NEWS (Melanesia/Pacific) 28/8/12
1) Ol West Papua lida ino winim pait long fridom
ABC ibin igo long West Papua, iusim turis visa, we ol resistans lida i tok ol ino winim pait blong ol long kisim independens bikos Indonesia i wok long stopim ol.
Indonesia i wok long taitim kontrol blong en long ol pipol blong West Papua klostu nau long 50 yar.
Ol ripot i kamap tu olsem wanpela bik-nem counter-terrorism unit, em i save kisim mani halvim na training i kam long Australia, i wok insait long West Papua we, igat planti ripot blong tagetim na kilim ol independens lida.
Niusman Hayden Cooper blong ABC i bin igo long Jayapura, biktaun blong West Papua, ananit long turis visa we em i painim dispela hap olsem wanpela polis state, minim, polis i lukautim olgeta hap blong provins.
Em ibin painim polis na militeri outpost i pulap long olgeta kona, wantaim tu bikpela netwok blong ol pipol i wok wantaim polis olsem ol police informant.
Planti blong ol em ol Indonesia pipol, olsem ol stoa owna, taxi draiva, hotel wokman meri na wok blong ol, em long lukaut long ol independens grup na ripot bek igo long polis we ol i save peim ol.
Andreas Harsono, blong Human Rights Watch, i tok olgeta dei ol pipol blong West Papua i save poret long laif blong ol.
“The Papuan people live in fear, in a constant fear, because of how many human rights abuses they suffered over the past five decades,” em i bin tok.
Wanpela long ol lainem polis na militeri i putim ai long wanpela long ol independens lida, Victor Yeimo. Yeimo em i Siaman blong West Papua national committee oa KNBP.
Insait long wanpela safe-house long kepital, Mr Yeimo i tokim 7.30 lain blongen ino save iusim gan oa ol samting blong pait.
“No we don’t use violence. We believe that in the open era, we believe one of the best methods we have to use is civil power now,” em i bin tok.
“I don’t think about how Indonesian they will attack me or target me, I don’t feel about that – I don’t think about it. What I’m thinking is how I can bring my people to freedom.”
2) Indonesia i kil kilim iet ol West Papua
Planti moa West Papua idai long wonem oli laikim indipendans.
Igat planti stori iwok long kam aut long West Papua olsem, ol laen militari blong Indonesia iwok long apim pasin blong paitim na kilim ol Melanesian pipal long hap long wonem oli laik bruk lusim Indonesia.
ABC televisan progrem i ripot olsem long ol despla wik igo pinis planti West Papua pipal idai pinis long han blong ol soljia blong Indonesia. Na maski despla heve iwok long kamap long West Papua, planti pipal long wold ino save tumas long despla stori.Radio Australia.
3)Papuans claim Australian link to death squad
An elite counter-terrorism unit trained and supplied by Australia is being accused of targeting and killing independence leaders in Indonesia’s troubled West Papua region.
The group, known as Detachment 88, receives training, supplies and extensive operational support from the Australian Federal Police.
But there is growing evidence the squad is involved in torture and extra-judicial killings as part of efforts by Indonesian authorities to crush the separatist movement in West Papua.
The ABC’s Hayden Cooper and Lisa Main went undercover in the restive Indonesian provinces to meet with many who say an Australian Government-funded anti-terrorist team is waging a bloody campaign against activists.
On June 14, popular independence leader Mako Tabuni was gunned down as he fled from police on a quiet street in the Papuan capital.
The men who killed Mr Tabuni allegedly are part of Detachment 88, which was established in the wake of the Bali bombings.
Trained in forensics, intelligence gathering, surveillance and law enforcement by officials from the US, the UK and Australia, they have played a crucial role in Indonesia’s counter-terrorism efforts.
They are ruthless, often killing suspects, and their anti-terrorism mandate is now creeping into other areas like policing West Papuan separatists.
In December 2010, Detachment 88 killed militant Papuan activist Kelly Kwalik.
Mr Kwalik was a leader from the Free Papua Movement (OPM), a violent independence group with a record of attacking military and civilians, and Detachment 88 publically claimed responsibility.
But KNBP’s current leader, Victor Yeimo, say unlike OPM, KNBP is non-violent and instead pursues a political solution.
“Mako was a good man. If someone was angry, Mako wouldn’t answer them,” he said.
“Even if people were angry, if he was being questioned by the police, they’d speak to him but he’d just laugh.
“His way of fighting back was by doing interviews and press conferences, it was gentle.
“People say he had weapons and so on but I was often at his house and I never saw a pistol and nor did my friends.”
According to eyewitnesses, after being approached by plain-clothed police in unmarked cars, Mr Tabuni attempted to flee.
The witness said police opened fire on the activist as he ran down the road.
“He got free, he ran across the road, he ran about two metres alongside the taxi rank,” one witness said.
“He ran along the taxi rank and tried to climb down into a gully, a drain, under the bridge.
“He was shot in the leg, he was shot but still tried to escape, then they shot him in the torso.”
Bleeding heavily, Mr Tabuni was taken not to the nearby Catholic hospital, but to a police hospital at least 20 minutes away where another witness saw the authorities bring him in.
“When he came in, I was shocked. I didn’t know what had happened and it was a shock,” he said.
“They brought him in and all they did was wash off the blood.”
