Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 857
1) Good policies can help grow Bougainville: Professor Chand
By Online Editor
1:21 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2013, Papua New Guinea
Proper policies and investment by the private sector and Bougainvilleans can help the region grow, an academic says.
Professor of economics at the University of the South Pacific Satish Chand, who travelled to Bougainville to do research, said with its current growth, Bougainville had a long way to go to improve health services, education and develop a skilled workforce.
Bougainville is small with just 3% of the total population of Papua New Guinea and 3% of the country’s land mass.
He said almost half of the population was still under 20 years old and creating job opportunities for them was an issue which investment would bring.
He said releasing land for investment by villagers in Bougainville was still hard but some parts such as Siwai were now moving forward and surveying their land for development. He said it was a ‘positive step’.
Chand said Bougainville had potential for investment but needed the government to introduce policies.
“Bougainville has a huge investment potential. We just have to tap into the resources and build the infrastructure to support it,” he said.
“But, of course, we need policies from the government to lure investors because only the private sector can sustain these investments.”
He said the investment must be supported by communication infrastructure on land and sea. He suggested that the ABG government should provide shipping services for the region.
Chand said cocoa and copra production had dropped because of the falling prices.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
2) UN can help cash -strapped Bougainville
By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2013, Papua New Guinea
Cash -strapped Bougainville will be eligible to benefit from the United Nations’ peace building fund, says UN resident coordinator David McLachlan-Karr.
McLachlan-Karr announced the good news at the “Sustainability of Bougainville” seminar in Port Moresby last Friday, and while not giving any figures, hinted that it would run into millions of kina and be available from 2014 to 2017.
McLachlan-Karr also announced that Interpeace, an independent Geneva-based organisation, had been contracted to assist with the implementation of the Bouganville Peace Agreement.
He said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had declared that PNG was eligible to receive money from the fund in June this year.
McLachlan-Karr said the fund, which was created by the UN’s peace building commission, would support the national Government and the autonomous Bougainville government’s joint commitments on implementation of the peace accords, especially with reference to filling some of the critical gaps identified by the parties to achieving genuine autonomy in the lead-up to ARB elections in 2015 and before the referendum to determine the future of Bougainville., which can take place, with the consensus of the parties, between 2015 and 2020.
“I’m happy to announce that the steering committee for the peace building fund has been established with the agreement of three co-chairs, the President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (John Momis), Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe (Zurenuoc), and the UN resident coordinator,” McLachlan-Karr told the seminar.
“Under the three co-chairs who will be managing the peace building fund, are representatives of key bilateral governments and donors such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, United States and will also incorporate the World Bank and a number of community services organisations.
“We’re happy to say that the fund comes at an opportune time for both parties (Bougainville and PNG) and the people to build more consensus around the outstanding challenges we have for unification, security sector improvements including removal of arms and threats to safety, rehabilitation of youth and strong involvement of women.”
McLachlan-Karr did not give any figures.
“Many people have asked me what the level of funding is. The level of funding is determined based on the quality of the submission of the peace-building priority plan that will be submitted.
“Let me just say that it will be in the order of millions and it will be available for three years from 2014-2017 as an adjunct to the UN support for the work that’s going on in Bougainville.
“This is a significant step and it, of course, brings Bougainville more closer to the orbit of international scrutiny,” he said.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
3) Plan to petition Solomons PM to resign
Posted at 08:06 on 03 September, 2013 UTC
Civil society organisations in Solomon Islands are planning to circulate a petition calling on the prime minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, to resign.
The Solomon Star reports that the Joint Civil Society Group is in the process of finalising what it calls a people’s petition, which it intends to circulate for endorsement before presenting it to Mr Lilo.
The group is also reported to be planning a public forum in the capital Honiara to give the general public an opportunity to express views on the petition.
The group’s spokesperson and the acting head of the Anti-Corruption Network of Solomon Islands says the call for resignation is based on long-standing issues Mr Lilo has promised but failed to address.
Barnabas Henson says Mr Lilo is piloting the country on a precarious course that could land it in a crisis situation.
Radio New Zealand International
Updated 3 September 2013, 22:24 AEST
By Liam Cochrane
A company with no apparent experience in aviation has secured a $US350 million contract to upgrade Vanuatu’s airports and run them for the next 50 years.
Vanuatu’s Opposition says the airport development could bankrupt the nation. (Credit: ABC)
A company with no apparent experience in aviation has been awarded a $US350 million contract to upgrade Vanuatu’s airports and run them for the next 50 years.
Vanuatu Trade Development Ltd (VTD) secured the deal by promising that its global network of travel agents will soon be bringing a million tourists each year from Asia.
VTD’s management says the company is backed by a multi-billion dollar palm oil conglomerate and the Vanuatu Government has identified the company as Singaporean giant, Mewah.
Mewah has denied links to the company, its directors or the Vanuatu development.
“We confirm that the Company mentioned [Vanuatu Trade Development Ltd] is not a Mewah Group company. The Group has no involvement in the project, and is not underwriting the project,” said Tan Kim Tew, from Mewah Corporate Services Department.
But the Vanuatu Government is pushing ahead with the concession.
The ruling coalition used its majority in Parliament on August 30 to approve the deal with VTD and the $350 million promissory notes that effectively underwrite the project.
The Opposition walked out in protest and is preparing a Supreme Court challenge.
“This project will bring Vanuatu down to its knees and it’s likely to become another failed state,” said Willie Jimmy, Opposition member and former finance minister.
Photo: Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil (R) and Vanuatu Trade Development’s executive director David Mak sign the airport development deal on July 27, 2013.
Tourism is a crucial part of Vanuatu’s economy.
Currently, a third of Vanuatu’s workforce is employed in the tourism sector and 40 per cent of the nation’s GDP is driven by international visitors.
For decades Vanuatu’s leaders have dreamed of a new airport that could accommodate wider-bodied, long-haul planes flying in tourists straight from Asia.
In late July that dream came a step closer to reality, when the government signed a deal with a Singapore-based company to build a new international airport and upgrade several regional airports.
The deal was signed by Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil and VTD’s general manager Eric Ong and director David Mak.
As part of the deal, the Vanuatu Government will issue four separate promissory notes guaranteeing the repayment of $350 million if the government, or any future government, breaches the agreement.
During the course of the 50 year concession, VTD will operate the airports to recoup the money spent on construction and to earn profits.
Aviation experts say the plan could work in theory, provided the company can bring in a lot more tourists.
As well as the alleged global network of travel agents, a leaked government document says VTD has an “implicit agreement” with an unnamed airline that will help bring a tenfold increase in annual tourist arrivals.
VTD representatives have not responded to the ABC’s repeated attempts to contact them for comment, but they have spoken to local media in Vanuatu.
“VTD is part of a group of companies, very diversified,”Eric Ong told Marc O’Brien on Buzz 96FM.
“The core business of our group is in edible oils and then we are also into printing, we are into travel, we have our insurance companies, we have tobacco companies, we own plantations, we own oil palm plantations.
“We have an annual turnover of $4 billion in 2011 and…even if we were to fund it by the group ourselves, we are able to fund this $350 million project.”
In an August press release, the Vanuatu Government linked VTD with Mewah.
This project will bring Vanuatu down to its knees and it’s likely to become another failed state.
Willie Jimmy, Vanuatu Opposition MP
“The VTDL is a Singapore-based company established specifically for this purpose and is part of the Mewah group of companies listed on the Singapore stock exchange,” the Office of Vanuatu’s Prime Minister said in the statement.
