Dear Editor – Please allow space in your paper on our fact finding mission on this so called veteran journalist who has been obviously written against Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID) on a number of occasions in his investigative writings.
For several weeks, one Alfred Sasako has made outrageous, sensationalist and unsubstantiated claims against APID in the city’s leading newspaper. The question has to be asked: Who is paying Alfred Sasako to make these claims?
This is becoming so obvious on his writing, more as a propaganda in support of some hidden agenda.
On Wednesday of this week, the elusive Mr Sasako claimed that APID is a logging company, and that (for reasons he does not quite manage express) it is therefore incapable of carrying on a mining activity.
Let us give Mr. Sasako the benefit of the doubt, and examine his proposition in more detail.
APID is a Solomon Islands company. It is incorporated under the Companies Act of this fine country. Under that Act, APID “is a legal entity in its own right”.
It has a legal personality, and it is just as entitled to carry on a business in Solomon Islands as every other company, and indeed every other person including Mr Sasako.
It is certainly true that APID is in the business of producing and exporting logging products from Solomon Islands. It has done so for many years, and in that process it has obtained and compiled with the many permits and licenses that are required for that business.
It has brought revenue to the country and the province of Rennell and Bellona and it has brought employment and personal income to many individuals.
It is also, and undeniably, true that APID carries on the business of mining bauxite ore on Rennell Island. It has been in the business of exploring for developing and mining of bauxite over many years.
It holds a mining lease. It employs many people in that business among them many Rennell Islands people.
It has also established a free ambulance service on the island and from this month it is also providing a free travel service for the residents of Rennell Island and Bellona Island to and from Honiara.
Mr Sasako suggests that a company cannot have two or more businesses. Now that is truly a unique suggestion, and surely not a serious one. That suggestion displays Mr Sasako’s ignorance of the real world. Companies frequently invest in different businesses. For example, newspaper owners frequently own many different businesses, some of them unrelated to the collection of distribution of news.
Why should APID not have more than one business?
We said that it is “undeniably” true that APID holds a mining lease on Rennell Island. In case Mr Sasako takes issue with the use of that term, let us consider this.
It is certainly possible to “dispute” that APID holds a valid mining lease. Indeed, that is just what is happening in the High Court of Solomon Islands at this very moment. And why should that not be so?
After all, this is a constitutional democracy in which the rule of law is fairly and consistently applied, and it is right and proper that a person who has a complaint can have that complaint tested in court. That is exactly what is happening here. And that is the role of the courts; to make decisions about such disputes.
But that does not change that fact that until the High Court of Solomon Islands makes its rulings, APID holds a mining lease. That cannot, with respect to Mr Sasako, be denied.
And if Sasako seeks to deny it, he denies the courts of this country their proper role and powers. These are truly not the actions of a person who has sought to be leading figure in this country.
Because if respect for the law does not start with you, Mr Sasako, where does it start? APID respects the law and is pursuing its interests in court, as it is entitled to do, and it will abide by the outcome.
But calling for royal commission, Mr Sasako, you are not even willing to let the courts do their work.
There is nothing “special” or “investigative” about Mr Sasako’s writings. They are disrespectful of the legal process, of the courts and of the people of Solomon Islands, and the residents of Rennell Island in particular.
So we need to ask the question: If he does not respect the people or the law of this country, and he cannot substantiate his claims, then who is behind Alfred Sasako?
Concern people of Rennell