NEWS ( Melanesian/Pacific ) 22 August 2012
By Online Editor
4:55 pm GMT+12, 22/08/2012, Fiji
A source of strength for the Melanesian Spearhead Group bloc is its Trade Agreement, which sets the foundation for the region to grow economically says the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
Opening the second special summit of the MSG leaders Wednesday, Prime Minister Bainimarama said that since the Trade Agreement in 2005, anomalies have remained that prohibit the free flow of goods and services between our countries, particularly in relation to negative list provisions.
“The time has come to face this problem head-on and eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers on trade in goods. I urge all of us to work with our relevant agencies and stakeholders to overcome the roadblocks and regulatory challenges and work toward the full implementation of the MSG Trade Agreement,” Commodore Bainimarama said.
“The MSG is a regional group with huge potential. Together, we can achieve remarkable gains for the people of our countries.
Notwithstanding our individual sovereignties, we must continue to expand economic relationships within the bloc, which will help us focus individually on our respective strengths.”
Prime Minister Bainimarama said the MSG continued to strengthen its position as a significant organization in the region.
“I am informed that strong progress is being made by our officials in preparation for the implementation of the MSG “Skills Movement Scheme” by September of this year,” Commodore Bainimarama said.
“The review of the “Agreement Establishing the MSG” is proceeding well. The sub-committee on legal and institutional issues is continuing to meet in preparation for the Agreement’s finalization.”
The Prime Minister also told MSG leaders that the secretariat was advancing the peacekeeping and policing Initiatives.
“We have completed national consultations and begun discussions with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in New York regarding possible assistance for the MSG on its DPKO proposal,” Commodore Bainimarama said.
An official from the UN DPKO will visit the Secretariat later this month to work with the MSG Peacekeeping Officer in refining the MSG DPKO concept.
Prime Minister Bainimarama has extended an invitation to the MSG leaders to join him in the Engaging with the Pacific meeting that begins Thursday.
Meanwhile, the celebration of the Melanesian Spearhead Groups 25th anniversary in New Caledonia in 2013 will help maximise the emancipation cause of the Kanak people, says the Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.
Speaking as the chair of the MSG Special Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM), Ratu Inoke said, “Such a celebration must demonstrate our common goals towards the future of our Kanaky brothers and sisters”.
“It is therefore only fitting that we also discuss and be strategic in our preparations for the celebration in Kanaky land so that we would be able to maximize the rewards of this important opportunity,” he said.
The Minister recently led the 2nd Ministerial Mission to New Caledonia on August 13-18, 2012 where they observed some progress achieved under the Noumea Accord even though more work still remains to be undertaken.
“We have been able to obtain more information on the needs of the FLNKS and the Kanak people in their pursuit for self-emancipation from which we have made some sound recommendations with a view to effectively advancing the goals and the aspirations of the Kanaky people,” Ratu Inoke said.
He said the recognition by the United Nations of the work of the MSG in New Caledonia in the monitoring and assessment of the implementation of the Noumea Accord was a testament to the importance of the MSG’s role in the self-emancipation process.
Today’s FMM meeting is being attended by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of the Solomon Islands Clay Forau, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vanuatu Mr Jean Sese, High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea to Fiji. Mr Peter Eafeare, Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) Mr Victor Tutuguro.
Fiji’s High Commissioner to PNG, Romanu Tikotikoca is attending his first MSG meet as Fiji’s envoy and he was also part of the delegation for the Senior Officials Meeting which preceded the FMM.
By Online Editor
09:24 am GMT+12, 22/08/2012, Fiji
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has reiterated its support for the decolonisation bid by the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS).
Fiji’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation permanent secretary Saipora Mataikabara, who chaired the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of MSG member states, said the MSG hoped that after their deliberations the decolonisation bid will gain more prominence on the international arena.
This endeavour was to assist the FLNKS and their people in the struggle for self emancipation, she said.
“As many of you may recall, the Leaders at their Special meeting in March this year in Suva, called for this meeting to address pressing issues relating to our brothers and sisters from Kanaky,” Mataikabara said.
