WHAT led to the impounding of the Taiwanese supplied medical equipment was not because of the ‘suspicious nature’ of the consignment, but rather, an ‘act of defiance of a government decision’.
This was according to Attorney General John Muria Jnr. in a letter addressed to Comptroller of Customs and Acting Police Commissioner on Wednesday 10 June.
The letter entitled, “Consignment at DHL-Medical supplies,” was sent just a day before the acting police commissioner acted on the order and confiscated the medical supplies on Thursday 11 June 2020.
The letter was also copied to Secretary to Prime Minister (SPM) Dr. Jimmy Rodgers, Chair of the Covid-19 Oversight Committee and Secretary to Cabinet, James Remobatu, and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Finance and Treasury Mckinnie Dentana.
In the letter, Muria wrote:
“I have been informed that a consignment(s) at DHL currently awaiting clearance is in defiance of a government decision.
“The consignment is addressed to Mr. Richard Olita.
“Commissioner of Police has been informed of the consignment and that the content of the consignment (s) includes materials that may be in breach of the Sedition Act.”
The letter further stated:
“Section 11 of the Sedition Act gives power to the Comptroller of Customs and Commissioner of Police to detain such materials.
“A formal referral has been made to the commissioner of police to detain the consignment, however, under section 11 of the Sedition Act is to also exercise that power and not to clear the consignment.”
The letter also stated that “the medical supplies are reportedly being sent by Taiwan to Malaita Province is an Act of defiance of the decisions of the government”.
Police have since seized the COVID-19 medical supplies, causing a public stir from the Malaita Provincial Government.
Premier Daniel Suidani has been demanding an explanation from the acting police commissioner on the issue.
The acting police commissioner responded that police acted because of the “suspicious nature” of the consignment.
This has triggered the Malaita Provincial Government to engage a private lawyer to deal with the issue.
Thursday last week marked one week since the medical supplies were confiscated – denying Malaita Province of life-saving medical supplies.
The medical supply includes infrared thermal imaging camera, medical masks, infrared thermal imager, television, and a tripod.
According to Premier Suidani, the medical equipment was part of the overall humanitarian support given by Taiwan to Malaita Province under its Global COVID-19 response program.
On Friday Malaita’s legal counsel delivered a letter representing Malaita Provincial Government and Olita.
He requested the release of the medical equipment by Monday 22 June.
According to Malaita Provincial Government and Olita, police have not conducted any formal investigation into the matter, as police did not contact them regarding the matter.
In light of the issue, Malaita Provincial Government is calling on Malaita MPs within DCGA regime to help with the release of life-saving equipment.
“The equipment is for our people and the Malaita MPs should not turn a blind eye on this issue.
“Malaita leaders must take a united stand on this matter as it is for our people especially when it is under humanitarian grounds.
“Lack of action is equivalent to denying the people of Malaita from accessing this life-saving equipment which creates a risk to the lives of the people of Malaita in their preparedness against the deadly pandemic.”