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Change the top and the bottom!

Change the top AND the bottom!

By J. Roughan
3 January 2006
Honiara

Great expectations are currently riding high on the up coming national elections. People know that the first years of the 21st century have not been that great for us. Yes, RAMSI came in to save us--more for the political elite's life style, however, than villagers way of life--from a five-year nightmare that almost destroyed us. Yet, we are not out of danger. Serious, sustained and deeply challenging work lies ahead.

Yet, many are basically sitting back, waiting to see what the March election throws up and hoping that things will work out for a brighter future. There are, however, a number of things wrong with such an attitude.

First of all people usually get the government they deserve. There is nothing automatic about getting a good or at least a fairly decent government. If we voters chose first class people--men and women of vision, filled with dreams, honest as the day is long, dedicated to the majority--then our future could be bright and hopeful.

On the other hand, as we have proven to ourselves and the world so often in past elections, if the majority once again vote in losers, misfits and corrupt individuals, then our future will remain cloudy and uncertain. Simply sitting by and hoping for the best is not a success formula. We have to fight our way to a better and brighter future by changing ourselves as well as those who lead us!

Solomon Islanders have been particularly good at tossing politicians out of office. In our last two elections, for instance, voters dismissed more than half the members--51 percent in the 1997 poll and a whopping 64 percent in 2001. A lot good it did! The 1997 lot were in charge and in some ways deeply responsible for the country's breaking up. The 2001 group proved little better. Had it not been for the RAMSI 'invasion' which in truth they asked in, I doubt if Solomon Islands would be here now.

Hence, simply changing faces in the house without demanding something more hasn't worked well in the past and it won't make much of a difference this year as well. Something much more fundamental is called for. Parliamentarians need a voting public that is on the same wave length, speaks and understands the same language and accent the same basic priorities. We, the voters. have tried hard for deep change but change from among our leadership, much less from ourselves. It is we ourselves who should be the first to stand up and shout: We must change!

For instance, why are members demanding more and more RCDF funds? The answer is simple. We, the voters, want it that way. Mamaloni started us off with $100,000 a year in 1992. Now it's $400,000 and climbing! PNG parliamentarians, for instance, found that a million kina is not enough and that's the way our own members are headed. The easy way to get around this problem is to cancel the whole idea of RCDF but that would be wrong. No, those funds do belong to the people and should not be taken away from them.

The way around this problem is get the member away from focusing on, concentrating his attention on and distributing RCDF.funds. Each constituency, once the national election is completed in March this year, must elect its own committee to administer this fund. Keep the member as far away as possible so that he has sufficient time and energy to concentrate his energies on his real work: drafting good laws, monitoring the Public Service to actually work for the people and force government ministries to listen carefully to the people.

But we voters really don't like that. We want our member to be a walking ATM--Automatic Teller Machine--feeding, clothing, paying school, doctor fees, ship fares, funding wedding, funeral and special feasts. Because members have been slack in their prime duty to increase jobs and people desperately need money to keep body and soul together, both sides have taken the easier but destructive path of relying on the RCDF.

National election are only a few months away. Yes, many members must never be allowed to return. But new faces alone will never change our political weaknesses. Let' start right now to begin the change in ourselves before demanding it from the others.

ENDS

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