OPPOSITION Leader Hon Matthew Wale says the China military treaty is a personal deal between Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and the PRC, and not about Solomon Islands and PRC.
Hon Wale said Prime Minister Sogavare’s demand for secrecy and his adversarial treatment of diverse opinions over the MOU should only present one conclusion to Solomon Islanders, and that “the MOU is between Sogavare and PRC, not between Solomon Islands and PRC.
“It is not in the interest of everyone, but only for the personal and self interest of the Prime Minister,” Hon Wale said.
The Opposition Leader said our democratic system is based on government by consent of the governed.
He said this is the bedrock of government accountability to the national electorate.
Hon Wale said the executive government is not at liberty to act beyond its mandate obtained from general elections.
The Opposition Leader said at no time was the Prime Minister given the mandate by the people to establish this clandestine military treaty.
“At the elections, the Prime Minister never campaigned on this subject. Before the leak, several cabinet ministers, foreign affairs and police officers were not even aware that an agreement of this nature was being negotiated. This is a hallmark of Prime Minister Sogavare’s leadership – decision making by secrecy. This was the same approach on the diplomatic switch, his plan to postpone national elections, and other controversial decisions made by the Prime Minister,” he said.
The Opposition Leader said the Prime Minister using PRC’s support for his political survival is not a new thing.
“His election campaign was said to be funded by PRC state-owned companies. The payment of members for his political survival in November was also bought with PRC money. This personal secret military deal with the PRC is no different. This deal is not for the military protection of Solomon Islands. There are no external threats to Solomon Islands. The deal is to maintain Sogavare’s hold on power and to undermine the democratic freedoms available to Solomon islanders,” the Opposition Leader said.
Hon Wale said if the security deal goes through it would have direct implications on people’s fundamental rights.
He said Prime Minister Sogavare has already shown this in his disregard for diverse views when it comes to important matters affecting Solomon Islanders.
“Anybody who has views that are different to his, Prime Minister Sogavare castigates as enemies that are a threat to national security, when in reality it is his actions that are the real threats to national unity, stability and security,” Hon Wale said.
The Opposition Leader said coinciding with this is the issue that arises from section 19 of the Constitution.
“There, activities under foreign arrangements that are not regulated for under domestic laws will be regulated by foreign law, even if such activities infringe upon fundamental rights,” Hon Wale said.
Hon Wale explained that since Solomon Islands does not have military laws, what would transpire is that if Chinese military infringes on Solomon Islanders’ individual rights, they cannot be prosecuted under Solomon Islands laws.
“Prime Minister Sogavare’s deal will place PRC law above Solomon Islands law and is a clear threat to the nation’s sovereignty,” he said.
He explained that with RAMSI, the Facilitations Act had to be enacted to fill this domestic gap in our laws.
But with PRC’s different system of government, past track record on human rights, and the broad MOU terms, there is no guarantee that fundamental rights of Solomon Islanders will be protected.
The Opposition Leader said instead of listening to the diversity of opinions and engaging in open debate to persuade Solomon Islanders on contentious policy intentions, his approach has been to criticize and shut down views that differ from his.
Hon Wale said the Prime Minister’s agreement with PRC would also undermine stability and unity in the Pacific region.
“The secret military deal effectively makes Solomon Islands a border state of PRC and the front line in its conflict with the world. Simply put, Solomon Islands will become a puppet state of the PRC. You can already see how the Prime Minister acts without such a deal, it will be worse after it is implemented,” he said.
Hon Wale said what will unfold in the region will be an extension of PRC’s bullying posture and territorial expansion, similar to what we have seen in the South China Sea against Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, and ROC.
The Opposition Leader said the lack of transparency and foresight are key aspects of Sogavare’s leadership.
“What matters to the Prime Minister is not national security or interest. His decisions are based purely on calculations to ensure a firmer grip on power. His secret MOU with PRC will further cement his grip on it, at the expense of Solomon Islander’s democratic rights” he said.