“The reply is a very lame attempt by the prime minister to dodge the many important concerns of public interest relating to the manner in which the Government is handling the China-Taiwan issue,” Wale said.
“The PM’s response clearly indicates that he wanted to mislead the public and hide the fact that the second delegation’s trip to Beijing was kept secretive to avoid public attention and knowledge,” he added.
“It was the intention of the prime mister to keep the details of the trip secret from the public, except for the officials in his office.
“The actions of the prime minister are not transparent as he claims because if such a trip was part of government’s normal business, why keep it a secret until it was exposed in the media.”
Wale said Sogavare’s response has failed to address the important concerns underpinning his earlier call, especially the failure to clearly explain the policy rationale behind the decision to send another group to hold discussions on the same agenda that the bi-partisan taskforce was already tasked to undertake.
The Opposition leader then urged the Prime Minister to be vigilant and conscious of very important issues such as costs involved and other important issues that require respect for protocol.
“If there is any policy rationale behind the decision to send duplicate groups, the government must explain it to the people of Solomon Islands so that people are informed about the reasons for spending public funds and resources.
“The PM’s response adds even more confusion now especially when he mentioned that the reason for sending the second group is to allow the ministers to ask specific questions.
“Impliedly, this is supposed to mean, the minister’s trip is different from that of the bi-partisan taskforce.
“This only raises more confusion on the purpose of the two trips and roles that the two groups have been given.
“Why send a group of eight senior ministers when there is already one in the bi-partisan taskforce who can represent the government and ask these specific questions?
“If the specific questions the prime minister refers to in his responses are to do with something else, unrelated to assessing options on entering into diplomatic relations with China, then he must also explain this to the public for transparencies sake.
“As alluded to above, the public is entitled to demand an explanation on the purpose of the trip, the policy basis, the costs to name a few of the many public interests warranting the call and so it certainly does not speak well of the prime minister when he can only give a blanket answer.
“The reply also fell short in addressing the issue raised in relation to the fact that the trip was funded by a private Chinese organization.
“The ministers represent the people of Solomon Islands hence it is incumbent on the prime minister to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect, in accordance with the accepted international protocols.
“If the private group has a vested interest in securing diplomatic ties with China, then clearly the ministers are being put in an awkward position where their impartiality can be questioned and so the public is entitled to question the underlying reasons for accepting the offer.
“By dodging to explain the above issues, the response only affirms the perception that the trip by the ministers was really approved to enhance the prime minister’s own political hunger to maintain his numerical strength and has nothing or little at all to do with finding answers which will feed into the process of making an informed decision on question of changing allegiance.”
– Opposition Press