Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 707
By Online Editor
2:59 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, VanuatuBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Port Vila
The only surviving brother of the founding father of Vanuatu and Melanesia, Ham Lini used the MSG Leaders Toktok in Port Vila to reminisce the achievements of his brother, the late Father Walter Lini.
Lini, the current deputy Prime Minister in the Sato Kilman administration paid tribute to his older brother, whose vision and aspiration gave birth to the nation and contributed to the formation of a Melanesian identity that later became the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
Uniting the Pacific, especially the small island nations was his vision in the early struggles for independence in the late 70’s, said Lini.
Father Lini became the first Prime Minister of Vanuatu after independence in July 1980 and held the post for 11 years.
Under his leadership after Vanuatu’s independence in 1980, the Pacific nation became the first in the Pacific to join the Non Aligned Movement (NAM). Vanuatu also became the world’s first nuclear free state. During his reign, Father Lini spearheaded Pacific Government’s support for indigenous people’s rights to independence and the banning of nuclear testing in the Pacific.
Lini said the signing of the defense agreement between Vanuatu and Sir Julius Chan of Papua New Guinea in 1980 was the beginning of formal co-operation and vision for Melanesian countries. The two leaders depended entirely on each other to work together to put down the Santo rebellion.
‘This vision did not stop after Vanuatu independence as his vision was to complete decolonisation and establish a nuclear free Pacific. He was sometimes seen as the lone voice on decolonisation for other countries still under colonisation, said Ham Lini of his brother the late Father Lini.
Lini recalled the word ‘spearhead’ now used as the formal name for its Secretariat in Port Vila, was coined at a three day meeting of Prime Ministers from PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in Goroka, Papua New Guinea in the early 1980s.
“The meeting was to discuss the formal positions of the three countries on nuclear and independence issues. The agreed to approach the South Pacific Forum meeting in Suva, Fiji with a common front on Kanaky independence and nuclear free issues.
It was at this meeting that they coined the word ‘spearhead’ – to spearhead the common issues of concern for Melanesia, in particular the FLNKS right to self determination, said Lini.
Co-operation reached the next level in 1988 when Father Lini invited the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Paias Wingti and Ezekiel Alebua of Solomon Islands to Port Vila to initial an agreement that is now known as the Principles of Co-operation between independent states of Melanesia. The agreement was signed on 14 March 1988.
“This agreement gave birth to the MSG, said DPM Lini.
“Father Lini was a unique people’s leader with unique qualities, a true warrior, a tribe chief, a church minister, a political party president, a parliamentarian and first PM of Vanuatu.
He truly believed that Melanesia was not a concept but a reality.
“Melanesia is not only rich in natural resources but also in cultural wisdom and traditions, Father Lini once said.
The future Melanesia is bright and it’s important that we develop in the Melanesian Way on our own, as part of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, said Ham Lini.
Responding to Ham Lini’s keynote address, a former Vanuatu diplomat and pioneer of MSG, Nikenike Vurobaravu, who was part of the delegation, recalled the discussions in Goroka that coined the word ‘spearhead.’”
“We were standing outside a coffee making factory in Goroka throwing around some ideas and we came up with the word ‘spearhead’ during that discussion. We proposed it to the Prime Ministers and they liked it and it has remained until today, said Vurobaravu.
Another founding father and former Vanuatu Prime Minister, Barak Sope recalled events that led to the beginnings of Melanesian co-operation.
He revealed that he learned the ropes under the guidance of the late Father Lini. He was studying at the University of the South Pacific in Suva when the Vanuatu leader recruited him to join the fight for independence.
“He came to Fiji and said can you join the struggle for independence. At that time we were already demonstrating in the streets of Suva against French nuclear testing.
“Between 1977-1978, I travelled with Father Lini to the United Nations to submit our petition to the United Nations Committee on Decolonisation. I experienced Melanesian solidarity for the first time here when Fiji and Solomon Islands, with offices in New York, supported our efforts for independence
“I found that Leaders stick together when they are faced with problems and this I believe was what led to the formation of the MSG.
“In the late 1970s when Vanuatu was working towards independence, there was a rebellion. There were troops here from France and also UK. But Father Lini and other leaders insisted that they wanted to deal with the problem with a Melanesian Force.
“In April 1980 we met with PNG and Solomon Islands leaders at a Chinese restaurant in Papua New Guinea to put together a plan to quell the tension back home. PNG committed to send 400 troops, Solomon Islands some police and a military band from Fiji.
“On independence day in 1980, we had the largest deployment of military and police force in Vanuatu. We had 400 troops from PNG, Fiji sent a military band with two platoons and Solomon Islands sent in police. There was a contingent of over 600 forces in Vanuatu, recalled the former PM.
Fiji only joined the MSG after the military coup in 1987 when the then Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka sought the support of the MSG to recognise his government.
“Father Lini agreed to recognise the government of Rabuka on the condition that Fiji join the MSG, revealed Sope.
Fiji joined the MSG as a full member in March 1988.
2)MSG to review its vision, to better serve interests of members – Peter Forau
By Online Editor
3:01 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, VanuatuBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Port Vila
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is relevant and will remain so, for the sake of its members.
Director General of the MSG Secretariat, Peter Forau emphasized this point in his summary at the end of the one day Leaders Toktok session in Port Vila on Saturday.
He was reacting to some suggestions that the MSG has lost it way in responding to the needs of its members.
“We have not lost our way. However we appreciate the value of constructive criticisms to remind us of how to better define our way forward, said Forau.
Speaking on the session ‘Building a Strong and United Melanesia’, Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister, Clay Forau put forward a proposal for a ‘Melanesian psyche’ to bring all the people of Melanesian together as one family.
“This is the feeling of being united together as part of a big Melanesian family.
However that feeling is lost if the people have no connection to the work of the MSG, Minister Forau cautioned.
“The MSG must respond to the needs of all the member countries. If it doesn’t meet their needs, then it becomes irrelevant.
“We can only be strong if the results are being translated into something tangible that the people can enjoy the benefits, said the Solomon Islands foreign minister.
He urged the Secretariat to ensure the timeliness of implementation of Leaders decision.
“That will ensure the support of member countries.
The Secretariat is working on reforming the organisation, later in the year, according to DG Forau.
“We will set up an Eminent Persons Group to look at the vision of the MSG to see whether it remains relevant to the aspirations of the changing needs of Melanesia.
“We are refining arrangements and consulting members on the composition of the Eminent Persons group to ensure the group will come up with a vision that will move Melanesia forward, said Forau.
He assured Melanesian Leaders the struggles of the people of Kanaky will remain an important priority of that new vision for the MSG.
“The Kanaks need the help of the MSG now more than ever. They are at a critical point of achieving independence. It is now within their grasp and the MSG needs to be there with them to fulfill that dream.
The Port Vila Secretariat, established in 2008, serves the five member countries of the MSG, which has a total population of 8 million people.
By Online Editor
2:56 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, VanuatuBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Port Vila
The dreams and aspirations of one of the founding fathers of Melanesia that led to the creation of the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG) was celebrated in Port Vila Saturday.
The late Father Walter Lini of Vanuatu, one of Melanesia’s strongest advocate for freedom from colonizers, spearheaded discussions with Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands in the early 1980s to co-operate using their common values, principles and expectations to fight for their identity and independence.
