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SUVA, Fiji Islands (December 22, 1999 - Fiji Daily Post)---President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara has called the so-called "New Morality," in which men and women can change marriage partners as frequent as the Suva weather, disgusting.

"If a man can change that frequently, where does polygamy start and monogamy end?" Ratu Sir Kamisese said in an exclusive interview that involved a wide range of issues.

"The family is of fundamental importance in the encasement of our quality of life and must be given due regard in our society," he said.

When asked about his advice to the nation's youth considering marriage, he said, "I had an arranged marriage and I cannot give advice to the young on marriage in this liberal age."

He respects and honors his wife, Adi Lady Lala, who, as the Roko Tui Dreketi and paramount chief of the Burebasaga Confederacy, was schooled in the old values of service and respect.

His eldest son, Ratu Finau, wanted to take the mother of his two children with them to New York when he was appointed to the post of Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Ratu Mara would not allow it.

"Other civil servants would be demanding special privilege for their illicit partners if we allow this. No, we can't have it," the president said with a sad nod. "You have to set an example as a leader."

Now well into their 70s, Ratu Sir Kamisese and Adi Lala have been married for 47 years and have seven children.

He recalled how Claire Booth Luce of Life magazine asked him what advice he would give people seeking a durable and fulfilling marriage. He simply responded: "Follow me."

On the significance of the New Millennium, Ratu Sir Kamisese said: "The Millennium Celebrations to me signify the 2,000th birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are fortunate to be alive during the Sector Millennium because in a way it confirms our faith in Christianity, which has endured for 2000 years."

On why the celebration is on Vanabalavu in Lau, he said: "(The Lau Provincial Council) first of all wanted to celebrate the occasion on Lakeba, Yasayasa Moal and Vanuabalavu. Logistics made that impossible so we settled on Vanuabalavu."

On sports and recreation, he said: "I enjoyed the sports I participated in my young days. Sports makes us learn to give and take, support your team and give the exercise you need for a sound mind in a sound body – ‘men sana in copore sano.’"

As for what he considers is his major achievements of life, the president said: "I believe the time to see clearly the (contributions) a leader makes is when he is out of harness. However, two contributions I have made included development of multiracialism and helping the development of pine planting through my request to Prime Minister Sir Keith Hoyoake for help, which the NZ Government gave us in terms of money, $3,000,000, and technical help. Through my devotion to multiracial understanding, I was able to persuade my contemporary leaders to form the South Pacific Forum, the Pacific Islands Development Program, and of course, I was one of the founder member of the ACP (African Caribbean and Pacific Association) where I was mainly responsible for solving the sugar cane price and made possible the establishment of the Lomé Convention."

As for his advice to indigenous Fijians on business, he said: "I cannot help in any advice in running businesses for Fijians. My business advisor experience involved losses in shipping business, in cooperative stores and copra mills."

He did not want to answer questions related to another constitutional review currently being demanded by some Fijians. "(I) cannot discuss our Constitution," he said.

On death and epitaphs, he said: "I pray a lot for the souls of my ancestors, relatives, friends and enemies who have passed away and I usually ask the Lords to give their sins and that they may rest in peace. So my epitaph should read: May his sins be forgiven and his soul rest in peace."

Meanwhile, three ships left Suva yesterday with hundreds onboard for millennium celebrations on Vanuabalavu.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji’s Daily Post.

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