Machete robberies of 22 December 2015 & 5 January 2016 in a Chinese store near Burns Creek, Honiara
- Criminal activity is of particular concern in Honiara and sometimes involves violence.1
- The incidence of crime typically increases during the Christmas period, in the lead-up to major holidays and following periods of political instability.1
Robbery of 22 December 2015At 13:34:48 local time in the afternoon, four men committed an armed robbery, in a Chinese shop (in Honiara, that's how is commonly referred to any shop which is owned and operated by ethnically Chinese)2, more specifically opposite the main road at about King George VI School (commonly called "KG6"3), yet more towards the headquarters of the Technical Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Solomon Islands (part of TaiwanICDF) but before the guarded site of Lee Kwok Kuen & Co Ltd. All of these, as well as the shop itself, are situated along Honiara's main road (the part which is referred to as Kukum Highway). The location of the shop (named "Tuna Enterprises Company Limited"; "Tuna" is perhaps the closest thing to its vernacular name) and situated in an establishment with some 2 other shops more eastwards) approaches 9°25'31.7"S 160°0'59.78"E
On the security video assembly visible below, only 3 robbers can be seen (the first 2 persons entering the establishment which are holding a machete, and the third person who enters who seems to be armed just by holding a chain). However, the shopkeeper thinks that a fourth robber was standing outside during the robbery, since he saw 4 people running away when he went outside after the robbers ran off (which they did only ±45 seconds after the first thief entered).
Process of video assembly
Some excluded camera recordings showed 2 of the 3 other female employees (together with the male guard, they sum up to a total of 4 employees active in the shop) seemingly frightened looking at the robbery from the back part of the main shop area (somewhat visible on camera 11 below) before 1 of them runs away in fear with a customer to a back shop area, where she is no longer visible from the main shop area. Another female employee can be seen on camera 9 below, before she runs across camera 11 towards the end of the included recordings.
Lastly, I zoomed in on camera 13 (now in the bottom-right corner in this assembly) since in other parts of that camera's recording, nothing moved visibly during the recording.
At 13:53:33 (displayed timecode, which would have been 13:34:53 in reality), one can note that the robber who jumps up onto the counter wears 3 golden-looking rings on his left hand: distributed to his middle finger, ring finger and little finger respectively. My intuition suggests me this is quite a rare feature to be seen in Honiara.
The guard of the shop is visible on the 2 camera recordings on the right side of the video assembly. The holding of hands between the thief and the guard seems very much alike to the same-sex holding of hands ritual of friendship which can be observed in Honiara.4 After watching the recordings, the shopkeeper also suspected that the guard and the robbers know each other.
Exceptionally, during the day of the robbery, there was a lot of cash in the shop; since the person who was supposed to collect the money did not come for some reason. The burglars took about SBD$10,000 in cash, 1 bag of bread, as well as the shopkeeper's telephone (the RSIPF may contact me if they wish to know this cell's number) and some instant coffee from his counter. Some money fell out of their pants when running, due to the amateurish way in which they stored the stolen money.
The robbers were seen running eastwards towards and then entering the first road leftwards after the site of Lee Kwok Kuen & Co Ltd. At the other side, this road is bordered by an establishment that has one sign saying "Proud stockist of IPLEX BRAND PVC & POLYETHYLENE PIPES AND FITTINGS. IPLEX Pipelines" and another one which reads "ENTRANCE TO TONGS. HARDWARE ONLY"5. This sandy road is perpendicular to Kukum Highway and its intersection with the latter approaches 9°25'30.43"S 160°1'3.91"E.
Robbery of 5 January 2016At 16:32:54 local time in the afternoon, five men committed an armed robbery, in that same Chinese shop.
On the security video assembly visible below, only 2 different robbers can be clearly identified. However, during my interviews on the same day, both by-standers as well as the policemen in the police station where the shopkeeper (and 1 or 2 other robbers were taken to) was taken to, all claim there were 5 robbers in total this time. The shopkeeper either didn't see or recall all of them, but said that he was also told this number. The brother of a robber in the hospital (on 7/1/2016, I had been granted permission to take that interview by Dr Rooney Jagilly, the medical superintendent of the National Referral Hospital in Honiara), also mentioned that there were 5 or 6 robbers.
However, to me, it seems plausible that, the first person which can be seen looking into the shop (at the very first ±10 seconds of the video) is also involved in the robbery. It seems as if he starts acting as if he is calling as soon as he is in front of the shop, and then already stops doing so when he walks away again. Perhaps he wanted to check out the premise before the robbers would enter. Further more, the behavior of the 2 people inside the front part of the shop who stare outside (still during those first ±10 seconds), seems possible to be interpreted as if they were noticing strange behavior.
This time, the last thief exited the premise only ±33 seconds after the first thief entered.
Process of video assembly
Some excluded camera recordings showed 2 female employees (the ladies in blue and white shirts respectively, both visible on camera 11) frightened looking at the robbery from the back part of the main shop area (once they had run there) before they run away to (back and forth) a back shop area, where they are no longer visible from the main shop area. Somebody, who seems to be another female employee, went out from the shop about 20 seconds before the robbery.
When the shopkeeper went out, he already saw a robber lying on the floor, because he was stoned by a bystander (according to the police, and all interviewed witnesses). I strongly believe this is the first robber who went outside, as one can see him falling and lying on the floor if one looks closely at the recordings.
In general, the people were trying to resist the robbery a lot more then during the previous robbery. The guard of the shop is not visible on the recordings, but the shopkeeper claimed that, this time, he was also resisting trying to resist the robbers outside. He hit them and also threw some rocks at them.
The shopkeeper mentioned that he has these robberies because of the neighborhood. A police officer which I interviewed in the station which handled this robbery (on the day of the robbery), told me that "this place is known for robberies", which is why "the people around the place were alerted".
In total, 3 robbers escaped (including the one with the money) eastwards. Of the 2 other robbers, 1 was caught by guards and then questioned by the police and put into custody, while the last robber (who had undergone a head injury) was not questioned but instead driven to the National Referral Hospital for medical attention.
The robber which was caught, tried to escape westwards approaching 9°25'33.2"S 160°00'55.3"E, before turning right there (thus the first street on the right, in this direction) and then running past the enterprises "Uncle Alick Bottle Shop" and subsequently "AJ General Hardware"6, until he was caught near the post office station "Solomon Post Ranadi" which approaches 9°25'31.1"S 160°00'55.6"E. The robber was caught by some guards (2 or 3) of the group of Lion Heart guards (cf. The robberies > Further information > Guards for more information) which work for AJ General Hardware. This shop is also a Chinese store. The store "Uncle Alick" is owned by the same owners of "Low Price" and does not feature any guards. Less than 4 hours after the robbery, I spoke to the guards who caught the thief. They claimed that the thief, after he was caught, managed to escape once more, and ran back towards the direction where the robbery took place, and only yet more eastwards was caught again by 1 of those guards, at the other side of the main road near a tiny store placed at a bus-stop. They then brought him to the shop where the robbery took place, together with the robber still lying on the floor; before the police took him to Naha police station.
Interestingly, the group of Lion Heart guards (which claimed to be working for Lion Heart and guarding AJ General Hardware) I spoke to at that time, included somebody who introduced himself as "Keewa" (in phonetic: /'Kiwə/)". For more info, cf. The robberies > Further information > Guards.
