Member of Parliament for East Are Are, Hon. Peter Kenilorea Jr, has categorically rejected the allegations in a leaked prepared statement to be read by the mover of the motion of no confidence, Hon. Elijah Asilaua, against the Premier of Malaita Province on Wednesday.
‘I categorically reject as totally false the statement that I delivered money on behalf of the National Opposition group to Premier Suidani prior to the motion of no confidence filed against the Premier a year ago’.
He added that, ‘this statement is a lie as what Hon. Asilaua said never happened. Furthermore, given its defamatory nature, I will be seeking legal advice on the options available to me to protect my name and standing’.
Hon. Kenilorea acknowledged that he cannot defend these false statements on the floor of the chamber of Malaita Provincial Assembly during the motion. He, however, took the opportunity to clearly state what happened a year ago during the first motion of no confidence.
‘A year ago I took it upon myself, as a Malaitan leader to travel to Auki on the eve of the vote. The Official Opposition did not send me. No private individual sent me. Upon arrival, I made a courtesy call to the Premier and was cordially invited to attend a dinner with MPAs that evening’.
‘During dinner, I had a heart-to-heart conversation with all the leaders who were present. I recalled sharing with them that I know many of them were under pressure and were perhaps enticed to support the motion of no confidence then. I shared with them that I know that times are hard and the temptation to receive something in exchange for bringing down Premier Suidani would be great’.
Hon. Kenilorea went on to state that despite these temptations he encouraged all the leaders that were there to uphold their principles and integrity and remember the people they represented.
‘I encouraged them to hold on to their integrity. I recalled saying that we may not have much and we all have needs but in the end the only thing we have as leaders is our integrity. I shared with them that we as leaders and human beings might be stripped of everything, but as along as we have our integrity we can hold our heads high’.
On the issue of the switch and geopolitical discussions swirling around during the first motion of no confidence, the Hon. Member for East Are Are Constituency stated that the position they as Malaitan leaders took, as captured in the Auki Communique, was a principled one based on differences of ideology.
‘The national constitution gives us the freedom of conscience of expression. That is really what the Auki Communique is about. It included statements on ideology and against communism. I recalled sharing with them that all eyes were now on them as Malaita leaders. Not just the eyes of their electorate, but the nation and the international community was also watching events unfolding in Auki’.
Hon. Kenilorea stated that he did not even tell the provincial leaders which way they should vote as that was their own decision to make as leaders.
‘I respected them as leaders in their own right. I respected them as leaders who through the same door of elections, just like I did. And it was up to them to weigh all the relevant considerations and make a decision regarding which way they would vote that would be in the best interest of the people they represented’.
The Hon. Member of Parliament for East Are Are stated that many of the leaders took the time to express their appreciation to his presence with them and also shared what was in their hearts and minds during the dinner.
‘I recalled that our provincial leaders shared their hearts and thoughts openly, as leaders do. They appreciated that I was there with them to share on issues that were a burden to them. In the end, we closed the dinner with a prayer and we disbursed’.
Hon. Kenilorea stated that for him it was a privilege to have had that opportunity to share with leaders openly.
‘I left the dinner with a sense of peace that I had that opportunity to share with them. I left Auki the next morning for Honiara. As I walked to the wharf I met and spoke with a few people who recognized me assuring them that I felt that their leaders have their best interest at heart whatever happens’.
Hon. Kenilorea added that at times like this it was crucial that we as leaders consult with our people. To listen to them.
‘There is no one size fits all in democracy. Democracy has many flaws. But I believe it’s the best form of governance system for us. In a culturally diverse nation such as ours, it can make a difference if we allow it to’.
He added that ‘I believe our form of democracy is one that is more participatory in nature. It demands participation and consultation. It may be more work but the outcomes from such participatory democracy promotes ownership by the people of the process which can lead to tangible deliverables’.
On the false allegations, Hon. Kenilorea states that he has not ruled out taking legal action against these defamatory statements to protect his reputation which has been besmirched by the statement.
‘I respect Hon. Elijah Asilaua’s right to move the motion and make statements on his motion. This is democracy in action. But his false statements effectively implicating me of bribery, which I categorically reject as false, is a serious matter. It’s a step too far. His remarks are, in my view, defamatory. He should not lie about me in his statement’.
Hon Kenilorea added, ‘I have always thought that Hon. Asilaua stood for the truth. We had campaigned together in the last election. We shared the same vision. Now, I’m not sure anymore. I know politics can change people. Perhaps someone else has written his statement and these are not his own words, but I will be seeking legal advice on this matter nontheless’.