The extension of his Visa will enable Fijians in Wellington and other parts of New Zealand to engage and meet with Ratu Tevita over their many concerns about their home country Fiji. We also regard Ratu Tevita's visit as providing a unique opportunity to learn and be part of efforts to return Fiji to democratic rule.
You will no doubt be aware that due to strict reporting restrictions in Fiji, we have been unable to learn or follow key developments in Fiji that directly impact on Fijians in New Zealand. These include, among others:
· Changes underway to Fiji's national savings and retirement scheme – Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF)
· Changes to utilisation of Fijian land
· Changes to Fijian institutions at national, provincial and village levels; and
· Ideas and ways in which we could contribute to support our families and efforts underway to move Fiji closer to civilian rule.
We note that Australia's decision to grant Ratu Tevita an extended stay has enabled him to travel to key States there meeting and sharing with Fijians about the real situation in Fiji. This has been very well received by those involved and has led to renewed optimism and hope that both Australia and New Zealand's stance on Fiji are well grounded and supported. In fact some of us would like to see an escalation in efforts to further target sanctions against those from both New Zealand and Australia who are aiding the regime of Frank Bainimarama. Like Ratu Tevita, we share the view that while current sanctions are working, there is scope for it to be further strengthened.
I also know most Fijians in New Zealand would welcome the opportunity to meet and engage with Ratu Tevita despite his previously high profile role in the current regime in Fiji. This desire is based on the fact that Ratu Tevita has willingly accepted the role he played in the 2006 Coup and his readiness to face up to the consequences on return to normalcy in Fiji. To Fijians, receiving and engaging Ratu Tevita is in no way condoning the part he played in the 2006 Coup, but merely extending common courtesy and Fijian generosity to someone who has turned from his bad ways. Therein lie the opportunity to utilise and support Ratu Tevita in his quest to inform governments about the real situation back in Fiji as well as sharing a common way forward via the Ten Point Plan that was recently launched in Canberra, Australia.
While others may have voiced a contrary position, we are firmly of the view there is nothing to be gained by not working with someone who's willing to put his guts and soul to secure the same outcome we're all been seeking for Fiji. Whatever side of the argument one takes on this issue, there is no doubt we're all united that we want a return to democracy for Fiji and soon. The people in Fiji and the nation deserve it and are crying out for it. To quibble about Ratu Tevita's motives or indeed his sincerity to rid Fiji of the dictatorship there is sadly missing the real objective of all our efforts.
Thank you for the opportunity to place before you our request for an extension to Ratu Tevita's Visa and to appraise the government of New Zealand about our genuine desire to learn of the real situation in Fiji.
Mr Sai Lealea
Wellington Fiji Pro-Democracy Movement
Reflection by Luvei Viti Think Tank Forum