The man says the police were from Detachment 88 based on their distinctive masks often worn in operation.
“I could tell just from the way they looked. And when they brought him in, the people carrying him were wearing masks,” he said.
Gustaf Kawer, Mr Tabuni’s lawyer, also believes Detachment 88 was involved.
“They used an ordinary car and also a ute. Usually, when the police make an official arrest they wear police uniforms and use police vehicles,” he said.
“But they acted as if this was not an ordinary case, as if they were dealing with terrorists.”
The Indonesian police report claims Mr Tabuni had a gun when he was shot and that he grabbed another weapon off one of the officers.
They also claim he was involved in seven violent offences before his shooting.
But Mr Kawer, who is respected internationally, says there is no evidence for any of the claims.
“I think it’s all a scenario created by the security forces so they could shoot him,” he said.
“At the present time the police are only holding two of the people who are alleged to be involved with him. They’re still being held by the police.
“Witness testimony points to their being involved but there’s not enough evidence against Mako.”
The activist’s death is just one of many examples of Detachment 88 operating with impunity.
A leaked video surfaced last year showing Indonesian police after they had reclaimed a remote airstrip from militant separatists.
The trophy video taken on a mobile phone by the police identifies Detachment 88 officers, who are often embedded with other units, and dead Papuans lying on the ground, including pictures of teenagers tied up with ropes.
And witnesses say Detachment 88 was among the security forces that opened fire on civilians at the Papuan National Congress last October.
To Papuan activists like Mr Yeimo, Australia’s support and training for Detachment 88 is galling.
“You give money for Indonesia to kill people in West Papua – you are the perpetrators of violence in West Papua,” he said.
“[The] Australian Government and American government, they are actors of violence in West Papua.
“Because they find them, they train them and then with the gun they kill people, they kill us like animals.”
Mr Tabuni’s death has sparked the attention of the Australian Government, with diplomats in Jakarta raising concerns about the killing with Indonesia on August 7.
And the Federal Government says it is asked Indonesia to conduct inquiries into human rights abuses and killings in the province of Papua.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr says he does not know if the reports are true, but he says he has spoken with his Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, about the issue.
“Well we think the best way of clarifying the situation is for an inquiry. We’ve never hesitated to raise human rights issues in the two Papuan provinces and we’ll continue to do it,” he said.
But Australia’s response is little comfort to the independence leaders in the divided and dangerous region.
Mr Yeimo says his people have little faith that the world really cares about their plight.
“The world is behind Indonesia now, it means they all compromise with Indonesia to kill West Papuan people,” he said.
And he knows that he too is now in the firing line.
“The three days after Mako Tabuni was killed by Indonesia, they sent a text message to me, they said to me that ‘after Mako Tabuni’s dead, you’ll be next’.”
By Online Editor
3:50 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea’s protected animals and marine species are being slaughtered on a massive scale for the lucrative Asian markets along the unmonitored PNG-Indonesian border in the Western Province.
These illegal activities are happening due to the absence of government services and officers at the Weam border post and Bula village in the South Fly District. Weam, situated inland, and Bula on the coast are the last PNG villages before entering Indonesian territory.
Border Development Authority (BDA) officers also witnessed this illegal trading between Bula villagers and Indonesian poachers when delivering materials for social infrastructural projects at Bula village and Morehead station last week.
Indonesian poachers are teaming up with PNG villagers to hunt deer and sharks for their fins and river fish such as saratoga, barramundi, and even live poisonous Papuan Taipan snakes.
Deer meat is sold at 12,900 Rupiahs (about K3) per kg in Indonesia and the poachers do not leave until the eskies on their dinghies are filled up with around 750kg of meat, according to the officers.
Saratogas are sold for 15,000 Rupiahs (about K4) per kg; Barramundi’s air sacks when dried are sold for 1.2 million Rupiahs (about K300). Both fish species are sold to be processed for medicine in Indonesia.
And the Papuan Taipan is sold for 43 million Rupiahs (about K10,000) for their poison to be used also for medicine.
Bula villager Mark Pize said that the poachers have taught them a new technique of killing deer with knives.
“Before, we used bows and arrows to kill deer for consumption so large herds can still be seen wondering near our village. But now the meat is killed for Indonesian markets and herds are killed on a large scale,” Pize said.
“The technique is to whistle to confuse the herds and they just stand. You can just walk over and kill them with a knife. They will not run away.”
He admitted that deer herds usually found near their village have diminished and the villagers now go a long way to hunt for them.
Pize said that they now regard themselves as Indonesians because Waigani and Daru have forgotten them so they are resorting to such practices.
“It is illegal but we need these poachers to survive. Children are growing up without knowing PNG’s official currency kina and toea but are familiar with the Indonesian official currency Rupiah. PNG currency has no value here. They are also growing up speaking Bahasa (Indonesian official language) and not English, Pidgin or Motu.
“We don’t have schools here and most of our children go across to live with our Indonesian friends to attend schools in Merauke. We also don’t have business activities like agriculture and fishing projects to generate income. We are used to eating Indonesian products of basic house hold goods like rice, sugar, salt and flour received from the poachers in exchange for our wild stock,” he said.
Another villager Augustine Pikanes said they needed PNG security forces to be stationed at Weam.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
09:18 am GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Papua New Guinea
Foreign journalists have been banned from visiting Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island “until further notice”.
