Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 839


1) MSG Eminent Persons Group completes consultations in Vanuatu
By Online Editor
4:58 pm GMT+12, 22/04/2013, Vanuatu

The Melanesian Spearhead Group’s Eminent Persons Group (EPG) led by diplomat and former Foreign Affairs Minister of Fiji, Kaliopate Tavola, successfully completed its first round of consultations in Vanuatu last Friday.

The five-member Eminent Person’s Group is consulting members and stakeholders on a new vision for the Melanesian Group, which comprise Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLNKS of New Caledonia.

The group is made up of Tavola, Manassesh Sogavare of Solomon Islands, Joe Natuman, MP representing Vanuatu, Roch Wamytan on behalf of the FLNKS and Leonard Louma representing Papua New Guinea.

In Vanuatu, the EPG met with the government representatives including the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and government Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition, chiefs, church representatives, women representatives, NSA representatives, Chamber of Commerce and other interest groups.

“We had very good consultations here in Vanuatu and we have been impressed with the level of interest in the work of the MSG.  We received many good ideas and all this we will be considered when putting together our report’ said the EPG Leader.

“We have gathered that the interest is as much on the work of the MSG as it is on what stakeholders in Vanuatu want to see the MSG do to help with addressing some of their national challenges.

“Some of the issues are huge and would require thorough thinking as to how they can be addressed as part of the new vision for the MSG, said Tavola.

The EPG, said Tavola is taking its responsibility seriously and he, as the leader of the group is confident the collective experience of the EPG will enable them to do their best to come up with a vision that is inclusive and relevant.

The MSG EPG is in New Caledonia this week before it travels to Fiji. It will take a two weeks break before it reconvenes in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea from 27 – 31 May.

The establishment of the MSG EPG was approved by MSG Leaders in August 2012 and members were appointed in late March 2013.


2) Fiji Government ‘Elated’ Over Trade, Investment Mission To PNG
Melanesian Spearhead Group united, growing stronger

By Graham Davis

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, April 19, 2013) – There’s elation in Fijian Government circles over the highly successful outcome of this week’s visit to Papua New Guinea by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, at the head of the biggest Fijian trade and investment mission ever to visit another country. The original aims of the visit were ambitious enough – to lay more of the foundation for the creation of a single, integrated market for the countries of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Yet the results exceeded even the most ambitious expectations of the PM, his Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and the trade delegation of 65 Fijian business leaders from 47 companies.

Commodore Bainimarama described himself as being “on a high”. And the normally ultra-calm and measured Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry, Shaheen Ali, said he was “overwhelmed” by the “marvelous” outcome of the visit. Within hours, some of the Fijian companies were already receiving orders and entering into agreements with PNG suppliers and distributors. And by day two of the mission, two more Fijian businesses had registered as foreign investors in PNG. This is in addition to the F$180-million investment by Fiji’s national superannuation fund, the FNPF, in Bemobile – a major telecommunications provider in PNG and Solomon Islands – and the management takeover of its operations by Vodafone Fiji.

The Fijian Government sees itself as equal partners with PNG in ultimately leading the other MSG countries into an economic union to improve the lives of every Melanesian. There’s a notable absence of rivalry of the sort we’ve witnessed over the years in Europe, where Germany, France and Britain have consistently maneuvered for advantage in the European Union. As Fiji sees it, Papua New Guinea has the biggest market – seven million people compared to around 900,000 here – plus the massive wealth that flows from its minerals and energy sectors. And Fiji has an established manufacturing base, a skilled and educated workforce and is positioned at the crossroads of the Pacific. In other words, their assets are complimentary. Each country has its particular challenges – Papua New Guinea with corruption and lawlessness and Fiji still grappling with finally putting to rest the divisions that have hampered its development since Independence. Yet there’s a strong feeling on both sides that working in tandem in a joint leadership role is the best way to improve the lives of their own citizens and their Melanesian brothers and sisters in the smaller MSG states.

There’s no doubt that Melanesian solidarity generally was a big beneficiary of this visit. As Commodore Bainimarama put it, PNG -Fiji ties go way beyond the mutual respect and cooperation that is the traditional benchmark of diplomacy. The peoples of both countries genuinely like each other, enjoy each other’s company and share a vision of a stronger Melanesia building a common economic and political future for all its citizens. And of course, both Governments bear significant grudges against the most dominant power in the region, Australia, which they regard as generally arrogant, overbearing and indifferent to Melanesian sensibilities. The same applies to New Zealand, albeit to a lesser extent.

As Grubsheet has written before, Australia’s mishandling of its Pacific neighbours – and especially Fiji – is a mistake of historical proportions. Its failure to fully engage with them, let alone comprehend their challenges, and its propensity to prescribe and even hector, has driven influential Pacific countries like Fiji and PNG further into each other’s arms and the arms of others outside the region. The Australian trade union heavies and their stooge of a Prime Minister who currently determine Pacific policy – and the foreign affairs establishment which implements it – seem to have little concept of Melanesian sensitivities and protocols. It’s well known in Suva than even the mention of Australia can trigger a surge of anger in Prime Minister Bainimarama, who feels sorely aggrieved that Canberra chose not to even sit down with him, let alone try and comprehend his reforms. During this visit, the PM kept his counsel, adhering to the diplomatic convention of not criticising another country on someone else’s soil. In fact, it was the Papua New Guineans who made unflattering public comments about Australia. PNG’s Trade Minister, Richard Maru, accused Canberra of using his country as a “dumping ground” for its goods and said it wasn’t in Australia’s interests for the Melanesian countries to become self sufficient in anything. If that was what was being said publicly, then we can be sure that the language behind the scenes would have been a lot more colourful. The shared grievances of both governments about Australia would have been fully aired.

