Transparency Solomon Islands continues to be appalled at how shallow, lacking in substance and depth of analysis and reason for the controversial reforms and policies of the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement [DCGA]continues to be. One such policy and reform is the proposed extension of parliament that was endorsed by the Cabinet. Not only this but there are instances where DCGA Executive Government is turning a blind eye to failed schemes that exorbitantly clean out the public purse, for the benefit of members of parliament in one way or the other. Sadly, when it comes to policies that benefit members of parliament directly, negatively impacting on the socio-economic development of Solomon Islands, be it human resources, its natural resources, infrastructures and environment, there is very little substance in the debate coming out of the parliament and members of parliament. For them it is a matter of numbers. Here TSI takes a look at SPG23 as the rationale for the extension of the parliament. In coming weeks, it will cover other reasons given by the Executive Government for this proposal of amending the Constitution to extend life of Parliament.
Transparency Solomon Islands acknowledges and commends the Official Opposition in its stand against the proposed extension of parliament but is of the opinion that more is needed to expose, real reason for the proposal. Why is the proposal politically flawed, constitutionally flawed, democratically flawed etc.? In a country where very little information is given to the people about their political, legal, civil, democratic, and human rights are, they need their representatives who are opposing this proposal to lay it down for them. It is not enough just to say that it is flawed.
The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is currently carrying out consultation on this proposed extension of the parliament term from 4 years to 5 years. This exclusive consultation is being carried out by Mr. Bernard Bataanisia [National Consultant], Chief of Staff Mr. Djokovic, Secretary to Prime Minister Dr. Jimmy Rogers, Special Secretary to Prime Minister Mr. Albert Kabui and the Attorney General Mr. John Muria Jr. Transparency Solomon Islands was privileged to have attended the SICCI organised consultation, and thanks the team for explaining the rationales behind the proposed extension.
The first justification shared with the public for this extension was the 2023 South Pacific Games. The 2023 National General Election, they reasoned falls on the same year as the 2023 South Pacific Games (SPG). It was clear then and more so now that the lead officials, consultants on this have no depth of understanding at all about the importance of the National Constitution, the National General Election in relation to the 2023 South Pacific Games – SPG23 is nothing and nowhere near the importance of National General Election. If they do, their conduct show that they just do not care and trust that having the majority MP in its camp, Prime Minister, and those he surrounds himself with, believe they can get away with anything. Which country in the world and in its right mind would change such a democratic right of the people because of a game.
Transparency Solomon Islands reminds the Prime Minister and sitting members of parliament that the National General Election conducted every four years is the single most important day and event that is held in this country and in any country for that matter. It is when Solomon Islands citizens go to the polls to elect who they should entrust their power to, to lead the country in the next 4years. South Pacific Games diminishes in any importance in comparison. It just does not add up. It is like the OPMC telling the citizens of this country that the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission will be running the SPG23. Furthermore, this country and its citizens have always known that this event comes around every four years and if we have a performing Electoral Commission and Office, they would have planned for it already. Now that this reason does not warrant the amendment of the Constitution, the OPMC is clutching at other reasons as rationale for the proposed extension.
This reason is, because of the South Pacific Game hosting, there will be no resources for running the National General Election. The question is, is this DGCA government telling us that they have not put aside funds since they got into power for the running of the National General Election? Or is this another of the many getting to be normal observed conducts of the DCGA where a Minority [members of parliament] within the country plan to take away the civil, legal, and political rights of the Majority. When either the majority [citizens etc.] or minority [politicians] take away civil, legal, and political rights of the majority or minority, it is not a democracy. Democracy is based on equality of rights. Solomon Islands was declared a democratic country or State by our founding fathers. As such Transparency Solomon Islands reminds the Executive Government, the Official Opposition, and Independent Group [members of parliament] and advisors, consultants etc. some of the main components of democracy are related to National General Election:
- Popular Control by the People through elections. Solomon Islands Constitution vests power in the people of Solomon Islands.
- Where National and Provincial Elections are free and fair, no bribery, no undue influence.
- Where the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms are respected and assured and guaranteed to all citizens.
- Equality of Rights – as opposed to those societies and states/governments controlled by a powerful group, or where some have more right than others
- Social Renewal through Elections. People are allowed to vote out leaders that they are not satisfied with.
- Where the Civil Society [citizens/voters] are allowed and are more active in holding the State [ the Government – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary] to account or power to account. Facilitates the participation of citizens in affairs of the country and listening to them.
- Citizens through the popular control by the people is the 4th unacknowledged Arm of the State or Government.
In this article Transparency Solomon Islands examines SPG23 being the rationale for amending the Constitution and sharing its views on this. The conclusion is that SPG23 is a flawed and not good enough reason for the proposed extension of Parliament term. In its next article it will examine the other rationale given for this proposed extension of Parliament.