But Mewah Corporate Services Department has told the ABC it has no involvement with the company, and that Mewah is not underwriting the project.
It says Mewah has no link to VTD’s executives Eric Ong and David Mak.
The denial raises more questions for the Opposition.
“Who is behind this? What is the track record of VTDL of any project of such magnitude that VTDL has undertaken in any part of the world or Asia or Pacific?” Opposition MP Willie Jimmy said.
The Vanuatu Trade Development company was formed out of the ashes of a failed tobacco investment.
David Mak and Eric Ong tried to start a tobacco plantation business using another company, Rock International.
When the Vanuatu Government last year refused to allow Rock International to import tobacco seeds and promote smoking, they changed direction.
One of the directors of Rock International was Cheo Tiong Choon, who is the sole shareholder of Vanuatu Trade Development Ltd.
Cheo Tiong Choon is a substantial shareholder of Mewah, but the company says Mr Cheo is not acting on behalf of the palm oil giant.
“We confirm that Mewah Group neither has any direct or indirect involvement in the project nor it has authorised anyone to act on its behalf for the project,” said Mewah’s Tan Kim Tew.
When Vanuatu Trade Development registered last year in Singapore it was as a “wholesale trader” with paid up capital of $400,000.
There was no mention of travel agents, construction or aviation, despite the Vanuatu Government saying VTD was set up specifically for the airport development.
Leap of faith
The size of the investment – $350 million is a quarter of Vanuatu’s annual GDP – makes the credibility of VTD an important matter for Vanuatu’s Government.
The Opposition says the tiny Pacific nation simply couldn’t afford to pay back the money if the government was to breach the concession agreement.
“All the economic productivity of this country just cannot sustain the recovery of this amount at any one time,” Opposition MP Willie Jimmy said.
Photo: Former finance minister Willie Jimmy has questioned VTD’s track record of delivering projects of “such magnitude”.(Newsline)
The Vanuatu Government has investigated the background of Vanuatu Trade Development.
In April, the Council of Ministers directed its 20-member Airport Taskforce go on a “fact finding mission to Singapore to conduct further due diligence on the company, its directors, its shareholders and related companies and to ascertain their capacity to carry out the project as anticipated.”
A second legal opinion was sought from Australian lawyer John Mulally in July.
The Vanuatu Government, Vanuatu Trade Development Ltd, Rock International Marketing and John Mulally all declined to comment or did not respond to the ABC’s inquiries.
“It is a very sensitive and controversial issue as well concerning the sovereignty of this nation,” said Letty Williams Kaltonga, from Vanuatu’s Prime Minister’s Office.
“This is a sovereign domestic issue. Unfortunately we will not respond to your questions due to the matter is before the Vanuatu Parliament.”
When the ABC tried to contact VTD director David Mak at his Singapore office, staff said he is now acting as the honorary consul for Vanuatu in Singapore, and gave the ABC an email address reflecting this.
If David Mak is the honorary consul for Vanuatu in Singapore, it could give rise to a conflict of interest in securing a multi-million dollar contract from the Government.
Numerous international aviation experts contacted by the ABC said they had never heard of VTD before the Vanuatu deal.
However, VTD has linked up with Australian-based consultant, Leading Edge Aviation Planning Professionals, known as LEAPP.
“I think they’ll be depending mostly on the consultants LEAPP and LEAPP have done quite a lot of work around the world,” said Kevin Abel, General Manager of Airports Vanuatu.
LEAPP did not respond to attempts to get comment on this issue.
Some basic elements of the airport deal remain murky.
When Kevin Abel met representatives of VTD last month, he asked where the new international airport might be located.
“It was kept top secret. It’s confidential. We don’t know the reasons behind it but they said they could not disclose much information about the airport site yet,” Mr Abel told the ABC.
It is believed the new airport will be built on Vanuatu’s main island of Efate and already landowner groups have banded together to reject the possibility of their land being compulsorarily acquired.Radio Australia.
6) Fiji Electoral System Changes Draw Concerns, Criticisms
New constitution reduces constituencies, number of MPs
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 2, 2013) – An expert in electoral systems in the region says the new system planned for Fiji is a radical change from the past and will be a challenge for the country.
The Fiji government says it will encourage political parties and discourage neglect of the regions, but others fear too much power concentrated in Suva.
Sally Round reports:
The new constitution has done away with multiple constituencies in favour of one covering the whole country and 50 MPs are to be elected via a multi-member open list system of proportional representation. It’s a big swing away from the past when the system tried to make room for the competing interests of Fiji’s two main ethnic groups, the iTaukei and those of Indian origin. Fiji’s Minister for Elections Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum says the aim is to encourage political parties. And he says the government has listened to submissions from those who felt neglected in Fiji’s remoter regions.
“AIYAZ SAYED KHAIYUM: The idea is that if you are a member of parliament you must be equally concerned about somebody in Lau, somebody in Ba, somebody in Drasa, wherever the case may be. The idea is that we have a focus on elected members of parliament, having interests in all parts of Fiji, and also to give and ensure that political parties focus on national policies.”
Charan Jeath Singh used to be an MP for Macuata West on Fiji’s second biggest island Vanua Levu and is a former mayor of its largest town, Labasa.
He is waiting for more information from the government, but he’s intrigued to know how the system will work given Fiji’s geography of scattered islands. Mr Singh says previously locals knew to go to their own MP for help but under the new system it could be a case of scouting around among the fifty MPs for one who could best serve them.
“CHARAN JEATH SINGH: The candidates will have to be very popular amongst everybody in Fiji in order to be able to get into parliament, because basically before you could be a popular person in your own island, what you need now is to be very popular in all parts of Fiji.”
Charan Jeath Singh says Vanua Levu has specific development needs.
“CHARAN JEATH SINGH: We need to have specific representatives of the island for the people of the place so that they can sit down together, discuss what’s to be done and what’s to be taken to parliament and what could be put there. So now it’s like basically everybody everywhere. So who’s going to be talking about what?”
A constitutional lawyer and international electoral expert, Dr Andrew Ladley, says the new system favours organised political parties, both big and small. He says it is new for the region and will be watched closely.
“ANDREW LADLEY: In many other parts of the Pacific the feeling is that political parties have been too weak to sustain a political party based proportional list system and so this is an unusual development in the region and it will be interesting to see whether political representation and party strength is sufficient in Fiji for this to work.”
But Dr Ladley says the new system will require a lot of voter education to deal with what will be quite a complicated ballot paper.
“ANDREW LADLEY: You just imagine, say, 20 parties contesting and every party has 50 people on their list. You have to have a ballot mechanism that presents all of that.”
A legal representative of Fiji’s High Chiefs, Niko Nawaikula, says the plan is among a list of manifest breaches of international treaty obligations. One of those obligations, signed up to by Fiji, is to involve indigenous people before making major policy changes.
“NIKO NAWAIKULA: You know, indigenous Fijians they have three tribal confederacies. From independence until now that has been recognised within the format of the elections, where the boundaries are made according to the tribal confederacies or part of it. That has been totally removed. In terms of accountability and responsibility, that takes it away totally.”
A human rights activist in Fiji, Tura Lewai, says having one constituency will make it easier for Commodore Frank Bainimarama to remain in power. The coup leader and current prime minister is planning to stand for election next year and Tura Lewai says he has already been luring voters with developments around the country.
“TURA LEWAI: What this does is that allows people from all over Fiji, that he’s bought through the so called development projects to vote for him.”
The electoral expert Dr Andrew Ladley says there are challenges ahead.
