Democracy, SOE and oligarchy - Solomon Star News

Democracy, SOE and oligarchy

13 May 2020

In Search of Responsive, Responsible, Transparent and Accountable Leadership – COVID 19 Misuse and Abuse of Entrusted Power under SOE

SINCE 2014 Transparency Solomon Islands has been campaigning as others have done for leaders that will say no to corruption, be transparent and accountable for the powers [entrusted power] vested upon them by the people of Solomon Islands. 

The Solomon Islands is a Democratic Country where decisions are made collectively by our representative groups, the Executive Government, and the Legislature. 

As a democracy, our parliamentarians and provincial members are elected by the people through our electoral system every four years. 

Popular Control is by the People through elections. Under the Solomon Islands, Constitution powers are vested in the people of Solomon Islands. 

The other features of our democracies as per our Constitution are:

  • Equality of Rights – as opposed to those societies and states/governments controlled by a powerful group, or where some have more right than others
  • It involves the Civil Society – where civil society space, voice, and activism thrives, where the more active the Civil Society or Non-Governmental Organisations are the more accountable are the three arms of the Government, Executive Government, Legislature and Judiciary.
  • Where the Civil Society [citizens/voters] are allowed and are more active in holding the State [ the Government – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary] accountable to the people.  It facilitates the participation of   Civil Society [citizens], CSOs, and NGOs in affairs of the country.  
  • Civil Society [citizens] through the popular control by the people is the 4th unacknowledged Arm of the State or Government.

Transparency Solomon Islands wishes to remind our Executive Government State of Emergency Powers Regulations have not taken away people’s democratic rights.  

The Provincial Government Leaders, the citizens, the Civil Society Organisations have not committed any crime under the law to have these democratic rights taken away from them.  

Fundamental Rights and Freedoms must continue to be respected, assured, and guaranteed to all citizens.

Transparency Solomon Islands still believes that effective, and accommodating, Executive Government of people’s views, provincial government leaders, church leaders input, suggestions must be seen as our strength in combating COVID 19 should it be allowed to enter the country through our own carelessness and selectively applying the State of Emergency Powers Regulations.

The Provincial Governments since the establishment of the Provincial Government Strengthening Project have outshined the Executive Government on many fronts. 

The Executive Government must call upon these achievements and the trust and respect that they have with their people in their areas of weaknesses.  

Their views and their concerns for the protection of the rural population are just as important and must be acknowledged and encouraged.  

In the management of their affairs, we see a delegation of responsibilities exposing their next in line to taking part in the very important discussions must be commended for that is what leadership is all about and keeping a collective team together.  

Transparency Solomon Islands, therefore, commends the Premier of Malaita Province in giving the responsibility and power to his deputy whilst he keeps the promise to his ward for people are just as important as meetings of the government. 

This, in Transparency Solomon Islands’ view, is not something that a Provincial Government duly elected by the people of Malaita to be dissolved for.

Reading through what is in the media and social media, the threat is no more than the selective use of the State of Emergency Powers Regulation for the wrong reasons for the Provincial Government of Malaita has not breached any laws we have warranting the dissolution of a duly elected Provincial Assembly. 

Transparency Solomon Islands understands that the Premier of Malaita Province and his Provincial Government was threatened with dissolution for two (2) overseas trip, not attending the recent Premier’s COVID-19 meeting held here in Honiara and for raising concern over COVID-19 kits that were sent to Solomon Islands from China. 

If we are to make a comparison of the Provincial Governments and the Executive Governments, the provincial governments do get out to their communities, live in their communities, and implement the policies they had advocated for during election campaign working together with its people including its learned citizens and are making that change that people long for.

They build infrastructure with the very little money that they are given and raise. 

They build water supply, sanitation, walkways, community halls, clinics, classrooms, etc. 

Two provinces now have produced clean audits. 

They seek and accommodate their people’s views/opinion and consult widely before making final decisions, look for compromises that are acceptable to as many groups and people as possible. 

In comparison to the millions that are disbursed through the Legislature, this is something to be proud of.  

In its face to face civic awareness, Transparency Solomon Islands has witnessed the achievements of the successive provincial government leaderships.  

More importantly, many of our people live in the rural area [85%], where there is no hunger, but subsistence affluence. 

They own their own houses be it sago palm or roofing iron, but they have a roof over their head.  

They have the type of freedom, peace, sharing, and caring that we see provincial governments are making an effort with the little that they are given build upon and improve.  

In these villages, you see the resilience of the people.  

They look after themselves, they get food from their garden and forest, fish from the sea and feed themselves.  

This is a lifestyle often denied and abused by national leaders for their own benefit and took for granted, forget about after being elected. 

The Social Cohesion infrastructure they build such as Community Halls strengthens the rural lifestyle and village resilience that is now looking after the people and must be acknowledged as the biggest safety net to our efforts to deal with coronavirus. 

Transparency Solomon Islands believes that this is the real strength that the Solomon Islands has and the reason to value it, protect it, and merge it into any stimulus package or development plan for the Solomon Islands.

Transparency Solomon Islands believes that these are some of the especially important lifestyles that we value in our hour of need. 

The measures to deny COVID – 19 entry into our country are especially important and must be complied with.

Transparency Solomon Islands urges the Minister of Provincial Government to amicably sort out the differences he may have with the Premier of Malaita Province. 

The COVID 19 State of Emergency must not be used as an excuse to settle any scores it may have with the Provincial Government of Malaita and its Premier.  

Even in the State of Emergency, Emergency Powers Regulation, or not democracy and natural justice must prevail. 

The media through radio and TV are accessible to all and we do not, therefore, have an uninformed Provincial Assemblies and governments and population. 

Our fear of Coronavirus is real, and questions raised by Premier of Malaita Province have also been raised by world leaders, and many more given the experiences they had.  

Now, of course, these are sourced from reputable companies in China by countries that do not have the capability. 

Transparency Solomon Islands urges the national government to work with provincial governments and revive the local economy allowing people to go about their business whilst Executive Government comes up with measures to ensure coronavirus does not gain a foothold in the Solomon Islands. 

Should the Executive Government through the Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening continue and implement its threat to Malaita Provincial Government and any other Provincial Governments for no good reason, the question of “Do we have an Oligarchy denigrating and corrupting our democracy by its deceptive influence”, degrading core values – such as citizen participation and trust, freedom of speech and association, civil society voice, activism and space, political equality responsiveness, representation, integrity and above all transparency and accountability needs to be asked.