Sunday, 26 July 2009 8:40 PM

Increase Parliamentary Entitlements

Dear editor, I would like to contribute to this discussion of the new increment to the Parliamentary Entitlements (PE). May, I congratulate the heart-felt Solomon Islanders who are forefront in positively bringing this issue to light. I would also like to congratulate the media, and the Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) for flexing its muscles recently after the cooling-off period for sometime.
I am in support of any practical measures to be taken either by the general public and the relevant government agencies or TSI for that matter on behalf of the people, to sabotage the increments. What I see now, is ACTION-vs-TIME - to stop the endorsement of the increment before it's too late.
Let me suggest some practical measures here, and drawing further from the premise of Beliga Faikera, on constitutional amendments and the Court's voluntarily consideration of the matter on behalf of the people due to the ulter vires actions of PEC.
I understand that Faikera's position is to have the third arm of the government (judiciary) check and balance on the powers of the other two arms. Unfortunately, Solomon Islands have an adversarial legal system of which the judiciary is to remain impartial and cannot instigate matters of its own, and or bring cases onto itself. The constitutional amendment is an important one, however, the process still involves the MPs, and whether they are willing to take an abrupt recourse for the good of the nation is so much uncertain - they seem careless to table such constitutional amendment now or never.
The practical measures which I see fit, involves both legal and non-judicial approaches. The significant agencies to take these steps forward are (i) Attorney General, (ii) Ombudsman, (iii) TSI (depending on its mandate), (iv) the people, using people's power.
Speaking of court proceedings, the Attorney General (whose office shall be a public office and who shall be the principal legal adviser to the Government) is the pivotal person having the locus standi to bring this matter to Court for judicial review. Under any public administration, the Office of the Attorney General is mandated to bring to court proceedings re judicial review, and for this matter for unreasonable consideration (not acting ulter vires per se). I presume, in the first place, it's the role of the Attorney General to give legal advice on reasonable determination of increments of public funds by PEC. Section 69B requires the PEC to take into consideration, "the state of the national economy and the financial position of the Government" in determining the PE. Isn't it the fact that the country is facing financial crisis during this global economic downturn? This is clearly unreasonable consideration which is a solid ground for judicial review.
The Ombudsman is another vital organ to check on the government's transparency and accountability. However, the Ombudsman's office is merely an investigative organ, which sad to say, does not have the teeth to bite. But in any case, the Ombudsman may have the prerogative to restrain any endorsement pending investigation.
The TSI position here is basically a possible avenue for which people can channel their disagreements, perhaps through a non-judicial approach. But that depends on the mandate of the organization, as to how far they can involve in the stake for campaign against corruption. Perhaps the networking and collaboration efforts of the organization are vitally important to jeopardize any corrupt practices.
And finally, the use of people's power - I guess I do not have to say more on the practical aspect of such action since we have seen such drastic measure has been taken in our country for the past years. However, what I am suggesting here and what I believe is a nonviolent and prayerful mass street demonstration which can bring an instant change to the selfish course.
I hope this will propel the course of what we (like-minded S.Iders) want to see or likely to be done. Let me finish by saying that honesty is a virtue, and that is what people conceded when it comes to leadership role - it's ridiculous and demeaning to see the PM denied having knowledge of the increases, whereas the fact lies PEC is operating from the PM office, and of course, being the leader, PM ought to know and aware of any financial increments whether it concerns him or the public in general. I guess, so much denial to the use of public funds recently by the government has tarnished and downturned people's trust to the current government (incumbent govt) for the upcoming election.
Trae fo Live up to what yumi preachim tu ba!
May God bless Solomon Islands

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

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