automatic outcome of strong and consistent economic growth is that our people’s socio-economic status will also improve. All the enablers within our Nation will also improve.
In all of these, Government acknowledges that our economic expansion is being driven by both the public and private sectors.
In short, ladies and gentlemen, our Nation is growing because of individuals like our recipients. You are the backbone to our progress. You have helped Fiji develop at the community, national and international levels.
Fiji’s progress is not limited to our domestic sphere. In fact, we are the first Small Island Developing State from the Pacific to preside over the United Nations General Assembly. We recently chaired the biggest voting block within the United Nations groupings – the Group of 77 Plus China.
This year, we are co-hosting the United Nations Oceans Conference in New York in June. And we will be presiding over the 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change or COP23.
There is so much happening for our Nation that will transform us into one of the most progressive and successful democracies in the world.
After today, you will be part of the 75 individuals whom the College will have recognised for the year 2016.
We all have a bittersweet memory of the events that unfolded last year. Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated parts of our country in February and a few months down the line, our rugby champions returned victorious with our first ever Summer Olympic Gold Medal. That made us become the world super-power in Seven-A-Side Rugby!
While we are still recovering from the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Winston, our resilience and ability to bring life back to normality are far much stronger. I reiterate that it is the selfless contributions of individuals like you that enabled our beloved Nation to quickly recover from such a tragedy and move on with life.
So to award 75 deserving recipients adds to the fond memories of 2016. This continues our journey towards cultivating a Culture of Appreciation.
Ladies and gentleman, I wish to mention that our records reveal that there is a need to recognise more females as they so far constitute only 27 percent of the total recipients to date.
Women’s role and contributions towards society have evolved. They have taken on far much greater responsibilities not only within the family, but also within the community, national and international levels.
They deserve to be better appreciated and I intend to see that more women are recognised for their outstanding efforts.
I wish to acknowledge all the nominators who have contributed to sharing the national vision of nurturing a culture of appreciation - I thank you most sincerely for your efforts in nominating today’s recipients.
I once again congratulate and commend all the recipients of the 2016 Honours and Awards. This should be a proud occasion for you, your families, and the nation as a whole.
May Almighty God continue to bless you all and bless our beloved Fiji.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Xie Xie, Fai’eksia and Thank you.