NEWS ( Melanesia/Pacific) # 673

1) PNG yet to decide on West Papua issue

By Online Editor
09:34 am GMT+12, 29/10/2012, Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea has yet to decide its stance on the West Papua Refugees living in the country.

Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato says it is an issue PNG is yet to look at it in the overall context.

West Papua Refugee issue was raised in parliament last week by Deputy Opposition Leader, Sam Basil in a series of questions directed to the minister.

“Can the minister tell this honourable house what the current status of the 9 thousand refugees from west Papua is based on the Human Rights Convention, the United Nations Refugee Commission and our own laws.

“Can they be granted citizenship because of the length they’ve lived or served in this country.

“If their status is not yet determined, can the 9 thousand refugees which is Papua New Guinea’s own responsibility be added to those asylum seekers Australia wants to bring and processed at the Manus processing centre”, Basil asked.

Pato in response says it is a matter of government policy looking at it in a overall context.

“The issue of whether we will or we’ll not accommodate the West Iranians living in Papua New Guinea.

“It’s a matter we will look at in the overall context of what policy we will have but in relation to Manus facility, that’s the facility we have deal with.

“The issue of human-trafficking and people smuggling, is a matter which is of international concern.

“Australia did not ask for it, PNG did not ask for it, but we are regional leader, we are an important biggest state in terms the Pacific Islands and therefore we want to exercise leadership on the issue of people trafficking and human smuggling”, Minister Pato responded.


2)PNG govt to introduce biometric registration

By Online Editor
1:36 pm GMT+12, 29/10/2012, Papua New GuineaThe Government will establish a biometric registration system of all citizens of Papua New Guinea.

Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, announced this in Parliament last week during question time.

This is aimed at having a proper electoral roll for the next national election in 2017, as well as for other purposes.
Meanwhile, Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, Charles Abel, in his ministerial statement, says the electronic biometric ID system will create an accurate database, from which the electoral roll can be generated from.

Abel said this will also help in all other required statistics including the national census.


3) McCully visit Papua New Guinea

By Online Editor
1:38 pm GMT+12, 29/10/2012, New ZealandNew Zealand foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCullyn is in Papua New Guinea today to meet members of the new government, including Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and foreign Minister Rimbink Pato.

The meetings will include discussions on Asia-Pacific regional issues, trade and investment links, aid, and political and economic developments in Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.

Following the meetings in Port Moresby, McCully will travel to the Highlands region with Pato for a first-hand look at economic development, agriculture and energy opportunities.

“This visit comes at an important juncture in the relationship between Papua New Guinea and New Zealand,” McCully said.

“I will be meeting with a new PNG government, formed after elections in July for which New Zealand provided vital logistical support.”

McCully is accompanied by a small business delegation.

Meanwhile, Pacific Island Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed the inaugural Tokelau Language Week which starts this week.

“The theme Ke mau ki pale o Tokelau: hold fast to your treasures of Tokelau” emphasises the importance of te gagana Tokelau (Tokelau language) as a taonga cherished by the New Zealand Tokelau community,” said Parata.

“Not only does the Tokelau Language Week provide a focal point for the Tokelau community to revitalise their language, it also gives all New Zealanders the opportunity to share in, celebrate and learn more about Tokelau language and culture. I congratulate the Tokelau community for leading by example. Our languages will only survive if they are used by our communities,” said Parata.

According to the 2006 Census, Tokelau people make up two per cent of the total Pacific population in New Zealand. 2,505 Tokelau people are able to hold an everyday conversation in te gagana Tokelau out of a population of 6,819.

This will be the last Pacific language week celebration of the year following the successful Tongan, Samoan, Niue and Cook Island language weeks.

The Pacific Island Affairs Ministry supports Pacific language revitalisation through the development of Community Action Plans. Language Weeks like these provide a focal point for communities to raise awareness and the profile of heritage languages.


4) TB clinics made things ‘worse’

By Online Editor
1:44 pm GMT+12, 29/10/2012, AustraliaThe controversial shutdown of Queensland-run tuberculosis clinics on the Torres Strait has been backed by new research that claims the centres made the situation “much worse”.

Emma McBryde, the head of epidemiology at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, conducted a recent risk analysis of the disease in Papua New Guinea’s western province for the PNG government and found the clinics’ treatment regime would “inevitably” lead to increased drug resistance in their PNG national patients.

But the specialist Queensland doctors who ran the clinics on Saibai and Boigu islands — which were axed in June after a funding dispute between the state and federal governments — dispute the findings and say Dr McBryde did not ask them for crucial data.

