CHAIRMAN of the Parliamentary Standing Foreign Relations Committee (FRC) Peter Kenilorea Jnr says attempt to tarnish his credentials on international matters and understanding of our government processes by the Prime Minister is but “cheap politics”.
He was responding to a statement authored by a disgruntled officer from Prime Minister Office on behalf of the Prime Minister concerning the mandate and power of FRC.
Kenilorea was earlier quoted as saying the FRC has the mandate and power to severe diplomatic ties.
“The absurdity in this statement is that if any country wishing to establish diplomatic ties with Solomon Islands it must first go to the FRC for approval,” Sogavare said in response to Kenilorea’s statement.
“It has always been the Executive who decides on such matters and as both a qualified lawyer and former Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, the Chairman of FRC should be well aware of this fact,” said the prime minister.
But Kenilorea firmly stated that that such cheap politics may work on some but it will not work on him because such condescending approaches are outdated.
“The statement by the prime minister is a total misrepresentation of what I as chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Foreign Relations Committee (FRC) has publicly stated on this issue.
“For the record, I am well aware of the role of the FRC and that besides examining and observing we can only recommend to Parliament,” Kenilorea said.
He added that FRC intends to do exactly that in their report to Parliament following the inquiry for the Parliament’s deliberation.
“Following such deliberations, what happens thereon to the report is in the hands of parliament and the executive branch of government.
“The FRC will not usurp the powers and functions of other arms of government,” Kenilorea Jnr added.
In this particular issue he said his committee has agreed to make an inquiry into the question of ‘severing of existing ties’ with a traditional partner.
Earlier last week this paper questioned Kenilorea Jnr on the paramount reasons to undertake this inquiry he said that the Parliamentary standing orders provide the terms of reference for the Foreign Relations Committee (FRC) to consider the ‘severing of ties’
He further explained that this is contained in paragraph 71B (a) of the standing orders.
“In fact and in law the FRC is the properly mandated body to look into this issue and FRC is already a bi-partisan committee,” he added.
Kenilorea stated that Solomon Islands had a choice to make following independence on the One China Principle and our founding fathers decided to recognize Republic of China (Taiwan).
“Careful considering on severing this tie will need to be undertaken. This is exactly what the FRC hopes to achieve.
“Our terms of reference (TORs) are clear in the standing orders and those covering the inquiry are being published in papers and online.
“I am sure the various task forces being set up by the executive also have their own TORs.
“We have invited the Chair of the bi-Partisan task force, the team leader of the ministerial group and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, other government ministries and authorities to appear before the FRC and air their views.
“We have also invited other interested stakeholders to the hearings from the civil society groups, as well as SICA and SI Chamber of Commerce,” he added.
Kenilorea Jnr as the chairman is very pleased that the role of the committee is attracting so much attention from the prime minister and media.
“A positive aspect of this attention is that the public is now more aware of the FRC one of the ten standing committees of Parliament,” he said.
By ANDREW FANASIA