Staff of the National Referral Hospital told me that he thought that the criminal which was brought there came originally from Malaita, more specifically from a place called "Takwa", which is a big village located in northern (sometimes north-eastern7) Malaita89. I also know the first and last name of the robber, and have a clearly identifiable picture of his face in my possession. However, out of respect for the criminal's young age, I will not post them here. This robber was only 17 years old (according to staff of the hospital), equally old as the other robber which was caught (information via the shopkeeper).
The 2 robbers which were caught claimed that they were not involved in the previous robbery. However, (information via shopkeeper, reportedly via the robbers' testimonies to the police) the robbers were part of the same group. Their "leader" was part of the robbers on 22 December 2015, but on 5 January 2016 didn't came to the shop. The robbers told the name of their leader to the police. According to the robbers which were caught, they were forced to steal by their leader. This time they stole less money, but the shopkeeper again did not get anything of it back. The camera recordings also seem to show that they took 2 cartons of cigarettes, as well as an unintentional collateral loot of some drinking straws.
The shopkeeper was more scared because he was worried that the robber lying on the floor might have been dead, as there was also blood visible.
Further informationThe words "shopkeeper" and "shop owner" are used interchangeably here, since from my interviews with the shopkeeper, it became clear that he is also the owner.
The theft of 22 December 2015 is the only robbery which the shop experienced in 2015. However, there have been 2 additional robberies in the shop in 2014: in April and subsequently around June. Thus, it happened that the female workers already experienced their fourth robbery at the shop during the last 2 years. During those previous 2 robberies, no camera's were installed in the shop yet. The shop owner also experienced the 4 robberies and each time reported to the police.
Further more, during my on-site interviews; conducted during the days after the first robbery; the shop owner claims that a shop of a Chinese friend of his also got robbed recently (this must thus have been before 27 December 2015). In that shop at Kukum, the robbers also came by 4, and one person got caught by a guard there. The person caught there was recently released from prison.
The shops' employees are from Malaitan origin (the guard excluded), and live in Burns Creek.
The shopkeeper stopped replying to my questions on 15 January 2016. On that day, he wrote to me saying that he was sorry he didn't reply to my message of 14 January 2016, and claimed that he couldn't answer that day due to worries since he heard via a local that some locals wanted to re-attack his shop on that 14th of January.
GuardsThe boss of the shop's guard is called "Keewa" (in phonetic: /'Kiwə/), which is presumably the younger brother of "Jimmy Lusibaea" (in vernacular: "Jimmy Rasta"; I presume due to his dread-lock hairdressing10). Jimmy already came to the shop twice in the past.
After the first robbery, the shop owner wanted to change the guard after the robbery, since the latter did not seem to be able or to be willing to protect the safety of the store. However, he was scared that doing so might make "Keewa"; also Malaitan; become angry at him.
Although the guard had reportedly resisted the robbers during the robbery of 5 January 2016, the shopkeeper refers to the guard as not useful and he changed the guard that same night. The shopkeeper says that, since he is from Makira Province, he is scared of fighting and robberies; therefor he now took a guard who is from Malaita. This new guard is now the guarder of the shop during daytime and is employed by Jimmy Lusibaea, in opposition to the old guard who was employed by "Keewa", as mentioned above. Nevertheless, that old guard is still guarding the shop, albeit at night-time (when guards are not really necessary, according to the shop owner). If I ask him: "would you not rather lose this guard?", then he sais he would indeed like to change the guard if he were free to choose, but adds the following:
- if he doesn't uses Keewa's guard, then that can affect his relationship with him,
- he doesn't want to offend either Keewa or Jimmy Lusibaea,
- Jimmy Lusibaea told him: "don't just fire the guard and let him go, try to keep him; just let him take care at night time".
- if he has Keewa's guard in the shop, then Keewa can have something "to eat",
- they are not from the same company. Keewa has his own security company,
- he pays SBD$3000 per month for a guard.
- there is an intermediate Chinese person taking care of the guards,
- if he doesn't use Keewa's guard, and something bad happens, then they will not help you.
According to the shop owner, many Chinese shops are protected by Jimmy Lusibaea.
Jimmy Lusibaea & Lion Heart
During the ethnic tensions, he became a former commander of the MEF rebels.15
One newspaper article claims the following about violent rituals which Lusibaea had undergone: Before their pacification by Christian missionaries, Solomon Islanders were fearsome headhunters. The people of Malaita, the largest and most influential ethnic group, still hold tightly to many of their old customs. Prior to battle, Lusibaea was beaten and put through the fire as part of traditional rituals of invincibility.11 Due to his actions in the ethnic tensions, he acquired an extensive judicial record (I may have omitted reporting some charges of murder and/or grievous harm161718131419 below): he was e.g. sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment on 28 July 2004 for the armed robbery of vehicles (an offense for which he was jointly charged with Manasseh Maelanga; who later also became a Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Solomon Islands20),21 before he was released on bail in 2007.12
Jimmy, together with 4 others, were also accused of having brought Special Constables Hudson Hati and Max Ula (and a third Constable, who's body never has been found); both from Guadalcanal; to this yard, before killing them when they tried to escape.1718 They were acquitted on 29 August 2006, due to insufficient evidence to proceed the case, which also released Jimmy's wife (Vika) on that same day after she had spent more than 2 years in Rove Prison on remand.17
On 14 February 2007, Jimmy was charged with further crimes, which he committed on 1 September 20002223 (and not in 2001, as some article24 claims), following a gunfight on that same day.2512 He was first granted bail on 22 October 2007.
Subsequently, Jimmy became a Solomon Islands Member of Parliament for the North Malaita Constituency due to the 4 August 2010 general elections.2627 According to 1 of his 2 webpages at the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, he was appointed Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources on 27 August 2010;26 while, according to the other webpage, he was appointed on 27 September 2010.27 In fact, he was named for this ministerial position by the Prime Minister on 26 August (with at least "some" of the ministers who were named that day, sworn in the day after),28 while the first parliamentary meeting of its first session was held on 27 September.29
On 16 November 2010, at the first day of trial for his charges of 14 February 2007; Jimmy was put into custody after he pleaded guilty.2330 Subsequently, for these crimes, he was sentenced on 30 November 2010 (on 29 November according to an article with an impressive amount of details about the judgement but perhaps with an error regarding this date22, since seemingly all other articles claim 30 November instead3125) to 2 years and 9 months in jail for unlawful wounding of a police officer (Jimmy shot Robert Solo in both knees in the X-ray room of the National Referral Hospital after the latter was beaten and while unconscious, which brought him a sentence of 2 years) and assault on a police officer in duty (also in the National Referral Hospital, Jimmy punched Sam Manakeha on the head with the butt of the pistol, which earned him a sentence of 9 months).3222
This 2 years and 9 months prison term sentence made him bound to cease to perform his functions as a member of Parliament,25 and this "forthwith" of the sentence,33 since the latter exceeded the length of 6 months.3334
If you are interested in the details about why and when this sentence made Jimmy Lusibaea finally legally bound to vacate his position as a Member of Parliament, as well as information about the resignation due to life threats of the Head of the Correctional Services Parole Board on 1 February 2011 which followed closely after Jimmy's controversial release on 14 January 2011, and how Speaker of Parliament Allan Kemakeza wrongfully claimed Jimmy to be able to continue acting as a Member of Parliament, please read the collapsible section here-below:
Jimmy's early release from prison after his November 2010 sentence
I exercised my discretion under section 51 (1) and granted him an extension of 30 days which will expire on 30 January 2011. At that point, therefore, the North Malaita seat was not vacant. However, Hon. Lusibaea was precluded from performing his function as an MP unless he satisfies any of the grounds set out under section 51 (2) of the Constitution. At that time that was not the case.
