‘Their knights do not mean they are better’
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare lashes out at the statesmen who during the weekend accused him of personalizing and deviating in his response on the $3m payout issue.
Sir Allan Kemakeza, Sir Paul Tovua and the Deputy Chair of the Solomon Islands Intervention Taskforce, Joses Tuhanuku in their recent response to the Prime Minister’s outburst, questioned what Mr Sogavare had contributed towards peace in the Solomon Islands.
“Unlike him, Sir Allan had risked his neck, with the support of many of the nation’s leaders, to try to bring the country back to normalcy,” Sir Paul and Mr Tuhanuku said.
“What exactly has Mr Sogavare ever done for peace in this country?” they asked.
Mr Sogavare yesterday said there are many heroes who have done more to achieve peace than some of the statesmen who are coloured with awards.
The three men said the Prime Minister had failed to respond to their key criticisms of the payment, which they described as ‘irresponsible and illegal’ and not in keeping with the provisions of the Townsville Peace Agreement.
The Prime Minister said “the so called statesmen chose to deviate from the issue right from the very beginning to make irresponsible statements in the media”.
“I made it clear that the government’s decision to rehabilitate the former combatants is a DCCG initiative, not under TPA because that agreement is no longer binding, and worst still failed to provide for a meaningful rehabilitation of the combatants,” he said.
He said if the men have something to tell the government, they must approach him in office.
“Instead they choose to demean their status and join the long queue of media babblers to tender their advice.”
Prime Minister Sogavare said he is not ignorant of the TPA that Kemakeza is waving in his intervention.
“Our plan is to involve the former combatants in a more rewarding project that is sustainable.”
The Prime Minister then launched his attack.
“I want to remind them that there are many heroes who have done more to achieve peace than some people who were recommended for awards.
“My list of achievements is not exhaustive, but I will just highlight a few. Firstly, these statesmen were part of the irresponsible Governments that failed to address the issues that caused the tension.
“The economy was already at its low before the tension. The first Sogavare Government from 2000 to 2001 only focused on bringing back peace.
“I established the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace. As a matter of fact, My Government’s focus was peace and nothing else.
“Kemakeza was part of that Government but I had to remove him because he mishandled the peace process.
“The second Sogavare Government 2006-2007 redirected the focus of development to the rural under the bottom up approach.
“I established the Ministry of Rural Development to address the active participation of our people and increased funding to that program. That government was removed in a vote of no confidence motion with the help of Kemakeza.
“The governments that came after me continued to focus on rural development. The DCC Government took that new height by increasing budgetary resources to SBD$350million this year and onward.
“I worked all my life as public officer in the tax department. Kemakeza was my minister then.
“I am a first local Solomon Islander to localize the Commissioner of Inland Revenue and carried out our tax system, I designed our Goods tax system. That system is now giving Governments since 1992 millions of dollars of revenue, which the so called statesmen are enjoying.
“Just because these so called statesmen were knighted by the queen does not mean that they are above anyone in this country.
“Even drug users like Paul Mcartney of the Beatles and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones were knighted. So anyone can be knighted therefore we must be careful not to judge a performer by awards he is given.
“Maybe they are busy looking at themselves and their little achievements that they forget many Solomon Islanders are better placed to be knighted by the queen.
By ELLIOT DAWEA