Excerpt from my memoirs.
On the Monday morning, following my arrival in the Islands, Ronnie collected me from the Mendana Hotel and I was driven to Government House on Kola Ridge.
Awaiting my arrival was the Governor General’s private secretary and his ADC, Captain Panda, a well turned out officer, in his dress white naval tunic and gold braided cap.
We moved into the Reception room and took a seat in front of an audience of dignitaries, including the Chief Justice, the Ombudsman, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, other senior police officers, various government officials and representatives of the local press.
On a signal from the ADC we all rose to our feet as His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Moses Pitakaka, GCMG, entered the room. The Governor General’s private secretary then read out a lengthy excerpt from my CV: following which I was then ushered in front of His Excellency and the oath of office was administered.
The formalities over, a small reception was held in the Government House garden. Afterwards, Ronnie drove me to meet the Prime Minister in his office.
Solomon Mamaloni received me dressed casually in a safari suit with several pens clipped in the top pocket of his jacket. He was short, rotund and spoke rather gruffly. His hair, too, like Doris’s was bushy, turning grey at the sides and on top.
He invited me to sit down and politely queried whether I wasn’t too hot dressed in my suit. A burly uniformed police sergeant then appeared and asked whether I would like a cup of tea.
The PM had already a cup in one hand so I thought – why not? It came in rather a large mug and after a few minutes while still sipping the hot, milky brew, the PM’s ‘chat’ concluded. He wished me well and the meeting was over. This turned out to be our only ‘official’ meeting as he was soon voted out of office.
The next day, suitably attired in uniform, which I had managed to find in the police stores, together with a cap and other accoutrements brought with me, I took the salute at an official welcoming parade at Rove police headquarters. This was attended by a large gathering of officials and diplomatic representatives, including the British High Commissioner and the newly arrived Australian High Commissioner. The Chief Justice was also there, along with several serving and retired members of parliament.
All around the Rove parade ground were large crowds of onlookers along with British and Solomon Islands flags and lots of brightly coloured bunting. The Diaz from where I gave my speech was well decorated with bougainvillea and orchids in different colours. All in all a pleasant happy sight one could say.
After inspecting the police personnel assembled on the grassy parade ground, I addressed the gathering.
My speech clearly stated my main focus would be to introduce community policing programmes in order to create a working partnership with the community; to reduce crime, enhance the quality of police services and gain better acceptance of police efforts.
I mentioned the many social problems associated with urban drift, unemployment, substance abuse and here commented I thought it important for the police to begin improving their relationships with the younger people.
I emphasized that my work would be transparent and, bearing in mind the constraints on finance, I would try to make the police force as efficient and independently operational as possible. Other points made included police personnel advancement and improved training.
Reaction to my address was positive, both in the public arena and in the local media.
Within days, drafted and presented was my initial policy document to the then Police Minister, Edmund Andresen.
To be continued ………..
Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 7: Swearing In Ceremony and Official Welcome
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