I learned from the media that Hon. Lusibaea had been released on licence on January 14 2011. On January 20 2011, I received a letter from Hon. Lusibaea’s lawyer that the Minister of Police, National Security had granted a further 95% remission to Hon. Lusibaea’s effective sentence. This was the first time that I had been made aware of this and it changed my initial view because the facts have changed. Let me explain myself why this is so. Under section 37 of the Correctional Service Act every prisoner is granted a one-third remission to the sentence imposed by the court. Section 38 of the same Act and Regulation 198 of the Correctional Service Regulation gives the Minister power to grant further remission. Thus, one-third remission of 33 months is 11 months. The balance would then be 22 months. Considering that High Court backdated Hon. Lusibaea’s sentence to 11 March 2010 the 14 2011 is totaled up to 10 months. When the Minister granted a further 95% to Hon. Lusibaea’s effective sentence he is left with 1 month 1 day. This is the effective sentence. The Correctional Service Act defines effective sentence as "the term of imprisonment that a prisoner is to serve, after taking into account remission granted under this Act." Thus, it is this effective sentence (1 month 1 day) that Hon. Lusibaea is released on licence to serve outside prison.
In light of this information I am of the view Hon. Lusibaea no longer falls within the ambit of section 51 (1). The relevant provision of the Constitution now is section 51 (2) which provides, "If at any time before the member vacates his seat he is granted a free pardon or his conviction is set aside or his sentence is reduced to a term of imprisonment of less than six months or a punishment other than imprisonment is substituted, his seat in Parliament shall not become vacant under the provisions of this section, and he may again perform his functions as a member of Parliament." Hon. Lusibaea’s sentence was reduced to a term of imprisonment that is less than 6 months by the Minister under the Correctional Service Act 2007 and Correctional Service Regulation 2008. Therefore, Hon. Lusibaea’s seat is not vacant and he may again perform his functions as a MP as provided for by the Constitution d unless decided otherwise by the High Court. I hope this clarifies the Speaker’s position on this matter. On the face of things the Minister has exercised his powers under the relevant laws. I do not have the legal mandate to decide otherwise. The question of whether the Minister exercised his discretionary power in a lawful manner is for the courts to decide. Only the courts have jurisdiction to make a decision on such matters.23 I have reproduced here below the section 51 of the Solomon Islands Constitution, and the sections 37 & 38 of The Correctional Services Act; since the quote above refers to these sections.
Section 51 of the Solomon Islands Constitution
- Subject to the provisions of this section, if a member of Parliament is sentenced by a court in any part of the world to death or to imprisonment (by whatever name called) for a term of, or exceeding, six months, including a suspended sentence, he shall forthwith cease to perform his functions as a member of Parliament, and his seat in Parliament shall become vacant at the expiration of a period of thirty days thereafter:
Provided that the Speaker (or, if the office of Speaker is vacant or he is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his office, the Deputy Speaker) may, at the request of the member, from time to time extend that period for thirty days to enable the member to pursue any appeal in respect of his conviction or sentence so however that extensions of time exceeding in the aggregate one hundred and fifty days shall not be given without the approval of Parliament signified by resolution.
- If at any time before the member vacates his seat he is granted a free pardon or his conviction is set aside or his sentence is reduced to a term of imprisonment of less than six months or a punishment other than imprisonment is substituted, his seat in Parliament shall not become vacant under the provisions of this section, and he may again perform his functions as a member of Parliament.
- For the purposes of this section -
- (a) two or more terms of imprisonment that are required to be served consecutively shall be regarded as a single term of imprisonment for the aggregate period of those terms; and
- (b) no account shall be taken of a sentence of imprisonment imposed as an alternative to or in default of the payment of a fine.33
Sections 37 & 38 of the Correctional Services Act
- All prisoners shall be classified.
- Except for prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment and those detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, for the purposes of the initial classification, the date of release for each prisoner is calculated on the basis of a remission of one-third of the sentence for any term of imprisonment exceeding one month.
38. Further remission
- The remission of sentence that is applied at the initial classification is dependent on the good behaviour of the prisoner, and it may be forfeited in the manner set out in the regulations and Commissioners Orders.
- The Minister may grant further remission upon the recommendation of the Commissioner.35
In October 2011, during a trial of a suit lodged by Member of Parliament Mathew Wale; which questioned the decisions by the Police Minister and the Parole Board; one of Wale's legal representative said that a remission "does not reduce a sentence or conviction made by a trial court, but only have an effect on the execution of the sentence". The 2 years and nine months prison term thus still standed, even though Jimmy's execution of that sentence was altered. On 17 October 2011, the court indeed ruled that Jimmy Lusibaea should have ceased to perform his functions as a Member of Parliament and should have consecutively; on 30 January 2011; vacated this seat. The court also ruled that Speaker of Parliament Allan Kemakeza, was wrong in his claim (which is also contained in his newspaper article of 26 January 2011; cf. above) that the sentence was reduced to less than six months by the remission granted by the Minister of Police,41 and Allan's officious statements were thus not legally justified. The Minister of Police; James Tora (who was elected as Member of Parliament for the Ulawa-Ugi constitutency); resigned on 25 January 2011, without having explained the reasons for the 95% remission to Jimmy's sentence.4042
1 of Jimmy's 2 webpages at the National Parliament of Solomon Islands claims his appointment as a Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources stopped on 7 December 2010.27 His other webpage at the National Parliament still mentioned him to be appointed Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources until "present", and this was displayed until at least 15 March 2012.43 Subsequently, starting from at least 3 May 2014, on that same webpage, the information "SEAT CURRENTLY VACANT" was added.44 Some of these discrepancies and even legally impossible claims might be explained by bad administering of the website of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands.
Vika explained her candidacy was only to take up a puppetry position for Jimmy, since he was himself disqualified for those elections: I only came in so he could continue all the work being. I am just there so we have someone sitting in the chair in order for us to have access to the funding and the projects. Everything else is the same.45 Jimmy convinced the people from the region Tobaita, in North Malaita, to vote for his wife on behalf of him. The rhetoric he used for that, is also interesting to observe, since he explicitly mentions the Solomon Islands government not to be incorporated into the citizen's culture: The Westminster system of government is a foreign concept with a woman, Queen Elizabeth, at its head. It is not a cultural entity otherwise I would not be putting Vika forward as a candidate.45 After Jimmy was elected into Parliament once more, at the general elections of 19 November 2014;27 Jimmy was sworn into office as Minister for Infrastructure Development and took his oath while holding the "HOLY BIBLE" (as can be noticed by zooming in on this picture) in front of the Governor General Frank Kabui on 27 October 2015.48 The leader of Independent Group, together with 5 of its members (Jimmy included) jointly switched to the Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) the day before, to conquer some of the ministerial portfolios left vacant following the resignation of 7 ministers on 21 October.495051
He is also managing director of a company called "Lion Heart Company"2627
This company is referred to in vernacular as "Lion heart",52 and might or might not be identical to those which are named either of the following: "LIONHEART COMPANY LIMITED"53, or "Lion Heart Plant Hire Company"5455, or "Lion Heart Plant Hire Road Construction and Heavy Machinery".12 All of these are reported to somehow belong to Jimmy; except for that company which is spelled "LIONHEART COMPANY LIMITED" in a single source, although its location (Ranadi Industrial Area) seems to coincide with those of some of the other namings mentioned.
