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By Joy A. Rikimae

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 2) – The Solomon Islands Chinese Association has reportedly rejected a US$100,000 (SI$750,000) donation offer from the Taiwanese Embassy in Honiara.

The donation was to assist members of the association who lost their properties in the April 18 and 19 rioting in the capital.

The decision not to accept the offer on the spot has angered several members of the association.

A concerned member Quincy Chan, told Solomon Star that a report from the association stated that the Chinese Association executive met with the Taiwanese ambassador on May 1 to discuss the offer.

Mr Chan said the chairman explained in the report that the executive refused to accept the US$100,000 because some members of the association did not want it.

Most of the Chinese operating businesses locally have ties to mainland China.

But Mr Chan said the chairman never called a meeting for members to discuss the offer.

He said members of the association are questioning why their chairman made such decisions without prior consultation.

He said if what the chairman stated in the report was true, then his refusal to accept this genuine offer was a slap on the face of association members.

"This is totally unacceptable. Those of us who lost our properties needed such help," Chan said. "This is a donation for the victims, not for the chairman. He does not have the power to reject it. He should call a meeting before making any decision."

Taiwanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands Antonio Chen confirmed yesterday he held a meeting with three executive members of the Chinese Association about his Government's intention to help.

He said the US$100,000 offer is not a form of compensation, but his embassy's assistance to victims to help them re-establish their businesses.

Mr Chen said the funds are yet to be released as they require the Chinese Association to come up with some kind of formula on how to disburse it.

"They must talk to all the victims and work out a resolution on how to utilise the assistance in their rehabilitation efforts. My request is for the funds to be fairly distributed in a transparent manner so that every Chinese who is a victim of the riots benefits," Mr Chen said.

Chairman of Chinese Association, Sam Chen, said his association has already set down its priorities and the donation would be dealt with when priority areas are identified.

"Right now, we are focusing on the clean up of Chinatown. We will deal with the financial offer from the Taiwanese later," he said

But Mr Chan said many Chinese are suffering the effects of losing their businesses so why wait on the association's priorities.

"Most of the Chinese are in great need. Some have since returned from overseas and they need help to return into business. They need the Taiwanese money and other help, too. This is a time of emergency and we should be grateful the Taiwanese are prepared to help."

Mr Chan said it does not take long for the Chinese Association to accept help from the banks.

He suggested that the chairman call an emergency meeting so that they could discuss the matter.

June 5, 2006

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