In 1982, two years after Vanuatu gained independence, speaking in Canberra Father Lini said, ‘the freedom newly obtained by Melanesian countries was to a significant degree a renaissance of Melanesian values, principles and expectations.’
That year, he was confident the ‘Melanesian renaissance’ will take place in the future
Quoting from his speech, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Sato Kilman said the late Father Lini invested a great deal of effort in promoting Melanesia in a different light.
“In a difficult world subject to constant changes, such brave predictions would have fizzled away unnoticed.
“But coming from a principles leader, it carried some measure of credibility for within just two years, a proposal was shaped to establish a Melanesian bloc, a reality that has now existed for 25 years, said PM Kilman.
Under the Melanesian renaissance dream, Father Lini predicted a common trade policy, a pooling of common services including foreign policies.
“How proud I am today to say that these wise words are now a reality because we have the only functional trade agreement in the Pacific, the MSG Trade Agreement, and an already Melanesian co-operation in other areas have taken off to new heights.
“The whole Melanesian renaissance idea is now complete practical realism perhaps beyond what was initially foreshadowed, said the Vanuatu Prime Minister.
PM Kilman is optimistic the next 25 years will be a period of deepened and higher sense Melanesian co-operation.
“Such is the potential ahead that we should ensure our Melanesian co-operation continues to function with full support and inclusive participation by all members.
However, one of the areas of Melanesian co-operation that needs to be strengthened is political freedom and prosperity for all Melanesian peoples, as determined by the MSG’s founding fathers, 25 years ago.
Full independence for one of the members of the group, the FLNKS of New Caledonia and its people of Kanak remains on the agenda of the MSG.
“Melanesia is not free until all of Melanesia is free – free from all bonds of colonialism and impoverishment.
The Vanuatu PM challenged other MSG Leaders the freedom of the Kanak people must be assured because without independence, they will not enjoy dignified lives.
“Governments of member countries will continue to recognise the struggle by the Kanaky people for political independence.
Kilman urged all MSG countries – Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and his country Vanuatu, to be more visible in their support for the FLNKS and its leaders in their struggle towards independence, through the referendum process in 2014.
“With their goal within their grasp, now more than ever, is when the MSG needs, as a group to strengthen their support for the FLNKS.
“I implore all MSG countries and the Secretariat to ensure we are able to do more for the Kanaky in their push for full emancipation, said Kilman.
An MSG Leaders symposium in Port Vila on Saturday brought together the founding fathers of Melanesia to tell tales about their struggles and achievements of a Melanesian identity. The Leader’s Toktok – Tales from Our Fathers and Pioneers, was organised by the MSG Secretariat.
By Online Editor
2:51 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, VanuatuBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Port Vila
Melanesia will not be free from its fight to demand self determination for other Melanesian countries and territories until the Kanaks of New Caledonia are independent from France.
This was one of the main threads of discussion at the one day ‘Melanesian Leaders Tok-tok’ convened in Port Vila Saturday to kick-start the 25 anniversary celebrations of the sub-regional organisation formed in 1988 to represent the interests of its member countries – Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLNKS of New Caledonia.
Reflecting on the political emancipation of the people of Kanaky, the President of the New Caledonia Congress, Roc Wamytan reiterated a timely reminder for the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to step up its support for the people of Kanaky as they prepare for referendum on independence from France in 2014.
Wamytan didn’t mince his words when he revealed to the gathering the concerns of his people, that it appears that France will not withdraw its powers from New Caledonia and other dependencies in the Pacific, as anticipated.
“France will not withdraw from the Pacific. We see this as major challenge as we near our referendum in 2014.
“Reports from a meeting in Paris this month suggests that France wants to maintain its presence in the Pacific region in light of renewed interest shown by the United States and China in this part of the world, revealed Wamytan.
The FLNKS leader said France is also interested in the natural resources of New Caledonia and will not want to give it up easily to other major powers at play in the Pacific.
In this century, both the U.S and China have publicly announced that the Pacific features prominently in their foreign policies.
Wamytan said in light of the U.S and China’s keen interest in the Pacific, France has also stepped its security interest, shifting its highest command to New Caledonia.
“France views Melanesia as a threat to its policy in the region.”
“The MSG needs to refocus its agenda on supporting the independence of the people of New Caledonia. We have reached a critical point in our struggle for independence. It is within our grasp and we need the MSG to support us, pleaded Wamytan.
He also appealed for MSG support at the United Nations to consider a status for the FLNKS as a liberation movement, to be represented at international forum.
In response, former Vanuatu MP and regional activist, Hilda Lini exhorted Melanesian Leaders to take up the fight for Kanaky vigorously.
She said Melanesia was turning a blind eye to the fight for independence in New Caledonia, reminding Leaders that Melanesia started from the fight for emancipation for the people of Kanak.
“There is no political will to support decolonisation at the moment. When PNG was chair of the Committee of 24 at the United Nations, I am sorry to say that it didn’t advance decolonisation for countries still under colonial rule.
Her plea was supported by two former Prime Ministers of Vanuatu, Barak Sope and Edward Natapei who declared that the MSG will fail Melanesia if it cannot push hard to ensure full emancipation for the people of Kanak.
The rest of Melanesia still ruled by colonizers look up to the MSG as their ‘beacon of hope’ for political freedom.
“MSG is the voice of voices on the side of the oppressed and the weak. Our unity is our strength and we need to stay together and be vigilant in fighting for the rights of the people of New Caledonia and West Papua, said Pastor Sethy Regenvanu, a former Vanuatu government minister.
In New Caledonia, 2014 will be an important year as the island’s Congress holds its elections and decide by a three fifth majority for a referendum on its political status between 2014-2018.
By Online Editor
2:47 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, VanuatuBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Port Vila
Pro-independence groups fighting for West Papua independence from Indonesia have been urged to formally submit their interest to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), if they want Leaders to take up their plight.
The process was reiterated by Fiji’s foreign affairs minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola during the Melanesian Leaders ‘Toktok’ session in Port Vila Saturday.
Ratu Inoke said any interest group or independent state with Melanesian ties that wants to join the MSG must do so in writing.
“Since Fiji’s chairmanship, no application in writing has been received from West Papua. This doesn’t mean that we are not concerned about what is happening in West Papua, we are. While Prime Minister Bainimarama and I were in Indonesia, we raised our concerns for human rights abuses in West Papua during our bilateral discussions.
“We, the leaders are raising our concerns on this issue. At the same time, we ask that West Papuan interest groups follow the formal process to gain membership of the MSG, said Ratu Inoke.
Unlike the people of Tahiti Nui, the MSG received request for assistance from them and Fiji and Papua New Guinea used their connections with international bodies like the Non Alignment Movement (NAM) to push independence for the French overseas country in the Pacific.
MSG Director General, Peter Forau confirmed that no formal expression of interest from West Papua has been received by the Secretariat.
“If we receive an application for membership, the applicant will have to go through the normal process – approval from the Senior Officials, ministers of foreign affair and then the Leaders, said DG Forau.
West Papua struggle for independence especially reported cases of human rights violation featured prominently in the public discussion on the topic, The Origins of Melanesian Co-operation.’
Contributing to the discussion, Vanuatu Member of Parliament, Jo Natuman challenged the MSG and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to ‘send a mission to West Papua to investigate the violations of human rights now rife in the Indonesian province.’
