Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 698

1) West Papuan Independence Leader Killed
Senior KNPB member shot by Indonesian security forces

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 17, 2012) – Another leading Papuan independence activist with the National Committee of West Papua, or KNPB, has been killed by Indonesian security forces.

Hubertus Mabel, who was a senior member of the KNPB, was shot by a joint police/military team hunting down members of the committee in its Highlands stronghold area in Wamena at the weekend.

Police say Mr. Mabel was shot while trying to resist arrest in Wamena and later died in hospital in Jayawijaya.

As part of the same operation, police arrested several other members of the KNPB.

The situation in and around Wamena remains tense following the arrests, with reports of gunfire exchanges between security forces and the military wing of the OPM Free Papua Movement in the area.

Over the past few months, security forces have been conducting a major sweep operation in the Highlands in pursuit of KNPB activists who police allege are behind a series of bomb plots.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

2) Seasonal Work Recruiter in Solomons Slams Accusations
Agent accused of disappearing with money, passports

By Jeremy Inifiri

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 18, 2012) – A local recruitment agent who was accusedof disappearing with passports and fees of locals wanting to work in Australia says the recruitment is not a scam.

Peter Waleilia made the response after more than people he recruited claimed he disappeared with their passport and fees.

He assured the people that this is not a scam but rather a delay in processing of documents caused by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Solomon Islands.

The applicants threatened to take legal action against him if he fails to return their money worth more than SB$500,000 [US$67,550] in form of airfare and fee.

In a hand-written letter delivered to the Solomon Star, Mr. Waleilia who claims to be an agent of Australian Company, PP Employment Agency LTD, said the scheme is not a scam as many people will have such an impression.

But rather Mr. Waleilia said that all necessary documents have been sent over to Australia, however added that the holdup seems to be with the Foreign Affairs office here in the Solomon Islands.

“I do apologize to all our clients for the delay and wish to assure them as soon as I receive the final documents and green light from the company, the clients will be informed and we can then make travel arrangements for the first lot of workers.

“Those who wish to withdraw from the scheme will be refunded accordingly,” Mr. Waleilia said.

For further information, Mr. Waleilia can be reached on 8626817.

Attempts to get comments from the foreign affairs yesterday on this issue were unsuccessful.

Solomon Star

3) Solomons PM Accuses Opposition Of Hijacking Parliament
Opposition calls for more time to review 2013 budget report

By Eddie Osifelo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 18, 2012) – Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo accused the Opposition of hijacking the Parliamentary process yesterday in the Solomon Islands.

This came after Opposition Leader Dr. Derek Sikua and his deputy, Mathew Wale, questioned the Government to allow the debate of the 2013 budget to continue and conclude yesterday afternoon.

This was after they received the report of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over the 2013 budget estimate less than an hour before debate would commence.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Job Duddley Tausinga made a ruling by using his powers to suspend the debate until this morning after coming back from a 15 minutes break.

This followed a heated debate by Prime Minister Lilo and Opposition group over the timing to continue debating the budget.

“Both [the] Opposition leader and your deputy have hijacked Parliament. It was garbage you (Opposition) did,” PM Lilo said angrily, as he walked out of the Parliamentary chambers.

PM Lilo said the Government business for debate to commence and conclude was still in order because the Minister of Finance had tabled it last week which should have allowed time for MPs to read through it.

He said the recurrent and development budget took up the 80 percent of the budget which, if MPs read them, they should have been familiarized with the budget already.

However, Dr. Sikua said they want to go through the PAC report first to factor in their budget speech before debate can commence.

As a result of the ruling by Tausinga, Members of Parliament will have only three days to debate the SB$3.6 billion [US$486.4 million] dollar budget, before it goes through committee of supply and pass through third reading.

Also the Prime Minister will have to adjust statement of Government business for the week ending Friday 21 December 2012 after the debate did not commence and conclude yesterday.

Solomon Star

4)Vanuatu Lands Department Implicated In Property Scam
Staff allegedly bought undervalued lands in Port Vila

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 17, 2012) – There are claims that past and present staff of the Vanuatu Lands Departments have been involved in an elaborate scam at Tassiriki Park Estate in Port Vila.

The scam allegedly involves 11 titles, including waterfront lots, which had been seriously undervalued, before being acquired by the Lands Department staff.

The estate was established in 1970 by the late French investor, Pierre Bourgeois, who, in an innovative move, set up significant areas of green space, creating non saleable lots with the government.

But a family spokesperson says that green space has now gone and he alleges that the Department has since sold the land.

He says the title numbers and details were altered to create ridiculously low valuations which allowed the sales.

The spokesman says the Bourgeois family will take legal action to overturn the sales of the titles.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

5)New Caledonia government faces no confidence motion

Posted at 05:59 on 18 December, 2012 UTC

The Caledonia Together Party has lodged a motion of no-confidence in the first such move since the 1998 Noumea Accord set up a collegial government for the French territory.

