NEWS ( Melanesian/Pacific) 23 August 2012

http://www.voiceofmelanesia.com/

1)Trade Agreement is strength for MSG block: Fiji PM Bainimarama

By Online Editor
09:34 am GMT+12, 23/08/2012, Fiji

A source of strength for the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) bloc is its Trade Agreement, which sets the foundation for the region to grow economically says Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Frank 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 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.

SOURCE: MINFO/PACNEWS

2)MP i laik sanisim neim blong Fiji

Updated 23 August 2012, 12:02 AEST

Wanpela Fiji MP i putim tingting pinis long sanisim nem blong kantri igo long Fiji Islands.

Phot of Kava Ceremony

Mick Beddoes i tok sanis blong neim blong kantri ima kamap long ol pipol na ino militeri gavman. (Credit: ABC)

Mick Beddoes ibin putim dispela tingting igo insait long wanpela submission igo long long Constitution Commission blong kantri.

Em i tokim Radio Australia Pacific Beat kantri blongen imas igat wankain neim olsem ol igat long Cook Islands.

“The Fiji Islands is what we are,” em i bin tok.

“We became a republic because of a coup – wrong connotation there – but we’ve always been the Fiji Islands.”

Mr Beddoes tu i tok dispela nem Fijian, ol imas kolim tasol ol as-ples Fiji pipol, na ol narapela, blong ol arapela kantri tasol ol i stap long kantri, ol imas kolim ol olsem Fiji Islanders.

“I always maintain there should be some more recognition for them,” em i bin tok.

“Until we have a collective conversation about a name some time down the line, under a democratic system of government, I think we should stay away from trying to use names like Fijian.”

Mr Beddoes i tok dispela tingting blong sansim neim i bin kamap long militeri gavman blong dispela taim.

“This is not their role, nobody gave them a mandate to proceed to make all these major changes,” em i bin tok.

“If that’s going to happen, let the people have their conversation and at the end of it, decide what the people want.” (Radio Australia)

3) Ol Manus pipal i sapotim Australia asailam sika plen

Updated 23 August 2012, 18:31 AEST

Dispela tok aut sapotim plen i kam long ol pipol i bosim giraun long Manus aelanj long Papua New Guinea.

Ol pipal blong Manus provins long Papua New Guinea it okaut pinis olsem sapotim despla tingting blong Australia long statim ken asailam sika senta long provins.

Papua New Guinea i kisim pinis  askim ikam long gavman blong Australia  na oli ting Png Foren Afairs Minister Rimbink Pato, bai bringim igo long parliament klostu bilong oli oraitim.
Na ol papa graun i tok, olpela agriment bipo aninit long Howard Gavman, ol papa graun ino bin kisim sampela kain halavim, olsem na nau ol i rerem pinis wanem kain samting oli lakim.
Stephen Gabriel emi siaman bilong ol Papa Graun long Manus provins ma em ino surik bek long dispela Australia plen.(Radio australia)

4)Solomons PM i tok ol bai nidim iet halvim bihainim RAMSI

Updated 22 August 2012, 13:50 AEST

Praim Minista blong Solomon Islands Gordon Darcy Lilo ibin givim tok hamamas blong em igo long ol gutpela wok blong polis, soljia na ol wokman meri long strongim wok blong RAMSI long bringim gutpela sidaun long kantri blong em.

Stat  long 2003,l Rijinel Assistens Misin long Solomon Islands, RAMSI em Australia igo pas long en ibin halivim gut  Solomons Islands long strongim wok sekuriti, loa na jastis.

Mr Lilo nau i mekim lukluk blong em igo long Australia long toktok long ol tingting blong stat givim bek ol dispela wok igo long ol as-ples yet long lukautim na wuas  long ol wok sekuriti.

Emi tok kantri blong em i owim dispela ol gutpela wok igo igo long rijinel misin.

RAMSI i bungim ol memba blong ami na polis long Tonga, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand na ol arapela Pacific Island kantri em ol i memba blong foram.

2012 bai makim10-pela yar em RAMSI i wok long Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands Hai Komisina long Australia, Beraki Jino i tok dispela visit blong Praim Minista Lilo bai karamapim ol toktok blong RAMSI, Seasonal Scheme na ol wokbung blong Australia polis na treining long Solomon Islands.(Radio Australia)

5)PNG Govt considers dual citizenship
By Online Editor
4:29 pm GMT+12, 23/08/2012, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guineans who want to become citizens of Australia or New Zealand may do so in the future.

Dual Citizenship is now on the agenda for the current O’Neil-Dion Government as announced by the Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio in his address to the nation this week while officially opening the Ninth Parliament.

The issue, together with the asylum seekers processing centre in Manus, indemnity legislation, the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, the extension of the current Parliament five-year term, the election of the Prime Minister, the Judicial Conduct Bill and many other Acts and legislative amendments and others will be discussed and decisions taken by the National Executive Council in the next two weeks.

Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato told the Post- Courier that the issue of Dual Citizenship together with the Foreign Policy matter and PNG’s idea to promote increased investment and free travel between Australia and NZ will be discussed thoroughly with important stakeholders, especially the Attorney-General’s office before it gets to Cabinet then to the floor of Parliament. He could give further details of the latter.

“This is a very important issue for Papua New Guinea, but I need to sit down with you and we discuss this further because it requires a lot of technical and legal explanations,” Pato said.

When asked about the details yesterday, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told the Post-Courier that Cabinet had already met on all these issues, including the Dual Citizenship Act matter and had already directed the Attorney-General and its office to deal with the issue, come up with and finalise the legal advice on the issue and prepare the instruments for Cabinet to deliberate on before it goes to the floor of Parliament in two weeks time.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

6)Australia urged to restore TB clinic services for Papua New Guineans

Posted at 03:59 on 23 August, 2012 UTC

Australia has been urged to reinstate funding for tuberculosis clinics in Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait islands amid warnings that TB infections are soaring.

