Hansard reports can help us judge MP's on speech
There has been numerous debates stemming from the election of new Central Kwara'ae MP, Hon. Jackson Fiulaua who is said to be unable to read and write. Many argue that representation in legislature requires some basic reading and writing skills. Others argue that informal education is also an important aspect of development and humans can also rely on this in the absence of a formal education. To reinforce this point, commentators have highlighted Hon. Fiulaua's success as a businessmen in Auki, Malaita Province as evidence.
One of our roving reporters from the Lifhaus News Desk pored over the Hansard reports from the first sitting of parliament and remarked, "Those who have criticised Hon. Fiulaua should read the Hansard, there is a lot of things you can learn by analysing how our parliamentarians discuss issues on the floor of parliament."
One priceless gem our reporter found was contained in the report from the 8th of September 2010. "The members of parliament had just elected the Speaker of Parliament and many of the members stood up to congratulate Sir Allen Kemakeza and also to convey their condolences to the late Hon. Steve Laore who passed away on the eve of the election of the Prime Minister." Among those who spoke was veteren politician Hon. Job Duddely Tausinga the member for North New Georgia who made a subtle error that has escaped the attention of the media and those who listened in on that day.
The Hansard reports quote Hon. Tausinga in his address, "His [Laore's] strategic departure indeed robs the expectation of family members and constituents, parliamentary colleagues and Solomon Islands as well." Not only is the choice of words hilarious but the sentence in itself lacks structure and meaning.
The Lifhaus News Desk cannot verify if the error was contained in Hon. Tausinga's original speech or if he had been misquoted by the scribes. "This is just an example of an unfortunate choice of words but reading through these reports, you can clearly see that the quality of debates is sometimes very poor. So unfortunately, it is not only true that certain MP's cannot read or write but those who do also lack tact and clarity in their speech."
It would be sad if we focused solely on the shortcomings of one MP while ignoring the abysmal performance of others. "We need to put things into their proper context and we must admit that the ability to read and write are not the sure way of gauging the performance of our elected representatives. We must take a more holistic view on things and critically analyze each performance then make our judgement. Simply using literacy as a yardstick to judge certain members of parliament also borders onto a concerted smear campaign to discredit people."
The Hansard is publicly available on the National Parliament of Solomon Islands website.