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Shelving the anti-corruption bills is not the answer

I read with a great deal of interest your recent, though provoking, Editorial piece in the Sun on why the shelving of the proposed anti-corruption bills in the Solomon Islands “might be a good idea.”

I emphatically disagree.

I witnessed first- hand the corrupt dealing taking place in the Solomon Islands during my time as the police commissioner, I suffered, too, the injustices of events and corrupt practices undermining the then SIAC Government and the Prime Minister in particular, as well as the police service.

Ultimately, corruption in all its forms was at the core of the ‘ethnic tension and brought the once ‘Happy Isles’ to its knees.

Unless corruption is dealt with, not sidelined and shelved, all the good work done by RAMSI in to getting the Solomon Islands back on its feet, so to say, since 2003 will be wasted.

Corruption will continue if people believe they can escape punishment. There can be no impunity for corruption.

After RAMSI withdraws in 3 months time, there will remain a police presence from Australia and from New Zealand.

The New Zealand Foreign Minister quite recent, during a visit to Honiara, said something to the effect New Zealand Police would stay in the Solomon Islands ‘as we don’t want a return to the past.”

Without tackling corruption there could well be ongoing concerns over governance and why I believe the DCCG should explore all means through international agencies, including, the UN, the World Bank, regional partners, including Australia and New Zealand to source adequate and ongoing money to see to the implantation of ant-corruption measures, including the creation of an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

In addition, I would suggest the Solomon Islands Government consider reform programmes to reduce corruption and mitigate its effects.

This might be done by way of a two pronged approach aimed at increasing the benefits of being honest and the cost of being corrupt, a sensible combination of reward and punishment.

One might start by paying the police better to compliment their training to-date and to enhance their investigative knowledge and skills.

Throwing in the towel on the proposed ant-corruption legislation is no answer and could only lead to more potential instability ahead.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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