The Courier Mail reports that doctors have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis in PNG’s Western Province which is spreading to Queensland hospitals.

They say more medical refugees from PNG and the Torres Islands are seeking treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis, cholera, AIDS and leprosy in Queensland.

The Queensland and Federal governments decided to close health clinics in Queensland’s north in mid-June despite the World Health Organisation listing the TB situation as a crisis.

A respiratory specialist in Cairns, Dr Graham Simpson, says they can’t prevent the spread into Australia.

He says most drug-resistant TB in the state is imported and that it is part of a slow epidemic that is hard to stop.

Radio New Zealand International

7)PNG Parliament To Review ‘Controversial’ Laws Passed In 2011
Judicial Conduct law to be scrapped by government

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Aug. 22, 2012) – Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio yesterday laid out a staggering legislative agenda for the 9th parliament of Papua New Guinea, among them several controversial laws passed by the O’Neill administration since last August.

Included in the agenda for scrapping is the Judiciary Conduct Act which provided for parliament to suspend judges it considered errant and lifting the age limit for the prime minister which is currently set at 72 in an attempt to keep 76-year-old Sir Michael Somare from retaking the prime minister’s seat after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor last year. O’Neill and the Grand Chief are now in the same government.

The governor-general said: “I am happy to say these challenges are now behind us, for the better.

“After the events of the past 12 months, I am relieved to see parliament is… intact. We must now resolve never to repeat these difficult and challenging times.”

Billed for change too are the Supreme Court Amendment Act, the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act and changes to laws governing the public service, the management of public finances, the police, the defence force, the Correctional Institutions Services and the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments and the Organic Law on National Election

Sir Michael said in his speech during the opening of the 9th parliament yesterday that the government of Peter O’Neill would review the provisions of the Constitution to ensure stability.

He said these reviews would include provisions relating to the prime minister, the term of parliament and the amendment to the various Organic Laws.

Sir Michael said the government would also amend the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections.

He said this would include the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates to make it more effective and relevant.

Sir Michael added that at the same time, the government would enact new legislation to remove political uncertainty and create a stable environment for the government to implement its policies and programs.

In order to promote reconciliation and unity and to build respect and independence among the three arms of government, Sir Michael said the government would repeal the Judicial Conduct Act, the Supreme Court Amendment Act, the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act and amendments to the Prime Minister and National Executive Council Act.

He added that an Act of Indemnity to indemnify all persons affected, as similar steps had been taken in other parts of the world.

The Vice-Regal, representing the Queen, said among other legislation reforms, the Government desired to pass a Dual Citizenship Act that would promote and increase investment and free travel between neighbor countries including Australia and New Zealand.

Among others, government also plans to set up the Independent Commission Against Corruption while other laws such as the NCDC Act, the Public Service Management Act, the Public Finance Management Act, the Oil and Gas Act, the Mining Act, the police, Defence and CIS Acts, the Education Act will be reviewed and amended.

He added to the list the Organic Law and Electoral Commission Boundaries Commission Act, the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government and the Regulatory Services Authority while the government would also enact legislations to establish the Lae and Mt. Hagen city commissions.

He said that these reforms are outward signs of a “government of the unity and action for stability and prosperity.”

The government will also review the current medium-term development plans while the cost of the five-year program will be finalized and aligned to the annual budget which will now include impact projects for the provinces and districts.

He said among the reforms, the government would focus on education, health care, corruption, infrastructure, LNG projects, law and order, public sector reforms, foreign policy, develop comprehensive plan to engage citizens in business, sports and culture and promote public-private partnerships.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

8)West Papua’s independence will again be pushed at Pacific Forum

Posted at 00:02 on 23 August, 2012 UTC

The New Zealand Indonesia Human Rights Committee says it will continue to lobby the Pacific Forum to push for West Papua’s independence.

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 throughout stores in Australia and New Zealand, including hanging the Morning Star flag in shop windows.

Maire Leadbeater from the Indonesia Human Rights Committee says they will keep trying to get the Pacific Forum to stand up for the rights of West Papuans.

“Before Indonesia took control in the 60’s it was heading towards becoming part of the pacific community of nations, they still want to be part of the Pacific, it’s how they feel ethnically, culturally, geographically. So we always appeal to the forum. The last few years sadly, they’ve been deaf. It’s in the too hard basket for the more powerful nations in the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia and New Zealand, unfortunately the smaller nations who are more sympathetic and supportive, sometimes their voices just don’t get heard.”

Maire Leadbeater from the Indonesia Human Rights Committee in New Zealand.

Radio New Zealand International

9)’Lush’ campaign for Papua only skin deep: Indonesian Government

Updated 23 August 2012, 22:39 AEST (Radio Australia)

The Indonesian Government has questioned the motives behind a campaign by cosmetics company ‘Lush’ to support the ‘Free Papua’ movement.

The Indonesian Government has questioned the motives behind a campaign by cosmetics company 'Lush' to support the 'Free Papua' movement.

The Indonesian Government has questioned the motives behind a campaign by cosmetics company ‘Lush’ to support the ‘Free Papua’ movement. (Credit: ABC licensed)

The company announced that this week it would raise the banned Papuan flag in its store windows, hand out flyers to customers and sell a limited edition perfume, with funds going towards the movement.

An official from the Indonesian embassy in Canberra says he is surprised by Lush’s campaign and questions what the company knows about the situation on the ground in Papua.

The British company Lush’s Campaigns Manager, Megan Taylor, told Radio Australia’s Asia Pacificthe cause fits in with the company’s ethical philosophy, having previously campaigned in support of animal rights and gay marriage.

“Of all the campaigns we’ve done it’s probably the one we’ve had to really explain because not many people know what the issue is,” Ms Taylor said.

