Posted by : Posted on : 21-Jun-2020

Solomon Islands:  Truthful and honest reporting to consolidate national unity

Once again the Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, has called on individuals using the media to be more responsible and to exercise the required ethics and standards that is expected of them.

It has been my sad experience that what the Prime Minister has raised seems to have been the case on many past occasions during a crisis affecting the country, and none more so than when wholly unfounded and untruthful allegations were raised during late 1998 and the first months of 1999 and especially by two well known journalist – one then reporting for the Australian newspaper and the other for the AFP, based in New Zealand.

Their stories were tantamount to defamation and a full account of their untruthful reports I published in my autobiography, ‘Cometh the Hour’ and in earlier book, ‘Policing a clash of Cultures.’

Needless to say, no apology has ever been received from the pair of them.

A former deputy Commissioner of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary in 1999 had similar accounts of untruthful reporting and I recall him writing to the effect that untruthful reporting hurt the image of a country, its economy and on personal reputations.

At this time of national crisis in the Solomon Islands when the country is doing everything possible, despite the very many hardships to keep coronavirus at bay, everyone must toe the line and be united and desist from spreading gossip, rumours and false stories.

In simple terms, each and everyone should work to keep the country strong and therefore united.

In 1999 when I experienced the same false reports the PM has often spoken about, I was frequently asked to speak at various meeting and in some churches to put voice to the need for a united country.

I remember on one of those occasions I was asked to say a few words at the church where the composer of the Solomon Islands national anthem was a church elder.

This is the account, from memory, of what I said.

There was a church minister in Honiara one late Saturday night thinking about unity and what he could say in his Sunday sermon about the subject.

As he sat at his small table with paper and pen he just couldn’t get figure out what he could write.

On the floor, near his table, his small son was busy putting together a large jigsaw puzzle and he watched his son carefully slot all the pieces in place and quickly put the puzzle together.

In no time the boy had assembled the puzzle and he got up to see what his son had done

The puzzle, assembled, was a large map of the Solomon Islands but it had taken many pieces of intricate size and shape to put it all together.

The Reverend was surprised his son had been so quick into assembling the puzzle and said to his son, “That’s very good, but how did you put it together so quickly?”

His son said, ‘Oh, it was easy because on the back of the puzzle there is a large picture of a man.”

In an instant, there was the answer needed for the Sunday sermon.

Put the man together and put the Solomon Islands together.

 Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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