“ANDREW LADLEY: The pendulum has swung quite dramatically from an engineered system and careful attempts to try to make sure that all groups are represented and everybody bargains. It’s swung dramatically back the other way to say let’s see what happens out of politics and it’s going to be extremely interesting to see a what the people of Fiji vote for and b how the then elected leaders set about constructing their own attempts to ensure that no community is left out and everybody feels that they have a stake in it without the consequences of constitutional breakdown.”
The government is still to release more details of how the new system will work.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
7) Fiji To Open Permanent Voter Registration Centers
AG: launch represents final registration phase in country
By Reginald Chandar
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 2, 2013) – Permanent registration centres will open in Fiji’s major locations in the coming weeks and months to give Fijians the opportunity to register at their convenience before the election writs are issued.
Speaking at the opening of the new permanent centre in Lautoka today, Attorney General and Elections Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the event marks the beginning of the final phase of onshore registration. The Lautoka registration centre – located in the new Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry at Level 1, Rajendra Prasad Foodtown Building, Westfield – is one of two permanent registration centres already open.
The other is in Labasa, located in the Ground Floor of Namuka House.
The Attorney-General added that registered voters can visit these centres to check their registration details for accuracy and make any necessary amendments.
“It’s very important that your voter details are correct,” he said.
Young Fijians who will turn 18 before the 2014 elections are also encouraged to register at one of the convenient registration centres.
8) Cook Islands hosts world first aid project with China
Updated 3 September 2013, 20:06 AEST
China and New Zealand have agreed to work together on a world-first development project, aimed at improving the water mains system in the Cook Islands.
Under a new deal, China will work jointly with New Zealand and the Cook Islands government to improve the water mains system on Rarotonga, the Cook Islands’ main island. (Credit: ABC)
China, New Zealand and the Cook Islands have agreed to deliver a major development project in the Pacific region.
Under the deal, China will work jointly with New Zealand and the Cook Islands government to improve the water mains system on Rarotonga, the Cook Islands’ main island.
The Pacific is the first region in the world to see China work in partnership with another major aid donor.
Lowy Institute Research Fellow, Dr Phillipa Brandt, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the Pacific has unique attributes which made this project possible.
“It’s a low-risk region for China in terms of its relations with the other powers in the region,” Dr Brandt said.
Audio: Dr Phillipa Brandt speaks to Pacific Beat (ABC News)
“What’s unique about the Cook Islands is that this is the first case in the world of a project that is jointly funded and will have real outcomes.”
China has long been criticised for failing to co-operate with other donors, for funding showy infrastructure projects that do little to reduce poverty and for providing soft loans which cause indebtedness.
Dr Brandt says the newly signed agreement sends an important signal to the world about China.
“China is concerned about its image,” she said.
“China does want to improve the development outcomes of its projects.
“It is now willing to work with other donors who perhaps have greater experience of working in these regions.”
Dr Brandt says the joint cooperation poses risks as well as challenges.
“The risk is that there are high expectations attached to it, and that they may not be fulfilled,” she said.
“The challenge is that China and New Zealand have different ways of undertaking aid and development cooperation, and so being able to match the two systems could be quite a challenge.”Radio Australia
9) French Polynesia Referendum May Come Before 2014
Assembly leader says people must answer independence question
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 2, 2013) –
The leader of the French Polynesia Assembly says a date for a referendum on independence could be set by the end of the year.
Edouard Fritch says President Gaston Flosse asked France to facilitate the referendum on independence, as he respects the will of the people of French Polynesia.
Mr Fritch disagreed that Paris’ lack of response so far to the request was a lack of respect to the territory.
Mr Flosse moved a resolution in the assembly last week to inform the Pacific Islands Forum that a majority is against the territory’s reinscription on the UN decolonisation list.
Mr Fritch says it’s important to put the question to the people.
“We have to decide on the date, when, when is it the right time to organise it. So discussion I think will be organised in maybe before the end of this year. But we want it, Mr Flosse asked it because I think that it is important to ask the population what they want today.”
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
10) Australians in Fiji urged to cast their votes
By Online Editor
1:25 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2013, Fiji
Over a hundred Australians living in Fiji have cast their votes ahead of the Australian federation election this Saturday.
Acting Australian High Commissioner, Glenn Miles says other Australians can do so at the High Commission in Princess Road, Suva.
“We encourage all Australians to come before the office closes on Friday afternoon,” Miles said.
“We’re proud to be a part of this year’s election and hope all eligible Australians to make the most of this opportunity to participate in the election.”
The polls opened at the Australian High Commission last week and will remain open until 4pm this Friday.
The Australian High Commission in Suva is just one of a total of 102 Australian diplomatic missions around the world where Australian voters living, working or traveling abroad can vote, in person.
Australians who qualify to cast early votes include those who will be away from their electorate on voting day; live more than 8km from a polling place; are approaching childbirth; are seriously ill or caring for someone who is; or are unable to attend a polling place due to religious beliefs, fear for personal safety, disability or work commitments.
A total of 1717 candidates are contesting the 2013 Australian federal election, an increase of 43 per cent compared to 1198 candidates who contested the 2010 federal election.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
11) NZ reluctant to voice any criticism of Fiji and new constitution in run up to forum
By Online Editor
1:34 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2013, New Zealand
The New Zealand government is reluctant to voice any criticism of Fiji and the new constitution, released in August.
It will replace the 1997 constitution, set aside by the military regime four years ago, and paves the way for elections next year.
The constitution provides for a 50-seat Parliament, with elections to be held every four years.
It also keeps in place general pardons for anyone, including Fiji’s Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the police and military, for any involvement in political coups or other actions since 2000.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, says he is reluctant to comment at length on the constitution.
“I’d simply say that there are still some aspects of the constitution we hope that they’ll discuss further and look at more carefully but we want to look positively at what’s going on there. Progress has been made towards the machinery for elections and the gorund rules for elections in the form of the constitution.”
Meanwhile,having backed the new Constitution and immunity provisions, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says it’s time for some good will between the Pacific Island Forum and Fiji.
PM Key says they have to consider working with Fiji and ensuring elections are held next year.
Responding to doubts by other Pacific leaders, the New Zealand Prime Minister says there needs to be genuine engagement from both sides.
“I think it will depend in part on what thew goodwill is on the ground and also depend in part on what rigour we can put as countries that will observe those elections but in the end that is not in Fiji’s interest – in our view- to not have free and fair elections that only leads to retaliation and coup-de-tat mentality.
The new Fiji Constitution, Key says is a step in the right direction, and immunity for members of the Bainimarama government is necessary to guarantee elections next year.
Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in May 2009.
SOURCE” RNZI/ FBC NEWS
12) Solomon Islands bisnis inap kisim save long PNG bisnis laen
Updated 3 September 2013, 16:50 AEST
Papua New Guinea bai hostim Advantage Investment miting blong displa yar long Port Moresby, we ol i bilip bai bungim bikpla namba blong lokol na intanesinol bisnis.
PNG IPA, Investment Promotion Authority na Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce i redim PNG Advantage 2013 miting long Port Moresby. Miting bai stat long September 9. (Credit: ABC)
Odio: Chef Ekseketiv Ofisa blong Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce na Industry, Jerry Tengemoana
Papua New Guinea bai hostim Advantage 2013 bung insait long Port Moresby, we ol i bilip bai bungim bikpla namba blong ol lokol na intanesinol bisnis laen.
Solomon Islands bai makim wanpla bikpla laen blong ol bisnis komuniti long displa bikpla bung long neks wik.