Its leader, Philippe Gomes, says the coalition government has accomplished nothing.

Walter Zweifel reports.

“Mr Gomes has taken the unusual decision against the coalition led by Harold Martin despite having only a small minority of Congress members behind him. He has accused the coalition of failing to respect the system of collegial government by giving his Caledonia Party only parts of sliced up portfolios.”

“Furthermore, he says, no measure has been taken to fight the high cost of living, fiscal reforms have been buried and education issues are at a standstill.”

“Last year, Caledonia Together brought down the administration three times within a month until Paris urgently changed the electoral law to stop the serial resignations by giving any new government an 18-month grace period.”

Radio New Zealand International

POLYNESIA:

6)Hawaii senator Inouye dies aged 88

Posted at 05:59 on 18 December, 2012 UTC

A long-serving US Senator for Hawaii, Daniel Inouye, has died aged 88 in hospital in Washington.

The Senate leader Harry Reid made the announcement on the chamber’s floor.

Mr Inouye had been hospitalised fighting a respiratory illness earlier this month.

He was the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Mr Inouye had been elected to the Senate in 1962 and was the second longest serving senator in US history.

He was a World War Two veteran and medal of honour recipient.

He also held the Samoan chiefly title of Fofogaosamoa.

Radio New Zealand International

CYCLONE +

7)Clean-up begins after Evan devastates Fiji

Date

Auckland

A state of natural disaster has been declared for parts of Fiji as the clean-up from Cyclone Evan begins.

Thousands of people took refuge in evacuation centres overnight, as the cyclone pounded northern Fiji, causing flooding and extensive damage. Roads were closed and power and water supplies were cut.

No fatalities were reported from the cyclone, which battered the western parts of Viti Levu for more than 12 hours on Monday.

A state of natural disaster was declared for the western and northern divisions by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama on Tuesday, which was expected to be in place for 15 days, the Fiji Times reported.

Warnings were also issued to people living in the low-lying areas around the Rewa River in Fiji’s central division, which burst its banks and was flooding some areas.

However, the weather had calmed down in other areas and the clean-up had begun.

Meanwhile, a search for 10 fishermen missing from four fishing boats after the cyclone struck Samoa late last week was called off on Tuesday morning.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion, a French Navy Guardian aircraft and the Samoan police have spent the past three days searching for the boats, but did not find any sign of the men.

Four people were known to have died in the cyclone, and about 5000 people had been displaced.

Damage to the main island of Upolu appears to be worse than from the 2009 earthquake and tsunami that killed 135 people.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully on Tuesday said the government will make $NZ600,000 ($A484,887) immediately available to support relief and early recovery efforts in Samoa, including $NZ50,000 pledged on Saturday.

Five additional New Zealand Red Cross workers will also travel to Samoa to help, and Mr McCully said the government will also consider further requests to help Samoa’s long-term reconstruction effort.

The government will make $NZ50,000 available immediately to Fiji, along with a $NZ170,000 contribution to the Fiji Red Cross.

AAP

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/cleanup-begins-after-evan-devastates-fiji-20121218-2bkvk.html#ixzz2FO5jS0FH

8)State of natural disaster declared in Fiji after Cyclone Evan

Posted at 05:59 on 18 December, 2012 UTC

A state of natural disaster has been declared for Fiji’s Northern and Western division after the devastation caused by Cyclone Evan.

Fiji authorities say it will be in effect for 15 days to allow rehabilitation work to be accelerated.

Almost 8,500 people are in evacuation centres, electricity is out and water supply intermittent across much of country in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Evan.

The category four storm, one rating below the highest level, has torn a trail of destruction down the coastal parts of the country’s northern and western divisions and is now over the southern island of Kadavu.

Evan’s wrath was worst in areas already hit badly earlier this year by the floods that destroyed homes, businesses and farms along the northern and western coasts of Fiji’s two main islands.

But the immediate past president of the Lautoka Chamber of Commerce, Swani Maharaj, says the force of the cyclone was incomparable to previous storms.

“I don’t think we have ever experienced wind force of this velocity any other time during my 65 years of age.”

The wind, gusting at up to 270 kilometres per hour, stripped houses of their roofs and felled power poles and trees, leaving much of the northern and western divisions without electricity.

Swani Maharaj says it’s the working class people of his district that will be worst off.

“Poor people in the poverty-stricken areas, which are squatter settlements and lower income groups, they have definitely suffered. And they will need a lot of food supplies and shelter arrangements if anyone can help.”

Although conditions in most of Fiji have eased, one hundred and 47 evacuation centres are now holding almost eight and a half thousand people and those on Kadavu Island are bearing the brunt of the storm.

As the clean-up begins, Fiji’s Ministry of Information has given government employees until Thursday to return to work.

Radio New Zealand International

9)Thousands still remain in evacuation centres in Fiji

Posted at 00:50 on 18 December, 2012 UTC

More than three-thousand people are understood to remain in evacuation centres in cyclone-battered Fiji, but so far there are no reports of casualties.

