Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 895


1) Former PNG MP Philemon slams Australian racism

By Online Editor
3:32 pm GMT+12, 19/11/2013, Papua New Guinea

Former Lae MP and respected statesman, Bart Philemon has slammed Australian immigration for one of the “most blatant racism” cases against Papua New Guineans he has ever seen.

Philemon, who was educated in Australia and travelled frequently there, said all black passengers on an Air Niugini flight to Brisbane last Wednesday were lined up and a sniffer dog set on them in scenes he had never before witnessed.

Ironically, this same part of Brisbane airport, known as the “red carpet”, was where former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was forced to remove his shoes some years ago.

Philemon said the flight from Port Moresby arrived at Brisbane at 4.30pm and passengers disembarked for the normal passport check.

“I got my baggage and was then going through the quarantine section, which is the last before they let you out,” he said, “at Brisbane airport there’s a red carpet.

“There was a woman in front of me. We were told to queue there and I stood behind the woman, who was Indian but she was black.

“I stood there and all the black ones who collected their bags came and there were about 20 of us, all queuing on the red carpet, and they put on the sniffer dog.

“There was only one white man who was in that line. I told the quarantine man, ‘this is really bad as there is no white person here except for a white man who’s married to a Papua New Guinean, so why are you doing this?

“He said ‘go and check the government’ and I asked ‘which government’.

“He went and grabbed me a document about bio-security.

“I raised my voice and said it brought me ‘right there and then back to colonial times when there were black people here and white people there’.

“I said ‘I don’t care if I get arrested or deported back to Papua New Guinea but this is black and white discrimination where all the whites are going and all the blacks are locked up here in a queue’.

“The question I want to ask is ‘why is Australian quarantine singling out just Papua New Guineans, black skins’.


2) PNG Opposition Leader Confirms Sale Of Land Parcel
Namah bashes news, says he only gave ministerial directive

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 19, 2013) – Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Belden Namah says he had directed the sale of a piece of land in Port Moresby while a Cabinet minister to save the State from possible contempt proceeding.

He said he had issued a directive to Thomas Abe, then chief executive officer of the Independent Public Business Corporation, to proceed with the transfer and sale of the piece of land at 5-Mile in the capital city.

Namah was responding to yesterday’s front page article in The National on the sale and transfer of the piece of land owned by Telikom PNG Ltd.

Documents revealed that the Gabaka land, previously called OTC ground, was sold for K4.3 million [US$1.6 million] to PNG Land Ltd, a Port Moresby-based company whose five shareholders include managing director Henry Tse, a neutralised citizen.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had told Parliament last week that the actual value was K30 million [US$11.3 million].

The issue was brought to Parliament by Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and Kerowagi MP Camillus Danga.

Namah said: “I was in prison for my part in the Sandline crisis and was released on the 3rd of November and was not a member at the time of the sales or the contract and tender process.

“I just came out of jail and the tender process went through and PNG Lands Ltd was awarded the contract. I was not a member.

“Yes, I did give directive to Thomas Abe. I only gave ministerial directives when I was acting IPBC minister to simply save a contempt of court case against the State, IPBC, Telikom and NICTA. The court order was standing for nine years, not challenged by the State, IPBC, Telikom or NICTA.

“The normal appeal days were 40 that lapsed. I only enforced the orders,” he said.

He said whatever the value of the land was at that time, the important thing was that there was a court order in place which must be followed.

He said he was never informed of any appeal on the court order except for a caveat which had expired by then. Attempts by NICTA to extend the caveat was rejected by the registrar of Titles.

Namah said he had nothing to do with the removal of David Loko as Telikom chief executive officer.

He criticised the headline on The National newspaper front page as misleading. He said he was not the one who sold the land and was not the one who facilitated the sale which was done before his time.

“The content of the news is straightforward but the headline is totally wrong as it indicates that I was behind the sale of the land,” he said.

O’Neill has stopped all development on the land until the Task Force Sweep completed its investigation.

The National:

3) Corruption To Blame For Delayed Papua Highway
Forum claims Indonesian road agency ‘rampant’ with corruption

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 20, 2013) – The Awaking Papua Forum in Indonesia says it suspects corruption is the cause of the long delay in the construction of a Trans Irian highway linking the southern and north ends of the region.

The forum’s coordinator, Hengky Jokhu, says the Merauke-Wamena-Jayapura-Nabire-Sorong highway was commissioned in 1992, but has yet to be built.

He says it’s no longer a secret that the National Road and Bridge Agency, which hold the authority over road and bridge projects in Papua, is rampant with corruption.

Mr Jokhu says half a century has passed since Papua joined Indonesia and so far Papua has been left poor, isolated and marginalised.

He says the issue of more autonomous areas in Papua planned by the central government is an attempt at diverting attention away from alleged corruption and money laundering.

Radio New Zealand International:

 4) Vanuatu Internal Affairs Exceeds Anticipated Revenues

Combined total revenues for 2013 almost double expectation

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 19, 2013) – Minister of Internal Affairs Patrick Crowby says the revenue raised by the departments under his ministry so far has exceeded the amount estimated under the Vanuatu government’s 2013 Budget approved by parliament early this year.

Crowby said that as of Thursday last week, the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ combined total revenue raised was Vt1.091 billion [US$11.4 million].

He made the revelation during a visit to the Department of Labor last Friday afternoon while congratulating the staff of the department for their part in the success of the seasonal workers scheme with New Zealand so far and its contribution to the country’s economy and government’s revenue.

