Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 825
1a) Indonesian diplomatic manoeuvre delays West Papuan independence
Updated Sun Jul 7, 2013 7:00am AEST
Indonesia has invited the foreign ministers of four Pacific Island countries to visit its two easternmost provinces, Papua and West Papua, to see for themselves if the people want independence. The offer is something of a diplomatic manoeuvre, successfully delaying any consideration by the Melanesian Spearhead Group of an application for full membership by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.http://www.abc.net.au/
1b) PNG Opposition To ‘Vigorously Challenge’ Constitutional Changes
Namah calls proposed amendments ‘constitutional terrorism’
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 8, 2013) – Opposition Leader Belden Namah has given notice that the opposition will vigorously challenge the governments proposed amendments to the Constitution to strengthen political stability.
Mr Namah said in a statement yesterday that described the proposed amendments as constitutional terrorism for selfish interest.
He said the opposition will take the matter to court as the proposed laws are against the spirit and intent of the constitution.
The Opposition has also confirmed that it will facilitate a nationwide debate on the proposed amendments because it believes that the Parliament has lost its authority and compromised its independence to the Executive arm of government.
“The question is, which particular National Goal or Public Good are the two sets of amendments designed to give effect to or achieve?” Mr Namah asked.
He said Section 38 of the Constitution requires the proposer of any amendment to the Constitution which seeks to restrict a right or freedom, to specify the matter of public interest that such an amendment is intended to achieve.
“In this case, the amendments will not only restrict the right and freedom of the National Parliament to step in and call on the executive government to account whenever warranted, but will, by the manipulative actions of the government, completely remove or make redundant the operation of the only check and balance mechanism that ensures democracy and accountability.”
“The Prime Minister has yet to specify publicly as well as in the proposed amendments, the Public Interest or National Goal that the amendments to sections 145 and 124 seek to achieve, promote or enhance.”
“The Prime Minister ought to be clear that manipulating the Constitution to avoid or escape the scrutiny of the Parliament, does not constitute a public interest but a selfish interest. This is effectively constitutional terrorism.”
“It cannot be disputed that section 145 was put there for a very important purpose, and that is to act as a pressure valve to protect or relieve the people and our country from suffering at the whims of a hash or oppressive or corrupt or non-performing government.
“Section 145 is an inherent power of the National Parliament and cannot be removed, diminished or compromised in any way, shape or form. It is this power that defines the superiority of the legislature and the National Parliament over the Executive Government.”
“The amendments are misconceived and mischievous. It is simply designed for Peter O’Neill to stay in Office for the full five year term irrespective of whether his conduct or circumstances he is found to be in along the way, warrant Parliament to remove him Prime Minister.”
“It must be made clear though, that the amendments, once law will not only be used by the current government to entrench itself but future governments will continue to take advantage of these amendments to avoid accountability.”
He said the proposed amendments are unconstitutional and dangerous to democratic and Constitutional rule.
“The Opposition will seek a Supreme Court Restraining Order against the Parliament from debating and voting on these additional proposed amendments to s.145 and s.124.”
The opposition recommended that the government withdraw the propose Bills.
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
2) Vanuatu Opposition Confident It Will Topple Government
Leader Ham Lini says no-confidence motion ready
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 7, 2013) – Vanuatu’s opposition leader, Ham Lini, has told Radio Vanuatu that the opposition is confident of changing the government before this month’s Independence Day celebrations.
He says his side has 27 signatures of MPs backing a no confidence motion.
Mr Lini says the opposition was going to deposit the motion last week, but then decided to await the result of today’s court decision of the Port Vila constituency electoral dispute.
Mr Lini says the electorate wants change, but a senior government minister, Ralph Regenvanu, says the government is solid.
[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International also reported that Prime Minister Carcasses has replaced Minister for Justice Silas Yatan with Greens Confederation MP Toara Daniel. Reportedly “the move was made by Prime Minister Moana Carcasses to ensure political stability and lend balance to the regional distribution of portfolios, to ensure Shefa Province has a portfolio. It also comes a day after Mr Yatan said the government may bring in the death penalty.”]
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
3) Vanuatu PM accused in election petition
Posted at 07:55 on 08 July, 2013 UTC
Vanuatu’s Supreme Court has started hearing an election dispute concerning Port Vila Constituency.
The hearing followed the petition submitted to the Supreme Court by the current Attorney General, Ishmael Kalsakau who unsuccessfully contested the general election on 30 October last year in Port Vila.
Mr Kalsakau says that he has the support of 44 witnesses that an unfair election was conducted in Port Vila.
“It concerns a lot of irregular practices conducted by the Electoral Commission”
“that would suggest that the election was not run in a fair manner and that the questions the Electoral Commission’s conduct of the said elections that were contrary to the representation of the People’s Act.”
Ishmael Kalsakau alleges that three government ministers, including prime minister Moana Carcasses, committed briberies in order to win the six Port Vila seats.
Radio New Zealand International
4) Vanuatu Justice Minister steps down
By Online Editor
10:20 am GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Vanuatu
Vanuatu’s Minister of Justice and Tanna member of Parliament, Silas Yatan, has stepped down and was replaced by Shepherds MP, Toara Daniel, in a swearing in ceremony last week at the Prime Minister’s Office in Port Vila.
Prime Minister Moana Carcasses said in his remarks during the reshuffle that the change follows a decision taken amongst leaders within the party he leads in the coalition government.
He indicated that other development will take place to ensure smooth running of the government and continue to strengthen the work ahead for the nation.
Speaking to Daily Post after the ceremony, former Minister of Justice, Yatan said he humbly stepped down to pave way for older politicians to come in.
“After the stock take during my recent visit to the Shepherds Islands on the way to the EPI COM meeting, I found out that the people of the Shepherds Outer Islands do need an MP in an executive power to ensure that the population of the Shepherds Outer Island is not left out of the important developments of the country. Equally important following portfolio sharing that Shefa Province which is important to the country is represented at the cabinet level.
“I also wish to emphasis to MPs that it will be fair that Torba Province is also represented at the executive level and call on some of MPs currently occupying ministerial positions for one of them to relinquish a ministerial position to go to a Torba MP.
“This is also the same with remote constituencies such as Paama. I wish to make it known to the population of Vanuatu that as far as I am concerned, I put the interest of the nation first and foremost and also to maintain political stability for the economic and social advancement for the people of Vanuatu,” the Tanna MP said.
MP Yatan takes the opportunity to thank all donor partners for their support and assistance during his term as the Minister of Justice and Social Development in the Republic of Vanuatu.
The reshuffling ceremony was witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister Edward Natapei, government ministers, political appointees, and political supporters.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
5) Fiji, Solomon Islands struggle with same challenges: PM Bainimarama
By Online Editor
5:34 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Solomon Islands
Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Monday told Solomon Islanders the Pacific nation is not alone in its struggle and challenges.
Addressing the 35th anniversary of Solomon Islands Independence luncheon, Commodore Bainimarama says what the country is celebrating today is more than just another anniversary.
“It is a celebration of the way in which Solomon Islands has faced up to its many challenges, survived as a unified nation, and has set its eyes on the future. A nation determined to improve the lives of its citizens and take its rightful place in the region and the world.
We look back at some very difficult times – the tragedy of a nation divided by civil war and the resulting loss of life, the many challenges of restoring peace with the assistance of your neighbours, the renewal of stability and the continuing effort to rebuild your institutions and your economy,” Commodore Bainimarama said.
But we also look forward to better times, as Solomon Islands joins hands with its Melanesian neighbours to forge ahead – to give renewed hope to all our people that the dreams we all shared at Independence are finally realised, he said.
“The lesson for us all is that only through unity and a common sense of purpose can we fulfill that promise. It means putting hatred and prejudice aside, putting sectional and ethic interests aside, assisting the weak and the marginalised, building a sense of national purpose and working together as One Nation.
“The Solomons is not alone. In Fiji, we have also struggled with the same challenges – individuals putting themselves and their narrow interests before the national interest, selfishness, corruption, prejudice, discrimination.
We have now removed outside influences so we can decide, for ourselves, our future – a future that will benefit our children and grandchildren,” Commodore said.
He said it has taken Fiji many years to smash the barriers between us, to think of ourselves not as members of individual ethnicities or communal groups but as Fijians, with common aspirations and a common future.
“We are now building a new and better Fiji in which everyone is equal and everyone has the same chance. And next year, we will have the first genuine democratic parliamentary election in our nation’s history of equal votes of equal value.
Equally, we are now working with our Melanesian partners – including Solomon Islands – to build a new and better region in the South West Pacific, a stronger region with more economic clout and a louder voice in global affairs,” Commodore Bainimarama emphasised,” he said.
Commodore Bainimarama said both our countries treasure its membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
“Because we know that the principle of strength through unity doesn’t just apply in our individual countries. United, the people of Melanesia can also be a bigger force in the region and the world at large.
“We have a dream – a bold vision that we believe is achievable. We’ve already smashed many of the barriers in the way of the free movement of trade and people between our countries. But we’re now working towards something more ambitious – a common market between the MSG countries for the free flow of goods, services and labour.
We also want to secure trade agreements with the rest of the world as a bloc, not as individual countries. And we want the Melanesian viewpoint to be taken much more seriously at the United Nations and in other global forums,” he said.
Commodore Bainimarama also thanked Solomon Islands Prime Minister, his vision and leadership.
“For Fiji’s part, we have a strong record of engagement in Solomon Islands.
“Fijian troops spilt their blood here resisting the Japanese advance in World War Two. Fifty Fijian troops died during the Solomons campaign and we remember their sacrifice with gratitude.
Seventy years on, I am especially proud that three Fijian veterans of that campaign came with me on this trip -Sergeant Major Eliki Vuniwawa, Lance Corporal Ilimotama Wave and Commando Watisoni Seru.” he explained.
He said Fijian troops have also served in Solomon Islands in recent times in the cause of peace as member of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon (RAMSI)
“We also have Fijian civilians present at many levels to assist your efforts at nation building.
“Be assured that Fiji stands willing and ready to take that assistance to another level with more personnel and resources, if that is the wish of the Government and people of Solomon Islands.
“Later this afternoon, I will unveil a plaque that reads: “From the Government and people of Fiji to the Government and people of Solomon islands on the 35th anniversary of your independence. In solidarity and friendship”.
That plaque will still be here long after we have all passed into history. But it will be a permanent reminder that Fijians have, and always will, extend the hand of solidarity and friendship to Solomon Islanders,” said Commodore Bainimarama.
6) Fiji’s Rabuka: ‘I Want To Make Up For My Past Actions’
Remorseful former PM and coup leader standing for elections
By Mereani Gonedua
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 7, 2013) – I am standing because I want to make up for my past actions, says former Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.
Speaking to FijiLive, Rabuka said he was remorseful for his role in the 1987 coup and that he wanted to do right by “all those I have hurt.”
“The world change and I have also changed, I initially said that I would not be available for elections however many people have asked me to be available so I have considered and have made up my mind,” Rabuka said.
“Fiji needs to move forward and anyone that will be chosen to take the country forward must be sure to have the support of the people and continue to take Fiji to better heights.”
On whether he will join an existing company or stand alone, Rabuka said he was keeping his options open and could stand as an independent if the need arises.
7) Fiji AG Says Elections Office Will Not Be Politicized
Civil servants found taking leave to work for Office
By Mereani Gonedua
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 7, 2013) – Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has reiterated that the elections office will not be politicised.
