Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 845

1) MSG talks on West Papua
By Online Editor
1:53 pm GMT+12, 06/05/2013, Fiji

Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)member countries including Fiji will make a formal decision on the way forward in dealing with the situation in West Papua when they meet at the MSG leaders summit in June.

This was the word from the MSG Eminent Persons Group headed by former Fiji Minister for Foreign Affairs Kaliopate Tavola.

West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia for the past 50 years.

Human rights abuses and countless crimes by members of their armed forces attracted regional and international scorn.

The territory has also been pursuing full membership of the MSG and has received widespread support.

Tavola said the MSG EPG had listened to the views expressed on the issue and noted that there was a lot of support for the West Papua case.

“We do also note that the West Papua case is problematic. There are a number of issues attached to it, for instance there is an application which I understand has been lodged with the chair of the MSG,” Tavola said.

“That will take its own process and the leaders will make a determination on that when they meet in June.”

He explained the issue of West Papua was complex and the EPG was taking note of new developments.

“We as a group take note of what is happening on the ground. The application has been lodged and it is likely that the leaders will make a determination in June that will determine the way forward on how we manage the West Papua case.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

2) Jakarta scolds UK for allowing pro Papua independence office in Oxford

Posted at 03:23 on 06 May, 2013 UTC

The Indonesian government has told the United Kingdom government it objects to the opening of a pro Papua independence office on its soil.

In a statement to The Jakarta Post, the government says the Oxford office opened by the Free West Papua campaign contradicts the UK government’s policy on the region.

The office is the headquarters of the movement led by the UK-based Papuan exile Benny Wenda and was officially opened at the end of last month.

The Post reports Jakarta has asked the UK government to be consistent in its policy of not supporting any action related to the separatist movement in Papua and West Papua.

Jakarta says the opening of the office was clearly contrary to the good mutual relations between Indonesia and the UK.

Radio New Zealand International

3) PNG PM seeks Aussie visa overhaul
By Online Editor
10:08 am GMT+12, 06/05/2013, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea prime minister wants a reduction in the mountain of paperwork his people face when they try to visit Australia.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has flagged easier visa access will be on the agenda when Prime Minister Julia Gillard visits Port Moresby later this month.

“There’s unnecessary questions of individuals’ ability to look after themselves when they get to Australia,” O’Neill told ABC radio on Friday.

“There’s unnecessary questions about individual integrity and personal information.”

He wants Australia to offer the same visa arrangements as it does to New Zealand citizens.

“Papua New Guinea is a former colony of Australia, New Zealand is not but they seem to have better access to Australia than our citizens,” O’Neill said.

“It’s grossly unfair.”

He said it’s a pity increasing numbers of people from PNG are turning to Asia for their medical and education needs rather than Australia which can be reached within two hours.

SOURCE: SKY NEWS/PACNEWS

4) Solomon Islands urged to table report into ethnic tensions

Updated 6 May 2013, 15:16 AEST

The Solomon Islands Government is being urged to table in parliament the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report into ethnic tensions which erupted in the country in the late 1990s.

Last week, Reverend Dr Terry M Brown, the report’s editor, unofficially released a digital version to local media, researchers and to the public via social media after the government refused for more than a year to make it public.

The Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to address ethnic tensions still lingering after violence erupted in Guadalcanal, displacing thousands of people, between 1997 and 2003.

Dr Brown has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that he hopes his decision to release the report online will push the government to address the commission’s recommendations.

“One hopes now that the prime minister will table it in parliament so it can become officially legally public,” he said.

“So it can be published, the recommendations can be published and the next stage of the TRC process, which is in the TRC act, the implementation of a Commission to monitor the implementation of the recommendations, that all of that will go forward.”

Dr Brown’s decision to release the report has been fiercely criticised by Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and the Premier of Guadalcanal province, Stephen Panga.

Mr Panga has accused Dr Brown of acting illegally, adding the report should have been released after reconciliation between Malaita and Guadalcanal.

But Dr Brown says the report is crucial to that process.

“Without a really good, strong history of what happened and particularly the experiences of victims, of ex-combatants of politicians and so forth, that’s what the whole TRC was about – to try to document all of that to then go onto a structured reconciliation process,” he said.

“So if you do a reconciliation blind and then read the report then you’re putting the cart before the horse.”

On the defence

Dr Brown has defended his decision to release the report unofficially.