The ministry had pledged to raise Vt658 million [US$6.9 million] in its revenue estimates under the government’s 2013 budget.

Pointing out he was pleased with this outcome to date, Minister Crowby acknowledged the contribution of the staff of those departments under his ministry including Labor and Immigration and the PR program with Hong Kong for this success.

He made the comments after receiving the report from the Commissioner of Labor, Lionel Kaluat, on findings from an inquiry into complaints from some labor mobility licensees that the Department of Labor was breaking its own rules by also sending employees for seasonal work. They claimed that by allegedly involving itself in sending workers, the department was undermining the effectiveness of the licensees.

Presenting the report, Commissioner Kaluat emphasized the crucial role the labor mobility schemes were contributing to the Vanuatu economy and said to date total earnings from the New Zealand Recognized Seasonal Employment Scheme (RSE) stands at Vt4 billion [US$42 million] since the RSE started in 2007.

He said Vanuatu currently sends over 3,000 workers to New Zealand under the scheme and he emphasized the department through its Employment Services Unit would continue to service this sector.

Crowby thanked the Commissioner and said he would pass the report on to the Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses.

He then called on the staff of the department to continue to work collaboratively with other stakeholders for the success of the scheme and that with Australia for Vanuatu workers and the country to continue.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

 5) Committee Tasked With Reunifying Vanuatu Political Parties

Group composed of Vanua’aku, National United members

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 19, 2013) – A committee, launched yesterday, has been tasked with the reunification of the Vanua’aku Pati (VP) and the National United Party (NUP) following the reconciliation ceremony between the leadership of the two parties on Sunday, November 3.

The Reunification Joint Committee (RC) of the VP and NUP was jointly launched by the vice president of the VP, Joe Natuman, and the president of the NUP, Ham Lini, in front of a handful of supporters including VP Secretary General Sela Molisa and NUP Secretary General James Bule, at the Moorings Hotel, Melcoffee, in Port Vila.

Natuman, the MP for Tanna, stood in for the VP president and deputy prime minister and minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Natapei, who is with Prime Minister Moana Carcasses’ delegation at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka.

The objectives of the RC are three-fold: to deliberate on and recommend to the two political parties concerned a road map for political reunification, and strategies for strengthening and maintaining stable parliamentary government in the future so as to foster national unity, peaceful co-existence and contribute to national development.

The Reunification Committee is composed of a minimum of six members, three from the VP – to be headed by the party’s vice president Natuman – and three from the NUP – to be led by the secretary general of the party, MP for Ambae James Bule in the absence of the vice president of NUP. Additionally, there will be six alternative members who will replace any committee member who is absent.

The chairmanship of the RC will initially be rotated between the two parties. The VP will chair the first meeting, which is expected to be sometime next week, and the second meeting will be chaired by the NUP.

Speaking before launching the Reunification Joint Committee, President of the NUP Ham Lini paid tribute to the leadership of the VP for the work done following the reconciliation ceremony up to Friday’s committee launch. He said there was much work for the reunification committee to do which, he admitted, would take time to complete.

“Many of our people do not understand what we, the leadership of the VP and the NUP, are doing. Some of them will want us to go back to the past, which we do not want to do. But we are going forward to the future,” said Lini in reference to the leadership row of 1991 that led to the split and the formation of the NUP. He appealed to the two parties to continue to work collaboratively towards future reunification.

Natuman also thanked the NUP leadership for their cooperation and then he went on to read out the objectives, membership, and the terms of reference of the reunification committee.

Under its terms of reference, the reunification committee, based on the express desires of the leaders of the two parties, “will have to identify what is the rationale for such a move in order to convince the rank and file of the parties that they and their leaders can all move forward together with this new initiative.”

In this respect, the RC is expected to define what are the core shared visions, values, and goals of the two political parties which could be achieved more easily by working together. The RC will also be required to explore the reasons for the current political instabilities and recommend measures to strengthen parliamentary government, including coalition government.

The RC has been tasked to discuss and recommend “a realistic reunification road map and modalities for achieving this, including any transitional arrangement.”

The recommended reunification road map “must be submitted to the Executive Councils of the VP and the NUP and eventually their congresses for approval”: to the VP at its annual congress in Port Vila in May 2014 and to the NUP at its 2014 congress at Olal, North Ambrym, in August.

The reunification committee’s terms of reference also require it to submit three-monthly reports to the respective political parties, with the final report to be submitted before the end of December 2014.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

6) Vanuatu PM Carcasses determined to amend Constitution
By Online Editor
2:36 pm GMT+12, 21/11/2013, Vanuatu

Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses has told his government ministers and back benchers to be in Parliament this week because the Government wants to amend the Constitution.

Clerk of Parliament, Louis Kalnpel, confirmed to the Daily Post that a special parliament sitting to discuss Constitutional Amendments will take place this Friday.

For an amendment of the Constitution to come into effect it has to be passed by two thirds of the House, which means 35 Members of Parliament must support the amendment, and there has to be 48 or three quarters of MPs in the 52-member House present in Parliament.

Otherwise Parliament may meet a week later if only 35 MPs are present this Friday but still, for the amendment of the Constitution to take place two thirds of the House must support the amendment.

A pressing “economic” issue now on PM Moana Carcasses’ table is the Capital Investment Immigration Plan which its pro moters say could turn Vanuatu around economically because it is envisaged to bring in Port Vila many millions of vatu.



