Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 700
1) PNG birds of Paradise on display in Melbourne
Right now the Melbourne Museum is hosting one of the most detailed exhibitions looking at Papua New Guinea’s “Birds of Paradise” outside the island nation.
The exhibit is trying to not only show the extent of the birdlife there, but also its affect on local culture and custom, and also the threat still posed to birds by modern day poachers.
Presenter: Campbell Cooney
Yvonne Carrillo Huffman, Australian Museum
2) World Bank Announces 4-Year Development Plan For PNG
Focus on large-scale employment opportunities, gender equity
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 26, 2012) – The World Bank Group has announced a four-year strategy designed to support the Papua New Guinea Government’s efforts to improve the livelihood of thousands of families, further its economic development and reduce gender-based inequality.
World Bank’s Country Manager, Laura Bailey, says the strategy is a partnership and the World Bank and International Finance Corporation are determined to see Papua New Guinea prosper.
She told the Post Courier paper that institutional reforms, improved governance, and low crime and violence will help the country pursue its development goals.
She says gender imbalances also restrict efforts to progress this agenda.
Ms. Bailey says they plan to target their investment at companies that generate large-scale job opportunities, particularly in agribusiness, infrastructure such as electricity and midsize PNG companies, including land-owners operations.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
4) Port Vila set for infrastructure rebuild
The roads, drainage and sanitation of Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila will be re-developed and improved in a major building project.
A population increase of 400 percent since independence in 1980 is causing the infrastructure to break down. The rebuilding project is being financed by a loans and grant agreement between Vanuatu’s government, Australia and the Asian Development Bank.
Presenter: Stephen Rice
ADB Pacific Regional Director, Andrea Iffland.
5) Mp eyes private bill to ban naturalised citizens from parliament
Veteran Member of Parliament for Tanna Constituency, Morking Stevens has revealed his intentions to table a private member’s Bill to amend the national constitution to prevent non-indigenous citizens from contesting general elections.
Even though Vanuatu has seen its first ever naturalised citizen elected into the 10th legislature after the last election, Iatika said he has legal representatives preparing the bill which he plans to introduce when the next parliament sits.
“I am working on a bill which will aim to amend our constitution to protect and defend the rights of indigenous ni-Vanuatu” Iatika told Daily Post recently.
“I believe only the natives of this country should be allowed the privilege of representing their people in Parliament because only an indigenous person will know how to properly address people’s concerns in a manner and pace that is fitting to the people.”
The Tanna MP added that currently the people of Vanuatu in the rural constituencies are not safe from people with money who can brainwash voters and rob the honesty of a ni-Vanuatu.
Meanwhile Iatika has responded to Vanuatu’s first ever naturalised citizen Member of Parliament, Robert Bohn’s recent media statement saying Vanuatu and its people have their own pace of development and has to be considered.
Although the Tanna MP said he agreed with some important points raised by the Epi MP he still believes knowing the customs and tradition of the people will give a better understanding of the realities about development in the country.
This belief that only indigenous people should be allowed to contest in the general election has been raised even before this year’s election by the Nagriamel Movement.
6) New Caledonia’s Wamytan uneasy about latest politics
Posted at 04:01 on 27 December, 2012 UTC
New Caledonia’s veteran politician, Roch Wamytan, has warned that the current style of politics is extremely dangerous for the territory’s peace.
Mr Wamytan, who signed the 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy on behalf of the pro-independence FLNKS Movement, made the comment after the first no confidence motion was launched since the Accord was adopted.
The motion lodged at the beginning of this month by the Caledonia Together Party of Philippe Gomes was defeated but Mr Wamytan says the battle for power is being pursued to the detriment of the citizens and the country.
Mr Wamytan says there is a huge flaw in Mr Gomes’s view of his party’s electoral success this year because the electorate was a national French one and not one restricted to long-term New Caledonian voters.
He says New Caledonia is mainly a Kanak country and the only place where Kanak people can be found.
Radio New Zealand International
7) Elena hoping to set the music world on fire
She’s been described as Fiji’s answer to Whitney Houston, Elena Baravilala.
She first appeared on the scene ten years ago, and this year is a chance look back on it all.
Elena Baravilala’s new album is called ‘Elena in Retrospect’.
Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
BARAVILALA: Yeah it was a part of my journey to where I am today, but I believe I’m moving into my authentic brand of just Elena.