On August 13, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced Australia would start sending asylum seekers for processing on Christmas Island by the end of September, and Manus Island at a later date.
Two days later, a Fairfax Media journalist and photographer submitted visa applications to visit PNG and Manus Island. Their applications were approved by the PNG Prime Minister’s office the next day.
But it appears the applications stalled after being sent to the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service.
A spokeswoman for the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service wrote to Fairfax on Friday to advise that, “we are unable to process your applications due to a ban being imposed by the Foreign Minister on issuance of visas to foreign media personnel until further notice”
Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato defended the decision to Radio New Zealand International, saying the ban was temporary and would protect the country from misreporting, which could be “misinterpreted” by Papua New Guineans.
“There’s no need for the access,” Pato said.
“PNG’s a culture where we discuss, negotiate and compromise. So we don’t want any misreporting, as a consequence of which issues could be misinterpreted by our own people as well as by the outside world. And to work out those issues, we’ll do it ourselves first and then – when the time is right – everyone will be invited to come and see what we’ve achieved”
Fairfax Media has appealed for the matter to be urgently reconsidered.
But the asylum seeker debate has not been without controversy in PNG.
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop, who is a senior member of the coalition government, has threatened to take legal action to stop the centre being built.
“There’s no law in PNG that allows people to be detained without being charged”’ he told Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific.
“That is not legal here [in PNG] because it’s against our constitution, which safeguards and protects our people, if they’re taken in by police, or other authorities, they’re supposed to be charged as soon as possible for a particular offence.”
The Prime Minister is in the Cook Islands for the Pacific Islands Forum. The Australian high commission in Port Moresby did not return calls.
A spokesman for Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s office said: “We’re seeking further information – it’s a concern and our high commissioner is looking for more detail.”
Meanwhile, the navy has intercepted another suspected asylum-seeker boat carrying 77 passengers. They will be transferred first to Christmas Island and then to Nauru or Manus Island.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL TIMES/AAP/PACNEWS
6)New Ireland landowners force shutdown at Lihir gold mine
Posted at 08:49 on 28 August, 2012 UTC
The Australian gold miner Newcrest has suspended production at its Lihir mine in Papua New Guinea after protesting landowners shut down all mine operations.
The landowners are protesting over what they see as inadequate benefits from the mine operations.
The landowner group, Lihir Mining Area Landowners Association, has rejected Newcrest’s recent offer of a $US1.2 million dollar payment.
Market reports say Newcrest stock fell 4.9 per cent overnight as a result of the Lihir dispute.
Lihir in New Ireland province is one of the world’s biggest gold mines and currently undergoing a $US1.3 billion expansion.
Newcrest said in a statement that the processing plant remains on stand-by and all facilities have been secured.
Radio New Zealand International
7)Nauru, Manus Asylum Centers Supported Widely In Australia
Poll shows 67 percent of voters support asylum processing plans
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 27, 2012) – An opinion poll in Australia shows overwhelming support for the Australian government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the latest Herald Nielsen poll shows 67 percent of voters support the plan to process asylum-seekers offshore.
Canberra has passed legislation to revisit the policy of offshore refugee processing using existing detention facilities in PNG’s Manus province and Nauru.
The Nauru centre could be open within weeks as Australia’s government looks to stem ongoing arrivals of boats carrying asylum seekers trying to reach the mainland.
PNG’s government says it sees reopening Manus as a humanitarian response to a major loss of life, with over 600 deaths at sea in the last three years among asylum seekers trying to reach Australia.
[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the PNG National Executive Council has given its approval for reopening Manus as an overseas asylum center for Australia. Elsewhere, confusion has risen from plans to move 100 asylum seekers on Christmas Island, who are currently on hunger strike, to Nauru for processing.]
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
8)Solomon Islands Hospital Nurses Stage Sit-In Protest
Security issues, ‘verbal harassment’ unaddressed by health ministry
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 28, 2012) – Medical nursing staff at the outpatient and emergency department at the Solomon Islands National Referral Hospital (NRH) staged a sit-in protest yesterday.
The protest came after failure by the NRH management and the ministry of health to address some of their concerns.
They put forward their issues of concern several weeks ago. However, most of their concerns were never addressed, forcing the nurses to take the action yesterday.
Reports reaching the paper said most of the nurses turned up at the hospital but did not do much work. This had affected services at the department yesterday.
A nurse working that emergency department yesterday confirmed the sit-in protest.
The officer said the action follows failure by the NRH management and the health ministry for failing to address some of the issues they raised with the management several weeks ago.
Some of the issues related to the security of the nursing officers working at the department following thestoning of a nurse working at the department and an allege assault of a nurse by members of the public.
Not only that, but the nurses continue to receive verbal harassments from the public accusing them of not providing good service.
They also called for better medical equipments and transport for their nurses during the night.
Few weeks ago the outpatient department was closed for normal services except for the emergency.
And yesterday the emergency department reduced its services raising much concern from members of the public.
Yesterday a doctor who now works overseas also blamed the NRH / health ministry management for not doing anything better for the nurses.
He said the management should address their security concern.
“Maybe, they want one officer to be get killed before they will give answer,” the local doctor said.
Secondly the public must respect the local nurses and doctors’ staff.
