Fiji to remove ‘outdated’ union jack from flag

New flag should reflect Fiji’s current position as modern, independent nation state and not its colonial past, says prime minister
New flag should reflect Fiji’s current position as modern, independent nation state and not its colonial past, says prime minister
Fiji will remove the union jack from its flag and replace it with a design that symbolises the Pacific country, not former colonial power Britain, the prime minister has said.

Voreqe Bainimarama, a one-time coup leader who was elected in September in Fiji’s first elections in eight years, said the flag had served the country well since independence in 1970 but was now outdated.

“We need to replace the symbols on our existing flag that are out of date and no longer relevant, including some anchored to our colonial past,” he said. “The new flag should reflect Fiji’s position in the world today as a modern and truly independent nation state.”

Fiji’s flag is light blue with the union jack in the top left corner. It also features a shield with the cross of St George and a British lion, along with sugar cane, bananas, a palm tree and a dove of peace. “What does this have to do with us?” Bainimarama asked, saying the images were “honoured symbols of our past, but not our future”.

He said a national competition to design a new flag would be held, with the aim of hoisting it on 11 October, the 45th anniversary of independence.

“We must all have an open mind about the final result, but it should be symbolic of the unity of the nation and instantly recognisable the world over as uniquely and proudly Fijian,” he said.

Bainimarama scrapped the Queen’s birthday public holiday in 2012 and also removed the monarch’s head from the country’s currency when he still ruled by military decree.

He pointed out that New Zealand, Australia and Tuvalu were the only other former British colonies that still had the union jack on their national flag.

New Zealand will hold a binding referendum next year on changing its flag, with conservative prime minister John Key favouring a design featuring a silver fern, similar to the one worn by the All Blacks rugby team.

Australia has also faced periodic calls to change its flag, particularly before key events such as the 2000 Olympics.

The flag debate in Australia is closely linked to whether the country should become a republic, an idea rejected in a 1999 referendum.

My fellow fijians whats your take on this.. I know we should change our flag at some point,im all for it,but is this the right time to do it,is Voreqe the right person to be making the changes.Or just because Britains stance on how he got to power since 2006 and wouldnt cooperate with him and his government on some issues that he  retaliates with this kind of reaction to inflict some form of retribution..Im quite suprised with the timing of this flag change..After all Britain has provided our young men with jobs(British Army) and education since Ratu Sukuna and the likes till today and is one of our closest ally and still gives aid to us . I think we should do it in a much more friendly way considering Britains help in the past to our people by changing it through a refferendum maybe without being so obvious just because our current government cant get their way with them(Britain) on some issues. So whats your view. New Flag or Not. Your reasons...What design would you put or like to see on the new flag ..Should we have a refferendum for the change or let one person decide i.e Voreqe. Should we leave it for another future government and leader to do the changing since Voreqe maybe such a divisive figure for the nation ..Views please

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Why change something that is working? How many times do we need to change a flag of a country? 

This is a change for the worse like most which is now affecting us economically and socially.

Trying to fancy our independence will take us nowhere but isolation. Britain has now stop yaqona which only hits hard on the boys in the army from entering its country. So do we think further severing our ties with UK by removing the Union Jack will help? No.

Bula Pita,Thank you for kicking start the topic. So you dont want the flag to be changed which will result in isolation and severe our ties with UK more...oK... 

I think that Britain has a deep understanding about our country and its history and have also been monitoring the situation in Fiji and how its evolved since 2006.. Britain has accepted the fact that we are a republican country since 87and whatever we do, be it the changing of the flag or symbols on the money they respect that.. We can be republic and still maintain our ties with Britain at the same time like weve been doing all along... Knowing how the brits think they would love that and wouldnt want to lose friendship with a country like Fiji .

The last thing the British want is an attention seeking person who made it to power through illegal means ranting and banging on about a  union jack symbol.. Its the words Voreqe has been using that has caught the spotlight on the British media as if to demonise them not realising the large number of fijians residing in UK.. Maybe because Voreqe never saw any action in his career as a commodore in the navy that he lacks the insight other respectable soldiers have ,who would be respective of the words they use in addresing certain issues with a close ally like Britain..Talk about diplmacy. Or is he all caught up with the money and the riches hes earning .