Since the shutdown, AusAID has poured more than $8m into upgrading the standard of medical services in the Western Province, including at the main Daru hospital, which had previously struggled to access clean water, reliable drugs and sanitation.

Dr McBryde’s executive summary, sent from PNG’s secretary of health Pascoe Kase to the Australian government this month, said the Australian doctors’ concern for their patients was “very understandable”.

“(The clinics) also played a key role in alerting Australia to the problem of TB in the Western Province,” she wrote.

Dr McBryde’s executive summary has been trumpeted by everyone from the PNG and Australian governments, to Queensland health minister Lawrence Springborg in a recent parliamentary estimates committee, despite her report not yet being finished. The handover of the clinics’ 93 patients will be discussed by Australian and PNG officials in Cairns tomorrow.

5) PNG Opposition Strongly Opposed To Seabed Mining

Claims ‘proper feasibility studies’ weren’t completed

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 29, 2012) – Opposition Leader Belden Namah has voiced strong opposition to seabed mining in the country.

“We again tell the government that we are totally against the Nautilus seabed mining in the country,” Namah said.

“It has serious implications that the government didn’t consider when it gave licence to the developer.”

He said there was no proper feasibility studies carried out prior to licensing of the company.

“Prominent leaders such as Sir Julius Chan are against the seabed mining and government needs to take this into consideration.

“I know that some aliens have influenced public policy and I’m calling on the O’Neill government to reconsider its decision for the good of this country,” he said.

Namah said many coastal people were dependent on the marine eco-system and any fault in the development of the project could cause a major catastrophe.

“Disasters on land could be contained but sea is hard to contain as we have witnessed like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico recently.”

Deputy opposition leader Sam Basil said PNG did not have the expertise and technology to carry forward this project.

“My question to the government is why does the Ministry of Mining, Environment and Conservation keep on issuing licence when they know that some of these projects will have negative effects,” Basil said.

The two leaders urged the government to stop the project.

“Papua New Guinea’s economy is not even dependent upon this one project as we have a lot of mineral prospects on land.”

The National:

6) PNG opposition wants answers on citizenship for Indonesian fugitive

Posted at 04:28 on 29 October, 2012 UTC

Papua New Guinea’s opposition is demanding answers on why an Indonesian fugitive wanted by Interpol was granted citizenship in June.

Djoko Tjandra has been on the run from Indonesian authorities since 2009 after allegedly embezzling millions in bailout funds from the now defunct Bank of Bali.

Mr Tjandra reportedly fled Indonesia a day before the country’s Supreme court sentenced the now 62 year old in absentia to two years jail.

tHE PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told Parliament last Friday he had been advised there were irregularities in the granting of citizenship to Mr Tjandra and an investigation is underway.

Mr O’Neill says he will raise the issue with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at a scheduled meeting in late November.

The Opposition Leader Belden Namah has urged the government to come clean on why Mr Tjandra was granted citizenship in the first place.

Radio New Zealand International

7)Solomons Opposition Leader Skips No-Confidence Vote

Sikua absent as PM Lilo survives ouster attempt

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, Oct. 26, 2012) – Dr Derek Sikua, the mover of the motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, failed to show up to Parliament, the motion was subsequently defeated.

The reason behind the absence of the Opposition Leader is unclear, although sources close to the Opposition camp say many issues were unresolved heading into the vote.

“A key issue was that of the Prime Ministers post, there appeared to be some disagreements within their camp,” sources say.

It is also alleged that the Opposition Leader was frustrated at the lack of commitment shown by “certain individuals crucial for today’s vote.”

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo had maintained that he had the support of the majority of MPs and described the motion as “a waste of time.”

Sources at the National Parliament say 29 MPs voted against the motion, 2 MPs abstained. There was no support for the motion. The motion was defeated.

Members of the Opposition group left Parliament prior to the vote having learned of Dr Sikua’s absence.

Prime Minister Lilo says that today’s vote was an embarrassment for the Opposition group. He says it is time to refocus on the task at hand, that of governing the affairs of the country.

Solomon Times

8) Festival atmosphere in Vanuatu ahead of election

Updated 29 October 2012, 19:08 AEST

Excitement is gripping Vanuatu ahead of tomorrow’s national elections.

Campaigners take to the road outside Port Vila's market on October 27, the final day of campaigning before Vanuatu's election.

Campaigners take to the road outside Port Vila’s market on October 27, the final day of campaigning before Vanuatu’s election. (Credit: ABC)

Campaigning for the record 346 candidates competing for 52 seats came to end at midnight on Saturday.

