We hope that whilst the government is unable to explain to Solomon Islands in a transparent manner the reasons behind the delay of the Anti-Corruption and Whistle-blowers’ protection Bills, they can honestly explain why in Vienna.
Having said so last week Transparency Solomon Islands wrote on the topic of bribe and illicit commission.
Today, Transparency Solomon Islands will continue to write on the importance of having an Anti-corruption Act and a Whistle blower protection Act and how these two pieces of legislations will benefit the public and the country in relation to tackling the day to day allegations of corruption by people in power and positions.
Often we hear cases of alleged corruption that involves our national members of parliament influencing national tender boards and other government tender boards for their own benefit and that of their supporters [inside trading].
We talk about these allegations on the streets or in the main stream and social media and it then die a natural death with time.
The culprits continue to walk free.
Some of the fine examples of such allegation are; some members of parliament owned companies taking up lucrative contracts like the Airport Aviation [inside trading].
Contracts to clean and maintain the lawns in and around the Honiara Airport is believed to be one of the government contracts that pays out exorbitant money for less work carried out.
There is also allegation that most of the companies that were awarded with these contracts are either owned by Members of Parliament or people very close to the MPs.
Another example is members of parliament influencing government systems and procedures, which subsequently resulted in Members of Parliament influencing the decision.
One such example is the Shipping Grant in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development whereby they award themselves with the money from the shipping grants.
This shipping grant of course is a grant under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development to support the shipping industry in the country.
It is a grant that ship owners can apply to assist them with their shipping services.
However the allegation has been that MPs influenced the system and awarded themselves with the shipping grant under constituency shipping.
Not only that, but some MPs abuse the shipping grant to purchase earth moving machines instead of ship.
Third example of alleged corruption involving our Members of Parliament, as some contractors who walked into our office claimed, is some MPs influenced Central Tender Boards to awards contracts to companies they either owned or to people who are very close to them. We also read of similar complaints in the newspaper last week.
These examples are just some of the few serious allegations of corruption that the members of the public talks about almost on daily basis but never get any further to report to any authority to investigate or even prosecution.
Transparency Solomon Islands believes that if the Anti-Corruption and Whistle Blower Bill become Acts, people with information relating to such alleged corrupt practices can report these allegation to the commission for investigation.
Not only the commission will investigate and prosecute, but it can also clear any air of suspicion of corruption by our members of parliament or people holding senior government positions with powers.
There is also the issue of what is happening in the logging industry, whereby resource owners are left helpless and by the time their case is heard their trees a gone and whereby both the government, the loggers and their cronies have benefitted from illegal logging and continue to turn a blind eye.
Whilst resource owners want to abide by the laws, these have let them so down that the only avenue left is taking the law into their own hands.
Who is to blame, the government, the loggers and the fabricated landowners?
A fine example of public taking laws into their own hands against allegation of corruption is the burning of China Town in 2006.
As per news reports then, the members of the public didn’t like the election of the Prime Minister because they held the view that his previous government was allegedly involved in corrupt dealings with some local Asians.
And because the allegation was never investigated by any independent commission setup for such purpose, people took the law into their own hands.
By having the Anti-corruption Bill and the Whistle Blower Bill enacted into laws, the Commission, as prescribed by these laws, can carry out independent investigation to ascertain the nature of allegation floating along our streets and bring back confidence in our systems and the government.
Transparency Solomon Islands also understands that members of the public are sometimes quick to make allegations of corruption against Members of Parliament and government officials.
And most of these allegations are either inspired by political affiliation or a simple lack of information.
These allegations may spread diminishing the integrity of our leaders and officials when they may not be guilty at all. Again, an allegation can be an allegation until it is proven to be either true or not.
And in this case by having the two acts in place will help in investigating allegations to its reliabilities.
As long as we don’t have such acts in place, allegations of corruption will remain allegations.
Those implicated in these allegations will continue to walk free or their names remain tarnished should they not be guilty of what they were accused of.
The Public has gone quiet on the two Anti-Corruption Bills. Let us not let this die a natural death to our country’s detriment.
Let us maintain our call for the passing of these two Bills and keep up the pressure on our leaders.
- TRANSPARENCY SOLOMON ISLANDS