Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (May 20) – Those who took time to reflect on what happened to this nation five years ago yesterday would have mixed feelings on how far we have travelled since that fateful day.

While the nation has made some progress in areas such as rescuing the economy from the quagmire into which it was quickly sinking after May 19, 2000, much work is still to be done on healing the wounds suffered by many.

Today some are still hurting individually and as the community is hurting collectively in the aftermath of those dark days.

Five years obviously is too short for people to forget what happened to them and their properties. The shock and painful memories of those terrible times still haunt them and it will take more than national days of prayer and national reconciliation programs to erase them.

Of course everyone wants reconciliation but the Government, sadly, is wasting a lot of money setting up programs and planning legislation that fails to address the hurt and loss. To rub salt into the wound it now comes up with proposed legislation that may offer amnesty to the perpetrators.

Those who suffered just become more angry and insulted when they hear of such plans and it leads to questions about how sincere and genuine the current administration has been all along in its desire to promote national unity and peaceful co-existence.

It may be that all the Government will achieve is to harden feelings and force the two major races to continue to pull apart, rather than to come together and go forward as one.

It comes back to the lack of good governance and agendas tainted with racial bias.

It hurts people when they realise that one race is being favoured ahead of the rest. The will to survive and the moral strength to tackle the challenges of tomorrow have largely been undermined to the extent that confidence in justice and fair play is seriously eroded.

Five years down the road, so much still needs to be done to restore some hope in our existence as a democratic nation that respects law and order and in the protection of our legal rights as citizens.

There is still so much flouting of the law and infringement of the rights of individuals that some people view each other with suspicion and fear. They are less confident and very pessimistic about their future in this country.

What we badly need is something to lift the spirit and confidence of the people in this country, often dubbed the paradise of the Pacific and the way the world should be.

For that we need strong and consistent leadership that caters for the welfare of everyone, not just one race.

May 20, 2005

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