Dear Editor,

The latest report of damage to a newly installed public telephone at Rove is yet another example of what appears to be endemic instances of vandalism occurring in Honiara.

Another recent incident involved the outrageous slashing and destruction of palm trees lovingly planted and nurtured by Keithie Saunders and her band of "beautification" volunteers in the proximity of Panatina. I can understand the anger and frustration that this particular act of willful destruction must have caused.

As an outsider now looking on, the regularity of such incident reports, coupled with other stories linked to alleged acts of misconduct by government officials, or alleged criminal acts by serving or past members of parliament, paints a very disturbing picture of the local situation.

When one reads of genuine acts of selfless public service, such as the tidying up of Burns Creek the other day by more than 80 youths some balance is restored.

I know that the vast majority of Solomon Islanders are warm, friendly people and perhaps it is just a few who are spoiling the good name of the Solomons by their thoughtless, uncaring, selfish actions.

When I was in the Solomons I often talked about what I termed "civic pride" and I encouraged community activity to clean-up Honiara, including sponsoring several unemployed youths to plant flowers and trees. Police headquarters and Honiara Police Station were both brightened up considerably with the laying out of flower beds and the planting of colourful shrubs, particularly bougainvillea.

Now, at a time when food prices are high, when jobs are few or not at all, when housing is unavailable to many and when the future for many young people is more than challenging, I would say to the would be vandals do nothing more that has the potential to damage the good name of the Solomon Islands, but rather work towards correcting the negative images of your country being perceived overseas.

I would encourage all activities that fall within the scope of "civic pride" and service to others. I will go so far to suggest that, under the auspices of the Lord Mayor's Office, a Good Citizenship Award be presented to worthy citizens, either annually or six monthly.

If such a proposal finds favour, I will gladly donate a suitable trophy to the Honiara City Council.

Yours sincerely,
Frank Short