Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 861

MELANESIA:

1) O’Neill Sues PNG Opposition Leader For Defamation
Namah allegedly said PM stole money, received kickbacks

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 30, 2013) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has filed a writ of summons in the National Court in Waigani, suing Vanimo-Green MP and Opposition Leader Belden Namah for defamation.

The defamation proceedings relate to statements Namah made on April 25, 2013, in a public gathering in Morobe province which were broadcast television station by EMTV.

EMTV, its reporter Scott Waide, and news editor John Eggins have also been named as defendants in the writ.

The writ stated that during a public gathering in Buang, Morobe province on April 25, 2013, Namah made certain allegations against the prime minister.

Among them included uttering words to the effect that O’Neill had stolen money from the National Provident Fund and was now stealing from Papua New Guinea.

Namah also uttered words which alleged that the prime minister was receiving kickbacks from contracts awarded by the Government.

The writ said the words spoken by Namah implied that the Prime Minister was dishonest and corrupt, and was unfit to hold office as prime minister.

The writ said that from the words spoken, the public was likely to shun, ridicule and despise the prime minister.

The prime minister has described the words said by Namah as malicious, highly defamatory and false statements made to gain political mileage.

“I’ve sued Namah. He has an opportunity to front up in court and provide evidence for the very serious allegations he has raised, or face the consequences,” O’Neill said.

“He cannot run away from it. We live in a democratic society and free speech is a fundamental principle of our institution. But the laws that guide our democracy and free speech, allow us to do so with an exercise of responsibility.

“As leaders, we must debate public policy in a constructive and informed manner, not attack the personal integrity of others with unfounded and false statements.”

O’Neill commenced the defamation proceedings against Namah on May 9 under the Defamation Act and the principles of common law.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

2) New PNG capital road collapses before opening

Posted at 02:54 on 31 May, 2013 UTC

A section of a yet to be opened 15 million US dollars highway in the Papua New Guinea capital, Port Moresby, has collapsed.

The Post Courier newspaper says the damaged part of the Hubert Murray Highway will cost more than a million US dollars to repair, with the National Capital District Commission directing that the contractor absorb the cost.

The damage was apparently the result of a burst water main underneath the new road.

The paper says the collapse comes amid concerns raised by Western Highlands provincial leaders about the quality of the workmanship on transport infrastructure.

The Western Highlands governor, Paias Wingti, and petroleum and energy minister, William Duma, say millions of kina in public funding is being spent on substandard infrastructure.

Radio New Zealand International

3) Papua Mine Reopens After Tunnel Collapse Investigated
Freeport expects loss of $2 million a day from 2-week closure

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 30, 2013) – The operators of the Grasberg mine in Indonesia’s Papua region have restarted operations, after the government completed its preliminary investigation into the fatal tunnel collapse two weeks ago.

Inspectors from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources have given the company Freeport McMoRan several recommendations regarding their operations.

The company says it is carrying out maintenance on its underground operations and hopes production will be sped up after being closed for two weeks.

The company is estimated to lose nearly US$2 million for each day of closure.

The collapse happened in a training facility some distance from the mine operations, and killed 28 workers who were undergoing safety training.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

4) Workers say human error caused Papua tunnel collapse

Posted at 02:54 on 31 May, 2013 UTC

The Indonesian government has completed an investigation into a fatal tunnel collapse at Papua’s Grasberg mine, as a worker says human error was the cause.

The collapse on May the 14th crushed a classroom and killed 28 workers.

While the government has issued recommendations to the mine owners Freeport McMoRan, workers are demanding much more.

Alex Perrottet reports.

“The government has given its recommendations to the company, which restarted operations on Tuesday, two weeks after 28 workers were crushed to death. The company says it never wants this kind of incident to happen again, but workers say if it were honest, the company would put safety before production concerns. Staff and union member Darmawan Puteranto says there were many reports that the tunnel was not fit for use and workers often heard falling rocks above the classroom. He says staff are afraid to join the union and fight for their rights alongside contractors. Workers have asked the company to pay compensation equally to families of contractors and employees.”

Radio New Zealand International

5) China economic rise will impact diplomacy: Solomons
By Matai Akauola
5:48 pm GMT+12, 30/05/2013, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says his country can’t ignore China’s rise, despite its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.

Solomon Islands is one of only 22 nations around the world that recognise Taiwan rather than China, and is by far the biggest Pacific nation to do so.

As a result of changes in global markets, Solomon Islands now sends more than 50 per cent of its exports to China.

PM Lilo has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the shifting global balance of power towards China is inevitable and must be factored into the Solomon’s trade and foreign relations.

“Within the South, as you know, China will remain the major market,” Lilo said.

“That inevitability cannot be eliminated from the equation of the way that we manage our international relations, international economy, international trade and even our foreign policy.

“It may be an issue that will be left as a silent issue in terms of our diplomacy but it is an active trade matter in relations.”

The Solomon Islands PM believes advancing trade and investment is as important as honouring diplomacy.

“In diplomacy, you have to respect diplomacy first, but at the same time you have to give due respect also to trade and investment,” he said.

“And at the same time you have to understand that Solomon Islands is a member of the South-South co-operation, the group of 77 plus China.”

Lilo hopes there will be better trading opportunities for Solomon Islands with both countries in the years to come.

“Opportunities will come about, as the opening of better relations will move to the more dynamic way of encompassing engagements other than just political issues, [such as] trade and economy, Lilo told Radio Australia Pacific Beat.

SOURCE: AUSTRALIA NETWORK/ PACNEWS

6) Palekula Beach reoccupation

Posted on May 31, 2013 – 9:50am

Landowners want Strata Title Act amended
By
Compiled by

“We want to send a clear message to anyone who is intending on buying lots subdivided as “Palekula Beach” that if you buy land, you will have to come and clear us off the land before you can develop,” a member of the Sura Tarusa said in a statement.

Landowners of Palekula Beach which was declared by the Supenatavuitano Council of Custom Chiefs of Santo and Malo have literally taken steps to avoid Palekula Beach, Pelinkula, Balikolo, Natine and Penkula being sold.

The Sura Tarusa Family said they have been bystanders and watched another Santo landowner, James Tura, illegally leased the said lands to his son Peter Vari who then sold his lease to Richard Butler who is selling Strata Title over the land.

