Dear Editor – Over the weekend, Tony Hughes, a board member of Solomon Island’s Transparency Watchdog and a former Manager of the Solomon’s Central Bank, reportedly told Radio New Zealand International that Solomon Island’s Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has a lot of work to do if he is to live up to his promise to tackle corruption.
Mr Hughes was speaking in relation to the Prime Minister’s promise to establish an Anti-Corruption Commission during the new government’s first four years in office, but Mr Hughes said many people have made similar promises in the past and it will take more than establishing a commission to combat corruption in the Solomon Islands.
Mr Hughes went on to add, “Corruption is so perverse it runs through so many parts of the public sector and has become so well established that it is not just a matter of setting up an ICAC, it’s a matter of changing the way a lot of people have got used to behaving.”
In lending my own support to the establishment of an ICAC via the SIBC, I also said it would need a different mindset and a close examination of how culture impacts in Melanesian society on what, in the West, is perceived to be corruption.
Care will be needed in drafting suitable legislation to accommodate the Solomon Islands special situation in relation to the way cultural practices, including wantokism, often play a part in what can be viewed as influencing corrupt dealings.
The Prime Minister has said that his administration will also give attention to supporting and strengthening other governmental integrity institutions and such action can only support, as pillars, the performance and effectiveness of an ICAC.
In 1971 I was a member of the Royal Hong Kong Police when the city was plagued with allegations of corruption and similar cultural attitudes prevailed as to the difficulty in creating an anti-corruption body to tackle syndicated levels of corruption.
In 1974 I saw the establishment of the Hong Kong ICAC ( and was even offered an appointment in the body) and have witnessed over the years how the ICAC has helped turn Hong Kong into one of the cleanest anti-corrupt places in the world.
Yes, there too, there needed a different mind-set from the onset but with a determined three-pronged approach, combining law enforcement, corruption prevention and community education with a team of highly determined and professional, dedicated staff, the situation was turned around.
In the Solomon Islands, the Prime Minister must be given the encouragement and the public support he will most certainly need to weed out corrupt dealings and practices, demonstrating zero tolerance towards those found to be involved in corrupt acts.
I very much hope he will get that support and I believe Mr Hughes and Transparency Solomon Islands can play a leading role in supporting the Prime Minister, which I am confident that they will.
Former Police Commissioner