He says he was concerned the prime minister would bury it and fail to consider the report’s recommendations.

“The report is a very fine commentary on what happened and it presents very important recommendations,” Dr Brown said.

“My sense from what I know of Solomons politics having lived there the last 16 years was that this report was not going to go anywhere as long as the prime minister was sitting on it.”

Truth and Reconciliation Commission report

The report includes findings on historical aspects of the conflict, human rights abuses, and lists 200 people thought to have died during the conflict and the circumstances of their deaths.

Reverend Brown says roughly 4,000 people were interviewed for the five-volume report, which he says is about 1,300 pages long.

“It was really quite a chaotic time in the Solomons and the report tries to in the first volume explain that,” he said.

Reverend Brown says he does not believe victims of the conflict have been adequately listened to.

“I think there’s an awful lot of rumour around and the rumour is an obstruction to reconciliation.”http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

5) SODELPA appoints Ro Teimumu as president

By Online Editor
1:56 pm GMT+12, 06/05/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s former Education Minister and Rewa province paramount chief Ro Temumu Kepa is the new president of the Social Democratic Liberal Party or SODELPA.

Senior party official Dr Tupeni Baba said the appointment was made as required under the Political Parties Registration, Conduct and Funding Decree 2013.

He said under the decree, the party had to name a president, vice president and a general secretary.

He said Pio Tabaiwalu was appointed general secretary.

“The appointment of the president does not necessarily mean she’s the party leader,” Dr Baba said.

“We are going to have another meeting in June where we will appoint other office holders and the party leader.”

On disclosures required under the Political Parties Decree, Dr Baba said the party is ready to comply.

Speaking to FijiLive, Dr Baba said they are a new party and do not have much to declare about their assets.

“Yes, we are ready to comply with that requirement because we have minimum assets unlike the other older parties who have been in existence for decades now and have heavy party machinery,” he said.

Following its successful registration, the party as per the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Decree now has 30 days to submit a written declaration giving details of all assets and expenditures including, all contributions, donations or pledges of contributions or donations, whether in cash or in kind, made or to be made to the initial assets of the party.

SODELPA applied for registration with 8,825 member signatures, 136 of which were discounted as anomalies and now have 8,689.

6) Fiji’s new constitution by June: Bainimarama
By Online Editor
10:22 am GMT+12, 06/05/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama hopes to have a new constitution by June.

He told New Zealand’s Radio Tarana that with public consultations completed, submissions were now being compiled.

“Public consultations have ended, what’s happening now is that we are bringing all the strands together to examine those submissions and of course take into account what people have said especially during public meeting and I hope by June everything should be in place,” Bainimarama said.

“After that of course we will have preparation for elections next year to finalise the registrations of the parties, to setup our electoral commissions and of course keep registering votes from Fiji and overseas.”

He said the process towards the 2014 elections have been successful so far and could only be supported if people do away with old politics. “Fiji needs to move forward,” Bainimarama said.

“If I can also say is that when we got rid of the constituent assembly we had no idea that Professor Ghai’s commission would come up with the recommendation that it did which is the unelected national people’s assembly and restoring the Great Council of Chiefs.”

He said it undermined the government’s objective for parliament to hold the sole and supreme authority of the country, reiterating the government’s resolve to hold elections on September 2014.

Meanwhile, Commodore Bainimarama says the successful registration of three political parties is proof next year’s election will be free and fair.

His comments follow news the government has re-registered two established parties, the NFP and the Labour Party, and registered SODELPA which was forced to form out of the old SDL.

Commodore Bainimarama has told Radio Tarana he finds it funny to see what he calls the old faces lining up again and sitting together after scrapping like schoolboys in the past.

“These are the people who brought Fiji to its knees. Now they want another chance, I guess to mess the country up again. A few days ago they were bleating and harping about me preventing them from contesting the election. That’s what they wanted to say to the world, (that) this whole process is a sham. Because they know that ending voting along racial lines is going to weaken them.”

Commodore Bainimarama says he’ll form his own party over the coming months to contest the elections he has promised for September next year.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/ RNZI/ RADIO TARANA/PACNEWS


7) Fiji Government on track for 2014 elections: AG

By Online Editor
4:23 pm GMT+12, 06/05/2013, Fiji

No dates have been finalised on when Fiji will go to the polls next year.

However, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has hinted that with work on the draft constitution well on track, elections will happen no later than September 2014.

“We need to have the constitution in place on time to ensure that the elections can be held by 30 September, 2014. As the draft constitution suggests the elections under this draft constitution must be held no later than the 30 of September.”

Sayed-Khaiyum says they’ve received assurances of support from Pacific counterparts on Fiji’s road back to democracy.

Meanwhile, recently registered political parties, the National Federation Party and the Social Democratic Liberal Party are asking government to re-consider some provisions of the Political Party’s Decree.

The NFP and SODELPA want a review of laws which require close family members of politicians to declare their assets and liabilities.

NFP President Raman Pratap Singh says they have some reservations on declaring their family’s assets.

“In lot of cases the children are not here and are overseas and independent in their own rights and that provision is ominous and government should repeal those provisions.”

Social Democratic Liberal Party General Secretary Pio Tabaiwalu has similar views.

“I think it infringes a bit of their privacy, the legal opinion there is why me as a candidate and my close family members declare their assets and liabilities when they have no interest.”

The FLP, NFP and SODELPA have thirty days to declare their assets and liabilities under the Political Parties Decree.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

8) Fiji NGO analysing judgment before deciding on next course of action

Posted at 07:31 on 06 May, 2013 UTC

A Fiji NGO found guilty of contempt of court last week says it is analysing the judgment before deciding its next course of action.

The Citizen’s Constitutional Forum and its chief excutive, Reverend Akuila Yabaki, were found guilty in the High Court at Suva on Friday over an article it published alleging a lack of rule of law in the country.

Sally Round has been reading the judgment.

“The Attorney General’s office brought the case claiming the article entitled Rule of Law Lost offended and undermined Fiji’s judiciary. The article in the CCF’s newsletter summarised a report by a British organisation the Law Society Charity. Judge William Calanchini found the published words raised doubts that disputes would not be resolved by independent and impartial judges and that undermined the authority and integrity of Fiji’s judiciary. He said CCF’s respected reputation lent credence to the words which went deeper than mere criticism and could not constitute fair comment. The CCF had asked that the judge step down from the case alleging conflict of interest and animosity towards the group but Judge Calanchini refused its application on several grounds. A mitigation and pre-sentence hearing is set for mid June.”

Radio New Zealand International

9) Confidence boost

Felix Chaudhary
Monday, May 06, 2013

ACADEMIC and economist Prof Biman Prasad said government’s endorsement of the three leading political parties to contest the 2014 elections was a move in the right direction in restoring investor confidence.

He added that appointing a constituent assembly to debate the government and the Yash Ghai drafts would spur economic growth and inspire investor confidence.

“The registration of political parties is a very positive step,” he said.

“When the Ghai commission was appointed, it immediately restored a level of confidence in the economy.

“The twists and turns with the Ghai commission took away a little bit of that but I think this registration of political parties gives the signal that the government would allow and is working towards a free and fair election.

“However, let me say that it is not too late for the government to appoint a constituent assembly to put both the drafts, the government’s 2013 draft and the Ghai draft, in an assembly which can debate and which can come up with a constitution which will be broadly acceptable to the people of this country.”

Registrar for political Parties Mohammed Saneem announced on Thursday last week that the National Federation Party, Fiji Labour Party and the Social Democratic Liberal Party had been officially registered as political parties under the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Decree.

As of Thursday, the three parties had 30 days to submit a written declaration of all assets and expenditure including all contributions, donations or pledges of contributions or donations, whether in cash or in kind, made or to be made to the initial assets of the party.http://www.fijitimes.com/

POLYNESIA:

10) French Polynesia Voters Head To Polls For Round Two
Election of Assembly members first under new system

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 5, 2013) – Voters in French Polynesia are going to the polls today in the second round of the election of a new 57-member assembly.

Three parties are left in the contest being held under a new electoral system.

Walter Zweifel reports from the capital.

“The parties of Gaston Flosse, Oscar Temaru and Teva Rohfritsch are each desperately vying to come first as the winner will get 19 bonus seats and therefore a guaranteed absolute majority. The system was revised by Paris in a bid to avoid small majorities, which in the past decade have been prone to defections and shifting alliances that has led to a rotation of presidents. Today’s election comes amid a deep economic crisis, with a slump in employment and a rise in poverty that has engulfed about a third of the population. In the first round two weeks ago, the number of abstentions was higher than the score of any of the parties, which has instilled hope in all three that they can still win.”