A company named Rhumba Holdings has already bought three titles over the land according the statement to the media provided by the Sura Tarusa Family.

“While Richard Butler may have “indivisibility of lease” rights over the land, the case of natural justice is still on the side of the Sura Tarusa Family.
“The family has decided to take a non-violent action by reasserting their land right through reoccupation.

“Laws of Vanuatu are not supposed to contravene the Constitution of Vanuatu.

“But Strata Legislation is effectively against section 73 (All land in the Republic of Vanuatu belongs to the indigenous custom owners and their descendants) of the Constitution of Vanuatu,” the statement said.

Chief Gordon Roroc of the Suri Tarusa Family said they have decided the Strata Title is being used to effectively undermine the constitutional rights of custom land owners and has ordered his members of the family living in East Santo to re-settle their land outside Luganville and prevent their land being sold by “non-customary owners”.

The Santo Land Tribunal, the Island Court, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal have all ruled that the Palekula Beach areas belong to the Suri Tarusa Family.

This could be the first initiative taken by a group of land owners to defend their land being sold under the Strata Title Act because already Chief Rocroc is calling on the government to amend the Act “so it does not remain the tool to expropriate land in Vanuatu”.

Palekula area formerly hosted Vanuatu’s fishing base where fishing boats offloaded their tuna catch.http://www.dailypost.vu/

7) Australia Allegedly Blocked International Loans For Fiji
Economist criticizes ‘influencing’ of World Bank, ADB

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 30, 2013) – An Australian economist says Australia has been secretly vetoing loans to Fiji from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) since the military coup in 2006.

Stephen Howes from the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre says there has been no lending from either institution since the coup.

He’s told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat during the same period lending for the rest of the Pacific has increased rapidly, in part due to urging from Australia.

“There’s a public record and especially in the case of the ADB, there are occasions where… Fiji has asked the ADB for lending… and the ADB president basically says ‘no.’

“For example, in one case he says there are some hurdles to the prospect of re-engagement – when you think, what are those hurdles?

“It’s clearly coded and obviously they have to be other countries opposed to lending to Fiji – and if you think about which countries would have the interest, but also the influence… I think it’s really only Australia or Australia and New Zealand.”

Professor Howes says it’s been confirmed to him by various parties that Australia has been blocking lending.

“The Pacific is seen as an area where Australia has a strategic role, so our voices on Asia, or even in other parts of the world might not carry a lot of weight, but what we say in the Pacific carriers a lot of weight,” he said.

“We do provide significant funding to both the World Bank and the ADB to support and expand their activities in the Pacific, so Australia does have a lot of influence in these organizations on matters concerning PNG and the Pacific.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says both institutions operate independently and make their own lending decisions.

A World Bank spokeswoman says it has not committed any loans to Fiji in 22 years, but that it provides a program through grant funds which includes technical advice and initiatives aimed at encouraging investment in renewable energy and mobile phone access.

She says the World Bank Group is a cooperative, and Board approval for any new lending – in Fiji or elsewhere – would normally be sought when there is a broad consensus among shareholders.

Professor Howes says even the perception of undue influence could be damaging to the work of both institutions.

“This kind of behavior – the behind the scenes influencing of World Bank, ADB outcomes, really puts the two institutions in a poor light,” he said.

“Why are they allowing themselves to be pushed around by particular countries?

“It sends a signal to the rest of the world that these institutions are still really there to serve the interests of a few powerful, rich countries, rather than to work for all their member countries.”

Australia is providing more than AU$58 million [US$55.7 million] in official development assistance to Fiji in the next financial year.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

8) Fiji steadfast in its vision to form a new constitution and hold national elections

By Matai Akauola
5:58 pm GMT+12, 30/05/2013, Fiji
Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says the government is in the process of completing open dialogue for the nation’s new constitution in preparation for national elections next year.

This, he said was the culmination of his government’s reform agenda and a new beginning for the island nation.

Commodore Bainimarama made these remarks to Chinese Government dignitaries including President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday.

“The vision of my government has been steadfast,” he said.

“Excellency, I firmly believe that you will empathise with our cause to build a better Fiji. With your unwavering commitment, we will realise our vision.”

While acknowledging the invitation — making him the first Pacific Island leader to meet President Xi since the latter’s appointment as president of the PRC — Commodore Bainimarama said it was a clear demonstration of the “warm and cordial relationship between our two countries that has grown from strength to strength for over three decades, particularly in recent years”.

He also acknowledged China’s assistance which had provided support and impetus for the country’s socio-economic growth and development.

“With China’s assistance, we have witnessed increased access to essential services like health and education, bridges linking communities, upgrading of infrastructure and public utilities, which are significantly contributing to the improvement of our livelihoods and empowering Fijians.

“In this connection, you might recall the Legalega Mushroom project which your excellency brought to Fiji and no doubt when implemented, will bring in positive developments to our Fijian people, said Commodore Bainimarama.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/ PACNEWS

POLYNESIA:

9) French Polynesia formally asks for independence referendum

Posted at 01:37 on 31 May, 2013 UTC

The French Polynesian assembly has adopted a resolution asking France to organise a referendum on the territory’s self-determination.

The resolution was tabled by the ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira and approved by 46 votes in the newly elected 57-member assembly.

It was also backed by the opposition pro-autonomy A Tia Porinetia Party while the 11 members of the pro-independence Union For Democracy abstained.

The assembly vote came less than two weeks after the UN General Assembly re-inscribed French Polynesia on the UN decolonisation list.

The ruling majority says the world body defied the wish of the French Polynesian voters who this month elected politicians keen to maintain the current autonomy provisions with France.

The UN decision has been decried as a blatant interference into French affairs by both Paris and politicians in French Polynesia.

The Kingdom of Tahiti was annexed in 1880 but the islands have been granted increased autonomy, notably in 2004 when they became a so-called overseas country.

Radio New Zealand International

MICRONESIA:

10) Two Protests Filed Over Guam Airport Vendor Contract
DFS Group, JR Duty Free file separate petitions

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 31, 2013) – Two international duty-free retailers filed separate protests yesterday against the Guam airport agency’s recent signing of a contract for prime retail space at the airport terminal despite ethical and legal concerns.

