Friday, 21 August 2009 9:49 PM

REPLY TO DRUMMOND O FROM SUVA- You are missing the point.

Dear Editor and Readers,

I wish to reply to one Drummond O from Suva who questioned my position on whether or not I think RCDF has been misappropriated by MPs. However, before I discuss further, I would like to thank him for taking notice of my posting on the issue. I can see that I may not have made myself very clear in that particular posting; hence I wish to provide further clarity on my argument.

I think Drummond has missed the whole point I was trying to make. Literally he does not even see that what I have said, which he quoted in his posting, and I quote: " Mind you, I'm not saying that it has not been misappropriated or abused" and "I am not saying that the fund has never been abused", paragraph 2 and 3 respectively", are two different statements stressing the same fact. The second statement re-emphasises the first in that indeed the fund has been misappropriated and abused in the past. Hence, I see no reason why he was unclear of my position on RCDF misappropriation even after reading about the evidence of RCDF misappropriation I provided in the posting. I am sure that RCDF has been misappropriated, Mr Drummond. That was what I was stressing by the two statements and I was not saying that as a matter of possibility or as Drummond stated whether "there is room for misappropriation by MPs with RCDF" or not. It was not an assumption but a definite statement that RCDF has been misappropriated. That is why, Drummond if you read further down my posting you will see that I made reference to a case by the LCC in 2007 where two MPs were summoned for hearing and one was found to be guilty of misusing RCDF.

However, the point of the whole posting was not to argue on whether RCDF has been misused or not but rather on the issue of popular engagement by the civil society in holding our leaders (MPs) to account on their use of RCDF and for us ordinary people to effectively play our role in development. I have never benefitted from RCDF as an individual, as Drummond has purported but I have benefitted from community projects initiated through the fund. And as Ellison Giano has explained, him being the one who gasped my point of the two of you, sometimes failure is by the people. I am aware of incidents where people are given funds through RCDF for say, copra air dryers and they never build any copra air dryers. Instead they misuse the money. Other times, projects never make it into their 3rd or 4th financial cycle due to of lack of sound management practices.

And Drummond just to correct you that it was never the intention of my posting to "paint" a picture about MPs as you said. In fact I made myself very clear at the beginning of the post that my discussion was a shift from RCDF and leadership (MPs) to a more relative one; RCDF, development and participation or popular engagement. It is my belief that it is only by measuring development against RCDF that we can make reliable analyses of RCDF and growth in Solomon Islands. In regards to engagement, it is evident that people lack active engagement with state apparatus. I mean, for sure RCDF has been misused and we all say that. But why is it that there has never been an MP imprisoned for that? If this one hem true then why nao MP ia no go prison? My opinion on that is that the people have failed to hold their leaders to account and even if they are aware of misuse by their MPs they never seek justice or relevant procedures to deal with corruption. I am aware of the high level of illiteracy in Solomon Islands and for the 'rural man' the process of seeking appropriate procedures and justice could be beyond imagination. But for those of us who have said so much and are educated and are well aware of these procedures, why have we done nothing? It is also our responsibility to hold our leaders, and MPs for that matter, to account for their actions. Obviously just talking about it won't help improve the situation but will only add more frustrations as you become more aware of these corrupt activities. If we are really concerned then why are we so passive? Why can't we ourselves as constituents take our MPs to court on counts of corruption and set good precedence for the future rather than just making noise. This is where the concept of "barking" comes in, where if you bark and act, you will make a difference. And that is not being passive. But if you bark and bark endlessly without action then you are hopeless. So I think sometimes it is too easy to blame others for our failures without us realising that we ourselves have failed on our part.

Additionally I think it is important to understand, Drummond that, Solomon Islands as a developing country has its development problems like any other developing country in the world. Thus, if we are to expect changes overnight then we better think again because we are going to be disappointed for this is a total illusion. Off course we are on charted waters but there are no quick-fixes and no "one size fits all" solutions. I understand that healthy political debate and forum is an indication of a robust society, as you have correctly pointed out. But pragmatism and imagination are totally two different concepts; the latter being novel and of little use in development practice.

I hope this brief explanation will provide some clarity on the matter, especially for you Drummond of Suva. If you are not satisfied then I invite you to log on to my blog (http://degacliff.blogspot.com) for an elaboration of my point and/or for further discussion on the issue.
GOB BLESS SOLOMON ISLANDS

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

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