THE current health disaster exacerbated by the Covid-19 community transmission in the country, with worsening economic hardship faced every day by Solomon Islanders must be blamed entirely on the Covid-19 Oversight Committee’s leadership.
Power being amassed on a few individuals inside the oversight committee and corruption in the leadership of Solomon Islands brought this country into the situation we face today. It must not and cannot be blamed only on the November riots and the Delta outbreak, and on people, or individuals, organisations, institutions, and provincial governments who critic the actions of the Executive Government, the effectiveness or the appropriateness of the Covid-19 Oversight Committee and the Political Party exercising government power.
In the last two years since the declaration of State of Emergency and the ensuring Emergency Powers Regulations, Covid-19 Oversight Committee set up to operate it, the decisions they make or don’t make is entirely to be blamed and must take ownership of these failures and no one else. In the last two years, the country has witnessed the selective application of the Emergency Powers Regulations to benefit a few much more than others, the community transmission of Covid-19, the non-economic performance of the Economic Stimulus Package, the non-preparation of the country for community transmission of the corona virus, laxity in countering misinformation, fake news about the vaccines, the interference, and inadequately resourcing the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, and many more have all contributed to our current situation. In a big way these failures are the making of the Covid-19 Oversight Committee leadership who exercised the enormous powers vested on the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands under the Emergency Powers Regulation.
This is a health crisis foremost and as such the responsible ministry should have been given the full responsibility for the health aspect whilst the economic aspect should be in the responsibility of relevant ministries. As it is the Oversight Committee’s membership is top heavy Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. For the last two years a close examination of who really controls and run the affairs of the Executive Government affecting and impacting on Solomon Islands, it is the Chairman [SPM] of Covid – 19 Oversight Committee. This is a very powerful committee that Solomon Islands puts up with for the last two years but has failed miserably and must be terminated. Yes we can also say that we too are equally to blame for not exercising our Constitutional and Democratic rights, holding them to account for the sufferings of our people.
Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) continues to persevere in its ongoing advocacy to roll back and eliminate corruption and give this nation a chance to be a corrupt-free country. A country for every citizens to enjoy, but poor leadership attitudes, a highly corrupt public sector and private sector, and the abuse and misuse of entrusted power by those in position of power including their quest for more power, a leadership that is majority rent seeking and diverters of public fund in nature for private gain has brought our beloved country into its worst ever health crisis and economic disaster. Citizens cannot afford to be silent anymore for our lives are at risk and our children’s future uncertain. Together with concerned citizens and individuals TSI again re-iterates that corruption in the public sector, the private sector and leadership of Solomon Islands remains the major contributing underlying cause of the current unwanted situation we face today.
For whilst the banks, shops, the market require people to show their vaccination card, and are threatened with imprisonment, and huge fines if they allow those who are not vaccinated into their premises the vessel Prestige 2 owned by JQY went to Ontong Java at a time when this was not allowed per lockdown, and the Police Patrol Boat was there but it was not charged nor arrested. This can only be because of corruption within the Covid-19 Oversight Committee. There is no provision in the Emergency Powers Regulation for the discipline of the Committee when it fails to ensure compliance with these regulations. The Police is a member of the Oversight Committee and in this case fails to do its work. Hunger for power for own agenda, greed in institutions that are there to look after the people brought this country into its knees and unable to deal with our own crisis or to avoid it is what we are now suffering. TERMINATE COVID-19 OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE. This country does not need a kitchen Cabinet under the SOE.
Moreover, the high prevalence of corruption, lack of transparency, and accountability in the governance structure and institutions and the self-centered attitude of the majority representatives in leadership positions is a huge issue that can only be changed by the citizens of this country. There has been so much argument in the past two years over alleged abuse of covid-19 funds and lack of consultations with people, by the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) prior to making controversial decisions. Example of the alleged abuse of covid-19 fund was the quarantine site prepared at King George Sixth School two years ago costing more than a million-dollar admitted failed. No one was held accountable for fraud on that project till today. On the stubborn attitude and non-caring government leadership, a good example of this was during the parliament session December last year when Member of Parliament (MP) for Lau/Baelelea stood up to publicly asserted that DCGA made controversial decision be it good or bad is up to the government of the day. Not to mention the initial proposal by the DCGA to extend the life of parliament from four to five years without any prior consultation held with people. With this big-time failure of not adequately resourcing Ministry of Health and Medical Services to prepare the country for a time like this, the parliament should not be extended at all. This failure is the full responsibility of the Covidi-19 Oversight Committee leadership. The very high prevalence of corruption [Corruption Perception Index and the Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021] is the failure of DCGA government and the MPs within it that have brought the country into this worst ever disaster today.
Lastly, one of significant lesson we have learned from the riot and looting followed by the pandemic outbreak is the very weak, police force the country look upon to provide security and peace. When that Police Force is also highly corrupt [3rd most corrupt institution – Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021] it does not help. Even before and after the riot/looting last year movement across the country’s border at Pelau and Papua New Guinea (PNG) occur under the very noses of police. TSI would like remind citizens that the National General Election should take place anytime next year, thus, the choice to put the right person into parliament is on our hands, so if we accept corrupt practices to lure our votes then we do not expect any change for better. Corruption starts with our vote, if we are to exchange our vote for cash or goods then we should never complain behind the MP we vote into parliament to represent us.