WITH the new Constitution, Fiji's national compass has been reset.
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama made the statement in his national address during the Presidential assent of Fiji's fourth Constitution yesterday.
"I was a youth of 16 on that brilliant sunny day — October the 10, 1970 — and clearly recall the surge of pride and optimism that went through everyone when our flag was raised after 96 years of British rule," Commodore Bainimarama said during his address.
"We were Fiji, the way the world should be. For the first few years, the future looked bright as we led the way to independence for a string of other countries in our region, who looked to us as a beacon, a source of inspiration and a role model.
"I remain convinced that only the most radical intervention was capable of ever turning us around. With the revolution and the new Fijian constitution, our national compass has been reset.
"It has stretched some of our international relationships to the limit. Instead of being willing to listen and understand, some of our oldest friends turned their backs on us."
Commodore Bainimarama said countries that were old friends with Fiji sought to damage the country with travel bans eroding the country's attempts to attract the best people to government jobs and boards, jeopardise ability to borrow money for development and even tried to torpedo our contributions to UN peacekeeping.
"I have to say that this campaign to sabotage our national interests filled me at times with disappointment and dismay. Because these countries chose to support a form of democracy, governance and justice in Fiji that they would never have accepted themselves.
"Had they helped us, rather than hindered us, this day might have come sooner. The election might have come sooner."
Commodore Bainimarama said the few voices of skepticism and criticism must read the Constitution.
"You will find that it meets the standards of the most liberal of democracies and international norms and conventions.
"Every month that passes, we are building the foundations of our new parliamentary democracy. Close to 540,000 Fijians have registered to vote for the 2014 election and four political parties have registered thus far.
"As I've already pledged, I will subject myself to the will of the Fijian people at the polls before the end of September 2014. It is they who will pass judgment on me and my political party, under this new constitution.
"We are now a more just and a more caring nation. Our reforms have strengthened our independent institutions and created new ones to increase accountability and transparency, and to remove systemic corruption.
"Our voice in the world has never been stronger. We serve the international community not only through our UN peacekeeping but with our volunteer retirees who are raising standards of education and health in our smaller neighbours."