Prime Minister Hon. Sitiveni Rabuka has paid tribute to two of Fiji’s iconic leaders for their loyalty, commitment and contribution to the country.
Mr Rabuka described Yanktesh Permal (YP) Reddy and Vinod Patel as highly courageous, visionary and principled. They were models of dedication and the virtue of hard work and effort.
Mr Reddy, 89, a prominent figure in tourism and head of the Reddy Group and Tanoa Group of Hotels, died peacefully at his Auckland home on Thursday 4th January. He was farewelled by family and friends in Auckland today.
Mr Patel, 84, Chairman of Vinod Patel Group of Companies, passed away at Aspen Hospital, Lautoka, on Friday night. He was on life support for a few days after falling at his home in Ba early this week.
Mr Rabuka said he was fortunate to have been closely associated with Mr Reddy and Mr Patel during his term as PM from 1992 to 1999. He continued his association with them when he spent more than a decade out of politics.
“Both these gentlemen became renowned not only for their corporate achievements, but as philanthropists and community luminaries. They showed care, compassion and empathy for others.”
The Prime Minister lauded their immeasurable business accomplishments, providing employment in their respective companies for thousands of Fijians.
“I became well acquainted with Mr Patel during my first period of service as Prime Minister when he was a Parliamentary representative of the National Federation Party.
“It was a momentous period that culminated in the enactment of the widely-applauded 1997 constitution.
“I headed a Joint Parliamentary Select Committee (JPSC) studying constitutional recommendations of the Reeves Commission. Mr Patel was a member of the JPSC.
“Our Parliamentary mission was to search for new ways of political cooperation; and to address and resolve some of the complexities, the fears and divisions of our multi-ethnic society.
“I observed that Mr Patel was wise and intelligent. He was often restrained in his speeches and during discussions in the Parliament Tanoa Tea Break Groups. But what he said was always of value.
“We shared what I describe as ‘compassionate’ patriotism. We cared very much about Fiji and knew things had to change if the country was to progress.
“As a long-time customer of his famous hardware business, I mostly paid my 30-day accounts on time.
“There was, however, an embarrassing situation when the previous government stopped my pension. It meant I had difficulty meeting my Vinod Patel debts on time. Not to worry though. The company agreed to give me grace periods in my payments.”
I am sure Mr Patel and Mr Reddy will be surrounded by grace and compassion as they make their way to the afterlife.
Farewell to both of them and my condolences to their families.