Companies under some of these names (always including "Lion Heart") have been listed either as a construction company with winning bids for government tenders in 201055, and as a Western Union® agent in Ranadi.53
The name "Lion Heart" is identical or similar to the MEF camp (there were ±14 MEF camps in total during the ethnic tension) referred to as either "Lion Heart" or "Central Lions", of which Jimmy Lusibaea was also the commander. This camp was situated at Kaibia Heights,56 which is far off from Ranadi (± 6-8 kilometers in flight distance;5758 which is more than half of the longest flight distance which can be drawn within the Honiara town boundary592). However, another MEF camp was referred to as "Shorncliffe", and was "Jimmy Lusibaea's yard at Ranadi Industrial Area".60
Vika's webpage at the National Parliament of Solomon Islands reveals that "Lion Heart" is a private company, and lists Vika also as a manager of that company.46 A site of the "Lion Heart" security company right next to the Coral Sea Resort (westwards from the latter, also along the main road) shows a black and white logo of a lion with the following textual components: LION HEART
SECURITY SERVICE The police is (information from unverified sources) scared of Jimmy Lusibaea.
"Guns and Money", an episode of the television program "Four Corners" was first broadcasted on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on 20 May 2002.61 The webpage of that episode does not include the broadcast, but still contains a transcript of that broadcast which contains further details about Jimmy. Alternatively, one can try to locate a DVD containing the episode in a library near you.
Some positive things have also been written about him. It is claimed that he reconciled with former enemies in jail; including the dangerous leader of a Guadalcanal schism of the ethnic tensions, Harold Keke11 (although perhaps not completely, since the attempts of anyone who tried to reconcile with Harold Keke failed "when Keke would lapse into imagining he was a different person"19); where Jimmy also found religion1314 (elsewhere: "God"12). His company [Lion Heart] was also set up after his release from jail.1314 On the website of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, he was already listed as Managing Director for that company by at least 15 March 2012,43 but he had already created the company before the 4 August 2010 elections, and at least after 22 March 2008 (which is when he was baptized in Malu’u and sought forgiveness from the communities6263): He then cobbled together a construction crew to give his demobilized but still-loyal fighters a chance at employment. They did some earth-moving and began to enter competitions for government contracts. Lusibaea called the company "Lion Heart." As a result, he now had "boys" everywhere: a cement crew laying sidewalk along an anonymous stretch of the highway we were driving down—his "boys" on contract for the upcoming Festival of Pacific Arts. Their allegiance, he allowed, helped get him elected to parliament as the representative of North Malaita in August 2010.12 The same article of the quote above depicts Lion Heart [presumably its site in Ranadi] as follows:
- Down the desolate warehouse-lot industrial-park feeder road, past two more checkpoints, was the compound of Lion Heart Plant Hire Road Construction and Heavy Machinery.
- At the center was a shelter, with more "boys" at work molding cement blocks. (Of some 3,000 Eagles Force fighters, he explained, a good hundred and thirty, "plus many commanders," still worked for him.) A few boats sat on trailers, one with an Israeli flag riding on the antenna. Jimmy’s brother was there, a former lieutenant in the Eagles Force [...].12
Further positive light and what at least seem to be acts of reconciliation is shed on post-tensions Jimmy in the chapter "Reconciliation and reintegration" in "Politics and State Building in Solomon Islands".19 That same chapter carried a picture of Jimmy Lusibaea (second from right) together with ex-militants, with a caption describing those militants as "ex-combatants who work in his brick-making, plant hire and roadwork business".19
After Jimmy had signed64 the Townsville Peace Agreement on 15 October 2010,65 he joined a peace march to celebrate the agreement to end the war, and said: I am happy about all the people who have come. It's a big day today, a celebration day for peace. And me and my boys promise we won't take prisoners any more.66 Amid some mediating factors, Jimmy had been nevertheless publicly opposing to support the peace processes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and used the threat of re-mobilisation of his militants to force pardon for; and release of; his jailed comrades; as becomes clear from a 21 February 2010 article article based on an interview with Jimmy ± earlier that year.11
Jimmy, reportedly even called the Townsville Peace Agreement "a false document" in 2008, since he believed that all militants would be given amnesty after he and other militants had signed.67 However, this amnesty (as exactly described in the Townsville Peace Agreement under "PART TWO", "NATIONAL SECURITY AND WAR CLAIMS") carries the following clear condition on page 8, under sub-section (d); of which I will quote only the first sub-condition: The amnesty or immunity referred to in this clause, shall inter-alia be on condition that:
- all weapons and ammunition presently in possession of the two groups be surrendered [...]
Two (foreign, based in Solomon Islands) diplomats of high rank I spoke to, have informed me that they had also heard it is common in Honiara for security companies to challenge one another. They thought that, although the security companies perhaps not personally rob the enterprises guarded by their competitors, they might use other ways to cause trouble to them.
When I asked the guards of SDSS whether or not Keewa's security business and Lion Heart challenge each other by causing trouble to enterprises not guarded by their own company, a security guard answered "it is true".
Some of the SDSS guards think that Solomon Islands' biggest security companies are Melanesian Security Solution Ltd (The Fijian House); which also have clearly noticeable uniforms, and of which the manager is Wilson Sade Naame76; and "3 Aces" / "Three Aces".
Burns Creek: room for improvementsSome of my interviewees (after the first robbery), who have been working and/or living in the area, assumed it likely for the robbers to have fled towards Burns Creek.
According to the shop owner, the police also communicated that the robbers were indeed from Burns Creek, after they had received statements from them.
The Burns Creek area has been described as being located ±7 kilometers from Honiara's city center.77 The community of Burns Creek (which center coincides with Burns Creek Village); together with a water stream called "Burns (Hydro) Creek" which is located more west, and an area a bit more south named "Burns Creek P/SCH." (perhaps referring to a preschool); can be found located on this map of East Honiara prepared by the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).
E.g. the Cabinet Office of the Government of the United Kingdom includes the following in its foreign travel advice for Solomon Islands: Take particular care in the squatter settlements around Honiara, White River and the Lungga Bridge, Sun Valley, Mataniko Bridge, Burns Creek and Henderson (airport) area. Security incidents in these areas have included improvised road blocks, sporadic rock throwing and more serious violent criminal acts, including sexual assault, robbery and vehicle hijacking.78 The 2008 report "Youth and Mental Health in Solomon Islands: A Situational Analysis" also documents the area as identified by stakeholders of having high risk of mental ill health of youth; and that it has been a niche for youth gangs and a danger area for substance abuse during the socio-economic "ethnic tensions".79
Most young people in Burns Creek (as well as in many other settlements around Honiara) know how to make home brew (a home made alcohol made by fermentation of yeast and sugar) and where to buy it.79 Kwaso is a distilled alcohol (also home made) made from home brew, with high alcohol percentage; which appeared during the "ethnic tensions".79 I have been informed that, in some of the families living in Burns Creek, the children and the parents are both involved in the production of kwaso; and that they view it as economic survival.
Kwaso is readily available in Honiara.79 The sale of kwaso (an illegal activity) at the Central Market, has been known since at least 2007. Near the end of that year, police stated to have arrested more then 200 young men who sold kwaso there.80 This has certainly not been finished. While mingling with locals at the Central Market, in December 2015, a young Malaitan adult (whose sister and auntie have fish & chips stands there), told me that his older brothers sell kwaso at the wall on the left side of that market (if you face it from the main road). When locals finish talking to me there, they sometimes point towards that wall, and tell me that they are going to do "marketing". I suspect that some kwaso sellers carry it using small black bags. Also near that market, at the other side of the main road, youth have also asked me more directly if I want kwaso or marijuana (23 January 2016).
