1) PNG Aids Kansol Sekreteriat ino wok: AusAid

Updated 1 October 2012, 14:58 AEST-Radio Australia.

Kenya Kala

Wanpela ripot blong Aid Ajensi blong Australia i sutim bikpela toktok koros long bikpela ofis i lukautim olgeta program blong HIV na AIDS insait long Papua New Guinea.

Aids campagin placard in tok pisin PNG

AusAid i tok AIDS Kansol Sekreteriat long Papua New Guinea ino wok na ol imas saspendim wok igo nap ol i kamapim sanis.

Wok blong National Aids Kansol Sekretariat blong Papua New Guinea ino wok. Dispela toktok i kam long Aid Ajensi blong Australia, AusAid.

AusAid i spendim 170 million dola long HIV program insait long Papua New Guinea namel long 20017 na 2010 na dispela ol .

Tasol insait long ripot blong dispela aid ajensi blong Australia, em i tok ol igat liklik evidens i soim long ol program i wok long daunim na stopim sik AIDS.

Namba blong ol pipol wantaim HIVAIDS insait long Papua New Guinea i stap long 50-tausen, em pastaim ol ibin dispela dispela namba bai igo antap tru taim sik i kamap long kantri.

2) Govt will address PNG Border problems, says deputy PM

By Online Editor
1:15 pm GMT+12, 01/10/2012, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea government is se¬rious about addressing illegal activities on its international borders and has built an office complex in West Sepik.

The construction of the complex was launched by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Inter-Government Relations Leo Dion last Thursday.

It is at the PNG-Indonesia border at Wutung, West Sepik.

The complex is part of the Asian Development Bank K90 million (US$43.6 million) funding of the Border Trade and Investment Project.

Dion, who is responsible for the Border Development Authority, said the border posts had been neglected for so long and people in the area had also been deprived of basic services.

“As a result our foreign neighbours and locals used these areas for illegal activities, the smuggling of illegal firearms and ammunition, drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal exploiting of our marine resources, transnational crimes,”’ he said.

He said this was because border line agencies such as Customs, the National Agriculture Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA), Foreign Affairs, Immigration, Police, Defence Force, Investment Promotion Authority, Labour, Commerce department and National Fisheries Authority had been working in isolation.

“Now they will all work together in this building to effectively and efficiently implement the national government’s vision and their respective duties that will benefit this nation.

“When completed in 2014, this will be the first of its kind for our border areas.

“Other infrastructures include 15 new houses and renovation of 11 existing houses to accommodate staff and their families.”

The government will build similar infrastructures on the borders of Western province and Indonesia, Jirah Island on the border of Western and Australia, Buin next to Kangu Beach (border of ARB and Solomon Islands) and six other posts to address border management problems.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

3)AusAID report criticises PNG HIV programs

By Online Editor
09:59 am GMT+12, 01/10/2012, Papua New Guinea

Australia’s major aid agency has released a report that criticises the performance of HIV/AIDS-related programs in Papua New Guinea.

AusAID spent over $170 million on HIV programs in PNG between 2007 and 2010, but the report says that there is little evidence that AusAID’s support has limited the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Public health organisation The Burnet Institute is partly-funded by AusAID, and works in PNG HIV/AIDS programs.

Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Brendan Crabb, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that while there are failings in AusAID’s PNG HIV/AIDS program, they need to be understood in context.

“There was predictions in the five to ten year ago period that we could be looking at a million Papua New Guineans HIV positive by now, out of the seven million that live there,” Crabb said.
“The real number is down under, you know is around 50,000.”

Crabb said that the lack of detailed and accurate information means that there is little understanding of which programs are successful.

Co-director of AIDWATCH, Liz Barret, says high-level scrutiny of taxpayer-funded aid programs will always be a good thing.

“I think it’s actually completely critical to have quite open discussion about programs, how they operate, how they benefit the community and the impacts.”

Barret adds that while the report provides valuable scrutiny of the AusAID-supported HIV programs in Papua New Guinea, it’s yet to be seen if the report will be acted upon.

“I think implementation is always the difficulty in these things and we would imagine that AusAID, post this report being published would be taking on the recommendations from the report and how to implement that,” she said.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

4) Study shows sports preferred ahead of politics

By Online Editor
1:17 pm GMT+12, 01/10/2012, Papua New Guinea

Radio is the most accessed and trusted medium for all subjects, apart from politics where the preferred source is newspapers, a new study in PNG has found.

The study looked at how Papua New Guineans communicated, what information channels they used and why, trusted information, and which issues and media organisations were influential.

The 2012 Citizens’ Access to Information in PNG study is a partnership between AusAID, ABC International Development and Inter Media and provides insights into what is important to Papua New Guineans and what they want from the media.

It was commissioned by the Media Development Initiative for the National Broadcasting Corporation but its findings are relevant to the wider community as well.

The report has a number of interesting findings.

For example, the topics of most interest to Papua New Guineans, in order are, sport, politics and national news.

Compared with other parts of the country, highlanders say they are better informed on issues that matter to them and they have the greatest access to media. Islanders said they were the least well informed.

They have less access to media than the other regions of Papua New Guinea.

Highlanders are more interested in information about education and islanders want more local news.

The report found that in many households men control access to information sources such as television, radio and newspapers.

However, women and young people did have more control of how they used mobile phones and were using them to listen to the radio.

Head of the Australian aid programme in PNG, Stuart Schaefer, welcomed the study and said that the findings in the report would help Australia decide how it used information channels to achieve better development outcomes.

“This report helps the Government of PNG and donors understand what Papua New Guineans know about important social issues like domestic violence, HIV, corruption and where they get their information from,” Schaefer said.

NBC managing director Memafu Kapera said the report gave his organisation solid and reliable information to back up its knowledge of the communities it serves.

