Dear Editor – There is an old, and in this case, a very appropriate saying in Australia: Why spoil a good yarn (story) with the facts.
In my last two articles on the state of the nation and RAMSI I listed the concerns, widely held within the country, about the almost total failure of RAMSI and the government in resolving the issues that have plagued the country since independence, culminating in the ethnic tension.
As I stated in my earlier articles I believe that RAMSI, aided and abetted by successive governments have, apart from the cessation of overt hostility, completely failed the people of the Solomon Islands.
I asked you in my earlier missives to look with your eyes and review the state of the nation today.
In support of my assertions and to provide you with substance to aid a wider public debate I will now produce facts, supplied by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade(DFAT), as discussed in a paper from the Lowy Institute for International Policy titled “Australia’s costly investment in the Solomon Islands: The lessons of RAMSI”
To qualify the following figures I must state that the amount of money listed below represents only that spent between 2003 and 2014 and does not include amounts spent in the past two years. The Australian dollar amounts have been converted to Solomon dollars for relevancy.
The Australian contribution to RAMSI represented 90% of the financial costs ,with the balance from other countries.
The figures, reflected below, do not include the millions and millions of dollars invested in the Solomon Islands, in the same period, by countries such as Taiwan, China and the European Union and others. One should also mention the many NGO’s also contributing during this period.
Law and Justice review:
I believe that one would have to be deaf, dumb, blind and stupid to state that there is any widespread confidence and trust in the law and order situation in the country where the following is plain to see…
*Rising street crime
*Violence and intimidation
*Continuing illegal squatting
*Absence of public trust in the police force
*patiently stupid “innovations” such as breath-testing and associated ridiculous fines….these things do have their place but there is simply so much more than such distractions at this time… such as confronting one of the causes of the ethnic tension..Illegal squatting and its associated violence and intimidation.
Fact: Between 2003 and 2014 RAMSI “invested” a total of $12,829,500,000.00 Solomon dollars on Law and Justice.
That is twelve billion eight hundred and twenty-nine million five hundred thousand Solomon Dollars.
Given that the Solomon Island judicial system (Courts) remained quite sound despite the ethnic tension…..
Question1. DO YOU THINK THAT THIS MONEY WAS WELL SPENT WITH A CLEAR AND PRESENT IMPACT ON THE STATE OF SECURITY IN HONIARA AND THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY?
Question 2. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE POLICE FORCE TODAY HAS THE INTRINSIC MOTIVATION, TRAINING, IMPARTIALITY AND COURAGE TO CARRY OUT ITS DUTIES EFFECTIVELY… EVEN WITH THE CURRENT BACKING OF RAMSI? (Who can forget their performance during the Chinatown riots and burning, not to mention how quickly RAMSI Police fled the scene…and who could forget the expat police commissioner being robbed in his own home…while he was there!!)
Question 3. What is it going to be like when the “paper tiger”(RAMSI) is no longer there next year?
Question 4. Do you believe that the issues of ethnicity impacting of police performance have been resolved?
TIME WILLTELL !!
We now turn to the balance of the RAMSI “investment”..REVIEW
One could be the ultimate cynic and call the balance of approx $2,695,000,000.00 miscellaneous expenses..but to be fair this included:
Cross Mission Activities $781,000,000.00
Economic Governance $1,309,980,000.00
Machinery of Government $605,056,000.00
Where has this money gone and what can you see in terms of ANYTHING different over the past 13 years??
On this I shall ask only one question,,,,
What, if any, aspects of the lives of you, your children, your family, your province changed by the expenditure of these huge sums of money… think about this in terms of your own personal circumstances and reflect on the impact on:
*Development in the provinces
*Hospitals and clinics
*Roads and bridges
*Vision for the future
*Public trust and confidence
Sadly, it seems that the facts for discussion will somewhat disagree with the prognosis as promulgated by RAMSI press releases and government rhetoric.
In the end the truth of this narrative will be revealed within the next year or so and perhaps the title of the Lowy Institute’s report will need to be revisited.
An honest and objective appraisement of “Australia’s costly investment in the Solomon Islands..the lessons of RAMSI” should include the perspective of Solomon islanders themselves..
It is indeed true that revealing facts does somewhat spoil an otherwise good yarn (story).
Perhaps the Lowy Institute was only interested in telling a good story rather than being interested in presenting the facts on the ground.
Dr T Firma