Speaking to the United Nations, Solomon Islands PM practices what he preaches?

Melanesiahotnews.com – Manasseh Sogavare, the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands accused the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) of being “complicit in perpetuating the suffering and being blind to justice”.

He then called the community of nations to rip West Papua away from Indonesia. 

Echoing what has been said earlier by the PM of Vanuatu, Sogavare reasoned that because there is allegations of rights abuses in West Papua and on the grounds that the two provinces of Indonesia are populated mainly by Melanesians, Indonesia must let go of its two provinces of Papua and West Papua.  

A political analyst commented: 

Historians are unanimous on the fact that West Papua and Papua are two provinces of Indonesia that historically has been administered by the Majapahit Kingdom in the 13th century that ruled most of what is now Indonesia. The Dutch returned the administration of Indonesia including of Papua back to Indonesia in the post-World War II period. In 1969, the United Nations reaffirmed West Papua as part of Indonesia.”

The analyst further said that “It is one thing to call for the respect of human rights, it is quite another to forcefully prescribe separatism as the silver-bullet for all human rights abuses.

That shows that Sogavare either lack the understanding of foreign policy and international laws or is deliberately shifting attention away from his political misfortune.

Unfortunately for Sogavare, “political misfortune” is a gross under-statement.

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Douglas Ete delivered this blunt fact: 

“In 2015, Taiwan gave ten million US dollars to the government of Sogavare. Sogavare used this money to bribe and co-opt his political allies and foes. About six million of it was used to bribe fifty MPs. Less than USD700k was allocated for education and development. Sogavare himself pocketed close to one million US dollars.”

Sogavare, who was revealed to be a dual-national of both Solomon Islands and PNG,bought two luxurious properties at Henderson on the eastern outskirts of Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands using the illicit money.

The Radio New Zealand reported that Ete resigned shortly after making those revelations.

Many Pacific political analysts have come to the conclusion that Sogavare’s views on West Papua is strongly motivated by his desire to preserve his political future.

“Look, Manasseh Sogavare has been subject to many many votes of no confidence. He rampantly abuses his power and swindle state funds for his own personal gain. Add to that, under his lead, Solomon Islands experienced negative economic growth of eight percent, high unemployment and over-dependency on foreign aid.” 

The analyst further observed Sogavare’s worsening relations with Australia and China, traditionally two of the largest foreign donors to Melanesian countries. 

“Faced with that kind of political pressure, financial problems and worsening international relations, Sogavare way out was one to accept money from Taiwan and two keep stoking regional conflict with the issue of West Papua.” added the analyst.

Papua and West Papua are legally and internationally recognised provinces of Indonesia.

The government of Solomon Islands have been found to commit many human rights abuses. The BBC reported that between 1997 and 2003, 100 people died and 20,000 people displaced on Guadalcanal. The Isatabu Freedom Movement is also seeking to split from the Solomon Islands. 

If Sogavare applies the same logic as what he said at the UNGA 72nd session in New York, he must let Malaita and Guadalcanal a referendum for self-determination.

Clearly, Sogavare applies a double standard when it comes to his own political survival.

As Edmund Burke, an Irish philosopher once said, “By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.” (MHN) 

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