The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Fiji, Mr Qian Bo and Madame Lu Qi;
The Ambassador of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific, Mr. Sujiro Seam and Madame Jane Ren Seam;
The President of the Chinese Association of Fiji and
Chair of Organizing Committee, Ms Jenny Seeto;
Leaders of the various Chinese Organizations and Groups;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Boys and Girls.
Thank you for inviting me to join you today in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is a joyous time. It is not just one day; it is a celebration lasting many days, and it is usually a very loud occasion for all.
The celebration of the New Year is a time for optimism. Sometimes our optimism is tinged with sadness, especially if we are ending a year marked by great successes, prosperity and happy events. But sometimes we can hardly wait for the New Year to begin, because it is human nature to seize the hope of a new beginning. I think that is certainly the case this year.
The past year has been catastrophic around the globe. It completely upended our sense of reality. It crushed some well-laid plans. And it has cost us dearly in human life and in the economic gains we had steadily been making. But it has not defeated us.
So we thankfully bring the Year of the Rat to a close and embrace the Year of the Ox. This is a year that will be marked by those qualities we associate with the ox—steadfastness, strength, hard work and perseverance. Most importantly, oxen work best in teams, and we will all need to pull together and work together as we rebuild our economy. The vaccines we need are coming out of the laboratories and into the manufacturing phase.
Many are already being administered, and we are making sure that Fiji will get its fair share and be able to vaccinate our people as soon as possible. We will not wait meekly in line to receive this shot of life for our economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fiji has been challenged recently as never before. We have weathered two powerful tropical storms recently, but we pulled together to help each other, and we are building back better, as we did after Winston. We were slapped with a pandemic, but we stopped it at our border. We have to rebuild our economy back better, but we have protected our people. And we are hard at work to overcome the challenges of climate change. In all of this, we will win.
How we respond to events over the coming months, particularly the vaccination efforts, is important. It will shape the future of this nation moving forward.
We want to ensure that Fiji is stronger and safer opening up our borders, and that our people are not left behind from the world’s recovery.
Here in Fiji, we are safe from the coronavirus. And we are blessed to be able to celebrate with our family and friends, and we can appreciate and recommit ourselves to unity in our communities and to the values that we all share.
Our Chinese community in Fiji are not others – they are Fijians. And all of their fellow citizens can celebrate the Chinese New Year, as we all recognize, respect and celebrate other important days—such as Diwali, Christmas, Eid-al-Fitr and others. That is because we are also one community of Fijians, and we draw together to appreciate each other, to help each other recover from storms or sickness, and to build a truly great and tolerant democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here in Fiji We are all interconnected—in trade, in the need to be good stewards of the environment and our Pacific Ocean, in the need to fight international crime, and in many other ways.
Understanding and respect are the keys to making those relationships work well for all of us. And understanding and respect begin with each of us.
Chinese New Year is a time to reflect on the events of the past year, and it’s an opportunity to look forward to a better future. I wish health, happiness and prosperity for 2021 to you, your family and your friends.
Gong xi fa cai! – Thank you and Vinaka vakalevu.