Tuesday, 22 January 2008 6:57 PM

Unwise to compensate group

Mr Filia Mamae said that the Government was wise in paying the money because it had calm down a potentially disturbing situation (SIBC, 21 Jan 2008). I find this wisdom very ridiculous. The Government has acted very naïve in a situation that I suppose is under police control. To act on a demand that is unlawful and not within the bounds of custom, has infused a rather disturbing and costly view in the national reconciliation process it has kicked off on a good note. Despite camouflaging the payment under the name of peace package, it is bluntly a poor judgment and lacks wisdom. With this assertion, I have these observations to make.

First let me join other peace and law abiding citizens and the Police in condemning the perpetrators of the public statement against the people of Malaita. It is selfish, and done with a motive to spread fear and terror amongst the public. The Police responded appropriately in ensuring public security and pursue to investigate the culprits. The Government should put and show trust on the security role of the police, and base its response to such cases on police finding.

Second let me further join others and in particular the law abiding people of Malaita in denouncing the small group who quickly resort to demanding compensation from the Government. This is an opportunistic, selfish, and intimidating attitude. The sad part of the incident, though, was that the Government instead of showing that it was in command has plummeted and allowed itself to be influenced by an unlawful group which did not have any legitimate representation of the people of Malaita. A Government is expected to show restraint and allow the due process of police investigation and proper customary practices to establish a course of action.

Personally this is truly depressing. While the Police have established a credible lead to reliable witnesses and to those who involved in pining up the notice, the Government acted immaturely to make the payment too early. This is a rather timid approach which has proved costly to the Government and to social services, and should be something of the past crisis. It should never be repeated.

If the finding of the investigation, including that of police and custom, establish that compensation is warranted, it should also identify to whom such compensation is to be made. This has to be based on who the defamatory notice was targeting. A mandated representative of the people of Malaita, for example, the Provincial Government is the legitimate body to receive and decide on the payment on behalf of the people - not to a group of individuals. After all the swearing was not to few individual.

My suggestion to the Government as it set on to implement a nation wide reconciliation is to quickly formulate a comprehensive policy strategy and processes of reconciliation. Particular attention must be made on all aspect of compensation. This will include its bases, nature, magnitude, and who should make and receive the compensation. I should leave it to the Ministry of Reconciliation from this point on.


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