NATIONAL PARLIAMENT OF SOLOMON ISLANDS

 

DAILY HANSARD

 

FIRST MEETING – EIGHTH SESSION

 

MONDAY 8TH MAY 2006

 

 


The Speaker, Right Hon Sir Peter Kenilorea took the Chair at 9.30 a.m.

 

Prayers.

 

ATTENDANCE

 

At prayers, all were present with the exception of the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Forests, Environment & Conservation, Police & National Security, Fisheries & Marine Resources, Culture & Tourism and the members for West Guadalcanal, East Makira and North West Guadalcanal.

 

 

QUESTION WITHOUT NOTICE

 

Mr ZAMA:  Mr Speaker, I beg to seek leave under Standing Order 21(4), and with your concurrence to ask a question without notice to the Prime Minister in the absence of the substantive Minister for Police and National Security on a matter of public importance.

 

Hon SOGAVARE:  Mr Speaker, the Member can now ask the question.

 

Mr Zama:  Mr Speaker, thank you for accepting my humble request to ask this question without notice.  I have consulted the Prime Minister this morning about this question, which I think is a matter of public importance and that is why I have decided to ask this question.

            I have no personal vendetta against anybody in this Chamber or out there in the public, but this is a matter of public interest.

            The question is, can the Prime Minister confirm or deny to this Honourable Parliament, if the former Prime Minister and the current Member, my colleague for Savo/Russells is still under heavy Police protection and security?  Mr Speaker, if the first question is in the positive, can the Prime Minister then inform Parliament and the people of Solomon Islands of the grounds or reasons and conditions or maybe the circumstances or as to why this special police protection is provided or is accorded to my honorable colleague for Savo/Russells?

 

Hon SOGAVARE:  Thank you Mr Speaker, and I would also like to thank the Member for Rendova/Tetepare for asking the question.  For the benefit of the House and those listening outside as well, I think it is important that I respond to the question.

            The answer is to the affirmative.  As the honorable House would know, Mr Speaker, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force assisted by the Participating Police Force provides a security package to whoever holds the office of the Prime Minister.

            Mr Speaker, this security package extends also to those who occupy the positions of caretaker Prime Ministers during election periods and other times when a permanent Prime Minister is to be elected.

            Mr Speaker, I have been advised that whilst the Member for Savo/Russells was Prime Minister, an ongoing threat was made assessed credible by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the Participating Police Force.

            This threat, Mr Speaker, was highest when the Member for Savo/Russells held the Office of the Prime Minister and when it was possible that he may be a candidate for the role in a future government.  Mr Speaker, I have not been advised nor would I seek operational details relating to the threat, but I am advised that it is being constantly reviewed and the level of security provided would be adjusted accordingly.  

I think you would all agree, Mr Speaker, that such security measures are appropriate in the circumstances and should be available.

 

Mr Zama:  Mr Speaker, can the Prime Minister inform Parliament as to the time frame of this special arrangement?  Will this continue to go on like this or will it come to a time when it will stop?

 

Hon Sogavare:  Mr Speaker, that is an operational matter for the Royal Solomon Islands Police, and I am confident that assessment of security requirements for the former Prime Minister are sound and trusted.  If the security risk is assessed and is not there it will be removed.  That is an operational matter.

 

Mr KEMAKEZA:  Mr Speaker, I do not want my colleague Member for Rendova/Tetepari to think that I am in favor of this security arrangement.  No, I have had enough of it.  Advice from the Commissioner of Police is that I still have to be provided with security for reasons better known also perhaps by the Member for Rendova/Tetepari.  There are many speculations which put my life at risk.

            Mr Speaker, my life is the most risky on this land and nobody else, and this is because of the decision I made, which also has been extended to members of my family just for the good of this nation and people.  However, some people have speculated for good and bad reasons, which I am for sure, do not deserve this at all, but my life is quite important. 

If it is not for the nation, Mr Speaker, it is my wife and my children and because of that reason I wish to thank the Honorable Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police that this arrangement will continue because of the risk which I do not know, only those people are in better positions to know.  Thank you.

 

Mr Zama:  Mr Speaker, I just want to say that whilst I fully appreciate what is being currently accorded to my honourable colleague for Savo/Russells.  

What he has done during his term in office is appreciated by everybody, but just like all of us Members of Parliament we too would want to be accorded that kind of security protection.  There is nothing really peculiar or sinister about the arrangement but just because of questions asked by the public.  I do not know exactly the reason for that and that is why it is good for that matter to be cleared on the floor of Parliament. 

Mr Speaker, as you would know there are former Prime Ministers, former Deputy Prime Ministers, former Deputy Speakers in this Chamber who would also want to be accorded the same protection service.  In as far as the Constitution and regulations are concerned, Mr Speaker, the Governor General and the Prime Minister are also provided with such security arrangements.  But just because of this special case that the public just want to have their minds at ease, and that is why I am asking this question.

            Mr Speaker, as I have said earlier on I have no personal vendetta against my colleague from Savo/Russells, we are very good friends and we will always be very good friends, but just because of a matter of public interest and that is why I am asking this question.

            Mr Speaker, it is not good to have speculations because this kind of arrangement could only perpetuate suspicion in the minds of people and will also incubate hatred and animosity on our people, our communities and the society at large, and therefore, anything that impinges on our cultures should be taken back at that level because Solomon Islands being embedded and very rich in cultural heritage, a lot of issues, I strongly believe that have given rise to the recent conflict that this country has faced can be dealt by custom.  I do not believe locking people behind bars for life will ease these problems, because our custom, Solomon Islands being a country rich in culture and customs………..

 

Mr FONO:  Point of Order Mr Speaker.  Is the honourable MP debating the issue or what is he trying to say.  Question time is already up.

 

Mr Zama:  Mr Speaker, I just want to acknowledge the former Prime Minister’s response and thank him so that the nation can hear it.

            Mr Speaker, I would like to say that Solomon Islands wants peace, and that is lasting peace.  If there are grievances that people still have, this country needs true healing and true reconciliation, and that is why I said that a lot of these issues can be dealt with in custom.  Therefore, I strongly believe that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be set up immediately under legislation to look at issues like this. 

That being the case, Mr Speaker, peaceful coexistence in Solomon Islands today and into the future can only be realised if all of us leaders are true and sincere to our callings as leaders and Members of Parliament.

            We have to give back this country to its people, and our people want to enjoy peace and tranquillity once again as before.  Let us give back that peace and tranquillity to our people.  Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

 

Mr Kemakeza:  Point of order Mr Speaker.  If my colleague Member for Rendova/Tetepari wants answers to many of the allegations leveled against the Member for Savo/Russells by the other side of the House, I am going to explain this during the motion of sine die.

            Secondly, Mr Speaker, power is now in the hands of those who talk too much.  Investigate, prove it and take the Member for Savo/Russells to court, if that is what I think the Member for Rendova/Tetepari is after.  You are now in power, and so do it because nobody is above the law.  I stand correction on that if that is the issue. 

On the other issues and points raised by my colleague, I leave that to the Commissioner of Police and the Prime Minister and the appropriate Minister for Police who is not here to give the answer.  Whoever is caretaking on that portfolio, please find good answers for this.

            Mr Speaker, as I have said I also want to be a free man.  I want to live in peace with my wife, my children and my people.  However, because this security arrangement has been provided by the Commissioner of Police, I have to abide to it.  If there are any suspicions or misinterpretation, Mr Speaker, I leave it to the government to find it out.

 

Mr HUNIEHU:  Mr Speaker, with your indulgence I just wish to raise a point of concern.

