Dear Editor,

I noted with concern the celebratory reactions of many in Government about the sentence handed to MP Leingkon.

I fully respect and trust the independence of the judiciary, and this letter is not about the severity of the sentence or the courts.

It is more about the character of the Ministers in charge, and the decision of the Prime Minister about who he chooses to have in his Council of Ministers.

MP Leingkon, as Minister of Climate Change, is the person in charge of responding to natural disasters.

Last May was a critical time for Vanuatu, as the country struggled with the compound disasters of TC Harold and COVID-19.

The Minister also has sweeping powers and huge responsibility granted to him under the State of Emergency.

This combined to surely make him one of the most important people in the nation at the time.

Despite this, the Minister was drunk early in the morning, and engaged in reckless behaviour which endangered his fellow passengers on a small plane.

These are all known facts, and yet he remains in position – how is this acceptable?

Is the only bar which this Government sets for its Ministers whether the court hands them a sentence of more than two years, thereby automatically vacating their seats? Are we not aiming higher than that? Does this Government really believe that this behaviour is appropriate for its Ministers? What sanctions or comment has the Prime Minister made on this? Where is the leadership on these most basic moral matters? We are now celebrating 41 years of independence – can we not do better than this?

Yours sincerely,

Ni-Vanuatu Citizen

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