China or Taiwan? PM to decide on whichever will keep him in power
BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
THE decision to switch to China or remain with Taiwan will not be made for the good of the country, rather for the good of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Prime Minister Sogavare had promised that government will make sure that whatever decision it takes, Solomon Islands’ interest comes first.
He said that was why the bi-partisan taskforce was established costing taxpayers $6 million to investigate and report back to him, and a ministerial delegation sent to China for additional exploration and investigation.
But, it appears that all this was a sham just to buy time while he appeases his pro-China ministers and MPs.
It is now clear that whether Solomon Islands will continue with Taiwan or switch to mainland China, it will be solely on the premise of Sogavare remaining as Prime Minister.
As of this weekend, Prime Minister Sogavare is reportedly undecided on the China-Taiwan issue. He is on the fence.
Senior government officials, speaking to Island Sun on condition of anonymity, say on the party spectrum; Our Party – eight are pro-China, seven including PM are pro-Taiwan, Kandere – one is pro-China, five are pro-Taiwan, DAP all four are pro-Taiwan, People First – one is pro-Taiwan, two are pro-China, Others – undecided.
“Current numbers are with Pro Taiwan. If the tide changes, Sogavare will probably switch sides, with his Our Party MPs to China and sack pro-Taiwan MPs.
“In the meantime, he stays with pro-Taiwan so as not to cause panic and force the pro-Taiwan group to resign. If they resign it will result in a minority government.
“DCGA coalition is with 34 MPs, and 16 have come out clear with their Taipei-stance. Removing these pro-Taiwan MPs leaves 18, which means the government does not have the number to continue.
“Therefore, PM must stay with pro-Taiwan MPs for convenience sake and assess the situation before making his move.
“If China deals looks good to addressing pressing issues, PM will move on that basis. But he will only do so when the tide has turned in favour of the pro-China group. Although they say they have the numbers, insiders say they don’t so they are now lobbying Opposition MPs. Four Opposition MPs are reportedly in the mix of things.
“If Caucus decides to follow pro-Taiwan group, the pro-China group will walk. Either way, PM will continue to sit on the fence and watch. This is the style of politics that he has played over the years.”
Inside information also has it that some of the senior MPs in government who are instrumental in organising the pro-Taiwan group will be sacked any time soon. Again if this happens, PM will look to replacing them with Opposition MPs.
The way things are going, a decision will now be made by the Caucus which could see the issue decided either way. This runs contrary to what the PM said in that the process will enable the government to make an informed decision on China.
In relation, the supplementary budget had been delayed for Monday next week, and senior government officials say Sogavare is stalling the process to find compromise. Meanwhile, lobbying between pro-China and Taiwan groups internally and with Opposition MPs intensifies.
PM Sogavare being pro-Taiwan causes confusion. He is behind the pro-China group. His strong supporter, Bradley Tovosia is leading the charge and recently, Peter Channel led the delegation of ministers to China.
Reports has it that Sogavare’s son took up a Taiwanese scholarship recently. A big party was thrown for his son at the Maranatha Hall last weekend.
PM continues to pat Taiwan and allied forces on the back.