“If we don’t, then we have not lived up to the wishes of our fathers, said Natuman.
The current barrier, according to Natuman, is that West Papua is yet to become an agenda item for the MSG.
“The only political mandate we have is on Kanaky independence. If West Papuan is to be included in the agenda, then one of the members should raise it as an agenda issue. Once they agree to that, then they will mandate the Secretariat to undertake a subcommittee, explained Natuman, a former cabinet minister.
“The Pacific Islands Forum has been engaging Eminent Persons group – why can’t it send one to Indonesia to investigate the human rights violations in West Papua. Indonesia is an observer and post forum dialogue partner of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Sharing his experience on dealing with the West Papuan issue, a former MSG chair and Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Sir Allan Kemakeza called for understanding on a controversial issue like this.
“During my time as chair of the MSG, we dealt with the issue of West Papua and New Caledonia separately. For New Caledonia, we improved our responses as we moved along. We sent a delegation to New Caledonia to discuss with Kanaky leaders and revisit the Accord.
“However for West Papua, MSG Leaders leave this decision to Papua New Guinea to handle it with care because it wears three different hats in terms of its relations with West Papua and Indonesia. They share a common border and it is a member of ASEAN, PIF and the MSG, said Sir Allan.
Former Vanuatu MP and regional activist, Hilda Lini said Melanesia should not limit itself to just the four independent states of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLKNS of New Caledonia.
“There are nine Melanesian countries and territories out there that are yet to join the MSG. Only five independent states and pro-independence group are currently members. Yet to join are Maluku, West Papua, Torres Strait Islands and Bougainville, revealed Hilda Lini.
6)Port Vila Welcomes Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders
Silver Jubilee celebration kicks off
By Jonas Cullwick
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 25, 2013) – The first leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) will start arriving in Port Vila on Friday for the grand launching of the ceremony to mark the Silver Jubilee of the regional grouping whose members are Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, the FLNKS of New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
Chairman of the Silver Jubilee Organising Committee Jean-Pierre Nirua says the FLNKS will be represented by Rock Wamyton and Victor Tutugoro and members of the polite bureau totaling nine in all. Solomon Islands will send Sir Allan Kemakeza, who is now Speaker of Parliament and the country’s Foreign Minister. Fiji will be represented by the Foreign Minister, Inoke Kumbuabola, and PNG’s representative is still to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, preparations are progressing well for the two-day event – the first is the Symposium at the Warwick Le Lagon Resort on the theme “Leaders Toktok ‘Tales from our Founders and Pioneers’” taking place on Saturday and the second is the grand launching ceremony at the Independence Park on Monday, January 28 to mark the 25 years milestone.
The Chief Guest is Vanuatu Prime Minister Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanu, who has been asked by the Chairman of the MSG, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama to represent him at the ceremony.
Chairman Nirua and his Committee are busy finalizing the full day program starting at 7 am which will include the raising of the MSG flags, a keynote address by Mr. Kilman Livtunvanu, cultural performances, releasing of MSG balloons, performance from Futuna Seaside Choir, VMF Band display, unveiling of MSG Silver Jubilee Carvings and MSG Plaque at the MSG Secretariat Building, Launching of MSG Silver Jubilee Documentary, Tree Planting Ceremony, Kava Ceremony and a public lunch and refreshment for everyone.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
By Online Editor
2:42 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, FijiFormer Fijian diplomat Kaliopate Tavola has been nominated to represent Fiji in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) MSG Eminent Persons Group.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said Tavola’s experience was vital for the Fijian government’s input into MSG.
“Mr Tavola is a person of high calibre and has served the Fiji public service for 30 years. He has held prominent positions in the Government of Fiji during his career. The vast experience of Ambassador Tavola as Fiji’s top career diplomat will be beneficial to the MSG Eminent Persons Group. He is in all respects the best candidate to be nominated by Fiji.
“The decision on the establishment of the Eminent Persons Group had emanated from the Special MSG Leaders Summit in August 2012 which was chaired by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. The Eminent Persons Group will comprise of highly regarded individuals from respective MSG member countries.”
The group is expected to visit each of the MSG capitals in the next few months to undertake consultations with the member countries on the future of the MSG. The principal role of the MSG Eminent Persons Group, including will be to provide new ideas and concepts to further strengthen the MSG and provide guidance on the the priorities areas that the MSG should focus in the short, medium and long term.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
8)PNG Moves To Cancel Djoko Tjandra’s Passport
Fugitive from Indonesia allegedly used different name
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 24, 2013) – Papua New Guinea’s government has started the process to cancel the passport issued to Djoko Tjandra, according to an unsigned media statement on the Chief Secretary’s letterhead released late yesterday afternoon.
The statement confirmed that Mr. Tjandra changed his name in the PNG passport to “Joe Chan” and that the department of Justice and Attorney-General has started an investigation into the circumstances of the issuance of the passport.
Chief Secretary to Government Manasupe Zurenuoc wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato yesterday, advising that Mr. Tjandra’s passport can be cancelled under law, according to an unsigned media statement under the Chief Secretary’s letterhead released late yesterday afternoon.
The unsigned press statement said: “Mr. Tjandra obtained his PNG passport under controversial circumstances. The issuance of the passport is now the subject of an investigation by the department of Justice and Attorney-General.
“Tjandra recently changed his passport name to Joe Chan. The government learnt that after securing the name change, Tjandra obtained visas to Taiwan and Japan.
“Mr. Tjandra is currently wanted by Indonesian authorities and has an outstanding arrest warrant issued in Indonesia. The issuing of a passport under a different name allows Mr. Tjandra to travel freely and evaded the Indonesian authorities,” Mr. Zurenuoc said in his letter to Minister Pato.
The Chief Secretary said the behavior of Mr. Tjandra was likely to create a security risk for PNG. He said under the Passports Act 1982 section 12, the Minister has the power to cancel a passport where he is satisfied that:
“The person (in this case Mr. Djoko Tjandra/Joe Chan is the subject of a warrant of arrest issued under the Arrest Act 1997 or any other law; and “The person has engaged in activities that have caused or are likely to cause serious damage to the security of PNG.
“Clear grounds exist for the passport issued to Tjandra/Chan to be cancelled, notwithstanding the outcome of the investigation by department of Justice and Attorney General,” Zurenuoc said.
The Chief Secretary advised Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday on the process to cancel the passport.
Commenting on the matter at about 8:20pm last night, Mr. O’Neill said: “I am pleased that the government agencies are acting decisively now on an issue that they should have acted promptly on when it arose.”
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.
By Online Editor
3:03 pm GMT+12, 25/01/2013, Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea’s acting Clerk of Parliament Simon Ila has purchased 32 high-powered guns and about 10,000 ammunitions for Parliament security guards at a cost of K556,000 (US$265,000).
This is on top of side-arms for some Ministers and Members of Parliament who also have armed personnel from the Special VIP protection Unit.
Among the purchase was a very high-powered weapon only issued to the military and for special forces –the HK MP7A1 which cost K38,500 (US$19,000) for one, with its 30 round magazines costing K3500 (US$1,673) for a quantity of four. This weapon is only a defense issue according to police and national security advisors -HK MP7A1 is a submachine gun / personal defense weapon with extended 40-roundmagazine and a number of extras, including night sight, flashlight and silencer.
