Fijians urged to join pursuit for new national flag

Suva, Jan 4 (IANS) Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has urged Fijians to join the pursuit to design a national flag that represents the new Fiji, the government-owned Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported on Monday.

The Fijian government has further extended the feedback period for designs of the new national flag to February 29, Xinhua reported.

A number of new submissions have been received since the 23 designs were published last year, according to Bainimarama.

“The new time frame will be as follows: From 1st to the 19th of March 2016, five designs will be chosen, through the Prime Minister’s Office, for you all to vote on,” Bainimarama said.

“Members of the public will have three months to vote on the five designs through public consultations, social media and text messaging. It is expected that the design with the most votes will be announced on July 1 to be our new national flag,” he said.

The new national flag is expected to be hoisted for the first time on September 7, the Pacific island country’s Constitution Day.

Fiji gained independence on October 10, 1970 from British colonial rule, and the current Fijian national flag contains hefty British elements, including the national flag of the UK itself.

Last year, Bainimarama expressed the motive behind the change.

“The Union Flag belongs to the British, not to us. The shield on our flag has the British Lion and the Cross of St. George — a British patron saint.”

“What does this have to do with us? They are the symbols of the colonizer — Britain — a country with whom we are friends and will continue to be so. But they are not symbols that are relevant to any Fijian in the 21st century,” he said.

“And they should go. Honoured symbols of our past, but not of our future.”

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