 

Mr Speaker:  Under what order?

 

Mr Huniehu:  In connection to…

 

Mr Speaker:  Is it a matter of privilege or clarification of points being discussed? Okay you may do so.

 

Mr Huniehu:  Mr Speaker, the question raised by the Member for Rendova/Tetepari underpins the importance of law and security in this country.  I therefore would like to think that having a Caretaker Minister responsible for a most important Ministry in Government is not good enough.  There has to be a working Minister available so that issues relating to law and order are properly dealt with. 

Mr Speaker, I hope the Prime Minister will take this piece of advice very seriously.

 

Hon Sogavare:  Mr Speaker, thank you very much I take note of the concerns raised.  In fact, we blew it out of proportion.  I think the Member simply asked for an explanation and I did explain it, and there is no need to go on and on about it.  But I do take note of the concerns raised and it will be addressed in due course.

 

Mr Speaker:  I think the honourable House will understand that while no one is above the law, every citizen of this country has a protection of law.  I think that is what is being accorded to the Member for Savo/Russells.

 

STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER

 

Mr Speaker:  Before the honourable Prime Minister makes the statement, he has kindly suggested that his statement be opened to comments.  Since provision for statement in Standing Orders do not provide for discussions and debates, he will have to suspend standing orders so that his intention of allowing his statement opened for comments may be proceeded with.

 

Hon SOGAVARE:  Mr Speaker, before I make my statement I beg to move that Standing Order 24(2) be suspended under Standing Order 81 in order for Members of Parliament, if they so wish, take 20 minutes each to respond to the statement that I am about to make.

 

Standing Order 24 (2) prohibiting debate on Statements was suspended under Standing Order 81 in order for Members of Parliament wishing to take 20 minutes each to respond to the statement by the honourable Prime Minister was agreed to.

 

Hon Sogavare:  Thank you Mr Speaker, for giving me the floor of Parliament to briefly outline the general direction of the Grand Coalition’s strategic policies to address the development needs of the country.

            Sir, a more detailed presentation will be made when the joint policy statement of the Grand Coalition is launched as soon as is finalized by the officials.

            Sir, we believe that given the fact that the country has just come out of a situation that seriously questions the country’s development strategies, we would be simply irresponsible to disregard the clear message of the ethnic crisis and the recent uprising.

            Sir, I think the pertinent question to ask is, why did Solomon Islanders behave the way they did or why did the country collapsed in year 2000?  And we can go on and ask similar questions.  These are serious questions. 

We believe, Mr Speaker, the answers to these questions should assist the country to design the most appropriate development strategies that would take account of the dissatisfactions that sparked the crisis.

            Sir, before I delve into addressing Parliament on the development strategies, I would like at this juncture to acknowledge the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords, who through His mercy and love gives strength to our nation, Solomon Islands.  Without Him we are nothing.  With Him we are everything.  It is to His glory and honour that I once again recommit this nation and the Government of Solomon Islands.

            Mr Speaker, we are committed to continue to uphold the basic principles of Christianity, democracy embracing love, tolerance and understanding in the administration of governmental affairs.  As Prime Minister and leader of the Grand Coalition that now forms the new government, Mr Speaker, I take this opportunity to reassure the people of Solomon Islands that this government is the Government of the people by the people and for the people.  This means that this government is the people’s government, not my government.

            Sir, we will strive to create a viable Solomon Islands that we all can be proud of.  In this regard, we are committed to make the necessary changes and reforms that will empower indigenous Solomon Islanders to participate actively in the economic, social and political development of the nation.  This is to ensure that there is equitable distribution of resources, wealth and opportunities that will be available through good governance and the triumph of democracy.

            Mr Speaker, we will continue to recognize and respect our diverse cultures, worthy values and religious heritage as the foundation for a cohesive society.  We further recognized that a well informed population and ethical leadership will ensure a peaceful and united sovereign Solomon Islands.

            We, Mr Speaker, are committed to ensure that the conduit of leadership is consistent with the highest ethical standards to enhance the strengthening of a democratic, constitutional and community institutions and structures.

            Mr Speaker, cognizant of the desire of the people of this beloved nation to live in peace and enjoy the freedom that comes with social and economic security, the people’s government will seek to cultivate and build a God fearing society that is equitable and just, honest, trustworthy and forward looking.

            Sir, the pressing issues that face our nation at this crucial time of our history is common knowledge to all of us.  The events of the last two weeks reflect the deeper undercurrents that this government will seek to find solutions to.  Sir, we will carry on business of governing with a view to redirecting the course of this nation to the goals we have set ourselves.

            Mr Speaker, the current Draft Federal Constitution will be pursued vigorously and adopted in due course.  Mr Speaker, the Coalition is of the view, however, that if the new federal system of government is to be considered as a principle strategy to address the inherent deficiencies of the present government system and its supporting economic and development strategies that had been responsible for creating the environment of ethnic hatred and intolerance, then it must as a minimum requirement premised on the following fundamental principles.

Firstly, we believe that the sovereign power and right to decide on who should be empowered economically and politically, Mr Speaker, is rightly the prerogative of Solomon Islanders, and the Solomon Islands Government.  We make this comment because the new Federal Constitution understands and legislates these issues through the eyes of the existing suppressive system thereby continue to commit the serious mistake of perpetuating the underlying causes of the revolt against the highly centralised and foreign controlled development strategies.

Right now the effective control of who should be empowered economically in Solomon Islands is with those who have effective control of financial resources, technical know-how and other resources.  We agree that the Constitution cannot continue to condone such a system because we are effectively putting a noose around our own neck.

Regarding political power, Mr Speaker, we only have to learn from the underlying reasons behind the ethnic crisis and the recent uprising to see the need to positively discriminate against non indigenous using their economic powers to influence the people’s vote in the race for the control of political power.  If there is such a thing as positive discrimination, Mr Speaker, then we believe this is the occasion that such a policy is most appropriate.

The next point, Mr Speaker, is genuine recognition of traditional values, customs and leadership discipline custodian of land and governance.  We are making this point because we appreciate the comprehensive recognition of customs and customary laws in the new Constitution, which is a marked improvement from the present foreign Constitution.  However, we believe that much is yet to be done on the issue of customary land. 

The Constitution recognizes and protects the rights of the people in regards to customary land but at the same time the Constitution continues to support the undermining of that right through the foreign court systems.  Sir, we believe that land is the single most important issue that the Constitution must not take very lightly.

Thirdly, we are of the view that one of the issues that must form the basis of the new federal constitution is the protection of fundamental rights and freedom without undermining our religious and traditional values and worthy customs.  I guess the keyword here is ‘worthy’.  The new constitution went as far as regulating relationships between children and parents, husbands and wives.  But whilst the rationale here is to strengthen the basics of society, we could be doing the opposite.

Fourthly, we believe that the new constitution must rectify injustices.  We are saying this because we believe it must be one of the primary objectives of the new constitution to rectify the many injustices that continue to haunt the people of Solomon Islands.  These injustices are too many to discuss in detail.  There are injustices, of course, relating to alienated lands and land acquired under the order of the present foreign court system that have very little regard for the relevant customary land tenure system. 

There are also injustices brought about by the inappropriate financial and economic system currently in operation in the country that only recognizes the already powerful and will continue to suppress the potentials of ordinary and genuine Solomon Islanders in whose names development policies are designed all these years.   There are also injustices brought about by the workings of a government system that is highly donor driven.

