GENERAL Secretary of the National Council of Women Casper Fa’asala has slammed the informal response by the acting Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga when receiving the petition by the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for the re-introduction of the anti-corruption bill, Tuesday.
Mr Maelanga received the petition at the main entrance to the Prime Minister’s Office where representatives of the CSO’s descended in a peaceful march, wearing red t-shirts advocating for the re-introduction of the bill.
Prime Minister Sogavare is attending the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The CSOs are petitioning the Prime Minister to re-introduce the anti-corruption bill when Parliament resumes next month (October), all Members of Parliament to unanimously pass the bill and the Prime Minister to communicate to CSOs about the progress of work on the anti-corruption bill towards its reintroduction and to allow them an avenue of consultation to ensure the bill is ready to be tabled in Parliament next month.
Secretary of the Development Services Exchange (DSE) -Umbrella body of the CSOs in Solomon Islands- Jennifer Wate when handing the petition to the Acting Prime Minister said Solomon Islands is crippled by corruption.
“Corruption affects the hardworking God-fearing men, women, young people and children of Solomon Islands every single day and we will no longer remain idle while schools and hospitals are overflowing with students and patients and essential supplies remain inadequate and infrastructures deteriorate.
“Corruption is an enemy to development and we would like to remind the Members of Parliament are accountable to the citizens of this nation which is growing in numbers.
“We demand that Members of Parliament who were elected to represent the people in the highest decision-making body in the land to represent our best interest to pass the bill without any further delay.
“Your wise decision on this matter will be remembered at the polling booth in the next general elections and in other general elections.”
In an informal response, the Acting Prime Minister told the protesting CSO representatives that, “I’m very happy to see you come with a humble and peaceful heart this morning.
“I accept to take this petition on behalf of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government.”
Mr Maelanga said the anti-corruption bill is with Cabinet and soon as it is finalised, it will go to Parliament to be re-introduced at the upcoming sitting in October.
He told the gathering that he was happy that they have a heart to fight against corruption, adding that the government just as the CSOs does not want the country to fall into corruption.
The Acting Prime Minister said the withdrawal of the bill was necessary to make way for a properly drafted bill as it will not only cover Members of Parliament as some may think but also the wider government machinery, churches, schools private sector and everybody else.
“This is why the government wants to ensure a properly drafted bill so that when it reaches parliament, it is passed and not withdrawn again for any further amendments,” Maelanga added.
But speaking to the protesting CSO representatives to thank them for their good turnout, Mr Fa’asala said:
“I am sad by the way or behaviour of the government when receiving the petition.
“Its officers did not even prepare a formal speech to respond to the call of the country for the Prime Minister to reintroduce the anti-corruption bill next month as he promised.
“That exemplifies bad behaviour by the government.
“As the ruling government charged with the mandate to address issues of national interest and concern, the Democratic Coalition for Change Government has displayed gross irresponsibility today by the informal manner in which the Acting Prime Minister responded when receiving the petition.
“That is my observation of the government when we presented the petition to them today.”
The CSOs also delivered copies of the petition to the Leader of Opposition Jeremiah Manele and Leader of Independent Group Dr Derek Sikua.