‘Stay out of the public debates’
Government workers have been warned to refrain from involving in the current political situation, leading towards the election of the new Prime Minister on Wednesday.
A public service memorandum sighted by the Sunday Star has called for neutrality and impartiality of public officers.
The memo signed by the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Public Service, Nego Sisiolo was sent to all government agencies last Thursday.
“I write to instruct that all public officers must remain neural and impartial in the current political situation in the country as our newly elected MPs engage in the democratic process to elect the prime minister and form government,” it stated.
This paper understands that the call came following reports reaching the office of Mr Sisiolo that some public officers are engaged in political discussions and dialogues in a number of different public forums, including the social media.
“…The General Orders (GOs), Chapter C 501 strictly prohibits Public Officers from actively taking part in any form of political activity in particular, GO C501 (a) and GO C502 (b) states that public officers must NOT:
“(a) speak, broadcast or ask questions in public on political matters;
“(b) write letters to the press or publish books, articles or pamphlets giving their view on political matters.
“The above provisions of the GOs include making statements or comments about political parties’ composition or policies in public discussions forums on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, You-Tube and Instagram,” the letter from Mr Sisiolo was quoted as said.
The memo moved of the explain that Clause 3.9 of the Public Service Code of Conduct reminds all Public officers of the need to ensure that their words and actions are not seen to compromise the impartiality and independence of the Public Service.
“..Regardless of whatever personal views we have on issues of national politics, we as public officers must refrain from engaging in political discussions that will directly tarnish our own reputation as public servants as well as the credibility of our Public Service in general.
“Instead we must be ready and willing to serve and implement the policies of any democratically elected government of Solomon Islands,” the memo stated.
Meanwhile, it concluded that any public officers who acted contrary to the requirements of the mentioned GOs provisions will be deems as misconduct in office pursuant to PSC Regulations 44, and be subjected to appropriate discipline.
However when the memo reached members of the Public Service, the message did not go down well with few members.
According to some social media comments, most have stated that the warning might have gone against their freedom to express their views in the public arena.
Following the release of the memo, it was also heavily debated in the social media.