By Gary Hatigeva
SOLOMON Islands Ambassador to Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan, Joseph Waleanisia has refuted reports that the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Rick Hounipwela, made a direct request to ROC President for an assistance of $900million.
This report has also made headlines on many of the local online forums, which gave much confusion and attracted widespread debates, both questioning the report and the Prime Minister’s diplomatic credibility.
The news from a station known as the Formosa, a Taiwan Television, also made it to other online mediums including youtube, which also attracted thousands of criticism on both the Solomon Islands and Taiwanese governments.
Circulated via a clip, the news reported that legislators of ROC Taiwan were questioning the request by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister to the ROC’s President, of a total of $900million, at a lunch banquet during his one week visit there.
It also reported that the Solomon Islands should not take advantage of its strong ties with ROC Taiwan and use the island nation as its ATM.
But in his response to the news, Ambassador Waleanisia clarified and urged that people should not listen to this News Clip from Formosa Taiwan TV, because it has mis-reported the meeting between Solomon Islands PM and President Tsai Ing-wen.
“I want to clarify that there was no mention of a figure neither at the Lunch Banquet, or the Bilateral meeting, nor at the brief Remarks PM gave at the Honor Guard put in PM’s honour.
“The 900 million figure mentioned is New Taiwan Dollars which is equal to USD30 million or SBD263 million,” the Ambassador explained.
He said if one cares to check the record again, they will find that the US$30 million figure was the original amount the former Government had indicated it would need a donor to assist Solomon Islands with to host the 2023 Games.
“Again, it was misreported as the amount Solomon Islands Government requested. The TV incorrectly stated the amount was requested by PM during the meeting with the President, we were present at all the meetings, and at no time did our PM made any appeal or request for $900 million, as misquoted,” Ambassador Waleanisia added.
The Solomon Islands Ambassador however revealed that the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade through his office, will make a formal complaint to the Formosa TV Station to correct what he described as, the fake news.
The Prime Minister himself, through an official statement denied the report and claimed that it was a huge error from the news agency’s part.
“It is a factual error that is only aimed at bringing a bad reputation to the Government after we successfully reassured support from Taiwan to assist us with the Pacific Games preparations,” he said.
Prime Minister Hou further explained that his meeting with the President was basically to seek reassurance from the Taiwan Government for the funding of the 2023 Games stadium.
“And no figures were mentioned,” he added.