7) Spy row: No sign of apology from Tony Abbott as Indonesia freezes cooperation with Australia

Updated 21 November 2013, 10:53 AEST
By Samantha Donovan, staff

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is showing no sign he intends to apologise to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over the spying scandal, as Indonesia suspends some cooperation with Australia.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks in House of Representatives question time in Canberra on November 20, 2013. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss is in the background. (Credit: AAP)
Video: Indonesian president suspends cooperation with Australia

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is showing no sign he intends to apologise to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over the spying scandal.

Indonesia has now suspended cooperation with Australia on people smuggling, including combined military patrols, military training exercises and intelligence exchanges.

This morning the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade updated its travel advice for Indonesia, warning about a demonstration planned for outside the Australian Embassy later today.

But there is no indication Mr Abbott intends to say sorry. Late yesterday, he rose in Parliament to reiterate his regret over the spying reports.

“I want to express here in this chamber my deep and sincere regret about the embarrassment to the president and to Indonesia that’s been caused by recent media reporting,” he said.

Mr Abbott said he would respond “swiftly, full and courteously” to a written request for an explanation.

No doubt mindful of the fact the phone tapping program was in place during Labor’s time in office, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten lent his support to the Government.

The spy scandal face-off

Tony Abbott’s refusal to apologise over the latest spying scandal tells us a lot about his combative approach to foreign affairs, Annabel Crabb writes in The Drum.

“This is indeed a team Australia moment. We need to walk this road together,” he said yesterday.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek supported the bipartisan approach when she fronted reporters this morning.

“We are absolutely committed to working with the Government to restoring good relations with Indonesia,” she said.

“[We are] absolutely willing to support any moves they make to restore the relationship to its normal footing.”

However, she said Australia’s relationship with Indonesia had been stuck in a downward spiral since the election.

“We need to work on a relationship that’s been stressed for some time and is now at a very strained stage,” she said.

“We need to make sure the difficulties between us don’t fester and that we very quickly restore good relations between our nations.”

Downer says ‘never confirm or deny’

Australia’s longest serving foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has also supported Mr Abbott’s position.

He told the ABC’s Lateline program that Australia does not owe Indonesia a detailed explanation of its spying activities.

He says Mr Abbott’s priority is to defend Australia’s intelligence assets, adding that while Mr Yudhuyono had been “a great friend” to Australia, “he is not responsible for Australia’s intelligence assets”.

Downer praises Abbott’s discretion

The PM is wise not to offer a detailed explanation of our spying activities, says a former long-serving foreign minister.

“I think the best way to handle these issues, stick with the time-worn formula that you never confirm or deny allegations in relation to intelligence, because the more you start to do that, the more – as time goes on – you’ll get yourself into increasing trouble,” Mr Downer said.

US secretary of state John Kerry has also supported the approach not to discuss intelligence matters.

Speaking at a press conference with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Washington this morning, they both refused to say whether they discussed the spying controversy – one that was sparked by the leaking of documents by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

“As I have said on numerous occasions and as the Prime Minister has said, we do not discuss intelligence matters, certainly not allegations,” Ms Bishop said.

“We do not discuss them publicly and we will not do so.”

Mr Kerry said: “We just don’t talk about intelligence matters in public, and we’re not about to begin now.”

He added that the US has a critical working relationship with Australia, “likewise we have great respect and affection for Indonesia”.

Greens urge Abbott to personally contact SBY

However, Greens leader Christine Milne says Mr Abbott needs to personally contact Mr Yudhoyono or risk increasing tension between the two countries.

“Tony Abbott – by not intervening and actually contacting the president – is allowing the situation to ramp up,” she told Radio National.

Indonesia-Australia alliance

Asia editor Catherine McGrath explains some of the treaties and joint defence exercises Australia and Indonesia share.

She said given the protest planned in Jakarta today, “people will be a bit scared to go to Indonesia”.

“This is Tony Abbott’s chest thumping to Indonesia during the election campaign – his whole stop the boats, he’s going to do all this – coming home to roost,” she said.

“He must prioritise our relationship with Indonesia rather than his pitch to his domestic political vote.”

Senator Milne is also concerned that Indonesia’s decision to stop all cooperation to curb people smuggling activities could result in more deaths at sea.

“You’re going to have people presumably being encouraged to get on boats at this particular time by the people smugglers,” she said.

“And there will no capacity unless Australian ramps up capacity in terms of rescuing them.”

Meanwhile, there has been a scathing response to the spying revelations in Indonesia.

DFAT has advised Australians to monitor local media, avoid protests and maintain high levels of vigilance and security awareness while travelling there.

It says traffic delays and restricted access to and from the Australian Embassy are expected during the demonstration later today.

The prime political newspaper has branded Australia a dangerous neighbour.

Newspaper cartoons have also showed things like a giant kangaroo jumping all over Indonesia and leaving big muddy footprints.RADIO AUSTRALIA

8) Anonymous Indonesia hacker claims to have shut down RBA, AFP websites

Updated 21 November 2013, 10:43 AEST
By Monique Ross, staff

An Anonymous Indonesia hacker claims to have crashed the websites of the AFP and the Reserve Bank overnight.

A member of hacking group Anonymous Indonesia has claimed responsibility for cyber attacks on the websites of the Australian Federal Police and the Reserve Bank.

The AFP and the Reserve Bank have confirmed their sites were attacked overnight, though both say the hacker did not gain access to any sensitive information.

The attack comes amid a diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia, sparked by revelations spies tried to tap the phones of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and inner circle.

