Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 846
By Online Editor
1:32 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO) has agreed to meet with a delegation from the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in New York.
This was confirmed to the Fiji Sun by Peter Thomson, Fiji’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
“We look forward to the fruition of this visit, and to useful discussions being held while the delegation is in New York with a view to assisting the MSG realise its potential to play a positive role in the UN peacekeeping community.”
In the Pacific Island region, Thomson said they were taking regional initiatives to support UN peacekeeping.
The MSG had recently agreed to the concept of establishing an MSG Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The MSG’s peacekeeping concept was focused on developing collective peacekeeping capability in the area of police peacekeeping,” he said.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
2) Timing for sugar strike worst possible says Fiji party
Posted at 05:21 on 09 August, 2013 UTC
The People’s Democratic Party in Fiji says now is the worst time for industrial action in the sugar sector.
Last month the state-owned industry body for sugar announced it would award sugar workers a five point three percent wage rise following threats from the workers union of a strike.
The union says wages have declined by 40 percent over the past seven years and an increase of just eight dollars a week is an insult to them.
The party’s spokesperson, Nirmal Singh, says harvesting is not the time for the clash of personalities or politics as the livelihood of the nation is at stake.
“The retention from the sugar earnings is far greater even even than tourism so it’s a very important industry in terms of retention of the dollar in this country and sustaining the livelihood of average and rural population.”
Nirmal Singh says if the Fiji Sugar Corporation cannot afford to offer workers a bigger increase it must sit down and prove that to the workers union.
Radio New Zealand International
3) Fiji adamant on way ahead: President Nailatikau
By Online Editor
4:14 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
Fiji is adamant on undertaking the path to sustainable democracy, says President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
Speaking at the farewell dinner hosted for the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) delegates, Ratu Epeli said this week’s events at Denarau marked a watershed moment for the people of the Pacific.
On Fiji’s own path to elections next year, he said: “This journey reflects, not the ‘future Fiji wants’ but the ‘future Fiji needs’ because this is absolutely critical.
“Fiji’s Roadmap to the 2014 General Elections is clearly sign-posted. The milestones achieved so far on this important journey, includes the registration of major political parties, voter registration which now stands at 533,000 and counting, a new constitution by this September and ultimately elections under this constitution by September 2014.”
He also said that without the investment of financial and political capital from development partners, the empowering Pacific Islands Development Forum would not have materialised effortlessly.
“Through this inaugural Pacific Islands Development Forum, we have rallied governments, the private sector, the civil society, and the academic and scientific communities to address a range of regional development challenges through a ‘green economy’ approach.
“These bold and transformative measures require an open and an innovative frame of mind, strong political will and a supportive international framework that builds capacity and leverages financial resources among other things.”
He reminded the leaders that there was much to be done.
4) Fiji will not rejoin PIFS unless changes in the regional grouping
By Online Editor
1:34 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
Fiji foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has re-iterated the Pacific nation will not rejoin the Pacific Islands Forum (PIFS) unless changes are made to how the Suva-based regional body operates.
Ratu Inoke made the revelation in an interview with Radio New Zealand International at the recently concluded Pacific Islands Development (PIDF).
“We are not interested in joining the Pacific Islands Forum as is. There needs to be some changes before we can go back in.
Ratu Inoke said Australia and New Zealand need to decide whether they are donors or members of the Forum.
“That everybody is equal in the PIF. For example, Australia and New Zealand, they need to decide whether they are a donor and also a member in the Pacific Islands Forum. They should either be a donor [and] if they are a donor then they need stay out.
“Let the Pacific Island countries be members of the Pacific Islands Forum as was originally formed many years back. If we are donors and members at the same time then why don’t we invite some other developed partners to sit in, like Australia and New Zealand?, he asked.
Meanwhile, Ratu Inoke says high level diplomatic exchanges between Fiji and New Zealand will not happen until after Fiji’s elections next year because New Zealand continues to campaign against Fiji.
The two governments, together with Australia, agreed in July last year to restore High Commissioners to each others capitals following tit for tat expulsions in 2009.
Last month, Fiji said Australia’s High Commissioner designate would not be allowed in until after the Fiji elections and Ratu Inoke said the same applies to New Zealand.
“I think they continue to campaign against Fiji in different fora and we have been told from reliable sources even from some of the leaders they have been approached not to attend this meeting. They have told us that Canberra had asked them not to attend but they decided to attend and one of them said oh no I’ve got Fijian blood, I need to be in Fiji for this meeting,” Ratu Inoke said.
SOURCE: PACNEWS/ RNZI
5) PIDF the space for islands to speak: Fiji’s foreign secretary
By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
The Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) will provide a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral and regional framework to secure concrete outcomes.
The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Amena Yauvoli, said the PIDF was a ‘network of networks’ for sustainable development.
He said that tapping into what the private sector and the civil society groups had to offer would allow them to more adequately address the impacts posed by environmental challenges and issues and take advantage of opportunities to promote sustainable development.
Yauvoli said Pacific communities of interest have never had an arena or space where they could cooperate and collaborate for sustainable development through green-blue economies.
He summed up at the meeting at the Sheraton Fiji, Denarau by stating that there had been talks of creating a space for Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) to speak for themselves.
“We have now embraced the PIDF as that space that needs an institutional structure to carry its work forward.
“In other words, we need to institutionalise the space we have created for ourselves to provide a home for sustainable development in the Pacific sub-region of the larger Asia-Pacific region of the United Nations.”
The PIDF, he said, will foster an environment within which leadership and innovation can occur to create sustainable development of green/blue economies.
“The governance structure will provide the catalyst to the development of a unified voice in relation to key sustainable developmental challenges and opportunities facing the Pacific.”
The meeting agreed to:
(i) Strengthen coordination and collaboration on sustainable development issues at the national, regional and global levels engaging all sectors of society- public, private, and civil/non-government organisations;
(ii) Provide an effective mechanism directly linking with the Pacific SIDS Grouping in NY, (Alliance of Small Island States) AOSIS, UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, G7+, G77 and China, and other UN processes at the global level;
(iii) Establish a secretariat.
(iv) Establish a working group with representatives drawn from all sectors of society to consult, assess and propose options for a long term institutional arrangement for the PIDF for consideration at its next meeting.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Islands Development Forum leaders have agreed to explore opportunities that recognize and award local innovation in environment and social development entrepreneurship.
Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said other agreements in the draft outcome documents include enabling environment in all sectors, including capacity building at institutional and human resources level between Pacific economies.
The Forum has also agreed to be champions of Green Growth and sustainable development by adopting innovative and “outside of the box approaches”, revisiting traditional practices and improving existing mechanisms.
Ratu Inoke said the partnerships between governments, private sector and civil society and communities were a critical strategy to ensuring success in sustainable implementation of projects and programmes.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
6) TONGAN PRINCESSES SPARK CONTROVERSY WITH PLANS TO MARRY COMMONERS
ABCUpdated August 8, 2013, 8:38 am
A pair of Tongan princesses have sparked controversy by rebelling against expectations and planning to marry commoners.
Tongan royals have traditionally married within the family or of a similar social status.
Princesses Salote Lupepau’u Tuita, sixth in line to the throne, will marry a former Tongan rugby national, Epeli Taione, while Princess Frederica Tuita, who is 10th in line, is marrying Johnny Filipe, the son of a businessman.
Princess Frederica recently wrote on her website that the idea marrying to raise one’s status or replenish one’s blue blood has reached its peak and end.
In an interview with online news site TheWhatItDo.com, she said she met her fiancÃ© at her sister’s 21st birthday, but getting to know him wasn’t easy.
“It’s been a difficult process, because I already have a number of expectations placed upon me, I have a lot of duties that I have to fulfil,” she said.
“It was difficult to start dating Johnny, because I felt the need to please everyone – including Johnny – so it was like a balancing act really.
“I had to balance my relationship with Johnny as well as my duties to the family and to the country.”
As well as marrying a non-Royal, Princess Frederica’s wedding will be held in an Anglican church in New Zealand, rather than a Free Wesleyan church, which is headed by the King.
“I have to take into consideration that I’m not marrying someone who everyone expected me to marry,” she said.
“The truth is that Johnny and I wanted a Western ‘Palagi’ type wedding, we didn’t want it to be too traditional.”
Under Tonga’s constitution, King Tupou VI has the power to annul both marriages if he chooses.
Tongan political scientist Dr Malakai Koloamatangi has told Radio Australia’s while that has happened in the past, these princesses are likely to be far enough down the succession order for their marriages to survive.
“The one that’s tenth in line probably has less to worry about than the one who’s number six,” he said.
“Having said that, things have slightly changed…there’s a history of these marriages being annulled, but there’s also another history where more and more these family members are getting away with things.
“The pool from which they choose their spouses is becoming very, very small – so…either you consent to marrying someone who’s very, very close to you in blood, or you chose to marry someone outside.”
Last July, the marriage between Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala and his second cousin, Sinaitakala Fakafanua, sparked debate both in Tonga and overseas over the genetic implications of cousins marrying.
Social media response to the princesses’ plans has been mixed, with many young Tongans supporting the idea, while some older citizens say they expected more from the Royal family.http://au.news.yahoo.
7) Only plane to Vava’u, Tonga, temporarily out of service
Posted at 02:21 on 09 August, 2013 UTC
An Air Chathams aircraft which has been providing the only flights to Vava’u in Tonga is out of service for the next few days due to mechanical problems.
New Zealand owned Air Chathams leased a 50-seat Convair aircraft to Real Tonga for flights to Vava’u until the controversial MA-60 begins service.
Despite the Tongan government saying the MA-60 would be in service from last week, it is yet to receive an Air Operation Certificate which would allow it to carry passengers.