The current special meeting of SOM’s, Foreign Ministers meeting and the Leaders Summit is a result of ongoing discussions.
It comes after the call in March for a special meeting to look into the issue of decolonization and the 2nd MSG Ministerial Meeting to New Caledonia this month headed by the Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.
“I am informed that the Mission was conducted in a very transparent, open and frank manner, the findings of which are contained in the report referred to in Agenda Item 3 of our meeting,” the permanent secretary said.
“Our efforts in monitoring the progress on the Noumea Accord extend to a wider audience in sharing our findings with the United Nations therefore as Chair, I look forward to your views on this issue.”
Mataikabara also asked the senior officials to have a serious look at the MSG budget.
This, she said, was to enable them to render the best advice to the leaders through the Foreign Ministers Meeting on the avenues the MSG can take to prioritise and focus its attention and resources to deliver tangible outcomes for the nine million people the MSG nations represents.
“I am confident with the able support and cooperation of those of you present here today, we will discuss issues constructively and reach amicable outcomes to our Ministers of Foreign Affairs,” She said.
Meanwhile, the high level delegation to the Senior Officials Meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group indicates the cooperation of member states to the MSG, says the MSG Secretariat director general Peter Forau.
Forau said since taking office, this was the first time he had a high level delegation participate.
“Since I took this post this is the first time to have such senior level of representatives and I believe this is a genuine indication of cooperation within the MSG,” the director general said.
He said this should be the case always and the MSG secretariat will throw in all the support they can.
Forau cautioned the delegates to be responsible on discussions surrounding the deliberations on the Report on the second high level Ministerial Mission to New Caledonia that was ably headed by the Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and supported by two Ministers from the Solomon Islands.
This meeting took place from August 13-18, 2012 and was undertaken upon the request from the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste(FLNKS), which is one of the five MSG member states.
3)Heavy Flooding Reported In PNG’s Morobe Province
Hundreds homeless, infrastructure destroyed by flood waters
By Peter Korugl
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 21, 2012) – Hundreds of families in Papua New Guinea homeless and without food in flood devastated Morobe Province as provincial authorities and the Disaster and Emergency Service step up efforts to move relief supplies to affected villages.
According to reports yesterday, all rivers in the province burst their banks and the flood waters have swept away homes, food gardens and destroyed roads and bridges, cutting off access to schools and health facilities in the affected districts.
“From the preliminary reports I am getting, Finschhafen, Sialum, Tewai-Siassi, Nawae and Menyamya districts are affected by the flooding and landslips.
“A team comprised of officers from the provincial administration and the disaster centre in Lae is going into the affected areas to assess the situation.
“In the meantime, we are organizing relief supplies including food rations, fresh water and medicines to be moved to the affected areas,” a concerned Governor Kelly Naru said last night.
[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International reports disaster official Charlie Masange has discounted statements from local media concerning the alleged widespread damage, but confirms that bridges and food gardens in Finschhafen, Sialum and Tewai-Siassi have been wrecked.]
The Sialum district was the worst affected with over 8,000 families left homeless and they would run out of food in the next few days, while children were staying away from schools and those needing medical attention were finding it hard to access treatment at health facilities because of the damage to the roads and bridges.
In a report, the Sialum Local Level Government manager Moses Linonge said 12 bridges, including wet crossings, have been completely destroyed, cutting off access to Finschhafen and the outside world.
The flooding that had destroyed the roads and bridges had also destroyed food crops and contaminated water sources, leaving people with no clean and safe water for cooking and drinking. The food gardens for the population on Kanome, Kanzarua, Walingai, Ago, Wandokai and part of Kubegong villages were destroyed.
“It is predicted that the heavy rain will continue for some time and it will be awhile before clean water is available. Urgent relief food supplies and water is needed by the victims,” Mr. Linonge said.
The destruction of the road network had affected the delivery of Government services while access to Lae, the provincial capital, and Sialum was cut off. Travel by banana boats was out of question because of the rough seas, while the absence of a shipping service between Lae and Sialum compounded the problems.
