The accusation and labeling by some members of the Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) of the Australian-led and funded Regional Assistant Mission to Solomon Islands (known widely as RAMSI) as a “failure” is simply out of ignorance and motivated by ethnic politics and biases.
Many of us (critics of RAMSI) in this forum (FSII) seem to suffer from amnesia. We are very quick to shift the blame and blindly blaming Australia and RAMSI for the failures of our own government, politicians and leaders to deal with escalating socioeconomic problems in Honiara.
What disappointing is critics, including the leadership of Masina Forum, have failed to realize that we create the ethnic conflict between February 1998 and June 2003. It was the byproduct of our politicians perpetuating corruption, bastardizing of the civil service, the police, the judicial system and so on. It led to RAMSI’s intervention.
Why are we pretending about reality? Is it because we cannot fix our own problems or we don’t like to face reality? Why blaming Oz (RAMSI) when the facts are palpable? At some stages, Solomon Islands’ leaders and politicians have to stop pretending and take full responsibility for their mess.
Yes – Oz (RAMSI) has spent a lot of money in trying to “help” rebuild the various arms of the government in the country. But it isn’t our money. Again, RAMSI’s role was on an advisory capacity.
Since the intervention, our leaders have maintained legislative powers. But it appears from the actions and decisions by successive governments that politicians have learned nothing from the ugly face of the past. Instead nepotism, cronyism and Wantokism have sky-rocket, blatant and clogging the channels of trust and hope of anyone, including RAMSI, from rebuilding government institutions.
It shown in the passing of controversial legislation that simply designed to financially benefit members of parliament. Those laws were strongly supported by both sides of politics without a huddle. Yet in countless cases, the opposition picks on non-issues blown out of proportion.
Solomon Islands Women Police Officers
Critics have forgotten that successive governments – since 1998 – were consistently begging Australia and NZ for help. Oz responded and established RAMSI with an immediate task of restoring law and order.
It plays a major role in rebuilding the image of the force, which was trashed by former armed militants, who were drafted directly from Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) armed thugs into the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF) as part of a peace deal passed by our politicians.
The force is now a dysfunctional institution, where rogue officers are calling the shots. Critics have blamed the Acting Commissioner of Police for incompetence, without looking at the facts. Many senior officers of the Police Force, with the exception of a few honest and hard working officers, were willing participants of the MEF coup in June 2000. They are the ones who are criminalizing the force.
None of them had been prosecuted over treason, a crime against the state. The very police officers, who took part in the MEF June 2000 coup, under the control of former militia leader, Rasta, and his former colleague and now Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Maelaga, are the right hand men of Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo. They carry out the PM’s dirty laundry in the police.
Unfortunately, this is where the story ends. Since RAMSI’s intervention in June 2003, successive governments, politicians, prime ministers, police and judicial system, have failed to use the space, which was provided by RAMSI, to rebuild the country. Fools never learn from their mistakes.
Yes – RAMSI has spent multimillion bucks to remain in the country, but it is not our problem to criticize and debate the pros and cons of how the Australian government decides to use its money.
The most logical thing for critics to do is to take the fight to our leaders, who are busying corrupting the country and unable to take advantages of the time and space provided by RAMSI to rebuild and strengthen our governance system. This is the challenge.
After more than ten years, RAMSI has now scaling back its presence and operation in the Solomons from March this year (2014). The question is – what are we (politicians, critics and Solomon Islanders) going to do? Continue watching crooks corrupting the nation without punishment?
At least RAMSI’s intervention has benefited Australia greatly by stopping would-be foreign criminal syndicates, money laundering, drug traffickers and arms’ dealers from using corrupt politicians, the government and Solomon Islands as a transit point to enter the Australian market.
We need to remind ourselves of – what is our government priority? Now RAMSI is packing up, what are we going to do critics?