Other weapons included a Colt (M4 Carbine bushmaster) 5.5 worth K37,500 (US$17,000) for a single purchase (five were purchased to the value of K187, 500 (US$89,000) and Glock (G17 9mm w/2x 16 round magazines worth K35,000 for one (five were purchased) – costing Parliament K175,000 (US$83,000).
The total amount spent on the purchase was K556,290 for the firearms and ammunitions, all paid out from the Parliament House account.
In a letter sent to the NCD Chief Superintendant Peter Guinness on January 11, 2013, Ila singled out that the purchase of these high-powered weapons were to be used in Parliament, specifically to guard him and the Speaker of Parliament.
In the letter, he mentioned that he was attacked by thugs and the recent threats and physical confrontations by unknown criminal elements at Gordons warranted the purchase of these firearms and ammunitions.
Guinness then sought approval from the Police Commissioner on the 15th of January for the purchase of these weapons. The Commissioner Tom Kulunga advised against the purchase but Parliament went ahead and proceeded with the acquisition.
“In 1999, the National Parliament during the administration of former clerk of Parliament Ano Pala, the National Parliament purchased two Sig pistols, five pump action shotguns and eight side arm pistols and other firearms, which were stolen whilst Parliament security officers had them in their custody,” Ila wrote to Guinness.
During the administration of then outgoing clerk Don Pandan, these firearms were either stolen or misplaced. These firearms had wear and tear, the Sig pistols were transferred to the Speaker of Parliament and the Sergeant-at-Arms.
“The latest threats and physical confrontations with me by unknown elements at Gordons forcefully pulling the car key from the ignition of my vehicle and continuously following me in unmarked vehicles is coming to a stage where my life and my family is at risk.
“In foreseeing such threats to a constitutional officeholder and the Speaker of Parliament, there is an urgent need to boost up security for the Speaker and the Acting Clerk of the National Parliament.
“The firearms, if purchased will be kept by the police in their armoury as custodians and released upon request by my office for escort purposes. This arrangement can be done by the two departments having an MOU in place for auditing and compliance.”
The Speaker’s officials told the Post-Courier the Speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenuoc was not aware of this purchase nor was he consulted for the matter. The officials said Parliament did not need such high-powered weapons but advised that the Speaker would make an appropriate response once he received an immediate brief on the matter.
The Post-Courier contacted the supplier of the firearms and ammunitions – a middleman PNG-based company who confirmed they have made business with the National Parliament but refused to comment once they learnt the questions were from the Post-Courier. They told the paper to contact the National Parliament.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
10)PNG-Indonesia Border Incident Reportedly Being Settled
Foreign minister says investigations into incident ongoing
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 24, 2013) – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato says the incident between the Wutung villagers and armed Indonesian soldiers is a matter that is being dealt with on mutual terms.
This is the explanation from Mr. Pato after about two weeks of the border flare-up between disgruntled youths, the people of Wutung, and Indonesian soldiers.
“The PNG-Indonesia relations is guided by the ‘Treaty of Mutual Respect, Friendship and Cooperation’ signed in October 1986 by the Foreign Ministers of both countries,” Mr. Pato said in a press statement on Tuesday.
“The administration of the common land border is critical for PNG and solving problems arising from this administration should be dealt within the framework of this border agreement.”
During recent two weeks, disgruntled local landowners or traditional border crossers (TBC) staged two separate confrontations with the Indonesian soldiers.
“The reports reaching my office indicate that the tension is a result of dissatisfaction over restrictions set by Indonesian border authorities to allow them to access their food gardens on the other side of the border as agreed to by the two countries under the ‘traditional border crossing arrangements.’”
“The landowners have also raised concern over economic benefit-sharing in the spin off activities at the Wutung-Skouw Post Trade Centre,” Minister Pato said.
On Monday, January 14, border Officers from both countries met at the Indonesian Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) to resolve the situation and proposed for an urgent Border Liaison Officers Meeting (BLOM) to convene to discuss the incident and matters affecting the border.
In the interim, only passport holders, traditional border crossing, pass holders (entry) and villages accessing their gardens will pass through the two border posts.
The Minister also said an investigation team comprising officials from relevant agencies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration would be dispatched to the border post to ascertain the facts surrounding the events.
“In additional to the investigation team, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is preparing in close consultation with the Department of Provincial Affairs to appoint a permanent officer to the department’s Vanimo office,” Minister Pato said.
He said pending the findings of the investigating team, increased efforts would be made to address the problem and to avoid future confrontation.
Mr. Pato said this included the possibility of stopping PNG citizens from having access to the shops at Batas market on the Indonesian side of the border and the possibility of establishing a separate border command purposely to address border issues and law and order problems.
He said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill made a statement on this matter and that should explain the Government’s overall position in these matters.
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.
11) 27,000 In PNG’s Oro Province Affected By Flooding
With gardens inundated, residents in need of clean water, food
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 24, 2013) – 27,000 people in Papua New Guinea’s Oro Province still need food and clean water after severe flooding, the Red Cross says.
The Red Cross says more than 27,000 flood-affected people in Papua New Guinea’s Oro Province remain in desperate need of basic items like food and clean drinking water.
Floods hit the region last November.
The humanitarian agency says widespread flooding cause damage to food gardens, homes and other vital infrastructure.
The Red Cross secretary-general in PNG, Esmie Sinapa, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that the province’s major rivers have all broken their banks.
“The most basic need at the moment is food because many of the gardens have been covered in water since November,” Ms. Sinapa said.
“So in some areas there will be food provided while in other areas the urgent need is for containers to store water.”
The Oro provincial government has teamed up with the Red Cross to deliver disaster relief.
Provincial Governor Gary Zuffa has pledged more than AU$230,000 [US$242,639] to assist the Red Cross to carry out a relief operation.
Governor Zuffa says the Red Cross will also devise a Disaster and Risk Reduction plan for the province, with officials concerned about the province’s ongoing vulnerability to natural disasters.
Mr. Sinapa from the Red Cross says the plan will attempt to prepare communities for annual floods in order to reduce their impact.
“We cannot continue to provide relief each year in and year out,” Ms. Sinapa said.
“We must make sure that the communities are more prepared. This is a cyclical thing – they need to be able to take responsibility themselves.”
The Australian Kokoda Track Foundation is also raising funds to help the affected communities.
The foundation’s executive director, Dr. Genevieve Nelson, says they’re making an urgent appeal to Australians for support.
Dr. Nelson says the money will assist communities in the Sanananda-Buna-Gona region and around the Kumusi river.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
By Online Editor
2:35 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, Solomon IslandsSolomon Islands teachers are beginning a nationwide strike today in protest over the government’s failure to fund industry wide pay rises.
Last year, the government agreed to revise salaries and back-pay teachers for 2012, but failed to include the extra funding in their budget.
They’ve now committed to paying the teachers what they’re owed by March, a timeline the union rejects.
The President of the National Teachers Association, Sampson Faisi has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program the strike will continue indefinitely until teachers are paid.
“There’s always a big difference when it comes to public offices, compared to the members of parliament,” he said.
“It seems that there’s always money for them, but when it comes to these legitimate claims by unions, whether it be teachers, nurses, doctors or lawyers, they say they don’t have money for that.
“That’s why we said it must be now or never.”