Bid protester DFS Group, one of the world’s largest duty-free retailers who held the duty-free concession contract for decades, alleges in court papers that an airport agency board member received a Coach bag for his wife and another airport board member received about $200 worth of lotions, creams and cosmetics after they visited a department store being run by Lotte Duty Free in Seoul. The airport board members later returned the gifts and abstained from voting on the Lotte contract.

Dismissing protest

The airport and Lotte signed the contract on May 18.

The A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority Guam (GIAA) signed the contract after dismissing a procurement protest filed by bidder DFS Group, but before other bidders’ deadline to appeal the airport’s decision ended.

Filing a protest within an agency is the first step. Bidders can appeal a procurement decision with the Office of Public Accountability and also have the option of taking their protest to court after exhausting administrative avenues.

Hong Kong-based DFS Group, through subsidiary DFS Guam, yesterday did both. DFS filed a procurement appeal with the Office of the Public Accountability (OPA) and at the same time filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court of Guam “out of an abundance of caution.”

Second company

Australia-based JR Duty Free also filed a separate notice of protest with the airport agency.

“Given the weight and volume of discrepancies continually coming to light surrounding the award of the (request for proposals), JR Duty Free believes this action is justified,” the company stated in a press release. JR Duty free is a leading duty-free retailer in the Oceania/Pacific and Middle East regions, the company stated.

At stake is the exclusive contract to sell luxury goods, cigars, tobacco and alcohol at the island’s only international gateway to the world.

The contract states Lotte will pay the airport a minimum of $15.4 million in rent a year, or a total of $77 million, for the exclusive use of the duty-free retail concession space for five years.

There’s a renewal option in the contract for another five years. If Lotte renews the airport would collect $154 million in rent over 10 years.

Process halted?

In general, a protest halts further action in a procurement process until a protest is resolved, the Office of Public Accountability states.

In this specific case, however, OPA still is seeking clarification because the process has progressed from selection of bidders to the actual signing of a contract.

Airport Executive Manager Chuck Ada said yesterday afternoon the airport agency hasn’t received formal notice of the protests, so the airport agency is not stopping the procurement process — for now.

At close to 5 p.m. yesterday, nearly three hours after DFS and JR Duty Free announced their protests separately, the airport agency and Lotte issued a joint press release.

“The… concession agreement signed earlier this month heralds in a bright and new future for the Guam International Airport,” the press release said.

DFS’ lawsuit asks the Superior Court of Guam to halt the agreement, declare the contract void, order the procurement process to start over and bar Lotte from participating in a second round of bidding.

The gifts

DFS alleges in its lawsuit that the agency’s conduct in connection with the procurement process “has seriously undermined the ‘public trust’ in the GIAA as a public corporation and autonomous instrumentality of the Government of Guam.”

“Violations include, but are not necessarily limited to, GIAA board members’ acceptance of gifts and gratuities offered by defendant Lotte,” DFS’ lawsuit contends.

DFS’ lawsuit states that airport board Chairman Francisco Santos and member Rosalynda Tolan were part of a Guam tourism industry delegation that visited Lotte’s downtown store in Seoul in September last year, “where they were personally greeted by the president of Lotte.” The procurement process was ongoing at the time.

“(While) in the Coach section of the (Lotte Seoul store), (GIAA) Chairman Santos attempted to purchase a purse for his wife. Upon handing his credit card to the Lotte cashier, he was informed by the cashier that ‘Mr. Mesa will take care of it,'” DFS’ lawsuit alleges. DFS’ lawsuit refers to Monte Mesa, former chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau board, who “was assisting Lotte in obtaining consulting services from third parties in connection with this RFP.”

Mesa has denied, in an earlier interview with the Pacific Daily News, having worked with or for Lotte.

“On Oct. 24, 2012, after … being reminded about the pending RFP, Chairman Santos returned the bag with the purse to Mr. Mesa who, in turn, attempted to return the purse to Lotte for a refund,” DFS’ lawsuit states, quoting information from an airport investigation.

The Pacific Daily News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the same information, but the agency hasn’t yet released the information.

The lawsuit alleges the airport released information to DFS that Tolan received “a gift bag of lotions and face creams in her hotel room.”

Tolan and Santos abstained from voting on the Lotte contract.

The airport board decision to award the contract to Lotte was voted favorably by three remaining airport board members.

Airport board member Martin Gerber reportedly has a business relationship with Lotte, DFS alleges in the lawsuit. And had Gerber abstained, the airport board wouldn’t have had a quorum, DFS states.

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

11) Taking tax issue, Guam delegate calls for review of US ties

Posted at 02:54 on 31 May, 2013 UTC

Guam’s delegate to the US Congress, Madeleine Bordallo, says the island should re-evaluate its tax system and decide whether it should change from the United States federal tax code.

In a speech to the legislature, Ms Bordallo said the tax issue ties in with a wider goal of the territory becoming more independent of the United States.

She says the dialogue regarding a decolonisation process is perhaps the single most important long-term issue for the island, and the people must renew their commitment to making the effort.

The Pacific Daily News reports her as saying the process would include the whole community, but it must also respect the rights of the indigenous Chamorro people.

Radio New Zealand International

TOK PISIN:

12) Fiji Praim Minista i bungim ol lida blong China

Postim 30 May 2013, 10:23 AEST

Interim Praim Minista blong China, Commodore Frank Bainimarama i kamap nabawan lida blong Pacific long bungim ol niupela lida blong China we i save senis wanpela taim tasol long tenpela yar.

Commodore Bainimarama ibin toktok wantaim Premier Li Keqiang na President Xi Jinping blong China taim em i visitim Beijing.

Long toktok blongen, Commodore Bainimarama i tokaut long ‘Look North’ policy, we Fiji i wok long lukluk moa long tred wantaim ol bikpela kantri olsem China na India.

Bihain long wanpela miting wantaim Le Keqiang, Commodore Bainimarama i tok hamamas long China olsem wanpela gutpela poro wantaim Fiji na ol kantri long Pacific.

Em itok “[China] has been instrumental in facilitating the solidarity of the region,”

Em itok wantaim sapot blong China, ol kantri long wol i save harim ol heve na sindaun blong ol liklik kantri long Pacific.

Commodore Bainimarama itok em i bilip wokbung namel long tupela kantri bai go strong moa – na bai tupela save trastim tupela yet na i nokem pokim nus long bisnis blong narapela.

Em i tokaut tu long sapot blongen long ‘One China Policy’, long tok we i minim long kompetisen namel long China na Taiwan long Pacific.