Postcolonial? Yes. But Fiji's new flag will also be a break with the chiefs' power

The Fijian prime minister’s move to replace colonial symbols on Fiji’s flag is a clever strategy to undermine Indigenous chiefs, his most powerful opposition


fiji flag
 ‘This design reflects Fiji’s shifting gaze away from the Commonwealth nations towards Asia.’ Photo by Action Press/Rex Photograph: Action Press/REX/Action Press/REX

Fiji’s newly elected prime minister and one-time coup leader Frank Bainimarama has taken another step towards implementing a vision for a new unified Fiji with the announcement that the nation’s flag will bechanged by October this year, in time for the 45th anniversary of Fiji’s independence. It’s a move made as part of his response to continuing ethnic and religious division in the Pacific island state.

The nation is dominated by two significant communities: Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians. The latter, mostly Hindu or Muslim, were marginalised throughout the colonial period and again during the coups staged over the past 30 years. Bainimarama has tried to label all citizens as “Fijian” in the of hope of promoting inclusiveness. Creating a new flag is part of his plan to embed a sense of unity, as well as a bid to cement the legitimacy and authority of his government.

Bainimarama has framed the flag change as an effort to break free of the shackles of Fiji’s colonial past. The flag that has existed since 1970 features the Union Jack – a nod to the British monarchy’s role in governing the islands from 1874 to 1970.

The colours, the shield and the dove of peace were, however, also on flags flown by the self-proclaimed supreme chief and king, Ratu Cakobau, in around 1870. That the British allowed the flag to retain some of these features, and that they were used in the flag of independent Fiji, reflect a continuation of the chiefly authority of Indigenous Fijians.

Bainimarama’s idea then is not merely to move away from Fiji’s colonial past but also to break down chiefly power – the source of his greatest opposition. This extends on actions he’s already taken, through the dismantling of the great council of chiefs, for example.

His opposition to chiefly authority is in part due to the perception that celebrating it only further deepens ethnic rifts. He angered many when he implemented a new constitution in 2009 in which there is no distinction made between the Indigenous and Indo-Fijian communities: all are considered equally Fijian.

It is not just those with chiefly heritage who see this as a threat to Indigenous rights, particularly land title. It is also, as Bainimarama said in his announcement, significant that the flag announcement was made at Nasinu, near to the government buildings but also close to the military barracks from where his own 2006 coup and Major General Sitiveni Rabuka’s coup in 1987 received support. Bainimarama’s connections to the military are therefore still significant, despite renouncing his military rank.

Bainimarama has invited public input on the design for the new flag. Suggestions are flooding on to social media platforms. One, from the author of the blog Fiji Coup Four Point Five, incorporates the Chinese and Islamic State (Isis) flags with the shield from the existing Fijian flag: a cynical reflection of Fiji’s increasingly close relationship with China, as well as anti-Islamic and by extension anti-Indian sentiment.

This design reflects Fiji’s shifting gaze away from the Commonwealth nations towards Asia, but the topic of discussion places it in step with debates among these close neighbours. New Zealand intends to hold a referendum (a process Bainimarama will not follow) in 2016 on whether to swap the Union Jack for the silver fern. Australians are also constantly revisiting the Republican debate through questions about replacing the flag. Fiji is following regional trends while still in the process of mending relationships with Australia and New Zealand that were harmed by the 2006 coup.

The decision has provoked a mixed response: some see it as a necessary step forward, other see it as abstract and secondary to the real issues that face many Fijians day today. The frequent water and electricity cuts are a problem, and while the official unemployment rate is around 8%, approximately 45% of the community is living below the poverty line. Bainimarama is playing one tune to unite the people of Fiji but whether they choose to play along with him is another question all together.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/04/postcolonial-y...

Thanks for the news post.

Vinaka

I believe the flag should have been changed long time ago..simply we have declared ourselves long time ago that we are the REPUBLIC of FIJI..thats my opinion..vinaka

Meaningless...

There is no point changing our Flag , my goodness sake , Our beloved Fiji is owned by Bai and Khai not our beloved people of Fiji !

Vinaka.

I hope the background colour doesn't change from sky blue to green.Thank you.

I second you,as Fiji lies on the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean.

Thanks Elena..I think we should change our flag with a spirit of freedom ,love and unity and not adapt,accept or perish, spirit of intimidation..I mean really ,havent we heard enough intimidation for the last 8 years.. Why dont we change that along with the flag please.lol.

This changing of Flag is about his murder of citizens, no free speech, rape of democracy, and lying about the cause of the coup and all his media reports on Fiji.
This flag is a decoy from the real issues.

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