The National Teachers’ Association says over 9,000 teachers will take part in the strike, which began at midnight on Sunday.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
13)Opposition Alleges Solomon Islands MP’s Citizenship ‘Illegal’
Sikua says MP Tran did not meet requirements for consideration
By Douglas Marau
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 24, 2013) – Opposition leader Dr. Derek Sikua has filed for a judicial review into the granting of Solomon Islands citizenship to Vietnamese-born West Honiara Member of Parliament Namson Tran.
Dr. Sikua claimed Mr. Tran’s citizenship was granted ‘illegally.’
Dr. Sikua filed the review after obtained copies of documents concerning what he described as the approval of Mr. Tran’s application for Solomon Islands citizenship in 2001.
The Opposition leader said it was obvious from the documents that the granting of citizenship to Mr. Tran was prepared by the then Minister of Home Affairs.
However, Dr. Sikua said this was done in total disregard of the 10 years residence requirement and in absence of any prior decision by the Citizenship Commission on the West Honiara MP’s citizenship application.
“I am seeking a judicial review because if the granting of citizenship to the West Honiara MP was contrary to the law as I have stated, he should have been disqualified from contesting the West Honiara Constituency seat at the 2010 National General Election,” Dr. Sikua said.
“As the Leader of Opposition, I am greatly concerned by the continuing sitting in Parliament by an unqualified MP because I have a duty to this nation to ensure that laws made by Parliament are not contravened, especially by foreigners.
“The right to participate in parliamentary proceedings is a sovereign, democratic and constitutional right reserved for citizens only, including those who lawfully obtained naturalized citizenship,” he said.
Dr. Sikua added that the role Mr. Tran currently holds as the Chairman of Government Caucus has directly affected the numerical strength of the Opposition and its efforts towards ensuring good governance.
“Mr. Tran is the present chairman of Government Caucus. In this role, he ensures by financial inducement that MPs in the Government do not cross over to the Opposition and furthermore was responsible for the loss of some Members of the Opposition to the Government side,” he said.
The Opposition Leader said other MPs would be making sworn statements to the High Court to prove the financial inducements.
But as of last night, commenting on behalf of Mr. Tran, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statementsaid Mr. Tran has in his possession a valid citizenship certificate.
The office further stated that now that the matter has been brought before the court for a judicial review, Dr. Sikua should respect the judicial process and not to make any statements in the media. “We are asking Dr. Sikua to respect the process as it is now sub-judice for him to give details of the case in the media,” the statement said.
[PIR editor’s note: Sikua further responded by questioning why the PM’s Office came to Tran’s defense as opposed to Tran defending himself. The PM’s Office has also accused Sikua of contempt for announcing the judicial review filed in High Court.]
14)Route to diplomacy
Phocea fugitive Pascal Vu Anh Quan Saken and his “brother” Charles Henry Saken, whom Interpol linked with drugs and arms trade, have legal and valid citizenship and passports and they are Vanuatu diplomats appointed by Vanuatu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Documents sighted by Daily Post show that Charles Henry Saken became a Vanuatu citizen on April 16, 2012 (after allegedly spending less than 10 years in Vanuatu as required under Constitution).
Following a Council of Ministers decision he was appointed as Minister Counselor of the Republic of Vanuatu to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), on July 12, 2012.
Pascal Vu Anh Quan Saken became a Vanuatu citizen on November 5, 2010. He was appointed Special Envoy of the Republic of Vanuatu to Lima, Peru effective as of May 30, 2012.
In his CV details Pascal Anh Quan named his place of birth as Boulevard, Efate. Charles Henry had his as Neuilly Sur Seine. Contrary to Quan’s claim, Daily Post was reliably informed both birth certificates of the brothers were issued in Europe.
The controversial pairs’ acquiring of Vanuatu citizenship enabled them to acquire the green Vanuatu passports after the Passport Office (PO) acted on information from the Citizenship office and MoFA.
Both Sakens’ Passports were issued on July 16, 2012. It was around July 14, 2012 that Pascal Anh Quan arrived in Vanuatu waters on board the Phocea. But between July 14-17 he failed to report the arrival of Phocea to the Director of Customs within 24 hours as required and it was here that it was alleged three Government ministers board the Mega yacht and handed the passports over.
Acting Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Arthur Caulton has questioned Foreign Affairs how Phocea fugitive Saken and his brother still possess Vanuatu diplomatic passports when the PM instructed the cancellation of the passports last year.
Daily Post understands this may be because of a request from the Prime Minister’s office (in 2012) that their nominations as Vanuatu diplomats were yet to be confirmed to the representing countries.
But on the heels of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Alfred Carlot’s, controversial trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG), Foreign Affairs said the Sakens’ two diplomatic passports are valid and genuine as their nominations have been accepted.
This came after PNG Police confiscated their passports as the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre is well aware of the above in particular Interpol on the Sakens’ involvement in drugs and arms.
To revoke a passport now, the Vanuatu Police Service Commission has to ask Foreign Affairs who made the appointment to remove the appointment so the PO can cancel the passport-issuing and cancelling a passport can be done easily but it is something which must be done according to the legal provisions as the status of a person is associated with a passport.
A person who is stripped of his passport is stateless or referred to as an alien which is an international crime and the individuals can sue the governments concerned to incur a huge liability, according to information obtained by Daily Post from government sources.
Since 2010 the PO issued 40 diplomatic passports to foreigners, in 2012 only six diplomatic passports were issued-two of which are acquired by the Sakens, Daily Post was told.
For a person to acquire a diplomatic Passport he or she must meet the requirements listed in Schedule 1 and 2 of the Passport Act, they must have a role and status bestowed by the Vanuatu Government. Their status and roles are given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
When Foreign Affairs appoints and gives them a role and status they are entitle to a diplomatic passport. Once Foreign Affairs ask the Passport Office it runs checks whether or not the individual have a status if they are align with the list in the schedule 1 & 2 in the Passport Act.
The PO had to receive a letter of request from Foreign Affairs before the office can print a diplomatic passport, the conditions required included a complete passport form application, photo, letter of appointment, letter of request from Foreign Affairs and Identity details before they will be issued with a diplomatic passport.
Once complied with the PO prints out the passports and gives them to Foreign Affairs who deliver it to the recipients.
In October 2012 minister Carlot told Daily Post he never appointed Pascal Quan Saken ambassador to Peru and USA and Department of Foreign Affairs officials verified that documents on the appointment produced by then secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, Richard Kaltongga were forgery- without Foreign Affairs letterheads.
This prompted minister Carlot to ask Police to investigate Mr Kaltongga.
15) Francophone Bachelor’s Degree implementation project signed
Students wishing to pursue further studies at University level in French language no longer have to attend universities in either New Caledonia or France or undertake distance learning provided by AUF, as preparations are underway to implement the Bachelor Degree in Vanuatu.
An agreement of the implementation of a Francophone bachelor’s degree in social and economic administration has been signed between the Vanuatu Government, the Ambassador of France to Vanuatu, Michel Djokovic and the regional Administrator of the Francophone University Agency (AUF), Bernard Vanthomme.
A sum of Vt16million would be provided by the French Government that will be devoted to the establishment of the project.
In his remarks during the signing ceremony, Ambassador Djokovic announced that the launching of the Francophone University Diploma (DU) would take place in Port Vila in July 2012.
