Dear Editor – Several young students in the Solomon Islands have written to me in the past couple of months telling me of their ongoing difficulties in finding the money to progress their higher education dreams at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU).
One young man, in particular, wrote to say he had been given a helping hand of S$5,000 by his constituency Member of Parliament (MP).
It was good to learn of this assistance for so often one gets to read only negative reports of our MPs.
Last Saturday, comments appeared in a letter to the Editor of the Solomon Star newspaper by a correspondent conveying very harsh words about the alleged conduct of a serving MP. This is a précis of what was printed.
“Nor was he concerned that no real rural development has taken place in the Constituencies since the RCDF began. “All we hear and see so much of are Members of Parliament owning boats, trades stores, buses and taxis etc, and are generally secure and doing well in life than the rest of their constituents. “Since the MPs salaries are not that much, public funds through the RCDF must have a lot to do with it.”
Do such harsh judgments really reflect public opinion and are many in the Solomon Islands seeing their MPs as self-serving and failing in their role to their constituents?
I know of some MPs having provided their constituents with solar panels to provide lighting for the very first time and others who have provided other forms of equipment, include outboard motors for canoes, others, too, who have given up their time on occasions such as Christmas to spend time with the sick at the National Referral Hospital.
At a guess, I rather suspect that the charitable acts of some of our MPs have seen them dip into their own pockets to buy the equipment and supplies I have mentioned.
At a time when the country needs to demonstrate a united front with policies and initiatives to attract foreign investment and aid development, it is no time to be portraying our MPs in the wrong light to a worldwide audience.
The widespread use of the internet in everyday use puts our parliamentary representatives under increasing scrutiny at home and abroad which is why their actions must be in the national interest and not self-serving.
If there are MPs that are seen as self-serving, albeit perhaps unfairly, then evaluations of their performances can be best improved by substantiating the progress and changes for the better in their respective constituencies and by a full and proper accounting of the funds allocated to them in terms of the RCDF money.
To be entirely objective and fair is there a possibility there is a lack of political awareness of the role of our MPs?
Some Solomon Islanders may be evaluating their MPs poorly because they lack the basic knowledge about MPs and what they do and their responsiveness in Parliament.
Parliament tends not to be particularly interesting or engaging for the rural people in the constituencies and their judgment of MPs is based on what they witness as improvement in their daily lives.
Perhaps, the proposal outlined by the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon, Jermiah Manele, to have all constituencies produce reports to be tabled in Parliament might be adapted to outline the progress and achievements by MPs in their respective constituencies. In this way MPs would have no way of dodging their responsibilities to their constituents, if such perceptions currently exist.
I would like to think that when a MP becomes a Member of Parliament he or she will honour the national motto ‘To Lead is to Serve’ and I do not want to be considered naïve.
To end, I quote.
“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.”
Charles de lint.