MALAITA Provincial Government says it has endorsed and approved self-autonomy as part of its policy during an extraordinary meeting, Tuesday.
“The resolution clearly stated that it is important that the awareness about this very important subject matter is carried out in communities within Malaita and elsewhere,” a statement from the province said.
“This is to gauge collective views of the people on this matter and to ensure that relevant information is disseminated to Malaitans with clarity and the understanding of the matter,” the statement said.
Last week the Sogavare government claimed that Premier Daniel Suidani’s announcement of a referendum on Malaita independence was “illegal”.
However, the MARA Government reiterated its stand that there is no legal basis for any such undertaking to be called “illegal”.
“This is because the intended exercise is simply to facilitate getting opinions of Malaitans, who are Solomon Islands citizens on a political question that has been around for the last 40 plus years.
“That political question is ‘whether Malaitans want independence or a federal system or some form of political autonomy’.
“The MARA Government believes that such expressions of opinion are clearly protected by the Solomon Islands Constitution and that the PGA 1997 is no higher than the constitution of the country.
“For the PMO and DCGA Malaitan MPs to call this illegal is unbelievable.”
The statement said the matter is a local matter and that the MARA Government believes that the spirit of the Provincial Government Act is to ensure that the provincial governments deals with local matters of concern.
“In this case it is a 40 years old local matter that have been questioned time and time again.
“Therefore the MARA Government is responding to a local issue being out there in the cold for nearly half a century.
“What better ways can there be to go to the people and meaningfully deal with the question right there with them and in their midst?
“It is time the government learn to move away from hiding behind outdated instruments of law that serves nobody and to facilitate the concerns of the people.
“The premier of Malaita Province said that ‘when the need for change for the better come knocking on your door do not hesitate to open up and be part of the change’.
“For sure conducting a survey on people’s opinion on a subject that is of concern to them is not the same as a call for independence.
“That must be made clear.
“There are those who hold the view that what the Premier of Malaita Province is doing is in effect calling for independence.
“They even go further to make whole loads of other assumptions.
“I must remind them that this is a misconceptualization of the intention of the call that was made.
“There were those that went as far as saying that independence movements are always been bloody and long.
“But the MARA government would like to say that a lot depends on the specific situations.
“In many instances usually groups calling for the independence are minority groups.
“In the case of Malaita province, it is the largest populated province making up almost a 3rd of the population of the country.
“The MARA Government believes that the issue of independence can be addressed in a civilized and lawful manner as and when that has to be made.
“Similarly there are those who even made assumptions that the MARA government is brainwashing the people of Malaita.
“So far there is nothing to suggest that the MARA government officially runs a scheme to brain wash people.
“People are free as then always been to think for themselves and make their own opinions and judgments on both private and public matters.”
The statement said the MARA Government would like to state clearly that let history be our judge.
It added MARA believes the many issues at hand and have been in discussions do not exist in absolute terms but rather in relative terms.
“Therefore the assumptions one may have now in terms of Malaita developmental trajectory is just as good as ones assumptions and the sources of information one is exposed to.
“This could include but not limited to the source of experiences one may have and the knowledge and school of thoughts one is willing to accommodate as part of their world views on development.”