The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) is currently investigating the suspicious nature of a consignment of covid-19 medical supplies from Chinese Taipei.
The contents of the consignment included an Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera, Medical Masks, Infrared Thermal Imager, Television and a Tripod.
The 3 consignments were shipped from Chinese Taipei’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Shuang Ho Hospital to Honiara via DHL and was addressed to a Mr. Richard Olita, a private individual, on Post Office Box 1232 of Kaibia Settlement, Honiara and not the Malaita Provincial Executive or any other government agency.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) was notified as the consignment was sent from MOFA through diplomatic pouch.
The information linked with the consignments including the name of the person and the post office box has raised a number of concerns over the suspicious nature surrounding the importation of the cargoes which has prompted the Government to refer the matter to the RSIPF.
Further, Chinese Taipei is not diplomatically recognized in Solomon Islands and as such, does not enjoy privileges accorded to the Diplomatic Community including the use of a diplomatic pouch.
The use of diplomatic pouch when Solomon Islands no longer recognizes Chinese Taipei could be an attempt to bypass necessary processes by certain individuals and could amount to a criminal offence by unlawfully using diplomatic privileges to avoid scrutiny.
As a result of these breaches and false use of diplomatic privileges, inconsistent and vague information on the consignments, the Government has recommended that the RSIPF carry out further investigation into the matter and the consignments are held until investigations are completed.
The RSIPF is currently prioritizing the investigations and taking necessary actions as they see fit.
The Government further advises that all COVID-19 equipment donated for use in Solomon Islands by any Government Agencies, must be channeled through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) or other relevant authorities that are responsible for receiving charitable donations. The MHMS has experts and specialist who are able to verify the quality of any equipment that is to be used in Solomon Islands in the fight against COVID-19.