Detail assessment on the families affected and food crops would be provided by the DAL (Department of Agriculture and livestock) officers in a few days. “They are currently carrying out assessment on the damaged food crops or gardens,” Mr. Linonge said.
Mr Naru said all reports on affected areas were being prepared, which would guide the provincial administration as well as the disaster centre in Lae to provide relief supplies and rebuild the damaged infrastructure.
“My Governor is aware of the devastation in the province and is moving quickly on relief supplies as a short term measure. We will have to assess the destruction to the infrastructure and get help to rebuild the roads and bridges,” Governor Naru said.
He said his administration was doing everything possible to help the people rebuild their lives and restore normalcy in the affected districts.
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
By Online Editor
4:38 pm GMT+12, 22/08/2012, Papua New Guinea
Sir Puka Temu has become the first Papua New Guinea cabinet minister to begin the new parliamentary term facing court charges.
The public services minister has been charged by police with perverting the cause of justice when he allegedly interfered with state witnesses during his last failed adultery case.
Sir Puka was supposed to appear at Waigani Committal Court yesterday but his attendance for the opening of parliament took precedence and he apologised to the court through his lawyer.
His lawyer also told the court that his firm had just been engaged and they would file a notice to represent Sir Puka in court.
The court granted an adjournment for Sir Puka to appear on Aug 29.
“You can appreciate that the matter commenced on June 19, so time has ticked from then on,” magistrate Rosie Johnson told Sir Puka’s lawyer.
“We have three months to dispense the matter so please advise the honourable member to appear.”
Police files have now been prepared and Sir Puka’s lawyer will respond to the submissions.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
5)PNG PM accused of using public funds for election campaign
Posted at 10:38 on 22 August, 2012 UTC
Papua New Guinea’s deputy opposition leader has accused the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of using government resources for his party’s successful election campaign.
Sam Basil’s accusation comes after the Ombudsman Commission signalled it would investigate how funds were used by candidates in the recent general election.
Mr Basil says Mr O’Neill had an unfair advantage going into the election because of his position as Prime Minister.
“We believe that the PNC (People’s National Congress) which is the party of the Prime Minister, we believe that they may have used their influences, in terms of using government resources like aircraft, purchase orders, cheques in terms of paying for hire cars, plane tickets and other services which have been provided during the campaign period.”
Sam Basil says that his party, the PNG Party led by Opposition leader Belden Namah, was the only party to declare how much it would spend campaigning.
He says no public funds were used in their campaign.
Radio New Zealand International
6)Pacific support urged for West Papuan independence
Posted at 07:04 on 22 August, 2012 UTC
The Pacific Islands Forum and the New Zealand and Australian governments are being called on to be more supportive of independence for West Papua and to push for open access to the Indonesian province.
A campaign for human rights and self-determination for West Papua began this week, with support from the ethical cosmetics brand, Lush.
Demonstrations are being held at shops throughout Australia and New Zealand, including hanging the banned Morning Star flag in shop windows.
The Green Party MP, Catherine Delahunty, was at an Auckland demonstration and says the New Zealand government’s lack of action on the issue is not good enough.
“We want our government to say it’s time for a peace dialogue, we could be mediators of that dialogue, we could play a really good role as we have in other parts of the Pacific. But people are dying, some of the West Papuan leaders have been shot in the streets of West Papua in the last few months, there’s been an escalation of violence, there are terrible human rights violations and torture and it’s not OK for New Zealand to sit on the fence with this issue because they want trade with Indonesia.”
Catherine Delahunty says part of the problem is that there is very little knowledge of West Papua because of the limited access given to it.
Radio New Zealand International
By Online Editor
4:46 pm GMT+12, 22/08/2012, Australia
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed her counterpart from the Solomon Islands at an official Parliament House ceremony.
Under clear winter skies on Wednesday, the national anthem of the Solomon Islands was played as Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo inspected Australia’s ceremonial Federation Guard comprising members of the army, navy and air force.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Lilo’s wife were also present for the occasion, which included a flag-raising ceremony and booming multi-gun salute.
