Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 882

MELANESIA:

1) Peter O’Neill warns landowners PNG Government won’t be held to ransom over Ok Tedi

Updated 23 October 2013, 13:55 AEST

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill warns landowners from Ok Tedi Mine area that they risk being left out of negotiations and benefits for threatening to forcefully close the mine.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has warned landowners from PNG’s Ok Tedi Mine area that they risk being left out of negotiations and benefits for threatening to forcefully close the mine.

Representatives from communities along the Fly River, who are badly affected by the mine’s waste, are asking for more than 63 per cent shares in the mine.

Landowners from the 162 mine-affected communities are threatening to close the mine itself if the PNG government does not give in to its demands.

Mr O’Neill says the government is willing to negotiate with landowners, but won’t respond to threats.

“No government should be held to ransom by any landowners,” he said.

“No government agencies will be held to ransom so they have to be very careful in what they should say and what they do.

“There is a lawful means for attending to your own issues – don’t take the law into your own hands.”

In September, the PNG government passed legislation to take over the mine.

For many years, Ok Tedi has been the biggest single contributor to PNG Government revenue, and Mr O’Neill says the landowners cannot hold that revenue hostage.

“We need money to develop our country, we need money to educate our people, we need money to put services like health care to our people,” he said.

“Where are you going to get the money to do this job? It is by developing those resources, collecting those taxes, making sure the revenue is collected on time so you can start spending on these services.

“We are trying to do the right thing…if they don’t want to be a participant in the negotiations for the shareholders we will do a deal with the mine site landowners and then if they are not on the party we will leave them behind.

“It is entirely up to them – I am not going to wait forever.”

The charitable trust PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) had owned 63 per cent of the mine, with the state owning the rest.

The new laws cancelled the PNGSDP’s shares and issued new shares to the state, giving it complete ownership.

The company’s Chairman, Sir Mekere Morauta, has announced that almost 100 development projects, worth $AU96 million, have been put on hold due to lack of funds.

They include help for schools, hospitals and aid posts across the country, as well as water, sanitation and solar energy projects.

The Program says without dividends from Ok Tedi it doesn’t have the funds to continue with the project.

But Mr O’Neill says the Program has the funds to continue.

“There is sufficient money, hundreds of millions of kina in the account that Sustainable is managing to finish all these projects,” he said.

“It is quite obvious they are not genuine about trying to protect the interests of the Western Province people and the interests of Papua New Guineans.”

Mr O’Neill says Sir Mekere has a conflict of interest and should resign from his post with the SDP.radio australia

2) EU says full aid dependent on Fiji meeting the spirit of its constitution

Posted at 04:32 on 23 October, 2013 UTC

The European Union has told the Fiji regime that it must meet the spirit of its constitution if it wants full development assistance to resume after next year’s election.

The EU has had limited links with Fiji since the military coup in 2006 but after the release of a new constitution and commitments to elections it has begun rebuilding contacts.

Last week, a senior official visited to discuss re-activating the full aid programme and this week a director of EU’s External Service, Dr Gerhard Sabathil, was in Suva to hold talks on political matters.

He says the EU has told Fiji what conditions need to be fulfilled in the re-establishment of democracy.

“These expectations are the full implementation of the basic values of the constitution, human rights, democracy, rule of law, detailed issues in the field of gender issues, freedom of expression, freedom of media and of course the electoral process which should be a genuine democratic one.”

A director of the EU’s External Service, Dr Gerhard Sabathil

Radio New Zealand International

3) Constitutional expert Yash Ghai says he doubts if Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama has read constitution

Updated 23 October 2013, 13:50 AEST

An expert whose draft for Fiji’s Constitution was scrapped by the interim government says he doubts interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has read his government’s replacement version.

The world renowned constitutional expert who chaired the Commission that drew up Fiji’s draft constitution – later rejected by the government – says he can’t see how the electoral system that the military regime is adopting will work. (Credit: ABC)

An expert whose draft for Fiji’s Constitution was scrapped by the interim government says he doubts interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has read his government’s replacement version.

