10th parliament ends but we are nowhere near

THE other day a next of kin was relaying his recent encounter with a Member of Parliament in a Honiara shop.

The MP who shall remain nameless pulled out a cheque book and said to the next-of-kin, “bro look here. People say I am corrupt, but I have a personal cheque book.”

The hilarity of the anecdote aside, how could one expect such stupidity from a Member of Parliament? Anyone can operate a cheque account with any banks. As a matter of fact one commercial bank in Honiara issues cheque accounts to every new customer.

In other words, operating a cheque account does not necessarily mean one has a lot of money, although some regard cheque book account as a status symbol of wealth and so on

The basic requirements to operate a cheque account are essentially who the applicant is and the source of regular income for that individual. To suggest as the politician implied that a person has to be filthy rich in order to handle a cheque account with any or all of the banks is pretty dumb.

In the case of the MP, the source of income for the cheque account could have come from the controversial Constituency Development Fund (CDF) or the MPs’ annual $500,000 discretionary fund stipulated in the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations booklet.

It is hard to ascertain what message the MP is trying to convey. Is it arrogance? Or is it being simply dumb? No MP in his right mind would be so dumb to say such things.

One wonders whether this country deserves MPs like this to represent them in the next Parliament. It simply is a shameful display of ignorance or perhaps arrogance.

That aside, the 10th Parliament rose yesterday. It is the second of the last meeting for the year. It is also the second last meeting before the next National General Election is held next March.

Those in government say the last sitting of Parliament starts in November and continues through to 17th December 2018 when by law the National Parliament is dissolved in preparation for the next National General Election (NGE) expected to be held in March 2019.

The sitting which ended yesterday was one of the most productive meetings in terms of passage of important and implementable legislations.

Parliament passed for example the controversial Anti-Corruption Legislation, its sister law, the Whistle Blower Act 2018 and the new Electoral (Amendment) Act 2018.

It is public knowledge that police, apart from JANUS, has amassed almost irrefutable evidence of conversion and misuse of public funds by officials and politicians.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) should make their move now by laying charges if indeed they have sufficient evidence to put public figures on trial.

Initially the political environment was not favourable.

There were so much political agenda in the way for police, including the anti-corruption crack unit JANUS to have a free hand to do anything.

Their hands were tied because of alleged orders from the political captain.

Now it seems the coast is clear and the captain of the RSIPF should simply give direction that the time is here and now for some fireworks.

Using public service officials as scapegoat would not assist anyone, if the intention of the police is to clear the messy patches of corruption being left here and there.

The longer it remains with us, the harder it is for any government to deal with.

Solomon Islands’ society has become a much thicker onion than what we used to know. Each layer reveals yet another layer and more.

Our only hope is in the police doing their work as sworn in their oath of service.

We will otherwise end up electing politicians with personal cheque books.

Alfred Sasako

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