Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 678

 

1) Special PACP Leaders session convene in Port Moresby next week

By Online Editor
12:51 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2012, Fiji It’s been confirmed that Pacific ACP Leaders will meet in Port Moresby on 21 November to discuss amongst other things Fiji’s participation at future PACP related meetings.

Fiji has not participated at the highest level of PACP meeting since its suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009.

PACNEWS has been told the one day meeting will try and resolve ‘once and for all’ the Fiji’s issue which has been ‘divisive’ to the membership of the Pacific Islands Forum. However, the decision will need to be by consensus, if Fiji is to return to the PACP fold.

At the recent Forum Leaders meeting in Cook Islands, PACP Leaders couldn’t agree on allowing Fiji back to their meeting because of the decision by Leaders in 2009 to suspend the Pacific island nation.

As a compromise, Papua New Guinea offered to host a special session outside the Forum process before the end of the year to discuss Fiji’s involvement in purely PACP related activities.

An invitation to the Port Moresby meeting was conveyed to Fiji’s Prime Minister last month when Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill made an official visit to Suva.

At that time, Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama indicated his available dates to the PNG leader.

Whether he will attend the meeting is being discussed between Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Industry and Trade, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary, Shaheen Ali told PACNEWS that Fiji has maintained all along that “any move to limit its participation in the PACP is a violation of Fiji’s rights under international law.”.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

2) Challenge is to get balance right: PM O’Neill

By Online Editor
3:31 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2012, Papua New Guinea

The greatest challenge facing the government is to get the balance right in exploiting its vast natural resources for the benefit of the country, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in Bali.

In his speech at the two-day Bali Democracy Forum which began Sunday, O’Neill said after 37 years of democratic government and nationhood, Papua New Guinea still faced challenges.

That included managing the transition from a largely subsistence-based rural economy to one on the brink of delivering really strong GDP growth through mining and gas development and export.

“As we grow our exports, we will be more influenced than ever by world economic events.

“To an extent we have been isolated from these events because of our subsistence base, and our relatively small export base.

“But it is all about to change, and we will have to be up to the task of managing that change and ensuring it benefits the whole nation.”

World leaders at the forum include South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Theo Chee Hean.

O’Neill said PNG just completed its national election, which had seen a “highly competitive, boisterous and robust election campaign.

“We had a largely peaceful voting period and a count that took too long but was essentially smooth.
“We had our tense periods, but through the democratic ballot box, underpinned by freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly and participation, democracy survived, and I would argue emerged stronger and more secure than ever,” O’Neill said.

“If we manage democracy and economic development wisely and well, we will have the best of all worlds.
“Our people will be free to participate in the democratic process, and they will have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the benefits of economic growth and prosperity.

“We now face what may well be an even greater challenge – getting the “balance” right when it comes to the exploitation and development of our resource base,” he said.

“We have to ensure we protect our natural environment – something that was inexcusably neglected in the past.”.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

3)Drug ring busted in PNG

By Online Editor
12:47 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2012, Papua New GuineaA Port Moresby drug ring with international connections has been smashed with the arrest of three suspects early this month, Papua New Guinea police said.

“The three were formally arrested and charged with conspiracy to import 50kg of methylamphetamine into the country,” deputy commissioner of police operations Simon Kauba said in Port Moresby.

“The drug has a street value of K15 million (US$7.2 million) and we believe the perpetrators were going to use PNG as a supply point for other international markets including Australia and New Zealand,” Kauba said.

The men who were charged under section 515 of the Criminal Code Act were Malaysian Ng Siew Sin, 39, ge¬neral manager of Econ Trading based in Port Moresby; Indonesian Desranto Supranto, 42, a manager with Papamal Enterprise in Port Moresby; and Northern man Kendal Gegera, 42, from Ewora village, Ioma, a director with Yema Gaiapa Developers Ltd.

Kauba said British police had intercepted the shipment of methylamphetamine some time ago and believed it would end up in Port Moresby.

The drugs, packed in 25 packets, originated from the Netherlands and were concealed inside two welding machines.

