Russell islands tribal landowner questions authorities over RIPEL dealings

By Alfred Sasako


INQUISITIVE Russell Islands’ tribal landowner, Silas Selo, has questioned why authorities have accepted questionable dealings by foreign businessman, Patrick Wong, on RIPEL and related matters.

“Mr Wong is using a constitution that never exists to manipulate the system,” Mr Selo told Island Sun yesterday, referring to the constitution of the Lavukal Trust Board.

“The situation is this. Mr Reginald Kokili was the President of the Lavukal Trust Board and Simon Gatuven was the Vice President. But when Mr Kokili died a few years ago, Mr Gatuven automatically became of the President – that is in the original Lavukal Trust Board constitution,” Selo said.

He said it was unfortunate that while the Board was recovering and reorganising after Mr Kokili’s death, Mr Patrick Wong and his right hand man, John Whiteside “hijacked” the appointment process, which was never endorsed by the people of Russell Islands.

“Subsequently, they appointed their own cronies to the Lavukal Trust Board based on a new constitution which was never explained to nor endorsed by the landowners.

“The people of Russell Islands do not know anything about the new constitution or the process that Mr Wong and his people used to get through authorities.

“Those who signed as Board members did so without the people’s knowledge or their mandate. So how could authorities accept such as valid documents?” Selo said.

He said one other thing authorities overlooked was the fact that Mr Wong disposed of all his shares in RIPEL in 2010.

“As such, Mr Wong should never be dealing with any matters relating to RIPEL. He has offloaded all his shares. So I ask again, why are the authorities not doing anything about this, but instead, support him all the time?

“There’s something wrong with our system,” Selo said.

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