The general manager of Air Chathams, Noel Gillespie, says its plane is being repaired over the next few days.
Mr Gillespie also says the Convair’s short-team lease to Real Tonga ends in a week.
The chief executive of Real Tonga, Tevita Palu, says the MA-60, which is the final stage of certification, should be ready by then.
Mr Palu says Real Tonga hopes to charter a Fiji Airways plane for flights to Vava’u over the next few days.
Radio New Zealand International
8) ‘Birth Tourism’ Jeopardizes CNMI Waiver Program: Sablan
Visitors’ babies being born in territory to gain US citizenship
By Haidee V. Eugenio
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, August 9, 2013) – With Saipan becoming a destination of choice for pregnant foreign nationals who want to give birth to automatic U.S. citizen children, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said yesterday this so-called “birth tourism” needs to be discouraged to avoid risking the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ chance of getting a permanent U.S. visa waiver for Chinese and Russian tourists.
Sablan said that federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have also been concerned about birth tourism in the CNMI.
Under the visa waiver program, Chinese and Russian tourists can enter and stay in the CNMI for up to 45 days without a U.S. visa.
However, while the visa waiver program has tremendously helped the CNMI tourism industry prosper, it has also given some tourists, mostly Chinese, a way to give birth to automatic U.S. citizen children, as promoted by businesses based in China and the CNMI.
The United States is one of a few countries that observe jus soli, which grants automatic citizenship to children born within its territory, regardless of the parents’ nationality or citizenship.
In a news briefing in Susupe yesterday, Sablan said it is not easy to stop this so-called birth tourism.
Birth tourism is believed to have increased with the approval of a visa waiver program since 2009. However, there is no telling whether this visa waiver will become part of a final immigration rule.
Sablan said that U.S. Customs and Border Protection could not deny entry to Chinese women simply because they are suspected to be pregnant. That is gender discrimination, he said.
The birth tourism issue came up when Sablan was asked whether a change in DHS leadership, when Secretary Janet Napolitano steps down, could affect the visa waiver program for Chinese and Russian tourists bound for the CNMI.
“What concerns me more is the birth tourism business here… That kind of activity concerns me enough that it’s really like putting a gun in our mouth and pulling the trigger. We need to discourage that because that’s something that has federal agencies concerned,” Sablan said.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos has also raised concern about the impact of birth tourism on the CNMI’s chances of securing a permanent visa waiver for its lucrative Chinese and Russian tourists.
Sablan and Inos earlier wrote a joint letter to DHS, calling for tighter border watch.
Businesses that cater to birth tourism have seen a boom—from health clinics to hotels, apartments, car rentals, translators, retail stores, and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
The delegate said the attempted entry of Chinese tourists or workers in the CNMI into Guam are also another concern.
Sablan said the CNMI would not want to give DHS a reason to stop the visa waiver program.
“I am very happy that Mr. Alejandro Mayorkas has been nominated to be deputy secretary. He understands our issues very well, more than many people think,” the delegate added.
When asked whether he’s also concerned that the visa waiver program has also helped facilitate drug trafficking, Sablan said he has faith in the CNMI Customs Services Division under Director Joe Mafnas’ leadership.
As to other national security issues, Sablan said he cannot share information given to him in classified meetings.
“We’d like to see a final rule in the next several years that includes China and Russia,” he added.
Sablan, at the same time, said the national immigration reform bill with a CNMI-specific provision that the U.S. Senate passed does not cover the alien parents or families of so-called birth tourism children.
“If you look at the immigration language that we have proposed all along, there really is a reason as to the several timelines required and that is to not include families of birth tourism because that would never pass and it will hurt us more than it will help us,” Sablan said.
Covered in the CNMI-specific provision of that U.S. Senate immigration bill are U.S. citizen children’s parents who have been in the CNMI legally since at least 2003.
“In the immigration legislation for the Northern Marianas, we went through extra pain to language that carefully so that a child born here, say five years ago, whose parents just came in, had a baby and left—the child is a U.S. citizen… and we have a process wherein he can petition his or her family but they’re not going to get that opportunity from the Northern Marianas legislation because they’re not the people we’re trying to help,” the delegate added.
The U.S. House of Representatives is also considering its own national immigration reform bill and Sablan is confident that if it is a Gang of Seven-crafted bill, then it would also have the same CNMI-specific language that the U.S. Senate’s Gang of Eight included in S. 744.
Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com
9) International implications from landmark fishing rights ruling
Updated 8 August 2013, 8:43 AEST
An Australian High Court decision on indigenous fishing rights has been hailed as cause for celebration by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commission.
International implications from landmark fishing rights ruling (Credit: ABC)
The Court ruled fishing laws don’t extinguish Torres Strait Islanders’ native title rights to trading although they will have to comply with licensing requirements.
The Australian Government says there’ll likely be a greater requirement for consultation with traditional inhabitants but the fishing industry believes it’s status quo.
Experts say there are international implications from the fishing rights ruling.
Speaker:Adjunt Professor Michael White, QC, University of Queensland; Michael Gardner, chairman, Queensland Seafood Industry Association.http://www.
10) Ol opim namba wan National Emergency Operation Senta bilong Vanuatu
Updated 9 August 2013, 13:48 AEST
Ol ibin lonsim na opim namba wan National Emergency Operation Senta bilong Vanuatu insait long despela wik.
Odio: Steven Noel media liason ofisa wantaim Vanuatu National Disaster Operation itoktok
Despela bai min olsem ol taim nogut long Vanuatu oa disaster nau bai olsem samting blong bifo,long wanem Vanuatu gavaman nau igat nupela ofis long luksave kuik wanem ol kain disaster i kamap.
Bihainim toktok bilong Steven Noel, media liason offisa wantaim National Operations Senta long Vanuatu,despela senta em istap insait long National Disaster Management ofis na Vanuatu Meteorology na Geo-hazards Dipatment building long namba 2 eria
Despela niupela Emergensi Senta nau igat ol masin oa equipment iken luksave kuik ol kain bagarap olsem guria,Saiklon na mounden paia oa volkeno sapos ol bai kamap.radio australia
11a) Papouasie: ce sont les militaires indonésiens qui ont tiré sur l’ambulance
Mis à jour 9 August 2013, 15:12 AEST
C’est en tout cas la version d’un indépendantiste papou.
Le 31 juillet, un auxiliaire médical est mort, et un autre auxiliaire ainsi que le chauffeur ont été blessés. Ils transportaient une femme enceinte vers l’hôpital de Mulia, dans le Puncak Jaya.
Cette région montagneuse et difficilement praticable est un fief de la branche armée du mouvement de libération de la Papouasie occidentale. Les autorités indonésiennes ont aussitôt accusé le mouvement d’être responsable de l’attaque de l’ambulance.
Mais hier un militant indépendantiste papou, Yasons Sambom, a donné une toute autre version. Il affirme que les combattants indépendantistes n’ouvriraient jamais le feu sur une ambulance. Et les policiers postés non loin de l’endroit de l’attaque ont été extrêmement lents à réagir, ce qui selon Yasons Sambom confirme la culpabilité des militaires indonésiens. http://www.radioaustralia.net.
11b) PNG: les réfugiés auront un permis de travail
Posté à 9 August 2013, 15:09 AEST
Le destin des migrants envoyés par l’Australie en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée se précise.
Le responsable des services de l’immigration papous a déclaré hier que les demandes d’asile seront examinées en trois à quatre semaines, et si les migrants sont reconnus comme d’authentiques réfugiés, ils seront libérés, hébergés dans des villages spécialement construits et dotés d’un permis de travail.
Mataio Rabura n’a pas précisé à partir de quand cet examen éclair des demandes d’asile débuterait, sachant que l’Australie place des demandeurs d’asile à Manus depuis septembre 2012 et que la machine administrative n’a toujours pas commencé à examiner leurs dossiers.
Ils n’obtiendront pas la citoyenneté papoue plus facilement que les autres, mais ils auront le droit de travailler. Le responsable des services de l’immigration papous parle d’en embaucher dans le service public et compte sur le secteur privé pour le reste. En Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, le taux de chômage est très élevé, et l’économie largement informelle, à l’exception de l’exploitation du gaz et des mines.
Enfin, Mataio Rabura l’a confirmé, il ne veut pas plus de 15 000 migrants sur l’île de Manus – qui compte 50 000 habitants. Deux autres sites d’hébergement sont envisagés, sur l’île de Nouvelle-Irlande et sur une île de la province de Milne Bay. radio australia
12) Political Sabotage Alleged As Inaugural PIDF Meet Ends
Australia reportedly pressured Xanana Gusmao not to attend
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, August 8, 2013) – The inaugural meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Forum has ended amid some controversy with allegations that Australia and New Zealand tried to sabotage the event.
The new body is the brainchild of Fiji’s military leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and it’s being viewed by some regional leaders as an attempt to undermine the role of the long established Pacific Islands Forum from which Fiji is suspended.
Now there are claims that East Timor’s Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, was pressured by Australia’s Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, not to attend.
In the end Mr. Gusmao did go to Nadi and delivered a key note address.
But one regional leader who didn’t turn up was Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.
He was otherwise engaged on a visit to New Zealand, but Samisoni Pareti, who was in Nadi for Radio Australia, says questions have been raised about the timing of Mr. O’Neill’s trip.
“When Commodore Bainimarama visited Papua New Guinea there was an assurance from Mr. O’Neill that he would be attending personally, but it so happens that on the week that Fiji hosted the forum, Mr. O’Neill had to take a state visit to New Zealand, and that was talked about in Nadi. Was the trip pre-arranged or was it an attempt by New Zealand to wreak havoc on Bainimarama’s efforts to set up a rival to the Pacific Islands Forum?”
