Soon after being elected as Solomon Islands new Prime Minister, the Hon. Rick Hou assured the nation he would pursue the undersea cable project with the new arrangements that had been offered by Australia.
Under the new arrangement a fresh company will take over from Huawei to lay the submarine cable from Sydney to Honiara.
According to the latest news bulletin broadcast today, 23 November 2017, by Radio New Zealand International, Australia is reported to welcome the decision taken by PM Hou
Quoting the RNZI bulletin it read:
“Australia has welcomed the announcement by Solomon Islands' new prime minister that he is committed to a proposal for a new submarine internet cable.
“Rick Hou made the commitment shortly after his election as prime minister last week.
“The new cable project, which could also connect Papua New Guinea, replaces an earlier plan for a Huawei constructed cable between Sydney and Honiara.
“That plan was strongly opposed by Canberra, which cited national security concerns over the Chinese company's involvement.
“Australia's minister for international development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, said scoping work would be undertaken over the next few months.
"We see that there are significant efficiencies from implementing both cables at the same time. So we see this project as representing the best opportunity to not only deliver an international telecommunications standard to both the countries but also provide both economic and development benefits to both countries as well."
The Guadalcanal Province-Canadian International Training & Education Corp Programme ( GP-CITREC) is continuing to be beneficial to Guadalcanal workers.
According to the SIBC’s latest news report, from which I quote:
“Another Solomon Islander from Guadalcanal will be heading to Canada to work.
Tourism graduate of the Guadalcanal Province-Canadian International Training & Education Corp program, Grace Delight, has been granted a Canadian immigration nomination for permanent residence to work in Canada.
“She will be employed as a cook and will soon travel to Canada under the country’s immigrant nomination program to take charge of a restaurant business.
“Ms Delight is the third nominee from Solomon Islands for the permanent residency program.
“In August, GP-CITREC graduates Amelia Muse and Careka Volly were the first two people from Guadalcanal Province to be granted a nomination for Canadian permanent residency.
“Three other GP-CITREC workers left for Canada to participate in an Agriculture Canada pilot project last month.
“The workers — Baddley Sepo, Jonathan Benosi, and Mclin Tiaro — were granted their two-year work permit under the agriculture management pilot project.
“CITREC Chairman Ashwant Dwivedi said it was a significant achievement as it showed that people from Guadalcanal can multi-task and contribute to Canada’s food industry.
“On an average since August of this year, we have added two workers into Canadian workforce each month from the province of Guadalcanal,” Mr Dwivedi said. “We are proud of this achievement and we look forward to having more recruitment of GP-CITREC graduates in the very near future.”
“He said three applications for seasonal workers are now being processed.
“Guadalcanal Premier Anthony Veke said Guadalcanal Province is achieving its mandate of educating, training and putting people to work as part of his government’s human resources policy.
“We started off by sending people for employment to Canada under a four-month scheme, then we started to prepare our graduates for 24-month employment opportunity,” he said. “Now we will have three GP people employed in Canada under permanent residence nomination program with another application under process.”
“The partnership between Guadalcanal Province and CITREC allows people from the province to be employed in Canada on a short-term or long-term basis in the agriculture, tourism and hospitality sectors.
“Premier Veke said his government’s partnership with CITREC will also provide opportunities to Solomon Islands as a whole.
“I know that Guadalcanal is setting the stepping stones for this opportunity for the Solomon Islands,” he said, “And I am proud that GP is willing and able to prove its success.”
THANK YOU, CANADA, FOR THESE WORK OPPORTUNITIES.
In his first post-election speech the newly appointed Solomon Islands Prime Minister, announced some important first-steps for his administration.
Quoting from the Solomon Star newspaper, published on 20 November, 2017, the following policy measures were outlined.
“Corruption has caused inefficiencies in operations, it has undermined public trust in government, and it has exhausted public resources and money as well as causing injustice through advantaging a few at the expense of many.
