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Dear Editor – The behaviour of Members of Parliament (MP) is at the centre of many of our problems and concerns about weak, corrupt and misdirected government.
We currently have a parliamentary democratic constitution, in which a national representative assembly (Parliament) is elected by all adult citizens (one person one vote). Parliament then makes or amends laws, imposes taxes to raise money for public purposes, and approves budgets and policies that give the government authority to spend that money.
Parliament meets regularly to hold the government to account,sets up committees to investigate and report, and can sack the government if its performance is found to be unsatisfactory.
This constitution is based on a model that evolved in Europe over hundreds of years of bitter and often violent strife between ‘traditional’ rulers and the people that they ruled.
As the common people became educated and organised they found ways of controlling (eg, by executing them) the rich and powerful persons who had ruled them for centuries.
That model has been used, with local adaptations, in most modern constitutions now in place around the world, including here.
It looks nice on paper, but things can and do go wrong.Being humans, we like to have power, and when we have it,we enjoy it, become corrupt and want more power, which means less for everyone else. “All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. If you want proof of this, just look around you here in Solomon Islands, and watch the world news on TV.
Under our constitution, Members of Parliament are chosen by us, the people, to serve us, not to rule us. We are the rulers, OK? MPs are not the bosses of the people, they are our servants.
After Parliament has authorised taxation, budgets and policies, the job of MPs is to monitor government performance: that is, the performance of the political government in Parliament, and the official, departmental public service government throughout the country.
It is not the job of the MP to administer public funds, provide infrastructure and services and dish out money to the MP’s cronies and supporters, aiming to ensure permanent re-election.
The fact that this is what the present government and most MPs are apparently set on doing must be cause for great concern by all of us who care about the future of Solomon Islands. The prospect we are looking at is one of mounting corruption, waste, inefficiency and eventually a revolution, probably violent.
We need to quickly get back onto the path of parliamentary democratic government, served by an efficient and non-political public service.The coming election offers us a chance to do this, but only if we use our brains and energies to elect a more honest, intelligent, historically and politically aware and hard-working group of MPs, dedicated to parliamentary government.
We really don’t have time to mess around. We now have about 650,000 people in Solomon Islands, and we are heading for $1.5 million by the time our children are grown up. Fragmented government by self-serving MPs won’t handle that.