Where’s my ‘freedom’ of speech? - Solomon Star News

Where’s my ‘freedom’ of speech?

25 May 2020
A copy of the letter from L & L Lawyers to Solomon Star demanding the identity of Stephen Maki. Inset, Stephen Maki.

Szetu accused of bullying citizen’s right to speak


A Honiara resident who recently voiced out his concern against John Szetu’s alleged involvement in the Fire Extinguisher Deal has questioned why the HCC Councillor demanded that he disclose his personal identity to his (Szetu’s) lawyer.

Stephen Maki posed the question following a letter from Szetu’s Lawyer requesting that this paper reveal his identity including his Postal and residential address.

This was after he responded to an article carried by this paper titled ‘Is Szetu Blaming Sore?’

According to the letter from Szetu’s Lawyer, Maki was also summoned to appear in court for contributing to the Fire Extinguisher debate.

Maki said that he was surprised because he only contributed to the revelations over the media regarding the Fire Extinguisher deal as a citizen.

 “They might think the name Stephen Maki is a fake but I’m a real Solomon Islander and I can prove to him and his lawyer, who I am,” he said.

He said it’s sad when citizens are raising issues for the sake of transparency, accountability and good governance and only to be silenced with such threats.

 “I am of the view that democracy has given citizens the right and freedom to contribute and express their views on matters of concern,” Mr Maki said.

Maki said that his photo (published) is sufficient proof to Szetu of who he is and that there’s nothing for him to prove in court because he is simply expressing his views in the media.

 “I am a Solomon Islander and a Honiara resident leaving at Gilbert Camp, Panatina ward,” he added.

He said that the reason for expressing his concern is because he has never in his life witnessed a Council that has truly served the residents of Honiara.

“What seems to transpire in this fire extinguisher deal is officers benefitting themselves at the expense of the residents of Honiara to whom they are mandated to serve,” Mr Maki said.

 “What has happened is not new as far as HCC is concerned.  Councillors who are voted in are there to serve themselves and not the people,” he said.

Maki said one fine example is the rubbish collection in the City.

“I can see that a few wards in the city have their rubbishes collected on a regular basis whilst Gilbert Camp has for far too long not offered that municipal service and this is not fair,” he said.

“From my personal interview with a few rubbish contractors, they gave up collecting rubbish because they were not paid for their services for months,” Maki added.

Maki said that being the peoples’ institution, HCC’s actions and dealings ought to serve the residents of Honiara and not to fill the pockets of a greedy few.

“Transparency Solomon Island deserves to be congratulated for coming out on the fire extinguisher deal,” he said.

 “I call on the Leadership Code Commission to weigh in on the issue and investigate the matter so that officers responsible can have their day in court,” he added.

 Maki said that the Council is a public entity and no one should be stopped from expressing or contributing to how it is run.

Maki then calls on all councillors especially his Ward representative Mr Leonard Sai to come out and reveal to the public their innocence on the matter if they still have some integrity in them.

 “Perhaps my strongest call is for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and the Chair of the so-called 4Cs to come out and tell the public the truth about what is going on because the public deserves to know the truth,” he said. 

He also asked the sacked Finance Chair, Cr Billy Abae to also come out and shade more light if the same person who supplied the Fire Extinguishers is also supplying the vehicles to HCC as alluded to by TSI.