OPPOSITION leader Matthew Wale has questioned the Government’s decision to send a second delegation to Beijing, to further explore and do ground work on the establishment of possible diplomatic ties with China.
He raised this after a group of senior Government Ministers led by Central Guadalcanal MP, Peter Shanel Agovaka, left for Beijing yesterday, on the invitation of the Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).
The Government earlier established and mandated a bipartisan task-force comprised of back benchers and Opposition MPs to study and report on the prospects of Solomon Islands entering into diplomatic ties with China.
The task-force also left earlier for Beijing on its last leg of the task given to it by the Government.
The new delegation’s trip although was said to be externally funded, was approved by the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Wale said the approval by the Government certainly raises a lot of questions on the reasons behind the decision, which the Prime Minister must explain to the public.
The task-force is expected to produce its report after the Beijing trip.
The Opposition leader says the decision to approve another group comprised mostly of senior ministers to travel to China clearly undermines the role of the bipartisan task-force.
He said the new delegation, being made up of senior ministers will be considered in higher regard diplomatically by Chinese authorities than the task-force, which is mostly comprised of back benchers.
The Opposition leader points out that this does not speak well of the Prime Minister and his Government.
“Firstly, it is a slap on the face of the members of the task-force ministers on the same task.
“Secondly, it paints a picture that the prime minister has no regard for protocol and the honor that comes with ministerial positions in government, especially when the trip is being funded by a private organization that may have vested interests contrary to our own.”
Wale further adds that the sending off of these two groups at the same time is a clear sign post of the leadership style of the Prime Minister in wanting to appease his ministers and back benchers.
“When he could have easily delayed the second delegation until after the task-force had produced its findings, he chose instead to send them both off at the same time at the public’s expense.
“Sogavare has been Prime Minister of this country on four occasions now and so he knows full well how to deal with establishing diplomatic relations.
“He knows well that what he needs is best advice from technical advisers on foreign relations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Wale stressed.
“The fact that there are no technical advisers in the delegation is only proof that the PM does not care about the fallout of this issue, rather, he is worried about keeping his Government in power.”