DEAR EDITOR – Our veteran journalist Alfred Sasako in the feature page of the Island Sun Friday 6 September, may little realized that the title of his article ; China has more to offer than skeptics realize, is a slap on the face of many Solomon Islanders in academia, both nationally and internationally.
I am not as educated as many a Solomon Islanders but personally knew a little about China and India as early as 1980, reading many a times the Economist and Far Eastern Economic Review magazines often circulated among CBSI department managers then.
Most noticeable especially were their emergence as economic giants in Asia.
Therefore, China is not new to many of us, especially her emergence as from a Communist background then to become what it is economically today.
In addition, why should China not so developed so powerfully when she has abundance of resources, both highly educated human resource and vast land resources?
In the same period China government leaders,who visited Singapore actually were challenged by Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew advancement, knowing that the Chinese who had developed Singapore, an island with no resources, were landless peasants who were originally migrated from Southern China, and could have attained a success story espoused by China.
For many of us skeptics in particular, it is most obvious that the DCGA delegation that had traversed the Pacific to acquire information to base their decisions on, only manifest their ignorance of the fact that in this era because of technological advancement such information is but merely available at their fingertips.
That China had been buying Solomon Islands raw material, especially logs was/is an old tale.
In the mid-1980s, Solomon Islands experienced a log boom.
But we must remember trade is a two-way traffic, so the SBD 5.04 billion received by this economy were also received by foreign contracted logging operators, (who are but Chinese ) under the new Forestry Act which was enacted by parliament at that time which resulted in the logging boom.
I can well remember Dr. Keith, a British economist attached with CBSI in the 1980s, who had advised the government not to give in to the demands of logging operators for duty remissions, because already these foreign logging operators were enjoying the logging boom.
Nevertheless, the most outstanding feature during these boom periods was the poor management of government finance, which resulted in the accumulation of both the national and international debts.
By 1995 August, the government securities (bonds & treasury bills) collapsed and in 1997, government cheques were bouncing in commercial banks and government, LPOs not accepted by the private sector.
The restructuring of the Public Service, opposed by the SIPEU that resulted in the general and thereafter strike rest is history.
It is most obvious that our MPs who are now pushing for the change of diplomacy to PRC strongly believe that PRC will save Solomon Islands of her development problems.
Their arguments for such a move may cause another rip as chaotic as the ethnic crisis.
Just notice this particular issue among the reasons espoused in favour of switching diplomatic relationship to PRC.
Quote; as well as that, Beijing has indicated funding undertakings written into the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA) as well as the outstanding payments owed to members of the Royal Police Force. End of quote.
Why this issue again? The MPs knew that this issue still haunts our current PM because he had not fulfilled a promise which he was part of while he was the head of the government then.
We can assume at point in time that if this issue of pursuing change of diplomacy is to PRC is not handled carefully or in wisdom, our country may go down the same road we had abandoned in 2001 when RAMSI was called to our rescue.Remember what goes around comes around.
Jeffrey J.H. Aihunu