The AFP website was still down about 10.30am AEDT, and Commissioner Tony Negus says the agency is investigating the attack.

“We have had an attack on the open source website, not connected to secret networks, but there has been an attempt on our website this morning which is being dealt with,” he told reporters.

“I am not sure who is the perpetrator but we are investigating that.”

An AFP spokesperson had earlier told the ABC the agency takes any attack “very seriously” and warned hacking is a criminal activity, not “harmless fun”.

“All information on the AFP website is publically available. No sensitive information is hosted on the AFP website,” the spokesperson added.

The Reserve Bank has also confirmed its website was “the subject of a denial of service attack” about 2.00am.

“There has been no outage, but the bank’s website may have been slow for some users,” a spokesman said.

The spokesman says protective measures were “effectively deployed” and that the bank’s systems remain secure.

The hacker used a series of Twitter posts to claim the sites were successfully shut down, adding: “I’m ready for this war.” Down By #IndonesiaCyberArmy | #AnonymousIndonesia | #BorneoCyberTeam | #OpGovAu

— ./BCT_48 (@MD_JKT48) November 20, 2013 <= 100% Down by #IndonesiaCyberArmy and #AnonymousIndonesia#OpGovAu #OpAustralia#BorneoCyberTeam

— ./BCT_48 (@MD_JKT48) November 20, 2013

I’m Ready For This war !#CyberWar @op_indonesian #OpNSA #OpTPP #OpLastResort #Anonymous

— ./BCT_48 (@MD_JKT48) November 20, 2013

The ABC has attempted to contact the user for comment.

Mr Yudhoyono yesterday ordered all military and intelligence cooperation with Australia be suspended until Prime Minister Tony Abbott explains the action.

Mr Abbott later told the House of Representatives that he would be writing back “swiftly, fully and courteously” because “that is overwhelmingly in the interests of both our countries”.

Anonymous Indonesia has previously claimed to have hacked more than 150 Australian sites to protest against allegations that Australia used its Jakarta embassy as a spy base.RADIO AUSTRALIA

9) ALP planned to axe 14,500 jobs

By Online Editor
3:27 pm GMT+12, 19/11/2013, Australia

The style and timing of the Abbott government’s promise to cut 12,000 public service jobs is being reviewed after it was discovered that the previous Labor government’s policies were estimated to result in 14,500 job losses in the next four years.

Labor’s projected job cuts could save up to $14.5 billion through to 2016-17 but only a handful of the proposed redundancies were funded and have already pushed some government agencies into operating losses.

The cost of additional redundancies has the potential to push the budget further into deficit, already expected to be about $50bn in 2013-14. The job loss estimates, lack of funding and broadside manner of the redundancies have further complicated the preparation of the mid-year fiscal and economic outlook because there are now added costs and uncertainty about the timing of the Coalition savings based on an “additional” 12,000 job cuts.

It’s understood the Coalition government will stick by its target of 12,000 job cuts over the next four years but wants to target the job losses to match the Coalition’s policies and ensure the cuts don’t undermine priority tasks.

The across-the-board Labor approach has led to widespread redundancies, even among Treasury and Finance. While attacking the Coalition during the election for announcing plans to save money through public service job cuts to “cut to the bone”, Labor did not disclose the impact on staff from its direct cuts and extra “efficiency dividends” from departments.

The Finance Department has informed the Abbott government that the impact of Labor’s policies in the pre-election economic and fiscal outlook would result in 14,500 public service job cuts.

Finance reported that the previous government’s policies would result directly in 8819 public service job cuts, while there were 846 from “more efficient management” and 4808 resulting from the additional efficiency dividend.

The department also reported that the government had provided funding for only 800 redundancies and a large number of departments and agencies were forced to find additional funding for voluntary redundancies.

The Finance Department report has made it more difficult for Joe Hockey to frame the budget forecasts and to plan the public service reforms.

Government services last night suggested there would have to be a “recalibration” of the proposed job cuts and changes for the commission of audit looking into government costs.

The government intends to ask the commission’s chairman, Tony Shepherd, who is due to report to the government in February and May next year before the budget, to ensure that any reforms and suggested redundancies are “based on effective staffing”.

Before the election, Bill Shorten, Penny Wong and Chris Bowen criticised the Coalition’s declared plan to cut 12,000 public service jobs but did not issue a total figure for the impact of Labor’s policies on public service numbers.

During the election campaign Shorten, now Opposition Leader, said the proposed job cuts were “economic vandalism inspired by conservative ideology” and Labor’s plan was “not to cut to the bone”.



10) Australia imas spae long ol Pacific kantri tu: Jenny Hayward-Jones

Updated 20 November 2013, 16:17 AEST
Sam Seke

Director blong Myer Foundation Melanesia Program long Lowy Institute, Jenny Hayward-Jones itok em bai saprais sapos Australia em ino wokim spae wok tu long sampela Pacific Islands kantri.

Odio: Director blong Myer Foundation Melanesia Program long Lowy Institute, Jenny Hayward-Jones i toktok
Ol ripot ibin tokaut pinis olsem Papua New Guinea i wanpela long ol kantri we Australia ibin yusim embassy blongen long Port Moresby long kisim hait ol infomesen long gavman.

Maski pasin i stap long gavman i nokem toksave sapos oli wokim spae wok oa nogat, Ms Hayward-Jones i tok Australia imas wokim spae wok tu long ol arapela kantri long rijin na ino PNG tasol.

Em itok, spae wok i liklik hap tasol long ol wok blong searim inteligens infomesen namel long ol kantri long ol kainkain intenasenal kraim.

