NEWS ( Melanesian/Pacific) 3 September 2012.
2) Ok Teki Mine’s PNG Owners Sign ‘Historic’ Development Agreement
Fly River region to benefit from more business opportunities
By Malum Nalu
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 3, 2012) – PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP), the majority shareholder of the giant Ok Tedi mine, has signed a historic agreement with the Fly River provincial government to ensure that more business opportunities flow down to the people of Western.
The company currently owns 63.4% of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML), while the balance of 36.6% is owned by the PNG government.
The agreement was signed after a day-long meeting at the Tabubil Golf Club on Saturday in which representatives from PNGSDP, OTML, and Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF) made comprehensive presentations to a delegation led by Governor Ati Wobiro, and deputy provincial administrator Willie Kokoba.
Wobiro signed the agreement on behalf of his people while board chairman Prof Ross Garnaut signed on behalf of PNGSDP.
It was hailed as the beginning of a new era for the province, especially given that Wobiro is a former employee of PNGSDP, who is familiar with all its workings.
“I’m sure that with the partnership we have already signed, we can bring our resources together,” Wobiro said in his first major engagement as Western province governor.
“This is an exciting time for all of us.
“Our people expect us to do things and let’s do the right thing.”
Garnaut said Western had access to a lot of funds from different sources and the way forward was to plan how to use them.
“In everything that we (PNGSDP) do, we hope we can work with the provincial government,” he said.
“We are natural partners in developing this province.
“There are a lot of partners that belong to the province in Department of Finance SSG (special support grants), MRDC (Mineral Resources Development Company).
“What we need to do is we need to have a plan to put the funds from PNGSDP, Ok Tedi, OTDF alongside your funds and build the important business projects that can really make a big difference in taking this province forward.
‘”We have a partner who can work with us to make use of this golden opportunity.
“It will be our great opportunity in turning this opportunity into achievement.”
The National: www.thenational.com.pg/
3)PNG lifts ban on foreign journalists covering Manus Island story
Posted at 03:32 on 03 September, 2012 UTC
The Papua New Guinea government has lifted a ban on foreign journalists entering PNG to cover the Manus Island asylum centre story.
The National newspaper says the Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has confirmed the lifting of the temporary ban.
Manus Island and Nauru have agreed with Canberra to reopen facilities for processing asylum seekers trying to reach Australia.
West Sepik Governor Amkat Mai was among critics of the ban on foreign journalists saying the previous government was toppled over a lack of transparency.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato earlier said the ban was necessary while PNG sorted through internal issues.
The paper reports Mr Pato is due back in the country today and is expected to finalise plans for the opening of the centre.
Radio New Zealand International
4) Six people associated with Phocea leave Vanuatu despite prosecution appeal
Posted at 03:32 on 03 September, 2012 UTC
An American woman, Faviola Brugger Dadis, has left Vanuatu despite public prosecutors appealing her sentence on customs and obstruction charges in connection with the super yacht Phocea.
Vanuatu police raided Phocea on suspicion of fake passport manufacture and drugs smuggling in July.
It has been detained in Port Vila since then.
Dadis had been convicted and fined for unlawfully disembarking and obstructing a police officer.
13 crew were also fined for unlawfully disembarking.
Prosecutors launched an appeal last week and on Friday afternoon an order was issued by the court to them for not to leave the country.
But five crew had already gone while Dadis managed to leave the country after the court order was issued.
Another eight crew members are now waiting to appear before Vanuatu’s appeal court but no date has been set for a hearing.
State prosecutors are also planning to lay charges against an additional nine people, including two Cabinet Ministers and the skipper of Phocea.
Radio New Zealand International
5) Fiji women’s advocate says fear discouraging constitutional submissions
Posted at 03:32 on 03 September, 2012 UTC
The head of the Fiji Women’s Right’s movement says more people would be making submissions to the Constitutional Commission, if they felt that they could speak without fear.
The Commission is currently holding hearings around the country.
Virisila Buadromo says the Commission itself is independent, but decrees are still in place.
“While the State says on one hand they are willing to listen to diverse views, it is diverse views that they agree with I think is what they are willing to listen to. So i mean it is quite sad. I hope that this is not stopping other people to be able to go out and make submissions. Submissions are being made and that is great.”