“The public have been blaming them for not attending them quickly but can’t help it. We need to blame the current system because it is the system that don’t allow us to recruit more nurses to resolve this long waiting before get seen,” the doctor who recently take up his new post overseas said.
Meanwhile the nursing department had called on the nurses to resume duty assuring them their issues are currently being dealt with.
Attempts to get comments from the NRH chief executive officer Dr. George Manimu said.
9)Solomons Marine Resources Management Reportedly Hampered
License revenues outweighed by unrealized catch value profits
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, Aug. 27, 2012) – The Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has been precluded from planning appropriate management of offshore fisheries due to a lack of updated laws and a tuna management plan to address regional fisheries resources.
This was according to a report released by the Solomon Islands Auditor General, Edward Ronia in parliament this week.
The report, called “Managing sustainable fisheries (tuna fisheries) in Solomon Islands Fisheries Exclusive Economic Zone,” also confirms suspicions regarding the value of licensing fees and undervalued fish catches in the Solomons.
“License fees from both domestic and foreign vessels in 2011 provided about SB$106 million (US$14.3 million) in government revenue,” the report states. “While this is a significant earner for the government, it is only a low percentage of the catch value. Fisheries also provide a major contribution to the Solomon Islands’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
Total fisheries export earnings for H1 2011 was SB$114 million (US$15.4 million) or 8.6 percent of total export earnings for the period, Islands Business International reports.
In the report, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) claims that it is unclear, with the current 1998 Fisheries Act in force, whether the ministry has focused on addressing economic returns to the Solomon Islands from offshore fishing licenses and access agreements, and focused on assessing whether they are appropriate to the value of tuna taken by vessels from the Solomon Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) every year.
Over the last year, the ministry has participated in negotiations and discussions meant to boost the revenue to the country from fishing in the Solomon Islands EEZ. Implementing a new Fisheries Act and approval of a new Tuna Management Plan will merge these recent gains and establish national legislative requirements that reflect sub-regional, regional and international responsibilities, the report explains.
“The Ministry does not have a formal fishing license policy and guidelines,” the report states.
In its response, the Ministry argued that since tuna are highly migratory species, effective management requires cooperation with other countries, which entails working with regional organizations such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA).
“Solomon Islands provides information to these agencies and then works with other countries to make management decisions based on analysis and recommendations from the agencies,” the Ministry said, Solomon Star reports.
“Collective decisions are then given effect by the Ministry. Therefore, any audit of the effectiveness of the management of Solomon Islands tuna fisheries must consider the collective nature of management and Solomon Islands’ specific responsibilities within the collective approach,” the Ministry added.
The Ministry also said that the audit was conducted based on the assumption that the 1999 Solomon Islands National Tuna Management and Development Plan is operational, even though it is not.
10)Overseas Firm To Audit Vanuatu National Provident Fund
Independent audit hoped to ‘restore confidence’ in VNPF management
By Ricky Binihi
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Aug. 27, 2012) – The audit investigation into Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) will be carried out by an overseas firm, Auditor General John Path said.
“It’s to ensure the ‘independence’ of the investigation (i.e. audit free from bias), limited capacity within my office to undertake the work and high public interest and sensitivity towards VNPF,” the Auditor General said in a press release. But Mr. Path said he will review and sign the audit investigation.
He told Daily Post yesterday he has not yet identified who will carry out the audit probe into VNPF as he is considering the quotations given to him by various audit firms.
“In order to recruit the right people for the job, due process must be followed and we have allowed up to 27th August for the tenders to be received.
“An appointment will be made soon after and a team will be mobilized as soon as practically possible. It’s important the right people are recruited for this exercise to enable the restoration of confidence in governance of VNPF management,” the AG said.
Under the Vanuatu Constitution and the Expenditure Review and Audit Act (Cap 241) 1998, the Auditor General has the legal mandate to undertake audits of all public funds and undertake special investigations as the need arises.
The Auditor General estimates the investigation may take place over three weeks by two people.
But Mr. Path said it is only an estimate as it may take longer because the investigation will include time to plan the audit approach, collection analysis of information and the final reporting.
The final report will be submitted to the Minister of Finance and Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee as required by law.
The Office of the Auditor General is appealing for patience and confidence that the investigation is carried out with the utmost regard to independence, integrity and respect for all those involved.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister Moana Carcasses has withdrawn the amendment bill for the VNPF Actfrom the First Extraordinary Session of Parliament of 2012.
Minister Carcasses had accepted to present the bill at the request of the management of the VNPF and after having received assurance of proper consultations of the members of the VNPF management.
A press statement from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management said since then, an audit is being processed and pending and the VNPF management mow on suspension, it has appeared appropriate and responsible that the Minister withdraw the until the full VNPF audit report is complete.
It is unlikely the proposed amendment VNPF bill will be presented during this term of Parliament because the Parliament life ends on September 2.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
11)Labour Party Seeks Multilateral Party Alliance In Fiji
Political parties will join forces to ‘fight for a democratic Fiji’
By Indrani Krishna
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Aug. 27, 2012) – In its bid to push the country back to democratic rule, the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) will join hands with the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL),National Federation Party (NFP) United People’s party (UPP) and National Farmers Union (NFU).
The party’s annual congress in Nadi on Saturday resolved that they will work hand in hand with the other parties to move the country forward and ensure there is democracy.
This was confirmed to FijiLive by FLP spokesperson and prominent Suva lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry.
