The following article written by Ednal Palmer appeared in the Solomon Star on Saturday 15th January, 2011.
While the article is ostensibly about the tenure of the outgoing Taiwanese (ROC) ambassador to the Solomon Islands Mr. George Chan, it traverses ground which I have covered in a number of posts I have done about Mr Moti and corruption within the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Government. Specifically it covers the early days of Mr Chan’s appointment, a period noted for the friction between Canberra and Honiara over the appointment of Mr Moti as Attorney-General for the Solomon Islands.
In keeping with his duties as a diplomat Mr Chan opted to work with the “Sogavare government because it was democratically elected and my duty was to work with any elected government of the country I’ am serving in” which at some level put him at odds with Canberra.
A more detailed analysis of these issues can be found in my post A blast in a bin; corruption holds sway.
One man’s enormous achievements felt (from the Solomon Star)
‘DO not support the Sogavare government’ was the international community’s call, ‘but Sogavare want me to stand with him’.
Outgoing republic of china/Taiwan (ROC) ambassador George Chan recalled when he arrived in 2006 to take up his diplomatic role here amidst the soured relationship that emerged between Australia and the Sogavare led government.
Mr Chan said it was the difficult time he had faced but he had to resort to a diplomatic decision and that was to stand with whatever legitimate and democratically elected government of the Solomon Islands.
The strained relationship which was stemmed from the engagement of Julian Moti as the Attorney General by Mr Sogavare resulted in the Australian High Commissioner here sent back and later, the downfall of the Sogavare led government.
“It was very difficult to please either parties but I decided to work with the Sogavare government because it was democratically elected and my duty was to work with any elected government of the country I’ am serving in.
Mr Chan said that was the great challenge he that welcomed him into the Solomon Islands.
“And I knew it was not going to be easy so I decided to do the right thing that I was sent here to do.”
Mr Chan managed to weave his way through the political stalemate successfully.
He arrived in the country in September 2006.
He was instrumental in many significant developments in the last four years such as the Taiwan health centre at the national referral hospital, the new parliamentary office complex and other small development projects.
“In 2007, I helped established the Taiwan health centre which resulted in the yearly dispatching of doctors and other health specialists to the country to help people in the rural communities and schools with free medical services.
“And also I physiologically got all the MPs to have a medical check, and that was one memorable achievement for me.
“At that time, after the death of member of parliament the late Joses Sanga, I realised that it would be good to get all the members of parliament to do medical check-up for free with the visiting Taiwanese doctors.
“Instead of calling them to come to the hospital, I decided to get the doctors to visit them at the parliament, because in that way, they will be willing to get tested because they will feel very relax because the environment was not that of the hospital.
“The health check was carried out successfully and I also suggested that they do regular exercises with the providence of physical exercise facilities.”
Mr Chan said the newly built parliament office complex close to the parliament house is one of his ideas which is coming to fruition.
“That beautiful multimillion dollar building should always stand as a reminder that the relationship between the two countries will forever stand.
“That building will be powered by solar energy as we also did with the PM’s office.”
Mr Chan said he was very proud of the achievement made during his term in office.
He said his proudest moment was when he received the cross of Solomon Islands medal in recognition of his service for the Solomon Islands.
“That was the biggest achievement and I was very honoured to receive such a honourable recognition from the Solomon Islands.”
Mr Chan said he look forward to returning to Taiwan to reunite with his family members.
“But overall, I’ am very happy to see our efforts bearing fruits just before I complete my term.
“I’ am very proud to say I have done my best and I have fulfilled all the duties designated to me.
“As the saying goes, ‘every good thing must come to an end’.
He described this week’s handing over of solar sets to constituencies as the final touch of his diplomatic term.
“Let this handover be a nice final touch of my diplomatic service in Honiara while I bid farewell to each and every one of you.”
Mr Chan will leave the country tomorrow.