When politics screw with familiarities

“The public violence yesterday shows the public’s dissatisfaction over the election of Snyder Rini as the country’s new Prime Minister.”

“I can assure the people this country that my new government I will continue the programme of peace and reconciliation, economic recovery and sustain RAMSI in Solomon Islands so that the country will enjoy peace.”

“Honiara residents woke up this morning to find China Town in total ruins.”

I have been meaning to say something about Solomon Islands politics for a while now- however the names and the process confuses me so I’ve steered from doing so.

If I had been listening to the radio this morning I would have found out about the rioting, the destruction of China town and the newly elected Prime Minister. This from an Australian broadcast, which indicates the severity of the problems. Instead I happened to overhear my Dad talking on the phone to my Oma, who unlike me, had been listening to the radio.

By this afternoon there will be more Australian troops making the three and a half hour plane trip to this pathetically screwed up, once beautiful, ‘happy isle’.

The election was as much of a concern before even the response kicked in. Solomon politics when it comes down to it, is nothing like Australian politics – perhaps some of the methods might be the same, but it is fraught with corruption. Bribery is a well known fact, and wantok business is abused from it’s usual friendly survival means. Loyalty is first and foremost to your wantoks – your clan, your relatives. If you are in some way minutely related or have some connection with those in power, you will vote for them (if you vote at all – it is not compulsory) regardless if they will do the country no good, loose the very minimal dollars poured into the place by the Chinese government or whoever it is “willing” to offer aid. Aid that undoubtably is heavily laden with political motives. You will vote for you wantoks despite it being against advice from the Churches who have been stressing upon the public to vote against corruption.

Of the three candidates up for Priministeral duties, two are known to be corrupt – one (the one just elected) was the finance minister and who knows what he’s been doing with the money that’s meant to be sustaining and failing the economy. The third was an unknown.

None of the few men and one woman (that I know of) that could’ve possibly set the country back on it’s axle made it so far as to even become a candidate. These are well loved, well known individuals, yet loyalties die hard and those that are illiterate (which is a significant proportion of the population) are often too afraid or unsure to vote.

Oh, and – did I mention that one of the candidates (not sure if it was the guy that’s been elected) is under scrutiny by the courts? Judicial systems take too much time.

I did not know what to feel when I heard about China Town. I am deeply sad about the state of the country and it could be a selfish thing, but a great many memories that could’ve been revisited have now been destroyed. I remember many trips to China town. The Bulk store, Passions cafe, The Hot Bread Shop, QQQ (which is still standing), infact some of my earliest memories of the Solomons are of the shell shop, which did close later in China Town. This also means the outlook from the Australian war memorial will be entirely altered, the street is gone, burnt, destroyed.

… oh look, I just return to the Solomon Star website and find this:

“The result of yesterday’s election was influenced by promises of large sums of money, a former prime minister has claimed.

Francis Billy Hilly told the Solomon Star some MPs were offered between $30,000 and $50,000 to cast their vote for the winning candidate.”

Why is that not a surprise?

It is a hard thing to stand by and watch your first country wash down the drain.

The Age has an article here.

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