Solomons Arts Festival Announcer’s Opening Remarks Condemned

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Journalist reportedly shamed festival, country with ‘disgraceful’ speech

By Jeremy Inifri

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 4, 2012) – The National Government of Solomon Islands and the organizing committee of the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts (FOPA) have been called upon to give a formal apology to delegates currently in the country for the festival.

This followed various remarks made by the master of ceremony (MC) during Monday’s opening ceremony at Lawson Tama.

The MC's, Johnson Honimae’s remarks were described as demeaning, offensive, disturbing and even insulting.

Mr. Honimae is an experienced journalist currently working with the Pacific Island Forum in Fiji.

He was only flown into the country to take part in the opening ceremony on Monday and reportedly left yesterday for Fiji.

Mr. Honimae’s actions have sparked widespread disappointment and criticism from both foreign nationals and locals who regarded his (Honimae’s) remarks as the major disgrace to a breath taking opening ceremony program.

Thus huge sections of the public are now calling on Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and Chairlady for the 11th FOPA National Organizing Committee (NOC) Doreen Kuper to publically apologize to all the delegates attending the festivals.

[PIR editor’s note: Solomon Star also reported that Honimae’s appointment as master of ceremonies was made without approval from the FOPA committee; Honimae was allegedly brought in from Fiji on the decision of director Robert Au.]

"I believe all the participating delegates deserve an apology from the government and also the FOPA national committee for the actions of Mr. Honimae which were a disgrace to the opening ceremony. Not only was it a disgrace to and shame to the program, it was a shame to the image of the country, being hosts of this very big Pacific event.

"This person (MC) should never had held such a position in the program-as it was clearly evident that he was unprepared-looking for the words to say and even not knowing how or what would come next in the program.

"His comments which were probably seen as humorous jokes to himself were demeaning, offensive and insulting to our visitors, I say this because I know how they feel being in another country and receiving such remarks. Mr. Honimae’s actions have truly shamed our image as hosts of this event and also, making us looks to others as laughing stocks.

"Our Pacific islands brothers and sisters deserve a public apology from the government and also the FOPA national organizing committee," a senior citizen and former government officer Edward Kingmele said.

The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in a statement yesterday said it also shared the same concerns of the public on the behavior of the MC on Monday.

The Office of the Prime Minister said it is liaising with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as well as the FOPA National Organizing Committee for a thorough explanation on the behavior of the MC

"We know that Johnson is a reputable professional but some of his public comments were regrettable. We are dealing with the issue and strongly recommend to the Ministry of Culture and tourism and FOPANOC for a new MC for the closing ceremony," the statement said.

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