“The report clearly states what people are interested in, and what their programming needs are.

It shows while NBC is a national broadcaster, we need to ensure that people around the country, especially in rural areas, can access our content,” he said.

The study assessed two AusAID information campaigns, one on maternal health and one on domestic violence.
The ‘Mothers Matter’ campaign was found to have had a positive impact on women’s knowledge of how to keep themselves and their babies healthy during pregnancy.

The ‘Use Your Voice Campaign’ resulted in a higher number of people saying they would intervene to stop domestic violence if they saw it.

The outcomes were positive in increasing awareness about the issue but there is more that needs to be done to address this deep rooted issue which is further aggravated by traditions and kastoms..

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

5) PNG PM wants answer on TB program

By Online Editor
3:56 pm GMT+12, 01/10/2012, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea  Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is very disappointed that World Vision International, the principal recipient of Global Fund monies for tuberculosis (TB) work in Papua New Guinea has ceased its program of operations in PNG.

O’Neill said TB is a leading killer disease in PNG and it is no joke when an important international partner is leaving the program and he was never made aware. World Vision International stopped its Global Fund country TB program last Friday.

The Prime Minister was never made aware of this important partner’s departure and was astonished when the Post Courier asked if he was aware of World Vision winding up its involvement in the TB program in PNG and whether the department of Health has made any plans to fill the vacuum left by World Vision and Global Fund.

As Prime Minister O’Neill was responding to our questions, officers of Lae District Health Services and District Administrator Robin Calistus were hosting on a farewell lunch to thank World Vision International and its staff who have been involved in the TB program in Lae and Morobe province.

Global Fund and its partners have relieved the country of a big financial burden in the procurement of drugs, distribution, advocacy and human resource personnel in the fight against TB for the last five years after the first pilot projects on Direct Observe Treatment Short (DOTS) courses were started in Lae and Port Moresby in 1997 by the World Health Organisation through the department of Health.

Training and up-skilling in the last five years was also heavily depended on Global Fund and the recent unreliability in the procurement and distribution of drugs does not come at an opportune time when a major partner is leaving the program.

The DOTS treatment regime has cured many Papua New Guineans of the dreaded disease. It also impacts on the economics of individuals, families, communities and is a looming economic destroyer.

According health statistics in PNG, HIV has sparked a big increase in the number of people infected with TB and it is now the number one killer of people living with HIV.

TB in Western province is now a very serious problem and many people have developed multi-drug resistant TB that can be only treated with second-line drugs which cost about K10 000 or more per patient.

With World Vision and Global Fund gone, the department and ministry of Health have not informed Prime Minister O’Neill if they have any plans to take on this vital responsibility and they have not made public how they can fund and manage the national TB program.

DOTS has not been introduced to the rest of the country yet.

O’Neill acknowledged that TB is a major killer disease in PNG and he was really disappointed that World Vision was leaving and he wants answers from his Health Minister and his department.

“I will definitely get down to the bottom of the issue and would want definite answers and plans for the TB program in PNG after the Global Fund era,” he said.

O’Neill said he will hold a press conference in Port Moresby when got the answers from Health Minister Michael Malabag and his departmental head.

He said his government has prioritised health and pumped in K1.4 billion to implement the Health department’s 10-year National health Plan for the government and is disappointed that the department is lagging behind in implementing many its targets and programs.

“We have come up with drastic and compatible health systems for our people and that is all reliant on the department of Health,” O’Neill said.

The Prime Minister said he has also instructed the department’s management team to do something tangible now and start delivering the national health plan for the government and especially for the people.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

6) Transparency International PNG pays tribute to late Chief Ombudsman

Posted at 06:34 on 01 October, 2012 UTC

The chairman of Transparency International Papua New Guinea says the death of the Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek after a long illness is a great loss for the country.

Mr Manek was in the position from 2008 and despite being shot in an assasination attempt on him in 2009, continued on in the job until last month when ill health sidelined him.

He conducted several investigations into high profile leaders including the former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare who was outspoken in his criticism over the ombudsman’s performance.

Transparency’s Lawrence Stephens says Mr Manek was strongly committed to an important job which is made difficult due to a lack of resources.

“It’s simply the nature of the fellow. He is such a well-liked person and it is quite a loss to everybody. A quiet person, relatively humble but very well known by many people and well liked by many. He’ll be sorely missed.”

Lawrence Stephens

Radio New Zealand International

7) Manus landholders set meeting deadline

By Online Editor
4:03 pm GMT+12, 28/09/2012, Papua New Guinea

The five villages from Loniu, Naringel, Mokereng, Papitalai and Lombrum in the Manus Province are giving the National Government seven days to meet their demand of K100 million (AUD$45 million) in development package before an asylum seekers office is built.

They are also demanding an immediate conference with representatives of the PNG and Australian governments, the Manus Provincial Government and the Los Negros Local Level Government and representatives of the landowners within the time-frame given.

The Interim Chairperson of Pwahalopu’un Development Company LTD Mary Handen claimed that the decisions entered by the Government of Papua New Guinea and Australia did not represent the interest of the landowners.

“We are going to push on our demand because the agreement entered into between the PNG Government and the Australian Government for the centre was without prior consultation with the customary landowners on which the facilities are going to be built,” Handen said.

Handen said the Manus Provincial Government also failed to consult with the landowners and this went to show that they also would not represent the interest of the landowners in any discussions over benefits if any were to be derived from the development of the asylum centre.

She said the landowners would take further action if the Government refused to entertain their demand over the decision to locate the asylum seekers on their land.

“The development of Asylum Centre demands consultation with the landowners as stipulated under section 115 of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government, particularly section (2).

