Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 703

1)Vanuatu Prepares For Melanesian Spearhead Silver Jubilee
Melanesian states to celebrate 25 years of solidarity, growth

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 15, 2013) – The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat is liaising closely with the Vanuatu Government, key stakeholders including Foreign Affairs and the Vanuatu Police Force in advanced preparations for top Melanesian officials who are invited to the MSG Silver Jubilee celebrations two weeks away.

The high caliber guests who will grace the occasion comprises of current Prime Ministers, former prime ministers and instrumental leaders including surviving founding pioneers who are signatories in the Principles of Cooperation between Independent States of Melanesia in Vanuatu’s Constitution building 25 years ago on March 14, 1988.

This is the first agreement which gave give birth to the idea of strengthening Melanesian solidarity and cooperation and result in the body which exists today.

“The official launching of the MSG Silver Jubilee celebrations throughout Melanesia will be held in Port Vila on Monday, January 28,”Officer-in-Charge of the MSG Secretariat and Chairman for the MSG Silver Jubilee Organising and Planning Committee, Jean Pierre Nirua, announced when he revealed the above.

“In the absence of Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman will officiate the grand launching ceremony under the theme celebrating , ‘25 years of Melanesian solidarity and growth,’ to kick start the beginning of the celebrations throughout Melanesia.

“This is a day to remember for the people of Melanesia so we will invite our Leaders, MSG pioneers and founders and our friends of Melanesia near and far to join us in marking this special day not just to remember the hard work of our Leaders, Senior officials and Governments but also to continue to embrace and enjoy our solidarity and cooperation for the many more years to come.”

Mr. Nirua explained an initiative by the organizing committee and endorsed by the Leaders’ Summit in 2012 that will enable all members to celebrate this Silver Jubilee in their respective countries as part of the regional celebration program.

“MSG members such as the FLNKS of Kanaky, New Caledonia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will also, from February to June 2013, be hosting their one-week Melanesia celebrations,” he said.

“Papua New Guinea will hold their Melanesia Week in February, Vanuatu in March, Solomon Islands in April, Fiji in May and the people of Kanaky in June 2013 when the Leaders’ Summit is scheduled to be hosted by FLNKS.

Vanuatu, the host country of the, MSG Secretariat in Port Vila will host its Melanesia Week in March –the anniversary date of the birth of the MSG which falls on March 14,2013.

This, he said, will mark 25 years of the signing of the Principles of Cooperation between Independent States of Melanesia, the first agreement to give birth to the idea of strengthening Melanesian solidarity and cooperation.

Mr. Nirua revealed as part of the launching ceremony in Vanuatu a symposium under the theme “Leaders’ Toktok-Tales from Our Founders and Pioneers” is being organized for founding leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and current leaders of the MSG to share their perspectives on various key topics in Melanesia to highlight the history and future of Melanesian cooperation that began 25 years ago on 14 March 1988.

“This is an exciting time for our people and our leaders as the symposium will give opportunity to leaders of Melanesia to share with the people of Melanesia the vision and ideas that gave birth to the strong relationship and relations enjoyed by MSG member countries,” he said.

“This will also give opportunity to leaders to share their perspectives on issues that are of common interest to the people and Governments of Melanesia.”

The launching ceremony will see the official release of MSG souvenirs and memorabilia to mark 25 years of Melanesian solidarity and growth, the unveiling of the Melanesian carving by member country carvers and a public luncheon for all.

Nirua advised the official program will soon be circulated to all member countries, governments and the people of Melanesia.

He expressed his satisfaction that the committee for the special event, comprising of government officials and key stakeholders are planning to stage a memorable launching at the Independence Park.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

2) Fiji’s foreign minister visits MSG capitals

By Online Editor
3:20 pm GMT+12, 15/01/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola is currently touring the capital cities of Melanesian Spearhead Group member countries.

Minister Kubuabola who is also the MSG chair for the Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) is currently in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), and will also travel to Dili (Timor Leste), Honiara (Solomon Islands), and Port Vila (Vanuatu).

His visit also commemorates the 25 years of the establishment of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

Ratu Inoke is scheduled to brief the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neil and Vanuatu’s Sato Kilman on the latest developments in Fiji’s progress towards parliamentary democracy.

The Minister is expected to meet with his counterparts in the various capitals to discuss issues pertaining to bilateral and regional cooperation in the areas of mutual interest including interalia issues of enhancing further diplomatic relations, international cooperation, trade and strengthening of regional coordination and institutions..

Meanwhile, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola dined with Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare during his current visit to Port Moresby.

Ratu Inoke had dinner with former prime minister and current Governor of Sepik Province Grand Chief Sir Michael and the president of the PNG-Fiji Business Council Graeme Osborne.

He took the opportunity to brief Sir Michael on the constitution formulation process, Fiji Volunteer Scheme and Melanesian Spearhead Group Silver Jubilee Celebrations. These are to be launched in Port Vila on January 28 by Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman.

Today Ratu Inoke leaves for Timor Leste, taking up an invitation by his counterpart there, Jose Luis Guterres, to visit.


3) Group to promote indigenous businesses in PNG

By Online Editor
1:27 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Papua New Guinea

Around 90 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s formal sector is owned by foreign businesses and only 10 percent is possessed by indigenous people, says the Indigenous Business Council of PNG (IBC) Secretary Sarah Haoda Todd.

Todd told the Post-Courier that this situation has created economic disparity and social injustice.