Chif Ekseketiv Ofisa blong Solomon Islands Chamber blong Commerce na Industry, Jerry Tengemoana i tok Solomon Islands bisnis inap kisim planti save long ol wok bisnis long Papua New Guinea.
Toktok blong en i kamap long wan kaen taem emi askim ol bisnis laen blong Solomon Islands long go stap long namba tri bikpla miting blong Papua New Guinea Advantage 2013.
Em i tok PNG i stap klostu long Solomon Islands na em i sans long stap insait long displa bung na strongim ol bisnis wokbung wantaim ol na ol narapla bisnis laen na kantri.
“That’s wai mifala ting instead long go long Europe long painim ol kaen opportuniti olsem, PNG i stap klostu na tu, em bai cheaper long go long PNG and also long network wantaim ol investas,” em ibin tok.
“Moa long en, IPA, Investment Promotion Authority igo pas long displa miting na em i gud long bekim displa PNG miting bikos ol ibin stap insait long Solomon Islands miting long mun August.”
Jerry Tengemoana i tok em i hop bai ol PNG bisnis iken halvim ol long laenim ol Solomon Islands kampani long hao ol i mekim wok blong ol olsem long sait blong mainin na ol arapla investment.
Em i tok displa miting tu i gutpla wei we planti memba blongen iken opim ai long ol arapla sekta na hao ol i ronim bisnis long PNG na ol arapla kantri long ol iken save moa longen.
PNG Investment Promotion Authority na Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce i redim miting.radio australia
13) Freedom Flotilla sampai di Selat Torres
Terbit 3 September 2013, 19:07 AEST
Belasan aktivis Australia yang mengklaim melakukan perjalanan misi budaya menuju Papua dan Papua Nugini sudah sampai di Kepulauan Selat Torres, ujung utara teritori Australia.
Kru Freedom Flotilla saat masih berada di Cairns, kota di pesisir timur Australia.
Amos Wainggai, salah seorang aktivis yang ikut dalam pelayaran Freedom Flotilla kepada Radio Australia mengungkapkan mereka baru tiba hari ini (3/9) di Kepulauan Selat Torres yang terletak paling ujung utara Benua Australia dan berbatasan langsung dengan Papua Nugini.
Menurut Amos yang juga aktivis Papua Merdeka dan kini bermukim di Australia menyampaikan tengah mempersiapkan diri melintasi Selat Torres dan masuk ke Papua Nugini.
“Kita baru tiba di pulau Torres, di Torres Island, tepatnya di Thursday Island. Dari Torres kita menuju ke Daru (Papua Nugini) terus ke Merauke,” ungkapnya.
Selama dua pekan perjalanan dari kota pesisir timur Australia, Cairns, kru Freedom Flotilla tidak mengalami hambatan.
Amos menyampaikan mereka juga tidak dihalang halangi oleh otoritas keamanan Australia.
“Sampai saat ini mereka tau, tapi untuk pengawalan tidak ada,” sahut Amos.
Dia juga bercerita kapal yang berlayar kini bertambah satu kapal lagi, dari sebelumnya tiga menjadi empat kapal plus dengan dua orang tambahan kru, total menjadi 19 orang.
Dua tambahan kru adalah aktivis Australia yang ikut sejak dari Cooktown.
“Kami tidak bisa sebutkan nama dan organisasinya, tapi kami semua Freedom Flotilla,” tukasnya.
Amos memperkirakan bakal memasuki Merauke, Papua, sebagai tujuan akhir pelayaran sekitar dua pekan jika tidak menghadapi kendala cuaca.
“Sampai sekarang tidak ada masalah. Cuaca baik 24 degree. Perjalanan menyenangkan dengan cuaca bersahabat,” kata Amos.
Freedom Flotilla mengklaim melakukan perjalanan budaya kendati mendapat penolakan dari Pemerintah Indonesia dan tanpa restu dari Pemerintah Australia.
Menteri Luar Negeri Australia Bob Carr sebelumnya tegas menyatakan tidak akan memberikan bantuan konsuler kalau mereka melanggar hukum Indonesia dan Papua Nugini.
Carr menganggap perjalanan Flotilla ilegal dan berpotensi melanggar hukum dua negara yang hendak dituju.
“Jangan harapkan pajak Australia dihabiskan untuk menangani kasus kalian, seperti penanganan warga negara Australia lainnya di Bali,” ujar saat berkunjung ke Jakarta dua pekan lalu.
Sementara kru Freedom Flotilla membantah jika ada tudingan yang menyebut perjalanan itu mempunyai misi politik.
“Kalau nanti bisa tiba di Merauke, kami akan buat acara upacara adat. Akan ada upacara penyambutan dari seluruh orang Papua untuk mempersatukan dua pulau yang terpisah sekian lama,” jelas Amos Wainggai.
Perjalanan juga disebut mempunyai misi untuk memperingati pemisahan daratan Australia dan pulau Papua sejak zaman pencairan es 10 ribu tahun yang lalu dan era kolonisasi.
Amos Wainggai datang ke Australia sebagai pengungsi pencari suaka politik yang kini menetap di Melbourne sejak 2006.
Dia mendapat suaka bersama 42 aktvis Papua Merdeka lainnya dari Australia dan baru mendapat paspor Australia dua tahun lalu.
Dalam pelayaran Freedom Flotilla kali ini, selain Amos juga ditemani oleh Jacob Rumbiak yang juga dikenal sebagai aktivis Papua Merdeka lainnya.radio australia.
14) Pemimpin Forum Pasifik bahas perubahan iklim di Kepulauan Marshall
Terbit 3 September 2013, 22:55 AEST
Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney in Majuro
Para pemimpin negara negara Pasifik mempertimbangkan sebuah deklarasi terkait perubahan iklim dalam pertemuan yang akan digelar pekan ini di Kepulauan Marshall.
Pemerintah Kepulauan Marshall merancang sebuah panel dari ahli perubahan iklim yang bisa didorong menjadi sebuah Deklarasi Majuro. (Credit: ABC)
Foto: The Marshall Islands prepares a welcome for a Pacific leaders summit in Majuro
Presiden Kepulauan Marshall, Christopher Loeak, memberi perhatian pada isu perubahan iklim pada pertemuan itu dan mengusulkan Deklarasi Majuro kepada para pemimpin negara penghasil utama emisi.
Tony de Brum, Menteri Perubahan Iklim Kepulauan Marshall merancang sebuah diskusi panel para ahli menjelang pertemuan untuk membantu sesi pembahasan oleh para pemimpin.
“Tiga dari empat negara yang rentan akan hadir pekan ini di Majuro,” ucap de Brum.
Perdana Menteri Tuvalu yang baru Enele Sopoaga menyampaikan ada rasa frustasi atas lambatnya aksi internasional merespon perubahan iklim dan kesulitan negara negara kepulauan mengakses bantuan.
“Negara saya, Kepulauan Marshall dan Kiribati sudah menderita di tingkat pencapaian emsisi saat ini,” sesalnya.
“Terlepas dari banyaknya peluang pendanaan, kami belum melihat adanya proyek besar yang beradaptasi di lapangan untuk membangun ketahanan masyarakat,” sambung Sopoaga.
Sekjen Sekertariat Komunitas Pasifik, Jimmy Rogers, menjelaskan seperti halnya energi terbarukan, para pemimpin perlu untuk menargetkan efisiensi energi .
” Tidak ada gunanya berbicara tentang energi terbarukan jika kita tidak mengatasi efisiensi energi , ” tegasnya .