Ol dispela infomesen em long sait long ol samting olsem drag smagling, gan smagling, pipol smagling na salim hait ol moni namel ol kantri.

Tasol Ms Hayward-Jones itok ol bikpela kantri igat planti wei tu long kisim hait ol infomesen long spae wok long kisim tingting blong ol gavman na yusim long halvim kantri blong ol yet.RADIO AUSTRALIA


11) Peretas Serang Website Polisi dan Bank Sentral Australia

Diperbaharui 21 November 2013, 14:44 AEST

Peretas yang mengaku anggota kelompok Anonymous Indonesia menyatakan bertanggung jawab atas serangan cyber terhadap website Kepolisian Federal Australia (AFP), dan website Bank Sentral Australia (RBA). ABC mencoba mengakses website AFP,, Kamis (21/11/2013) Pukul 12:00 siang waktu Melbourne, namun tidak bisa terbuka. Tapi website RBA di tampaknya tidak mengalami masalah.

Baik AFP maupun RBA menyatakan website mereka memang mengalami serangan Rabu (20/11/2013) malam, namun mereka menjamin tidak ada informasi sensitif yang berhasil diperoleh oleh para hacker.

Serangan cyber ini terjadi di tengah memburuknya hubungan diplomatik menyusul terungkapnya aksi penyadapan yang dilakukan Australia terhadap pejabat-pejabat Indonesia.

Menurut Ketua Komosioner AFP Tony Negus, pihaknya segera menyelidiki serangan tersebut. “Kami mengalami serangan pada website open source. Ada upaya menyerang website ini tadi pagi tapi kami sudah tangani,” katanya.

Ia menambahkan, “Saya tidak tahu siapa pelakunya tapi kami pasti selidiki”.

Jurubicara AFP kepada ABC sebelumnya menyatakan, pihak kepolisian menanggapi serius setiap serangan hacker. “Semua informasi di website AFP sepenuhnya terbuka. Tidak ada informasi sensitif,” demikian dikatakan pihak kepolisian.

Bank Sentral Australia juga membenarkan websitenya mengalami serangan Kamis (21/11/2013) sekitar pukul 2 pagi waktu Australia. “Mungkin website kami akan lambat bagi beberapa pengguna,” kata jurubicara RBA.

Ia memastikan perangkat proteksi website mereka diaktifkan dan sistem perbankan tetap aman.RADIO AUSTRALIA


12) L’Australie et le Pacifique sur fond d’espionnage

Posté à 21 November 2013, 8:41 AEST
Pierre Riant

Tandis que la brouille continue entre l’Australie et l’Indonésie à propos des services de renseignements australiens qui auraient tenté d’écouter les conversations du président indonésien et de son épouse, on est en droit de se demander si ces services de renseignements n’auraient pas aussi ciblé le Pacifique.

Nous avons abordé la question avec Peter O’Neill, le Premier ministre de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée et Jenny Hayward-Jones, directrice du Programme mélanésien du Lowy Institute pour la Politique Internationale.

Nous avons demandé à Peter O’Neill quelle aurait été sa réaction s’il avait appris comme le Président indonésien, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, que son téléphone portable avait été mis sur écoute par un pays allié et ami? Quelle aurait été sa réaction en tant que chef d’État: « Bien sûr et comme tout le monde j’aurais été très mécontent puisque c’est une atteinte à la vie privé et s’ils veulent écouter mes conversations, ils n’ont qu’à demander tout simplement et je leur demanderais même d’y participer. »

Alors, est-ce que l’Australie se livre aussi à des activités d’espionnage dans le Pacifique ? Jenny Hayward-Jones dit oui : « C’est très probable même si le gouvernement australien refusera évidemment de le reconnaître. Voyez les communiqués du Premier ministre ces derniers jours, il s’exprime avec beaucoup de prudence à propos de l’Indonésie et refuse de confirmer quoi que ce soit.

En en ce qui concerne la région du Pacifique, notre région, on peut présumer que oui et si nous n’espionnons pas, cela serait une nouveauté. »

Existe-t-il des exemples concrets d’espionnage : « Je ne suis pas certaine si le mot espionnage convient, mais il y a beaucoup plus de partage de renseignements entre les forces de police du Pacifique au cours de ces dernières années. Je pense en matière de criminalité transnationale, de trafic de drogues, d’êtres humains, de contrebande d’armes, les pêcheries, les incursions transfrontalières en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. Les forces de la police de la région se partagent beaucoup de renseignements et on est en droit de présumer que nombre de ces informations viennent des services de renseignements australiens. »

La grande défense des parties impliquées dans des activités d’espionnage, du Président américain Barack Obama avec la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel espionné via son portable ou les écoutes australiennes en Indonésie, est de dire ‘tout le monde le fait’ !

Alors si tout le monde le fait, est-ce que les nations océaniennes du Pacifique s’espionnent entre-elles : « Nous avons que la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée et Fidji ont des agences de renseignements. Je ne suis pas en mesure de vous parler de leur capacité mais je suis certaine que c’est à plus petite échelle comparativement à l’Australie.
Je peux vous dire aussi que les agences de renseignements papoues ont probablement de bonnes relations avec les services de renseignements australiens. Je ne peux pas en dire autant avec Fidji étant donné la situation politique, elles sont probablement moins amicales, mais elles l’étaient plus dans le passé.
L’Australie et la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée ont de relations amicales de longue date et je pense que les agences de renseignements papoues se préoccupent davantage des incursions frontalières avec l’Indonésie. »RADIO AUSTRALIA


13) Timor Leste welcomed into the SPC family, Fiji to send workers to Timor Leste

By Online Editor
12:22 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Fiji

The 8th Conference of the Pacific Community has extended its territory to include Timor Leste as a member of the SPC family.