“Economic disparity right now is like what 80 percent, 90 percent of the formal sector is owned by foreign businesses and 10 percent is owned by indigenous Papua New Guineans. Yes, so it has resulted in economic disparity and social injustice fed by an unbridled increase in corruption and greed, civil unrest in the form of increased law and order, ethnic tension and lack of respect and good stewardship of our environment and habitat and, sadly, moribund index of life expectancy and health,” she explained.

“So we went ahead and formed the IBC, we had 750 of us converged into Kokopo including the newly established Jiwaka Province…,” she said.

According to Todd, the summit gave birth to a complete paradigm shift in outlook towards doing business in the country.

There were over 750 small to medium enterprise (SMEs) owners and operators representing a majority of PNG’s indigenous people from the 22 provinces that attended the historic Indigenous Business Summit and Trade Expo in Kokopo from the 4th to 7th April 2011.

Ms Todd said the IBC was formerly launched on the 14th December 2012 after a successful fundraiser at the Lae Yacht Club and immediately signed on 50 members. She said the 750 who attended the Kokopo convention are automatically listed but will have to formalise their registration to be full members to benefit from the Council’s business endeavours.

IBC is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, politically neutral and non sectarian organisation founded to advocate, promote, empower and facilitate the success of PNG businesses and will act as a voice for its members.

Some key strategies of IBC includes:

*The facilitation and encouragement of meaningful, equitable and active participation of PNG citizens in economic activities and businesses;

*To contribute meaningfully and add value through impact programs towards the success and sustainability of indigenous and national enterprise;

*To be the voice for indigenous owned businesses and provide a conduit for all affiliated members to act together in a strong, united, cohesive and responsible manner;

*To foster and facilitate increased participation, involvement and inclusiveness by the indigenous in national economic development; and

*To be the centre for communication, education and mentoring in business acumen and entrepreneurship for indigenous businesses.

Todd invites all interested micro, small, medium and large indigenous business operators across the country to register with the council as soon as possible and this can be done via email [email protected]


4) No overseas trip for Ministers, head of department, government agencies: PM O’Neill

By Online Editor
1:53 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea  Minister Peter O’Neill has imposed a moratorium on overseas travel for government ministers, heads of departments, government agencies, statutory bodies and provincial administrators.

The government hopes to save K40 million (US$19 million) from this decision reached last week by the national executive council. The council has banned the holding of conferences and workshops this year by government departments, statutory bodies and provincial administrations.

O’Neill said tough measures were taken not only to cut costs but to ensure ministers and public servants remained focused on the delivery of government policies and programmes during this “year of implementation”.

“The government has outlined its policies and priority infrastructure programmes, and delivered a budget to fund these programmes.

“If implemented in line with our strategies, we will achieve our desired goals.

“This requires all of us to be focused this year, to keep our feet on the ground, cut down on unnecessary travels and meetings, and conferences that yield little results.

“We have investigated and established that funds budgeted for essential goods and services have been abused to pay for overseas junkets, meetings and conferences that bring very little or no benefit to anyone,” he said.

O’Neill said the government expected to save about K40 million this year following the moratorium on overseas trips, conferences and workshops.

“Productivity is seriously affected by unnecessary trips,” he said.

Under new guidelines approved by the NEC, ministers and heads of department or statutory bodies seeking to travel abroad will write to the prime minister stating their reasons for travelling and to seek his permission.

Any department or statutory body planning to hold or attend a workshop or conference in the country must seek the authority of the Department of Prime Minister and NEC.

Any workshop or conference approved will be coordinated by the Ministry of Sports and National Events.

“Those who breach this NEC decision and directive will face stiff penalties, including suspension or dismissal.

“The NEC has directed the Department of Personnel Management to amend all employment contracts for heads of departments, provincial administrators and heads of statutory bodies to make non-compliance a “cause” of termination of employment.

“The NEC directed the Minister for Public Service to review the Public Service Act or other associated legislations to ascertain if the amendment is required to give effect to this decision,” O’Neill said.

The moratorium became effective on 09 January.


5) PNG Parliament Apparently Quits Commonwealth Group
PM doubts authority of parliament clerk to affect withdrawal

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 15, 2013) – By the stroke of a pen, a 20-word letter has now ended a 38-year relationship between the Papua New Guinea parliament and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

The letter drafted by the acting clerk of parliament, Simon Ila, was done without the knowledge of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, the government and parliament.

The letter dated December 18, 2012 was addressed to Dr. William Shija, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, CPA Secretariat, Westminster House, London, of the “Withdrawal from Commonwealth of Parliamentary Association.”

The letter read: “After considerable consideration of our own and regional interests, CPA PNG withdraws from the Commonwealth Association from 31 December, 2012” and signed by Mr. Ila.

Mr. O’Neill in response said the acting clerk does not have the authority over this very important decision.

“I am not aware of that letter. I don’t think the Clerk has the powers to withdraw (PNG) from the Commonwealth membership,” Mr. O’Neill said.

“Whether we like it or not, we are members of the Commonwealth by the mere fact of our constitution, with the Queen as the head of state. I think there are better news to cover than one letter going from one clerk to the other. I am very concerned that, sometimes you know, they do not pay membership fees to some of these associations.”

Mr. O’Neill said the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is for former members to be actively involved in the happenings around the Commonwealth.

“I think those associations must be maintained so that we give opportunity to former members as leaders to play roles as leaders in the Commonwealth. Sometimes when elections are conducted in Commonwealth countries they ask former members to come and observe. These are roles that Papua New Guinean leaders can play. So we must allow that opportunity to remain.”

“Not knowing the full details of the letter, I find it hard to believe that is the right thing to do,” Mr. O’Neill said.