Certainly, there was general astonishment about the way in which this visit appeared to have been downplayed by Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, which also has a significant presence in PNG. Aside from one story that correctly cited a series of “historic” agreements, the rest of the visit was generally ignored. Indeed on the first day, Radio Australia’s current affairs program, Pacific Beat, chose to lead with an item criticising Fiji’s constitutional process rather than give weight to the region’s two biggest and most influential island countries forging closer ties. It merely reinforced the notion in Fijian minds of the ABC’s chronic bias against the Bainimarama Government and Radio Australia as a lapdog of Canberra’s foreign policy. By any normal journalistic standard, this was a big Pacific story of significant interest to the populations of PNG and Fiji and, to a lesser extent, those of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Kanaks of New Caledonia, who make up the rest of the MSG. It was buried.

Is Australia sensitive about the fact that its so-called smart sanctions against Fiji haven’t turned out to be smart at all? You bet. American diplomats report that far from modifying their policies in the face of defeat, the Australians have stepped up their efforts internationally to isolate Fiji. Was Commodore Bainimarama’s visit a collective two-finger salute to Australia? Well, maybe just a little. Yet the overriding sentiment in official circles in Suva nowadays is that Australian attitudes are irrelevant. In any event, Blind Freddy can see that Julia Gillard’s Government is toast -with a 29 per cent primary vote in the most recent opinion poll – and that Australian policy towards Fiji is bound to be more realistic, if not more favourable, when the Coalition’s Tony Abbott storms into power in the Australian election in September. A full year out from the promised Fijian poll, Abbott and his likely foreign minister, Julie Bishop, will have ample time to end Labor’s vendetta and rebuild the relationship.

There were many highpoints of this visit, not least the Bemobile signing -Fiji’s biggest foreign investment on behalf of all Fijians through the FNPF in one of the most dynamic sectors of the global economy- telecommunications. The Government’s critics continually harp on about the FNPF putting the retirement savings of ordinary Fijians at risk. Yet with Vodafone Fiji running Bemobile, the potential to grow that investment seems rock solid. In Fiji, there are more mobile phones than people – a penetration rate of 105 per cent. In Papua New Guinea, the penetration rate is 35 per cent. That’s a lot of potential customers and a lot of mobile phones.

Among other highlights of the visit:

· The announcement that citizens of both countries will no longer require visas to visit each other. This is on top of existing plans to achieve a seamless flow of labour between the MSG countries.

· The provision for retired Fijian civil servants – who are obliged to vacate their jobs at 55 – to work in Papua New Guinea to boost the local skills base.

· The plan for a permanent Fiji Trade Mission in Port Moresby and the continuation of the joint effort to break down the remaining impediments to trade and investment, with a view to developing a common market.

Most important of all – at least in the shorter term – is the financial support Papua New Guinea has offered Fiji to conduct its election in September 2014 and introduce the first genuine parliamentary democracy in the country’s history of one-person, one vote, one value. According to officials travelling with Commodore Bainimarama, the PM couldn’t believe his ears when the amount of the PNG contribution was announced out of the blue by his opposite number, Peter O’Neill. “What did he say?”, he asked. At first, the Ministry of Information flashed a media release that the amount was 15-million Kina. But it soon became clear that the fifteen was actually FIFTY. A sense of astonishment, delight and gratitude swept the Fijian delegation and text messages lit up in the corridors of power in Suva. More than 40-million Fijian dollars! By any standards and especially in the Pacific, it is an astonishingly generous amount.

This contribution has sealed the Fiji-PNG relationship and laid to rest the concerns of some that PNG was more intent on cementing its own interests during this visit than pursuing a genuinely equal partnership. It means that Fiji no longer requires other outside assistance to finance the poll, and especially from those countries or groups of countries like the European Union, which appear more interested in using the money as political leverage than in assisting Fijians to determine their own future. Instead of having election observers from the EU – as happened controversially in 2006 – the Prime Minister wants election observers from PNG and the other MSG countries. He accused the EU observers of endorsing a “flawed” election in 2006 and said Fiji wanted an observer group with “integrity”. This will not be music to the ears of Fiji’s voluble EU Ambassador, Andrew Jacobs, who before the PNG announcement, was telling people that Fiji would need to approach the EU for assistance and accept certain conditions that are now decidedly moot.

With Commodore Bainimarama having now travelled across the world to New York to chair a meeting of the G77 Plus China and the rest of the Fijian delegation making its way home, it’s clear that this visit has been an outstanding success. History may also judge it as the week that Fiji and PNG cemented their common future and came to realise more fully the potential they have – working together – to establish the MSG as the pre-eminent regional grouping and its integration as the best way to improve the lives of all Melanesians. One thing is certain. The axis of power in the Pacific is gradually shifting, whether Australia, NZ and their Polynesian client states such as Samoa like it or not.

Graham Davis, a dual Fiji-Australian journalist works in both countries. He hosts the political affairs programme The Great Divide on Southern Cross Austereo television, publishes the blog Grubsheet, is a regional adviser to Qorvis – the global US communications giant contracted to the Fiji government – and writes opinion for Fiji’s biggest selling newspaper, the Fiji Sun.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre –

3) Papua administration wants ten percent slice of mining giant Freeport

Posted at 02:56 on 22 April, 2013 UTC

The administration in the Indonesian region of Papua says it will ask for a 10 percent stake in the mining giant PT Freeport.

The Jakarta Post reports the administration as saying that the company operates on Papuan soil but contributes little to regional development.

The newly installed governor, Lukas Enembe, says it will demand the Papuan people’s customary land right in the form of a 10 percent stake in the company, which he says is worth nearly seven billion US dollars.

Mr Enembe says Papua cannot afford to buy the shares, but the company could grant them in compensation for the years of mining on its land.

He says he also expects Freeport to help more with improving the people’s welfare and to assist in developing infrastructure.

Radio New Zealand International

4) PNG MP Questions Regional Commitment To Papua
Ongoing abuses ignored, says Juffa

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 21, 2013) – A Papua New Guinea MP Gary Juffa has questioned the commitment of regional countries to protecting human rights when ongoing abuses in Indonesia’s Papua region go largely ignored.

Speaking at the Pacific Parliamentarians Forum in Wellington, Mr Juffa said the media in Western countries, in particular, seems as selective as their parliamentarians on which issues they choose to be vocal about.

He says last week’s huge outpouring of grief and rolling media coverage over the bomb blasts at the Boston marathon, when three people died, is a case in point.