Regional expert and Victoria University senior lecturer, Richard Chauvel, says the Lush campaign is the first commercial campaign in Australia in support of Papuan independence.

“I think from the point of view of the activists in Papua and their supporters outside, I think it has the potential to reach a somewhat different audience.”

In 1969, a selected group of Papuans voted for Indonesian control in a UN-sponsored referendum, but the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ was widely criticised as being rigged.

Papua was granted special autonomy status in 2001.

Australia and Indonesia have a history of disagreement on Papua’s status, with Jakarta recalling its ambassador from Australia in 2006 when Australia granted visas to 42 Papuans who arrived there by boat.

10)Solomons, Australian PMs Discuss Development During Visit
Lilo and Gillard hopeful for continued bilateral cooperation

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 23, 2012) – It’s history for Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo who met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Canberra to hold talks yesterday.

During the meeting both leaders discussed very important issues concerning the two countries.

Yesterday’s meeting with PM Gillard will go down the history for Mr. Lilo, who is now amongst the few Pacific leaders to be mounted a guard of honor and a 19 gun salute in front of the Parliament House in Canberra.

Reports said under the clear winter skies yesterday, the country’s national anthem was played as Prime Minister Lilo inspected Australia’s ceremonial Federation Guard comprising members of the army, navy and air force.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Mr. Lilo’s wife were also present for the occasion, which included a flag-raising ceremony and booming multi-gun salute.

Mr. Lilo then signed the register outside the prime minister’s office, before the two leaders headed in for bilateral discussions.

At their meeting, both leaders underscored the important relationship between the two countries and discussed ways to further enhanced it – in the form of the Solomon Islands-Australia partnership for development.

Mr. Lilo was very impressed with his meeting with Prime Minister Gillard saying that: “Our future partnership is well focused. Both Governments are very much cognizant of the need to ensure a high quality – under the future partnership, which will focus on improving service delivery and economic infrastructure.”

The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to emphasize the important role that Australia plays in the region especially its leading role in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). He also met with the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Gillard following the talks said Australia’s relationship with Solomon Islands is one of the closest we have in the Pacific region.

“Since Solomon Islands’ independence in 1978 we have enjoyed a deep and broad partnership based on shared regional interests, as well as strong development, defence, and community links.

“These links have become particularly strong since 2003, when the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was deployed at the request of the Solomon Islands Government to help restore peace and stability after more than four years of conflict.

“The two leaders held a bilateral meeting this morning (yesterday) where they discussed important regional issues including Fiji, the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum, and Solomon Islands’ participation in the Seasonal Worker Program. The Prime Ministers also discussed RAMSI’s ongoing transition.

“Prime Minister Gillard reassured Prime Minister Lilo of Australia’s long-term commitment to Solomon Islands, including security and development support as the mission gradually draws down,” the spokesperson said following the meeting.

Meanwhile PM Lilo told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat in an interview that the country will still need the assistance of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) even after its mission comes to an end.

RAMSI is being wound down as local authorities take on greater responsibly for security.

Mr. Lilo said 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.

Mr. Lilo told Pacific Beat the presence of RAMSI has been vital in allowing things to get back to normal.

“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.”

Return to stability

Last month, Honiara hosted the Festival of Pacific Arts, drawing thousands of artists from across the region.

Mr. Lilo said 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.

Mr. Lilo said 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 multilateral institutions to be able to help the country to harness the resources they have.”

PM and his delegation traveled to Canberra on Sunday upon the invitation of the Australian Government. The ten- member delegation returns tomorrow.

Solomon Star

11)Pacific Journalists Asked To Give More Coverage On Tuna
Communities apparently unaware of tuna’s importance to Pacific

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 22, 2012) – Pacific journalists who have participated at the weeklong tuna communication workshop in Honiara are urged to spread the message of tuna to leaders and their communities.

Facilitator and Pew Director for Global Tuna Conservation campaign Amanda Nickson said their hope is for pacific journalists to make more coverage on tuna around the pacific region, and especially in all the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) countries.

“Our hope is that out of this workshop, there’ll be more coverage in many of the news outlets around other Pacific region in all PNA countries to help all the people of these countries understand the importance of tuna resources and enable governments to make good decisions about managing fishing of tuna in PNA waters.

“We hope that information will be more available to people in communities in the Pacific and will support good decision making so that the people in PNA countries will benefit from tuna in their waters,” Ms. Nickson said.

She added that they discovered through talking to many people of the countries they’ve visited that not many people were aware of how important tuna is to the region, and how the leadership of Pacific Island Countries (PIC) in tuna management is actually changing the global face of tuna management.

Ms. Nickson therefore urges journalists to report on important issues about tuna management to their leaders, the people and communities.

She stressed that the Pacific region is very rich in tuna stock and conservation measures are vital for its sustainability for future generations.

“The Pacific is home to the largest tuna fishery, worth US$5.5 billion a year. And many of the Pacific Island Countries (PIC) showed real leadership in trying to ensure these stocks are fished in a sustainable way and to make sure the ocean systems are healthy for the generations to come. And we want to help get the story out to the Pacific people and support the leadership that’s been shown by these countries,” she added.

Meanwhile journalists have all expressed their appreciation of the workshop saying it was very helpful in broaden their understanding and knowledge about tuna fisheries.

The journalists say they will work together to report on various tuna issues in the Pacific to educate their leaders and people and their communities about the importance of tuna fisheries in the Pacific.

In showing their support, the journalists have decided to create a tuna network that will help them keep informed of what is going on in the region and report it to their local, national and international audiences.

The tuna communication workshop ended successfully on Monday.

Solomon Star

12)Vanuatu-based accountant Agius jailed for nine years in Wickenby tax case

By Online Editor
4:16 pm GMT+12, 23/08/2012, Australia

The promoter behind a tax evasion scheme, Vanuatu-based accountant Robert Agius, has been sentenced to nearly nine years in jail.

