AC Bill 2018 in doubt?

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Solomon Islands National Parliament
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Parliament adjourned debates due to low turnout of MPs

By Gary Hatigva

ONLY in its first day of debates, but the Anti-Corruption Bill 2017 is again facing huge doubts and confusions as parliament was forced to adjourn its deliberation on it yesterday.

Earlier yesterday morning, the Bill was put to its first reading and went to its second when Prime Minister, Rick Hounipwela opted to have it debated, which didn’t go down well with those from both, the opposition and the independent sides.

Leader of the Official Opposition, Manasseh Maelanga made an objection to a motion by the government to suspend certain standing orders of parliament to allow for the debate of the Anti-Corruption Bill 2018.

With reasons, to allow for both the independent and opposition members to thoroughly go through the bill’s report for the sake of mass contributions and inputs to what Maelanga described as a very important piece of legislation.

The Prime Minister failed to see this aspect and however called for the matter to be tested through votes, which gave the government the upper hand, having the majority number.

The Bill was then allowed to be debated, but there silence from both sides of the house, as it was evident, none was prepared to present on it (bill).

However, with the early signs of mixed feeling about getting the bill debated and deliberated on, has got many including those from the Civil Society and NGOs worried as what’s displayed could continue and eventually force the government to delay or withdraw the bill again.

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A lawyer (who asked not to be named), spoken to about the cluttered indicators, also joined the many concerns following yesterday’s outcome, stressing that it is very clear because not all including some from the government want this bill passed.

“Just look at the revised bill having compared to the first one, which was withdrawn under the Sogavare led government, not many changes.

“They are but all delay tactics to prolong the debate and passing of the bill. I mean, if you look at the first bill, it was withdrawn for the said purpose of considerations to recommendations from the Bills and Legislations Committee.

“Where are the recommendations now? The Chairman of BLC has come out very clear on this, and that only 2 out of 12 recommendations were taken.

“What happened to the other ten?” the disappointed lawyer questioned.

Many including the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga and Chair of the BLC, Matthew Wale pointed out that the bill though with many loop holes, is the best solution to the ever growing issue of corruption that many also agree, are now taking a huge toll on both the government and private sector.

Like a virus that is infecting every living thing in its path, mostly those in the rural and provincial settings of the country.

Parliament resumes 9am today, with the hopes that yesterday’s experience was not Anti-Corruption related and members are asked to think of their people and the country first.

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