China Premier Li Keqiang itok Fiji ibin wanpela gutpela pora blong China stat long taim tupela kantri ia i wokim diplomatic rilesen long 1975.

“As Asian and Pacific countries, China and Fiji are committed to safeguarding regional and world peace and stability,” em itok.

Mr Li i laik long tupela kantri i kamapim ol agrimen long sait long fishing na visa free blong promotim moa wokbung blong tupela.

FRENCH:

13) Australie : le travail saisonnier ou l’occasion perdue

Posté à 31 May 2013, 8:33 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le programme pilote du gouvernement australien s’est soldé par un échec ou un semi-échec.

De nombreux océaniens du Pacifique espéraient beaucoup de ce programme. Le fait de pouvoir travailler quelques mois en Australie et envoyer de l’argent à la famille restée sur l’île.

Un rapport très attendu sur les raisons de cet insuccès vient de sortir. Pour nous en parler : Jesse Doyle, co-auteur du rapport, et chercheur à l’Université Nationale Australienne.

DOYLE : « Il y avait un total de 2 500 visas, c’était le quota du programme pilote et seulement 1 623 ont saisi l’occasion. Et ce n’était pas la demande qui manquait. Beaucoup de personnes voulaient faire partie de ce programme.
Mais il y a eu un manque de demande globale de main d’œuvre en Australie. Et aussi de lourdes procédures bureaucratiques qui ont empêché des candidatures d’être là où elles auraient dû être. »

Mais alors comment se fait-il que ce programme a fonctionné à merveille en Nouvelle-Zélande alors qu’en Australie, c’est un pétard mouillé ?

DOYLE : « C’est l’une des questions sur laquelle nous nous sommes penchés cette année. Le programme pilote australien a duré 4 ans, et pendant la même période, la Nouvelle-Zélande a recruté dans les 7 000 ou 8 000 personnes par an. Pour l’Australie, c’était environ 400 par an. Une différence énorme donc.
Il y a plusieurs facteurs. Le premier, c’est l’absence de bureaucratie en Nouvelle-Zélande. C’est beaucoup plus facile pour les employeurs de faire venir des travailleurs et le coût des travailleurs du Pacifique du programme néo-zélandais était le même que le coût d’un travailleur local, il y avait donc une certaine compétitivité.

En Australie, les employeurs devaient payer les travailleurs du Pacifique 20% de plus que le salaire local. Des spéculations ont voulu que de nombreux employeurs australiens ont donc eu recours à des travailleurs clandestins.

L’autre question est que le ministère du Travail n’a pas vraiment une grande présence dans les régions horticoles de l’Australie parce que le pays est immense. Alors qu’en Nouvelle-Zélande, plus petite, les autorités peuvent surveiller plus facilement ce qui se passe dans les régions horticoles. »

Autre problème identifié au-delà de la lourdeur de la bureaucratie et les 20% d’augmentation de salaire accordés aux travailleurs du Pacifique, le programme pilote australien faisait aussi appel à des agents et des agences de recrutement ce qui a engendré encore plus de bureaucratie et des coûts additionnels.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

MEDIA/FILM+

14) Nauru President Denies Media Ban Ahead Of Elections
Interviews with politicians must be approved by Dabwido

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 30, 2013) Nauru’s President has denied that he has banned local media from speaking to politicians ahead of next week’s election.

Sprent Dabwido declared a state of emergency earlier this week, claiming the country was in economic crisis, and bringing the election forward by two weeks.

Mr. Dabwido says he’s had enough of government MPs using the media to bicker at each other or discredit new candidates.

He says what he has done is issue a directive to media that if any politician wants to be interviewed, it must go through him first.

“If other members want to have a say and that, then I probably should see their text and context of what they’re trying to say in the media because otherwise it’ll be going back to the good old days where they promote themselves and put down up and coming members. So it’s really a ban on politicians using the media for any political reason,” the president said.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

HEALTH:

15) 7 typhoid cases

Luke Rawalai
Friday, May 31, 2013

SEVEN cases of typhoid have been reported on Taveuni so far this year, says Health Ministry spokesman Shalvin Deo.

He said they received two cases from Qamea, two from Matei, one from Dreketi in Somosomo, one from Navakawau in the south of the island and another from Vatuulo Estate.

At Vuniwai in Naqara, which experienced an outbreak of typhoid two years ago, Mr Deo said the ministry was aware of the risk of the disease.

“However, the cases we have received are very rare and people need to take care with their daily hygiene,” he said.

“People need to wash their hands with soap and water before eating, after using the toilet or while preparing food.

“We are advising people to have clean sanitary toilets and ensure they have a safe water supply.”

Mr Deo advised people to boil drinking water before drinking and maintain clean homes and compounds free from roaming animals.

“We plead with the public to approach their nearest health facilities if they suffer from symptoms of the disease which include fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and stomach ache.”http://www.fijitimes.com/

BUSINESS/TRADE+

16) No decision on GPH management operator

By GERALDINE PANAPASA
Friday, May 31, 2013

Update: 12:47PM MANAGEMENT for the Grand Pacific Hotel Limited has not been decided as revamp works continue.

According to company secretary Neil Underhill, no decision has been made on the hotel management operator.

He said most of the main accommodation and conference facilities had been built and were now in finishing mode.

The contractor and developer is Lamana Development  Limited of Papua New Guinea, he said.

Mr Underhill said the project represented a significant investment by the investment consortium for Fiji.http://www.fijitimes.com/

17) Air Marshalls Plane Repair Bill Amounts To $2.5 Million
Government to borrow money to overhaul Dash-8 aircraft

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 30, 2013) – Air Marshall Islands, the government-owned national airline, is to borrow US$2.5 million to pay companies involved handling a major overhaul of the airline’s Dash-8 aircraft in Australia.

The 30-seater twin-engine aircraft has been out of service for over 18 months.

Airline officials said the initial cost for the scheduled overhaul was pegged at US$1.6 million, but the price tag skyrocketed by an additional US$2.5 million.

Once the detailed maintenance work was underway, engineers uncovered problems with one of the engines, which is now in Canada being overhauled.

Engineers also discovered severe corrosion in the body of the plane necessitating major replacement work that accounts for the vastly elevated price tag.