“But what about West Papua, where hundreds of people are being tortured, maimed, killed, every month. Right here in the Pacific, in our Pacific. What about that situation? How come there’s no attention to that? Where’s the media? Where are the governments? Where’s the United Nations?”

Radio New Zealand International:

5) Anti corruption group hosts workshop on revenue transparency

Posted at 07:13 on 22 April, 2013 UTC

Transparency International Papua New Guinea is to host a workshop on a mechanism designed to promote revenue transparency in resource rich countries of the world.

The anti-corruption organisation will conduct the three-day awareness workshop on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in Alotau this week.

The initiative is a global standard that requires mining and petroleum companies to disclose their payments to governments, and for governments to disclose what they receive from those companies, based on their extractive industry investments.

Transparency International says release of this data enables the public to push for greater accountability by government of how extractive industry revenues are received, allocated and spent.

Radio New Zealand International

Monday, 22 April 2013 8:50 AM

6) Government Accused of Allocating Money for RCDF Shortfalls

Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) has accused the Government of behaving irresponsibly with its budget.

TSI says the government has diverted close to $US2.7 million from the budget to pay for a black-hole in its Rural Constituency Development Fund, RCDF.

The funding comes from Taiwan, but recently access to some of the money in the fund was frozen because 17 Solomon Islands MPs could not account for how they were spending the funds allocated to them.

TSI Executive Officer Daniel Fenua says the government has sucked millions of dollars from other areas to fill the hole.

“What the government does is not right,” he says.

“How can you possibly take money out of the government budget and give it to somebody who is yet to submit their acquittals.

“This is not a good way, it is not a transparent way of doing things.”

Mr Fenua says it is unclear where in the budget the money has come from.
He is calling on the Auditor-General to make the MPs file their outstanding accounts.

“We’ll follow up on that and with Taiwan too, to make sure they file the acquittals they have to give,” he said.

The Rural Development Fund has long been a source of problems for successive governments in the country.

Many Solomon Islanders listed it as the most corrupt aspect of the government in the lead-up to the last election.

Commentators say that it is encouraging to see Taiwan putting its foot down with funding it provides.

Others are saying that the 17 MPs should be named to ensure that those MPs who have provided acquittals to Taiwan do not fall under undue public criticisms.

With ABC News

Friday, 19 April 2013 8:06 AM

7) Re-Engineering Agribusiness Models in the Pacific to Capture Modern Markets


There are significant challenges ahead if the Pacific Islands are to improve the competitiveness of their agricultural exports, and supply a greater proportion of domestic demand with locally produced food, particularly in urban areas.

Inoke Ratukalou – Director of SPC Land Resources Division – made this point very clear at the beginning of the Pacific Value Chains Conference that began yesterday in Nadi, Fiji.

‘Consumer behaviour in terms of food preferences is changing worldwide and suppliers need to capture these changes in order to market their produce,’ he explained, adding that retail outlets for food products are becoming increasingly modern and sophisticated, which is raising the bar for all participants in this value chain.

‘The consumers opinion is paramount, and processors and retailers are responding to consumer demands for more information and guarantees about the products they buy, and the actors that produce them, by requiring all their suppliers to meet a number of new, minimum conditions.

‘This poses a significant challenge to the traditional Pacific farmer – who is small in size, with little by way of modern equipment and other farmer inputs, and poor access to the bank credit required to secure them. As a result, the Pacific is in danger of missing out on the horticultural export revolution that farmers in other regions are taking advantage of – supplying food products to wealthy consumers overseas.

‘What the value chains methodology helps us to understand is that we have to strengthen our relationships with other actors in the agriculture sector in order to build the levels of trust required to be successful.

‘I hope that, through this Pacific value chains conference, we can contribute to this process of relationship building, and greater understanding,’ Ratukalou said.

Mr Andrew Shepherd of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) provided a brief background to the reasons CTA was supporting the workshop.

He noted that donors, regional organisations and governments were doing much good work in the field of agribusiness and value chains, but that there was little sharing of the results of this work.

For example, the findings of studies in one country that may be relevant to others were rarely shared. Training materials were printed and then forgotten about when a project ended. He quoted Mr Vili Fuavao, outgoing Sub-Regional Coordinator for FAO, to the effect that the region was not very good at learning from its failures because information was not shared.

‘For this reason, CTA is supporting SPC to develop a website that will enable all information related to agribusiness and value chains in the region to be shared.

‘It will not just be a repository of documents, but a dynamic site that will enable people to share ideas and seek solutions to problems,’ he added.

Mr Shepherd also highlighted the fact that CTA and SPC were working together to develop training materials to help governments, businesses and farmer organisations to make Pacific value chains more efficient. CTA was also hoping to work with regional universities to develop courses in agribusiness.

8) High Commissioner confirms NZ keen to work with Shefa

Posted on April 22, 2013 – 10:32am |

Len Garae

“New Zealand has an important relationship with Vanuatu and Shefa Province since the Province is the doorway to the rest of the country and we are keen to work with you to develop your Province”.

New Zealand High Commissioner Bill Dobbie made the statement on his Courtesy Call to the Office of Shefa Province Edward George Atavi this week.
Their candid discussions in the present of the Secretary General, Michel Kalworai and Development Officer Janet Orah quickly developed into exchanges on New Zealand’s aid assistance through the National Government which filters down to the Shefa Provincial Government.

As a total of 15, 000 visitors from New Zealand every year, High Commissioner Dobbie who is fluent in Bislama says his Government’s aid package to Vanuatu is split into three sectors; Education, Infrastructure and Tourism.

In Education, the New Zealand Government remains supportive of the Vanuatu early childhood education programme beginning at kindergarten all through to primary quality education.

In Infrastructure, the New Zealand Government is going to fund the Port Vila Sea Front Modernisation Project along with a Domestic Wharf for inter islands ships as well as wharves and jetties throughout the six Provinces. It is also committed to assist in Shefa’s clean water supply programme.

The High Commissioner said regarding the Province’s small projects which fall within the three main project sectors, he is confident they can utilise their Head of Mission Fund to work with Shefa Province to complete the projects as requested by the SG and Development Officer.