” Tidak ada gunanya punya energi terbarukan jika kita masing menggunakan lampu pijar dan masih memiliki lemari es, pendingin dan AC.”
” Itu bunuh diri.” Kata Rogers.
Isu dalam pertemuan
Forum pertemuan Pemimpin Kepulauan Pasifik yang digelar tahun lalu di Kepulauan Cook menarik perhatian Menteri Luar Negeri Amerika, Hillary Clinton.
Tahun ini, pemerintah Kepulauan Marshall yang merupakan bekas Kawasan Terpercaya AS berharap pengganti Clinton, John Kerry bisa memimpin delegasi AS.
Namun delegasi AS akan dipimpin oleh Menteri Dalam Negeri , Sally Jewell.
Kepulauan Marshall masih bersengketa dengan Amerika Serikat atas dampak negatif tes senjata nuklir pada 1940-an dan 50-an.
Isu lainnya dari forum ini yaitu kemungkinan Fiji kembali masuk ke Forum Kepulauan Pasifik yang juga menjadi isu prioritas .
Wakil Sekjen dari Forum, Feleti Teo mengatakan para pemimpin sepakat Fiji akan diundang kembali setelah sejumlah kemajuan baru baru ini menuju demokratisasi.
Keanggotaan Fiji sempat ditangguhkan pada tahun 2009 lalu.
15) Le changement climatique s’impose au Forum
Posté à 3 September 2013, 8:26 AEST
C’est aujourd’hui aux îles Marshall que s’ouvre le sommet annuel du Forum des îles du Pacifique.
Ouverture aujourd’hui du sommet du Forum des îles du Pacifique aux îles Marshall. (Credit: AFP)
Et le changement climatique devrait se tailler la part du lion. Les petits États océaniens de la région en profiteront pour demander aux plus gros pollueurs de la planète d’agir et de réduire encore et toujours les émissions de gaz à effet de serre associées au réchauffement des températures et à la montée des eaux.
Le Président des Îles Marshall a demandé au Forum d’adopter la ‘Déclaration de Majuro’ qui appelle à une réduction urgente des émissions de gaz à effet de serre.
Christopher Loeak, Président des îles Marshall.
LOEAK : « C’est une période critique en termes de changement climatique et nous voulons souligner les problèmes avec les dirigeants du Forum pour qu’ils le prennent plus au sérieux et qu’ils nous aident. Les Îles Marshall font partie des 4 nations de la planète qui sont vulnérables à la montée des eaux. »
Nous avons aussi demandé au Président des îles Marshall de nous parler de cette déclaration de Majuro.
LOEAK : « Notre intention est de formuler cette Déclaration de Majuro pour faire preuve de leadership en matière de changement climatique. Plusieurs responsables politiques très dynamiques chercheront l’appui de toutes les nations du Forum parce que le changement climatique est une question que nous prenons très au sérieux ici dans le Pacifique.
Il nous faut donc faire preuve de leadership et projeter notre position à l’extérieur pour que le monde entier se penche sérieusement sur cette question. »
Faire preuve de leadership est une expression feutrée pour dire que les petites nations océaniennes sont un peu à la traîne…
LOEAK : « Et bien nous pensons que jusqu’à présent tous les efforts ont été insuffisants et cette Déclaration de Majuro doit être le symbole de ce Forum ici des îles du Pacifique. Et nous la présenteront aux Nations Unies, à Ban Ki-moon, comme notre contribution à la prochaine conférence sur le changement climatique qu’il accueillera cette année. »
Et si les efforts des petites nations océaniennes sont jugés insuffisants, qu’en est-il de l’Australie et de la Nouvelle-Zélande ?
LOEAK : « Et bien nous espérons qu’elles deviennent des leaders parce que ce sont des pays plus grands. Les îles Marshall ne contribuent pas pour ainsi dire aux émissions de dioxyde de carbone dans l’atmosphère. Nous considérons l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande comme nos grands frères dans le Pacifique et ils doivent jouer leur rôle. Nous espérons qu’ils ne vont pas laisser tomber leurs frères ici dans le Pacifique. »
Il y aura bien sur de nombreuses autres questions soulevées à ce sommet du Forum des îles du Pacifique. Notamment, la réadmission de Fidji au sein de cette institution régionale. Fidji a été suspendu du Forum en 2009 pour son refus d’organiser des élections démocratiques dans les plus brefs délais après le coup d’État de 2006. Des élections qui auront lieu maintenant en 2014.Radio Australia
16) « Les élections australiennes sont en réalité un référendum sur la taxe carbone.»
Posté à 3 September 2013, 8:38 AEST
Déclaration du candidat du Parti libéral Tony Abbott. Il promet de supprimer cette taxe aussitôt élu.
Et si les Travaillistes s’y opposaient, il menace de dissoudre le Parlement pour convoquer de nouvelles élections. Voilà qui explique pourquoi l’avance du parti libéral, à 54% d’intentions de vote, face aux 46 % du parti travailliste du Premier ministre sortant Kevin Rudd.
La taxe carbone a en effet entamé le pouvoir d’achat des Australiens, malgré les allocations de compensation créées par les Travaillistes.
Fixée à 16 euros la tonne, elle est entrée en vigueur en juillet 2012 malgré la promesse de campagne des Travaillistes. Mais c’était le prix à payer pour le soutien des Verts au gouvernement.
En cette dernière semaine de campagne, la question du pouvoir d’achat a tout éclipsé, y compris l’immigration et les boat-people. Quant à la guerre en Syrie, elle intéresse peu les Australiens. Pourtant samedi ils éliront aussi un Président, car l’Australie a pris la tête du Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU pour tout le mois de septembre.Radio Australia.
17) China sacks top official in corruption crackdown
Posted 3 September 2013, 21:32 AEST
China has sacked top economic official Jiang Jiemin as head of the body overseeing the country’s state-owned companies.
Xinhua news agency has reported the official was removed for “suspected serious disciplinary violations”, a phrase commonly used in China to refer to corruption.
The move comes as the country’s leaders step up an anti-corruption campaign.
Jiang has been removed from office as head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council, Xinhua reported.
The inquiry into Jiang was announced on Sunday and reports said it would be focusing on China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the state-owned oil and gas company giant.
Jiang headed CNPC before being promoted to the SASAC post earlier this year.
China’s president Xi Jinping – who took office in March – has warned corruption could destroy the party and has threatened to expose high-ranking officials, or “tigers”, along with low-level “flies”.
Jiang is the first member of the Communist Party’s current 205-person Central Committee to face investigation, state media said.
Another former top CNPC official, Zhou Yongkang, will also face a corruption inquiry, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported last week.
Zhou went on to become China’s security chief and a member of its highest body, the Politburo Standing Committee, after his CNPC post.
18) Suspensions rock Vanuatu health administration
Posted at 05:57 on 03 September, 2013 UTC
Vanuatu’s newly appointed director general for health, Dr Santus Wari, has suspended all three departmental directors.
They are the director of Public Health, Len Tarivonda, the director of Planning and Corporate Services, Russel Tamata, and the director of Curative Hospital Services, Hensley Garae.
The three, who are highly regarded in Vanuatu, have been placed on half salary for three months, with the director general saying they are not qualified or capable of carrying out their duties.
The Daily Post newspaper says the men, who all hold masters’ degrees, are considering legal advice and may sue for defamation.
Dr Wari is a member of the health minister, Serge Vohor’s Union of Moderate Parties, and local observers say this emboldened him to remove the three men.
