Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz
Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau has alleged that the inclusion in the Vanuatu government’s “100-day plan” to review the health conditions of detainees is a “disguise” of plans to pardon some of the jailed former members of parliament.
Kalsakau said during the Opposition’s recent press conference that they had first said that it was apparent that those in government were thinking of pardoning some of the leaders now in jail for alleged corruption.
“They came out and denied this and said it was a lie but inside the 100-day plan you will see that they will review the health conditions of detainees,” he said.
“This, the Opposition wants to signal is the exact disguise of the pardoning plan.
“If it is true that pardoning will not happen, then you will know that this is because the Opposition raised this today, making them back down on the plan,” Kalsakau alleged.
“You can say detention, detainee, but we all know that when you talk about the health conditions of detainees, most of those with health conditions are only the jailed leaders. You don’t hear very much about others having health conditions.
“So, the government must come clean with the public, and not mislead the people, by saying ‘no we will never do it’ but you have turned this around so the public do not understand it.
“Still a pen”
“They write it differently in the plan, but you can turn a pen upside down, inside out, but it is still a pen,” the Opposition Leader added.
Activity number six under the Ministry of Justice and Community Services as part of the 100-day plan states, “review medical conditions of all detainees”.
The 100-day plan does not specifically mention plans to pardon inmates.
The Prime Minister’s Office in February said there were no plans to pardon the jailed 14 politicians in the 100-day plan.
The second point the Opposition had also first raised was the government’s plans to increase seats of ministerial portfolios.
“First of all they [government] indicated that this will not happen, but now it is in the 100-day plan,” Kalsakau continued.
“You will take this constitution and change it and increase the seats based on what? The tall and short of it all is just simple. You want to do this to stop MPs from jumping around. It is just not based on the needs of the people.
“As long as politics of Vanuatu is fragmented, you will not solve this problem by increasing the number of seats in Parliament. You must deal with the issue of the Constitution with care, caution, and pride so that you answer the needs of the people. Don’t answer to the needs of politics,” he told the weekly Opposition press conference.
“There are many more things in the 100-day plan but because we were first to raise these two issues in the media and they came out and denied them, we have identified these in their 100-day plan and put in such a way that it is a trick on the eye.”
In the 100-day plan under activities of the Prime Minister’s Office, activity number 11 states: “Review government structure and realign certain ministerial functions (possibility of creating new ministries to ease workload of few ministers…amendment of constitution a prerequisite).”
Jonas Cullwick is a former general manager of VBTC and now a senior journalist with the Daily Post.