30 May 2002

Former Fiji prime minister says racial polarisation will destroy the country

8:45 am on 30 May 2002

The former Fiji prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, has warned that continuing racial polarisation will destroy the country.

But Mr Rabuka says while there is no problem in being polarised, it is unfortunate that there is a lack of understanding or the lack of a will to understand each other well.

Speaking at an international leadership seminar, Mr Rabuka said to save future generations from the ills that affect Fiji today, leaders need to reach across the chasm to build bridges for future generations.

Mr Rabuka cited the contributions that he and former opposition leader, Jai Ram Reddy, made while preparing the 1997 Constitution as an example of sacrifice that is needed from the leaders of today.

He said in making that constitution, he and Mr Reddy sacrificed some of the securities of their communities for a better future for the whole nation.

Mr Rabuka also said the affirmative action for indigenous development promoted by the Qarase government does not guarantee the removal of racial confict between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians.

He said a change of attitude in people was required and not the giving of handouts.