Those familiar with international protocol said the letter was unprofessional and discourteous and shows a lack of understanding of international protocols and conventions by the acting clerk of parliament.

The Commonwealth Parliament Association is one of the core associations that links the 138-members of the Commonwealth of nations.

CPA provides opportunities for current and former members of parliament to take part in various programs in strengthening parliamentary democracy and good governance.

Many leaders and former members have used the forum to lobby support on many major regional and international treaties and conventions.

PNG is the big brother in the Asia-Pacific region and takes the lead in Melanesian Spearhead Group meetings and the Commonwealth heads of government meetings since it became a member after Independence in 1975.

Speaker Theo Zurenuoc could not be reached for comment.

PNG Post-Courier:

6) Former PNG prime minister to head Ok Tedi

Updated Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:15pm AEDT

Papua New Guinea’s former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta has been nominated to replace Australian economist Ross Garnaut as Chairman of PNG’s largest mining company.

Professor Garnaut resigned after being forced out of the job by PNG government travel bans.

Sir Mekere was nominated to Chair Ok Tedi Mining Limited by the board of the PNG Sustainable Development Program, Ok Tedi’s biggest shareholder.

Sir Mekere, who was appointed as Chair of the Development Program in October, has a long track record of fighting corruption and improving financial administration.

Sir Mekere thanked Professor Garnaut for his ten years of involvement with Ok Tedi and PNGSDP saying he had made a very significant contribution to Papua New Guinea.

PNGSDP is a charitable trust now worth $1.4 billion.

PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill banned Professor Garnaut as a result of a dispute with BHP Billiton over control of PNGSDP.

7) Ross Garnaut resigns as Chairman of OK Tedi

Updated Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:18pm AEDT

Papua New Guinea’s ban on Australian economist, Professor Ross Garnaut, has forced Mr Garnaut to resign as Chairman of one of PNG’s biggest companies.

Professor Garnaut has resigned as Chairman of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd saying it is not possible for him to fulfil his responsibilities to this large and complex company while the PNG government maintains its ban on his travelling to the country.

The ban was imposed in September after BHP Billiton refused to comply with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s demand to renegotiate its agreement governing control of Ok Tedi’s major shareholder, PNG Sustainable Development Ltd, a $1.4 billion charitable trust set up for the benefit of Papua New Guineans.

Professor Garnaut’s resignation takes effect immediately, bringing an end to his last official role in PNG after an association of 47 years.

8) Monsoon rains having serious impact on three PNG provinces

Posted at 04:30 on 16 January, 2013 UTC

Monsoon rains have had a serious impact on three of Papua New Guinea’s provinces, cutting off roads, destroying food supplies, and displacing people from flooded homes.

The director of the PNG National Disaster Centre, Martin Mose, says there are reports that hundreds of people in the Mt Hagen area in the Western Highlands needing food and shelter after the Waghi River burst its banks.

He says the Morobe region has also been affected by flooding in the Wau-Bulolo area, where a section of the main highway has been cut off.

And in the neighbouring Oro Province most villages are under water, crops damaged and fuel supplies are running dangerously low.

Mr Mose says the prime minister Peter O’Neill is visiting the Oro region today to meet provincial administrators.

“We are here now to ensure that happens as soon as we have a meeting with the team here and once we sit with them then obviously we’ll decide on that. But for me people who are already in need of food supplies, it will have to be effective immediately.”

Martin Mose says he is dispatching disaster officials to the Mt Hagen area today to assess the needs there.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Solomon Islands Educators Prepare For National Strike
Teachers maintain government has failed to address claims

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, Jan. 15, 2013) – President of the Solomon Islands Teachers Association (SINTA) Samson Faisi says teachers are now preparing for a nationwide strike given government’s inaction over certain claims lodged late last year.

Mr. Faisi says that the government had failed to honor an agreement signed with SINTA, one of which was the review and restructuring of teachers salaries. He says that teachers are some of the worst paid public servants in the country, and “not much has been done to address this.”

Mr. Faisi confirms that the deadline is this Thursday, with teachers throughout the country preparing to support the strike. He says teachers in Honiara are organizing themselves for the pending strike.

“We have been very understanding, we have deferred other issues such as housing and leave passage to the 1st of April 2013,” he said.

“So for now we are just focusing on teachers pay, depending on how government chooses to respond, the 17th of this month will see teachers going on strike, just to be sure we will organize a meeting with teachers in Honiara and let them decide.”

But he says teachers are united in this course of action and a nationwide strike action will more than likely take place.

SINTA Guadalcanal branch President Marcellin Tangi has already made their stance clear, they fully support the strike.

“If the government does not pay our arrears by Thursday this week, all teachers on Guadalcanal will go on strike,” he says.

Teachers in Malaita have also expressed the same support for a strike action.

The government is yet to respond to the demands, although it is understood they are putting a team together to address teachers concerns.

Solomon Times

10) Vanuatu police look forward to return of AFP

Updated 11 January 2013, 17:06 AEST

Vanuatu Police says they are looking forward to members of the Australian Federal Police returning to the country.

This statement comes after a delay in the arrival of some Australian Federal Police officers in Port Vila on Monday this week.

Vanuatu expelled all AFP officers after the Vanuatu Prime Minister’s politcal advisor was arrested at Sydney airport last year.

Reports from Port Vila say, the departure of the Australian Federal Police also impacted on Vanuatu’s access to Interpol.

Presenter: Caroline Tiriman/ ABC Radio.

11) Vanuatu radio station defies government order

Emma Younger

Updated Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:50am AEDT

A radio station in Vanuatu is defying government orders to cease broadcasting after the Prime Minister wrote to the station’s management accusing it of breaking the nation’s laws.