Radio New Zealand International
19) Governor fixed on complete ban of betel nut from Port Moresby
Posted at 08:06 on 03 September, 2013 UTC
Powes Parkop says because chewers have ignored warnings not to spit or litter betel nut, there now has to be a complete ban within the boundaries of Port Moresby.
Mr Parkop says the spitting of betel nut is not only making the city unclean, but causing the spread of tuberculosis – with more than six-thousand people suffering from the disease.
He says vendors and chewers will have to travel to markets in Laloki and Gaire, outside of the city, to buy, sell and chew betel nut.
He says he knows the plan will not be popular with some people.
“They can protest until the cows come home but it’s not going to change my mind. I have to make this type of decision that some corners of our population might not accept – but it’s good in the long-term for our capital city, our people and our nation, and the majority of residents will support this initiative.”
Mr Parkop says there will be heavy fines for those who do not comply.
Radio New Zealand International
20) French Polynesia main hospital hit by strike
Posted at 08:03 on 03 September, 2013 UTC
The French Polynesian government says given the right time, it will comment on a strike at the territory’s main hospital, which was launched this week.
The stoppage is being supported by about 300 employees who want their status clarified.
The nature of their contracts is one of the 15 points raised by the union.
The hospital has been struggling financially.
Radio New Zealand International
The government says the problems caused by the strikers’s demands are complex and cannot be resolved overnight.
21) Gas Is Flowing At ExxonMobil LNG Project In PNG
Project leader expects delivery during second half of 2014
By Jemima Garrett
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Sept. 2, 2013) – Exxon Mobil’s US$19 billion liquid natural gas project in Papua New Guinea is now 90 per cent complete and on track to deliver first gas in the second half of 2014.
The LNG project is the largest ever commercial development in PNG.
A statement issued by Esso Highlands, the project operator, says that with 19,000 people currently working on the project significant progress is being made.
It says gas is now flowing down the 700 kilometre pipeline from the highlands to the LNG plant near Port Moresby.
Project executive Decie Autin says the project costs remain unchanged from last year at $19 billion dollars, despite difficult conditions in the country.
She says first gas is expected on schedule in the second half of next year.
Paul Baker, executive director of PNG’s Institute of National Affairs, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the announcement is significant.
“It’s a big watershed for PNG. It’s the largest project that the country has developed,” Mr Barker said.
“There were many doubters who thought it would be a step too far and to bring it off really is a major achievement for the country and for the companies that are participating.”
Several landowner groups in the Highlands say they have been left out of discussions on sharing the project’s benefits. They have also accused the PNG Government of being slow to deal with their concerns.
Mr. Barker says the country can expect to start seeing increased revenue from the LNG project in 2017.
He says it is important that landowners and politicians see the benefits in terms of investments and capacity building in PNG, and “not in terms of just quick bucks that will be consumed.”
“The government needs to really concentrate on investing in the roads and the infrastructure, to enable the broader economic activities to occur, to enable opportunities to be going into the other sectors that actually generate the jobs.”
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
22) Vanuatu aide jailed for tax scam
By Online Editor
11:03 am GMT+12, 03/09/2013, Australia
A senior Vanuatuan official has been sentenced to five and a half-years’ prison for his involvement in a AUD$4.5 million tax fraud.
Clarence Lawry Marae pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Monday to conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth of Australia.
He was arrested last year while passing through Sydney airport with the nation’s prime minister, Sato Kilman, en route to Israel.
Three Australians were convicted in 2011 and jailed for their role in the scam, which involved stripping companies of their assets so the companies were unable to pay taxes.
The fraud occurred between 1999 and 2001, resulting in the convictions of Ian Sidney Henke, Robin David Huston, and Brian Francis Fox.
A total of AUD$4.59 million in tax was put at risk but the Australian Taxation Office recovered most of that, the Australian trio’s 2011 trial heard.
Fifteen companies took part in the scheme which used sham loans, offshore bank accounts and companies. .
Marae conducted administration in Vanuatu which included winding up companies, according to an earlier Court of Appeal judgment made when the Australian trio attempted to appeal their convictions.
The Supreme Court on Monday heard Marae was a lawyer by profession who worked as a secretary to the Vanuatuan prime minister.
Marae’s barrister Tony Entriken said his client was towards the bottom of the hierarchy of conspirators.
But Justice John Byrne said the scam involved a “substantial and criminal” conspiracy and Marae had previously been convicted of bribery and misappropriation.
“It is apparent you have misdirected your considerable intellect and personal skills to criminal activities,” he told Marae.
The judge fixed a non-parole period of 22 months.
Marae’s arrest sparked a diplomatic row between Australia and Vanuatu.
Twelve Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers were kicked out of the Pacific Island nation in May 2012, two weeks after Marae’s arrest.
AFP officers were allowed to return to the nation earlier this year following talks between the countries.
23)Allegedly Drunk Soldiers Rampage Near PNG Capital
Homes burned, livestock killed, five men treated for wounds
By Ramcy Wama
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 2, 2013) – The Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) has come under scrutiny again over the illegal actions of its members.
In the latest incident PNGDF soldiers descended on the Seven-Mile block outside the national capital and attacked an Eastern Highlands community, setting fire to four homes, chopping pigs and burning domesticated animals including 1,500 two-week-old chicks and grown birds.
National Capital District (NCD) Superintendent Operations Perou Ndranou confirmed that the soldiers were under the influence of alcohol and destroyed the properties of innocent families and residents.
He said the action taken by the members of the disciplinary forces was uncalled for and would lead to people losing trust in them.
Five young men were treated for serious wounds at the Port Moresby General Hospital while another two were at home. Three other families lost everything they owned except for the clothes they were wearing that day.
In full view of workers at a PNG LNG camp site, the soldiers allegedly from the Taurama Barracks armed with guns, knives and sticks attacked the community.
Robert Gall, a spokesman from the affected community, said soldiers were becoming a threat to the public and authorities should take appropriate action against those involved.
“There is no command and control in the army as the soldiers at the barracks are becoming a serious threat to our community,” he said.
According to Mr Gall, the raid was in response to an incident two weeks ago when an Eastern Highlands family member went to buy betel-nut and was attacked by drunken soldiers.
He returned home to get reinforcements and subsequently attacked the soldiers.
However the Eastern Highlands family members who attacked the soldiers were picked up and locked up by police and there was no need for retaliation.
But the PNGDF soldiers returned with the other members of the army and demanded K20,000 [US$8,246] from the families of those who attacked the soldiers, the confrontation eventually turning nasty and leading to the loss of their properties.
“They came back to collect the compensation. The policemen from the Six Mile police station came to the scene but they did nothing as the soldiers were fully armed and very violent,” said Mr Gall.
Attempts to contact the PNGDF top brass for their comments were unsuccessful.
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
24) 6 UK Soldiers From Fiji Arrested For Assault In New York
Off-duty policeman attacked during ‘bar brawl’ in Manhattan
By Mereani Gonedua
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 2, 2013) – Six Fijian British Army soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland have been charged with third degree assault after they beat up an off-duty New York policeman during a 4am bar brawl in Manhattan in the weekend.
The six appeared before the Manhattan court where the court heard that the soldiers allegedly punched the officer to the floor then carried on hitting him as his friend tried to stop them.
The soldiers are based from Edinburgh and are part of an Army rugby team on a tour of the US East Coast.
Mail Online news reports that the men told the court that the policeman swore at the group which led them to attack him however when he identified himself as a policeman they replied that they did not care.
The six soldiers include Private Iliakini Raderua, 30, Corporal Thomas Shute, 34, Private Felite Vunisarati, 34, Private Mosese Kuruala, 27, and Private Joeli Raduva, 34.
