Dear Editor – The Government’s determination to ban Facebook in the Solomon Islands is rather bemusing.
On the one hand, it is true that a ban will not curb our people’s fundamental freedom of expression as provided for in our Constitution.
But on the other hand a ban may unnecessarily cause hardship to many of our ordinary folks.
Life is not about freedoms alone. It is also about enjoyment of it. At a time when there is so much stress about a virus, Facebook offers many Solomon Islanders some joy.
In our National Anthem, we ask God to save our country. Then we ask for “joy” and “peace”.
Maybe the Prime Minister and the political class perceive Facebook only as an avenue for vitriol against them. But many Solomon Islanders perceive things differently.
I am not a Facebook subscriber or user. But I am aware of relatives and friends who use Facebook to socialize, trade, buy and sell stuff, to make a living.
We, the people, are not simply homo sapiens. We are social beings. It is our nature to socialize.
In these difficult times, people are using every avenue (including Facebook) to socialize and make a living.
There are different ways and forms of socializing. In recent times, Facebook has become an avenue for Solomon Islanders to socialize.
In Honiara, some of the best birthday cakes are made by local women who use Facebook to sell their wares. From their sales, they could provide for the needs of their families.
How would selling cakes potentially threaten public security, public safety, and public morality?
If the Government is truly concerned about public morality, maybe it should also ban the whole internet. Porn or “blue” is now easily accessible to our children thanks to the undersea cable which our own PM commissioned not long ago.
If the Government is alarmed that there is no law in this country presently to properly regulate Facebook, then why not make the law ASAP?
Surely the Government has the numbers, the time, and the opportunity to make the law. Yet it appears it is simply paying lip-service to the issue.
If the truth is told, there is no legislation in Solomon Islands against defamation. Yet the Government has not banned newspapers from publishing or radios from broadcasting.
The Government needs to find a balance. Just because someone has written offensive material on Facebook should not be a ground to ban a platform used by others to make a living and improve their living conditions.