His comment follows revelations that some civil servants would take paid leave to work in the Elections Office.
“This will not happen again,” he said.
In fact there are plans to revise the selection criteria and process to appoint officers to the Elections Office.
The same process that was used to appoint voter registration clerks which includes police clearance has also been considered.
“The selection of those working in the Elections Office will be done in a transparent manner and on merit basis,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“Whenever there is a merit base there is always good result.” He also said they are considering decentralising poling stations.
8) International panel on elections begins work today in Fiji
Posted at 07:54 on 08 July, 2013 UTC
A new international committee appointed to advise the Fiji government on elections has begun work today in Fiji.
The group consists of advisors from New Zealand, the European Union and the Commonwealth.
They will carry out a GAP analysis and a needs assessment to see where international funding for the 2014 elections could be effectively spent, and help Fiji budget properly for the election.
Carl Dundas, an expert in election management and a former director of elections of Jamaica, is joined by Melissa Thorpe from the New Zealand elections office and Etienne Clay, a representative of the EU.
Fiji’s attorney general and minister for elections Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum says the panel’s work will strengthen the elections office.
“The problem has been that assistance to the Elections Office has been very haphazard always. We want to, the Bainimarama governrment wants to build strong institutions, and that has been a fundamental problem in Fiji, we have never had strong institutions.”
Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum says the panel is due to report to the government in two weeks’ time.
Radio New Zealand International
9) RMI President Welcomes Pacific Partnership
Mission to do construction work and health screenings
MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, July 4, 2013) – President Christopher J. Loeak yesterday welcomed Pacific Partnership 2013 (PP13) Mission Commander Wallace Lovely to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) during a courtesy call by the Commander, PP13 members, and US Ambassador Thomas Armbruster.
On Wednesday, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) dropped its anchor in Majuro, the third port for the PP13 mission. More than 700 US military members, partner nation service members, and non-governmental organization volunteers will be conducting a variety of humanitarian projects.
According to the President’s Office, the projects include work on the College of the Marshall Islands’ multipurpose facility, Ebeye inter-island pier repair, Ennibur water tower and water system construction, installation of water catchments, and a health fair providing free health screenings.
“Everything is in place to make the Pacific Partnership incredible and impressive,” Commander Lovely told his RMI hosts and expressed appreciation to President Loeak for the hospitality that was extended to him and his crew members since arrival.
“The Republic of the Marshall Islands values, and will continue to value, its relations with the United States of America and other participating nations and non-governmental organizations which are part of the Pacific Partnership,” said President Loeak.
The mission’s team approach centered around crisis and disaster response-preparedness is appreciated, President Loeak said, given that the Republic has been under a state of emergency and a state of disaster as result of the prolonged drought in the northern atolls and last week’s inundation from the king-tide surges and storm waves here on Majuro and other southern atolls.
During the mission, a workshop on drought will be held to strengthen resiliency “so that when a drought occurs in other areas we are ready,” said Ambassador Armbruster.
Prior to the Marshalls, the USS Pearl Harbor completed missions in Samoa and Tonga. Other host nations for this year’s mission also include Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Papua, New Guinea.
10) U.S. Cabinet Members Urge Congress To Approve Palau Compact
Secretaries of Interior, Defense, State send letter supporting ratification
KOROR, Palau (Island Times, July 4, 2013) – Following the trip undertaken by President Remengesau and the Palau delegation to Washington D.C. in June, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Secretary of State John Kerry jointly signed a strongly worded letter in support of the ratification of the Compact Review Agreement by the US Congress.
The letter, dated July 1, from the three highest-ranking Cabinet members of the Obama Administration was transmitted to U.S. Senate President Joe Biden and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner following Senator Ron Wyden’s introduction of Senate Bill S.1268, entitled “A bill to approve an agreement between the United States and the Republic of Palau”.
Senator Wyden (OR) is one of the 15 key government officials that President Remengesau and his delegation met with during their visit to Washington to lobby for the ratification of the Compact Review Agreement.
The Office of the President said in a statement to the press yesterday that “the joint letter is remarkable in the sense that it brought together three of the highest-ranking members of the Obama administration who work in three completely different areas of the government – Interior, Defense, and State. The letter is so unusual that a letterhead to accommodate the three different departments was created so that the three Secretaries could present a united front in support of the ratification of the Compact Review Agreement.”
The letter’s unified position emphasized that: “Approving the results of the Agreement is of import to the national security of the United States, to our bilateral relationship with Palau, and to our broader strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region.”
In addition to regional security and strategic concerns, the letter noted that further delay by the United States in approving and funding the Agreement creates an obstacle to Palau’s continued economic growth and progress toward the goal of self-reliance envisioned in the Compact over thirty years ago.
The Office of the President said that President Remengesau recognized the significance of the submission of the jointly signed letter by three highest-ranking Cabinet members of the Obama Administration to the US Congress and is hopeful that this is a strong sign that the US Congress will now promptly enact and fund the legislation that would approve Compact Review Agreement with such improvements as they might deem appropriate.
Remengesau further recognized the hard work done by the respective chairman of the Ways and Means Committees in the Senate and House in the 9th Olbiil Era Kelulau who were part of the delegation, as well as Palau’s Ambassador Kyota in DC and the lobbying team from the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP.
Island Times: www.islandtimes.us
11) New centre to help Australian business engage with Asia
The Australian Government has announced funding for a new centre to help businesses and other organisations engage with Asia.
The Government will provide $36 million over 10 years to help fund the National Centre for Asia Capability, which will be based in Sydney and Melbourne.
Australia’s Trade Minister Richard Marles has told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia creating an “Asia capable” business community will require more than learning local language.
“It’s about making sure that people doing business with Asia have a really good understanding of the cultures they’re working with,” he said.
Audio: Richard Marles speaks to Connect Asia (ABC News)
Mr Marles says the centre will be used as a “hub”, combining expertise from business, community groups and universities to help business leaders better understand the culture of Asian countries they work with.
“It’s an acknowledgement that it’s not just about doing the deal,” he said.
“Our ability to do the business deal has a lot to do with our ability to understand the people with whom we are dealing with… that’s what this centre’s going to be all about.”
He says Indonesia “stands out” as a country where Australian businesses can improve their cultural understanding.
“Indonesia is a really good example of what we need to do across Asia,” he said. “It is about understanding the culture, the religion, the history, really getting a sense of what makes Indonesians tick.”
“This is one of the largest populations in the world… and yet today it’s only our twelfth largest trading partner.”
The centre will be jointly run by the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales, with funding for program delivery provided through Asialink.
12) Online visa application to be only option : NZ immigration Minister
By Online Editor
5:24 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, New Zealand
Some foreigners should be able to apply for New Zealand visas online this year and the online channel will eventually become the only option, New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says.
The Labour Department is spending $80 million on a new computer system, the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS), which will let it centralise decision-making and offer more online services.
Kiwi company Datacom won the contract to build IGMS in January last year.
IGMS was on track to be completed by the end of 2015, Woodhouse told Parliament’s transport and industrial relations select committee.
By the end of 2017, the department’s goal was that 70 per cent of visas applications would be received online.
Several Immigration branch offices – possibly including those in Hamilton and Queenstown – will be closed as a result of the changes, which will result in job losses. Offices in Sydney and Dunedin will be replaced with “visa acceptance centres”. Woodhouse said about 10 per cent of Immigration staff left the service each year and he expected most job losses would be through “natural attrition”.
The investment in IGMS was first proposed by the Labour government in 2007 after a Thai national working for Immigration New Zealand in Bangkok had been caught swindling thousands of dollars from Cambodian visa applicants in 2003.
A subsequent auditor-general’s report found flaws in the department’s ability to prevent and detect identity fraud.
The new system will let migrants and other visa applicants check the progress of their applications online. It is hoped it will also speed up visa processing.
Immigration has contracted out the job of receiving paper documentation and payments from people who apply for visas overseas.
Woodhouse said a tender would soon go out for a provider that would process visa applications lodged within New Zealand by people who could not transact online.
The decision on whether to grant visas would in all cases still be made by Immigration staff, he said.
SOURCE: FAIFAX NZ/PACNEWS
13) Solomon Islands i makim naba 35 Independence Anniversary
Updated 8 July 2013, 15:12 AEST
Planti tausen pipol blong Solomon Islands long kantri yet na long olgeta hap long world i wok long selebretim naba 35 anniversary blong kantri i kamap independent.
Odio: George Herming long Honiara na Dinnis Ealedona long Port Moresby i toktok long Solomon Islands Independence Anniversary selebresen
Solomon Islands ibin kisim Independence long rul blong England long naba 7 long July, 1978.
Naba 7 long July em i long Sande tasol main selebresen long Solomon Islands oli holim long tede, we i pablik holide long kantri.
Planti tausen pipol ibin go lukluk long ol kainkain activiti olsem parade, ol sport pilai na wanpela music jam long Lawson Tama stadium.
Wanpela highlight blong de nau i parade blong Royal Solomon Islands Police Force wantaim police na military blong Fiji.
Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama ibin inspektim Guard of Honour we tupela polis blong na military blong tupela kantri i wokim.
Director blong Solomon Islands gavman komunikesen Unit, George Herming itok pipol long Honiara i hamamas tru long makim dispela bikpela de blong kantri na i wok long rausim long lukluk long olgeta kain activiti.
Long weekend, ol Solomon Islands komuniti long olgeta hap long wol ibin wokim liklik bung blong ol tu blong makim naba 35 Independence Anniversary blong ol.
Ol Solomon Islands pipol long Port Moresby na ol PNG poroman blong ol tu ibin selebretim dispela de.
Chair meri blong organising Committee, Dinnis Ealedona itok PNG Health Minister Dr Michael Malabag nau i offisel guest long dispela bung.
Na em itok haelait blong dispela selebresen em i kastom danis blong ol Solomon Islands sumatin i skul long ol University long Port Moresby. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
14a) Australie: un tribunal populaire pour le massacre de Biak
Mis à jour 8 July 2013, 13:55 AEST
Vendredi l’Université de Sydney a convoqué un tribunal populaire pour commémorer le 15ème anniversaire de la tuerie de Biak, une île de la Papouasie Occidentale. Il y aurait eu plusieurs centaines de morts.
Le 6 juillet 1998, les militaires indonésiens auraient fait une descente à l’aube dans le bourg principal de cette île, et massacré des centaines de villageois, selon Ed Mc Williams, alors conseiller politique à l’ambassade américaine à Jakarta. Il s’agissait de représailles après une manifestation des insulaires de Biak pour l’indépendance. Toujours selon Ed Mc Williams, des villageois auraient été abattus directement, tandis que plusieurs centaines d’autres auraient été emmenés sur des bateaux, et jetés dans l’océan. Quelques jours plus tard, les survivants ont vu arriver sur les plages des cadavres mutilés. Parmi les jurés de ce tribunal populaire mis sur pied par l’Université de Sydney, il y avait des survivants du massacre et plusieurs spécialistes en droit international. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
14b) Rarotonga: terre de blanchiment de l’argent des dictateurs?
Mis à jour 8 July 2013, 13:52 AEST
C’est ce qu’affirme le journaliste néo-zélandais Nick Hager, qui est très controversé par la Commission de Surveillance Financière des Îles Cook.
Paul Heckles, de la Commission de Surveillance Financière des Îles Cook: «Nick Hager est ignorant du monde de la finance.»