Fifthly, Mr Speaker, we believe the new federal constitution must foster national unity.  The Coalition believes that the issue of national unity must be based on unity of purpose, determination and common principles within a general constitutional framework that allows for special arrangements as opposed to national uniformity.  So much for that issue.

On rural development, Mr Speaker, the people’s government will introduce targeted and focused growth strategies for the rural economy, a reorientation of economic policies to empower resource owners to be meaningful long term participants in the economy.  And the strategies include the following:

 

(i)                  the implementation of the bottom-up approach development in line with the new roadmap recommended by the Parliamentary Tripartite Task Force, which was recommended to the previous government and it sat on it, which would see a reorganization of the budget to meaningfully address rural development. 

 

As an immediate step to effecting this strategy the government will announce its new policy on the administration of the ROC assistance to Solomon Islands.  The new policy would involve instilling greater transparency in the use of the assistance by removing the discretionary portion of the assistance from the control of the Prime Minister.

 

(ii)        the government will undertake a more meaningful land reform that will recognize the traditional land tenure system of the country.  The objective of the reform is to ensure that land is available for development but at the same time fully recognizing the intricacies of our traditional land tenure system.

 

(iii)       the government will implement appropriate strategies to speed up the process of decentralizing major economic developments to other provinces.  This strategy will be facilitated through a private sector-led strategy rather than donor driven, which failed miserably to work for this country over the years.

 

(iv)       the government will develop appropriate strategies to actively address the plight of indigenous business people in the country.  The reason for this is self-evident.  We cannot afford to continue to neglect the need to involve Solomon Islanders in economic development and pretend to be normal.

 

(v)        the development of the real sector will be based on the potential assessment to ensure the potentials of the country are fully utilized and to avoid unnecessary duplications.

 

Sir, on good governance.  During the past two weeks our nation and its leaders have come under sharp and intense criticism both externally and internally on corruption and the need for honesty and transparency in governance.  Sir, this demonstrates that we have serious governance problems and this is affecting the smooth flow of services and development in general. 

We believe that the reactionary approach has not and will not solve these problems.  We need to appreciate the root causes of the inherent weaknesses in our system of governance to effectively address the problems.  We believe that this is due to, among other things, the lack of understanding and appreciation of the inclusiveness of the principles and workings of good governance which embrace the entire framework of organizational issues in the economy from grassroots to the national level, embracing the whole spectrum of organizations, procedures and systems in the private sector and public sector.

There seems to be the tendency towards limiting good governance to the performances of the government within its narrow framework and organizational structure with very little concern to the framework and organizational issues in the national context. 

We believe that good governance is concerned ultimately with the issue of effective management of the economy in the most transparent and in the manner that renders the system open to the scrutiny of properly established checking mechanisms.  It is important that these checking mechanisms are allowed to work without being unduly hindered by narrow political interests and the desire of non governmental organizations to advance their narrow agendas in the pretext of speaking on behalf of the people.

We believe that established organizations have a duty by virtue of their often claim to serve the people to be transparent and accountable.  With that background, the Coalition is seriously concerned that the system of governance in Solomon Islands suffers from the suppressive actions of responsible authorities.  There is very little flow of information between important organizations including the various rural community funding schemes in their dealings in matters of common interests that affect the lives of Solomon Islanders. 

We believe that the government must take the lead in organizing a strategy to coordinate national efforts through an appropriately designed implementation and reporting system that would bring greater transparency in the operations of the various organizations and schemes.  The Coalition will seriously consider a partnership approach as a strategy in this regard. 

Sir, it is also observed that important institutions legally responsible for ensuring greater accountability like the Courts, the Ombudsman Office, the Leadership Code Commission, the National Parliament and the Auditor General’s Office have been deliberately suppressed by lack of capacity and render ineffective by suppressed organizational arrangements.  Unless these weaknesses are addressed, the system will continue to be a breeding ground for corruption.  The Coalition is determined to address these weaknesses. 

In addition to our intentions, Mr Speaker, to introduce a number of legislative measures in Parliament, for example, an anti corruption bill to minimize and eventually stamp out causes and adverse effects of corruption in our nation, we believe a lot could also be achieved though a simple reorganization of the good governance institutions including the need to clearly define the role of parliamentarians. 

For example, Mr Speaker, we believe that Members of Parliament are full time employees of the National Parliament either as Ministers of the Crown responsible for portfolio reporting to parliamentary committees or as fulltime Members of Parliamentary Standard Select Committees responsible for ensuring that government departments are delivering the mandates of Parliament.  This could be that the committee system of Parliament must be strengthened through the establishment of additional standing committees and to be fully resourced to effectively carry out their functions. 

We also believe that Parliament as the supreme institution of good governance must be further strengthened by pulling the good governance institutions together.  This will involve the consideration to bring the Ombudsman Office, the Leadership Code Commission and the Office of the Auditor General as departments of the National Parliament. 

This makes a lot of sense because these three institutions are primarily concerned with ensuring that Parliament decisions are carried out and therefore we believe are appropriately part of the parliamentary setup. 

On foreign policy, Mr Speaker, on the international front the Government will pursue a foreign policy based on selective engagement and pragmatism in order to ensure the country gets maximum benefit from its development relations.

In the process of nation building, a number of our partners stand out in ensuring that our nation upholds true democracy and the rule of law.  Their presence in Solomon Islands is a manifestation of their commitment to assisting our beloved nation to take its stand in the free world of democracy and true liberty.  

On Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, Mr Speaker, Forum Island Countries represented in the Regional Assistance Missions to Solomon Islands led by Australia and New Zealand is to be commended, Mr Speaker, for their untiring efforts in the restoration of law and order in our country.  This government, Mr Speaker, accepts that RAMSI still has a positive role to play in Solomon Islands and shall review its role, function and engagement being carried out with the view to aligning this with Solomon Islands sovereignty and long term benefit. 

Sir, may I on behalf of the Government and the people of Solomon Islands thank Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of China, Japan, the European Union, Papua New Guinea, the United Kingdom, and all our other development partners for their continuous support to the people Government of Solomon Islands.

On the peace process, the Government recognizes the efforts of National Leaders in trying to deal with the root causes of the ethnic tension.  In this regard, the Government will take into consideration the resolutions of the Guadalcanal Leaders Summit and other relevant issues pertaining to the National Peace building process. 

Sir, the truth and nothing but the truth will lead to true reconciliation, and this Government will pursue the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission as an essential step to social cohesion, national healing and unity.

Let me assure, Mr Speaker, and thank the people of Solomon Islands for their active participation in the democratic process as shown in the general elections and the support this Government has received.  Their cries have been loud and clear, and it is my humble duty and that of the Honorable Members of this new Government to respond to them. 

This Government will ensure that Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary translate all policies of government for effective and efficient delivery of services.  We will take measures to address the fundamental issues of social and economical growth that recognizes the aspirations of the indigenous people of Solomon Islands to live in peace and enjoy the security afforded by the wealth and opportunities that are an integral part of the social fabric and heritage of this nation. 

Sir, for the purpose of continuity, as you will appreciate this Government retains the same ministerial lineup, and the new Cabinet has been announced in the weekend.  The major policy statements of the new Government will be released as soon as it is finalized by the Joint Task Force.  We hope to do that by this weekend. 

Finally Mr Speaker, it is now my humble plea to the people of this country, but more so to the 50 Members of this Honorable House to support the new government, as without the people’s support we will not be able to achieve many of the goals mentioned.  I am confident of that support as clearly manifested by the people over the last days. 

