PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has responded to speculations circulating in the mainstream media and to misleading reports surrounding the China- Taiwan issue.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister rebutted the many unfounded speculations that have been on going which the media lavishly continues to publish in relation to the Government’s review of the One China Policy, despite several clarifications already made by the government.
Most recently, a front page article in the Island Sun newspaper on Monday 2nd September 2019 is a classic example of the many unfounded, unsubstantiated claims made by those with individual interests which does not reflect national priorities.
“It must be clearly noted that there is currently a process taking place under the DCGA Policy Statement to review our foreign relations on the basis of being a friend to all and enemy to none and more specifically as a component of the 100 day policy priorities, to conduct a comprehensive assessment on the One China Policy that must be respected,” the prime minister stated.
“The Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DGCA) is a coalition government that’s made up of 4 political parties whose interest is for the government to conduct a due diligence on the One China Policy before a decision is made,” he further stated.
The majority of the government is united on the way forward in relation to the matter and that decisions will be made on the China- Taiwan question when the findings of the Task- Force and other reports are submitted Caucus and Cabinet.
“Any decision that will be made on the China- Taiwan question should not and will not be in the interest of an individual or a single political grouping, hence, any decision must be and will be a collective decision that will be in the best interests of this nation and its citizens,” the prime minister said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also responded to statements made recently by the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee (FRC) Peter Kenilorea Jnr.
According to Kenilorea Jnr, the FRC has the mandate and power to severe diplomatic ties.
“The absurdity in this is that if any country wishing to establish diplomatic ties with Solomon Islands, it must first go to the FRC for approval.
“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.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Relations’ function is to examine and make observations and recommendations on the establishment of new diplomatic and consular relations including the severing of existing ties.
There are three arms of Government; the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
Each arm is separate from each other and performs functions independent from the other. Each Arm cannot, trespass into the realm of the other Arm nor can they dictate what an Arm can or cannot do.
This is called the Doctrine of Separation of Powers.
“In view of the above doctrine, it is imperative that we understand the establishment of the Foreign Relations Committee and its purpose,” he said.
The FRC is a creature of the Standing Orders of the National Parliament pursuant to Standing Order 71B.
This means that the FRC is a creature of the Legislature and its mandate is derived from the Standing Orders of Parliament.
Standing Order 71B which establishes the FRC clearly provides that the FRC can only “examine and make its observations and recommendations”.
That is the ambit of FRC powers.
Therefore, what this entails is that the FRC can make inquiries but its legal mandate goes only as far as to “examine and make its observations and recommendations” to the Parliament.
Standing Order 68(5) further provides that:
“(5) A Standing Select Committee may from time to time report to Parliament concerning the matters referred to it …”
There is nothing in the Constitution nor the Standing Orders that requires the Executive to act in accordance with any Standing Select Committee.
There is also no provision that requires the FRC to directly provide its report to the Executive but rather to Parliament.
The FRC merely reports to Parliament and only to Parliament.
Furthermore, the decision to enter into new diplomatic relations, maintain or sever diplomatic relations is the prerogative of the Executive Arm of Government.
It is an executive function.
As such, by application of the Doctrine of Separation of Powers, the FRC has no powers whatsoever to dictate or to coerce the executive to maintain, sever or enter into any diplomatic relationship.
“The statement by the Chairman of FRC is misleading and not only both fundamentally erroneous and legally flawed, but also displays a total disregard for the fundamental democratic principle of the doctrine of separation of powers.
“This fundamental principle is taught in law school.”
– PM Press Secretariat