BY GEORGINA KEKEA
CHIEF Edward Kingmele of Maleai in the Shortland islands has raised his concern on the proposed plans to register the Famoa Council of Chiefs through a two-day workshop held in Gizo recently.
Kingmele told Island Sun he is concerned about the way, process for consultations had been carried out.
He says already Famoa is a registered organisation and had been established since 1974 while the Famoa Trust Board was incorporated in 1979. He says Famoa was established by the chiefs then as a community and voluntary organisation.
“We are not a political party. We are not part of the province. We are not part of government but we are a community based organisation. We will accept assistance from government. We will accept assistance from province. We will accept assistance from donor partners. We are an accountable body.”
Chief Kingmele said the provincial government should not be dictating to the Famoa Council of Chiefs (FCC) on what to do. He says they will work in cooperation with the provincial government but must be left alone to do things that suit their way of life best.
Kingmele said since the establishment of Famoa, there has been no funding from government.
“Therefore I am concerned. Anything the provincial government wants to do with the FCC or Famoa Trust Board I should be involved because I am the Chairman of FCC and Famoa Trust Board.”
Kingmele says Famoa had been established for more than 40 years now. He says if the provincial government wants to register the FCC, they must do it in the proper way.
He says Shortland Islands has a sacred system where chiefs are in position through traditional heredity and not elected or voted in but gain their chiefly title through lineage. Chief Kingmele says whatever plans western province or the government has, they must synchronise their plans with the system already in place.
“But now there are changes coming and if they want to make this change, they should hold a wider consultation with the people of Shortlands as well so that we can make these changes together. Why are they in Gizo? They should be in the Shortland Islands.”
Kingmele says he is not against any of these changes. He says what he wants to see is that consultations are carried out properly and accordingly and that people fully understand what this means. He said nor should the chiefs be rushed into something they do not fully understand.
On another note, Kingmele raises his disappointment as to why he was not invited to attend this workshop. He said he is still a reigning chief of Maleai, but yet there was no invitation for him to attend the consultations.
That aside, he said he only wished for proper consultations and that the people of Shortland Islands understand the issue since Famoa is all about the people of Shortland Islands.
Kingmele says lest they forget, Famoa has a five year development plan that also guides their operation. Traditional leadership is also entailed in Famoa’s development plan 2014 – 2019.
Famoa Council of Chiefs is the Supreme Authority in Fauro, Mono and Alu [FAMOA] and with Famoa Trust Board [inc] they are accountable for all the decisions and development plans and expenditures made in regards to its development programs and projects which are supported by Chiefs, Elders, People and Community of Famoa.
The workshop held in Gizo was purposely to allow the Famoa Council of Chiefs to re-look at the structure of the council and to look at the possibility of having the body registered under the charitable act.
15 chiefs from Shortland Islands were invited to attend the workshop. The work is part of government’s ongoing program to strengthen the work of chiefs in the country.
The workshop is sponsored by the Ministry of National Unity Reconciliation and Peace and facilitated by the western provincial government.