However, Radio Australia’s reporter Sam Bolitho said there was still a lot of excitement in the street ahead of the vote.

“Some people I spoke to said the elections here are like the World Cup and that seems to be see the spirit people are taking to these elections in the way they are supporting their candidates,” he told the Pacific Beat program.

Election agenda

The country’s high unemployment rate has dominated discussions ahead of the poll.

“My big concern is about youth unemployment since all the youths of the education they don’t have anything to do,” Sharon Wabur, a single mother of two, said.

“Many go as far as training centres and secondary schools, but they don’t have opportunity because of the lack of jobs in Vanuatu, so most of them are influenced by drugs like marijuana and violence and vandalism, so it’s no good,” she said.

Greater transparency

Benny Willie, a young supporter of Ralph Regenvanu’s Land and Justice Party, which was formed in 2010, said his peers wanted to see an end to corruption.

“Every young person wants a good leader for a better future,” Mr Willie said.

“We see on TV, we see and we read in the newspaper, and every, every week we see corruption, and we want change. We want change because we want good leaders, we want to have a better life.”

Acting Principal Electoral officer Lionel Kaluat said they would be “taking no chances”, with an additional 300 police officers drafted in to supervise polling stations.

9) Vanuatu Government Defends Permanent Resident Program
Hong Kong visas reportedly net $2.2 million

By Royson Willie

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 29, 2012) – Concerns raised that the Vanuatu Permanent Resident (PR) Visa Program in Hong Kong was operating outside of the laws of Vanuatu have been brushed aside by the Ministry of Internal Affairs who said the program is operating within the confinements of national legislations.

Since the Permanent Residence Visa Program began last year in Hong Kong, 683 individuals of mainly Asian origin have been approved and given a ‘Vanuatu Non Citizen Identity Card’, raking into Government coffers an amount of Vt204.9 million [US$2.2 million] as of yesterday.

This is calculated at a cost of Vt300,000 [US$3236] per “residence visa” issued as provided under Immigration Visa Regulation Order No. 180 of 2011.

This was confirmed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, through the office of the Director General, Mr George Bogiri and Mr Henry Tamashiro from the Immigration Department.

Both Mr Bogiri and Mr Tamashiro assured that the program was not a scam, when asked by Daily Post, as it is done through a legislation that spells out its implementation.

And out of these 683, Mr Tamashiro confirmed that none of them has arrived in Vanuatu, amid concerns raised recently in media that the program would encourage an influx of Chinese immigrants to Vanuatu.

“The PR program’s main objective is to assist the holders with their application to reside or migrate to Hong Kong.

“The legal requirement is that the applicants have to have a second residence prior to applying for the Hong Kong investment residence.

“Vanuatu Government has decided to seize this opportunity to initiate a PR program in order to complement the legal procedure for Hong Kong capital investment visa’s rules and conditions.

“Vanuatu offers to those clients a second residence if they wish to come at a service cost of Vt300,000 per case .

“Over 600 cases have been approved but to date, not a single applicant has landed in Vanuatu. This shows that the cases are only interested to enter Hong Kong,” the office of the DG stated.

The Vt300,000 is the amount obtained by the Vanuatu Government as provided under the Immigration Order No. 180 but the government does not know how much the exclusive agent in Hong Kong, PRG Consulting Limited, is charging overall with allegations that clients were being charged at Vt1 million [US$10,785] and above with Vanuatu missing out on around Vt300-400 million .

Internal Affairs confirmed that the Hong Kong agent would charge top up to cover their expenses and their consultancy services to provide immigration services to Hong Kong but could not confirm if the allegations of Vt1 million cost was true, saying the government was only carrying this program as provided for under Vanuatu’s immigration law.

Another concern about the program was that the Vanuatu Non Citizen Identity Card issued to applicants had not legal basis as the Immigration Visa Regulation Order No. 180 of 2011 did not specifically mention issuance of such a card.

But despite no specific reference of the card, the ministry responsible is adamant the Permanent Residence Visa Program is based on Section 12 (6) of the Immigration Visa Regulation Order No. 180 of 2011.

In terms of how money was being transferred from Hong Kong to Vanuatu, the ministry said the money was send weekly to a Trust Account of the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC) in one of the local commercial banks before it is transferred to the Ministry of Finance.

Daily Post investigations has found that the funds from this program are transferred via the Western Union from Hong Kong, mainly because the cost of transfer is cheaper, and the funds are then taken and deposited at the VFSC Trust Account in a local bank.

