NEWS (Melanesian/Pacific) 1/8/12

1)Peter O’Neill i kisim askim long kamapim gavman

Updated 1 August 2012, 20:29 AEST

Gavana General blong Papua New Guinea i askim pinis care taker praim minista, Peter O’Neill long kamapim nupla gavman long kantri.

ABC niusman long Papua New Guinea,  Liam Fox  i ripot olsem tede ilektoral komisina, Andrew Trawen ibin givim ol ofisa risalt blong ileksan igo long Gavana general long Gavman Haus long Konedobu.

Parti blong Peter O’Neill em oli kolim long People’s National Congress Party ibin winim 27 ol seats na aninit long loa blong PNG gavana general i askim em long kamapim gavman.

Mr O’Neill itok emi tok oraet long despla askim blong Gavana General.  //I want to thank the people of Papua New Guinea for he confidence they’ve extended to People’s National Congress party.//

Mr O’Neill i kamapim pinis wanpla ko-olisan wantem ol liklik pati, na sampla indipendan memba . Emi tok tu olsem emi gat sapot ikam long 80pla palaman memba.

Palaman bai holim miting long Fraide, we oli ting bai oli makim Mr O’Neill olsem Praim Minista.radioaustralia

2)O’Neill invited to form PNG govt

By Online Editor
4:22 pm GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Papua New Guinea

Peter O’Neill is likely to be invited to form Papua New Guinea’s next government, a spokesman for Governor General Sir Michael Ogio says.

The announcement comes as O’Neill’s former deputy Belden Namah takes out newspaper ads offering up the job of prime minister if MPs form government with his embattled PNG party.

O’Neill, 46, is expected to arrive at government house with as many as 80 out of 111 parliamentarians to witness electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen present election writs to the Governor General.

He will then be formally invited to form government, after which he is expected to be elected on the floor of parliament on Friday.

It will be his fourth time in 12 months to be elected on the floor of parliament.

“He will be invited at 3pm today, yes,” the Governor General’s official secretary Tito Vuatha, told AAP.

A spokesman for O’Neill said the 46 year old incumbent prime minister was due to fly from Alotau in the country’s south to Port Moresby on Wednesday, but said advice was still pending on the timing of the ceremony.

O’Neill formed a surprising coalition once the results of the delay-marred and internationally-criticised election became clear.

He gained the backing of Sir Michael Somare, the long time prime minister whose job ended when O’Neill and his recent deputy PM Belden Namah formed an anti-Somare coalition on 02 August last year.

A year to the day later and the political romance between Namah and O’Neill is over.
“I would like to remind every Papua New Guinean, especially the re-elected and newly elected leaders, that governments are formed on the floor of parliament,” Namah said in the newspaper advertisement.

“I am prepared to discuss and to offer the position of Prime Minister in the interest of our people and our country.”

Namah split with O’Neill during the campaign, accusing him of allowing the logistically troubled, but largely peaceful, election to go ahead.

At his camp in Kokopo in New Britain province the former soldier, prison inmate and deputy prime minister is understood to have fewer than 20 MPs at his side.

O’Neill has frequently denied in the local press his temporary political headquarters in Alotau is a camp – an almost political tradition in PNG where MPs are locked down for a period until government is formed.

One recently elected MP, former Trade Union Congress president Michael Malabag, said the Alotau meeting was a government planning session.

“I took part in constructive planning discussions within the Alotau Camp on issues close to my heart,” he said on Facebook, before listing a raft of discussion points including establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

“We have in our camp highly qualified n very humble MP’s n judging from the nature of ur discussions I know that ur people matter most.”

Just more than 100 out of PNG’s 111 seats of parliament have been declared.


3)World’s largest butterfly threatened in PNG

Updated 1 August 2012, 22:44 AEST

The world’s largest butterfly is under threat in Papua New Guinea from habitat destruction.

The growth of large swathes of oil palm is threatening the world’s largest butterfly, the Queen Alexandra. (Credit: AFP)

The Queen Alexandra, which is only found in three areas of PNG’s Oro province, has a wingspan of 30 centimetres in females and exhibits bright colours to ward off prey.

Queen Alexander butterfly expert, Tom Diwai Vigus, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program the species faces extinction caused by the effects of logging and palm oil plantation.

“Logging, per se, does not kill the butterfly – it’s when there is habitat change,” Mr Vigus said.

While there is a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which aims to protect such habitats, illegal trade in the butterflies also harms the population.

Although the butterflies are covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, they can fetch close to $10,000 a pair when illegally traded.

Mr Vigus says community awareness may be key to saving the species.

“We need to try to get the people to work together to save whatever remnant rainforest is still there.”radioaustralia.

4)Solomon Islands cabinet refuses to approve UN report on women before CEDAW meeting

By Online Editor
09:46 am GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands cabinet has refused to approve a report on women in time for its submission to a meeting of a United Nations gender discrimination committee.