9) Supreme Court Minute shocks property owners

Posted on April 22, 2013 – 9:49am | Category:

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Local News

A “Minute” issued by Supreme Court judge Spear on February 11, 2013 in a lessor dispute case contains orders that prohibit the registration of any land dealings affecting more than two hundred property owners on the Mele peninsula.

In Civil Case No. 41 of 2012 between Silu Malasikoto representing the Malasokoto Family and the Vanuatu Government, justice Spear ordered the Sheriff to serve his order, “prohibiting the registration of certain dealings on various leases” on the Director of Lands, Survey and Records”.

A copy of the Minute shows the list of the 207 properties affected. The Minute states, “The Director of Lands is not to register any dealings that require the consent or the support of the lessor (in each case) against the various lease titles specified in the schedule hereto until further order of this Court or with the written consent of the Court in respect of the individual dealings.” and further that, “The Director of Lands is to record this prohibition by way of a memorial on each of the titles forthwith and confirm to the Registrar of this Court when that has been achieved.”

What has dismayed lessees in the area as they begin to find out about this blanket order is that in the same “Minute” Justice Spear states that “There is also apparently no dispute outside Malasikoto Family in respect of custom ownership with this having been resolved by the 2004 decision of the Efate Island Court.”

According to paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of the Minute “the object of the claim” is only to “regularise the position of the lessor”, in effect to decide which family members should be act as lessor on behalf of the Malasikoto Family in the various lease titles.

Despite this, as a result of the order, even the most basic right of a property owner to sell their property has now been denied to them, unless they apply to the Supreme Court for consent, with all the legal costs and delays that this usually involves.
When Daily Post contacted the main real estate companies in town for their reaction, Douglas Patterson, from Island Property told Daily Post, “Historically we have been able to reassure investors that land disputes or disputes within lessor families were a normal part of land and property ownership in the rural sector in Vanuatu, but they would not hinder the rights of a lessee of an indefeasible lease title to carry out their normal dealings and development.”

Patterson continued, “As far as we understand, the customary ownership of the land is not in dispute, the leases in question have been registered for several years and are not subject to challenge, and many of these titles have actually been transferred more than once in the past.

“If this order stands, or is not modified, it will make doing ordinary land dealings very difficult, but much worse, is the far greater risk of causing loss of confidence in rural land dealings as a whole.

“This doesn’t seem to be a land dispute case, only an internal family dispute. Third parties who are not part of this fairly simple case are in effect the only ones suffering,” Patterson said.

“The media has often reported on how often the Land Minister’s power to sign on behalf of land owners has been abused in the past, but it would seem that this is precisely the kind of circumstances where the Minister could sign and hold any consent fees in trust pending a resolution of the legal case.
“Alternatively, it would seem fairly straightforward to do what I understand is still being done in the Havannah Harbour area, where the lessor named on the title signs consents, with the written approval of the other claimants, and funds are held in a joint trust account.”

This case is being closely monitored by Daily Post and any developments that result in revised orders or a final ruling from the Supreme Court will be reported on later.

10) Frogier castigates New Caledonia’s pro-independence politicians

Posted at 02:55 on 22 April, 2013 UTC

The leader of New Caledonia’s Rassemblement-UMP, Pierre Frogier, says the pro-independence politicians are not up to the challenges which the territory needs to tackle.

Speaking at a party congress, he says they talk about independence but even for them, it is a slogan with no meaning.

Mr Frogier says he will address the grassroots directly, if the elected pro-independence leaders are unable to open a dialogue.

He says he wants discussions on a successor agreement to the Noumea Accord, which will enter into its final phase after the 2014 election.

Mr Frogier says he doesn’t believe in a referendum on independence, which will only lead to a pro- or anti-French path while there is no majority for independence.

His party’s congress came after a major split, with the breakaway Caledonian People’s Movement winning the French UMP’s backing.

Radio New Zealand International

11) Blast at Koniambo nickel plant in New Caledonia

Posted at 02:55 on 22 April, 2013 UTC

A minor explosion has occurred at New Caledonia’s new Koniambo nickel plant as the first quantity of nickel was being produced.

The Nouvelles Caledoniennes reports that no injuries have been reported as a result of the blast on Saturday.

It’s not known how big the damage is.

An investigation has been launched and to date there has been no explanation as to the cause of the explosion.

The plant was launched last week, six years after work began on the five-billion US dollar project, which is part of a long-standing French-backed plan to help develop the economy of New Caledonia’s north.

51 percent of the plant is owned by SMSP, which is the nickel mining arm of the northern provincial government, with the rest being held by Swiss-based miner Xstrata.

Radio New Zealand International

12) Greetings from CCF,

Please find attached the PDF version of The  CCF Produced Booklet titled “The Government Draft Constitution :What You Need To Know”

This booklet contains a comparative analysis of the Fiji Government Draft Constitution (GDC) 2013, with the 2012 Draft Constitution by the Yash Ghai Commission and the 1997 Constitution  of Fiji.

The information contained in the attached booklet is intended to provide readers with an informative review of the 2013 GDC and assist readers with the preparation to respond to the Fiji Government public consultations on the GDC.

For a copy of the full analysis report please so contact our communications team on Hard Copies of this booklet is also available at the CCF Office.

Sunayna Nandni

Communications Assistant

Citizens’ Constitutional Forum

13) Villagers in Fiji’s northern province shocked by death of high chief

Posted at 21:19 on 19 April, 2013 UTC

People in Fiji’s northern province of Macuata are said be shocked from the sudden death of their high chief.

Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere died at sea early Friday morning.

Sally Round reports from Fiji

“The death of Tui Macuata has caused front page headlines in the country. The 57 year-old paramount chief was on a fishing with his cousin and nephew, when the chief’s speedboat reportedly capzised in the early hours of the morning. Reports say while his relations managed to swim to safety and were picked up by a fisherman. The chief was unable to keep up and his body was later found floating near a reef. Naduri villagers crowded the rivers edge as the body of their chief, who was a prominent Labasa businessman was brought to shore. The village has started their mourning period and preparations for a funeral, which is expected to bring together chiefs and government leaders.”