So far according to Daily Post investigations, as of this month (October 18, 2012) the Department of Finance has recorded Vt154.5 million [US$1,666,310} deposited into government coffers, Vt50.4 million [US$543,572] short of the Vt204.9 million [US$2,209,880] mentioned by Internal Affairs, although it could not be verified whether VFSC receives a commission from the proceeds of this program.

Meanwhile, the ministry of internal affairs has stated, “one major aspect for consideration is that those cases are important and serious business people with a Vanuatu company registered and with a big capital investment deposited in an Hong Kong bank and with highly monthly and regular revenue generation from their existing business.

“Should be worry about them entering Vanuatu? The answer is yes and no.

“We would say yes if we are too worried about our small businesses and would like to keep things moving slowly as it is today and also if we don’t want to invite other business people to enter Vanuatu.

“We would say no if we look at it in depth. These people have factories and big businesses, if only few of them landed and decided to invest in the country, we would increase the employment and raise the business activities in the country.

“However, imagine if the 600 cases land in Vanuatu, what will happen?

“We will change the status of Vanuatu to the business centre for the Pacific region.”

Daily Post has seen a copy of a list of applicants for Vanuatu’s Permanent Resident Visa Program with applicants mostly from mainland China provinces such as Sichuan, Guangdong, Hubei, Zeijiang, Yunnan, Shanghai, Henan, Anhui, Jiangxi, Heilongjiang, and Jilin.

Vanuatu is not the only one engaging in this activity as Mr Henry Tamashiro from Immigration Department says countries in Africa and Caribbean are involved in the same program that has brought in extra revenue for the country.

The program is monitored by two Vanuatu representatives in Beijing and Hong Kong and they are the Consular attaché who has extensive experience on Immigration matters and a legal compliance officer from Vanuatu Financial Services Commission.

The checks on applications are done by these two officers before approval and weekly with month reports are submitted to Vanuatu’s Beijing Embassy, Immigration and VFSC before official receipts are issued by VFSC.

With the former Vanuatu Ambassador to China, Willie Jimmy, contesting in next week’s general election after his term ended, the Vanuatu Embassy in Beijing is now under Singaporean, Dennis Nai, owner of 9 Shopping in Port Vila who received the endorsement of the government recently to be Vanuatu’s Ambassador to China.Vanuatu Daily Post:

10)Fiji Inflation Rate Continues To Fall

Reserve Bank to stick with growth policies

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 28, 2012) – Fiji’s Inflation rate continues on a general downward trend registering 3.7 percent in September and is forecast to fall further to 3.5 percent by year-end.

The fall is driven by lower prices for food and stability in oil prices.

And our Foreign reserves are currently (26/10) around $1,587.8 million [US$885 milllion], sufficient to cover 5.0 months of retained imports of goods and non-factor services.

To keep in line with this, the Reserve Bank of Fiji has agreed to maintain the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 0.5 percent.

RBF Governor and Board Chairman, Barry Whiteside says given the slowing global economy and a stable outlook for our foreign reserves and inflation, monetary policy will continue to remain accommodative to provide stimulus for economic growth.

“The escalation in the financial and debt crisis in the Euro zone and persistent weakness in the United States, is affecting economic activity across the globe, prompting the International Monetary Fund to downgrade its global growth projections for this year and 2013, from 3.5 percent and 3.9 percent to 3.3 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively,” he said.

Whiteside stressed that downside risks have now worsened and subdued demand in our major trading partner economies has the potential to negatively impact the Fijian economy through our trade and financial linkages.

“Globally, the heightened risks are pushing authorities to maintain fiscal discipline through lower deficits and debt levels as well as shore up foreign reserves, in order to maintain buffers in the possible event of declines in their respective economies.” He added that while the pick-up domestically in consumption and business investment partly a result of the 2012 Budget stimulus measures, and good progress on the implementation of public sector capital projects continue to drive the current domestic recovery, the recent downturn in trading partner demand could mean lower production and reduced earnings for the economy from some primary exports as well as remittances.

“Nonetheless, overall economic expansion for this year is expected to remain above two percent, largely driven by the continued growth in consumption and investment related activity, evident through higher Value Added Tax collections, sales of new vehicles, private sector credit, and value of work put in place as well as domestic cement sales.” “The Macroeconomic Policy Committee is currently reviewing its April growth forecast of 2.7 percent for 2012 to take into account the combined impact of ongoing buoyancy in domestic demand on the one hand and the deterioration in external demand, on the other hand.” “Despite the increasing global uncertainty, our monetary policy objectives remain at comfortable levels,” he concluded.


