Honiara : 4 March 2018
Letter to the Editor, Solomon Star newspaper.
A reply to the viewpoints of Ms Cherry Galo.
I read with interest the letter to the Editor published in the Sunday edition of your newspaper under the title “Short vs Laore.”
I would like, if I may, to add a few comments to the views expressed by Ms Galo.
Firstly, it was perhaps an unfortunate editorial choice of wording to have titled Cherry’s letter as “Short vs Laore” since in my originating piece I did fully acknowledge Ms Laore’s call on the government to act on the recommendations of the TRC.
I met with Mr Laore when I presented my testimony to the TRC Commission in 2010 and I quite understand and respect her desire to see the release of the TRC Report and a resolution to the ongoing concerns of all those still awaiting personal healing and justice after the unjustified and tragic years of civil conflict provoked by a few but who yet escape the law for their criminal conduct.
My real concern was whether what Ms Laore was quoted as having said to a reporter of Radio New Zealand International relating to the final report of the TRC was, indeed, the official finding of the Commission or her own words.
Ms Laore is claimed to have said to the reporter, “The conclusion was that government had a responsibility to protect its citizens but it failed because we all know the police force was divided so the citizens were left on their own.”
I had said if indeed that was an accurate record of the conclusion of the TRC report, which I would need to see verified, then there are several matters that need to be clarified in order to set the record straight.
My references to what I wrote in my book ‘Policing a Clash of Cultures’ were not aimed at “defending police territorial ground,” as Cherry put it, but merely illustrating the truthful broken state of the RSIP in terms of manpower, resources, equipment and resources, after years of neglect by successive governments which essentially rendered the police service impudent in properly combating armed militancy without some support – and the kind of support that was rejected when Australia was requested to help.
In early 1999 until the eve of my departure in July that year, there was some division in the senior ranks of the RSIP who were split along ethnic lines but those differences would have been resolved, I was confident, if the kind of help I mentioned in my originating letter could had been forthcoming in March 1999 after Harold Keke and Joseph Sangu were unexpectedly and unwarrantedly released on bail only to evade capture and continue their armed rebellion from the distant safety of the Weathercoast.
The real “division” in the police ranks occurred after my departure when members of the police service united with armed members of the wider ethnic community and there was clearly at that time cause for concern over a “divided” police if that was the period Ms Laore was intending to refer to.
Cherry in her letter said, “However, just reading between the lines of their respective reflections, I somewhat concluded that Ms Laore might be miscalculated of her intended focus - delay for officially disclosing TRC report.”
I am inclined to agree that Ms Laore’s quest for the release and action on the long awaited TRC’s Report is a separate issue to what she reportedly said about the RSIP.
For the sake of the record, it would be helpful, however, to eventually learn if what Ms Laore said to the Radio New Zealand reporter was her own opinion or the official wording of the TRC Report.