Pacific punching above its weight
In a comparision with families around the world, the Pacific family as we like to refer to our collective island countries, is no different.
We have our moments.
There are squabbles, fierce competitions, one-upmanship, envy and jealousy, co-operation, sulking, boasting and we don’t always see eye to eye.
In fact there are all of those behaviours that individuals display in small, nuclear families.
We bask in the glow of compliments when our achievements, talents and skills are commented upon.
And for the most part, we also employ a circling of the wagons mentality and a protective air should anyone from outside of our region, take a pot shot at our island neighbours in a critical or derogatory manner. .
It is also true that as very small dots on a vast ocean and the fact we are largely isolated from the larger countries, we also share a pride in each other’s achievements.
The most recent example of that was of course at the Rio Olympics.
While Samoa was in shock that we couldn’t even get to qualify and compete in the rugby 7s event, it was not long before we threw our support behind our neighbour Fiji who totally blitzed the opposition.
If they had not done so well, we may have then shifted our support to New Zealand or at a pinch, Australia, maybe.
But there was no need.
Not only did Fiji win the admiration of rugby fans for their entertaining and devastating skills, they won the hearts of sports viewers for their genuine humility as they received their medals from Princess Anne at the awards ceremony.
Who can forget those moments?
And it seems that politics is not so unlike rugby where you hammer each other till the final whistle on the field, then shake hands and wander off to share a beer and conversation.
Our front page story today is about the appointment of Fiji’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, to the position of President of the United Nations’ (71st) General Assembly (U.N.G.A.).
Ambassador Peter Thomson, is a fifth generation Fijian on his mother’s side according to the Fijian Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama.
The Prime Minister also notes that Thomson’s success in gaining this position is not only a coming of age for Fiji, but for the entire region.
There are also rugby like references to ‘nail biting finishes’ and ‘tight winning margins’ – four votes in the secret ballot of 193.
In this following section of his speech, Bainimarama sounds positively statesmanlike as he pays tribute to the extended Pacific family and touches on what benefits will come from having a Pacific voice heading the General Assembly.
“I especially want to warmly thank my colleagues and our ambassadors of the Pacific Small Island Developing States. Because they worked in unity with Fiji as we pursued this goal and our victory is as much a victory for them and their governments as it is for us.
The voice of the Pacific coming through louder and clearer in New York than at any other time in the five decades since we began to take our places here as independent nations.
As we all know, it is not a moment too soon. Because only by speaking with one voice can we get the world to pay attention to the great challenges that face us all – climate change, sustainable development, the health of our oceans, the position of our women.”
His pride is our pride.