Sato Kilman alleges the radio station Capital FM107 has been operating illegally since failing to renew its broadcasting licence when it expired in 2010.

The Prime Minister’s first political adviser, Richard Kaltongga, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beatprogram that according to law the station must cease broadcasting until it has renewed its licence.

“Any business in Vanuatu or anywhere else in the world, if it doesn’t have a licence to operate, it’s not allowed to operate,” he said.

In a letter to the radio station, Mr Kilman also accused Capital FM107 of committing several other breaches of the nation’s broadcasting act relating to poor journalism.

He says there’ve been several incidents of journalists failing to report in a balanced and accurate manner.

Mr Kilman is even more concerned about the broadcast of what he describes as “swearing death threats” on the station’s talk back program.

Mr Kaltongga says the government is concerned the radio station is inciting disorderly public reaction.

“People are being allowed to come on the air in response to discussions and the public’s calling and making threats trying to incite people,” he said.

“The shows are run in a manner that we have some grave concerns about.”

The government has ordered Capital FM107 to cease broadcasting until the licensing issues are rectified.

In a written statement to Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program, the station’s manager Moses Stevens says they’ve taken the matter to their lawyers and are unable to comment until they receive further advice.

Mr Stevens says they’ve been advised to continue broadcasting until the matter is resolved.

The government has instructed the police to investigate whether criminal or civil charges should be laid against the station’s management.

Press freedom

Local media has raised concerns the government order is an attempt to infringe on press freedom.

But the government has denied the claim, arguing the issue is purely legal.

The Prime Minister’s first political adviser, Richard Kaltongga, says the radio station must follow the same laws as other media organisations in the country.

“Freedom of press or anything doesn’t even come into it,” he said.

“They don’t have a licence to operate and if they want to operate they should get their matters sorted out.

“Every other media organisation in Vanuatu, whether they’re a newspaper or radio, they are subject to the same conditions and they are abiding by the laws here.”
12) Fiji takes leadership of G77 & China, commits to preserving interests of the group

By Online Editor
2:11 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, United States

In a historical first for any small island developing nation in the Pacific, Fiji has taken over the chair of the powerful United Nations lobby group, the Group of 77 and China, at a hand over ceremony in New York today.

The country’s Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, accompanied by Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Peter Thompson, were escorted to the main dais in the presence of the Secretary General of the United Nations to receive the ‘torch’ of leadership for 2013 from Algerian Ambassador Mourad Benmehidi.

A proud moment for Fiji, as Commodore Bainimarama hit the gavel to call to order the ceremonial meeting of the G77 and China at the United Nations in New York.

In his brief address, the Fijian leader thanked the membership of the G77 and China for placing their confidence in a small island country in the Pacific to lead them in global discussions in one of the most challenging years.

“Fiji is committed to supporting the G77’s efforts to preserve the spirit of the UN Charter and to make the UN a more effective forum for confronting and resolving the challenges developing nations face in today’s world.

PM Bainimarama assured that during Fiji’s tenure, the G77 and China will continue to press the group’s collective view on a number of major issues, including the ongoing global financial and economic crisis, sustainable development, the millennium development goals, and internationally agreed development goals–as well as financing for development, among others.

In addition, Fiji will also strengthen relations with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

“We will continue to strengthen our cooperation with the Non-Aligned Movement – through the Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) – in order to reinforce our positions on issues of common interest.”

Fiji will also continue the push for South-South co-operation.

“We will pursue the policy of strengthening South-South cooperation by following the roadmap established by the South Summits. In this spirit, this year Fiji intends to convene a meeting of the High-level Panel of Eminent Personalities of the South to address relevant development challenges and to update the Development Platform for the South, as mandated by the Second South Summit.

Fiji will also provide support to bring the new UN Office for South-South Cooperation on line – the entity charged with coordinating and promoting South-South cooperation across the entire UN system.

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage the UN Secretary-General to take necessary measures to ensure that the UN Office for South-South Cooperation is provided with the necessary resources.

South-South co-operation represents the best form of solidarity and interdependence among the members of our Group, said PM Bainimarama.

To ensure Fiji delivers on its G77 responsibility, the Government has allocated appropriate resources at various levels, including its Permanent Mission in New York.

Responding to Fiji’s chairmanship, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic of Serbia congratulated the elevation of the small Pacific Island nation to lead one of the UN’s most powerful groups.

“It demonstrates that a small nation can undertake huge responsibility in international affairs, especially within the United Nations, said the UNGA President.

“Today is an extra-ordinary and historical day for any Pacific Island nation, said Jeremic.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon in his brief statement stressed the need for the engagement and leadership of the bloc of developing countries in achieving the priorities of the United Nations.

“By working together in common cause, you can turn challenge into opportunity and move closer to a world of peace and prosperity for all,” Ban said.

The Group, established in 1964 by 77 States, now includes more than 130 countries, some two thirds of the UN membership, and over 60 per cent of the world’s population.

As Fiji assumed the Group’s chairmanship for 2013, the Secretary-General encouraged Commodore Bainimarama to build on the efforts of his predecessors in fostering cooperation – both within the G-77 and China and with other partners.

In particular, the UN Secretary General said he will count on the Group’s engagement and leadership on issues pertaining to his five-year action agenda, which he identified last year – sustainable development; preventing conflicts and disasters, human rights abuses and development setbacks; building a safer, more secure world; supporting nations in transition; and empowering women and young people.

“In seeking progress in these areas I identified two key enablers: partnerships and a strengthened United Nations,” he noted. “Your support remains essential.”