Lance Corporal Iosefo Yavala, 33, is also accused of second degree robbery, a more serious offence, after he was allegedly found carrying the officer’s mobile phone which was taken during the brawl.
They are now being held in the notorious Rikers Island prison after failing to post bail of US$25,000.
The court heard that the row began at the Mercury Bar in Manhattan when Yavala ‘bumped into the victim and began yelling at him.’ The group then allegedly ‘surrounded’ the officer and Kuruala ‘punched him in the face, causing him to fall down’ and the others rained down blows as his friend tried to help him up.
The court also heard that Yavala has been in the Army for 11 years, Shute is a 12-year veteran and Raduva has served 13 years and is a decorated war hero who was mentioned in Dispatches in 2011.
All six men will appear before the court again next week.
25) Inmates File Case Against Guam Corrections Department
$30 million suit alleges DOC violated detainee’s rights
By Gina Tabonares-Reilly
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Sept. 2, 2013) – Inoperable air-conditioning units, worn out mattresses, untimely and inconsistent meal schedules, and no sanitation supplies – these are just some of the complaints of 10 inmates who have filed a civil case against the Department of Corrections (DepCor).
The detainees are Julian Gerald Robles, Glenn Manley, Vicente Perez, Quincy Perez Taitano, Rudy G. Palomo, Dwayne San Nicolas, Eugene J.B. Mendiola, Ron M. Taitano, Norman K. Concepcion and Paul A. I. Mendiola. They are suing the government of Guam for a total of $60 million in damages.
According to the inmates, DepCor violated their constitutional rights and needs to pay $30 million for negligence, infliction of mental and emotional distress, and another $30 million for punitive damages.
The inmates are also complaining about the DepCor Rules and Regulations pertaining to the administrative remedies which, according to them, are not being observed consistently.
They said there are no necessary supplies and equipment needed by inmates.
“There is no mailbox or dispensing unit, drop boxes are not available for legal mail or any type of certified mail, multiple unit cells lack proper lighting as well as improperly functioning water basins/sinks, and some unit cells have severe leakage problems, with no running water at all. There are also severe air-conditioning and ventilation issues to an entire unit wing and some individual medical profiles need bunk designations,” the inmates stated in their handwritten complaint filed before the District Court of Guam.
The detainees are also complaining that there are no upper bunk ladders available to assist individuals and no hand rails or handles, increasing risks for accidental falls.
The plaintiffs added that there are no pillows and mattress are worn and overused while lockers are unavailable for personal property storage.
They also mentioned that medical care services are inconsistent and untimely. The same goes with food scheduling, which they say is untimely and entails very limited portions per individual. In addition, there are no commissary or canteen services to augment the food issue, leaving inmates hungry in between meals.
According to the prisoners, the sanitation supplies are only being provided through family donations as requested by inmates. Otherwise, personal hygiene materials are always unavailable and there are no supplies for them to clean their living area.
They added that constitutionally entitled programs and services are also inconsistent, such as the one-hour fresh air and recreation time as well as religious practice and service.
Currently, the only available religious services are the Christian and Baptist denominations. The chapel is also not available, hindering or depriving the right to religious practice, the inmates complained.
One of the plaintiffs wrote a letter to the court asking for an order of “non-retaliatory action or behavior” on the part of the defendants within the corrections facility.
“Due to the circumstances surrounding the individuals listed as plaintiffs within this complaint, we respectfully request the Honorable Court to impose an order of non-retaliatory action or behavior on the part of the defendants,” Manley said in his Aug. 21 letter.
The notice of complaint has been served to the DepCor officials who have 10 days to answer the civil case.
Marianas Variety Guam: www.mvguam.com
26) AG Lawyers ‘Assist’ Probe Into Samoa Police Suspensions
Top officers suspended to ensure no influence on investigation
By Lanuola Tupufia
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 1, 2013) – Two lawyers from the office of Samoa’s Attorney General are to “assist” the Commission of Inquiry investigate allegations against the suspended Police Commissioner and an assistant Police Commissioner.
This was confirmed by Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung in an interview with the Sunday Samoan on Friday.
“Two lawyers from my office are assistant counsels for the commission,” he said.
The Attorney General pointed out that the “allegations are being thoroughly investigated by the Commission of Inquiry.”
Their involvement follows a statement from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi on Tuesday that the suspension of the top cops was to ensure that they would not influence the outcome of the investigation.
The inquiry is being led by Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma.
Under the 1988 Act and later amendments, the Attorney General retains significant powers over investigations by the Ombudsman.
Under clause 17 the Attorney General may certify that “Disclosure of certain matters [are] not to be required.”
Clause 17 subsection (c) provides that disclosure may be stopped where it “might involve the disclosure of proceedings of Cabinet, or of any committee of Cabinet, relating to matters of a secret or confidential nature, and would be injurious to the public interest, – the Komesina o Sulufaiga (Ombudsman) shall not require the information or answer to be given or, as the case may be, the document or paper or thing to be produced.”
Clause 23 empowers the Ombudsman to enter any government premises at any time, but only if he gives notice.
Clause 23 subsection 2 however requires that the Ombudsman give advance notice to heads of department.
Clause 3 of the same section also gives the Attorney General power to “exclude” any premises “if the Attorney-General is satisfied that the exercise of the power conferred by this section might prejudice the security, defence, or international relations of Samoa, including Samoa’s relations with the Government of any other country or with any international organisation.”
Involvement of the office of the Attorney General is the latest twist in the already long-running allegations surrounding senior police.
The suspension of Assistant Commissioner Sala Seaga Uili is in relation to what has become known as the “ghost letter.”
Sala was suspended with pay together with Police Commissioner, Lilomaiava Fou Taioalo last week.
“Part of the suspension for the Assistant Commissioner is in relation to allegations in the letter,” said Aumua.
He declined to comment whether Lilomaiava’s suspension was in relation to the same letter.
“Ask the Prime Minister about that,” said Aumua.
While Aumua did not use the word ‘ghost’, that term has taken on a life of its own after being coined by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in 2011.
That letter was not signed by anyone.
It alleged widespread corruption within the police force – especially among police staff at Tafa’igata prison.
Tuilaepa told a weekly programme on Radio 2AP that the probe will “reveal whether allegations are true or not.”
“That is why they are suspended with pay and are still using vehicles because it is the usual practice.”
However, the Prime Minister did not specify whether the Commissioner’s suspension was in relation to the ghost letter.
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/
27) People-smuggling trade broken
SYDNEY: The Labor federal government has “broken the back” of the people smuggling trade, Immigration Minister Tony Burke claims.
Mr Burke says it’s clear the government’s so-called Papua New Guinea Solution is making it hard for people smugglers to fill boats after two vessels, carrying 30 and 28 people respectively, were intercepted in the past 24 hours.
“These vessels would be capable of having many more people crammed on board,” Mr Burke told reporters in Sydney yesterday.
The boats were the first to arrive in Australia since last Tuesday.
“What we have seen for some time now is that people smugglers have remained as desperate as ever to get boats off, but they’ve had increasing challenges in finding people who are willing to get on board, including people who had already paid,” Mr Burke said.
In July, the month that Labor announced boat arrivals would be processed and settled in Manus Island, 4236 asylum seekers travelled to Australia by boat.
In the following month, the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat fell to 1585.
Mr Burke said the population on Christmas Island is also falling for the first time, and the government no longer needs to go ahead with plans for more detention accommodation at Singleton in the NSW Hunter Valley. He attributed the declining arrival numbers to Labor’s PNG Solution, which includes sending families to Nauru.