“The fight for a democratic Fiji can not be fought alone, so for the betterment of this country, we have to work with other political parties to accomplish this dream,” said Chaudhry.
“Some of the other issues discussed during the conference were the deteriorating state of the sugar industry, the shortage of medical supplies in public hospitals, withdrawal of welfare assistance from approximately 400 recipients, the adjournment of wage increases suggested by the Wages Council and the reduction in Fiji National Provident Fund pensions.”
“But topping the discussion was the retention of the1997 Constitution where FLP members were adamant that they did not need to write another constitution. It was resolved undisputedly that the 1997 Constitution be retained and amended or added to where considered necessary by the Constitution Commission but the final decision about the new constitution should be left to the people.”
“The conference had also engendered some constructive debate on the credibility of the constitutional process as contrived under Decrees 57 and 58 based on the immunity provisions and the composition on the Constituent Assembly,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, long serving member and former Minister for Women and Social Welfare, Lavenia Padarath was elected the new president of the party during the congress while Mahendra Pal Chaudhry retained the position of the general secretary.
12)Local Forum Calls For Abolishment Of Fiji’s Chiefly Council
Western United Forum claims GCC a colonial institution
By Felix Chaudhary
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Aug. 27, 2012) – The Western United Forum (WUF) has called for the total abolishment of Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) and has recommended the removal of the three confederacies — Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata.
While making submissions to the Constitution Commission in Lautoka over the weekend, WUF spokesman Ratu Meli Bogileka said the institutions were created by the colonial administrators and would be deterrent to the development of the country.
“We recommend that there should be a total abolishment of the GCC since this was an institution created by the then colonial administrators to assist them in administering the affairs of the iTaukei community,” he submitted.
“These sort of institutions were created by the colonial masters in the colonial era to assist them in looking after the affairs of the people then.
“These institutions, the way we look at it, which are an impedance. They are hurdles to the way forward for Fiji,” he said.
“Now that Fiji is a democratic country which upholds the will of the people in a bottom-up democracy structure, all such institutions that have a top-down dictatorial rule and authority must be dismantled and abolished completely.
“We also recommend that the three confederacies of Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata be scrapped totally. Our recommendation is based on the belief that all chiefs in Fiji have the same status and no one is rated lower than others,” Ratu Meli said.
Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.
By Online Editor
2:11 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Fiji
The man responsible for Fiji’s first two military coups says the series of coups in the country has been a serious setback for democracy.
Major General Sitiveni Rabuka staged two coups in Fiji in 1987 in an attempt to reassert ethnic Fijian supremacy.
He is due to be a keynote speaker at a conference on democracy at University of Canterbury in New Zealand.
“Democracy has suffered it has been wounded. It’s up to us to recover from the wounds and move forward,” he told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat.
He officially apologised for the coups in 2006 saying they were democratically wrong.
He told Radio Australia he hopes Fiji’s new constitution will be framed to ward against coups.
“Hopefully we will come up with a system of government, a constitution, that will prevent future any further military coups,” he said.
He told Radio Australia the country’s culture needed to change to a point where coup-installed governments are no longer accepted by the people.
“We just have to put in place, not a system to prevent coups, but an understanding that coup-de-tats are not the way to go in a democratic society,” he said.
In another development, the electronic voter registration (EVR) process has entered its final week.
And calls have been made to all Fijians who are yet to register to make a stand and take advantage of the new system.
With only four days left before the EVR ends for a break before recommencing on November 15, 1157 voters registered around the country yesterday, bringing the provisional grand total to 456,098.
According to the Elections Office, EVR will come to a close on Friday for at least a two-and-a-half month period to allow the Elections Office to focus on the task of data verification and analysis.
“This will result in a clean voter list and a clear understanding of the distribution and demographics of registration so far. It is scheduled to be complete by November 15,” permanent secretary for Elections Mere Vuniwaqa said.
She said following this process, EVR would start again.
Vuniwaqa said details would soon follow on the deployment plan for continuing EVR.
“The data-analysis performed by the Elections Office will allow officials to best determine how to cater to the needs of the individuals, communities and locations that might require additional attention, to ensure that each and every Fijian has the ability to register,” she added
There are 182,522 registered in the Central Division, 21,414 in the Eastern Division, 174,512 in the West and 77,650 in the North.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/ FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
3:59 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Fiji
The Fijian government is not going to make any submission to the Constitution Commission, confirms Attorney General and Elections Minister, Aiyaz-Sayed Khaiyum.
Speaking to FijiLive, Sayed-Khaiyum said they do not see it necessary to make submissions to the Commission which is independent and has been set up to hear the voices of every citizen of the country.
The Constitutional Commission last week said that they might seek for a short extension during the drafting of the constitution.
“Even though we have lost a month due to flooding, we do not want to rush through the public consultations,”
Constitution Commission Chair, Professor Yash Ghai said.
Sayed-Khaiyum when asked of the possibility for an extension said all depends on the Commission’s recommendations.
“If they need an extended time-frame then we will definitely give them a slight extension,” he said.
The Constitution submission ends on 30 September.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
09:12 am GMT+12, 28/08/2012, United Arab Emirates
The Fijian prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama wants to discuss an open-skies agreement with UAE airlines that will open up South American nations to his country.