Kauba said British police removed the packets containing the drug from the welding machines and replaced them with soap powder.

“The drugs were removed in Britain because the police did not want to risk it being transported into the country as it might get onto the street if they lost track of the package,” Kauba said.

They attached a tracking device to the shipment and traced it to New Zealand and then to Port Moresby.
British police also alerted police and Customs in Australia, New Zealand and PNG about the shipment.

Kauba said on Oct 24, the shipment arrived in Port Moresby after being sent from New Zealand. It was delivered to an address in Nonu Street, Boroko.

Police set up an ambush and arrested the three men when they showed on Nov 3 at the address.

Kauba also said that on Oct 5, a female American student was arrested in Brisbane airport for being in possession of 2kg of methylamphetamine after arriving from Port Moresby.

“The bust is a wake-up call for authorities in PNG to revisit existing laws and legislations on the cultivation, movement and consumption of dangerous drugs in the country,” Kauba said.

He said the laws on importation of illicit drugs and substances were too lax and lenient.

“The government must give serious consideration to amend the Dangerous Drug Act and criminalise the usage and abuse of synthetic drugs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Customs Minister Don Polye has warned foreigners doing business in PNG to comply with the nation’s laws and regulations.

He made the call in Port Moresby after a Malaysian, an Indonesian and a Northern man were arrested and charged in relation to a conspiracy to import methylamphetamine into the country.

“We welcome foreign investors into the country but I warn those who like to be involved in illegal activities to refrain,” he said.

“This is a police matter but I am taking a keen interest in this because many of our young people are affected by drugs,” Polye said.

He said PNG had a zero-tolerance policy on the production, transportation and consumption of illicit drugs.

He said the nation’s laws on drugs were obsolete and wanted tougher laws introduced.

“We have to protect our people. PNG must not be seen as a stepping stone for such practice,” he said.

Polye said he would bring the matter up with the government and at next month’s Australia-PNG ministers’ forum in Australia.

He congratulated all the policemen involved in the operation, saying it was a well-coordina¬ted effort.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

4) Momis Says Bougainville Has Legal, Moral Authority Over Panguna 
ABG President declines invitation to Moresby to discuss mine

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 9, 2012) – The Autonomous Region of Bougainville says it has a legal and moral authority – not the national government – to make decisions on the Panguna mine.

ARB President chief Dr John Momis will not attend a meeting in Port Moresby tomorrow proposed by the national government to discuss matters related to the reopening of the mine in Bougainville.

Momis said because the Bougainville crisis originated from the conflict over Panguna, it was the ABG that had a “clear moral authority” to make all decisions about the future of the Panguna mine.

“Further, we are far advanced in the process of transferring mining powers to Bougainville agreed in 2008. The ABG envisages passing its own mining law before the end of the year,” Momis said.

He said the ABG should be the one to initiate actions in relation to Panguna and urged the national government to “recognise that authority”.

He said the ABG was building its capacity to deal with mining issues by establishing a mining department, an office for Panguna negotiations and a cabinet committee on Panguna negotiations.

“All decisions about the future of Panguna will be made utilising this home-grown capacity,” Momis said.

He said they welcomed any suggestions from the national government on the mine but any discussions on these should be held in Bougainville, not Port Moresby.

The invitation for the Port Moresby meeting tomorrow came from the Minister for Petroleum, Oil and Gas William Duma in collaboration with Bougainville Regional MP Joseph Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs Steven Pirika Kamma and Minister for Communication Jimmy Miringtoro.

The discussions are expected to be on:

Possible Panguna mine ownership concepts; benefit-sharing models available for consideration by the ABG and the national government on the Panguna mine; and, options for possible mine developers from Brazil, Venezuela and other South American nations other than Bougainville Copper Ltd.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

5)  Islands Joins Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative
Country to conduct ‘self-assessment’ of anti-corruption measures

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 12, 2012) – Solomon Islands has joined the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and Pacific as one of its newest members.