Another absentee was Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, who says he could see no point in being there, and he’s dismissed the idea that Commodore Bainimarama’s creation will ever replace the Pacific Islands Forum.
“All it does is to redo what is already adequately covered by the forum and other institutions within our region. Therefore we cannot see the need to attend.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa has rejected an assertion from Fiji’s interim leader that the Pacific Islands Forum is an exclusive club which interferes in the affairs of other nations.
Fiji remains suspended from the forum, a situation which Prime Minister Tuilaepa says is entirely of the military regime’s own making.
“Fiji decided to become a dictatorship. It’s their own decision by the present usurpers of power. Fiji will be welcomed back once it reinstates a democratic government and democratically elected parliament.”
In contrast the President of Kiribati says the time to engage with Fiji is now.
Anote Tong did attend the summit in Nadi, and he says those who accuse the established Pacific Islands Forum of being an exclusive club may have a point.
“In the Forum we are so shielded away from the rest of society, we’re a club of our own in retreat and away from the questions of people like yourselves (journalists) demanding answers. But I think as politicians we should always be accountable, not only at the national level, but also at the regional level.”
“We understand the political situation (in Fiji) but I’ve always personally believed we should at all times continue with the engagement. Now I think it’s gathering more momentum and I’m very happy to see it culminating in this Pacific Islands Development Forum and involving a whole lot of other countries, including new countries that have not participated in the past,” Prime Minister Tong said.
On the question of the new body’s place in the region, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo doesn’t accept the view of his Samoan counterpart.
Mr. Darcy Lilo has told Pacific Beat he believes there is room for the old forum, and the new one.
“The Pacific Islands Development Forum is a discussion forum, it’s addressing development issues facing the countries and it’s geared up towards sharing ideas, approaches, experiences, as to how countries can adopt and grow to sustain the natural environment but encourage more social and economic development for their people. The Pacific Islands Forum is a leaders’ forum, the leaders themselves make their own agenda, and there are rules and processes and procedures that govern the way leaders meet and decide on issues.”
If the new body is to have a long term future, then the question of funding will have to be resolved, a point raised by the delegates from Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia during the talks in Nadi.
But Samisoni Pareti says as Fiji is the driving force behind the new organization, the assumption is that it will take on the financial burden, although there was no clear response to the delegates’ concerns.
“There’s a new body being set up and they from their position were worried about the financial implications. There was no mention of who’s going to fund the next summit, which will be next year, and it was just understood by everybody that Fiji will be hosting the secretariat, and Fiji will be paying for the maintenance of that secretariat.”
Commodore Bainimarama, has offered to host the secretariat in Suva, a move that would appear to put it in direct opposition to the Pacific Islands Forum, which already has its head office in the same city.
He told the Nadi summit the new secretariat will operate on a less is more and more for less basis.
And in another veiled attack on the Pacific Islands Forum, Commodore Bainimarama said the Development Forum’s secretariat won’t need expensive facilities or what he calls an army of overpaid officials producing top-down solutions.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
13) PSIDS making an impact in UN system: Kiribati President Tong
By Online Editor
4:21 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
By Pita Ligaiula
Kiribati’s President Anote Tong says the presence of Pacific Small Island Developing states (PSIDS) at the United Nation in New York has enabled small island states ‘voice to be heard’ in the international fora.
Speaking in an interview with PACNEWS, President Anote Tong said the region is making a strong impression in New York.
“We have strong representation by our Ambassadors who represent our region and we are making a lot of impact.
“We should participate more in the international arena particularly on issues which are very very relevant to us, like climate change and oceans issues.
“We are a region of ocean and as custodians of the largest ocean in the world we should be making that impression and influence in New York,” President Tong told PACNEWS
President Tong believes PSIDS and the new regional body the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) can work together to advance the interests of islands states in New York.
“I’ve always believed in the in merit of working together. I know sometimes there is competition between institution but any grouping is good as long as we keep the balance.
“It should never be viewed as competition but each group complementing each other. I think this PIDF forum could and should make strong contribution to PSIDS, President Tong explained.
President Tong said Pacific diplomacy at the UN is important for small Island states like Kiribati because it champions issues that are dear to the region.
“We are at the end of the tail. We get whacked all the time but I think what we have to ensure is that where it matters, we must make our presence felt.
“If we are talking about world trade that has very little meaning for a country like Kiribati because we don’t have a lot to do with trade. When we talking about security, we have not part of that global security issue except perhaps in terms of our security threat from climate change,” President Tong said.
He said the impacts of climate change affecting Kiribati, Tuvalu and Marshall Islands makes it very important for PSIDS to be represented at the UN.
“Climate change is something that is of absolute significance to us. We must ensure that we make an impact globally because we are one of the countries on the front line. The Pacific is a region on the front line.
“As a region, we should be speaking very loudly, we should be making sure that we are there on issues like climate change, marine resources, ocean management etc,” President Tong explained.
14) Pacific Conference of churches welcomes ecumenical approach, commends Methodist Church
By Online Editor
4:11 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
Fiji’s Methodist Church’s offering of Eid ul-Fitr good wishes to the Muslim community is a welcome ecumenical move towards nation building, says the Pacific Conference of Churches.
And it has called on Christian churches in Fiji – and the region – to recognize the relevance of other religious celebrations as a way towards building tolerance in communities.
“This is not a matter of conversion, rather it is recognition of the message of peace, love and good will which exists in all faiths,” PCC General Secretary Reverend Francois Pihaatae said.
“The Ramadan fasting period is a time when our Muslim brothers and sisters make sacrifices, give alms and reflect on the tenets of their faith.
“We can all learn from this example. Indeed, all faiths recognize the need for sacrifice such as fasting, helping the poor and making time for self-reflection and penitence.”
Rev Pihaatae said that in a multicultural community it was important for all faiths to recognize the significant contributions made by others and to draw inspiration from them.
His statement came after Methodist Church in Fiji General Secretary Reverend Tevita Bainivanua congratulated the Muslim community at the end of its fasting period.
In the statement – seen as a departure from traditional Methodism in Fiji, Rev Bainivanua said the church recognised fundamental differences in faith on issues such as salvation but acknowledged its inherent connection of the so-called Abrahamic faiths of Judaism and Islam with Christianity.
“The deep spiritual significance of Ramadan as a month of prayer, fasting and alms-giving as part of spiritual renewal for the Muslim community echoes the Christian’s spiritual journey during Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Holy Week and Easter,” Rev Bainivanua said.
“As fellow citizens of Fiji and as God’s children we wish our Muslim brothers and sisters a joyful time of celebrations for Eid.”
The PCC congratulated the Methodist Church leadership on its continued humility and persistence despite the constraints it faced in terms of funding and the challenges from various sections of the community.
Meanwhile, the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma will break new ground during its 2013 conference, providing simultaneous translation services to delegates.
Traditionally the conference has been conducted in the iTaukei (Fijian) language and some members have felt left out because they speak only English or Hindustani.
This initiative will see delegates receive headsets to allow non-iTaukei speakers to remain abreast of discussions throughout the four-day event later this month.
Observers should also expect a Hindustani bhajan (hymn) at the ordination service of church President, Reverend Tukilakila Waqairatu in a major departure from tradition. Previous ordinations have benn conducted predominantly in the iTaukei language.
The move has been welcomed by the Pacific Conference of Churches as a real move towards inclusivity in Fiji’s largest Christian denomination.
PCC Ecumenism Animator Aisake Casimira said the break with tradition was encouraging, especially as the church and the nation looked for ways to move progressively into the future.
“This is a practical step towards building bridges between ethnicities and religions and it should be an example to all,”Casimira said.
“It may be a small step but we hope that the church will build on this positive momentum. Such steps will engender greater participation, cooperation and dialogue on matters of concern to the Church.”
The PCC has wished the Methodist Church well in its preparations and offered technical media support for the event.
15) Unchecked Tuberculosis May Be Expensive For PNG
Drug-resistant TB cases could cost $22.9 million by 2020
By Haiveta Kivia
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 8, 2013) – Papua New Guinea, if not careful with its tuberculosis (TB) control program, may spend K53.82 million [US$22.9 million] to treat people with multiple and extreme drug resistant tuberculosis by year 2020.
The scary news is that the real magnitude and extent of drug-resistant TB in Papua New Guinea is unknown and the estimates by the PNG National Department of Health say it may increase.
Surveys are being carried out in the National Capital District, Madang, Morobe and Western provinces to determine the numbers.
The good news at this stage is that PNG is free of financial burden as the treatment is free and mostly funded by Global Fund and AusAID.
The crux of the matter will rise to its fore when this donors leave and we are asked to fund this expensive treatment regime from our National Budget.
This also had angered Prime Minster Peter O’Neill and he had asked for Papua New Guineans to change their attitudes.
“We must change, we live suicidal lives,” Mr. O’Neill said.
According to the department’s information paper at the National Tuberculosis Conference, the K53 million [US$22.5 million] is to treat 3,000 people only.
It also stated that that figure may increase or decrease depending on how TB control is meted out.
In contrast, PNG will spend K30 million [US$12.8 million] to treat 50,000 people affected with simple tuberculosis.
The Department and its partners from last year to this year will spend K6.8 million [US$2.9 million] to treat 300 patients with multi-drug and extreme drug resistant strains of tuberculosis.
The stronger strains of TB are developed when a patient already on treatment fails and defaults on their treatment due to a number of reasons such as accessibility, lack of drugs, lack of health facilities and others.
