The University of Fiji’s, School of Law (SoL) held a public seminar titled “RAMSI- Success or Failure” at the Reserve Bank of Fiji, on Thursday, August 23, 2017.
The speakers at the seminar were Mr. Mataiasi Lomaloma, who served as RAMSI’s Assistant Resident Co-ordinator from 2006-2017, and Mr. Sakiusa Rabuka, who served as the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat resident representative to the Solomon Islands from 2009 to 2017.
Given their first-hand knowledge of the work and operation of RAMSI, the SoL was fortunate to receive their consent to be the main speakers at the seminar, to share with the audience their assessment of the success or failure of RAMSI in achieving its mandate.
The speakers highlighted that RAMSI was a great success as it stopped all violence, restored peace and order, strengthened the Police Force, rebuilt the economy, and improved standards of good governance in the Public Service
“However, RAMSI’s mandate, unfortunately, did not extend into the broader area of nation building. This was to be left to the national political leadership in the Solomon Islands, both in Government and in Parliament. And it is here that one can see the deep-seated, complex and intractable nature of both State building and national unity building. Corruption is rife in the political leadership of the country,” they stated.
They further said that the evidence of this can to be found in the Government borrowing US$25 million from the Taiwan EXIM Bank to be spent in compensating Ministers, senior civil servants, clients among the different factions engaged in violent conflict.
“Such funds could have been better spent on public development projects to create jobs and livelihood for the thousands of young people who in absence of opportunities were compelled to resort to violence, So, it was clear from all this very sad situation in the Solomon Islands, that in any country, including Fiji, the most important ingredient for successful State building and achieving national unity is national political leadership that is honest and committed to serving the needs of the country and all its people.”
The central issue of interest of the seminar was what Fiji could learn from what happened in the Solomon Islands on the essential ingredients of good national leadership to be successful in governing the State, including the effective maintenance of peace, order and security, laying the basis of a sustainable economy, ensuring accountability and transparency in government operations, and providing for the basic needs of the population.
Mr. Sitiveni Rabuka, who served as Prime Minister of Fiji from 1992 to 1999, one of the attendees of the seminar this was the kind of public discussions on the problems and challenges of national political leadership that should be very useful for Fiji’s own cadre of new political leaders—to educate them and to broaden their minds on what is, and what is not, good, responsible and accountable public leadership.
“Unless our politicians broaden their minds, they can easily succumb to the politics of parochialism, clientelism and ethnic extremism, which clearly are crux of the problems in the Solomon Islands,” he added.
Students of the SoL as well as the members of the general public attended the seminar.
The School of Law will continue to hold public seminars of this nature in future when an opportunity arises, for the benefit of both its students and the general public.
Brief Background of RAMSI
RAMSI, or Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, is the peace mission which was despatched by the 16-member Pacific Islands Forum in response to a call for help from the State of Solomon Islands for assistance in the restoration of peace and order in that country following the outbreak of inter-tribal violence by armed civilian groups during period 1998 to 2003. Unable to control law and order, the Solomon Islands sought help from the Pacific Islands Forum. RAMSI was the regional response. Led by Australia, RAMSI served in the Solomon Islands from 2003 to 2017. RAMSI was made up of police and military contingents from the member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum, including Fiji. Australia was the largest contributor; both in personnel and budget support, and provided the command leadership of RAMSI throughout its deployment in the Solomon Islands.