In the NSW Supreme Court Thursday, Justice Carolyn Simpson imposed an eight year and 11 month sentence, and noted Agius, 62, would be eligible for parole in March 2019.

Agius was a high-profile target of the multi-agency task force Project Wickenby, and was charged over conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth between 1997 and 2006. The scheme only ended, Justice Simpson said, after the Australian Federal Police executed search warrants on companies and an accountancy firm owned by now deceased Owen Daniel.

Agius’s co-accused, accountant Kevin Zerafa, 37, was described by the judge as falling into a different category. Justice Simpson ordered that Zerafa serve a 500-hour community service order, and imposed a three-year jail sentence, which she suspended.

Justice Simpson noted testimonials from Agius’s supporters that he had been a generous contributor to Vanuatu society.

“That perception of him is false,” she said, as while at the same time he had had embarked on “the systemic fraud of the entire Australian society.”

A jury last month convicted the pair, but was unable to reach verdicts on two other accountants at Owen T Daniel and Co. who were also charged.

The five-month trial dealt with eight companies involved in the scheme, and the judge noted that some $5 million in tax had been evaded. Directors associated with those companies had pleaded guilty, and many had received custodial sentences.

She said in Zerafa’s case, as a young accountant he had been led “by the unscrupulous, amoral and overpowering employer”, Owen Daniel, who had mounted a one-man “war against the tax office.”

She said she was satisfied that Agius had received a financial benefit from his involvement as the promoter of the scheme, though there was limited evidence to its extent.

SOURCE: SMH/PACNEWS

13)American Woman Charged During Phocea Inquiry In Vanuatu
Fined for obstructing officials from boarding yacht

By Bob Makin

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Aug. 22, 2012) – Faviola Irmgrad Brugger Dadis, an American woman, was fined the sum of Vt70,000 [US$757] in relation to obstructing the government Customs, Maritime and Police officers who boarded the sailing vessel, Phocea. The maximum is Vt2 million [US$21,656] and two years in jail.

This sentence was handed down by Senior Magistrate Stephen Felix in the Magistrates’ Court, August 20.

In relation to illegal entry she was charged Vt100,000 [US$1,082] like the other crew of the Phocea.

For obstructing or hindering the officials who had boarded the ‘mega-yacht’ sailing boat three days after its illegal arrival, the prosecuting officers requested a maximum fine of Vt2,000,000. The Customs Act specifies Vt2,000,000 or two years imprisonment – or Vt2,000,000 and two years in prison.

Prosecutions stressed that “the law is the law” and the vessel having dropped anchor in Paradise Cove was committing a major offence.

“Ministers of government are not officers of the law and they are not allowed to grant entry rights to any vessel.

“We have officers employed to do this,” they said. Never-the-less the fine imposed for hindering officials by Dadis was reduced by the magistrate to only Vt70,000, with costs of Vt20,000 [US$216].

[PIR editor’s note: Vanuatu MP Ralph Regenvanu has criticized the handling of the case, claiming double standards are being used in dealing with the alleged perpetrators and the implicated ministers, of whom there is supposedly photographic evidence putting them on the yacht.]

Counsel for Dadis, Nigel Morrison spoke of Dadis as “no different from the others” who had been let off similarly lightly over illegal entry. “She was an employee on board. She had her passport taken by the vessel’s agent like the others.”

This is understood to mean the on-board vessel’s agent, as the listed agents for Phocea are really located in the United States. If a local agent is employed there are serious questions to be answered as to how that Port Vila agent could permit multiple disembarkations and embarkation by persons resident in Vanuatu such as ministers of the Vanuatu Government.

As regards causing a disturbance, Morrison said Dadis “was no different from the others. She did make a noise and admitted she was excessive in her police interview. She had said 20 were on board. She made demands. She stood up for her rights. A police search warrant for the vessel duly arrived. People were taken into custody and Dadis was held for 24 hours in Namba 6, like the others.”

The claimant owner, Pascal Anh Saken, escaped custody and abandoned his vessel and crew by flying out to New Zealand.

Morrison: “Dadis is 27, a student and she just wants to return to her studies next week. There is no evidence to suggest that Faviola had anything to do with the owner of the vessel. She was simply an employee. She was employed by Saken. She took a week of her summer break from studies to join the yacht in Tonga. She was in charge of marketing and public relations. Four days out from Tonga they arrived here and went ashore to have a meal and celebrate. This was at Paradise Cove. Then there was the disturbance.

“Dadis is in the same category as all the other crew. She didn’t know she was committing an offence,” said her counsel, Morrison.

Dadis told this writer she was working on her chemistry and calculus studies on board the Phocea. Her tutors allowed her to study while travelling, but she would have to be back in the U.S. in order to do her laboratory tests. Dadis apparently works as a model.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com

14)Vanuatu parliamentary sitting stalls police attempt to interview Cabinet Ministers over Phocea

Posted at 03:59 on 23 August, 2012 UTC

Vanuatu police say parliamentary immunity has prevented them taking statements from two Cabinet Ministers over allegations they boarded the yacht Phocea before it was given official clearance by Vanuatu authorities.

Photographs have been published in local papers of the Minister of Education, Marcelino Pepite and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfred Carlot, on the yacht with the owner Pascal Anh Quan Saken prior to the customs clearance.

A number of crew have been fined for immigration offences but the skipper remains on bail and the owner has fled the country.

Our correspondent, Hilaire Bule, says an attempt has been made to take statements from Mr Pepite and Mr Carlot but police now say the MPs are currently protected.

“They wanted to take the statement of the two ministers but they realised that Parliament has been already summoned last week so because Parliament was already summoned they cannot take the statement of the two ministers. They can only take their statements after the end of this extra-ordinary session which will end some time next week.”

Our correspondent in Vanuatu, Hilaire Bule.