The UN head met separately with the Fijian Prime Minister in his capacity as the Chair of the G-77, discussing issues such as sustainable development, the MDGs and the 2014 Small Island Developing States Conference.  They also discussed Fiji’s constitution-making process and forthcoming 2014 elections, according to information provided by Ban’s spokesperson.

The Secretary-General emphasized the need for Fiji to restore legitimate government and constitutional order as soon as possible and reiterated his expectation that the process leading to the adoption of a new constitution in the country will be transparent, participatory and democratic, in line with internationally-recognized principles.


13) Fiji Political Party Registration Decree In Place On Friday
Public servants, trade union officials may not contest elections

By Mereani Gonedua

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 15, 2013) – The Fiji government today approved the new Political Parties (Registration) Conduct Funding and Disclosure Decree 2013 which will come into effect this Friday.

While announcing the new decree, Elections Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the decree will commence on Friday because there are certain timelines that current registered political parties under the old act need to fulfill.

Sayed-Khaiyum said under the decree any organization or group that call themselves a political party must register and if they are not registered then they are committing an offence.

He said the 16 existing political parties from Friday will be given 28 days to re-register their parties under the decree and they need to meet various terms and conditions but if they don’t then they will not be considered as a political party.

“When applying to either re-register or forming a new political party you must set-out the name of the proposed party in the English language, the symbol, abbreviations used and acronyms,” he said.

“You have to have five people who will be applicants to register the political party then you will need 5,000 members to be able to meet the criteria to register the party,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“You must have at least 2,000 from Central, 1,750 from the west, 1,000 from the North and 250 from the Eastern division and must also include a registration fee of FJ$5005 [US$2,821],” he said.

He said in respect of public offices in a political party, a public officer cannot be an applicant or a member of the proposed political party for the initial registration.

“The public officers include members of statutory boards, from the public service including the police, prisons, Republic of Military Force, officials from trade union movements, judges/magistrates and so forth,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The list, he said, will also include organizations such as employer’s federation who will not be eligible to become officials and/or members of the political parties but will require their resignation if they want to join a political party.

He also clarified that the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers are not part of this list.

He also said the application will be assessed by the Registrar who is the Permanent Secretary for Elections and if the Registrar decides not to register the party then members can appeal the decision through the High Court.

A copy of the decree will be available tomorrow afternoon.


14) Commonwealth SG regrets Fiji’s decision to reject draft constitution

By Online Editor
2:00 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, United Kingdom

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has expressed regret about the Government of Fiji’s decision to reject the draft constitution prepared by the Constitutional Commission chaired by Professor Yash Ghai.

The Secretary-General said: “The Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, commits Commonwealth governments to the value of democracy, especially the inalienable right of the individual to participate by means of free and democratic processes in shaping the society in which they live. It also commits Commonwealth governments to the core principles of inclusiveness and legitimacy. These values and principles are the bedrock for all Commonwealth societies today, which is why the Commonwealth continues to take a close interest in the work of the Constitutional Commission.

“To be legitimate and enduring for future generations, the constitution of Fiji needs to be a product of reflection and input by the people for the people of Fiji. The decision by the Fiji Government to set aside the text painstakingly prepared by the Commission through widespread public consultation is regrettable.

“The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, at its last meeting in September 2012, welcomed the broad-based national dialogue on Fiji’s future. The inclusive national constitutional consultation process that has been completed needs to be reflected fully in the new constitution,” the Secretary-General said in a statement

“The Commonwealth remains committed to the restoration of civilian and constitutional democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Fiji, and remains open and willing to support the Government of Fiji towards these ends,” the Secretary-General concluded.


15) Fijian govt set strict terms for political parties contesting 2014 election

By Online Editor
2:04 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Fiji

The Fijian government has set out strict terms and conditions under the new Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure Decree 2013 ahead of the 2014 general elections.

The new decree, which will come into effect this Friday and sets out the guidelines for the formation of new political parties, was announced by the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Tuesday.

Sayed-Khaiyum said all political parties must register and failure to do so was an offence under the new decree.

He outlined that the new decree gave the 16 existing political parties registered under the old law 28 days to re-register from this Friday, however, they must meet the various terms and conditions set out in the decree.

Sayed-Khaiyum said any organisation, group or group of individuals that call themselves or holds out to be a political party must register as a political party.

“If you hold yourself out to be a political party and you are not registered under the decree then you commit an offence,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He said all political parties while applying must set out the name of the proposed political party in the English language and a symbol for the party.

This is to be submitted to the permanent secretary for elections, who would act as the registrar for political parties, no later than 30 days before elections.

“The various other criteria that you need is that you need to have five people who will be the applicants to register the political party.”

Political parties need to have 5000 members to qualify for registration under the decree.

“Previously it was only 180 now you need 5000 members and of those 5000 members you must have at least 2000 in the Central Division, 1750 in the Western Division, 1000 in the Northern Division and 250 in the Eastern Division,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The application must also include a registration fee of $5005 (US$2,842).

“Upon the application being received, the registrar will than assess it and after the assessment, the registrar will advertise the names of the applicants and members in the media.”

In addition a public officer cannot be an applicant or a member of the proposed political party for the initial registration.

The decree also outlines that trade union officials cannot be an official of a political party.

“For example if I am a general secretary for a trade union I also cannot be an official of a political party at the same time. I can be one or the other,” the Attorney General said.

He stated that public officer does not mean the president, prime minister or the minister.

“The political parties are required to keep various records that should be made available to the registrar and the public such as the constitution, register of members, policies and plans and also particulars of all donations and contributions made to the political party.”

