Congratulations to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry Labour and Immigration for taking the lead in cracking down on alleged illegal workers in this country. It is long overdue.
Many have been quick to condemn Bangladeshis who were the focus of the investigation. I have been informed that the investigation covers activities undertaken by all foreigners.
What has attracted government intervention is the fact that the Bangladeshis have overstepped the mark in terms of operating outside the parameters allowed in their business licence.
This is where other Asians are pretty smart when it comes to doing business. They stick to running businesses within the confines of the city boundary. Any activities outside the city boundary fall under the jurisdiction of the Guadalcanal Provincial government.
What is worrying is the question of whether the investigation now underway would produce any tangible outcomes. There were similar inquiries in the past with little or no results at all.
Take for example the investigation into the alleged misuse of FOPA money, which has resulted in many contractors still waiting to be paid. Or the investigation of RIPEL, which vanished into thin air.
These inquiries, small or large, are paid for by taxpayers. They demand result, not simply just the label.
Many are of the view that these inquiries go nowhere because they are seen as internal rather than an independent, free and fair investigation. They have a point. How can you expect the same person investigating himself to come up with information that one day could be used against oneself? It is next to impossible.
Don’t get me wrong. An inquiry into alleged illegal activities is a good thing. It is even better if it comes up with actionable recommendations, recommendations that would transform, rather than reform mistakes of the past.
Critical to the investigation is how these illegal aliens came into the country? Were they assisted? If so, by whom? These are the fundamental issues or questions that need to be put under the spot light.
True, we can blame officials in the government ministries responsible for allowing foreigners to enter our country but were these officials acting alone?
Solomon Islands suffers from the too accommodating syndrome. Religiously, we are beyond accommodation because of our compassion for other people, particularly foreigners.
A bad thing? Not at all.
Many local people treat our visitors as gods. And it is a good thing. You can see that, for example when a foreign evangelist visits our shores. More people would throng to the evangelist’s crusades or evening rallies than if the evangelist were a local person.
Unfortunately when it comes to officialdom, there is a red line. More often than not, it is Government ministers who cross this red line for reasons only they themselves would explain.
So the inquiry should be independent enough to shed some light on potential involvement by political leaders in facilitating entries of foreign nationals into our country..
As a result, much of what we are going through were created by politicians. So an independent investigation is very much warranted. It should not be just any investigation – it should be one that is fair, free from political interference and is independent.
Anything else would simply be hot air and a waste of money and time. Investigation should never be just investigation. Rather, it should be focused and outcome-oriented.
Otherwise, we will become just a laughing stock to the very people we are trying to investigate.