Tadai-Sahalu leaders oppose extension of parliament life

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CHIEFS and traditional leaders from the Tadai and Sahalu House of Chiefs in the North West Guadalcanal Constituency have voiced their opposition to Government’s proposal to extend parliament life.

The two houses of chiefs gave a resounding ‘No’ to Government’s intention to extend the life of the 11thparliament, or any future parliament to five years for that matter.

In a joint meeting yesterday, the two houses of chiefs inked reasons supporting their resolution.

“Representing our communities and people, we the Chiefs of Tadai and Sahalu House of Chiefs stand united in saying ‘NO’ to the Government’s intention to extend or defer the life of this 11th Parliament, or any future Parliament to 5 years for that matter,” a joint statement signed by all the chiefs states.

“We say that the current Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sogavare has lied enough, making empty promises after empty promises on matters important to the people of this nation, more so, our people and our way of life.”

The group further adds that as if empty promises are not bad enough, the PM now even saw it fit to upgrade his callous approach by choosing to use the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings and the State Government proposal amongst the many reasons cooked up as basis for seeking extension.

“These are policy proposals that a lot of our grievances depend on hence the manner in which the Government handles them is important to us. Does the PM and his Government think we are dumb so as to fall prey to this ploy?” the group questioned.

The chiefs then stressed that the timing for the consultations on the proposal is clearly nothing less than a fuss, adding that the fact that there is no budget allocated for the General elections in the 2022 budget rules out any likelihood that views expressed by the people on the proposal will be considered.

“As traditional leaders of this country, this is bad politics and leadership, and must be detested in the strongest of terms. Our people have suffered long enough and continue to be haunted by the tragic events of the 2000 ethnic tension.

“The suggestion that the Government will somehow address wounds that remained open for more than 22 years is not only negligent but also disrespectful to many of our families that had suffered. It is too good to be true to say that the Government can deliver on the long outstanding State Government proposal in one year.

“This proposal was on the table for many years now with successive governments giving it little attention.  Any child can see that the Government suggestion is silly.

“Sogavare has been in power as PM for 4 terms previously. 

“What has he done in those 4 terms to deal with these matters and the many reforms promised, if they were important to him as PM of the country? 

“Nothing much except a lot of lip servicing and a bit here and there. 

“How then can anyone trust that the same Sogavare is going to do differently in the one year extension sought?

“Whether it is 1, 5, or 10 years, we have concluded that this Government will never deliver on these important matters.

“It is regrettable these important national issues are being used as a smoke screen once again to cover the true intentions behind the urgency of the proposal.

“For long our people have cried to the Government to deal with over exploitation of our natural resources and land issues.

“To date no reform has been undertaken in the Ministry of Mines and Energy, lands and other related ministry to address the negative impact of these laws on our customs and way of life.

“Our concerns are deep and serious, and are rooted in the many demands that our leaders had put to successive Governments in the past.  For the PM to now promise delivery in one year is laughable.

“The way things are going we strongly feel it will be in our interest that this Government leaves office at the earliest.

“Contrary to promises of the return of alienated land, we are seeing the Government pushing to further deprive our traditional owners of their customary rights over the foreshores of Honiara City; the promised benefits to our people from the Mamara – Tasi – Mavo Housing Scheme development is already looking to be doomed leaving us high and dry, and the dwindling economy is killing whatever opportunities our people had enjoyed in the past.

“These are reminders that our calls had fallen on deaf ears all these years and to say, one year will provide solutions is simply deceiving.

“This is 3 years in government and despite the promise of 13 bills, only one was passed in that time. 

“Where are the land reform bills promised? Are they going to be brought into force together with the TRC list of things to do, the State of Government list of things to do and the SPG 2023 list of things to do?

“Are all these going to be done in the one year sought?  We are not convinced and are truly saddened.”

In the wrap of their meeting, the chiefs unanimously concluded that the grounds for the proposal therefore do not carry any weight at all, adding that there is no urgent need to extend the life of Parliament.

They also noted that important as they are, the SPG 2023, TRC findings, reforms, or the State Government proposal, are all government business that can be carried forward.

“We the Chiefs of Tadai and Sahalu House of Chiefs are opposed to the Constitution being amended on the reasons given.

“These are not the personal businesses of the PM and his Cabinet Members so that they can ask for extra time to complete them.

“The Government is not running an Association but a country. The voice of the people must be heard.

“The proposal is unequivocally rejected by our two Houses of Chiefs,” the chiefs added.