Fijian Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola welcomed the decision.

“We have today (Tues) approved the creation of new membership categories such as an associate member and observer and agreed to the proposed pacific community membership policy. We have evolved and grown as an organization but the organization remains relevant and has the full confidence of the international community, this is something we should all be proud of”.

Meanwhile, Fiji will soon send experienced workers to contribute to Timor Leste’s economic and social development under the Fiji Volunteer Scheme.

This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) of Fiji Volunteers Scheme between the Fijian government and the government of Timor Leste Tuesday.

Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said that the MOA marks another milestone for the Fijian government’s initiative to reform the management of employment creation services and contribute to Pillar 5 of the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress which is achieving higher economic growth while ensuring sustainability.

“I acknowledge with gratitude the acceptance of the government of Timor Leste for identifying with and agreeing to work with the Fiji  Volunteer Scheme,” Minister Kubuabola said.

“The Fijian government supports the development of our neighbouring countries especially to assist in their human resource needs.”

The minister added that Fiji has sufficient and proven capacity in areas of education, public administration, disaster management, peacekeeping, social protection and environment.

Timor Leste Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Constancio Pinto said that the MOA was indeed a milestone in Fiji and Timor Leste’s bilateral relations.

“With this MOA, we are hoping that Fiji will assist us in areas that are needed the most and I am sure that the relations between the two countries will broaden further,” Dr Pinto said.

“Based on the experiences between us, we hope to have the same close relations with the volunteers as we did with the Fijian peacekeepers previously.”

The MOA signing stems from previous discussions between Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and Timor Leste President, Xanana Gusmao during the Pacific Islands Development Forum.



14) Medical Association says efforts being made to improve Fiji hospital services

Posted at 03:38 on 21 November, 2013 UTC

The president of Fiji’s Medical Association says the Ministry of Health is trying to address a number of problems that exist at some of the country’s hospitals, as highlighted by a Fiji political group.

The United Front for a Democratic Fiji, says despite the Bainimarama regime being in control for the past seven years, health services are a disgrace and they are calling for the minister of health, Dr Neil Sharma, to resign.

The group found on visiting the Lautoka and Colonial War Memorial Hospitals, a range of issues, including shortages of drugs, not enough specialists, and a lack of expertise to fix equipment.

The president of the Medical Association, Dr James Fong, says the Ministry of Health is trying to do something about it.

“There is a sense of urgency, especially as of late. I know that people do get a bit annoyed about the state of some of our major hospitals. In many of our discussions this has been discussed and there have been efforts to try and ensure that we have a planned approach to any upgrade.”

Dr James Fong says construction has started on increasing the number of operating theatres at the CWM hospital.

Radio New Zealand International

15) Nurse shortages hurting the Northern Marianas

Posted at 03:38 on 21 November, 2013 UTC

The only hospital in the Northern Marianas has an acute shortage of nurses.

A total of 25 nurses is needed at the Commonwealth Health Center on Saipan to alleviate a shortage that our correspondent says that is now impacting on services.

Currently the hospital has 167 full-time nurses, including staff at its two satellite health centers on Tinian and Rota.

The problem will get worse next month when another 2 nurses leave.

The lack of nurses is causing a blowout in overtime payments for the hospital which for years has struggled with financial shortfalls.

Radio New Zealand International

16) Asia Pacific AIDS epidemic at pivotal stage: UN

By Online Editor
09:30 am GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Thailand

A new UN report warns the HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific is at a pivotal juncture with little progress in reducing new infections.

AIDS researchers and activists are calling for more political will by governments to address related issues.

The report, launched by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, says 4.9 million people are living with virus that leads to AIDS across the Asia and Pacific region, largely centered on India, China and Indonesia.

The report, released to coincide with the 11th International Congress on Aids in Asia and Pacific (ICAAP) says the rate of new infections has been reduced by more than 25 percent since 2001.

India, Burma, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Thailand have all reported reductions of new HIV infections by more than 50 percent during the past decade. But evidence is emerging of new HIV infections increasing sharply in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Annual new HIV infection rates in the Asia-Pacific region have remained steady at 350,000 a year since 2008.

UNAIDS in the Asia and Pacific Director Steve Kraus says recent gains to reduce infections have stagnated, undermining UN goals of achieving zero new infections and deaths from the virus.

“We have to innovate,” Kraus said. “We have not seen a decline in new infections in our region in the last five years. We need to challenge the status quo because laws, policies and practices too often are barriers. Access to treatment is not available and prevention programs have not been scaled up.”

The number of people in the region accessing medication to keep the virus in check, or antiretroviral treatment, has risen to 1.25 million, just more 50 percent of those infected.

AIDS related deaths have also declined by 18 percent since 2005, to an estimated 270,000 in 2012.

The report says the fastest growing epidemics are among men who have sex with men with 27 million men at risk to the virus. While in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines, rising rates of new infections are linked to injecting drug use populations.

Malu Marin, regional director of the non-government organization Seven Sisters, says issues of discrimination and AIDS-related deaths point to little progress made by policy makers.

“We have made gains in changing risky behaviors that increase vulnerabilities to HIV infection, but we have not made gains in changing the behaviors of policy makers, political leaders and state actors,” Marin said.