In January, the Fijian government scrapped the draft constitution drawn up by an independent commission led by Professor Yash Ghai.

A replacement version was signed into law in September.

Professor Ghai has told Australia Network’s Newsline program Commodore Bainimarama’s comparisons between the commission’s draft and the final product have been flawed.

“I think most dictators have a great capacity for self deception and he may be suffering from that,” he said.

“I doubt if he has read the Constitution – he just repeats what his Attorney General tells him to say, and those are his words.”

“He has made various statements about our Constitution which are inaccurate in his criticism [and] he has said many things in praise of their Constitution which are inaccurate.”

The new document will replace the 1997 constitution that was set aside by the military regime four years ago.

It includes reforms to the electoral system, a clause on free speech and a Bill of Rights.

Professor Ghai says while parts of the final version borrow from his work, they are undermined by other alterations or omissions.

“For example, they have taken a fair bit from our Bill of Rights, but they have an over-arching sort of provision whereby it’d be very easy for Parliament to disregard a human right, whereas in our case there was an article dealing with limitations,” he said.

“The whole scheme of a Bill of Rights can come to nought if they declare an emergency [and] there are no safeguards that we had built into the scheme for declaring an emergency.

“So now they have a carte blanche basically to, to de-supply or set aside the whole Bill of Rights.”

Electoral system

Professor Ghai says he’s also disappointed with the changes to the electoral system from the draft version.

Under the new system, individual regional constituencies have been abolished in favour of one national constituency – a change which the government says will force politicians to adopt a national focus.

Professor Ghai says the changes favour larger parties because they have to secure five per cent of the vote.

He says the use of an ‘Open List’ system – where the number of candidates elected for each party is based on the party’s overall vote – also adds to the complexity.

“In an Open System…you can cross out the ordering of the party and change the order – which is a good thing, it gives people, the voters the power not to have to stick to the list drawn by the party,” he said.

“Then they can add other names too – they can put somebody down there who is not even on the list.

“It means that the ballot paper could be very long, huge – I know that people in Fiji are used to quite complex electoral systems but this one is going to be very hard to cope with for most people.”

Rights groups have raised concerns about the constitution’s inclusion of a clause giving immunity to those behind the 2006 coup.

Professor Ghai says clauses on immunity were included in his draft because of pressure from the attorney-general and the prime minister.

He says the original version would have forced those seeking immunity to apologise.

“The immunity we gave, requires a prior oath by the people who seek its benefit to apologise for what they did, to say they would never, ever again do things like this, only then does the immunity come.

“Many, many people told us that: ‘If they apologise, if they show that they are sorry and acknowledge that they have broken somebody’s sacred rules, we will of course give them immunity’.

“But they wanted some recognition on the part of these people that they did something wrong and they would never, ever again do something like that.”

Professor Ghai says there are also concerns with the difficulty in changing the constitution, and that several Decrees by the current government will remain in force after the elections.

He says he remains hopeful that Fiji may still be forced by pressure from the international community to adopt his version of the constitution.radio australia

POLYNESIA:

4) Tonga opposition proposes bigger role for common voters

Posted at 04:32 on 23 October, 2013 UTC

A member of Tonga’s opposition Democratic Party has proposed a series of reforms to make the country’s political system more democratic.

This comes after the election three years ago that allowed for the first time a majority of MPs to be chosen by the people.

Aisake Eke says he wants to see the popular election of the prime minister, an end to non-elected members being included in cabinet, tighter controls on spending by caretaker governments and clarifications on how votes of no confidence work.

Mr Eke says having the MPs themselves choose the prime minister denies the people a say.

He says such a change would have two benefits.

“One is the public is behind him. He is a public figure elected by the people rather than someone elected by a constituency, and the second is allow an opportunity, a timeline, a timeframe in which [prospective] prime ministers and other people can have a common understanding and also establish their confidence that this is the right one.”

