PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare mishandled the China-Taiwan issue, sacked minister Rick Hou says.
Hou was responding to explanations Sogavare made after sacking four of his senior ministers over the China switch.
“The PM’s explanation for my sacking is just a lame excuse to divert attention from the actual reason: the fact is that he is getting rid of people who voted their real conscience,” Hou said.
“As he has threatened during Caucus, PM Sogavare is now punishing those of us who have spoken our minds and continued to remind him of his mishandling the China-Taiwan issue,” the former National Planning minister added.
“The further sacking of the former DPM and Minster for Education – and resignation of former Minister for Police, this week – only underscores this point.”
Sogavare sacking Hou and Dr Tautai Angikimua Kaitu’u (former Justice minister) last week.
On Monday, he sacked his deputy John Maneniaru and Education minister John Dean Kuku.
Police minister Lanelle Tanangada resigned before she was fired.
Observers say one more minister is likely to be sacked in coming days.
“We the six MPs that abstained from the decision to shift diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China have maintained that the policy was hijacked, the decision was hastily done, without proper consultation, without proper advice, and least of all, without any careful consideration given to it,” Hou said yesterday.
“The PM’s explanations regarding the public statement by 16 Members of the DCGA in support for Taiwan, his allegations of bribery, undermining DCGA policy and ‘… betrayal of principles of Cabinet responsibility…’ are just a cover up,” he added.
“If those allegations are so serious why did he not sack those ministers at that time?
“On his bribery allegations, he thinks I and others are involved in those evil actions and motives he and his pro-China team are so well known for.
“On the matter of the Taiwanese funding, this was a new policy initiative by the Taiwanese Government of an additional $50 Million grant through the 50 constituencies under the project title ‘Infrastructure Development Support to Constituencies’ (IDSC).
“This was actually confirmed and announced in a press conference in Honiara by the Taiwanese Deputy Foreign Minister when he visited Honiara on 16 September this year, which was proposed to start in 2019.
“It was a genuine, and above-the-board proposal by Taiwan to Solomon Islands. So there was nothing secretive or any ulterior intentions on my part about it.
“The month of August was the period of intense lobbying – which both sides of the issue have been lobbying hard to win votes, hence the list for potential supporters of Taiwan.
“This is expected given that the Caucus was divided on this matter.
“Of course at the end of the day, with a bit more inducement together with the PM’s intimidation and threats, the pro-PRC group won the vote in favour of the switch to China.
“The PM would want everybody to trust him for maintaining the ‘… principles of Cabinet responsibility…’which he himself does not comply with those same principles.
“The PM is keen to remind others to be ‘… committed to maintaining political stability …’.
“He should be reminded that he himself is solely responsible for the current political instability, by driving the China/Taiwan wedge between the members of the Coalition.
“The PM is keen to lecture others to uphold ‘…the principles of democracy …’ as if he believes in those principles.
“The fact is his leadership style shows the opposite.
“His recent dealing with the matter of switching to China only demonstrate his dictatorial style, where he used threats, intimidation and the cover of ‘internal processes’ to achieve his pre-determined decision to switch ties to China.
“PM Sogavare explained that the decision ‘… to shift diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China has been made collectively and after thorough consultations and careful consideration …’
“As noted above, obviously this is a deliberate lie which he continues to demonstrate his arrogance.
“The fact is that PM Sogavare rejected any views contrary to his conclusion to switch relations to China before 1 October 2019.
“Therefore he rejected the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee report; he rejected the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Report; he rejected the Central Bank advice, and he even rejected the advice by his own technical staff.
“PM Sogavare explained that his recent sacking of ministers ‘… has been made collectively and after thorough consultations and careful consideration …’.
“This is another blatant lie.
“The Coalition parties’ executives have not been consulted on this matter.
“The fact is that when PM Sogavare talks about solidarity of the DCGA he means allegiance to him personally.
“He confuses DCGA solidarity with his own self-preservation.
“He confuses government policy with his own personal agenda.
“The PM blames others for provoking social disharmony, not realizing that his mishandling of the China-Taiwan issue is the primary reason.
“PM Sogavare will continue to ignore and defy public outcry against his decision however much civil society groups may try to have his ear.
“He will conveniently shift the blame on people with political ambitions, and demonise others as conspirators who under-mine his leadership.
“Finally, it should be stressed that PM Sogavare is known for mistreating anyone who has a different view.
“He has demonstrated this attitude in no uncertain terms in recent days.
“He refused to meet the Vice President of United States after the UNGA, despite his earlier commitment to the meeting.
“He continued to rubbish Solomon Islands development partners despite their support to the country over the years.
“His recent remarks that Taiwan is ‘useless to Solomon Islands’ despite the persistent support by Taiwan to Solomon Islands over many years, more especially to his own family.
“And his refusal to meet with the Premier of Malaita Province despite the Government invitation for him to come over from Auki last week.”