Prime Minister Manase Sogavale has ordered the Solomon Islands’ national broadcaster to stop broadcasting content critical of his government.
The move embodies ongoing warnings that corrupt Pacific leaders, with Beijing’s backing, will steadily erode their democratic institutions in an attempt to stay in power. is.
According to the island sun newspaper, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) Acting President William Parailert, announced the news to staff on July 28, saying that all future content will go through a ‘vetting’ process to ensure it does not create conflicts. I have to go through,” he said. ”
SIBC recently hosted a paid talkback program with the National Council of Women, Transparency Solomon Islands, and opposition leader Matthew Wale. All are critical of the current prime minister, Sogavare, and the recent decision to extend the term of parliament from his four to five years.
Parairato acknowledged to staff that the future of these programs is uncertain, but said everything needs to be scrutinized.
Ongoing Pressure to Drive Party Lines
The move comes as the broadcaster withstands sustained pressure from the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands.
In late July, Sogavare removed the media group from the government’s state-owned enterprise schedule. This may affect future cash flows.
“As a national broadcaster, SIBC is expected to conduct its business in a manner that brings unity among the people.” He said The Solomon Islands parliament answers questions from opposition leaders. “But lately that hasn’t been the case.”
He further accused the media of using “misinformation” and “deliberate lies” to fuel public unrest.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade responded that it was aware of recent developments.
“Free and independent media are essential to building strong communities and ensuring democratic accountability,” a spokesperson told The Epoch Times.
“Australia supports the development of a diverse, independent and professional Pacific media sector. We will work closely with them.”
Australia has already funded the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, which provides content and infrastructure support.
Collapse of Solomon Democracy
The latest developments in the South Pacific nation come amid concerns that Beijing is waging an all-out “entropic and unlimited war” to gain a foothold in the region.
South Pacific expert Cleo Pascal said agitators like the Chinese Communist Party are looking to use all spheres — cyber, economic, political, legal and media — to destabilize governments. says.
“These weapons are used to weaken the target country from within, to create chaos in the target country and make it unbearable to China’s influence,” Pascal told the Epoch Times.
“That process of creating instability and fragmentation can be explained as creating a state of ‘entropy’—political, social, and economic entropy—where things begin to fall apart. And in that state of chaos, China can create a new order around itself and its proxies. ”
Meanwhile, leaders like Sogavare and Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Rahman are looking to use these circumstances to extend their hold on power. They are already facing intense domestic pressure and could lose the next election.
Rahman most recently tried, unsuccessfully, to make drastic changes to the country’s constitution to extend government term limits and allow foreigners to hold public office.
In the case of the Solomon Islands, the prime minister’s decision to force state broadcasters to self-censor content is another step to undermine the country’s already fragile democratic institutions and extend tenure.
Sogavare also successfully allayed international concerns about a security deal with Beijing that opens the door for weapons, military and naval vessels to be stationed in the region.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was “very confident” that no military base would be set up after his visit to the island.
“One of the things we have to do is develop a personal relationship with our friends in Australia and the Pacific,” he said. told The Today Show Mid-July.
“We have to be ready to listen to them, and we have to be ready to help them grow.”