Aisake Eke of Tonga’s opposition Democratic Party

Radio New Zealand International

5) Tonga To Discuss Multi-Million Loan With China At Forum
PM Tu’ivakano to lead delegation to China-Pacific economic summit

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 22, 2013) – An agreement on Tonga’s multi-million pa’anga loan from China is expected to be signed during a 2nd China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum on November 7-8 in Guangzhou.

Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano will lead Tonga’s delegation, said Mr. Xu Zhiguang the First Secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Nuku’alofa.

He said Tonga’s concessional loan was one of the topics to be discussed between the governments of Tonga and China and when the relative agreement is signed at the forum everything “will be clear.”

The aim of the forum was to promote the economic and trade cooperation between China and Pacific Island countries. The Chinese government would sign economic and technical cooperation agreements with each of the countries, and there were to be four seminars covering the fields of cooperation in agriculture and fishery, tourism, trade and investment and environment protection, he said.

Mr. Zhiguang said Tonga is one of eight Pacific Island countries which have diplomatic ties with China who were invited to take part in the forum.

Tongan officials attended the first China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development Forum in Xiamen in September 2008.

Deferred

Meanwhile, last month on September 18, Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano told the Tongan parliament that China had deferred Tonga’s repayment of its $119 million pa’anga [US$67.6 million] loan indefinitely.

Tonga was originally scheduled to start repaying its loan from the Exim Bank of China on September 21.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

AUSTRALIA:

6) Live: Crews battle bushfire emergencies in Blue Mountains, Newcastle

Updated 23 October 2013, 15:36 AEST

There are currently three emergency warnings in place as extreme weather conditions begin to take effect in New South Wales.

Two warnings are for the Lake Macquarie area near Newcastle, where the Stockrington Road fire is burning at Minmi and the Gateshead fire near Dudley and Redhead.

The Minmi Public School has been evacuated and the Pacific Motorway is closed in both directions.

An emergency warning has also been reinstated for the Linksview Road fire at Springwood in the Blue Mountains, with a number of crews being relocated to try and bring the blaze under control.

Residents in Faulconbridge have been warned of immediate danger and have been told to seek shelter.

There are also three watch-and-act alerts in place for the State Mine fire near Lithgow, the Mount Victoria fire, and the Hall Road fire near Wollondilly.

Follow our live blog for updates on the situation throughout the day.

External Link: Live NSW bushfires coverage

Radio Australia

TOK PISIN:

7) West Papua refugi long PNG ilaik go long narapla kantri

Updated 23 October 2013, 14:15 AEST

Caroline Tiriman

Sampla yangpla man blong West Papua long East Awin refugi camp long Papua New Guinea i mekim bikpla askim igo long gavman na United Nations High Commission for Refugees long salim ol igo long narapla kantri.

Odio: TPI_westpapua_20131023

Ol despla yangpla pipal istap namel long wanpla grup em Australia ibin rausim ol na bringim ol igo long PNG long mun igo pinis.

Long wik igo pinis PNG Gavman ibin salim ol igo long Kiunga long Western provins na nau oli go pinis long refugi kemp.

Despla askim blong Antonios Maruza, wanpla long sevenpla yangpla pipal blong West Papua em Australia ibin kisim ol long Torres straits na bringim ol igo long PNG.

Tasol Despla Pasin em gavman blong Australia ibin mekim long hariap tru na bringim ol despla West Papua pipal igo long PNG ibin mekim ol Human rights grup long Australia long sutim tok long gavman blong Australia olsem emi brukim united nations loa oa convention long ol refugis.

Na nau sikispla long ol despla yangla pipal istap long East Awin refugi kem itok oli wok long wari stret long laif blong ol long wonem, despla kem istap klostu tru long bodamak wantem West Papua we planti ol special soljia blong Indonesia isave go raon na painim ol West Papua activist.

Antonios Maruza itok oli bin wokabaut longpla rot tru igo long East Awin kemp.

