BY EDDIE OSIFELO
OPPOSITION leader Mathew Wale says the differing opinions of people are not a threat to the unity of this nation.
Rather, he said the things that threaten our national unity are when government is seen to be unfair and only serving the interests of a few.
Wale was speaking in parliament yesterday on the motion of sine die Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare tabled last week.
His comments were in direct response to statements Sogavare made when reinforcing his Government’s intention to temporarily ban Facebook.
Sogavare earlier stated that the widespread abuse and negativity on Facebook is threatening the unity of this nation.
And that’s one of the reasons why the Government proposes to ban Facebook while the Government works on laws to control and manage the use of this social media platform.
But Wale said our unity is threatened when more resources are allocated to MPs in government, depriving the rest of Solomon Islanders.
“When our politics focus on our political needs and not our people in a truly representational way leads to disunity,” Wale pointed out.
“Such disunity is facilitated when government sides with loggers and miners against the interests of land and resource owners,” he added.
“When indigenous Solomon Islanders are squeezed out of businesses that should be reserved for them – and government does nothing about it, that breeds discontent and threatens national unity.”
“When government speaks and acts as if there is a level playing field in the economy when the odds are stacked against indigenous Solomon Islanders – there is discontent that threatens unity.
“When taxis, buses, second hand shops, fish & chips shops, even betel nut, and small hawker licenses are operated by foreigners and non-indigenous people, right under the government’s nose – there is discontent, and unity is threatened.
“When economic power is almost totally in the hands of foreigners, and indigenous Solomon Islanders are reduced to spectators, that breeds discontent and threatens national unity.
“When government is seen, rightly or wrongly, as making decisions that favor foreigners against Solomon Islanders, that breeds discontent and is a threat to national unity.
“When Solomon Islanders are being systematically and schematically reduced to renters in their own economy, that breeds discontent and threatens unity.
“When young Solomon Islanders come out of the education system with no reasonable expectation of finding meaningful productive work, that breeds discontent and is a threat to national unity. Who should they blame for the lack of meaningful job opportunities? Who should be responsible for creating hope for them?
“When young Solomon Islander professionals are priced out of the property market by an exploitative economy that is loaded against them, that breeds discontent and is a threat to national unity.
“When the government does not bring legislation to reform forestry and mining sectors to remedy existing exploitative practices that impoverish our people, that breeds discontent and threatens national unity.”
Furthermore, Wale said:
“When logging companies contribute cash to support the PM in politics – that not only breeds distrust, it incites hatred.
“When logging companies declare losses for so many years but still operate and government does nothing about it – that breeds discontent and threatens unity.
“When logging companies harvest and export rosewood, kwila and other protected species under mixed red and mixed white and government t does nothing – that breeds discontent and threatens unity.
“When international log prices are high but the determined value set by the government is low so that royalties to landowners and revenue to government is based on the lower amount – this breeds distrust and threatens unity.
“When logging companies operate above 400 meters above sea level and government does little – that breeds discontent and threaten unity.
“When most of the prime land in Honiara is owned by foreigners and non-indigenous Solomon Islanders because that’s how the economy and system is, and government does nothing about it, that breeds discontent and threatens national unity.
“When parents are unable to afford to keep their children at school because education has become too expensive for most Solomon Islanders, that breeds discontent and threatens national unity.
“When a patient goes to a clinic and there is no medicine, that breeds discontent and threatens national unity.
“When government makes promises and does not keep them, that breeds distrust and threatens national unity.
“When the PM appoints ministers to key portfolios to protect or advance certain vested interests, that breeds discontent and threatens national unity.
“When the PM is seen to be too close to loggers and benefits from that relationship, that breeds discontent and threatens national unity.
“When loggers with close connection to the PM now hold licenses under new companies for mining tenements – that breeds distrust and threatens unity. “
Wale said the lack of reforms in these key sectors are put down squarely to these close relationships to the PM and key ministers, and that breeds discontent.
He added that even in caucus, some who do not own businesses or the financial means to be dishing out money to MPs – when they dish out $1,000, colleague MPs wonder how much they collected from outside interests but kept for themselves.
“This breeds distrust right within government, and threatens unity.
“When people politically close to the PM who had no prior financial means appear to become wealthy overnight – this breeds discontent and incites hatred.
“When political appointees go around logging and mining companies soliciting funds in support of the PM – that breeds distrust, discontent and threatens unity.
“When the vast majority of our people remain very poor and a few people at the top become wealthy – that breeds discontent and threaten unity.
“When the people vote and the government that is formed after an election does not reflect that national mandate, that breeds discontent and is a threat to national unity.
“Social, political and economic injustice are the ingredients of disunity.
“And when government merely perpetuates the status quo and business as usual, these injustices are allowed to continue, and discontent festers.
“When individual leaders pursue their interests to the exclusion of these wider national interests, this breeds discontent and threatens national unity.
“These are the real threats to our national unity, not the differences we have in opinions.
“We must have a balanced sense of perspective on these things and apportion weight appropriately,” the Opposition leader stated.
Parliament resumes this morning.