Les révélations d’un journaliste néo-zélandais sur le paradis fiscal des Îles Cook créent la polémique. Nick Hager rentre d’un séjour dans l’archipel polynésien, au cours duquel il a enchaîné entretiens et conférences pour dénoncer l’opacité du système financier local.
Nick Hager fait partie d’un réseau international de journalistes d’investigation, basé à Washington, qui travaille depuis un an et demi sur des documents confidentiels et dont la source reste anonyme, sur les paradis fiscaux du monde entier.
«J’ai vu les noms de familles de dictateurs, de gens peu recommandables comme par exemple, l’un des plus gros exploitants forestiers d’Indonésie, qui siphonne des centaines de millions de dollars du fisc indonésien et les place aux Îles Cook, pendant qu’il exploite les forêts du Pacifique. J’ai vu aussi passer les noms de producteurs de films pornos, d’entreprises illégales de pêche, etc.»
Et Nick Hager affirme qu’il a la preuve que les Îles Cook servent bien au blanchiment d’argent:
«Quand on enquête sur les chiffres des paradis fiscaux, on tombe parfois sur quelqu’un d’influent qui a des activités douteuses et des comptes en Suisse, sans qu’on puisse savoir le montant des sommes qui transitent par la Suisse. Mais parfois on a plus de détails. Dans le cas de l’exploitant forestier indonésien que j’ai déjà évoqué, on a pu suivre le parcours de l’argent de paradis fiscal en paradis fiscal, en temps réel. De toute façon, quand quelqu’un qui pourrait laisser son argent dans son pays, commence à placer son argent dans un fonds dans un autre pays -dans un paradis fiscal, et que ce compte-là est adossé à une entreprise, laquelle est adossée à une seconde entreprise dans un second pays, puis une troisième dans un troisième pays, etc., c’est que ce quelqu’un a quelque chose à cacher, et qu’il ne respecte pas la loi.»
De son côté, la Commission de Surveillance Financière des Îles Cook accuse d’affabulations le journaliste néo-zélandais, et affirme que les documents sur lesquels il base son enquête ont en réalité été volés, et non fuités comme l’affirme Nick Hager. Paul Heckles, de la Commission de Surveillance Financière, interrogé par Bruce Hill sur Radio Australie :
«Les affirmations de Nick Hager sont ridicules. Selon lui, beaucoup de pays dans le monde tiendraient un registre des fonds, sur lequel figure le créateur du fond, et son bénéficiaire. Je serais curieux de savoir à quels pays Nick Hager fait référence, parce qu’ils doivent être bien rares, les pays qui sont aussi transparents. Ce genre d’affirmation montre à quel point il est ignorant du monde de la finance. Il n’a jamais rien demandé à aucun expert de la finance, du coup il interprète mal. Il n’écoute pas quand on lui dit que les faits ne collent pas. Et franchement, c’est frustrant.»
Quoi qu’il en soit, le journaliste néo-zélandais estime avoir donné un coup de pied salutaire dans la fourmilière. Car il veut changer les choses, et faire tomber le paradis fiscal des Îles Cook.
«En tant que journaliste d’investigation, mon objectif est de faire réfléchir les gens, et, par exemple, ça fait partie de mon travail de me rendre aux Îles Cook pour expliquer aux gens à quoi servent leurs banques. D’ailleurs j’ai été très surpris de l’intérêt que j’ai rencontré sur place. Quand je marchais dans la rue, les gens m’arrêtaient pour parler, quand j’ai fait une conférence à l’Université du Pacifique Sud, la salle était bondée, les gens se pressaient dehors ppur suivre la conférence aux fenêtres. Ça a réellement créé un débat sur un monde qui est resté secret trop longtemps.»
La Commission de Surveillance Financière minimise le rôle des Îles Cook, tout petit confettis dans la finance mondiale, et rappelle que c’est dans les grandes places financières comme le Royaume-Uni que le blanchiment d’argent et autres activités illégales se concentrent. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
15) Cook Islands rejects tax haven claims
By Online Editor
1:24 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Cook Islands
Cook Islands financial authorities have firmly rejected a New Zealand journalist’s claims he has found disturbing information in a number of leaked documents about the country’s tax haven.
New Zealand investigative journalist Nick Hager says he has been threatened with arrest if he arrived in Cook Islands to give a lecture about the workings of its tax haven.
Hager says he was contacted before he arrived by people warning him he would be breaking Cook Islands confidentiality laws and might be arrested at the airport.
He says the information on Cook Islands uncovered in a global investigation into tax evasion would dismay locals.
“I was finding the families of dictators – one of the biggest rainforest loggers in Indonesia, who was siphoning large amounts or literally hundreds-of-millions of dollars away from his tax system there while he was logging the forests of that area,” Hager told Radio Australia.
“Pornographers, illegal fishing companies, all kinds of clients who an ordinary Cook Islander would be, and when I was there, was really offended that their country was helping to hide their money and hide their business.”
Hager says locals in Cook Islands know very little about the tax haven.
Cook Islands authorities have rejected the allegations, and Hager’s claims he had been threatened with arrest.
Financial Supervisory Commissioner Paul Heckles says Hager doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
“He doesn’t know anything about the world financial markets, and how the financial industry works,” Commissioner Heckles told Radio Australia.
“We’re not a place that’s likely to attract money launderers or anything like that.. we’re just too small.”
Commissioner Heckles says the documents on which Hager and the international network of investigative journalists have based their allegations on are stolen.
“They’ve been stolen by some disgruntled person and released to journalists… and so far him and the consortium, the International Consortium of Journalists, have refused to hand these over to any authority so that we can see the validity of them and to take any action on them if we want. They just make the claims in the press and keep them all to themselves,” he said.
Hager has defended his work.
“The first thing the people do when they’re attacked, they call it a leak theft and so they claim that this leak we have was stolen materials. Everyone who’s always leaked about says that. But then they invoke the laws… which are absolute draconian laws which were brought in in 1981 about keeping the secrets of their offshore clients. They invoke those and I received threats that I would be arrested when I arrive at the airport and then other threats of arrest while I was there,” Hager said.
Commissioner Heckles says Mr Hager has not been arrested, and never approached by any official, as far as he knew.
“He trots out a lot of theories and fingers and facts and everything, but what he’s not done is any investigative work,” he said.
“And if anybody tries to contradict him, he just claims that we’re in the industry and we’re protecting our jobs and maintaining the secrecy.”.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
16a) Australia opens specialist TB ward in PNG’s Western Province
Posted at 07:54 on 08 July, 2013 UTC
Australia’s parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Matt Thistlethwaite, has today opened a new specialist facility to treat tuberculosis at Daru General Hospital in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.
The 22 bed ward comprises six rooms for isolation of airborne infections, as well as a 16 bed ward for patients recovering from TB.
The new ward is part of multi million US dollar commitment by Australia to support the detection and treatment of TB in Western Province.
Last year Canberra withdrew funding for Queensland Health to provided treatment for Papua New Guineans crossing the border to Australian clinics in Torres Strait, deeming treatment for TB within Western Province as more effective.
Other Australian help to the province includes providing specialist TB staff, training for community health workers and volunteer treatment supporters, medical equipment, drugs, a sea ambulance, and funding for laboratory diagnosis support in Queensland.
Radio New Zealand International
16b) Gender Violence In PNG Possibly Highest In The World
New Nine-Mile Clinic opens to treat victims
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 8, 2013) – The first frontline clinic to offer treatment for both medical and psychological injuries of victims of physical and sexual abuse has opened in Papua New Guinea, a country that researchers say is potentially the worst place in the world for gender violence.
The Médecins Sans Frontières project, named the Nine-Mile clinic, which opened in the capital city Port Moresby on May 10, has already treated 43 victims of family and sexual violence, the level of which is unmatched by anything seen in the career of project head Paul Brockmann.
“The use of violence as a response is simply more shockingly common here than in any other places where I’ve worked,” Brockmann told Guardian Australia.
Separate studies conducted in the 1990s found that 67% of Papua New Guinean women had been abused by their spouse (almost 100% in the Highlands regions) and more than half of women interviewed had been raped. In the same study, 60% of men interviewed said they had participated in a gang rape.
“(Gender violence) is probably the number one social problem facing the country,” said Lowy Institute’s Director of the Myer Foundation Melanesia Program Jenny Hayward-Jones.
“The problem of gender violence is probably more severe in PNG than almost any country in the world, or is at least very similar to the West of Africa.”
The Nine-Mile Clinic is the third that MSF have set up in the country. Since opening they have treated 43 survivors of violence.
Staff have treated more than 13,000 patients in PNG’s second biggest city, Lae, since opening a centre there in 2007, which they recently handed control over to the PNG department of health.
The MSF projects train local staff to offer five basic first response treatments: emergency medical care for injuries, psychological first aid, prophylaxis for HIV and medicine for other sexually transmitted infections; emergency contraception; and vaccination to prevent hepatitis B and tetanus.
Brockmann said the goal was to have a clear package of medical services that was easy to explain. The psychological first aid incorporates lessons learnt at the Lae project.
Brockmann said they were the only organisation offering counselling in an integrated service with medical treatment. It is a way of offering psychological care to patients who were unlikely to come back for long-term trauma counselling after a first visit to get their injuries treated medically.
“So we’ve combined that and we’re offering a psychological first aid which is not counselling. It’s basically a stabilisation, a normalisation,” he said.
Martha Pogo, a PNG Health Extension Officer who has come to Port Moresby after two years at the Lae project, said this service fills a gap in PNG’s health system, and some patients are now returning for follow ups. ”
After the first visit they feel like ‘oh, I’m feeling good, I’m feeling better. There are people here to talk to, I’ve never had time to speak to someone, I’ve never had the opportunity to receive such medical care.’ These are the comments we have received,” she told Guardian Australia.
Pogo has seen the results of violence up close in her time at the MSF clinics. “One lady who came in to the clinic had been beaten by her husband when she was two or three months pregnant,” she said.
At a third centre in Tari, in the notoriously violent PNG highlands, patients presented with injuries from weapons like bush knives, axes, spears and arrows. “There is more of a culture of violence in the highlands regions of the country,” said Hayward-Jones. “In coastal provinces … there’s not at all that same culture or that same tradition of violence as you grow up.”
Hayward-Jones said the traditions of violence appear to be spreading as people move across the country seeking employment, inter-marry across regions, and as foreign-owned projects create wealth inequality, and with it jealousy.
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
16c) CNMI Governor Concerned About Cost Of Medicaid For COFA Migrants
U.S. lawmakers pushing inclusion of migrants in federal medical program
By Haidee V. Eugenio
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 8, 2013) – Gov. Eloy S. Inos supports congressional efforts to open up Medicaid eligibility to migrants from the Freely Associated States, but he wants it done the right way to prevent negative impacts on the CNMI’s limited finances, particularly by amending Section 4415 of S. 744, the sweeping immigration bill that the U.S. Senate recently passed.
Inos expressed his concerns in a three-page, July 3 letter to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).
The letter came shortly after Inos and Sablan met on Capital Hill last week to discuss Medicaid coverage and other measures in Congress that affect the CNMI and other territories.
Section 4415, introduced as an amendment by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee markup on S. 744, removes the present cap on federal Medicaid payments to the U.S. territories for so-called COFA migrants. However, it retains the current matching requirement of 45 percent territorial and 55 percent federal funds.
In the long run, this could leave the CNMI “worse off as a result of Section 4415” if passed in its current form, Inos said.
COFA migrants refer to those from nations with which the United States has entered into compacts of free association. They include Palau, the Marshal Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia’s Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae.