Radio New Zealand International

15)Fiji Voter Identification Cards Can Be Used For Banking
Reserve bank agrees to accept voter cards as ‘reliable documents’

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 22, 2012) – From November, the Voter Identification Cards issued through Fiji’s Electronic Voter Registration can be used for identification purposes in banking transactions.

The Fiji Reserve Bank has given the green light for the cards to verify a customers’ identity when they engage in financial transactions or services.

The Ministry of Justice, through the Elections Office, has issued the identity cards to Fiji citizens who have registered to vote for the general elections, scheduled for 2014.

The Financial Intelligence Unit says the Voter Identification Cards are reliable documents and it recommends them to the financial institutions.

The interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the financial institutions can use this new document to extend services, particularly to people in rural areas and the outer islands.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

16)Fiji’s Prime Minister calls for full PACP participation

By Online Editor
4:46 pm GMT+12, 23/08/2012, Fiji

Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore  Frank Bainimarama Thursday reiterated the need for leaders of all islands nations in the Pacific to be united in order to “face global economic forces and giant economies.”

He also reassured Fiji’s role as a facilitator and collaborator in the needs of other Pacific Island nations and called for Fiji to be accorded full participation in the Pacific branch of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (PACP) Group.

“The Pacific Islands Forum has wrongly used its influence to bar Fiji from top-level participation in this forum. This policy is no longer sustainable,” Bainimarama said.

“There is too much at stake for us all – such as PACP’s negotiation of an economic partnership agreement with the EU and the implementation of the Pacific Island Countries’ Trade Agreement (PICTA) – to continue to exclude Fiji.” Fiji’s full participation in such institutions, he says, serves only to strengthen the region.

“From Fiji’s perspective, we embrace our role in facilitating and collaborating,” Bainimarama said.

“Not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors. We can all benefit from the training, co-ordination, study, trade, and infrastructure available in Fiji. Where we can lead, we will lead.

“Where we can facilitate and encourage, we will facilitate and encourage. Where we can assist, we will assist. And where we need support, we will ask for it. We will do all of this in a spirit of co-operation,” said Commodore Bainimarama

Addressing participants at the 3rd Annual “Engaging with the Pacific” meeting which he opened in Nadi today, Bainimarama said the Members of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) meeting like other regional gatherings are avenues to help island nations to face up to global giants and let their voices be heard.

“We are all well aware of the asymmetrical nature of our relationships with the rest of the world. That is why we come together in forums such as this— and such as the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), the Asia-Pacific Group, and the Non-Aligned Movement,” Bainimarama said.

However, he said the leaders cannot be just content with just meeting to discuss and solve problems collectively saying they need to do more.

“We need to go beyond creating structures; we need to aggressively use those structures for our own benefit,” Bainimarama said.

“We will have to assert our interests not selfishly, but thoughtfully with intelligence, strong reason, and conviction. We must insist that our voice be heard and heeded. Yes, we are small states, but we wish co-operation and partnership with other nations.

“We will dine at the table; we will not be content to pick at the crumbs that remain on the table cloth after the decisions are made and dinner is over.”

He told leaders that together “we can gain greater control over our future.”

“We must face the world boldly together. We must be smart. We must be prepared. And above all, we must be united.”.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

17)Fiji Consumer Council says public is suffering due to hospital disruptions

Posted at 02:06 on 23 August, 2012 UTC

The Fiji Consumer Council says members of the public who are seeking specialist medical attention at Suva Private Hospital are suffering due to disruptions to services.

The Council says it is disturbed that the house is not in order at the hospital, as it resolves a contract dispute with more than a dozen medical specialists, who are currently refusing to carry out elective surgery.

The Chief Executive of the Consumer Council, Premila Kumar says consumers are facing frustration and confusion over the disruptions.

“There are situations where patients who went to Suva Private Hospital were transferred to CWM Hospital and there were unneccessary costs incurred by them. And there are a number of specialist treatments that are not on offer right now which means that consumers are suffering but they just have to wait till those specialist services are available.”

Premila Kumar says she has scheduled a meeting with the head of the hospital on Monday.

Radio New Zealand International

18)Permit Approved For Fiji Methodists’ Annual Conference
Conference will be allowed, but only under ‘strict conditions’

By Maika Bolatiki

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Aug. 22, 2012) – The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma has finally been issued the permit to hold its annual conference, the Bose Ko Viti, this year.

This was confirmed to the Fiji Sun yesterday by church assistant general secretary, Reverend Tevita Nawadra.

“I can confirm to you now that we have finally received the permit for the Bose Ko Viti this year,” Rev. Nawadra said.

“We are happy that the Bose Ko Viti will finally be held after a lapse of five years.”

On the agenda of the meeting, Reverend Nawadra said they were still finalizing that, but the election of office bearers would surely top the agenda.

“We’re going to elect the new president before electing the general secretary and the assistant secretary.”

When asked about possible candidates for the church presidency, Reverend Nawadra said all senior padres would be eligible for the top post, however, this would be decided after a secret ballot involving 300 senior padres.

“Be reminded that we have been praying for the candidate to hold the top post and we’re optimistic, that with God’s help, we will elect the best candidate for the church presidency.”

In an earlier interview with the Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Ioane Naivalurua, he confirmed that there were strict conditions set out to be followed by the church.

One of the conditions is that the meeting should not coincide with the Hibiscus Festival in August and that it must last no longer than three days.

Another is that the conference takes place from 8am to 8pm each day and from Wednesday to Friday only. It must also be held at the Centenary Church premises.

The Church has been instructed that it may only discuss church matters and not political issues.

Reverend Nawadra confirmed they would honor all of what Government had wanted.

Police officers would sit in during the conference.

Commissioner Naivalurua said the reason why police officers would be sitting in during the annual conference was for them to monitor all that was being discussed.

The Bose Ko Viti would also discuss education and health issues.

Reverend Nawadra also confirmed they would talk about the church’s dairy farm at Navuso.

