Massive responsibility

AS the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, yesterday outlined the State’s ambitious plans for reforms and development over the next four years, there will be a sense of accomplishment on the part of many people around the country.

There is bound to be an appreciation of the steps already taken to get us back on an even path so to speak.

The President touched on the historical significance of yesterday.

He spoke about a chamber that had seen some of the greatest events in our history.

These, he pointed out, included the meetings of the legislative council in colonial times that “set the scene for our independence from Britain”.

It included the gathering of our first parliament following independence in 1970.

Within the walls of parliament, he said, “had echoed the voices of great historical figures who fought for our rights and those who led us to nationhood”.

But, as he pointed out, the chamber was also the setting for one of the most traumatic and painful events in our history, “whose impact lingers with us almost three decades on”.

He was talking about the events of May 14, 1987 when a group of soldiers entered parliament, “stopped proceedings and herded the newly elected government of Dr Timoci Bavadra away at gunpoint”.

It was the first of four disruptions to elected governments over the years.

We echo the President’s words when he reminded MPs that they must never forget that the Fijian people are listening to and watching proceedings in parliament.

As he rightly pointed out, “they will not easily forgive or forget those who put petty arguments for short-term political gain before the great challenge before you to work together to move our beloved nation forward”.

“It is a sacred trust that you have all pledged before god to uphold in your oaths of office. Those who have sent you here have already demonstrated their passionate desire to exercise their democratic right with a remarkable election turnout of more than 80 per cent.”

It goes without saying then that members of our 50-member parliament will be carrying the hopes and aspirations of a nation that is undoubtedly very keenly following developments in the parliamentary process.

They will shoulder the responsibility of making decisions that will have an impact on our lives.

They have our endorsement to make changes for the betterment of the nation.

And that is a huge responsibility.