Epeli Ganilau

Fijian politician and chief (1951 - 2023)
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Ratu Epeli Ganilau (10 October 195123 March 2023) was a Fijian chief, soldier, and politician. He was the founder of the National Alliance Party (NAP).

Miscellaneous quotes edit

  • Race is a fact of life and is not a problem unless people make it out to be so. (2003)
  • The process of electing members of Parliament to represent the people is at the heart of western democracy. Fiji courts are also part of an independent judicial system which is firmly rooted in western democracy. The basic civil lesson that our children learn in school is that democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people … Mr Qarase should answer whether he wants the western system of governance which allows him to be prime minister or the Fijian tradition which requires the chiefs to rule by virtue of their birthright and rank. Otherwise, he is just being hypocritical to save face. (4 September 2005, reacting to a speech made by Qarase at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association on 29 August, claiming that democracy was alien to Fiji).

Excerpts from a speech at the launch of the NAP, 8 April 2005 edit

  • We are here today, not so much as to launch a political party but more so and more importantly we are here today to project a vision that will inspire hope.
  • For too long, we have allowed fear to dictate our politics and suspicions, to shape how we perceive other communities.
  • If we learn how to love others, really, truly love them, not for who we want them to be, but rather for who they are – for the perfect souls that God has created – then we have learnt one of the greatest lessons of life.

Excerpts from a speech to the Fiji Institute of Accountants, 28 April 2005 edit

  • I would like to make the point that we cannot undo the past but we can learn from it, and we cannot predict the future but we can shape and build it.
  • Now is not the time to be simply paying lip-service, it is time to stand up and be counted, to stand together and not to be swayed or moved from our path towards true unity, and the peace and security that we aspire to achieve.
  • To create a Fiji where people of different ethnicities, religions and cultures can live and work together for the good of all, can differ without rancour, govern without violence and accept responsibility as reasonable people intent on serving the best interest of all.

From a speech to the Lautoka Rotary Club, 13 May 2005 edit

  • When we leave out people on the grounds of ethnicity we limit our options. As such, we become poorer because we are not making optimum use of our human resources, thereby depriving us of the returns and full benefit of our capabilities.

Remarks made at the launch of the Navua branch of the NAP, 4 June 2005 edit

  • There are those people who are acting irresponsibly … and spreading their gospel of fear and hate and not doing anything to help the ordinary people put bread on their table for their families.
  • I believe we must not fight fire with fire, we will be burnt. The only way in which we can stop these extremist elements from destroying the nation is by ensuring that they are not given an opportunity to be in a position of controlling the destiny of the nation.
  • This is what the National Alliance stands for: To respect all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender and religion, to uphold godly principles and moral values and to respect the rule of law.

Reaction to comments from Archbishop Petero Mataca, 23 June 2005 edit

  • It does not say much about the credibility of the Prime Minister for him to be saying publicly that the Christian churches support the bill after these deliberate acts of deception. (In response to Mataca's claim that Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had misled a delegation of church leaders as to the true contents of the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill, which Mataca and Ganilau both oppose).

Guest speech to the conference of the Fiji Labour Party, Lautoka, 30 July 2005 edit

  • For too long we have kept ourselves in our ethnic boxes and continue to see ourselves as either indigenous Fijians, Indo-Fijians, Europeans, part-Europeans, Chinese, Pacific Islanders, or others. For as long as that wall remains we will continue to view one another with suspicion and distrust. This is the fear that is fueled by political manouvering to keep us divided while for some to remain in power.
  • Government seems unaware that the more race-based measures it tries to put in place the faster that time bomb burns to detonation point.
  • I would like to offer for the unity of our people, the adoption of multiracialism as the core ideal in searching for a clear way ahead. We need to get out of our comfort zones, our ethnic boxes and truly embrace multiracialism.
  • For our people to have lived together for one and a quarter century it is difficult to believe that at a personal level so little cultural transfers have taken place.
  • We need to marshal and direct our energy toward building this nation into a peaceful, prosperous and proud bequest to our children.
  • As a country, we have not started to see how much we can achieve as a nation and we will not have any idea of our strength if we continue to deny ourselves the opportunity to come together as one people. We have not been able to pool the resources and talent of our people and exploit them for our common good. It will continue to evade us if we continue to stress our ethnicity and group differences.
  • As a people, we have not been able to chart a clear map toward a common destiny. We will not be able to do this if our leaders continue to promote sectional and separate development.
  • We pay lip service to multiracialism but we fail to put it into practice because we continue to see most things and ourselves from our own ethnic perspective. So long as the personal attitude persists, we will not see us one people of Fiji and our future will not be secure.
  • What I would like to see is a greater degree of interaction that will lead to a much better cross-cultural understanding than what we have in Fiji today.