Around 40 students are expected to register in the first year of this Bachelor’s degree as it launches. Half of them are at initial training level, while the other half would be civil servants on continuing training.
This project aims to create a Francophone pool of excellence in Vanuatu and could, in a longer term, be enlarged to other fields in order to promote networking with English-speaking countries in Oceania with all the researchers and experts in the Pacific.
The bachelor degree program would be managed by Vanuatu Institute of Public Administration and Management (VIPAM) with the support of AUF and a consortium of French universities under the auspices of University Toulouse 1.
16)Councillors and NHC staff attend scoping meeting
A Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Scoping Workshop has been taking place this week at the Government Training Centre in Port Vila.
The scoping workshop for urbanization is coordinated by the Department of Local Authorities in Port Vila and is facilitated by two Solomon Islands consultants – Steve-Daniel Likaveke of UN Habitat Solomon Islands and Samson Kanamoli of the National Statistics Office of Solomon Islands. It is being attended by the Mayor and the councilors and staff of Port Vila Municipality, staff of the Vanuatu National Housing Corporation (NHC), Director Cheryl Ala and staff of the Department of Local Authorities and the Physical Planning Unit.
The workshop is discussing issues of urbanization such as urban land management, housing and formalizing of informal or unauthorized settlements.
The workshop allows the two consultants to share Solomon Islands experiences, technical information, practices and processes in various aspects of urban management and intentions which can benefit both Melanesian countries in addressing improved management of urban growth and their commitment to developing national urbanization (and housing and policy with climate change and natural hazards (risk planning) considerations.
“The idea for this scoping for urbanization workshop began in October last year when UN Habitat organized a housing conference in Nadi, Fiji attended by delegates from Vanuatu as well as Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Fiji,” Mr Likaveke said.
“And out of the ‘way forward’ in housing, the Vanuatu delegation submitted a request to UN Habitat for Solomon Islands to come and share experiences in housing and urbanization. As a result of this request we have been asked to come by UN Habitat who funded this workshop,” UN Habitat Solomon Islands Likaveke added.
Samson Kanamoli emphasized to the workshop the importance of statistical data in finding the ‘way forward’ for this situation.
“Collection and compilation of raw data for planning purposes and the use of geographical information system for vulnerability and adaptation assessment is very important,” Mr Kanamoli said.
From this workshop a ‘way forward’ for Vanuatu will be devised and presented at a session to be attended by other stakeholders at the Chantilly’s this morning.
By Online Editor
2:20 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, FijiA reputed South Pacific triad boss has been jailed in Fiji for 11 years and nine months on people smuggling charges.
And for “Ice Man” Zhong Qiang Zhong, aka Jason Zhong, 40, it will be his second major spell in prison after New Zealand Police helped put him away over a F$1 billion (NZ$680 million) crystal methamphetamine clandestine lab found on the outskirts of Suva, Fiji, in 2004.
Zhong’s crimes, and those of other Asians, has alarmed regional security authorities who fear Fiji’s recent decision to allow visa-free access to Chinese passport holders will open the way to underworld links.
On Friday at the High Court in Suva, Zong, who holds Fiji citizenship, was sent to jail for 11 years nine months after being convicted of two counts of sexual servitude.
A Thai and a Chinese were each jailed for 10 years for aggravated trafficking in persons, and another was jailed to nine years.
The four had brought three Thai women to Fiji last September and moved them around the country offering sexual services, mainly to tourists.
Zhong and his wife Yuen Yei-ha (also known as Diane Zhong) were the Fiji connections to a Hong Kong-based Chinese triad gang that had set up a methamphetamine lab in Suva in 2004.
New Zealand and Australian police assisted Fiji police in Operation Outrigger that over 14 months monitored the lab in Laucala Bay before moving in.
They found about a tonne of meths making it one of the world’s largest drug busts.
Zhong served almost four years jail time for that crime.
Four others from Hong Kong were also arrested in Fiji. Thirteen people in other countries were also arrested in connection with it.
New Zealand Police sent specialists after the raids to dismantle the factory.
At the time Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Potaka said it was difficult work.
“The guys here can’t stay in here too long, which is a bit of a problem, because of the fumes… you’ve got a lot of things like acetone, which give off a very pungent smell.”
In 2000 New Zealand police had taken part in a major undercover operation in Suva that led to the seizing of 351kg of heroin – making it one of the largest ever drug finds.
SOURCE: FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS
18)Catholic Priest, Social Activist Relieved To Stay In Fiji
Father Kevin Barr has expulsion order reversed by Bainimarama
By Mereani Gonedua
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 26, 2013) – Catholic priest and prominent social worker Father Kevin Barr has admitted his ‘relief’ after he was told he could stay on in the country to serve his current work permit which expires 31 December 2013.
Father Barr, 76, who has called Fiji his home for 32 years was ordered to leave the country by Sunday by the Immigration Dept claiming that he had breached his work permit.
This was however overturned by Fiji prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama after a discussion with the Immigration Dept and the Minister responsible Joketani Cokanasiga.
Speaking to FijiLive Father Barr said he was awaiting official documents from the Immigration department adding he learned about the development through the media.
“This has been my home for 32 years now and I am happy and grateful that now I would be able to stay with my family and friends that are here,” he said.
“I was sad and disappointed when they told me that I had to leave but now I am over the moon.” Father Barr said he would like to stay on in the country when his current permit expires something he admits he would need to negotiate with the authorities about.
He was told Friday evening to leave the country by Sunday, the notice issued by Minister for Immigration Joketani Cokanasiga after he breached his work permit.
The decision was overturned this morning.
By Online Editor
2:36 pm GMT+12, 25/01/2013, FijiA leading New Zealand journalism trainer says it is auguring well for Fiji’s future that the media has broadened its coverage of political affairs.
Working under the tough terms of a number of decrees, Fiji media outlets largely ignored the criticism of the government decision to dump the draft constitution which it had commissioned last year.
That prompted the Labour Party to claim that the local media only regurgitated the regime’s platitudes without looking at the accuracy of the statements.
Professor David Robie, who is the director of the Pacific Media Centre at AUT University, said days later when the government released a decree on political parties, coverage improved.
“When it brings in a decree like this on political parties and expects one political party to dance to a tune of accountability and yet not provides that accountability itself, that seems to have opened the flood gates of open criticism and debate.”
Professor David Robie says to have a genuine democracy in 2014, there needs to be a proper political debate, and the media is critical to this.
20)Fijians Told To Consider Jobs In United Arab Emirates
Minister cites Fijians’ reputations in security, tourism sectors
By Dawn Gibson
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 24, 2013) – Fijians are being encouraged to widen their employment prospects to as far the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has presented job opportunities in a number of different sectors.
Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Jone Usamate confirmed this yesterday at a press conference in Suva.
“The first three employment markets that are targeted in the UAE include the security, tourism and health care sectors,” Mr. Usamate said.
He said the Ministry saw much potential in the mentioned areas.
“We intend to exploit Fijian workers’ strengths in these areas which we are internationally renowned for,” Mr. Usamate said.
“Other sectors such as retail trades, call centres and seafarers are also under consideration since 80 percent of UAE’s population are foreign workers,” he said.
“This provides more opportunities for graduates from tertiary institutions,” he added.
Mr. Usamate said they had commissioned the Foreign Employment Services (FORES) to partner with them in aiding the process.