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

TOK PISIN:

11) West Papua Islam Pikinini

Updated 6 May 2013, 16:21 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Indonesia isave kisim nating ol West Papua Pikinini na skulim ol long Lotu Islam.

Wanpela West Papua lidaman long Pacific i sutim tok long Indonesia gavman i laik long bagarapim kalsa blong ol pipol blong Melanesia long West Papua.

Dr John Ondowame blong  Papua National Coalition for Liberation i mekim dispela toktok bihainim wanpela ripot olsem planti yangpla Melanesian pikinini blong West Papua em oli kisim ol nating lusim ol papa-mama blong ol na fosim ol long lainim lotu Islam long Jakarta.

Dispela stori i kirapim planti toktok long Australia na tu i mekim planti Papuan lida long West papua iet na long Pacific rijan i wari tru.

Dr Ondowame itok Indonesia i mekim dispela blong kilim kalsa blong ol West Papua na Melanesia.

FRANIS:

12) PNG: vers un possible rétablissement de la peine de mort

Mis à jour 6 May 2013, 13:38 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

L’Australie a déjà redit au gouvernement papou son opposition à la peine capitale.

Articles: L’homme qui veut rétablir la peine de mort, le Premier ministre papou Peter O’Neill.

Les viols collectifs et les assassinats font quotidiennement la une des journaux papous, sans compter les crimes perpétrés sur des victimes soupçonnées de sorcellerie, qui, eux, font parfois la une des médias internationaux.

Le Premier ministre papou Peter O’Neill a donc voulu frapper un grand coup. Il a annoncé la semaine dernière le prochain rétablissement de la peine de mort pour les assassins. Ou plus précisément, la levée du moratoire sur l’application de la loi, qui autorise toujours la peine capitale. Il n’y a pas eu d’exécution en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée depuis 1954, quand l’Australie était toujours la puissance coloniale occupante.

A Port-Moresby vendredi, Bob Carr, le Ministre australien des Affaires étrangères, a répété que l’Australie condamne le recours à la peine de mort. Il prépare l’arrivée de la Première ministre. Julia Gillard arrivera jeudi en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée pour une visite officielle consacrée, entre autres, au centre de rétention des demandeurs d’asile sur l’île de Manus.

Notre correspondant, Liam Fox, s’est rendu dans la « Lawes Road », à Port-Moresby, qui a été rebaptisée « Lawless Road » – en français, « rue du non droit », un quartier particulièrement violent dans lequel les expatriés ne mettent jamais les pieds, ni les roues. Et voici ce que ses habitants pensent de la peine de mort :

«Une habitante: C’est une bonne idée, je souhaite le rétablissement de la peine de mort, parce que le crime fait fuir les touristes et les autres visiteurs. Ce n’est pas bien que des Papous tuent et violent, on ne veut pas de ça. En tant que femmes et mères, nous ne voulons pas de ça.

Un habitant : Le gouvernement ne parle pas de la peine de mort pour les criminels en col blanc, il veut la rétablir pour les violeurs, les assassins, tout ça, mais pas pour les criminels en col blanc, qui sont pourtant les criminels les plus dangereux pour la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.

Habitant 2 : La Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée est un pays chrétien, donc l’Etat ne peut pas se mettre à exécuter les gens.

Habitant 3 : C’est une mauvaise idée. Parce que qui va accepter de faire le bourreau ? Parce que la famille de ce gars va être la cible de représailles. Non, ce qu’il nous faut, c’est plus de policiers, des patrouilles à pied. Oui, on a besoin de patrouilles.»

Le caractère antichrétien de la peine de mort -au nom du fameux commandement «Tu ne tueras point», ainsi que la crainte des représailles contre la famille du bourreau sont partagées par le Père Victor Roche, membre de la Conférence des Évêques Catholiques:

«Même si la personne exécutée est reconnue coupable après un long procès, même si on est sûr qu’il n’y a pas d’erreur judiciaire, et que la famille du criminel vit dans un endroit reculé des hauts-plateaux, elle retrouvera le bourreau, celui qui a appuyé sur le bouton ou sur la gâchette, et elle se vengera sur lui et sa famille.»

