24 Jun 2020

Solomons province taking police to court over PPE seizure

12:50 pm on 24 June 2020

Police in Solomon Islands are to be taken to court over their seizure of personal protective equipment donated to a local province by Taiwan.

A member of the Police Response Team in Solomon Islands on patrol during the election of the prime minister in Honiara. 24 April 2019

Police Response Team in Solomons Photo: Gino Oti

Police claim the consignment from the foreign ministry in Taipei was suspicious because it was addressed to an ordinary citizen and because there are no longer any bilateral relations between Honiara and Taipei.

The premier of Malaita Province Daniel Suidani.

The premier of Malaita Province Daniel Suidani. Photo: Daniel Suidani/ Official Facebook

But the Premier of Malaita Province, Daniel Suidani, said this was purely humanitarian assistance and had nothing to do with the country's foreign policy.

Mr Suidani said they had made several requests to police to clarify the reason for the seizure but got no response.

"We are now filing a high court order to see what is right and what is wrong," Daniel Suidani said.

"What we have done with Taiwan is something to do with humanitarian grounds. We believe that over 200 countries in the world have been in non-alliance but then they get help from the government of Taiwan," he said.

PM urged to prioritise health and safety over foreign policy

Meanwhile, the opposition leader, Matthew Wale, condemned the confiscation of the humanitarian aid.

Mr Wale said further allegations that the attorney general ordered the seizure on the basis that it was in "defiance of a government decision" was "shameful".

"This then raises the serious question, is the State of Emergency about the Covid-19, or about political point scoring?" Mr Wale said.

He also questioned why the seizure was kept quiet for a week before being made public.

The Opposition Leader said had there been an outbreak of Covid-19 in Malaita province in this time, the seizure of this crucial PPE would have cost lives.

"I therefore call on the government to stop dancing to Beijing's tune and prioritise out people's health and safety," Mr Wale said.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during an official visit in China.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during an official visit in China. Photo: Facebook / Prime Minister Press Secretariat PI

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