Solomon Islander Observer on the man behind MSG current saga


SORE’S SORRY PATH

Solomon Islander Observer

Nearly everything Rence Sore is involved in stinks.
This man has a propensity for maladministration, disregard of due process, and
being at the center of controversies that are potentially corrupt and border on
insanity.
His career in the Solomon Islands Public Service is littered with stories of
questionable decisions and actions. It seems the more senior his position, the
bigger his blunders.
Rence Sore’s story as a public servant is a “sorry path.” It started in Solomon
Islands and is now grinding through the Melanesian sub-region, as reflected in
the current fiasco in the selection of the new Director General for the Melanesian
Spearhead Group (MSG).
What is baffling is that successive Solomon Islands governments continue to
engage him.
This could either be a reflection of Sore’s skills at marketing himself, or because
politicians can’t make sensible decisions when it comes to making political
appointments.
It would not be surprising if Sore had a big role in disregarding due process in the
recent selection of the MSG Director General. At the very least, as the Secretary
to the MSG Chair, he would have been involved in advising the Solomon Islands
PM, Manasseh Sogavare, who is the current MSG Chair.
Article 16 (2) of “The Agreement Establishing the Melanesian Spearhead Group”
states that:
“The Director General shall be appointed by the Leaders’ Summit under
such terms and conditions as the Leaders may determine. If for any
reason the post of Director General is vacant, the Deputy Director General
may be directed by the SOM Chairman at that time, to carry out the
functions of the Director General on an interim basis until the position is
filled.”
The above specifically states that the appointment of the MSG Director General
should be done by the “Leaders’ Summit.” How the current appointment occurred
without the Leaders Summit raises questions about who was involved and who
advised whom.
But this is not unique. It reflects a string of similar controversies that Sore was
involved in when he was Permanent Secretary (PS), and later as Special
Secretary to the PM (SSPM) in Solomon Islands.
As PS for Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Sore allegedly authorized the
payment of SI$18 million, which was later found to have breached Mines and
Minerals Regulations. The money was supposed to have been paid as royalty to
Gold Ridge Landowners.
Although he was never charged, the money disappeared while Sore, after a short
suspension, went on to become SSPM in the Sogavare-led Government.
As SSPM, Sore couldn’t stay on the straight path. He was at the center of
numerous questionable, irresponsible, uninformed, and potentially corrupt and
illegal actions and decisions.
These include double dipping from taxpayers. For example, while his SSPM
contract stated that if he used a government vehicle, he would not be entitled to
Transport Allowance, for many months, Sore was drawing a monthly Transport
allowance of SBD$12,000 while at the same time using a SIG vehicle.
He was also involved in the engagement of ponzi investors like Skyline
Investment Group Company Ltd. and the Nazar Group of Companies. These
companies were, from the beginning, out to screw Solomon Islands.
Skyline Investment Company had a list of promises that even a fairy’s magical
wand would not have been able to produce. The Chinese company promised to
rehabilitate Henderson International Airport, upgrade the road from Henderson to
Point Cruz, invest in the tourism industry, and build 5,000 homes for public
servants.
From the very beginning, it was obvious Skyline’s reputation stinks. But Sore
either couldn’t smell it, or loved the smell.
The Nazar Group of Companies promised investments that ranged from mining
to fishing and everything in between. If they had been allowed to promise the
stars, they would have.
Who would have forgotten the picture of Sore in a double handshake with two
officials from the Nazar Group of Companies while grinning like a kid in a candy
shop.
There is another twist to this story. The Skyline Investment Company front man
who came to Honiara to persuade the Solomon Islands Government to engage
the company was Rex Horoi, former Solomon Islands ambassador and Executive
Director of FSP based in Suva, Fiji.
This Makira man is well known for his expensive taste in Suva’s party scenes
and mixing with Fiji’s socialites. Many years ago, as Solomon Islands
ambassador to the US and Canada, he allegedly left the New York office in dire
financial situation. Over the years he cultivated a friendship with Sore. So, when
he appeared in Honiara with the Skyline Investment Company’s portfolio tucked
under his arm, the Solomon Islands Government – advised by Sore – welcomed
him and the company with open arms.
When the ponzi investment didn’t work out and FSP’s funding sources were
drying up, Horoi – with the help of Sore – attempt to get a job in the Solomon
Islands Prime Minister’s Office. He eventually landed one as Special Envoy on
West Papua.
Another close mate of Sore was subsequently appointed as Strategic Advisor on
West Papua. He is Fei’loakitau Taho Tevi, a Tongan who previously worked for
the World Council of Churches Pacific Office and then briefly for the IUCN office
in Suva. He allegedly left the WCC Pacific Office under a cloud of financial
controversies.
So, what exactly do these two positions involve? Why does Solomon Islands
need a (i) Special Envoy on West Papua and a (ii) Strategic Advisor on West
Papua? Are Solomon Islander tax payers paying lucrative salaries packages for
jobs that could have been performed by one person? Does Solomon Islands
need a Tongan to guide its policies and strategies on West Papua?
It is sad and unethical when the sufferings and struggles of our West Papuan
wantoks are used to create jobs and lucrative packages for someone’s mates.
Given the above, it is not surprising that Sore is again at the center of the
controversy surrounding the selection of the MSG Director General.
It is true that association does not necessarily equate causation. But Sore is
associated with so many controversies that it is likely, he is the cause.
This time he is pulling the MSG along with him in the mud. In the process he has
embarrassed Solomon Islands and unceremoniously hauled a Fijian diplomat in
the dirt.
Sore’s appointment as Secretary to the MSG left many questions. There was no
need for this position. The appropriate desk office in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and the MSG Secretariat should be responsible for assisting and advising
the MSG Chair. These offices have professionals who are familiar with the
organization and not politically beholden to anyone.
Instead of using them, the Solomon Islands Government created a job for Sore
and shifted the trouble to the MSG. It makes one wonder if there is not enough
intelligence in the Solomon Islands Government to figure out that this man from
Vella Lavella possesses the touch of trouble. Everything he touches turns into
trouble.
But worse, Sore’s sorry path is costing Solomon Islands taxpayers enormously.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s