Long mun igo pinis Australia Praim Minista Tony Abbott ibin tok olsem ol West Papua pipal istap gut aninit long gavman blong Indonesia, tasol wanpla gavman minista blong Vanuatu, Ralph Regenvanu itok despla toktok blong Mr Abbott ino stret.radio australia

FRENCH:

8) PNG: les autorités confirment des cas de rougeole

Posté à 23 October 2013, 9:02 AEST

Pierre Riant

Le Laboratoire central de santé publique a confirmé 3 cas de rougeole dans la Province du Sepik occidental. Le communiqué de ce laboratoire précise que 3 enfants de 9 ans, 8 ans et 21 mois sont atteints.

Il s’agit des premiers cas de rougeole confirmés depuis l’épidémie de 2005. À ce stade, les autorités ne savent pas si ces enfants ont suivi un programme de vaccination où s’ils ont circulé dans d’autres régions.

Des instructions ont été données à tous les services de santé pour qu’ils redoublent de vigilance.

Un plan d’intervention a été formulé en collaboration avec les autorités locales pour éviter une autre épidémie. Plan d’intervention qui prévoit un vaste programme de vaccination.

En outre, des équipes médicales ont été envoyées au Sepik oriental pour soigner des centaines de personnes atteintes de diarrhées et de dysenterie; l’épidémie a déjà tué 4 enfants et un adulte la semaine dernière. Des conditions de vie non-hygiéniques seraient à l’origine de cette épidémie.

La situation s’aggrave de jour en jour.radio australia

9) Incendies de Nouvelle-Galles du Sud : la journée de tous les dangers

Posté à 23 October 2013, 8:50 AEST

Pierre Riant

Les feux de brousse ont consommé plus de 120 000 hectares en 5 jours et la météo prévoit aujourd’hui des températures entre 35 et 40 degrés, avec des vents jusqu’à 100 km/h. Le taux d’humidité prévu est de 10%.

Des milliers de pompiers allument des contre-feux depuis deux jours pour tenter de freiner les plus de 60 incendies qui continuent tôt ce matin de brûler à travers cet État. Une pluie fine est bien tombée hier sur plusieurs grands brasiers sans pour autant ralentir l’avancée des flammes.

Les pompiers de Nouvelle-Galles du Sud ont passé toute la nuit à allumer des contre-feux en se concentrant sur trois énormes incendies à l’ouest de Sydney : Southern Highlands,  Hawkesbury et les Blue Mountains.

210 maisons ont été rasées et 109 résidences ont été sérieusement endommagées depuis le début des incendies qui ont fait un mort. Les autorités redoutent le pire aujourd’hui.

Un nombre sans précédent de camions de pompiers a été envoyé dans les régions touchées, notamment les Blues Mountains, les montagnes bleues à environ 80 kilomètres à l’ouest de Sydney. Toutes les écoles et maisons de retraite ont été évacuées et les habitants sont sommés de rester à l’écart de la région.

Il s’agit de la plus grande mobilisation d’effectifs de tous les temps.radio australia

EDUCATION:

10) Vanuatu government asked to help schools manage funds

Posted at 04:32 on 23 October, 2013 UTC

The Vanuatu Teachers Union says the government needs to ensure all heads of schools know how to manage school funds.

Findings from a recent Transparency Vanuatu education report shows some primary school children are being deprived of a free education and aren’t attending school as a result.

Another of the main findings of the report is that some schools are confused about how to make use of the Primary Education School Fee Grant Policy.

The President of the Vanuatu Teachers Union, Wilfred Leo, says not all heads of schools receive the proper training.

“Government hasn’t done enough here to teach or to have all the heads trained in a way that they would be able to handle this. So there are some others out there in the remote places, or further out, if you’re not the centre of the country, who might not understand this to manage these funds.”

Wilfred Leo says when schools don’t know how to obtain or use the funds properly, it puts more pressure on teacher resources, and costs get passed on to parents.

