‘It’s just a neighbourly discussion’
The Australian High Commissioner “was never being summoned” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Television has published.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says the High Commissioner has had ‘neighbourly discussion’ with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade on a number of issues pertinent to the relationship between Solomon Islands and the Australian Government.
“The Four Corners Program of ABC was merely part of the range of issues discussed,” the statement said.
“The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, however, is concerned of the Four Corners’ program, particularly on a number of misinformation spewed out by the program,” it added.
“It is a baseless allegation to say that a Chinese firm is going to buy off the Kolombangara Forests Products Limited (KFPL) on Kolombangara Island, Western Province.
“The KFPL is a joint venture of the Nien family of Taiwan who hold 60 percent of shares and the Solomon Islands Government with 40 percent shares.
“At no time the shareholders’ have made a decision to sell off the company to a Chinese firm.”
The statement further says the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has no intention to set up a naval base at Kolombangara as Angus Grigg of the Four Corners program would like to portray to his viewers.
“It was obvious that Grigg was putting words into the mouths of the interviewees and that speak volumes of his intention which is clearly to cause division between the governments of Australia and Solomon Islands.
“The Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare has maintained and repeatedly reaffirmed to Solomon Islanders and the Pacific region that there will be no military or naval base in Solomon Islands.
“The Four Corners program never acknowledged that assurance and instead delve into the PRC- Solomon Islands relationship with the intention to cause animosity between the Governments of PRC, Solomon Islands and Australia.
“The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) finds it laughable that the Leader of Opposition has gone out too soon to allege that it was the Prime Minister who instructed the Foreign Affairs Officials to summon the Australian High Commissioner.
“If the Opposition Leader has any seriousness in his job as the alternative leader, he would have sought the right information before releasing a public statement.
“The Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, however, reiterated that his number one priority is to protect the sovereignty and national interest of the country and its citizen.
“The Prime Minister’s responsibility is to protect the Sovereignty and National interest of the indigenous people of the independent state of Solomon Islands.
“Therefore, whose interest is Mathew Wale advancing?
“If this is where Wale’s interest is, then it’s sad, he lacks leadership qualities to protect the interest of his people at heart.
“This is why Mathew Wale will never be entrusted the Prime Minister’s post.”