Outre le rétablissement des pelotons d’exécution, le Premier ministre Peter O’Neill annonce des peines de prison à vie, incompressibles, pour les crimes les plus graves. Une mesure totalement contre-productive, estime la criminologue Lorana Bartels, de l’Université Nationale Australienne de Canberra :

«Ces peines rendent les détenus incontrôlables, ils n’ont aucun espoir de sortir de prison, et donc aucune motivation à bien se comporter, donc ils agressent d’autant plus facilement leurss gardiens et leurs codétenus.»

Et selon la criminologue, pour combattre le crime, il faut muscler la police papoue :

«Il faudrait plutôt augmenter le financement de la police, pour que les policiers aient les moyens de mener leurs enquêtes, et qu’ensuite les procès soient menés rapidement par les cours de justice, mais rétablir la peine de mort ou créer des peines incompressibles, cela ne marche pas, malheureusement.»

Lorana Bartels, au micro de Liam Fox sur Radio Australie. Le projet de loi du gouvernement O’Neill sera examiné par le Parlement en première lecture à la mi mai. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

13) Pacifique: un médiateur pour les médias d’ici mai 2014

Posté à 6 May 2013, 13:21 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

Les citoyens et associations de la région pourront lui transmettre leurs plaintes.

La promesse a été faite vendredi 3 mai, lors de la journée internationale de la liberté de la presse. Les journalistes de la région s’étaient réunis à Honiara, aux Îles Salomon.

Les Îles Cook, le Samoa, les Îles Salomon, Tonga et Vanuatu ont décidé de créer un médiateur pour les médias du Pacifique, et ils sont soutenus par deux organismes de presse : la PINA, Association des Informations des Îles du Pacifique, et la Pasifika Media Association.

Les délégués présents à Honiara ont reconnu que le fonctionnement et l’éthique des médias du Pacifique doivent être améliorés. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

14) Australie: les restes de 9 Aborigènes rapatriés d’Allemagne

Mis à jour 6 May 2013, 13:34 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

Samedi les membres de la communauté aborigène d’Australie du Sud ont organisé une cérémonie officielle pour accueillir les ossements de leurs ancêtres.

Ils ont passé environ un siècle à l’hôpital universitaire de la charité de Berlin.  Tauto Sansbury est le chef de la délégation aborigène partie récupérer les restes des ancêtres à Berlin :

«Ça a été une expérience traumatisante, poignante. Ils ont fait ça parce qu’ils croyaient que la race aborigène allait disparaître et qu’il fallait faire des recherches. Je pense que le gouvernement d’Australie du Sud devrait lui aussi reconnaître que l’exportation des corps de nos ancêtres a représenté une grande souffrance dans l’histoire et la culture aborigène.»

Les restes seront hébergés par le musée d’Australie du Sud en attendant qu’on puisse les identifier et les restituer à leurs familles. Seul un squelette a pu être identifié pour l’instant.

Keryn Walshe est l’archéologue en chef du musée d’Australie du Sud :

«Cette restitution aide vraiment la communauté aborigène à cicatriser une partie des plaies ouvertes par le prélèvement des restes de leurs ancêtres.»

On estime à plusieurs dizaines de milliers les restes d’Aborigènes toujours conservés dans des musées et instituts de recherche du monde entier. Cette exportation de restes humains aborigènes a perduré jusqu’à la fin des années 40 en Australie.

D’autres restes détenus en Allemagne ont été restitués aux communautés aborigènes d’Australie Occidentale, du Queensland et de Nouvelle-Galles du Sud.

BAHASA:

15) Agenda reformasi sepakbola Asia: bisakah diraih?

Terbit 6 May 2013, 16:37 AEST

Organisasi sepakbola kawasan Asia, Asian Football Confederation (AFC), memiliki presiden baru yang telah menyerukan reformasi total dan transparansi yang lebih jelas dari para pembuat keputusan untuk olah raga paling populer di dunia ini.

Can the new Asian football head repair AFC’s reputation? (Credit: ABC)

Keadaan liga sepak bola Indonesia selama beberapa tahun terakhir, termasuk pertikaian antar liga, tidak dibayarnya pemain asing, dan prestasi tim nasional yang tidak terlalu cemerlang, mungkin membuat  Anda gerah. Tapi bayangkan kalau tim nasional sebuah negara dipenjara dan dipukuli oleh pasukan keamanan resmi. Itulah yang dinyatakan benar terjadi menurut pengakuan beberapa anggota tim nasional Bahrain pada tahun 2011, setelah mereka ikut dalam demonstrasi anti pemerintah. Selain itu, penyelidikan media juga menunjukkan adanya berbagai manipulasi hasil akhir pertandingan di Asia.