Lilo then signed the register outside the prime minister’s office, before the two leaders headed in for bilateral discussions.
Talks are expected to focus on regional security and the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which has been helping maintain law and order in the Pacific nation since 2003.
On Tuesday, Lilo met with Defence Minister Stephen Smith, who said Australia was planning on withdrawing RAMSI’s military component in the second half of 2013 as security improves in the Solomon Islands.
Meanwhile, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says his country will still need assistance even after the RAMSI mission comes to an end.
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands is being wound down next year and local authorities will have a greater responsibly for security.
Gordon Darcy Lilo is on a state visit to Australia, holding talks with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Opposition leader Tony Abbott on the future of RAMSI.
Lilo has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat it makes sense that the RAMSI presence changes to match the situation in the Solomons.
“As you make progress, there’s going to be a change in the level of engagement,” he said.
“You don’t expect full military people to be there when the situation has actually calmed down, but you would continue to have a more civilian, more development kind of cooperation.”
The Australian-led mission was deployed to Solomon Islands at the request of the Solomons Government, in 2003, in the wake of increasing ethnic tensions, and the deployment was boosted in 2006 following riots in Honiara.
Lilo says the presence of RAMSI has been vital in allowing things to get back to normal in Solomon Islands.
“It was a great relief to people when they see the country return to normalcy,” he said.
“When people start to see that they can go on with their own lives – studying, recommencing their own commercial activities, plan their own families.
“These are problems that humanity faces – not just in Solomon Islands, but elsewhere – and you can see the impact that it has on people.”
Last month, Honiara hosted the Festival of Pacific Arts, drawing thousands of artists from across the region.
Lilo says the success of that event shows Solomon Islands has returned to stability.
“That was the first time we have not seen the presence of the military visibly on the streets,” he said.
“It is the people that have actually helped…to ensure that everybody is well-behaved and that we have a trouble-free festival. So that shows the maturity and the change that has been brought about into the country.”
The military contingent of RAMSI is likely to withdraw in the second half of 2013.
Lilo says he expects some form of help from the region, even when the military component ends.
“There will still be a need for us to have an engagement for instance with bodies like Australia and New Zealand and even the multi-lateral institutions to be able to help the country to harness the resources they have,” he said
By Online Editor
12:34 pm GMT+12, 22/08/2012, Australia
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has paid tribute to the efforts of police, soldiers and civilians involved in the RAMSI mission for bringing stability to his country.
Since 2003, the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) to Solomon Islands has assisted the Solomons maintain security, law and justice.
Lilo is visiting Australia and has discussed the gradual transition to local authorities to provide security.
He’s says his country owes its current good prospects to the regional mission.
“May I, on behalf of the people and government of the Solomon Islands, recognise the bravery and commitment of the Australian civilians, policemen and women, the military and their colleagues in the region who saved my country,” he said.
“We thank them for their great determination, sacrifice and their great sense of humour as well.”
RAMSI is also made up of personnel from Tonga, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and a number of other Pacific Island Forum countries.
2013 will mark the 10th anniversary of RAMSI operations in the Solomons.
The Australian Government says it hopes to withdraw the mission’s military component by the second half of the year.
Lilo also paid tribute to the many RAMSI officers who have put their lives on the line – including Adam Dunning who was killed in the line of duty.
“Sometimes in these sorts of missions, unfortunate incidents do occur, and today I must pay my respects to your fallen son – a courageous young Australian protective services officer – the late Adam Dunning, who was shot and killed in the line of duty,” he said.
On the final day of his visit to Australia, Lilo will hold talks with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
9)Vanuatu PM Seeks Defamation Suit Against Transparency Group
Report says government allegedly lacks accountability
By Len Garae
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Aug. 21, 2012) – “I am putting Transparency (Vanuatu) on notice, to ask Government lawyers to file a case of defamation against it, both corporate as well as individual,” a disappointed Prime Minister Sato Kilman called from his home island of Malekula to say yesterday.