“Evidence should be our foundation, but 30 years later HIV is still viewed from the lens of dogmatic morality.  We are getting to zero change because of zero access to funding, zero legal reforms and zero political will.”

Fijian President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says more needs to be done toward reducing stigma and discrimination.

“Programs addressing HIV related stigma and discrimination in the work place, schools and trade based organizations were also reported as contributing to progress towards this target in several countries, though such programs are rarely implemented at a large enough scale,” Ratu Epeli said.

UN officials see the need for law reforms in areas such as same sex relationships, criminalization of sex workers and restrictions on movement of people based on their HIV status.

17) Fiji President calls on regional leaders for more action on HIV/AIDS

By Online Editor
09:27 am GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Thailand

Fijian President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has called for a greater leadership role in the Asia – Pacific region in dealing with HIV & AIDS.

Ratu Epeli made the comment while addressing the Leadership Forum at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP)  on the topic ‘A world without AIDS: global developments and Asia and the Pacific leadership for ending AIDS’ in BanGkok, Thailand.

“Very few countries with limited resources have been able to reduce HIV transmission, but, where activities have been successful, they have been guided by adequate epidemiological knowledge,” he said.

“Leaders, we cannot rest at the moment with our response to the epidemic. We can only reflect back at the successes that we have made together as leaders with the engagement of programme implementers, civil society and people living with HIV. These successful steps also come with missteps along the way which we need to strengthen and improve.”

The Fijian Head of State said the Asia Pacific needs workable solutions if HIV & AIDS numbers are to be controlled.

“We need to strengthen strategic health communication strategies in our preventative programmes, and also continue with our treatment and the continuum of care services, especially to our targeted population to further reduce the number of new HIV infections,” Ratu Epeli said.

“Synergistic efforts of diverse stakeholders – the leadership and commitment of national governments, the solidarity of the international community, the innovation by programme implementers, the historic advances achieved by the scientific research community and the passionate engagement of civil society, most notably people living with HIV themselves will be reflected.”

As a result of working together, many countries within the region are now within reach of achieving several of the key targets outlined in the 2011 UN Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, and are progressing towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal 6 (MDG 6).

Over the past decade, the region has made significant progress in the AIDS response including national guidelines for implementing provider-initiated testing and counseling, including HIV testing and counseling for the key affected populations.

However, Ratu Epeli said the fight against the epidemic was far from over and a concerted effort was needed.

“As a region, we have learnt a few lessons worth emphasizing in our work in addressing target 8.”

“First, evidence is showing that increased investment in the programmes to monitor and reduce stigma and discrimination and to increase access to justice is critical for the achievement of broader HIV investment goals.”

“Second, the number of governments in Asia and the Pacific that acknowledge that HIV-related stigma and punitive legal environments are holding back progress is growing. Third, those countries that have taken bold action on stigma and discrimination report better results in achieving the 10 targets.”

“As leaders, we must not turn a blind eye to the global economic downturn that limits the availability of resources from donor partners, potentially putting additional strains, to cover for any domestic shortfalls within our domestic budgets.”

“We need to continuously review and renew our efforts and our commitments as leaders and partners on our response to HIV & AIDS, especially to our commitments in achieving and sustaining universal access to antiretroviral treatment,” the Fijian Head of State said.

“As leaders and policy makers, we need to recognize the importance of sustaining funding for ART to protect our current achievements, and also to enhance treatment and prevention outcomes. We need to learn from Cambodia’s success story, in achieving universal access, through the adoption of a continuum of care approach that links testing, care, treatment and community based support.”.


18) A Tongan NGO says a growing number of elderly are struggling to take care of themselves

Posted at 04:52 on 19 November, 2013 UTC

A family group supporting the elderly in Tonga says there is a growing number of senior citizens who are struggling to take care of themselves and are seeking help.

The non-government organisation, Ma’a Fafine Moe Famili Centre, runs the Tonga Social Services Pilot which was launched in July last year, and provides home care visits to the elderly who suffer from non-communicable disease or issues with mobility.

A case manager, Melenaita Blake told Beverley Tse a number of clients struggle to clean their homes or have outdoor toilets and find it physically hard to get to them.

MELENAITA BLAKE: It all started with a survey that the government conducted here in Tonga and as a result they found this service was needed. As a pilot, they decide to start working for the Eastern and Western districts, together with one of the islands – Ha’apai Island. A survey showed that these are the areas with the majority of elderlies that needed our services. So I think they did it a proposal to ADB and Japan Fund For Poverty Reduction and they granted the government the funds to run that pilot and Ma’a Fafine Moe Famili was selected as the hosting organisation for that pilot.

BEVERLEY TSE: Now, this project calls for special attention for the elderly. Just how bad is the condition of elderly people?

MB: Our services for the eligibility of the elderlies we’re working for consisted of three main areas – the elderly over the age of 60 have different health conditions and some that are being neglected. Right now we’re receiving more and more referrals coming in. Our work is revealing that more elderlies here in Tonga need the service due to different conditions.

BT: What are some of the cases of neglect, or what are the worst cases you’ve seen?

MB: One of the worst cases we’re handling is the case of a 68 year old. And our client has diabetes and she’s obese and one leg is amputated. She lives with her husband of 70. He’s the only one looking after her. They have children, but living overseas.

BT: How many elderly in Tonga are suffering or needing your assistance?