Inos said as a last resort to mitigate the CNMI’s concerns, he would like to see the inclusion of a provision “granting state and territorial governors the discretion to opt-in or opt-out of the requirement that Medicaid cover COFA migrants.”
Inos said Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s bill, H.R. 1222, contains such a provision.
“In closing, I must share that I am pleased to see that Congress is actively engaged in seeking ways to provide long overdue assistance to COFA migrants. This is certainly an issue very close to us given our rich history together under the former Trust Territory Government. All I’m asking for is that this be done the right way and for the benefit of everyone, U.S. and COFA citizens alike,” the governor said.
S. 744 is the immigration reform bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented aliens already in the United States.
This bill also has a provision allowing a pathway to citizenship for long-term, legal aliens in the CNMI.
Costs to CNMI
At present, some of the costs of providing health care services to COFA migrants in the CNMI are covered by Medicaid.
Inos said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved a state plan that allows for Medicaid to reimburse the CNMI for providing so-called Defined Emergency Services even if the patients, such as COFA migrants, are not enrolled in Medicaid.
These Defined Emergency Services include emergency room services, dialysis, day surgery, and hospitalization.
The CNMI State Plan also allows for Medicaid coverage of pregnant women and children from the Freely Associated States.
Last year, a total of 1,307 patients from FAS were covered in this manner at a total cost of $I.75 million, Inos said.
The governor said the CNMI’s local share was $789,840 and the federal share was $965,360.
He said Section 4415 would not change this existing coverage or the territorial/federal shares of costs.
Instead, Section 4415 “would source the federal share from funds other than those currently capped by Section 1108 of the Social Security Act.”
These capped funds include both the longstanding annual amounts allocated to each territory, as well as the new funds provided as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
“Thus, if Section 4415 had been in effect last year, the $965,360 federal share, which paid for health care for COFA migrants, would have eventually instead been applied to the cost of health care for U.S. citizens eligible for Medicaid,” Inos told Sablan.
In addition to the COFA migrants covered by Medicaid under terms of the CNMI’s State Plan, the CNMI also expended $488,800 of local funds in 2012 to provide health services to other COFA patients, who required care not eligible for any type of Medicaid coverage at the Commonwealth Health Center, Inos said.
Assuming all these patients met the income threshold and any other Medicaid eligibility requirements, 55 percent of this expenditure amount, or $268,840, would have been covered by the federal government, if Section 4415 had been in effect, Inos said.
Based on historical data, Section 4415 would have been of benefit to the CNMI because capped, territorial Medicaid funds would not have been diverted to pay for COFA migrant health care and 55 percent of the funds expended by the CNMI for some of this care would have been saved.
“Looking forward though, there is risk to the Commonwealth’s finances if Section 4415 goes into effect,” Inos said.
He said the number of persons covered is likely to increase.
The 2010 Census reported 3,169 COFA migrants in the CNMI. Inos said although the Commonwealth already provides Defined Emergency Services and other care to some of this population, “if all are qualified for Medicaid, the number receiving services is very likely to rise.”
“And the Commonwealth will be responsible for 45 percent of the increased cost. We may also see the range of services being provided expand, as, presumably, COFA migrants could not be made ineligible for any care that is available to any other Medicaid patient under the terms of our State Plan. Increased utilization means increased cost and, again, the Commonwealth will be responsible for 45 percent of that cost,” he said.
He added that there is the risk of future increases in the cost of medical equipment, supplies, and personnel who provide care.
“Even if the 55 percent offset of total costs seems attractive at present, providing more care to more people at inflated rates in the future could put the Commonwealth right back where we started or in an even worse financial position,” he said.
‘Not outright opposition’
The governor said these concerns do not mean outright opposition to Section 4415.
In fact, he said, proposals regarding Medicaid coverage of COFA migrants already before Congress could improve the problems he has identified.
“In particular, I would strongly support the addition to Section 4415 of language similar to that in H.R. 1222, introduced by Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa,” he said.
Hanabusa’s bill provides that the federal medical assistance percentage for COFA migrants will be the same percentage as is applied to medical assistance for services received through a Native American Health Service Facility.
This one change to Section 4415 would end all of the forward risk for the Commonwealth, Inos said.
At the same time, by assuring that low-income COFA migrants will have access to the same services as any other Medicaid patients, this change would have a substantial, positive benefit for public health in the CNMI, the governor said.
There is no telling about the fate of S. 744 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Saipan Tribune: http://www.saipantribune.com
16d) WHO warning over Nauru detention camp and air pollution
Posted at 07:54 on 08 July, 2013 UTC
The World Health Organisation is calling for more investigation into the environmental risks to asylum seekers Australia is holding in a detention camp on Nauru.
A WHO environmental health specialist, Dr Rohko Kim, says concentrations of dust and phosphorous in the island’s air are already at higher levels than other countries and will increase as climate change lengthens periods of dry weather.
He says high levels of dust in the air are known to cause heart attacks and there is very limited evidence as to the effects of exposure to airborne phosphorous.
“When we think about asylum seekers’ shelter there we should think of environmental hazards ahead of the planning.”
Dr Rohko Kim says he has done a lot of work resettling Roma refugees who suffered severe health problems after being detained in camps on industrial waste sites in Europe.
Radio New Zealand International
17a) Australian Uni Hosts Tribunal Marking Biak Massacre In West Papua
Hundreds killed on July 6, 1998 after peaceful demonstration
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 5, 2013) – A citizens’ tribunal is being held at the University of Sydney today to mark the 15th anniversary of the Biak massacre in West Papua.
On July 6, 1998, in Biak Island’s main town, Indonesian soldiers launched a dawn attack on Papuans who had staged a peaceful demonstration over several days, calling for independence.
Some were shot on the spot while many others were taken onto Indonesian naval boats and thrown into the ocean before their mutilated bodies washed up on Biak’s shores over following days.
Indonesian security forces obstructed efforts to count the victims.
However a political counselor at the US Embassy in Jakarta at the time, Ed McWilliams, who visited Biak a few days later, believes the death toll to be in the hundreds.
“Obviously the people of West Papua have suffered under Indonesian military repression for decades, and there have been many instances of cruelty and killing of Papuans, But the number of people killed (in Biak) was significant but also the manner in which they were killed,” said McWilliams.
The University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies is hosting the tribunal which involves survivors and a team of international jurists.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
17b) French Polynesia Assembly Asks France To Make Tahitian Official Language
Opposition rejects needing permission to use own language
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 7, 2013) – French Polynesia’s territorial assembly has passed a resolution, asking France to recognise Tahitian as an official language.
The resolution calls on the French president to amend the constitution, possibly as soon as in two weeks when the French legislature is convened for its Congress.
The bid follows last month’s French supreme court ruling to strike out two local laws about pension provisions because not all of the debate in the French Polynesian assembly had been in French.
The pro-independence opposition abstained from the vote, with one member rejecting the notion that Tahitians need to ask France to be allowed to use their own language.
Its leader, Oscar Temaru, added that he would prefer that French was banned in the assembly.
Currently, all debates in Tahiti have simultaneous translations and all records are kept in French.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
18) PNG’s top banker calls for modern efficient agriculture sector
Posted at 07:54 on 08 July, 2013 UTC
The governor of the Papua New Guinea central bank, the Bank of PNG, Loi Bakani, says the high inflows of revenue from the huge LNG project pose major threats to other sectors of the economy, such as agriculture.
He says it is a form of Dutch Disease when growth in one sector can be detrimental to other sectors.
Mr Bakani says there has already been some impact with a rise and fall during the construction phase, which is now easing off.
LOI BAKANI: The situation now is that the construction of the project has eased off. And the amount of foreign exchange that the project is bringing in is far less than what it used to be two years ago. Now, that is affecting the exchange rate in that the kina is depreciating now against the main currency, like the US dollar. But with the agricultural sector not knowing or the growers not knowing that the kina deprecation is good for them, they already factored in that the price of their agricultural commodities are already very low. So in that instance, if they’re not reacting to the depreciation by increasing production to take advantage of the depreciation of the kina, then it won’t have an impact on the agricultural sector. Now, in a few years’ time – next year onwards – we will start to get the receipts from the export procedure of the gas. There is the potential, again, of the kina appreciating in value. That is when if we don’t start now to look at developing the agriculture, the agriculture can be killed by the appreciation of the kina, especially in the case where international prices continue to be low.
DON WISEMAN: With agricultural commodities particularly, because they’re so price-sensitive, once you start to get some appreciation in the kina, agriculture is always going to be starting to go down the gurgler, isn’t it? How do you counter that?
LB: If prices continue to be low and if the appreciation of the kina continues because of the large inflows of receipts we’re getting, that obviously makes the agricultural sector very unattractive. People will not be producing on the plantations, all those kind of things. So this is the tax situation where you have the project sector or the mineral sector killing the non-mineral sector like agriculture.
DW: So what do you do?
LB: Because this has the potential to come I’m prewarning the government – let’s develop the agriculture sector. If it’s not using a current way of developing agriculture, current technology, go into new technologies of developing the agricultural sector, in terms of products and in terms of growing crops.
DW: Make it more efficient?
LB: More efficient, yes. And this is the time now to… Because we know these things are coming, you know? If we get the foreign exchange coming in there’ll be a lot. And the government will be, of course, increasing expenditure and utilising the revenue. Therefore, to have this even out revenue flow for government in terms of economic activity, stable economic activity for the private sector, confidence by all the private sector and investors is to diversify the sector. Not only rely on the mining and petroleum sector, but develop the traditional agriculture sector. We can sustain economic activity, economic growth over the longer term.
Radio New Zealand International
19) PNG opposition raises concerns at links with Huawei
Posted at 07:54 on 08 July, 2013 UTC
The Papua New Guinea opposition is questioning the links between Telikom PNG and Chinese owned Huawei Technologies.
Both companies have signed a deal to build the country’s broadband network.
But the opposition caucus is calling on the government to tell the people if they have done a full and proper assessment of Huawei because of the company’s reported involvement with the Chinese military and Iran.
The opposition leader, Belden Namah, says their concerns follow similar objections raised by a group of US Republican lawmakers.
The telecommunications agreement will see the technology extended to more than 80 thousand premises, allowing faster and more reliable fixed and mobile broadband across PNG.
Radio New Zealand International
20) Fiji export potential
By Online Editor
10:04 am GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Fiji
There is potential for local farmers in Fiji to export their produce such as dalo to more overseas markets.
And according to Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Ropate Ligairi, China joins the list of export markets that locals could tap into apart from the traditional markets in New Zealand and Australia.
“We have quite a lot of opportunities for markets and China has a market now for taro,” he said.
“At the moment, we don’t have enough taro to go to New Zealand and this is something that we want to tell our farmers — that there are markets out there for their produce and it’s something we could work on together.”
Ligairi recently received a $5000 (US$2,630) cheque from the Fiji Development Bank for this year’s Crest Agricultural Show in the Western Division later in the year.
He said interest in the show had grown over the year and farmers were utilising the opportunity to earn money from their crops and livestock.
“For our farmers, it’s a time where they can bring their produce and sell it.
“Last year, one of our livestock farmers was able to get $12,000 (US$6, 313) within four days from selling his produce — there is cash in crops and livestock,” Ligairi said.
“Another farmer from the Central Division travelled to the Western Division where the show was held with farming equipment and sold all.”
He said another objective was to showcase latest technology that were available to farmers, adding it was also a time for farmers to interact and gather information from staff and experts from the ministry.
