Christmas Message - 2019
December 25, 2019 State House, Suva
Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Asalaamu Alaykum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia ‘e Mauri and greetings to all my fellow Fijians.
During the Christmas holidays, Christians around the world gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born over two thousand years ago.
In the Christian faith, the birth of Jesus is also the birth of hope, love, and forgiveness - attributes that every person can use to better their lives and the lives of those around them.
This Christmas, I am grateful to the Government and the people of Fiji for their continued confidence in me as President and Head of State of our beloved Nation. I constantly ask for your prayers that Almighty God will continue to guide me in the performance of my duties.
I ask all Fijians to be Christ-like this Christmas and be of service to your fellow neighbours. Now more than ever is the time for one and all to work together, love one another, listen to one another and lend your time and resources to those less fortunate in your communities. This is how we build a strong nation, by striving for progress while also looking out for one another.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, throughout 2019, Fiji has secured great achievements and victories and overcome tremendous challenges, and – together -- we have made this year another successful one. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that all Fijians are taken care of, and that no one is left behind.
I wish to acknowledge our national effort to ‘Plant Four million trees in Four years’, as well as our backyard gardening programme to strengthen Fijian food security and improve nutrition. Together with our hard-working farmers, we have made our agriculture sector more output-focussed, bringing diversity and sustainability to farms across the country.
Our Health and Medical Services sector is continuously striving to improve its service delivery. The staff of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services are working tirelessly to take the measles vaccine to our most vulnerable people, whether they live in towns or cities, the highlands, or the most remote islands in our beloved country.
We are vaccinating those most at risk of being infected and spreading the disease, and I am especially asking parents of children between the ages of six (6) months and five (5) years: please get your children vaccinated, help us protect your family, and our Fiji.
Our national carrier, Fiji Airways has acquired two new Airbus A350 aircrafts, becoming the first airline based in the South Pacific region to operate the A350. These planes are bigger, quieter, and emit less carbon – making them better for our planet. Fiji’s voice on the world stage has retained its transformative power, as we have championed sustainability, women’s empowerment, human rights, climate action, oceans preservation and inclusive economic development.
This year, Fiji welcomed the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank – the largest meeting we have ever hosted. We also welcomed world leaders, including Australian Prime Minister, Honourable Scott Morrison, the Crown Prince of Norway, His Royal Highness Haakon Magnus, the New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Honourable Winston Peters, and the United Nations General Secretary, His Excellency António Guterres as part of his official visit to the Pacific. All of these visits are testament to Fiji’s rising star on the world stage.
Our friendships have never been stronger, nor have they been more impactful in improving the lives of our people. All across our nation and the wider world, Fiji’s victories – big and small – are making our country better, stronger and more inclusive.
Yes, we are guided by my government’s vision and ambition, set out through our National Development Plan. But – at the end of the day – it is you, hard-working Fijian families, who drive our progress and carry our nation forward.
As we near the end of 2019 we must celebrate all those who played pivotal roles in our progress as a nation this year. All those who proudly fly our Fijian flag and elevate the status of our country as a modern, progressive and caring Nation.
Those who extend our hospitality to visitors to our shores, as well as those who share Fiji’s perspective with the international community.
All those who go to work – day in and day out – to provide for their families. Those who teach our children. Those who care for the sick and injured. Those students who study hard and dream big for the future. Those who compete for 'Team Fiji' and harness the unifying power of sport for our people – and I congratulate our Sevens team on their fourth World Series titles.
And, of course, we must celebrate those who keep us safe from harm, our police officers and all those members of our discipline forces who represent our Nation in peace-keeping duties.
But, despite our progress, we still suffer longstanding plagues on our national life. The prevalence of violence against women and children in Fiji is disturbing and unacceptable. It is a problem rooted in the mentalities of far too many Fijian men. Only together, can we uproot the deeply-held patriarchal views entrenched in our society and build a Fiji where all women, girls, boys – and men as well -- are all safe from harm. I urge our people to report domestic and sexual violence when they see it or experience it. Call out abusers. Call number 1560 anytime, any day of the week to reach our domestic violence helpline.
Jesus was born to the world to share love, kindness and forgiveness. We must meet his example by showing love and care for our fellow Fijians, regardless of their background, their religion, their ethnicity, their gender or physical ability.
As the old adage goes “Love conquers all”, when we look at each other and look to one another through eyes of love we erase all obstacles to our progress as a nation and our development as a people. As we enter the year of our 50th Anniversary of Independence, let us enter a new era of civility, respect, and love for our fellow citizens. If we do so, our next 50 years will surely be the greatest 50 years we have ever known.
I would like to extend to all Fijians, on behalf of my wife Sarote and our family, our warmest wishes that you will experience a happy, safe and blessed Christmas. It is my prayer and hope that God Almighty will keep you safe and bless all our families, communities and continue to bless our beloved Nation.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Xie Xie, Faiek’sia and Thank you.