-Sacked Minister for National Planning spills the beans on PM Sogavare’s pre-determined move to China

-Processes for China switch was fake: Houenipwela

BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

GOVERNMENT telling people of the nation earlier that they will go through transparent processes before deciding whether or not to switch to China – was all fake, says former Minister of National Planning Rick Houenipwela.

Mr
Houenipwela [Hou] and Dr Tautai Agikimua Kaituu (former minister for Justice
and Legal Affairs) were removed from their portfolios yesterday morning.

In
a media conference yesterday afternoon, Hou revealed that he was sacked by Prime
Minister Manasseh Sogavare because they were at “odds” over the recent defiance
shown by Hou and other ministers who refused to vote to recognise communist
China over Taiwan.

It
is believed that this is also the reason behind Kaituu’s sacking.

With
government’s choice to dump Taiwan for China, Hou said though it was a Cabinet
decision, the process taken was ‘not true’. In other words, it was all for
show, to deceive onlookers.

Hou
makes example of a talk-back show held on Sunday, September 15, before that
fateful Monday. He said during the show, the PM’s officials and the Chairman of
the Bi-partisan Task Force (BTF) kept repeating that processes were still not
finished, knowing full well that the next day they will be deciding.

Hou
sums up the whole saga by saying “the switch decision was predetermined”.

“Like
the decision was already made several weeks ago, and then the PM just later
tried to tell the people of procedures being taken which, we did not follow,”
said Hou.

“The
Talk-Back-Show was just a formality, meeting at Caucas were just a formality,
Caucas was just a formality. Of course we debated a bit on this, but this was
not to change anything. Everything [Switch decision] was already being set,
because even if it was to go to the vote in which we went to it, it was all
kind of orchestrated from the start to happen this way.

“This
is the way how it was arranged so that the processes looked like being the
appropriate steps taken. And, what I am saying is it is not straight. I feel
bad that we have done this, we used the Cabinet and Caucas procedures to make
something not straight.”

Hou
said it was this process that he had always kept urging Caucas and Cabinet over
the rush on switch, which saw him booted by Prime Minister Sogavare.

“I
received a termination in the morning [yesterday] from the Prime Minister in
relieving me from duties as the Minister for National Planning,” said Hou.

“In
a way I have been expecting this to happen for a while now about four weeks
ago. As far as I am concerned, it was just a matter of time before the PM will
be doing this.

“Basically
the Prime Minister and us the others are advocates of this Solomon Islands
diplomatic relations switch to the Peoples Republic of China [PRC]. Where we
have been at odds is on the ‘rush’ part.

“Why
we are rushing this decision and given that the Prime Minister has already
promised the nation and the world that the process sanctioned by the cabinet
involves four different reports to be looked at and be considered, namely the
report from the BTF, report from the Prime Ministers Department, report from
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and report by the Parliamentary Foreign
Relations Committee (FRC), is what kept me repeating my concern.

“Apart
from that, the Prime Minister too had said on many occasions that the
government will leave no stones unturned in the process.

“Though
it is a Cabinet decision, the process taken is not straight. This is why a
small number of us disagreed with the rush decision though it is the Cabinet
who made the decision.

“In
fact a deadline that we had just learnt was from October 1 in which we asked
who put that deadline for us? Reluctantly we were told that it is PRC who set
this.

“For
me I feel very bad for the country that such a very important decision was
rushed by us. And, the other thing I feel about is the continuous lies of the
government to the people.

“We
have not been truthful, and especially the Prime Minister, we have not been
truthful to the nation, people and to our friends.

“It
is also quite a bad feeling to some of us that the government especially
through the Prime Minister rubbishes development partners of the country.”

Hou
said he was hoping for the Cabinet to have the sanity to sit down and think
about the decision properly because they actually had an option which was going
to be the middle path.

“And
the middle path was one of the three options recommended by the Foreign Affairs
Ministry report. That option was for us to wait and assess further the pros and
cons. This is where and why some of us talk much on,” said Hou.

“But
the way all the process was structured, you were not to consider any option.

“Of
the four reports that the PM has promised, only two reports were received. The
subject was not given the proper recognition that should be attributed. There
was no view of CBSI in the report, we did not have such report.

“This
subject is important, not just to see it during meetings. However the problem
is we did not look at any other view contrary to this decision as it was not
considered.

“It
is sad we did not treat this subject importantly, the procedure and how we did
it, the Cabinet and Caucas were not treated properly, [such as not allowed to
talk freely]. It seemed like people were under threat.

“At
that time when we were asked to vote for the resolution, the place was very
tense. People were under threat. The threat is if you vote for the China
resolution, you are with the government, if you vote against then you are
voting against the government policy and you know where the consequences are.

“I
was offered no money in any circumstance to switch or remain with Taiwan. The
people surrounding me knew my position on this issue so no one offered me money
at any time.

“For
my colleagues during the vote for the resolution, I do not know, but what I
sensed during the time of vote is you really have to have nerves in order to
vote against.

“From
the normal cabinet process, no one voted in a normal sense. So we abstained
from voting then.

“Eventually
for 16 of us shown earlier in the newspaper to be supporting Taiwan, around
nine or ten later went with the resolution to switch for China. Whether those
later switching were offered money, I do not know.

It
had been revealed that the six MPs abstaining from voting for the resolution
were John Maneniaru, Rick Hou, Dr Tautai Agikimua Kaitu’u, Lanelle Tanangada,
John Dean Kuku and Samuel Manetoali.  Two
that were not present due to being sick but had expressed their stand against
the China resolution are Augustine Auga and Bartholomew Parapolo.

“Otherwise
all that are in the government around 27 had voted,” said Hou. 

According
to Hou, he has not yet decided over whether to be a backbencher on which he is
still waiting to meet with their political party and decide what to do.

On
September 16, 2019, Solomon Islands faithful friend (Taiwan) and long-time ally
of 36 years pulled the plug on diplomatic relations between us; and on
September 21, 2019, China and Solomon Islands established diplomatic ties.

Fonte: https://theislandsun.com.sb/govt-lied-to-you-hou/

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