I write this letter to your newspaper consciously trying not to appear overtly political because it is not my intention in writing about concerns I care about deeply, the health and welfare of Solomon Islanders, by implying anything of Taiwan’s foreign policy.
On the global stage, Taipei’s health cooperation has been viewed as relatively uncontroversial and pragmatic in engaging in international relations and reducing its diplomatic isolation.
In the Solomon Islands where diplomatic relations exists with Taiwan the government in Taipei has always supported local health initiatives to protect and promote health.
It is within the spirit of that bond of cooperation that I appeal to the Taiwanese Government to consider aiding the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MOHMS) by providing the funds to re-build and re-equip the now derelict Rehabilitation Workshop at the NRH with the aim of ensuring the 400 or more limbless former patients of the National Referral Hospital (NRH) are able to be given prosthetic limbs to enhance their life opportunities and job prospects.
If the Rehabilitation Workshop could be rebuilt and equipped with the necessary tools to again function as it once did, I really believe it will be possible for one or more charitable organizations in Australia and New Zealand to offer custom made prosthetics to those awaiting limbs.
What has prompted this letter at this time? There are several answers to the question which I will explain.
Firstly, the SI Prime Minister recently paid a historic and successful visit to Taiwan where he hailed the relationship between his country and Taiwan.
There was further warm words on the existing diplomatic relationship this week during the ‘Double Tenth’ celebrations held in Honiara when His Excellency, the Taiwanese Ambassador announced, what I have long advocated, the establishment of a factory in Honiara to generate employment and to aid the economic prosperity of the Solomon Islands.
I am not alone in having raised concerns regarding the need for better oversight and auditing of the money the Taiwanese Government gives, annually, to advance constituency development and projects.
The promise of a factory to ensure job creation locally is, at least to me, a very sound and tangible initiative that has the potential to silence those who might have implied that there is little being seen, to-date, with the money allocated for constituency projects.
Some years ago there was much talk of a ‘bottoms-up’ approach to rural development but nothing materialized. Taiwan’s direct creation of rural enterprises, even if initially on a small scale would bring about a real change to the lives of communities.
In returning to my plea to the Taiwanese Government, I would earnestly request that my request is met with approval and some hope can be offered very soon to those less fortunate in society.