“The consultation pursuant to section 115 of the organic Law is for the purpose of specifying benefits to the landowners among others stipulated under section 98 of the Organic Law – because land is our resources,”  Handen said.

Handen said the agreement had breached the laws in the Organic Law.

SOURCE:POST COURIER/PACNEWS

 

8) Solomon Islands support Fiji’s return to democratic rule

By Online Editor
3:57 pm GMT+12, 01/10/2012, United States

Solomon Islands says it recognises the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Fiji.

Speaking last week at the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says Solomon Islands will continue to dialogue with Fiji and calls on the region and the international community to support Fiji’s “Engaging with the Pacific” process and its road map to the 2014 general elections.

Lilo said Solomon Islands welcomes Fiji’s commitment to have its general elections in 2014.

He said Solomon Islands has also strengthened its mediating role at the sub-regional level through the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

The MSG is made up of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Within the MSG Secretariat, a peacekeeping unit has been established.

Prime Minister Lilo said Solomon Islands and the other MSG members believe that the United Nations remains the bedrock of international peace and security.

Meanwhile, Solomon Islands Prime Minister said his country supports New Caledonia’s aspirations to self-determination.

Lilo told the Assembly that last month members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group undertook a second visit to the French Territory to monitor progress under the Noumea accord.

“We encourage all efforts to enable the Kanaks to assume leadership in determining their future. Solomon Islands also joins its regional neighbours in supporting the re-inscription of French Polynesia on the United Nations decolonisation list.”

SOURCE: SIBC/RNZI/PACNEWS

 

9) Solomons PM ‘deeply troubled’ by climate change inaction

By Online Editor
4:07 pm GMT+12, 28/09/2012, United States

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has used his address to the UN General Assembly to call on developed nations to do more to tackle climate change.

Lilo said he joined his small island state colleagues in repeating that climate change was an urgent and irreversible threat to humanity.

“Solomon Islands is deeply troubled by the current low ambition level pledged by developed countries,” he said.

“There is a discrepancy between what has been pledged and what is necessary to stabilise temperature increase.”

Lilo said he deeply regretted that some countries have opted out of the Kyoto Protocol or refused to make a second commitment.

He also used his speech to stress the important role women play in society, saying his government looked forward to working closely with Australia to improve gender equality.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

 

10) Vanuatu government monitors ructions in police over mutiny allegations

Posted at 03:38 on 01 October, 2012 UTC

Vanuatu’s caretaker Internal Affairs Minister says the government is closely monitoring events within the police force after the arrests of three senior police officials over mutiny allegations on Friday.

Those arrested were the deputy Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton, the former Chairman of the Police Service Commission Tony Arthur; and the Southern Police Commander, Pierre Carlot.

Their arrests were ordered by the Police Commissioner Joshua Bong shortly after the end of his three-month suspension for incompetence and just days before the scheduled expiry of his contract.

Charged with one count of conspiring to incite mutiny and one count of inciting mutiny, the three men appeared before the Magistrate’s Court on Saturday and were refused bail.

However they made applications to the Supreme Court for bail which was granted to them yesterday.

The Minister George Wells says Mr Bong’s allegations of mutiny are baseless.

“There is no intention or incitement of mutiny. But I don’t know how the Commissioner (Bong) has acted, based on some hearsay report that the Deputy commissioner (Caulton) tried to incite a mutiny against him. But the government is monitoring very closely what is happening.”

George Wells says Joshua Bong’s tenure as Police Commissioner has ended and that Major Caulton is the acting Police Commissioner as appointed by the President.

The Police Service Commission, which reportedly met last night to renew Mr Bong’s contract, is understood to be planning to meet this afternoon.

Radio New Zealand International

 

11) New Caledonian miner still negotiating with Vanuatu over limestone

Posted at 19:45 on 28 September, 2012 UTC

The New Caledonian mining company Vale is still negotiating with Vanuatu over the import of limestone.

A delegation led by the company’s chief executive Marc Homou is expected to arrive in Port Vila on Monday for a further series of talks with Vanuatu’s authorities.

Vale New Caledonia is negotiating to mine limestone on the islands of Santo, Pentecost, Malekula, Efate and Erromango.

At the moment Vale imports limestone from the Philippines but transport from there takes six days compared with 48 hours from Vanuatu.

In a statement, Vale says it needs 100,000 tonnes of Vanuatu limestone per year and it hopes its operation will create a new mining boom there.

Vanuatu’s minister of Lands and Mines, Steven Kalsakau has announced an amendment to the lands and mines act to give customary land owners more benefits.

He says under the act land owners are only entitled to royalties but with the proposed amendment they will receive 50 per cent of the value of the extracted resource.

Radio New Zealand International

 

 

12) Remove coup immunity clause, says Fiji’s Citizens Constitutional Forum

By Online Editor
3:54 pm GMT+12, 01/10/2012, Fiji

Fiji’s Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) has asked the Constitution Commission to remove any immunity clause for coup perpetrators.

The CCF’s chief executive, Akuila Yabaki, made the submission to the Commission in Levuka.

“Laws that give these bodies arbitrary powers should be revoked,” said Yabaki

He said the military should be bound by the sovereignty of Fiji’s constitution and accountable to civilian institutions such as the legislature.

“The size of the military should be of a scale appropriate to Fiji’s national security requirements and the recruitment and appointment of military personnel must be based on merit,” Yabaki said.

The CCF emphasised it was the role and responsibility of the Fiji Police Force to maintain law and order. “There must be a clear separation of duties and responsibilities of the Police and the Military,” Yabaki said

He said national security is the responsibility of the Police and the Military must only become involved through a defined constitutional process.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

 

 

13) Fiji endorses Samoa’s bid to host 3rd International SIDS conference in 2014

By Online Editor
3:59 pm GMT+12, 01/10/2012, United States

Fiji has endorsed Samoa’s bid to host the 3rd International Small Island Developing States conference in 2014.

