To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Reports of MPs switching sides

News by: SIBC (28/04/06)

A prominent sports personality, Geroge Fanai Abana, says the timing of the voting for the new Prime Minister next week is like another anxious time for the civilians of Solomon Islands.

Mr Abana says already there is talk of heavy lobbying involving millions of dollars by the deposed camp, AIMP and their PAP allies.

He says that some of the MPS who crossed the floor Wednesday have reportedly returned to their previous partners in Honiara Hotel again.

Mr Abana says MPs should remember the destruction witnessed last week and not repeat the same mistakes for the sake of Solomon Islands and the country's future children.

He says that there are also desperate expatriates not only Asians with millions of dollars vying to buy votes for their own interest.

Mr Abana says the public today has no trust on the leadership of any AIMP or PAP camps.


Resuscitating leaders from the ashes: by Jack Maebuta

Editor's note: This articles is written by Jack Maebuta and published in the Weekend Magazine section of the Solomon Star Newspaper and Online News today (28/04/06). His commentary focuses on how our leaders can be resuscitated, or revived, from the ashes on "black tuesday (18/04/06)".

The recent rioting, looting and burning which was politically fueled by the election of Snyder Rini on 18 April turned the popular Central Honiara's Chinatown into ashes.
Over the past few days media coverage was centred on this recent development in the political history of Solomon Islands.

Most of the analyses provided political and economic framework.

Kabutaulaka suggested, "...there is a need to establish statutory regulations that would facilitate the development of political parties, regulate the conduct of politicians, and ensure that the process of selecting the Prime Minister is transparent". Kabutaulaka's suggestion could provide political engine that could solidify the fluidity of the political party system in Solomon Islands.
In the economic front, Finance Minister Peter Boyers commented that: Most economic activity will remain unaffected by the riots, given most of them are conducted outside of Honiara. This was attributed to the fact that key drivers of growth in the economy are forestry, fishing and agriculture. Forestry and fishing account for two-thirds and 18 percent of export revenue respectively.

On 26 April, the Prime Minister resigned on the floor of Parliament after seeing that he does not have the numbers to defeat the motion of no confidence.
While this has resulted in joyous jubilation in Honiara let us not forget the ashes - the remains of Chinatown.

Before the ashes are excavated lets muddle through them in search for true leaders.
If the two days of rioting, looting and burning of shops was triggered by alleged corrupt leaders, which gave rise to ousting Rini's Government on Wednesday, do not let this change of government bury the ashes of Chinatown.
It is my humble plea that for leaders to lead tomorrow, they must learn from the ashes of Chinatown today.

For me, searching through the ashes for true leaders is a reality dictated by the "Law of Process." This would entail that leadership, as a process is developed daily, not in the day when you get into parliament.

This was amplified in the words of Benjamin Disraeli: "The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes. Good governance is a facet of personal life. It is a duty with righteousness. "What a person does on such a disciplined, and consistent basis gets him ready to be a great leader at the right time. For instance, Demosthenes of ancient Greece became the greatest orator by reciting verses with pebbles in his mouth and speaking over the roar of the waves at the seashore and he did it despite having been born with speech impairment.
"It is this same dedication that is required of anyone to be a great leader tomorrow."

Solomon Islands image has been tainted with the recent riot, looting and burning.
Nonetheless, leadership ability is not static. No matter if it is going to take someone to lead from the ashes, he can get better. Leaders of today and tomorrow need to learn from the ethnic crisis and the recent rioting and looting. The First Aid tip for resuscitating leaders from the ashes is that of high integrity and dedication in serving Solomon Islands citizens.

Leaders with high integrity and dedication make their influence grow. Such leaders should be knighted if they eradicate corruption. There is an old saying: "Champions don't become champions in the ring - they are merely recognised there." That's true. MPs are not champions because they won the election. Voters need to realise that they should elect MPs with high integrity and dedication to serve the nation - "to lead is to serve."

It is in Parliament that we recognise our MPs. Some are recognised for their distinct services to the call of leadership as lawmakers. Others are recognised for being dispensers of funds. Roughan (2005) likened such Parliamentarians to walking ATMs - Automatic Teller Machines. This is because such Parliamentarians' attention are taken away from their primary role as lawmakers to fill their time up as dispenser of funds for projects, school fees, ship fares, medical expenses, traditional feasts, and so forth. It is common to see many Solomon Islanders hanging around their members' home, waiting for the handout such as help in financial difficulty and hearing the good word on a submitted project.

Most voters recognise their MPs on the basis of such monetary assistance rather than assessing them on their primary role as lawmakers. The ashes of Chinatown should point all voters to the primary role of MPs as Solomon Islands lawmakers. As such all voters over the next four years should audit their MPs and see if they are performing their duty as lawmakers. This is a very easy task. Just listen to the live coverage of Parliament meetings and run audit trails of your MP's contribution to Parliamentary debates. This is a sound assessment to see whether your MP is performing or not. Amidst the smoke and ashes of Chinatown let the leaders resuscitate themselves and move the country forward.

As a Solomon Islands citizen, my analyses of the ashes are simple. It is not the critics of the rioting and looting that count, not the change of government because of alleged corrupt practices, or where the government of the day could have done better.

I would give credit to leaders, who are actually in the arena of action; who are regaining sight in the smoke and whose face is marred by the ashes and sweat. These are leaders who could resuscitate the country from the ashes.
These leaders know the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause.

This breed of leaders according to Maxwell (1998) "best know in the end the triumph of high achievement; who, at the worse, if fail at least fail while daring greatly, so his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Becoming a great leader is not over night either. As our leaders are resuscitating from the smoke and ashes let them all keep learning and growing. Shake off the ashes, improve your leadership and in time you will become a great leader - living by the law of process.

In conclusion, the events of 1998-2003 and the 18-19 April 2006 rioting, looting and burning should have taught us many lessons. For me I learned a lot of leadership lessons from these events. These lessons are summarised in the words of wisdom of William Arthur Ward: "The pessimist complains about the wind;the optimist expects it to change;the realist adjusts the sails."

* Jack Maebuta, a Solomon Islands citizen, is a Lecturer at the University of the South Pacific Lautoka Campus, Lautoka, Fiji.

Article source:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Melanesia a Huge Disaster ---The article was condemned by scholars

Editor's note: The article was written by Greg Sheridan in "The Australian" on April 20 2006 as his opinion of the recent events that occured in Honiara after the election of Snyder Rini. This article received widespread disagreement and condemnation from various scholars, and their response is also posted below. This has been forwarded to us by one of our members at the Fiji School of Medicine, Suva, Fiji.

By: Greg Sheridan (The Australian, 20 April 2006)

Canberra was right to pursue a Pacific activism in the post-9/11 era, but there is no real solution for the region.

The riots and violence in Solomon Islands are incredibly depressing. They confirm three damning, central dynamics. One, Melanesia is in a profound, civilisation-wide crisis that shows no serious sign of improvement. Two, nation-building or introducing democracy in cultures that aren't accustomed to it is gruesomely difficult, even in the most benign circumstances. And three, we are substantially alone in dealing with the Melanesian crisis.

Each of these dynamics spells real trouble. That we should reach the stage of uncontrolled looting and ethnic targeting of Chinese businesses in Honiara makes it almost impossible to see any progress there in the past three years. The Melanesian-wide crisis is far more serious for Australia than we normally credit. There are more than five million people in Papua New Guinea, nearly 600,000 in the Solomons, 200,000 in Vanuatu, nearly one million in Fiji.

Altogether the Melanesian universe contains more than seven million people and has some of the highest population growth rates in the world. The crisis throughout Melanesia is getting steadily worse. Australia has not been able to fully implement its police-centred civic rescue package in PNG. The AIDS rate in PNG is epidemic. Sexually transmitted disease and poor health are rampant throughout Melanesia.

There is a breakdown of law and order, and almost no serious economic development.
The independent Melanesian governments are creaky and crisis-prone at best, on the point of collapse at worst. In the end, Canberra will pay for and cope with their problems: disease; crime; eventual immigration, legal or illegal, to Australia; aid bills; penetration of organised crime; gun, drug and people smuggling and much else.
Before 9/11, Canberra treated these dynamics as worrying but not essentially our business. Now we understand that many of the most deadly threats come from failing states, from weak states as much as strong states.

So Canberra, admirably, has pursued a new Pacific activism, of which the Solomons is the most prominent example. But look at this result. After three years of the operation, with billions of dollars pumped into the country by the Australian taxpayer, with law and order guaranteed by Australian police and military, with the cleanest national election in many years, what are we left with? A city in flames, a Chinese business district burned to the ground, riots outside parliament, ethnic looting targeted at the most productive ethnic minority, the capital in chaos, the Prime Minister in flight.

Melanesian culture is warlike and tribal, which is why so much of it is devoted to rituals and courtesies designed to avoid conflict. But here, after a democratic election, a mob doesn't like the choice of prime minister so it tries to storm the parliament. And this is after three years of effective rule from Australia and coaching in democratic practice by our officials.