I feel humble to have been given the opportunity to lead our nation and I would like to thank all Members of Parliament, especially my colleagues in the Grand Coalition for their trust, understanding and humility in allowing me to be their leader and now, Mr Speaker, your Prime Minister. 

To you my good people of Solomon Islands, we have nothing to offer you except only hard work and sweat, Mr Speaker.  Long Live Solomon Islands and May God bless us all.  Thank you Mr Speaker.

 

Mr Speaker:  The Honorable Prime Minister has made his statement and according to the motion moved and agreed to by the House before the Prime Minister made the statement, Members who wish to respond to the statement may now do so.  I must remind Members though that the time allowed under the motion is 20 minutes per person.

 

Mr KEMAKEZA:  Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me my 20 minutes to contribute to this very iportant statement introduced by my good colleague and friend the Honorable Prime Minister. 

Before I touch on a few very important issues in the statement, Mr Speaker, first of all on behalf of my chiefs and leaders of Savo/Russells congratulate the new Government.  This Grand Coalition Government deserves my congratulations.  I congratulate you for that statement. 

Mr Speaker, as we all know there were sequences of events after the general election, which are six days of government, the seventh day of rest and eight days of the Church by none other than the Prime Minister himself.  I thank him for that. 

Mr Speaker, when I look at the composition of the new Government, and the promises highlighted in the statement, it is none other than SIAC’s, the Solomon Islands Government for Change, who are the bunches in front there.  This is a bunch of people with only a little bit of change in color from yellow to blue or from blue to green.  To prove what I said Mr Speaker, the two very important leaders the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langa Langa and my good colleague the Prime Minister Member of Parliament for East Choiseul only swap over chairs.  This can be checked in the records.  I think people have very small memories.

The Prime Minister now was the Minister of Finance then and the now Minister of Finance was the Prime Minister then and the same statement and promises were made in those days but for three years nothing happened except what but a collapse of this nation.  That is all.  That is only the price we get for that change.

Mr Speaker, if you look again the now Minister of Provincial Government is the same Minister that time.  And again the same Minister of Foreign Affairs in that regime.  So what are you people telling this nation?  Your track record remains and will never be changed, Mr Speaker, never ever. 

If you look further down the Minister of Commerce, who is my respected leader is also a big man of SIAC.

 

(Mr Hilly  interjecting):  I was not a Minister then.

 

Mr Kemakeza:  Thank you Sir, but you were the chairman of ICSI.  Mr Speaker, they are all my friends.  I have had the privilege of serving under the now Prime Minister as his Deputy Prime Minister.  I have also worked with the Minister of Finance who was the financial advisor for the government I was under except that he was sitting on one table and ended up being mentally ill and subsequently left the office.  That is what I know about the history of my colleagues.  The only thing I can think about the Minister for Provincial Government now, which you also know as well Mr Speaker, is that he messed up the peace process of Solomon Islands.  The Minister for Lands now was the first Minister to introduce casinos in Solomon Islands.

 

Mr Speaker:  I would like to ask the honorable Member not to point at Ministers.

 

Mr Kemakeza:  No, Mr Speaker, but I must mention this because the record remains that they are the same Ministers. 

 

Mr Speaker:  Address the Speaker!

Mr Kemakeza:  Right so, Mr Speaker.  When I look at the line of up of Ministers, what was the cause in 2001 and what is the cause again in 2006, Mr Speaker?  Do you know what the cause is?  It is power hunger.  It was politicians who caused it. 

It was politicians who caused the 2000 issue.  I am very pleased, I am very happy that this government will bring up the initiators of the ethnic tension.  I stand by to offer my assistance to that team.  That is a good one.  You will also find out that the loose politicians were creating the situation that happened from 1997-2000 and 2006 because they are loose and using innocent people.    Can you see what has happened?  Two members of the government camp are now in custody and many more will go in.  Police officers are still looking for the MP for Temotu Pele who upon leaving this Building said to the people, ‘go ahead, go ahead’.  Police Officers who were standing there informed me about that.  I was not there.

 

Hon Lilo:  Point of order

 

Mr Kemakeza:  This is my time, Mr Speaker, the Minister of Planning should sit down.

 

Mr Speaker:  Could we hear the honourable Minister for Planning?

 

Hon Lilo:  Mr Speaker, we are not here to level acquisition. 

 

(Mr Fono interjecting)  The truth is coming out

 

Hon Lilo:  The opportunity you have been given in response to the statement made by the Prime Minister is to comment on the content of that statement.  We are leveling acquisitions which are totally outside of the statement made by the Prime Minister.  This is totally insensitive, even though we have the privilege in this House to make whatever statements that we want to make.  People are listening outside. 

 

(Mr Fono interjecting):  We are talking on the truth now

 

Hon Lilo:  Well, the time will come for us to talk about the truth.  The Prime Minister has already made the statement that a Truth Commission will be commissioned by this Government. 

I think it is totally insensitive on the part of the MP for Savo/Russell to start making those acquisitions against Members.  That is totally wrong and I think you should not allow him to continue.  He should be directed to the content of the statement by the Prime Minister.  You have time to say that in the sine die motion but not this time.

 

Mr Speaker:  The honorable Minister is still standing, please could you take your chair for a while.

 

Hon Lilo:  Mr Speaker, the MP for Savo/Russell has his time tomorrow when the motion of sine die will be moved and he can say whatever he wanted to say. 

The statement of government business that is given out is a statement given in good faith, with all genuineness and I think it should be accorded the kind of a comment that is required given the content of that statement.  It is absolutely wrong for us to come and start to bring up issues that are very much subjective, personalizing, degrading on us too, to say the least. 

I do not come here to talk about what you did in 2001 and those times.  When you talk about the five people who were in the SIAC Government during that time, what about the majority who are sitting here.  They are not SIAC, they are new Members committed for change.  

 

Mr Kemakeza:  Point of order, Mr Speaker

 

Hon Lilo:  I think it is absolutely wrong.  I still have the floor by the way MP for Savo/Russells.

 

Mr Speaker:  I think Standing Order says that if a man who is speaking does not give way for the point of order he still has the floor.

 

Hon Lilo:  I still have that stand and I still have the floor.  We must respect each other in this House.  This House is not for us to just come in and just throw things that we think up from outside and bring them in here.  It is a dignified House, a House to respect and the House of the people and we are leaders.  This is the House that belongs to the people of Solomon Islands.

 

Mr Speaker:  I think you have made your point Minister?

 

Hon Lilo:  I have to make that point and it has to be taken.

 

Mr Kemakeza:  Mr Speaker, the Minister of Planning is wrong.  The word used in the statement is ‘corruption’.  So I am talking about the word ‘corruption’, and what I mean by corruption is using innocent people for your own gains.  That is pure day light corruption.  That is the word corruption in the statement by my colleague the Prime Minister.  Who said the word corruption is not in the statement?  He must be listening somewhere?  Let me move on.

            Therefore, Mr Speaker, who is not a Christian in Solomon Islands?  You are all well dedicated Christians and so as this side of the house which most are pastors.  I thank the Prime Minister for dedicating that statement to God.  But remember Mr Speaker, if I can go back to history that the same Prime Minister of SIAC standing on top of here saying “I dedicate this country to God”.  It is the same statement, exactly the same statement only to find the country bankrupt.

 

Mr Speaker:  Could the honorable MP withdraw the word ‘bankrupt’?

 

Mr Kemakeza:  It collapsed.

 

Mr Speaker:  Thank you.

 

Mr Kemakeza:  On the word ‘finding the solution’, it is our responsibility, the responsibility of 50 Members of this House. 

