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John Roughan: Listening With Our Third Ear!

Listening With Our Third Ear!

By John Roughan
29 August 2005

A mother constantly listens out to her kids playing around the house. Most of the time she only half listens to their constant chatter, small yells and some time cries and usually pays little attention. That is until her third ear catches a different sound, something out of the ordinary, a danger signal. Then she immediately swings into action, drops everything else she's doing and runs to her child.

Thousands of Solomon Islanders have been sending a consistent signal to politicians, decision makers and big men but, unlike the mother mentioned above, they don't seem to have a working Third Ear. They constantly miss the early warning signals sent by their own people.

A SIDT survey conducted two weeks before RAMSI (called, at the time, an Intervention Force) landed on our shore in July, 2003, showed that more than 2,000 of our people gave a strong thumbs-up signal. In survey terms--a 94% agreement--meant almost everyone in the nation agreed to the overwhelming military-police presence. Solomons' people were, after five years of pain, in total agreement that the intervening force was a good thing for the country.

Six months later, February 2004, SIDT conducted a second, more comprehensive survey, asking people what they thought of RAMSI after experiencing their work over the past six months. That survey covered a number of areas of concern--security, Justice System working, Services and the Better Life. Once again, although at a lower rate, people's responses towards security were again rated high. Although the February survey showed a slight fall in the country's responses, still the 88% popular backing clearly confirmed the point that RAMSI enjoyed the people's support.

In the latest survey results (July, 2005) on the Kemakeza government's service to its people, a fifth question was added to the survey. The following table presents a breakdown on the response by more than 2,500 people across the nation.

:: Some leaders want RAMSI to leave Solomon Islands quickly. What do you think?
::::::::::::::: Should RAMSI leave the Solomons quickly?

:::: AGREE:::::: A LITTLE BIT:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: DISAGREE

::::: 3%:::::::::::::4%::::::::::::2%::::::::::::::19%::::::::::::: 71%

Once again the strong numbers supporting a continued RAMSI presence has increased since the February, 2004 survey--over nine of ten people across the nation approved of RAMSI's presence. Even in Malaita--North, Are'are, Auki, Small Malaita and East Kwaio--all gave positive backing of a continued RAMSI involvement in Solomons affairs.

It is clear from what people are saying that in spite of the great strides accomplished over the past two years--better functioning police, court and prison system, schools operating, clinics working, a strong increase in economic activity and a real sense of peace and order--people fell that much of this has come from the RAMSI side and much less from government's work. And as such, they voted it to continue for the future.

The Third Ear spoken about above understands that people's normal life patterns remain on shaky ground. The nation's five years of Social Unrest are beginning to fade, but only a bit. They need a solid assurance that their lives will no longer be interrupted by bouts of lawlessness, unrest of any kind or disruption of life patterns. They are convinced that the structures which the state had in place during normal times--justice system, service delivery, peace and tranquillity--are not rooted strongly enough for RAMSI to pull up their tent pegs and sail away. On the contrary, this most recent survey strongly suggests that they want the RAMSI presence to continue, to reinforce its work patterns and to depart only when normal life comes flooding back to village and town folk lives. It's now time for all political decision makers to put their Third Ear into gear!


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