The history of independent Melanesia has been comprehensively corrupt. No one is a good loser because everyone knows that you don't get anything from the government in the normal course of things. Corrupt forces with access to government or an ability to blackmail government will leech the system of its wealth. So the only way you can get resources from the government, if your tribe loses the election, is through force. You demand payment from the government or you'll beat up or even kill its members. This primitive dynamic still governs the Solomons.

Some argue that it is much less important to introduce respectable democracy in Melanesian societies than to get the economy going first. I have a lot of sympathy for that view, but economic development of any kind cannot take place in the absence of law and order.

The Melanesian economies have limited opportunities. PNG has mineral resources. The Solomons have forests that are rapidly being logged out. Most have some fishery and agricultural resources. Fiji, because of its Indian minority, has had a modest industrial base. The most obvious potential income earner is tourism. But none of this can happen without a minimum of law and order. Fiji has consciously contrived the departure of a portion of its productive Indian minority. Chinese traders will have to rebuild their shops and businesses in the Solomons. How many will leave? The light manufacturing factories won't be built because no foreigner will want to invest. The Solomons once made good money from tourism. Who will go there now?

The truth is Melanesian independence has been a disaster. That is not a recommendation for re-colonisation, although it is clearly true that Australia decolonised PNG far too quickly and left it unprepared for the modern world. Melanesian culture is very poorly adapted for dealing with the modern world. Communal ideas of property ownership may appeal to Western romantics, but they make serious development almost impossible.

When Chinese or Indian minorities come along they are much better adapted to the modern economy. But their success, while potentially pulling the whole society forward, inevitably produces great resentment. Independence and a resentful nationalism are with us now, although Australia has adopted some of the burdens of colonialism and will inevitably have to deal with the most serious security problems in the Melanesian world.

Melanesia is often and tellingly compared with Africa. It may in a sense resemble the Middle East. There are no solutions. Nothing works. Yet ultimate failure is not an option.

What confidence do you have that a Solomons government, without Australian police and soldiers, could keep order and run affairs peacefully? We are likely to be in the Solomons for a long, long time to come.


School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
The University of Queensland

21 April 2006

The Editor
The Australian

Dear Sir,

Greg Sheridan’s scare mongering, in calling Melanesia “a huge disaster” (The Australian, 20 April) is insulting and unproductive. The riots that occurred in Honiara were the expression of deep-seated frustrations at flawed political processes and a lack of reconciliation needed after the earlier unrest. They were sparked when RAMSI mishandled the situation at Parliament. RAMSI ignored the plea by the Speaker, Sir Peter Kenilorea, not to use tear gas on his people.

The Melanesian way is to respect their elders and several of the ex-Prime Ministers (including Sir Peter) were willing to talk to the people who had gathered at Parliament. RAMSI did not give them a chance. The result was violence and destruction.

RAMSI has never been able to deal with a central conundrum: the conflict between strengthening the government apparatus, and having to also prop up a government that was flawed and of which the people remain suspicious. The new Prime Minister Snyder Rini is from the old government.

There is quite obviously a deep resentment against Asians, particularly but not only the Chinese. The democratic process is indigenously controlled but business is not. Perceived inordinate Asian influence on the political process frustrates the average Solomon Islander.

There is not a Solomon Islands-wide crisis, and certainly not a “Melanesian-wide crisis”. Mr Sheridan’s Melanesia is full of rampant sexual transmitted diseases and failing states. Has he ever noticed that eighty-five percent of the people of Melanesia are living happily in villages? This is a Honiara-centered crisis. Democracy and egalitarian behaviour is basic to Melanesian culture. Imposed government structures more suitable to First World nations are not. And neither is having forces outside Parliament buying votes in Parliament.

Though it is little acknowledged by those who think RAMSI was the beginning and end of progress in the Solomons, the 400 thousand-odd village majority of the country maintained its own law and order for five years without police presence or functioning courts. How long would Mr Sheridan give Cronulla if all police, firefighters and other public services evaporated? Weeks? Days? Hours? To label the people of the Solomons primitive on the back of two days of rioting is not only insulting but profoundly ignorant. Reducing complex historical problems to labels and scare mongering does disservice to Solomon Islands and undermines Australia's efforts to assist.

The Australian government and RAMSI needs to spend a little more time learning to understand Solomon Islanders and their cultural triggers.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Clive Moore, CSI, History, University of Queensland (

Professor Kevin Clements, Director, Australian Center for Peace and Conflict Studies University of Queensland (

Dr Anne Brown, Australian Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland (

Dr Volker Boege, Visiting Fellow, Australian Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Queensland (

Dr John Roughan, Honiara (

Paul Roughan, Islands Knowledge Institute (

Article emailed by: Alice Siuna (Fiji School of Medicine).

A student field-trip to Qoma Island, Fiji

Bula again one and all,

Today we are pleased to bring to you the reports of a field-trip that one of our TARD members has undertaken from 25-26 April 2006. This field trip involves a visit to Qoma Island in Tailevu which is on the southeastern part of Viti Levu, where Suva is located.

According to TARD member, Mr Wilfred Atomea who was on that trip, there were about 30 students that went on the trip which include lecturers and other frends. This trip was part of the course work of a Ocean Resources Management unit under the Faculty of Islands and Oceans at USP.

"We went to the island on 25th and then came back yesterday (26th april 2006). The aim of the fieldtrip was to find out the impacts of the community management on marine resources. Another objective was to see other pertaining issues that hinders the management of ocean resources there," said Mr Atomea.

According to their findings, it is obvious that the local community was committed to caring for their ocean resouces. The chiefs are very powerful and take a leading role in deciding for the community the things they are supposed to follow in terms of ocean resources, and the order of the entire community. It was also found that the people still enjoy the fun of catching big reef fish and other marine products that other Pacific Island countries are lacking at the moment.

The main source of income for the community was from fishing, and rootcrops are the stable food. However, the standard of living is low. There are also a lot of semi-permanent houses, poor sanitation, no water supply, and no electricity. These have been attributed to the low standard of living. The need for money is a major contributing factor that force these people to harvest more fish to sell to the market in order for them to pay their children's school fees and other household needs.

Despite these short falls, it was noted that this community showed committment and responsibility in caring for and conserving their limited coastal resources. The idea was initiated by themselves so they respect it.

The lesson that can be learned from this is that it is very important to incorporate communities in the decision making process of new programmes. Once they feel that they own the initiative, they will respect it which is useful towards sustaining its continuity.

Reports and pictures by: Wilfred Atomea (University of the South Pacific, Suva)

What the ousted PM and the new intending PM said before and after the no confidence motion yesterday

Hello online visitors,
Yesterday we witnessed the resignation of the country's shortest serving PM, Hon Snyder Rini. Today we learn that the defected MP from Rini's Coalition and leader of the SOCRED Party, Hon Sogavare, is the Opposition's frontman for the new Prime Ministerial post. Below is an ABC Lateline Programme extract of what the ousted PM and the new intending PM candidate have said prior to and after the "no confidence motion" yesterday.

TONY JONES: There's been jubilation in the streets of Honiara following the resignation of the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Snyder Rini. Mr Rini decided to quit after realising he didn't have the numbers to defeat a 'no confidence' motion in parliament today. The new prime minister-in-waiting was immediately greeted by cheering crowds and, as he told the ABC's Phillip Williams, his government will fight for peace, unity and stability in the country.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: With the public excluded from parliament, snipers at the ready, it was the Prime Minister, Snyder Rini, who was ambushed by defectors from his own government. Last night, he was in command...

SNYDER RINI, FORMER SOLOMONS PRIME MINISTER: I am confident that I can survive tomorrow with my 25 votes.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: ..but today, as the opposition bus was clearly carrying more weight than his, Snyder Rini's prime ministership looked doomed. Absolutely confident?

MAN: More than confident.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: Inside parliament, the opposition offered the Prime Minister two choices: jump or be pushed.

SNYDER RINI: I have no alternative but to tender my resignation forthwith as the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: Word quickly spread through Honiara: the Prime Minister was finished. Up and down the main street, it was political party time. Outside the opposition hotel, it was pure jubilation. When Snyder Rini was elected Prime Minister, there were riots. Today, this explosion is a celebration, everyone hoping this could be the start of a return to normality. And this is the man likely to lead them: Manasseh Sogavare. He defected from the government today, and on Monday expects to be prime minister of this fractured nation. Why did change sides? What made you swap?

MANASSEH SOGAVARE, PRIME MINISTERIAL CANDIDATE: It's in for the interests of the unity and stability of the country, which has gone through a period of turmoil over the last couple of days when the parliament elected the Prime Minister. And, as leaders, we, you know, we listen to the voice of the people and I think that is what democracy is all about.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: What can you offer that the past government can't offer in these incredibly turbulent times?

MANASSEH SOGAVARE: I guess, address this issue sensitively. Confrontation is not the way to address issues in this country. That's been proven over the last couple of years when the ethnic tension arise, when we approach it in confrontational way, we went nowhere. And so, um, my government will address this thing - well, if we are elected to power, we will address this thing very sensitively in a way people understand, you know, culture and custom.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: There's a lot of celebration here now but, of course, Snyder Rini had his supporters. Are you expecting any sort of backlash?