At a reception hosted by the Fiji Mission to the United Nations  in New York, the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Affairs of Fiji, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Nauru, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea, Chair of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) and other Pacific representatives, agreed that Samoa will host the SIDS Global Conference in 2014 and Fiji will host the preparatory meetings for the conference.

Minister Kubuabola said Fiji’s endorsement of Samoa as host of the SIDS Global Conference was made in the spirit of solidarity and mutual support that exists within PSIDS.

He said Fiji had every confidence Samoa would host a conference that would prove to be a landmark in SIDS development.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa thanked Fiji for its understanding and support.

He said the agreement demonstrated the long-standing tradition of Pacific Island countries being always ready to cooperate in the Pacific Way.

PM Tuilaepa also congratulated Fiji for its assumption of the chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China in 2013, an honour the Pacific region should justifiably be proud of.

The first SIDS Global Conference was held in Barbados in the Caribbean in 1994 and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean hosted the second conference in 2005. At the just concluded UN’s Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro in June this year, it was agreed the third SIDS Global Conference would be held in the Pacific Region in 2014.

SIDS are recognized as a distinct group of developing countries facing specific social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. This recognition was first made at the UNCED conference, also known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. That recognition was reiterated in the Rio+20 outcomes.

SOURCE: MINFO/PACNEWS

 

14) CMAG welcomes progress in Fiji but says human rights still an issue

Posted at 21:15 on 28 September, 2012 UTC

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has welcomed continued progress in Fiji, including the completion of the first phase of voter registration and commencement of the constitutional consultation process.

In a statement, the group welcomed the broad-based national dialogue on Fiji’s future taking place, and commended the Constitutional Commission on its work to date.

But Ministers also expressed concern about remaining restrictions on human rights and the rule of law in Fiji.

They urged the government to address these in order to create the environment needed for credible constitutional consultations and elections.

The group also reiterated CMAG’s commitment to supporting and encouraging Fiji’s reinstatement as a full member of the Commonwealth, through the restoration of civilian constitutional democracy.

CMAG held its 38th Meeting in New York this week with Vanuatu’s prime minister, Sato Kilman, and Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, among the ministers at the meeting.

Radio New Zealand International

 

 

15)Kubuabola stresses to UN Fiji committed to protecting workers

Posted at 03:36 on 01 October, 2012 UTC

Fiji’s interim Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has told the United Nations Fiji is committed to protecting workers.

In an address to the General Assembly in New York he said Fiji is reviewing its labour laws to ensure they comply with 34 conventions of the International Labour Organisation.

His address comes after the Fiji regime asked an ILO delegation to leave Fiji and raised questions over its independence.

It also comes before this week’s hearing in Washington on Fiji’s duty free access to the US.

Ratu Inoke says Fiji promises to work in the most constructive manner possible and to respect the ideals of the UN charter.

“This includes the International Labour Organisation, with which we are engaged at the present moment. The Fijian government’s commitment to a future of equality and opportunity for all Fijians includes ensuring that the rights of working people are protected and extended.”

Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola

Radio New Zealand International

 

 

16) Fiji US Business Council sees long road ahead if duty free access denied

Posted at 06:34 on 01 October, 2012 UTC

The President of the Fiji USA Business Council, David Voss, says it will be a long road ahead for companies in Fiji exporting to the United States if they lose the benefit of duty free trade with America.

A delegation from the interim government is in the US this week to defend Fiji’s access to the American market following questions over union and worker rights in the country.

The interim government says 15 thousand jobs are on the line, 39 businesses could be affected and Fiji can expect an immediate loss of 57 million US dollars in export revenue

Mr Voss says businesses are very annoyed at the prospect of losing their benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences

“It gives businesses here an opportunity to get into the United States. It’s a growing market there. We have certain companies here like Fiji Water, Pure Fiji, they do cosmetics, their market is growing all the time. To lose that edge then they have to rethink their whole strategy.”

Mr Voss says nearly three quarters of the companies in Fiji which export to the US under the scheme have no other export market.

Radio New Zealand International

 

 

17) Fiji Elected To Chair Group of 77 Developing Nations
G77 largest intergovernmental organization in UN

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 30, 2012) – Fiji has been elected by the United Nations in New York as the chair of a major international body – the Group of Seventy Seven developing nations plus China known as the G77.

With this achievement Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says all Fijians have reason to be intensely proud of Fiji and the advances it is making.

“We have been given the honour of presiding over the deliberations of an important bloc of nations in the world, including the world’s most populous country, China,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“We truly have something to celebrate ­— that the small island nation is so well-regarded in the community of developing countries that they have decided to place Fiji at the top to chair their meetings.

“For the honour they have brought to Fiji, I want to pay tribute to the work of our Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and his team and our Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Peter Thomson,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

The election took place by acclamation at G77 Ministerial Meeting in New York yesterday, following the nomination of Fiji by the Asia-Pacific Group of the United Nations.

And with 132 Member States, the G77 is the largest intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the UN.

Ratu Inoke was present at the Ministerial Meeting to accept the nomination.

He said it was with a sense of deep humility that Fiji accepted this high office, and that Fiji was very grateful for the collective confidence the G77 had shown in entrusting Fiji with the 2013 chairmanship.

He assured the Ministerial Meeting that Fiji would spare no effort to fulfill the obligations and functions that come with the burden of chairmanship.

“Fiji would discharge the responsibilities of the chair with honour, integrity and in a manner worthy of the trust of the Member States of the Group of 77 and China.”

He noted it’s a matter of pride for the Pacific Island region that for the first time in the 48-year history of G77, the G77 chair in 2013 is from one of the Pacific Small Island Developing Countries.