Virisila Buadromo says she hopes that some of the things that have happened in Fiji recently, including her organisation not being able to run a newspaper advertisement on the process, have set off alarm bells for the Commission.
Radio New Zealand International
6) Zero stigma for zero HIV transmission: Fiji President
By Online Editor
3:21 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2012, Fiji
HIV/AIDS transmission cannot be controlled unless the stigma and discrimination against those living with the killer disease is stopped, says Fiji’s President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
He made the comment while launching ‘Empower Pacific’ formally known as ‘Pacific Counseling and Social Services’ at the Holiday Inn in Suva.
“More so, we have to address gender inequality as well as eradicate gender based violence,” said Ratu Epeli.
He said this is a challenge to every person to be leading lights for these changes. “My challenge to civil society organizations is to implement strategies in eliminating these social ills of the society which is not only an on-going obstacle in our response against HIV and AIDS, but a monumental obstacle to positive progress all rounds.”
As the former UNAIDS Special Representative in the Pacific and currently Fiji’s special representative on HIV and AIDS, he is particularly grateful to Empower Pacific’s contribution in the areas of awareness, prevention, treatment, continuous counseling of HIV and Aids affected persons, and efforts to reduce the stigma, discrimination and gender inequality.
All these are aimed at attaining the three Zeros – Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero Aids related deaths.
Empower Pacific’s continuous effort to make available its services to the vulnerable, to the disadvantaged and to the minority also needs to be commended.
Empower Pacific chief executive Rhianon Vichta said the name change would not affect their work.
Vichta said their work is about the women, the men, the children, the families, the communities that we have the honor of supporting.
“Our organization is all about commitment to the empowerment of people.” It was started in Suva 18 years ago as a family support and education group, the organization now have 70 professional staff with 5 branches across Fiji.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
7) 488,734 registered for 2014 elections in Fiji
By Online Editor
1:06 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2012, Fiji
Fiji’s Elections Office managed to register a total of 488,734 voters through Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) in the last eight weeks
With the EVR ending last Saturday, a total of 2,824 voters were registered on the final day. 1,837 people registered in the Western Division, 1,299 in the Central, 749 in the North and 6 in the Eastern Division.
A total of 197,167 voters are now registered in the Central Division, 187,767 in the Western Division, 81,415 in the Northern and 22,385 in the Eastern Division.
Registration has now closed across all centres for at least two and a half months to allow the Elections Office to carry out data verification and analysis.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
8) Forum Decides To Maintain Suspension Of Fiji
Leaders recognize ‘some progress’ towards democracy
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Sept. 1, 2012) – Leaders from the Pacific region have wrapped up the Pacific Islands Forum with a decision to maintain Fiji’s suspension from the group and a call for more reliable aid.
It follows three days of talks on the remote One Foot Island in Aitutaki, Cook Islands.
They collectively agreed Fiji would not be allowed back into the Forum.
However, they said the country’s interim government had made progress towards democracy and will be permitted to participate in a parallel gathering of Pacific countries.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key said it was good that Fiji had committed to elections in 2014 but insisted there is still some way to go.
“We wouldn’t say the process is perfect but we would say they’re making some progress and it seems more likely to us that Frank Bainimarama will honour his word and actually hold those elections,” he said.
“We’ve heard it before, haven’t necessarily seen delivery, but we’re a little more hopeful.”
The leaders also used their summit to ask aid donors to make their assistance more reliable and more predictable, and they called for more help in fighting illegal fishing.
The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, says the American Navy is now going to join the US coastguard in helping Pacific Island countries protect their fisheries.
Marshall Islands will host the next Pacific Islands Forum in 2013.
[PIR editor’s note: According to a report in the Solomon Star the Solomons Islands also launched a last minute bid to host the Forum in 2013 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of RAMSI. The bid failed as the Leaders welcomed the offer by the RMI to serve as hosts.]
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
9) Fiji opens embassy in Abu Dhabi
By Online Editor
3:24 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2012, United Arab Emirates
Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama has officially opened Fiji’s newest embassy in the United Arab Emirates.
Commodore Bainimarama will remain in the UAE for the next four days to hold diplomatic meetings, as well as talks with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).
“In July this year, Fiji became the first country in the region to agree to sign a double taxation agreement with the United Arab Emirates,” Bainimarama said.
He is to formally sign the deal today, opening the way for trade between the two nations.
