AG RESIGNS - Solomon Star News

AG RESIGNS
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13 August 2018
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James Apaniai taking his oath before the Governor General in 2015. [File photo]

…amidst political statement in social media

By ANDREW FANASIA

THE Attorney General James Apaniai has already submitted his resignation to the Judicial and Legal services Commission by letter.

Dated 31st July 2018, his three months resignation period will lapse on the 31st of October 2018.

Prime Minister Rick Hou announced it on the floor of the parliament last Friday, when he was responding to the questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition, Manasseh Maelanga, on the Attorney General’s Political Statements on Social Media.

Mr Maelanga asked the Prime Minister to explain why the Attorney General has been making political statements on social media; expressing negative views on the draft Federal Constitution, and accusing legislators of being responsible for corrupting the system.

He also questioned that, as a public servant and First Law Officer of the Judiciary, is not the Attorney General acting contrary to the General Orders, particularly Chapter C: Section 107 (b) and (c) and Section 501 (a) and (b) in making those public statements.

The extract from the AG’s comment in the Facebook was being outlined in parliament by the prime minister.

“I don't even want to read the draft federal constitution. We don't have the money to pay for the system. We don't have the money to pay even for small amounts like SIG rentals. I see nothing seriously wrong with the current provincial system, it just needs improvements. Whatever system of government we introduce including the federal system, if corrupt people go in they will corrupt the system and then we will continue with our complains again, we will never find a good system we should instead look for good people to go in" end of quote.

After consulting the AG on this matter, Prime Minister Hou said that the AG’s comments were merely his contribution on the topic.

He further stated that there are nothing more than his personal suggestion to find a good solution to a system which in his view is an expensive system.

The drafting of the federal constitution is still in progress.

He added, the Committee assigned to work on the federal constitution has been requesting comments from the public on the draft constitution for a number of years already and he think his comments should be regarded as part of his contribution to the issue of the federal system.

“After all his comments were made when everybody were also commenting on,” Hon Hou said.

Furthermore, PM Hou said that the Solomon Islands Bar Association of which government lawyers are also members had expressed the same view to that of the Attorney General to the Committee when they appear before the committee in 2016 and or 2017.

“If the AG has breached the General Orders as alleged in the question then we can also say that other government Lawyers who are members of the BAR Association have also breached the general orders when the Solomon Islands Bar Association spoke out against the federal system.

“The AG's views are the same views that the Bar Association is advocating and so by expressing his view the AG was only reiterating a view which all lawyers in the country have in common and which is already public information,” the Prime Minister said.

PM Hou added that as to whether his comments have accused legislators of being responsible for corruption in the system as alleged by the question he see nothing in his comments that has accused legislators of being responsible for corruption.

“There is nothing in the comment which says that legislators are responsible corruption, he merely said that if corrupt people go in, that was a general reference to anyone who is corrupt and who wants to go in.

“There is nothing in that comment that targeted us a member of National Parliament or provincial Assembly members or any particular politician or a group of politicians,” PM Hou told the parliament yesterday.

As to the second part of the question the Prime Minister said clause 107 b and c makes reference to comments that are political or administrative in nature without the permission of the permanent secretary of public service.

Clause 501 (a) and (b) prohibits public officers from participating in politics, (a) speaking, broadcasting or asking questions in public on political matters and (b) writing letters to the press or publish books, articles or pamphlets giving their view on political matters.

He stated that it is not for the Prime Minister to say whether the Attorney General is acting contrary to the general orders. Chapter C clause 114 provides for the mechanisms for discipline

“If the Hon. Leader of Opposition or anyone for that matter is aggrieved by the statements then there is a process which includes the submission of complaints to the relevant authorities and disciplinary proceedings can be commenced to deal with allegations of misconduct,” He added.

 There were supplementary questions raised again by the Leader of Opposition and Leader of Independent but the PM stood by his word stating that there is a process to deal with the matter and that the AG has already lodged his resignation.

Solomon Star understands that the AG is likely to be one of the West Honiara candidates for the 2019 National General Election, who will be contesting against the current MP,Namson Tran

Parliament is on special adjournment until Wednesday 22nd August 2018.

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