The TB germ bacillus mutates and develops immunity to the first line of drugs and will require much stronger TB drugs that will cost a patient K16,600 [US$7,055] for second line treatment and K30,000 to K40,000 [US$12,750 to US$17,000] per patient for the third line drugs.
It only costs K160 [US$68] to treat and cure a patient with simple strain of TB.
Dr. Rendi Moke, the TB Physician for Daru General Hospital confirmed that they had spent K40,000 just to procure drugs for a patient with extreme drug resistant TB.
At the end of May 2013, the number of patients on second line treatment was 136 and it continues to increase.
A survey by World Bank indicated that TB also affected the Gross Domestic Product of a country by four to seven percent.
It affects the prime of the population which are persons between the ages of 15-54, who are more industrious and involved actively in the economy.
Health Minister Michael Malabag said not addressing and investing in TB control is likely to have a significant impact on economic growth.
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
16) Director at only CNMI hospital lab resigns
Posted at 05:21 on 09 August, 2013 UTC
The laboratory director at the Commonwealth Health Centre in the Northern Marianas has resigned, claiming the islands’ lone hospital hadn’t paid her fully for her services.
Dr Caroline Yap, a pathologist and lab director for CHC, says her resignation was the result of her disappointing situation, with the hospital refusing to pay her salary for two weeks.
The Interim CEO Esther Muna confirmed the resignation, saying that Dr Yap resigned without proper notice.
Ms Muna says Dr Yap’s payment for her services is not due.
She declined to say when the payment is due and also rejected allegations the corporation has not been paying or was intentionally delaying Dr Yap’s salary.
The hospital is still in the process of addressing deficiencies cited by the US Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is due to resurvey the hospital in October.
Radio New Zealand International
17) SPC-AusAID to launch second phase of regional market access programme
By Online Editor
1:28 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
A regional programme aimed to assist Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands gain access to new markets for products with commercial potential is launching a second phase.
The launch will be held at the USP Oceania Centre on 16 August and will be officiated by Glenn Miles, Acting Australian High Commissioner; Inia Seruiatu, Fiji Minister for Primary Industries; and Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Deputy Director-General of SPC.
Known as the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Programme, the Australian Government-funded initiative is launching PHAMA II after successful completion of phase1. A particularly important and successful aspect of PHAMA’s work so far has been to develop a strong partnership between governments and the private sector to help manage market access issues. The regional programme has helped strengthen export pathways for papaya and eggplant from Fiji, processed fish and sawn timber from Solomon Islands, water melons from Tonga, beef from Vanuatu, and copra meal from Solomon Islands and Samoa.
PHAMA II will see an injection of AUD$14.5 million over four years. This second phase will continue to develop the necessary systems and skills for exporting countries to reliably meet the conditions imposed by importing country regulatory authorities, once access has been gained.
PHAMA team leader, Mr Richard Holloway, said that gaining and maintaining access to markets for key rural exports is a critical, but difficult, task.
‘PHAMA has been working in partnership with SPC for the last two and a half years to help Pacific Island countries develop exports of primary sector products, including agricultural, horticultural, forest and fish products. The programme’s focus is providing practical, product-by-product assistance to help level the playing field concerning the regulatory aspects associated with exporting primary sector products. This work is highly technical in nature, and is an area that under-resourced Pacific Island countries have long struggled with.
‘PHAMA is involved in trying to help improve existing access conditions where these prove too demanding or costly for Pacific exporters. The programme can help with emergency breakdowns in trade, for example, where exports are suspended due to non-compliance with specified quarantine measures,’ he said.
The programme has followed an intensive approach in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, with more general market access support services being provided to countries across the region by SPC’s Biosecurity and Trade team. Several new markets have already been opened up, such as the export of fresh ginger from Fiji to Australia, water melons from Tonga to Fiji, and cooked breadfruit from Samoa to New Zealand and Australia. Work is at an advanced stage on numerous additional products.
PHAMA has a country-specific focus, its work being driven by national market access working groups, which comprise equal representation of government (e.g. quarantine, trade and agriculture departments) and the private sector (exporters and producer groups). The working groups form the heart of the programme in each country, as they are responsible for identifying high priority market access issues where PHAMA provides assistance, and for overseeing the activities supported by PHAMA to address the issues. In some countries the groups are already being recognised as ‘best practice’ examples of public-private cooperation.
Delegates invited to the launch of PHAMA II include the regional leaders of the market access working groups, plus one or two of its national members.
PHAMA will complement existing SPC technical programmes in the region and help to sustain a regional service which, in the past, has had delivery difficulties due to uncertainty of funding support.
Component 4 of PHAMA has been designed to comprise a discrete set of activities, implementation of which will be managed by SPC.
18) New Asia Pacific flights for Air Niugini
By Online Editor
4:08 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
Papua New Guinea’s national flag carrier, Air Niugini, has announced that it will introduce new flights in the Asia Pacific region soon.
Board Chairman of Air Niugini Garth McIllwain said the airline will soon announce direct flights to Nadi, Fiji and Auckland, New Zealand.
This announcement came after the airliner made its maiden flight to the resort island of Bali, Indonesia on Monday.
The new destinations will see a growing and extensive coverage of the airline in the region.
McIllwain said the resort island of Bali takes in about 25 international carriers to Bali and he was proud that Air Niugini as PNG’s national carrier could establish routes in those places.
The airline’s Chief Executive Officer Simon Foo said Air Niugini has chosen Bali from other Indonesian destinations because of its international class tourist’s destination.
“By entering Bali, Papua New Guineans have the opportunity to visit their neighbour and sample the tourism product and enjoy our Kina further.
“It is affordable for Papua New Guineans to get four times more with their Kina, unlike other destinations in the world where Papua New Guineans have to triple the Kina in order to buy.
“Indonesia is the 15th largest GDP in the world and therefore the direct flights between Port Moresby and Bali provides a greater chance for increased trade and tourism for PNG. There is also adequate freight capacity on this service.
“Air Niugini therefore encourages business people from PNG and Indonesia to take advantage of that,” Mr Foo said.
Meanwhile, the new Bali- Port Moresby route by Air Niugini will now increase people to people relationship through businesses, trade and social interactions between the two countries says Papua New Guinea’s ambassador to Indonesia Captain Peter Ilau.
Speaking at the inaugural service dinner in Denpasar, Bali on Tuesday night, Ilau said the new route would enhance the current bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries.
Ilau said since the first state visit by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the private sector to Jakarta in June, he has been receiving lots of business interests from businesses there.
“Since the visit of the prime minister, the embassy has had a lot of queries and calls from businesses in Indonesia andsome of them have already been linked to businesses in PNG,” he said.
He said they’ve heard from the business sector in Indonesia that the potential of people travelling from Indonesia to Papua Guinea would be quite strong
The prospects of increasing to two flights a week is obviously important on the business point of view.
Ilau said the new route would also enable other activities like sports, cultural and other activities that will enhance people to people relationships between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Ambassador to PNG Andreas Sitepu said the new route has now made their job easy with direct flights from Port Moresby to Bali and Jakarta later on.
He said though PNG has a long relationship with Indonesia for some decades, people to people contacts between the two countires were limited and the new flight routes would enhance this relationship.
He said the biggest part of the new era would also see Indonesia’s national airliner, Air Garuda, making flights to PNG through a code sharing agreement.
19) Natural disasters affect Fiji’s Amalgamated Telecom Holdings performance
By Online Editor
1:27 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
Fiji’s propensity to suffer from natural disasters has an impact on the performance of a business.
And Amalgamated Telecom Holdings was no exception, with chairman Ajith Kodagoda saying the group was affected by the economic setbacks experienced after Tropical Cyclone Evan in December last year, which followed widespread floods in the Western Division.
“In hindsight, ATH’s decision to consolidate and restructure its companies earlier on has proven far-sighted in light of these disasters,” he said in the ATH 2013 annual report.
“The past year saw major adjustments and milestones across the board. This included the restructure of FINTEL after ATH’s acquisition of 49 per cent shareholding in the company.
“The World Bank supported submarine cables scheme for Pacific island nations has finally begun rolling out. FINTEL will in June 2013 have connected Tonga to the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) through its landing station in Vatuwaqa.” He said they had been shedding legacy platforms which were cumbersome and expensive.
Kodagoda said FINTEL was also expecting to soon link Vanuatu to the network and traffic revenues earned from those connections should have a flow-on effect for ATH.
“This has led to a commercial solution for both the group and its customers, by bringing about cost savings, consolidation, improved efficiencies, faster service delivery, increased speed and performance, better visibility and monitoring, and new capabilities for future services,” Kodagoda said.
SOURCE” FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
20) Fiji Airways sets new Guinnes world records title
By Online Editor
10:13 am GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
Fiji Airways, Fiji’s national airline is the newest holder of a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title, soaring to 41,000 feet to set the record for the world’s ‘Highest Altitude Wedding on an Aeroplane’.
Five couples exchanged vows on August 7 at 41,000 feet above sea level aboard a brand new Fiji Airways A330 to attain the record. The minimum altitude required to set this new world record was 40,000 feet.
To mark its brand launch, Fiji Airways, formerly Air Pacific, set out on a search for five couples to get married on board its flagship A330 aircraft on a flight from Auckland to Nadi, Fiji.
More than 400 New Zealand couples entered hoping to be one of the lucky couples married in the business cabin winning a free flight and complimentary stay in Fiji to enjoy their honeymoon courtesy of the Radisson BLU Resort Fiji Denarau Island and The Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa Fiji. Traditional Fijian masi artwork found inside the newly designed cabin and friendly Fijian cabin crew helped create an elegant celebration on board.
The record was made official by Guinness World Records adjudicator Chris Sheedy, who joined the couples on their flight to Fiji. The adjudicator verified the altitude and the wedding ceremony in New Zealand airspace, and awarded Fiji Airways with the record immediately.
