President Lonsdale Baldwin
June 8, 2015. This morning the First Ordinary Session of the Vanuatu Parliament was officially opened by His Excellency Lonsdale Baldwin, President of the Republic of Vanuatu.
The President was elected in September 2014 after several unsuccessful attempts were made by the Electoral College to elect a President from the list of candidates which included other prominent individuals, the following extract is from Transparency International Vanuatu’s reporting from September 26 2014:
“By the end of the sixth sitting even the Chief Justice raised his concern within the National House, ‘you are not here to defend your groupings, you are not here to defend your island, you are not here to defend you religion, you are here to elect a candidate who can become the President”.
“Gradually, out of the 58 votes from the Electoral College, 46 chose Lonsdale Baldwin to be the new President, thus making the province of TORBA proud to have one of their own as the symbol of peace and unity for Vanuatu”.
Since then, people have wondered how he will perform in his new role as the President of the Republic. This was answered during his appeal for international assistance right after TC Pam which left massive damages and caused the loss of lives. From Japan while on official tour, President “Baldwin Lonsdale broke down while describing the tragedy in his homeland,” reported the ABC. A commentator from Fiji described that “there is nothing more empowering than when the leader of a nation breaks down in a live interview in front of the whole world to ask for assistance on behalf of his countrymen”.
The President Delivers Powerful Message Based On ‘The Christian Principal’
The Parliament was full with members of the parliament, including representatives from the diplomatic community, public servants, politicians, media personals and others. In this first ordinary session the President reminded the national leaders of their duties to abide by all national principals, specifically religion, or Christianity.
“On this first session I want to base my speech on this fundamental ideals; a call”, the President began”…a call on the national leaders to revisit the original spirit of our national values, and national interests. To capture the missing pages of our founding fathers vision, and dreams for Vanuatu as depicted in our national symbols”. Referencing Second Chronicles Chapter 7, Verse 14 (The Holy Bible) the President read “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
This powerful speech reflects well the current situation in Vanuatu, our ‘lands’ needs healing – economical, natural and social recovery, especially after TC Pam. Be ‘humble’, and ‘turn’ away from what you are doing that is not right, either it be bribery, unfairness or any other ‘wicked ways’ that is being practiced. It is a ‘sin’ – unlawful, illegal, wrong, therefore, therefore ‘turn’ away.
Citizens Must Be Aware Of Laws
“How much (do the) citizens of the republic of Vanuatu know about the laws that we pass in this parliament? After we have passed this laws…and gazetted, how many of us MP’s, return to our constituencies to explain to our people the laws?” the President called on the leaders.
Over the years members of the public have raised this similar questions, in one particular event a voter stood up and questioned a former MP why he has not been back to his island since getting elected. The former MP raised a number of not so confident smiles when his response contained no valid reason.
What If The “Elites” Do Not Know About The Laws Of Vanuatu?
Another point raised by the President was the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reporting in April, 2015. The PAC ;
“found out that some of the government statutory bodies, the government institutions…who are the elites. They do not know about (the) Financial Management Act”.
He furthered stressed that “if the elites do not know about the laws of Vanuatu, then it will be worse for our people. So Mr. Speaker, after 35 years, we need to re-look at our paths. What are the benefits that our people can get regarding these laws?” the President stated.
We Must Be Our Own Priority
‘Yumi’, said the President, “it appears in our national anthem”. He stressed that the word ‘yumi’ clearly states that every work and decisions that parliamentarians make in the parliament ‘yumi’ must be the first priority.
Our national flag carries a design that “must be remembered” at all times by our leaders. The flag carries a Y shape, beginning from Torres down to Anietyum. It reminds us that the decisions we make here, all the governments’ distributions of services must be distributed fairly, they must follow the lines that are outlined in our national flag.
Bills to be looked at in Parliament First Ordinary Session