By ANDREW FANASIA
OPPOSITION leader Mathew Wale says he’s worried about the make-up of the 32-member delegation Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is leading to China.
The delegation left yesterday and is expect to sign a raft of agreements with the Chinese Government during the week-long trip.
“By looking at the make-up of the trip, I think indigenous businesses should be worried,” Wale told the Solomon Star last night.
“You’ll see the delegation was dominated by Chinese businessmen,” he added.
“These are signs of more things to come once the government starts signing documents with China during the course of this trip.
““As a Solomon Islander I’m really concerned.”
He questioned the criteria Prime Minister Sogavare used to select people for the trip.
The delegation comprised of 11 reps from the business and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), nine politicians (five ministers and four backbenchers), eight officials and two media reps.
Some of the business reps include Yan Jianqing of JQY Ltd, Antonio Lee of Solfish Ltd, Wong Chee Kong John of Good Wood Ltd and Shilling Wong, the vice president of Chinese Association.
Chair of Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce Jeremy Bartlett, Pacific Casino Hotel owner Michael Leong, local businessman Leslie Tarzan, Manuopangai Sika, acting president of NOCSI, William Lai, president of SIFF are others in the delegation.
Sources within the Ministry of Finance told the Solomon Star last night reps from the business houses met their own costs.
“China covers the airfares for the officials, while the Government meets per diem and accommodation,” sources said.
“More than $580,000 of taxpayers’ money has been used to cover the government side of the trip,” one source revealed.
The trip comes after the Sogavare Government made the decision to switch our diplomatic relationship from Taiwan to China three weeks ago.
It was made at the invitation of Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Foreign Affairs and External Trade minister Jeremiah Manele, who is also part of delegation, recently travelled to China to formalise the diplomatic ties with the Chinese Government.