A 2010 book reveals the following: Many Malaitans evicted from rural Guadalcanal and from jobs at Gold Ridge and the oil-palm plantations returned to squatter settlements on the outskirts of Honiara such as Burns Creek, which have become hot-spots of youth crime and alcohol abuse. The Honiara City Council does not wish to encourage this squatting by non-ratepayers, so services are exceptionally poor there. At least 2000 and possibly 5000 people are believed to live at Burns Creek in an area relying on just two water taps. One foreign ambassador lamented that her country would like to help these displaced people, but the Honiara City Council, the Guadalcanal Provincial Government and the national government did not 'want us putting in running water'.19 A broadcast by ONE News of Television New Zealand about Burns Creek can be watched on-line, hosted by World Vision here. The broadcast has also been transcribed in a Solomon Islands newspaper of October 2012. In it, the area is described as having had a bad reputation for the last decade, due to crime and poverty. According to World Vision Solomon Islands (WVSI), most of those crimes are related to substance abuse and violence. Rapes have been reported in the area, which could be partially explained by the long walks which women travel to the river to collect water. That newspaper article also claims that 7000 people lived in the squatter village, most of which originally came from the island Malaita, and lived in the capital before fleeing to outskirts such as Burns Creek during the civil war of the ethnic tensions81
Another article however, of November 2012, estimates the population of the Burns Creek squatter settlement at 15,000.82
A 2014 article claims that Burns Creek is the largest settlement in Honiara, 50% of its population consists of youth.83 From what seems to have been a medical check-up in April 2009, it is suggested that the most common problem among children in the Burns Creek area was was malnutrition.84
RAMSI has been prevented entry into Burns Creek community by its youth stoning their vehicles.85 During one interview, I was told that RAMSI will also not go into Burns Creek by 1 vehicle alone, due to security threats.
A police officer told me on 5 January 2016 (when talking about the second robbery) that "this place is known for robberies". A member of the hospital said to me on 6 January 2016 about the store "Uncle Alick Bottle Shop" (which is nearby, cf. above) that he could remember the store getting burned or robbed as far back as "his primary school days". He said he thought to remember the shop having been burned down 3 times already. Newspapers and media indeed report the store to have been looted by more than 400 people (mainly residents from Lunga River and the Burns Creek area) on 16 May 2014, when they also burned down its building.86878889
Debate surrounding allocation of a national stadium
This allocation was possibly driven by the eagerness of wanting to host the 2015 Pacific Games in Honiara. A picture can be found in this bidding document (page 38), of how this main venue for the 2015 Pacific Games was proposed to look like.
It can be noted there that this sketch was already made in 1999 by Christine brown (manager of A1 Architectural Perspectives; which was a Queensland based architecture illustration firm).91 Therefor, this sketch might have well been prepared for the bidding for the thirteenth South Pacific Games in 2007, or also used in the bidding for the fourteenth Pacific Games which lead up to the fifteenth in 2015. This hypothesis seems plausible since the events' (which is hosted every 4 years) voting of its host country seems to be decided roughly 6 or 7 years in advance.9293 The following information was copied literally (without specifying its source) into a news article of the newspaper 'Island Sun' on 27 June 2015:94 The bidding procedure was changed six years ago which gave countries a seven-year period to ensure they are ready to host the event, a process which mirrors that of the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games.9596 Private correspondence on 26 January 2016 with executive director of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, revealed that "the bidding procedure was changed at the General Assembly of the Pacific Games Council in Noumea, New Caledonia on 26 August 2010" and that; in 2001; bids were submitted for the thirteenth South Pacific Games.
It was stated in the bidding document that funding would be provided by the Republic of China (Taiwan). The proposed budget for the national sports stadium was "$SBD 150,000,000 ($USD 20,430,000)". It was also claimed that the construction for the stadium would start in 2009, and that the Government's target for the completion of facilities was 2012.97
Finally, both the 2015 and the 2019 Pacific Games are known not to be hosted in Solomon Islands.93
Also note, in that same bidding document (page 32), an image showing the assumed future location of the stadium. This picture is also interesting since one can notice the black squares within the assumed location, which an image editor had put on top of the satellite image previously visible squatter settlements.
Even though the Pacific Games Council had already voted not to hold the 2015 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands by 27 September 2009,98, the National Sports Council in 2012 called on settlers to vacate the land allocated for the construction of the stadium. Somewhere around the beginning of 2012, the National Sports Council announced that the settlers who believed they had a valid claim to the land needed to make themselves known within the next seven days. The people of the Burns Creek settlement had been given until June 2012 to leave their homes.99
For further understanding, I will quote the largest part of an August 2012 newspaper article in which a spokesman for the settlers, Joseph Baetolingia (a former Director of the now defunct Police Field Force (PFF) and former Assistant Police Commissioner100), replied to this by claiming that the settlers will not leave: "Discussions surrounding the settlers' occupation of the land as well as their interest in the land, expressed through land applications and submissions sent to government, has been ongoing for many years, well before the Council was given a land title on the land," said Mr. Baetolingia.
Mr. Baetolingia says that the emergence of the settlement was a direct result of the unfortunate events of the ethnic tension.
"It was government's failure to address the issues surrounding the settlement that has protracted the case," he said.
Mr. Baetolingia says recent moves by the Government, the Lands Commissioner and National Sports Council are "unfairly using the Lands and Titles Act to make settlers look like criminals and further suppress the people."101 In a more lengthy newspaper article of around the same date, he claims that no-one had de facto left their houses after the debate earlier that year. About the National Sports Council (NSC), he; amongst other things; added:
- Given the nature of the conflict between the NSC and the settlers, they (NSC) must have the capacity to provide sufficient security if they want to evict settlers and go ahead with the proposed stadium.