In the first official visit by a Fijian premier to the Emirates, Commodore Bainimarama will hold five days of meetings with various authorities. In Abu Dhabi he will also open the first Fijian embassy in the region.
The new Fijian ambassador to the UAE, Robin Nair, said the prime minister hoped to hold talks on issues including military cooperation, education and political ties.
“The UAE is the hub of the Middle East,” Nair said. “Politically, the UAE is perhaps the most stable Middle East country, including among Gulf states.
“Opening the first diplomatic representation in the Middle East is in conformity with Fiji’s new directions in foreign policy, which is to diversify and broaden international partnerships.”
The Foreign Minister’s assistant for economic affairs, Khalid Ghanim Al Ghaith, said the UAE was keen to enter an Open Skies agreement with Fiji.
“This will boost the tourism sector in Fiji and increase connectivity between the two countries and subregions,” Al Ghaith said.
“With the policy in place, the UAE intends to link Fiji to countries in South America such as Chile, Peru or even Brazil, which will be of great benefit to both Fiji and the UAE.”
Nair said his government was interested in airline partnerships.
“We have spoken with Emirates and are also in talks with Etihad,” he said. “They’re very close to circumnavigating the globe.
“Fiji needs more airlines to bring tourists and businesspeople, especially from newer markets such as from the Middle East and Europe.
“Both already fly into the region, with Emirates and Etihad flying into Australia, and Emirates into New Zealand.
“There are possibilities of negotiating piggybacking on to these services to fly in and out of Fiji, too.”
Nair said Bainimarama also hoped to discuss visa rules between the UAE and Fiji.
“We encourage reciprocally supplying visas on arrival and we want to extend that to UAE citizens,” he said.
If an agreement is reached during the prime minister’s visit next week it might be put into place immediately, Nair said.
Fiji is also keen to introduce a defence attache to the mission in Abu Dhabi, he said.
The Fijian military has been in the region since 1978, taking part in peacekeeping missions.
“There is much scope for diversifying our cooperation and military training, and to find niche areas of cooperation and training of our military with the UAE Armed Forces,” Nair said.
“There is a lot of commonality in tradition between RFMF [Republic Fiji Military Forces] and UAE Armed Forces, both having been initially schooled in British traditions.
“We hope to attract a defence attache to be posted here to look after the needs of our troops in the region and also to establish relations with the well-trained UAE armed Forces.”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
16)Polynesian Leaders Group Considers Expanding Membership
Hawaii, Rapa Nui and Aotearoa may be invited to join assembly
By Rachel Reeves
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, Aug. 27, 2012) – The Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) is seriously considering admitting Hawai’i, Rapa Nui and Aotearoa Māori into its fold.
The communiqué containing its final decision is not being released until Friday.
Three Polynesian groups made submissions on Saturday to the leaders of the eight Polynesian nations that comprise the PLG – Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Niue, American Samoa, French Polynesia and Tokelau.
The PLG meeting was this week’s first official gathering, though not officially part of the Forum.
Prime Minister Henry Puna and Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi briefed media at the conclusion of their closed PLG meeting, which started at 9am on Saturday and stretched into the evening, about 5pm.
Saturday marked the second meeting of the PLG, which was formed by memorandum of understanding last year, but the group’s first formal meeting.
Tuilaepa and Puna emphasized to Pacific journalists that the group was not established to counter the influence of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, but to unite leaders of a geographical cluster of countries, which face reasonably similar challenges and limitations.
“It should be added that the PLG was not set up to compete with other groupings within the Forum. I need to make that very clear, however what we’re looking for and what we’ve found is that it is possible to have groupings within this wider grouping of the Pacific for where we can have a lot of commonalities,” Puna said.
At Saturday’s meeting, three Polynesian peoples made submissions to the leaders in an effort to gain admission to the PLG – a group from Rapa Nui, a group representing 56 Māori tribes of New Zealand, and a group representing the indigenous Hawai’ian community.
“The [Māori] iwi especially gave us a very long presentation today which illustrated their vast experience in terms of managing their affairs for such a large group of 56 tribes,” Tuilaepa said.
Leaders will be considering the submissions of all three groups, and finalizing their decision in a communiqué that will be released by the Forum’s end.
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – [email protected]
17)Nearly 49,000 Residents Register For Guam’s Primary Election
Master voter list will ‘make or break’ 2012 elections
By Brett Kelman
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 28, 2012) – There are almost 49,000 voters registered for Guam’s Primary Election on Saturday.
Voter registration is closed, and the Guam Election Commission (GEC) said it was finalizing the master voter list of 48,956 voters last night. One of the final steps was to process about 300 voters who had transferred between districts since the last election.
Election Commission Executive Director Maria Pangelinan said she was very confident in the master voter list. It should be finished today, she said.
“Remember, how this voter list turns out will make or break us on Election Day,” said board Chairman Joe Mesa.
Mesa previously has said he expects a voter turnout of about 45 percent, which would equate to about 22,000 voters.
Pangelinan said the district registration program, which allowed residents to register at their mayor’s office, added about 1,000 new voters to the list.
Unfortunately, almost all of those voters registered within the last few days allowed, so the Election Commission staff has had to work quickly to finalize the voter list. For example, staff was currently weeding out duplicate registrations.
Chris Carillo, a Democrat board member, said he was concerned that the Election Commission didn’t have enough “safeguards” against duplicate registrations.