COUTTS: Now Elena you’ve been on the scene for ten years, you first burst onto the scene, and this new album, “Elena in Retrospect”, is that a composite of the journey, does it tell your story?
BARAVILALA: Yes it does. It is sort of a look back to my very humble beginnings here in the local context, and it does describe some of the very memorable moments of Fiji and my childhood context, my country and what is special and dear to my heart. Yeah it’s been ten years I have journeyed, that short time. Yeah. So the album is a look-back to those years of sacrifice and commitment and trying and striving to become a more established musician right here in Fiji.
COUTTS: Who were your musical role models Elena?
BARAVILALA: Well obviously Whitney Houston, I did take that as a compliment as you just described just then. I looked her vocal abilities and also Beyoncé, so I look up to our local Pacific singers and obviously Alicia Keys and there’s so many more artists that I’ve listened to and have really inspired me vocally. But if I have to say my role model would definitely be my parents who brought me through to this place.
COUTTS: Have you been formally trained?
BARAVILALA: I get that question all the time. I really did not get formal training, just really trained in choirs and singing and did learn some vocal techniques in the choir and began to apply that on a personal level. That for me was indirect training until now.
COUTTS: Is there much work for a singer like yourself in Fiji? Are there many gigs available to you?
BARAVILALA: There’s definitely a high demand of sacrifice and commitment if you’re talking about a musician in Fiji. Though it’s not an industry that is thrust forward, but we do have very limited gigs available throughout. So for us and for me personally it’s a matter of grabbing that one opportunity, that one-off opportunity no matter how small it may look like and really maximising. And if you don’t take that opportunity for your benefit, and you go as an artist even in those small limited available gigs that we have here in Fiji. But definitely it requires a lot of sacrifice, hard work and commitment here in Fiji to make it in the music industry here.
COUTTS: Well “Elena in Retrospect” is the album that you’ve just released. Is it easy to record? Did you have a recording contract or have you had to pay for this recording?
BARAVILALA: I recorded in different places, but one of the songs I had to pay for, some of the songs I had to pay for. Some of the songs I had to fly to countries, I had to fly to Vanuatu to record other songs, a duet with David featuring the Nasa choir, Pacific songbird. Definitely there were payments made for some songs and some songs are now more like a collaborative effort from those who were able to help me and work with me on those few songs. Definitely when this goes out and money comes in, I definitely have people that I want to acknowledge and also contribute financially back to those contributors.
COUTTS: Well “Elena in Retrospect”, it’s just been launched, and I just wonder how much of it is original material and how much of it is covers?
BARAVILALA: Well the whole entire eight songs are original compositions. So I haven’t really done any covers, but I just did covers in gigs, but in this album it’s all original songs, four originally written by me, and four written by other artists from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
COUTTS: Are you getting much air play?
BARAVILALA: Yes in Fiji there’s a song “Fire” that’s been getting very highly recognised in the local radio stations, and highly acknowledged. And also “Viti” has been one of the songs that’s sort of like coming out of the heap now, it looks good.
8) Fiji to get caretaker government ahead of 2014 election
The idea of having a caretaker government in Fiji in the runup to the 2014 elections may not be palatable to the coup installed military regime.
That’s according to Professor Wadan Narsey, a Fiji economist and academic who has studied the draft constitution produced by the country’s Constitution Commission, headed by prominent internatuionalconstitutional scholar, Professor Yash Ghai..
Electronic copies of the document are available on various anti government websites, but so far the printed copies have yet to be distributed within Fiji itself.
The interim government has released a statement saying that the Draft Constitution is with the President, who will hand it to the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly when that person is chosen by the Prime Minister in the New Year.
It is not a Government document but one written by the Constitutional Commission – an independent body – for the consideration of members of the Constituent Assembly, who will represent a broad cross-section of the Fijian people.
The interim government statement says they have always said that public discussion of the document will begin when the Constituent Assembly meets. It is therefore the task of the Assembly, not the Government, to release the draft when the time comes.
The Government regrets that the Draft appears to have been leaked but deems it inappropriate to make any comment under the circumstances.
Professor Narsey says there are several reasons why the interim government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama might be unhappy with the provisions contained in the document.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Professor Wadan Narsey, a Fiji economist and academic.