Itulah sekelumit dari dunia olah raga yang akan dihadapi oleh Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa yang mencetak ‘gol’ mudah setelah mendapatkan 33 dari 46 suara yang tersedia pada pemilihan presiden AFC di Kuala Lumpur minggu lalu. Otomatis, dia juga menduduki kursi komisi eksekutif badan persepak bolaan dunia, FIFA.

Tapi, setelah kontroversi yang dihadapi oleh presiden sebelumnya, Mohammed Bin Hammam, yang telah dilarang seumur hidup setelah dituduh terlibat kasus penyuapan oleh FIFA, ditambah berbagai tantangan lain, pertandingan bagi Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa ini masih akan berlangsung panjang.

Direktur pusat penelitian Institute of Fan Culture di University of Wurzburg, Jerman, dan juga peneliti senior dari S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies di Singapura, James Dorsey, mengatakan bahwa walaupun Sheikh Salman ini menghadapi banyak tantangan, dia memiliki kans cukup besar untuk melakukan reformasi.

“Saya optimis, tapi tidak terlalu optimis. Secara pribadi, saya punya masalah dengannya karena dia menolak untuk mengecam pelecehan hak asasi manusia yang terjadi sebelumnya. Tapi, di luar itu, dari empat kandidat yang ingin menjadi presiden AFC, dialah satu-satunya yang tidak memiliki asosiasi dengan Mohamed Bin Hammam…jadi kalau ada yang bisa melakukan perubahan dan mengurangi pengaruh Mohammed Bin Hammam, dialah orangnya, tapi mari kita lihat apa yang akan dia lakukan.”

Walaupun dunia olah raga secara resmi seharusnya terpisah dari politik, peneliti ini mengatakan hal tersebut sulit diraih, dan badan administrasi olah raga haruslah memiliki transparansi yang jelas.

“Sangat sulit untuk memisahkan sepak bola dengan politik. Dan kalau sebuah badan pengelola olahraga ingin mempertahankan integritas sepak bola, maka badan tersebut harus memiliki pengelolaan yang baik, memiliki akuntabilitas dan transparan.”

Ikuti wawancara lengkapnya (Bahasa Inggris) melalui tautan audio, dengan transkripsi di bawah.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Narasumber: James Dorsey, senior fellow, S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, direktur, Institute of Fan Culture, University of Wurzburg, Germany

DORSEY: I think we have to divide issues. The issue with Sheikh Salman is really what happened in Bahrain two years ago, when there was a popular uprising and 150 sportsmen were arrested, including players of the Bahrain National team who say that they were also tortured, they were certainly denounced as traitors on television and they were charged and Sheikh Salman has not spoken out on that. He said very clearly there’s a distinction between politics and football. I do politics.

Now to be fair to him, he is a member of the Royal Family, a minor member of the Royal Family, but nevertheless a member of the Royal Family that is dominated by hardliners and therefore to some degree his hands are tied. On the other hand, the Royal Family did have an official investigation that did admit there was torture. You had last month the F1 in which the Crown Prince, whose less of a hardliner was somewhat more forthcoming towards the Opposition and the dialogue. And so, to be fair, there are restrictions on what he can say, but he should have said something and he hasn’t done that.

On the other hand, in regard to the reforms that have to happen, his advantages. He is the one candidate who had no relationship with Mohammed Bin Hammam, the disgraced former AFC president, so in that sense, if anyone was going to take on, if you wish the Bin Hammam era and dismantle it and introduce transparency, accountability, good governance, then he was probably the one to do who will do so.

EWART: What about the fact that the acting president Zhang Jilong didn’t even take part in these elections and the suggestion was that he was pressured by the Olympic Council of Asia and there are connections between the OCA and Sheikh Salman, not very good connections?

DORSEY: Well, the Olympic Council of Asia, which is headed by a Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al Sabah swung full power behind Sheikh Salman. There’s no question about it. And Sheikh Ahmed is very close also to the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter and one could argue to what degree the Council was important in winning Sheikh Salman’s victory. The fact of the matter is I think a lot of associations within the AFC want to move on from Mohammed Bin Hammam, but the Council did play a role and campaigned on his behalf.