The show, which is expected to run from September 3-7, has a budget of $250,000 (US$131, 525)
So far, government had allocated $150,000 (US$78,915) with about $50,000 (US$26,305) collected as contributions from stakeholders.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
21) Effects to exchange rate in PNG
By Online Editor
10:05 am GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Papua New Guinea
Revenue receipts in the form of foreign exchange inflows from the production of the PNG LNG project will have implications on the kina exchange rate says the Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea Loi Bakani.
He said the inflows would have potential negative impacts on other important economic sectors such as agriculture.
The governor stated in the bank’s March quarterly economic bulletin this week that PNG’s economy has already headed towards major structural changes following the commencement of the construction of the LNG project.
“In the wake of the LNG production in 2014, the country is expected to experience significant growth and revenue receipts in the form of foreign exchange inflows.
“These inflows will have implications on the kina exchange rate; hence kina appreciating significantly would have potential negative consequences on important economic sectors such as agriculture”.
He reiterated his view that PNG can avert these risks and, more generally, the potential LNG-generated Dutch Disease effects by putting more resources and effort into developing the agricultural sector.
“It is important to note that for PNG to have a sustainable economic growth, the Government must heavily invest and develop the agriculture sector including other non-mineral private sectors so that in the long run growth must be underpinned by these sectors rather than developments in the resource sector.
It would be a wise decision by the Government to redirect revenues from the resource sector to develop the non-mineral private sector, especially the agriculture sector”, he said.
Global inflation has slowed as a result of the stabilisation of commodity prices.
The IMF projected inflation of 1.7 percent in advanced economies and 5.9 percent in emerging market and developing economies.
The international food price index has increased to 215.2 points in May from 210 points in January reflecting a general increase in food price levels.
The Governor was concerned that high import demand could exert further downward pressure on the exchange rate and lead to an increase in domestic prices.
Although annual headline inflation increased to 2.8 percent in the March quarter of 2013, compared to 1.6 percent in the December quarter of 2012, it is still considered low.
The Bank of PNG is taking a cautious approach, considering factors that could induce inflationary pressures, including the kina depreciation, and maintained the Kina Facility Rate (KFR) at 6.25 up to last month, since the last reduction in March this year.
The upside risk to inflation remains largely associated with the depreciation of the kina exchange rate due to high import demand and the re-introduction and increases in tariffs for some import items in 2013.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
22) PNG Clan Leaders Welcome Third Planned Gas Project
Communities not prepared for negotiations: Umbrella Association
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 8, 2013) – The recent announcement of the 3rd LNG Project in the Western Province by the Minister for Petroleum and Energy Hon William Duma was welcome by the 42 ILG clan leaders of the impacted area of PRL 4 of the Stanley Gas Project.
This announcement gives confidence to the people that the Petroleum Development license will be granted, paving way for a development forum and the benefit sharing agreement.
The chairman of the Umbrella Association and Company, Mr Rex Aipe and his director Mr Ben Gru, are currently in Port Moresby to talk to the Department of Petroleum and Energy and Commerce and Industry and other partners in the preparations towards the benefit sharing agreement.
Mr Rex Aipe is very concerned that the impacted communities are not prepared for the negotiations. According to the Oil & Gas Act the impacted ILGs are important parties to the agreement. The social mapping and land boundaries demarcation for the well heads and pipeline have been completed; but there are still issues that DPE needs to correct during the clan vetting exercise.
Mr Aipe said that the Western provincial government has left them to work on their own. The provincial government and Kiunga Rural LLG will benefit from this project, yet the leaders and government officers are not proactively involved.
Mr Aipe fears the people will not maximise on the business opportunities and community and LLG major infrastructural development because they are not prepared.
“There is no consultation and the political leaders, especially the Governor, is quiet. We have learned a lot from the Ok Tedi Mine and do not want to see the people missing on this project,” Mr Aipe said.
A local content plan has been submitted by Horizon Oil together with the PDL applications and our discussion with Department of Commerce reveals they have not sighted the plan for preliminary consent and feedback.
Mr Aipe is concerned that the local content plan developed by Horizon Oil is too broad and does not outline the specific level of service contracts the landowners can participate in: “This is a sign that we are been left out already.”
The report also stated that engineering works of the gas plant, storage tanks and pipeline are almost complete. Mr Aipe said the project will not wait for them. Some discussions with PNG energy Development Limited (EDL), a 50:50 joint venture between Origin Energy LTD and PNGSDP to supply gas to power the Ok Tedi Mine and surrounding industrial and domestic users is already underway. “As land owners, we want to participate in these spin-off business ventures. I want a similar arrangement to the gas to electricity project in Hides to Pogera Mine, where the local companies are fully participating,” Mr Aipe said, calling on the government to recognise this request.
“We do not want to face the same issues and concerns faced by the land owners of the PNG LNG project,” said Mr Aipe.
In addition, Mr Aipe is concerned that according to the 2nd quarter activities report of 31 January 2013 by Horizon Oil, early works in advance of a PDL grant have progressed. According to the report, the civil site construction engineering and tender process and fabrication of the construction and permanent camp have been completed in China.
Mr Aipe is now appealing to the Minister for Commerce and Industry to intervene and support the review of the local content plan and consult with Horizon Oil on the specific areas where the landowners can participate in the early works.
Mr Aipe said, “our umbrella company has the capacity to participate in the early works, as we purchased heavy equipment and are ready to participate in any subcontracts for landfills, earth works, land clearing and pipeline land clearance.”
He further said, “I am fully in support of Minister Maru’s initiative to promote the SME concept in the country to address the unemployment and urge government officers to support this move by the government.”
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
23) Am. Samoa Officials Asked To Be Tourism Ambassadors
Visitor’s Bureau provides PR material to those traveling abroad
By Fili Sagapolutele
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, July 5, 2013) – Directors and other government officials will soon be taking an American Samoa “bag” containing tourist information when attending meetings and conferences off island, which is a form of free publicity for American Samoa, according to David Vaeafe, American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau executive director.
He posed the idea during his presentation at last week’s cabinet meeting and it was supported by Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, acting governor at the time.
One of the many issues raised by Vaeafe during his 45-minute power-point presentation is that all departments and agencies of government play a role in promoting American Samoa as a tourist destination.
Additionally, each director can also play a vital role, which includes taking with them a bag of tourist information, sites to see, and other things of interest about American Samoa, especially its unique culture and environment.
Vaeafe says this information is available to all directors free of charge and is provided by the Visitor’s Bureau as part of the whole government’s efforts to promote tourism for the territory.
“You travel off-island for your meetings and so forth… you are automatically ambassadors [of American Samoa],” he said, asking those present to contact his office which will provide a tourism bag of information which the directors can carry with them to meetings and conferences.
“If you’re hosting an event here, a conference, I urge you to plan it a year in advance and tell us, so we can help you,” he said, adding that this is an opportunity for the Visitor’s Bureau and its local partners to put together packages of brochures for the visiting delegates from off-island.
“You’re an extension, an ambassador of the Visitor’s Bureau,” he told cabinet members. He also said that these tourism packages and brochures can also be provided to others coming here for contract meetings or work.
Lemanu told directors that it’s very important for them to help in the development of tourism and agreed to the suggestion that directors take brochures with them when they travel off island for meetings and conferences.
It “helps grow our economy,” said Lemanu, who joked that maybe this should be made a policy, for directors to take bags with them traveling for conferences and meetings.
Vaeafe says the challenge is to make tourism a driving force of the territory’s economy in the next two years and reiterated the need for the government to approach this sector along with the private sector to make it a success.
He says American Samoa has very good infrastructure, but “we just need to develop that and make sure that it’s consistent and it’s maintained.”
“And as we grow our sector, make sure our infrastructure can cope with the growth, as well as ensuring that both the public and private sector are trained in the requirements of tourism,” he said, noting, for example that one of the “first impressions” a visitor has when they arrival to an island destination is the greeting they get.
“At the point of entry, it’s usually the immigration officer who is the first point of contact. You go to Fiji – they say ‘Bula’ and in Hawai’i, they say ‘Aloha’,” he said. “Here we don’t do that — but that’s the first impression. A simple ‘Talofa — welcome to American Samoa’ … that makes a lasting impression.”
“So these are some of the things that we just need to work on and develop and these are the things that we will work with, with each of the agencies to ‘develop this customer service mentality’,” he said.
CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT
If there was any doubt among cabinet members that American Samoa can attract tourists, Vaeafe made it clear that there is a lot to offer in the only U.S. outpost in the South Pacific.
“American Samoa has so much to offer and having worked for the Samoa Tourism Authority in Samoa, I believe we have a lot more to offer here than what’s in Samoa, we just need to develop that product,” said Vaeafe.
He said the territory’s biggest asset is “our Fa’aSamoa — our culture” which is based on “tautua (service), fa’aaloalo (respect), our family and our values, Samoan values.”
When these treasures and assets are explained to a visitor, it’s very different to someone, for example, coming from New York, he said.
“We take it for granted, because we live it everyday, we’re used to it. But to the outside, it’s something new and it’s those family values… that they like to see,” the ASVB head pointed out.
He said, “Our environment… is the second biggest attraction,” adding that when people fly into the territory, “they see the mountain ranges, they see the lush green tropical setting and they realize this is a beautiful place to be,” away from the fast pace of their everyday lives.
According to the executive director, the Visitor’s Bureau continues to work at the village level to help people develop their own product, combining culture and environment, to sell to travelers.
“We [need to] insure that we maintain our culture and environment. This is the reason people come here. It’s because of who we are and what we are,” he stressed.
Another culture and environment selling point for American Samoa is the Manu’a island group, which Vaeafe said is “our icing on the cake… because of its isolation, its uniqueness, its culture heritage.”
Manu’a “was the power base of the Samoan islands” centuries ago — not the islands of Savai’i or Upolu (in Samoa) or Tutuila (in American Samoa), he said.
“These are things from a marketing prospective. I see the marketing value in that — and opportunity,” he said and noted that there is also “our rich American history. I’m amazed at the American tradition in this territory, the U.S. naval history, and space travel history.”
“No other country in the South Pacific has that relationship” when it comes to the rich American history in the territory and this is a selling point for our destination, he said.
Vaeafe says one of the major global tourist attractions now is World War II and American Samoa has been part of this.
He noted that brochures and other literature are now available, outlining the history of Tutuila and its involvement in World War II. Brochures and other information were made available with great assistance from the Historic Preservation Office and other entities, he added.
Other issues of interest pertaining to tourism development and marketing prospects for American Samoa will be published later next week in Samoa News.
The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/
24) Second killing in Vanuatu capital in two weeks
Posted at 07:54 on 08 July, 2013 UTC
Port Vila residents in Vanuatu are in shock after a man from Ambae was killed by a group of young men at the weekend.
Police have arrested five suspects while one is still on the run.
Police Inspector Jack Joses says the suspected attackers were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the attack.
Police will not reveal how the man died but sources say he was attacked with an axe.
This is the second killing in Port Vila in less than two weeks after the body of an 8-months pregnant woman was discovered just outside the city, late last month.
Radio New Zealand International
25) Wartoto’s assets released
By Online Editor
5:22 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Papua New Guinea
East New Britain businessman Eremas Wartoto has successfully excluded some of his property from a restraining order sought by the public prosecutor as they were not “proceeds of unlawful activity” after the National Court in Port Moresby upheld his application last week.