- As far as the settlers are concerned this dispute is not just about trespass in the way NSC and the government may view it; it is more about the government's failure to address problems it created resulting in the emergence of the settlement, its lack of care and concern in not responding to the peoples initiatives to resolve the issue, and recent moves by the government, the Lands Commissioner and NSC in unfairly using the Lands and Titles Act to simply criminalize and further suppress the people.100
A newspaper article of 26 January 2016 (which reproduced the earlier mentioned 1999 sketch) claims that the stadium had never been built "because of the problem of squatters currently occupying the site". It regrettingly claims that not a single piece of building material was put at the location.105
On 5 February 2016, an article appeared in a SI newspaper, with the previously mentioned image showing the assumed future location of the stadium, from the bidding document (page 32). Instead of mentioning 'Burns Creek', in the caption of that picture, the newspaper chose to write 'Panatina field'. Perhaps the article wrongly used the picture (or supplied the wrong caption), as from a speech (supplied by that article) by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs, George Palua, on 4/2/2015, there is more mention about a Panatina Field belonging to SINU: We are still fortunate that the offer (IAF's) still remains, and we through the National Sports Council (NSC) are talking to SINU to develop their Panatina Field into a fully-fledged Athletics Stadium.106 The article claimed the following: [...] in late November 2014, the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) Council had met and approved matching grants for a synthetic running track to be built in the country,
Under the conditions for the matching grants approval, the IAF will meet 50% of the costs while the other 50% must be raised locally, which was also an interest into Mr Gardner and Ms Mullin's visit last year.106 Palua said that alternative sites were being looked for: For the moment Burns Creek is still with the NSC, so there are still plans to develop the available land for sports. However, we are also looking at alternative sites and not just Burns Creek for the stadium.106 In an news article of 26 February 2016, it was announced that the bidding committee for the 2023 Pacific Games proposed land situated on the southern side of Honiara International Airport as the main sporting hub. However, they also still wanted to build in Burns Creek: "Regarding the land at Burns Creek, owned by the SI National Sports, will also be developed. Hence, we call upon people residing on that land to voluntarily vacate the land now," the [National Sports Council (NSC)] chairman [Gabriel Suri] said.107 In a news article of 28 February 2016, much of the previously cited news article was repeated; and again settlers were urged to vacate the allocated land at Burns Creek: Suri added the land at Burns Creek, owned by the SI National Sports Council, will also be developed. "Hence we call upon people residing on that land to voluntarily vacate the land now," Suri said. He acknowledged the fact that the settlers have settled in the area for quite a while and it's not an easy thing to move them out immediately. Suri said forcing them to vacate the land is not a good approach as such the interim committee kindly asked them to voluntarily vacate the land to pave the way forward for sports development. "In fact if they voluntarily leave we can develop sports facilities there which will benefit them as the people residing near the land. He added they've already discussed what kind of sports will be convenient and suitable for them. "That's good hope that we can do more for them if they can voluntarily leave," he added.108
The site is also important historically, as very few remnants of post-war and colonial buildings remain in Honiara. Of the Quonset Huts (or Nissen Huts), which housed military service men and their supplies during and after the Guadalcanal Campaign, from 1942 onwards), in the whole of Honiara, there only remain some at Burns Creek and at SINU's Kukum Campus.113
In a 2016 article, Taiwan's ambassador to Solomon Islands, 于德勝 (English name: "Victor Te-Sun Yu"), is quoted about general issues concerning land ownership: According to Yu, much of the land in the country is owned by tribes rather than individuals, which makes it time-consuming and complicated to acquire plots. Additionally, it is not uncommon for multiple members of a tribe to claim ownership of a single parcel of land, leading to chaotic legal disputes. "This is the biggest problem hindering the development of the Solomon Islands. Many projects have to be halted halfway through because of land ownership issues, " the ambassador says.114 Reportedly, you will get different answers, depending on who you ask in Burns Creek, who their chief is. There are many different chiefs in the area. I was told (I don't know if it's true, but it sounds plausible) that the settlers fled to Burns Creek, each group with their own hierarchical structure clearly defined in their villages of origin, which; when aggregated in Burns Creek; creates somewhat of an authoritarian chaos, including about land issues.
I had wanted to install a cinema project in Burns Creek. The project will not be located there, because the approach of a chief I talked to (basically: I first need to pay for the construction of a chief's house before I can offer my help to Burns Creek) made me a little less confident in their trustworthiness. I will describe some of my interactions with this chief below, for general interest.
To discuss my project, on 16 January 2016, I had an appointment with a chief of the Burns Creek village, called "Peter" (different from another chief called "Peter Usi"115116), who had promised to talk to other chiefs and look for a suitable place for this project 3 days beforehand. He unfortunately told me that he could not find any safe place in Burns Creek. Even after I explained all of my safety measures, another person living on the same yard (which was the third and final partner in our conversation), continued to stress the danger and said "Solomon Islands people always find a way to steal, or perhaps they will start charging you money to be there". This person also said that "especially the youth are dangerous, they drink, watch movies and want to act like in those movies". This was an issue for them too. He also asked me how I got to their yard, and when I explained to them I came by foot, he said it's dangerous for pickpocketing here "with Solomon Islands people", and that I should come by car or scooter. Lastly, this person also tried to let me finance the (re)construction of one of the chief's houses, after which they would then allow me to place the project on their yard. It would then also be secure, because it was on their premises, reportedly.
The chief's peer said that some people might perhaps wanted to start charging me for using the land afterwards, and the chief and his peer seemed to also agree on the permanent possibility of somebody else claiming "your" land in the squatter settlement.
Aid & developmentsDespite its many issues, the area has shown developments. Some of them are touched upon below, together with an overview of some aiding organizations.
TaiwanICDF: continued aid provider despite suffering attacks
Warning:The information found here was supposed to be reviewed by the leader of TaiwanICDF (薛烜坪; romanization: "Sheun-Pyng Shiue", English name: "Mars") who agreed to do this informally (in January 2016), but factually never proceeded with the review (I had asked him to do so, since much of the information was retrieved via dialogues with him). For clarification, I will show my questions (which were supposed to be answered during a review) in red below. The ROC established formal relations with the Solomon Islands in March 1983. It launched its Agricultural Technical Mission in the nation later that same year, with the project subsequently coming under the administration of TaiwanICDF when the organization was founded in 1996.114 The headquarters of the Technical Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Solomon Islands (or TTM in short) is located right next to Burns Creek, and has been subjected to multiple attacks and robberies. Those include e.g. pigs being stolen [in which years, please?] from their farm [and also windows getting shattered, as well as an incidence involving fire; which years please?]. But, a lot more tragically, one assault also included numerous [how many exactly, please?] of the Taiwanese staff being beaten at their homes in the Mission [in which year, please?].
A speech entitled "Donation of Love Gifts from Taiwan to Burns Creek Community" of 7/12/2007 by George Chan, a former Taiwanese Ambassador, can be found on-line. The following are some extracts related to the Burns Creek community:
- Prior to this donation ceremony, we have just made a short field trip to the BCC and we paid much attention to the new developments in BCC. I am very happy to notice that under assistance from TTM sweet corn fields have scored plentiful harvests and pig farms have brought unexpected profits to the farmers. This clearly indicated that the residents of BCC have created job opportunities, have generated good income, have gradually improved their life and their future will not live in poverty and hunger any more. As a result, TTM will no longer be disturbed or even be threatened by some young people broken in from BCC since they have put aside their old concept and have set the course for their promising future.
- It can not be ignored the fact that the distance between TTM and BCC is just a stone’s throw away.
- [...] this is the Community where its youth have constanly invaded our KGVI farm. We all think there are many criminals and bad people living there. If I go, how about my personal safety? But police Commissioner assured and encouraged me to go with him in order to meet with the leaders of the community. So I finally decided to give a try. We had a good and hard talk at the community center at that time and I pledge our support if the BCC youth stop to invade us. The leaders of BCC agreed. So for the past few months our technicians from TTM started their assistance to the Community in pig farming, vegetable growing and other fields.117
Because of my interest in the area, on 11 January 2016, the leader of the Technical Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Solomon Islands; 薛烜坪 (Romanization: "Sheun-Pyng Shiue", English name: "Mars") since [which year, please?]; took me for a slow open-window (a habit to create mutual confidence and respect) drive in an area of Burns Creek where some of its staff goes [every week? or twice a week?] during high-season. He said that [he ... or who did that, please?] had put their organization's sticker on the vehicle; as it makes the locals understand who they are. He does not feel scared in that particular area any more, unlike their staff during the ethnic tensions. One of the staff which was beaten at his home in the Taiwan(ese) farm, now also sometimes visits the area. I was shown and informed about the many pig farms which their organization ['had assisted in developing for the locals' ... or: 'had trained the locals for? ... or ...?']. Similarly, I was shown agricultural fields which they [support ... or had started?], of which the yield is [produced by?] and distributed to locals via a farmer association [which the TTM had formed, or not, please?]. Some of those items are sold by locals on the market in between Burns Creek and the Taiwan(ese) farm.