He said he is disappointed with Transparency Vanuatu for its feature articles on its page because they are not factual and yet are written to instigate doubt in the mind of the readers about the manner in which the Government carries out its functions.
He specifically referred to the article in the last issue which covered a wide variety of areas including “people still in their positions and collecting substantial salaries and allowances.”
TV asked about the suspensions of the Director of lands and Fraud Inspector Andrew Kalman and said eventually the public could be held accountable for “wrongful dismissals and paying substantial claims.”
One paragraph in the full page article read, “From the past few weeks, local and overseas media have been disclosing stories about the luxury Phocea yacht. One of the most media headlines started, “Politicians for sale?’ ‘Kilman’s blind eye’ over Phocea, ‘Phocea investors see Vanuatu as Amazonia of the Pacific,’ ‘Wells confirms suspension over serious allegations, ‘Deepening mystery around seized Vanuatu yacht’, ‘Opposition fears cover-up over Phocea search,’ ‘Mega Yacht owner is not Vanuatu consul in Singapore: Foreign Affairs’ and from the Independent’s paper last week with the headline ‘Latest Phocea twist.”
Of the article the Prime Minister said, “I am disappointed over it for the fact that (when) Transparency (Vanuatu) reports something, it should be factual and not draw people’s mind into doubt because transparency itself should be straight.
“How do they (TV) know that Government does not do something about those issues, which are investigative? Transparency is not a Government body therefore it is not privy on issues of Government, to repeat them over and over again,” Prime Minister Sato Kilman said.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
10)Vanuatu Provident Fund Offices Reopen With Increased Security
Protests, unhappy members prompted closure last week
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 21, 2012) – Staff at the Vanuatu National Provident Fund have resumed work under police security after protests prompted its closure last week.
Last week’s protests outside the Fund’s premises in Port Vila saw hundreds of people gathered allegedly unhappy with high salaries paid to senior staff, including the general manager, Aniva Tarilongi.
The crowd also alleged there was misuse of the members’ contributions by management, nepotism in the recruitment of new staff and a politicization of the pension provider.
As a result of the public anger, the Board of Directors suspended Mrs. Tarilongi and six senior staff.
A meeting at the Port Vila water front heard fears that the money is no longer safe, but the government has denied this. Another meeting is scheduled to take place this Thursday.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
By Online Editor
4:44 pm GMT+12, 22/08/2012, New Caledonia
The president of New Caledonia’s southern province, Pierre Frogier, has announced his resignation from the executive to focus on rebuilding his Rassemblement-UMP.
Frogier’s move comes after the party’s electoral set-back in June when it lost both seats in the French National Assembly to the rival anti-independence Caledonia Together party.
Local radio said Sonia Backes will be the party’s secretary general preparing the party congress in October.
The party has also announced that it will no longer back the pro-independence politician, Roch Wamytan, who is seeking to be re-elected as the president of the territorial Congress next week.
It said it will endorse Simon Loueckhote, who was the territory’s member of the French Senate for 19 years but who pulled out of the race after the UMP withdrew its support for him last year.
New Caledonia then elected Frogier to the senate.
12)Fiji in a flutter over Miss World costume
The owl costume worn by Fiji’s representative at the recent Miss World pageant has sparked outrage in Fiji, with many unconvinced the outfit represented Fijian culture.
The owl costume worn by Fiji’s representative at the recent Miss World pageant has sparked outrage in Fiji, with many unconvinced it accurately depicted Fijian culture.
Fiji Fashion Week organiser Ellen Whippy-Knight said she was horrified when she saw Koini Vakalomaloma’s costume, worn during the opening of the contest in Mongolia.
“I was in complete disbelief that Fiji could be represented with such a ridiculous party costume like that,” she told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program.
“It certainly does not depict what a traditional Fijian fashionable item is. It has no ties whatsoever with fashion in Fiji or Fiji itself.”
It is a view rejected by Miss World Fiji director Andhy Blake, who helped oversee Fiji’s entry into the competition.
“In ancient folklore in Fiji the owl was a guardian to our ancient chief and it was also a messenger,” he said.