Solomon Islands is one of the few states party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that has never submitted a country report.

The permanent secretary for the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs says cabinet has not explained its decision to withhold the report.

But Ethel Sigimanu said this denies Solomon Islands the opportunity to inform the committee of the progress it is making on meeting its obligations under the convention.

“But also it means we will be denied of some guidance by the CEDAW committee as to what Solomon Islands as a state party needs to perhaps focus priority attention on.”

Sigimanu said although she’s very discouraged, her ministry will forge on with attempts to implement CEDAW.

5)Solomons Politicians Allegedly Taking Money From Rural Fund
Officials supposedly demanding cash for ‘constituency payments’

By Alfred Sasako

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 1, 2012) – Solomon Islands politicians appear to have found a way round Treasury requirements that funding from the SB$50 million-a-year [US$6.8 million] Rural Livelihood Fund be paid directly to suppliers instead of through Members of Parliament (MP).

Each Constituency is allocated SB$1 million [US$135,100] in Rural Livelihood Funding, which is tax-payer funded, each year. This money is intended for micro-project funding in all 50 Constituencies.

The only requirement is that no hard cash be provided to MPs from this source.

Instead, MPs are required to provide quotes for projects to be funded to the Ministry of Rural Development and Indigenous Affairs.

Payments would then be made directly to the supplier and MPs would simply collect the items on order.

However, sources claimed some politicians have now found a way round this requirement in an attempt to get their hands on the hard cash.

Earlier this year, for example, several MPs placed their orders for solar units and in some cases, iron roofing through a newly created company, said to be operating from a house in the outskirts of Honiara.

“These MPs authorized the Ministry of Rural Development and Indigenous Affairs to approve the orders and to pay the company the value of each order,” sources familiar with the elaborate scheme said.

“One MP placed an order worth about SB$900,000 [US$121,590]. The other ordered solar units valued at around SB$400, 000 [US$54,040]. I guess there’s nothing wrong with this as it is in line with the Treasury requirements,” one source said.

“The problem is that when these huge orders arrived and payments were made, MPs marched up to the company and demanded their Constituency money be reimbursed,” the source said. It is not clear if the company had relented.

It is understood however the company has refused to reimburse MPs directly and instead opted to reimburse the Ministry if MPs insisted with their demand for the reimbursements.

Sources familiar with the elaborate scheme say the practice is widespread and is entrenched in just about every industry and service sector.

The use of the Rural Livelihood Fund for solar purchases appears to be a duplication as solar funding is appropriated separately under the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification.

This year for example, some SB$10 million [US$1.4 million] was allocated in the 2012 Development Budget for solar lighting.

Sources have confirmed that this money had been shared amongst MPs, with each having received some SB$188, 000 [US$25,398] apiece.

Solomon Star

6)Mentoring program to train 500 young people in Solomon Islands to help get a job

By Online Editor
1:01 pm GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Solomon Islands

Five hundred young Solomon Islanders will take part in a unique mentoring and training program to receive basic skills to help boost job prospects.

The program offers youths the chance to work as an intern with companies in Honiara and receive valuable work experience. This will be supported by training on how to write a job application, preparing curriculum vitaes, interview techniques, ethics and code of conduct.

The program, a partnership between the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Ministry of National Reconciliation, Unity and Peace and the AusAID-funded Pacific Leadership Program, also matches youth with successful community role models who will play an active role in mentoring and building confidence of young people.

SPC Coordinator in Solomon Islands, Mia Rimon, said the mentoring and internship program is a national initiative for unemployed youth who are school leavers or graduates.

“It gives young people basic skills and knowledge, as well practical job experience which hopefully will lead to formal employment,” said Rimon.

“We will employ 500 youth in the mentoring program with aim of leading to full time paying jobs. We hope that by using community, business and government mentors and partners, we will be able to tackle some of the issues with growing youth unemployment and disenfranchisement.”

Rimon said the program will be Honiara focused for the first year but if successful, will also be extended to the provinces.

Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Matt Anderson, said that the mentoring program is an important first step in getting unemployed youths into work.

“The program provides a unique opportunity for young unemployed people to obtain skills and work experiences which will help set them up for long term employment and ensure they make a positive contribution to the success of Solomon Islands,” Mr Anderson said.

“This also supports Solomon Islands Government’s own policies to address youth issues as well as SPC’s Regional Youth Employment Framework.”.


7)‘Desperate’ Solomons Students In Fiji Waiting On State Stipends
Reportedly foraging for food from USP campus breadfruit trees

By Ednal R. Palmer

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 1, 2012) – Solomon Islands students studying at the University of South Pacific’s Laucala campus in Fiji are reportedly in a desperate situation to survive.

A Laucala student Sitiveni Shadds said some students are now surviving on breadfruits around the campus.

“Others who are able to secure lending funds will have to repay a substantial amount of interest on top of what they owed from lenders when they get their allowances,” Mr. Shadds said.