Sayed-Khaiyum said annually all political parties need to have their accounts audited and published to create transparency.

He said the source of fund for a political party may only be from membership fees, voluntary contributions, grants from a lawful source but not from a foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organisation.

Sayed-Khaiyum said political parties need to disclose where they got their funds from to the registrar. This will also apply to the independent candidates.

“The amount of money that you can contribute as an individual to the political party cannot exceed $10,000 (US$5,679) per annum.”

“Under this law also you cannot allow any companies to donate funds.”

He said this was because cooperation’s can give very large sum of donations and then there is a sense of being beholden to a company.

“It also disallows any other entity for example a trade union movement cannot give a donation to a party,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Also, the decree sets out that if any person either candidate or independent candidate must before the elections declare their assets and liabilities to the public.

“The whole idea is to create transparency and accountability within political parties.”

Sayed-Khaiyum said the decree also has a restriction that one cannot hold an office in a political party if they have been convicted for a period of six months or more over the past five years.

The key sources of the decree were from the existing laws, Kenyan Model, New South Wales model and the Canadian model.


16) Fiji Trades Union Congress goes ahead to form political party

By Online Editor
2:02 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Fij

The Fiji Trades Union Congress hopes to form a political party despite the announcement of strict guidelines in the new Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure Decree 2013.

The Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Tuesday announced that under the new decree trade union officials cannot hold an office of a political party at the same time.

Giving an example Sayed-Khaiyum said a general secretary of a trade union also cannot be an official of a political party at the same time.

It can only be one or the other.

While FTUC national secretary Felix Anthony has expressed concern over the new decree, he is hopeful there would be changes.

“We are determined to form a political party because that was the decision taken by the workers of this country,” he said.

He also outlined that the new party was not in any way associated with the Fiji Labour Party.

“The FLP was formed to be multi-racial but over the past years the party has moved away from being multi-racial and has been taken over by one man,” Anthony said.

But FLP leader, Mahendra Chaudhry said there was no truth to Anthony’s claims.

“The FLP has a proud history of fighting for justice, defending the rights of workers and standing up to racism in whatever form — the whole country knows this,” Chaudhry said.

He said Anthony himself, as a Labour member of parliament, was the party’s spokesman on labour issues, workers and trade union rights.

“He should know better than to throw these false allegations at the party now just to pursue his personal agenda,” Chaudhry said.

“The trade union movement today under his leadership is the weakest it has ever been. It badly splits and lacks the commitment of its leaders.”.


17) Two Tongan Lords to appear in court

By Online Editor
1:48 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Tonga

A date for a Preliminary Inquiry into firearm charges against Lord Tu’iha’ateiho will be held at the Nuku’alofa Magistrate’s Court on February 22, the Senior Crown Counsel, Sione Sisifa confirmed.

The Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly was charged with unlawful possession of an automatic pistol in 2010.

The case against the noble was adjourned in October last year and has been constantly adjourned since he was first charged in relation to an incident in 2010  when an automatic pistol was found by police in possession of escaped prisoners who claimed they stole it from Lord Tu’iha’ateiho’s home.

Lord Tu’iha’ateiho is the current Ha’apai Noble’s Representative to Parliament.

Meanwhile, the appeal by Lord Tu’ilakepa against a Magistrate’s ruling last year to hold separate preliminary inquiries for his arms and drugs charges will be held on January 30, at the Nuku’alofa Supreme Court.

Lord Tu’ilakepa, a current Vava’u Noble’s Representative, is facing multiple charges of conspiracy to the importation of illicit drugs and illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions.

In November last year, a Magistrate upheld a request by the Crown that the arms and ammunitions charges be heard separately from the illicit drug charges at the Nuku’alofa Magistrate’s Court.

A date was fixed for the arms and ammunitions inquiry to be held on 27 November 2012 and for the drugs charges to be deferred until the Crown was ready to proceed.

However, the noble lodged his appeal to the Supreme Court against this ruling in late November which deferred the preliminary inquiry until an outcome of the appeal is determined.

The multiple charges followed a transnational police investigation into illicit drugs conducted in Tonga and Australia.


18) Am. Samoa Governor Appoints 4 Women Cabinet Members
Administration to focus on job creation, economic development

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Jan. 15, 2013) – The new American Samoan Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has named four women as members of his Cabinet.

Speaking at the opening of the 33rd Legislature this morning, the Governor announced the appointments of Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau as Director of Education, Dr. Claire Poumele as Director of Port Administration, Dr. Ruth Matagi as Director of Marine and Wildlife Resources and Faleosina Voight as Director of Public Works.

The Governor also appointed Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona as Director of Human and Social Services.

The new director of Education Dr. Hunkin-Finau is the sister of Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin.

ASG liabilities total $44.4 million

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga said in his maiden state of the territory address that total ASG liabilities as of this morning comes to $44.4 million.

The total includes unpaid court judgments like the Laufou fire ruling, Marisco and other civil cases, an unpaid ASPA bill of more than $8 million, the settlement of overtime and comp time with the Department of Labor, totaling $916,000 and the mass payout for former directors which will cost about $1,027,000.

The highest payout for one director was $57,609. The total payouts for the Governor’s Office were more than $350,860.

Governor Lolo said the full impact of these payouts will be felt at the end of the fiscal year because the projections for corporate and individual taxes will be short of actual revenues by $5,022,000.

On economic development, Lolo said job creation is a priority target of the administration and they will work with the private sector to develop and strengthen partnerships dedicated to expanding business operations and make them profitable.