On Wednesday, a government official confirmed that the airline, with the government’s backing, has obtained a loan to clear the debt to complete work and get the plane home.

Air Marshall Islands has only one other aircraft in operation, a 19-seat Dornier.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

18) Samoa business NGO shares ideas with Tokelau group

Posted at 23:42 on 30 May, 2013 UTC

A team from Tokelau is in Samoa to learn about developing agricultural industries from the local non-governmental organisation, Women in Business.

The Women in Business executive director Adimaimalaga Tafuna’i says the exchange was initiated by Mika Perez, the director for the Tokelau Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment.

The group from Tokelau is seeking business opportunities for island residents.

The manager for the economic development division of the Tokelau group, Asifangalua Halaleva-Pasilio says the team is receiving training on organic certification, information gathering and mapping, and organic farming techniques such as composting and virgin coconut oil.

Radio New Zealand International

LAW&ORDER:

19) Special Coordinator Reveals Details Of RAMSI Transition
Local police in the lead, RAMSI personnel to support

By Ednal Palmer

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 30, 2013) – The recent announcement of Australia’s aid budget for the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), has given a clear picture of the future of RAMSI in the country.

RAMSI special coordinator Nicholas Coppel yesterday said RAMSI’s police component will remain in the country for the next four years.

But the military component, Mr. Coppel explained, will have to leave after June 30, 2013.

During a session to explain the RAMSI transition to members of the media, the special coordinator clearly explained how the transition will unfold.

“RAMSI came in three components. They are police, military and civilians,” he said. “At the moment we only have three military platoons of around 170 personnel. That military component will leave altogether after June 30. The civilian component under which we have advisers will remain but will no longer be operating under RAMSI.

“After June 30, the around 60 advisers we have will be moved under NZ Aid and Australia development Aid assistance. This leaves RAMSI with only the police component. PPF will remain for another four years.

“The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) have been and will continue to take the leading role in policing. The main focus of the PPF’s work would continue to be the strengthening of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF),” Mr. Coppel said.

He added that the level of funding also permits the PPF to maintain a security capability to enable it to respond quickly if the RSIPF requests assistance, particularly in maintaining public order.

“This means the RSIPF have more time to build and strengthen their capacity in public order management and I am sure will be welcomed by all Solomon Islanders,” he said.

Why is Transition Needed?

Solomon Islands has made a tremendous amount of progress since RAMSI was first invited in 2003.

Endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the Solomon Islands’ Parliament, RAMSI’s focus on arrival was to stabilize a country that had experienced significant conflict.

The challenges and opportunities facing Solomon Islands now, almost ten years later, are very different.

Today, Solomon Islands needs more normal, long-term development assistance, rather than the post-conflict type of assistance provided by RAMSI.

Transition is necessary for the future development of Solomon Islands.

RAMSI not changing, or staying longer than needed, risks undermining Solomon Islanders’ sense of responsibility for leading and shaping their nation.

In fact, RAMSI’s transition is one of the ways the rest of the world can see that Solomon Islands is now a safe place to visit and to do business.

Transition and Policing

The Solomon Islands security environment has changed dramatically for the better since RAMSI arrived in 2003.

Today, the security challenges faced by the Solomon Islands are the same as those faced in other countries in the region.

They require a well-run, modern police force capable of a strong policing response.

This is where RAMSI can most effectively target its capacity-building effort for the period 2013-17.

RAMSI’s Participating Police Force (PPF), including police from throughout the Pacific, will be staying in Solomon Islands and will continue to support the RSIPF. The policing support provided by the PPF has already been transitioning for some time.

For example, the PPF have stepped back from front-line or “everyday” policing, and are now focused on building RSIPF capabilities, especially in leadership development, public order management and the crucial logistics, human resources and administrative functions needed to support front-line RSIPF officers.

This transition strategy was developed jointly by the PPF and the RSIPF and agreed in November 2011.

Another very visible part of transition is the ongoing withdrawal of PPF personnel from most provincial police posts.

Long-term PPF support for provincial policing will continue through the provision of leadership and mentoring programs, communications and logistics support, and station refurbishments.

Transition and Development

Within RAMSI’s three development programs in Economic Governance, Machinery of Government, and Law and Justice, the challenges have been – for some time – long-term ones.

These challenges are better addressed through broader development partnerships, at a more realistic pace.

Moving RAMSI’s development programs to bilateral aid arrangements from 1 July 2013 will allow both longer term planning and funding, as well as more flexible support than is possible under RAMSI, which is constrained by the uncertainty of four-year budget cycles.

RAMSI’s Future

RAMSI will remain a partnership with the people and government of Solomon Islands, and a regional mission drawing police from Pacific Island contributing countries.

Close consultation with SIG, the Pacific Islands Forum and all other stakeholders will remain central to the way RAMSI operates in the country.

Solomon Islands has improved greatly over the past ten years. Transition is the way to recognise these improvements.

Transition is providing the opportunity for Solomon Islanders to step forward as RAMSI takes a step back.

Solomon Star

20) PNG Agriculture Development Plan Labeled ‘Major Scam’
MPs express outrage over millions of alleged ‘cash hand-outs

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 30, 2013) – The National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP) was a major scam that involved politicians and their cronies swindling K528 million [US$231.7 million] meant for the small farmers, it was revealed in Papua New Guinea’s Parliament yesterday.

This brought an uproar and anger among new members of Parliament who saw the report of funding made to their districts but nothing to show for it on the ground.

Minister for Civil Aviation and Esa’ala MP Steven Davies during debate said according to the NADP Report presented, K2 million [US$877,824] was for coconut and coffee projects but there is no such facility in the district.

Minister for Finance and Tari-Pori MP James Marape expressed surprise that as local MP he was not aware of a K7.5 million [US$3.3 million] paid to a company for a new coffee mill in Tari and after checking company records found that the company is owned by a Papua New Guinean and a foreigner.

He said there is no such coffee mill built and challenged the company to open the coffee mill if it is completed.

Enga Governor Peter Ipatas was emotional that K30 million [US$13.2 million] of the NADP funds went to districts in Enga without his knowledge.

These sentiments were triggered off by the NADP Report 2008-2012 presented to Parliament yesterday, the first after six years after the NADP program came into existence.

Planning Minister Charles Abel said the plan was developed by the National Government to provide a policy and implementation platform and fixed funding commitment to grow the agriculture sector and maximize the benefits to all participants but the rural populace in particular.

He said the funding required by the plan was K100 million [US$43.9 million] a year over 10 years and in 2012 K528 million was allocated to the sector under NADP.

The primary implementing agencies involved have been the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), the Department of National Planning and Monitoring (DNPM) and the National Development Bank.

“Unfortunately the implementation of the plan has deteriorated into an exercise of cash hand-outs by DAL and the DNPM against ad hoc projects with political interference and no accountability or reporting,” Mr. Abel said. “This is the first report on this program in six years and it is far from complete.”

He said significant amounts of money had been expended by the Government, particularly from windfall revenues which resulted in a series of supplementary budgets.

“It is important that we examine how this money has been spent and what were the outcomes. Unfortunately very few reports have been produced to date and this is one of the many flaws that we find as we begin to look at what happened.”

Minister Abel said the implementation for the NADP which started in 2008 did not conform to the expectations of the NADP with DAL administering the program through the NADP secretariat and with allegations of mismanagement, many government agencies have been involved in administering the disbursement of the funds.

He said some contributing factors included flaws in appropriating funds to central agencies rather than implementing agencies; heavy political interference in the disbursement process; and lack of reporting and lack of compliance to program guidelines.

He said the way forward was for central agencies not to get involved in implementing sector programs, public funds should not be given directly to private companies and individuals and all responsible sub sector agencies must do reporting.

PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/

21) Investigation Into Fiji Police Assault Video Questioned
Former detective says action should have been taken by now

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 30, 2013) – A former Melbourne detective says Fijian authorities should have been able to identify and prosecute the security personnel shown in a video torturing two prisoners.

Charlie Bezzina, a former Victoria Police detective who has 38 years experience in the force, has seen the video.

He has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat authorities should have taken action by now.

“I think time is the issue. Four months, you would expect some response,” he said. “It’s critical to keep the community and the people involved in relation to where the investigation is.

“Ideally, critically, is identifying obviously the two prisoners that have allegedly escaped and then identifying the culprits.”

Fiji police announced they would begin an immediate investigation into the video.

The graphic footage posted on YouTube shows one handcuffed man being savagely beaten with batons and metal bars, and another being set upon by a dog as the animal’s handler encourages it.

Fiji police announced they would begin an immediate investigation into the video.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

22) Samoa Police Raid On Boat Yields Guns, Ammunition
Commissioner confirms operation, but says no one in custody

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 30, 2013) – Guns and ammunition from a boat that has been anchored for some weeks off shore of Luatuanu’u village were seized by Samoa police in a night raid earlier this week.

Five adults on board, three men and women – all foreigners, were taken in for questioning.

Officers in rubber boats zeroed in on the boat after observing it in a stake out that included paddling in canoes in the lagoon as if fishing.

They raided when they saw a light appear in the boat towards midnight on Tuesday.

A policeman had become curious about the boat after seeing it out at sea as he drove through Luatuanu’u to and from work.

Residents told him nothing about the boat other than that it appeared to be a fishing vessel.

Police Commissioner Lilomaiava Fou Taioalo confirmed the raid but not the details of sea raid.

“I have not seen the report yet,” Lilomaiava said today. “No one is in custody at the moment,” he said.

After the raid the boat was towed by the Police patrol boat Nafanua to Matautu Wharf in Apia Harbor.

The National Crime Unit (NCU) has stepped in to assist police with their investigation at the international level.

Luatuanu’u is a coastal village located on the east side of Upolu Island.

Two years ago a container ship docked at isolated Fagaloa Bay to avoid paying port fees at Matautu Wharf.

Cargo from it were brought to shore and taken away by trucks.

Residents of villages along the bay received handsome tips not to report the presence of the ship at Fagaloa.

Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

23) PNG businessman Wartoto faces more fraud charges

Posted at 02:54 on 31 May, 2013 UTC

A Papua New Guinea businessman, Eremas Wartoto, has been charged with additional fraud offences – this time for allegedly misusing funds intend to rehabilitate agricultural plantations.

The latest charges brought by the corruption busting group, the Investigative Task Force Sweep, involve missing funds of six million US dollars..

Don Wiseman has more:

“In charges brought to date Mr Wartoto has allegedly misappropriated more than 16 million US dollars. He was earlier charged with diverting to his own use, funds intended as incentives for an airline operation and for the rehabilitation of a high school. Task Force Sweep’s Sam Koim says the alleged agricultural frauds are glaring examples of paper farmers and front companies feeding from the funds appropriated for the National Agricultural Development Project. He says the government’s intentions may have been genuine, but greed, lack of management and monitoring, incompetence and political patronage resulted in millions of kina being stolen and wasted. Mr Wartoto, who had evaded authorities by fleeing to Cairns in Australia, returned to the country earlier this month and was arrested last week in Kimbe. He is out on bail. More charges are expected.”

Radio New Zealand International

24) Even Vila’s French Embassy mystified by Paris’ black ban on Vanuatu

Updated 31 May 2013, 8:43 AEST

France has named Vanuatu and Nauru among a black list of countries it says does not investigate foreign aid fraud.

It’s been reported that French banks will be banned from using those countries’ banks for the distribution of development funds.

French officials have justified the move by saying there is a lack of transparency in the nations on the list.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson, Transparency Vanuatu

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

CLIMATE CHANGE/CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:

25) During ‘Dire’ Drought, Marshalls Faces Food Crisis
RMI advisor: breadfruit, other food crops dying out

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 30, 2013) – The drought in the Marshall Islands is being described as dire, as thousands of people are still affected.

The government’s National Water Advisor, Tom Vance, says international help has allowed 17 water purifying units to be distributed throughout the atolls.

He says while the units are helping hydrate the population, this isn’t helping with food.

Mr. Vance says government officials visited people on Likiep island yesterday.

They have been suffering from health problems like diarrhea and fevers as a result of the high salinity in the wells.

“Most of the breadfruit trees have died and the local food has decreased as a result of the drought. Also one of our islands, it’s called Enewetak, that’s the driest island, they’ve had such a problem with the drought that all of their local food crops have collapsed, and they’ve had an extreme problem trying to get any food into the island.”

Tom Vance says New Zealand has offered assistance to deliver food to Enewetak, and two water makers have been put on Likiep island, producing 360 gallons of water a day.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

26) Calls to save world’s largest green sea turtle rookery

Queensland’s Department of Environment is calling for urgent action to save the world’s largest green sea turtle rookery at Raine Island off the tip of Cape York. It says there’s been a dramatic decline in nesting success rates in recent years and is working with traditional owners to prevent a catastrophic crash in turtle numbers.http://www.abc.net.au/news/

27) Solomon Islands Commissions Solar Home Systems Project

Thursday, 30 May 2013, 4:43 pm
Press Release: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

Solomon Islands Commissions Solar Home Systems Project

With kerosene, diesel and coconut shells as sources of lighting for their homes, the residents of Kiu village on the island of Malaita in Solomon Islands were truly emotional when celebrating the  completed installation of 180 solar home systems during the official commissioning of the ‘Rural Electrification Via Solar Homes Systems in the Solomon Islands Project’.

The Kiu community are the first recipients of the US$3.99 million, which involves the installation of 2,000 solar home systems that will provide significant benefits to rural areas and outer islands in the eight provinces around Solomon Islands who will now have access to power for lighting and basic electrical appliances.

The project, developed and implemented by the Government of Solomon Islands, is funded through the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund, contributed by the Government of Japan and administered by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

While speaking at the commissioning event, the PEC Fund Project Manager, Mr Jonathan Mitchell commended the efforts of the Government of Solomon Islands and the implementers of the project on the significant progress made to deliver the solar home systems to the outer islands.

“With the installation of the first set of solar home systems in the community of Kiu now completed, we hope that the households who have received the solar home systems will take full advantage of the benefits that the systems will provide and we look forward to the installation of the remaining systems around Solomon Islands,” said Mr Mitchell.

Kiu villager, Mrs Susan Taonarihu noted the positive impacts that the project has had on households in the area, “Before having this solar system, I used coconut shells, kerosene and diesel to provide lighting in our house. Now, I am able to focus on my children’s education- our kids will now be able to study at night and we will have more time for our family prayers.” With an excited tone, she added, “I am also now able to charge my mobile phone at my own home without going to the neighbors who have generators, which costs me $10 each time I charge my phone and I would also be able to weave and make baskets at night now.”

Deputy Director for the Solomon Islands Energy Department, Mr Gabriel Aimaea noted the significance of the project to Solomon Islands and expressed appreciation and gratitude of the region to the Government and people of Japan for the provision of the PEC Fund.

“Solomon Islands currently has one of the lowest levels of access to electricity in the region, with over 85% of the population of Solomon Islands still without access to electricity and for this project alone, we received over 6,000 applications to obtain only 2,000 solar home systems,” said Mr Aimaea.

He further added that “the contribution provided through the PEC Fund is greatly assisting efforts by the Government of Solomon Islands in working towards its policy of increasing and developing sources of renewable energy to support the development of growth centers and rural economic communities”.

Mr Mitchell also stressed that the sustainability of the project was critical. “I wish to join others in encouraging each household participating in this project to look after their solar systems to ensure that the benefits can be sustained well into the future.”

The commissioning ceremony in Kiu village was also attended by the Ambassador of Japan to Solomon Islands, H.E Mr. Satoshi Nakajima, Senior Officials of the Government of Solomon Islands and the Forum Secretariat.

The PEC Fund is a commitment by the Government of Japan of ¥6.8 billion (approx US$66 million) to support Forum Island Country projects with a focus on the provision of solar power generation systems and sea water desalination plants, or a combination of both technologies.

The Forum Secretariat was tasked to manage the fund in close collaboration with the Government of Japan. Each Forum Island Country is provided with an indicative allocation of USD$4 million.

To date, the Governments of Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Republic of Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands and Vanuatu have successfully accessed the PEC Fund for national renewable energy and seawater desalination projects.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/

28) Warming seas stir crab invasion

Date May 31, 2013 – 8:47AM

An invasion of European green crabs, encouraged by rising ocean temperatures, is eating its way north through Maine’s clam flats, threatening the US state’s third-largest fishery and an iconic summer treat for tourists.

“If something isn’t done soon, it will mean the death of the clam fishery,” said Chad Coffin, president of the Maine Clammers Association. “I don’t think people understand just how big a problem this is.”

The invasive crabs likely reached U.S. shores in the early 1800s after hitching a ride across the Atlantic on ships, according to scientists. Once here, the crustaceans gradually worked their way to Maine, where they have been present for at least a century.

What has changed the picture, according to clammers, is that warmer water temperatures have created a crab boom, and those crabs are now consuming clam beds like never before.

The state’s soft-shell clams or “steamers” have long been popular with vacationers looking for a “taste of Maine.” The steamers are the state’s third-largest fishing industry, behind lobsters and elvers, worth an estimated $US15 million last year.

The green crab is listed among the “worst 100” invaders on the Global Invasive Species Database and is known for its propensity for clams, oysters, mussels, quahogs, and scallops – ocean delicacies long relished by New Englanders.

But climate change has added a new and unpredictable dynamic to the problem of invasive species, say scientists.

A 2010 World Bank report estimated damages from the global warming-fueled spread of invasive species at more than $US1.4 trillion annually, or nearly 5 percent of the global economy.

Already, warming temperatures on land and at sea have facilitated the spread of such high-profile invasive species as lionfish in the Caribbean Sea and forest pests like the Asian hemlock woolly adelgid – a tree parasite – in the eastern United States, both of which have caused extensive economic and ecological damage, say scientists.

“Our own impacts are making these historic and existing invasions even worse,” said Ted Grosholz, a scientist at the University of California at Davis who has studied the spread of green crabs and other invasive species on both coasts.

Green crabs, he says, filled a niche in Maine largely vacant before their arrival – the mucky, formerly crab-less intertidal zone favored by soft-shell clams. “Soft shell clams were sitting ducks,” said Grosholz.

Call to action

On Thursday morning in Maine’s island-speckled Casco Bay, low tide and a lifting fog unveiled a vast mud flat as Chad Coffin and Connor O’Neil, both of Freeport, made their way to the clamming grounds.

“We’re realizing that in a single lifetime clams and mussels have disappeared from most of our flats,” said Coffin, who has spent nearly 40 years fishing on the Maine coast.

A Maine clammer might typically earn an annual income of around $US30,000.

Coffin said his group had recently begun researching the impact of rising sea levels on the intertidal flats frequented by clams and mussels, but quickly realized there was a more immediate problem. “If there’s nothing left but green crabs, then we’re done, no matter what happens with the ocean.”

Clammers in Freeport lobbied the town, which last year committed $US100,000 to efforts at monitoring and controlling crab populations, including trapping, fencing, research and education efforts, said Town Manager Peter Joseph.

In the first “haul” of the season, Coffin said clammers pulled nearly 400 pounds of green crabs from a small area. Already, he said, composters, seafood exporters and even a pet food company have contacted the town seeking to use the crab remains, though he notes few are willing to pay.

Climate-induced disruptions are not new to the Gulf of Maine.

Last year, the state’s hallmark $US350 million lobster industry was rocked by drastically warmer spring water temperatures that threw off the timing of the annual harvest, leading to a glut of early-season lobster and plummeting prices.

Coffin said he recognizes the need for further study before cause and effect can be established, but says clammers do not have the luxury of time.

“We used to take and expect Mother Nature to replenish, but that’s a thing of the past,” he said, turning over a clump of mud to expose hundreds of scurrying crabs. “Things are changing fast and it’s getting out of control.”

Reuters

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/warming-seas-stir-crab-invasion-20130531-2nfjp.html#ixzz2UowTbm2x

SPORTS:


29) Kapi Natto praises Auckland
By Matai Akauola
5:01 pm GMT+12, 30/05/2013, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea’s National Soccer League defending champions Hekari United can learn from Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) championship league winners Auckland City.

Hekari franchise owner John Kapi Natto made the remark when congratulating the New Zealand team.

Kapi Natto described City’s discipline as one of the key factors that helped them claim a record third consecutive title. They will earn another piece of history when they travel to Morocco in December by becoming the most capped club at the FIFA Club World Cup with five appearances (2006, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013).

City beat fierce rivals Waitakere United 2-1 in the final of the OFC Champions League at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland last weekend.

Kapi Natto said the team had a professional attitude and was a consistent performer because of its imports.

The side boasts professionals from Croatia, Spain, Italy and Argentina who have significantly strengthened the side.

Kapi Natto also wished young Papua New Guinean David Browne, a member of the City squad, for making his second FIFA World Club challenge.

He also appealed to other Pacific Island countries to put a more concerted effort in taking on Auckland City and Waitekere United next season.

The Southern Highlander attributed Hekari’s success, regionally as well as domestically, to a professional approach that was underpinned by discipline and consistency from both players and the management.

“The success of any club is built on discipline, personal commitment and the God’s guidance,” he said.

Kapi Natto said he was hoping that Vanuatu’s Amicale FC would be the next team from the island countries after recruiting well from Solomon Islands and Fiji.

Ba of Fiji had some success when they topped their pool in the OFC Champions League and they did this with the benefit of having the cream of Fiji soccer talent at their disposal.

Incidentally, several of those players had previously starred for the PNG champions in 2010 during their O-League triumph and subsequent entry into the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi that year.

Those Fijian players were released from Hekari because of failures to abide by the club’s protocols.

“Those Ba players lacked discipline and that was the reason Hekari released five of them even after we won the O-League and went to the Club World Cup. But they have been successful back in Fiji,” he said illustrating the club’s adherence to its rules and expectations on players.

Kapi Natto said apart from personal commitment and discipline, loyalty also played an important part in Hekari’s culture.

“If the players are committed and loyal to the club, the club will be successful,” he said.

It took Hekari four years to win the O-League and Kapi Natto is hoping the number four will bring the club luck in 2014, four years after its meteoric rise to the be the top soccer team in the region.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/ PACNEWS

30) Votu marrying, Bobo in
By Matai Akauola
5:10 pm GMT+12, 30/05/2013, Fiji
Exeter Chiefs winger Watisoni Votu will not feature for the Flying Fijians in the Pacific Nations Cup match against Japan at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Saturday.

Replacing him is Racing Metro 92 winger Sireli Bobo who jetted into the country on Monday.

Bobo makes his return for the Flying Fijians for the first time since the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.

Flying Fijians head coach Inoke Male confirmed that Votu has ruled himself out of the early clashes since he is due to get married on Friday.

“It is great to see that Bobo (Sireli) has marched into camp and will replace Votu,” Male said.

“Votu has withdrawn since he is having his wedding on Friday.

“We expect him (Votu) to join the team later but with the visa issue; it’ll be difficult to get him for the remaining matches because we need his passports and for him to fill in the forms required. We hope the scanned passport will be used for the application but we will wait for the outcome,” said the former number eight.

Few players in the team, left winger Nemani Gadolo, full back Simeli Koniferedi and flanker Iliesa Ratuva are carrying slight injuries and hope to recover soon.

“There are few small injuries in the team which has been the result of the wet weather of the muddy and slippery turf but it is not serious and should be alright,” he said.

Male added that the team is in good spirit.

The Akapusi Qera captained Flying Fijians will open their 2013 PNC campaign against the Cherry Blossoms at 3.40pm on Saturday.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/ PACNEWS

31) Manu Samoa stock of locks gutted, three lost

By Matai Akauola
5:06 pm GMT+12, 30/05/2013, Samoa
Three of the four Manu Samoa locks picked for the quadrangular tournament in South Africa next month have dropped from the team.

Commitment to Castres Olympique has claimed Iosefa Tekori as his French club seeks glory in the Top 14 competition there.

Another veteran lock Kane Thompson has fallen injured while Dan Leo is under suspension.

Not named in the original squad but later called in was Piula Fa’asalele who also became unavailable because of club commitments.

Fa’asalele is Tekori’s team mate at Castres Olympique, and though uncapped and a loose forward can cover lock.

A search to locate replacements for the gutted stock of locks continues.

The situation is “fluid,” chief executive officer of Samoa Rugby Union, Fred Amoa, said.

The exit of Tekori, Thompson and Leo represents a massive loss of experience in a tournament against Tier 1 opponents Italy and Scotland – and possibly South Africa if the Manu performs well.

Tekori has 20 caps to his name with Thompson 22 and Leo 30.

And Samoa has always struggled to compete in the tight five against top sides.

A warm up game against the Lions at Ellis Park on 1 June, is much needed for a side with players called in from Australia, Japan, France, New Zealand, Samoa, Spain and the UK.

SOURCE; TALAMUA ONLINE/PACNEWS

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