SUVA, Fiji (Sept. 25) – One of the most frequently heard complaints across Fiji’s diverse communities is that while people at the grass roots level have long ago reconciled their differences over the events of May 2000 and their aftermath, the politicians continue to bicker. Indeed, it is frequently argued that if only the politicians would remove the word "reconciliation" from their vocabularies, the process would continue much more smoothly. It seems that even reconciliation has become a political football booted around and across the racial divide.

Most people are sick of it.

Most people also know that Mahendra Chaudhry is not possessed of a forgiving nature. Indeed, he is more inclined to score-settling than forgiveness. But in the case of George Speight’s offer of a reconciliatory meeting, Mr Chaudhry’s reluctance is not difficult to understand or appreciate. How does one reconcile with a person who uttered death threats? Even so, Mr Chaudhry should reconsider. Even if he cannot forgive Speight, the national interest would be best served if the two could at least meet so that Speight can make his confession and apology.

His offer is no doubt genuine and Mr Chaudhry does the nation little good by spurning it – no matter how he feels personally. For surely it is time to put the national interest first. And the national interest dictates that our leaders of all races and political hues take reconciliation seriously and stop treating it as a political issue.

Of course, it must be recognized that for Mr Chaudhry to agree to such an encounter would involve a Herculean struggle of will over inclination – but he would derive all the more credit if he could but bring himself to that meeting. The message to the nation would be far more than merely symbolic. For if the two main players in the tragedy of May 2000 could set aside their differences, surely the rest of us would be more than ready to follow suit. Think again, Mr Chaudhry. For the nation’s sake.ª

September 27, 2004



Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment