It is over a month since the Solomon Islands signed a development cooperation agreement with China.

The signing, which took place in Beijing, was filled with pomp and ceremony, fitting for a document that signaled an elevation in China – Solomon Islands relations.

Other development partners are nervous, and for good reasons, one of the agreements signed by the two countries is a police cooperation agreement. What it contains is anyone's guess, although there have been hints here and there by the government. They say it is in line with government policy and will help enhance capabilities within the local police force – forensics has been highlighted as one such area.

If these are standard areas of cooperation, then why not make them public? Does not the public, whose safety and security the document seeks to protect, have the right to know?

“This is not the first time we have signed a cooperation agreement, what about RAMSI? So why all the accusations on the government,”? said Garvin Lui, writing on one of the popular social media groups on Facebook.

“The Prime Minister is worried because of the Pacific Games, and he wants to make sure there is no disruption, and the last riot is the last straw for him, that is why he wants this,” stated another on the same thread.

“We must remember with RAMSI the document was tabled in Parliament, and it was passed by our Parliament after much debate,” said Fred Galo, responding to the debate.

“And this was a regional security arrangement that our leaders in the Pacific endorsed, it was not done in secret, and the content was not a secret, or kept away from the public.

“With what is now signed, we must be careful when such important agreements are kept hidden from the public.”

This argument is an important one, and at the heart of such arguments is the issue of transparency. The public is happy with the level of assistance given by China, it is a very visible gesture, and it is appreciated by many.

But, when such agreements are kept in the dark, the public becomes skeptical, and they view such assistance as being conditioned – with the real intentions being hidden inside such cooperation agreements.

The call for transparency by the public must not be ignored, they have the right to know, and the government has an obligation to respond to such calls.

The approach that was taken by the Kemakeza-led government when RAMSI was invited serves as a blueprint for any government, especially on how security matters should be conducted – it must be open and transparent.


Felix B. Lani is a graduate in economics and political science. He has an interest in regional cooperation, particularly in security and development. He is also interested in the impact of social media and how it has shaped discussions around security and development.