Fiji Airways Acting Chief Executive Aubrey Swift said the airline was excited to claim a Guinness World Records achievement.
“This was a unique idea to get five couples married on board, in our bid to raise awareness of the new airline branding and of Fiji as a wedding and honeymoon destination,” said Swift.
“With our new brand identity & service, based around an authentic Fijian experience, a couple’s Fijian wedding really can start the moment they set foot on board. We’re delighted that we were able to set a new Guinness World Record. We kept this as a surprise for our five couples and it was great to see their reaction when they found out they were part of this world record.”
Thousands of couples travel to Fiji every year to tie the knot but only the five lucky winners will be able to claim getting married aboard a record setting flight en route to their honeymoon.
SOURCE: FIJI AIRWAYS/PACNEWS
21) Regulator BPNG sued
By Online Editor
4:07 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Papua New Guinea
The Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) and regulator of the superannuation industry has been taken to court on allegations that it had acted in bad faith and did not properly exercise its powers under the Superannuation General Provisions Act.
Former managing director appointee of Nambawan Super Limited, Paul Yangen, has taken the Bank to court seeking a Judicial Review of the actions of the bank which has resulted in his appointment as managing director rescinded by the Board of Nambawan Super Limited.
In June this year the National Court granted him leave to judicially review the actions of the bank, with the concerned parties returning to court next Monday for a directional hearing.
Yangen, in his supporting affidavit alleged that he was appointed managing director of PNG’s largest superannuation fund in August 2011 following a robust and diligent recruitment process.
However, when BPNG as the regulator of the superannuation industry was asked to endorse the appointment in accordance with Superannuation Prudential Standards, it is alleged that BPNG instead conducted a series of baseless, unprecedented and protracted investigations into Nambawan Super for over a year and three months.
Without presenting the findings of the investigations, it is alleged that BPNG cunningly instructed the Board of Nambawan Super Limited verbally, to rescind Yangen’s appointment and terminate his employment.
Yangen will also be arguing during the substantive hearing that BPNG’s actions had significant procedural errors and were unreasonable and in bad faith.
The bank’s conduct was malicious, irrational and in a manner that is not consistent with the proper exercise of its powers under the Superannuation General Provisions Act.
Yangen, in his affidavit further alleged that the actions were tainted and biased as the manager at BPNG responsible for the supervision of superannuation funds, who had enthusiastically led the investigations, was compromised as she had also applied for the position of managing director of Nambawan Super Limited when it was publicly advertised. She was allegedly eliminated early in the process as she lacked the qualifications and experience required for the position.
Chairman of the Board of Nambawan Super Limited, Sir Nagora Bogan, has filed an affidavit in the proceedings attesting to Mr Yangen’s allegations that BPNG had verbally advised the Board of their decision not to endorse Yangen’s despite the lack of any material or substantive evidence.
Sir Nagora further verified that the Board’s decision to rescind Yangen’s appointment in November 2012 was not reflective of Yangen’s professionalism, integrity or propriety and added that the Board has high regard for Yangen’s professionalism, demeanor and integrity.
Yangen was general manager of the Nambawan Super Limited for three years prior to acting as its managing director for one and-a-half years.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
22a) Tonga police reveals details of kidnapping
Posted at 02:22 on 09 August, 2013 UTC
Tonga police have revealed details of the kidnapping of two Chinese men, a father and son, in Nuku’alofa two weeks ago.
They say a ransom of 216 thousand US dollars was demanded and paid by relatives of the victims, who were then released.
Deputy commissioner, Unga Fa’aoa says the men were unharmed.
He says about 80 percent of the money had been paid by cheque and this has been recovered but the balance, in cash, is still missing.
The commissioner says five men, who include 3 Chinese, have been arrested and charged with armed robbery and unlawful imprisonment.
They have been remanded in custody for a month.
Commissioner Fa’aoa has reminded people that armed robbery is an offence punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment.
Radio New Zealand International
22b) Guam asks John McCain to change his mind on military realignment
Posted at 05:21 on 09 August, 2013 UTC
A Guam senator has asked a leading US Senator John McCain to support the planned realignment of American marines from Okinawa in Japan to Guam.
Earlier this year, Senator McCain, as the ranking member of the Armed Services Committees of the US House and Senate, poured cold water on the budget request of 239 million US dollars for the military realignment on Guam.
He said a lack of sufficient cost analysis of the alignment meant the committees explicitly prohibited the requested investment in civilian infrastructure on Guam for the military build-up.
The Pacific News Center reports that Guam’s Military Relocation Chair Senator Frank Aguon Jr. has written to Mr McCain inviting him to Guam to speak with local leaders about the realignment.
In his letter, Senator Aguon says he understands Senator McCain’s reservations but asks him to review his prohibition of funds because Guam is an important strategic defence location for the US.
Radio New Zealand International
22c) Watchdog warns Solomon Islands police commissioner selection crucial
Posted at 05:21 on 09 August, 2013 UTC
An anti-corruption group in Solomon Islands has called on authorities to exercise extreme diligence and caution in choosing the country’s new police commissioner.
Five people shortlisted for the top job have been interviewed in recent days
They are former commissioner Frank Short; acting commissioner Juanita Matanga; permanent secretary of the Ministry of Police and National Security Edmund Sikua; deputy commissioner Walter Kola; and assistant commissioner Peter Aoranisaka.
Islands Business reports the Anti-Corruption Network of Solomon Islands saying the choice of commissioner is crucial given concerns about integrity and cases of misconduct are among the most important issues facing the force.
The Network’s Barnabas Henson says its members are in favor of the expatriate Frank Short as the top contender for the post.
Mr Short had served as Solomon Islands police commissioner from 1997 to 1999.
Mr Henson says while people support the idea of indigenous leadership of the force, many are concerned about the potential susceptibility to interference from local politics and external forces.
Radio New Zealand International
23) Iranians prefer to go home rather than stay in PNG
By Online Editor
1:30 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Australia
Australian intelligence reports show the Papua New Guinea agreement is puncturing the flow of Iranian asylum-seekers — the nationality considered most likely to be economic migrants rather than genuine refugees.
Dozens of Iranian asylum-seekers on Manus Island have told officials they wish to return home rather than stay in PNG, a trend the government hopes will allow it to return some back to Tehran before the election.
In a sign the regime in Tehran may be willing to offer some co-operation in stemming the flow of its citizens to Australia, Iran’s state-run media is understood to have approached the Australian embassy for details of the PNG plan.
Australian officials continued to negotiate a return agreement with Iran that could see failed Iranian refugees forcibly returned, something Tehran has so far refused to allow and which has greatly restricted Canberra’s ability to create a deterrent.
The arrangements on Manus Island are a source of growing concern to the UNHCR, with the agency’s regional head, Richard Towle, expressing worry about the ambiguity of the agreement with PNG.
“There are a number of serious and unanswered questions about the arrangements, including the legal protection standards to be applied, the procedures themselves and the fate of all those found to need refugee protection,” Towle said.
Intelligence reports suggest fewer suspected Iranian asylum-seekers have arrived in Indonesia since the PNG plan was announced on July 19 despite new restrictions on visas for Iranians entering Indonesia not coming into effect until August 20. Senior officials said the PNG plan was also impacting on Iranians already in Indonesia, with many asking the International Organisation for Migration about schools and job opportunities in PNG before then requesting that they be returned to Iran.
Officials are concerned these trends have not yet resulted in a notable downturn in boat numbers because of a backlog in demand for boats. Continued arrivals are adding greater urgency to the government’s efforts to find space on Manus Island to house new arrivals.
So far, 157 asylum-seekers have been transferred to Manus under Labor’s PNG policy.
SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS
24) A Faith Grows In PNG
By Jo ChandlerAugust 8, 2013
A huge increase in Papua New Guinea’s still-small Muslim community in the past decade has stirred tensions. Now Australia proposes to resettle unknown numbers of Muslim refugees in this very Christian country. How will that go?
Like so many mosques around the world, the one in Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby became a lightning rod for explosive distress and anger against Islam in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, back in 2001.
But there was no comfort for the city’s then-fledgling Muslim community in the proximity of a major police station just across the road. Indeed the spray of gunfire that peppered the dome of the mosque – the bullet holes still visible today – reportedly came from high-powered weapons fired by officers stationed there.
In an overwhelmingly and often vehemently Christian nation, where the Parliament last month passed a motion to explore outlawing other faiths, and in which Evangelical and Pentecostal preachers who openly revile Islam hold sway over swelling congregations, PNG Muslims endure discrimination and sporadic violence, says Dr Scott Flower, a Melbourne University Islamic specialist who lived at the Port Moresby mosque for six months as part of his research.
Bullet holes in the dome of the mosque in Port Moresby.
Back in 2001 the number of Muslims in PNG was fewer than 500. Recently published researchby Flower, drawing on his analysis of records of Muslim congregations across PNG, now puts the figure above 5,000 – that is, a 1,000 per cent increase. This rise has stirred tensions, despite Islam still factoring as a tiny minority within PNG’s estimated 7 million people, over 96 per cent of whom identify as Christian.
Port Moresby’s crowded urban settlements and remote highland villages, where Islamic practice has found a neat fit with cultural traditions such as polygamy and the rituals of fasting and feasting, have proved fertile ground for Islam and evolved a unique Muslim community. It is almost entirely made up of home-grown converts to the faith – rather than immigrants, as has been the pattern elsewhere in the Pacific.