He said, because there would be no bazaar, they would also discuss how to meet the financial demands of the church.

FijiSUN: http://www.fijisun.com.fj/

19)Tonga PM Allegedly Asked To Dismiss Ministers By ‘Akisili Pohiva
Written statement called for removal of education, justice officials

By Pesi Fonua

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Aug. 22, 2012) – A revelation by ‘Akilisi Pohiva yesterday afternoon that he had told the Tongan Prime Minister to dismiss his two appointed ministers, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Justice, and that ‘Akilisi wanted to be the Minister of Education, presented a new dimension to the deliberation in the House over a Motion for a Vote of No Confidence in the Prime Minister signed by 10 People’s Representatives.

‘Akilisi made the relegation in an annex to his written reply to the Prime Minister, presented to the House.

He stated that he had told the Prime Minister to dismiss Clive Edwards, the Minister of Justice, and Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki, the Minister of Education. ‘Akilisi wanted to be the Minister of Education and he stated that Dr. Sitiveni Halapua should have been a Cabinet minister, instead of Clive Edwards.

The Constitution allows the Prime Minister of the reformed government to appoint four cabinet ministers from outside of the House along with Ministers chosen from elected members, to form a Cabinet that is less than half of the total number of the 26 elected members, in order to form a minority government. The Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, so far, has brought in only two appointed ministers to his Cabinet.

‘Akilisi said that following the election of Lord Tu’ivakano as Prime Minister in December 2010, he hosted a dinner for the Prime Minister when he stressed upon him the importance for them to work together in selecting his cabinet, and because most of the elected People’s Representatives were from Tongatapu that some of them should be in the Cabinet.

This took place after ‘Akilisi had lost the vote for Prime Minister in the House.

‘Akilisi said that when he was asked by the Prime Minister if he would become a Cabinet minister what could he do, he had replied “Education, because I was a former teacher for 19 years.”

However, the Prime Minister had other ideas and he nominated ‘Akilisi as the Minister of Health in January 2011.

MOU

The Prime Minister required all his Cabinet ministers to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that included a clause that they would not vote in favor of any motion for a vote of no confidence.

‘Akilisi stated that his two main reasons for resigning as Minister of Health were because he did not want to sign an MOU that pledged him not to vote for a motion for a vote of no confidence, and also because the Prime Minister had not dismissed his two appointed ministers.

Verbal resignation

In the House yesterday the Prime Minister said that when ‘Akilisi verbally resigned, ‘Akilisi told him that he could not do the job.

The other former Cabinet Minister who resigned later and gave his support to the current Motion for a Vote of No Confidence was ‘Isileli Pulu, who told the House that the MOU scared him, though he signed it, and did not resign from Cabinet until June 25 this year.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Samiu Vaipulu, raised the fact that the supporters of the Motion, as members of their own party, had also signed their own MOU.

People’s Representative Semisi Tapueluelu said that their MOU differed from that of the Cabinet because they were not government.

Lord Tu’ivakano said that he had asked ‘Akilisi for a letter of resignation, because he had written him an official letter inviting him to be a Cabinet minister, but to this day there had been no letter of resignation from ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

‘Akilisi’s desire to be a Minister of Education, and his insistence for the Prime Minister to dismiss his two appointed ministers, Clive Edwards and ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki, appeared to have some bearing on the motion, even though he admitted that under the constitution the Prime Minister could appoint up to four Cabinet Ministers from outside the House.

He appeared to include his desire for the dismissal of the two Cabinet ministers in the Motion for a Vote of No Confidence in the Prime Minister because the Prime Minister had not done what ‘Akilisi told him to do.

Minister of Education

For the first time during the debate on the motion, the only woman Member of Parliament, Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki, told the House that when she had accepted the invitation by the Prime Minister to become a Minister of Education, she had left a job where she was earning TOP$177,000 [US$100,924] a year. ‘Ana was in tears when she said, “but if you want me out I am happy to move out.”

The previous day, Tuesday August 21, the House again ended the day in a state of confusion. When the Speaker closed the sitting he said that he would tell them the following day what they should do next.

On Monday the House closed abruptly and the Speaker called for a special meeting with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva and Siosifa Tu’utafaiva.

The outcome of that meeting was that the House proceeded yesterday with the reading of reply by the supporters of the motion on the conditions that the Deputy Prime Minister and ‘Akilisi Pohiva were to withdraw their motions, and for clauses 6, 7 and 10 of the reply not to be read.

The House reconvenes today August 22.

The new revelations came amid different opposing interpretations of the constitution and the law over the legality of the motion and whether or not the House actually has a procedure to deal with a motion for a vote of no confidence.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

20)New coins minted for Pacific Islands Forum

By Online Editor
4:17 pm GMT+12, 23/08/2012, Cook Islands

The Cook Islands government is releasing 350 souvenir coins ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum next week.

A mint in Germany is manufacturing 350 coins, but only a portion will being shipped to the Cook Islands for distribution next week. The remainder will be sold on the souvenir coin market overseas.

Each Pacific Islands leader will receive a “Kia Orana basket” upon arriving at their Edgewater hotel rooms, and a $5 souvenir coin will be part of the package.

The coins feature an image of a coconut tree on one side, and of the Queen’s profile on the other. Those being distributed to leaders are neatly packaged in a wooden box.

If members of the public are interested in purchasing a $5 coin, they are advised to contact Terry Piri at the treasury division of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.

SOURCE: PACIFIC SCOOP/PACNEWS

21)Former CNMI AG Buckingham Declared ‘Fugitive From Justice’
Lawyer claims AG made arrangements for court representation

By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Aug. 23, 2012) – Office of Public Auditor (OPA) legal counsel George Hasselback yesterday called former Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) attorney general (AG) Edward T. Buckingham a fugitive from justice.

