We need to think seriously about where we are headed as a nation - Chaudhry

We need to think seriously about where we are headed as a nation - Chaudhry

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 10/10/2022
FLP Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry [Photo: File]

Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says with 52 years of independence behind us, we need to think seriously about where we are headed as a nation and during some 35 years of this, two thirds of the life of our nationhood, have been marred by four coups.

In his Fiji Day message, Chaudhry says the combined effects of these coups have been simply disastrous as thousands of our professional and skilled workers left our shores for a more stable future elsewhere.

He says our economy today is in deep trouble, facing unsustainable debt levels, reliant on overseas loans and funding for budget support and accountability and transparency in governance remain a serious issue.

The former Prime Minister says close to half our people are living in dire poverty faced with prohibitive costs of living and high unemployment with over 25% of them living in squatter settlements in squalid conditions because they cannot afford a home of their own.

He says they just do not earn enough to access housing loans.

Chaudhry further says this is just as critical is the loss of freedom we have suffered as a people where our media is not free, our workers and trade unions have been deprived of rights won over decades of struggle.

He says our farmers are suffering from neglect and high production costs, not to mention prohibitive costs associated with obtaining or renewing agricultural land leases.

He further says our once thriving sugar industry which provides livelihood for some 25 percent of the population is in danger of collapse and our health and education sectors are plagued with interminable problems.

The former Prime Minister says the state of our democracy is deeply flawed subject to increasing authoritarianism and the nation is scheduled to go to the polls in a couple of months time in an environment marked by highly suppressive electoral laws, fear and intimidation.

He asks is this the Fiji we are celebrating today.

Chaudhry says we must, as a people, wake up to what is happening in our country and where we are headed.

He adds we need visionary and proven leadership to rescue Fiji from the mess created by the Bainimarama government.

Questions have been sent to the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

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