CAPTION: The President Of the Republic of Fiji being entertained by a Chinese Dragon.
THE Chinese community has been an integral part of Fiji and has contributed to its rich diversity, says the President, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
As the Chinese marked their New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, the head of state said the Chinese community through their contribution in business and especially in farming have made immense contribution to the Fijian economy.
“The Chinese community, though small in size, is hard working, responsible and law abiding, and is not only a very important asset to the Fiji economy but also, and more importantly to the development and future progress of Fiji,” he said.
“Chinese businessmen and farmers have provided the impetus to our nation’s growth and have been a key in the development of our exports in the agricultural industry.”
He credited these farmers as the reason why Fiji has an abundance of vegetables supplied to markets such as ginger, dalo and marine products.
The President was chief guest at a very colourful and entertaining New Year’s celebration starting with the energetic dragon dance and many other performances that showcased not only the Chinese culture but fusion performances to depict how the Chinese have integrated into the Fijian society.
Ratu Epeli paid tribute to the venue of the celebrations, Yet Sen, an institution that he says has always been the heart and soul of many activities by the Chinese community.
“Apart from providing a first class facility for the students of Yat Sen, the hall is widely used for sporting activities – international ones at that – and thus provide an additional development venue for the sporting associations of Fiji,” he said.
Chinese Association of Fiji president, Mrs Jenny Seeto, explained that the Spring Festival signified happiness, harmony and good wishes but was also significant for the farmers as they will start harvest later.
“The contribution by the farmers to our economy is well known. I wish to pay tribute to our hardworking farmers and families who toil the land all year,” she said.
The lively event saw business houses especially the five banks and other famous Chinese restaurants joining the association and the Chinese Embassy to come up with the necessary finances to mark the biggest cultural festival in the Chinese calendar in style.
On a lighter note, Ratu Epeli related to the audience that it was an interesting coincidence that this year marks the Lunar Year of the Snake especially as both the First Lady, Adi Koila Naitikau and he were born on the Year of Snake.