MANASSEH SOGAVARE: No, no. I don't expect that. I think people - just see for yourself. There's a jubilation. There's been jubilation throughout the week.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: There's a lot of work to be done repairing the damage of the past week. What can you do to actually bring these fractured lines together again?

MANASSEH SOGAVARE: Well, well, it's about listening more than talking less. And, of course, we will, you know, address these things properly when the cabinet is formed and look at ways of addressing it. You know, we need to get views from outside cabinet, if there is necessary, because, you know, that is how to address situations in this country.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: Australia has poured a lot of money and effort into this place only to see the riots erupt and so much damage done. How can you assure the Australian people, the Australian taxpayers, that this effort and money is all worth it and it won't all unwind again?

MANASSEH SOGAVARE: Well, they can get it straight from me now - that, you know, we are all for peace and unity and stability of the country. You know that is what this group, you know, really strongly believes in and we will ensure that we achieve that objective. And we want to assure, especially Australia, that's done so much for this country, that they are friends and that they will continue to be friends.

PHILLIP WILLIAMS: And on Monday, will I be addressing you as Mr Prime Minister?


PHILLIP WILLIAMS: Thanks for joining Lateline.

Reporter: Phillip Williams
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Lateline TV Programme Transcript
Broadcasted: 26/04/2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sogavare to contest Prime Ministerial election

Socred Party leader Manasseh Sogavare who defected with four government MP’s to the left in parliament this morning is the Opposition’s candidate for the next Prime Minister.

Mr Sogavare who was offered the post of Minister of Commerce and Trade in Rini’s seven-day old government said his defection was made after a vigilant consideration of the events currently affecting the country.

“My decision to move to the Opposition camp was made mainly for the interest of people who wanted a change of government,” Mr Sogavare said.

He said the anger that sparked two days of violent protests in Honiara immediately after the election of Mr Rini last week demonstrates that people in this country wanted a change of government.

“The only way to address that problem is to solve the core issues behind them.

“If we address the root causes then, that will satisfy people,” Mr Sogavare said.

He said addressing the core of the problem would also determine the presence of security forces in Honiara.

“The troops came in response to the security situation that affects the country.

“The presence of troops only solves the effects of violence not the root causes of it,” he said.

Mr Sogavare said it is the leaders that must dig up the root of the problem and address it.

The MP for East Choiseul is confident that there will be no more defection to the other camp ahead of the election of the next Prime Minister.

“I can confidently say there’s not going to be any further move from this camp because such moves will cause more trouble,” he said.

He said the result of events this morning is a clear indication that good majority from the Opposition is intact and they are likely to form the next government.

News source: George Herming (Government Communications Unit)

Solomons PM's resignation sparks celebrations

By Sean Dorney (ABC News Online)
News source:

There are scenes of jubilation on the streets of the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, after the resignation of the prime minister Snyder Rini.

The Solomon Islands public was excluded from the Parliament, which was guarded by Australian and New Zealand soldiers and police.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation carried a live broadcast of Mr Rini's decision to resign.

Mr Rini says he quit because he lost support, as well as in the interests of the country moving forward.

The celebrations swept up and down the streets of Honiara for several hours.

"We are very happy, yes! This is what we need, yes!" one man said.

Nominations for a new election of a prime minister by the Members of Parliament are expected to be called this afternoon.

A vote could be taken on Monday.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says he hopes a stable government can be formed in the Solomon Islands.

Mr Downer says he hopes a new leader can be found and elected by the Solomon Islands Parliament.

"It's very important that there is a free and unencumbered vote by the parliament, that they vote on the basis of their conscience and of course their political leanings and inclinations and their judgment, and that they choose a government that will serve the people of the Solomon Islands well," he said.

Labor's Pacific Islands spokesman Bob Sercombe says the resignation of Mr Rini provides for a possible circuit breaker to the recent unrest.

"What's needed for long-term stability in the Solomons is a sense of optimism and a sense of hope amongst Solomon Islanders that they've got a future economically, that they've got jobs, that they've got the opportunity of rising standards of living," he said.


Hi folks,

Latest reports that reached TARD from our contact at SIBC revealed that PM elect Honourable Snyder Rini has just resigned from Prime Ministership. Reports has it Honourable Manasseh Sogavare and his supporters have deflected back to support the opposition. This has enabled the Opposition to claim a majority to oust Rini's coalition government. The government of Snyder Rini will definitely go down in the country's history as the shortest government ever.

Reports from the Government Communication Unit stated that Solomon Islands newly elected Prime Minister Snyder Rini this morning resigned just minutes before a “no confidence motion” against his coalition government was debated in parliament. He was understood to have expected a number of defections from his group if the motion was allowed on the floor of parliament.

Five ministers from his coalition government led by Socred Party leader Manasseh Sogavare and Government Backbenchers suddenly switched to the opposition bench before parliament started. Government MPs who left Rini’s camp included Manasseh Sogavare, Clay Forau Soalaoi, Siriako Usa, Peter Shanel and Martin Sopaghe.

Mr Rini will remain as caretaker Prime Minister until the election of a new Prime Minister. A date for the re-election of a new Prime Minister is yet to be decided . Parliament has adjourned until 9.30am tomorrow.

It is still uncertain which side of the house Sogavare’s group will team up with to form the next coalition.

However, reports has it that cars are beeping their horns on the streets and people are cheering after being aware that Rini has eventually resigned.

Editor's note: The only issue is that the resignation comes at a time that the damage has already been done. It is also a major concern that some members in the likes of Honourable Sogavare and his cohorts are easily pulled by the noses from one camp to another since the first day of their elections. It is hard to compromise where Honourable Sogavare and his Socred party's loyalty lies because from what we have observed; he was once with the opposition on day 1, then he formed his own group at the Pacific casino, next he voted in favour of Hon Rini after he was eliminated in the first round of the PM electionship. He was given a ministerial post until yesterday in Rini's coalition government but then today he switched camps again. Is the actions of Hon Sogavare and his cohorts in the best interest of the nation or it's the matter of personal benefits.....this is something that we might have different views on.

News sources: Joseph Inomae (SIBC) & Alfred Maesulia (Government Communication Unit)

Is there a way forward after black tuesday?

Editor's Note: This article was written in response to Dr. George Manimu's letter to the editor which appeared in the Solomon Star on 21/04/06. Dr. Manimu's perspective was that the events that occured on tuesday (18/04/06), stemed out from PM elect Honourable Snyder Rini's arrogance and pride to immediately resign. This article was forwarded to TARD through email by

By Dr. Transform Aqorau

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Manimu’s article in last Friday’s Star. It is an excellent article accurately characterising the problems culminating in the rioting. At the same time, we cannot condone the outward display of violence and anti-social behaviour as a means of expressing political views and disagreements. Unfortunately, when people are sick and tired, frustrated and angry at the way politicians behave and govern this country, we cannot blame the people for reacting the way they did. Politicians have now been put on notice that the public will not be idle bystanders to their ineptitude and corruption.

The more important question to ask now is what policy and legislative responses should be put in place by Parliament to avoid the problems we saw last week. There have been a lot of commentaries and analysis especially on Radio New Zealand and Radio Australia on the underlying problems in Solomon Island politics and the probable causes of public frustrations that led to the riots but I have not heard any analysis about what should be done. In this short article I want to offer some possible ideas that could be further explored to address the inherent weaknesses in Solomon Islands politics.

Addressing the fluidity of electioneering and politicking
The electoral laws should be amended so that elections are contested only by political parties and not independent candidates. This would eliminate the uncertainty of individuals standing with no particular political platform and policies to address the economic, social and political problems of Solomon Islands. The counter argument is that political parties have never worked, do not have a strong grass roots base, have no particular ideological leanings, and historically once elected Parliamentarians oscillate from one side of the house to another like flies. My response would be the need for greater political stability so that Solomon Islands can have a secure future should be the overriding public policy concern. It would be better for Solomon Islands to have a grouping within Parliament who already have their policies and strategies in place once elected, rather than have a group who only start to think about their policies and strategies after forming the government. My response would also be that we need to move forward rather than be constrained by the uncertainties of the present system. The idea of electing Parties rather than individuals is certainly not new and can be found in quite a number of countries throughout the Commonwealth. It may be counter argued that Solomon Islanders are not yet ready for election of Parties because of the wantok system, low levels of understanding of government, and the electoral processes. My response is that we need to start somewhere. The suggestion that Solomon Islanders are not sophisticated enough to appreciate a strong party system has two implications. Firstly, Solomon Islanders are not intelligent and flexible enough to understand and accept change. Secondly, it is best that Solomon Islanders be condemned to the same old uncertain, inherently week system that we currently have. Most Solomon Islanders would only be too happy to see change that would realise greater political stability. The key to economic growth and greater social and economic well being is political stability.

