Monday, January 14, 2008

Same old, same old ...

SITIVENI RABUKA
Sunday, January 13, 2008

Interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama attends the memorial service for the late Ratu Savenaca Draunidalo in Suva on Friday+ Enlarge this image

Interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama attends the memorial service for the late Ratu Savenaca Draunidalo in Suva on Friday

Ni sa bula! We are already into the end of the second week of this New Year and nothing seems new.

On television the other day, parents were voicing their disappointment at the high cost of stationery as they buy school things for their children getting ready for another school year.

It is the same disappointment that was voiced last year about the same issues.

The bus operators are still pressing their assault on the interim Minister of Finance who has avoided the fight by deflecting their grievances to the interim Transport Minister.

The interim Minister for Transport will probably say he does not know anything about the issue, and he will not be lying as he has just inherited the portfolio from his predecessor who was reshuffled out a few days ago.

The interim Minister for Education will have to devise his response to the same old cry from parents and guardians of school children that he handled when he was Minister for Education in the Alliance government, then again during the post 1987 coup interim government, then the SVT government and now the military-backed Labour-manned post 2006 interim government.

I missed him at his tauvu's memorial service at the Centenary Church on Friday.

He probably does not go to the Centenary Church since he worships in the church I go to Butt Street.

Or maybe, he knew his relative that he no longer sees eye to eye with, Lai, would be there with his SDL colleagues from the military-ousted government.

The interim Prime Minister was there. And during my time, whichever function the prime minister attended, it was proper protocol for all Cabinet Ministers to also attend. If not for protocol, at least for moral support, particularly if it was during one period of agitation from the Opposition or the public or if it was important for the government to project a solid front to their detractors.

The minister of religion that gave the sermon had to change his theme after seeing the many people who came to the memorial service.

The four speeches also had an influence on Reverend Waqairatu's sermon. The talatala saw the people who came were representative of all communities in Suva and even from further afield.

Talatala took the opportunity to preach on things, issues, times and people that bring out common emotions and feelings.

At this time of rising cost of living and low wages and salaries, the common issue is the cost of sending our children to school, bus fares and taxi fares.

We in Vanua Levu have just gone through almost unprecedented heavy rains that just tore up our roads. The common issue for us since the last cyclone is the bad roads and the non-appearance of the road improvers.

After the vono vakavanua in my village on Monday the Turaga ni Koro announced at the meeting venue; "Ni sa erei a va'a i 'oti ni co mo ni otioti i rara ni oti a bose, 'ei emuni a ena vo mo lao yani I canu vatu me vaaninaatai a gaunisala sa ca tu, baleta ni sa tuna o draiva ni basi ni na sega ni lao mai e sega ni caa!"(those with lawn mowers and brush cutters are to cut the main village ground, the rest are to go and repair the road as the bus driver has said he will not service our village if the road is not fixed.)

Our village was not the only one called out to repair the government roads.

Many others also had to do their own repairs or go without bus service. The bus drivers in Cakaudrove have a lot of clout.

After our meeting, a retired prime minister, a British Army soldier, a teacher at our district school, a few civil servants on vacation and some villagers were on the road repairing it when the bus arrived near our village in the afternoon.

Needless to say, the bus driver was very happy with our DRUP (Drekeniwai Road Upgrading Program). When we got back to the village, the village ground was mown and those that neither mowed the ground nor repaired the road were already playing touch rugby on it. Such is life!

Then there are people who bring people of diverse, even opposing political, religious, social and racial views together. The memorial service on Friday was such an occasion.

People from all political parties and views were present, people from all races, people from all classes of society, people from all religions and those without any.

All had come to show their love, admiration, respect and thanks to the man the service was in remembrance of.

It was a real loss for Fiji, for, at a time like this, we need people who are selfless in their work, people who would talk to people who are political untouchables, people who are as comfortable with royalty as with peasants, with talatalas and snooker boys, people who pray and admit their shortcomings, people who know they are imperfect yet strive for perfection.

Such a man was Ratu Savenaca Uluibau Draunidalo, MC, MSD.

He would have been a perfect choice for membership of our National Council for Building a Better Fiji, because he lived the picture of a better Fiji.

Vale good soldier.

Have a blessed Sunday and a great week.

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