I took over the government in 2001 with no cent, six pay arrears not being paid, no law and order, nothing and I handed over to my colleague back again.  I took over from him too and I handed over to him 5.5% economic growth, good law and order, services provided, a free and conducive atmosphere which should enable you to now go ahead in a free environment.  You have good times now, not like the time when we took over.  So I brought it up this far. 

            I must congratulate the Prime Minister for putting my Secretary to Prime Minister to be the Minister for Mines and Energy now and my uncle to be the Minister for Education.  Just make sure the education policy is carried out because I remembered the Prime Minister saying that the good programs and works of the last government will continue.  Thank you for realizing that and thank you for doing that by not changing the departments and ministries.  That can only mean that what we have been doing is proper and so you continue on with what we have left.

            The Minister for Justice was a PAP candidate in 2001 but we lost him and now he is back in the Justice Bench so thank you so much for that.  The Minister for Communication is a PAP member, the Minister for Home Affairs is also a PAP member, the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock is a PAP member and the Backbencher, the MP for Rendova/Tetepare is also a PAP member.  So half of PAP members are in your government, and so please continue on, even the MP for Mbaegu/Asifola.  Continue on with the good programs of PAP.  Even the MP for Gizo/Kolombangara is a strong official of PAP.  In fact he is a top cream brain of PAP.  So do not complain, carry on the good work.  What he was saying is wrong because he has to check the statement by the Prime Minister.  You are all my friends.  Do not chase me out if I come knocking at your doors to offer my assistance to you. 

Another issue the Prime Minister talked about is the federal system.  A paper on that has already been brought before this House, and so you just complete it.  We have already prepared everything except that if you want to put in the land issue, yes I agree with that. 

Let me clarify the sovereignty issue that foreigners have come to hijack as always claimed.  I want to clarify this point.  The advisors that come to help the Solomon Islands Government during the reform of government machineries is like this.  There are no new laws, no new rules, no new procedures and no new regulations that RAMSI introduced.  All the laws, regulations, procedures, Financial Instructions and General Orders are things approved by this Parliament, if not outside of this Parliament, but they belong to the country of Solomon Islands.  They are only here to enforce the same laws and rules that we ourselves want to bend for our own convenience and purpose.  That is all what it is. 

We might say do not break it but just bend it to suit our own interest.  That is all we have been doing.  They come and say, ‘do not bend them but obey them, respect and follow them’.  That is all they come and say to us.  But if they come and introduce new laws and orders from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island Forum, then yes you can complain.  But we still have the same laws in Solomon Islands.  So Mr Speaker, we must work with them and the decision is now upon the government.  I thank you for that.

            On the Constitution, land issues and financial institutions, Mr Speaker, when SIAC government was in power it changed one thing, and that is Savo/Russells’ RCDF was not collected until this time.  A certain percentage of the RCDF has to go the Central Bank.  That is the idea of now the Minister for Finance.  I want to ask him to investigate this and take all our money back because of his new rule during his time.  If it is for the financial institutions then be careful that you do not repeat what happened in 1997 because this is taking up the privilege of other constituencies. 

            When I came in 2001, Mr Speaker, you were the Chairman of the Peace Council with only five principles, not like this one with 100 principles, but only five.      First, my government must address law and order and nothing else.  Second, to look into the education of our children.  Third, to look into the health of our populace.  Fourth, to look into government machineries, and finally the fifth is to look at our governance system.  Those are the five principles.

 

Mr Speaker:  You have another minute honorable Member.

 

Mr Kemakeza:  I have also established the corruption and serious crime office.  It is already there in the system, and so utilize it and investigate the 50 Members of Parliament including the one now talking because he is the major culprit in the whole country today.  There are all sorts of accusations against him such as ‘corruption’ and ‘big fish’.  That is the reason why I did not want to contest the Prime Ministershp or become a Minister.  I just want to stay out to allow authorities investigate the MP for Savo/Russell because he was the headline during those days up until now.  Investigate him and prove it.  If not I will come after.  This is not the end of the world.  Time will come when we will all test each other. 

In line with what the MP for Gizo/Kolombangara said I will reserve some other comments that I also would like to share with the Prime Minister during the motion of sine die motion.  Thank you for my 20 minutes.  I have said that I do not have any personal grievances against anyone in the government, but my contribution is not just painting it but doing it.

            With that, Mr Speaker, do not personalize me Mr Speaker, I have the right to also speak in here.  You seem to be unfair to me.  With those few remarks I resume my seat.

 

Mr Speaker:  We have ruled 20 minutes and you have spoken more than 20 minutes

 

(applause)

 

Mr HUNIEHU:  Thank you Mr Speaker, for allowing the floor of Parliament to briefly contribute to the statement made by the Prime Minister.  But before I do so I wish to take this opportunity on behalf of my people of East Are Are to congratulate the election of the MP for East Choiseul as our new Prime Minister.

            Mr Speaker, however I seem to think that his statements were uncooked statements.  He said that he was making these statements ahead of the joint statement of policy of the five or six political groupings that formed the Government.  Therefore, Mr Speaker, the statement this morning is totally untimely. 

            Mr Speaker, Members of Parliament should not be debating motions or statements in restricted time.  When important statements are released by the Prime Minister reflecting government policies, Members of Parliament should be given ample time to study the statements in order for them to make appropriate remarks on the statements.  In this connection, the traditional practice is that the Governor General should be reading the statements of the government to Parliament so as to appear as the Speech from the Throne.  Mr Speaker, Members of Parliament must have the time to study this statement for them to make aggregate statements on behalf of their people.  I fail to see this in this statement.

            I presume, Mr Speaker, this statement was drafted in the Office of the Prime Minister alone without consultation with other parties. 

            Yes, Mr Speaker, I totally agree with the some of the statements made by the Prime Minister except not well defined.  I expect to hear more on certain issues that were not properly amplified in the statement. 

            The Prime Minister failed to inform this House a detailed monetary policy.  The management of the monetary sector is totally left out from the statement, and this is a concern to the public and the international community.  The statement should be clear because the party which the Prime Minister headed had a policy of marginalizing the role that the Central Bank plays in managing monetary policy and shifting emphasis to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.  What have you to say about this?  What is the government policy statement on this?  We need to know as Members of Parliament a clear government policy on this so that it can be debated in this Parliament.

            The development strategy Mr Speaker, yes the underlying causes for the social ethnic tension, but the Prime Minister did not well define what the underlying causes are.  He did not well define the underlying causes.  He did mention something about more decentralization of development to the rural areas, more budgetary allocation may be to the RCDF, but that is not enough.  That is why I said that this statement should have been left until a combine statement of policy is unleashed and read by the people of Solomon Islands before such a statement is made. 

            There is mention about the collapse of the country during the social ethnic tension, but collapse of this country is due to lack of poor planning.  It is politicians that caused problems like what happened in the aftermath of the election of the MP for Marovo as Prime Minister.  That incident was again provoked by politicians and those politicians who provoked this incident should all resign from this Parliament honorably.  If you are one of those who perpetrated the aftermath of the election of the MP for Marovo as Prime Minister should honorably resign from this Parliament.  You have no purpose of dividing this country because this is a multi-racial country, and we have to accept that as a fact.  This is a multi-racial country.  Why pick on a particular race just because of political expediency using the word ‘corruption’ as a pretext to launch such a serious attack on democracy?

