Wither Vanuatu Politics?

Vanuatu celebrates the global day of parents today. It could have turned out a very bleak and sour week had the decision of the courtroom gone haywire.

For a mere bowl of soup, Esau sold his birthright. And he lost his entire lifetime’s inheritance.

This seemingly insignificant bible story found in the book of Genesis 25:29-34 carries very important lessons for all of us, especially our political

leaders.

We’ve been tampering with lethal and legal fire, while the rest of the region and the world looked on, and more so, while our young children and families helplessly held their breaths anticipating the worst, with deep anxiety and uneasiness. Not a nice feeling.

This article is about us, as a nation soon to celebrate its 39th year of political Independence.

I was a primary school kid at Lotahimamavi School when the bells rang to herald the fast approaching dawn of self-rule, self-determination, political liberty, freedom.

This refreshing air of freedom from colonial slavery lead people like brother Sammy G into singing ‘Free, Free, Free, Free, The Pacific Must be Free’.

We hungered, thirsted and quested not only for ourselves but for our neighbouring brothers like the Kanaks of New Caledonia and those of

West Papua.

Our Founding Father(s) brought the musical band Black Brothers over to help us shout the call better from the mountaintop of our approaching freedom.

Then what? We attained political independence, and the rest is history.

Wither Vanuatu Politics?

Our legal system might be robust alright, and we may be praised by others as showing exemplary leadership in tackling political corruption and upholding the rule of law.

But do we really have to keep repeating that movie to others that we are champions of a clean democracy? Don’t you think we’re becoming the laughing stock of the rest of the world and of the Pacific region? Came across a high ranking friend at the market house last week and during a brief conversation on the case he lamented that he’s heard others say we’ve created a bad reputation for ourselves, and in a way we have perceivably become the ‘Political Crime capital of the Pacific’.

Unfair comment? Or are we in actual danger of this?

One can acknowledge that a young democracy would experience political ‘growing pains’. But can’t this process be applied to other things rather than with our leadership being dragged over to stand face-to-face and be confronted by the threatening walls of the gloomy and filthy jail room? What are we doing?

Two former Prime Ministers were jailed, one almost joned them had he not pleaded guilty at the 11th hour, and now we’re twiddling our thumbs awaiting a possible appeal case that can create serious trouble.

Those very thick and dark political clouds are not over yet.

A thin shade of ‘freedom’ seems to surround us now, but the way we have been confronted by the condemning eyes of the law for several weeks up till this week has sent shivers down the entire nation’s political spine.

As an old proverbs warns, ‘Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?’

No other Pacific Island nation has gone down this road except us.

Perhaps no other country on planet earth either.

If we were to return to Wednesday 30th July 1980 and relive history, what would be our resolution from now on?

The best policy seems to be the need for our national leaders to respect and to abide by the rule of law. We all have been left in deep suspense for several weeks on end.

We went through this same experience barely 4 years ago (late October 2015), when over 1/3rd of our parliamentarians stood before the ominous walls of trouble and eventually paid the heavy penalty of their willful ignorance and rejection of the rule of law.

The very laws debated and passed by them and others before them and of course our founding independence leaders.

This week we almost replayed that scary political horror movie the mass citizenry was loathing. We were destined for a possible roller-coaster ride nobody really wanted to be part of. We have been playing with lethal and legal fire, and sadly in the presence of the watchful eyes of a population dominated by young people whom our leaders have referred to in countless speeches over the past 39 years as ‘ol lidas blong tumoro’.

Why have we created for ourselves an imagery and reputation of a nation susceptible to and bent on political (and thus leadership) crimes? For the sake of the next generation of leaders, this must end now.

There is a global initiative called ‘End-It-Now’ which aims to raise awareness and advocate for the end of violence around the world.

While that is particular focused on a campaign against violence toward mothers and children, it can also be slightly adjusted within our context for our youths to rightfully call on our leaders to bring an end to this extreme level of politics, and to end it NOW.

Vanuatu has moved on from being the simplistic nation it used to be say 10- 20 years ago.

The world around us has become more complex and Vanuatu has as well in its development efforts.

Development is supposed to be a positive term.

In that regard, it is in cumbentonus to understand that development is forward and upward looking, not jailward looking.

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