Academic: Look at every ethnic group’s problems

Professor Steven Ratuva during a public lecture at the University of South Pacific on Wednesday. Picture: FIJI GOVERNMENT FACEBOOK PAGE

One ethnic group’s issues becomes the problem of another if there is no concerted and collective effort made to address it.

Award-winning academic and University of Canterbury pro-vice chancellor Professor Steven Ratuva said this in an interview with this newspaper on Wednesday.

He said it was for this reason, the Great Council of Chiefs should seriously look at every ethnic group’s problems and not just iTaukei issues.

“From a big picture point of view, it is important to know, as we’ve seen in other countries, that the problems of a particular ethnic group becomes the problem of another if we neglect the particular ethnic group in terms of their wellbeing, in terms of their political rights, in terms of iniquity — it’s going to impact not just on them but also on others,” Prof Ratuva said.

“And that’s in terms of whether its increasing crime or instability, whether it’s to do with other forms of negative consequences.

“That’s why in the case of Fiji, unfortunately, we’ve seen our problems as our own and then we lock ourselves into little compartments when in fact other ethnic groups should also be involved in terms of equity.”

Prof Ratuva said recent data which showed that the iTaukei made up 75 per cent of Fijians living in poverty should send alarm bells ringing.

“And that is not just an iTaukei issue, it is a national issue. Other ethnic groups should be part of that because the consequences of 75 per cent poverty in terms of the social issues to do with crime and what we’re seeing here — the little boys on the street and the insecurity people face and all those things,” he said.

“These all emanate from the resource distribution and the opportunity distribution and the fact that the problems of the iTaukei become a national problem.”

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