The students had been pleading for the Government to pay up their allowances, but said no payments had been received to date.

Mr. Shadds said it was a heartbreaking and discouraging sight when some students resort to fruits around the campus to help settle their stomachs.

“Student could not purchase their course materials which is the most important and crucial thing to our learning.”

He said students are hunting everywhere at the moment for financial help from those who can lend money.

“Students renting off campus are facing the risk of being told to vacate their residences due to the non payment of rent.”

Mr. Shadds added that it was sad to see Solomon Islands students sitting in groups around the campus just to talk and seek news from each other about their allowances.

“Some students renting on campus could not access university online services because of rental arrears and clothes are now washed without washing detergents.

“We need Mr. Lilo’s government to do something about the situation so we can continue with classes effectively.”

The students only just started the second semester classes more than a week ago but their allowance was yet to be settled.

The students last received their allowance two months ago prior to the mid semester break.

Solomon Star

8)2 Vanuatu Ministers Implicated In Vila Harbor Yacht Raid
Drugs, forged documents discovered by police in second operation

By Thompson Marango and Royson Willie

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 31, 2012) – Another Vanuatu police raid yesterday morning on the mega yacht Phocea, stumbled upon a substance in plastic bag that may be opium, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade.

But Daily Post sources said at this stage the confiscated item will have to be tested if it is really opium.

The raid was undertaken yesterday through the leadership of the Transnational Crime Unit and police Maritime Wing.

After the police searched the yacht, Daily Post was reliably informed that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfred Carlot who was returning from an overseas visit would be searched by the police upon his arrival at Bauerfield Airport yesterday.

But the minister was reportedly not on the first flights yesterday early afternoon.

Daily Post has also been told that the Minister of Education, Marcellino Pipite, who was returning from overseas was also expected to receive the same treatment in relation to recent police investigations.

Yesterday’s last international flight came in around 11pm after Daily Post went to press.

Mr. Carlot and Mr. Pipite were two of the government ministers who allegedly went on board the Phocea, “owned” by Anh Quan Saken, Vanuatu’s nominated Honorary Consul to Vietnam.

[PIR editor’s note: Vanuatu Internal Affairs minister George Wells has effected the suspension of the transnational crime unit’s head, Andrew Kalman, while an “information blackout” on the police investigation at Port Vila is apparently in full swing. Opposition members of Vanuatu’s government have alleged that a major cover-up is being undertaken.]

Meanwhile, the former Commissioner of the now-defunct Vanuatu Maritime Authority (VMA), Mr. Less Napuati, told Daily Post yesterday that he ceased to represent VMA when the VMA Act was repealed by parliament about four years ago.

He said the signature of the former VMA Commissioner that was reported by Daily Post yesterday were his but the signatures were forged because he has seen a copy of such document.

Mr. Napuati said he was shown a copy of the documents held by the yacht, which had his signature on it and he told police that his signature was forged.

“Every documentation that they (those on the yacht) said I signed are false documents as I never signed any such documents.

“I have already submitted a police statement to confirm that my signature was forged and the documents were forged documents,” Mr. Napuati told Daily Post yesterday.

On another case that is also linked to the whole investigation behind the mega yacht, Chairman of the Citizenship Commission, Joe Aranambath, has pleaded not guilty to charges of ‘obtaining citizenship by false and misleading statements’ and ‘complicity of obtaining citizenship by false and misleading statements’.

Three others who also appeared before Senior Magistrate, Rita Naviti this week were also charged with the same charge(s).

Hiva Matiujaje and Michel Gangatadlakepa, the Tongan and Samoan national who were also charged with obtaining citizenship by false and misleading statements have also pleaded not guilty.

Only one of the defendants, Solomon Mangau pleads guilty to the two charges of ‘obtaining citizenship by false and misleading statements’ and ‘complicity of obtaining citizenship by false and misleading statements’.

According to Public Prosecutor, Tristan Garae, the defendant who pleaded guilty will have to wait for the trials of those who pleaded not guilty. According to the Prosecutor, the defendant who pleaded guilty will only be convicted if the there is conviction in the trials of the other three defendants.

The Citizenship Commission Chairman and the other two defendants are expected to reappear before the Magistrate for trail on August 29 and 30 and September 5 and 6.

In court Thursday this week the Prosecution side has also made an application to the court seeking the court to hold the Tongan and Samoan in remand but the application was rejected by the court as there were not enough evidence to prove that they may be interrupting further Police investigations.

The prosecution has also tried to support its application with claims that the duo who arrived in the mega yacht Phocea that was suspected of being involved in smuggling high powered arms, money laundering and breaching related maritime boarder laws have breached court order.

The court was informed by the prosecution that the duo may also be a threat to their landlord whom are said to feel insecure in their property. There were also claims that the two defendants have also been assisting the mega yacht’s skipper disembarking crew members which is a breach of court order.

