Private Column by Frank Short, CBE
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Friday, 22 February 2013 12:00 AM

Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 20: Seeking External Help. Where to go?

Excerpt from my memoirs.

After a month in office, I was generally satisfied that some progress had been made, but after many years of being neglected by successive governments and local leaders, the police service was run down, demoralized, understaffed and in urgent need of help, financially, materially and professionally.

Given the dire straights of the government it was obvious that help could only come from outside and in reality, from the Island’s traditional development partners, which were Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Japan, America and the Republic of China (ROC).

I started testing the water by approaching several diplomatic missions and was soon very surprised to learn that the ROC government was about to supply the force with several vehicles and motor cycles, as well as a bus, for operational deployment ahead of the forthcoming general election.

A welcome surprise indeed!

Although no commitments were made, the Australian, British and New Zealand High Commissioners were generally supportive of my requests for help for the force. The USA promised to give training assistance and the Japanese offered material help for the Fire Brigade.

I knew, at the time, that Australia was supporting the Vanuatu Police Force, especially by way of mentoring and training by seconded AFP officers, but I was a little apprehensive about directing my requests to the Australians, knowing what reaction there had been in the Solomon’s government to the leaked secret report in which Pacific leaders, including Solomon Mamaloni, had come in for criticism.

One was also conscious of the unexpected negative reception I had already received from certain members of the AFP – John Murray in particular I knew he had made it clear that he considered me totally unsuitable for the post of Commissioner, based on both incorrect information and I suspected a personal disappointment.

To be continued ……

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