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Solomon Islands puts Taiwan on notice

The Taiwanese Government has been put on notice to increase its funding support for the Solomon Islands 50 Constituencies or face a revolt by disgruntled politicians, informed sources told Island Sun on the weekend.

The message was conveyed to Ben Wang, a special envoy Taipei sent to observe the election of the Solomon Islands  Prime Minister on 24 April, the sources said. Wang was the first secretary of the Taiwanese Embassy in Honiara until recently.

He was one of two people Taipei had sent to Honiara to observe the election.

Wang held discussions with a number of key Members of Parliament on the Solomon Islands-Taiwan diplomatic relations.

“Wang was told that the only way to keep Solomon Islands as an ally was for Taipei to increase its funding to the Constituencies or lose Honiara to Beijing.

“Wang asked what sort of timeframe we are talking about … six months, one year. He was told it could happen tomorrow. He was red-faced,” one source told Island Sun.

“The only thing that’s holding politicians back from moving away from Taiwan is the fact that Taipei provides cash payments, whereas the People’s Republic of China prefers trade and investment,” the source said.

It is understood that a savage cut in Constituency funding in this year’s Budget is putting pressure on the government to fill the huge shortfall.

The revelation comes amidst news that a quiet but strong revolt may have already started to shake the three-week old government, led by Manasseh Sogavare.

A group of government backbench numbering up to 11 MPs are said to be spearheading the move. These are MPs who missed out on ministerial appointments.

“They are very serious about moving to Mainland China,” one informed source told Island Sun.

“Missing out on ministerial appointments is not the real drive of what is happening. The real driver is that there is a huge shortage of funding for Constituencies this year,” the source said.

Prime Minister Sogavare is believed to be fully aware of the move from within.

Last week Hon Sogavare was overheard saying Government MPs who did not attend the official function onboard two visiting Taiwanese naval vessels in Honiara last Wednesday were “anti-Taiwan”.

Among the Ministers who attended were Prime Minister Sogavare, his Deputy, John Maneniaru, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jeremiah Manele, and the Minister for Police and National Security, Lanella, Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dickson Mua, Minister Bartholomew Parapolo, Minister Dr Culwick Tagomae.

Backbench members who attended included Samuel Manetoali and Charles Maefai.


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