Wartoto made the application in the National Court represented by Justin Haiara of Steeles Lawyers under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
He argued before Justice Panuel Mogish that the properties (land), located in Vanimo, Lae, Madang and Kimbe and funds standing in ANZ account 13272335, held in the name of Saralok West Transport Ltd, including any interest accruing to that account, were purchased well before the alleged unlawful activities as alleged by the public prosecutor.
Raphael Luma, acting for Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin, urged the court to take pecuniary (financial) penalty against Wartoto.
But Mogish found his submissions misconceived as there was no formal application by the public prosecutor.
“The public prosecutor was at liberty to formally apply for pecuniary penalty order against the applicant (Wartoto),” Mogish said, while ruling on the case last week, adding that this issue would become relevant upon the public prosecutor making a formal application in court.
The restraining order was issued by the National Court on Aug 30 last year following an application by the plaintiff or respondent under section 39 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2005.
“As it stands, there are no other legal reasons warranting the continued exclusion of the specified property. I grant the orders sought by Wartoto in his notice of motion filed on Sept 25, 2012,” the judge said.
“I order that the properties of Wartoto listed in schedule 1 of order 2 made on August 2012 be excluded from the restraining order pursuant to section 42 (1) and (2) (c) of the act,” Mogish said.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
26) Vanuatu government says Saken’s diplomatic passport revoked
By Online Editor
5:28 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Vanuatu
Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Edward Natapei says the diplomatic passport of Pascal Ahn Quan Saken has been revoked.
This is contrary to media reports in the country which claim the government has not moved on its earlier commitment to revoke all diplomatic appointments made outside the proper procedure.
Media speculation continues about Saken’s links to leading politicians who boarded his superyacht Phocea last year when it was detained for illegal entry in Port Vila.
Saken has not been back to Vanuatu since fleeing shortly after the Phocea was detained.
Natapei says the government has had trouble tracking him down but has sent out international alerts.
“We have not been able to talk to him and organise the return of the documents that he has with him. So if he travels using a Vanuatu passport, he will be asked to return the passport.”.
27) Federal System In Solomons Could Increase Divisions: Academic
Ex-political adviser Alasia warns proposal could lead to ‘disintegration’
By Bradford Theonomi
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 6, 2013) – The proposed federal system for Solomon Islands is a threat that will bring about division rather than uniting the country if it is not handled carefully.
Former political advisor, Sam Alasia who is currently pursuing his doctor of philosophy (Ph D) studies at the Australian national university (ANU) said.
He warned that the proposed federal system in Solomon Islands is bound to cause further upheaval and tensions in Solomon Islands.
“The proposed federal system entails building brick-walls rather than human bridges.
“It goes against national unity and consolidation for such a small country with a divisive history and nature,” he said.
“And if Solomon Islands is not careful, the federal system will lead to another upheaval and the country’s disintegration.
“We cannot talk about national unity when the very essence of the principle of common good is absent from the proposed Federal system,” said the former political advisor.
Alasia pointed out that the concept of the proposed federal or state government has not been a genuine intention or wish from the start.
He said the idea emerged in the early 1970s when Papua New Guinea was on the verge of Independence and the Bougainville Secessionist movement led by Leo Harnett gained momentum.
“At the end of 1973, former member of the Governing council for the Shortlands, Peter Salaka addressed a meeting of the Bougainville District combined councils’ conference and said that the people of Choiseul and Shortlands wanted to join Bougainville because many of them had relatives and land on Bougainville.
“The Bougainville District Commissioner at that time, Dr Alexis Sarei agreed that the conference should write to the Colonial Powers; the Australian government in the case of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville, and the United Kingdom for the Solomon’s, about the concerns raised.”
He said whilst this is the case, in some respects, the artificial map drawn by the colonial powers between Bougainville and the Solomon’s already started to create tensions and problems for our country.
“And within the Solomon’s itself, this idea took on a new form and shape on the eve of Independence.
“This was the western breakaway movement and the push for state government by western leaders.”
Alasia added even during tours by the pre-independence constitutional committee in the western province in 1975-1977, it was heard at Lambete, Munda that the idea of state government was forced on the population by a few educated people.
“While in many former colonies and territories, they were united and happy with the exit of the colonial power, this was not the case in Solomon Islands.
“The exit of the colonial power from Solomon Islands created not unity but disunity because of their failure to create a sense of national consciousness in the country during the colonial era,” he said.
“So not forgetting that there are other underlying factors such as poor planning by the colonial government, and lack of constructive implementation of programmes which would help to negate feelings of tensions or of hatred and fear;”
“The state government concept was used by leaders especially by past politicians for their own political gains at the expense of stability, peace and national unity, said the former political advisor,” Alasia said.
“In other words the state government idea became a scapegoat for feelings of hatred and fear and was over-politicized.
“For example, the first tension that the new nation of Solomon Islands experienced was the western breakaway movement and the demand for state government in 1976-1978 and the second tension created by other underlying factors such as unequal development, disrespect for Guadalcanal culture, people and land.
“And again the push for state government by Guadalcanal resulted in the ethnic crisis which started about twenty years later emerged in 1998.”
In view of this, Mr Alasia it would be fair to say that the state government idea therefore works against the construction of a national consciousness, common identity and unity, Alasia said.
“This lack of national consciousness; identity and unity is something that we are still struggling with today, even after 35 years of independence.
“Thus a major priority for the nation at this point of time is a national dialogue or conversation on ways and actions to construct and build up this national consciousness, identity and unity.”
He added the proposed federal system is not the dialogue or conversation that I am taking about because as it is, we are putting the cart before the horse.
“For example, do we have a division in either the Ministry of National Unity or Home Affairs that deals specially with such questions as constructing a national consciousness, national unity and identity.
“Or, are these ideas included in our school curriculum? What do we mean by these ideas? National consultation on such ideas would be useful I think.
“For example, will we have a national unity and reconciliation Bill to guide our future actions and ensure national unity and peace.
“And are we able to ‘give and take’ and negotiate our differences to find our common strengths.
“Again, these are just some ideas to think about,” he said.
“As it is, the proposed federal system is engineered to address the symptoms of our problems only, not the root causes and I suspect the TRC may have fallen into the same trap as well of addressing the symptoms rather than the root causes of the ethnic tension.
“So whether you see the proposed dederal system as a blessing or a curse is up to each individual’s perception, however what is more important is having good quality leadership.
“Political or Governing systems can only work effectively when we have honest and genuine leaders who have concerned for the country as a whole.
“As it is, the proposed dederal system is based on a homegrown philosophy of ‘divided we stand, united we fall’ rather than the universal one of ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ and as the Holy Book reminds us, a house built on sand will not last.”
28) Appeal Upheld; Tonga Police Officers To Stand Trial For Manslaughter
Accused allegedly involved in killing of New Zealand police officer
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 5, 2013) – Three Tonga police officers, who walked free earlier this year after charges against them over the death of a New Zealand police officer were dropped, will now stand trial on August the 5th.
The trio are among five officers and one civilian charged with the manslaughter of Kali Fungavaka, a Counties Manakau officer who died in hospital after allegedly being beaten while in police custody on a drunkenness offence.
Justice Charles Cato of Tonga’s Supreme Court Friday morning upheld the Crown’s appeal against a ruling in April to discharge Constables Fatai Faletau, Manu Tu’ivai and Tevita Vakalahi on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
However, the Crown’s lawyer has told Radio New Zealand International that the appeal case is based on there being prima facie evidence against those three officers.
The other two police officers involved, Inspector Kelepi Hala’ufia and Constable Salesi Maile, along with a civilian, Semisi Manu, will also appear in court on August the 5th on manslaughter charges.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
29) Guam Lawmakers Want Permanent Missile Defense System On Island
Resolution requesting U.S. to retain THAAD, and Patriot systems introduced
By Louella Losinio
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, July 8, 2013) – Recognizing that Guam’s strategic location contributes significantly to the United States’ defense posture in the Asia-Pacific region, lawmakers have introduced Resolution 186 which requests President Barack Obama, Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the U.S. Congress to permanently station a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) unit and a Patriot Air and Missile Defense System on Guam.
The THAAD system has the capability to intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final or terminal phase of flight, according to a release from Sen. Frank Aguon’s office.
The Patriot system involves a land-based interceptor that targets drones, cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles.
Aguon, who chairs the Committee on Guam U.S. Military Relocation and Homeland Security, introduced the resolution along with Sens. Tony Ada and Brant McCreadie.
The three senators met last month with Riki Ellison, founder and chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance – a non-profit organization which lobbies for the deployment, development and evolution of missile defense.
Aguon believes the permanent stationing of the two missile defense systems would effectively help the U.S. protect its Asia-Pacific assets from potential threats of missile attacks.
Aguon noted that three months ago, the Alpha 4 THAAD battery was deployed to Guam in response to North Korea’s threats of a ballistic missile attack on the island.
“While we were fortunate to welcome the nation’s newest land-based missile defense system, I believe we must continue working with our nation’s leaders to permanently secure missile interceptor systems on Guam to effectively protect our island, its people, our neighbors and regional allies,” Aguon said in a statement.
Aguon stressed that the permanent stationing of both the THAAD and Patriot systems would not only enhance the U.S. military’s overall defense posture for Guam, the Micronesia region and Asia; it would also ensure that the U.S. military stands ready to respond to any potential threats.
Marianas Variety Guam: www.mvguam.com
30) Issues on safety in PNG raised
By Online Editor
5:21 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Papua New Guinea
Citizens no longer feel safe and investors, tourists and other visitors feel vulnerable in the country, a former Papua New Guinea senior public servant says.
Joseph Gabut, former secretary of the Petroleum Department, aired his concern about the treatment of foreigners in the country yesterday.
Gabut said stories about the recent murder of four Chinese nationals and an attack on the deputy chief officer of Ramu Nico were spreading like wildfire on social media and regular media networks in China.
“We have heard that these and other similar incidents have sent shock waves through foreign nationals and investors residing in PNG and also to others intending to come,” he said.
“Foreigners with interests in PNG are seriously concerned about their personal safety and the safety of their investments.”
He said the family of the deceased couple would pay compensation for the two deceased employed in the family business.
“This is an example of the many consequences faced by the relatives of people killed by PNG criminals; irrespective of whether they are PNG citizens or foreign nationals,” Gabut said.
“As a token of sympathy for the children of the deceased and in the spirit of Melanesian tradition of helping the relatives of the deceased we have made a small contribution of K2,000 to the children.
“We are of the firm view that this is one way for PNG citizens to send messages to foreign governments and people that we are sorry for the crimes committed by a few evil minded nationals.”
Receiving the money, China PNG Friendship Association representative Yao Gang thanked Gabut, saying it was not the money but the heart shown that mattered.
“It is just those few that are causing these problems and they should be punished by the higher authorities and face the full force of the law.”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
CLIMATE CHANGE/CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT+:
31) Tonga education chief says more to do on climate syllabus
Posted at 07:55 on 08 July, 2013 UTC
Tonga’s chief education officer says more thought needs to go into how children are taught to deal with climate change and disasters.
Teresa Pahulu, speaking in Fiji at the joint climate change and disaster risk meeting, says there is now a centralised working group on education and all donors should channel their help through it.
She says some donors would like to see their information directly incorporated into Tonga’s school curricula, but the education department needs to make its own decisions and incorporate all aspects of awareness.
Ms Pahulu says Tonga needs to ensure the funds are dispensed effectively and that information is logically placed in the education syllabus.
She says this involves traditional learning, which can also be very helpful for children.