But the magistrate was not convinced by the Prosecution since there were no official charges being laid against the yacht’s skipper.

The defense council convinced the Magistrate that there is not enough evidence to hold the duo on remand. Therefore the duo whom one has been remanded but released on bail earlier for attempting to board a plane to New Zealand, are now on bail awaiting trial.

At this stage Daily Post could not get any confirmation if those involved in the arrests had any connections to the triads.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

9)Accountants convicted of offshore tax scams link to Vanuatu

By Online Editor
09:43 am GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Australia

Robert Agius, the former Vanuatu-based chartered accountant arrested in a crackdown on offshore tax avoidance, was found guilty of defrauding the commonwealth in Sydney Tuesday.

Agius and Kevin Zerafa, a former employee of a Sydney accountancy firm, were both convicted of tax avoidance charges after a trial that lasted almost five months.

The two men worked with the late Sydney accountant Owen Trevor Daniel on a tax avoidance scheme for companies. It involved false invoices for management fees, consulting services and insurance premiums to non-existent companies in overseas tax havens.

Lawyers for Zerafa had argued that as he was 23 at the time, he was acting under the influence of Daniel’s personality.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two of the co-accused and former employees of the firm, Carol Abibadra and Deborah Jandagi. Jandagi is the daughter of the late Daniel, who played a key role in creating the tax avoidance scheme.

According to commonwealth prosecutor Peter Neil SC, the scheme relied on tax returns that “contained false information about non-existent expenses and disguised the true nature of the monies brought into Australia”.

The jury heard money would be returned to business owners through payments of $50,000 of cash in brown paper bags by Agius’s best friend, Arthur Isbester. Isbester was recently convicted for his role.

Agius and Zerafa will return to the NSW Supreme Court next week for sentencing submissions.

10)Vanuatu officer Kalman to challenge suspension amid Phocea probe

Posted at 23:56 on 31 July, 2012 UTC

The suspended head of Vanuatu’s transnational crime unit, Andrew Kalman, says he wants to find out who is behind his suspension last Friday.

Mr Kalman was part of the team investigating the yacht, the Phocea, which was searched ten days ago on suspicion it carried guns.

He says drugs were found which he says had been brought from the Port Vila area to the boat.

Mr Kalman says he believes the government’s move to suspend him is linked to the Phocea probe, which is also investigating the alleged presence on the boat of two government ministers.

He says greed and special interests are behind his suspension, which he says has disappointed his immediate superior.

“I’m willing to find out who was the official complainant for my suspension, and I’m willing  to take it further in relation to criminal defamation.”

Police have declined all comment and the opposition suspects there is a major cover-up.

Radio New Zealand International

11)Deepening mystery around seized Vanuatu yacht

By Online Editor
1:11 pm GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Vanuatu

Two men who crewed one of the world’s most glamorous super-yachts, now detained in Vanuatu, have tried to flee to New Zealand, the Vanuatu Daily Post reports.

The 75-metre long Phocea was seized last week amidst speculation that it was running drugs, arms and was involved in money laundering.

Police also said at the time that two cabinet ministers were aboard but a tight news blackout has now been imposed.

The head of the country’s transnational crime unit, Andrew Kalman, said in the wake of the initial raid on the yacht, he had been suspended from his job.

Last week Vanuatu police confirmed they launched the operation and arrested four people, including the skipper.

Police said the yacht had 16 crew members including a Samoan and a Tongan who had been taken into custody.

The two, named as Hiva Matiujaje and Michel Gangatadlakepa, have appeared in the Magistrate’s Court on charges of obtaining Vanuatu citizenship by false and misleading statements. The prosecution attempted to have them remanded in custody, telling the court that both men had earlier been on bail but had been stopped trying to board a plane for New Zealand.

Neither name is a recognised one in Tonga or Samoa.

The men, pleading not guilty, will go to trial later this month.

The Daily Post said there was another raid on Phocea on Monday and items were confiscated.

It said police were also seeking the cabinet ministers for questioning.

Radio New Zealand International today reported that Kalman said his suspension is linked to the Phocea probe.

He said greed and special interests were behind his suspension, which he says has disappointed his immediate superior.

“I’m willing to find out who was the official complainant for my suspension, and I’m willing to take it further in relation to criminal defamation,” he told RNZI.

Police refused to say anything further about the yacht, still moored in Vila Harbour.

The yacht had sailed from Italy through the Panama Canal, to Tonga and arrived in Vila nearly a fortnight ago.

Although Phocea is formally flagged to Luxembourg, the Post says it is owned by a Thai national Anh Quan, who became a Vanuatu citizen this year. He is a principal in a company known as Amazonia Of The Pacific which is attempting to market agricultural produce internationally.

Phocea was built in France in 1976 and at the time was the largest yacht in the world.

In 1997, Lebanese businesswoman Mouna Ayoub purchased it for 5.5 million euros part funding it by selling a 112 carat diamond. She is reputed to have spent US$20 million refitting the yacht.

