24 November 2009
Solomon citizens know that the next few months is a great time to flex political muscle, have their member pay stricter attention to constituents and press them to pass legislation the typical citizen needs. Five to six months from now--probably early June 2010--the whole of parliament will be forced to do what it hates doing. Each and every member must return to his own village dominated sector, listen to the angry voter voice and then, convince them that the member deserves another four years in power in spite of doing practically nothing for them since 2006. Believe me this is going to be quite difficult thing to accomplish in this up-coming election.
First of all each and every parliamentarian going into the 2010 election faces an up hill battle. If past elections are a guide, the rate of parliamentarians not returning is on average about 44%. The 1993 and 2001 elections were even worse! The failure rate of a member getting back to the Big House on the Hill was well over half. In the 2001 elections, for instance, more than 6 out of every 10 parliamentarian failed in their re-election bids. Fortunately for many members in the 2006 election, the failure rate fell slightly to a 'normal' 44%. Such a 'normal' rejection rate, by world standards, is quite large compared to other nations worldwide.
But what should worry most parliamentarians is government's poor showing when it comes to serving people in the basics of everyday life. Once again SIDT's July Report Card presented the government with a failure mark given by thousands of people. Over a 20 year period, through 8 different governments, Solomon citizens have been failed by the very institutions which are suppose to help them. Eight Report Cards have given the governments of the day marks below 60%, not just once or twice but 8 times in a row!
It's a poor defense for a parliamentarian to claim that he isn't in government or was only a backbencher. His claims that he was unable to influence the poor service delivery in medical attention, schooling and resource management are weak. In voter eyes, however, the whole of parliament is laid open to the charge that citizens' needs come a distant second to those holding high political positions.
The Parliamentary Entitlements Committee's granting members a $50,000 end of term entitlement to spouses plus other perks looks and is so crass. Our national economy has been in serious disarray since the world wide financial tsunami. Every nation in the world has struggled to get its economic life back in balance, out of the red and once again functioning. Not so us! A parliamentary select committee decrees a give away program worth millions while thousands of our own people scrape by on less than $2.00 a day shows a complete lack of understanding of people's pain.
Another useless defense for SIG's constantly and continuously to grandly announce that government has been hard at work passing new bills. Solomon citizens are more than aware that the government has been working through a 'legislative boom' with almost 20 bills becoming law over these past few months. Such a useless statistic, however, means little to a population when they look at the mediocre medical attention they experience on an almost daily basis.
Solomon citizens are much more interested in what practical steps government will take to right the many short comings its own Special Committee of Parliament found in its month long study of No. 9's on going problems. A strong, official reaction with teeth will prove helpful to members' quest to be re-elected. If the select committee's report is set aside to gather dust, then members will suffer greatly at the polling both next year.
Members currently find that their old stand-by, the Rural Constituency Development Fund which they have placed so much hope in for next year's election, brings less and less clout among voters. A much better bet for the parliamentarian is to insure that normal social services of medical, education and social well fare work better and better for all.
Unfortunately, Solomons people power does have only a limited time frame but the next few months is certainly one of its most powerful periods of action. Election time comes first for people power but the next few months leading up to the national polls comes a close second!