Dear Editor,

It amazes me how prominent leaders of PENAMA, many of whom I respect and regard highly, have engaged so disingenuously and frivolously on the issue of PENAMA Headquarter.

Let us get one thing straight.

The allure of being an island host to a Provincial Headquarter is “development” in its various forms and Government services delivery, job and business opportunities that come along with it.

Island location has very little to do with it, if any – truth be told.

The Headquarter could well be located on any one of the three islands of PENAMA and still be able to serve and discharge its functions and purpose.

It is saddening and sickening, much more insulting, seeing the great lengths at which many have gone to justify a Headquarter relocation on Pentecost or the maintenance of its status quo on Ambae.

One after the other, have we been bombarded by an endless stream of cherry-picked facts, distorted data to outright deflections of the truth – nothing short of convenient guises well suited towards narratives of island politics.

I, like many others, take no particular side on the issue. Neither do I allow myself to be placated by all those window dressing and smoke screen.

I am rather disgusted by the inter-island tit-for-tats, and I denounce in no uncertain terms the “emperor’s new clothes” argument many seem to be tirelessly selling on social media, the extent to which have now been a broken record.

Drawing analogies between Mt. Lombenben and Mt. Rabaul, or invoking some supposed Late Father Walter Lini’s endorsement in support of Pentecost relocation or Ambae reinstatement respectively, is a stoop quite low on what should be the standard of discourse.

Pentecost wants her share of development and opportunities currently only afforded by being a

Provincial Headquarter location, so does Maewo.

Such is a statement of truth, and therein underlie all the tirades and barrages seen of the issue. All else, is superfluous regardless of how flowery the arguments tend to be.

At the bare minimum, Ambae has to acknowledge that this is as genuine an aspiration as it gets for her sister islands.

Pentecost and Maewo should infer the same concession to Ambae.

Being upfront, speaking candidly and accepting compromises should be our way forward.

Truth rather than political expediency should be the mainstay of negotiation and progress.

For a Province which by and large, may arguably be considered as the “brains” of Vanuatu, we sure have done a great job of stepping on the reverse throttle – allowing ourselves to be hampered by division and regression.

Imagine what could be achieved, if strengths are being drawn together and egos foregone paving the way for more unity and humility.

If there was ever a time for outlooks to be changed, perspectives to reviewed and biases and differences to be set aside, this should be it!

When all the dusts settle, what we want is collective progress and development, in a manner both equitable and fair, participatory and sustainable.

Take it with a grain of salt.

PENAMA Citizen

Sincerely Concerned

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