The country’s membership was reaffirmed at the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative recent meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The other newly admitted member was East Timor. Together, they brought the total membership of the Anti-Corruption Initiative up to 30 countries.

The Inspector General of Vietnam, Huynh Phong Tranh, welcomed Solomon Islands and East Timor to the organization during the meeting, which was attended by a local delegation led by Auditor General Edward Ronia.

Mr Ronia said that as a member of the Anti-Corruption Initiative, Solomon Islands will gain access to updated information on new developments in anti-corruption measures.

More importantly, he said the country, like all the members of the Initiative, will be obliged to start meeting anti-corruption requirements under the Initiative.

“It is worrying that Solomon Islands is still not as proactive in her anti-corruption developments as we could be,” Mr Ronia said.

“With the increasing complexity of criminal activities in the world, it would be a sad state of affairs for Solomon Islands if she became targeted by international criminals as the weak link in the fight against corruption in the region.”

Mr Ronia said the next step under the Initiative will be a self-assessment review on anti-corruption measures in Solomon Islands.

“A recommended panel of reviewers was being prepared for consideration by the Solomon Islands Government.

“Thereafter Solomon Islands, together with Norway, is scheduled to review Pakistan against the UNCAC Convention in 2013.”

The auditor general said that as a member of the Initiative, the country will have direct access to the other member countries’ anti-corruption laws, policies and practices to use as models for implementing similar anti-corruption arrangements for the Solomon Islands.

Mr Ronia said that it is important that Solomon Islands leaders demonstrate strong political will to fight against corruption.

The country’s membership of the Anti-Corruption Initiative followed on from its accession to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in January this year.

Mr Ronia was accompanied to the Hanoi meet by Andrew Muaki, Director of Governance and Anti-Corruption in the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office and Jimmy Sendersly, Acting Director, Financial Intelligence Unit, Central Bank of Solomon Islands.

Solomon Star

6) Solomon Islands join anti – corruption body

By Online Editor
09:00 am GMT+12, 12/11/2012, Solomon IslandsSolomon Islands has joined the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and Pacific as one of its newest members.

The country’s membership was reaffirmed at the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative recent meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The other newly admitted member was East Timor. Together, they brought the total membership of the Anti-Corruption Initiative up to 30 countries.

The Inspector General of Vietnam, Huynh Phong Tranh, welcomed Solomon Islands and East Timor to the organization during the meeting, which was attended by a local delegation led by Auditor General Edward Ronia.

Ronia said that as a member of the Anti-Corruption Initiative, Solomon Islands will gain access to updated information on new developments in anti-corruption measures.

More importantly, he said the country, like all the members of the Initiative, will be obliged to start meeting anti-corruption requirements under the Initiative.

“It is worrying that Solomon Islands is still not as proactive in her anti-corruption developments as we could be,” Ronia said.

“With the increasing complexity of criminal activities in the world, it would be a sad state of affairs for Solomon Islands if she became targeted by international criminals as the weak link in the fight against corruption in the region.”

Ronia said the next step under the Initiative will be a self-assessment review on anti-corruption measures in Solomon Islands.

“A recommended panel of reviewers was being prepared for consideration by the Solomon Islands Government.

“Thereafter Solomon Islands, together with Norway, is scheduled to review Pakistan against the UNCAC Convention in 2013.”

The auditor general said that as a member of the Initiative, the country will have direct access to the other member countries’ anti-corruption laws, policies and practices to use as models for implementing similar anti-corruption arrangements for the Solomon Islands.

Ronia said that it is important that Solomon Islands leaders demonstrate strong political will to fight against corruption.

The country’s membership of the Anti-Corruption Initiative followed on from its accession to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in January this year.

SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS

7) SolAir and Air Vanuatu form partnership

By Online Editor
12:40 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2012, Solomon IslandsA new partnership with Air Vanuatu has opened up the way for Solomon Islands national carrier Solomon Airlinesto fly further into the region.

Under the new partnership Solomon Airlines will codeshare with Air Vanuatu on its flights from Honiara to Port Vila and onto Nadi.

