Former Commissioner for Fiji Corrections Service, Major General (Ret’d) Ioane Naivalurua;
But before this, may I commend and congratulate The Parade Commander and The Men and Women of The Contingents for your very smart turnout and parade this morning. Well done for I am certain that you have made Commander Kean, The Command and Administration Echelons of the Corrections Service and your families, Relatives and Friends equally proud too.
As the Corrections Service Institution, mandated and obligated with the primary responsibility for administering Retribution, Deterrence and Rehabilitation within our beloved nation, I would like to commend and congratulate each and everyone of you for your unwavering commitment and fortitude in the performance of your duties and thank you also for the manner in which you and your predecessors – (some of whom will be receiving their awards today and some who had been presented with their awards earlier in the month), had remained resolute and loyal in supporting our Government and our People over the years to this historical and important milestone since Independence in our history as an Independent Sovereign State.
As a young and developing nation we have had our fair share of challenges over the years since Independence, but with Almighty God’s love and blessings we have ‘weathered the storms’ to date. Now as members of the Discipline Forces we must maintain the trust and confidence of our People at all times and as your President and Head of State I charge you with this responsibility!
Ladies and gentlemen, at this juncture, please allow me to commend and thank Dr. Akanisi Kedrayate – The Chairperson of the College of Honour and her dedicated and hardworking Team over these past weeks for strictly adhering to my request, for they had done exactly that and more.
Nominations that have been received to this day, the College Team have been very particular and diligent in their work to ensure that this special and historic commemorative Medal is presented to deserving members of the Public/Private Sectors and Civil Society.
This, Ladies and gentlemen is in conformity with my wish to further nurture and promote my Institution’s and hopefully our National psyche and “Culture of Appreciation and Inclusivity”.
As I had reminded the recipients, families and friends during the earlier investitures, that on the 1st of October, 2020, I travelled with my Staff accompanied by the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the Acting Commissioner of the Fiji Police and some Senior Government Officials to Levuka with two aims in mind – Firstly, to begin our journey of celebrations where it all began about 156 years ago with the Signing of The Deed of Cession in NASOVA between the Chiefs of Fiji and the Representative of The British Crown and secondly, to reassure the Chiefs and people of Levuka of Government’s and in line with my primary responsibility as President – and the “Pillar of National Unity,” that during this period of National Celebrations of commemorating our 50 years of Independence, – “No One and Community Should be Left Behind”.
At the end of this month, my Team and I will again visit Levuka to formally close Fiji’s Independence month-long celebrations with the final medal presentations to deserving Fijians in The Old Capital.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you can understand that, inevitably, the present COVID-19 Pandemic has had a profound effect on our National Plan to commemorate and celebrate this important milestone in Fiji’s young history, resulting in a somewhat scaled down overall national celebrations programme.
But this should not dampen our “Fijian Can Do” spirit nor deviate our focus and attention from the fact that within a period of half a century since Independence, our young and developing nation has evolved into an acceptable level of universal socio-political and economical maturity that we should all be proud about in today’s unpredictable and uncertain global environment that we live in.
Furthermore, with our typically famous Fijian friendly, positive and ‘Can Do’ attitude to life, Ladies and gentlemen, we are proclaiming to our citizens and our wider global community and the Fijian diaspora that, “This Is Who We Are – We – Are – Fiji”! – A Small and Developing Independent Sovereign State which despite the COVID-19 Pandemic is determined to celebrate a worthy cause and is continuing to “Punch Above Its Weight” in leading the world community by passionately addressing some global problematic issues like today’s, – Present, Real and Serious Threat to the survival of Humanity – Climate Change and the Preservation and Protection of our Oceans.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my humble opinion that despite the “New Norm” which has been unfortunately, imposed upon humanity by the world-wide COVID-19 Pandemic and as of Wednesday this week the report of one imported COVID-19 case, we can still rejoice and celebrate certain events in life – like this month’s 50th Anniversary Independence National Celebrations by being positive and firm in our faith in The Almighty that our beloved Fiji is blessed and as a Nation and People, we should be forever grateful, hopeful and embrace the Future Together and Believe that the next 50 years and beyond – the journey ahead would be Peaceful and equally Prosperous.
Ladies and gentlemen, since the beginning of this month our beloved nation had welcomed Government’s proposal to commemorate our Golden Jubilee of Independence and had embarked on a celebration mood and spirit, culminating over on Fiji Day, October 10th with a spectacular Parade and splendid performance by The Republic of The Fiji Military Forces and Fiji Police Force which I proudly reviewed in the morning followed by a Reception which my wife and I gladly hosted at the State House in the evening.
For those of you who attended these events, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for gracing those historical occasions with your presence.
50 years is indeed a long time in one’s life and we have come a long way as a Country and People since Independence to claim our rightful place in our global community as a responsible and respectable developing Independent Sovereign State which is proud of its achievements and contributions regionally and internationally.
Ladies and gentlemen, 25 years ago on Independence Day, 755 individuals were awarded a similar commemorative medal and we look forward to celebrating our Diamond Jubilee of Independence in style too. I still wear mine with great pride and hope that those of you who will be honoured with this 50th Anniversary Medal today will also share with me the same proud and patriotic feeling that we belong to a nation which cares for its people and rewards them accordingly for their individual and collective efforts at nation-building.
Ladies and gentlemen in conclusion, in celebrating Fiji’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, we have shown the World Community that we are; A Resilient People, A Strong People, A Caring People, A United People who are collectively confident that with Almighty God’s continued guidance and blessings, Fiji is destined to achieve more great things in the next 50 years. On that note Ladies and gentlemen, Congratulations once again to all the Recipients and I look forward to the next couple of days in which my Staff and I will be travelling to other parts of our country to present the other deserving members of our various communities with their 50 Years Commemorative Independence Medals.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Xiexie, Faiak’sea, Thank you All and God Bless.