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PM says use of social media should be responsible

October 2, 2018 5:02 am

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama has released a statement noting that Fiji has moved to forever cement the future of our democracy, celebrating he says the historic achievement of the 2013 Fijian Constitution in action.

This week, Bainimarama says, preparations to hold the second General Election began under an equal and inclusive voting system, as Fiji proudly stands as a nation whose electoral process is driven by a guiding principle: one person, one vote and one value.

Come 14 November, he adds we will witness this principle in action. Every Fijian’s voice will matter equally, regardless of where they live or their social status, regardless of their family name and their ability, and regardless of their religion, province, ethnicity or gender.

Like in 2014, the outcome of this election will reflect the will of the Fijian people; that same mandate that endowed the FijiFirst Government he notes with the sacred duty to build a better today and brighter tomorrow for every Fijian.

Over the coming weeks, the Prime Minister says there will be much debate between the politicians.

He urges that it is important that we all listen to what everyone has to say — but when we do, we must always lend a careful ear to the promises and positions of each party and, above all, we must always listen for the truth, and actively demand it.

During this election, the Prime Minister says he is concerned that many politicians will try and divide people by instilling them with fear and mistrust of their fellow Fijians.

He says, we’ve seen that many times in our history — but we cannot tolerate that old, hateful style of politics any longer. Every Fijian should reject those politics of division, lies and animosity, by shunning any who attempt to pit Fijian against Fijian on the basis of religion, ethnicity, gender, province, socio-economic status, or background.

The Prime Minister says while these political tricks may be old, the methods by which they are spread are new; today, they are being spread with a heightened level of animosity, hatred, and prejudice and also through social media.

Since the last election, tens of thousands more Fijians have gone digital; they have more mobile devices and computers, more access to affordable data and internet services, and a larger presence on Facebook than ever before.

When used responsibly, Bainimarama says social media can be a powerful tool for good; it can create a more informed democracy and facilitate fruitful and meaningful discussions online. But when used irresponsibly, it can be an equally powerful tool for evil.

Between now and election day, the Prime Minister is urging all party leaders to hold social media behavior to a higher standard — as a leader, he says it is your duty to ensure your candidates, officials and supporters conduct themselves with the same dignity and decorum online as we expect them to in person.

He notes that by not openly condemning this hatred then you are complicit in it.

Let us come together, Bainimarama says irrespective of party, and root out these destructive acts, for the good of our nation.

Adding that it’s not just political leaders who can be an agent for change.

The Prime Minister is encouraging all Fijians to look at posts they read online with a critical eye, respect the privacy of their fellow citizens, and be cautious about unwittingly participating in dangerous group or mob mentality by sharing unverified rumours.

He says, trust should not be given blindly. Because while some may try to tear down our democracy by spreading lies and falsehoods, by seeking the truth, we are all actively protecting everything Fiji has worked so hard to build.

The stakes of a civil and truthful campaign season, the Prime Minister notes are higher than this election alone — no leader, no candidate, no person should seek to undermine our economy, or tear at our social fabric, for their own short-term political gain.

No matter how fierce the political debates may rage in the coming weeks, Bainimarama says we must always remain true to the core values of the Fijian spirit: our unity, our commitment to the strength of Fijian families, our love of country, our love for our fellow Fijians and the future we share, united as one. The better and nobler parts of our nature must always prevail, regardless of our political differences.

Concluding, the Prime Minister says the most important aspect of any healthy democracy is the participation of its citizens.

You are the fuel on which this machine of our democracy runs. Educate yourselves on candidates’ positions. Ask questions. Seek the truth. Look to and demand a secure, stable and prosperous future.

And, most importantly of all, make plans to vote on 14 November.

Your nation is counting on you.