Ratu Inoke expressed Fiji’s admiration for the high standards being set by the current G77 chair, Algeria.

“It was Fiji’s intention to build on Algeria’s many achievements in promoting the common agenda of the G77 and strengthening the group’s solidarity,” Ratu Inoke said.

The president of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, and the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, were present at the Ministerial Meeting and congratulated Ratu Inoke on Fiji’s election to the 2013 G77 chair.

The Group of 77 and China was established in 1964 by 77 developing countries, signatories of the “Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries” issued at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva.

The G77 provides the means for the developing countries to articulate and promote their collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues within the United Nations system. It actively promotes South-South cooperation for development.

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

 

 

18) More on electoral system, All will be heard: Fiji Constitution Commission

By Online Editor
12:46 pm GMT+12, 28/09/2012, Fiji

Fiji’s Constitution Commission is hoping to hear more submissions on the electoral system people hope to follow in place of communal voting.

This was the word from Constitution Commission member Professor Christina Murray as the commission team prepared to travel to Vanua Levu next month.

“Many people have been concerned about a code of ethics for MPs, about the integrity of public servants, about mechanisms for curbing corruption, but we’ve heard quite a lot less about the actual electoral system,” she said.

“The decree says the electoral system can no longer be based on communal voting, so there won’t be seats for particular racial groups, but there has to be another system and the question is what that system should be.”

Prof Murray said under the decree parties needed to be represented in parliament in proportion to the number of votes they received across the country.

“But another question that could be asked is if people want MPs for their districts as well, are there ideas for how women or disabled people and other minority groups will be represented in parliament — we’d be interested to hear what people’s thoughts are about that.”

Prof Murray also alluded to the fact that very little was being heard on people’s views regarding local government.

“In Fiji there is quite a complicated structure of urban governments and their provincial and district councils and, of course, their villages — they all run under different structures.

“We’d quite like to hear whether people want to have more say over those things, how those bodies should be put together and whether different bodies should be thought about.”

Prof Murray said the commission had received a few submissions on the issue of local government.

“Some have asked for more integration, some have asked for more direct elections at different places and others have asked for the more traditional structures to be reverted to or secured,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Constitution Commission has assured the people of Vanua Levu all their submissions will be heard in spite of the relatively short time given for consultations there.

The development follows concerns raised by chiefs in Labasa that the Constitution Commission should be fair and take more time to hear submissions from the north.

Commission executive secretary Keshwa Reddy said the efficiency of the commission team had improved and that all submissions would be heard.

“What is more important to understand is Vanua Levu is in the later phase of submission hearings and the experiences we have from doing the work in the Western and Eastern divisions — the efficiency level of how we approach the communities has increased actually,” Reddy said.

“So this does not necessarily mean that those 10-12 days that we have allocated for Vanua Levu will not be enough.”

Reddy said the commission had mobilised people on the ground and was already spreading awareness to the people of Vanua Levu on the venues of the submission hearings.

“We are mobilising all resources, our team have left for Labasa which means we are ahead of the commissioners.

“Usually what happened in the past is that when the commission arrived for hearing, that’s when the team arrived as well.”

Reddy said the onus was also on people to co-ordinate themselves.
“There is definitely a timeframe and it’s practically impossible to be all over, it’s the people’s constitution and people are encouraged to come,” he added.

“We will provide the necessary transportation as well in areas where the commissioners will be able to go and we will be having two to three sessions at the Labasa Civic Centre.”.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

19) China-Fiji economic ties emphasized for developing

By Online Editor
09:49 am GMT+12, 28/09/2012, Fiji

The Fijian government on Thursday highlighted the importance of developing economic ties with China, thanking China for its assistance to construct a 70 kilometer road in its Northern Division to boost the local economy.

Pio Tikoduadua, permanent secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, told the media that a Chinese company is expected to construct the road stretching between Nabouwalu and Dreketi in the country’s north, which would be a major boost for the local economy.

The remarks followed the recent signing of a major concessional loan agreement by the Exim Bank of China and the Fiji government, involving more than FJD$200 million (US$114.3 million), said Tikoduadua.

After the road construction, an international port would be the next project in the pipeline for the Northern Division, he added.

Permanent Secretary of Finance Filimoni Waqabaca echoed Tikoduadua’s remarks, saying Fiji was thankful to China because the loans that they have taken were on concessional rate.

He said the recent visit by China’s top legislator Wu Bangguo to Fiji was indicative of the growing ties as Fiji was the only country in the South Pacific to be part of his tour that included several other countries from the other parts of the world.

According to Waqabaca, Wu and Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama signed three economic partnerships including the loan for road construction during the visit last week.

Crucially, the trip showed not only economic support for the country, but also political support for Fiji’s government, Waqabaca said.

Fiji is the first Pacific island country to establish diplomatic relations with China. Bilateral ties have developed smoothly since the diplomatic relations were forged in 1975..

SOURCE: XINHUA/PACNEWS

 

20) Tonga’s Pohiva Faces Suspension For Allegedly Swearing In Parliament
Opposition Leader read letter from former PM with offensive language

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept.30, 2012) – People’s Representative ‘Akilisi Pohiva who is accused of swearing in the House on Wednesday, September 26, is now facing a possible suspension from parliament.

The problem arose during a rambling incoherent argument over who had said what.

After a screening committee, of which he was a member, had decided that certain offensive words would not be allowed to be read in the House, ‘Akilisi went ahead and stated them anyway.

The words were uttered as part of a long-standing argument that ‘Akilisi has with the former Prime Minister Lord Sevele.

On September 27 the matter was referred to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Privileges to make a decision on whether or not his words constituted an offence.