When the Democratic Party of Guam examined the voter list in the wake of the 2010 election, the party found many duplicates — including some voters who were registered as many as five times, Carillo said.
“So we can say that last election was an anomaly with that many duplicate registrations?” Carillo asked.
“Being that it was last election, I do believe it was an anomaly — and it shouldn’t have happened that way,” said Mesa, who is Republican.
The Election Commission already has collected about 225 early votes, according to the office.
A test election using more than 400 ballots will be held on Friday at 6 p.m. The test election will use the same tabulation machines that will be used on Saturday, and GEC staff also will practice hand counting the public auditor race.
The Election Commission has submitted a $75,000 budget to the Legislature to pay for a for-profit gambling initiative, Pangelinan said.
During the meeting, board members also briefly discussed draft text for an impartial description of the initiative, which the commission is required to publish before the General Election on Nov. 6.
Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com
By Online Editor
4:01 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Australia
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr Tuesday said regional powers need to get used to China’s so-called chequebook diplomacy in the Pacific as it works to shore up support over Taiwan.
Australian think-tank the Lowy Institute estimated last year that China had pledged more than US$600 million since 2005 in “soft loans” offering long interest-free periods to nations such as Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands.
It has also stepped up its aid to Fiji following the 2006 coup in which military leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power from the elected government.
Australia and the US have previously expressed concern at China resorting to chequebook diplomacy but Carr appeared to soften Canberra’s stance in an interview with the Australian Financial Review.
He urged the region to learn to live with Beijing “developing all the accoutrements of a major power”.
“That means defence modernisation but it also means a big aid budget,” he said.
“My message really is that Australia and New Zealand have got to live with the fact that China will want to deliver aid in this part of the world (and) there is nothing we can do to stop it. It’s a fact of life.”
China’s interest in the Pacific stems mainly from a race for diplomatic influence with Taiwan, which Beijing still regards as part of its territory although the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.
The rivalry saw some Pacific nations constantly change allegiance between Taipei and Beijing in return for increased aid, until Taiwan elected the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008.
Since then the diplomatic one-upmanship has cooled.
Carr’s comments came on the eve of the Pacific Islands Forum, a grouping of mainly small island states, along with resource-rich Papua New Guinea and the dominant regional powers Australia and New Zealand, both US allies.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to make a rare foray to the meeting in the Cook Islands in a move analysts say is aimed at curbing China’s growing influence in the region.
On the broader issue of global aid, Carr said he expected that as China developed it would normalise and “reshape its aid budget to resemble that of other OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries”.
“In other words, not a Chinese port linked by a Chinese road to a Chinese mine, but the more variegated capacity-building assistance that you see today from an OECD country,” he told the newspaper.
By Online Editor
2:02 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Australia
The Australian government is under pressure to reinstate funding for tuberculosis clinics in the Torres Strait islands and Papua New Guinea after warnings of an increase in medical refugees.
Doctors warn a humanitarian crisis unfolding in PNG’s Western Province is spreading to Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville hospitals as more medical refugees seek treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis, cholera, AIDS and
The Queensland and Australian governments controversially decided to close health clinics in Queensland’s northernmost islands in mid-June despite the World Health Organisation listing it as a crisis.
“They’ve got big problems. And no, we can’t prevent the spread into Australia,” said Dr Graham Simpson, a respiratory specialist in Cairns.
“Most drug-resistant TB in this state is imported. It is a slow epidemic, not like the flu season,” he said. “It takes decades and has enormous momentum. Once it gets a hold, it is hard to stop.”He said there was no official notification of the future of TB services in Queensland, with a push to devolve to 17 districts.
Outraged nurses rallied in Brisbane last week in protest over plans to close the state’s primary TB control centre at Princess Alexandra hospital, which treats almost half of the average 240 TB cases reported every year.
Far North Queensland federal MP Warren Entsch has accused Aus/AID officials of “incompetence or corruption” in handling the humanitarian disaster of Australia’s nearest neighbour.
“We have got highly contagious patients turning up in airports in Cairns, Townsville and Brisbane,” he said. “This is bigger than drug-resistant tuberculosis. It is cholera, leprosy, infant mortality and malnutrition.”
Entsch plans a Private Member’s Bill calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the cut-back of services and the handling by AusAID.
North Queensland-based Labor Senator Jan McLucas defended the government’s cuts, saying funds were instead being directed through foreign aid.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
2:13 pm GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Cook Islands
By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Rarotonga
A day before the regional framework on sea-bed mining is launched in Rarotonga, a group of Pacific civil society organisation have released a legal opinion calling for a moratorium on deep sea mining (DSM).
Civil society groups comprised of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) and ACT NOW from Papua New Guinea said their legal opinion challenged the definition of the precautionary approach to mining, now actively promoted for the Pacific.
“The conclusion of the legal opinion clearly states that the correct interpretation of the precautionary principle leads to only one plausible result – a moratorium on seabed mining, said PANG Co-ordinator, Maureen Penjueli.
The group said very little is known about sea floor mining technology, efficacy, safety and the impacts that may arise from the process.
“These uncertainties warrant unprecedented caution and attention before proceeding with full scale development of seabed mining.
