VANUATU OPPOSITION LEADER SPEAKS HIGHLY OF FATHER LINI

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First PM ‘can’t be compared to anyone else’

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 23, 2012) - Yesterday as the country commemorated Lini Day in honour of Vanuatu’s first prime minister, Opposition Leader, Edward Natapei described the first Vanuatu Prime Minister and his team that fought for the country’s freedom from the colonial powers as incomparable to any Vanuatu leaders today.

"I must say that late Father Walter Lini and his team can’t be compared to anyone else, it is very difficult to compare them with anyone else today," MP Natapei told a gathering at Seadside area yesterday.

"I classify them in their own class. I myself can’t compare myself with the kind of leadership of Father Walter," Natapei said.

"All of us who came after them are a long way behind.

"In fact when I was first elected Prime Minister, I announced in Parliament that I felt like David when he was looking after sheep when he was asked to run a country.

"Because for a shepherd boy to run a country is not easy, and to compare us with Father Walter, it is sad to say but we are a long way off."

The Opposition leader then spoke about the works and directions set by Father Walter Lini that the current leaders, people and the country is straying from.

Natapei says one of the main issues that the late Fr Lini and his team talked about a lot when fighting for the country’s independence was for all land to be returned the custom land owners which rallied a lot of support from people at that time.

"But this very day we have already forgotten what we have achieved during independence.

"What Father Walter Lini stood for, what his party stood for, what leaders who follow him stood for, we have forgotten and started to complain.

"We complain that there is no money to run schools, no money to fix roads, no money for medicines in hospitals, but we have forgotten these things.

"So that’s why we gathered here today to remind ourselves again of the struggles that our leaders went through.

"Back then it was not easy for those leaders, but am honored that some of them are still here with us today."

He said most of them were not paid for the sufferings they faced and few who had jobs back then sacrificed a lot to help those spearheading the move for Independence.

"Today it is sad to see that we are making the same problem that we fought hard for, we have sold our lands which is being overtaken by foreigners again and one day our children will suffer because we failed to hold on to the land that our leaders like Father Walter Lini had fought hard for," stressed Natapei.

"The decisions they took were for the best interest of our nation. But if we look at a lot of leaders today, many decisions they took is for their personal interest unfortunately.

"One of these days we will sit down and cry because of the decisions of our current leaders are only concerning their pockets but not for the welfare of our nation.

"So that’s why it is very important in times like this, the day that we are celebrating is to remind ourselves again of the struggles of our leaders to regain land to keep our identity."

The Opposition Leader then added that it is also important that those who struggled with Father Walter Lini should also be recognized.

Some of these leaders include Donald Kalpokas and Peter Taurakoto, George Sokamanu, late Pastor Timakata, late John Naupa and other founding leaders whom Natapei said are still incomparable.

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