This year again, as last year, I have been unable to convey to you my message on the auspicious occasion of Deepavali through the media.
But the reason for my inability to do so this year is different from that of last year. In 2008 it was because of a hostile and biased print media; this year it is because of the media gag put in place by the interim government on April 10 following the abrogation of the constitution and the imposition of Emergency Rule.
My message to you is short and simple, and its entire focus is on the need to observe austerity in our daily lives. It is directed at the working people – farmers, labourers, office and factory workers and those who make a subsistence living.
We are passing through difficult times and the situation is likely to worsen in the coming months. There is little sign of economic recovery. The key sectors of our economy continue to under perform. Further job losses are imminent as businesses initiate cost cutting measures to maintain their bottom lines.
New investment is at a standstill awaiting the return of parliamentary democracy and constitutional rule. Even then, it will be years before investor confidence picks up beause of Fiji’s reputation as a “coup-centric nation”.
Against such a backdrop, commonsense dictates that some 80% of our people, men and women with ordinary means, will need to observe strict austerity in their daily lives in order to survive.
Tragically, more than half of this 80% are those who live in poverty-theirs is even a more daunting challenge. But let not the misfortunes of today, prevent us from hoping for a better future.
Let us all work towards a Fiji where every citizen will have sufficient opportunities to lead a decent and rewarding life.
May that day come soon with the Lord’s blessings.
Mahendra Chaudhry – FLP LeaderI