“It has robbed vital resources from our schools and hospitals.
“I assure this nation that my administration will deliver this important legislation and we are committed in ensuring its implementation before the end of the 10th Parliament,” Mr Hou said with an air of determination.
“Prime Minister Hou said other immediate priorities of his government are addressing the government’s ‘ailing’ financial situation and completing the national undersea cable project.
“An important objective of the government is to stabilise our ailing fiscal situation. It is my government’s immediate priority to immediately address the cash-flow situation.
“My government will ensure there is fiscal discipline across government sectors and to assist line ministries to execute their respective budgets more efficiently, effectively and responsibility.
“I assure you that my officials have already identified key areas in the productive, social and resource sectors that my Government will prioritise as our immediate short term plan.”
“Mr Hou added that given the limited timeframe, his government will prioritise achievable, identified infrastructure projects only.
“We will accelerate necessary work to fast track those infrastructure projects that are crucial to quickly resuscitate government finances and the economy more broadly.
“It is important to prioritise and invest in Infrastructure development that will provide opportunities for growth in the rural sector.”
“Underscoring the Undersea Cable Project, Mr Hou said:
“The submarine cable is also one of the immediate priorities of my government.
“I am aware new arrangements have been re-negotiated with Australia. This project is crucial to reducing telecommunication costs so the new Government will see to its completion without any further delay.”
“The new Prime Minister said an Immediate Strategy entailing a set of priorities of his government for its short-term in office will be put in place.
“The strategy is to continue with the projects and programs of the previous DCCG with increased level of policy implementation aimed to stabilise the fiscal situation, strengthen budget implementation and ensure we achieve tangible results in the short term.”
“Prime Minister Hou also took the opportunity to assure Solomon Islands development partners of his government’s readiness to re-engage with them in advancing the country’s interest.
“For too long, we have left our development partners in the cold which has negatively affected the progress of important Government programmes.
“But today, I assure you that my government will take extra efforts in working closely with each and every one of our partners as we work towards our common goal to move this country forward. On that note, I would also like to thank our developing partners for their continuous support.”
“Mr Hou had served as Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands and also as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the World Bank before beginning his political career after winning the national general elections in 2010.
He is the country’s 17th Prime Minister since it attained nationhood on the 7th of July 1978.
“The Prime Minister’s election yesterday was necessitated by the successful moving of a motion of no-confidence in former Prime Minister Sogavare on Monday last week by the Independent Group Leader Dr Derek Sikua.
Source: Solomon Star newspaper.
The online webpage of the Solomon Star newspaper continues to feature an editorial piece, first published on 16 November 2017, relating to an allegation of unlawful detention and assault by the RSIPF reported by two youths.
Without going into the specifics of the allegations made the story raises in my mind whether or not it is time to introduce legislation in the Solomon Islands that governs the major part of police powers over and above the statutory provisions relating to police contained in the existing Police Act and Regulations.
The reputation and standing of the re-built RSIPF cannot be allowed to be sullied by allegations of misconduct but, equally, misconduct that is proven cannot be allowed to go unpunished.
In 1997 I issued this order to the then members of the police service to try to ensure proper conduct, both on and off duty.
“It is the duty of every member of the Force to cultivate good relations with all sections of the public, and always to bear in mind that, where such relations do not exist, police officers work under a severe handicap and cannot therefore. be fully efficient,
“In their daily dealings with the public, police officers are often required to exercise firmness, and sometimes obliged to resort to force in the exercise of their duty. Firmness, however, must be tempered by tact, patience and good humour, and any force used must be the minimum necessary to secure compliance with the law.
“Members of the Force have special powers not possessed by the ordinary citizen, and it is of the utmost importance that these powers should be used with discretion and forbearance. Harsh or oppressive conduct, incivility, and the use of unnecessary violence can in no circumstances be justified or tolerated, and are punishable offences against discipline.