During a debate in the Whole House Committee, the previous day, September 26, ‘Akilisi, who has been in parliament for 26 years, interrupted the reading of an amended letter to the House from the former Prime Minister, Lord Sevele. He objected that the clerk was not reading the original letter.

The chairman of the Whole House Committee, Hon. Sifa Tu’utafaiva, reminded ‘Akilisi, who is a member of the House’s screening committee, that the original Tongan version of the letter had been returned to the former Prime Minister to amend what the screening committee had considered to be offensive words, and that the clerk was reading an amended version of the letter.

‘Akilisi, however, insisted that the House was hiding the truth of what Lord Sevele had originally wanted to say. He said that the House had cheated by deleting the exact words that the letter writer had used.

Again, the chairman reminded ‘Akilisi that he was a member of the committee that had sent the letter back to the former Prime Minister to be amended.

‘Akilisi requested to be allowed to make a correction, and when the chairman gave him the floor, he said that the exact words that were deleted from the letter were: ” ‘e.. fakalao.”

(The words, which are offensive in Tongan, translate to mean “legally rotten” or “filthy/stinking law”).

‘Akilisi insisted that the last sentence was wrong and that was not what the former Prime Minister said in his letter.

The chairman told the member that he would not allow him to make any more corrections. He called on the clerk to continue reading the letter.

Sevele’s letter

Dr Feleti Sevele in his letter had pointed out that the report was wrong when it referred to Procurement Procedures as being illegal. He explained that Procurement Procedures set out the process of how some of these big contracts were implemented, but the procedures were not legally binding.

“This is a good example of an attempt in the report to defame government and those who work for the NDC. This is what we referred as being legally wrong,” he stated.

Alleged offence

It was not until the following day, September 27 that ‘Akilisi’s alleged offence was tabled with the Parliament Standing Committee on Privileges for its deliberation.

If ‘Akilisi is found to have committed an offence he could be suspended from parliament for a number of days, or even for the remainder of the 2012 parliamentary session. (During a suspension period, an offender will not be allowed to enter parliament; he will lose his salary, and he cannot use any of the rooms and the facilities allocated for members of parliament.)

It was another twist in the ongoing saga of debate on a Report by the Parliamentary Select Committee that ‘Akilisi chaired to investigate how the government of the former Prime Minister Lord Sevele, had administered the spending of a TOP$191 million loan from the Exim Bank of China for the reconstruction of Nuku’alofa.

The former Prime Minister’s letter was submitted to the House in response to allegations contained in the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee that has been debated in the House during the past weeks.

Lord Sevele considered some of the facts and figures in the report to be wrong, and alleged that they were defamatory against him and others who were involved in administering the loan money for the reconstruction Nuku’alofa after it was burnt during a protest on 16 November 2006.

Sione Tekiteki, the Chief Clerk of the House, said that Lord Sevele’s letter was in Tongan and English. In the Tongan version there were words that the screening committee had considered to be offensive, so the letter was returned to Lord Sevele to be amended.

Translation

Lord Sevele had explained that he had written the original version of his letter in English, and that one of his staff had translated it into Tongan. He said he overlooked the Tongan translation of the expression, which he admitted was not appropriate and it was amended before the letter was resubmitted into parliament.

Lord Sevele challenged the committee, and specifically its chairman, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, and Sitiveni Halapua to take him and the others who were involved in the construction work financed by the Chinese loan to court, if they really believed in what they stated in their report. He accused them of abusing their parliamentary privileges, which sheltered them from legal action for their accusations, blaming and defaming of members of the public.

Lord Sevele concluded his letter with five suggestions:

For the House to accept the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee.

For the House to reject the conclusion of the report, because it was in contrast with fairness and justice.

For the House to consider impeaching the chairman of the committee and his assistant for misleading the House.

For the House to remove the legal protection, or Parliamentary Privileges, that protect members of the select committees, “so that we can either take them to court, or they can take us to court.”

For government to establish a Royal Commission to find out why, what and who started the destruction of Nuku’alofa. “The findings of the Royal Commission should enable us to avoid such a destruction so that we can embrace the future.”

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

21) Former Samoan MP, Wife Fined For Bribery
Couple found guilty of paying for votes

By Aiga Tofilau

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Sept. 28, 2012) – Former Member of Parliament for Anoama‘a East, 61 year old Moefa‘auo Lufilufi has been fined $1,500 for bribery. He faced 2 counts of bribery, and two separate counts against his wife Maria Pereise. His wife was fined $1,000.

The charges arose from the last general elections.

Prosecutor Rexona Titi told the court that the two defendants committed bribery on 10 October when Maria Pereise gave $100 to Manu Tufatufa and asked him to vote for Moefa‘auo on the day of the elections.

On 2 March, two days before the elections, Moefa‘auo picked up voters in his car and one Puao Mafi for their campaign committee meeting. Puao told the court that Moefa‘auo give money of $50 each to all the matai who turned up to their meeting.

The last action was on the 3 March, a day before the elections and another voter named Tafili Tafili received $100 cash from Moefa’auo and his wife at the time of their meeting and were asked to vote for Moefa‘auo and were told that if Moefa‘auo won the elections, he will do all the good things for their village.

“The penalty for these charges is 2-4 years in prison,” said Justice Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai.

The Defence counsel Sarona Ponifasio requested the court that her clients be given a short prison sentence or monetary fines as the two of them are at the age where they have and are prone to many health problems. She also said that they are also affected by diabetes and high blood pressure.

Justice Vaepule said, “someone who was involved in making laws, must be given a laws decision.”

He then fined the former MP $1,500 and his wife $1,000 to be paid by the close of business today or face 3 months prison terms.

Talamua: http://talamua.com/index.php

 

 

 

22) 4,300 Attend Guam International Film Festival
Huge success of second year surprises organizers

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 1, 2012) – Roughly 4,300 people attended the second Guam International Film Festival, according to festival organizers.