At the scheduled hearing for Buckingham’s motion to quash the $50,000 bench warrant, Hasselback apologized to the court of his late filing yesterday of pleadings in which he brought the fugitive from justice issue.

Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman allowed defense attorney Michael N. Evangelista until Tuesday, Aug. 28, to respond to the issue.

Hasselback said considering that Buckingham was already served with the summons and he did not appear in court he is now a fugitive.

Hasselback said Buckingham lacks standing to move to quash the bench warrant because he failed to recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

The OPA counsel said the former AG needs to come back to Saipan and clear this fugitive status.

“The cases that I cited they have applied in a situation where a person is represented by counsel,” Hassselback said.

Evangelista said Buckingham is absent from the CNMI court’s jurisdiction, but is not fleeing the jurisdiction

Evangelista said his client left the CNMI for medical reasons, but actively made arrangement for his representation in court.

The defense lawyer reiterated that Buckingham had asked the counsel (assistant attorney general Gilbert Birnbrich) to inform the court that he was willing to appear telephonically at the hearing.

Evangelista said the counsel apparently forgot to inform the court. “My client is not a fugitive,” he pointed out.

Buckingham recently filed in court, under seal, his voluminous medical records.

The medical records, said to consist of over 80 pages, are filed in support of Buckingham’s motion to quash the $50,000 bench warrant issued for his arrest.

Buckingham cited family reasons in his first resignation.

An FBI special agent served Buckingham with the penal summons at the airport shortly after he and his wife left Saipan at 6am Delta flight to Narita, Japan last August 4.

OPA filed seven criminal misdemeanor charges against Buckingham.

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

22)’Costly NZ migrants should be restricted’, says Australian Federal MP Kelvin Thomson

By Online Editor
4:22 pm GMT+12, 23/08/2012, Australia

A surge in migrants from New Zealand is fuelling traffic congestion, forcing up house prices and leading to higher electricity bills, a federal Labor MP says.

Kelvin Thomson, who holds the northern suburbs seat of Wills in Melbourne, called for the “open door” policy for Kiwis to be restricted.
Thomson said there had been uproar in Parliament about 9600 asylum seekers arriving by boat but not a word said about the 54,000 New Zealanders who moved to Australia in the past 12 months.

He said it was a massive rise from the annual rate of 16,000 a decade ago and if the growth continued there would be 100,000 Kiwis a year moving to Australia within five years.

“Open-ended migration from New Zealand is one of the drivers of Australia’s runaway population growth, which is fuelling traffic congestion, unaffordable housing and rising electricity, gas, water and council rates,” Thomson told Parliament.

A strong opponent of a “Big Australia” and rising population, Thomson said there was no control on Kiwi migration.

“We are obliged to accept as many of New Zealand’s 4.4 million residents who want to live here.”
Thomson wants a limit of 30,000 to 40,000 New Zealanders a year.

“While some New Zealanders have dryly observed to me that New Zealanders coming to Australia increases the IQ of both countries, others share my concern, saying it is a mistake for New Zealand to educate and train young New Zealanders only to see them gravitate to Australia, which has higher wages and lower unemployment,” he said.

SOURCE: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH/PACNEWS

23)TV piracy ‘rampant’ in the Pacific, says industry insider

Updated 23 August 2012, 21:28 AEST

The development of legitimate television services in the Pacific is being hampered by rampant piracy, a veteran television executive says.

Fiji-based consultant Ken Clark told Radio Australia commercial pay TV operators were using digital set-top boxes to import signals intended for legitimate Australian addresses.

“They package it all up with a bunch of others [programs] – some of which are legitimate – and charge the customers for it,” he said.

Mr Clark, who has previously worked in senior roles at TV stations in Papua New Guinea and Fiji, told thePacific Beat program major sporting events such as the NRL and Olympic Games were often pirated.

He said the practise was rarely challenged.

“Consumers don’t care that much. They want the signal they want and they’re happy to have it in their home.”

Mr Clark has helped mount legal cases through Australian broadcasters which own the rights to the content being pirated.

But he said using the courts was “cumbersome, costly and hasn’t gone anywhere”.(Radio Australia)

24)EU’s Pacific ambassador want more women to apply for post-grad scholarships

Posted at 03:59 on 23 August, 2012 UTC

The Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific says he would like to see more women apply for post graduate study in Europe.

Alistair MacDonald says this year’s group of fourteen recipients of the EU sponsored Erasmus Mundus scholarships is the largest number awarded so far in the region.

He says the EU funds the travel, course fees and modest living expenses for up to two years, for students who have been accepted to study at Master’s or PhD level at European universities.

He says the Erasmus Mundus scholarships promote an appreciation of European and Pacific cultures and it would be good to see more women applying for the grants next year.

“It is still a relatively modest number. I’ve been in other countries where we have almost a 50/50 participation and in some cases we have to be active in encouraging more men to look for these scholarships. But here in the Pacific, I think out of the fourteen, we had four or five women, which is good but I would like to see more.”

Alistair MacDonald says the fourteen are preparing to leave in the next two weeks and many of the students are researching aspects of climate change which will benefit their communities throughout their working lives.

Radio New Zealand International

25)Australie: visite officielle de Gordon Darcy Lilo

Mis à jour 23 August 2012, 10:39 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

Le Premier ministre salomonais a rencontré Julia Gillard, qui a annoncé le retrait de la composante militaire de la RAMSI au deuxième semestre 2013.

AAP © PM Julia Gillard has greeted Solomon Islands PM Gordon Darcy Lilo at Parliament House.

