Solomon Star

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Jan. 6) – The most significant event the nation faces as we enter 2006 is the upcoming national elections. Solomon Islands will go the polls around mid March to elect our 50 new Members of Parliament.

Those 50 will take us from where the last Government left, and hopefully improved from there.

A nation’s leaders carry the people’s hope. That is why the upcoming elections are very important. And that is why it is important that we choose not just any leader, but the right leaders.

Governor General, Sir Nathaniel Waena has already emphasised in his New Year message, the importance of electing suitable leaders. His definition of a suitable leader is someone who is "credible and capable to lead Solomon Islands" into the future.

We have said many times before that this country is at a crossroads. Those who will come in after the March elections will have to choose wisely which direction they are going to take this nation. We therefore need wise and decisive leaders who can decide and make the right decisions.

The country has made a significant headway since the arrival of RAMSI [Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands] in 2003. Law and order has been restored, schools and clinics reopened and the economy is recovering.

But the task ahead is still great. Poor and inadequate transportation remains our greatest challenge today.

The significance of a reliable transportation system in a scattered country such as ours cannot be further stated. Rural people need reliable transport to get their produces to the market in time. Without it, they couldn’t do much to contribute to nation building.

Most of our infrastructure - wharves, roads, bridges, airfields - are in poor condition.

We tend to build many schools and clinics with the help of our donor friends, but many of these institutions have bare cupboards and shelves. The ribbon-cutting at the opening of buildings impresses many, but years later we look inside those same buildings and see little evidence of books, medicines, working tools and equipment to make those institution effective.

The welfare of our teachers and nurses seems to be over-looked on many occasions. These professionals played an important role in society. They need to be adequately and fairly remunerated.

These are just some of the issues that our new MPs need to address when they come into power.

The choice of the type of leaders we elect is in our, the voters, hands.

We hope that Solomon Islanders will use their God-given intelligence when they go to the polls in March.

Payments of bags of rice, school fees or any other goods by intending candidates, should not influence the way we cast our votes.

The choice should be entirely ours.

January 9, 2006

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