But the deal brokered last month by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his PNG counterpart, Peter O’Neill, which will see PNG process asylum seekers and resettle all those identified in the next 12 months as genuine refugees, will soon change that – although by how much depends on how many boats come in the next year. If the policy works promptly as a deterrent, refugees settled might number in the hundreds or low thousands; if not there could be several thousand, although Prime Minister O’Neill has responded to a fierce backlash in PNG by telling local media that nothing is “written in stone” and that PNG would protect its national interests.
Regardless, for the next year at least it’s likely that “the growth of the Islamic community in PNG will be predominantly through the asylum-seeker policy,” says Flower – although the scale and pace of change depends on how effective the strategy proves to be in deterring asylum-seekers from trying to reach Australia.
An influx of foreign Muslims, says Flower, “might have different sorts of impacts – it could facilitate further conversions, given that you’ve got a larger active population of born Muslims coming in.” However Flower suspects most refugees will be concerned less with proselytising, at least in the short to medium term, than with trying to secure their livelihoods and settle their families. These ambitions alone may prove destabilising in PNG, where almost 40 per cent of the population lives below the $1-a-day World Bank poverty line, 94 per cent of them in rural areas, surviving largely courtesy of their garden crops.
“This is a country that is already rife with jealousy and material inequality.”
Flower echoes the concerns of many local commentators and outside experts about the potential for volatility in creating a special class of resettled refugees, provided for at the expense of the Australian Government. Australia hasallocated $236 million out of its aid budget over the next four years as “support for unauthorised maritime arrivals living in community-based arrangements” in PNG. Meanwhile local citizens have no social-security support or pensions, and access to basic services such as medical care, power and clean water is extremelylimited.
“This is a country that is already rife with jealousy and material inequality,” says Flower. These tensions are blamed by many community leaders and commentators for fuelling epidemic social and domestic violence. Jealousy is frequently cited for provoking accusations of sorcery, brutal witch trials and killings, and was explicitly identified as a motivator in the beheading of a former schoolteacher, women’s activist and accused witch, Helen Rumbali, on Bougainville in April.
While traditional PNG societies were famously diverse (the nation has 850 languages) “one thing they did share … was that material wealth was highly distributed and regulated through custom,” says Flower. “The modern economic system has shaken all that up, and that is one of the big factors in the violence and disputes as it is. You throw something like this [the asylum-seekers deal] in the mix and you have people ticked off that [refugees] have some sort of special privileges, and then you have conflict between them.”
Imam Mikail Abdul Aziz, the Nigerian-born Head Imam of PNG, has told The Global Mail (by phone) that his community will welcome the refugees. “We cannot say no. They have problems, that is why they come … so we look after them, they are human beings. We will give them a proper place to worship, schooling and halal food.”
The imam says he is concerned at the portrayal in some quarters of the new arrivals as a terrorist threat, and the potential repercussions of this belief on his community. Flower anticipates that many of the refugees would likely be moderate Muslims themselves escaping persecution from hardliners in their home countries.
Contemplating the influence born Muslims from the Middle East might have on PNG’s existing Islamic community and wider society, Flower warns that, “Pentecostal churches in PNG are vociferous in their opposition to Islam”, and that this tone is also widespread in politics and social media.
“Polemical things are being sent around to incite people against Muslims, so this feeds into the mix in terms of the religious and social response to an uptake of asylum seekers. For me this is the biggest worry.” He stresses that local Muslims have remained peaceful despite attacks.
Pastors in many of the smaller, fundamentalist churches now proliferating around the country – they are growing at about an equivalent rate as Muslim ranks – rely on their flocks for their income. “This is a competition not just for religious adherence, but a competition for money. I hate to use the term ‘radicalising effect’ but it does happen, on both sides.”
The asylum-seekers issue has riven PNG’s Christian community. Mainstream, established churches – who are also losing their congregations to new, fundamentalist sects – have urged tolerance and acceptance (PNG’s Catholic bishops spoke outopposing the proposed ban on non-Christian religions) while condemning the asylum-seekers deal as “very unwise”.
“While Papua New Guineans are not lacking in compassion for those in need, this country – unlike Australia which is a stable and thriving nation of immigrants – does not have the capacity at this time in its history to welcome a sizeable influx of refugees and provide for their immediate needs and a reasonable hope for a new and prosperous beginning,” says the bishops’ spokesman , Father Philip Gibbs.
“Polemical things are being sent around to incite people against Muslims, so this feeds into the … social response to an uptake of asylum seekers. For me this is the biggest worry.”
Disillusionment and confusion at the competition between Christian churches, and inconsistencies in their theology are key drivers of conversion to Islam in PNG identified in Flower’s research, which he details in a forthcoming book.
“PNG people are quite fanatical about theology, they actually read the bible. They can quote chapter and verse. And the contradictions they find in the bible are another major reason why people told me they converted,” Flower says. Those bothered by the contradictions between bible texts and the teachings of various denominations are drawn to the clarity of the message they find in the Qur’an.
But the single biggest factor driving conversions, according to the accounts collected by Flower, was the synergy of some aspects of its practice with old cultural ways. They identified over 40 different aspects of Islam that resonated with their traditional beliefs. Just as Christian missionaries had looked for similarities between Church and customary values and rituals, and exploited these to draw people into the fold, Islamic missionaries capitalised on male-dominated traditions in areas such as the rugged highlands. There, Islamic missionaries say, “It’s okay to have four wives – you don’t get eternal damnation for that,” says Flower.
“They take salvation very seriously in PNG. So to be able to have their traditional political economy through multiple wives, as they do in the highlands, but still achieve salvation in the hereafter, that’s important,” he explains.
One Seventh Day Adventist preacher from the highlands province of Enga told Flower he believed that, “In the next 30 years all the PNG highlands will become Muslim because our culture is Islamic” – a scenario that reverberates through a lot of anti-Islamic dialogue in PNG’s political and media realms.
COURTESY SCOTT FLOWER
Dr Scott Flower
Some converts told Flower that they had initially hoped that Islam might pay off for them, given its links to Middle Eastern wealth. “I asked ‘Did you come because you expected cargo?’, and some said, ‘Well, initially’ … but then they were told to focus on living a moral life so that they could go to the after life, and that this was more important than cargo. So while they came to the religion for material dimensions, says Flower, what they actually gained was a coping mechanism for the reality that they don’t have material gain, that Western capitalist society doesn’t provide for everyone.
“It’s a very complex story. But those are the main themes – the cultural, the material, and then the theological dimensions.” Interestingly, despite the disenfranchisement of many people in PNG, particularly the young, Flower’s research didn’t identify political motivations as a powerful influence on the decision to explore Islam.
If boatloads of asylum seekers keep endeavoring to reach Australia and find themselves beached permanently in PNG, the longer-term consequences “are hard to pick”, says Flower. “What we do know from diaspora studies is that first and second generation migrants often experience a strengthening of their traditions or cultural/religious identities as part of adjusting to life in a new society.
“There is a clear trend in the literature. When you are part of a minority in a foreign country, you stick with people who you identify with.” This way of living already resonates deeply in PNG society, which is a cultural patchwork of ethnic minorities defined by kinship and “wantoks” (one-talks, or language groups); disparate communities living separately but together.
The question, as articulated in a lengthy post on PNG’s busiest Facebook political forum this week by the creator of the Sharp Talk site, Douveri Heno (also a lawyer and executive director of the PNG Business Council), is “if [asylum seekers] are going to be our new PNG wantoks, will their presence continue a legacy of a nation with many tongues, or contribute to global indicators as a poor, resource-rich country with spiraling law and order problems?” PHIL’S NOTE: please go to http://www.theglobalmail.org/ or http://www.voiceofmelanesia.
25) Kiribati Catholics told to ignore contraception message
Posted at 05:20 on 09 August, 2013 UTC
The Catholic Church in Kiribati has re-stated its opposition to contraception.
This comes as the Ministry of Health is promoting contraception to control population growth.
Parts of Kiribati’s Tarawa are the most densely crowded places in the Pacific.
But Catholic bishop, Paul Mea, says women in Kiribati have no right to use birth control pills, saying in Catholicism God is put ahead of everything.
Other churches in Kiribati are backing the Ministry of Health’s call.
Radio New Zealand International
CLIMATE CHANGE/CONSERVATION AND ENVIROMENT;
26) The Pacific in the foreign policy debate
by Jenny Hayward-Jones – 8 August 2013 2:42PM
It was great to see Australia’s relations with Pacific Islands feature in last night’s foreign policy debateand particularly pleasing to see this issue raised outside of the inevitable focus on the PNG asylum seeker deal. Overall, I thought Ms Bishop demonstrated greater commitment to enhancing Australia’s relations with Pacific Island countries, while Senator Carr gave a credible defence of the status quo.
Julie Bishop expressed the worthy ambition that if she was to be remembered for one thing as foreign minister it would be that she made Australia the partner of choice for Pacific Island countries. She said it was time for Australia to change the nature of engagement with the Pacific, to get away from stereotypical aid relationships and develop true economic partnerships based on mutual respect and understanding with Pacific nations.
It is worth recalling that Kevin Rudd promised a similar renewal of Australia’s relations with Pacific Island countries based on respect when he spoke at the Lowy Institute as Opposition Leader in 2007. Treating our Pacific neighbours as equals rather than aid clients seems to be an ongoing challenge in Australian foreign policy.
Ms Bishop’s main argument on the Pacific was that our international standing is at its highest when our influence in the region is at its strongest. She said she feared Australia’s place in the Pacific has been taken by others and Australia needed a far deeper engagement with the region. My own research proves that Australia remains the dominant player in aid, trade and investment in the Pacific Islands.