            Mr Speaker, this is not what this Parliament is all about and now we are talking about national unity.  Many beautiful speeches are made in this Parliament.  Like I always say Solomon Islanders are fond of saying the right things and fond of doing the wrong things.  They say the right things in this Parliament and seek the opposite. 

Of course, we care about law and order and we care about security in this country.  That is for sure, but look at the appointment of the MP for East Honiara as the Minister for Police and Security, a person who said during his campaign that he will chase RAMSI out of this country, a person who could be linked with the burning down of the private sector, the China town.  Is this doing the right thing?  Are we signaling and sending out positive signal to investors?  No, Mr Speaker, that is the wrong signal.  

            We should be addressing the issue of investor confidence but the Prime Minister made no mention of how to induce those who have left this country because of the incident to come back and re-invest in this country.  How can we do it and how can you do it when it is public perception that some key members in the government side are involved in the planning of the demise of the China Town?  That is public perception and let it be known.  It is public perception.  Are we not ashamed of ourselves claiming to be Christians, claiming to uphold Christian principles and doing the opposite to Christian principles.  How do you see members of the public supporting you and supporting us burning down shops and burning down buildings?  Mr Speaker, is this a Christian principle?  Certainly, not this is totally outside of the Christian principles that we all advocate, ethical leadership.  This is not ethical leadership, this is not Christian principle.  It must be different. 

            Mr Speaker, yes we talk about democratic governance but are we not democratically elected?  My Party returns 16 MPs into this House, we have more votes than any of you democratically, and so we are entitled to be part of any government.  Most parties on the other side campaign during the election used ‘corruption’ and ‘Waku government’ as a pre-text to launch your attack on the government, but we won the election and you stole it away from us by using 4% or 5% of the Honiara population to launch the attack on a democratically elected government.

            It was a coup Mr Speaker, it was supposed to be a military coup but only using the public in Honiara, the 4% or 5% of the population and you claim that action as supported by the people of Solomon Islands?  Which people?  My people in my constituency of East Are Are did not participate.  They accepted my election victory as legitimate, and so as all the other constituencies.  This incident was all planned in Honiara, in East Honiara and Central Honiara.  

I would like to hear statements by Members of Parliament on the social ethnic tension because only a minority of the people caused it and after the election of the MP for Marovo as Prime Minister only a minority, only a few people caused it again.  These happened because of our failure as the Legislature to address the political system in this country to make it work in the democratic process.  That is our failure. 

I agree with the Prime Minister when he said it is time to address the political party system in this country and it is time to address the issue of parliamentary reform in this country.  I only hope that this government will provide more funds for the Parliamentary Standing Committees and Select Committees to do their work because I saw none in the budget.  Every time I call for more funds as the Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee, there were no funds to do our work.  I hope this year will be totally different.

            Mr Speaker, on non indigenous race in this country, we have only one constitution, and this constitution allows a non-indigenous Solomon Islander who lives here 10 years to participate in investment, to participate in politics, to participate in whatever except owning a customary land.  He can buy a registered land.  That is what the Constitution says.

The organic laws and subsidiary legislations Mr Speaker, allows investment through the Foreign Investment Act, it allows citizenship under the Citizenship Act, it allows them to migrate here under the Immigration Act.  So if we have complaints about the influx of foreigners to this country, why do we not use appropriate laws to deal with it Mr Speaker.  Do we have to burn China Town in order to make our point heard?  No, Mr Speaker, this is an uncivilized way.  And when it happened all of those in the Government side were jumping and dancing outside the Parliament as if they were doing something good for this nation.  I am ashamed of you.  Shame on you!  Look at my face, you were jumping, leaping and shouting saying ‘you go and talk with them’.  My goodness, every time you lose an election for the Prime Minister, is this the kind of behavior, is this the kind of something that we expect to happen.  When you lose, lose gracefully.

 

Mr Speaker:  Address the Speaker please.

 

Mr Huniehu:  I am sorry I am talking to them and looking at them, but I am addressing your good chair.

 

Mr Speaker:  You are not looking at me.

 

(hear, hear)

 

Mr Huniehu:  Mr Speaker, the Federal System of government I am sorry to say that the Prime Minister has not convinced me with his statement because those on the other side are so divided on this issue.  Do not issue statements not agreed upon by the whole group to this Parliament.  Even the monetary policy I know that you have not agreed on it yet. 

Mr Speaker, we should be dealing with the priority of this country – law and order, investor confidence, restoration of the business sector and how to reconstruct the China Town.  It is good you did it and it is in your courts, and so you solve it. 

Mr Speaker, yes I agree with my friend on the new roadmap and I am glad that the MP for Aoke/Langa Langa is now the Minister of Finance and I hope he will implement the new roadmap for further decentralization of development in the rural areas.  I also hope he will negotiate for increased funding for the rural constituency development fund.

I say this because that has been my view for a long time.  People criticize the fund but let us properly regulate it, let us properly institutionalize it so that it is more accountable and transparent.  Sir, every positive policy developed by this present government can be assured of the support of the MP for East Are Are.  Mr Speaker, I don’t want to take much of your time, but in conclusion, I wish to say that law and order and security are crucial and we should send mixed signals to the outside world because it will affect the inflow of aid into this country.  We must not talk about getting rid of RAMSI prematurely.  We must not talk about severing ties with the Republic of China prematurely. 

My advice is that we must maintain a strong support of the ROC and I am pleased that the Prime Minister had taken positive steps in this connection.  I believe that the statement of his government has been misrepresented both locally and abroad and I believe that corrective measures have already been taken. 

Lastly, Mr Speaker, the unity of this country is the only hope we have for the future of this country.  The unity of this country must be maintained, and it is up to all of us Members of Parliament to maintain the unity of this country.  But if we continue to provoke the unity of this country, Mr Speaker, then I am sorry we are heading in the wrong direction.  I only hope the government will address the causes of the social ethnic tension, the government will create more rural growth centers in the constituencies so as to provide opportunities in the rural areas of the country.  Doing so will positively address the urban drift issue which is very high in our minds.

I am saying this because the problems that are happening here are caused by people in the squatters in Honiara, the unemployed.  We talk about economic growth and so we should be talking about creating employment for these people in the rural areas.  More of them coming and squatting around Honiara is calling for more problems in the future. 

How can we disperse them Mr Speaker?  There is need for an effective land policy to address it.  There is need to send them back to the rural areas to find employment where there is competitive advantage. 

There is no competitive advantage in Honiara unless there is a banking system that has a billion dollars for Solomon Islanders to borrow and build buildings.  The competitive advantage we have is in the rural areas because the Wakus do not own land in the rural areas, it is ours because it is customary land and so send them back.  Mr Speaker, thank you and I support the motion.

 

Hon ULUFA’ALU:  Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to this Statement.  Mr Speaker, the two speakers who have spoken so far seem to be speaking on a motion of Sine Die.  The statement was very precise hence there is need to concentrate on the context rather than on a sine die motion.  However, since it is a matter of privilege for Members of Parliament to say whatever they want to say they did say all that they want to say.  I hope they are made redundant for the sine dine motion. 

Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister was very generous to Parliament by requesting suspension of the Standing Orders to allow Members make comments on the Statement.  In that context he is very generous and therefore has given permission under the Standing Orders by our vote on the floor of Parliament for two Honorable colleagues, the MP for Savo/Russells and East Are Are, and I hope others will do likewise.  Hence we must not forget that it is out of generosity that permits an optimal opportunity for Members of Parliament to say whatever they want to say.  But we must not forget that was done deliberately for that purpose.  

