An obvious absence from stage at last Friday's SICHE graduation was the Minister for Education Dick Ha'amori.I was shocked to learn through SIBC News that the current Minister of Education, Mr. Dick Ha’amori, MP for West Makira had refused to be the guest of honour and keynote speakers at the recent SICHE graduation on 10th December 2010.
Reports reaching SIBC News say the Minister twice turned down invitations from SICHE, asking him to be guest speaker at the graduation of more than 900 Solomon Islanders.
This resulted in the Prime Minister Danny Phillip having to deliver the keynote address instead, upon request from the S-I-C-H-E Graduation Committee.
An individual speaking to SIBC News on anonymity claimed that the Minister Dick Ha'amori had told the S-I-C-H-E graduation committee that he would only attend as an individual and not as the minister of education.
Minister Ha'amori was the former director of S-I-C-H-E until early this year when the current SICHE council sacked him.
He then contested the 2010 national general elections in August and is now the Minister of Education and Human resources.
The Minister was reportedly seen at Panatina during the Graduation Ceremony but left the compound early, while his Permanent Secretary was spotted standing with the crowd outside the Pavillion fence.
Attempts to contact the minister was not successful, with the ministry of education staff saying the minister was not in the office today.
Chair-lady of the SICHE Council Alice Pollard also declined to comment on the issue.
It dismayed me even more to learn that despite being invited twice, the Minister refused and said that he would only attend as an individual and not as the Minister of Education.
The Solomon Islands College of Higher Education is our highest academic and training institution, a pride of our nation, and any Minster of Education of the government of Solomon Islands at any given time and of any political affiliation is expected to play a vital role in overseeing its general operations as far as and policy strategy, direction and general policy decision-making processes are concerned. This also includes meeting moral obligations such as officiating in important events hosted by SICHE, especially graduations.
The current Minister of Education however had decided not to honour this commitment and the reason is simply because he has bestowed more importance to his personal welfare than that of the nation.
I believe many Solomon Islanders are aware that Mr. Ha’amori was sacked as the Director of SICHE prior to him getting elected into parliament. However, despite whatever the reasoning may be behind his sacking as SICHE Director, personal grudges should not be used under any circumstances to prevent any Minister from adequately performing their national duties.
We all know that all Ministers upon undertaking their port folio duties have sworn allegiance to God, the Queen and the people of Solomon Islands that they will perform their duties with dignity, integrity, honesty and due diligence. This implies that they out to be committed in performing their national duties and that as national leaders they must at all times put the interests of the nation first before their own.
But clearly Mr. Ha’amori’s decision not to be the keynote speaker at the SICHE graduation is a poor value judgment on his part. This is because he had allowed his personal grudges to prevent him from performing his national duties adequately. And that is a real shame which belittles the professional stature of a man of his caliber.
One would have thought that since he had told the SICHE graduation Committee that he would only attend as an individual and not as the minister of education, he would have kept his words and attended to give justice to the many young Solomon Islanders and especially West Makirans who stood tall and proud to be also graduating on that day. His refusal and lack of attendance therefore did no justice at all to not only the people of Solomon Islands to whom he is their Minister but also to the people of West Makira to whom he is their Member of Parliament.
As a person from West Makira, I am very disappointed by this very childish behaviour of our MP and the Solomon Islands Minister of Education. This sort of behaviour only taunts the image of a government that speaks so much about responsible and mature leadership.
The Minister should know better that any existing feud between him and the SICHE authority should be addressed along proper channels and means of conflict resolution and should have not been left unresolved for that long. The people of Solomon Islands do not deserve to pay for the price of an individual’s own iniquity.
On that note, the Prime Minister or his Deputy should look into the matter and resolve it as soon as possible. Not only that the matter should be resolved but Mr. Ha’amori should be disciplined for making such an immature judgment. Obviously he has put his personal interests and emotions above that of the government and the people of Solomon Islands and that is uncalled for from a national leader like him.
Off course, it is expected that Mr. Ha’amori would come up with other reasons to justify his absence but the fundamental issue is that he is now the Minister of Education and not the disgruntled individual who was sacked as Director by the SICHE Council in April 2010 and his actions are totally unwarranted as the Minister of Education. Given his availability that day as reported by the media, it was only right that he should have been the keynote speaker, not the Prime Minister.
His absence only gave rise to more questions and speculation by Solomon Islanders to whom Mr. Ha’amori owes some explaining and apology.