Mr Blake said people had become confused about the difference between “national costume” and “traditional costume”.
“We are representing Fiji as a whole. There’s so many races that make up Fiji. We didn’t want to specify one particular outfit that was only going to represent one race. We decided to go with something a bit more different and that’s why we went with the owl.”
He said people in Fiji had responded negatively because they did not understand how the contest worked.
“The rest of the world has embraced what Fiji has showcased. As far as we’re concerned, we were there to promote Fiji as a brand and we did accomplish that. At the end of the day, it’s our own people here at home that need to educate themselves on the concept and selection criteria of Miss World.” radioaustralia.
By Online Editor
12:32 pm GMT+12, 22/08/2012, Fiji
Calls have been made by the vanua of Vuda to remove the position of prime minister and all responsibilities to be handled by the President and the vice president.
Presenting the submission of the vanua of Vuda to the Constitution Commission at Viseisei Village, former Labour Minister Ratu Tevita Momoedonu said the vanua of Vuda also wanted the Great Council of Chiefs and the three iTaukei confederacies to be abolished and the government initiated Land Bank closed.
Ratu Tevita, on behalf of the vanua of Vuda, said another submission was for the iTaukei Land Trust Board to be under the umbrella of the Ministry of Lands and all its officials to be civil servants.
He said the vanua of Vuda had also unanimously agreed that all the Roko Tui in all provincial iTaukei Affairs Board be removed and all responsibilities managed by the provincial administrator. Ratu Tevita said the parliament was to be renamed and known as the Legislative Assembly.
“Our submission is for the position of the prime minister to be abolished and all responsibilities to be taken care of by the President and the vice president,” said Ratu Tevita.
“The President and the vice president to be elected democratically by the people of Fiji and the two with the highest votes to take up the posts.
“There should be compulsory voting registration for all Fiji citizens aged 18 years and over and it should be made mandatory for all to elect the President, vice president and members of the legislative assembly members.
“The 71 seats in parliament should be abolished and replaced instead by 26 members that will make up the Legislative Assembly.”
Meanwhile, a total of 437,692 voters are now registered for the 2014 elections.
This provisional total was achieved after 4,233 voters got registered across different Voter Registration Centres across the country Monday.
The Central Division recorded the highest turnout of 2,227 while 1,965 registered in the Western, 41 in the Northern and none registered in the Eastern Division.
To date, 171,580 voters have been registered in the Central Division, 166, 182 in the Western, 76,371 in the Northern and 21,332 in the Eastern Division. With the Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) ending this month, the Elections Office is urging people to come forward and register themselves.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/ FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
14)Fiji Constitutional Commission Unfazed By Criticisms
Yash Ghai says commission not pressured by Bainimarama’s comments
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 21, 2012) – The Chairman of Fiji’s Constitution Commission, Yash Ghai, has brushed off criticism from the leader of the Fiji regime that he is being pressured by non-governmental organizations and politicians.
Last week, Commodore Frank Bainimarama chided Professor Ghai in an interview with local media, saying he should not be holding private meetings with such groups.
He also reminded the five commissioners they hold quasi judicial positions and needed to be independent.
Professor Ghai says the Commission is just getting on with its work and trying to meet its deadline.
“I don’t think it was as serious as it was blown up by the media. We continue our work, no pressure has been brought on me and people are making very frank statements, so I don’t think people have taken very seriously the criticisms of the Prime Minister.”
Professor Ghai says the Commission has received almost 300 submissions so far.
The Commission has this week started hearings in Nadi and other parts of the Western Division.
[PIR editor’s note: Ghai maintains that the commission’s functions include meetings with community members regarding the new constitution, and commission members “are entitled under the decree to have consultations as opposed to public hearings, and there’s nothing unusual in my meeting with [Bainimarama] any more than it is unusual meeting with political parties or trade unions.” Meanwhile, Shamima Ali, a women’s advocate who has been banned from participating in the constituent assembly to be formed next year, says Bainimarama’s “interference” in the commission’s work may undermine its progress.]
