Thursday, 11 June 2009 9:38 AM

Federal System Unfit for Solomon Islands

I agree with Andrew Nori that Solomon Islands government should concentrate to unify Solomon Islands than forced to introduce federal system. We have started to recover from the deadly effects of the recent ethnic conflicts and it is senseless to engage in national reconciliation and peace while on the other hand we want to advance the federal system of government which is very much premised on identity politics that would eventually further fragment the cultural and Christian values which hold us together as citizens of Solomon Islands.

In theory federal system would invite freedom and more power for the respective indigenous communities to legislate and engage on things they think are good for their respective states. But beneath lays the ideology of territorialism. People would be identified more with their island states than appreciate the sense of being a Solomon Islander. We are moving towards what Marshall McLuhan called "detribalization". People will more individualised and forsake national identity and unity.

It's true that other island provinces are being blessed with many natural resources than others and through this form of government we assume they would get the highest benefit. But state prosperity and social stability are not entirely founded on resources alone but also on the political will and visionary leadership that would be vital to transform those resources into usable means that would sustain the state. With that I agree with Ernie K's view on the case of Isabel political desire for state government. Make a visit around our island provinces and see for your selves our people's attitudes towards their resources and development. Like our national leaders people love to talk too much about development but in essence they avoid engagement in doing the right and appropriate things. Our people were led to believe and addicted to hand-outs and other easy money schemes. So may be when federal system comes, we will get rich and socially prosperous than before. I doubt it!

The most significant measure to do is to urgently review the national constitution in order to address some of the pressing issues that we are facing. Things such as free movement of citizens must be regulated. Repatriation of first-time offenders to their home island for an extended period of time is necessary. Squatering around Honiara must be given immediate attentions. I am not afraid to request my island folks of Malaita including church leaders, national leaders and senior Malaita citizens to look into these issues more seriously. The Government needs decentralise and empower houses of chiefs and village elders with appropriate powers to deal with their respective local communities regarding law and order situations. The Government must not be afraid to tackle these issues even if its policies sound a bit rude and unchristian. We cannot compromise these social issues if we want make Honiara and Solomon islands safe places to live and work.

In retrospect, I doubt that federal system of government would embrace our scattered island provinces to acknowledge the essence of one-nationhood. It would be good to advance into sovereign nation states than to become federal states. As Melanesians we have been too prone to the politics of Kastom (we blong mifala olosem nao before kam) which in fact a vagaucious tool for island politics. Eventually, I predict our respective island states would develop their own Kastom ideology that would one day lead us into numerous inter island ethnic conflicts. I am not a political analyst but I think Solomon Islands need to rethink our plea for federal state system if we want to progress and maintain our identity as Solomon Islanders



Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Lisa Tahelio'hu Wate and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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