12)New European Investment Bank President to visit Vanuatu

By Online Editor
1:05 pm GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Vanuatu

The newly elected President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) based in Luxembourg has confirmed in a letter addressed to the Ambassador of Vanuatu in Brussels that he plans to visit Port Vila in the next few weeks as part of his first assignment and official engagement with the Pacific ACP States and Governments.

Dr Werner Hoyer plans to visit Port Vila between the 21 – 23 August where he is expected to pay a courtesy call on the Head of State, Iolu Johnson Abbil as well as meet with the Head of Government, Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, according to communication from the EIB headquarters to Vanuatu’s Ambassador in Brussels, Roy Mickey Joy.

Dr Hoyer is also expected to meet with the Minister for Finance and Economic Development, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, who is Vanuatu s focal point in the European Investment Bank.

As submitted by the Vanuatu PM at the recent 37th session of the ACP- EU Joint Council of Ministers meetings in Port Vila in June,  the 15 Pacific ACP states including Vanuatu strongly proposed the re-location of the Pacific EIB Regional Office currently based in Sydney, Australia to one of the Pacific ACP capitals.

Vanuatu has formally submitted a letter to the President of the European Investment Bank to this effect and it is likely the Prime Minister Kilman will be raising this with the visiting EIB Head Vanuatu’s keen interests to house this facility in Port Vila.

The European Investment Bank is entrusted with the management of the ACP EU Investment Facility, a revolving fund which meets the financing needs of investment projects in the ACP regions with a broad range of flexible risk- bearing instruments.

The Banks overriding aim in the ACP States like Vanuatu is to support projects that deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits and concentrates its efforts on fostering private sector –led initiatives that promote economic growth and have a positive impact on the wider community.

A standing example of the EIB assistance to Vanuatu is the Bukura Wind farm project which was successfully negotiated by the Government of Vanuatu in close collaboration with UNELCO limited and the SUEZ Group in France and costs over Euro 4.7 million in 2009. This project is a classical example of the ACP – EU Public Private Sector Partnership.


13)UMP in Caledonia incensed at French use of Kanaky

Posted at 05:29 on 01 August, 2012 UTC

New Caledonia’s anti-independence Rassemblement-UMP has been angered by the French overseas territories minister, Victorin Lurel, for adding the name Kanaky in his reference to the territory’s name.

The party’s Gael Yanno, who is Noumea’s deputy mayor, says using the term New Caledonia-Kanaky is a provocation.

The minister used the expression after a Paris meeting with the president of New Caledonia’s northern province, Paul Neaoutyine.

Mr Yanno says he is warning the Socialist French government that it will fight any unilateral move which goes against New Caledonia remaining part of France.

 Radio New Zealand International

14)France ordered to pay New Caledonian inmates compensation

Posted at 02:08 on 01 August, 2012 UTC

A court in New Caledonia has ordered the French state to pay compensation to 30 inmates for locking them up in conditions devoid of human dignity.

The ruling follows a complaint by about 100 prisoners whose case was lodged with the help of the International Observatory of Prisons and the territory’s Human Rights League.

In the ruling applying only to the first 30 inmates, the state has been ordered to give each of them 200 US dollars plus compensation of between 1,000 and 7,000 dollars depending on the length of their incarceration.

According to the submissions, the jail conditions are degrading, with inmates being kept in overcrowded and rat-infested cells for 23 hours a day, and only let out twice for half an hour.

The Camp Est jail was built in the 19th century and suffers from some of the most serious overcrowding of any French-run detention centre.

Last month, New Caledonia’s two members of the French National Assembly decried the conditions at the territory’s jail, saying the situation is explosive and the conditions are unworthy.

Radio New Zealand International

15)Business people relieved at re-installment of NZ, Australia and Fiji high commissioners

By Online Editor
09:56 am GMT+12, 01/08/2012, New Zealand

 The President of the New Zealand Fiji Business Council Rick Reid says there’s relief that top level diplomatic ties have been resumed between Fiji and New Zealand and Australia.

The three countries have agreed at a meeting of their foreign ministers to re-install high commissioners and relax sanctions after tit for tat diplomatic expulsions three years ago following the 2006 coup.

The move is aimed at supporting Fiji as it prepares for elections in 2014.

Rick Reid says some areas of business have suffered because of recent Fiji-New Zealand relations and Fiji’s policy of cultivating trade and diplomatic links with China.

“Their Look North policy has really hurt us. Since 2006 Fijians have got out and met another 126 countries round the world and I suggest one hundred did not even know about Fiji. Fiji seems to be booming and over the last eighteen months we’ve actually lost out on that.”

In a related development, a Fiji union leader, Felix Anthony, says there’s much disappointment in Fiji over New Zealand, Australia and Fiji’s decision to restore full diplomatic links.

Anthony, who is National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, said Canberra and Wellington are jumping the gun as the Fiji regime has yet to prove the constitution review preceding elections is truly democratic.