Making it unlawful for members to switch parties once elected
Logically it follows that if individuals are to be elected on the basis of their Party affiliation then they should ensure that they remain loyal to the principles, policies and strategies espoused by their Party. Thus, the electoral laws should be amended to make it unlawful for any person who has been elected to Parliament as a member of one Party to then switch to another Party. The counterargument is that it would be hard to discipline Parliamentarians because they are invariably moving anyway and therefore it will not work. My response is that there is an overriding public policy interest to ensure stability, reduce fluidity and tighten discipline in the National Parliament that would necessitate such change. Ensuring that the sanctions and penalties are high would be incentive enough for members not to change Parties after they are elected. The system is applied in some countries in the Commonwealth and could be tried in Solomon Islands as a means of addressing the problem of members frequently crossing the floor creating instability.

Introducing limited preferential voting
The “first past the post system” of voting does not result in a democratically elected representative of the electorate. In the just completed elections, only two members were elected with more than 50 % of the votes casted. The rest of the elected members received less than 50 % of the votes. The election of the Prime Minister on the other hand requires that the winner must obtain at least 51 % of the votes. The electoral laws should be changed to ensure parity in the general principles underpinning the majority required to elect a Prime Minister and members of Parliament. This can be done by introducing limited preferential voting whereby voters have a choice of up to three people. If a candidate receives more than 50 % of the votes casted on first count, he/she wins. However, if no one wins an outright majority, the preferences are then distributed until such time as a candidate gets at least more than 50 % of the votes. The counterargument is that such a system is complicated, will confuse voters, and will take too long to count. My response would be that there is a strong public policy interest to ensure that a truly democratic Parliament is elected which represent the majority of Solomon Islanders. While such a system would not eliminate bribery and vote buying, it would certainly reduce it because voters would at least have more than one choice. The introduction of a limited preferential system can be phased through provincial assembly elections and eventually the national elections. It is instructive to note that the introduction of the one ballot box system generated considerable debate in Parliament. Indeed, there were suggestions that Solomon Islanders were not literate enough to understand the one ballot box system. I think it is a fair observation that such comments were largely generated out of fear that any change in the system might potentially lead to a system that would lesson their chances of winning. I would argue that the underpinning consideration should be the national interest (stability, ensuring elected representatives receive more than 50 % of the votes), rather than the narrow self-centred interest of members of Parliament. The idea is not new and is applied in countries throughout the Commonwealth including the Forum Island Countries. Indeed, in 1995 I made submissions to the Electoral Review Committee to introduce a limited preferential voting system. I reiterated those same sentiments in the Star in 1998.

Illegalising the giving of gifts, money, airfares, assistance, and demand for money six months prior to elections
Election campaigns are becoming more corrupt, involving the exchange of goods and services. Voters have also exacerbated the problem by imposing on the candidates. The tendency for voters to ask candidates for money, sea fare, food, school fees, during the period leading up to the elections have got worse making this election one of the most unclean in terms of the attitudes of the voters and candidates. The movement of supporters from one candidate to another depending on who gives them money is not obvious to the casual observer but is an open secret in the constituencies. There is an overwhelmingly public policy interest to ensure that elections campaigns are conducted cleanly and fairly in a level playing field. To ensure that money, goods and services are not transferred between candidates and voters, and to ensure that voters do not impose undue pressure on candidates by demanding money from them, the provisions on bribery and treatment under the National Parliament Electoral Provisions Act and the Local Government Regulations should be made more specific by proscribing altogether any exchange of money, goods and services, and voter demands six months before the elections. As it is, the current laws require proof that such exchange of goods and services is intended to induce a person to vote. The problem is that it is difficult to differentiate whether the distribution of waters tanks and other forms of assistance a few weeks before the election constitute “development assistance” or “treatment”. I think that perfectly legitimate arguments can be developed either way. The counterargument is that such a law is unduly prohibitive and would consequently prevent members of Parliament providing legitimate assistance to their constituents. My response would be the best form of assistance that members of Parliament can offer is to deliver laws that would enhance the social and economic welfare of people of the Solomon Islands. There is an overriding public policy interest for members of Parliament to actually discharge their duties as Parliamentarians rather than be bankers underwriting school fees, air fares, sea fares, plane charters (list goes on ad infinitum) for their constituents.

Fundamentally, there is a strong public policy interest to ensure that elections become a time when issues affecting the social and economic wellbeing of Solomon Islanders are debated. It should not be a time when greed, graft and cunning of both voters and candidates are manifested. Voters must not use the election campaign period as pretext to milk candidates of whatever little money they have set aside for their campaign. Even with the tight laws in place, it is difficult to control the exchange of goods and services. The prohibitions should therefore be made broader with the scope widened so that it covers just any form of exchange of goods and services six months before the elections.

Finding an alternative way of electing the Prime Minister
It is said that the real politicking starts once the elected members arrive in Honiara to choose the Prime Minister. Indeed, if one has been observing the elections of the Prime Minister since independence, it might be fair to say that elected members have become more immature, irresponsible, childish, irrational, and militant in their approach to the elections of the Prime Minister. It is almost laughable the way that individual members are literally hijacked by the different groups. The members of Parliament may not realise it, but to the members of the public, such behaviour is almost tantamount to lunacy.

Black Tuesday underscores the need to find a more sensible, transparent, accountable, and less divisive way of electing the Prime Minister. The reforms suggested above are a precondition for the proposals for choosing the Prime Minister. A couple of models are offered. Once again, these models are not new and exist within the Commonwealth including the Forum Island Countries. The first alternative would be for the Head of State to invite the leader of the Party or alliance of Parties that command the majority of members of Parliament to form the government. This would immediately address the hanky panky dilly dally that currently occurs. Fundamental to this of course would be the strong representation of Parties in Parliament. The second alternative would be for members of Parliament to nominate two candidates (or such numbers as appropriate) and have them elected by the people of Solomon Islands. The public policy interest is to find a more stable and cohesive way of electing the Prime Minister. This would not necessarily eliminate the need for horse trading, but it would certainly minimise the uncertainties in the present system and ensure a more transparent, accountable and systematically cohesive way of choosing the Prime Minister.

Corruption, graft, cunning, uncertainty etc cannot be totally eradicated. They can however be minimised. The ideas offered above will certainly go a long way towards addressing some of the uncertainties in the current system. I can only say this to those who would oppose change to the current system. Traditions, cultures, and societal values change over time. While laws are intended to be forward looking, they do become outdated, obsolete and inappropriate. That is why they should be changed to reflect how society has transformed. I would argue very strongly that the democratic processes espoused in the 1978 Constitution and the National Elections Provisions Act are outdated and need to be changed. I would also question the moral authority of a democratic process that results in the looting, destruction, and dislocation of the Solomon Islands in a way that has never before seen in the short history of this nation. If members of Parliament are to raise their heads above the ashes, ruins, smoke, and destruction of this nation they must change the laws immediately. Through this public letter, I will leave it to the Honourable Attorney General, Secretary to Cabinet, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs as the ministry responsible for elections to initiate the process to ensure that the 2010 national elections is conducted through a much more fair and representative system. The test to find out if Parliament is interested to avoid another Black Tuesday is to see whether the proposed legislative changes suggested above will be brought before it over the next four years. Their failure to do so would be a clear demonstration that they do not have the national interests of Solomon Islands at heart.

North Malaita MP dismisses call to resign

The member of Parliament for North Malaita, Daniel Enele Kwanairara, says he has not received any information from his people in his constituency to resign from the government of Snyder Rini.

Mr Kwanairara says this in response to a call by a group in Honiara for him to resign from the the government claiming that it is the wish of the people.

The Mines and Energy Minister says while he appreciates the group's concern he says his voters including chiefs in his constituency have mandated him to be part of the government.

A spokesman for the group of people, Moses Makamu, told SIBC that the group of more than 30 people from North Malaita met on Sunday at the Honiara main market and agreed to ask their MP to resign.

Mr Makamu says the group tried on two occasions on Sunday to pass on the message to their MP at his house in Lengakiki, but without success.

News Source:

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

North Malaita MP urged to resign: Does the call represent a majority of voters or just a few?

Editor's note: While we respect people's individual rights in expressing their voices, it is important to analyse things properly before decisions are made.

TARD believe that if the group is serious about this recent move they should go down to the communities in North malaita and get collective feedbacks and a signed petition from the majority of constituents that elected the new MP. It is not reasonable to say that a group of 30 people in Honiara can represent the wish of the majority 2292 voters who elected our new MP.

TARD is a neutral volunteer body and we do not support any party. We only provide advises, as the educated elites from North malaita constituency. There are right procedures to follow which are constitutional. Please learn from past events and let us work together with our MP to pursue development aspirations of our region.

The North Malaita MP and Minister for Mines and Energy, Daniel Enele Kwanairara, has been asked to resigned from the government of Snyder Rini. A spokesman for a group of more than 30 North Malaita people who met on Sunday in Honiara, Moses Makamu, says the group is urging Mr Kwanairara to resign from the government because this is the wish of the people.

Mr Makamu says the group which represent the people of North Malaita constituency had on two occasions yesterday tried to pass on the message to their MP at his home in Honiara, but without success. The spokesman says the people are looking forward to cooperating with their MP.


310 Chinese from the Solomon arrived in Mainland China

Hi folks, as we recall the burning of mostly Chinese properties and businesses last week following the election of Snyder Rini as PM, we should be reminded that the Chinese citizens who have been evacuated during the weekend have arrived safely in Mainland China. Whether they will return to the Solomon Islands in the future, or not, is a question for thought.