He said the Department of Commerce will be transformed and dedicated fully to business and economic development.

Other functions not economically related will be moved from the Department of Commerce to other agencies.

A task force of private and public sector representatives and lawmakers will be formed to draw up an Economic Development Implementation plan.

The Development Bank of American Samoa will also be given funding.

The governor announced that the board of the LBJ Hospital or American Samoa Medical Center Authority will be reconstituted before the end o the week.

And he wants the new board to reduce the current fee to see the doctor from $20 to $10 and all residents regardless of immigration status will pay the same fee.

Governor Lolo intends to sell the Manu’a boat the Foisia and is ordering a stop to the purchase of a new vessel for Manu’a by the

Department of Public Works and reprogram the money to other uses.

On roads, Governor Lolo said he has instructed the Acting Treasurer to pay a debt of about $200,000 owed to McConnel Dowell so that the company can begin supplying the government with hot mix asphalt to fix potholes.


19) Racial tension rises in Logan

January 14, 2013 – 7:48AM
Katherine Feeney

Katherine Feeney

A weekend of violence in Logan is expected to see racial tensions flare between South Pacific and Aboriginal groups on Monday after police arrested two people over violent clashes south of Brisbane.

It’s alleged several carloads of Pacific Islanders arrived at a house in Woodridge with weapons in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police said two males had been arrested over a disturbance on Sunday night.

A 17-year-old and a 21-year-old, both from Slacks Creek, have been charged with causing a public nuisance and obstructing police.

They will appear in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court, the teenager on January 28 and the man on February 28.

Aboriginal elders told ABC Radio 11 people at the house locked themselves in a back room and called police.

One man said threats of more violence were issued.

“They threatened to burn the house down,” the man told the ABC.

A Queensland Police spokeswoman said police were called to Douglas Street just after midnight on Sunday morning following a report of a disturbance involving several people.

She said the clash caused damage to a number of vehicles and a residence, with police called back later Sunday after reports of a another disturbance.

“It’s still part of the investigations as to whether there were weapons involved and what they might have been,” she said.

The spokeswoman said police arrived at the scene around 10.15pm on Sunday.

Read more:

20)Solomon Warriors extend welcome to Erakor

By Online Editor
2:16 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands representative in the 2013 OFC Champions League, the Solomon Warriors, are beginning their build-up to the tournament’s opening in March with a series of friendly matches against Vanuatu club Erakor Golden Star from January 20-26.

The tour is being organised with support from the Solomon Islands Football Federation, with the Vanuatu side expected to arrive in Honiara on Sunday, and matches are scheduled for the 21st, 23rd and 25th.

Solomon Warriors secretary Kenton Sade says Erakor were selected as they were seen as a strong side which would give the Warriors players a good test as they prepare for the Champions League.

“Erakor are one of the surprise packages of Vanuatu football and we look forward to meeting them,” Sade says.

“As the only team to beat Amicale in their league, we hope they will give us a fair impression of what we are up against when we head to Vanuatu to play Amicale.”

Since earning promotion to the TVL Premier League for the 2012 season, Erakor Golden Star continued their meteoric rise to the top, eventually falling at the last hurdle to end the season as runners-up to Amicale.

Second place has earn them an automatic spot in the newly-reformatted National Super League, where they will be hoping to unseat defending champions Amicale to earn the chance to represent Vanuatu in the 2014 OFC Champions League.

The Solomon Warriors are already hard at work getting over the holiday season and back into peak form for the friendlies and the Champions League.

Their already star-studded line-up is expected to receive a further boost, with the club recalling former players based overseas including Gibson Daudau and James Naka.

The OFC Champions League will kick-off on March 30 and concludes with the grand final on May 19.

The Solomon Warriors have been placed in Group A alongside Hekari United of Papua New Guinea, Ba of Fiji and Amicale of Vanuatu.


21)Rugby union on Bougainville all set: Tsiamalili

By Online Editor
2:19 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Papua New GuineaRugby Union in Bougainville is set to progress to the next level of the game with a tour of the Bougainville Black Orchids of the Solomon Islands later this year.

Interim President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Rugby Football Union (ARBRFU) Peter Tsiamalili Jnr said that the tour of the Solomon Islands is to get players accustomed to playing at an international level while at the same time acting as a vessel of reconciliation between the two neighbouring countries.

The tour he said, will also give youth in Bougainville a chance to establish healthier relations with their Solomon Islands ‘wantoks’ and if all goes well this will be an annual event. Also he said that other sporting codes would follow suit if the rugby tour is proven successful. He said that in the last five years rugby was played in Bougainville in tournaments only to help promote the code and stir up interest and participation.

This year will see the introduction of the 10’s and 15’s competitions in North Bougainville, where six teams with two divisions have been registered to participate, and the rugby sevens competition for Central and South Bougainville respectively.

He said former Black Orchid players will also act as regional development officers to assist in developing the game in Central and South Bougainville where the game is still relatively new.

At the end of this month ARBRFU will be holding its third AGM to nominate its new executives.


22)English premier league eye PNG teen

By Online Editor
2:18 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Papua New GuineaHave you ever thought of a Papua New Guinean playing in the prestigious English Premier League?

A 13- year old KiraKira youngster has made a breakthrough to trial in this competition.

The National Rugby League in Australia is considered the toughest rugby league competition in the world.

