TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands (TSI) thanks the Government for its response to concerns raised by TSI but urges the Government to be truthful to the citizens of this country. It is during such a time as this that the people need leaders to lead and serve, to make the right decisions that would ensure Solomon Islanders are protected against the importation and the risk of being exposed to covid-19.
Sadly, the response by the Government as published in print media on Monday 7th September 7, 2020 does not really address concerns raised by TSI and the public at large. It is important to note that TSI does not accuse the government of ‘not making public its intention for a direct flight’ and having ‘Chinese nationals onboard this flight’. Contrary to what was implied by the government’s response, TSI like many other Solomon Islanders raise the concern that information shared was not consistent. This can clearly be seen from information shared in early August 2020 during the information sharing session at the Museum Auditorium.
During this information sharing session, the public was informed that the intention was to bring in Chinese diplomats and engineers for the 2023 South Pacific Games (SPG) preparation in addition to the stranded Solomon Islanders. It was revealed by the Secretary to Prime Minister (SPM) Dr. Jimmy Rodgers during this public forum that about 18 Chinese nationals will be travelling to Solomon Islands together with a total of 53 Solomon Islands nationals stranded in China awaiting to be repatriated. The public was informed that it is their constitutional rights. The public was further informed that among the Chinese nationals to board the flight is the China Ambassador to Solomon Islands. These are information shared during the public forum and TSI does not deny it.
But we all know how the numbers have changed since this public forum in August. Yet instead of addressing such inconsistency the government stated that “TSI was not even present during this forum and their ignorance was published…” Well contrary to that statement, TSI did attend and heard this information first hand, but why this should be seen as an issue is ridiculous. Addressing the inconsistency should be the focus, that is why the public and TSI is asking these questions.
If one has to read the article by TSI published in the Island Sun newspaper last Friday, it is clear that the issues raised only pointed out the inconsistency of information coming from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Covid-19 oversight committee as conveyed to the public regarding the China flight.
Any reasonable and concerned Solomon Islander must ask this question. TSI acknowledge the role of the executive government and call on the executive government to respond to the people about this. Why a flight that was supposed to bring in less than 20 Chinese nationals for SPG preparation including those to work at the Chinese Embassy has sky rocketed to more than 80 foreign nationals. Is this not a misinformation to the public about the numbers of Chinese nationals coming in the flight? TSI is aware that Chinese nationals were included in the flight and understands that this number was around 18 as relayed by the SPM during the public forum. And 53 Solomon Islands nationals to be repatriated. But when the flight arrived more than 80 Chinese nationals and only 21 Solomon citizens. Is this not a wrong information communicated to the public by the oversight committee? Even the Prime Minister (PM) in his weekly address to the nation did not tell the country about the actual number of Chinese nationals who are expected to onboard the flight. Even the talk back show on SIBC did not reveal that it will be 83 Chinese nationals to be brought into Solomon Islands. The PM’s statement in his weekly address to the nation was general about the flight, that it will include those to work at SPG infrastructures and other projects, including the China officials to work at the Honiara-based China Embassy. So, it is shockingly disappointing to learn when the flight arrived with over 100 passengers and more than 80% of them a Chinese nationals. TSI is not misleading the public, it is the government that failed to be honest with the citizens who are eager to know from their elected leaders and the Committee how many foreigners and locals were supposed to be onboard the flight.
TSI is also baffled by the way the press statement from the OPMC label them as misleading the public without pointing out the misinformation contained in the TSI article. Such respond from a regime currently ruling the country only shows that those running the government lack wisdom, knowledge and maturity to lead the people. TSI want to point out the misinformation from the government on the numbers of Chinese national initially claimed to be 18 but actually its more than 80. TSI wants to point out the misinformation by the oversight committee that the number of Solomon nationals to board the flight was 53 while in fact those arrived were 21. Are these not lies and misinformation communicated to the public? The press statement from OPMC claiming that TSI only incite and instigate unrest does not speaks well of the government manned by experienced politicians with academic backgrounds, but only seen as a tactic to divert public from the misinformation regarding the number of passengers boarding the China flight. So, it is the government that lose its credibility and using its direct media attack on TSI when their sins were pointed out. TSI a corrupt-free institution with high integrity will not allow cheap argument from those who allows anger to take over their sense of judgement when responding to national issues.
Transparency Solomon Islands stands by its views and will maintains an independent view free of any political influence. TSI is not affiliated to any political party nor advocating for any individual or group but maintain its fundamental role to advocate against corruption, mal-administration and poor governance. TSI has no ill-feelings or hatred towards the government or their new relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as claimed in the OPMC article. TSI only rings the bell when there is allegation or prevalence of corruption, misinformation or inconsistency in the way leaders or responsible authorities deal with issues that will affect the lives of citizens and the nation (either directly or indirectly). TSI will continue to point out irregularities in the actions and decisions made by leaders particularly at this time the country is under State of Emergency. TSI will continue to speak on the interest of the citizens but not to promote or advance the interest of any particular group or individual.
An organization such as TSI may not be considered important in communist countries and places where the dictatorial style of government existed, however TSI wish to remind the government that Solomon Islands is a democratic country not a communist country where the people are suppressed from raising their issues and concerns about a communist regime. The manner in which Transparency Solomon Islands is being questioned of their existence only shows that the executive government is absolutely disregarding democracy they boasted about as a nation operated by a west-minister system. Not at any time TSI advocate against the government to serve the interest of someone or group but merely advocating for transparency and accountability in the governing system. These issues raised would not have been raised if the government was honest and consistent with the information it shared to the public regarding the Guangzhou-Honiara flight.