Below is the latest reports from Xinhua Online:

Altogether 310 overseas Chinese including 21 Hong Kong compatriots evacuated from the riot-torn Solomon Islands arrived in Guangzhou City in South China's Guangdong Province at 00:29 Tuesday morning.

They flew back from Papua New Guinea by a chartered plane of China Southern Airlines. These overseas Chinese and Hong Kong compatriots were warmly received by a special workgroup, consisting of officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Public Security, the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs of the State Council, and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.

Deputy Governor of Guangdong Province Tang Bingquan and other provincial officials as well as government officials from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region also went to the airport to receive them.

Zhu Taoying, head of the special workgroup and deputy director of the Department of Consular Affairs with the Foreign Ministry, said the Chinese government has always attached great importance to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of its people abroad including compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

During the recent unrest in the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara, dozens of residences and shops in the city's Chinatown were looted and set on fire. Hundreds of local Chinese residents were forced to flee their homes. Informed about the unrest, the Chinese leaders were greatly concerned over the safety and property security of the overseas Chinese there, Zhu said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is in Saudi Arabia for a state visit, and Premier Wen Jiabao demanded the Foreign Ministry and other relevant departments to ensure the safety of overseas Chinese and the compatriots of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan in the Solomon Islands, she said. "The ministry had activated its emergency mechanism and provided timely and substantive relief to the overseas Chinese and the compatriots through the Chinese Embassy in Papua New Guinea," Zhu added.

Upon the situation there and at the requests of the overseas Chinese and compatriots, the central government decided to charter foreign commercial airplanes to evacuate them to Papua New Guinea first, and then sent a chartered plane there to carry them back home, she said.

Tang Bingquan said the unrest in Honiara has caused severe property losses to the Guangdong people there, adding their life security was also threatened. He said the provincial government and people had closely followed the development in the Solomon Islands, and were seriously worried about the Chinese compatriots there. The provincial government and other relevant departments will provide support for the returning people as requested by the central government, Tang said.

The Hong Kong compatriots aboard the same plane to Guangzhou will return to Hong Kong by bus after a sojourn in Guangzhou.

News Source:

Solomons Parliament remains heavily guarded: New D/Speaker is Sir Allan Kemakeza

ABC News Online reports stated today that Australian soldiers and police will again be preventing members of the Solomon Islands public from approaching anywhere near the country's Parliament in Honiara today.

The Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) security force had the Parliament under total lockdown yesterday as 49 of the 50 members of the Parliament were sworn in. The 50th member, Nelson Ne'e, had been refused bail after appearing in court on charges related to last week's riot. Another Opposition MP, Charles Dausabea, was taken away by the RAMSI police as he left Parliament and was charged last night with one count of inciting riot, one count of threatening violence and one count of intimidation. .

The Opposition says the actions of RAMSI have placed the Members of Parliament under duress in the performance of their duties. Yesterday the Speaker, Sir Peter Kenilorea, agreed to adjourn the election of the deputy speaker. However, that is likely to take place this morning without those two Opposition MPs present. The Police Commissioner, Shane Castles, says the same conditions of security around the Parliament will be in force today.

Corruption Probe
The swearing in of the Government has failed to dissuade questions about the funding of the election campaign of the new Prime Minister, Snyder Rini. There have been allegations from Opposition MPs that Taiwanese money was funnelled into the campaign. But Mr Rini has denied his country has a major corruption problem. Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, has told ABC TV's Lateline there are ongoing investigations into corruption in the troubled country.

"There are, it's true, allegations flying around in Solomon Islands about what might have happened with Taiwanese money," he said. "I can't prove any of those allegations, those allegations amongst others are all part of the responsibility of the police," said Downer.

New Deputy Speaker of Parliament
Meanwhile, latest reports from SIBC revealed that former Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza is the new deputy speaker of Parliament. Sir Allan was elected Deputy Speaker by 25 members of Parliament.

It is understood that Parliamentary Opposition members left Parliament meeting this morning following a call by MP for Aoke/Langalanga, Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, for members to do so. He made the call after Speaker Sir Peter Kenilorea refused a request by MP for Temotu Nende, Patteson Oti, that the election of the Deputy Speaker be postponed until two Opposition MPs can attend Parliament. East Honiara MP, Charles Dausabea and Central Honiara member, Nelson Ne'e did not attend Parliament this morning because they were in police custody, being refused bail.

News Sources:

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Aftermath of the rioting in Honiara

Today we witnessed the first day of Parliament meeting for the new MPs, despite the parliament being closed from the public and most media personnels. Today marks the swearing in of new and returning honourable members of parliament. However, today's event marks another history for a country that has just surfaced from lawlessness and economic downfall over the past few years.

The swearing in of the new government placed a huge responsibility on their shoulders, not only to develop the country but to reconstruct the once known Honiara Town that has been reduced to nearly nothing except ash. It is truely a heart-breaking incident that brought tears to the eyes of many innocent Solomon Islanders, be it a grassroot, educated elite, or a leader. The country mourns for the remains of the town that was full of economic activities that once attracted people from all over the Solomon Islands' provinces to flood into Honiara in attempts to find employment and enjoy better services. However, these dreams are dull as people, families, both men and women count the losses that resulted from the rioting and burning last week. It is a sad history for Solomon Islands that would definitely be remembered for so long.

During the weekend we saw more Chinese leaving Honiara for home, Mainland China. The problem in Honiara caught everyone by surprise except those who instigated it, if there is any, but the truth will unfold as more arrests are expected over the next few weeks and months. Whether Honiara will be the same old Honiara that we once knew is another issue, but the truth is that China Town is gone and most basic neccessities that were once sold in Chinese shops and restaurants would be no longer there, for time being.

Counselor Gao Feng of the Embassy of the People's of Republic of China, Papua New Guinea said that about 20 to 30 percent of the about 3,000 Chinese in Solomon Islands have indicated their desire to leave. He says the looting and burning of property of innocent Chinese in Honiara was deplorable, saying they were ordinary people not involved in politics.

A Solomon Islands Chinese citizen, Patrick Leong has taken things into his own hand by offering a reward for people who would help with information to convict those responsible for the destruction of his business. His business include the Pacific Casino Hotel, and buildings housing the Fortune Restaurant, Supreme Casino, Top Ten Night Club and Pacific Casino Apartments. Mr Leong stated the business is worth about 60 million Solomon dollars.

The costs of the destruction in Honiara is expected to be in the millions, but who should the Chinese busness owners forward their claims to is another issue for thought.

Original photos emailed to us by: Monica Longanimala (Honiara)

A letter to our North Malaita MP: Solomon Star today (24/04/06)

I wish to congratulate the former Member of Parliament for North Malaita Constituency for successfully winning back his Parliamentary seat in the recent national general elections.

I would also convey my sincere thanks to his followers especially the campaign masters who contributed a lot during the member’s campaign period.Many thanks and blessings be rendered upon you for your tireless efforts and time given during this very important time in the history of Solomon Islands.

Any way as a keen supporter, I am urging the member for North Malaita Constituency to look broader in ways to develop his constituency. So far, as far as the constituency is concerned, there have not been any developments seen in the constituency for the past years. During the campaigning period there were lots of noise about developments, but nothing has been done in the constituency. I urge the member not to give money only to his voters. This system has been done in the past. The system should have been ceased by now. This brings nothing to the development of your constituency at large. It is far more better to develop the constituency rather than spending on unnecessary things.

Contrary, I know that you have a committee consisting of men from the three ( 3) wards namely wards 7, 8 and 9 respectively. As was seen during the term in office these people are very bias or I could say that they adopt the system of family ties, tribal genealogies, voters etc. Please be fair with whatever, whoever brings his/her need to your table even though he/she did not vote for you.

Be merciful to all of us as the RCDF is not for certain people only.I am not degrading your leadership status, but rather hope this adds another step forward in considering the above issues relating to developments in North Malaita Constituency. Once again my good leader we want to see what you preach become reality, not just empty words.

A concerned youth
North Malaita Constituency


Solomon Islanders graduated at USP on friday (21/04/06)

More than 20 Solomon Islands' students graduated at the University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus on friday last week. The graduands attained degrees, postgraduate diplomas and master degrees in various fields of Science and Arts. Among the Solomon Islands' graduates are two To'abaita students, a part-To'abaita student and another North Malaita student from the Suafa area.

Postgraduate graduands (L-R): Voka (Fiji), Exsley (To'abaita), Naomi (Kiribati), David (Choiseul) & Luke Mani (part-To'abaita and Fataleka).