Ms Bishop may not be an objective observer, especially in the context of an election campaign, but her remark does reflect a wider perception that China and other countries have begun to exercise greater influence on the Pacific Islands region. Even if the evidence proves Australia is the dominant player, if other countries are being seen to exercise more influence for much less significant engagement and investment, Australia is doing something wrong on the public relations front.
Ms Bishop argued for greater recognition in the region of what Australia actually does, something that would need much greater effort to promote our influence, friendships and connections in the Pacific.
Senator Carr countered by pointing out that Australia is already the Pacific’s partner of choice, proved by the fact that every nation in the Pacific except for Fiji voted for Australia to win its non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This is certainly a useful measure of Australia’s influence with governments in the region but it is not an issue that resonates in Pacific Island societies, where aid, trade, investment and cultural links from abroad make a much more practical impression.
Julie Bishop erred by proposing to use our position at the UN Security Council to focus the Council’s attention on the Pacific and ensure we don’t have failed states in our neighbourhood. She was corrected by Senator Carr, who rightly argued that the kinds of issues faced by Pacific Island countries at the moment are not matters for the Security Council.
Paul Kelly asked the inevitable question about the impact of settling large numbers of Muslim refugees in PNG and Nauru on a long term basis. Senator Carr’s assertion that the arrangements would eventually deter asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat, and therefore we would not see large numbers of asylum seekers resettling in PNG and Nauru, coincides with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s own confidence about the deterrent value of the arrangement. Ms Bishop countered that this arrangement would affect the well-being of PNG and Nauru, reflecting the concerns expressed by communities in both countries.
In a point of difference with the Government, Ms Bishop said she would commence a process of re-establishing the relationship with Fiji but pointedly referred to the Fiji people, not the Fiji Government. The Australian Government has stepped up its engagement with Fiji over the last year but maintains its distance from the unpredictable Prime Minister Bainimarama.
While relations with PNG should be the priority, Fiji will probably continue to pose a major foreign policy challenge to whatever government is formed in Canberra after 7 September. Suva continues to see domestic value in attacking Australia. Only last week the Fiji Foreign Minister took an opportunity to score points at the Australian Government’s expense over the asylum seeker arrangement with PNG.
Fiji has succeeded in courting new friends on the international stage but it still needs Australia. Australia is Fiji’s largest export market by a significant margin, its largest source of inbound tourism and largest investor. The Lowy Institute’s polling showed considerable warmth of feeling from Fijians towards Australia and from Australians towards Fiji. If Suva rebuffed Canberra again, as has been its wont to date, it would difficult for a new government in Canberra to maintain a more friendly approach.
Photo by Peter Morris/Lowy Institute.http://www.
27) Asylum seekers in Indonesia abandoning plans for Australia
Updated 9 August 2013, 11:11 AEST
By Indonesia correspondent Helen Brown in Cisaura
Asylum seekers in Indonesia have confirmed that some have asked people smugglers for their money back because of the Australian Government’s new policy of sending boat arrivals to Papua New Guinea.
There’s new evidence asylum seekers in Indonesia are abandoning their attempts to get to Australia by boat. The ABC has been told some Iranians are returning home, while others from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are taking a wait-and-see approach. (Credit: ABC)
Asylum seekers in Indonesia have confirmed that some have asked people smugglers for their money back because of the Australian Government’s new policy of sending boat arrivals to Papua New Guinea.
A confusing picture is emerging in the West Java town of Cisarua, home to some of the thousands of asylum seekers in Indonesia.
Young Afghan men have told the ABC they are aware of the change in government policy but will still consider taking a boat to reach Australia.
They say people smuggling agents have assured them their cases will be accepted by Australia.
Others have asked for their money back. Not because they will return home but because they want to wait to see what happens next.
There are reports some Iranians are preparing to return to their country because they are not willing to take the risk of ending up in Papua New Guinea.
The Australian Government says its harsh new policy is having an impact.http://www.
28) Samoa, Am. Samoa To Discuss Joint Marine Resource Protection
‘Groundbreaking’ reef resilience workshop to be held this week
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, August 8, 2013) Representatives of Samoa and American Samoa are meeting to discuss ways to improve the protection of marine resources in the Samoan archipelago.
The Two Samoas Reef Resilience Workshop for the Marine Managed Areas is being held this week.
A senior marine scientist for the global environmental group The Nature Conservancy, Dr. Alison Green, says the workshop is a groundbreaking initiative for sharing ideas on how to properly and effectively manage marine resources.
Dr. Green says the impacts of climate change is a key topic of discussion.
“There’s a lot of impacts on the coral reefs and other ecosystems that we think are going to get a lot worse in future. So a big focus of this workshop is to try and understand what those changes are likely to be and we can do to manage those impacts.”
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
29) Justin Hodges will not play nines tournament after NRL shelves Indigenous All Stars match
Updated 9 August 2013, 14:04 AEST
Justin Hodges will not make himself available for a nines tournament if it replaces the Indigenous All Stars game.
Justin Hodges is unhappy with the NRL’s decision to shelve the 2014 Indigenous All Stars match. (Credit: AAP)
Brisbane Broncos test centre Justin Hodges will not make himself available for a proposed rugby league nines tournament if it replaces the Indigenous All Stars game.
Yesterday, the NRL announced it will shelve the 2014 All Stars match to reduce the demands on players who will appear in this year’s World Cup, which runs from October until the end of November.
Audio: Interview: Justin Hodges (ABC News)
The All Stars game, which has become a staple of the NRL preseason campaign since it began in 2010, was scheduled for February in Brisbane.
The NRL says it is trying to ease the demands on its biggest names, but Hodges has criticised the decision.
“Us Indigenous players and obviously our communities and people really look forward to it and to take something so special away,” he said.
“You just see over the last three of four years its been on the amount of support we got and we get to go out to our communities and help our people and to take that away I think is a bad decision.”
No interest in nines tournament
Asked for his views on the proposed nines competition, Hodges says he has no interest in playing.
“I won’t be going,” he continued. “If I’m in the Kangaroos squad it’s too much on your body, by the time you come back to training in January, you’re giving four weeks to prepare, you know it’s not ideal preparation for a long season so I don’t think I’ll be playing.
“I’d rather play the Indigenous game.”
Following yesterday’s announcement, All Stars coach Wayne Bennett said resting the game was the right decision to make as it would lose its importance if the biggest names were unavailable.
“One of the problems the players had was that they wouldn’t come back to training until the end of January after the World Cup … and we couldn’t guarantee any quality football with such a short preparation,” Bennett said.
“This is the best thing to happen as it’s a wonderful concept and I’ve certainly embraced it and so have the All Star players.
“I am just pleased that we have been able to discuss it, take it forward and take into account what the needs of the players are because it’s important to them.”http://www.
30a) Ashes 2013: Australia deserve more credit than they have been given, says Justin Langer
Updated 9 August 2013, 15:11 AEST
By Dave Lewis
Aussie great Justin Langer believes the real Australia is beginning to surface, albeit belatedly, in the Ashes series.
Justin Langer believes England only has the slimmest of advantage on the field and that neither side is playing at its best. (Credit: Getty Images)
Aussie great Justin Langer – the 105-Test titan who never shrank from a confrontation – believes the real Australia is beginning to surface, albeit belatedly, in the Ashes series.
The opener-turned-coach never entertained Ian Botham’s boast that Australia was staring at a 10-0 whitewash going into back-to-back Ashes campaigns, maintaining the margin between the antagonists was always slender.
Langer has not changed his mind, insisting only the presence of master spinner Graeme Swann – who has two five-wicket hauls in three Tests this series – has given England the slimmest of advantages en route to retaining the urn thanks to the Manchester weather.
Like England, we haven’t hit top form yet and victory now will be vital looking towards the Tests in Australia. The reality is the team of today lack experience … you can’t buy that.
“I always thought the teams were more closely matched than some suggested,” said the Western Australia mentor who until last year was Australia’s assistant coach.
“Australia deserve more credit than they have been given.
“We saw them stand up at Old Trafford where only the rain saved England. Take Swann out of the attack, with his experience and skill, and England suffer. If there is a difference, he is it.
“Losing badly at Lord’s in the second Test was a kick in the teeth but Trent Bridge was close and could have had a very different outcome if, for example, Stuart Broad been given out when he clearly was.
“It’s always dangerous to write off an Australian team and, as I expected, they have shown some real fight. That’s the least you expect from any Australian side.
“You have to look at the bigger picture now – and that’s the seven Tests that lie ahead over the next six months.”
Australia hasn’t hit top form yet – neither has England
Belief is the currency of resurrection for Australia – which suffered six successive Test defeats going into Old Trafford – and the tourists need the panacea of a win in the fourth Test at Durham’s Chester-le-Street starting today.
“Any win will be a bonus now. We need to get back into the habit,” Langer said with an eye cast to the quick-fire Ashes series sequel due to begin at the Gabba on November 21.
Australia deserve more credit than they have been given. We saw them stand up at Old Trafford where only the rain saved England.
“Like England, we haven’t hit top form yet and victory now will be vital looking towards the Tests in Australia.”
He believes the current team has no need to shrink beneath the shadow cast by greats of the recent past.
“Obviously times have changed from when we had the likes of McGrath, Warne, Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist, Steve and Mark Waugh in what was an awesome team,” Langer, who was part of that line-up himself, said.
“The reality is the team of today lack experience … you can’t buy that.
“Looking back, every player in that great team suffered hard times.
“We had some losses and did it tough before gelling into a magnificent side. What’s happening now will make them mentally stronger and if not well they won’t survive.”
Photo: Justin Langer is a supporter of Shane Watson remaining top of Australia’s batting order. (Getty Images: Stu Forster)
Shane Watson should remain an opener
Langer remains a proponent of Shane Watson even though his form in England will to see him ousted at the top of the order by David Warner in Durham.