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
15)First Tongan Solar Power Farm Begins Operations
‘Maama Mai’ farm hoped to reduce power bills
NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Aug. 21, 2012) – Tonga’s first solar farm began operation this week on August 20, and customers should see a reduction in the price of electricity on their first power bill in September.
The solar farm “Maama Mai” or “Let there be light” was electronically switched on by Lord Fakafanua at the Popua Power station in ‘Anana on Monday, a month after it was dedicated by HM King Tupou VI on July 24.
John van Brink the Chief Executive of the Tonga Power said today that the facility was operating better than expected.
He said the price decreased by 5.29 seniti to 85.27 seniti [US$0.30 to US$0.49] per kilowatt, Tonga’s current electricity price that took effect on August 1 and customers would see this reduction in their first power bill in September.
John said the facility was expected to produce up to 25 percent load of Tongatapu’s demand during the low-loaded weekend daytime periods, and four percent reduction in energy generated using diesel.
Attending the switching on of the solar plant was Tonga Power Chairman Carl Sanft, Director Sitiveni Finau with management team and Popua generation staff.
The construction of the solar farm was funded with NZ$7.9 million or TOP$12 million [US$6.8 million] from the New Zealand Government to help Tonga beat the high cost of imported diesel.
It has the capacity to generate 1,880 megawatt hours of electricity a year, or about 4 percent of Tongatapu’s total electricity demand. It is also expected to reduce Tonga’s annual diesel consumption by 470,000 liters.
Maamai Mai is the largest solar farm in the Pacific region, constructed by Meridian Energy Ltd. a leading developer of renewable energy in New Zealand.
Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/
16)Medical Staff Resignations Continue At CNMI Hospital
Administration expects only 12 doctors left by December
By Moneth Deposa
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Aug. 22, 2012) – By year’s end the Northern Mariana’s Commonwealth Health Center (CHC) may only have as low as a dozen physicians, following the resignation of four more doctors and the planned departure of two more, according to medical affairs director Dr. Jeremy Richards.
Richards confirmed to Saipan Tribune that internal medicine physician Dr. Chad Lowe quit last week and will be working only until the end of next month.
He also disclosed that the hospital’s only obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Jennifer Linden, will officially leave her post on Friday.
Dr. Trenton Scheibe, who is assigned at the emergency room, is also expected to leave anytime soon.
Scheibe was supposed to leave last July but was asked to stay on for a while to cover for an ER physician who was on personal leave.
Richards also bared that orthopedic specialist Dr. Ruben Arafile, who also resigned earlier, will leave by December this year.
From the level of physician assistants, one assigned at the ER, Dirk Tonner, also quit and is expected to leave in November.
Besides these doctors and physician assistant, Richards is also anticipating the exit of two other doctors. He, however, refused to name them pending the formal submission of their resignation papers.
Saipan Tribune, however, learned that Drs. Jeremiah and Christine Crank have informed colleagues about their departure from CHC. Jeremiah Crank is assigned at the internal medicine unit, while Christine Crank is one of the hospital’s pediatricians.
According to Richards, CHC has 18 total physicians onboard including one locum doctor, or hired on a short-term period. The expected exit of six physicians-Lowe, Linden, Scheibe, Arafile, and the Cranks-will result in CHC having only 12 doctors by December.
The public hospital has three PAs onboard and with the departure of Tonner in November, only two will be left-Benjamin Hochhalter and Christine Strong.
At the internal medicine unit, only two doctors will be left after the departure of Lowe and Jeremiah Crank. According to Richards, he’s hoping that the position of Linden would soon be filled at the ob-gyne unit, while he admitted that Arafile is the only orthopedic doctor currently working at the hospital.
Little chance for recruitment
Due to the ongoing struggles and challenges at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., the director for medical affairs admitted that he’s seeing “very little chance for recruitment.”
“I think at this point, majority of the doctors are going to leave, unless something happens. So the problem I’m seeing is that there’s a very little chance for recruitment at this time,” he admitted yesterday, describing the exodus of physicians as an “awful situation” for the public hospital.