11)Outspoken Fiji chief joins call for interim regime to hand over to caretaker government

Posted at 06:33 on 29 October, 2012 UTC

A Fijian paramount chief has signed a joint petition to the President, and is calling for the interim Government to stand back from power.

Fiji paramount chief, the Marama Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa says the military has diverted from its role of protecting the people and there are many in Fiji unhappy about its involvement in politics.

She says if the Government says it is popular it should test that with an election, and in the meantime, allow a caretaker Prime Minister to oversee the election process.

Ro Teimumu says she is concerned about the delay in appointing the Constituent Assembly, which will now take place in December.

“We have not heard anything about who is going to be part of this assembly. This is the end of October now and we just have a month and that is November. And we believe all the various groups should be represented in the assembly.”

Ro Teimumu Kepa says she doesn’t hold out much hope on a positive response from the Fijian President.

Radio New Zealand International

12)Major Fiji political parties petition President over constitutional process

Posted at 04:29 on 29 October, 2012 UTC

A coalition of Fiji political parties and trade unions has petitioned the President to put a caretaker government in place in the lead up to the 2014 elections.

The petition accuses the Government of handpicking representatives of the Constituent Assembly, which is due to be formed in December and will advise on the new constitution.

The petition says the entire nation is being held to ransom by a small group of individuals who have usurped lawful authority for their own benefit.

The leader of the United People’s Party Mick Beddoes says it is significant that four political parties, two councils of trade unions and three paramount chiefs are calling for the interim Government to step back from power to ensure a true democratic process.

“It is now a public declaration that the group is no longer just some isolated political parties. It is a growing number of organisations and there is a concern about the need for us to ensure that the election in 2014 is free and fair.”

Radio New Zealand International

13)Confusion cleared up in Fiji pension obligation of Chinese contractor

Posted at 01:37 on 29 October, 2012 UTC

A Chinese construction company blames confusion between Chinese and Fiji employment laws for failing to meet its obligations to Fiji workers.

China Railway 5 is contracted by the Water Authority of Fiji to lay sewer pipes and water reticulation services in suburban Suva.

The company was accused of not paying superannuation contributions to their employees’ FNPF funds.

Speaking to FBC News, the Company’s Commercial Manager, Charles King, says there was a misunderstanding.

He says the company has pledged to pay all pending FNPF contributions from the last five years.

Radio New Zealand International

14) King Of Tonga Discusses Leadership Responsibility With Nobles
King Tupou VI addresses tradition, culture, and land

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 27, 2012) – Tonga’s King Tupou VI held a two-day meeting with 21 nobles at the Royal Palace, Nuku’alofa from October 23-24.

The gathering was the first of its kind between King Tupou VI and the nobles since Tupou VI ascended to the Tongan throne in March this year.

The Lord Chamberlain, Viela Tupou said the topics discussed included the Nobles’ leadership roles, and their guardianship of Tongan traditions, culture, and the land.

There was dialogue between the king and four heirs to nobles titles Ma’afu, Nuku, Fusitu’a and Tu’iha’ateiho who also attended the meeting.

Tonga’s 33 nobles are: ‘Ahome’e, Ata, Fakafanua, Fakatulolo, Fielakepa, Fohe, Fotofili, Kalanivalu, Lasike, Lavaka, Luani, Ma’afu, Ma’atu, Malupo, Nuku, Tangipa, Tu’i’afitu, Tu’iha’angana, Tu’iha’ateiho, Tu’ilakepa, Tu’ipelehake, Tu’ivakano, Tuita, Tupouto’a, ‘Ulukalala, Vaea, Vaha’i, Ve’ehala, Veikune, Tungi, Niukapu, Fulivai and Fusitu’a.

Matangi Tonga Magazine:

15)Constitutional Change To Increase Samoa Auditors Term Of Office
Bill introduced to amend constitution

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia and Niccola Marie Hazelman

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Oct. 29, 2012) – The Government is to amend the Constitution to give the Controller and Chief Auditor a new title and a longer term in office.

Whereas the Chief Auditor is to be called the “Controller and Auditor General,” his term in office will increase from three to 12 years.

The changes are outlined in the Constitution Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012.

Clause 6 of the bill is particularly interesting. It reads: [Clause 6] “repeals and substitutes Article 99, which sets out the term of appointment for 12 years.

