Why Suidani is pushing for independence vote
By EDDIE OSIFELO
MALAITA Province meets all the criteria to become an independent nation in the future, premier Daniel Suidani told Island Sun yesterday.
The four criteria for a state to be considered independent are:
- It has a defined territory.
- It has a permanent population.
- It has a government.
- It has capacity to enter into relations with other states.
Mr Suidani said Malaita is the second biggest Exclusive Economic Zone in the country in terms of territory.
He said the population of Malaita province with 140,000 is more than Nauru (12,704) and Tuvalu (11,508).
Furthermore, Suidani said Malaita has MARA government to run its affairs and make relationships with traditional partners like New Zealand, Australia, Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan, Japan and United States of America.
He said the idea behind the referendum is to identify popular support in the province.
“This is to see how many support referendum for independence,” he said.
The call for Independence was reinforced in 2004 when former Premier Ruben Moli said it has been triggered by maltreatment of Malaitans.
Moli told Radio New Zealand there was a feeling that the national government has not done enough to help Malaita economically.
At the Malaita Leaders’ Summit, delegates adopted a resolution calling for the province to break away from Solomon Islands.
In 2010, former Premier Richard Irosaea claimed the conclusions of 2004 Malaita Leaders’ Summit on Independence for Malaita are not reflected in 2009 Draft Federal Constitution.
He said the leaders agreed that the document is “perfect for Solomon Islands, except Malaita”.
Irosaea said Malaita leaders disagreed with the state government system because it would be too expensive to run and it is simply “a system we do not believe in”.
He said Malaita leaders believe that the Province would be better off, standing by itself and determining its own future.
In 2015, former Premier Peter Chanel Ramohia reinforced the idea of a sovereign state of Malaita because the proposed federal system and the Provincial Government Act would not have been ready for adoption within the next 10 years.
Ramohia said Malaita cannot wait that long which is the reason for pursuing a system that can work for Malaitan people.
He said his government wanted to do something about the situation in Malaita now in a legal manner as no one else can do it for them.
Solomon Island Academic in Hawaii, Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka said if Malaitans really want to be independent, they should just get on with it and be independent and “save the rest of us the pain”.
“Don’t bother us about it. Maybe the best option is for the rest of Solomon Islands to declare independence from Malaita.
“I suggest that Solomon Islands Government give Malaita Province its wish. We give them a 1 year transition to independence. Get on with it and be independent,” Mr Kabutaulaka said on social media.
A lawyer by profession, Dr Transform Aqorau said in many ways most of our villages, islands and provinces are already independent in the sense that they are out of touch with many of the most basic services that are enjoyed in Honiara.
Mr Aqorau said the calls for greater self-determination and freedoms to make decisions are not new and are unlikely to go away given the geographic and cultural features of Solomon Islands which makes governing at the best of times confronting.
“So these calls in my personal and humble opinion is a wake up call for those in Government in Honiara who control, and have absolute control over the government purse, and who are increasingly getting more and more insensitive to the needs of the general population even in Honiara, to try and listen a bit more, and be a little bit more open minded, and also be a little bit more respectful and mindful of our different cultural values and heritage,” Aqorau said on social media
“There is nothing intrinsically wrong about getting people’s views, after all that is who we govern for, the people,” he added.
However, Aqorau said: “as an international lawyer and one who started my career in diplomacy, I can say for certain that there is no way Malaita will become an independent state in the legal and technical sense of the term under international law, but that does not mean we cannot have a better system of government that recognizes people’s rights and their diversity.
“We need to do better and above all ensure we have good relations with ourselves in spite of our differences.”
Member of Parliament for East Are Are and Opposition member Peter Kenilorea Junior, told ABC that while the views of his province should be respected, any process looking at independence would be a long and complex one.
“It’s a heavily political issue. Anyone’s right to self-determination to be recognised under international law, is something that would have to involve the national government too,” he said.
“This sentiment for independence has been simmering for some time but in my view, the recent events have perhaps made the premier look to move towards this now,” Kenilorea said.