Private Column by Frank Short, CBE
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Sunday, 13 January 2013 12:00 AM

Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 1: The "Happy Isles" - Right Place Wrong Time

Excerpt from my memoirs.

It seems appropriate to style this introduction as -- The “Happy Isles” - Right Place Wrong Time.

In July 1997, I was appointed by the Solomon Islands Government to be the Commissioner of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. This entailed overseeing the policing of these ‘Happy Isles,’ an archipelago of 992 tropical islands which were regarded internationally, as a hidden paradise in the South Pacific.

My arrival in the Solomons coincided with the end of the Solomon Mamaloni administration and the ushering in of the Solomon Islands Alliance For Change (SIAC) Government led by Bartholomew Ulufa’ala.

I had spent most of my adult life in an exciting profession as a successful police officer in several countries, including Vanuatu and Hong Kong; so the Pacific region’s breathtaking tropical beauty, crystal clear waters and unique culture and friendliness of its people were all familiar to me.

I was excited by the prospect of two years in the Solomons.

I was not so familiar with the state of the economy, the political intrigues and the run down state of the police force. I had some prior knowledge of the government’s finances but only after my arrival did I discover the real plight of the Mamaloni Government’s accrued staggering debts of $US 200 million. Added to the problem was the fact that revenue collection was insufficient to meet salaries, which then accounted for fifty per cent of government expenditure.

I quickly realized my new job could become a volunteer position very quickly.

From the initial prospect of a bright future, coupled with a determination to succeed in revitalizing the police force and gain community support in aiding the police to meet expectations and fulfill their duties with professionalism, honesty and fairness: instead my time in office was beset by issues and events beyond my control.

I have written a book of my time and other related events in the Solomon Islands.

I expect to publish brief weekly segments to highlight how and why things went horribly wrong, revealing information for the first time, why my timely advice to the Solomon Islands Government and to regional governments might have prevented the civil war that occurred after my departure.

I did not disappear, but instead maintained close contact with the Solomon Islands and its people and now feel that it is time for hidden events and actions to surface for all to see and understand.

To be continued.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Frank Short, CBE and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

This post is part of a series. Next post: Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 2: The Selection Process