There's a sensible letter in the Fiji Times Saturday September 6 which looks at the different parties hoping to win the forthcoming election. The writer sees past the personal attacks to look at the reasons why the different parties have different emphasises and says that the media uses exaggeration where there may be good reasons for each party prioritisng the needs of the people..
While all political parties are vigorously promoting equal rights for all people, SODELPA is seen as carrying extra baggage on the subject with its plans on iTaukei-related issues such as the land, iqoliqoli, tertiary scholarship, administrations, to name a few.
First, allow me to quickly sidetrack a bit here. I enjoyed watching TV programs like 4 Corners, Aaina and other exclusive interviews by politicians.
Three very important lessons I learnt from these programs;
* I prefer to receive information directly from the politicians as compared with reports by the media. Why? Hearing from the horse's mouth is much clearer and free from distortion.
* when will the media leave out the personal attacks on the politician and focus on questions that are of national interest such as reducing unemployment, improving the standard of living, improving the state of our economy, the implication of certain clauses of the 2013 Constitution on the people, lifting the education system and health services to another level, etc; and
* the politicians are not given a chance to complete their answers. By that I mean there will be one or two more questions being fired at them while he/she is halfway delivering the answer to the previous question. Making matters worse, two members of the media, across the desk, are trying to ask questions at the same time. Isn't there a civilized and professional way of conducting such interviews? At the end of the interview, I would tend to be more disappointed with the interviewer as I could not fully get the opportunity to listen more to what the politicians have to say. More time is wasted over personal attacks and little on matters of national interest.
Now, back on the topic. While some non-iTaukei and the media have argued that the SODELPA ideas are discriminatory or racist, I personally feel that the two words are too extreme to be applied in their case when I compared with the real situations on the ground.
The reality is that the different groups of people in Fiji have lived together in friendship for many and during those same years, different schools were built for Fijians, Indians, Chinese, Hindus, Muslims, etc.
Different houses of worship were built for Methodists, Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, Muslims, Hindus, etc.
Different cemeteries took up their own areas in major towns to name a few.
People do realise that the different schools, places of worship, cemeteries, etc exist because they serve to meet one or some specific needs of the different groups of people.
Surely, they were not set up to discriminate or an act of racism.
Using the same line of argument, I believe and view that SODELPA is purely wishing to address the specific need(s) of the iTaukei in certain areas that it believes can be improved or has been neglected.
Just as one political party highlights its aim to assist farmers, another to look after workers, It does not mean that they are promoting discrimination of any sort. They are merely trying to assist in specific areas that need attention and assistance to improve the wellbeing of the targeted group.
Surely, the media understands this. It is most irresponsible of the media to continue highlighting and to please refrain from using extreme terms such as "discrimination and racism" because the two words do not truly reflect the intention of SODELPA or any other political party that desires to assist a targeted group of under-privileged members of our community.
It sends the wrong signal to the people of this country and certainly to the outside world.