Honiara (Fides Service) – “Solomons last chance”, is the title of a wake up call sounded for the people and the authorities of crime ridden Solomon Islands forced call on Australia for help to restore rule of law. “Rather than looking forward to a great 25th Independence anniversary celebration early next month, we wait uneasily with a strange mixture of hope and fear” , says Dr. John Roughan, a committed lay Catholic who reacts critically to situations that arise. Dr Roughan is actively involved in society and in the church. He is Advisor at SIDT - Solomon Islands Trust Development - an institute that has several activities - literacy, women programmes, health programmes, butterfly ranching, awareness of governments actions, etc... these are all village based. He has been Education Secretary for the archdiocese. His articles are printed in local papers and magazines.
The small Pacific Ocean nation, British protectorate from the 1890s and independent in 1978, fell into ruin, not for some calamity, grave sickness, or natural disaster like an earthquake, cyclone, says Dr Roughan but because of “selfishness, thievery, killing, torturing and outright hatred”. He affirms: “To build the nation back once again means that those who did the killing, thieving, destroying must not only stop and turn their lives around. Some must actually pay for their crimes.”
Dr Roughan recalls that Solomon Islands’ rosy future at the moment of Independence, little or no debt, no great tribal rivalries, no terrible war, education blossomed, medical attention reached the villager and youth found jobs, was short lived. From 1987-1997 bad management of forest wealth meant “great heaps of money were made but by the few, the rest of the nation suffered” and today the nation is near to ruin.
Warning that the next few years is the nation's last chance to pull itself back from destruction, Dr Roughan admits that the task is immense but he is confident because the number of good people is enormous. “The Australians/New Zealanders are coming in to help us. We ourselves have now to do the work. Parliamentarians are instructed: Don't waste this chance!” PS (Fides Service 23/6/2003 EM lines 30 Words: 387)