Don Muna, who founded the festival last year with his brother, Kel Muna, said he never thought the festival would turn into what it has become.

“We just wanted to see how things went,” he said. “And we really drew in a crowd.”

Muna said there was a lot of engagement among the crowd of filmgoers, adding the festival promoted a “higher consciousness of the arts.”

“Now we realize the potential the Guam International Film Festival can have,” he said,

Filmgoers watched 16 feature films — both narrative and documentary — as well as 31 short films at this year’s festival. Ten of those films were from Guam.

In total, 19 countries and territories were featured at the festival, including Japan, the United States, Switzerland and the Philippines.

Muna said the response he’s received from audiences has been extremely positive. He also said much of last year’s crow returned for the festival.

“They were here last year and they’re here this year,” he said.

Muna said he’s impressed by the response from filmmakers and that the festival benefits from having big names this year.

“Look at filmmakers like director (Kazuhiro) Soda, the director of ‘Peace’ — he’s an internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker,” said Muna. “And his film was shown here last night.”

And local filmmakers have expressed their excitement about the festival.

“The community has always been here, but there’s never been a home,” he said.

Muna tipped his hat to sponsors of the festival.

“This whole thing wouldn’t be possible without them,” he said.

San Francisco-based filmmaker Benito Bautista came to the festival after Kel Muna invited him to screen his movie “Boundary.”

Bautista, whose film showed Saturday night, showered the festival and the Muna brothers with compliments.

“What they did is a monumental task,” he said. “Can you imagine the persistence that went into this?”

Bautista said he enjoys participating in festivals like Guam’s and has, so far, been very impressed with the festival’s organization. He said that while he’s attended several festivals in the past, this one has made huge strides in taking care of film presenters.

“It’s only their second festival and they took really good care of me,” he said.

Rosanna Barcinas attended the festival as a VIP, which gave her access to all of the films.

“It was definitely worth it,” she said.

Barcinas said she attended the festival due to her love for film and “a growing adoration for the Muna brothers.”

She said the festival gives the community the opportunity to be a witness to a whole variety of stories.

“There are some stories you can’t access otherwise,” she said.

She also echoed Muna’s point that Guam’s location and culture contribute to the festival’s atmosphere.

“There’s nothing else like it anywhere.”

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

 

 

‘Secret’ sale of ship line a threat to tiny nations (23)

By Online Editor
1:24 pm GMT+12, 01/10/2012, New Zealand

A New Zealand Government plan to sell a state-owned asset considered vital to Pacific development is expected to be rubber-stamped this week.

The Sunday Star-Times understands an urgent meeting took place last week in Tonga, to be followed by another this week in Fiji, finalising plans to sell the 35-year-old Pacific Forum Line (PFL) to Singaporean firm Sofrana.

The move has drawn strong criticism from the Labour Party with foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff claiming small island nations would bear the brunt of a decision made behind closed doors.

“It is being conducted not simply privately, but in secret without the chance for those people who will be deeply affected by the decision to have a say,” he said.

Founded in 1978, PFL was intended to encourage economic development in the islands and provide competition to ensure private shipping operators were unable to create a monopoly in the Pacific.

New Zealand and 11 island countries have equal voting rights in PFL, but practical control is exerted by New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea which between them own around three-quarters of the company’s shares.

It is understood these three majority shareholders are behind the push to sell, with the board having already signed off on the plans. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages New Zealand’s 23 per cent stake in PFL, and is responsible for appointing this country’s director.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the decision to sell was not solely New Zealand’s. “Any decisions relating to the future of PFL are for all 12 shareholders,” he said.

Last August, in a speech celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Pacific Forum in Auckland, Prime Minister John Key said PFL was a success and had “helped to build trade bridges between isolated island countries”.

Goff questioned what had changed in the year since that speech. “It’s the smaller Polynesian countries most at risk here – what guarantees have they got that services will be maintained that are not simply on the basis of strict commercial profitability – what about the economic development of the Pacific?”

The upcoming sale had wide ramifications for small island nations and no debate had been had over the plans that could leave them in the lurch, he said.

“We don’t want to end up in a situation where commercial shipping lines can name their own price and leave Pacific countries struggling,” he said.

Goff said the sale seemed to be driven by a short-term desire to cut costs, and called for a wider debate on PFL and Pacific development.

McCully defended the decision to sell and said PFL no longer fitted its purpose.

“PFL was established to fulfil an important need, namely to offer regular shipping services that the private sector was not able to provide in the Pacific,” he said.

“Since that time a great deal has changed, to the extent that the PFL no longer fulfils a number of its obligations. It now owns and operates no ships and participates in what is effectively a code share relationship with private sector shippers.” Despite once being a profitable enterprise, PFL has recently financially deteriorated, with losses totalling $14 million in the two years to June 2011.

McCully blamed the decline since 2007 on “some poor decision-making in earlier times”.

Net assets of the line declined to $5.1m by June 2011, and while it is understood performance in the year since has slightly improved, shareholders have been faced with a choice between selling or recapitalising.

Independent shipper, the New Zealand-based Reef Group, said repeated cutbacks in recent years had led PFL to wither away.

Reef Group director Phillip McNicholl said the market for selling PFL was “very limited” as the company relied on partnering with other shipping lines – including Sofrana – which would be able to discourage competing bidders.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 2011 annual report values New Zealand’s stake in PFL as being worth $1.17m.

SOURCE: FAIFAX NZ/PACNEWS

24) New Zealand Pension Pulls Investment In Freeport Mine
Human rights abuses cited in decision to divest

By Karen Abplanalp

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, Sept. 28, 2012) – New Zealand’s public pension Superfund stand against alleged Indonesian government security forces breaches of human rights is making a mark around the world.