“The decision was a bit hasty, premature, simply because we haven’t seen anything concrete on the ground as yet in terms of improvement to human rights, trade union rights in this country and also there have been some serious concerns that have been raised by almost every organisation in this country which are concerned to see a return to democracy.”

Anthony said a lot of people in Fiji are not as optimistic as the Australian and New Zealand governments that there will be a free and fair election in 2014.


16)Fiji court to sentence ousted PM Qarase on Friday

Posted at 02:08 on 01 August, 2012 UTC

The Fiji high court will pronounce on Friday what sentence will be given to the ousted prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

Yesterday he was found guilty of nine charges relating to abuse of office before entering politics, and today a former political rival and a deposed vice-president were among those speaking at his mitigation hearing.

Ricardo Morris reports from Suva.

“Qarase’s lawyers asked for a non-custodial sentence with an option for community work.  His lawyers said a prison term was not warranted, and that his fall from grace is complete. But the prosecutors asked for a jail sentence, saying he has not shown remorse. Prosecutor Elizabeth Yang the court asked for consecutive sentences of one year each for charges relating to discharge of duty with respect to property in which he had a private interest. Judge Priyantha Fernando’s will consider whether the lapse of time since the offence of 20 years, is favourable to Qarase.”

Radio New Zealand International

17)Former rival takes stand in support of convicted ousted Fiji PM

Posted at 01:06 on 01 August, 2012 UTC

A former political rival and a deposed vice president of Fiji have appeared in a Suva court this morning in support of Fiji’s convicted ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

The 72 year old political leader is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of nine corruption-related charges.

Sally Round reports.

“The Suva High Court was jam-packed again this morning to hear character witnesses give evidence before Qarase’s sentencing. They include Mick Beddoes who was leader of the opposition before the 2006 coup which saw Qarase ousted as prime minister. Qarase’s doctor and a former vice-president Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi also took the stand. The charges  brought by Fiji’s Independent Commission Against Corruption date back to offences committed in the 1990s while he was employed as a company director and board advisor. Justice Priyantha Fernando’s sentence is expected in the next day or so.”

Radio New Zealand International

18)Half of Fiji’s people suffer from anaemia

Posted at 02:08 on 01 August, 2012 UTC

Nutritionists in Fiji say poor diets have caused up to half the population to suffer from anaemia.

The Fiji Nutrition Centre has begun marking its annual National Nutrition Month with the theme Act Against Anaemia.

A Senior Nutritionist Ateca Kama says a survey in 2004 concluded that half the population of 800,000 had anaemia, with one in every two children under the age of two and one in every three women suffering from it.

She says recent surveys have suggested some improvements, but poor diets still affect hundreds of thousands of people.

“We are not eating our traditional foods that we used to eat. There’s a lot of dependence on processed foods, imported foods. There’s a shift from eating traditional iron-rich foods and vegetables to more processed foods. And there’s also a bit of eating the wrong kinds of foods.”

Ateca Kama says another survey on the rate of anaemia will be carried out in 2014.

Radio New Zealand International

19)Fiji must still feel the pressure

By Online Editor
09:41 am GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Australia

Editorial from the Australian

Foreign Minister Bob Carr needs to be careful not to give away too much, too soon, in Fiji. The agreement, with New Zealand, to return our respective high commissioners to Suva and allow Fiji to reappoint a high commissioner in Canberra is not an especially big deal.

But the danger is the country’s military strongman, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, will interpret it as reward for progress towards democratic reform when, in fact, there has been little. Any such misconception will do nothing to maintain the pressure needed to ensure an early return to elected civilian rule.

In a statement with his New Zealand and Fiji counterparts, Senator Carr explained the move would open channels of dialogue. That’s fair enough. But it needs to be placed in the context of Fiji’s tardy progress towards restoring democracy and Bainimarama’s penchant for promising much and delivering little. It is important to measure words against deeds and there is no escaping the reality that for all Bainimarama’s hype about elections promised for some time after September 2014 (eight years since he staged his second coup), the country is anything but free or democratic. The media is shackled, human rights are under constant threat, a ban on meetings has only just been lifted and trade unionists are imprisoned.

In their statement, Senator Carr and his colleagues spoke of progress towards the election, including preparations for constitutional consultations and electronic voter registration. There are indications the drafting commission, headed by the respected international constitutional expert Yash Ghai, is making some headway.

But it’s hardly enough to justify any accolades for Bainimarama that may be implied in the high commissioners’ return. It might have been prudent to await more tangible signs of progress towards reform before normalising relations. Even better would have been to make normalisation contingent on holding a demonstrably free and fair election, something that might have persuaded Mr Bainimarama to bring forward the distant date of 2014.

Now that Senator Carr has made his decision, however, the return of our high commissioner to Suva must be used to leverage even more pressure on Bainimarama for a democratic election to be held sooner rather than later.