“This is designed to protect the Controller from executive interference in light of the functions and powers of the Controller to audit public money.”

While a Member of Parliament told the Sunday Samoan that the Constitution Amendment Bill 2012 has been tabled in Parliament, this could not be ascertained at press time yesterday.

But a copy obtained by the Sunday Samoan is signed by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, as the Minister responsible for the Office of the Attorney General.

Under the “Explanatory Memorandum,” it explains that the Bill is designed to replace Articles 97 to 99 of the Constitution. These articles deal with the appointment and functions of the Controller and Chief Auditor.

The bill will also amend Article 83 of the Constitution in “order to strengthen the office, appointment, functions and powers of the Controller.”

The policy objectives of the Bill are to deal with the following:

  • To amend Article 83(h) of the Constitution to exclude the staff of the Audit Office from the definition of “Public Service”;
  • To strengthen the appointment provisions of the Controller, in particular the term of office and the involvement of the Legislative Assemble through its Committee in the appointment process;
  • To change the title of “Controller and Chief Auditor” to “Controller and Auditor General”;
  • To strengthen the functions and powers of the Controller and Chief Auditor, in articular the functional independence, non-interference by other persons and the provision of submitting the audit report directly to the Speaker who will table it in the Legislative Assembly;

Clause 8 of the amendments also provides “the continuation of the current Controller when the Bill is enacted and commenced, including the rights and benefits.”

The current Chief Auditor is Fuimaono Camilo Afele.

He joined the Office in 1996. Fuimaono graduated from Otago University, New Zealand in 1995 with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and in 2007, he graduated from Monash University, Australia with a Master of Public Policy and Management.

Fuimaono is also the son-in-law of Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

Samoa Observer:

16)Asylum Seekers On Nauru Face Communication Restrictions
Refugee Action Coalition fears ‘cover-up’ of conditions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 29, 2012) – Asylum seekers sent by Australia to Nauru are reported to be facing restricted phone and internet access.

The Australia-based group, Refugee Action Coalition, says internet access has been limited to 15 minutes and phone calls to ten minutes.

It says they will also be supervised to make sure they are not trying to contact the international media.

A spokesman for the group, Ian Rintoul, says cutting off contact from the outside world is the Australian government’s attempt to cover up the situation in Nauru:

“They’ve been extremely embarrassed by the fact that some news and some truth about what’s happening in Nauru has got out. They originally denied that there have been any instances of self-harm or attempted suicide only to find themselves being impossible to continue to deny that.”

The Nauru government could not be reached for comment.

Radio New Zealand International:

17)Guam Women Insulted By Anti-Abortion Law: Senator 
Informed consent bill rushed through legislature

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 28, 2012) – A Republican senator on Guam says many women are insulted by reproductive health legislation that passed last week.

Bill 52, also known as the informed consent bill, requires that information on alternatives be provided to pregnant women considering termination.

Senator Aline Yamashita the only Republican to vote no on the measure, says legislators were given only 24 hours’ notice of a special sitting for the vote on the bill introduced months ago by the Republican Governor, Eddie Calvo.

She says she received numerous emails and phone calls from health professionals.

“Saying that they disagreed with the need for it, number one. They were insulted by the intent of it and they felt that they already take very seriously their work and what they do.”

Senator Aline Yamashita says she shares widespread concerns about how data collected under the new legislation may be used.

Radio New Zealand International:

18)Pacific Islands media leader in New Zealand dies suddenly

Posted at 06:32 on 29 October, 2012 UTC

The Minister of New Zealand’s Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Hekia Parata, has offered her condolences to the family of the chief executive of the Pacific Media Network,

Tom Etuata, who died suddenly at the weekend.

Ms Parata says Mr Etuata will be dearly missed by the Pacific media and creative industries in Aotearoa.

Mr Etuata, who was 46, started with Radio 531pi in a managerial role in February of 2003 and by 2009 had become chief executive of the Pacific Media Network.

Su’a William Sio, of the opposition Labour Party, also conveyed his sympathies to Mr Etuata’s family, saying he was well respected and will be sorely missed.

Radio New Zealand International

19)Pacific Islands Work On Common Climate Change Policy
Vanuatu meeting to enhance regional cooperation

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 29, 2012) – Pacific Islands nations are meeting in Vanuatu to work on a common climate change policy.

Pacific Islands nations are meeting in Vanuatu to work on an enhanced, regional cooperation policy to cope with the effects of climate change.

The meeting in Port Vila is part of a briefing series for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, organised with the European Union’s Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development (CTA).

