Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alert levels high in Honiara after Rasta's sentencing and imprisonment...

Alert levels are high in Honiara after supporters of jailed Jimmy 'Rasta' Lusibaea threatened to loot and burn down Honiara.

This situation developed after Mr. Lusibaea was sentenced for 2 years and 9 months by the Court for crimes he had committed on the 1st September 2000 when he was accussed of wounding Robert Solo and assaulting Police Officer Sam Manakeha at the National Referral Hosiptal premises.

In the recent August 2010 national general elections, Mr. Lusibaea was elected into Parliament in a landslide victory over the former MP. Enele Kwanairara. He was then appointed as Minister for Fisheries by Prime Minister Danny Philip.

According to section 51.-(1) of the Constitution of Solomon Islands: "Subject to the provisions of this section, if a member of Parliament is sentenced by a court in any part of the world to death or to imprisonment (by whatever name called) for a term of, or exceeding, six months, including a suspended sentence, he shall forthwith cease to perform his functions as a member of Parliament, and his seat in Parliament shall become vacant at the expiration of a period of thirty days thereafter..."

With his sentencing exceeding the 6 months mark, Mr. Lusibaea now loses his seat and will be required to serve his time in jail unless an appeal is submitted by his lawyer to the courts accordingly. His earlier guilty plea however may weaken any chances of a successful appeal if the option is taken at all.

With Mr. Lusibaea's sentencing the number game between the government and the opposition is now very well alive and hot again. In addition, with rumours of in-fighting in the government rife, it would not be a surprise if a vote of no confidence is moved on the Prime Minister when Parliament sits again on March 2011.

Three by-elections are due to be held in the next year and with a number of election petitions pending before the courts, tax payers stand to pay millions of dollars to ensure the survival of democracy on the islands.

According to the media reports, Mr. Lusibaea's case was long pending in the High Court and I also understand that similarly other election cases currently before the courts, such as the case against Mark Kemakeza are related to issues known prior to the elections in August 2010. However it has taken the courts so long to deal with these cases and the result as we see now is a loss of millions of tax payers money; money that should be spent on infrasctructure and other services that would directly benefit the people in the long run.

Tax payers are shouldering the costs of running the democracy of Solomon Islands; costs, that in my opinion would have been avoided should a proper, suitable and updated system is in place to address them.  As people are becoming more aware and legally-conscious situations on this sort will only increase in the future and we cannot allow this to happen. We cannot afford to keep on shouldering these increasing costs which could be avoided through proper goverment action and responsible governance.

The Electoral Act needs reviewing and amendment. The Constitution also needs some tweaking. And these can only be done if our politicians put their heads together and work for the common good of Solomon Islanders; not that of their cronnies, families or themselves and their greed, ego and ambitions.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aust, NZ told to open for Melanesians

I find this piece from Solomon Star very interesting. While New Zealand is taking the lead in this direction, Australia the 'sherif of the Pacific' is very reluctant in opening its doors for Pacific Islanders, including Melanesians. But as this expert says in the future Australia does not have much choice but to deal with these issues meticuloulsy. And logically it is better to start dealing with these issues now when they are still manageable rather than to wait for a crisis situation.

Professor Richard Bedford [Photo: Solomon Star]

[Solmon Star, Wednesday, 17 November 2010 13:46] - AN academic who’s just been honoured for his research on Pacific migration says Australia and New Zealand must consider creating new opportunities for Melanesians to live and work in their countries.

Professor Richard Bedford, from the University of Waikato and AUT University, has just received the Dame Joan Metge medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

He says Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have limited outlets for their people to move overseas in comparison with countries in Polynesia and Micronesia.

He says New Zealand and Australia will have no choice in the future but to address migration from those countries in a more comprehensive way

“In Papua New Guinea’s case, Solomon’s and Vanuatu these are island states, I mean their nearest countries that have got opportunities for employment are Australia and New Zealand. There are limited opportunities for the development of wage employment in those countries,” he said.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Solomon Islands Fisheries Minister back in custody

Left: Jimmy 'Rasta' Lusibaea in Parliament [Photo: One Television].

The Solomon Islands Minister of Fisheries, Hon. Jimmy 'Rasta' Lusibaea has been remanded in custody.

Hon. Lusibaea was taken back to prison after he pleaded guilty to 'unlawful wounding' and 'assaulting a police officer'.

The charges were related to the an incident which occurred on the 1st September 2000 when Mr. Lusibaea was accussed of wounding Robert Solo and assaulting Police Officer Sam Manakeha at the National Referral Hosiptal premises.

The Minister prevoulsy pleaded 'not guilty' to the charges but later changed his plea only after Office Manekeha gave his side of the story in court.

According to SIBC, Officer Manakeha told the High Court that he was on duty at the National Referral Hospital during the early hours of the 1st of September in 2000 when Lusibaea, accompanied by his co-accused Patteson Saeni and a group of men came to the hospital carrying guns and pistols looking for a Robert Solo.

Solo had reportedly been involved in a shoot-out between members of the Malaita Eagle Force at the Heron's Nightclub that night. Three militants of the M-E-F had been shot during the shoot-out and were admitted at the hospital.

Solo was later severely beaten up by M-E-F militants because of the shoot-out and was later admitted at the National Referral Hospital that same night. Officer Manakeha said he had escorted Lusibaea and his group to the x-ray area of the hospital where Solo was lying in a hospital bed. He testified that Lusibaea then shot Solo at close range in each of his knees - one after the other - with a pistol he was holding.

On charges of assaulting a police officer, evidence of the crown says Lusibaea had also hit Officer Manakeha during the incident. High Court Judge David Cameron ordered that Lusibaea be remanded in custody until his next appearance on the 24th of November next week. Lusibaea's lawyers will present their submissions on a sentence to be imposed on that date.

Meanwhile, additional criminal charges of intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault discharging firearm in a public place and possession of a firearm without a licence that were laid against the North Malaita M-P are now withdrawn. Lusibaea's co-accused Saeni will be making his plea on a charge of intent to cause grievous bodily harm tomorrow."

MP for Baegu-Asifola dies

The late Hon. Kaua [Photo: National Parliament}

The Member of Parliament for Baegu-Asifola has passed away yesterday morning at the Central Hospital.

The late Hon. Toswel Kaua passed away at the Central Hospital at 9am yesterday morning after a period of long illness.

Prejudiced understands that late Kaua was ill since 2008 when he suffered and barely recovered from a minor stroke.

 Hon. Kaua was voted into Parliament in 2006 and despite his illness was once again re-elected into Parliament in the recent August 2010 elections.

Before joining Parliament the late MP had served extensively within the public service; in various Ministries and at different levels. His was a Permanent Secretary when he retired from the public service to contest and won the Baegu-Asifola seat in April 2006 general elections.

His contributions to the development and socio-economic wellbeing of the ocuntry and to the people of his constituency will be greatly missed.

Indeed the nation has lost one of its great sons.

Prejudiced would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Alice Kaua and children for this great loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with at this time of sorrow and bereavement.

May his soul rest in peace with the good Lord.