Aug 21, 2018 Last Updated 11:38 PM, Aug 13, 2018

Rein it in PM Hou

It was a bitter-sweet kind of an anniversary for the people of Solomon Islands this past month when drug shortage in its main public hospital in the capital worsened. What’s suppose to be a celebration of what the island nation has been able to achieve turned into a display of its many shortcomings, not so much brought about by a country starved of good and hard working people but more about incompetency and a no-care attutude on the part of some of its officials.

This matter of the hospital running out of basic medicine has been around for a few months, and despite assurances by Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela, his administration still seem unable to come to grips with the problem. It is surprising that heads have not rolled for the drug shortage to drag on this far, especially that of his health minister and permanent secretary.

For all we are reading and hearing are the plight of patients in the capital, Honiara, God knows what the status is of the hospitals and health clinics outside of the capital, out in the outer provinces of Solomon Islands. Away from the prying eyes of the Solomon news media and that of concerned citizens venting on social media, one hates to think how patients in these outlying hospitals are faring.

Prime Minister Houenipwela struck up a remarkable reputation for being a hands-on, doer instead of a talker type of administrator when in the midst of the civil unrest that sent his country on a downward spiral in the late 1990s, he almost singlehandedly stood his ground as Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, defied threats by militants to plunder the national treasury or to relax stringent foreign currency rules.

I’d say his country’s health sector needs his urgent intervention now before patients start dying in the very institutions that was built to restore good health and spirits. For what one would assume should be a simple logistic matter, it’s almost criminal that medical drug supplies have not been restored and distributed by now.

Reign it in Prime Minister Hou, or send home those in your administration that do not seem to know their job. The people of Solomon Islands deserve way much better.

LATE last month Papua New Guinea returned the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to power – albeit with a much smaller majority. At the same time the people of the Pacific’s largest democracy removed three women Members of Parliament.

This despite the fact that a record 167 women stood for election. Now moves are afoot to impeach O’Neill who has been under pressure from political rivals, anti-corruption advocates and law enforcement agencies for several years.

In Tonga a legally elected government has been ordered by King Tupou VI to stand down and prepare for fresh elections after apparent discontent among the electorate. The Solomon Islands will soon go to the polls and campaigning in the Fiji elections schedules for next year has started in earnest with the Opposition and ruling parties courting voters.

In Fiji soldier-turned Prime Minister Rear-Admiral Frank Bainimarama addressed the Methodist Church Conference and told its leadership not to use the pulpit for political gains. Days later he addressed the New Methodist Church – a powerful new religious voice – in the same vein.

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Voice against injustice

IN August 1945 the United States destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki with an atomic bomb in an event which changed the world forever. More than 70 years later the race for nuclear supremacy continues unabated. Just last month North Korea defied the international community and tested a missile with nuclear capabilities. This act of defiance showed the world just how great a threat North Korea is to the world but also how little progress has been made in international detente.

It is not our wish to apportion blame to any single state, rather it is to point out that after 72 years the threat of nuclear war remains real. And therefore it is the duty of every responsible sovereign government to speak out against the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world.

The Pacific had great success at international climate change talks in Paris two years ago, leading to Fiji’s chairmanship of COP23 in Germany this year. World leaders stopped and listened to the collective regional message because it was spoken from the very hearts of the people of Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

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70 years strong

THE Pacific Community marks 70 years of service to the region this month in a quiet way in Noumea, New Caledonia. It is fitting that an organisation with humble beginnings should celebrate such a milestone in a subdued fashion, eyes firmly focussed on the work that remains to be done to develop people, health, agriculture, shipping and aviation.

Born as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in 1947, the organisation has stood alongside the nations of the region in their journey as colonies towards independence and later as sovereign nations. Of course there are Pacific territories which remain colonies, some of them by choice. Others, while independent, face various political challenges from benign dictatorships to failing economies, coastal degradation and Non-Communicable diseases.

Therefore it is fitting that the Pacific Community’s two main offices are in New Caledonia – a French overseas territory – and Fiji, one of the region’s longest independent nations. For Noumea and Suva represent in their own ways the best and worst of what the Pacific has to offer.

Each is a mixture of the best and the worst. Each offers an insight into the tremendous possibilities which exist for Pacific economies if there is a political will to seize opportunities and forge pathways towards a future which will benefit the people. Islands Business is proud to be associated with the Pacific Community through our coverage and support of key conferences on Non-Communicable Disease, climate change and sustainable fisheries.

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Top quality air

SO the Solomon Islands has the cleanest air in the world according to a World Health Organization report released last month. In fact the report states that the air in the Solomons has the least pollution or foreign particles per square inch.

Even New Zealand, long seen as the cleanest country in the region does not have air as clean as that in the Happy Isles. The declaration is a huge boost for the Solomons which wants to attract more visitors to its untouched beauty in the islands – inland and also along the coast.

One United Nations official from Indonesia was recently heard commenting at a regional event that he was pleasantly surprised by the breath-taking beauty of destinations outside the capital, Honiara. And that is the unfortunate truth. Honiara is a dirty town plagued by traffic congestion, rubbish, mosquitoes and the ubiquitous betel nut splotches on the roads and walls. But a flight to any of the islands is like stepping into a completely different world.

Luscious, dense, green forests and crystal clear waters lie just 30 minutes away from the main island. 

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