The story has been covered by international media and hit the front page of Indonesian news website the Jakarta Globe today, with the headline “New Zealand fund pulls Freeport investment, cites Papua rights offences.”

It is the first time a government fund has made statements linking Indonesian security forces, corruption and human rights abuses.

The NZ Superfund (NZSF) and its investment in the US-owned mining giant Freeport McMoRan’s Grasberg mine were the subject of a major Metro investigation last December written by me while I was a postgraduate communication studies student at AUT University.

At the time, the fund was adamant that it would not divest from Freeport and that the mining company was meeting the fund’s responsible investment standards.

What has changed then for NZSF since the Metro investigation?

NZSF’s head of responsible investing Anne-Maree O’Connor replied to Pacific Scoop: “We have had more time to continue our engagement with a number of companies on our portfolio and to review the resources we have to commit to engagement, and look through which companies we would likely have success with engagement, which ones we needed to draw a line with that we should not pursue engagement because we did not feel that would could generate enough change given our resources and our holdings in the company.

Human rights breached

The NZSF statement said: “Freeport-McMoRan has been excluded based on breaches of human rights standards by security forces around the Grasberg mine, and concerns over requirements for direct payments to government security forces by the company in at least two countries in which it operates.

“Despite improvements in Freeport-McMoRan’s own human rights policies, breaches of standards by government security forces are beyond the company’s control. This limits the effectiveness of further engagement with the company.”

NZSF has investments with RioTinto, which owns 40 percent of Freeport McMoRan – does this mean that NZSF will divest from Rio Tinto also?

O’Connor said: “Freeport McMoRan is the operator mine and they are the ones who make the payments to (the military) and are responsible on the security issues.”

“… It is a significant stake, 40 percent, but Freeport McMoRan is the company that is operating the mine, and they are the ones that need to make management policy decisions.”

It will be interesting to see if other crown financial institutes follow suit.

The Government Pension Fund and the Earthquake Commission also have investments in Freeport McMoRan.

IHRC thanks fund

The Auckland-based Indonesian Human Rights Committee (IHRC), which has long campaigned against “unethical” investment in the mine, met with the NZSF today to thank the fund for its decision to divest from Freeport McMoRan.

IHRC chair Maire Leadbeater said the meeting went “extremely well”.

“We were met by CEO Adrian Orr and by Anne-Maree O’Connor and were shown to a room of about 40 people, all of their staff.”

Leadbeater told the staff they were really pleased about the decision, and told them about the kind of response they were getting from around the world.

Indonesia and Timor-Leste campaigner Josef Benedict from Amnesty International said the agency continued to receive “credible reports” of human rights violations committed by the security forces in the neigbouring provinces of Papua and West Papua.

The reports included allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, unnecessary and excessive use of force and firearms and possible unlawful killings.

“Investigations into reports of police abuses are rare and only a few perpetrators have been brought to justice,” he said.

“Amnesty International is also concerned that international observers, non-governmental organisations and journalists continue to be to be denied unrestricted access to the two provinces.”

Amnesty International believes that the lack of independent and impartial monitoring of human rights in the West Papua region contributes to a “climate of impunity”.

Karen Abplanalp is an Auckland photographer, writer and contributor to Pacific Scoop.

Pacific Scoop
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 – pmc@aut.ac.nz

25) PNG: l’argent du sida en question

Mis à jour 1 October 2012, 11:11 AEST-Radio Australia

Caroline Lafargue

174 millions de dollars dépensés entre 2007 et 2010… pour très peu de résultats. Un rapport interne d’AusAid critique l’efficacité des programmes de lutte contre le sida en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. 

On écoute Brendan Crabb, le directeur de l’Institut Burnet, un établissement public de santé australien, qui travaille sur le terrain en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée et est partiellement financé par AusAid, l’agence gouvernementale australienne du développement:
«Il y a un échec, et ce n’est pas spécifique à la lutte contre le sida en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. C’est un problème mondial. Mais en réalité, le taux de prévalence du sida dans le pays n’a pas explosé comme nous le prédisions il y a 10 ans, moi compris. Il y a 5 ou 10 ans, nous nous attendions à voir le nombre de séropositifs grimper à 1 million, sur les 7 millions que compte la population au total. Eh bien aujourd’hui il y a environ 50 000 séropositifs en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. C’est beaucoup, et c’est inquiétant, mais on est très loin du scénario catastrophe auquel nous nous attendions. Et on est aussi très loin des chiffres records de certains pays africains.» 
Sur les 174 millions affectés à la lutte contre le sida en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée entre 2007 et 2010, une partie est allée dans les caisses du Secrétariat du Conseil national sur le sida, une institution papoue qui a, selon AusAid, fait la preuve de sa totale inefficacité. Le rapport conseille la suspension immédiate du financement du Conseil National du Sida, en attendant sa restructuration. Contacté par notre rédaction, le Conseil National du Sida s’est refusé à tout commentaire.
 «Ces audits de l’industrie de l’aide humanitaire sont toujours une bonne chose, car ces programmes sont financés par les impôts des Australiens. Donc je pense qu’il est absolument nécessaire que nous ayons un débat public sur comment fonctionnent les programmes d’aide, sont-ils vraiment efficaces, etc. En plus c’est une pratique qui est généralement bien acceptée dans cette industrie. Il faut qu’il y ait une ouverture. Mais après le rapport, le plus dur c’est évidemment d’en tirer les conséquences, et d’agir sur le fonctionnement des programmes.» 
C’était Liz Baret, la co-directrice de l’ONG AIDWATCH, spécialisée dans l’audit des organisations humanitaires et de l’aide au développement, au micro de Janak Rogers, sur Radio Australie.

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