Le Premier ministre salomonais Gordon Darcy Lilo a rencontré Julia Gillard mercredi au Parlement à Canberra. (AAP) (Credit: AAP)

 

Mais les coopérants civils et les policiers resteront plus longtemps aux Iles Salomon. Le Premier ministre australien a accueilli mercredi son homologue salomonais, Gordon Darcy Lilo, qui est en visite officielle en Australie jusqu’à vendredi.
Menée par l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande, avec l’aide de la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, de Tonga et d’autres pays du Pacifique, la mission régionale d’assistance est arrivée en 2003 aux Iles Salomon pour mettre fin à la guerre civile. Aujourd’hui la douloureuse page de la guerre civile est tournée, estime Gordon Darcy Lilo:
«Je pense que oui. C’est assez difficile à expliquer, mais demandez aux gens qui sont venus au Festival des Arts du Pacifique début juillet. Ils vous diront que les Iles Salomon sont devenues une société très stable. Pour la première fois depuis 2003, les militaires n’étaient pas visibles dans les rues d’Honiara, la police a fait le travail, mais c’est avant tout les Salomonais qui ont aidé à l’organisation du festival et le reste de la population qui a fait en sorte que tout le monde se comporte bien durant le festival. Cela montre que la société salomonaise a mûri et que le pays a changé.» 
Les Iles Salomon ont gagné en stabilité, mais la RAMSI influence toujours leur destinée. Bruce Hill a demandé au Premier ministre salomonais s’il envisageait, un jour, de diriger le pays sans aide extérieure. Et voici sa réponse :
«On ne peut pas dire cela, car vous le savez, les pays du Pacifique sont vulnérables au changement climatique, aux activités illégales internationales, etc. Ce qui met en danger la bonne gouvernance et la sécurité dans notre pays. Donc nous aurons toujours besoin de l’aide de pays comme l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande, mais aussi des organismes de coopération multilatéraux, pour diversifier notre économie. Et ce genre d’aide n’est pas une exception Pacifique. Regardez ce qui se passé en Europe, les pays européens s’entraident et en même temps ont recours aux institutions financières internationales pour remettre à flot l’économie.» 
C’était Gordon Darcy Lilo, le Premier ministre salomonais, au micro de Bruce Hill sur Radio Australie.
26)PNG Games will be held as scheduled, Bougainville team eyeing top spot

By Online Editor
10:46 am GMT+12, 23/08/2012, Papua New Guinea

The chairperson of the PNG Games Council Iammo Launa, reaffirmed Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko’s assurance that the PNG Games would be held on schedule in November.

Launa, who accompanied Tkatchenko last week to meet the host organising committee and tour the sporting venues and facilities in Kokopo, East New Britain, said everything was progressing as scheduled for the Games.

“The host organising committee (HOC) under the chairmanship of Sir Rabbie Namaliu is doing everything possible to ensure that the venues, facilities and other infrastructure are developed and ready for the event on Nov 19-30,” she said.

“The developments and improvements on sporting grounds and facilities are progressing as planned,” Launa said.

“The HOC with the PNG Games Council have an alternative plan in place should there be any delay or problem with the preparations.”

Launa echoed the minister’s call and urged provincial governments and members of parliament to support and fund their provincial teams to the Games.

Launa, who is also the executive director for PNG Sports Foundation, said that the Games provided an opportunity for sportsmen and women at the “grassroots” level in the provinces to showcase their raw talents for identification and development to elite athletes and eventually take part in the 2015 Pacific Games.

“Those who are going to participate and perform well at the PNG Games will be identified and developed to try to win medals at the 2015 Pacific Games.

“That is why it is important for more sportsmen and women from provinces to attend the games to allow for wider selection and development of athletes to perform at higher and elite level sporting competitions for the country.

“This process is necessary for PNG to participate and win more medals at Pacific Games and other international sporting events,” she said

Only seven provinces have confirmed their attendance at the Games by nominating and completing their entry by numbers and names of athletes.

“Because of the national election most provinces have been slow with their nominations.

“We are extending the deadline for the nomination to Aug 31,” Launa said.

to give time to Provinces to submit their interests.” Mrs Launa said.

The PNG Games Council will be meeting after the deadline of 31st August 2012 to address the nominations and related issues on the preparations for the PNG Games.

Mrs Launa commended the Prime Minister for appointing an oustanding Minister in Honourable Justin Tkatchenko to oversee sports development matters in the country.

“Honourable Tkatchenko is reknown for his outspokenness, passion and practical actions for sports development.  He is keen to see that the PNG Games is held in November this year. He is also adamant that the Pacific Games is hosted at the highest standard as planned in Port Moresby in 2015. He, as Minister should take sports development in PNG to new and greater heights.” she said.

Meanwhile, Team Autonomous Bougainville has been tasked to win in 60 gold medals in order to secure the top spot in the Kokopo Games.

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville government this week announced that it would send a team to the 5th PNG National Games in Kokopo, East New Britain in November with the goal of winning the national games.

In a brief to the ARB government Sports Minister, Bougainville Games Coordinator Robert Semoso announced that the Bougainville contingent would be officially known as the “Team Autonomous Bougainville”.

National Capital District, Eastern Highlands and Morobe remain the favourites along with hosts ENB to rake in the most medals.

Fund-raising has begun to finance up to 500 athletes and officials to Kokopo.

The side will compete in 18 codes.

Along with the inclusion of three new codes: power lifting, weightlifting and karate, other codes include athletics, netball, basketball, rugby league 9s, bodybuilding, rugby union 7s, boxing, soccer, taekwondo, darts, softball, touch, kickboxing, Paralympics and volleyball.

The Autonomous Bougainville Sports Foundation with the division of community development are optimistic of preparing a competitive team.

However, preparations are behind schedule by three months due to financial constraints but the organising committee is working hard to get the team to the games.

Semoso said ARB government has made a commitment of K500,000 kina to assist the contingent; however, that funding has not been honoured as yet.

The business community in Bougainville has been urged to support the team in its fund-raising drive. Semoso thanked the business houses that had contributed towards assisting the contingent and appealed to others to do the same.

The four national leaders of the PNG National Parliament have also been approached to assist as well.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS


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