This partnership has currently proved to be a positive move given the outcome.
“The first batch of tourism candidates was sent by FORES to the UAE for finalization by clients last month, and a pioneering candidate was accepted this month and is working in an upper end five-star hotel in UAE,” he confirmed.
“Fijian workers will be assessed by the UAE clients against other applicants from the rest of the world,” he said.
Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.
21)French Court Annuls Wallis And Futuna Legislative Election
Victorious candidate found guilty of irregularities
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 27, 2013) – The constitutional court of France has annulled the results of last June’s French legislative election in Wallis and Futuna.
The territory’s sole seat had been won by David Verge who was found guilty of irregularities in his campaign account.
Mr Verge has lost his seat and is banned from running for office for a year.
The court has also declared three of his losing rivals ineligible for one year.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
22)Vanuatu Papers Late, Samoa Misses Out On Disaster Insurance
Pilot insurance scheme delayed, Cyclone Evan damage not covered
By Lance Polu
APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Jan. 15, 2013) – Samoa is not getting disaster insurance cover for last Decembers Cyclone Evan due to Vanuatu’s slack and getting its insurance agreement late.
Samoa’s Minister of Finance Faumuina Tiatia Liuga told Parliament last night that Samoa was not getting the funds due to Vanuatu’s late submission of papers.
When pushed by the Leader of the Opposition Palusalue Fa’apo 11 on why Samoa should be penalized due to another country’s slackness, Faumuina said that as a Governor of the Bank, he will take up the issue with the President of the World Bank.
“After all we are talking about $20 million dollars,” he responded to the Opposition queries.
Samoa along with Vanuatu and three other Pacific islanders are included in a pilot insurance scheme by the World Bank against natural disasters.
Parliament went into a night sitting last night as Government is pushing to pass the $14 million tala (US$5.9 million) Supplementary Estimates where $5 million is allotted to fund recovery work following major devastation by Cyclone Evan six weeks ago.
A report that documents the cyclone damage, places the cost at over the original figure of US$200 million. The Prime Minister says that collating the detail costs of the damage from public utilities to businesses, individual properties and the environment is to prove to the major economic powers the cost of the impact of the natural disasters to the small islands because of the damage they have caused to the environment.
Samoa is hosting a major international conference on climate change next year in which Samoa plans to voice all it can to move the major economic powers to act on limiting the causes to climate change and any response assistance for small islands for the problems the natural disasters and damage they are already facing.
23)‘Kiribati Independent’ Newspaper Resumes Publication
Closed since last June, investigation into paper unclear
TARAWA, Kiribati (The Kiribati Independent, Jan. 25, 2013) – Kiribati Independent, the fourth newspaper in the Pacific nation of Kiribati resumes publication today.
The newspaper closed down in June last year while police investigated the complaint of the Ministry of Communication claiming that the paper has breached the law.
Editor and publisher, Taberannang Korauaba, says neither the police nor the Communications have advised him on the progress of that investigation.
“Our lawyer has advised us that Kiribati Independent does not break any laws and asked the publisher to commence publication,” he says.
Counsel for Kiribati Independent wrote a letter in May last year challenging the Communication’s directive to close down the paper. In that letter, Banuera Berina asked the Secretary to take the publisher to court if he believes the law has been breached.
“They have not responded to that letter and that is why our lawyer has told us to print and circulate the papers. If the Ministry or the police have further queries, they should speak directly to our lawyer,” Mr Korauaba says.
24)Insular Affairs Chief Anthony Babauta Resigns
Bordallo: Babauta ‘steadfast advocate for the needs of the territories’
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 25, 2013) – Assistant Secretary Anthony Babauta has resigned from his position as Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo’s office announced his recent resignation in a press release.
Babauta was involved in an ongoing investigation. Babauta was on administrative leave since late November, when the inspectors began a review of his travel and an unspecified grant awarded by his office.
Federal investigators were on island recently in connection with Babauta.
Bordallo stated Babauta was a steadfast advocate for the needs of the territories and significantly improved relations between the federal and territorial governments.
“He has ensured that the needs of the territories were addressed at every level of the federal government and worked diligently to ensure that our constituencies were treated comparably to Americans in the 50 states,” Bordallo stated. “Specifically for Guam, Tony was a strong supporter of the Administration’s renewed engagement in the Asia-Pacific region and helped expand job opportunities for our people.”
[PIR editor’s note: Guam’s Calvo administration also praised Babauta’s advocacy for Guam and other insular areas during his tenure.]
Bordallo said Guam and the territories were well served during Babauta’s leadership.
“Although his resignation marks the loss of an important ally for our Pacific Island and Caribbean communities, I am confident he will be successful in his future endeavors,” Bordallo stated.
Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com
By Online Editor
3:06 pm GMT+12, 25/01/2013, AustraliaDefence believes Australia needs to entrench its position as the dominant security partner for Pacific Island nations at a time when China’s political and economic influence over the region continues to grow.
The spectre of competition between China and Australia for the hearts and minds of small Pacific nations is alluded to in a draft of the 2013 defence white paper, obtained by The Australian.
It comes at a time when Beijing is expanding its economic and diplomatic links with impoverished Pacific Island nations, posing a challenge to Australia’s influence in the region.
Unlike the 2009 defence white paper, the draft of the new white paper, which was valid as of last month, specifically mentions China’s ambitions with Pacific Island nations.
“South Pacific fisheries are globally significant and increasingly attractive to distant fishing nations,” it says.
“China has a growing economic, diplomatic and business presence in South Pacific nations.” The draft paper, the final version of which will be released by June, says Australia recognises attitudes to Australia’s role in the Pacific are changing.
“While Australia provides half the region’s total development aid and will be significantly increasing this contribution, the growing reach and influence of Asian nations opens up a wider range of external players for our neighbours to partner with,” the draft says.
“Australia’s contribution to this region may be balanced in the future by the support and assistance provided by other regional powers.”
Despite this, the white paper draft says government policy will be to enshrine Australia as the key security ally among island nations. “The government’s approach to the region . . . will ensure we remain the security partner of choice,” it says.
China has been active in the South Pacific, with the Lowy Institute reporting in 2011 that China’s soft loans to the region had risen from $US23 million in 2005 to more than $US183m in 2009, making China the third-largest donor to island nations after Australia and the US.
China’s political and financial interests in Pacific Island nations are being watched carefully in Canberra and in Washington.
Beijing’s push into the region partly reflects a desire to stop island nations from recognising Taiwan, which is also active in the region. However, China’s presence is also seen in the context of its expanding strategic ambitions in the Pacific. It has forged close relations with the military in Fiji and is a significant provider of investment and aid to Papua New Guinea.
Hillary Clinton in 2011 warned a US Senate committee that the US was in a competition with China in the Pacific.
The Gillard government’s National Security Strategy released this week by Julia Gillard, talks about Australia’s interests in the Pacific Islands region but makes no mention of China’s influence.
The 150-page white paper draft, revealed by The Australian last month, warns that China’s military expansion is changing the balance of power in the Pacific and posing a challenge to Australia’s strategic weight in the region.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith has downplayed the draft’s significance, saying it had since been modified.
SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
2:38 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, AustraliaSenior legal figures in the Pacific say more needs to be done to address both the quantity and quality of lawyers practicing in the region.