EWART: What about this tweet that Mohammed Bin Hammam put out shortly after the election and as I mentioned using an Arabic phrase which is normally reserved for offering condolences. I mean is he implying that Sheikh Salman has a tough road ahead, that whatever corruption is within AFC was not all down to Mohammed Bin Hammam?

DORSEY: No, I think what Mohammed Bin Hammam was doing was that he, he and Sheikh Salman hate the ground on which the other walks. They fought a very bitter fight in 2009 for a seat on the FIFA Executive meeting and Mohammed Bin Hammam won that narrowly.

Bin Hammam whose barred from any involvement in soccer, in football-related issues supposedly, although I’ve never seen evidence for that, but supposedly campaigned on behalf of Sheikh Salman’s foremost opponent in this election, Yousuf Al Serkal, from the United Arab Emirates. He certainly publicly spoke out in favour of Yousuf Al Serkal, and so what he was saying with that tweet is you voted the wrong man.

EWART: Which I guess brings us back to our starting point of how the new man Sheikh Salman can go about reforming the situation. He has two years essentially. He won’t serve a full presidency. They’ll be another election in two years time. He’s plugging the gap left by Mohammed Bin Hammam. Is that enough time for him, do you think?

DORSEY; I don’t think it’s probably enough time to really do everything. On the one hand, he does know the business, so he may have, need less time to settle in. But he’s also going to be on the campaign trail again for 2015.

Today is the ordinary Congress of the AFC and my understanding is that there are people in the Congress that are going to question him on what he’s going to do. And one of those questions that’s going to come up is the audit last year by Price Waterhouse Cooper that really for the first time put public the degree of mismanagement that may, that did happen, and in some cases may have happened that report has a set of recommendations that the AFC has not followed up on. And one of the things that Sheikh Salman will be pressed on and that is in many ways going to be a litmist test of what he does is whether or not he’s going to follow up on those recommendations.

He has said that he will look at this and will give an evaluation before FIFA meets for its own General Congress on May 27th. in Mauritius.

EWART: It’s been pointed out more than once in recent days that while this is unfolding at the AFC, this is precious little to do with what it should be all about which, of course, is football and expanding football within Asia and to some degree perhaps, things have gone backwards in the past couple of years if we take the Champions League, for example, isn’t growing at the rate the AFC would like?

DORSEY: Well, it has nothing and everything to do with football of course. It’s very hard to separate football and politics one. Two, you have to have, if you have a governing body and you want to keep the integrity of the game, you’re going to have to have a governing body that has good governance, that is accountable and that is transparable and that is what this fight if you wish is about.

EWART: So are there grounds for optimism at all for the many, many football fans across Asia? Do they have grounds for hope?

DORSEY: I would be cautiously optimistic. With other words, I have problems personally with Sheikh Salman because of his refusal to denounce abuse of human rights. But, if I take that out of the equation, of the four candidates that ran in this election, he is the only one who is not associated with the past. He is not associated with Mohammed Bin Hammam and so therefore, if anyone’s going to dismantle Mohammed Bin Hammam’s influence and start introducing a process of change, his credentials for that are the best, but, let’s see what he does.

BUSINESS/TRADE+

16) Union’s Fiji tourism campaign labelled ’selfish and irresponsible’

Posted at 03:23 on 06 May, 2013 UTC

Fiji’s Tourism Minister says the international campaign by trade unions to raise awareness among tourists about the country’s political situation will hurt families who depend on the industry for a living.

The Fiji Sun reports Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum accusing the unions of showing a disdain for ordinary Fijians by misrepresenting the situation in the country.

He says tourism is vital to the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and any boycott is selfish and irresponsible.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also says he doesn’t think the campaign will have any effect on visitor arrivals in the country.

But the Secretary of the Council of Trade Unions in New Zealand, Peter Conway, says the campaign is alerting travellers about the poor situation many workers in Fiji face.

Radio New Zealand International

HEALTH: 

17) Appeal for help to fund PNG health study

Updated 6 May 2013, 18:06 AEST
PNG correspondent Liam Fox

A leading Australian medical research organisation is asking for help to fund a study of women and children’s health in Papua New Guinea.