20)Union leader says Australia and New Zealand jumping gun over Fiji

Posted at 01:06 on 01 August, 2012 UTC

A Fiji union leader, Felix Anthony, says there’s much disappointment in Fiji over New Zealand, Australia and Fiji’s decision to restore full diplomatic links.

The three countries have agreed at a meeting of their foreign ministers to re-install high commissioners following tit for tat expulsions in 2009, a move aimed at supporting Fiji as it prepares for elections in 2014.

But Mr Anthony, who is National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, says Canberra and Wellington are jumping the gun as the Fiji regime has yet to prove the constitution review preceding elections is truly democratic.

“The decision was a bit hasty, premature, simply because we haven’t seen anything concrete on the ground as yet in terms of improvement to human rights, trade union rights in this country and also there have been some serious concerns that have been raised by almost every organisation in this country which are concerned to see a return to democracy.”

Felix Anthony says a lot of people in Fiji are not as optimistic as the Australian and New Zealand governments that there will be a free and fair election in 2014.

Radio New Zealand International

21)AusAID’s Disability Reference Group, advocating for the Rights of People with disabilities in the Pacific

By Online Editor
12:57 pm GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Fiji

In a first for the Pacific, AusAID’s Disability Reference Group (DRG) will be holding high level meetings in Fiji with national, regional and international stakeholders to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

The DRG is an advisory group of senior international and Pacific leaders, including people with disabilities.  It helps to shape AusAID’s implementation of its strategy Development for All: Towards a Disability-Inclusive Australian Aid Program 2009 2014 and to ensure that Australia is informed by the voice of people with disability. The DRG also advises Australia on its international commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Members of the DRG are invited on the basis of their standing in the disability community, their knowledge and practical experience in disability-inclusive development, particularly in the Pacific and Asia regions.

Current members of the group are:  Ms Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo—Coordinator, Office for Disability and Inclusive Development, USAID,Mr. Monthian Buntan—Senator, Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, Setareki Macanawai— CEO, Pacific Disability Forum, Rosemary Kayess, Director, Human Rights and Disability Projects, Australian Human Rights Centre at the University of New South Wales, Deborah Rhodes, representing the Australian Disability and Development Consortium, Ingar Duering, head of Sector Initiative Persons with Disabilities, Social Protection Section, GIZ, Frederick Miller, Disability Coordinator, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Welcoming international delegates, Australia’s acting High Commissioner, Glenn Miles said, “Over the next three days the group will engage with senior stakeholders in the Pacific. We expect these meetings to draw attention to the importance of people with disability benefitting from development efforts in the same way as others.  We also look forward to the insights that AusAID’s Disability Reference Group will give the Australian Government on how to ensure that our aid program includes and benefits people with disability in the Pacific.”

“We are particularly pleased to have Pacific leaders strongly represented on the DRG. Setareki Macanawai, CEO, Pacific Disability Forum and Frederick Miller, Disability Coordinator, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat who will provide a strong Pacific voice to guide the group’s discussion and influence” said Miles.

“This week Pacific countries and development partners can showcase good-practice and learn from international development practice that benefits all people. This really is the first opportunity for a public and open discussion on disability and rights in the Pacific involving international experts and leaders, most of whom are people with disabilities themselves”, said Macanawai.

DRG member Senator Monthian Buntan from Thailand, says: “My slogan is that ‘I have given up on giving up’. I hope that this week of meetings inspires Pacific Islanders to keep working towards a situation where the 15 per cent of the world’s population with disability and their families enjoy the lives they choose to live.

22)Time to review the Pacific Plan

By Online Editor
09:40 am GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Fiji

A review of the Pacific Plan is expected to begin later this year.

Senior government officials from the region gathered today at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, as the Pacific Plan Action Committee (PPAC). PPAC reviews implementation of the Pacific Plan and provides high-level advice to Leaders on strengthening regional cooperation and integration.

PPAC will consider this week, among other things, a way forward for the review exercise for Pacific Islands Forum Leader’s consideration at their summit in the Cook Islands next month.

“The global and regional agenda is beginning to shift, and the Pacific Plan must remain relevant and contemporary to our situation of development, said the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade.

“We have an ideal opportunity to take stock of changes to the regional and international development agenda and ensure that the Pacific Plan continues to represent our highest aspirations for regionalism.”

Slade added that in any review of the Pacific Plan, Forum Island Countries and their experience of regionalism are at the heart of the debate.

“This is a Plan that must be owned by the region, and that speaks on behalf of and for the region to express our unique challenges.”

Slade stressed that the Pacific Plan has provided a high-level framework to articulate the priorities for the Pacific region to the global community.

“It has encouraged a collaborative approach amongst Forum Island Countries, regional agencies, development partners, and non-state actors, to the common challenges facing us today – challenges which individual countries cannot tackle alone, but only through collective effort.”

The PPAC meeting concludes tomorrow with the Committee forwarding its deliberations to the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting to be held in the Cook Islands next month.

