Malaita PS challenges Public Service over ‘unlawful’ suspension

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By EDDIE OSIFELO

MALAITA Provincial Secretary Fredrick Fa’abasua is challenging his suspension.

The province said Fa’asubua will initiate legal proceeding unless the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Public Service, Nego Sisiolo “withdraws the unlawful suspension on him”.

Premier Daniel Suidani confirmed this in a statement yesterday after PS Sisiolo issued the suspension letter to Fa’abasua last Friday.

Suidani said Sisiolo accused Fa’abasua of financial allegations that were “untrue, and in the same letter, he ordered the suspension of our PS, effective immediately”.

“Unfortunately, in doing so, Sisiolo did not follow the process set out in the Public Service Act and its Regulations,” Suidani said.

“The Public Service Act and its regulations have a specific legal process set out, by which such accusations can be taken up and acted upon,” he added.

Suidani said this legal process provides the opportunity for natural justice, and this process was not, repeat was not, followed by Sisiolo.

He said the Public Service Act sets out a process by which any officer alleging misconduct and having supervisory responsibility over the PS must have a report about this accusation filed to the PS of Public Service. 

The PS of Public Service in turn must give a minimum period of seven days to the officer to respond.

“None of these steps have happened or if it had happened the PS has not been aware of it, and therefore our PS has decided to put these issues before the Permanent Secretary of Public Service for him to do the right thing by following the clear process that is set down.

“Soon these matters will be at court but for now I will say the following:

  1. PS Fa’abasua has been an exemplary public officer and a real servant to Malaita people.
  2. His hard work and integrity has led to the repayment of millions of dollars of outstanding debt left by previous provincial executives.
  3. His dedication and faithfulness have seen the charging of fair business licenses on the logging companies ripping our people’s land.
  4. His careful diligence has given pride and hope to the people of Malaita Province.”

Suidani said it is sad after all this work, two different ministries have tried to remove PS Fa’abasua from serving the people of Malaita Province.

Last year in December the Ministry of Provincial Government demanded the removal of PS Fa’abasua back to Honiara.

Suidani said no reason was given in this demand and the PS kept serving the people of Malaita.

He alleged this current action by Sisiolo from Ministry of Public Service is similarly motivated. 

“He (Sisiolo) is trying to remove PS from Malaita Province, this time by trying to suspend him without any proper evidence put against the PS and without even complying with his own regulations.

“I am not sure of the real reason for these constant attacks on PS Fa’abasua, but the timing of this action by Sisiolo will have some severe effects on the people and province of Malaita,” he said.

Suidani said his Executive is scheduled to meet today Tuesday, March 16, to pass the budget for Malaita Province.

“If Sisiolo’s action succeeds, then our PS will be suspended when he should be helping the Executive pass this budget. Malaita Province will then have no budget to spend this year and this will have serious impact on the people of Malaita.

“In light of this seriousness, I appeal to Sisiolo for the withdrawal of the order to immediately suspend PS Fa’abasua. If he has genuine concerns for upholding the rule of law, I invite him to proceed as set out in the Public Service Act,” he said.

Suidani said the PS of Public Service without any good reason is attempting to discipline the PS of Malaita Province, yet he is allowing a person who has been found to be a foreigner by the High Court of Solomon Islands to continue holding senior sensitive political jobs in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“That person too has contravened the Electoral Acts of this country yet the leaders of this country including the PS of Public Service are turning a blind eye on that situation. 

“The PS of Public Service needs to explain that to the people of Malaita.  Why is he tolerating wilful and reckless behaviour by a foreigner and harassing a national without due process?” he asked.

However, PS Sisiolo said the suspension decision is due to serious allegations around unaccountable sum of government revenue in which the PS is alleged to have directly involved in.

“As part of protecting the credibility of the service and upholding better governance, my office deemed it is prudent to suspend the officer from duty to allow investigation into the allegations.

“As usual, the PS will be accorded natural justice process as we pursue the disciplinary process,” he said.

PS Sisiolo said the incumbent of the office of the provincial secretary is an extremely important public office because it administers service delivery that affects the affairs of the rural people.

“Therefore any decision that will affect the said office expected HR capacity is accorded thorough thinking,” he said.

A statement from the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) yesterday stated that the Provincial Secretary for Malaita Province is suspended based on allegations raised by former disgruntled Malaita workers.

“Based on documents submitted, the Ministry of Public Service (MPS) perused those matters reported by former employees. Based on the allegations, the MPS carried out a preliminary investigation and decided to suspend the Public Officer to give way for a full investigation.

“These cases were brought forward by concerned and aggrieved citizens and not in any way reflect any attempts by the MPGIS or the Solomon Islands Government to tarnish either the PS or the Malaita Provincial Government,” the statement said.


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