Aqorau cites loopholes with China-SI treaty

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Dr Transform Aqorau
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BY BEN BILUA
Gizo

SENIOR Scholar Transform Aqorau says the China/Solomon Islands Security Treaty had lots of escape clauses that will become a problem for Solomon Islanders.

He made the statement during a Webinar organized by Center for Pacific Islands Studies “China-Solomon Islands Security Agreement and Blue Pacific (In) Securities”

Aqorau said there are missing pieces in the process leading up to the signing of the security treaty and this includes lack of supporting legislation to legally authorise and approve arming of Chinese personnel in Solomon Islands.

He suggested that the security treaty should be complemented by an act of parliament as arming foreign personal comes with greater risks in circumstances where discharging of firearm may result in casualties.

“I want to make a point about the process. When RAMSI was brought in, it was done under an agreement.

“The carrying of arms and immunity was facilitated through an act of parliament.

“The immunity for RAMSI and the assistance force …was passed under the facilitation act. I suggest this (latest) agreement should also have been subjected to the same kind of legislative process,” Aqorau said.

Outspoken Member of Parliament, Peter Kenilorea Jr said there are differences between the China/Solomon Islands security treaty and the Australia/Solomon Islands Agreement.

“Having seen the draft and the Australia agreement, the Aust agreement is very specific. Issues on arms, customs, tax…I know because I was permanent secretary.

“The open-endednee of the draft with China is what worries me more than anything else. Security treaties are usually deposited with the UN. I would like to see this, andveryone can see it,” he said.

Kenilorea went on to say that the China/Solomon Islands Security Treaty is not a collective decision but the decision of the Cabinet.

He said the agreement lacks inputs from National Parliament, let alone lack of consultations prior to the signing of the agreement, and that such conflicting views are bound to happen.

“The process is very much an executive process on behalf of the nation.

“There is very little or no input from parliament. It is a little different from other Pacific countries and democracies.

“Done by executive branch – cabinet – they decide which ones we ratify,” he said.

“I see a straight line from the switch to the signing.

“I think this was in the works even before the switch. When you have economic power, military might follows,” Kenilorea added.

He said the Foreign Relations Committee is looking at introducing the involvement of a parliament committee to put correct records on executive decision.

Government back-bencher and Chair of the Government’s Foreign Policy Advisory Sub-Committee, Danny Phillip shared similar sentiment saying that the agreement was signed and drawn up for the eyes of the government.

“The agreement that was signed is very much in the hands of the executive government at the moment but in the context of what we are dealing with here… but in matters of national security there are some things that do not need to have the whole country’s legitimacy,” he said.


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