Government should protect its citizens first and foremost

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IT is no secret that despite being the major income generating activity for the country, logging also brought about its social woes.

In a report titled ‘from happy hour to hungry hour; logging, fisheries and food security in Malaita’ it raises mainly issues which we often hear but didn’t see much happening about.

Though the report covers a small component of the vast population or geographically speaking, the issues raised in this report is no different everywhere.

Nor should discrepancies within the stakeholders in this sector should be ignored.

Time and time again we hear complaints about ‘timber rights hearing’ yet we continue to see logging operators coming in to areas to do logging, bringing with them the social issues which rural communities are now faced with.

As government, our job is to protect our people.

But yet why are we the ones exploiting and bringing demise to our vulnerable people in the rural communities especially the children, girls, women and the elderly?

Why are we allowing these exploitations to continue under our very noses?

Do we not care for our people?

The report cited sexual exploitation of girls and women.

It is a major concern where a section in the report said: “Many informants brought up the growing number of children born from sexual encounters between local

(underage) girls and foreign (predominantly Malaysian) logging staff. One woman from West Are’Are comments, “[…] Here in […] we have around five ‘baby Waku’s,’ but the fathers are already gone. One of [my] cousins […] is currently six months pregnant from a Waku too. She is only around 15 years old. She was in class four when she got pregnant” (pers. comm. respondent 118, May 9 2017)”.

These issues are real and it is time government and/or government officials prioritise safe guarding the interests of the people first and foremost before allowing anything foreign into our rural communities.

Government has a duty to protect its citizens.

The anti-corruption law couldn’t have come at a better time to halt illegal and corrupted dealings from the top level down.