Speech at the launch of the NAP campaign for the 2006 election, Rakiraki, 6 August 2005 edit

  • We should not allow ourselves, individually or our ethnic communities to become easy tools for politics of race that will continue to segregate us mentally and emotionally.
  • Touted as a legislation that will promote unity, it has done exactly the opposite. It has divided this country, apparently and sadly along racial lines. (on the government's controversial Reconciliation, Tolerance, and Unity Bill, which Ganilau opposes).
  • The danger … is that unscrupulous politicians have continued to preach their racially divided visions for Fiji.

Father's Day comment, 3 September 2005 edit

  • To all the families out there without their fathers they must remember that our eternal Father in heaven will be there for us at all times and we should celebrate because of that.

Address to the Pan Pacific HIV/AIDS Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, October 2005 edit

Source: Fiji Times, 31 October 2005.

  • No nation would refuse to fight an invading army because some expert argued it would be cheaper to invest in defenses against future invasions. It is not a matter of prioritising lives now over lives tomorrow.
  • I am making a very personal commitment myself. This is a war I am not accustomed to but it is a global war and we are in a global army, fighting against a global enemy - HIV/AIDS.
  • We cannot afford to ignore HIV/AIDS. We can only ignore this battle at the cost of being regarded by future generations of Pacific Islanders as lacking the will, the foresight, the understanding to tackle this issue, which threatens our very future.
  • We must move with speed to mobilise all sectors of society in a stepped-up drive against HIV/AIDS, accelerating the pace to halt the virus before the Pacific's window of opportunity slams shut.
  • If this is neglected, any effort at development will fail, because factions will emerge with their own form of protest that would drive underground anyone seeking help. This will endanger whatever development has taken place.
  • (Silence) denies the existence of HIV/AIDS, and prevents discussion of the human rights violations fuelling the pandemic, and constrains the mobilisation of resources and partnerships required to expand the prevention and care (of HIV/AIDS).

Views on the chiefly system edit

Source: Fiji Times, 20 November 2005. Ganilau made these comments in the wake of a decision by the Rewa Provincial Council to leave the position of Chairperson vacant, until the government changed the Constitution to allow chiefs who are also politicians or public servants to take up Provincial Council chairmanships).

  • The decision by the Rewa Provincial Council to leave the chairperson's position of the council vacant until the Government has changed the constitution to enable the paramount chief of the province to take the position seems strange in this day and age.
  • In any case paramount traditional heads of provinces should, in my view, welcome the fact that their people who have had education and experience can relieve them as in the traditional line of delegation from the many functions the chiefs are required to do now, particularly if they are public servants or have not had the background of education and service as their people.
  • To share responsibility with the people of the province should be, in my view, the proudest bequest of a chief to his people.

80th birthday celebration of Satya Sai Baba, Lautoka, 23 November 2005 edit

  • How often have we seen the bigotry of the religious fanaticisms and intolerance that have occurred in Fiji?
  • Temples have been desecrated, places of worship are destroyed, all in the prejudice view that one religion is the true one and others are not.
  • We must learn that all religions proclaim the unity of divinity and preach the cultivation of universal love without regards to caste, creed, country or colour.
  • There are daily acts of violence to the general public and in all levels of government we have witnessed corrupt practices of bribery, extortion, misuse of public funds, abuse of office and all the pervasive singling out of one race. But in reality, to use it as an excuse so that a select few will benefit in wealth and position.

NAPF convention, 17 December 2005 edit

Source: Fiji Sun, 17 December 2005

  • One (path) is confrontation and the politics of exclusion. The other is the path of cooperation and trust. We either embrace the concept of multiracialism or we go down the path of racial vilification and alienation.
  • All of us are mere mortals and must consult. The spectacle of Parliament and the antics of our politicians serve only to distract us from the very real problems that we face as a nation.
  • Whether some people like it or not, Fiji is already a multiracial society. We have different races, but that does not mean we should only work for the good of our own race. We have to truly understand one another, learn each other’s languages, and truly work together. There is huge potential in Fiji, and we would be amazed to see what we will achieve, if we work together.

New Year message, 02 January 2006 edit

Source: Fiji Times, 02 January 2006

  • It (2006) will be the year of rebuilding and reclaiming the lost confidence, the lost spirit and the lost soul of our beloved country.
  • As a loving religious and caring nation the spiritual dimension of our resolve is to exercise restraint, goodwill, tolerance and understanding with all races in Fiji.

External links edit

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