“The impact of climate change on small islands, like the ones in the Pacific and elsewhere, is much more important than in other countries,” Isolina Boto, head of the CTA office in Brussels, Belgium, told Pacific Beat.

Small island nation contribute less than 0.03 per cent of current global greenhouse gas emissions, but say they are among the first to feel the environmental, social and economic effects.

“The challenges we are all facing are a stark reminder for the need to reinforce globalism and to force long lasting partnerships,” Alfred Roland Carlot, Vanuatu’s Minister of Foreign Affairs & External Trade, said at the opening ceremony.

Game plan

It’s hoped the policy-makers, researchers, civil society groups, and development partners due to gather in Port Vila between 31 October and 2 November will begin developing shared responses and common strategies to climate change.

“Some of the islands – if you talk about Mauritius or if you talk about Singapore – they have really shown resilience by having the right strategies, the right policies in place,” Ms Boto said.

“It requires a policy, frameworks in place, and actions, and in the case of the Pacific we believe very much that they can take advantage of experiences elsewhere and that there is added value in building a regional strategy and a regional approach.”

This week’s briefing will feed into the first ACP Council of Ministers on Climate Change to be held in Brussels from 7 to 9 November.

It will also contribute to the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to

the Kyoto Protocol, which take place later this month in Qatar.

Radio Australia:

20)Tsunami waves arrive in Hawaii, no immediate reports of damage

By Online Editor
9:43 pm GMT+12, 28/10/2012, United StatesHawaii Civil Defense is advising all residents in tsunami inundation zones to evacuate immediately.

The alert, issued at 10:38 p.m., reads: “Leave all coastal evacuation zones immediately. Refer to Hawaiian Telcom or Paradise Pages for evacuation maps.”

The earliest that hazardous waves could hit Kauai is 3:07 a.m., said civil defense. Oahu could be hit by 3:14 a.m.

A tsunami warning was issued at 9:30 p.m. for Hawaii as a result of a 8.9-magnitude earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch at 7:56 p.m. after the quake struck 231 miles northeast of Tokyo.

“A tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii,” the agency said. “Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property.”

The warning center said wave heights cannot be predicted, but the first wave may not be the largest.

Chip McCreary, director of the warning center, said the latest forecast models show “wave amplitudes of up to 2 meters (6 feet) beyond normal sea levels in Hawaii.

“What these waves look like is an elevation of sea level, where the sea level will rise above its normal level and stay high for 10 or 15 minutes before they recede,” McCreary said, explaining the difference between tsunami and regular waves.

Because of the long length of tsunami waves, “they wrap around our islands very efficiently” so there is no point of impact that may see higher waves than other areas.

“There are some places that will be affected more than other places,” McCreary said. “From our history, we’ve had bigger impacts in Hilo, Kahului and Haleiwa and our models bear that out.”

Geologists and geophysicists at the center are using observations from coastal gauges in Japan as well as deep ocean gauges deployed since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, he said.

The center may be able to get a better fix on the size and time when the waves hit coastal gauges at Midway Island about 12:30 a.m., McCreary said.

John Cummings, a spokesman for city Department of Emergency Management, said about 30,000 residents live in the coastal inundation zone, according to recent estimates.

He said anyone in an evacuation zone should leave and either go to a friend’s or family member’s home. Residents can even walk about five minutes out of an evacuation zone.

He asked people not in evacuation zones to “stay off the roads.”

Refuge centers are being opened where people can get water and use the restroom. Emergency shelters will be opened after the tsunami hits if needed, he said.

Mayor Peter Carlisle had several announcements, including asking residents to conserve water because depletion of the system could hinder efforts of firefighters if needed later on.

He also asked residents to call 911 only for life-threatening emergencies because phone lines are being overwhelmed, and to use cell phones only for planning an evacuation. He asked residents to stay off the roads and not go to stores or gas stations because lines are causing gridlock and impairing the evacuation.

He asked residents to follow the directions of first responders and asked visitors to heed the advice of hotel staff members.

“Visitors, please follow directions of hotel staff,” he said. “Do not go out and do things on your own. Follow the instructions of these people. Those of us in Hawaii are aware of this type of problem. We follow their directions, you should, too.”

Even before civil defense sirens sounded just before 10 p.m., people were lining up to get gas around Oahu. Police dispatch reported arguing over gas in Ewa Beach and lines to get gas on Fort Weaver Road.

About an hour after the quake struck, Jake Chang, of Papakolea, was at the Aloha gas station on Vineyard Boulevard filling up his truck and a plastic gas container to power his generator.