PPAC meets as part of a series of regional officials’ meetings being held this week at the Secretariat in preparation for the upcoming Forum Leaders’ meeting. Other meetings include the Smaller Island States Officials Meeting, which concluded yesterday, and the Forum Officials Committee to convene from 2nd-3rd August.

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders adopted the Pacific Plan at their annual summit in 2005 as the region’s master strategy for regional cooperation and integration.

Leaders envisaged that the Pacific Plan would remain a ‘living document’ and be reviewed on a regular basis.

23)Seasonal worker program a ‘win-win’ for Australia, Pacific: Marles

By Online Editor
1:09 pm GMT+12, 01/08/2012, Australia

Australia‘s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Richard Marles, has told an international conference to launch the Pacific Seasonal Worker Program that the permanent program has a bright future.

Marles says under the program, 12,000 workers will be able to come to Australia over the next four years.

This week 150 delegates, including 40 from Pacific Island countries, have gathered in Sydney to hear how the Seasonal Worker Program will develop.

Marles says teething problems which resulted in disappointing numbers during the initial pilot have been addressed, and he is confident all 12,000 visas on offer will be filled.

He told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the program, which is open to eight Pacific countries as well as East Timor, is a win-win for economic development in Australia and the region.

“[The program] is going to make a real difference first of all the Australian economy, it really is going to make a huge difference to the productivity of our horticulture industry and other pilot industries,” Marles said.

“But I can’t tell you how important that is for the countries from which these workers come. On average they will be earning $US12,000 a season.

“This is revolution in terms of opportunity it provides these workers, and the prosperity it will provide for them back home.”

Since the Australian Government first set up its pilot Seasonal Work Program in 2009 1,500 workers have come from Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati to work in the horticulture industry.

Marles said horticulture will continue to play a central role in the program, which will include pilot schemes in the cotton, sugar cane, aquaculture industries and accommodation.

The program will also incorporate a tourism scheme for East Timorese workers.



24)Laisenia Qarase reconnu coupable de corruption

Posté à 1 August 2012, 8:51 AEST

Pierre Riant

L’ancien Premier ministre des îles Fidji a été renversé en décembre 2006 par l’actuel Premier ministre par intérim de l’archipel, Frank Bainimarama.

M. Qarase a ensuite été mis en examen par la nouvelle Commission indépendante de lutte contre la corruption.

Une mise en examen relative à son poste de directeur d’une société d’investissements ; un poste qu’il occupait avant de devenir Premier ministre. Toutefois, M. Qarase était aussi conseiller financier auprès du Conseil d’administration des Affaires fidjiennes et auprès du Grand conseil des chefs coutumiers.

Selon les médias fidjiens, les trois assesseurs de la Commission l’ont reconnu coupable des faits qui lui sont reprochés. Il risque 5 ans de prison et la sentence devrait être prononcée aujourd’hui.


25)Maria Liku finishes 8th in her category

By Online Editor
10:53 am GMT+12, 01/08/2012, United Kingdom

By Matai Akauola in London

Fiji’s Maria Liku improved her ranking at the London 2012 Olympics in the 63kg weightlifting category.

“It was an experience for me. I went out there and did my best,” said the young Levuka lass after completing her competition at the ExCel Center.

“I went out there and did my best lift.”

She snatched 92kg and clean & jerk 100kg.

The 22 –year-old was back at Games Village and says she’s not slackening down.

“There’s a lot of major international competitions ahead and I have to continue training.

“It is my first Olympics and it was a good experience,” said Liku.

PACNEWS coverage is made possible with funding from Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Youth & Sports ‘Promoting Healthy Islands Through Sport’ (HITS) and Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC).

26)Solomons team enjoying London Olympics

By Online Editor
10:48 am GMT+12, 01/08/2012, United Kingdom

By Matai Akauola in London

Olympic newcomer and caretaker President for Solomon Islands National Olympic Committee- James Iroga is satisfied with everything that London 2012 has to offer.

“So far so good, no problems,” said Iroga who’s got an elections coming up in November following drastic changes implemented by Oceania National Olympic Committee straight after the Pacific Games  last year because of governance and accountability issues.

Two of his athletes, judoka Tony Lamo and weightlifter Jenly Wini have finished their competition with better standings while two more both in athletics 100m- Pauline Kwalea (women) and Chris Walesi (men) will compete on Friday and Saturday respectively.

“We are okay and the athletes have performed to our expectation at this level of competition.

“In terms of the atmosphere here is very friendly we share with our friends too in the Pacific.

“We’ve warned our athletes about their diet there’s a lot of food here compare with way back home and athletes may eat and if they take little bit but its nutritious food so it’ll add on to their weight so we hope they compete quickly and start enjoying the food.”.

PACNEWS coverage is made possible with funding from Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Youth & Sports ‘Promoting Healthy Islands Through Sport’ (HITS) and Oceania National Olympic Committees



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