People Alliance to reinstate Ratu Sukuna Day, intro Girmit Day

People’s Alliance leader Sitiveni Rabuka says that if his party forms the next Fijian government, they will reinstate Ratu Sukuna Day and institute another in honour of Girmitiyas.

Accordingly, the party has earmarked the eve of the arrival of the first Girmitiyas aboard the Leonidas schooner.  The arrival of which on 14 May coincides with the country’s first coup he orchestrated 35 years ago, and one he anticipates his critics will “try to capitalise on” to overshadow his and the party’s “commitment to promote mutual goodwill, respect, and understanding.”

Rabuka said the Girmitiyas are an important part of Fiji’s history and needed to be recognised “to reclaim and retrieve what has been missing and reconnect it to the current generation and to all the people of Fiji.”

“From a personal standpoint, I must face a fact of history surrounding the date of May 14th. It not only marked the arrival of the first Girmitiyas. It was also the date I conducted a coup in 1987. My critics will try to capitalise on this. I can do no more than once again express my regret – and shame – for what I did,” Rabuka said.

“But do not judge me now on what happened 35 years ago. Today, I am dedicated with every fibre of my being to revitalizing our country and working with the people to transform it into our own haven of the South Seas. We must rid ourselves of tyranny, secure our freedom and democracy and live together in prosperity and harmony.”

Values he felt the commemoration of the Ratu Sukuna Day and Girmit Day reinforce – the former in recognising a Fijian statesman and chief who not only committed to the welfare of the indigenous but also recognised that the descendants of Girmitiyas had legitimate needs and rights and the latter by way of reflecting a multicultural Fiji Ratu Sukuna envisioned where the people live and work together.

Ratu Sukuna, Rabuka further says, embodied these visions by way of the formation of the Native Land Trust Board that ensured Fijian landowners had enough land for their maintenance and support and at the same time had enough to lease out to others including cane farmers in a way that ensured they reaped proper returns.

“The Girmit public holiday initiative has been on my mind for some time and is consistent with the PA’s belief in building a just and united Fiji,” he said. “Ratu Sukuna saw a broader picture of a multi-cultural Fiji and what it meant for the future. Our vision is for all our communities to have a secure, equal place in the homeland.”

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