“According to a scientist, it is not scientifically proven but behaviour of spiders for example – instead of building their webs out in the trees and so forth, they tend to build it around the house, which is an indication by our forefathers to tell that there will be a cyclone coming. So there are other knowledges that we are not tapping into.”
Radio New Zealand International
32) Hong Kong anglers reel in 226kg Pacific blue marlin in South China Sea
By Online Editor
1:20 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Hong Kong
A 3.6-metre-long, 226kg Pacific blue marlin reeled in by six amateur deep-sea anglers south of Hong Kong has been described as a “once in a lifetime” catch by an expert.
It may be among the biggest of the species ever caught in the South China Sea.
The fish took six Hong Kong-based hedge fund traders 3½ hours to reel in aboard their boat, Warbird, 65 nautical miles due south of Aberdeen.
Kim Stuart of the Mandarin Sports Fishing Club said there had been no reports of a blue marlin catch in local waters for at least 15 years.
The team of fishermen, skippered by David Tuthill, 31, caught it last Sunday in perfect weather conditions near the Dongsha Islands.
“It was a constant team effort between the driver of the boat, the angler and the team helping around you,” said Tuthill of the battle to get the fish on board.
He said he could not have landed the marlin without the help of his fellow fishermen Brad Ainslie, 35, Greg Moore, 31, Andrew Bazarian, 41, Dan Shepherd, 31 and Carl Vine, 36. The fish had died by the time they landed it, Ainslie said.
Australia-based billfish expert Dr Julian Pepperell, author of Fishes of the Open Ocean, confirmed from photo evidence that the financiers had hooked a blue marlin, and described it as a once-in-a-lifetime catch.
Like its Atlantic cousin, the Pacific blue marlin is “phenomenally powerful” and puts up “incredible fights”, he said. “On a number of occasions they will die fighting all the way through.”
Dr Pepperell said the catch was all the more unusual because the fish was outside its favoured habitat in cooler, less deep waters.
Stuart, a 26-year veteran of the Hong Kong fishing community said: “It’s extremely rare. They generally prowl 48 degrees north [of Hong Kong] and 48 degrees south so to be this far north is quite a way out of it’s normal range ,” he said.
Stuart believes the catch could help boost interest in fishing in Hong Kong.
According to figures provided by the International Game Fishing Association, the marlin would have been worth US$10,000.
The world record for a blue marlin was last set in 1982 when a couple caught a 4.9-metre, 624kg fish off Hawaii.
SOURCE: SOUTH CHINA POST/PACNEWS
33) UN Disaster Office commends Pacific initiative on disaster risk management and climate change
By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Fiji
By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Nadi
The head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) has commended the Pacific initiative to develop a regional plan to integrate disaster risk management and climate change.
Margareta Wahlstrom said the proposed regional strategy sets a precedent for other regions of the world to follow.
“The development of an integrated Pacific Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change into a single overarching policy framework by 2015 is an ambitious and necessary framework that will benefit millions of people and avert the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses.
In the Pacific, Samoa and Fiji recently suffered millions of dollars from Tropical Cyclone Evan that struck the two island nations in December last year.
“Samoa suffered in 29 percent loss to its GDP in 2012. Fiji suffered two grave floods with a total damage of FJ$200 million in a period of six months. The major losses to Fiji were for bridges, roads, agriculture and private homes, said Wahlstrom.
The head of the UN Disaster Office used her visit to Fiji to see first-hand some of the work disaster risk management work implanted by the Fijian Government.
“I have seen how Fiji is rapidly learning from the 2012 disaster and putting in place plans through an integrated rural development programme for mitigation of disaster losses through flooding.
“I was very impressed by this programme and its potential for addressing this important annual risk to Fiji’s population, said Wahlstrom.
Right now in Marshall Islands, Wahlstrom said, 6,700 people are in need of safe water due to drought and acute water shortage.
Outcomes of the regional integrated strategy, now called the ‘Roadmap’ will feed into regional position on global discussion on the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which both expire in 2015.
“2015 offers us, through our parallel but not well integrated processes to achieve a more unified direction for sustained and resilient development agenda that must be a shared agenda amongst all countries.
“The MDG 15 years agenda will come to a close in 2015 and there is work going on for the consideration of countries in a new development vision that may be expressed in sustainable development for all (SDGs) valid for all, explained Wahlstrom.
Sharing some findings from the 2013 Global Assessment Report on DRR recently launched by Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, the UNISDR head encouraged more collaboration in the Pacific between public and private sector in reducing risks and losses.
“How much the private sector feels the damage depends on government policies. However, as governments are unable to t pay for increasing damages and losses, its critical to engage businesses in preparedness and mitigation of losses, said Wahlstrom.
34) Sinking islands in Siassi
By Online Editor
5:27 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Papua New Guinea
Some islands in the Siassi group in Morobe are sinking at a notable rate, a scientist claims.
Head of the Forest Authority and Forest Research Institute Dr Simon Saulei made the observation and said the isands were sinking fast after being sworn in as a member of the newly established Morobe Climate Change Committee in Lae last Friday.
Saulei said some low-lying islands near the main island of Umboi were experiencing sea levels rising so quickly that people would have to be relocated to bigger islands sooner than later.
He claimed the grave of a former missionary which had been on higher grounds years ago was at sea level now and measurements and calculations were made according to the burial site.
He claimed the rise was as much as 3m but this could not be verified.
Saulei said the United National Development Programme had set up a pilot project in the area and was looking at ways to assist the affected villagers.
He said the movement of villagers to other islands meant other problems such as land issues and approval had to be sought from landowners before this happened.
“People virtually lose their identities and culture when they are uprooted from their homes and re-located elsewhere,” Saulei said.
He said Morobe, as elsewhere in the world, was a vulnerable area and was being affected more than other places.
“Inland areas are experiencing a lot more landslips, flooding is becoming common and in agriculture, planting and harvesting times are changing so villagers find they have to change their gardening timetables,” Saulei said.
SOURCE” THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
35) Pacific needs a collaborative approach: Fiji’s Acting PM
By Online Editor
5:32 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Fiji
We badly need the international community to stop talking about climate change and start acting, says Fiji’s Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Saiyed-Khaiyum.
Speaking at the first regional joint meeting of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Nadi today Sayed-Khaiyum said the days of global gabfests that expend hot air and little else are over and Pacific nations need a concerted global effort to tackle the problem before it’s too late.
“We all know that an international debate rages about climate change and its causes. The majority scientific opinion has it that much of the change is due to human activity, carbon dioxide emissions causing global warming.”
“From where we all sit in the Pacific, that climate change debate may be interesting but it is largely moot. We are clearly not in the ranks of the world’s principal carbon emitters. Whilst the debate between the advanced industrialised countries and those in developing countries with advanced economies continues, we in the Pacific are at the cold face of climate change,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“We have to work together with other nations to exert influence in global forums such as the United Nations to try to focus attention on the need for immediate action to radically reduce emissions. Because whatever the cause of climate change – man-made or cyclical – there’s no denying that the planet is warming and the most prudent course of action is for the international community to try to arrest it by setting binding emission targets””
He said Fiji is leading the push by PSIDS (Pacific Small Island Developing States) at United Nations to get the international community to take the issue more seriously.
“For us, climate change isn’t some arcane debating point. The rising seas around us mean that for some of the smallest island nations, their very existence is at stake. We must all strive to assess the risks, and to put in place concrete measures to deal with climate change and its impact on our peoples.”
He said countries such as Tuvalu and Kiribati are at risk as ice caps melt and sea levels rise to unprecedented heights.
“As many of you will know, Kiribati has actually bought 6000 acres of land in Vanua Levu – Fiji’s second biggest island – to guarantee its food security as its own arable land is swamped by rising tides. It’s a sobering thought indeed when we start talking about the need to prepare for a scenario in which the nation of Kiribati largely exists within the borders of Fiji.”
“So there is no doubting the grave situation that we all face in this region. Which is why collectively, the Pacific island nations have begun to seriously assess the risk of climate change and lobby heavily internationally to put it at the forefront of the global agenda.”
“As always, our resources are limited and we need a holistic approach to problem solving that is practical, affordable and involves a close partnership between government, the business community and civil society groups.”
He told participants that they need to strike a balance between the urgent need to mitigate against the effects of climate change and the economic capability of Pacific Small Island States to do so.
“We will need outside financial assistance to tackle this most serious of threats and we deserve it. Because after all, if we are to assume that global warming is human-made, or exacerbated by humans, we in the Pacific are clearly not to blame. We are victims of the big carbon emitters and natural justice alone dictates that they should carry the burden of the problems they have created.”
He added that an integrated approach at a regional level to deal with today’s challenges is needed and we need to prepare for whatever challenges we may ultimately have to face, especially if the global community as a whole continues to drag its feet.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
36) Solomons’ Outer Islanders Ask PM For Resettlement Plan
Climate change is making Lord Howe, Luaniua islands uninhabitable
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 8, 2013) – Malaita outer island communities say rising sea levels are a real and immediate threat and a resettlement plan is needed before it is too late.
The people of Lord Howe and Luaniua have raised the issue of sea level rise with Solomon Islands prime minister Gordon Darcy Lilo during his three-day visit to the low-lying atolls.
Robert Iroga, the prime minister’s press secretary, travelled with the prime minister to the islands.
He has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat Luaniua is experiencing significant difficulties, including poor soil fertility and scarcity of land, because of its larger population.
“They showed us where there was intrusion of salt water into the gardens, which is the livelihood of people,” he said.
‘The Maliata islands have little resources and they rely mostly on sea cucumbers or beche de mer… the gardens have become smaller while the population has also increased, so the farming has been changed.”
Mr Iroga says the government has an obligation to “move these people around” but it does not have immediate plans to relocate the island populations.
“I wouldn’t say it’s imminent but it’s something that the government is looking at in the medium to long-term,” he said.
Mr Iroga says in the meantime the government is committed to providing services to assist those affected, including increased shipping schedules and reasonably-priced food.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
37) New Forecast Model Could Give Year’s Warning Of El Niño
Scientists hope early warning will help Pacific people adapt
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 8, 2013) – Scientists hope a new method for forecasting El Niño weather events earlier will help Pacific farmers and fishermen adapt to droughts and floods.
El Niño weather events lead to floods in the eastern Pacific and droughts in the west, severely affecting agriculture and fishing.
El Niños typically happen every two to seven years, but current techniques measuring water temperature only allow scientists to forecast at most six months in advance.
Professor Armin Bunde, from the University of Giessen in Germany, has told Pacific Beat their approach is different.
“We do not consider the water temperature, but we consider the atmospheric temperature in all areas of the Pacific Ocean,” he said.
“Then we study how the temperatures at different place in the Pacific are linked to each other…so by doing this we find that well before an El Niño event – in the year before – the data connections build up strongly.
“This…we can use to forecast an El Niño event [and] when we do this we find that we succeed in forecasting seven out of ten El Niños, with less than one false alarm in 20 years.”
Professor Bunde says the ability to predict El Nino’s further in advance allows those most at risk from unusual weather patterns to plan ahead.
“During an El Niño in the west the water gets colder, there’s less evaporation and this may lead to droughts,” he said.
“In the east where the water gets warmer, this may lead to heavy rainfall and floods.
“Both results – droughts in the west and floods in the east – are bad for agriculture.”
“By predicting El Niño events one year in advance, one can help the farmers to adapt better – to invest in drought or flood resistant crops.”
