Former members of the now defunct Malaita Eagle Force have joined in the outcry against the government’s recent $1 million dollar cash donation to the Gaena’alu Movement on the Weather coast of Guadalcanal.
Speaking out on the issue James Tatau said it was unfair that government had not honored its obligation under the Townsville Peace Agreement to rehabilitate militants and yet it can dish out such a large amount of money to one community.
“I was one of the people who went to Townsville to sign the peace agreement and I am not happy with what this government has done because in the Townsville Peace Agreement it talks about rehabilitation of militants. We have been waiting up until today no rehabilitation has been paid. So it comes as a big surprise to us that the Prime Minister can take a bag of money and goes and gives it to the people of the Moro movement. How is it that he is unable to rehabilitate those of us labeled as ex-militants and yet he can go and make such a payment?
What he has done is like taking a needle and poking in our eye, it is like he has taken needles and stuck them in all our eyes, that is all I want to say to our current Prime Minister.”
This latest outcry against the $1million dollar payment follows a condemnation from the Leader of the opposition, complaints from Teachers, The Malaita Maasina Forum, concerned citizens from other cultural communities in the country and various individuals.
And all of these complaints have arisen despite it being published in the media that Parliament last year approved $1m to the Gaena’alu Movement under its 2013 budget as part of empowering of indigenous culture.
And even with Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s published statements in addressing the leaders of the Gaena’alu movement at Komuvaolu Village on Friday the 15th of February saying,
“Today we begin the process of empowering the Gaena’alu movement on Guadalcanal so that we can contextualize developments on Guadalcanal.”
As well as;
“What I offer to you today (Friday) is what I believe will empower you so that you can begin to take on the leadership role to lead our people on every development discussion on the island of Guadalcanal,”
In spite of all these explanations it would seem the wider Solomon Island community is not satisfied and as the list of questions raised lengthens, as the number of disgruntled voices increases and as complaints grow louder someone sooner or later will have to come forward to talk more about this massive cash handout to a single rural community.
It will be most interesting to see who will step up to defend the payment and justify the motive behind it.