While the police is continuing with its investigations as reported by the media, the Malaita Provincial Government (MPG) and the Malaitan individual Richard Olita is engaging a legal representative to act on behalf of the parties regarding the confiscated and impounded ROC humanitarian support COVID 19 equipment.
It is regrettable that we have to come this far on this issue. However, MPG would like to make further clarifications on some of the issues raised by the police and then we will leave the matter in the hands of our legal representative to deal with.
Firstly the equipment are part of the overall humanitarian support given by Taiwan to Malaita province under its Global COVID 19 response program. The program also includes support to countries that do not have diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. After all it is humanitarian support. It is through the program that Malaita province seek humanitarian assistance from and gladly received the kind support from Taiwan. The grounds for the support was based on the big population of Malaita province and the high influx of people that have gone to their villages under the government’s repatriation advice. Thus the need to have extra COIVD 19 equipment and support to the province.
Secondly the use of Richard Olita’s address was for logistical convenience and that the understanding would be the equipment will eventually be given to MPG. There is nothing for anyone to be suspicious about. After all these are the same equipment or similar ones donated to Solomon Islands by other donors including PRC as has been reported in the media. In any case there is already 5000 surgical masks of the Taiwanese support received in Malaita province.
Thirdly the issue of diplomatic pouch as raised by the police and MFAET must be understood it its correct context. Since it’s a humanitarian support from the government of Taiwan, it has to come from the ministry of Foreign Affairs. Taiwan used the diplomatic pouch for its purpose to inform DHL that the consignment is from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They have not hide anything regarding the support and they have not asked for any special immunity from SIG knowing there is no longer diplomatic ties between SI and ROC. There was no special treatment and immunity given to the consignment as the police and MFEAT would like to think. In fact MPG have gladly paid for the import duties already and have not bother to apply for any duty exceptions as may be suspected by the police.
We urge the police to handle issues like this with some level of sensitivity and to reach out to Richard Olita and the provincial Government so that we all can help with the investigation as stated.