“Members of the Force must avoid altercations of any nature. If an officer is wantonly assaulted he has the legal power to arrest his assailant.
“Arguments with members of the public on matters of duty must be carefully avoided; it rarely convinces anyone and naturally irritates persons smarting under some real or imaginary grievance.
“All ranks must, moreover, constantly remember that one offender in this respect may give a bad name to the police generally, and that a display of surliness or ill-humour, or the harsh or oppressive use of authority, by one police officer may have the adverse effects of a far-reaching nature on the Force as a whole.”
In 1984, in the UK, the government introduced The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
This Act is commonly referred to as PACE and it governs the police powers of investigation, including arrests, detention, interrogation, entry and search of premises and the taking of samples.
Quoting from In Brief.co uk, a leading legal website, the legislation contains PACE Codes of Practice, which police officers should consider and refer to when carrying out various procedures associated with their work
The Act attempts to strike a fair balance between the exercise of power by those in authority and the rights of members of the public.
There are 8 Codes of Practice laid down in the Act.
“Failure by a police officer to adhere to the Codes of Practice does not render them liable to criminal or civil proceedings. However, their failure to adhere to what the Codes state can be introduced as evidence in civil and criminal proceedings (PACE, s 67). Additionally, any evidence obtained by the police in relation to the investigation of any criminal offence where they have failed to adhere to PACE, can be deemed inadmissible in court thus harming the case against the defendant.”
The Solomon Islands has a new Prime Minister and a newly constituted body of Minister to govern the nation until the next general election in 2018.
Much is expected of the government given the relative poor state of the economy, the high rate of unemployment, perceptions over corruption, deficiencies in the education and health sectors, almost stagnant infrastructure development, gender inequality climate change and environmental issues affecting livelihoods and food security in the rural parts of the country, to name put a few of the challenges the new administration must tackle.
I wish the government well and hope to see change, soon, in fiscal control and particularly in rapid aid to the health sector and in the provision of basic health services.
Prior to the election of the Prime Minister last Wednesday, the SIBC issued rather a stern warning which read, in part, “Now or never: this has to be the theme for the election of the new Prime Minister.”
“If our MPs do not get it right this time; if they don’t exercise good judgment to correct all their previous errors; if they don’t put the interests of their people and country first – then they and their successors will never be able to look after this country.”
When I read the SIBC’s statement, I was reminded of one of the themes in Charles Dickens’s book ‘Great Expectations’ which referred to moral regeneration when one of the book’s characters started climbing the social ladder, gained wealth and followed this by a degradation of his integrity
With all the talk of corruption in the Solomon Islands it is imperative that the country’s new leaders render significant services to the people in the areas of education, anti-corruption, health, ethics, judicial responsibility, rule of law, democracy and good governance.
In this age of increasing globalization, I believe the government must reflect on the nation’s journey so far, so the country can do better in the future and leave a better legacy for posterity.
This brings me to the topic of nation building and the new government must give added consideration to nation building which is always a work-in-progress needing nurturing and re-invention. Nation building is about building a common sense of purpose and strengthening those institutions which symbolize the political entity and having a common sense of purpose, having a sense of a shared destiny and a collective imagination of belonging.
The political game play of the last few weeks underscores my points and adds weight to the view that a viable nation must be synonymous with achieving modernity and have institutions and values which sustain the collective community in these modern times.
I have no right or authority to express what Solomon Islanders expect of their leaders but having been a very close observers of events and happenings in the Solomon Islands for the past 20 years, I have a fair estimation of what the expectations might be and here are a few thoughts.
Leaders must be committed to the rule of law and have a demonstrated sense of fairplay, vision, ability, integrity and can see beyond the ostentatious pomp of office.
Leaders are not wanted who have no sense of tomorrow, other than that of their bank accounts.
Leaders who lead by deeds and not by words, achievers, not deceivers.
Leaders that will leave their foot prints on the sands of time and leaders who will live forever in the hearts of Solomon Islanders.