Recent media outbursts by Opposition Leader Mather Wale on the Government’s handling of the current covid-19 outbreak amounts to nothing more than another one of his well-known political rhetoric and an effort to undermine the excellent work the people of this country have collectively done to successfully keep COVID-19 out of the country for almost two years, and now working together to respond to the outbreak within the capacity of the country’s resources.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet today said Wale’s call for the Prime Minister to remove the Oversight Committee and the claim of prioritizing MPs and their families for swabbing are baseless.
The statement said the Oversight Committee has done a sterling job for the country since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 by providing guidance and sound advice to the government to prevent the virus from inflicting devastation in the country during the last two years.
Solomon Islands had successfully kept the virus at bay for 2 years before we have community transmission. This is because of the professional advice given by the OSC to the Government. OSC deserves to be complemented for this rather than being criticized, it adds.
The Oversight Committee comprise of dedicated senior government officials including health experts whose tireless efforts had prevented the virus from entering the country for two years, and they are now leading the country’s response to control and mitigate the outbreak of community transmission.
For the information of the public, the Oversight Committee was established by the National Cabinet.
From its very first meeting until today, no member of the Oversight Committee has claimed or has been paid a single cent in sitting allowances. It is an insult to these dedicated citizens to be accused of something that is an outright lie. It is unbecoming of a national leader to rubbish the sacrifices of a few that have been, and who continue to serve this country because they love this country. They put their lives and their families lives at risk so that people like Hon Wale can be protected and saved from this virus.
It is very sad that Hon Wale is more interested in creating division through outright lies and misinformation instead of sharing messages to pull this country together in a bipartisan manner especially at a time like this. Our normal human intelligence tells us there are times to put different perspectives and times to pull together, not to divide, not to destroy, not to lead people astray. Such statements only raise huge questions about the real motives behind such baseless accusations from a leader that is supposed to show leadership at a time such as this.
For the information of the public COVID-19 has now affected 225 countries and territories in the world. Solomon Islands is only one of these 225 countries and territories. Only 12 countries out of 225 have so far been spared the community transmission and these are all very small states.
Hon Wale should not be surprised on what is now happening in Solomon Islands. Every week and every second week the government has informed the people of Solomon Islands through the weekly talkback shows and the fortnightly statements by the Prime Minister, and other forms of media and called on the people of this country to be fully vaccinated because if community transmission happens, the infection will spread like wildfires and we will see a rapidly rising number of deaths.
Instead of criticizing the Oversight Committee. Hon Wales should ask himself what had he actually done himself to prepare the people of this country to protect themselves from this virus if we had community transmission? It is always easy to blame others and forget to focus on the deficiency of oneself. Hon Wale has once again demonstrated this trait very well.
What we are now seeing in Solomon Islands with the rapid spread of Community transmission has occurred in every single country that had faced community transmission. Even the biggest and most powerful countries on this earth are struggling to contain and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Hon Wale really want to be constructive, he should ask himself the question, why was he very silent and had not encouraged people to be vaccinated so that even if they get infected, they will not be too sick from the virus.
He should also ask himself why is it that while most of the people of this country followed advise to prevent the virus from entering this country, very few people blatantly disobeyed the rules, allowed the virus to go to their islands and then transferred it to Honiara which has now resulted in the country-wide transmission.
The statement said, if Hon Wale wants to find faults, look at the source of this outbreak, and look at his own contributions to prevent it instead of rubbishing the people that had sacrificed day and night over the past 2 years to protect this country from COVID-19.
The people of this country know and appreciate the work of those that are dedicated to protecting this country. That is enough for the members of the Oversight Committee. They will not be diverted by cheap desires to discourage or to disunite their approach to achieve the objective given to them by the Cabinet which is to serve this county and protect the lives of as many Solomon Islanders as possible.
“Wale should be grateful to the Oversight Committee for their outstanding job instead of trying to discredit their work for cheap political point scoring during these challenging times,” the statement said.
The statement added that Wale also misleads the public by accusing the Oversight Committee of prioritizing MPs and OPMC Officials to get their swabs and vaccine boosters ahead of others.
The Ministry of Health has set up testing and vaccination centres in many places throughout the city. These are for people living around those areas or for groups of people.
“The arrangement to swab and to vaccinate all MPs and their families was made through the Office of the Clerk to the National Parliament under its duty of care to the political leaders of this nation. This service to our leaders is in addition to the service provided throughout Honiara to all members of the public. It was not a replacement of these same services provided in other locations, the statement said.
MPs were not the first to be swabbed. Public servants did theirs last week several times at MOFT leaf hut and twice at the Museum. Today, swabbing was done for Officers of the Director of Public Prosecution Office, Public Solicitors Office, and Ministry of Justice at the Kalala House. Tomorrow will be the National Judiciary staff. MPs are not being prioritized here,” it emphasised.
The Statement said that Wale has been only focused on himself and his own agenda instead of contributing to constructive dialogue to strengthen our country to fight COVID-19. He needs to remain focused on important matters such as working together with the Government during these trying times instead of making unfounded statements and outright lies that do not do him justice. This is not the time for political point scoring. Such comments do not show respect to those that lost their lives and to their grieving families left behind. They also demean his position as a leader.
The statement calls on Hon Wale to work with the government instead of making headlines of lies and misinformation in an effort to create distrust, disunity, and lead this nation astray,