In the context, Mr Speaker, of the two Members referred to by the Member for Savo/Russells, the Members for East Honiara and Central Honiara, they are still Members of Parliament, and the Constitution and laws of the Land says so.  A number of rulings have been made on the floor of Parliament and therefore as Members of Parliament they are entitled to whatever appointment is accorded to them until they are found convicted and guilty before section 51 of the Constitution shall therefore apply. 

Why make a fuss about it on the floor of Parliament Mr Speaker?  We are making ourselves like children again.  That is the case in regards to those two Members.  And it is good that a long time serving Police Officer becomes the Minister of Police so that we know what they are doing.  There is no hidden agenda because they are just Members of Parliament being appointed. 

Mr Speaker, in as far as the statement made by the Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia, when you come into politics and government certain positions must be taken on certain issues.  The Solomon Islands Government has the right to take certain positions so that a new level of co-operation at a higher and better level is opened up for discussion.  

Had this government not done that, we will just be branded as the same to the previous one who have just left office.  You have to create a situation in order to permit new grounds for negotiation of certain issues that you wish to make new advances on.  That is simply what had happened and it should not excite anyone even Taiwan or Australia.  The Prime Minister made it very clear in his Statement that we are friends.  In fact, with Taiwan, we have been friends for over 20 years and Australia for over 30 years in terms of sovereignty.  Why so excited overnight?  Friends are friends and friends are made to disagree.  Friends agree to disagree.  Is that not what friends do? 

Mr Speaker, where is the fuss?  Why jump up on the floor of Parliament when we are just doing what normal people are expected to do.  That is what normal people are expected to do, and this Government is exactly doing that. 

Mr Speaker, I was one of the victims of colonial laws.  I went to prison three times for inciting and for unlawful assembly but I was never put in custody until proven guilty before I was put in prison.  That law is still the same today Mr Speaker, it has not changed.  So what was it that changed that made a person not yet guilty put in custody because of the claim that he is dangerous?  Is it true they are dangerous or is it because of some political directives?  Is that the hidden agenda we are talking about?

 

Mr Speaker:  I would like to refer the honorable Minister to section 36(2) of our Standing Orders which refers to non reference to matters that are before the court case.  Since the issue of our two honorable Members of Parliament in the custody of the Police is before the court, I would advice honorable Members to please not to refer to the two Members?

 

 

Hon Ulufa’alu:  I am just making reference to this because other colleagues made reference to it, but I accept your ruling.  I hope I put the matter clearly on this floor so that Members understand the issue we are facing.

Mr Speaker, I need not say much at this stage because I will be accorded the privilege of speaking on the Sine Die motion where it is proper for me to thank my people of Aoke/Langa Langa Constituency and the rest of the country.  I will keep my contribution short and I do hope for the benefit of Members of Parliament that I still have the portfolio as Minister of Finance if there is any money left otherwise I might be made redundant. 

Mr Speaker, with those few comments I resume my seat.

 

Mr ZAMA:  Thank you Mr Speaker, for allowing me the floor to briefly thank the Government for abroad statement by the Prime Minister. 

First of all Mr Speaker, I would like on behalf of my people of South New Georgia/ Rendova/Tetepari thank the Honorable Prime Minister and his Government.  I think they made history in forming the government with the broad statement.  Mr Speaker, unfortunately my two learned colleagues from the Opposition have misconstrued it, but as we have seen it, it is a broad statement from the Prime Minister and I think he should be commended because it is a blueprint of what the Government wants to implement.  Because some of the issues raised have been on the drawing board for a number of years, and so I think it is time they are raised and implemented. 

Mr Speaker, unfortunately I would like to make remarks on the comments which the two colleagues have been throwing a little bit of mud.  I think that is not what is expected but those issues could have been best left for the motion of sine die.

Mr Speaker, I just want to thank the Prime Minister and the Government for that statement and we will be looking forward to working with the Opposition to try and help the government in the implementation of its policies.  Thank you very much.

 

Mr FONO:  Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing me to contribute to the debate on the Statement made by the Prime Minister as provided for under the relevant Standing Orders. 

Before doing so, Mr Speaker, I also would like to congratulate the Prime Minister for being elected to the number one post.  I believe a number of Members on the government side had aspired for it.  Although I did not have the opportunity surprisingly enough only the leader with one member in his political grouping is now leading the grand coalition. 

Mr Speaker, I must also thank my good people for their silent support towards my candidacy for the Prime Minister that although I lost they have not taken the law in their own hands compared to supporters on the government side who have taken the law in their own hands by causing huge damage not only to the public image of the nation but in monetary terms huge damage to properties in Honiara.  Nevertheless that is history.

Sir, I believe and share the same segments raised by the MP for East Are Are that the Statement the Honorable Prime Minister read does not reflect very much the policies of the five or six political factions that formed the grand coalition at the moment and hence is untimely.  I believe the joint statement that the Prime Minister has said will raise later would be comprehensive enough to address the various sectoral policies that his government will be implementing.  The one he raised is not wide enough and is not reflective of the various sectoral policies that the government should be adopting in order to have a total picture of the policy statement of the government. 

I for one think that he himself has drawn up that statement without any consultation with the other party leaders.  However, I look forward to the joint statement that will be made later so that there is in blueprint the various policy issues the government is going to address. 

Sir, I say this because much has been said on the policies of the SOCRED Party that he is leading with only one member in the current coalition that advocates abolishing the Central Bank and moving its functions to the Ministry of Finance.  That would be the first of its kind in any developing country.  I want that policy to be made clear because I understand that various parties within the Grand Coalition like the Liberal, SIPRA, National, SI Christian, and you name it, all have different views on that policy issue for that matter. 

Another policy as well is the high hope that members of the SOCRED Party throughout the whole country are expecting handouts to be paid to them.  That must be made clear in the policy guidelines of this Grand Coalition because it creates very high hope that members must support the government that the MP for East Choiseul will lead because they are going to receive handouts in response to their membership of SOCRED.  All those issues must be spelt out by the Prime Minister. 

Similarly, Mr Speaker, on lost property claims.  The government must come clear on its policy in regards to that, which the Government of the MP for Choiseul has been paying since 2001.  The high hope placed for supporting him is that any government he will be leading will pay those that are left out in lost property claims.

Similarly, Mr Speaker, is rehabilitation of ex militants.  This is one of the issues we have seen former militants backing up the Grand Coalition.  Mr Speaker, a policy statement should also highlight what is the government’s position on that because it is creating very high expectations.  No wonder the Iron Bottom Sound camp has very strong security provided by some of my wantoks expecting that payment.  The whole government camp may realize this but there are certain leaders in the camp advocating this.  No wonder when this side took the leadership on the 18th April the behaviour of people changed because this government shelved such payments.  

Mr Speaker, those are issues that rally a big support of this current government.  My people must be told what the government’s position is on those issues.

            Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister also raised that he will address the resolutions raised at the Guadalcanal Leaders Summit.  He only signaled the Guadalcanal Leaders Summit, but what about the other Provincial Leaders Summit?  I understand the Western Province Summit also made resolutions.  Even the Malaita Leaders Summit also made resolutions, and one of the resolutions is for Malaita to become an independent state on its own.  Why didn’t the Prime Minister include that in his statement?  What is his government doing about that?  Why did he only highlight Guadalcanal, may I ask Mr Speaker?

            The Choiseul Province, which he comes from, in its Leaders’ Summit last year also made resolutions, and one of them is compensation from the spillover effects of the Bougainville Crisis.  As a government of national unity all these issues must be addressed.  I fail to hear that in the statement by the Prime Minister.  Those are important pillars to strengthen the unity of this nation.  I want the joint statement of the government when launched to address those issues.

