This was the talk of the country, when Police arrested a member of the Movement for allegedly injuring a member of the Melanesian Brotherhood (Tasiu) in West Makira.
When the Platform Movement issue was fiercely debated in the media, plans by journalists to travel on a fact-finding mission to Makira/Ulawa province were unsuccessful.
However, the Sunday Star was privileged to be made known about the existence of the cultural but religious-like movement, during a recent trip to Ulawa Island.
While in Ulawa, two Police officers that made a successful visit to the mountainous settlement of the local movement were able to share their experience, in an interview.
Ulawa-based Police officer Jimmy Ma’anumoana confirmed to this paper that they did made an attempt to meet with the group, last week.
“Tuesday last week, I was accompanied by PC Michael Koroa and we visited the Makira/Ulawa Cultural Platform (MUCP) group on the hills near Moli Village,” Police Constable Jimmy Ma’anumoana said.
He added that it tookthem about 30 minutes to walk up to the hills to reach their camp at Tauma’o.
The purpose of the visit was to discuss with them of their plans as the country is heading towards the festive season (Christmas, New Year) and the National General Election is coming up next year, Mr Ma’anumoana explained.
“I was there as a familiarization visit to that particular group.”
He said they had a meeting in the group’s traditional meeting venue,and almost 30 people including men, women, youths and children were there.
The meeting was chaired by the group’s chairman, Morris Lula and assisted by his secretary Mr Benson Pisu.
Agendas discussed during the meeting was, the group’s objectives, Involvement with community, National General Election, and how they can assist the police in a partnership to fight against crime.
During the meeting, Mr Ma’anumoana said that their leader,Mr Lula stated that members of the MUCP had seen the risk of losing their culture into the strong influence of the Western style of living so they have decided to stay away from the community to mould their youths and children and also to spend time praying.
He added their rich tradition and culture has been exploited and it is the MUCP vision to not only protect their culture but also practice their cultural living daily.
PC Ma’anumoana on the other hand informed Chief Lula and his group that the Law respects the Solomon Islands’ diverse cultural beliefs and freedom of worship provided that nothing in the process contradicts to the National Constitution.
“Should there be any teaching or practices that go against the Laws of the land, this can be termed illegal and those responsible are liable to be charged.”
He added he also informed them that in a democratic society like Solomon Islands, Our vote is our voice.
“Democracy allows citizen to exercise their rights to freedom of choice, expression, belief and opinion, freedom of assembly and freedom to vote.
“Those are important rights that must be protected from being deprived,” PC Ma’anumoana added.
Meanwhile, Mr Lula admitted that his group was not allowed by the MUCP authority to register or vote but there are families that join his group previously, and they left the group to join the registration for the upcoming National and provincial Elections.
Chief Lula said that although those people left and register to become voters, his group has no plans to disturb them during the election.
He further stated that it is their choice and he respects it.
At the end of the one-day meeting, the Police Officers also presented a small gift to Chief Lula and his people.
According to the officer, the reaction of Chief Lula and his group was very appreciative.
By LESLEY SANGA