Dear Editor – Former Governor General, Sir Nathaniel Waena, in a SIBC news bulletin, warned that Solomon Islands is controlled by foreign influence.
Sir Nathaniel cited the recent dismissal of the CEO of SIPA and the CEO of Solomon Airlines as examples of persons he alleged had taken the country for a ride and they had also, allegedly, caused division amongst the indigenous population, he claimed.
My understanding of Sir Nathaniel’s comments seems to have implied the recruitment of the two individuals had encroached upon the sovereignty and national sovereign affairs of the country.
Sir Nathaniel also referred to what he regarded as the Australian Federal Police penetration into the internal affairs of the Solomon Islands Government.
The former Governor General has long had strong views on the Solomon Islands sovereignty and I have admired his stance on how he regards an independent democratic nation should conduct its own affairs.
That having been said, however, one really needs to take a look back in time to realize that the Solomon Islands in 1978 was hardly ready for independence with a weak and badly designed institutional framework for modern statehood.
One can say that the late Solomon Mamaloni recognized the reality of this situation and he, famously, said that Solomon Islands was “a state conceived but never born.”
In the more recent past, the Solomon Islands one must also take into consideration to what extent the ‘ethnic tension’ had on the state and how it was undermined and transformed by destabilization, economic decline and poor structural adjustment.
To help recovery, development assistance and the arrival of RAMSI saw a dramatic erosion of domestic authority, as donors, foreign governments and consultants, including the World Bank, made their aid increasingly aid conditional on compliance with their policy.
Lacking other resources, the Solomon Islands Government has had few options but to adopt the economic policies (and increasingly the political arrangements) favoured by its donors, as failure to do might have lead to aid being withheld or terminated. The limited discretionary authority that remained in the Solomon Islands began shrinking fast.
The DCCG has now embarked on resurgence plans to introduce free economic zones to encourage investment and the transfer of technology and no time should be lost, in my view, to table the necessary legislation and get the Solomon Islands back on its feet economically.
The same, positive move must see the early tabling of the raft of anti-corruption legislation and the creation of an independent Commission Against Corruption.
Likewise, the proposed transformation in the education system to encourage higher education and for academically talented locals to pursue PhD programmes through the USP must be fully supported, both by the DCCG and the USP itself.
I repeat what I suggested some days ago in a letter to the media, the idea of recruiting graduates as direct entry appointees to the Inspectorate and Superintendent levels of the RSIPF has merit, if requisite training is provided by the UK’s excellent College of Policing, or similar training in New Zealand or Australia.
Such a direct entry scheme, if adopted, will allow graduates to bring new perspectives to support the continuous development of policing with the aim of giving leadership and top management skills and, thereby, the RSIPF would be less dependent on outside policing support at the top management level.
It is my believe, also, the DCCG must continue to pursue its policy of power sharing between the central government and important societal institutions.