TIV advocates for educated and informed voting decisions in 2024 polls

Transparency Vanuatu is advocating for all Vanuatu citizens to know that Information is power. Access to correct and up to date information is a Right for all citizens. Taking part in voting during elections is exercising your individual power. That is the power to make changes for the better.

With easy access to the national radio, television, daily newspaper, Face-Book and other forms of social media, let us look, listen and understand how our present elected leaders are governing Vanuatu, our country. Are we happy? Are we happy with our leaders’ performance? Do we have FAIRNESS, CONSULTATIONS, HONESTY, INTEGRITY and TRANSPARENCY? Is the present governance benefiting the whole community or only selected few? Do we want to make changes for the better?

Know your present leaders and possible candidates for 2024 Polls as their names are announced in the coming days. Make your God-given decision on the best candidate and take part in the 2024 polls.

While Transparency International is a global organization dedicated to advising voters to vote for the most suitable political leaders to serve their voters in line with their political goals, TIV wishes to recommend to voters in Vanuatu ahead of 2024 General Elections, to shift their political interests to elect “God-fearing”, transparent and honest candidates, who are professionally qualified to lead their voters as their Members of Parliament.

Both TIV Chief Executive Officer Dr. Willie Tokon and TIV Advocate Douglas Tamara, say the best way forward towards 2024, is for our political leaders to start preparing to allocate Cabinet Portfolios to those possible successful candidates who are also academically qualified for their Portfolios.

In this way, it is going to be easier for the new Government immediately following 2024 polls, to work with ease after 42 years of political frictions some of which have landed decision makers in hot water and even convicted. TIV wants to remind the people of Vanuatu that the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) Report of 2021 showed that in the Pacific, the most corrupted institutions are the President or Prime Ministers’ Offices, Parliamentarians, Law Enforcement Agencies and Civil Servants.

TIV is going to continue providing public awareness to voters in all Constituencies to vote for those candidates who have professional qualifications, are God fearing, transparent, honest, fair and are prepared to be the ‘servants of the people’.

At the beginning of this pandemic and in preparations for vaccinations, the Government signed an “Indemnity Agreement” with the Manufacturer of the vaccines. This Agreement is still a secret to many people. Therefore, many people do not know what help they can get when they have side effects or die. Is public condolences on the radio and television the only action taken? Or is there any compensation and in what form?

The CEO says the challenge is that in rural areas, voters have heavy respect for their leaders. “When a candidate gives a bag of rice or Vt5,000 cash to someone or his community, automatically they feel obliged to vote for him or her because of his or her generosity. “But this is wrong. Perhaps, another candidate may prove better candidate than him. This is why we stress the importance to take time to research each candidate thoroughly before choosing the most suitable candidate to vote for him or her”, he says.

A well-travelled medical professional by trade, Dr. Tokon worked for well over ten years in Micronesia (in Palau), a country with close ties with the United States of America.

Looking back at his travels, he says the island country’s Government including even nearby Fiji, members of their cabinets are academically qualified to occupy their portfolios. “This makes the work of the Minister easier because he or she knows the direction needed to provide accessible and quality service to the people through his or her Ministry”, he says.

“As a foreigner, serving as the Chief of Medical Staff of Palau National Hospital, I was privileged to be asked by the Executive responsible to present the Ministry of Health draft budget to the House of Delegates. This is the Lower House of the Parliament. I felt honored.

“The colleagues I met in those countries have been elevated to their current positions in line with their professions and we remain friends until today”.

For this reason Dr. Tokon says here in Vanuatu, instead of merely complaining, it is a time to “look, listen and learn and make better decisions” from our situations and prepare to make the right choices for the right candidates in 2024.

“Now is the right time to start talking to the most likely political candidates to understand if they are the right candidates to stand in 2024”, the CEO hints.

“If I vote for him, would he be different from the ones currently in power? Be self-critical and exhaust all your doubts to zero down to the right choice”.

He says currently there are allegations of MPs passing laws in Parliament then go ahead to break them and go unpunished while the small guys get penalised. “At Freshwater and Ohlen young people break the law and are fined Vt36,000 while the law makers are spared. Is this fair or not?” he asks.

At present the Leadership Code does not seem to be effectively enforced. Let us hope that the Electoral Commission screening of candidates for 2024 polls can improve the quality of leadership in our Parliament House.

“Look, we have the power to make the necessary changes in 2024. Let’s prepare now to make the changes at the right time”.
As an experienced medal doctor by trade, the CEO recalls, “Three months ago I was asked by a senior ni Vanuatu as to what medical equipment would be needed for the new facility now under construction behind Vila Central Hospital. I suggested to him tell the Prime Minister to ask the doctors at the VCH about what extra medical equipment they would need for the new facility before building the project.

“Based on the information, they would be in the best position to build the facility but it would not be advisable to complete the project then start looking around for the right equipment to equip the new building. You do not build a new hospital then try to list the items with which to fill it. It does not make sense to work “backwards”.

The CEO says he hopes that clinicians and allied health professionals have contributed towards this undertaking. The currently operating Japan-funded VCH Extension took about five years of planning and construction.

In order to step out of the current status of political confusion, he says the power to change is in the hands of the voters. He appeals to all voters to effect that change by electing the most suitable candidates who are most probably secondary and university graduates. These are the most qualified candidates to become Ministers of those portfolios in which they have graduated from their specific professional fields.

TIV veteran Advocate Douglas Tamara says the current crisis we find ourselves in, tell us that our current MPs who have been voted into Parliament are not holding positions that fits their professional and academic qualifications.

Public services are poor because of lack of direction, human and financial resources. Some services seem to benefit only some political supporters, leaders and their families. “In the present situation the voters in the communities are confused because the Government, Ministry and Director are saying different things while their voters seem to be expecting different outcomes”, says Tamara.

To help the Government allocate the qualified MPs to become Ministers, it must start with voters to vote in the most suitable candidates to become the thirteen Government Ministers.

The Advocate also agrees with the CEO that appointing a Minister to head a Ministry in line with his professional qualification makes all his political decisions fall in place because he is familiar with his portfolio be it Finance, Health, Education or Justice or any of the 13 Portfolios.

Photo caption: CEO Dr. Willie Tokon and Community Advocate Douglas Tamara call on voters to elect professionally qualified people in 2024 polls

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