Radio New Zealand International

14) Independent commissions will keep check on election run-up, says Fiji regime

Posted at 18:44 on 21 April, 2013 UTC

Fiji’s Attorney General says there is no need for a transitional government before elections because independent institutions will be in place to provide scrutiny.

The regime’s draft constitution allows it to govern up until election day, whereas the earlier draft of the Constitution Commission recommended the regime step aside six months before the polls to be replaced by an interim administration.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Independent Commission Against Corruption and a new Accountability and Transparency Commission will be a check on any misuse of funds or vote-buying.

“You can say well, because you are not elected once you appoint this commission somehow or other this commission will be tainted and I am going to tell you that once the person or the body is appointed they are independent.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says people must trust the constitution.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International

15a) EU in the Pacific says 2006 Fiji election observers had integrity

Posted at 18:44 on 21 April, 2013 UTC

The European Union delegation in the Pacific says its team of observers in the 2006 Fiji elections carried out its work with integrity.

Local media reports that Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama does not want a repeat of events in 2006 when, despite what he believes were glaring anomalies and fraud, the European Union observers declared the elections credible.

The Ambassador to the EU in the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs says the EU maintains the election was reasonably well conducted but it did suggest ways in which elections in Fiji could be better held in future.

“We feel that the report was credible, that the EU experts did perform their duties with integrity. And I know that the government has been keen to look at the recommendations that were made by these observers.”

Andrew Jacobs says the EU hopes to be invited to observe Fiji’s elections scheduled next year.

Radio New Zealand International

15b)Torres Strait Islanders share nature skills with Solomon Islanders

Updated 22 April 2013, 17:07 AEST

A group of five rangers and traditional owners from Australia’s Torres Strait Islands are in the Solomons sharing traditional knowlege and skills with communities in a major conservation zone centred on then Arnavon Islands.

Torres Strait Islanders share nature skills with Solomon Islanders (Credit: ABC)

For more on the significance of this exchange and the conservation work in Arnavon, Isabelle Genoux spoke to the Director of Nature conservancy Solomon Islands

Willie Atu.

Presenter: Isabelle Genoux

Speaker: Director of Nature conservancy Solomon Islands Willie Atu.


16) Tonga’s media urged to fight domestic violence

Updated 19 April 2013, 16:55 AEST

Tonga’s media has been urged to get serious about reporting on domestic violence.

Tonga’s media urged to fight domestic violence (Credit: ABC)

Over the past week many of the country’s journalists have been taking part in workshop designed to increase their skills and ability to report on an issue that stastics show is having a major negative impact on Tongan society.

Those statistics show domestic violence has increased in the island kingdom, while the reporting of crimes associated with it, has dropped, and it’s hoped journalists can help turn round those numbers.

Pacific Correspondent Campbell Cooney reports.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney, with thanks to Monalisa Palu in Nukualofa

Speaker:Stephanie Edmond a trainer from New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development.

17) French Polynesia Goes To The Polls
No party expected to win majority of seats in assembly

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 21, 2013) – Voters in French Polynesia are going to the polls today in the first round of the territorial election for a new 57-member assembly.

They will choose among nine lists of candidates.

Walter Zweifel reports:

“No party is expected to win an outright majority in today’s election, in which the opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party of Gaston Flosse and the ruling Union For Democracy of Oscar Temaru are widely expected to make it to the second round. The main challenger, the newly formed A Tia Porinetia, promises a fresh start after a decade of economic decline that has seen unemployment almost treble. Other parties call for more morality in politics to stop the return of Gaston Flosse, who has accumulated more corruption convictions that any other politician under French watch. Results are expected tonight and parties need 12.5 percent of the votes to make it to the run-off in two weeks.”

Radio New Zealand International:


18) US Marines touch down in Darwin
By Online Editor
5:07 pm GMT+12, 22/04/2013, Australia

The United States Ambassador to Australia has greeted the second rotation of Marines that flew into Darwin last night for a six-month deployment.

The marines – from Lima Company, Third Battalion, Third Marine Regiment – will take part in training exercises, with both Australian and Indonesian troops.

Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich says the US is working to strengthen its relationships within the Asia-Pacific region.

“This is something that we announced a couple of years ago,” Bleich said.

“They were going to have Marines coming through and doing training in six-month periods during the dry season with their Australian counterparts and with other service members from nations in the region.”

Most of the Marines have combat experience in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Bleich says the first deployment last year was a success.

“The Marines behaved themselves wonderfully, the community welcomed them with open arms and we had a terrific set of training exercises that improved both of our forces.



19) Kiribati i holim bikpela miting blong climate change

Updated 21 April 2013, 16:12 AEST

President blong liklik Pasifik kantri blong Kiribati ibin tok kantri blong em igat ol plan long bai igat yet wari blong level blong solowara bai igo antap na dispela inap bagarapim sidaun blong pipol blong em.

Kiribati President Anote Tong i toktok long bikpela miting blong climate change long Kiribati. (Credit: ABC licensed)

Anote Tong ibin givim tok lukaut olsem kantri blong em bai inap bungim heve long ol pipol bai inonap sidaun long en taim mipela i kamap long 2050 long wanem go antap blong sea level em ikam wantaim senis long ol kain taim.

Tede Kiribati ibin holim wanpela bikpela miting em planti pipol long ailan ibin stap long en we oli toktok long wari blong senis long ol kain taim na wanem ol samting oli mas mekim

Audio:  Em hia Anote Tong i toktok long miting blong climate change.

Mr Tong ibin tokim  Pasifik Beat Program blong Radio Australia dispela miting ibin kamap wantaim lons blong ol tingting blong kantri long climate change.

“I think we have to acknowledge the reality, and…the projection is that the sea level rise will render our islands submerged and virtually uninhabitable,” he said.

“Always our first option is to see if we can maintain the integrity of the islands.

“We will ensure as much as possible that the island of Kiribati does not disappear entirely, but our ability to do that will be limited by the resources we have.”

