Embattled Solomons’ premier refuses to be muzzled by govt

8:26 pm on 7 May 2020

The embattled premier of Malaita Province in Solomon Islands says he will continue to voice and stand up for the concerns of his constituents even when they irk the national government.

Daniel Suidani has been one of the loudest critics of the national government's decision to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of China, going as far as refusing development assistance from Beijing.

On 30 April Mr Suidani received a letter from the minister of Provincial Government, Rolland Seleso, warning him to toe the line.

It listed several procedural breaches such as unsanctioned overseas trips and failure to personally attend a Covid-19 strategy meeting in the capital that could be used as grounds for his suspension, if he did not comply.

The premier of Malaita Province Daniel Suidani.

The premier of Malaita Province Daniel Suidani. Photo: Daniel Suidani/ Official Facebook

Mr Suidani told RNZ Pacific he was surprised such minor issues would warrant the suspension of his executive and believed the province's pro-Taiwan stance and its crackdown on illegal logging operations were contributing factors.

"They asked me to stop talking so much about those things. But I think as an elected leader it is my democratic right to talk to people," Mr Suidani said, speaking Solomon Islands Pijin.

"If they stop me from speaking to people then what is the purpose of them electing me?"

Mr Suidani said his administration had done a lot of work to restore public trust in the executive by improving services, enforcing provincial ordinances and including communities more in decision-making.

He urged the national government not to "kill the mustard seed" that had been planted so it could grow and benefit the whole province.

He said he would be conveying these sentiments to the minister in writing this week and would also respond to the allegations made against him and his executive in the warning letter.