Friday, 2 November 2007 10:15 AM

Liloqula Dismisses Claims to Suppress Freedom of Speech

The Secretary to Cabinet, Ruth Liloqula, has outrightly dismissed claims of suppressing freedom of speech.

A local lawyer, John Keniapisia, claims that Ms. Liloqula's presence at a meeting between the Governor General, Sir Nathaniel Waena, and the Secretary General of the National Council of Women is an attempt to suppress public criticism against the government.

Mr. Keniapisia claimed in the Solomon Star newspaper that Ms Liloqula's presence implied the present government's directive for the Governor General to summon NCW General Secretary, Ella Kauhue, for criticizing the government.

Ms Kauhue this week claimed that the Governor General has summoned her over public criticisms she made against the present government's intention to review the Facilitation of International Assistance Act (FIAA) which allows RAMSI into the country.

But Ms Liloqula dismissed Keniapisia's claim as poorly informed and far from the truth.

She urged both Mr Keniapisia and Ms Kauhue to maintain professionalism in their public statements and to avoid personal attacks on people over talks on professional and constitutional issues.

Ms Liloqula said she initially thought the Governor General's request for the meeting is to follow up on the Pink Ribbon issue that is relevant to the women of the country.

"I was asked to be there and thought it was something to do with the Pink Ribbon Day and this is why he (GG) wanted to see Ella, myself and Ethel Sigimanu who was absent due to illness.

"It is only at the meeting that I know of the subject matter," she explained.

Ms Liloqula also rejected Keniapisia's claim that the Governor General is intimidating Ms Kauhue during meeting.

"The Governor General was cordial and fatherly in his talk with all of us and there was nothing intimidating about it," she said.

Ms Liloqula, the first woman to hold the post of Secretary to the Cabinet, called on the two critics to get accurate information on issues before making baseless assumptions in the media on personal grounds.

"I really do not know the reason behind the personal attack on me by the author and the innuendo that I, in anyway, has influenced the GG to request Ella to appear before us and is having a go at me. Is he getting the right information from Ella or is Ella failing to tell the truth?" she said.

The Secretary to Cabinet said freedom of speech is everyone's human right enshrined in the national constitution and everyone is entitled to exercise it.

"But freedom of speech comes with responsibility to tell the truth because the public is entitled to the truth not lies, speculations, wrong assumptions to hurt people. They too have rights that must be respected," she said.

"To put ideas into the public mind about me that are not correct is not justice, not human rights and is not acceptable."