Long stat blong dispela yar, ibin tokaut  long ol plan blong em long baim ol hap graun  long Fiji blong lukim olsem igat kaikai long ol pipol blong ailan blong em sapos igat heve ikam wantaim senis blong ol kain taim.

Mr Tong itok dispela 6 tausen hap graun long Vanua Levu ailan blong  Fiji=bai oli iusim long planim ol gaden kaikai na ino blong bringim pipol blong Kiribati igo sidaun long en.

Tasol emi tok kisim aut pipol igo stap long Fiji bai imas kam wantaim hap tingting blong kantri  em bai lukluk long en bihain.


20) Élection 2014 aux îles Fidji sans observateurs européens

Posté à 22 April 2013, 9:04 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le Premier ministre par intérim, Franck Bainimarama, a proposé une mission d’observation électorale conjointe: Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée/Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance pour les élections prévues l’année prochaine.

Les premières élections démocratiques depuis le coup d’État militaire du 5 décembre 2006.

Lors de sa visite la semaine dernière à Port Moresby, le Contre-amiral Bainimarama a proposé à son homologue papou, Peter O’Neill, la création d’une telle mission d’observation électorale en expliquant qu’il ne voulait pas se retrouver dans la même situation qu’en 2006.

Des élections, a-t-il ajouté, qui en dépit d’anomalies flagrantes et de fraudes ont été déclarées crédibles par les observateurs de l’Union européenne.


21) Conflict of interest concerns over VIPA functions under VCCI

Posted on April 22, 2013 – 9:51am |

Jane Joshua

The current Government’s plans to repeal the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) and place investment promotion functions with the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)-a private sector entity will create a direct conflict of interest among the members of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Council.

“Many of VCCI members are existing business people who have businesses in Vanuatu,” an observer told Daily Post.

“For them to sit on the Council to decide/approve a new business is a direct conflict of interest simply because one cannot allow a new business venture who, if approved to operate will be a direct competitor. These will result in many unfair decisions.

“And to abolish the foreign investment law means opening up foreign investment in all sectors that are currently reserved or restricted for ni-Vans only.”
Leader of Opposition Ham Lini, yesterday rallied that it is critical the VIPA law should never be abolished.

“It is important to note the existing VCCI is the Port Vila Chamber of Commerce led by Jacques Nioteau as president and Tom Bayer as vice president, not the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vanuatu established by all Provincial Chambers of Commerce and Industries,” he said.

“The private Sector cannot be allowed to regulate itself, it is the function of the government to regulate the private sector industry.

“The VIPA regulated both foreign and local businesses. While it promotes foreign investment opportunities in foreign markets, it also reserves activities that can only be conducted by local ni-Vanuatu.

“Abolishing the foreign investment law is opening up to foreign investment in all sectors reserved for ni Vans only.”

Given Vanuatu’s scarce and weak economic characteristics and its vulnerability to external shocks, winning foreign direct investment is a progressive task subject to government’s responsiveness to the foreign direct investments market.

One has to consider the barriers restricting VIPA from achieving its major objectives; some far beyond its internal control:
(I)The ongoing issue of the high cost of doing business-the high electricity and water rate, high wharfage rate and high fuel costs contribute to disincentives to foreign investment.

(II) Local land tenure problem-ongoing land disputes in rural areas and
(III) Lack of proper local infrastructure in the rural provinces.
As a result of these challenges, the government is introducing the 51% shares policy of joint venture to all foreign investors.

“The Government’s plans to introduce a requirement for 51%-local joint ventures in all foreign investments (except in certain identified sectors) is a worrying policy that if implemented, stands more chances of preventing rather than attracting investors to Vanuatu,” the observer told Daily Post.

“This is a frightening policy when we want to encourage foreign investments in Vanuatu. There are regional lessons that Vanuatu has to learn from. For instance, Fiji has introduced this partnership agreement in the past and it has not been successful.”

Daily Post was informed VIPA, which operates on a budget of Vt38million since 2010 (previously it was a Vt20million budget ceiling) contributes Vt15-16million annually to the government budget from revenue generated from compliance and new investment applications.

Internal financial constraint remains the top challenge for the Authority and Vt38 million meets operations and personnel- no promotion budget has ever been approved by the government.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses recently revealed its plans to repeal the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) and place investment promotion function with the Chamber of Commerce, claiming a budget slash of Vt*64million if the responsibilities were to be transferred to VCCI.


22a) Fiji government challenged to televised debate

Updated 22 April 2013, 17:01 AEST

Fiji’s political parties have challenged the coup installed military government to a series of televised debates.

Fiji government challenged to televised debate (Credit: ABC)

The United Front for a Democratic Fiji, which represents the main opposition parties, wants the interim government to engage with them about the constitution, the role of the m military, the idea of a transitional government in the leadup to the September 2014 elections, and the immunity being granted to those behind the 2006 coup.

UFDF spokesman Mick Beddoes tells Bruce Hill the people deserve to hear all sides of the political debate.

Radio Australia contacted the Fiji government for comment on this story, but they did not reply.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Fiji politician Mick Beddoes, speaking on behalf of the United Front for a Democratic Fiji

BEDDOES: There are claims and counter claims with regards to the contents of the 2013 regime draft and we also have a situation where they’re talking about their reasoning why they trashed the peoples 2012 draft  and we thought that we should at least issue a challenge to the regime, so we can give the people an opportunity to look at both sides of the argument being presented to them at the same time and a lot of elections that are held internationally have massive televised debates and considering the fact of all the issues that Fiji has been faced with since 2006, we thought that it would be a good thing for us to debate the current issues and have the people judge.

HILL; But aren’t debates between parties. I mean the government, the coup-installed military government doesn’t actually have a political party to represent it. So wouldn’t it be impossible to have a debate with just a coup-installed government and the other political parties. There wouldn’t be a level playing field between them?

