Dear Editor – While the indigenous population is so privileged to own the country’s natural wealth, there is denial through many development dimensions that continues to position local people’s ownership and rights at the brink of extinction.
The conversion of natural resources (and labour) to modern cash does not prove rewarding (environmentally, socially and financially) for resource owners.
Instead, consented investors (and their cronies) have enjoyed and still enjoying the financial advantages let alone the environmental and social drawbacks for the resource owners to reap.
Besides the many guidance and strategies we have in our traditional and Christian upbringing to govern our natural wealth, the modern political and legal documentation and proceedings on the use of our natural resources and labour have covered and contaminated our people’s voices mindset respectively.
What we commonly see and hear is the decline of our country’s natural wealth and beauty at the social, environmental and financial perspectives of development, yet we pay less attention or even fail to see the widening gap between people and policy that entertains the misfortunes affecting our indigenous custodians (ourselves).
Ordinary village people and Government do not share the same lenses as we advance Nation building.
We termed our people as being illiterate in reading and writing (English): how much more illiterate will they be in terms of justifying themselves in the modern policies and laws that intervene, govern and supersedes people’s natural heritage?
The continuation of the widening gap between people (citizens) and policy (formulation and implementation) have placed a new national culture (money culture) that will be in contradiction to the livelihoods our peace loving population have enjoyed for generations past.
Less consultation in policy formulation; unregulated funding streams (in the name of Charitable organizations), and being unaware of international partners’ in-depth interests, unprotected Traditional Governance Systems and Structures (to name a few), are some of the discussion areas village people should be alerted on (besides the transparency in constituencies $$ allocations).
Social accountability frameworks are essential.
Custodians of the land and natural resource should be again herein reminded to be alert more than ever.
We need to be alert for a number of reasons; we need to be alert of the tricks that gears towards removing the ownership of our heritage to the control of interveners who are only interested on the financial segment of our natural resources, local knowledge and strength and moreover Christian principles.
But, lest we forget other attributes such as peace, love, honesty, being fair and just (etc), are not purchased with money and flourishing these virtues in the midst of modern day development architectures has been vested in our Country’s preamble.
Do we work the talk?
Professionally, perpetrators can legally capitalize on the positive attributes for their advantage (ie they take the ownership of the natural wealth away from the true custodians by law).
The need to watch and to be on alert applies in all setting (eg People vs Policy) in our development stages as individuals and groups (eg as a Nation).
As a country, Government has to be accountable on our behalf at the national stage when it comes to national interest.
Unless people are involved more meaningfully our resistance will not be firm as we strive to protect our rights and natural/traditional heritage.
Bridging the gap between people and policy is a national responsibility.
Further, to conclude, as a Christian nation, the need to be on alert as stated in the Bible, book of 1st Peter 5: 8-9: ‘Be alert, be on watch, for your enemy the devil roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Be firm in your faith and resist him, for you know that your fellow believers in the world are going through the same kind of sufferings.’
God Bless our villages, God Bless Solomon Islands.