The airline’s General Manager Operations and Commercial Gus Kraus, says it’s a taste of things to come as the airline looks to expand its services.

“We are excited that we will be flying to Vanuatu and onto Fiji and back under this new partnership.”

According to Kraus the new code sharing arrangement is an important milestone and one that comes as theairline prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary with the purchase of its own dash 8 aircraft and the opening of its new office complex on Wednesday 14 November.

Solomon Airlines is partnering with Air Vanuatu on the Fiji route, after Air Pacific recently ended its code share arrangement with Air Vanuatu.

Kraus says collaboration between airlines in the region is vital to ensuring that customers get the best service available and at the same time allow airlines to continue to operate.

Solomon Airlines has also been holding ongoing negotiations with Air Niugini to codeshare on a Honiara to Port Moresby service.

With Solomon Islands’ traditional ties to Papua New Guinea, Kraus says it’s only natural that the two nationalairlines should collaborate in the best interest of their customers.

“On their twice a week service we want 15 out of the 104 seats.”

Talks have been ongoing for a number of years with Air Niugini citing the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) as the main obstacle to a code sharing agreement for the Honiara to Port Moresby service.

“For whatever reasons, Air Niugini has implied that the ICCC is an issue for them but certainly with our Melanesian brotherhood I don’t see this as a major obstacle.”

Solomon Airlines partnership with Air Vanuatu comes as the national carrier prepares to mark its 50th anniversary on Wednesday 14 November with the arrival of its new $40million dash 8 aircraft.

The plane was purchased from Greek airline Olympic Airways and is scheduled to begin flying domestic services by the end of next week.

The dash 8 has been described as Solomon Airlines’ and the aviation industry’s biggest investment in history.

The 36-seater will arrive in the country at midday on Wednesday.

As part of its 50th anniversary, the airline will also open its new head office at the Henderson Airport cargo terminal.

The new office complex will house the airline’s staff in a single centralized location.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo will be the chief guest at the opening of the office complex and the arrival of the dash 8.

SOURCE: SOLOMON TIMES ONLINE/PACNEWS

8) Unsuccessful Candidate Seeks Support For Vanuatu Election Challenge 
Women’s leaders asked to contribute to legal fund

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 9, 2012) – Outspoken Port Vila Independent female Candidate, Jenny Ligo, is asking the support of the national women leaders to contribute Vt25, 000 towards securing a lawyer to take their case of alleged bribery by candidates to court.

The failed candidate is joining the other failed male candidates in this general election to prepare constitutional and criminal applications to challenge the electoral office in court.

“As national women leaders of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), we must agree to fight corruption,” she urged.

She described the unsuccessful results by women in this general election as a slap in the face for Vanuatu women.

According to unofficial results out of the 10 female candidates who contested the election this year, none was successful. She said women leaders did not gain the support from communities and women as expected, though it is a fact that women would make a change in this election.

She also stated it is very clear women have no involvement in any corruptible practices but called for justice to prevail and a transparent Electoral Office during times of election.

Mrs Ligo thanked the members for voting for women and encouraged women leaders to be good agents for good governance despite hearing reports of electoral fraud.

The Port Vila candidate along with 35 failed candidates have signed a petition to challenge the Electoral Office for its handling of the election this year after suspicions of electoral fraud and other related electoral offences on October 30.

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

9) National United Party keeps Vanuatu guessing over who will form next government

By Online Editor
3:34 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2012, VanuatuThe leader of Vanuatu’s National United Party says it should be in a position later today to announce which political grouping it intends to support.

This comes nearly two weeks after the general election returned Vanuatu’s most fragmented parliament yet.

Two main groups of MPs claim to have the numbers to form government – one supporting the caretaker Prime Minister Sato Kilman and the other behind the Edward Natapei-led Vanuaaku Pati.

However, the National United Party has signed agreements to support both camps, which its leader Ham Lini admits looks confusing.

“What happened, I as the party’s official spokesman have signed with the Kilman group but my vice-president has signed with the Natapei group. But because I am the official spokesman of the party, it’s not the vice-president’s job… so I should be on that side. But maybe other things can happen in order to change the idea by today.”

Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s caretaker government led by Sato Kilman is facing another allegation of corrupt dealing over the release of the mega yacht Phocea, which was seized over an alleged smuggling operation.

Sources close to Ports and Marine say US$ 40,000 has been set aside in an out-of-court agreement for the yacht to be allowed to leave Port Vila harbour, where it has been detained since July.

Yachting experts say if Phocea is put on sale, Vanuatu could get more than US$6 million.

Sources say Vanuatu authorities have already spent more than US$200,000 in their investigations into the super yacht, which is expected to sail shortly to beat the cyclone season.

The caretaker Minister of Finance, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, who is responsible for the International Shipping Registry, says the possible release of the Phocea is a civil case.

The reported owner of the yacht, Pascal Anh Saken, who managed to leave Vanuatu before the police raided the Phocea, is said to be still in possession of a diplomatic passport but Kilman has issued an instruction in August for it to be cancelled.
SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

10) Poverty talk in Fiji

By Online Editor
09:00 am GMT+12, 12/11/2012, FijiFiji’s Constitution Commission will need to address problems of poverty whether they are rooted in structures of State, economy or society.

And today’s constitutions are quite different from Fiji’s constitutions of few years ago in a number of aspects including having to address the question of deprivation and marginalisation of people.

These were the words of commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai, during a public seminar on the challenges of poverty to the constitution at the University of the South Pacific (USP) on Friday night.

“Constitutions are increasingly dealing with not just a State but also the society,” Prof Ghai said.

“Many deprivations people suffer discrimination and exclusion rooted less in the State than in society,” he said.

Prof Ghai said they had a series of seminars to engage with the people and to further their knowledge on the critical issues they face in the drafting of the constitution.

“Perhaps no issues are more critical than the one we are discussing today, the question of poverty,” he said.
He said the commission acknowledged that the constitution must address the fundamental problems of society and not focus mainly on the structure of the State.

He said so many constitutions were dealing with communities and not just individuals dealing with questions or oppressions within society as much as within the State.

Prof Ghai said he agreed there was a need for greater inclusion of human rights, making rights enforceable including socio-economic rights and other rights which directly address questions of poverty and exclusion.

He said they had been told to listen to the people through the consultation process and that the wishes of the people must be reflected in the draft constitution.

“People must defend the constitution and not rely on authorities to respect the values that one can put in the constitution, so the empowerment of the people,” he said.

Prof Ghai said people also needed to be responsible and know what their rights were, take steps to mobilise the necessary mechanisms to help them secure those rights.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

11)FBC boss calls for ‘solutions’ at USP

By Online Editor
08:59 am GMT+12, 12/11/2012, FijiJournalists need to analyse the news and extend their focus to finding solutions rather than just reporting the issues, says Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited’s chief executive officer Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said this reflected a development journalism model, in which a media organisation could work with a government of the day to find a way forward.

Sayed-Khaiyum was speaking as chief guest at the annual journalism awards of the University of the South Pacific in Suva Friday night.

He said to work with the government did not necessarily mean a shift away from the concept of the Fourth Estate, or the watchdog role.

“Often journalists are thought of as watchdogs of the government and report critically on everything that they do,” he said.

However, he found fault with this model because “watchdogs bark only when something goes wrong, and are quiet otherwise”.

He said journalists needed to be more focused on finding solutions to issues as analysts of news, rather than just reporting on the issue.

Sayed-Khaiyum also commented on the role of media educators. It was imperative for journalism educators to not let their personal agendas interfere with their teaching, he said.

He emphasised that media educators must ensure that what they do does not affect the learning of journalism students.

Sayed-Khaiyum also called for the revival of a media press club in Fiji.

He said this was once an important feature of Fiji’s media landscape. He raised concern over reports that some media organisations prohibited their reporters from mingling with reporters in other media companies.

This was short-sighted because “journalists can learn a lot from each other”, Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Sherita Sharma was awarded the Vodafone Gold Medal for the top journalism student for 2012.