The North Malaita and part-North Malaita students that graduated include:
1). Luke Mani (part-To'abaita and Fataleka)- Master of Science in Chemistry.
2). Hilda Liko Maeda (To'abaita)- Bachelor of Arts in Management and Economics.
3). Patrick Taloboe (Suafa area)- Master of Business Administration.
4). Exsley Taloiburi (To'abaita)- Postgraduate Diploma in Marine Science

L-R: Hilda, Joyce, Hellen, David & Exsley

Other Solomon students that graduated on friday include:
1). Mrs Hellen Maebuta (Temotu)- Postgraduate Diploma in Development studies
2). Mr John Angikimua Tuhaika Jnr (Renbel)- Postgraduate Diploma in Development studies
3). Mr David Boseto (Choiseul)- Master of Science in Marine Science
4). Mr Emmanuel Butafa (Kwara'ae)- Master of Business Administration
5). Mr Vaeno Wayne Vigulu (West)- Master of Business Administration
6). Mr Selwyn Kole Manetarai (Guale)- Postgraduate Diploma in Development studies
7). Mr David Tero Faradatolo (Langa langa)- Postgraduate Diploma in Development studies
8). Mr James Porakari (Are Are)- Postgraduate Diploma in Physics
9). Mr John Lota Rofeta (Lau)- Postgraduate Diploma in Biology
10). Ms Michelle Maelaua (Kwara'ae)- Bachelor of Arts degree
11). Ms Lynelle Tina Popot (Western)- Bachelor of Arts
12). Ms Stella Delaiverata (part Fiji and Solomon)- Bachelor of Arts
13). Ms Natalina Evalita Hong (West)- Bachelor of Arts
14). Mrs Leonora Houma (Marau)- Bachelor of Arts
15). Mr Patterson John Lusi (part Lau and West)- Bachelor of Education
16). Mr Barnabas Zeron Bago (Temotu)- Bachelor of Arts
17). Ms Roselyn Tina (Temotu)- Bachelor of Education
18). Mr Stanley Waleanisia (Langa langa)- Bachelor of Arts in Land Management
19). Mr Michael Otoara Ha'apio (Are Are)- Bachelor of Arts

Solomon graduands (L-R): David Boseto, Rosely Tina, Patterson Lusi, Hellen Maebuta, Exsley, Hilda Maeda, Michelle Maelaua, Lynelle Popot & Leonora Houma.

The names of all the Solomon Islands' graduands are posted so that we can be aware of the level of our human resources development that would be useful to the development, not forgetting the reconstruction process, in Solomon Islands.

Field trip to the old capital of Fiji: Levuka (Ovalau Island)

Bula again from the land of fejee. As we always said, we are committed to post news and reports of field trips that our TARD members have participated in as part of their programmes of study in Fiji. This is aimed at motivating our North Malaita students to work harder in their school work, as well as informing our leaders and supporters abroad of what our students have undertaken.

During the past weeks, one of our TARD members was fortunate to go on a class field trip to the historical island of Ovalau which hosted the old capital of Fiji, Levuka. The field trip was part of the course work for a Geography Course known as Physical Geography. The objectives of the field trip include:
- To observe important coastal processes that occur in the study sites on Ovalau.
- To study the hydrology of particular areas on Ovalau Island.
- To determine the physical geomorphology of the volcanic remnants in Ovalau Island.

According to the Solomon students who went on that trip, it was an enjoyable trip that was filled with fun and educational activities. They departed Suva Port on an inter-island ferry and travelled for about 2-3 hours before reaching Ovalau. During the last night before they travelled back to Suva, students were hosted to a kava session by the local community and Pacific Island students presented cultural dances as well during that time.

Ovalau is an ancient volcanic island just east of Viti Levu, where Suva is situated. On the east coast is the town of Levuka, the original British colonial capital. The center is the volcanic crater ringed by jungly mountains and home to the village of Lovoni. It is one of the best tourist destinations in Fiji because of its important historical background and natural sceneries.

SI Opposition denies responsibility for riots: Dausabea arrested

Radio Australia has reported that the Opposition in Solomon Islands has denied it organised the violence that erupted in the capital, Honiara, following last Tuesday's election of Synder Rini as Prime Minister.

From reports that reached ABC Radio; two Opposition MP's, Nelson Ne'e and Patrick Vahoe Junior, have been arrested. Solomon Star also reported that Honourable Charles Dausabea was also arrested this morning after his swearing in at the Parliament house. He is wanted by the Solomon Islands police for investigations in connection with last weeks' riots.

It is believed that Ne'e will be charged for intimidation and supporting an unlawful society, Vahoe for breaching the curfew regulations whilst Dausabea is wanted for questioning on his alleged role in instigating the rioting last week.

According to ABC Radio, the leader of the Opposition group in Parliament, Job Dudley Tausinga, has categorically denied claims by Prime Minister Rini that the Opposition was behind last week's looting and burning. "The destruction of the city was a release of emotion that had built up over a number of years.I wish to categorically deny that we have any part on that. We have no love to incite violence. A country that is devastated is not liveable," said Tausinga.

Mr Tausinga says the Opposition will be attempting to remove Prime Minister Rini legitimately through a vote of no confidence on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, SIBC reports has it that Speaker of Parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea has been nominated unopposed for the same post. This was confirmed at the close of nominations by Clerk to Parliament Taiasi Sanga.

Mrs Sanga also confirmed that two candidates will be contesting the post of Deputy Speaker. They are Sir Allan Kemakeza and the outgoing Deputy Speaker, Temotu Nende MP Patteson Oti.

Reports from Johnson Honimae at the Government Communication Unit stated that Prime Minister Snyder Rini still maintains his confidence in the numbers of his elected government adding that the number of MPs in his coalition will increase in due time.

Amidst the continuing deflecting of some MP’s from the government’s camp to the Opposition, the Prime Minister says that he had already secured the support of other MP’s that will replace those who crossed the floor.

What ever the outcome be we will just wait and see as it unfolds within the next few weeks or so.

News Sources: SIBC Online [],
Johnson Honimae [], Solomon Star [] & ABC Radio Australia []

Friday, April 21, 2006

Seeking Answers in the Ashes of Honiara: recent article by Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka

Hello folks, "Seeking Answers in the ashes of Honiara" is a recent article by Dr. Kabutaulaka which was published yesterday (April 20) in the Pacific Islands Report. This article was fowarded to TARD through email by and we are pleased to post it on this blog for online visitors to read.

"The Solomon Islands national capital, Honiara, woke up on Wednesday 19th April, 2006 to the smoldering remains of the previous day’s impromptu protest that left much of China Town burned to the ground, shops looted, vehicles torched, about twenty police officers injured, and a newly elected Prime Minister in hiding.

That morning the sky opened its gut and sprinkled rain as though to cool the anger that led to the mayhem. In some places, however, the flames flared on in defiance, eating away the old wooden structures that were once part of a bustling shopping district. In other places, like Ranadi and the Kukum seafront, the looting and destruction continued.

Like the defiant flames at China Town, the memories of what happened on 18th April 2006 and the reasons behind this violent protest will not go away easily.

It was the first destruction of its kind ever seen in Honiara. During the social unrests in 1998–2003 the capital city was not destroyed in this manner. Even the riot of 1989 was nothing compared to what happened on Tuesday.

Why did this happen? What created so much anger? What should be done to cool people’s anger and prevent such things from happening again?

Even before the first fires were lit on the streets of Honiara, international commentators and spin doctors were quick to draw connections between this protest and rioting to the social unrests of 1998–2003 that led to the deployment of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

However, what happened in Honiara on Tuesday cannot be explained in terms of the social unrest alone. In fact, it had little to do with the social unrest and more with what people perceived as the corruption of the democratic process.

In particular, the protest (that later led to rioting and looting) highlights concerns about the process of selecting a prime minister, and how ‘business interests’ allegedly influenced the formation of governments.

Further, it raises broader issues about the role of political parties in Solomon Islands politics, and questions assumptions about the Westminster parliamentary system and its ability to create a representative government.

As you would have learned from the media reports, Snyder Rini received a cold reception on Tuesday when he was declared as Solomon Islands’ new Prime Minister.

For the hundreds of people who gathered outside the National Parliament Building at Vavaya Ridge, Rini represented the ‘old guard’; the same group that Allan Kemakeza led in the previous parliament and who, in the eyes of many Solomon Islanders, failed miserably on the credibility scale. Rini was Kemakeza’s deputy in that government.

When Solomon Islanders turned up in large numbers to cast their votes in the 5th April 2006 general election, there was widespread hope that parliament would elect a new government that would steer the country away from the path it had followed in the last twenty-seven years of independence.

That hope slipped away through the cracks of the parliamentary process when it was announced on Tuesday that the members of parliament had elected Rini as Prime Minister.

If the desire of many Solomon Islanders was for a new government, then how did Rini manage to win the contest for the Prime Minister position and bring back into power the ‘old guard’?

To answer this question one needs to understand the weakness of party systems, the fluidity of political alliances, and the process of selecting a Prime Minister in Solomon Islands.

In the absence of a strong party system, voters tend to vote for individuals rather than political parties. These individuals, after being elected into parliament, form political alliances and then compete to capture the Prime Minister position and subsequently form government.

The country’s constitution provides a fourteen-day-period period between the date of the general election and the selection of the Prime Minister. During this period, aspiring candidates for Prime Minister lobby intensely to acquire the numbers needed to win the contest and form the government.

Most Solomon Islanders have no control over this process and become spectators in a process that assumes that their respective members of parliament have their interests at heart.

