Government investigates Taiwan’s $3.2 million rent-an-MP deal
By Alfred Sasako
THE Government is believed to be investigating reports that there was more to the statement of support by 16 Government MPs for Taiwan than has been disclosed thus far, sources said last night.
Sources said a deal worth $3.2 million was negotiated as a reward for supporting Taiwan on the diplomatic vote.
A special investigation by Island Sun in the past week had established that the source of the statement was the Embassy of Taiwan in Honiara. Our investigation also established through an email that the statement was sent to news outlets by an Oliver Weng, the Counsellor at the Embassy.
Mr Weng was the likely author of the statement attributed to the 16 MPs including former prime minister and Minister for Development Planning & Aid Coordination, Rick Houenipwela, Culture and Tourism Minister Bartholomew Parapolo, Justice Minister Dr Tautai Kaituu, Environment Minister Dr Culwick Togamana, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Augustine Auga, Health and Medical Services Minister, Dickson Mua, Traditional Governance Minister Samuel Manetoali, Public Service Minister Frederick Kologeto, Lands and Housing Minister William Marau, Foreign Affairs Minister, Jeremiah Manele, Police and National Security Minister, Lanella Tanagada, Education Minister, John Kuku and Women, Youth and Children Minister Freda Tuki.
Two Government backbench MPs – Deputy Speaker Stanley Festus Sofu and Hon Senley Levi Filualea – were also named on the list.
Now sources have revealed the Government is investigating a deal reportedly struck with the Embassy that all 16 MPs would receive $200, 000 each or $3.2 million in total once their support carry the vote to remain with Taiwan.
For now, the government is looking for evidence that there indeed was a deal. Once this is confirmed, some or all of the Ministers involved in the deal would have to go, the sources said.
“This is a very serious matter and the government is taking it very seriously. It’s the chequebook diplomacy alive and well,” one source said.
The revelation of the deal comes as the Government prepares to vote on switching diplomatic relations. The vote will take place in two weeks.
“Already the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) has secured its number to remain in office. More have indicated joining,” the sources said.
It is understood Prime Minister Sogavare has ordered all Government MPs to be in Honiara for the vote.