Thu, Nov 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

No risk to Tsai in Solomon Islands: NSB

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Peng Sheng-chu, left, listens as NSB Deputy Director-General Kuo Chung-hsin answers questions at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Political turmoil in the Solomon Islands does not pose a security threat to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who arrived in the country late yesterday on the final leg of her state visit to three South Pacific allies, the National Security Bureau (NSB) said yesterday.

Tsai is scheduled to deliver a speech to the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands, but the visit will likely be clouded by political instability in the country, NSB Director-General Peng Sheng-chu (彭勝竹) said at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, where he assured lawmakers that the president’s visit would not be affected.

Nine ministers of the Solomon Islands Cabinet, including former Solomon Islands deputy prime minister Manasseh Maelanga, resigned over the weekend and plan to initiative a vote of no confidence against Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare when parliament reconvenes on Monday next week.

Asked whether the bureau had received any information about the vote prior to Tsai’s visit, Peng said officials had known about political instability, but added that the motion was raised “much earlier than expected.”

Asked by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Yu-ling (呂玉玲) about Tsai’s safety, he said there were no security concerns.

Although the no-confidence motion is likely to pass, “both the prime minister and leader of the opposition party are friendly toward Taiwan, and parliament has approved a motion to call an extraordinary session for Tsai’s speech, with all members scheduled to attend,” Peng said, in response to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lo Chih-cheng’s (羅致政) question about whether the speech might be interrupted.

Peng said he visited the three South Pacific allies prior to Tsai’s trip and collected intelligence from local politicians.

Even though the bureau did not have the final say on the president’s trip, Peng said he would take responsibility for scheduling the visit at a sensitive time.

The political instability is unrelated to China and was caused by domestic politics, he added.

Separately, the bureau said China’s electronic “Taiwan compatriot travel document” poses little threat to security.

Asked by Lo whether China would be able to remotely locate the cards, NSB Deputy Director Kuo Chung-hsin (郭崇信) said that the embedded chip is only capable of sending and receiving transmissions as far as 12m, making it impossible to track the cards.

“It might be possible to track a card in places such as an airport, where there are many sensors, but it would be unlikely outside of such places,” Kuo said.

The chip is similar to that used in biometric passports, and while the cards pose little threat to security, Taiwanese are not encouraged to use it, he added.

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