            On foreign policy, Mr Speaker, I fail to hear the Government’s position on the one-China policy.  Before the election of the Prime Minister international news media had it that the government is going to switch diplomatic ties if the MP for East Choiseul takes the leadership. 

On the eve of the election of the Prime Minister, my good friend the MP for East Choiseul rang me accusing me for fusing that statement in the local media.  Mr Speaker, I was only reiterating statements made in the international media.  It is not good to say one thing locally and say another thing internationally.  That is not the kind of leadership quality we need.  Whatever you say locally has to be the same policy internationally. 

Foreign policy has to be consistent, and there is need for a clear policy statement on whether the government is going to shelve the Republic of China doing away with the RCDF and all the other benefits that the Republic of China has been giving to our nation or go to Communist China.  That has to be made clear Mr Speaker.

            Mr Speaker, I totally agree and endorse the sentiments raised by the Prime Minister on the need to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  That has been long overdue.  Because, Mr Speaker, the public still have information on the initiators of the social unrest.  My good friend and uncle the now Minister of Finance knows very well because he was a victim.  I think his memories are still in place that he still remembers who the initiators are.  Some members on the other side are also implicated and should be giving information to the Truth and Reconciliation commission so that once and for all we address the root causes of the ethnic tension.  This is very important, and I want the government to address it within its first 100 days in office.

            Mr Speaker, one thing also not made clear in his statement is the government’s priority areas in the next 100 days.  I made my government’s priority areas very clear when I was the candidate for Prime Minister, knowing very well that Malaita and Guadalcanal have to take leadership in order to address the root causes of the ethnic tension and address some of our demands.  That does not mean neglecting the other provinces.  No, Mr Speaker!  We have to hold the wheel in order to address the problem. 

For example, Mr Speaker, if you make a mess of your house who do you expect to clean it up?  It must be yourself who has to clean up the mess.  Now with only two members from Guadalcanal with the Government now, I firmly trust that they will contribute towards the government to address issues at hand, especially the root causes of the ethnic tension, let alone the demands that provinces raised in last year’s national summits.

            Mr Speaker, one very important question the Prime Minister raised in his address this morning is why people behaved the way they did on 18th April 2006.  Maybe time does not permit me to answer that but I will give an answer to why people’s perception changed by demanding a democratically elected government to step down.  I will address that in the motion of sine die and I want the whole nation to listen. 

Mere allegations and speculations on corruption is not true.  I for one I am a committed Christian, Mr Speaker, you know and I do not know what kind of corruption can involve a whole government.  May be individuals yes, but not the whole government.  That does not rule out corruption on the other side of the House.  Some of them are also involved in logging companies.  I have information that I lost the election of the Prime Minister because four MP’s were paid the night before the election by logging companies.  I have information on that, Mr Speaker, and I want the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the Prime Minister is going to appoint so that I shall give these information in black and white to the Commission of Inquiry into corruption.  That is why four members did not switch because they were paid money on the eve of the election.  I want this to be published in the national media.

            Mr Speaker, I believe much of this will be stated during the sine die motion because time will permit us to do so.  With these comments, Mr Speaker, I resume my seat.

 

(applause)

 

Mr BOYERS:  Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I will be very brief.  First of all, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his presentation.  I believe enough has been said by this side of the House in relation to the speech.  But as the outgoing and shadow Minister of Finance, I would just like to raise concerns to what was said about our relationship with donors in relation to our economy going forward in the light of three various policy presentations that seem to be a mighty challenge for this new government.

            First of all, I would like to wish them well in their endeavours and believe they have a very tough job ahead of them.  What I would like to respond to is that last year the government was committed to a reform agenda and it moved the country forward into economic growth on a trade-off of debt relief.  I would like to see a greater policy statement reflecting how this country is going to move forward out of debt into prosperity with a new reform agenda or the existing reform agenda which donors have accepted and will be reviewing next year.  Whether that is achieved and if it is we will have further debt relief. 

The question at hand is how would you get rid of a $2billion debt?  I suppose a lot of issues we are talking about today are domestically orientated, which is necessary in relation to who we are and what we are doing to serve our people.  But international relationship is paramount when nearly 60% of our budget is donor funded.  I believe this country is going to move forward into prosperity. 

The issue of debt reform is a major and a priority of any government.  I have not heard one word mentioned in relation to that.  Yes we have to be creative on how we deal with our domestic economy in serving our people.  No doubt about that.  How do we create jobs?  How do we develop the rural sectors to be more engaged in a system that will improve their living standards?  No doubt about that.  But in any world or any small island state, there is definitely a relationship in relation to how a country moves forward in monetary system and debt relief.

            Mr Speaker, so I would like to listen further to whether this government is going to adopt and carry forward the football that is being kicked around and whether we are going to score some goals on the playing field.  And let us just hope it is level.

            In relation to good governance, Mr Speaker, it has been a confusing two weeks.  I have worked hard in the campaign.  I have worked hard in lobbying.  I watched the town gone into unrest.  I watched the Prime Minister resigned and a new government came into power.  It has been a very, very difficult time for all of us.  But the accusations that have flowed forth have been very discouraging in the light of the last three and a half years of economic and social stability.  I would like to say that I am disappointed that the position of “Winds of Change” is change for what, I do not know.  But certainly we have had a change.

            I give the government my full blessing in making sure it changes what we have just been out of into something better.  It is a big responsibility and I believe it is a big burden.  I am glad the Prime Minister has taken this as his personal responsibility in his opening address the other day.

            I would also like to pledge my support in anyway I can in helping this government follow through on the reform agenda that the last government carried forward.

            The issue of corruption has already been mentioned Mr Speaker, which is another disappointing accusation.  I have seen corruption happening in my own eyes and I will be dealing with it with the corruption commission.  I hope this government will further assist RAMSI in the institutional strengthening as the Prime Minister has said in the Auditor General’s Office, Ombudsman’s Office, Leadership Code Commission and so forth. 

It is disappointing last year for the first time in 10 years that this government presented the government’s financial audited accounts of 1996.  I believe the last government is the first government that has addressed any sort of accountability in government finances over the last 10 years.  I hope the new government carries this forward the agenda of institutional strengthening in creating accountability and transparency.  I am sure we are going to see further audit reports coming forward in pursuance of those two pillars of democracy.

            As far as corruption is concerned, Mr Speaker, I think it has been a long outstanding issue.  What disappoints me most is that the stability of a country is only determined by the oversight institution’s functions.  Everyone has been interviewed and seen what has happened in the last couple of weeks and it has been very disappointing and discouraging.  I do not feel that I have much to contribute.  I believe as I have said that it is weighed heavily upon the shoulders of the new government.  I hope that its policy statement will reflect a national perspective of guiding this country out of this very fragile position into a more strengthened position.

            Mr Speaker, with those few words, I would like to encourage the government to further address new policy avenues and further add confidence to our creditors and our international donors and to our people of Solomon Islands.  Thank you.

 

(applause)

 

Hon Sogavare:  Thank you very much Mr Speaker.  I really do not intend to respond to all that have been said by those people who have contributed to the debate.  Except to say that I take note of the issues and concerns raised, and I will take the opportunity during the motion of sine die to respond to all the things that were said today in response to the statement I have made.  Thank you very much.

 

(applause)

 

MOTIONS

 

Hon SOGAVARE:  Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this Parliament do now adjourn.

 

 

The House adjourned at 11.30 a.m.