Past experiences have shown, however, that in many cases the constituents did not usually influence the choice of Prime Minister and the political alliances that were formed.

Rather, there have been allegations that powerful businessmen – mostly Chinese, or waku as they are known in Solomon Islands – pay large sums of money to Members of Parliament in order to ensure that any government that was formed served their interests.

In last yesterday’s election for Prime Minister there were three candidates who tussled to win the allegiances of the fifty members of parliament. They were Job Dudley Tausinga who was nominated by the Grand Coalition, Snyder Rini nominated by the Association of Independent Members of Parliament (IMP) and Peoples Alliance Party (PAP) coalition, and Manasseh Sogavare who led the Social Credit Party.

Despite claims by the three groups that they had the numbers to form the government, no one could be certain until the voting took place.

But, it was Sogavare who tipped the number scales towards Snyder Rini’s camp. After losing the nomination for the Prime Minister candidacy to Tausinga, he deserted the Grand Coalition, pulled a couple of Members of Parliament with him and formed his own group.

There were allegations that he was bankrolled by some Asian logging companies and prominent businessmen like Bobo Dettki and Robert Goh who were concerned that a Tausinga-led government would not serve their interests.

Rini, on the other hand had the support of Tommy Chan, a wealthy ethnic Chinese businessman who is also the president of the Association of Independent Members of Parliament (AIMP) and who owns the Honiara Hotel where the AIMP/PAP group camped in the lead up to the election of the Prime Minister.

Because of these connections it has been alleged that some members of parliament deserted the Grand Coalition after having been offered, or paid large sums of money by those with deep pockets and connections in the shady corridors of Solomon Islands business world. Former Prime Minister, Francis Billy Hilly, for instance, claims that some parliamentarians were offered between SI$30,000 and SI$50,000 to abandon the Grand Coalition. This, of course, has not been verified.

The protest against Rini’s election as Prime Minister was, therefore, a result of widespread public perceptions that Asian – especially Chinese – businessmen bribed Members of Parliament into supporting Rini and the ‘old guard’ who served their interests.

Rini’s history of close relationship with these businessmen did not help. When he was Minister for Finance, for example, he gave many of them tax exemptions that cost Solomon Islands millions of dollars in potential revenue.

The sad thing, however, is that the media tends to refer to Asians and Chinese in a very general and inclusive manner that does not do justice to the fact that many Solomon Islander Chinese have little to do with politics. Unfortunately, they too suffered in the rioting and looting and have lost properties.

Many of the Chinese who owned shops at China Town are descendants of those who came to Solomon Islands during the colonial days as laborers, cooks, laundry boys, etc. for the British administrators and plantation owners. Over the years they worked hard to build the retail stores and the other businesses they owned. It is sad and shameful to see all that go up in flame.

It must also be noted that while the protest was politically motivated, there was also a certain degree of opportunism in the rioting and looting that followed. Many people were there simply to loot and destroy and did not have any political agendas.

Given all that has happened the question then is: What should Solomon Islanders do to calm the anger and ensure that this does not happen again?

In reaction Australia has sent in 110 troops and 70 Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers to assist the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP) and RAMSI personnel who are already on the ground in restoring law and order. It has been reported that they are already having an impact.

In the meantime there were calls for the Prime Minister-elect to resign. A group calling itself ‘Peoples Power’ delivered a petition to the Governor General, Sir Nathaniel Waena, demanding Rini to resigns. Rini has, however, refused to do so and was sworn in yesterday.

While the Australian troops and police are welcomed and the call for Rini’s resignation is understandable, much more must be done to resolve – rather than suppress – the issues and problems that underlie the protest.

I have two suggestions: one short-term and the other longer-term. In the short term, I suggest that the Prime Minister-elect should not resign. Instead, he should be allowed to form a government, and then, if people want, they could use the constitutional processes to oust him from office.

Let a government be formed and then give members of parliament about two weeks in which to consult their respective constituents on the matter. People who do not want Rini to be Prime Minister should make their case with their respective Member of Parliament and demand that he vote for the candidate of their choice. After all it was the Members of Parliament who elected Rini – they should therefore be held accountable by their constituents.

After two weeks, an extra-ordinary meeting of Parliament should be called on which a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister could be moved. If it goes through then a new Prime Minister could be elected.

The reason why I am suggesting this is because of my concern that by forcing the Prime Minister-elect to resign, a dangerous precedent would be set. It means that in the future if people do not like the Prime Minister, they could force him (or her) to resign by protesting, rioting, looting and burning the city. However much one might not want Rini to be Prime Minister, forcing him to resign under duress would set a dangerous precedent. It was done in May 2000 when the MEF forced Bartholomew Ulufa’alu to resign. I do not think it is wise to continue down that path.

Some might argue that it is ‘people power’ that demands the Prime Minister-elect to resign. That, however, raises other questions: Which people? Do Honiara residents, who make up for less than 80% of the country’s population have the right to claim that they represent the entire country? Does a petition signed by a few hundred people represent Solomon Islands?

In the longer-term there is a need to establish statutory regulations that would facilitate the development of political parties, regulate the conduct of politicians, and ensure that the process of selecting the Prime Minister is transparent.

On the issue of party developments and their participation in the political process, perhaps Solomon Islands could learn from neighboring countries Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

In Fiji, attempts to stop ‘party hopping’ has led to regulations (in the 1997 Constitution) that punish those who switch parties after being elected – they lose their seat in parliament. In PNG a more elaborate set of rules is contained in the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates. There, the attempt is to, not only facilitate the development of political parties, but also regulate how they participate in the political process and the conduct of their members.

Similarly, in Thailand and Indonesia, in an attempt to ensure that parties are democratically organized and develop institutional structures, statutory regulations were introduced that require parties to demonstrate certain level of institutional development before they could participate in elections. This also helped reduce the number of parties.

I must note, however, that the development of parties and their effective and efficient participation in the governance process cannot be addressed by statutory reforms alone.

Parties are also influenced by the culture of the societies in which they operate. Voters’ perceptions of the role of parties and the nature of their relationship to members of parliament also influence how parties are organized and how politicians relate to parties.

What is obvious in the case of Solomon Islands is that there is a need for reforms that would ensure that the entire process of selecting people for parliament – from the general election to the selection of Prime Minister – is fair, free and transparent. The rules of engagement must also ensure that the process cannot easily be corrupted.

Unless these changes occur, getting into parliament, selecting a prime minister, forming governments, and doing good will continue to be a tricky business in Solomon Islands.

In the next few weeks, as we clean Honiara and sweep away the ashes, let us not forget the lessons that this event has offered us.

Dr. Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka is a Research Fellow at the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program, Honolulu, Hawai’i. He is a Solomon Islands citizen.

Article source:

PM Faces Motion of No Confidence

News by Evan Wasuka and adapted from Solomon Star Online.

A political coalition that had contested the Prime Minister's election is moving to oust new Prime Minister Snyder Rini through a motion of no confidence.

Group spokesman and former Prime Minister Francis Billy Hilly said they had lodged a notice of no confidence yesterday. The move comes after two days of looting in Honiara sparked by the election of Mr Rini as Prime Minister.

He said it would take seven days for the notice to come into effect and they are expected to debate the matter in Parliament on Wednesday. "It is the most cleanest and the proper way of changing the Prime Minister," said Mr Hilly. Our power is in Parliament House and that is where we are going, he said.Mr Hilly's group led by the Member of Parliament for North New Georgia Job Dudley Tausinga has the support of 25 members. He said that talks are underway with other members who feel that the best way to solve the current problems facing the country would be through parliamentary processes.

Mr Tausinga lost the Prime Minister's election 23-27 against Mr Rini but since then has gained the support of two members from Mr Rini's camp. On Wednesday, Patrick Vahoe, the member for Malaita Outer Islands crossed the floor and was yesterday joined by the member for South Vella Lavella Trevor Olovae. Mr Hilly said if the motion was passed it would annul the election of the Prime Minister. "Then the whole process will start again with the nomination of new candidates. And we will vote for a new Prime Minister." "So although it doesn't completely answer the concern of the public, we are taking it back to Parliament, that is where our power is." He said he hoped that the public could see that they were trying to resolve the situation using the constitution. Mr Hilly said if the outcome of the next elections turn out the same then it would show how insensitive the members are to public concern. "The effects could be even more devastating than what we have already seen."

Members who have pledged their support to Tausinga's camp are; Francis Billy Hilly, Joses Sanga, Patterson Oti, Bartholomew Ulufaálu, Dr Derick Sikua, Nollen Leni, Gordon Lilo Darcy, Martin Magga, Francis Zama, Bernard Ghiro, Issac Inoke, Charles Dausabea, Japhet Waiepora, Nelson Ne'e, Bishop Leslie Boseto, Toswell Kaua, Samuel Manetoali, Samuel Rogosomani, Peter Tom, Sam Iduri, Stanley Sofu, Trevor Olovae, Patrick Vahoe and Steve Abana.

Calm returns to Honiara - but the damage has been done

Good evening online friends and wantoks. Sorry for not updating us for the past day or two. I was very busy preparing for my graduation which was held today at the University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus. Anyway, reports from Solomon Star today stated that calm has returned to Honiara despite one of our TARD members describing it as still tense.

