JOHN Hugani Kouni – the nation’s pioneer Director-General of the Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption (SIICAC) – spent his first day at work, Friday.
Mr. Kouni, who hailed from Vururua Village on Small Ngella, took his oath following his contract signing on Thursday this week. The ceremony took place on the 4th Floor of the newly-refurbished Six Storey Building, officially known as the Anthony Saru Building in Honiara’s Central Business District (CBD) where the new SIICAC Office is located.
SIICAC Chairman and former Governor-General, Sir Frank Kabui and Mr. Kouni spoke at the ceremony. First, it was Sir Frank followed by Mr. Kouni. Their remarks appear below. Here’s what Sir Frank said.
“On behalf of all the members of the Commission, I congratulate you on being appointed the first Solomon Islands Director-General of the first Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption. Your signing of your employment contract this afternoon seals the appointment
It has been a painful journey for the Commission to be able to reach this moment of achievement. We thank you for your willingness to come forward and be the first Director-General to serve our country. Of the applicants who had applied for the position of Director-General, you were selected on merit and experience. We thank other applicants also who participated in the interviews. They were all Solomon Islanders and some were very good lawyers with great potential in the legal field for the future.
The provision of the Act, section 25, makes it very difficult for us to recruit locally as the pool of experienced lawyers in the Solomon Islands is very small – almost non-existent to be honest.
The thought of having no choice but to go overseas to recruit was always on the back of our minds. I personally was crossing my fingers that this should not be (the) case. You have come to the rescue. I thank you for your brave thought to help out
It is not going to be easy. There is a long way to go. This is just the beginning of a long road in the search for solutions to corruption. We are aware of pressure from the public in their concern for action against corruption in this country
In this respect, the Government must play its part in supporting the Commission. Political rhetoric is useless without the faithful and determined implementation of government policies by government officials. Delays, promises, and general procrastination in the government system are counter-productive to success.
Our experience in this regard for the last ten months has been painful and frustrating
Be that as it may, we will travel the road together with you on this difficult journey. We will give you all our support within our ability as members of the Commission.
As you know, the members of the Commission are all part-timers. You will be the main man as it were in this case.
We will see how we go. No promises.”
In accepting the appointment, the new Director-General acknowledges the enormity of the responsibility of the job in his remarks which appear below.
“On this occasion, I stand to gratefully and humbly accept the decision of Government – through the JLSC and the PSC of appointing me as the Director of SIICAC
I would like to thank you for the vote of confidence and trust that you have in me – to take on this challenging job. I thank God for making this possible. I cannot deny that I am very grateful and proud of this appointment, and looking forward to leading SIICAC under the radar of Sir Frank Ofogiro Kabui and four other competent, capable, and highly experienced commissioners especially in its infant stage.
As stated by our Chairman, the position of DG comes with great responsibilities and challenges. Yes, enormous responsibility and challenges. For me, I take this appointment as a grand opportunity to demonstrate responsibility and take on the challenges. That requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders including our donor partners and organizations
If fighting corruption is everybody’s business, then every citizen both in the public and private sectors must work collectively towards achieving the aim – to fight against corruption in our country. In saying that, I assure you I will try m best to lead SIICAC in a manner that is expected.
To our aid donor partners, especially UNDP in the fight against corruption, thank you for what you have done so far and we are looking forward to a more closer working relationship with you as we move forward to achieve the ultimate goals of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and other National Government Policies, the Anti Corruption Act and our obligations under UNCAC
To our existing integrity institutions and other government institutions and NGOs, the success of SIICAC will also depend on our working together. We are looking forward to working closely with you
As your Director-General, I am far from perfect, and I will need the unsparing support, cooperation, and rust from all the commissioners, Integrity institutions, Donor partners, NGOs all stakeholder organizations. But I pledge to serve you well … to the best of my abilities.”
By Alfred Sasako