Logger questions SFA’s political involvement


A logger has raised concerns over the apparent political involvement of the Solomon Forest Association (SFA) following its attendance at a fundraising dinner for the official launch of the OUR Party election logo at Cowboys Grill Bar & Restaurant on Saturday, November 4, 2023.

The logger questioned whether SFA’s participation in the event indicated direct support for OUR Party, which is the dominated party in the Democratic Coalition for Government Advancement (DCGA) currently led by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

“Is SFA directly involved in Solomon Islands politics?” the logger asked.

In an email received by this publication, it was confirmed that SFA’s Vice President, Philip Tiew, had cordially invited all member companies of SFA to participate in the fundraising dinner.

Tiew expressed appreciation for their presence and emphasized the importance of their support for SFA in this matter.

However, SFA President, Johny Sy, clarified that he had not been in Honiara since the previous Friday and was not aware of the event’s details.

He added that fundraising events do not necessarily imply direct political involvement on SFA’s part.

Island Sun reached out to OUR Party President, Jimson Tanangada, for comment but had not received a response at the time of publishing.

Notably, Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka, a Solomon Islands academic based in Hawaii, has asserted that SFA has been directly involved in the country’s politics.

In his article titled ‘LOGGING & FOREST OWNERS: A STORY FROM CHOISEUL,’ posted on Solomon Business Magazine online Facebook page on June 14, 2022, Mr Kabutaulaka highlighted that forest owners in the logging industry in the Solomon Islands typically hold relatively less influence compared to logging companies.

Kabutaulaka pointed out that logging companies tend to wield more power, as they have access and influence over politicians and civil servants, often manipulating processes and regulations to their advantage.

He further noted that these companies are backed by SFA, an influential organization not only in the logging industry but also in politics.

Kabutaulaka’s findings were based on an incident in Choiseul over 20 years ago, which remains relevant today. In 1992, Eagon Resources Development Company (SI) Limited initiated logging operations in Choiseul, later setting up camp at Tarekukure.

Despite the signing of a timber rights agreement, the landowners were not provided with a copy of the agreement, and it did not include essential clauses related to environmental protection and landowners’ rights, as mandated by the Forest Resources and Timber Utilisation Act.

The logger’s concerns and Kabutaulaka’s assertions raise questions about the relationship between organizations like SFA and political activities in the Solomon Islands, shedding light on the complex dynamics within the country’s logging industry and its broader influence.

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