ISLAND Sun wishes to respond to a report the Adviser to Malaita Provincial Government, Celsius Talifilu, produced and circulated on social media this week.
Firstly, we can confirm that our representatives attended a zoom session the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Solomon Islands organized on 8 April 2021.
We attended in good faith because we were invited. In fact, we always attend to invitations from the diplomatic missions in Honiara.
For instance, just recently we attended an invitation the New Zealand High Commission sent us for evening drinks. So, there’s nothing sinister about our acceptance to attend the PRC Embassy’s invitation to the zoom session with media groups from Quandong Province.
Secondly, we can confirm that during the zoom session we made a five-minute presentation about who we are.
Again, the presentation was made on request from the PRC Embassy.
In fact, all local media houses that attended made five-minute presentations about themselves during the session. The media houses from Quandong Province did the same.
Thirdly, we can also confirm that Nanfang Media Group from Quandong sent us a letter after the zoom session enquiring about possible collaboration and partnership.
We are currently looking into this request. One thing we can say is media houses in China have a lot to offer in terms of technical assistance, as well as other areas of media development.
Fourthly, we can also confirm that the PRC Embassy has offered to assist us with our office equipment needs. The past year has not been easy for us financially.
With significant drop in revenue due to COVID-19, we are barely struggling to survive above the waters.
So, when this offer of assistance to meet our office needs came, we accepted it in good faith and with open arms.
We wish to state that there were no conditions or strings attached to this assistance.
It was a genuine assistance from a development partner to an organization that is struggling in the face of the pandemic.
We’ve received similar assistance in the past from the Australian Government immediately after the ethnic tension.
This was channelled through a media strengthening programme called SOLMAS, set up to assist the local media get back to its feet after the tensions. In fact, all media houses benefitted from the SOLMAS assistance.
Fifthly, and finally, we wish to assure our readers that our independence as a private news organization remains intact.
We have a very vibrant and dynamic newsroom managed by an experienced Editor, who is not giving away the independence of our news coverage to any external forces, just yet.
We continue to pursue stories of national interests within all sectors of the country, and we’ll remain at the forefront of independent journalism in our beloved country.