According to Evan Wasuka of Solomon Star, a sense of calm has returned to Honiara with the presence of Australian military troops and an overnight curfew marked by a drop in criminal activity. As of early yesterday morning there had been no reports of theft of property or looting.

"Police Commissioner Shane Castles said there had been a drastic reduction in looting and criminal incidents after the arrival of 120 Australian soldiers. Commissioner Castles said there were eight arrests on Wednesday night with the incidents of looting occurring at the Kukum shops and at Ranadi. While in Malaita 14 arrests were made with reports of looting in Auki.

So far, approximately 60 arrests have been made since the looting started on Tuesday afternoon, said Commissioner Castles.
He said military soldiers who arrived on Wednesday night have been deployed to support police efforts to restore law and order.

"We have also been supplemented by the Australian Federal Police to the tune of 50."
"I'm told an additional 30 officers arrived from New Zealand and we are waiting the arrival of 20 from Fiji."

The arrival of new members he said would give the opportunity for officers of the local police force and Participating Police Force to rest as they had been working non-stop since the looting had started.

Commissioner Castle said the aim now was to stabilise the situation and get the city back to normal business as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, in an email that was sent to us by one of TARD's member who is currently in Honiara has it that the situation is still tense even if the RAMSI Personnels are there. The report stated that China Town is no longer the China Town that we used to know but it is a town of ashes except for ABA Store, YTL, Wong Piu and John Tom Building. In Point Cruz, Accor alliance, MVC, and Sun shine Super Market were either damaged or burnt whilst in the eastern side Solomon Casino Hotel, Fotune
Restaurant, Supreme club, Health Club, two chinese shops, and Uncle Alick Shop are all burnt down except for Tongs where people arround the place quickly killed the
fire, otherwise it would have burnt down as well.

"By looking at the physical environment of Honiara, I must honestly say
that the situation is still uncertain, not knowing whether the unrest will stop or
will continue, because the stituation is tense. What I actually heard from the
people is the unrest will not stop unless the prime minister step down. Even with the curfue that was set by RAMSI, they said they don't care. If RAMSI shoots them they'll die for their people and their nation Solomon Islands," said Mr Fairamoa who is in Honiara.

However, we just pray that things are normalised as soon as possible so that it would not have much deleterous impacts on the lives of innocent people. We believe that the law should be allowed to take its course on the criminal offenders because their actions are beyond the limits.

News sources: Evan Wasuka (Solomon Star Online) & Peter Fairamoa (TARD member in Honiara).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

BREAKING NEWS!!!! China Town Burnt down:Latest as of today (Wednesday 19/04/06)

China Town up in flames: fire started in the middle of China Town

Fire spreads to claim three buildings in the middle of Chinatown

Fire from the burning at Vavaya Ridge

Looting earlier on in the day. Matteresses, bicycles all assorted goods were taken from the shops within Chinatown.

Live reports that reached us from Honiara stated that there is another twist to the rowdy crowd that demanded the immediate resignation of our new PM, Honourable Snyder Rini. Reports have it that people who gathered at Parliament demanding the immediate resignation of new PM Rini, have damaged several vehicles of MPs who supported the new PM. Several RAMSI police personnels have also been injuried while trying to get the PM out of Parliament. All Chinese shops and businesses around Honiara have been closed in fear of being ransacked by the thugs. However, we are confident that RAMSI's presence in Honiara will calm the situation. A summary of the events are outlined below:

2:53pm (SI time) RAMSI has reportedly being deployed to quell any violent protest. However, reports have indicated that Sir Peter Kenilorea has requested that the newly elected Prime Minister concede to public demand and resign from the position.

Kenilorea was quoted as saying that Solomon Islanders have rejected his election by a public demonstration of swearing in obvious disgust and stoning his car as he left the parliament grounds.

Although RAMSI has the road cleared shouting can still be heard outside the parliament building towards the western end and the protest is said to be gaining wide spread support. Only the strong presence of RAMSI will prevent any violent outbreak.

3:49pm (SI) Chinatown has reportedly been closed and reports strongly suggest that vehicles at the Parliament house at Vavaya Ridge have been burnt. A RAMSI helicopter has been deployed to control the fire.

4:16pm (SI) Newly elected Prime Minister is still holed up at the Parliament building and looting has taken place in some shops in Pt. Cruz.

Crowd has been reportedly dispersed and it is true that three RAMSI vehicles were set on fire. Things at Parliament are tense. It is also true that now, about 5 RAMSI landcruisers have been rolled down the hill and burnt.

4:45pm (SI time) Solomon Telekom Co Ltd has said that work will be suspended until further notice and all employees will be restricted from office premises until the situation improves.

The riot is a result of the crowd not accepting the election of Hon. Snyder Rini as our new PM. They expected to see a new government.

Snyder Rini is leader of the Association of Independent Members (AIM), a partner in the last Government of Sir Allan Kemakeza, leader of the Peoples’ Alliance Party (PAP).

AIM and PAP were in coalition in the last government and the crowd saw the election of the new Prime Minister this morning as a mere change of persons but the government remains the same, according to some members of the crowd.

This is the issue which sparked today’s crowd to behave unexpectedly.

Other dignitaries like Bartholomew Ulufa’alo, Manasseh Sogavare and Job Tausinga attempted to calm down the crowd but without success.

The current Speaker of Parliament, Sir Peter Kenilorea, also tried to explain the democratic process which resulted in the election of Snyder Rini, but to no avail.

5:33pm A mob has marched towards chinatown and are currently destroying property within the township. The crowd is growing by the minute

6:21pm The mob has set a building on fire in the middle of chinatown after almost an hour of looting. RAMSI vehicles have arrived but the fire has posed the biggest threat yet!

Currently, three buildings have already suffered this dire fate. 7:12pm The Governer General comes to the media to offer a message to appeal to the rioting crowd as a second fire starts at the end of Chinatown.

So far, at least eight vehicles were burnt in the grounds of Parliament House, every Chinese store in Point Cruz was looted, and Chinatown being burnt to the ground at 8.30pm this evening.

9.22pm (SI time) From the old Mataniko River bridge end (Vuvula Poultry end) both sides of the main street of Chinatown were fully ablaze, with explosions going off at random. At least 10 buildings were ablaze. There was also a decent wind blowing down the river that was feeding the fire, and blowing it further down the street. A new building was being engulfed every five minutes, and the flames went at least 30 metres into air. From the looks of it, the whole of Chinatown is going to burn down to nothing.

9.43pm (SI) SIBC is reporting that more looting continues to happen around town. The stores opposite Central Market are being looted, and the Tongs refilling station at KGVI is being looted. It seems the mood is infectious in town and any known Chinese owned establishment is fair game. There have been no reports of deaths or injuries so far, and hopefully this will stay as it is.

~10pm (SI) Reports from Johnson Honimae revealed that there is a power black out in the once bustling Chinatown of Honiara as a result of rioters and looters burning shops in that commercial area of the city tonight. Solomon Star, which is located in the Chinatown area will not be published tomorrow as it has also been affected by the blackout, according to Publisher John Lamani. Meanwhile residents of Chinatown and nearby areas caught on the wrong side of the bridge will unfortunately spent tonight in their offices or with neighbours on either side of the old Chinatown Bridge. There are several other roadblocks set up by Police around town.

All Government Members of Parliament are believed to have left the National Parliament House under armed police escort but it is not certain where they have been taken to.

Snyder Rini is still defiantly clinging onto power at an undisclosed location, and this was the result.

12am Reports said that Chinatown has burnt all the way down to the Hot Bread shop, and does not look like slowing down. There is also quite a strong wind blowing, which is fanning the flames and making the fire uncontrollable. Looters are still carrying away piles of goods, with looters seen to be emptying the shops at the new Mataniko River bridge end. Apparently the looters are just throwing goods out onto the street and just letting anyone take them.

7.30am wednesday (19/04/06) It is pouring rain at the moment, which is a good thing. I suppose it will help put out any fires left in Chinatown. Public servants and school children have been told to stay at home today. Chinatown is still burning. Buildings in the Ranandi area have been burnt and more RAMSI vehicles were burnt last night. The Solomon Star will not be published as the area of Chinatown where the offices are have been affected by the power blackouts associated with the rioting.

In other developments, ABC News has reported that Australian troops are on stand-by to be sent to the Solomon Islands after a night of rioting and looting in the capital, Honiara. Eight Australian Federal Police officers, who are in the Solomons as part of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI), have been injured in the unrest. One officer has a broken jaw while another is expected to be returned home to Australia for treatment.

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has told ABC Radio's AM that Australia is willing to send military back-up if necessary. "If the situation gets to a point where they don't feel there are enough police, then we do have the option of sending in the military," he said. "We have the military on stand-by in Townsville, they can be sent in at very short notice."

News Sources: Joe Inomae (, Lynnold Wini (, Alfred Maesulia and Johnson Honimae (Government Communications Unit), Solomonline (; ABC News Online.
Photos by: Christina-Kuper Wini


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