Mr Burke said he was aware of a few more “operations” people smugglers were trying to introduce.
“While there will be a few more boats that will test our resolve, we have broken the back of the people smuggling trade”. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) also confirmed that 43 asylum seekers who arrived by boat this year were transferred to Nauru on Sunday.
The group of predominantly Iranian and Pakistani men departed Christmas Island on Sunday night and arrived in Nauru around 11am local time yesterday, a DIAC statement said.
The group were transferred to the regional processing centre, where they will be accommodated while their refugee claims are processed by the Nauru government. – AAP
CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:
By Online Editor
11:14 am GMT+12, 03/09/2013, Marshall Islands
A tense opening session of the 44th Pacific Islands Forum has been dominated by appeals from Pacific leaders for ‘real action’ against the threat of rising sea levels associated with climate change.
Speaking at the International Conference Center in Majuro, the capital of Marshall Islands, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, responded to a presentation from Nobel Peace Prize Professor Elisabeth Holland by decrying what he intimated as the dollar approach of ‘theoretical scientists’ to an issue that requires ‘concrete action.’
Slade said, ” when speaking of trading I feel worried we maybe shifting attention to what may be taken away from the real actions that are direct actions to be done to save these islands.
Holland, the co-recipient with Former U.S. Presidential nominee Al Gore of the 2007 Nobel Prize and the Director of the Pacific Centre for Environmental and Sustainable Development at the University of the South Pacific told a panel of experts on climate leadership that pacific islands had a resource bound in negative emissions worth almost US$5 billion at the current global exchange rate.
“I found that collective emissions from Pacific islands countries we have negative emissions of 8.1 gigatons already.” Holland said.
Newly installed Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, echoed Slade’s concerns despite island nations compiling negative emissions through Ocean carbon sink holes and forest regrowth, which he described as good news, but that the time for trading carbon was over.
“I think we have to be very cautious that we are not sending mixed signals, what must be done is concrete action on the ground to save small islands.” Sopoaga said.
Professor Holland, a contributing author to several intergovernmental panel climate change assessment report’s described herself as a theoretical scientist forced to become a ‘ practical scientist in facing the realities of the impact of rising sea levels in the pacific.
Holland said there was hope, despite the prevailing view here that concrete action was required ‘yesterday.’
“It is still possible to choose a different path and this where we need the pacific leadership to come together with the scientific community.”
However, the Holland’s optimistic assessment was dismissed outright by the Tuvaluan prime minister in a blunt attack from the floor that received spontaneous applause.
“The situation is dire,” he said.
“There is simply no point of talking about sustainable development if we cannot reverse the impact of climate change.”
The 44th Pacific Islands Forum is being held on Tuesday in the Marshall Islands, one of the world’s most climate exposed nations, and runs until Thursday.
29) PNG PM seeks progress on climate change issues affecting the region
By Online Editor
1:29 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2013, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill heads to the Pacific Islands Forum in the Marshall Islands today seeking progress on climate change issues affecting the region.
The rising sea level caused by climate change is high on the agenda, and Pacific countries will be looking to Papua New Guinea to provide the leadership in finding practical solutions to a potentially catastrophic situation confronting countries in the region. O’Neill said in a statement .
“A lot of our people in low-lying areas of PNG and other Pacific countries face the real threat of a rising sea level.
“We have had to relocate Carteret Islanders because they were inundated by the rising sea level. That is the threat most island nations are facing so we have to start thinking of real, practical solutions.
“I hope the forum meeting will provide us leaders the opportunity to come up with something concrete and workable for all,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato and National Planning Minister Charles Abel.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
30) Donors need to co-ordinate their funding activities on climate change in the Pacific – High Level Expert Panel
By Online Editor
5:44 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2013, Marshall Islands
By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Majuro, Marshall Islands
There have been strong reflections from panelists at the first ever High Level Panel of Experts on Climate Change that donors need to co-ordinate their funding activities in the Pacific.
One of the experts, the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Jimmie Rodger says in the Pacific there are nine regional organisations and 24 UN agencies working in the area of climate change.
“Many of us work in the same space and we hardly talk to each other, said Dr Rodgers.
Sharing his own experiences when he worked in health services, Dr Rodgers said many donors provide technical assistance in country and yet they don’t talk to each other.
“The point that was raised was that if countries have their own roadmap as the starting point at the country level, when development partners come in, they should do so based on the needs of the countries and not dictate their agendas.
“If donors and development partners are serious and genuine, they would support national initiatives, said Dr Rodgers at the end of the High Level Panel of Experts meeting.
The same concept should be practiced at the regional level.
“We have countries with a common vision or ideology who might want the same kind of equipment and technical assistance supported by development partners. Donors should support their needs if they are genuine in their partnership with the region. The agenda should be country driven through genuine partnership.
Marshall Islands Minister Tony deBrum said the Majuro Declaration on Climate Leadership will reflect all the aspirations of Forum Leaders.
“After the panel, there is no doubt in everyone’s mind that there is a need of ratcheting up of climate leadership in the Pacific.
“The Declaration will be a reflection on what Pacific Leaders are saying to the rest of the world and will reiterate their political leadership. It will need to be open and dynamic so that people can join in whenever they like to allow for a platform that express higher ambitions as they become achievable, said Minister DeBrum.
Fiji is one country in the Pacific that shared its experience in climate change leadership at the High Level Panel of Experts.
Foreign Affairs Secretary, Amena Yauvoli, representing the Group of 77 and China said leadership on climate change begins at home.
“In Fiji we have a national policy on climate change which has a multi-sectoral approach and includes disaster risk management. We have a co-ordination guideline to bring all stakeholders, including donors under one umbrella.
“What we found in Fiji is that many development partners are doing a lot of work on climate change in Fiji without the knowledge of the government.
“Through this mapping and profiling of climate hotspots in Fiji we found that many of the work done by donors and partners are not properly co-ordinated.
“We have a lot of experience of fly-in-fly-out donors who work in the communities for their own agendas and once the funds run out, they leave the communities without any support to continue with the projects, said Yauvoli.
Fiji has also established relocation guideline and it’s in the process of engaging all development partners on how it can assist with relocation of communities.
31) Relocation for climate change victims is no answer, says Tuvalu PM
By Online Editor
5:40 pm GMT+12, 03/09/2013, Marshall Islands
The prime minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, says talk of relocating people to avoid the impact of sea level rise is self-defeating and should end.
Speaking ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum summit in the Marshall Islands, Sopoaga says he wants action to stop climate change.
He says all the world is aware of the plight of the low-lying nations such as Tuvalu, but nothing is being done.
Sopaga says this talk includes discussion on relocation but that is utopian and inappropriate.
“It should never be an option because it is self defeating in itself. For Tuvalu I think we really need to mobilise public opinion in the Pacific as well as in the [rest of] world to really talk to their lawmakers to please have some sort of moral obligation and things like that to do the right thing.”.
Meanwhile, Sopoaga, says it is very difficult for small island countries to access the funds for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
Sopoaga says there is too much talk and not enough action to combat climate change.
He says people in the low lying nations such as Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati are already suffering the effects but they face huge difficulties accessing the funds set aside by the international community for adaptation measures.
“You probably need in Tuvalu to spend one whole year to write papers, to write reports, to run workshops, to get consultancies, in order to come up with a bankable proposal. This is unacceptable while the land keeps on being eroded. So we have to do better than that.”.