Richards pointed out that the resignations of physicians and staff is not only about money, but involves other issues and struggles at the hospital, including lack of budget to sustain the hospital’s needs, lack of support from the government, the shortage of important supplies, delayed payroll and housing benefit, nonpayment of personnel allotments, and others.
He disclosed that he is formulating his “one last-ditch plan” that will try and pare down CHC at a sustainable level. But he refused to elaborate, pending consultation with the CEO and the corporation board. Richards said the plan is “unpopular” but may work for the survival of the hospital.
Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com
17) Le Phocéa : une histoire pas très claire
Transparency International réclame un coup de projecteur sur ce super-voilier.
Le navire est arrivé au Vanuatu il y a maintenant plusieurs semaines et suite à des allégations de trafic de drogues, d’armes et de faux papiers, la police a perquisitionné le voilier.
Une enquête a été ouverte et depuis, 13 membres d’équipage ont plaidé coupable et reconnu avoir enfreint les lois sur l’Immigration et les Douanes.
Entre temps, des ministres auraient été aperçus sur le pont du bateau avant l’arrivée de la police et Andrew Kalman, le policier en charge de l’enquête a maintenant été suspendu de ses fonctions.
Ce 4 mats de légende, qui fut un temps la propriété du navigateur Alain Colas puis de Bernard Tapie, appartient aujourd’hui à Anh Quan Saken, le consul honoraire du Vanuatu au Vietnam.
Pendant ce temps, le silence du gouvernement est assourdissant et alimente le débinage. La directrice de Transparency International, Marie-Noëlle Ferrieux-Patterson réclame un peu plus de… transparence.
FERRIEUX-PATTERSON : « C’est en première page des journaux depuis plusieurs semaines, on en parle à l’étranger et nos politiques, le ministre de la police, le Premier ministre, personne ne dit quoi que ce soit.
Il est grand temps que les autorités donnent des explications à la population pour lui dire ce qui se passe et la rassurer en disant que l’État de droit prévaut. Dire que les bonnes procédures sont suivies, surtout quand vous avez un Premier ministre qui répète que la fonction publique a des problèmes de corruption et qu’il fait tout son possible pour remettre de l’ordre. Nous demandons donc au Premier ministre de venir nous dire quelque chose. »
C’est affaire est quand même digne d’un scénario hollywoodien avec de l’argent, de la drogue, des faux papiers, des politiciens aperçus sur le pont du super-voilier… Une situation idéale aussi pour lancer des rumeurs et faire courir les ragots, potins et autres racontars.
FERRIEUX-PATTERSON : « Oui, c’est cela mais c’est aussi parce qu’il y a ce silence à la base. Ça et aussi le fait que le policier chargé de l’enquête a été suspendu. Le public n’en revient pas. Le policier allait approfondir son enquête et on l’a empêché.
Le navire n’avait pas effectué les formalités douanières et personne n’était donc supposer monter à bord et c’est ce que 2 ministres ont pourtant fait. Il y a eu des infractions, une enquête est nécessaire. Mais des politiques sont impliqués et on arrête tout. Voilà qui alimente encore et toujours des rumeurs et qui jette encore plus le doute sur ce que font tout ces gens impliqués dans cette affaire.
18) Le Fer de Lance satisfait des progrès de l’Accord de Nouméa
Retour à Fidji du chef de la diplomatie fidjienne.
C’est dans le cadre d’une visite ministérielle du Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance (GMFL) que le chef de la diplomatie fidjienne, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, s’est rendu la semaine dernière en Nouvelle-Calédonie.
Ratu Inoke est maintenant de retour à Fidji et a déclaré dans le Fiji Sunque le GMFL est généralement satisfait des progrès effectués dans la mise en œuvre de l’Accord de Nouméa depuis 2010.
Des progrès évidents qui se reflètent, a-t-il précisé, dans les activités économiques de la Province Nord.
Le ministre des Affaires étrangères a toutefois souligné un manque de sensibilisation au processus conduisant au référendum prévu entre 2014 et 2018.