Last week, Solomon Islands Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer raised concerns over the quality of legal representation in his country’s courts.
He said many of those going in to private practice lacked the relevant skills, knowledge and experience.
Chair of the South Pacific Lawyers Association, Ross Ray QC, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat in manycases while lawyers receive strong undergraduate education, there is no facility for further professional training.
“We have to remember that whether it’s in Australia or New Zealand or any of the Pacific countries…it is really important to understand that most graduates come out of university with a learning about how to think as a lawyer,” he said.
“That’s quite different to the pressures and understanding that you need to conduct a legal practice.”
Ray says many lawyers practicing in the Pacific also face much greater demands on their time and resources, adding to the challenge.
“If you look at the ratio of lawyers in private practice to population, we’re dealing in Australia with a ratio of approximately 350 – one lawyer for 350 members of the community,” he said.
“When we go to Fiji for example, it’s one to just under 4,000; for Kiribati one-to-12,000; PNG one-to-10,500 and the Solomons…it’s 13,500.
“So it’s a difficult access to justice task for the community.”.
By Online Editor
3:12 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, Papua New GuineaTeam PNG will be taking part in all eight sports at the 9th Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna from Sept 2-13, Papua New Guinea Sports Federation and Olympic Committee secretary-general, Auvita Rapilla has confirmed.
At the Pacific Games Council general assembly in Apia, Samoa, on September 2, 2007, Wallis and Futuna won unanimous endorsement to host the ninth edition of the Pacific Mini Games this year.
Rapilla said Team PNG would take part in all eight sports on the 2013 Pacific Mini Games programme.
The sports are athletics, beach volleyball, rugby 7s (men only), sailing, taekwondo, Va’a, indoor volleyball and weightlifting.
With the 2015 Pacific Games in mind, the 2013 Pacific Mini-Games is seen as a vital lead-up preparation for those sports involved.
For that reason, government funding has been secured through preparation funds for the 2015 Pacific Games, which will be used to support Team PNG’s participation in Wallis and Futuna.
“The Mini-Games is a big event on the calendars of all the sports and with their participation confirmed they are preparing their athletes well for the games, with 2015 in the back of their minds,” Rapilla said.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
3:10 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, Papua New GuineaCoach Adrian Lam’s focus besides technique and finesse over the next five days will be nothing less than the very best from the Residents XIII for South Sydney.
“We’ve always struggled away from home, and this is all part of building that confidence, to enable them to perform to their absolute best away from home,” he said at his first training session with the squad in Port Moresby yesterday.
“Whether we win or lose in South Sydney, we will ensure that the performance is the absolute best that the boys can be.
“We’re going to have a bit of fun at the (Cabramatta) Nines, which will give us a great opportunity to work out positions, only 15 will play at the tournament but we’ll work out where the rest of the boys can fit in.”
The former Kumul and Queensland Maroon halfback was impressed with the fitness results of a couple of players who had struggled a little for the PM’s XIII match.
He said he had taken Mark Mexico to Redcliffe to train with the Queensland Cup side over the festive season and the results had been great.
“South Sydney is a massive opportunity for the boys to stand up, Mexico, David Loko, the two halves, everybody in rugby league will be there in Sydney so it will be a great opportunity.
“It’s going to be a big year with other things unfolding around the game and the team, so we’re moving in the right direction.”
Lam admitted there was great confidence and self-belief in the team this time around.
“They’ve been given a lot of confidence by being named, especially after the Prime Minister’s XIII last year,” Lam said.
“It’s been good so far, we’ve had a couple of mix ups with delays, but we’ve brought the camp one day forward with these issues in mind.”
Lam will wait one more night to get the rest of his side, with the Kokopo-based members of the team scheduled to arrive today.
“We’ve got two sessions tomorrow and they should be in for the afternoon session.”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
3:17 pm GMT+12, 25/01/2013, FijiAustralia’s Acting High Commissioner, Glenn Miles, has announced sports development grants worth a total of almost $54,500 to three sporting organisations in Fiji.
Miles has named the latest successful Australian Sports Outreach Program (ASOP) grant recipients as: the Fiji Hockey Federation, the Fiji Surfing Association and AFL Fiji.
The ASOP grants support small community-focused sports projects which address the needs of people at the grassroots level, by enhancing sports knowledge and leadership skills.
The Fiji Hockey Federation has been awarded a grant of $18,267 supporting a project aimed at re-igniting interest in hockey in Levuka, Savusavu and Taveuni.
“The Fiji Hockey Federation plans to introduce regular competition for hockey enthusiasts in these areas,” Mr Miles said. “I am particularly pleased that this project targets communities which don’t have access to funding that might be more readily available in the larger urban centres.”
The Fiji Surfing Association will receive $17,959 for a project aimed at developing water safety awareness and skills in Fiji children by introducing adapted Australian surf rescue/swimming curriculum and qualifications.
“The project will focus on 8 to16 year olds on Viti Levu, introducing the highly successful ‘Nippers’ program to Fiji. Thiswill teach valuable surfing and surf lifesaving skills, which we hope will help to address and reduce the incidence of drowning in Fiji,” said Miles.
In addition to expanding local participation in Australian Rules football, AFL Fiji will use its grant of $18,267 to assist in the development of leadership skills training in the administration of the game in Fiji.
“AFL Fiji will also offer formal skills and fitness training courses for coaches. As an avid Carlton supporter myself, I am pleased to see local development of our uniquely Australian game,” Miles said.
The Australian Sports Outreach Program is an Australian Government-funded program which began in 2006. It is managed by the Australian Sports Commission and aims to assist sports organisations in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Other sports organisations in Fiji which have received ASOP grants since the program’s inception in 2006 include: Fiji Basketball Federation, Cricket Fiji, Athletics Fiji, Fiji Table Tennis Association, Netball Fiji, Shotokan Karate Club and Natokowaqa Rental Board Youth.
ASOP grants have also been awarded in recent years to Xavier College in Ba for a portable badminton flooring and to a assist with the purchase of gymnasium equipment for a project in Labasa.
SOURCE: AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMISSION/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
3:09 pm GMT+12, 28/01/2013, TongaTonga’s National Sevens team left for New Zealand on Monday to compete in the Hertz Wellington Sevens 2013.
The tournament will be held for two days on February 1-2 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Tonga Rugby Union Friday announced the team, and included one change from the team that competed in the Uprising 7’s tournament in Fiji last week. Daniel Kilioni replaced ‘Atelea ‘Okati who was injured.
Tonga will compete in Pool B against France, Argentina and Kenya on Friday, February 1.
Team: Kilifi Latu, Ha’ateiho Spartans, captain, Fe’ofa’aki Holo’ia, Toloa Old Boys,. Fautasi Tonga, Marist
Josateki Veikune, Kolofo’ou, Paula Kata, Marist, Daniel Kilioni, Havelu, Saia Palei, Ha’akame, Manu Tu’ifua, Mu’a, Tevita Halaifonua, Toloa Old Boys, Samisoni Hafoka, Toloa Old Boys, Siale Talaki, Toloa Old Boys, Tevita Ma’u, Havelu.
Management Eddie Waqa, coach, Tevita Tu’ifua, assistant coach, Iliesa Tora, manager and Faupule Kolokihakaufisi, trainer.
SOURCE: MATANGI TONGA/PACNEWS