“The giant leaps that the UAE has made over the last decade is something that Fiji stands to gain from, and we look forward to learning from the experiences of the Emirates,” he added.
Talks with ADIA will include the possibility of investing in private Fijian retirement villages, Bainimarama said.
“There has been some indication of interest through ADIA by private investors in developing retirement villages with state-of-the-art medical facilities,” he said. “This would also fit in with our plans to develop medical tourism.”
Talks with the ADFD, which provides assistance to developing nations, will focus on several development projects.
“We have identified some projects that are being considered by ADFD, like the rural electrification project,” Bainimarama said.
“We would look at investments to develop our natural resources, education, health and housing for our people and for developing alternative sources of energy.”
Over the past six weeks, the two governments have been discussing an air transport agreement.
An invitation has also been extended to the UAE Government to open an embassy in Fiji.
“As an emerging economy within the region, my government will welcome any desire by authorities here to set up a mission,” Bainimarama said. “This, of course, will strengthen the Emirates’ presence within the South Pacific.”
About 270 Fijians live in the UAE, many of them working as pilots, flight staff, engineers or nurses.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
10) China lays out policy of stability, development in Pacific
By Online Editor
3:28 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2012, Cook Islands
China laid out a raft of measures to help the sustainable development of Pacific island nations at a meeting of Pacific leaders and development partners in the Cook Islands Friday.
Chinese vice foreign minister Cui Tiankai told the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Post-Forum Partners Dialogue Meeting, attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representative of the European Union, Japan and other major nations, that the region ‘s development partners should respect the will of Pacific island countries.
This involved taking concrete actions on issues of concern to them, such as trade, health, energy and climate change.
“The thrust of China’s policy toward the Pacific is to achieve peace, stability and development,” said Cui.
“China has done many concrete things to support the economic and social development of Pacific island countries, always in light of the needs and interests of the countries concerned.”
Cui said China would continue to help Pacific island countries realize sustainable development through a raft of measures involving high-level exchanges, helping Pacific island countries meet their Millennium Development Goals, carrying out the measures announced by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the Rio+20 Conference, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, providing another $US400,000 for China-PIF Cooperation Fund,US$250,000 for Pacific Islands Trade and Invest, and US$150,000 for the Pacific Regional Environment Program and intensifying exchanges between women’s agencies and organizations.
Referring to the theme of this year’s PIF meeting “Large Ocean Island States the Pacific Challenge” Cui said China attached importance to marine ecological protection and the preservation and management of fisheries.
China was active in measures to prevent illegal and unregulated fishing and would work with the international community to promote marine cooperation and sustainable development of the Pacific.
One such area was in helping Pacific island nations build fishery capacity through technical and training support and investment.
Another was intensification of cooperation in marine protection, in areas such as environment management, marine resources and ecology research, surveying and disaster prevention and control.
And third was exploring cooperation on deep-sea mineral prospecting, using the expertise of China’s ocean research institutes and technology such as China’s manned submersible craft, which had dived to depths of up to 7,000 meters in tests in the Pacific.
China, which had participated in the Post-Forum Partners Dialogue Meeting for 23 years, had built more than 80 industrial, agricultural and infrastructure projects in the Pacific island countries over the years, said Cui.
“In extending assistance, China attaches importance to the long- term development of recipient countries to ensure China’s assistance fits their development strategies,” he said.
Last Thursday, Cui, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced a joint plan to build a water supply project in Rarotonga, based on “equal-footed consultation” and with no strings attached.
China was also preparing to offer energy-conserving products to the Pacific island nations under the framework of its 200-million- RMB international cooperation program, with consideration for biogas, small hydropower, solar power and wind power installations to support climate change adaptation.
Meanwhile, Cui firmly rejected suggestions that China’s assistance to developing Pacific countries was aimed at furthering China’s own interests.
He refuted suggestions that China was out to extend its influence or to “compete” with the United States in the Pacific.
“We are here in this region not to seek any particular influence, still less dominance. We are here to work with the island countries to achieve sustainable development because both China and the Pacific island countries belong to the ranks of developing countries,” said Cui.
“China’s assistance to other developing countries is in the framework of south-south cooperation so our origin, our policy approach and our practice are very different from those of the traditional donor countries,” he said.
China’s long tradition of helping other developing countries stretched back to the 1950s and 1960s when China itself was much poorer than now.
