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Rear Admiral J. V. Bainimarama, CF(Mil),OSt.J, MSD, jssc, psc

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Public Service, Peoples Charter for Change and Progress, Information, iTaukei Affairs, Sugar Industry and Lands and Mineral Resources



The Chairman of the Fiji Performing Rights Association,
Distinguished Guests,
My fellow Fijians.

Bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

I’m delighted to be here for this evening of celebration as we pay tribute to the talented men and women who are truly the rhythm of our nation - who entertain us all and bring us so much joy.

Tonight we are here to announce the winners of the inaugural Fiji Performing Rights Association Music Awards. It’s been 16 years since we last had a similar event so these awards are long overdue.

And it’s a special pleasure to be holding them in our capital in such a wonderful new venue– the refurbished Grand Pacific Hotel.

At last, Suva has a world-class facility capable of staging world-class events. In fact there’s only one way to describe the new GPH – pure class. And as I look around the room, it’s great to see you all looking so classy yourselves.

It’s the kind of place - isn’t it - that makes you want to dress up, to look your best. And it has certainly lifted the tone of Suva, which every day looks better and better.

We want to be proud of our capital, just as we want to be proud of our nation. And tonight we can all be proud that Suva is really starting to shine, determined to cement its place as the genuine hub of the South Pacific.

Tonight is also a night to be proud of our music industry and the incredible talent of the men and women who entertain us and embody the Fijian performing spirit. In many parts of the world nowadays, live performances have been replaced by recorded music as venues struggle to justify the cost of employing musicians. But thankfully not in Fiji.

On any night of the week, you can venture out to see some of our best musicians – many of them already recording stars – playing live in our hotels, nightclubs and restaurants. And many have also travelled further afield taking the Fijian musical spirit to the world – whether it’s LaisaVulakoro in Port Moresby, SumeetTappoo in Bollywood, Victor Rounds in Sydney or Michelle Rounds in Cairo.

Someone is also composing the original material these musicians perform, and tonight we also celebrate our composers - those people behind the scenes who write thesongs and tunes we hum and sometimes can’t get out of our heads.

As you know, the Fiji Performing Rights Association is a non-profit organisation that administers the copyright entitlements of more than 600 local composers and their right to draw an income from their works.

My Government has worked closely with the FPRA to enforce the copyright laws on local compositions and end the reign of the pirates. It hasn’t always been easy and we still have some way to go. But we share a determination to stamp out the intellectual theft that has deprived local composers of the money they deserve and will keep hunting the pirates down.

But tonight is a night to celebrate – as we honour the achievements of our local composers, singers and artists in 12 categories covering the full spectrum of Fijian music.

We have the usual varieties – of best I’Taukei song, best Indo-Fijian song, best English song. But I’d also like to make a plea to the industry for more items that are a fusion of some of these genres or of all three.

This is not about diluting our individual cultures and I’m not saying that it should happen all the time. But I personally would like to hear more music that brings some of our cultural strands together to develop a unique and more inclusive Fijian sound.

Just as in our nation as a whole, we are moving away from separate development to encourage unity and the notion of One Fiji, we don’t want to perpetuate a form of cultural apartheid when it comes to the performing arts. And I think there are definitely opportunities for composers to start bringing some of these strands together when they write their tunes and songs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not a night for political speeches but to put the spotlight on those men and women in the music industry who make us all proud.

Nonetheless, I just want to make the observation that the success of your industry in many ways mirrors the success of our nation as a whole.

There’s a new spirit in Fiji, a new confidence, as more and more people realise that we don’t have to remain locked in the past, that we can work together as a nation in a new way that is more inclusive and more creative.

We’re rather like a bunch of individual musicians with a variety of talents and instruments finally coming together and realising that we can form a pretty tight band.

At last, Fiji as a nation is beginning to find its voice. The discordant notes of the past have faded and everyone has begun to sing together in harmony. And it’s a song of unity, of every Fijian belonging, expressing our collective dream that we can finally fulfil our destiny and truly be The Way the World Should Be.

As I keep saying all over the country, and especially to our young people: there has never been a better time to be Fijian.

Great things await us as a nation if we can stay unified and focussed. And as this evening shows, there has also never been a better time to be a Fijian composer, musician or performer.

Congratulations to all the winners and all those who have made this industry what it is.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you. And I hope you all have a great night.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications