Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 863


1) Forum not threatend by rise of MSG – Forum chair

Posted at 05:47 on 04 June, 2013 UTC

The chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Cook Islands prime minister, Henry Puna, says he has no doubt the Forum will remain the overarching structure in the region.

Recently, members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group have been taking a more hands-on approach to issues such as trade and regional politics – matters that might once have been more the preserve of the regional body.

Last week, the trade minister of Papua New Guinea announced his country might pull out of the Forum’s PACER Plus trade deal, which aims to create a regional common market.

Richard Maru says the deal was too weighted in New Zealand and Australia’s favour.

He says he wants the MSG countries to develop trade amongst themselves first, before looking at the wider region.

Don Wiseman asked Mr Puna if such an attitude undermined PACER Plus.

HENRY PUNA: Obviously, there is a divergence of views here and we need to respect the divergent beliefs of our members as they have every right to put forward their own views. But it’s something that I don’t we can constructively move forward on if I was to comment publicly on it. So it’s something that needs to be addressed internally among the leaders and also among the governments of the Pacific. And I look forward to advancing the discussions on that issue as soon as possible.

DON WISEMAN: What about the rise and of the Melanesian Spearhead Group? It would appear, to a large extent, that maybe that’s happening at the expense of the Pacific Islands Forum.

HP: Oh, I don’t think so. I think some regionalism has to be encouraged, and I’ve always been in favour of that. And it’s good to see our Melanesian brothers become very actively involved in promoting, within their sub-region, their own interests. And that’s to be encouraged. As you’re aware, the Polynesian leaders group have also set up their own sub-regional group. And the reality is, initiatives like that cater to the realities of the region. There are many, many similarities that are shared by the sub-regional groups and we need to be aware of these and respect them. But at the same time, of course, the Forum remains the overarching structure, if you like, for us all here in the Pacific. It’s important that we in the Pacific stay together and work together.

DW: You may reach a situation, though, where you have a strong Melanesian group, a strong Polynesian sub-regional group and a micronesian group, and there’s no place for this overarching Pacific Islands Forum.

HP: Oh, look, I’m a firm believer in the Pacific way. And that belief has been reinforced many, many times in the recent past with common initiatives that the Pacific Leaders Forum has been able to achieve among its members.

Radio New Zealand International

2) 2 Papuan Human Rights Lawyers Honored For Advocacy
TAPOL: human rights lawyers intimidated in West Papua

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 3, 2013) – Two human rights lawyers from Indonesia’s West Papua region have been honored at a ceremony in the Netherlands.

An expert jury placed Olga Hamadi and Gustaf Kawer third on the shortlist for the Lawyers for Lawyers Award won by Russian human rights lawyer, Magamed Abubakarov.

The London-based human rights group TAPOL nominated the two lawyers and says the award is deserved international recognition of their dedication to legal advocacy on behalf of indigenous Papuans.

The Coordinator of TAPOL Paul Barber says the Indonesian government should take notice and take a firm stand against attempts to intimidate and obstruct lawyers in their valuable work in West Papua.

He says human rights lawyers in West Papua are often stigmatized as separatists, intimidated and threatened by police, military, intelligence and judicial personnel for representing Papuans who are regularly arrested just for taking part in demonstrations and exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Radio New Zealand International:

3) Indonesian government tells Freeport to suspend Papua mine production

Posted at 04:12 on 04 June, 2013 UTC

The Grasberg mine in Indonesia’s Papua province has been ordered to suspend production by the government after reopening its operations last week.

Owner Freeport McMoRan’s President in Indonesia Rozik Soetjipto was defiant last week, saying it was a matter for the company to decide.

The All Indonesian Workers Union says workers will not return until Freeport suspends officials believed to be responsible for a tunnel collapse last month, in which 28 workers were killed.

A truck driver was killed on Friday in a separate incident.

An employee and member of the union Darmawan Puteranto says he supports the Government’s strong stance and says more should be done to hold the company to account.

“It’s very very extreme, because 28 persons dying, it’s not a small number, it’s a big number and with the Indonesian Government, the sanctions should be very hard.”

Mine worker Darmawan Puteranto.

Radio New Zealand International

4) PNG police minister loses seat over bribery ruling

Updated 4 June 2013, 18:13 AEST
PNG correspondent Liam Fox

Papua New Guinea’s police minister has lost his seat in parliament after a court found he bribed people during his election campaign.

The Court of Disputed Returns has declared Nixon Duban’s victory in last year’s election in Madang as null and void and ordered a by-election.

Local reports say the court found Mr Duban had engaged in bribery and undue influence during the election campaign.

The court said he had handed money to people at rallies and failed to disclose the source of a large donation he had made to a local hospital.

As police minister, Mr Duban had pledged to reinvigorate the country’s under-manned and under-resourced police force.

A spokesman for PNG’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, says he will take over the police portfolio until he appoints a new minister.

5) Repeal of PNG sorcery act won’t do much: academic

Posted at 05:47 on 04 June, 2013 UTC

An Australian Academic says the Papua New Guinea government’s decision to repeal the sorcery act won’t do much to change the high rate of sorcery-related killings in the country.

Dr Richard Eves, from the Australian National University’s State, Society and Governance programme, is convening a conference this week that hopes to find solutions to problems caused by the belief in sorcery.

Dr Eves says the beliefs are pervasive in PNG society and the issue is very complex to deal with.

He says while the government’s recent actions may be a start, they will be very difficult to implement.

“Papua New Guinea has a lot of good laws and good policies on the statutes but getting the police and the legal facilities to address these issues is the main difficulty. A lot of these things are taking place in places that are very remote, they won’t even know that the sorcery act’s been repealed, the police rarely go there, they’re very isolated and it’s sort of a hidden epidemic in that sense.”

Dr Richard Eves of the Australian National University

Radio New Zealand International

6) EU urges PNG to keep moratorium on death penalty

Posted at 05:47 on 04 June, 2013 UTC

The European Union has denounced the recent decision by the parliament of Papua New Guinea to reactivate the death penalty.

The EU says PNG has been observing a moratorium on the death penalty since 1954.

It says breaking such a long-standing moratorium would be profoundly regrettable and inconsistent with the growing worldwide trend in favour of abolition of the death penalty.

The European Union stressed in the statement that worldwide opposition to capital punishment has been demonstrated by repeated resolutions of the UN General Assembly calling on all countries to establish a moratorium on the death penalty.

As of now, about 150 of the UN’s 193 member states have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it.

Radio New Zealand International

7) PNG Coconut killing disease proving difficult to cure

Updated 31 May 2013, 17:17 AEST

A disease that has killed thousands of coconut trees in Papua New Guinea’s Madang Province is reported to have spread to other food crops including bananas and taro.

Named after the area it first emerged in, the Bogia coconut syndrome is moving from villages in Bogia to Sumkar and Madang town.

An Australian specialist in plant pathology and virology says little is known about the disease, and this is slowing research into ways to combat it.

Professor John Randles from the University of Adelaide says Australian scientists can help their counterparts in Papua New Guinea by analysing samples from infected trees if they send them to Australia.

He explained the characteristics of the disease to Steve Rice.

Presenter: Steve Rice

Speaker: Proffesor John W Randles, from the School of Agriculture Food and Wine, Faculty of Sciences, University of Adelaide

RANDLES: The coconut itself is the tree of life in general and it’s really a very important plant in all tropical regions, particularly rural ones and so a tree that’s taken some years to produce, if it suddenly goes yellow and stops bearing nuts and then dies, it’s really quite a dramatic event. So we call it Bogia coconut syndrome, but the most recent evidence suggests that there’s something called a phytoplasm associated with the disease.

RICE: Well, what are they? Are they bacteria?

RANDLES: Hmm, they’re like bacteria, except that they are very fragile, they lack a cell wall, so they can’t be cultured, so we detect them by looking for their unique DNA. Because they’re effectively just a membrane-bound bacterial cell, they have a lot of characteristics of bacteria, but they are introduced into the vascular bundles of plants by vectors and they’re typically leaf hopper vectors, that is sap sucking insects.

RICE: Well, how long does it take to kill a coconut tree?

RANDLES: It’s quick, it might only take six months to kill the tree. Because coconuts only have a single growing point, they are very susceptible to anything which affects them apical meristem and then you get necrosis of the tissue around the bud and then you notice it as a collapse of the frongs and cessation of flowering parts or cessation of flowering and nut production.

RICE: So this outbreak in  Papua New Guinea, does anybody know where it came from?

RANDLES: Well no. Well, often people don’t notice something until there’s an epidemic and when you start to get the big increase and the number of affected plants with the same symptoms that you realise that something serious is going on. Often because we think it’s the introduction of a vector which is probably the main driver of an epidemic. But we don’t know in a case like coconuts, where the lethal yellowing-like by the plasma resides. Are there other hosts for example?

RICE: OK. Now, people would be familiar with the word vector from mosquitoes and malaria. So does that mean that this particular disease is being carried by an insect?

RANDLES: Yes, yes. So the examples that we have. Now the insect vectors have been hard to find and you can imagine that the inoculation occurs some time well before the symptoms appear, so it’s really hard to find a vector if it’s not actually colonising plant with the phytoplasma. So we would say that yes, it’s likely to be a leafhopper vector, that is a sucking leafhopper. It may come in a wave, it might just come in and have a big population increase, then it might decline and become less important. So the vector side is not really that well understood, but we know as a group, the leafhopper vector, phytoplasma is a leafhopper vector. But the individual species, we don’t know much about them.

RICE: OK. So if you can’t find the insect, you can’t kill them to stop them spreading the disease, I suppose?

RANDLES: I think in a tropical environment, where you have a very long growing season, and you’re getting massive increases and decreases in population of many different species that it’s going to be very hard to pinpoint an individual species that could be transmitting a disease.

RICE: And is it spreading, does it look like it will emerge out of Madang and go into other parts of Papua New Guinea?

RANDLES: Well, I think the history of these diseases is that it is spread rapidly once they establish a base. Now it looks as though the symptoms have moved into other regions near Bogia. It’s along the north coast of PNG and so we’ve got, or coastal strip planted with coconuts and I would say that, yes, it will keep spreading.

RICE: And what’s the story about it adapting to other crops, like bananas, taro. Do you know if that’s happening?

RANDLES: Well, there’s recent publication by a group who’ve found various close stipulated phytoplasma in bananas, more so with the yellowing symptom in the same area. And so it’s possible that bananas and other monocots, even taro, could be say a reservoir, for them also susceptible.

RICE: Mmm. And is there any way for the agricultural authorities in Papua New Guinea to stop this stuff spreading?

RANDLES: My suggestion would be to see if remission can be induced by injecting tetracycline into the trees, because if you have a typically infected tree and you put in a gram or one or two grams of tetracycline, you should get remission of symptoms. The tree should show temporary recovery.

RICE: So the actual Bogia disease is still a bit of a mystery?

RANDLES: I think it is. What we have are one or two little pieces of evidence that show that phytoplasma is present in these trees. But it’s been very limited amount, there’s been very limited assays that have been made available to other plant pathologists. We don’t know very much about the work that’s being done in PNG, but I think it sounds as though it needs a major effort, whether there are some trees which are apparently resistant, that is, not showing symptoms, at least. They maybe tolerant and then go into a breeding program to try and avoid the disease. If the disease is to be managed or controlled, there would be a need to look for a resistance in the longer term.

8) Bougainville’s government wants veterans to be opposition

Posted at 04:11 on 04 June, 2013 UTC

The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Veteran’s affairs minister, David Sisito, says he wants the region’s war veterans to act as the opposition to the Bougainville government.

Mr Sisito says the veterans must play their part in advising the government of its direction in the absence of any formal oppostion in the Bougainville House of Representatives.

The Post-Courier reports him saying the veterans fought for freedom and should be advising and challenging the government and talking openly about issues such as law and order and weapons disposal.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Solomon Islands Opposition intact

By Online Editor
4:09 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Opposition is confident of its solidarity amidst claims that government political influence is suppressing them from speaking out on critical on issues affecting the country.

Speaking to the Solomon Star, Dr Derek Sikua said as an alternative government, they have maintained their role as a watch dog on the ruling government.

Questioned on why the opposition has been silent over critical issues of national importance, Dr Sikua assured all the issues they have trumpeted have come to light.

Dr Sikua said being silent is not an issue, what matters most is the government of the day should perform as expected by the people of this nation.

He said the opposition group is doing its role to keep watch on the government and how it delivers its flagship policies.

“We maintain our 22 members comprising of the opposition and the independent group.”

But a government insider within Office of the Prime Minister said the opposition has nothing to criticise the government about because the NCRA government was performing as expected citing developments like the establishment of growth centres, construction of airport in Manaoba airstrip in Malaita and Lomlom airstrip in Temotu.

“Another significant achievement of NCRA is the establishment of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU).

“And the nation has praised the Lilo led government of about these achievements.”

The insider said this government would make a difference in its tenure in office to deliver goods and services to the people as expected.


10) Boycott denied

By Online Editor
5:49 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Western Province Premier George Solingi Lilo has confirmed the annual premier’s conference is set to roll despite initial plans to boycott.

There were talks the host’s provincial government will boycott the premiers’ meeting which is scheduled to start in a fortnight.

Lilo said initial plan was due to the national government’s delaying of funds for preparatory work.

“But that was not a confirmed proposal. Now, there is nothing such as a boycott. We are working really hard to complete preparatory tasks in the coming weeks for the conference to start.”

The premier told the Solomon Star preparations towards the conference is on track and will complete in time.

“Now funds are ready to cater for the conference centre. Preparation towards the summit in terms of accommodations, transportation, logistics, venues and the official opening ceremony are progressing well.

“We hope to complete preparations a week before the conference commences,” he said.

The week-long conference will start on June 17 and end on June 21.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo is expected to officially open the conference.

“My executive and my good people of the Western Province are ready to host the seventh premier’s conference.”

The summit will coincide with a planned agriculture and trade show.

Many business houses, stakeholders and non-governmental organisations will showcase their products as part of promoting and marketing their businesses.

Theme for this year’s conference is: ‘Resourcing provincial governments to develop vibrant local economies’.

Makira Ulawa Province hosted the last conference.

This year’s meeting will be the final of the yearly event. It has been recommended that the conference is held every four years.

This is to ensure recommendations and other decisions reached in communiqué’s produced after the meetings have ample time to be acted upon and implemented.


11) Isabel celebrates with a call to free up land for development

By Online Editor
5:40 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Solomon Islands

The people of Isabel Province in Solomon Islands celebrated their 29th second appointed day on Monday at the provincial capital Buala with a call to free up their land for development.

Governor General Sir Frank Kabui who was chief guest at the celebration made the call in his speech to leaders and people attending the celebrations.

Sir Frank reminded the gathering that land  was a catalyst for development but very difficult to harness for that purpose.

He explained that building community facilities such as wharves, airfields, schools, hospitals, roads and other basic infrastructures help improve peoples’ livelihood need land and it is important that disputes are solved to make land available for development.

“Being willing to give land for these facilities can only promote our well-being in so many ways and that of our children. I know it is not easy but we should attempt to do good to our people and country,” Sir Frank said.

Speaking of the province’s contribution towards nation building, Sir Frank said Isabel has contributed largely to the development and growth of the country in terms of her natural and human resources in past years.

“You have contributed much to the development of the country.  Some of our early medical doctors were from Isabel and the tradition continues today.  I salute you for your contribution to the development of our country in whatever way it may be,” Sir Frank said.

The Governor General recalled that the first woman to be elected into the Legislative Council during the Colonial time was the late Lily Ogatina later known as Mrs Poznansky from Isabel who was the Clerk to the Legislative Assembly in later years.

Isabel province is blessed with natural resources such as minerals, forests, agricultural land and marine resources with a law abiding vibrant population and an efficient traditional system which makes the Church the backbone of the lives.

Sir Frank admirably said merging tradition, the church and the provincial government into a worthy and workable mix suited the needs of Isabel people.

Following the official ceremony at the Provincial Headquarters, Sir Frank took time on Monday afternoon to pay tribute to Isabel’s paramount Chief Sir Dudley Tuti at his humble tomb in Buala, visited the Buala Hospital as well as a visit to Guguha Community High School.

Also attending the celebrations were Minister of Aviation and Communication Walter Folotalu, Minister for Culture and Tourism and MP for Gao Bugotu Samuel Manetoali, MP for Kia Havulei Selwyn Riumana and MP for Maringe Kokota Varian Longamei.

12) Vanuatu Ministers Support Reserved Seats For Women MPs
Advocacy group says possible 30 percent reserve a big step

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 3, 2013) – A women’s advocacy group in Vanuatu says it’s a breakthrough to have ministers acknowledge that women deserve to have seats set aside for them in parliament.

The Council of Ministers has agreed that there should be a right for women to have reserved seats in parliament.

In 2012, 17 women contested the elections, but none were elected to parliament.

The chairperson of the Coalition for Gender Equity in Parliament, Jenny Ligo, says there is still a long way to go, but agreeing on a 30 percent minimum representation of women in parliament, is a big step.

“The government is seeing the reality now that women’s participation, especially in political decisions, have been made very little impact. And now we see this political will on giving the women status, participation, it’s a big improvement.”

Jenny Ligo says the issue is expected to go through parliament in August and they hope the department of women’s affairs will ensure women are educated on the issue.

Radio New Zealand International:

13) State Drops Plan To Relocate Vanuatu Convention Center
Relocation proposed mainly to preserve Parliament Park space

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 3, 2013) – The office of the Prime Minister yesterday confirmed the Council of Ministers (CoM) meeting this week pulled the plug on the Vanuatu Government’s initial plans to relocate the Vt1.5billion [US$15.8 million] Chinese funded Convention Center.

The reason(s) behind the CoM decision for the National Convention Center to be built in the Parliament Park green space will be released by the government’s Public Relations Officer in an official statement shortly.

The government in its 100 day list, under Aid Funded Priorities listed the action to negotiate and “Relocate the Chinese convention centre from Parliament Park.”

The prime reason behind the relocation proposal was the bid to preserve the large green space as the Center will cover a total construction area of roughly 6,574 meters-squared spanning over 90% of its site, the Parliament Park, next to the Parliament House.

Also the relocation of the Center to another site on Efate, another island or province would also ensure development is not restricted to the capital but it will do justice to the decentralization policy to facilitate development and services to the provinces.

January this year saw the groundbreaking ceremony for the start of construction work on the China funded Vt1.5 billion multi-purpose National Convention Center when MP Sato Kilman was Prime Minister.

MP Kilman acknowledged the contributions of the staff from the Embassy of China on their efforts and collaborations with the Vanuatu appointed Task Force and stressed experience shows that there is need for such a facility owned by the government and the people of Vanuatu and the “positive economic impact of hosting regional and international events and conferences on our shores will increase its opportunity to bid for and host other international conferences paving way for greater socio-economic benefits to the people and business community of this country.”

At that time he conveyed his hopes for the building to be completed in the 4th quarter of 2014 or an estimated 18 months.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

14) Vanuatu govt should review Council of Ministers meetings – Jimmy

By Online Editor
4:02 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Vanuatu

A former Vanuatu minister of finance and economic management has recommended to the Government to review its policy to hold only three Council of Ministers’ Meeting in the Provinces this year, and another three next year to reduce its costs.

MP Willie Jimmy has estimated that holding all the Council of Ministers’ Meeting in all six Provinces this year would cost a total of US$1.6 million, something the Government cannot afford to spend.

Jimmy says it would make more sense for the Government to hold three meetings this year, and delay the other three meetings until next year.

He says it is not proper for the Moana Carcasses’s Government to host any Council of Ministers Meeting in the Provinces without any approved expenditure.

Jimmy was dismissed from the Government last month for not agreeing with a number of newly introduced Government policies including the 100 Days List.

The extensive list includes moves towards political reform and greater accountability in public finance and economic management.


15) Electronic voter registration quest intesifies in Fiji

By Online Editor
4:05 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Fiji

The Fiji Government continues to strive towards its goals that every eligible Fijian is registered under the electronic voter registration (EVR).

And those who have not registered can do so as phase three of the EVR began Monday in centres where high concentrations of potential voters have not registered.

People living in Ba, Macuata, Naitasiri and Rewa will be able to register while other EVR teams will be registering voters in Suva, Korovou, Rakiraki, Nabouwalu, Savusavu, Sigatoka and Navua.

Acting permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice Mohammed Saneem said Fijians who had yet to be registered to vote were being sought in phase three of the EVR process – an intensified effort to reach Fijians in rural and other centres.

He said phase three was scheduled from yesterday to June 29.

“Our goal is to keep going until every eligible Fijian is registered,” Saneem said.

“We are making the maximum effort.

“The Bainimarama government has promised that every Fijian will have the opportunity to make their voice heard in the 2014 parliamentary elections, and we are keeping that promise.

“The process is apolitical. Every political party benefits from the process of registering the maximum number of Fijians to vote.”

He said EVR teams would be stationed at locations outside major markets, bus stations, restaurants, schools and in village or residential centres on Mondays to Saturdays.

“Hours at many centres are from 6am through 6:30pm, giving workers convenient times to register before and after normal working hours.


16) Third Phase Of Fiji’s Voter Registration Begins
Justice official: registration ‘apolitical,’ all parties benefit

By Mereani Gonedua

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 3, 2013) – New measures have been put in place to prevent abuse of process as phase three of voter registration begins today in selected areas around Fiji.

Acting Permanent Secretary for Justice Mohammed Saneem says those seeking to register must have valid identification.

“Anyone found using a false ID or to attempt to register more than once will be in violation of the crimes decree, specifically, giving false information to a public official, and possibly face prison time and/or fines,” Saneem said.

Registration resumes in areas of Ba, Macuata, Naitasiri, Rewa where a large number of Fijians are still to be registered.

Saneem further said the process will continue till every eligible Fijian is registered, an initiative he says stands to benefit all political parties.

“We are making the maximum effort,” he said. “The process is apolitical. Every political party benefits from the process of registering the maximum number of Fijians to vote.”

EVR teams will be stationed outside major markets, bus stations, restaurants, schools and in village/residential centers on Mondays to Saturdays, from June 3 to June 29.

A total of 505,036 people have been registered so far, out of this 248,966 are women while 256,070 are men.



17) New cable to give Tonga high-speed internet access

Posted at 05:47 on 04 June, 2013 UTC

Tonga will have access to high-speed internet within the next few weeks as a result of a new cable being laid between the kingdom and Fiji.

This week, a fibre-optic cable is being connected to the Fijian company Fintel’s southern cross cable, which runs between Australia, Fiji and Hawaii.

Fintel’s manager of commercial sales and marketing, George Samisoni, told Jamie Tahana the cable will give Tonga a significantly faster, more affordable internet service than it currently gets with its satellite connection.

GEORGE SAMISONI: It’ll allow Tonga to be part of the global bandwagon in terms of broadband and especially IP internet. At the moment they’re on satellite, which is quite expensive. Now, even though it’s capital-intensive initially, the cable will allow them to have broadband on the island.

JAMIE TAHANA: In terms of speed, what kind of distance would we see in that?

GS: It’s a massive difference. They’re looking at 2 by 10 gigs in terms of bandwidth, compared to what they’re doing now, which is about 20-to-30 megabits per second, so we’re talking about gigs there, which is huge. That’ll be landing on to the island. And as it has happened in Fiji through the Southern Cross Cable, the flow-on effect into the domestic will be commended so the reach will be there for them to take at least 1 or 2 MB to each individual person on the island as we are doing here in Fiji on our national broadband policy.

JT: And who’s funding this cable?

GS: The funding is by ADB, the World Bank and Tonga Cable Limited.

JT: What kind of project is this you’re undertaking?

GS: It’s a massive project. They’re looking at about $US30 million. The laying commenced this weekend, so the cable is on the way to Tonga. And at the Fintel cable stations the cable is connected straight on to the equipment. So we’re looking at round about the end of this month for it to be in service.

JT: Once this cable is in service in a few weeks it will be immediately there to be connected to?

GS: That’s right, yeah. It’ll be switched on and then that 10 gigs is available for Tongans and they can use Southern Cross for their bandwidth onwards. Vanuatu is the next island, and that’s the next project to be connected to Fiji and hopefully to the Southern Cross Cable. That’s the second project that started in January 2014. We’ve done the survey and that will certainly kick off in two months’ time in tems of installation of the equipment. So for Fiji it’s really materialising now in terms of being the hub of the Pacific thanks to the Southern Cross Cable, it’s only Fiji then straight to Hawaii, whereas all the Pacific islands are missing out, mostly, on satellite and it’s costly. So this cable project is really the end to the satellite costs and also the broadband designated for every Pacific Islander.

JT: How many nations are we hoping to connect to the Southern Cross Cable? How many does it pass by and not connect to?

GS: Initially, the World Bank did due diligence. Four islands were indicated – Vanuatu, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Samoa. The Solomons and Samoa are looking at options, while Vanuatu and Tonga have been confirmed to connect to Fiji.

Radio New Zealand International

18) Am. Samoa Reportedly Owed Over $25 Million In Grants
Federal grants made as reimbursements apparently lapsed

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 3, 2013) – The American Samoa Treasury Department estimates the territorial government is owed more than US$25 million in federal government grants.

It made the revelation in a report submitted last month on the initial one hundred days in office of the administration of Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga.

Many federal grants are made on a reimbursement basis and the department says an aggressive plan has been put in place to have local government coffers immediately reimbursed.

The Treasury found four main reasons for the lapse, including the failure to submit reports on time.

The report says Project Reimbursement’s successful completion later this year would eliminate the government’s projected US$4 million fiscal deficit for 2013.

It says the money would fund vital infrastructure projects, additional staffing and upgraded technology for the government.

Radio New Zealand International:

19) Flosse Calls For Self-Rule Referendum In French Polynesia
Territorial assembly passed supporting resolution last week

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 3, 2013) – The French Polynesian president, Gaston Flosse, has asked France to organize a referendum on self-determination.

The request has been made in a letter to the president, Francois Hollande, after the French Polynesian assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution for such a plebiscite last week.

The move follows last month’s United Nations General Assembly decision by consensus to reinscribe French Polynesia on the UN list of territories to be decolonized.

Both France and the new majority in the French Polynesian assembly wanted the territory to remain off the list.

The assembly has also passed a resolution asking the UN to revisit its decision and rescind the re-inscription.

There has been no word from Paris since the UN vote on whether it plans to hold a self-determination referendum.

The pro-independence opposition wants the UN to help supervise ties with France and get Paris to agree to restrict the electorate in any such referendum to long-term residents.

Radio New Zealand International:



Monday, June 3rd, 2013

By Rick Feneley

The Sydney Morning Herald

First Nations leaders from Canada have found a potential model for their people’s aspirations – and it comes from deep in Arnhem Land. Rick Feneley travelled with them.

They are on their way to meet the stone country people on the remote Western Arnhem Plateau, but first the delegation of Canada’s First Nations stops in Kakadu National Park to visit the man who said no to millions of dollars.

Senior custodian Jeffrey Lee takes them to Koongarra, his bush site that might have become a uranium mine worth as much as $5 billion. If only Lee had said yes.

”Money don’t mean nothing to me,” he says. ”Money come, money go. Once you take my land away, you can’t put it back together again.”

His 11 guests from nine First Nations find nothing strange in this.

”Heartwarming, but not surprising,” says Steve Nitah of the Lutsel K’e Dene Nation. Nitah says native Canadians derive 70 to 90 per cent of their diet from the land but are fighting their own battles with resource developers, from foresters to gas pipeline builders and tar sands miners. They only wish they had the power of veto that Lee enjoys under the Northern Territory land rights act.

Lee’s father and grandfather had wanted the mine but, after a decades-long battle, he has succeeded in his own determination that Koongarra be folded into the world-heritage park that surrounds it.

When Lee divulges his cut from the mine might have been $7.5 million, a 26-year-old member of the Heiltsuk First Nation’s tribal parliament, Jess Housty, shrugs: ”The money is the least interesting thing. If we want to calculate the value of a proposal, the question is, ‘What’s at stake?’ My identity is based on the stories my people have written in the landscape. If you kill the land, you kill our stories. If you kill our stories, you kill the people. It’s as simple as that.”

They are sweltering in temperatures of 30 degrees-plus. Some of them are more comfortable in -30 degrees. But they find they have much in common with indigenous Australians like Lee.

It is why the Pew Charitable Trusts has brought them here. The US-founded global philanthropic giant, which built its perpetual fund on the Pew family’s old oil fortune, is focusing its environmental work on the world’s remaining ”big scale” treasures – the kind of intact ecosystems over vast landscapes that can still be found in Canada and Australia.

So early on Saturday, we board single-engine planes bound for Warddeken, an indigenous rangers’ camp in the stone country of the Mok clan. This tiny outpost is protecting what Pew’s Australian director, ecologist Barry Traill, calls a ”global gem of biodiversity”.

The Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area is half the size of Switzerland, almost 1.4 million hectares that contain species found nowhere else on the planet: the black wallaroo; the Oenpelli python, rock rats, birds, many plants. It boasts thousands of rock art sites.

But wildfires that can burn for months and grow to ”the size of Sydney” would threaten it all if not for the pioneering indigenous fire management at Warddeken, says Traill. This work earns Warddeken and neighbouring indigenous groups a break-even $1.2 million a year for the abatement of 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Warddeken is one of 58 Indigenous Protected Areas that cover more than 51 million hectares of Australia and employ almost 700 indigenous rangers. Launched by the Howard government and expanded under Labor, IPAs are not forms of land tenure. They are agreements between the federal government and traditional owners under which the locals are supported to care for land that is otherwise neglected.

Pew supports several IPAs and believes they can be a model for the Canadians and their own treasures such as the boreal forest, the largest intact forest in the world. The visitors agree. ”I’ve been fighting for something like this for six years,” says Douglas Neasloss of the Kitasoo-Xaixais Nation.

But Warddeken may never have happened if not for ”the old man”, Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek, AO. Locals had left the area for bigger settlements around World War II and earlier. Nadjamerrek was among pioneers who led a homeland movement back into Arnhem Land in the 1970s and ’80s and, finally, a return to his own country in the late 1990s. He lived until 2009, just long enough to witness its declaration as an IPA.

Much damage was done in those lost years by wildfire, invasive weeds and feral animals.

Trail says: ”We usually think of conservation and say people are the problem. But one of the biggest problems in outback Australia is the lack of people. In more than 50 per cent of Australia there are fewer people managing the environment today than there have been for the past 50,000 years.”

The IPAs, he says, allow the people who know best to work ”on country”.

The on-site operations manager at Warddeken, Jake Weigl, says their controlled mosaic burning ”absolutely replicates” ancient fire practice but exploits modern tools. In the early dry season, they drop incendiary devices from helicopters. He describes how a helicopter will drop a team of just six to nine rangers – armed with only rake hoes, chainsaws and leaf-blowers – to resist fire fronts as big as 50 kilometres.

”For a fire that size in Victoria they’d bring in hundreds of firefighters, but that’s fire suppression – not management. If they managed it, they wouldn’t need so many resources.”

The chairman of Warddeken Land Management Limited, Dean Yibarbuk, points to the return of emu to the area as evidence of the rangers’ success and the recovery of species.

The Nature Conservancy also supports the operation. Pew has backed IPAs elsewhere, including the Kimberley. It is supporting the Ngadju people to protect the Great Western Woodlands in the south-east of Western Australia.

It worked with graziers and indigenous groups to secure the exclusion of mining leases from the Queensland Channel Country rivers and floodplains that feed Lake Eyre, but now they are battling the Newman government’s declaration that it will allow mining after all.

Pew has some enemies, notably elements among recreational and commercial fishers who believe it has supported research that overstates the threat to global fish stocks. Pew stands by the research. Traill derides a conspiracy theory that Pew is backing marine parks in Australia to exclude oil exploration – to benefit American oil producers.

Pew no longer has any money in oil, he says. When established in 1948, founder J. Howard Pew wanted to ”acquaint the American people with the evils of bureaucracy and the values of a free market”. His heirs have a less conservative focus but the group claims to be non-partisan.

Little of this concerns the daughters of Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek, Lois and Hagar. They welcome the First Nations people to their country by inviting them to enter a spring, where they pour water over their heads. In their dreaming, it is the nectar of the sugar bee.

”We are really proud to have that mob coming from Canada,” Hagar says. It was their father’s vision to share their knowledge with the world, she says.

Lois adds: ”I believe we are following his vision.”


21) Pacific Representatives Attend Regional Energy Forum
Tonga offers to host 2018 Asia Pacific Energy Forum meeting

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 3, 2013) – Tonga’s Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano attended the inaugural Asia Pacific Energy Forum (APEF) 2013, held in Vladivostok, Russian Federation, from May 27-30, where Asian and Pacific energy representatives talked about energy security and its sustainable use in the region.

APEF, attended by ministers of energy and representatives of 34 countries from the Asian and the Pacific regions, adopted the “Vladivostok Declaration” to guide stakeholders on regional cooperation from 2014-18.

Shunichi Murata, the Deputy Executive Secretary for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), reminded delegates that “the vision of energy security and its sustainable use for Asia and the Pacific as contained in the Vladivostok Declaration adopted today will guide all concerned stakeholders in the region to move towards a more energy secured region that will provide better security for the lives of our people, particularly our most vulnerable groups.

“To realize enhanced energy security and the future we want in Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP is drawing attention to seven focus areas including access to energy, energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy and environment, energy economics, trade and investment, and connectivity.”

The Vision is for an Asia and the Pacific where:

Sustainable energy for all is a reality
Enhanced energy security is present from regional to household levels
An energy future of equity, diversification and access to all is secured
The share of cleaner energies in the overall energy mix is increased.

Following the Vladivostok Forum, the Republic of Korea offered to host the 22nd World Energy Congress, to be organized by the World Energy Council and held in Daeque, Republic of Korea from October 13-17 this year.

Tonga has also offered to host the next Asia Pacific Energy Forum (APEF) not later than 2018.


Tonga is about 96% reliant on diesel fuel for its electricity generation. The government has set a target that by 2020 some 50 percent of its electricity needs will be generated by renewable energy sources.

Meanwhile, the price of imported fuel and electricity in Tonga remains among the highest in the region.

The ten Pacific Islands countries represented at Vladivostok were: Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Lord Tu’ivakano, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, was accompanied by Lady Joyce Robyn; ‘Aholotu Palu, the Acting Chief Secretary and the Secretary to Cabinet; ‘Inoke Vala, the director of the Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM); ‘Akau’ola, advisor for TERM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Tatafu Moeaki, the Secretary for the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism, Labour and Foreign Affairs.

Matangi Tonga Magazine:


22) Kimbe man long PNG idai long pait blong polis na prison offisa

Updated 4 June 2013, 14:40 AEST
Pius Bonjui

Pait koros namel long polis na prison offisa  long Kimbe long Papua New Guinea we oli iusim gan las mun i kamapim dai blong wanpela man long haus sik.

Sasindran Muthuvel Gavana blong West New Britain Provins long PNG ibin toktok wantaim Pius Bonjui (Credit: ABC)

Katres long wanpela gan tupela sait ibin iusim long dispela pait koros blong ol long Kimbe Papua New Guinea tupela wik igo pinis ibin kamapim dai blong Junia Lilibur.

Yangpela Lilibur ibin stap wantaim femili blong em long Gigo Settlement long Kimbe taim dispela birua ibin kamap long em.

Gavana blong West New Britain Provins, Sasindran Muthuvel itokim Radio Australia,  em ibin soim sori blong em na  ibinnap long halivim long kisim em igo long Port Moresby haus sik.

Emi tok taim emi go lukim  junia Lilibur long Fonde blong las wik emi lukim em  long Intensive Care Unit na emi gat wari long kisim win  long wanem lung blong em igat blud na iwok long pait long laif blong em..

Na nius nogut ibin kamap long las wik Friday taim Junia Lilibur ibin lusim laif blong em.


24) La France oubliée par la défense australienne ?

Posté à 4 June 2013, 8:28 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le livre blanc du ministère de la Défense, publié au début de l’année, ne fait aucune référence à la France en matière de coopération militaire.

Une universitaire spécialisée dans les études européennes, Denise Fisher, s’interroge.

Avec trois collectivités françaises dans le Pacifique, l’enjeu militaire et économique de la France dans cette région est pour le moins important.

Le livre blanc de la défense fait référence aux États-Unis, à la Chine, mais la France est absente.

Les explications de Denise Fisher qui a récemment publié un livre : « France in the South Pacific : Power and Politics. » ( La France dans le Pacifique Sud : Pouvoir et Politiques]

FISHER : « Depuis les jours difficiles des années 80, la France a vraiment travaillé pour rétablir son image et être acceptée dans la région. Ils ont mis fin aux essais nucléaires en 1996. Ils ont négocié un accord avec les dirigeants indépendantistes de Nouvelle-Calédonie en leur proposant une période de transition. En clair, ils ont commencé à solutionner les deux questions au centre des tensions dans la région.

Et depuis, la France a investi des ressources financières pour aider la région ainsi que pas mal de ressources politiques et humaines pour encourager les relations et notamment les relations entre ses territoires et le Pacifique, avec les voisins. »

Beaucoup de chemin a donc été parcouru depuis les années 80. La France est désormais un partenaire actif dans la région, un fait qui aurait échappé au ministère de la Défense australien.

FISHER : « En fait il n’y a pas eu de petite référence, il n’y a pas une seule référence à la France dans le document, et c’est vraiment surprenant.  Surprenant par que la France est dans le Pacifique est qu’elle est l’un de nos partenaires dans le Pacifique.

C’est une alliée occidentale dans le Pacifique, c’est donc un avantage stratégique pour les États-Unis et l’Australie. Je dirais aussi un avantage pour les îles de la région que de pouvoir compter sur la France. Je pense à Tonga, à la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, au Vanuatu, je pense à toutes les activités constructives comme l’accord FRANZ entre la France, l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande qui permet à ces trois pays de prêter main forte aux nations insulaires dans la surveillance maritime ou le partage de renseignements.

Il y a toutes ces choses et toutes ces activités ne sont pas même mentionnées. »


25) Dengue may be declared endemic to Solomons

Posted at 09:37 on 04 June, 2013 UTC

The head of the taskforce set up to handle Solomon Islands’ first major outbreak of dengue fever says the disease may now be endemic to the country.

The mosquito-borne disease has killed six people and is known to have infected one thousand two hundred people since it broke out five months ago.

Dr Tenneth Dalipanda says the number of new cases has started to drop but the total number of suspected cases stands at more than five and a half thousand.

He says 86 percent of those infected are from the capital, Honiara.

“We are not saying it’s over but what we are also aware of and conscious of is dengue might be here as a long term – become endemic to Solomon. The main thing is the city is kept clean.”

Dr Tenneth Dalipanda says public agencies are working hard to clear up rubbish sites, which are where mosquitos like to breed.

Radio New Zealand International

26) Malabag: Get foreign doctors

By Online Editor
3:55 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Papua New Guinea

Foreign doctors could be the answer to the acute shortage of doctors in Papua New Guinea, Health Minister Michael Malabag told Parliament last week.

He said many doctors from the public hospitals were engaged in private consultancy work, which was a concern for the Health Department.

He said many hospitals lacked specialist doctors as many were going into private practice because of better money and benefits.

The minister said the government might need to recruit foreign doctors and specialists to fill the vacuum.

“We need foreigners to come and help with our health problems. Our people need better health care and we cannot deny their rights to good health care,” Malabag said.


27) Nationwide immunisation for set for June-July

By Online Editor
5:37 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Papua New Guinea

Preparations are underway for the third round of tetanus toxoid vaccination for every mother in Papua New Guinea, beginning next month.

The National Department of Health will conduct the maternal and Child health (MCH) out reach with the focus on tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccination round three on June 17 to July 26 this year with the support from World Health Organisation and United Nations Child Fund (UNICEF).

Every child less than five years must be brought to the nearest health facility for MCH out reach services. During this upcoming nationwide outreach immunization TT, measles, polio and other vaccines will be delivered simultaneously with other maternal and child health services.

Tetanus is easily preventable with a vaccine administered to the mother. Tetanus is transmitted when children are born in unhygienic conditions, and non sterile materials are used to cut the umbilical cord. At that point, the mother’s life is also in danger. Many times this leads to unnecessary death of the newborn as early as from third to eighth day after birth. The mother when infected dies.

Countries in the Western Pacific region have conducted both national and sub national campaigns to eliminate this dangerous diseases.

28) Fiji Hospital Says 24 Babies Given Up For Adoption A Year
Gynecologist: young mothers lacked access to family planning

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 3, 2013) – About 24 babies are given up for adoption at Fiji’s Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital each year.

A few months ago, three babies were given up by mothers after giving birth at the hospital.

The hospital’s head of gynecology, Dr. James Fong, said the situation was problematic for the hospital.

“The hospital has resources but it is difficult because the hospital is not a place to care for orphans. It’s a place where we look after sick people. It is not an ideal place to raise a baby,” Dr. Fong said.

He said the biggest problem was that nurses ended up taking care of orphans in the hospital as there were no places available to take them in.

Health Ministry spokesman Shalvin Deo said the three babies were aged three weeks, one month and three months.

Mr. Deo said the babies’ mothers had made prior arrangements with the hospital to take custody of the infants.

“Staff nurses at CWM Hospital look after them. They were named Angelina Hope, Monica Grace and Isaiah. Nurses of different shifts are feeding, bathing and changing them,” Mr. Deo said.

The male infant, Isaiah, was adopted on Thursday.

Mr. Deo said the ministry had notified the Department of Social Welfare which provided milk for the babies.

Dr. Fong said unplanned pregnancies resulted in mothers giving up their children.

“They did not plan for the pregnancy to happen. All the unwanted pregnancies and young mothers who got pregnant accidentally lacked access to family planning,” Dr. Fong said.

Dr. Fong said such situations could be avoided if necessary family planning was done.

“The medical way to fix the problem is through family planning but there is a whole social problem around it. It is a big issue about sex and how people treat sex.

“We got a lot of urban drift, a lot of people are coming into the city. They get locked in the city and end up doing things that they did not intend to do.”

He also said mothers as old as 30 were leaving their babies behind.

Dr. Fong said some of the mothers had partners who left them when they found out they were pregnant.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre executive director Shamima Ali said men should take responsibility and not leave women to deal with the pregnancy and babies.

“It is because of poverty also and the stigma attached to women who have babies from men other than their husbands,” Ms. Ali said.

She said men and women were equally responsible.

“I would just say to women if they are in that kind of trouble they should seek assistance from places like the crisis centre where we can work out other options,” Ms. Ali said.

“In the past when young women came to us because the man had run away, we work out options for them and sometimes families were willing to take them home.”

Social Welfare Minister Dr. Jiko Luveni reiterated that babies were being given up for adoption because mothers had to deal with unwanted pregnancies.

Dr. Luveni said babies left behind in the hospital belonged to the State.

“This means they come under our care, the Social Welfare Department,” Dr. Luveni said.

Dr. Luveni said the ministry had to educate girls about sex and contraceptives that were available for them.

Fiji Times Online:

29) $13 Million Bailout Plan Proposed For Guam Hospital
Governor suggests Compact funds to repay bank loan

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 4, 2013) – As the Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) sits on the verge of running out of cash as soon as next month, Gov. Eddie Calvo and four senators proposed a $13 million bailout plan for GMH yesterday.

The plan calls for the passage of legislation that would allow GMH to borrow an additional $13 million, from a bank at which the hospital took out a $12 million debt two years ago. Under the law that authorized the previous debt, GMH is authorized to borrow up to $25 million, officials said yesterday.

If Bill 132 becomes law, this will be the third time since 2007 that money has to be borrowed –through a bank or from the bank market — to help out the island’s only hospital for civilians.

The governor said his role in this current plan is to commit $2 million a year from Compact-impact funds as a source of repayment for the proposed $13 million bank loan.

The hospital owes about $18 million to vendors.

The government of Guam receives $16 million a year in Compact-impact funds to help the territory cope with the cost of public services to migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The governor said there still is room left for committing future Compact-impact funding from the federal government for critical needs, such as to help out GMH. The administration didn’t immediately have the total amount of Compact-impact funds that’s already committed to certain annual obligations.

Compact-impact funding

At least $7.1 million each year of the annual Compact-impact fund is already locked in as sources of repayments for at least two debts, Guam Economic Development Authority records show. Of that amount, $6.1 million a year is committed for repayment of the construction and maintenance of Okkodo High, Astumbo Middle and Liguan Elementary schools. Another $1 million a year is committed to repay money used to buy desks, chairs and other collateral equipment for the island’s public schools. The bond will take a decade to repay.

Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. is the lead sponsor of Bill 132. Sens. Aline Yamashita, Anthony Ada and Rory Respicio co-introduced the bill.

Cash needed

GMH Administrator Joseph Verga said about a week ago that the hospital would run out of money without a cash infusion of at least $10 million by next month.

Part of what’s weighing down the hospital is its debts to vendors, including a pharmaceutical supplier that has assessed a $48,000 monthly interest on the nearly $5 million that the hospital owes, Rodriguez said.

During the first seven months of the fiscal year, the hospital paid about $500,000 in late fees and penalties to vendors that weren’t paid on time, said Rodriguez, chairman of the legislative health committee.

The governor said the hospital struggles financially because it provides hospitalization and urgent care to all who need the services — even for those who don’t have the capability to repay.

The administration has decided to commit to the latest financial subsidy, the governor said, “so that GMH can focus on patient care.”

In fiscal 2012, the hospital collected 61 cents for every dollar of its billings, which reached $146.7 million, an audit report last month shows. Though an improvement from the previous year, when 50 cents on the dollar was collected, the hospital still struggles to pay its bills on time.

The hospital also is struggling to pay higher personnel costs, which increased to $43.4 million in 2011 from $41 million a year earlier, the audit report states. GMH had 477 employees in fiscal 2011 and 496 employees a year earlier, but ended up paying more salaries in fiscal 2011, the audit states.

Bailout not enough

It’s not clear how soon the proposed $13 million bailout will get majority approval by the 15 Guam senators, but if it does pass, Rodriguez said this helps to buy time for the hospital.

Rodriguez said he still will pursue Bill 20, which he said was meant to identify taxes and fees from gaming machine fees to help the hospital. Bill 20 met opposition and was described by opponents as a way to legalize gambling machines, which the attorney general said are illegal. The bill had to be sent back from the main legislative debate floor to a committee level for further review.

Rodriguez said he still will try to get Bill 20 passed to fund the urgent care functions of the island’s only public hospital.

Pacific Daily News:


30) Solomon Islands national university eyes opening of forestry school

By Online Editor
3:44 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Solomon Islands

A joint high level delegation from the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and the Ministry of Forestry and Research visited the former Poitete Forestry School on Kolombangara last week with the aim to re-open the school after its closure in 2004.

The school which was established in 1988 was closed in 2004 and was relocated to Honiara under the former Solomon Islands College of High Education (SICHE).

SINU Vice Chancellor Dr Glen Galo said the purpose of the visit was to assess the existing facilities and infrastructure at the school to help them draw up a plan for the school’s redevelopment.

“SINU will be offering a Diploma Program in Forestry and re-opening Poitete is a priority for the University and our visit was to assess the current facilities to help us plan the redevelopment of the school,” Dr Galo said.

Poitete is located on Kolombangara Island in Western Province which hosts one of the country’s leading forestry companies – the Kolombangara Forestry Plantation Limited (KFPL).

Dr Galo said setting up an education facility closer to a company like KFPL is appropriate because students will put into practice the knowledge they gain from the classroom.

“It would also provide work attachments and job opportunities for the students after completing their courses there,” Dr Galo added.

A partnership program between SINU and KFPL and another leading forestry company, Eagon Pacific Plantation Limited was sealed between the three parties during the visit,

Eagon Pacific Plantation Limited is located at Arara on South New Georgia Island.

The partnership agreement opens the way for SINU students to undergo their practical attachments with the two companies.

“In order to raise the standard of SINU as a University, it needs to reach out and establish partnership with people, communities, businesses, donors and the government and this agreement sets the beginning of the process,” Dr Galo said.

During the signing ceremony, managers of the two companies assured SINU of their commitment and full support towards the school.

“This partnership Agreement shows SINU’s trust and confidence in our company and we are ready to support this endeavor,” said KFPL Manager Peter Whitehead.

At the Arara camp on New Georgia, Eagon’s Manager, Moon echoed a similar message saying his company is always prepared to support SINU.

At present, most the employees of the two leading forestry companies are graduates from the former SICHE’s school of Natural Resources.

The SINU delegation was led by Pro Vice Chancellor Sir Nathaniel Waena and Vice Chancellor Dr Glen Galo while Permanent Secretary Jeffery Wickham led the team from the Ministry of Forestry and Research.


31) NMI School Teachers Issued Pink Slips For Non-Compliance
Almost 200 did not meet certification requirements with BOE

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, June 4, 2013) – Nearly 200 employees of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System (PSS) were issued pink slips after being found non-compliant with the licensure and certification policy of the Board of Education.

Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D., confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday that PSS’ Human Resource Office issued the 90-day non-renewal notices to mostly classroom teachers.

Sablan said the Board of Education requires five types of certificates: basic 1, basic II, specialized, standard with endorsement, and professional. Of these five certifications, three are renewable while two are non-renewable.

Any employee who does not meet these requirements are no longer allowed employment with the system, Sablan said.

Based on the 90-day notice, recipients are given from May 13 to Aug. 13 to obtain, complete, or renew their required licenses and certificates or they will be let go at the start of the new school year.

Sablan emphasized that it is her responsibility to fully implement the board’s policy on licensure and certification.

“It’s really a policy matter that needs to be implemented. This, to me, is a personal and a professional responsibility [of the employee] because no matter what profession you are, if you are required to have a certificate or a license, you’ve better be [certified],” she said.

Sablan pointed out that in the U.S. mainland, the absence of a license or certificate means an individual won’t be allowed employment in certain fields.

Interim HR officer Coreen Palacios said yesterday that a total of 176 notices have been issued, of which 54 cover non-renewable certificates.

Sablan remains optimistic that those who received notices will still be able to complete and fulfill the requirements.

To ensure that PSS will not be gravely impacted by the potential departure of classroom teachers, Sablan plans to ask the board for an “extension.”

“The administration and the board have always been there to support. I am very sure the board will help these teachers because they are all highly qualified and they just need to renew their licenses and take some courses. We conduct series of professional developments, there are courses offered at NMC [Northern Marianas College], and they can go online. Those are the options available for them to complete the certification requirements,” explained Sablan.

At Koblerville Elementary School, three teachers and two instructors have been issued 90-day notices but Principal Rizalina Purugganan is confident that all five employees will be able to meet the requirements. Most of these employees just need to submit certain documents, she said, such as a medical certificate, which is among the several documents required in a specific certificate. As contingency plan, she plans to announce the positions if they become vacant next school year.

The 90-day notice will expire Aug. 13. Classes will open on Sept. 2.

Saipan Tribune learned that in order to secure the basic 1 certification, one has to pass the Praxis 1 and 2 tests, hold a teaching certificate, and medical examination, among other requirements. Many employees lack either one or two of these supporting documents.

Kagman High School principal Alfred Ada told Saipan Tribune that five teachers in his school received the 90-day notices and that all are committed to meeting the certification requirements.

He also assured that all principals were given the flexibility to make sure they will have the number of classroom teachers they need once classes open next school year.

Other principals said they have almost the same number of affected employees and everyone is confident that all requirements will be turned in before the Aug. 13 deadline.

Saipan Tribune


32) PNG workers in Australia at risk of becoming election fodder

Updated 3 June 2013, 17:27 AEST

Papua New Guineans working in Australia are getting caught up in the controversy over foreigners using skilled work visas, known as 457 visas.

PNG workers in Australia at risk of becoming election fodder (Credit: ABC)

In a piece written for the Australian National University’s Devpolicy blog Associate Professor Colin Filer, Convenor of the Resource Management in Asia Pacific Program says mining is providing far more jobs for Papua New Guineans in Australia than the much-vaunted Australian Seasonal Worker scheme.

So much so that in the 2 years until the middle of last year only 82 PNG citizens came to Australia under the seasonal worker scheme, while thousands came to work in the mining industry, many on 457 visas.

Professor Filer told Jemima Garrett the Australian government needs to recognise PNG mine workers make a big contribution to development in PNG.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker:Associate Professor Colin Filer, Convenor of the Resource Management in Asia Pacific Program at ANU

FILER: The seasonal worker program is problematic for various reasons. It’s not so much because Papua New Guineans don’t want to take advantage of it, but rather because they’re potential employers are not particularly keen to employ them. As for the mine workers, well, there’s a lot of mine workers in Papua New Guinea, a lot of people have been trained by the industry up there, because there’s been a resource boom in Papua New Guinea, just as there has been in Australia. And Papua New Guineans who are particularly well qualified have taken advantage of job opportunities in Australia and in many other countries around the world, mainly in order to get more money, because in Papua New Guinea they’re paid less than half the salaries of expatriates who are doing much the same jobs and have the same formal qualifications.

GARRETT: Papua New Guineans working in Australia in the mining industry were at the centre of a controversy on ABC TV 7.30 program last week. It claimed that well qualified Australian workers were sacked in the coal mining community in northern New South Wales, while six Papua New Guineans here on the controversial short term 457 visas kept their jobs. What’s your take on that story?

FILER: Well two things. I mean first of all, we really don’t know the circumstances in which some workers lost their jobs and others didn’t. The implication on the program was that the Papua New Guineans were not at all well qualified, but we do know from the operation of the 457 Visa Scheme that employers do have to demonstrate the qualifications of such workers before they get those kind of visas. But perhaps the more important point to make is that from a survey that I and a colleague at the University of Western Sydney have undertaken, most of the Papua New Guineans employed in the industry down here in Australia are very highly qualified. They’re mainly professionals of one kind or other, geologists, metallurgists and people of that sort and they’re earning, half of them at least, more than $4,000 a fortnight in take home pay. So the diesel mechanics featured on the program, may not in fact be typical of the kind of Papua New Guineans who are employed in the industry down here.

GARRETT: Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is making 457 Visas an election issue. Are other Papua New Guineans working in the mining industry on 457 visas likely to be vulnerable to complaints from local communities as we go into the election campaign?

FILER: Hmm, they might be vulnerable to complaints from local communities, but more likely they’re vulnerable, like most other mine workers, to the downturn in employment in the sector. And if they’re only here on 457 visas, then, of course, their contracts can be terminated and then they’ll have to go home.

Quite a lot of them though, it should be said have taken advantage of the opportunity with their employer sponsorship of becoming permanent residents in Australia.

GARRETT: This week, the Australian government is due to announce tightened guidelines from obtaining 457 visas. How is that likely to affect Papua New Guineans wanting to come here?

FILER: It could make it more difficult, who knows what a Coalition government would do if it comes to power later in the year. So far, they’ve indicated that their sympathy lies with the employers who are keen to keep the scheme much as it is at present.

GARRETT: Now this is a two-way street. There are Australians going to work in the mining industry in Papua New Guinea too. How does the number of Papua New Guineans working in the mining industry compare with the number of Australians working in the mining industry in Papua New Guinea?

FILER: It seems to be about the same. We don’t have detailed figures on the sort of breakdown by nationality of the expatriate workers in Papua New Guinea. We think from the census data and data from the Immigration Department, that there probably about 2,000 Papua New Guineans down here whose livelihood is derived from the mining sector, that’s not just the mine workers themselves, but also their families and there’s probably about 2,000 Australians working in the sector up in Papua New Guinea. Even if we discount the very substantial workforce involved in construction of the liquid natural gas project up there. So the numbers are probably pretty much the same. The difference is that the Australians are basically working on fly in, fly out basis to PNG. They don’t take their families with them most of them. They don’t live up there on a permanent basis, whereas the Papua New Guineans who come down here, do bring their families, for understandable reasons. They want to take advantage of Australia’s education system for their children, for example.

GARRETT: So, in fact, Papua New Guineans are making more of a contribution here than Australians maybe in Papua New Guinea?

FILER: Well, it depends on how you think of peoples contribution to the economy. One thing we can say about the Papua New Guineans working down here, is that they’re sending quite significant proportion of their incomes back to Papua New Guinea in the form of remittances.

GARRETT: Is there anything Papua New Guineans can do to avoid becoming political footballs in the lead up to the Australian election?

FILER: Well perhaps they should do what those six diesel mechanics featured on the 7.30 Report did and refuse to answer questions in case they get themselves into any further trouble.

GARRETT: What action would you like to see from the Australian government on this?

FILER: Well, I think the Australian government really needs to recognise that if it wants to contribute to the development of Papua New Guinea, then it needs to do what the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, was telling Julia Gillard the other day. It needs to make it somewhat easier for Papua New Guineans to actually come to Australia, get decent jobs and contribute to development at home in that way.Many of them and their children, will probably go back to Papua New Guinea at sometime in the future.

33) France yet to signal direction on rare earth exploration in Pacific

Posted at 09:37 on 04 June, 2013 UTC

The mining of rare earth minerals in the Pacific could be a step closer, with the United Nations International Seabed Authority publishing a plan for managing the extraction of the precious metals.

The metals, which are vital for manufacturers of items like cameras, computers and aeroplanes, are reportedly in strong supply in seabeds around French Polynesia.

Alex Perrottet reports.

“China currently holds a lion’s share of the export market in the rare minerals, but new discoveries in Greenland and the Pacific Ocean seabed could signal significant movement in the market. Last year, a pro-independence poltician Richard Tuheiava called for a law change that would allow French Polynesia to explore and mine in the exclusive economic zone that is controlled by France. The emerging industry could provide relief for France with jobs and investment opportunities. In his speech after winning this year’s election, President Gaston Flosse said exploration of rare earths would be on his agenda. In French President François Hollande’s campaign he promised French Polynesia recognition of its natural resources, but he has so far not signalled which direction France will take on the issue.”

Radio New Zealand International

34) PM O’Neill welcomes Moody’s report

By Online Editor
3:12 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Papua New Guinea

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has welcomed Moody’s investors’ service assessment yesterday, which rated Papua New Guinea as stable with a favourable medium-term economic outlook.

According to Moody’s outlook that was released last month, “PNG’s B1 local and foreign government issuer ratings have been supported by robust growth and low public debt”.

The ratings firm said institutional strengths improved from “very low only to very low to low”, while the government was showing “improved track record of performance”.

It also noted that the administrative capacity was bolstered by the government working with its development partners.

It said fiscal discipline, low debt and benign inflation reflected gain in policy management.

Moody’s added that while outlook was positive, PNG’s growth potential was constrained by poor infrastructure and law and order issues.

O’Neill said: “I welcome this assessment by Moody’s of PNG. I’m pleased that Moody’s has noted some of the improvements on the political front, policy management and the performance of our economy.

“A stable political climate will improve our rating and attract investment that will grow the economy further and create more opportunities for our people.

“Our government is committed to that …we have passed legislations for the 30 months grace period, and will look at strengthening the laws governing our political parties in the next sitting of Parliament.

“Moody’s says poor infrastructure, law and order and corruption are areas we need to address, and that is precisely what we have been doing since we formed government last year.

“We have unveiled a massive infrastructure programme and have begun to roll it out.

“We have started recruitment and training to increase police manpower to 10,000 by 2017.

“Our fight against corruption is ongoing, with the SWEEP team doing an excellent job.

O’Neill said ExxonMobil’s decision to look at taking up Elk and Antelope natural gas reservoirs, energy giant Total’s entry into PNG, among others reflected a growing confidence in PNG.



35) Plantation Workers Sacked After Protest In PNG
260 workers fired, union leaders unaware of strike action

By Ellen Tiamu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 3, 2013) – In Papua New Guinea, about 260 out of 1,000 striking workers at the Ramu Agri Industries Ltd.’s (RAIL) palm oil estate at Gusap, Madang, have been sacked following a week-long protest.

The worker’s union has washed its hands of the workers saying the union executives were unaware of the strike action and the management had answered to a petition.

The sacked workers had the locks to their homes changed and said they would not budge.

They claimed the company had been selective in sacking only 260 out of some 1,000 striking workers.

RAIL is a subsidiary of New Britain Palm Oil Ltd., the country’s largest agricultural company that owns 12 palm oil mills.

The workers went on strike last Monday, the second this year, complaining about poor pay and unfavorable work conditions.

According to Ramu Agri National Workers Union President Jeffrey Gundi, the failure by workers to return to work last Thursday left the company with no alternative but to carry out the mass sacking.

Gundi said the company’s general manager met with the disgruntled workers on Wednesday and urged them to return to work while their grievances were being looked into.

Spokesman Jonah Gigmai said in Gusap last Saturday the vast oil palm estate was becoming a lot of work with most of the field maturing.

He said workers were unable to meet required their daily and weekly targets, especially during the high crop season.

He said the failure by workers to meet their targets had forced the company to reduce their fortnightly allowances.

As well, as harvesting a required number of palms daily and taking them in wheel barrows to designated pick-up spots, harvesters were also required to cut the fronds on which the bunches were resting and take care of the rubbish.

Gigmai said some bunches from mature trees were 40 kilograms to 50 kilograms in weight.

When they returned to the same field to complete their work next morning, the B2 rate was applied which meant rate of payment decreased, he said.

Gigmai said most of them did not understand the collective bargain agreement (CBA) as it had not been explained to them.

He said terminations were done under the CBA, which stated that workers who were absent for four consecutive days were automatically terminated.

Gigmai said hundreds of workers at Ramu Agri’s Dumpu and Surinam estates also stopped work.

He added that locks to the houses of those terminated were changed last Friday and workers and their families forced to remove their belongings to await repatriation to their provinces of origin.

Passenger trucks hired by the company were on standby to take people from the Highlands provinces, Madang and Morobe back to their towns.

Many of the terminated workers defied the instruction to leave, saying all employees were involved in the protest and it was unfair that some were dismissed while others were allowed to continue.

When The National visited Division One compound last Saturday afternoon, there was a heavy police presence.

The National:

36) PNG Police Accused Of Charging Illegal Fees On Highway
Assistant police commissioner caught officers in the act

By Peter Esop Wari

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 3, 2013) – A group of Papua New Guinea police officers caught red-handed by their boss collecting money from motorists at a roadblock on the Highlands Highway fled down a slope for dear life.

Assistant Police Commissioner (highlands) Teddy Tei was returning home from a police conference in Lae last Monday when he saw the officers from Eastern Highlands and Chimbu conducting illegal roadblocks and collecting K100 [US$45] from every passing vehicle.

They escaped down a slope in full uniform when confronted by Tei at about 1am.

Tei said he had a mind to shoot them as they fled from the scene.

“I would have fired shots at them with a view to kill such liabilities to this society. But about 30 to 40 vehicles were at the roadblock so I did not,” Tei said.

He said some police officers in the Highlands region were defying the code of conduct enforced by the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary by setting up illegal roadblocks on the national highway to collect money from motorists.

Tei said the group comprised reservists and auxiliary policemen armed with guns last Monday at Daulo in the Eastern Highlands.

Tei said he was driving back from Lae after the police commissioners’ conference when he came across the roadblock. He saw the officers collecting K100 each from motorists at Daulo.

“I confronted them and when they saw me, all of them jumped over the cliff in full uniform and escaped,” he said.

“I would have fired shots at them with a view to kill such liabilities to this society.

“But approximately 30 to 40 vehicles were at the roadblock so I did not.”

He said while the police force was striving to reduce crime in the country, its own officers “camouflage themselves in police uniforms and commit the very crimes police were trying their best to contain.”

“I am directing the provincial police commander of Eastern Highlands and Chimbu to have these matter rectified or both will face the consequences.

“If worse comes to worse; I would ask the travelling public to do citizen arrest on those criminals conducting illegal roadblocks and hand them over to police stations or hand them to me in Mt. Hagen, and I will crucify them,” he said.

“I have issued instructions to all provincial police commanders to disseminate my directives to all personnel to refrain from conducting illegal roadblocks and (not to) demand cash, cigarettes and betel nuts.”

He said he had warned them earlier and the officers stopped setting up roadblocks. But now the illegal and corrupt practice is back.

Tei said “small stupid narrow-minded criminals dressed in police uniforms and stealing from the general public were a disgrace to the constabulary.”

“The job of police is to protect lives and properties and (police) are doing the opposite by robbing innocent people who are struggling to earn a living,” he said.

The National:


37) Madang to map climate change vulnerable sites

By Online Editor
3:46 pm GMT+12, 04/06/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s Madang provincial government and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to take stock of all major project sites’ maps in the province.

The memorandum signed last Tuesday in Madang town would see that areas to be affected by climate change or mining or other projects activities were identified and managed to protect biodiversity.

Country director for TNC Francis Hurahura said they wanted to work in partnership with the provincial government to provide information through mapping so it could understand climate change in vulnerable areas and address land issues when problems affecting mines and other bigger projects arose.

“It is basically taking stock of and putting on map the type of environment we have,” Hurahura said.

He said the mapping information would cover both land and marine areas in the province and it would take another six months to complete the information mapping before it was submitted to the provincial government’s planning division.

Hurahura said that the mapping would also assist village expansion.



38) Youths In Fiji Having A Hard Time Finding Jobs
Thousands of graduates reportedly lack employment

By Maciu Malo

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 3, 2013) – The Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation is concerned with alarming numbers of high school and tertiary graduates failing to secure employment each year.

Federation acting president Howard Politini said of the average 15,000 school leavers each year only a third of the figure found employment.

He said the federation was focused on changing the mindset of students, parents and leaders to realize that education was not the only option leading to a successful future.

He said it was high time for the people of Fiji to find other ways of employing themselves rather than depending mainly on education for white collar jobs.

Mr. Politini said in spite of the many employment opportunities created each year, thousands of qualified school leavers failed to secure employment.

“We need more emphasis on the small and micro businesses to solve the issue of unemployment in Fiji,” he said.

“Despite creation of new employment opportunities, we think that education will not give all school leavers white collar jobs.

“We need to change the mindset of the parents and the students and leaders by doing things on their own for income generating sources.”

He said natural resources could be utilized to provide employment for many, adding the abundance of idle land in villages and urban areas could be developed to generate income rather than depending on education to provide employment.

He said the federation was also working with regional countries for off-shore employment opportunities.

Fiji Times Online:

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39) Socceroos: Lucas Neill says Australia must lift against Japan as World Cup qualification reaches crunch time

Updated 4 June 2013, 17:06 AEST

Lucas Neill says Australia must improve if it is to gain anything against Japan and move closer to World Cup qualification.

Socceroos captain Lucas Neill says Australia must lift its performances if it is to gain anything against Japan and make a step towards World Cup qualification.

Australia, sitting third in Group B seven points behind Japan with three games left to play, takes on the Blue Samurai in a World Cup qualifier in Tokyo tonight.

Only the top two sides in Group B are guaranteed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with Group A and B’s third-placed side having to face-off against each other before taking on South America’s fifth-placed qualifier.

With crunch time well and truly upon the Socceroos, Neill says it is time for Australia to deliver a significant result.

“We’ve just got to now play to our … complete capability to make sure that we get three big results,” he said.

“We are going to need to be at best or near best to get results to take us to Brazil.”

The Socceroos have been criticised at times for relying too much on their older players to qualify for the Brazil showpiece.

But Neill says Australia has the right mix of youth and experience and has backed his team of upsetting Japan.

[Japan] are one point away from the World Cup, so they’ve got plenty to play for, but there’s a little team called Australia in their way at the moment.

Lucas Neill

“[Japan] are one point away from the World Cup, so they’ve got plenty to play for, but there’s a little team called Australia in their way at the moment,” he said.

“People say [Australia and Japan] are the two better teams in the continent, and we go head to head and see who can come out on top because there’s been some classics in the past.

“There’s definitely enough talent here, there’s some young and some old, there’s some in between.

“Everyone’s got a handful or a lot of caps so what we’ve lacked in this campaign is a little bit of confidence, a little bit of performance.”

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