To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Solomon Islander graduates with Law Doctorate from Monash University to add to the nation's handful of elites

A young Solomon Islander, Dr Philip Tagini (pictured), has graduated with a Doctorate of Law from Monash University in Australia last Thursday (April 17), to add to the nation's handful of academic doctors.

Dr Phil Tagini with an age of 31 years hails from Ferafolia Village in West Kwara’ae, Malaita Province.

Below is an exclusive interview that TARD carried out with the new kid on the block, Dr Tagini, in terms of such a prestigious achievement (more pics of the graduation are in "TARD Photo Haos"):

Why the decision to do a PhD?
Many factors influenced me. First is the fascination to make sense out of a disparate body of knowledge into something coherent. Second is the need for specialised knowledge on natural resources in Solomon Islands and third, encouragement from friends and family.

What brought you to Monash University, who funded your study and when did you start your PhD?
I chose Monash over a number of universities which were available because of its reputation as a research institution. Also important in my decision was the availability of experts in the area of Pacific Legal Systems and access to very well regarded collection of resources on the Pacific. My research was on "mining law and policy" and Melbourne is also the headquarters of some major players in the resource sector. I was very fortunate to have two scholarships from Monash University which takes care of the living and tuition costs. This allows me to concentrate on the research, writing and presentation of the PhD.

A brief of your educational background and work history?
I went to Auki Primary School from 1983 – 1988 then went to St. Joseph’s Tenaru from 1989 to 1993. I then went to King George VI from 1994 to 1995 where I did Forms 6 and 7. I finished forms 5, 6 Arts and 7 Arts as dux student and then went on to USP to start a law degree in 1996. In 1998, I went on to the University of Kansas as an exchange student and then returned to USP to complete two more years 1999 and 2000. I completed the law degree in 2000. In the same year, I started tutoring at the USP Law School in Port Vila and embarked on a Masters degree which I completed the following year, 2001. In 2002, I went to USP in Suva to complete the professional diploma in legal practice (PDLP) and then returned home to work for a short time for the United Nations Office of Human Rights Sub Office. In that capacity, I was coordinator of the human rights training program involved with raising awareness on and respect for basic human rights in the aftermath of the civil conflict. In 2003, I was accepted in the Monash doctoral program and awarded two Monash Scholarships. At Monash whilst doing the PhD, I also worked at various places to make some extra cash to support my living expenditures. These include tutoring at the university, telemarketing for charities, teaching Solomon Islands pijin and some other odd jobs.

What career paths are you looking at?
I’ve always wanted to do things which I’m passionate about without structural limits so have chosen to start my own enterprises. Whilst doing the PhD programme, I’ve helped to set up a consulting company – Pacific Horizons Consulting Company, which attempts to market the best of Solomon Islands expertise to the region and beyond. This is done by presenting local knowledge and combining this with international experience to advancing the development agenda.

Also recently, I’ve become the practice manager of a Honiara law firm, Global Lawyers providing support for the team of lawyers at that firm. I’m very eager to see how these initiatives grow and take shape.

A brief of your PhD thesis topic and findings or implications of your thesis work to SI or the Pacific?
Sustainable mining is an oxymoron. How can one sustain a finite stock of resources? The Phd examined whether sustainable mining is a practical solution or whether it is just another cliché. The thesis explored the appropriate understanding of sustainability within the context of small, developing island states and then advances this understanding as the basis of an organising framework for social, environmental and economic development in the mining sector. The thesis concludes that, small island developing states, with marginal mines, fragile environments and cash flow problems are faced with enormous challenges and need to take determinative steps, in terms of policy and law to avert the real risks that have been seen in other parts of the world.

What is your secret to success?
I don’t really have a secret but I find it useful to acknowledging that there is a higher authority in my life. Also don’t stop dreaming. Go where your dreams take you. Don’t let things people say or do hold you back from achieving your dreams.

What would you say to our aspiring young scholars out there?
The PhD is a lot of commitment and the decision that must not be taken lightly. Considerable patience is required as well as the ability to maintain focus over the duration of the studies. Having said that, many people have done successfully, and I encourage those who feel this to be their calling to pursue their dreams.

TARD would like to congratulate Dr Phil Tagini for his inspiring achievement as it would be a huge boost to Solomon Islands human resource base.

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