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Opening of the Fiji Scouts Annual General Meeting

April 29, 2017       State House, Suva

The President of the Fiji Scouts Association, Mr. Abhay Nand
The Vice-President of the Fiji Scouts Association, Mr. Semi Vela
The Treasurer and Chief Commissioner of the Fiji Scouts Association, Mr. Jone Naisau
The Secretary and National Executive Commissioner of the Fiji Scouts Association, Mr. Joji Qaranivalu
Fiji Scouts Commissioners, Leaders and Stakeholders

Good morning, Ni Sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Asalaam Alaykum, Ni Hao and Noa’ia‘e mauri to you all.

It is indeed my pleasure to welcome you all to the Fiji Scouts Association Annual General Meeting. I am deeply honoured to host this as my first meeting in my capacity as Head of State and Chief Scout.

I acknowledge in particular those who have travelled long distances including those from the interior and outer-lying islands to be here today. This is a great example of the sacrifices that you continue to make as you help build the character of the young people and future leaders of our beloved Nation.

We are here today because we have agreed to serve and teach our young progenies. We have willingly given ourselves to become volunteers, supporters, leaders, teachers, helpers, mentors and companions to all the scouts we serve.

In fact, serving the scouts movement is serving the Nation. We have a duty to train and guide the young people of this country to become model citizens.
The difference we make in their lives today will most certainly bring personal honour followed by industriousness and prosperity for our country, as these young people develop to become leaders in their respective families, communities and at the national and international levels.

Character-building programmes like scouting, which was established in Fiji in 1914, have contributed significantly to Fiji’s progress as a Nation.

Just as our people demonstrated resilience to overcome the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Winston last year, scouting and other programmes like the Girl Guides, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the St John Brigade and many others, including religious organisations, have over the years been persistent in building the character of many young people who have become great national leaders.

These leaders have brought our Nation to where we are today. Fiji’s socio-economic development, for instance, is improving each year as exemplified by the consistent positive economic growth over the past seven years. Government projects that this growth will continue over the next three years. When that happens, we will set a record of ten years of positive economic growth.

This consistent positive economic growth is filtering down to the level where Government is able to improve our national infrastructure, improve our education system, our health system and, among other things, open up more opportunities for development at the individual and national levels.

At the international level, Fiji has set an unprecedented record of taking on leadership roles including chairing the Group of 77 Plus China with over 130-member countries; presiding over the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly; co-hosting the United Nations Oceans Conference; and presiding over what is going to be a critical factor affecting the lives of our future generations – the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change or COP23.

All these, and more, are significant achievements for our small island nation. They are great examples of the type of leadership roles Fijians can play in the international community.

I have every confidence that the investments we have made in our young people, and continue to make, will enable them to take on similar leadership roles in the near future.

For the immediate period, I appeal, as the Head of State, to all associations like the Fiji Scouts Association to work together to help the young people of Fiji.

We must immediately address social problems like the high rate of school dropout; juvenile delinquency; drug consumption; bullying, physical, sexual and mental abuse of the vulnerable members of society; break-down in family values; and other social and health issues like the rise of Non-Communicable Diseases.

We must guide our children in the right direction. Such organisations must foster friendship, tolerance, understanding, perseverance and leadership. All these, and especially decisive leadership, need to happen at all levels of society for us to make lasting, sustainable and just change in our beloved Fiji.

I applaud the principal objective of the Scouts Movement to develop good citizenship among young people by teaching them survival and life-saving skills, and training them to improve their physical, mental and spiritual development.

Additionally, in promoting discipline, confidence, teamwork and leadership, you are promoting the desired qualities that will assist in the overall character development of our young in becoming mature, responsible and patriotic citizens. All these are attributes our young people need to take Fiji forward well into the future.

Once again, I thank all the Scouts Leaders – including those who are here today and those who could not make it. I commend and thank you all for your voluntary service to our Nation through our young scouts.

I now have much pleasure in declaring the Annual Meeting open.

Vinaka vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Xie Xie, Fai’eksia, and Thank you.