BEDDOES: Well, there are no other political parties at this juncture as you know, because the political parties are waiting for the approval or rejection of their applications to form a political party and a parliament decree says that if you, when you lodge, you can’t operate as a political party, so we are operating as individuals. So it would be a level playing field. Now you also have the regime, in particular, Prime Minister having announced that he’ll be a candidate and that he’s going to announce his party soon. Well, he’s already declared his hand, so therefore, he hasn’t got a party, but as an individual, he’s already declared his hand and that’s he’s going to stand for election, so I think it’s relatively even.

HILL: Are you really serious about holding televised debates. I mean do you really think the interim government in Fiji will actually accept this or are you just trying to get a bit of publicity?

BEDDOES: Ah, we hope that the military regime will accept the challenge and have a debate. We hope that certainly they’ll be able to step up and accept our challenge. But if they don’t, then, of course, they don’t, that’s their decision. But from our point of view, we think that that’s a very good way, it’s a good way for the people to see for themselves. They can make an informed decision and that’s why we want to issue it. Because they’ve created the 2013 draft. The Attorney-General’s going around the country saying he’s not there to debate or discuss or anything else. He’s just there to clarify parts of the draft to the people.

HILL: But the parties that make up the United Front for a Democratic Fiji. Do you have confidence in the process leading up to the elections, because the government says there doesn’t need to be any interim administration in the six months leading up to it as recommended in the Yash Ghai Draft of the Constitution, because they say they’ll be independent commissions to make sure that everything is done properly and above board. the Independent Commission against Corruption and this new accountability and Transparency Commission?

BEDDOES: Well look, I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to know that since 2006, nothing that the regime has said has been above board or they have not honoured or neither have they honoured anything that they’ve said that they will do. We certainly don’t have any confidence in the fact that in the led up to the elections, if they remain in office, whether it will be conducted in a free and fair manner and we don’t have any confidence in any institution that they assign to look after the lead up to the general elections, because their  track record clearly states otherwise.

22b) Divisions run deep over media freedom in Fiji

Posted at 07:15 on 22 April, 2013 UTC

Discussions on media freedom at the just-completed Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum in Wellington have highlighted deep divisions in Fiji media.

Ever since Fiji’s military took over government following the 2006 coup, the country’s media has been increasingly restricted, with the latest regulations meaning media operators face jail terms of up to five years for referring to sidelined political parties among other sensitivities.

Johnny Blades reports:

Fiji’s government insists it supports media freedom but has cautioned that it won’t tolerate what it calls misreporting or media coverage which fuels racial division.

But in its 2013 global report, Reporters without Borders says that Fiji journalists still operate under a media decree which imposes the threat of heavy fines or imprisonment as in the case of a recently convicted editor of the Fiji Times.

However Tura Lewai of the Young People’s Concerned Network told delegates at the Wellington forum that media in Fiji is gagged by the point of a gun.

“We need media people in Fiji that are brave people, that will hold our government accountable and also push them to be transparent. We have in Fiji a situation where the government of the day controls what is being printed up in the media.”

His comment was an affront to a fellow delegate, Matai Akauola who is the industry representative on Fiji’s government-appointed Media Industry Development Authority.

He says the talk of bravery is misguided.

“For us, we don’t have an elected government, so what do we do? Do we stay out or do we engage? So if we didn’t engage for the last six years, we would be lost. But in terms of engaging, we are in. And for us, the key thing is the safety of the journalists first. A lot of times we talk about media freedom and all this, but to me the crux of it is the safety of my journalists. If someone is being taken in or whatever, I am there to call up the authorities and say hey, because I know the guys, can you release this person?”

The General Secretary of the Fiji National Council of Women, Fay Volatabu, says the Fiji Media Decree must be removed if the country is to return to democracy.

“And at this point in time, we would also like to have more media freedom. Everything is censored in the newsrooms and in all media outlets so if we had to ask for a wish, that would be my first wish, make sure that all these media bans are taken off, that there is no more censorship in our media rooms.”

However Mr Akauola, who is also Manager and Training Coordinator at the Pacific Islands News Association, says the industry must abide by the military government’s media rules in the interests of the long-term path back to democracy.

“They are moving towards democracy which is good so for us it’s not the time to derail the process. But for now we need to continue to engage and get our views in because if not, you’ll have other people who do not know anything about the media and they will sort of put draconian rules in place that is more or less keeping us out of it in totality.”

The government lifted official placement of media censors from newsrooms last year, but self-censorship remains pervasive and few media outlets seem willing to scrutinise the government’s actions.

Radio New Zealand International


23) Solomon Islands Launches First University In Honiara
Formerly SICHE, Solomon Islands National University opens doors

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 21, 2013) – The Solomon Islands government has launched the country’s first university in Honiara.

The Solomon Islands National University was formerly known as the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education.

Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka, a Solomon Islander and Associate Professor at the University of Hawaii’s Center for Pacific Islands Studies, says the new University is a positive step for all Solomon Islanders.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and other dignitaries attended this morning’s gathering signalling the start of increasing education for Solomon Islanders.

Radio Australia:


24) PNG MP calls on Pacific countries to take stronger stand on climate change

Posted at 18:44 on 21 April, 2013 UTC

The Papua New Guinea MP Gary Juffa says Pacific islands leaders need to take a stronger stand on the impact of climate change and the need for sustainability.

Mr Juffa says Pacific islanders have been too soft in international fora about the devastation being caused to their countries and territories by climate change and sea-level rise.

He says many Pacific people are having to abandon their homes and means of livelihood because of rising sea levels.

“There’s massive deforestation taking place in Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. And it’s rampant. Land grabbing is taking place, huge corporate entities are moving in. And they’re riding on the back of free trade agreements and such agreements that are being imposed upon us by international organisations that are promoting the greed and profit brigade.”

Gary Juffa says development driven by foreign corporate interests is exploiting the region’s natural resources at an unsustainable rate.

Radio New Zealand International


25) New family and sexual violence units to encourage PNG women to report crimes

Posted at 02:56 on 22 April, 2013 UTC

The police in Papua New Guinea’s West Sepik Province say they hope a new Family and Sexual Violence Unit will encourage women to report such crimes.

The new centre at the Vanimo Police Station is a joint project between the governments of PNG and Australia.

