By Alfred Sasako
AN internal investigation into who was responsible for writing the recent statement of dissent on the China issue is believed to be underway, with insiders saying the outcome is likely to give Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare the ammunition he needs to start pruning his ministerial team.
Sixteen Government MPs, including senior ministers last week openly declared their support for Taiwan in a published statement ahead of reports the Government had commissioned on the matter.
Former Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela who is the Minister of Development Planning and Aid Coordination is among the senior ministers who declared their support for Taiwan.
Now the political Office of the Prime Minister is believed to be investigating who led the pack.
Island Sun was told last night a series of meetings over the weekend had identified Government MPs who are in favour of a switch in diplomatic relations from Taiwan but there were those who wanted to stick with Taiwan.
“Some have not spoken up in the debate over China so far because they fear a switch would put an end to the infamous Rural Constituency Development Fund (RCDF). That came out very, very clear in weekend meetings.
“These MPs were interested in Taiwan just for the money, nothing more,” one insider told Island Sun.
“Once the leader of the group is identified, the Prime Minister could start moving people around. This may mean some senior ministers could lose their jobs.”
One pro-China MP outside Government said, yesterday, “it is time Solomon Islands stop getting paid as a consultant for Taiwan.”
“That’s all Taiwan has been doing over the last 40 years or so. They pay us a consultant fee of USD10 million a year so that Solomon Islands can keep raising Taiwan as an issue at the United Nations,” the MP said.
“Look at how much Taiwan gets from the fish they caught in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”
Reports suggest that Taiwan gets USD2 billion a year from fish their fishermen caught in our EEZ.
Meanwhile the Opposition is believed to have decided to stick together while keeping a “wait and see” approach.
“A merge with Prime Minister Sogavare’s team of 19 MPs is possible, but that is really one of the scenarios being looked at. The problem is whether the leaders of the two groups – Prime Minister’s team and the Opposition – are prepared to forego their personal agenda in exchange for national interest.”