The kind of MPs we want - Solomon Star News

The kind of MPs we want

11 September 2014

EAST Choiseul voters should be proud of themselves and their outgoing Member of Parliament, Manasseh Sogavare.

Mr Sogavare topped the attendance roll of the last and 9th parliament, whose term ended Monday this week.

That’s according to a survey Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) conducted, which was published in this paper.

Mr Sogavare demonstrated a final example for future MPs to emulate.

Perhaps the people of East Choiseul should reward him with another term in parliament, which would be his fifth, in the upcoming elections.

Mr Sogavare has served in parliament since 1997. He has been enjoying his people’s support with three further re-elections since then.

At the constituency level, rarely do we hear of his constituents complaining about the way constituency development funds have been distributed or shared.

At the national level, he continues to put parliament meetings a priority.

Previous records would tell us his attendance roll in past parliaments was always above 90 per cent.

Solomon Islanders elect their MPs to attend parliament on their behalf. It is in parliament that important decisions are reached and laws are made.

Constituents expect their MPs not only to attend every parliament meeting, but also to contribute actively and constructively to issues affecting their lives.

It is public knowledge Mr Sogavare has done well on both scores.

Parliament meetings are held at least three times a year, with each session lasting six weeks the most.

Besides their fortnightly salaries, MPs are also paid sitting allowances while attending parliament sessions.

But as records have shown, only eight parliamentarians attended more than 90 per cent of sittings days. The last house had 175 sitting days.

Three MPs, two of them known businessmen, attended less than 50 per cent.

The rest attended above 50 per cent, which is still not good enough. 90 per cent attendance rate should be the benchmark for all MPs.

While the survey does not take into consideration reasons for absenteeism, it ought to be remembered that parliament is priority for MPs more than any other commitments.

They are expected to be in attendance unless there’s a strong and valid reason not to be there.

Voters would do well to take a serious look at the TSI findings.

The attendance records showed the commitment of our elected leaders to their national duty.

If leaders we elect are not giving priority to parliament sessions, their priority must be somewhere else.

The nation needs leaders like Mr Sogavare, who not only gave parliament his priority but always contribute constructively to debates.