The Technical Mission now sells its piglets to locals at cost price114 and has conducted aiding agriculture activities in Burns Creek during many recent years.118 TTM also helped to establish the Rural Training Center of the nearby Don Bosco Technical Institute. Whereas decades ago, a limited amount of vegetable and fruit species were available at the Central Market (with leaf vegetables being extra rare) in Honiara, now; in large part due to the efforts of Taiwan's farming experts; a large variety of them can be bought114
Pictures covering free medical services from an ICDF Mobile Medical Mission to Burns Creek Community, can be found posted on the website of the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) since 12 May 2009.119120121
Taiwan also sends young Taiwanese adults each year for their military service substitution, called "Taiwan Youth Overseas Service" since 2003122. These servicemen are [now mainly? ... or have always mainly been? ... or have only been] sent to the the headquarters of the Technical Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Burns Creek. Globally, Taiwan has expanded such military substitution service to overseas missions in 2000122 and TaiwanICDF first sent its servicemen out to overseas missions in 2001.123 During November 2015 to August/September 2016, Solomon Islands saw its fourteenth group of servicemen, adding up to 43 having served in Solomon Islands until then.124
The many diplomatic support projects which TaiwanICDF has been and is running on Solomon Islands can be found on one of its website pages.
Around 2012 & 2013, World Vision Solomon Islands (WVSI) (part of the Christian aid organization World Vision International) has also shown interest to126 and tried to assist the people in the area.8182 Another organization is Save the Children Australia, which has also been cooperating with the RSIPF and the Burns Creek community for positive change in August 2012.127 On 25 October 2015, the community of Burns Creek has also cooperated with a campaign by the RSIPF there against e.g. family violence.115
Early 2014, it was announced that a shopping mall (consisting of 140 shopping units) with 52 apartment units was expected to be constructed by Capital Park Corp Limited near Burns Creek.128 On 16 January 2016, I noted that construction works at this site were not yet completed, but still active.
The area also hosts the Mercy School (sometimes: Mercy Christian School77), which reached 600 students and 12 teachers before January 201577 (others note ±680 students by the start of 2014).129 According to one source this school was "founded in 2009 by Beverly Komasi, wife of the AOG general superintended, pr. David Komasi",130 while another source claims a concurring date: The Mercy School was independently created in 2004 by a local Solomon Islander, Bev Komasi, to service the needs of largely Malaitan people who had moved to the Burns Creek settlement of Honiara.129 The school has been described as being a preparation to "Class 1".130 Other schools in the area are referred to as either of the following: "Burns Creek Adventist High School", "Burns Creek Community High School" & "Burns Creek Primary School". I am not sure if these are all different schools. There is both a primary and high school under "Burnscreek Adventist".131
Different small churches exist in the neighborhood. 4 of them ("Salem Assembly of God", built in 1999, ±50 members & "Burns Creek United Pentecostal Church", built in 2003, ±50 members & "Destiny Assembly Of God", built in 2007, ±20 members & "Burns Creek Rhema Family Church", built in 2010, ±40 members) can be found documented with a picture and basic information in a 2013 document by social anthropologist Rodolfo Maggio, and are all located on the west-bank of Lungga river. The same document reveals that the "Living Word Christian Fellowship", the "Komovatu United Pentecostal Church" and "[Christian Outreach Centre] (COC)" also each have a branch in Burns Creek, and "New Methodist Christian Fellowship" had the project of building a church in Burns Creek.130
The area is also home to a base of "The Solomon Islands Planting Materials Network (PMN)" and "Burns Creek seed centre". The second one still is part of, and the first one used to be part of (it continues today as a seperate NGO) the "Kastom Gaden Association (KGA)". (in the "Solomon Islands Historical Encyclopaedia 1893-1978", one can find more information about the Solomon Islands Pijin term "Kastom"). The armed conflict of 2000 forced staff of their Burns Creek centre to evacuate to their home islands.132 Later, by at least June/July 2012, scientist were allowed to sample vegetable crops from that association headquarters in Burns Creek,133 of which the location is described as follows (on the website of KGA, accompanying this picture of that headquarters): Kastom Gaden Association head quarters is adjacent to the Zai Na Tina Organic Farm at Burns Creek, Honiara.134 KGA was first funded by AusAID (later also by APACE members and subsequently by the European Union)132135 and has "a comprehensive program" throughout the country. Its headquarters in Burns Creek (KGA's site there started in 1996136) was described as follows (some more information on the area; e.g. a characterization of its soil types; can be found in the same source): A peri-urban demonstration food gardens/germplasm bulking centre.133 Another agriculture association in the area is called "Falo Local Farmer Association" and was, in June-July 2014, characterized as a "Malaitan community" or as "ex Malaita" (again, more information; such as soil characterization and local agriculture methods; can again be found in the source quoted above).133
Resentment towards 'new' ChineseMuch can be said about different factors which could make Chinese enterprises an extra vulnerable target for crimes (e.g. general economic discrepancy between ethnically Chinese; and Asiatics in general; and indigenous in the country2137, as well as Asian vote buying support138, and the lack of ecological responsibility by Asian industries137). Even though not all of these factors are always directly related to ethnically Chinese, the Chinese are definitely the most visible Asian ethnic group for most locals. The Solomon Islands Pijin English word 'Waku' means both Asian as well as Chinese,139140 and a local had explained to me that most locals cannot really distinguish the outward physical characteristics of ethnically Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Malaysian.
Another such contributing factor is the division between 'old' Chinese and 'new' Chinese:1412137 There is now a second wave of Chinese migrants from mainland China, termed "new" Chinese who have arrived over the past 10 years. The perception is that the way these new migrants live, and their attitudes and behaviors towards both other Chinese and the Solomon Islanders, is not seen in a positive light.142 According to the first characteristic stated here, the shopkeeper doesn't exactly (but almost) falls under the category "new" Chinese; since he has been in Solomon Islands since 1996 (the above source was published in 2009). He states that none of the employees ever asked for a raise; and there was never a fight or a discussion in the shop related to the employees. He also does not recall any problems with his employees, and claims he treats them like family. Other family members of him reside here too.
Matthew Quan (President of the Chinese Association of Solomon Islands) agrees on the opposition between "new" and "old" Chinese. He describes (in a response to on-line racism targeted at Chinese in Solomon Islands in 2013143) some newly arriving Chinese as "a division" of the Chinese community which "don't know the ethical way of doing things in the Solomon Islands". It is this group of recent Chinese immigrants who "have come in here, who just don't know what's happening with the place [...] take advantage of the situation". The people committing these "bad practices", he vaguely describes as "buying their way through different ways" to e.g. succeed in "acquiring land".143
In the quote below, Matthew further expands on this. Even though this quote does not explicitly mentions the perhaps more serious allegations (ranging from tax evasion to strip-searching workers after work,141 or paying bribes to obtain licenses and other abuses of regulations137) which are stated elsewhere; he claims that the actions of the 'new' Chinese have been a reason to hire private security guards for the Chinese enterprises: Mathew Quan, President of the Chinese Association of Solomon Islands (CASI), explained that there is a long-standing informal, or tacit, understanding that Chinese businesses should not seek to enter certain business sectors (such as transport, i.e. taxi and bus services) and that these sectors should be the domain of indigenous Solomon Islanders, is ignored by the arrival of new Chinese migrants. Despite this apparent mutual understanding, the dominance of Chinese businesses has caused much resentment among the majority Malatian population, which has led to violence and the subsequent reliance of the Chinese business sector on Private Security Companies (PSCs) to provide security in the face of a weak and compromised local police force.144 Further more, it has been stated that the 'new' Chinese moved into taxi and bus services illegally.137
During the 2006 Honiara riots, impressions rose that attackers differentiated between 'old' and 'new' Chinese buildings, sparing some business of 'old' Chinese.145146 And even before those riots, the 'new' Chinese migrants have indeed been reported to be a particular vulnerable target of crimes above other Chinese.147
Fears rise amongst Chinese as to what will happen after RAMSI is expected to leave (in June 2017148): There is considerable concern amongst the Chinese business sector that they will be increasingly targeted following RAMSI’s departure, and incriminated for the actions of the few. Congruent with the information above, a researcher had informed me that locals sometimes rob stores since they feel that the shop owner or keeper had done something wrong to them; especially since these 2 robberies followed up closely to one another. Therefor, I went to the hospital hoping to interview the thief or his family to inquire about the reasons for robbery and to perhaps somewhat better understand their situation (on 7/1/2016, I had been granted permission to take such interviews by Dr Rooney Jagilly, the medical superintendent of the National Referral Hospital in Honiara). The brother of the thief explained to me that there was no special reason why they had robbed this store. It was not a targeted attack against the shop owner. Instead, he claimed that most people in Burns Creek don't have a job (surveys in Burns Creek show that its youth think that violence is the result of them "never having been constructively involved in any activities or employment"85), and that the people there "have little money, so they have to steal". They just wanted to steal "for money".