9)FTUC leader unsurprised at extent of Fiji government surveillance
The President of the Fiji Trades Union Congress says he’s not surprised at allegations the coup installed military government is spying on a large number of Fiji citizens.
Daniel Urai’s name is one of the 80 on a list of Fiji citizens allegedly under surveillance by the National Intelligence Bureau of the Fiji Police Force, which has been published on an anti-government blog.
The document appears to show that some prominent coup opponents, including politicians, trade unionists, NGO leaders and others are having their movements monitored.
Daniel Urai says he’s assumed he’s been the target of this sort of thing for a while.
The Fiji interim government has declined to respond to the allegations.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Fiji Trades Union Congress President Daniel Urai
10) Fiji unions say constitution consultation process not transparent
Posted at 03:16 on 27 December, 2012 UTC
The Fiji Trades Union Congress says the constitution review process lacks transparency and it fears the will of the people will not be reflected in the new document.
It has condemned the pre-conditions the interim regime has placed on people wanting to sit on the Constituent Assembly, which will consider the draft constitution.
The Congress says these people have to accept the regime’s non-negotiable positions on issues such as immunity and the role of the military.
But it says such preconditions would reduce the Assembly to a talk shop, rubberstamping the military’s agenda.
The Congress says the regime must reconsider the process to ensure it remains credible and that the will of the people is truly enshrined in the new constitution.
It says the military must also remain subservient to an elected government to ensure there are no more coups.
Radio New Zealand International
11)Fiji’s CC calls for transitional government before 2014 polls
Posted at 04:01 on 27 December, 2012 UTC
Fiji’s Constitution Commission says a transitional government should assume power six months before the elections the interim regime has promised to hold by September 2014.
While the Commission’s draft constitution has not yet been formally released, copies are circulating on the internet.
Don Wiseman has more:
“The Commission calls for a Transitional Advisory Council that would oversee the establishment of a caretaker government which must take over six months before the election. It says the up to 15 members of the caretaker government could be selected by the Council from people who have served as permanent secretaries or in similar positions in the government administration. It says this would ensure there was the administrative know how to run the country until the elections. The caretaker government’s key role would be to ensure that elections can take place. It says such an arrangement would be in the interests of everyone leading up to the election. It says candidates would not be able to complain that the military was manipulating the elections and that everyone would be on an equal footing. It also says no one in the caretaker government could stand in the election.”
Radio New Zealand International
12)Over 1,800 Residents Still In Fiji Evacuation Centers
Most evacuees return home before Christmas day
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 26, 2012) – Forty nine evacuation centers remain open in Fiji’s western and northern division providing shelter to over 1,800.
The National Disaster Management Office director, Manasa Tagicakibau, told Fiji Live 47 centers are open in the West and two in Bua.
He said most evacuees returned to their homes before Christmas while those remaining at the centers were the unfortunate ones whose homes were badly damaged by Cyclone Evan.
He said all assessment teams have been given till today to complete all assessments before their verification teams take over tomorrow.
He said the verification teams will be traveling and their job is to compile and put together the costs of damages.
Meanwhile, nearly 50 percent of the Western Division and 10 percent of Fiji Electricity Authority customers in the Central Division are still without power supply.
The FEA says work is in progress for most of the areas with assistance from contractors and other agencies.
Power is now fully restored in the Northern division and in Levuka.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
13) Organizations Plan Programs To Curb Violence In Tonga
Recent deaths, violent robberies raising concerns
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 26, 2012) – Tonga’s Civil Society Forum and the National Leadership Development Forum are planning programs for next year to try to stem the growing incidence of violence in the country.
There have been a number of killings in Nuku’alofa in recent months, including two that have led to eight police being charged with manslaughter.
There have also been violent robberies and a kidnapping and more clashes between students from rival schools.
Speaking for both organizations, Drew Havea says they are quite concerned at the escalating violence.
He says they plan programs in the schools and the community to encourage discussion of violence and look for ways forward.
Mr. Havea says they will also focus on alcohol abuse.
“How can we minimize, how can we look at binge drinking to educate the population and especially in the community that you can enjoy drinking without overdoing it. So as well as the school forums we want to run focus groups in the community to look at these issues.”
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
14) Guam Police Captain Arrested Over Prison ‘Security Breach’
Attorney says allegations against Charfauros ‘political’
By Brett Kelman
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 27, 2012) – A Guam police captain has been arrested as a result of an investigation into a suspected security breach at the Department of Corrections (DOC). Police haven’t given details of the alleged breach, but DOC has said it is connected to the Blue House brothel case.