“He hasn’t necessarily scored a big hundred yet but he remains a fantastic cricketer and ideally I would like to see him continue to open,” he said.
Langer would like to see Australia reprise its first Test batting order of Watson, Chris Rogers, Ed Cowan, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith and Phil Hughes for the remainder of the series.
“That’s no criticism of Dave Warner and Usman Khawaja (who have replaced Hughes and Cowan),” he said.
“It’s just having the most senior players in the top four and two young kids at five and six.”
Langer knows it will not happen but his other wish – for Ryan Harris, who has 11 wickets in two matches in the series, to be risked – is likely to be granted.
Harris, 33, broke down with a serious ankle injury on the only other occasion he has played three successive Tests during his short but injury-scarred international career.
“It’s a travesty that his body has not been able to hold up over the past few years,” Langer said. “He and Peter Siddle personify the spirit of the team.
“They love the game so much they would play for nothing.”http://www.
30b) New 7s coach
By Online Editor
4:27 pm GMT+12, 09/08/2013, Fiji
A new head coach for the Digicel Fiji 7s side is expected to be named for the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.
This after Alivereti Dere, who mentored the team for the past two seasons, told Times Sport yesterday that he was not re-applying for the job.
The application for the Fiji 7s head coach job is due today.
“I’m satisfied with what I have achieved during the past two seasons as the coach of the Fiji 7s team and I won’t reapply for the post,” Dere said.
“I think my record with the team is better than what it was when I joined FRU and I’m happy about it.
“Its now up to FRU to decide what is best for the team. But I’m always available if they need my services.”
Dere took charge of the national team in 2011 after Fiji failed to win a tournament in the 2010/11 series and finished on the fourth spot under the then coach Iliesa Tanivula.
Under Dere’s reign, the Fiji 7s won the Gold Coast 7s in Australia, Hong Kong 7s and the London 7s tournaments finishing second overall in the 2011/12 series.
Etuate Waqa assisted the former national 7s skipper in his first season.
After Waqa’s resignation last year, Dere, with the assistance of Timoci Wainiqolo, guided the team to successful title defence in Gold Coast and Hong Kong 7s tournaments and third place finish in the 2012/13 series.
He also coached the team to the Rugby World Cup 7s in Russia where Fiji finished third after losing to New Zealand in the Cup semi-final.
Dere’s contract with the Fiji Rugby Union as the national 7s head coach ended last month.
He was however retained as the interim coach of the team for the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna next month.
Outgoing FRU High Performance Unit manager Mike Ryan earlier said about 25 local coaches were eligible to apply for the post.
One of the requirements for the coach’s job includes a minimum of International Rugby Board Level Two coaching accreditation.
Times Sports understands FRU has received only a few applications.
As of yesterday, two locals had tendered their applications.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
30c) Australia One wins Oceania Hobie event in Deuba
By Matai Akauola
3:59 pm GMT+12, 08/08/2013, Fiji
In a close and exciting clash, Team Australia One emerged the winners of the 2013 BSP Oceania Hobie Championship at the Uprising Beach Resort in Deuba yesterday.
The tough battle between Australia and Brazil went down to the wire with the teams swapping position several times throughout the course and were approaching the last hundred metres of the race with Brazil in the lead.
However experienced played a vital role as four-time former world champion, Australian skipper Aaron Worrall and crew Bradley Wilson defeated Brazil’s Marcos Ferrari and Caroline Sylvestre by a mere two points to the finish line.
Team Australia Two, Murray Peterson and Sharon Rayner took the third position while Shing Tong and Kit Tong of Hong Kong came in fourth.
Fiji’s Grahame Southwick and Apimeleki Tuicaucau finished fifth followed by South Pacific Youth champion Kaveni Natadra and Lorima Tupou in sixth place.
“The final two races of the BSP Oceania Hobie Championship were held today (yesterday) and as expected the competition was fierce with several of the teams separated by a single point,” tournament coordinator Deborah Sue said.
“Race One of the day commenced in 20 knots winds and high drama on the start line with each team knowing one wrong move would put them out of contention.
“The last race of the championship commenced in 15 knots of wind and rapidly changing conditions and all teams had to make snap adjustments and keep their concentration.”
Meanwhile the TOTAL Fiji Hobie Challenge involving the same teams racing from Deuba to the Lomaiviti Group and back to Suva will start tomorrow.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/ PACNEWS
30d) Schooling is key
By Matai Akauola
3:56 pm GMT+12, 08/08/2013, Papua New Guinea
He had a dream career as a professional rugby league player that lasted 15 season in the world’s best competition, but Petero Civoniceva is adamant education will always be the foundation for a successful future.
The Queensland and Kangaroos legend spoke to students at the Coronation Primary School in Port Moresby on the second day of his six-day visit.
He may have retired last year after having won nine Origin series (1998, 2001, 2006-2012) and two NRL premierships (1998 and 2006), but the Fijian-born Redcliffe man is here as an ambassador of Nambawan Trophy Haus, but he still has a heart for rugby league.
Petero prays his greatest contribution to the game will not be as a result of hurling his 193cm, 116kg frame around the field but rather as an inspiration, educating young people about life, and it starts with good education.
Education is a rock where the foundation of a good life starts, and this was the message from his heart when addressing the Coronation students to start his hectic schedule of launches and promotions in Port Moresby and Lae.
In his campaign against school violence which has been an issue in Lae and Port Moresby in recent times, Civoniceva wanted to draw from his record as one of the “cleanest and nicest guys” in rugby league.
The message was that you can be a tough competitor but also one that opponents will respect as a player and a person, something which he was renowned for in the NRL.
He said the report on deaths of students in Lae as reported in the media hurt him more than any of the knocks he took in 309 first grade games and 33 Origin starts.
He said that education was crucial for a good life, and more important than rugby league.
The 37-year-old urged the students to do their best in school – stressing that education is “the rock you must build your future on”.
Civoniceva told the students that education was a privilege that their parents worked hard to give them.
He asked the students to go home, and show their grattitude to their mothers and fathers by giving them a big hug and thanking them.
The former Brisbane Broncos and Penrith Panthers prop forward reminded the students to take education seriously even if they had the talent to play and represent the country in sport – education makes a career.
He asked the students to respect each other and respect those from other schools.
After delivering his speech, Petero officially opened the NWTL- funded refurbished school library, and then later conducted a brief coaching session for the school’s rugby league teams.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/ PACNEWS
30e) POM league money gone
By Matai Akauola
3:54 pm GMT+12, 08/08/2013, Papua New Guinea
Thousands of kina earmarked for the development and running of the Port Moresby Rugby League Inc competition have gone missing.
Money from sponsorship deals, the hire of corporate boxes and from payments for hospitality remains unaccounted for and documents witnessed by the Post-Courier show irregularities with the league’s BSP bank account.
An emergency delegate meeting was called by a ‘concerned fellow’ on July 19 to discuss the ‘frequent drain’ of the league’s account.
The BSP account shows that as of July 8 the total revenue collected by the league this year amounts to K389, 870 (US$167,350). However only two days later K383, 891 was withdrawn leaving a closing balance of K5, 979 (US$2,566).
When the Post-Courier checked yesterday, the balance had plummeted further to just K131.63 (US$56), an alarming figure for the premier Rugby Football League.
When questioned about the irregularities in an exclusive interview, the league’s chairman Samson Unagi denied allegations of the misappropriation of funds saying, “The money was used for general development of the PRL venue.”
These irregularities come after the apparent financial mismanagement of the league’s accounts for 2012.
When asked about this, Unagi said last year’s financial report had been tabled with the league’s board at the AGM and copies had been distributed at the last delegates meeting.
“There is no need to talk about it,” he said.
However, the Post-Courier understands this is not the case.
A memo sighted by this paper was sent out to all club delegate members, all stakeholders and all board members stating that “the financial report of 2012 is yet to be presented to the POMRFL Delegate in full which has to be discussed and accepted”.
When pressed on these matters, and in particular on the ‘frequent drain’ of funds from the league’s account, Unagi said: “If those self-centred people I know of have labelled this allegation against my board, it is not true. Most of the receipts are kept and those that did not receive [the report] will get the copies in our next meeting. There is no financial crisis; all receipts were kept safe for the 2013 reports.”
However when the Post-Courier visited the PRL (Lloyd Robson Oval), it was obvious that the so-called premier venue in the country is run down boasting a collapsed grandstand and sub-standard seating.
One of the outer-grandstands collapsed during the 2010 PNG Prime Minister’s XIII match after fans used it for seating when there was not enough space for everyone. The grandstand still sits idle.
The other three outer grandstands are an eye-sore and the grounds provide no proper seating for families and fans who flock to watch their most loved rugby league matches.
To any right thinking member of the public, it looks like no general development or upgrading of these facilities has taken place despite Unagi’s claims.
During the Post-Courier’s investigation, Unagi asked the paper not to run the story.
Everything, he said, will come out during the board meeting when all spending, which has been receipted, will be presented.
The Post-Courier also approached the league’s junior vice president Dr James Naipao about the allegations of fraud and corruption.
He said: “I have no personal issue with any of the PRL board members including Chairman Unagi. But factual records at our disposal are overwhelming, alarming and frightening.
“Rugby League is bigger than any individual and we as board members are accountable for our actions to the 16 clubs of PRL.”
Dr Naipao said that he sent a text message to the chairman and the other signatory of the BSP account, Jamuga Stone, asking them to explain to the board what was going on.
“They need answers, he said, before delegates start pointing the finger at all board members. I think it is not good enough and a disgrace.”
SOURCE: POST COURIER/ PACNEWS