PREMIER Daniel Suidani says a threat to suspend his Malaita Provincial government is an attempt to “kill the mustard seed” that his MARA Government has planted and is now germinating.
Provincial Government minister Rollen Seleso recently warned Suidani to work and cooperate with the national government or have his provincial government suspended.
In a letter he issued to the Malaita premier, Seleso said:
- Suidani took two unapproved overseas trips last year and this year without his written approval as a minister responsible for Provincial Government. He warned the premier against taking any further overseas trips as of 30 April 2020.
- Suidani has been providing malicious media statements that undermine “our bilateral relations with our development partners”.
- Suidani’s failure to attend the recent COVID-19 Premiers’ Dialogue in Honiara with the national government is an act of insubordination. (The premier sent his deputy to attend that meeting instead).
- Recent actions of Malaita Provincial Government have shown that the province, as an agent of the national government, is not prepared to work with the National Government in the fight against COVID-19.
- He will recommend to the Prime Minister to suspend the Malaita Provincial Government during the State of Public Emergency if the province does not work with the National Government.
- He’ll invoke his authority under Section 44 of the Provincial Government Act to suspend the provincial government and appoint a Competent Authority if Suidani fails to cooperate.
Responding to the letter, Suidani said it’s clear the National Government intends to bring his government down to its knees.
“The sad thing is this is happening when Malaita, under my leadership, is starting to see light at the end of the dark tunnel,” the premier told the Solomon Star in an exclusive interview.
“We have planted the mustard seed that is now germinating and is already bringing hope to the people of this province,” he added.
“So it’s sad to see the national government threatening my leadership over matters that can be mutually discussed.”
Defending his overseas trips, Suidani said those two trips were made in the interest of his province and people.
It’s understood the trips were externally funded.
On the COVID-19 premiers’ dialogue, Suidani said although he did not attend, he had sent his deputy.
“My deputy returned and briefed the executive. So to me, this is a non-issue,” he said.
Suidani also said it’s not correct for Seleso to say Malaita Provincial government is not working with the National Government in the fight against COVID-19.
“If the minister is accessing social and mainstream media, he would have been aware of my government’s preventive measures against COVID-19.
“We have issued 100 cartons of soap to the 33 Provincial Wards to raise COVID-19 awareness and the importance of hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.
“MARA also launched a 100-day planting period for Malaitans to plant food as a direct measure to counter COVID-19 threat to the food supply.
“MARA also provided the 33 Wards with farming tools and seedlings to prepare in advance because we know COVID-19 is a real threat.
“My statement about COVID-19 kits from China is a genuine concern for my people unless the minister wants to politicize the call to suit the appetite of the government of the day.
“Not everything is politics; MARA is raising a genuine concern for the people of Malaita.”
Suidani said if the Sogavare Government cares about good governance and leadership as required of mandated leaders, then MARA is doing just fine in this department.
“Under MARA government, Malaita Province has strengthened its revenue collection and set the administration in order which allowed the province to carry out its duties effectively in a corrupt-free manner.
“Provincial employees can now receive their salaries on time unlike before when they have to wait for weeks.
“The national government and its responsible ministry must have been in a sleeping coma during times when Malaita provincial workers receive rice bags as fortnight salary.
“The current MARA government did not engage in illegal borrowing, unlike the previous government which shows we are serious about putting our province in order, trying to pave a way forward after all the province has been through over the years.
“Malaita province has gone through a lot of challenging times in the past, and those challenging times can only be traced back to corruption and dishonesty by those in power who abused it for personal gain.”
Suidani insisted that MARA’s robust stand against corruption and dishonesty has got some of the provincial workers fired, adding the province has already reaped the benefits within a short period of time.
“MARA government is embarking on self-reliance to achieve a restorative economy for the province, and believe it or not, working Malaitans have started to donate money to the provincial account to boost our service delivery and COVID preparedness.
“These good deeds have gone unnoticed by the national government for some reasons that are only known to them.
“MARA government is a government of the people of Malaita that raises real concerns over issues affecting Malaita.
“MARA government is looking for ways to ensure the voice of its people are heard and respected and not to be misrepresented and undermined.
“Lately, MARA government is monitoring business operating in Malaita Province which allows the province to kick out illegal businesses like shops and logging operation in the province for not complying with our regulations,” Suidani pointed out.
Meanwhile, Premier Suidani said it is wrong to say a statement he made recently on Chinese made COVID-19 kits was to out-rightly stop those kits from entering the country.
“In fact, I was cautioning the government to be mindful of the Chinese made kits.
“This statement is made based on two facts: (i) Convid-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019; and (ii) reports from across globe revealed that PRC equipment supplied to various countries was defective.
“Hence, it is only sensible that precautionary measures must be considered when soliciting China’s equipment.”
By WILSON SAENI