Australian lecturer in climate change research, Dr Alex Sen Gupta, has told ABC Science the new model is “almost too good to be true”.
“There’s no real physics behind it,” he said.
“At the moment they’ve found a pattern, but they’re not really explaining where that pattern comes from.
“I think give it another two or three El Niños and if it predicts those correctly more than a year in advance you’d start to think we’re on to something.”
El Niño is Spanish for “the child”, named after the baby Jesus because it often appeared off Peru around Christmas.
The pattern has been known to cause drought in some parts of Australia, Indonesia, and South America and heavy flooding in places like Peru and Ecuador.
It’s also been linked to severe winters in Europe, unusual monsoons in East Asia and hurricanes in the Caribbean.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
38) Taiwan NGO’s Provide Drought Relief To Marshall Islands
ROC Embassy in Majuro calls donations ‘goodwill effort’
MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, July 6, 2013) – A donation of food and medical supplies from NGO’s in the Republic of China (Taiwan) to assist for Marshall Islands’ disaster relief is part of continuing goodwill efforts, said ROC (Taiwan) Ambassador George T.K. Li in making the presentation to RMI Chief Secretary Casten Nemra on Wednesday.
Taiwan has also given USD100,000 cash donation and USD 231,420 from the ROC (Taiwan) annual grant to assist drought-affected areas.
According to the Taiwan Embassy in Majuro, the International Headquarters S.A.R., Taiwan, Wei-Lih Foods, and a religious group responded to drought information provided by the RMI Embassy there and donated the supplies in Taipei on May 27.
The relief goods, carried by Koo’s Fisheries vessel Eita Maru, traveled 3,200 nautical miles from Taiwan and arrived in Majuro, the capital atoll of the Marshalls, on June 20.
Taiwan NGO’s assistance of the emergency supplies includes:
1.2 tons of rice
227 boxes of mineral water (5,448 bottles)
400 boxes of instant noodles (12,000 packs)
15 boxes of medical supplies (including gauze mask, band aids, 3M tapes, neomycin povidone-lodine solutions, and ethanol)
2 boxes of bleach
39a) Two years to go to Games
By Online Editor
11:30 am GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Papua New Guinea
The countdown to the 2015 Pacific Games officially started last Thursday in a celebration at the Jack Pidik Park in Port Moresby.
The “Two Years to Go” celebration marked the countdown for the 2015 Pacific Games which will be hosted in the nation’s capital.
With a fleet of vehicles and two floats that drove from Hanuabada and Gerehu, city residents and those involved with preparations for the Pacific Games celebrated with performances from various traditional groups and the Royal Police Constabulary marching band.
Thursday July 4, marked exactly two years to the Games opening ceremony.
In attendance was Minister for Sports & 2015 Pacific Games Justin Tkatchenko, the PNG Olympic Committee, the 2015 Pacific Games Organising Committee, NCDC, PNG Sports Foundation and team officials and athletes.
Tkatchenko said for the past 12 months, the government had accomplished a lot in trying to ensure that upcoming Games was a success.
“The O’Neill government will continue to support the 2015 Pacific Games organising committee and its plans in preparation for the games right up to the official opening ceremony on July 4th 2015,” Tkatcjenko said.
“There is still a lot of work to do. If we all just work together with one aim, one goal, we can produce the best games ever!”
Tkatchenko added that the Pacific Games would be a significant event that would bring all Pacific nations together.
He also paid tribute to Pacific Games board chairman Kostas Constantinou for his efforts in getting the preparations off the ground.
Tkatchenko, who is the Moresby South MP, said it was not easy getting through bureaucratic red tape or securing funds but Constantinou and his team had strived to ensure work was continously being carried out and that there were little to no stoppages or delays.
He also reminded those in attendance that sports was a unifying factor in the community.
“Sport brings people of different backgrounds together. Sport unites people. It is a magnetic attraction where you meet new friends and we want the people to be part of this event in sports,” he said.
Tkatchenko thanked NCD Governor Powes Parkop for his efforts in working closely with the Sports Ministry to make sure that the nation’s capital was well prepared to welcome the 2015 Pacific Games….
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
39b) Ryan resigns
By Online Editor
11:31 am GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Fiji
Fiji Rugby Union High Performance Unit general manager Mike Ryan has resigned.
When contacted, Ryan said he couldn’t make any comment on the issue.
“I would love to elaborate but I can’t comment,” Ryan said.
When queried if his resignation was due to the performance of the Digicel Fiji 7s team at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow last week, Ryan added: “ I really can’t make any comments now.”
After the dismal performance of the national side in Moscow, Ryan had planned to implement an effective development model for all the national teams.
Ryan, though as HPU general manager, was unaware of the training programme that the sevens team followed before they left for Moscow.
He earlier told SUNSports “I’m not sure of the programme our 7s team was carrying out as to what they were doing and how they were doing things.”
But SUNSports understands that Ryan had proposed that Sailosi Naiteqe Senior coach the 7s team to the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna.
Naiteqe’s has already received an appointment letter but FRU couldn’t reveal his name because the Board had not endorsed it.
Ryan was appointed early this year into the position that was left vacant for the last two years after Talemo Waqa’s contract wasn’t renewed.
His contract was to have ended in 2016.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
39c) Four sports confirm for Mini Games
By Online Editor
11:32 am GMT+12, 08/07/2013, Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands will only take part in four sports out of the eight confirmed sports to be played in the upcoming 2103 Pacific Mini Games in Wallis n Futuna.
This was confirmed by the National Selection and Justification Committee (NSJC) in consultation with the National Olympic of Solomon Islands (NOCSI).
The four sports are beach volleyball, athletics, taekwondo and weightlifting.
Four sports which Solomon Islands will not take part in are the rugby 7s, Va’a, aquatics (Swimming) and sailing.
So far only one athlete has been confirmed to be part of the team, weightlifter Jenly Wini.
Wini is currently training at the Oceania Weightlifting Academy in Noumea, New Caledonia.
She will fly from New Caledonia directly to Wallis n Futuna where she will meet the rest of the team.
Meanwhile the NOCSI urges all these federations confirmed for the mini games to step up preparations as the kick off date is just two months away.
It will be the smallest contingent ever but we’ll carry the burden of high expectation from the country.
Solomon Islands has in the past done very well in the mini games.
The previous mini games is a good example when young Betty Babalu won gold being the first youngest Solomon Islander to win the highest prize in a regional competition.
This year it will be no different as expectations remain high for the team to return with medals.
The names of athletes to participate will be finalized soon.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS
40) Andy Murray ends Britain’s 77-year wait
By Online Editor
11:36 am GMT+12, 08/07/2013, United Kingdom
The last few heart-pounding strides towards the summit proved the most precarious for Andy Murray as he beat Novak Djokovic to end a 77-year British jinx at Wimbledon on a day that will forever be etched in the nation’s sporting fabric.
The record books will show an almost routine 6-4 7-5 6-4 win for Murray but the three hours nine minutes it took to finish off a slightly below-par Djokovic felt like an eternity.
It completed a long journey for Murray, who survived a school massacre in his home town of Dunblane as an eight year old and has carried the Wimbledon hopes of an expectant nation on his shoulders for several years.
The win was more tortuous than any of the five-set thrillers that Murray has contested in his career – most recently when he came from two sets down to beat Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-finals to keep the dream alive.
With the 15,000 people on a baking Centre Court bellowing his name and millions glued to TV screens around the country Murray stepped up to serve at 5-4 needing four points to emulate Fred Perry who won the last of his three titles here in 1936.
Three points later, amid a cacophony of sound that even surpassed the decibel level reached when he won Olympic gold on the same stage last year, it was 40-0.
But this most unpredictable of Wimbledons, a tournament stacked with shocks and unexpected turns, was not about to let Murray achieve British sporting immortality without one final, stomach-churning, twist.
World No 1 Djokovic, who was ahead in both the second and third sets only to be engulfed by a tide of patriotic fervour, saved all three and then had a point to make it 5-5 after dribbling a drop volley off the net tape.
Had he done so the statue of Perry perched in the grounds of the All England Club might still be casting a shadow over British tennis but Murray, whose broad shoulders have carried home hopes for nearly a decade, would not stumble.
With his pulse racing and nerves on fire he conjured up a fourth match point and this time Djokovic succumbed, netting a backhand to spark cheers from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
“It’s the hardest few points I’ve had to play in my life,” said a dazed Murray.
“That last game went my head was everywhere. That last game will be the toughest game I’ll play in my career, ever.”
Twelve months ago Murray’s Wimbledon dream was crushed by Roger Federer on the same stage – yet that tear-jerking defeat proved to be a watershed for the obstinate 26-year-old.
A few weeks later he claimed the Olympic gold medal before beating Djokovic to win the US Open and his first grand slam title after four times falling at the final hurdle.
Despite those milestones, Murray knew that becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon in shorts would ultimately define his career.
“For the last four or five years, it’s been very, very tough, very stressful, a lot of pressure,” said Murray, the only British man to reach the second round this year.
“I felt a little bit better this year than I did last year. But it’s not easy. I think now it will become easier. I hope it will.”
When Perry thrashed Germany’s Gotfried von Cramm 6-1 6-1 6-0 in 1936 – the same year the BBC made the world’s first television broadcast and Jesse Owens won four Olympic golds in pre-war Berlin, it proved to be his swansong.
Approaching his athletic peak and with age and injuries catching up with 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, Murray could have several more memorable Sundays on Centre Court in the next few years.
There were ironic shouts of “C’mon Roger” and C’mon Rafa”, but as Murray and Djokovic embellished a rivalry that began when they were 12-year-olds it was hard to disagree that they are now the biggest draws in men’s tennis.
Similar in style, they have both turned retrieving lost causes and switching from defence to attack into an art-form.
The opening three games took 20 minutes with a succession of punishing baseline rallies leaving both men gasping in the hottest temperatures of the fortnight.
“The first few games were brutal,” said Murray, who climbed into the stands to hug every member of his sizeable entourage, beginning with coach Ivan Lendl after kneeling with his head bowed on the grass.
“It was a physically incredibly demanding match.”
Murray was the early aggressor, earning the first break of serve in the third game – by which time both players were sweat-soaked.
Djokovic hit back immediately but Murray broke again for a 4-3 lead and clinched an absorbing opening set in an hour – just as he had done against Federer a year earlier when he went on to lose the next three.
Murray trailed 4-1 in the second set but Djokovic handed back the break of serve with a double-fault and Murray levelled for 4-4 after saving two break points.
Serving at 5-5 Djokovic began to lose his cool, arguing with umpire Mohamed Lahyani about a line call and Murray pounced to move ahead 6-5 before claiming the second set with an ace.
Six-times grand slam champion Djokovic seemed to have given up on a second Wimbledon crown when he went 2-0 down in the third but he reeled off four consecutive games.
There was a sigh of relief as Murray stopped the rot and at 4-4 the Scot played two incredible points to move to within one successful service game of glory.
Even the bust of the late Perry might have perspired during the next 13 minutes but Murray would not be denied.
“The bottom line is that he was a better player in decisive moments,” said Djokovic who still leads Murray 11-8 in their career head-to-head.
“He played fantastic tennis, no question about it. He deserved to win.”
Play concluded at a memorable 127th Wimbledon championships with more French success as Kristina Mladenovic and 40-year-old Canadian partner Daniel Nestor, cheered on by women’s singles champion Marion Bartoli, beat Bruno Soares and Lisa Raymond 5-7 6-2 8-6 to win the mixed doubles title.