If true, the planned ban or suspension of FB by Cabinet is a direct and brazen assault on the freedom of expression in Solomon Islands which is guaranteed by the country’s own national constitution .
In making this decision, instead of protecting this fundamental and constitutional right, cabinet has gone and done the exact opposite. Cabinet is now strangling the very right it should be upholding. This decision should be condemned by all freedom loving Solomon Islanders.
Reports of a ban or suspension of FB is a grave concern for Solomon Islands, a democratic country. This highly regrettable decision is not just about FB. This decision has deep and far reaching consequences for us as a nation.
This decision cuts to the heart of the democratic principles and values upon which our nation rests. The same values and principles that led to the installment of cabinet in the first place. Let us not erode these democratic principles and values by using our position of power to seemingly stifle dissenting voices.
I look forward to the day that our leaders focus and begin to address the many real issues affecting our peoples and nation. Many of these issues are raised in FB.
There are many challenges and obstacles facing the nation. Let us all focus on those. Let us consult and dialogue with each other. Let us bring these important issues raised in FB into a more ‘dignified’ space, if need be. But let us not stifle the freedom of expression that all Solomon Islanders enjoy.
We know that freedom of expression is not absolute. There are safeguards and processes in place to ensure that this right is not abused. As leaders, let us pursue and exhaust these avenues and processes which in turn reinforces our democratic values. As leaders, let us take the high road when a few go the low route.
As leaders, we will face resentment from factions of a demanding and at times dissatisfied public. Much of the dissatisfaction and mistrust, whether real if perceived, will be aired. Sometimes these need to be aired. After all, we, leaders, need to be held accountable by the electorate that place us in positions of power. We need to face the music from time to time. This is democracy.
But as leaders let us not attack one of the main pillars of democracy upon which our nation rests – the freedom of expression. Let us not mute the voices, however angry, of those that we have sworn to serve.
I strongly urge the cabinet to revoke their decision to suspend or ban FB and call on cabinet to protect the freedom of expression enshrined in our national constitution.