The likes of Adrian Lam, Marcus Bai, David Westley, Tom O’Reilly, John Wilshere, Mark Mom, Arnold Krewanty, Dairi Kovae, Bal Numapo and these days Neville Costigan, David Mead, James Segeyaro, Paul Aiton and company have made us Papua New Guineans proud to see them playing among the best. And in England where the competition is just as tough, there was the ageless Stanley Gene, Makali Aizue and current players Jessie Joe Parker, Menzie Yere and company. Soccer or football as it is commonly known is considered the most popular sport on the planet. And the English Premier League (EPL) is the richest and most followed competition around the globe.

Two clubs in the EPL, Manchester City and Aston Villa have shown interest in a Papua New Guinean.

He considers himself a Papua New Guinean because his ultimate goal right now is to play for the PNG U17 soccer team and help them get to the world cup. Caoimhin pronounced “Kweeveen” Geita Fowler is 13 years old and lives in Cairns with mum Nido Geita from KiraKira in the nation’s capital and dad Kevin originally from Ireland and his four siblings Ciara (11), Mary (9), Louise (8) and Seamus (7).

“The name has become a mouthful for many people so he is also known as Quivi” his dad Kevin Fowler told the Post-Courier in an exclusive interview.

Quivi attends Cairns State High school and this year will do Grade 9. “Last year in Grade 8, he received Excellence awards in maths and soccer,” Fowler added.

But in March and April, school will have to take a back seat as Quivi embarks on a soccer trip to Dublin, Spain and then England.

“It starts a couple of weeks before Easter when I accompany Quivi to Dublin for one week where he will train with the local team he will be playing for at the Mediterranean International Cup in Barcelona, Spain,” Fowler said.

In Spain, the following week, he will trial with a local development club who are partners with Barcelona FC.
“During the Easter period, Quivi will play for the Dublin team in a prestigious under 14 international tournament in Barcelona against Real Madrid and Inter Milan amongst others,” Fowler said.

“Lionel Messi and Ronalso competed in this tournament as juniors,” he added.

And from April 9 to April 12, Quivi will train with Manchester City and Ashton Villa in England.

The family needs $A11,500 (K25,500) and to date have raised $A5500 (K12,100).

“This has paid for all the flights,” Fowler said. “What remains is accommodation, transport, food and some gear.”

It was only three weeks ago that Quivi’s trial at Manchester City and Ashton Villa was confirmed.

“Both clubs have seen videos of Caoimhin on YouTube and three weeks ago said they would like to have a look at him so he will be there to train with their academy teams in a trial setting while being assessed,” mum Nido said.

“The video was put there by his dad and he contacted these two clubs to view it,” Nido said. “He came in direct contact with a scout from Man City and Aston Villa academy and the news of the trials came in October but was confirmed three weeks ago,” she said.

Caoimhin has been described as the most talented soccer player in Australia in his age group and the next age group up.

Nido said “He has been compared with some great current and past footballers so we kind of expected this.”
Asked how her son took it, she replied “He feels normal. He has been seeing himself mentally and emotionally at that level for some time now.”

While on school holidays Quivi is training everyday in preparation for the trip. The 13 year old is training with top men’s premier league team in Cairns, Marlin Coast Rangers and is doing strength and conditioning training with coach of Cairns Taipans basketball team,” Nido said.

“He is also studying sports psychology to develop appropriate mental habits,” she said.

Nido said the amount required was significant for her family to raise which is why the need to fundraise.


23) NZ Emerging Sevens head to Fiji

By Online Editor
2:23 pm GMT+12, 16/01/2013, Fiji

Twelve players have been selected for the New Zealand Emerging Sevens team which will take part in this weekend’s Uprising Sevens tournament in Lautoka, Fiji.

The players were selected from teams which took part in the weekend’s Pub Charity National Sevens held in Queenstown and includes four new contracted members of the All Blacks Sevens.

Warwick Lahmert, who was part of the New Zealand side that won the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in South Africa, will captain the side selected by Gordon Tietjens.

Tietjens will travel to the tournament in Fiji as technical advisor with New Zealand Women’s Sevens coach Sean Horan coaching the side.

“This is an exciting mix of young talent who all played extremely well at the tournament over the weekend,” said Tietjens.

“We are keen to use the Fiji opportunity to give some up and coming players a fresh challenge on the international stage which will be great for their development.

“And we have also selected some All Blacks Sevens players which will help their preparation for the next round of the Sevens World Series in Wellington.

“The National Sevens was a terrific success and showed the depth of talent we are developing in this country and that bodes well for our long term strategy of winning gold in Rio.”

Tietjens’ next challenge after Fiji will be the fourth round of the Series on home soil in Wellington where they are joined by USA, Spain and England in Pool A.

The New Zealand Emerging Sevens team is: Matt Faddes, Iopu Iopu, Gillies Kaka, Warwick Lahmert (capt), Luke Masirewa, David Raikuna, Trinity Spooner-Neera, Seta Tamanivula, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Beaudine Waaka, William Whetton,Gareth Williams-Spiers

Meanwhile,  Aussie Thunderbolts’ coach, Michael O’Connor, has been forced to make two changes to his squad for the Uprising Sevens.

Charlie Clifton comes in for the injured Jordan Tuapou, while Ben Adams replaces Nick Malouf.

“We’re bringing players back from injury, the likes of Shannon Walker and Lewis Holland are coming back from some time on the sideline,” O’Connor said.

“We’re also blooding new players in an attempt to build our playing depth. Tom Cusack will be playing his first major tournament along with Charlie Clifton.

“Ben Adams returns from almost two years out of the game after suffering a major injury in Samoa in 2011 and I’m pleased he’s worked his way back into the side.

“The Fiji tournament serves two purposes for us, to bring players back from injury and provide them with game time and to further develop the depth in our Men’s side.”.



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