The Coordinator of Family and Sexual Violence Units in the police force, Chief Inspector David Kila says family and gender based violence is a serious issue but women don’t feel safe reporting such crimes due to cultural barriers.

He says the new unit is aimed at giving women an outlet to come forward.

“We’ll tell the women that it is safe or okay for them to report any violence against them. And also the non government organisations who were present at our opening, have shown indication that they will try to help the women come to the station. That is if they want to come and report it to the police.”

David Kila says another six family and sexual violence units will be established in other provinces this year.

Radio New Zealand International

26) Immigration detainee dies in hospital fall

April 21, 2013 2:59PM

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A PAPUA New Guinea man has died after plummeting from the fifth floor of a Sydney hospital, where he was being treated following attempts to harm himself in an immigration detention centre.

Police spent more than two hours trying to negotiate with the 33-year-old, who they say was trying to throw himself out of the window at Liverpool Hospital.

A police spokesman said the man was believed to be from PNG and was in Australia illegally.

He had been taken to hospital from Sydney’s Villawood detention centre where he had attempted self-harm.

The man fell from a ledge outside the window at around 11.30am yesterday and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A critical incident team is investigating and will be overseen by the Professional Standards Command.

An immigration department spokeswoman later said the man had been awaiting deportation.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was aware of the incident, the spokesman said.



27( Cricket talent scouts on the look out for rising Pacific talent

Updated 22 April 2013, 10:58 AEST

A talent scouting expedition around the East Asia-Pacific region has been launched to identify five potential future stars from the Pacific.

Cricket talent scouts on the look out for rising Pacific talent (Credit: ABC)

Two scouts from Cricket Australia will spend a fortnight travelling through Fiji, Vanuatu and PNG conducting tests on both male and female players.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Kieran McMillan the ICC East Asia-Pacific Regional Development Manager.

28) Six teams target Women’s RWC qualification
By Online Editor
5:23 pm GMT+12, 22/04/2013, United Kingdom

Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 is just over a year away and eight teams are already confirmed for the showpiece event in the Women’s Game in defending champions New Zealand, England, Australia, hosts France, USA, Canada, Ireland and Wales.

Over the next eight days in Madrid six teams will battle it out to secure the two places available to France 2014 with competition between hosts Spain, Scotland, Italy, Samoa, Sweden and the Netherlands sure to be as intense as the Spanish sun.

The six teams have been split into two pools with Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands in Pool A and Scotland, Spain and Samoa in Pool B, but the format means the teams will play those in the opposite pool. They will then be ranked 1-6 with the top two sides qualifying.

The qualifying tournament gives Scotland and Italy a second chance to secure a place at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 after both missed out the first time through the 2012 and 2013 Women’s Six Nations Championship.

Scotland failed to win a match across these Championships, but Italy came agonisingly close to qualifying, a 16-15 loss to Wales proved the difference as the Welsh and Grand Slam winners Ireland booked their places in France.

“Qualifying for the World Cup is our goal for this season and securing that through the Six Nations would have been just perfect,” admitted Italy captain Silvia Gaudino, who was part of the last Italian side to play at a Women’s Rugby World Cup back in 2002.

“Unfortunately we lost to Wales and that’s where things got complicated. We still fought hard till the end and we are certain we gave our all in the tournament. The qualifying tournament is our second chance and we want to make the most of it and not let it go.”

Scotland coach Karen Findlay is equally determined that her side qualify.

“We’ve selected as strong a squad as we can. It’s exciting to have some new faces return who, through injury, were out during the Six Nations. They’ve come good at the right time and that adds depth to the backline choices,” said Findlay.

“All involved realise the implications of the three matches that lie ahead, are very much focused on doing all we can to secure World Cup qualification and we hope everyone gets behind the squad.”

Spain, like Italy, missed out on qualification for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 after losses to Sweden and captain Ana María Aigneren is determined to ensure that doesn’t happen again in front of their own fans at the Estadio de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

“It is a dream come true for most of us if we can qualify,” Aigneren said. “I played in the 2006 World Cup as a young girl and I would love to end my career as a rugby player by playing in another. That would be great.

“For the girls who haven’t had that experience it is something that you just can’t compare. It is the ultimate in your career to play in a world championship. We are all very hopeful and we know we have to do our best to gain our goal and have our dream come true.”

Sweden are also hoping to again spring a surprise, while Samoa provide the unknown element, having not played a match since their loss to Australia in qualifying four years ago. However, with Samoan legend Peter Fatialofa at the helm they are not there to simply make up numbers.

IRB Women’s Development Manager Susan Carty said: “I expect all six teams to go out and give 100 per cent from the first minute of the first game.”

“Unfortunately we lost to Wales and that’s where things got complicated. We still fought hard till the end and we are certain we gave our all in the tournament. The qualifying tournament is our second chance and we want to make the most of it and not let it go.”

Scotland coach Karen Findlay is equally determined that her side qualify.

“We’ve selected as strong a squad as we can. It’s exciting to have some new faces return who, through injury, were out during the Six Nations. They’ve come good at the right time and that adds depth to the backline choices,” said Findlay.

“All involved realise the implications of the three matches that lie ahead, are very much focused on doing all we can to secure World Cup qualification and we hope everyone gets behind the squad.”

Spain, like Italy, missed out on qualification for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 after losses to Sweden and captain Ana María Aigneren is determined to ensure that doesn’t happen again in front of their own fans at the Estadio de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

“It is a dream come true for most of us if we can qualify,” Aigneren said. “I played in the 2006 World Cup as a young girl and I would love to end my career as a rugby player by playing in another. That would be great.

“For the girls who haven’t had that experience it is something that you just can’t compare. It is the ultimate in your career to play in a world championship. We are all very hopeful and we know we have to do our best to gain our goal and have our dream come true.”

Sweden are also hoping to again spring a surprise, while Samoa provide the unknown element, having not played a match since their loss to Australia in qualifying four years ago. However, with Samoan legend Peter Fatialofa at the helm they are not there to simply make up numbers.

IRB Women’s Development Manager Susan Carty said: “I expect all six teams to go out and give 100 per cent from the first minute of the first game.


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