“I was watching TV,” he said. “I saw the footage of Japan. It was unreal.”

In the first three hours after the quake, there were 23 significant aftershocks ranging from 5.4 to 7.1 in magnitude, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“The trough of a tsunami wave may temporarily expose the seafloor, but the area will quickly flood again,” the warning center said. “Extremely strong and unusual nearshore currents can accompany a tsunami. Debris picked up and carried by a tsunami amplifies its destructive powerr. Simultaneous high tides or high surf can significantly increase the tsunami hazard.”

Hawaiian Electric has opened its emergency command center and is implementing its tsunami plans, according to Peter Rosegg, Hawaiian Electric spokesman.

The striking IBEW union workers are still out, Rosegg said, adding that the electric company has an agreement with the union that workers will return to work in case of a “major emergency.”

“We have an agreement, but until we know the extent of the emergency we will not know what we need,” Rosegg said.

Meanwhile, HECO is moving its emergency vehicles to higher ground and Rosegg said it is shifting generation to facilities that are the least threatened by a tsunami.

“We are prepared with nonunion and management crews,” Rosegg said.


21)Les Vanuatais se rendent aux urnes

Mis à jour 29 October 2012, 8:54 AEST

Pierre Riant

Et Transparency International aimerait, comme son nom l’indique, un peu plus de transparence.

Des chiffres tout d’abord. Les élections de demain regroupent 348 candidats, dont 65 indépendants, et 32 partis politiques pour 52 sièges.

Les incidents se sont multipliés à l’approche de ces élections : changement du Commissaire aux élections, omission des noms de plusieurs candidats sur les listes électorales officielles, le nom de l’actuel Premier ministre notamment, tandis que les observateurs indépendants se comptent sur les doigts de la main.

Le point avec Marie-Noëlle Ferrieux-Patterson, présidente de Transparency International pour le Vanuatu.

FERRIEUX-PATTERSON : « Ces derniers temps ont été mouvementés à plusieurs niveaux : changement de certains membres du personnel au Bureau de la Commission électorale sans qu’aucune véritable explication ne soit donnée. Des candidats qui n’ont pas été inscrits sur les listes parce qu’ils avaient des dettes auprès du gouvernement. Dettes qui ont dû être remboursées en 72 heures… Un député a dû je crois trouver 30 millions [de Vatus] en 72 heures. Sans oublier le Premier ministre qui a dû trouver 6 millions [de Vatus] en 72 heures.

Ainsi et en fonction des allégations de corruption qui fusent depuis 1 an ou 2, les dirigeants devraient expliquer à la population où ils ont trouvé cet argent. »

À noter que 30 millions équivaut à environ 300 000 dollars australiens et 6 millions de Vatus à 60 000 dollars australiens.

Autre problème qui tracasse la Présidente de Transparency International, 192 000 personnes sont inscrites sur les registres électoraux ; un  chiffre qui serait trop important par rapport à l’ampleur de la population.

FERRIEUX-PATTERSON : « Il y a un décalage. Nous avons une population d’environ 240 000 habitants et c’est l’une des plus jeunes populations du monde. Ce qui veut dire que 50% de cette population ont moins de 18 ans. Diviser 240 000 par 2 et ça fait 120 000 et non pas les 190 000 inscrits. »

Et enfin dernière préoccupation : l’absence d’observateurs internationaux.

FERRIEUX-PATTERSON : « Nous sommes inquiets à ce propos. Mais d’après ce que nous avons appris, 8 personnes de l’ambassade américaine sont prêtes à jouer le rôle d’observateur et elles ont contacté Transparency. Elles ne peuvent pas nous aider financièrement, mais elles nous donneront un coup de main à observer ces élections, au moins sur l’île principale.
Je sais que l’ambassade devrait aussi envoyer deux personnes à Tanna et deux autres à Santo.  Il y aura donc un minimum d’observation mais je ne sais pas si leur rapport sera rendu public. En tous les cas, il devrait être mis à disposition du Bureau de la Commission électorale.

Après les déclarations de Transparency International, le Bureau de la Commission électorale a annoncé que des dispositions ont été prises pour l’envoi d’une équipe d’observateurs internationale, d’Australie, de Nouvelle-Zélande, de Chine, de l’Union européenne et de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.

Cette équipe sera dépêchée le mardi 30 octobre à Port Vila, la capitale, dans les zones rurales d’Efate, l’île principale, ainsi que dans les îles de Tanna et de Santo.

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