Whatever the family of the robber did or did not want to tell me; it might be interesting to remember (as is clear from quotes above) that the resentment towards 'new' Chinese is shared by both locals and 'old' Chinese. To hypothesize about possible reasons for the robberies, it might also be important to bear in mind that the business climate in Solomon Islands is such that the (since 20 November 2015) late149 well-known business magnate Patrick Leong (certainly not a 'new' Chinese, according to the characteristic stated above of having migrated after the year 1999149) thought that the destruction of some his properties during the Honiara 2006 riots (Pacific Casino Hotel and Fortune Restaurant) were organized by a competitor: Leong says he can only guess who was responsible for inciting the destruction of his properties, but that it is likely to be a business competitor.147
RAMSI's reply: merry Christmas and a happy new yearAll I got when contacting RAMSI about a crime case (I didn't even specify the seriousness of the crime) via their on-line contact form, are some automated replies saying they will be out of office during their holidays. It's basically like getting a "merry Christmas and a happy new year" reply, someone ironically remarked. I wonder what RAMSI means with "a timely manner" in the following, when they haven't gotten back to me since 28 December last year: If you would like to contact RAMSI please use this electronic form. Our team will respond to your enquiries in a timely manner.150 Even though I understand their goal has been changed to an advisory function, and these incidences are now matter for the RSIPF, I think their non-reply is still quite a sad and dangerous reality: they should at least forward an inquirer to the appropriate institute; since some local victims of crime (info from own interviews) still believe their case will be handled with more care and capacity if given to RAMSI. This is quite logical, since the RAMSI's PPF previous role was to arrest suspected criminals.151
E.g. the brother in law of the shopkeeper, said, on the day of the second incident, that "if RAMSI is here with more people, then the crime rate seems to decrease; whereas when policing is managed more locally, crime rates seem to increase".
RSIPFMultiple interviewees in the Chinese community in Honiara, who have personally experienced interactions with the RSIPF (since they were victims of a crime), told me that the police have asked them for a financial contribution to get policemen to assist victims on site. The police e.g. says that they want "gasoline money", since they claim to have driven to the required site using their own cars, while actually they came in police vehicles. On top of this, one interviewee claimed that they also asked him for additional "lunch money".
In one such interview, it was claimed that the Traffic Police of the The Traffic Department of the RSIPF also recognizes cars owned by Chinese, via its license plates; which they then stop to ask for money because they were supposedly speeding, while; according to the interviewee; they are not.
I can thus understand the shop owner, who lacked confidence in the police making any further investigation after the first incident. It is exactly this public trust in the RSIPF, which RAMSI152153154 and the RSIPF itself155 had wished to seen restored.
The shop owner told me that his Chinese intermediary (negotiating between the guards and the shop owner) also says that the local police doesn't do anything. In the first days after the first incident, the shopkeeper told me that he would try to arrange things "the dark way", instead of using the police.
The RSIPF also did not collect any security camera footage, during any of the 2 robberies, and didn't report any proceedings of the case to the shop owner after each day on which the robberies occurred (information from an interview dated 11 January 2016).
I strongly admire the reconciliation as a feature of traditional culture on Solomon Islands, but strongly claim that this reconciliation is not happening in this case. I do not know how long the 2 persons detained will be arrested for, considering they are both 17 years of age (the age of majority is 21 in Solomon Islands156). Further more, I am not sure whether the person brought to the hospital will be detained at all. The robber was brought there, at around 19.30PM on the day of the robbery, according to the hospital's staff. When I went to the hospital perhaps 2 hours afterwards, I could not perceive any persons guarding the injured thief. At that time, the robber was still in the main patient room for the Surgical Ward. The day afterwards, I assessed that the robber still had enough agility to walk out of the hospital (both the ward and the entire hospital have many different exit points) if he wanted to. On that same day, staff of the hospital confirmed me that there was nobody guarding the thief. A staff member told me that the police usually only comes to the hospital when there is a big risk of retaliation inside the hospital, e.g. after an internal family attack which might be followed by revenge. This staff member told me that he suspects that the patient would just walk away after he recovered. When I went back later that day, the patient had been moved to a "cubicle", which is i.c. a separate room in the same isle normally used for patients with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis. The staff claimed that they did this because the police had called to do so, since they still wanted to get statements from him (on the day of the robbery, the police also told me they still had to do this); and because it's easier to keep an eye on him. A staff member of the hospital told me (in a closed room with ±3 other staff members) that there is a very loose policy surrounding the release or detention of criminals. He said that a criminal can get released (I am not sure if he was referring to the hospital or the police stations) if "he looks like my nephew or we know him". Another staff member of the hospital added that it was however risky for the criminal to leave now, because of his injury: a depression of the skull which could be dangerous because of pressure and/or its vicinity to the brain.
However, some credit must of course be given to RSIPF, since they at least responded to the reporting of the crimes; in contrast with my experience with RAMSI described above.
After the RSIPF had been called on 5 January 2016, they took the shop owner to the police station without any bribe.
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5. The website of this company called "Tongs Corporation", can be found here:
▸ http://www.tongscorp..., Home, Tongs Corporation, at 17/1/2016
6. A picture of its banner can be seen here:
▸ https://www.facebook..., AdKonect, Sign installed for A.J hardware, AJ uncle alick ranadi branch opening soon, Facebook, 1/3/2015, at 17/1/2016
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53. a. b. LIONHEART COMPANY LIMITED
Ranadi Industrial Area
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He can be seen signing the contract in the following part of a documentary:
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▸ https://youtu.be/cvy..., Mark Power, Michael Bainbridge, Helpem Fren, Rebuilding a Pacific Nation [Part 1], AidWorthy Films, Wicket Productions
This documentary was ordered by Regional Assitance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) on 24 July 2013, to mark the 10th anniversary of the deployment of RAMSI.
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146. It is claimed in the following source that researcher "Wei Choong" also shares this impression:
▸ https://outofharmswa..., We don’t need a larger army – we need a better understanding of local circumstances, Out of Harm\’s Way: Linking Disasters and Development, 23/4/2006, at 19/1/2016
However, I have not not yet been able to track any of her writings stating so.
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