The Burnet Institute needs $US10 million to fund its five-year Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program.

Director Dr Brendan Crabb says the study’s aim is to identify the main causes of the high rates of death and disability.

“And secondly to examine ways to deliver interventions we know work into rural and remote areas in PNG which is in fact where most of the burden is,” he said.

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, has recently spoken at the Institute’s fundraising dinner in Port Moresby.

“A woman in Papua New Guinea is 80 times more likely to die in childbirth than a woman in Australia and that is an arresting comparison,” Senator Carr said.

The Burnet Institute has so far raised $820,000 dollars.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

LAW & ORDER+

18) Vanuatu journalist arrested for online comment

Posted at 07:31 on 06 May, 2013 UTC

Vanuatu police say that a local journalist has been arrrested for publishing a seditious statement about the government on the internet.

Gratien Tiona was arrested this morning over his comment on a popular Facebook forum that he was praying for the aircraft transporting the Council of Ministers back to Port Vila following its meeting in Torba to crash.

George Twomey, who heads the police criminal investigation division, says the arrest was made following a complaint laid by the Prime Minister Moana Carcasses.

Chief inspector Twomey says Gratien Tiona’s statement was considered unlawful and a threat to the peace.

“And we’re dealing with the case as a serious issue. The Prime Minister wouldn’t accept that kind of statement. He says it’s alright to talk about the government on pretty well anything but if it’s a threat then it becomes a serious issue, and he’s very concerned about it.”

George Twomey of the Vanuatu police

Radio New Zealand International

EDUCATION:


19) History changes course in Pacific
By Online Editor
10:06 am GMT+12, 06/05/2013, Australia

Pre-European history could be taught at some Pacific universities for the first time ever if plans devised by local history academics come to pass.

The collaboration between academics led by Max Quanchi and Morgan Tuimaleali’ifano aims to produce a Pacific-wide undergraduate history course to be taught at universities from Papua New Guinea to New Caledonia, Samoa and French Polynesia.

Current history offerings are severely limited by a lack of resources, limited number of staff and low enrolments.

The Fiji National University, for instance, runs only three courses focusing on Pacific history. One course deals with the “colonisation of the Pacific”. Another is focused on “key historical periods and events in Fiji in the 19th and 20thcenturies.” The last looks at post-independence Fiji.

It’s a history “dominated by Europeans”, according to Dr Quanchi, who lectures at the University of the South Pacific.

“Even though [universities] teach national histories, it’s dominate by what the Europeans were doing, and we want to challenge that and say to our kids, when they first come to university, that the history of the Pacific started with Pacific islanders,” he said.

The planned curriculum – available online for faculties to tailor to their needs – would cover history from the first arrivals in the Pacific, and would include courses on languages, migration patterns and voyaging traditions.

The development of political systems, kingdoms, and economic capabilities would also be covered.

Courses would consist of major readings, maps, photographs, “mini talking heads were an expert in the field talks about a specific topic”, as well as assignments and review questions.

Dr Quanchi said the idea of a shared history curriculum had been floated many times in the last 30 years, but it was only with the arrival of online learning that logistical problems were overcome. Only a small number of text-books will be produced for distribution in remote parts of Papua New Guinea where access to the internet is difficult.

But the production of these resources, and their adoption by the universities, is far from assured. Dr Quanchi the program would be run as a trial in the second half of the year, and universities would meet to discuss practical elements and accreditation in December.

And the estimated cost – around AUD$50,000 – still needs to be met.

SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE/ENVIROMENT+


20) Emergency assessment team says Marshalls drought severe
By Online Editor
1:53 pm GMT+12, 06/05/2013, Marshall Islands

A drought assessment official says severe water shortages are affecting the Marshall Islands.

The Government National Water Advisor Tom Vance says people on the island of Mejit are among 3,700 people desperate for water.

Vance says there has been scant rainfall this year and well water is turning salty and brackish, and unsafe to drink.

He said there are no other sources of fresh water on these islands and the situation is dire.

Several of the remote islands, including Mejit, have solar-powered reverse osmosis water-making equipment.

But Vance said the units are small, producing no more than 300 gallons of water daily for island populations that in some places exceed five or six hundred people.

The United States has already provided seven reverse osmosis units, and has promised several more, while the Marshall Islands government is also turning to Australia for funding.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

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