The Fiji Sun Tanoa Award for Journalism Student of the Year went to Asenaca Valemei and Yvette D’Univenville won the PINA Storyboard Award for Best Regional Reporting.

Other award winners: The Fiji Times Most Promising First Year Journalism Student Award, Shivneel Narayan , Communications Fiji Limited’s Best Radio News Reporter Award, Mariah Vula, Fiji Television Best Television Reporter Award, Ronish Kumar, Islands Business Best Feature Award, Parijata Gurdayal, FBC Best Documentary Award, Arnold Chanel, PasiMa Encouragement Award, Walter Gerard, SLAM Best Sports Reporter Award, Ashneel Singh, Republika Magazine Best News Reporter Award, Nandni Vandhana, Faculty of Art, Law and Education Best SubEditor Award, Vilisite Tamani, MaiLife Best Editor Award Kalesi Mele.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

12)Phase II Of Fiji Voter Registration Gets Underway
Nearly 500,000 voters already registered for 2014 polls

By Nanise Loanakadavu

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 11, 2012) – Those who have not registered under the electronic voter registration (EVR) for the 2014 elections need not be unduly concerned as another phase of registration began yesterday.

And those who have already registered will also get the chance to verify their information on the provisional voter roll as the second phase of the EVR started in Suva and Lautoka.

Tomorrow, all designated registration centres around the country will be operating.

Elections permanent secretary Mere Vuniwaqa has called on all Fijians to participate in the second phase of registration.

“We urge Fijians who have not yet registered to come forward and take advantage of this opportunity,” Mrs Vuniwaqa said.

She said close to half a million Fijians had registered to vote in the 2014 elections.

However, she said they would need these individuals to help them produce an accurate voter list by checking their information and making any necessary corrections.

Mrs Vuniwaqa, who is also the acting supervisor for elections, said registration would only last four weeks.

“This phase of registration will consist of two distinct processes, depending on whether an individual has or has not already registered to vote.”

For those who have registered, she said they were encouraged to visit a designated registration centre to examine the provisional voter roll to see if their personal information had been entered correctly.

Fijians looking to register are reminded to bring with them one valid form of identification. Valid forms of ID include: passport, driver’s licence, birth certificate, FNPF card, employment card (with photograph), or social welfare card.

Registrations centres in Navua, Lami, Suva, Nasinu, Nausori, Korovou and Lautoka were open yesterday and centres in Nadi, Sigatoka, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki, Labasa, Savusavu, Nabouwalu, and Levuka will open tomorrow.

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

13) Ratu Epeli Nailatikau reappointed as Fiji’s President

By Online Editor
3:35 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2012, FijiRatu Epeli Nailatikau was today reappointed President of Fiji at Government House.

Ratu Epeli who first took office on November 5, 2009, has been appointed for another three years.

The 71-year-old Bau chief has previously served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Fijian Affairs, High Commissioner to London, and Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Provincial Development and Multi Ethnic Affairs.

He was appointed interim foreign minister in 2007 and appointed acting President on August 12, 2009. Ratu Epeli is married to Adi Koila Mara and they have a son and daughter.

Meanwhile, as Fiji braces to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights Tuesday, Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says all religions must embrace each other to build a unified, better and a stronger nation.

In his Diwali address, Bainimarama said every child in Fiji grows up with a sense of excitement about Diwali.

“All over the country, candles are lit and Fijians celebrate with their families, friends and neighbours.
“We have a national holiday to mark the occasion because we join our Hindu brothers and sisters to commemorate the Festival of Lights.

“The essential message of Diwali is the triumph of good over evil. Light is cast upon darkness, justice reigns over oppression. It is a message of deep significance for all Fijians.

“Like all of our religious festivals in Fiji, it is also a time to reflect on the spiritual aspect of our lives and the strength we derive from our beliefs.