Capt. Mark Charfauros was arrested on suspicion of official misconduct, according to a press release from police. Charfauros was booked and released, and he will spend 20 days on administrative leave, according to the release.
Meanwhile, internal investigations into the allegations against Charfauros continue at both the police department and the corrections agency. A separate, internal investigation into the Blue House case also continues at the police department.
Police haven’t confirmed details about the allegations against Charfauros, but DOC officials alleged earlier this month that the police captain helped three other officers visit a suspect in the Blue House case. Charfauros has been temporarily detailed to DOC, but his duties have nothing to do with inmate visits.
Yesterday, defense attorney F. Randall Cunliffe said the complaint against Charfauros was politically motivated and the investigation that followed was just authorities going through the motions.
“I think GPD and the prison have to act on it when it becomes a big public issue,” Cunliffe said. “If it hadn’t been in the news and everything, probably nothing would have ever occurred for it… But it becomes a big issue, and now they have to undertake it, otherwise the media is going to say that they covered it all up.”
Cunliffe said the case against Charfauros was initiated by a person with a vendetta against the police captain, although he declined to identify that person. Charfauros is a “lightning rod” for political controversy, Cunliffe said.
“(It is) more political bickering at the police department,” Cunliffe said. “The person who brought it to everyone’s attention hates Mark.”
The prisoner visit at the center of this case occurred on Nov. 21 at the Hagåtña Detention Facility. The officers visited with David Manila, another police officer who is accused of assisting the Blue House brothel, where nine women were forced into prostitution between 2004 and 2008. Manila has been charged with kidnapping, rape and other crimes, and is being held on $250,000 cash bail.
According to the visitors’ logbook at the Hagåtña Detention Facility, the three visiting police officers are Eugene Charfauros, Carl Lizama and Joel Terlaje.
During the visit, Mark Charfauros allegedly allowed Manila to use his cell phone, which isn’t permitted under any circumstances, said DOC Director Jose San Agustin. It also is abnormal for police officers to visit an incarcerated suspect after the suspect has been charged in court, said Corrections Officer Jeff Limo, who handles internal affairs investigations at DOC.
On the day of the visit, Mark Charfauros was planning to go to lunch with the three visiting officers, so he invited them into the Hagåtña detention center while he finished up some business, Cunliffe said. Once the officers were inside, they visited briefly with Manila, whom they knew through the police department, Cunliffe said. It is not abnormal for visitors to speak with inmates while passing through the facility, Cunliffe said.
“I say hi to Manila and (other Blue House suspects) all the time when I am in there,” Cunliffe said. “They are in the first cell… It is impolite (not to.) Somebody says ‘Hey Randy, how you doing?’ and you are just suppose to ignore them?”
In response to the allegation that Charfauros loaned Manila a cell phone, Cunliffe said inmates use cell phones within the detention center “all the time.” Regardless of if this is against DOC rules or not, it is a common occurrence, and Charfauros is being singled out with this allegation, Cunliffe said.
“People use phones all the time in there. They use the land lines. They use paid telephones… I have had clients call me on guards’ cell phones before.” Cunliffe said.
The Blue House lounge was a Tamuning brothel that masqueraded as a karaoke bar from 2004 to 2008. Brothel owner Song Ja Cha has been sentenced to life in prison in federal court, but now three police officers are accused in local court of assisting the brothel.
Manila — along with officers Mario Laxamana and Anthony Quenga — are expected to go to trial sometime early next year. Manila’s defense attorney, William Pole, has argued that prosecutors have received allegations against about 11 other officers, but have unfairly chosen only to prosecute some.
Manila, Laxamana and Quenga were indicted after a series of Pacific Daily News stories prompted the police department to reopen the Blue House investigation. Blue House victims levied allegations against police officers in 2008, but no officers were arrested for more than four years.
Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com
15) Fidji: «ça ne me surprend pas du tout»
Le Président du Congrès des Syndicats, Daniel Urai, réagit à la publication de la liste des écoutes du régime de Franck Bainimarama.
16) Fidji: «nous voulons une copie officielle»
Mahendra Chaudhry, le chef du Parti Travailliste, accuse Franck Bainimarama de torpiller en douce le processus de consultations sur la future Constitution.