Monday, May 31, 2010

Proud day for 5 navy officers

Fiji Sun News -- 29 May 2010

Five young men were rewarded for their dedication when they graduated during the Naval Officers Commissioning and graduation parade held at the Fiji Navy base at Togalevu on Friday, May 21.
Officers Petero Saunivalu, Osea Lutunacagibula, Osea Madavosa Natuva, Apakuki Salabogi Tukana and Jervis Marvin Robinson successfully completed their 18 months of intensive naval training and pass out.

Eager to find a seat before it rained, I quickly make my way with some friends and an aunt, Lima Kaumaitotoya.

For many of us, this is the first time we had entered the Togalevu Naval base.

The naval officers looked smart in their white uniforms while others were in blue.

It was a cloudy day and the sea breeze was blowing, but the warm welcome from these naval officers was reassuring.

For some reason the thick black clouds held back and decided not to unleash rainfall.

As we take our seats, I realised that we sat close to officials including the Commissioner of Police, Commodore Esala Teleni, senior military and naval officers like Lieutenant-Commander John Fox, and the head of Fiji Navy, Commander Francis Kean.

Members of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces band stood out in their red and white uniforms.

The chief guest for the occasion was Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimara.

In his deliberations he congratulated the five officers, their training officers and expressesed gratitude to family members.

This is the closest I have ever seen Prime Minister Bainimarama.

My impression of him was that he was an official who did not mince his words and has a no nonsense attitude.

He is precise about his expectations. He demands “excellence in the command of duty and inspiration” from these officers.

In addition he stresses the importance of officers “upholding the ethos of the institution” because no one “is immune” to navy policies and disciplinary standards.

One of Commodore Bainimarama’s most interesting points was the need for young naval officers to remember the oath they had undertaken to serve the institution and the nation. This is especially, in the current challenging situation when Government is embarking on a mission to ensure better changes for Fiji.

After the formal ceremony, Prime Minister Bainimarama, was first to invite guests for afternoon tea.

The graduation ceremony was a proud day for the Naval Force and Fiji as a national.

Firstly, senior naval officers can rejoice because these five officers have endured tough mental and physical training.

For a while, I am left wondering why so few officers passed out today.

It’s only after a senior Navy officer explains that Navy training is more challenging than military training with more than half of the initial recruits pulled out at some stage of the programme.

This is also perhaps the first Naval Officers Commissioning and graduation parade in which a ‘kailoma’ or part European male, Jervis Marvin Robinson, was awarded the best officer in training and best all rounder recruit.

Salesh Lal is also perhaps the first ever male of Indian origin who becomes a diver in the Fiji Navy.

Osea Madanavosa was awarded best general naval commanding officer and best in academic during training course.

Without realising it, the ceremony passes quickly.

In the evening we made our way to the military base at Queen Elizabeth Barracks at Nabua, Suva for dinner. The food was delicious and one makes the most of wine and beer.

A band entertains the crowd.

After dinner the five naval officers were first to dance and waltz with female partners.

A senior naval officer explains that these officers spent several hours the previous night practicing their steps.

For a while we felt ashamed as our friend, Josephine Miller, calls out for some funky music and does not hesitate to dance.

Having visited Togalevu Naval base and Queen Elizabeth Barracks for the first time, I must say that I am impressed.

Firstly, the hygiene and cleanliness standards are high with buildings well maintained.

It’s also unusual to see many physically fit civil servants who do not engage in yaqona drinking often at work or have their skins covered in ‘kanikani’.

The day certainly belonged to the five graduating naval officers, but this was also the very beginning of a new journey.

These officers will be posted to different sections of the Fiji Navy and including different parts of Fiji.

The institutions expectations of these officers will increase.

Wherever their journey may take them, they must always remember their commander’s expectation of “strong leadership”.

Comments posted on
  • The prestige and accolades accorded these fine young recruits after the completion of their courses are what parents look forward to after their children are put through strenuous and emotional work for three or more years. They will have a career in the Navy with the watchful eye of their Commander Francis Kean and the Illegal PM.

    Our children coming out of USP, FNU, and other institution local and abroad won't be so lucky. A university lecturer told me that post graduate students are going straight to Delainabua to join the Army because ithat is the only chance of getting a reliable income. Degrees don't matter, its the stability a job provides that counts.

    With these officers, they get to be invited to QEB for tea, dinner, the band entertains them and as this reporter adequately puts it, "one makes the most of the wine and beer"...a very posh affair indeed.

    The reporter failed to agree with Khaiyum on this report branding the best recruit as "Kailoma"...that's after the illegal AG Khaiyum pronuonced everyone Fijian. Still racist if you ask me, so in preparation for the "Race free" electoral reforms, they call their best a young man with no race, or half this and half that, I would be insulted if I was a parent of this young man.

    Waltz was the choice of introduction to tripping light fantastic for these officers, and I could imagine a night of indulgience and drunk behaviour up at the Military HQ.

    There is no fair play in what they do, it's only in what they preach or propagate, that's where biblical teaching stops, out of their mouths....the teachings forgot to get to their hands and what they do.

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