“For me, Diwali symbolises the light we must all shine on our shortcomings as individuals and as a nation and overcome them. “In this Festival of Lights, may we all find peace and joy and a renewed commitment to caring for each other.”.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

14)Cook Islands government confirms new ombudsman

By Online Editor
3:30 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2012, Cook Islands The Cook Islands Government has confirmed Tearoa Tini as the country’s new ombudsman.
The Prime Minister, Henry Puna, says Tini, who was in the police for 42 years, was chosen because of his broad public service experience, his ability to work under pressure, and understanding of a healthy community welfare.

He said Tini is well qualified to make sure the voices of all members of society are heard.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

15)Players seek Pacific pact

By Online Editor
1:01 pm GMT+12, 12/11/2012, New ZealandA Pacific Islands Rugby Players’ Association could be formed following allegations by ex-All Black Simon Mannix that his former club Racing Metro paid Fijian players to rest during last year’s World Cup.

The International Rugby Board appears to have had little control or influence over such matters, despite wielding their 25-page Regulation 9 which outlines the supposed mandatory procedure for releasing players during June and November test windows and the World Cup.

The reality is, money talks and players are unlikely to quibble with employers in the interests of maintaining a livelihood for their families.

A loophole in Regulation 9 means clubs don’t have to pay players when they’re released for international duty. They can also ensure their ‘loyalty’ by offering financial sweeteners for availability.

Pacific Island unions want players to get European contracts for their rugby development and financial security so they are signed regardless. The flipside can be a lack of availability or, at worst, uncapped players switch allegiance to another country because more money is on offer at wealthier unions.

Fijian captain and former Chiefs prop Deacon Manu is part of a core of Pacific Island players looking to instigate change with help from the likes of the New Zealand and Wales Rugby Players Associations.

Manu, with Samoa’s Mahonri Schwalger and Tonga’s Hale T-Pole, is leading an action group so smaller rugby nations get a bigger say on the international stage and players feel more inclined to speak up about their welfare.

As yet it’s no Arab Spring – it might better be coined “Pacific Autumn” in the Northern Hemisphere – but Manu says they’re making progress.

“Between the three of us we’re lucky to have contacts in Wales and New Zealand who are willing to help us, despite our limited resources, because we don’t usually get a voice. This movement is vital for our sustainability. We want to look back in 5-10 years knowing we made a difference.

Schwalger is no stranger to controversy. As captain he criticised the Samoan management post-World Cup for their conduct during the tournament. They might also find allies in Samoan midfield back Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and the new chairman of the Tongan union – and recently retired player – Epi Taione.

Fuimaono-Sapolu earned the rugby world’s attention with a series of acerbic tweets during the World Cup, notably when he compared Samoa’s treatment to slavery, the Holocaust and apartheid when they were scheduled to play twice in four days while Wales had a week off.

Taione, 33, might be sympathetic to the cause and ideals of a players’ union. As a player he briefly led an existence as Paddy Power – the name of an Irish betting firm – after changing his name by deed poll at the 2007 World Cup to get team sponsorship. To make ends meet he also had a cameo in Invictus, the film about South Africa’s 1995 World Cup win.

Manu now plays club rugby in Wales for the Llanelli Scarlets and has no problem getting clearance for internationals in his contract. On Sunday, he led Fiji in front of an 82,000 sellout crowd at Twickenham.

“Guys have got to make a living and provide for their families so unless they are playing for a tier one nation it becomes a tough decision. Any country wants people who are willing to play regardless of such interventions but when some players have to pay for their own flights to get here it becomes tricky.

“I’m lucky, Llanelli have been more than supportive. They understand the importance and pride of playing for your country but it’s not always easy. Being hosted by tier one countries is fantastic, that’s the way forward, but further investigations need to be made by the IRB into what some of these clubs are doing. A strong message needs to be sent so international rugby has the best players available for the welfare of the game. I don’t want to threaten other clubs, I understand their predicament, but we need a better deal.

“Rugby tends to be controlled by about half a dozen countries, but that will become difficult to sustain if the game goes global, especially with sevens being introduced to the Olympics. They could be faced with some sort of revolution if the status quo remains.”.
SOURCE: NZ HERALD/PACNEWS

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