The precautionary principle dictates taking a cautious approach in matters that affect the environment when there is scientific uncertainty about the negative impacts. It is widely used in international environmental law and has been applied in the courts in areas such as climate change, hazardous waste, fisheries and sustainable development.
The precautionary principle is clearly cited in the Rio+20 Declaration, said Effrey Dademo of ACT NOW in Papua New Guinea.
“There is also a clear obligation on all States to widely apply the principle. This includes the need for an open, informed and democratic process involving all affected parties and this is something that has not happened here in the Pacific prior to the introduction of experimental seabed mining.
Marie Isimeli from the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) said the group is pleading with Pacific Leaders to listen to the voices of its people.
“We are pleading with the Leaders to recognise the challenges we face if we continue in the direction that is being legitimized and fast tracked by technical agency dealing with seabed mining, SOPAC.
“We have come with the concerns of our brothers and sisters from the Pacific and we bring these concerns to the door step of the Leaders and seek for their wisdom.
Based on the experiences of places like Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, it has been found that mining has not resulted in the improvement of the livelihood of people and has not decreased national economic budgetary challenges.
In addition to the 10-page legal opinion, regional NGOs will also present a petition with more than 8,000 signatures from around the Pacific region and beyond, opposing seabed mining to the Cook Islands Government as the new chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.
“This is one of several petitions to demonstrate the growing concerns to sea bed mining in the region. We are trying to catch up in some of our island countries but there is a recurring theme that people are beginning to express concerns because they simply don’t know enough about the decisions taken by government, the science involved around it. It is clearly unknown, said Penjueli.
Both Tonga and Nauru are pursuing exploration licenses in international waters in the east Pacific through their sponsoring companies, Tonga Offshore Mining Limited and Nauru Offshore Resources Inc.
The Canadian mining company, Nautilus Minerals Inc is expected as early as the end of 2012 to begin mining the Seafloor Massive Sulphide system at depths of 1.46 kilometres under the sea off the coast of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea. These companies will be extracting high value minerals such as gold, silver, copper, ore and manganese.
By Online Editor
10:57 am GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Fiji
Four of Fiji’s promising young athletes have departed the country to further their studies and at the same time prepare for future major sporting events in the United States.
They are Roy Ravana, Milli Koyamainavure, Ratutira Narara and Douglas Miller.
The four have been awarded sports scholarships at Iowa Central.
Sports administrator Dan O’Connell thanked Oceania Foundation and the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC) for helping these national champions.
“And we are also thankful to Iowa Central for believing in our champions and offering them scholarship support. As is always the case in gaining such a scholarship, these champion student/athletes have worked hard for many years in order to gain their scholarship.
“Each of them have a unique story with a similar background of family and friends helping them along their path,” said O’Connell.
He said the future of these student athletes are now in the reliable hands of the excellent Iowa coaches.
“We wish our champions the very best. We are proud of them. We know their success will open new doors of opportunity for younger student/athletes in the Pacific.
“We are sad to see them go, but happy for them to move away from a loving home in order to create a better future. Let’s hope all of them reach the next progressive step of gaining an NCAA scholarship following two years at Iowa Central Community College,” O’Connell said.
By Online Editor
10:54 am GMT+12, 28/08/2012, Fiji
Fiji U17s cricketers bounced back from an earlier 69-run loss to Papua New Guinea with a commanding 6-wicket victory against Vanuatu in their second game at Central College in Lautoka Monday.
Fiji won by six wickets with 33 balls to spare. Fiji’s opening combination of Sowane Puamau and Sakiusa Dokosobau picked up two wickets each including the key scalp of Vanuatu captain Nalin Nipiko to have the visitors 4-26.
A change of bowling didn’t stop Fiji’s momentum as Joji Tabua entered the attack and his brilliant spell of accurate bowling saw him claim four wickets. “It was a different Fiji team to the side that lost to PNG earlier in the morning and they can now go into the remainder of the tournament,” Fiji coach Colin Rika said.
“The difference between this match and our morning match against PNG was self-belief. “We spoke about making sure we batted sensibly and not try and hit everything for four or six and win like this puts the belief in our team that we can still win this tournament.”
The key partnership of the innings for Fiji came when Rusiate Vuanicau and Akaripa Tuinasau came together for the fifth wicket and combined for a handy 37 runs to wrestle the match away from Vanuatu and guide their side to victory. Some late stroke play from Vanuatu’s Worek Rene Tastuki gave the Vanuatu bowlers something to defend as he pushed the score up to all out for 75.
In reply Vanuatu took early wickets through the bowling of Nalin Nipiko and Apolinaire Stephen to have Fiji struggling at 2-13. Fiji currently lies second on the standings behind PNG with Vanuatu bringing up the tail end.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
23)Pressions pour un élargissement du Forum des îles du Pacifique
Le 43ème sommet de cette grande institution régionale s’est ouvert hier à Rarotonga, la capitale des îles Cook.
Les dirigeants des nations polynésiennes de la région, notamment le Samoa et les îles Cook se sont d’ores et déjà déclaré favorables à un statut de membre à part entière du FIP pour l’état américain d’Hawaï, pour le territoire spécial de Rapa Nui (l’île de Pâques) et pour les Maoris de Nouvelle-Zélande.
Les dirigeants polynésiens ont aussi discuté des moyens à mettre en œuvre pour améliorer l’accès aux dernières technologies entre leur pays respectif- Radio Australia.