Radio New Zealand International

11) American Samoa’s leaders working together to address education system

Posted at 02:10 on 23 October, 2013 UTC

The American Samoa governor has called on the territory to put aside any differences and work together to address the education system’s flaws.

Lolo Matalasi Moliga was speaking at the Education Summit, which began on Tuesday, to discuss a range of critical issues faced by the education system such as low academic achievement.

Lolo says the summit is significant, as it acknowledges American Samoa’s future generations and guarantees their success.

He says low student achievement and the debilitating state of education in the territory require a collective approach by government and traditional leaders, the business community, churches and parents.

“We must put aside our ideological and institutional differences and commit to cooperate and collaborate to find effective solutions to achieve our shared ambition for our children to succeed.”

Lolo Matalasi Moliga told the summit educators cannot achieve a turnaround on their own.

Radio New Zealand International

12) Kiribati cabinet minister wants kava pub curfew

Posted at 02:10 on 23 October, 2013 UTC

Kiribati’s Minister of Education Maere Tekanene is pushing for controls on kava drinking because she says it is affecting children’s education.

She told a conference on Women in the Pacific in the Cook Islands despite free schooling, Kiribati has low attendance and early dropout rates.

Ms Tekanene says kava pubs can be open all night, affecting fathers’ quality time with their family and contributing to the country’s high rates of domestic violence which in turn affect children’s attendance at school.

She says pubs should close at ten.

“Because it will cut time of the men to leave home and spend more time with the woman helping in the home. And the women are very supportive of it when you discuss with them. They say, oh yes, this kava thing is really giving us a lot of trouble.”

Maere Tekanene says there should also be controls on bingo playing to make people focus more on their children.

Radio New Zealand International

BUSINESS:

13) French Pacific islands redesign the franc

By Online Editor
10:37 am GMT+12, 23/10/2013, French Polynesia

The franc is alive and well and living in the Pacfic.

Three French overseas territories are redesigning the notes of the Change Franc Pacifique (CFP) to make them more difficult to counterfeit.

The Pacific franc is used in French Polynesia, which includes Tahiti, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna, which are the most far-flung parts of France.

There is been regular debate switching to the Euro, of which mainland France was one of the founding nations, but the three administrative areas have to decide to do so before such a decision can come into effect.

In the meantime, they have ordered a redesign of the 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 CFP notes.

The oldest of the current notes was designed in 1968.

The new bills will have one side dedicated to New Caledonia and the other to Polynesia, with images typical of Wallis and Futuna also included.

Flora and fauna will predominate, with birds, a tortoise and stingray depicted.

The most used not, the 1,000 CFP, is worth 8.38 euros.

The CFP is the descendant of the Franc des Colonies Françaises du Pacifique (FCFP), which was started in 1945.

SOURCE: RFI/PACNEWS

LAW&ORDER:

14) Paris court rules Flosse corruption appeal to be heard in Tahiti

Posted at 04:32 on 23 October, 2013 UTC

France’s highest court has rejected a bid to move a court of appeal case of French Polynesia’s president, Gaston Flosse, away from Tahiti.

His lawyers had claimed that the situation in Papeete would undermine the chance of a fair trial.

In January, the criminal court gave Mr Flosse a five-year prison sentence and a 110,000 US dollar fine for corruption as it did to a French advertising executive, Hubert Haddad.

The businessman had paid about two million US dollars in kickbacks over 12 years to Mr Flosse and his party to get public sector contracts.

Mr Flosse admitted receiving some funds but said it wasn’t for personal use but to pay alimony to former mistresses.

Both men were jailed for weeks during the investigation after the French senate lifted Mr Flosse’s parliamentary immunity.

France’s highest court is meanwhile due to release its verdict in another appeal against a corruption conviction related to Mr Flosse’s four-year suspended jail sentence for being part of an illicitly funded system with so-called phantom jobs to advance the policies of his party.

If the conviction is upheld, there is no more appeal avenue left and Mr Flosse has to quit political office

Radio New Zealand International

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