“When we were declining any foreign assistance at the time, we had already started to help other developing countries and we believe developing countries have to help each other in order to achieve common development,” said Cui.
“This has been our approach, this has been our thinking, all along and I don’t think there will be significant change in that regard,” he added.
China was open to closer communication and coordination with other countries, including the traditional developed donor countries, and was “ready to exchange views, to compare respective practice and where possible and feasible, we’re also open to work with them for the benefit of the recipient countries particularly the island countries here in this region.”
“We are here to be a good partner with the island countries; we are not here to compete with anybody,” he said.
11) Pacific media must adapt quickly to online technologies – publisher
By Online Editor
3:17 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2012, New Zealand
The Taimi o Tonga publisher, Kalafi Moala, says traditional print and broadcast media needs to ensure it is quickly adapting to changing online technologies if it is to reach young people.
Moala was speaking on crucial digital developments and key trends in the Pacific at the Project Revolution conference in Auckland.
Moala said people in the Pacific are getting their news and information less and less from print media.
He said while they still tune into the radio and TV, most information is now obtained online, and for young people especially, it is through their smart phones.
“To go on a website, you’ve gotta have a computer, you’ve gotta have a laptop, but kids with smart-phones, they can do banking, money transfer, check the weather, even get their news from the phone. So the phone to me, is far more powerful than the computer. For us who are in traditional media we are just trying to figure out now how to get our message content delivered to this generation through smart-phone.”.
12) Chinese loan for Tongan capital questioned
By Online Editor
12:50 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2012, Tonga
A parliamentary committee in Tonga says only 40 per cent of the loan was used to rebuild the Nuku’alofa Capital Business District (CBD).
The money was to reconstruct buildings burnt down in the 2006 riots, but the committee’s report says only about 40 per cent of the loan was used for that purpose.
The report says a project for the Vuna Wharf costing 32 million Tongan Pa’anga, and an extension of the Royal Palace costing nearly 14 million Tongan Pa’anga, were illegally funded.
The report is now before the Tongan parliament.
It calls for the government to urgently assess whether properties re-built following the riots match the value of the loan.It also recommends the undertaking of a structural survey of these buildings, to assess how strongly they can withstand earthquakes.
The findings come just weeks after the official reopening of Nuku’alofa’s CBD.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
13) China Not Threatened By U.S. Presence At Pacific Forum
Vice Foreign Minister: Clinton’s visit not attempt to override influence
By Rachel Reeves
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, Sept. 2, 2012) – The Chinese government says it does not perceive US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit as a threat to its relations with Pacific Island nations.
Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai also told reporters on Rarotonga that China had no ulterior motives in providing no-strings-attached aid to Pacific countries.
This year, for the 23rd time, a Chinese delegation participated in the post-Forum dialogue.
Vice Minister Cui said his government did not perceive Clinton’s visit as an attempt to override China’s influence in the region.
“We are here to help island developing countries. If they [the United States] have the same intention, I don’t expect any major difficulties in working with them,” he said.
Pressed by reporters to explain how he interprets the US government’s decision to prioritise the Pacific Islands Forum – indicated by its decision to send Clinton rather than a lower-ranking diplomat – he refused to budge.
“I think Secretary [of State] Clinton is arriving in awhile,” he said on Thursday night. “You can ask her this question. I am not her spokesman.”
In fact, Clinton’s American Air Force jet was landing at Rarotonga International Airport around 10pm – the same time as the scheduled Chinese media conference.
Cui told reporters his government was not increasing its profile in the region as a means to “seek any particular influence”.
“We are here to work with island countries to achieve sustainable development because both China and the Pacific Island countries belong to the rank of developing countries,” he said.
“Although we are far away geographically, although we have different national conditions, we are faced with very similar tasks of achieving sustainable development, of improving the lives of our people, so in this regard there is great potential for China and Pacific Island countries to work together.”
He said China simply wants to “be a good partner for island countries”, and denied that his government has any ulterior motive.
“…We are not here to compete with anybody,” he said.
He said his government was willing to “exchange experience (and) views” with the United States and “to compare respective practice and where possible and feasible (work) with them” in the interest of helping Pacific Island countries to achieve sustainable development.
A state-controlled newspaper in China last week labelled the size of Clinton’s entourage and the security strategy for her Rarotonga “not appropriate”.
