Great expectations

THE Solomon Islands has a new Prime Minister and a newly constituted body of Ministers to govern the nation until the next general election in 2018.

Much is expected of the government given the relative poor state of the economy, the high rate of unemployment, perceptions over corruption, deficiencies in the education and health sectors, almost stagnant infrastructure development, gender inequality climate change and environmental issues affecting livelihoods and food security in the rural parts of the country, to name put a few of the challenges the new administration must tackle.

I wish the government well and hope to see change, soon, in fiscal control and particularly in rapid aid to the health sector and in the provision of basic health services.

Prior to the election of the Prime Minister last Wednesday, the SIBC issued rather a stern warning which read, in part,  “Now or never: this has to be the theme for the election of the new Prime Minister.”

“If our MPs do not get it right this time; if they don’t exercise good judgment to correct all their previous errors; if they don’t put the interests of their people and country first – then they and their successors will never be able to look after this country.”

When I read the SIBC’s statement, I was reminded of one of the themes in Charles Dickens’s book ‘Great Expectations’ which referred to moral regeneration when one of the book’s characters started climbing the social ladder, gained wealth and  followed this by a degradation of his integrity

With all the talk of corruption in the Solomon Islands it is imperative that the country’s new leaders render significant services to the people in the areas of education, anti-corruption, health, ethics, judicial responsibility, rule of law, democracy and good governance.

In this age of increasing globalization, I believe the government must reflect on the nation’s journey so far, so the country can do better in the future and leave a better legacy for posterity.

This brings me to the topic of nation building and the new government must give added consideration to nation building which is always a work-in-progress needing nurturing and re-invention.  Nation building is about building a common sense of purpose and strengthening those institutions which symbolize the political entity and having a common sense of purpose, having a sense of a shared destiny and a collective imagination of belonging.

The political game play of the last few weeks underscores my points and adds weight to the view that a viable nation must be synonymous with achieving modernity and have institutions and values which sustain the collective community in these modern times.

I have no right or authority to express what Solomon Islanders expect of their leaders but having been a very close observers of events and happenings in the Solomon Islands for the past 20 years,  I have a fair estimation of what the expectations might be and here are a few thoughts.

Leaders must be committed to the rule of law and have a demonstrated sense of fairplay, vision, ability, integrity and can see beyond the ostentatious pomp of office.

Leaders are not wanted who have no sense of tomorrow, other than that of their bank accounts.

Leaders who lead by deeds and not by words, achievers, not deceivers.

Leaders that will leave their foot prints on the sands of time and leaders who will live forever in the hearts of Solomon Islanders.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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