Cyclone Evan hammered the country overnight, with strong winds causing widespread damage and knocking out power and phone lines.

Reports say power is out over in most of Viti Levu and telecommunication services are also down in many areas.

The interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama will visit the West of the country today.

Other government officials will also visit devastated areas later today.

A correspondent in Fiji, Riccardo Morris, says a hurricane warning has been cancelled but the Met Service has issued flood warnings because of the innundation of water.

He says so far no one has been reported to have been killed or injured.

“In the end I think it was fortunate that people heeded the warning and there was also a curfew enforced overnight which probably helped limited damage and injury to people.”

Riccardo Morris says it has stopped raining near the coast, but it continues to rain heavily in the highlands, causing water to come rushing down, and swelling the Navua River to critical levels.

The New Zealand foreign affairs minister Murray McCully says New Zealand will assist with immediate relief efforts in Fiji following Cyclone Evan.

The minister says initially New Zealand will make available about 40 thousand US dollars to respond to specific requests from Fiji.

He says tarpaulins, water containers, generators and chainsaw packs are also on the way to Fiji on commercial flights.

Mr McCully says the New Zealand government is also making a contribution of about 50 thousand US dollars to help the Fiji Red Cross replenish supplies.

Meanwhile Mr McCully has announced further assistance to Samoa in the aftermath of the Cyclone.

It will an additional 470 thousand US dollars to support relief and early recovery efforts.

He says New Zealand will also consider further requests for assistance from Samoa as the country undertakes the longer-term reconstruction effort.

Mr McCully says Samoa faces a major recovery and will not face it alone.

Radio New Zealand International

10) Rivers above red level

By ANA MADIGIBULI, ROPATE VALEMEI and AVINESH GOPAL
Tuesday, December 18, 2012-Fijitimes.

Update: 1:51PM ALL rivers in the Central Division have exceeded the critical stage.

This was confirmed by Commissioner Central Lieutenant Colonel Laisenia Tuitubou.

Warnings have been issued for people living in low-lying areas of Rewa, Navua, Waibuka and Waidina to move to higher ground.

The Fiji Meteorology Office said flooding in the Wainimala, Wainibuka, Waidina and low-lying areas of Nausori and the Rewa Delta posed a risk.

At 12.40pm today, Syria Park next to the Rewa River was under water and this continued to rise under bright sunny skies.

The Rewa River was at 4.10m at 10am, which is 1.6m above critical level, while people went about their daily business. It is believed to be raining in the highlands.

The Nayavu River was at 15.5m, 7.5m above critical level, while the Nabukaluka River was at 4.58m. This is 0.58m above critical level.

Nairukuruku River stood at 7.79m, 2.79m above critical level.

The Navua River, at 7am, was 1.0m above critical level while Wainibuka River was 7.2m above critical level. The Waidina River was 0.5m above critical level.

The weatherman recorded a high tide height of 1.8m and 0.6m at low tide.

Members of the public living in low-lying areas have been reminded to relocate to higher grounds.

11) Lautoka evacuation

By TEVITA VUIBAU
Tuesday, December 18, 2012-Fijitimes

Update: 10:55AM MORE than 2000 people had to be evacuated from their homes in and around Lautoka yesterday as Tropical Cyclone Evan cut through the Sugar City.

“In the past 24 hours we have had 2150 people coming into the 12 evacuation centres in Lautoka,” said Faiaaz Ali, the president of the Fiji Red Cross Society Lautoka branch.

Mr Ali said there were 53 evacuation centres in the Western Division alone.

12) Évaluation des dégâts aux îles Fidji

Mis à jour 18 December 2012, 12:38 AEST

Pierre Riant

Une nuit de furie suite au passage du cyclone Evan.

Les services météo de l’archipel indiquent maintenant que la situation va en s’améliorant. L’alerte au cyclone a été levé tôt ce matin mais des vents forts continuent de perturber la région sud, notamment le sud de Viti Levu.

Le plus dur est passé mais plus de 8 000 personnes ont angoissé toute la nuit dans des centres d’évacuation et des habitations ont été détruites.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2012-12-18/évaluation-des-dégâts-aux-îles-fidji/1062376

13)Death toll in Samoa following Evan is now at eight

Posted at 00:48 on 18 December, 2012 UTC

Searchers are beginning to find bodies of the ten fishermen who went missing when Cyclone Evan hit Samoa.

New Zealand has been helping in the aerial search for the missing, which will resume today.

A reporter for Samoa’s National Radio, Su’a Hesed Ieremia, says the death toll after the cyclone was four but that has now been lifted to eight.

“There was a body that was found yesterday along the coast of Apia in the village of Vaiala, a few men have been found while the search still being carried out.”

Su’a Hesed Ieremia of Samoa’s National Radio.

Radio New Zealand International

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