The Post Fiji Board Chairman, Mr Lawrence Tikaram;
Post Fiji Director Mr. Fazrul Rahman;
The Acting Indian High Commissioner, Mr Sukanta Sahoo;
Distinguished Guests;
Government Officials;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and good morning to you all.

We are here today to introduce the postage stamp that will commemorate Fiji’s 50 years of Independence. And it is fitting that we are also celebrating World Post Day, which marks the creation of the Universal Postal Union or UPU in 1874 – funnily enough, that is the same year Fiji was ceded to the British.

By finding ways for nations to agree on postal standards and rates, the UPU made it possible for people around the world to communicate and do business with each other. It has been a marvellous example of international co-operation that has transcended ideologies, national rivalries and even wars. Mail service has been critical to people in their everyday lives, to businesses, and to global social development.

That kind of postal co-operation has been very important to Fiji, because we are far from most of the countries with which we exchange mail and parcels. We benefit from standardized rates and the mutual recognition that the members of the UPU give each other’s post. We follow that same principle in Fiji, where it costs 38 cents to mail a letter, whether it travels from one part of Suva to another or from Ono-i-Lau to Rotuma. This is one way we bring our country closer together.

Of course, a postal system needs postage stamps, and Fiji has a proud history of producing beautiful postage stamps—stamps that travel the world on letters and are prized by stamp collectors. Postage stamps are important symbols of national sovereignty and identity around the world.
In their own way, they educate the world about Fiji’s natural beauty, its wildlife, its culture and people, and its accomplishments. We have even told our history in postage stamps over the years.

The stamp we are seeing for the first time today has a face value of 38 cents, so it can be placed on any letter to be sent anywhere in Fiji. This stamp will be in circulation for two years, and then it will be withdrawn.

I urge all Fijians to show their pride in our 50 years of Independence by seeking out this stamp and using it.  I know we don’t send as many letters as we used to because we now rely so much on email and texts, but we still use the Post. And we can celebrate our proud 50 years of Independence every time we do.
And one more thing: This Anniversary will only happen once in our lifetime, so a sheet of these stamps can be a keepsake or a gift that will help anyone remember this proud moment long into the future.

I want to commend Post Fiji for another beautiful design, a design that has an elegant simplicity. It shows the Fiji flag and the official 50 Years of Fijian Independence logo. The logo is already very familiar to us. It is a solid circle of Fiji blue with the words “Fiji 50” in white. As we have said, it represents us as a young, modern, and forward-looking nation, full of potential as we embrace the next 50 years and beyond. It symbolizes our proud past and a brilliant future.

The design also includes the words “celebrating 50 years of Fijian Independence,” because this postage stamp will travel the world, and we need to inform people about Fiji. It will be sought by collectors everywhere and will appear suddenly in the mailboxes of people who receive letters from Fiji. We will want all of them to understand and appreciate this Anniversary year. In fact, I am told that 99% of the people who collect Fijian stamps are international customers. They have standing accounts with Post Fiji’s Philatelic Bureau, and they are already ordering this stamp.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a postage stamp may be physically small, but-like Fiji-its importance and its weight are in great disproportion to its size.

I am proud to release today the official commemorative stamp of the 50th Anniversary of Fijian Independence, and I urge all Fijians to use it well for the next two years as a constant reminder of what we once were, what we are today, and the greatness which awaits us.

Vinaka vakalevu – Thank you.

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