“The South Pacific has been at peace since World War II and has rarely been troubled with security problems. …This is not what they need. What they really need is investment and technology – something the US cannot offer them,” the article said.
Discussing aid, Vice Minister Cui said China was “not motivated by any self-centred grand strategy of [its] own” but by a “genuine desire to be a good partner for these [island] countries”.
China frequently provides grants and soft loans to island developing countries, including the Cook Islands.
Asked whether the Chinese government attached any hidden strings to aid and assistance, Tiankai said it did not.
Beijing formulates its aid strategy is in the name of “common development”, he said.
“We still have a huge task to reduce poverty at home but we believe in common development with our friends and partners in the developing world,” Cui said.
“Whatever we do with regard to financing cooperative projects, we will make sure that it will not add to their debt burden so we provide loans on very preferential terms.
“We never force them to repay if they’re not in a position to do that,” he said, adding that the Chinese government was “always ready to consider postponement or cancellation of debt”.
He explained that his government prefered to provide aid in tangible form – for example, in the provision of buildings like the Cook Islands’ courthouse and police station.
“We base our cooperation assistance to the island countries on their priorities, on their actual needs, so our projects are intended to respond to their immediate needs, to bring about tangible benefits to the local people,” he told reporters.
“I think our projects are welcomed by the people of the island countries.”
He dismissed questions about international criticism of his government’s aid strategy, which he said was largely based on assumptions and not “real facts”.
Rachel Reeves is political reporter of the Cook Islands News.
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@example.com
By Online Editor
1:15 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2012, Cook Islands
On the occasion of the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum, OFC and the Cook Islands Football Association have taken the opportunity to thank the Australian Government for its financial support of the hugely-successful Just Play programme.
Many of the region’s leaders have gathered in idyllic Rarotonga for the latest meeting of the forum, an inter-governmental organisation that aims to enhance cooperation between the independent countries of the Pacific Ocean.
Among the numerous heads of states in attendance is New Zealand Prime Minister John Key while Australian counterpart Julia Gillard was also present but has been forced to cut short her stay to return to Canberra after news of the deaths of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Her early departure was unfortunate for a group of children from the Takitumu and St Joseph’s primary schools, who had been due to join Prime Minister Gillard yesterday in a kick around to celebrate the success of Just Play, a sport for development initiative that has now reached over 106,000 children across the Pacific.
But Richard Marles, the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, remained on hand to take part in the fun at Tupapa field, directly across from the auditorium where the forum is being held. He was greeted to the sight of a large banner thanking the Australian Government for its support of Just Play as the children chimed in with a chorus of hearty thank-you’s.
Marles is pleased the Australian Government – through its agencies the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) – has been able to show its support for Just Play and is hugely impressed with the programme’s impact.
“I am really pleased at how the investment from the Australian Government has contributed to the success of Just Play,” he said.
“The programme has shown how sport can have an impact on improving the lives of young children in the Pacific. It’s not just about participation, there are also so many other benefits as it is a great way to promote healthy lifestyles and gender equality,” he continued.
“We are so excited about our relationship with OFC and are really proud to be joining with Football Federation Australia and OFC in delivering this programme.”
Lee Harmon, President of the Cook Islands Football Association and OFC Vice President, is grateful to the Australian Government and believes Just Play is making a difference to the young children involved.
“I can verify first-hand the success of the programme in the Cook Islands amongst our young children, their parents and the schools,” he said.
OFC has worked closely with UEFA, the Australian Government and Football Federation Australia to implement the programme across the Pacific over a three-year period between 2009 and 2012.
The current partnership between OFC and the Australian Government is due to expire at the conclusion of this year and, if it can be extended for another three years, OFC believes that Just Play could substantially contribute further to health, gender equality and disability development goals.
By 2015, it is hoped Just Play could potentially reach 200,000 children, doubling its current participation rate.
“We have spent the last four years setting up effective systems, building local partnerships, creating capacity within the member associations and learning how to run the best type of programme for the children,” Nicholas says.
“This is already one of the biggest grassroots participation programmes ever in the Pacific region and it is in a perfect position to grow rapidly and become sustainable.
15) Clinton: «le Pacifique est assez grand pour nous tous»
C’est le message lancé par la Secrétaire d’Etat américaine à la Chine vendredi lors du sommet du Forum des Iles du Pacifique aux Iles Cook.