MB: Right now we’re having 164 clients with different conditions and more and more referrals being reviewed in the office. I consider it quite a lot, because us kids are supposed to look after our elderly, but right now we see that some of that is not being practiced now.

BT: Why not?

MB: Some children, they live overseas. And I think most of the elderlies, the main thing is they don’t want to go and live with their children overseas.

Radio New Zealand International

19) Hospital in Solomons Munda faces closure over lack of money

Posted at 05:00 on 19 November, 2013 UTC

The Solomon Islands’ second largest hospital, in Western province, faces closure because of a lack of funds.

The Solomon Star newspaper says for several months the Helena Goldie Hospital in Munda has not been getting its usual health grants.

It says as a result, more than 50 nurse aids and auxiliary staff have gone without pay for two months.

The hospital’s secretary, Soraya Pina, says the hospital administration and the United Church are now conducting their own fundraising drives to support the hospital and its staff.

Ms Pina says if the hospital fails to get funds by the end of next month, the hospital will close its doors indefinitely.

Radio New Zealand International

20) Obamacare For Pacific Territories Deferred Till October
Extension request previously refused by federal authorities

By Frank Whitman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Nov. 19, 2013) – It appears that Guam has been granted some breathing room in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care law, also known as Obamacare. In accordance with President Barack Obama’s executive order allowing health insurers to continue providing coverage that was to be otherwise canceled, on Nov. 14 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight sent a letter to the insurance commissioners of the states and territories postponing the mandated implementation of coverage from Jan. 1, 2014 to Oct. 1, 2014.

Read more : : Marianas Variety Guam:


21) Samoa University Marine Campus Construction To Start
Maritime Training Centre to be built with Chinese grant funds

By Tupuola Terry Tavita

APIA, Samoa (Savali, Nov. 18, 2013) – The Mulinu’u Peninsula will be busy in the coming months with the construction of the National University of Samoa’s (NUS) maritime training centre there.

In an email response to questions sent by this publication, the university’s acting vice chancellor Tuimanu’asina Emma Kruse-Vaai says the new facility will take up to 20 months to be built.

Read more: Savali


22) PNG Opposition leader bans media
By Online Editor
12:25 pm GMT+12, 21/11/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s opposition leader says he will no longer give interviews to mainstream media and will instead rely on social networking to get his message across.

Belden Namah this week told reporters in Port Moresby he no longer trusted traditional media outlets to give him a fair hearing.

“As of (Wednesday) onwards if I have any issues, I am going to hold my press conferences with social media,” Namah said.

“Because the newspapers won’t run my stories, I’m going to print my own newspapers and distribute them on the street.

“And I want Peter O’Neill to come and stop me.”

Namah has made a series of allegations of corruption about Prime Minister Peter O’Neill since the pair severed political ties during the 2012 election.

Before becoming opposition leader Namah was O’Neill’s deputy Prime Minister.

Namah also told the ABC’s Pacific Beat on Tuesday he was planning on suing The National newspaper after it ran a front page story titled “Namah behind the sale of land”.

Namah denies he did anything illegal when he approved the sale of a plot of state-owned land when he was deputy prime minister and said he was acting in compliance with a court order.

“I’ve instructed my lawyers, they have written to the National Newspaper for defamation of character,” he said.


23) On air and off, the ABC spares no expense on its stars

By Online Editor
12:08 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Australia

The ABC is paying eight broadcasters more than AUD$250,000 a year, with Q&A and Lateline host Tony Jones leading the pack on an annual salary of more than AUD$350,000.

The Australian can reveal details of the pay packets of individual employees at the national broadcaster after obtaining internal payroll information for the past five years.

The ABC has been attempting to block release of pay information relating to its top-rating presenters for the past three years, fighting a Freedom of Information request lodged in 2010 by the Herald and Weekly Times, which is owned by News Corp Australia, publisher of The Australian.

The ABC received AUD$1.03 billion of taxpayer funds last financial year, of which AUD$465 million was spent on wages, superannuation and other entitlements.

The salary documents obtained by The Australian contain a breakdown of AUD$453m spent in 2011-12 on 5511 employees. Jones is the public broadcaster’s highest-paid presenter, earning AUD$355,789 in basic pay last year, but he is yet to hit the pay level reached by former long-serving 7.30 Report host Kerry O’Brien, who earned AUD$365,246 in 2009-10, according to the documents.

Only the organisation’s managing director, Mark Scott, chief operating officer David Pendleton and then director of television Kim Dalton are listed as earning more than Jones.

Scott’s basic pay is recorded in the documents at AUD$678,940, but with bonuses it is listed in the ABC’s latest annual report as AUD$773,787. Pendleton is listed as earning AUD$362,838, while Dalton, who was replaced by Richard Finlayson as director of television in April, was earning AUD$359,238.

The 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales – credited for reinvigorating the flagship current affairs program following O’Brien’s departure – is ranked eight journalists behind Jones, as the ABC’s 18th-highest earner on $280,400 a year.

The documents show co-hosts on some programs are paid vastly different amounts. ABCTV Breakfast hosts Virginia Trioli earns AUD$235,664 – about AUD$84,000 more than co-host Michael Rowland on AUD$151,006.

NSW weeknight news anchor Juanita Phillips is the broadcaster’s second highest earning presenter on AUD$316,454. Long-serving ABC journalist and presenter of Stateline in NSW, Quentin Dempster, is listed with an annual total salary of AUD$291,505.

Former Media Watch presenter Jonathon Holmes, who had expressed opposition to the release of ABC salary information, was earning AUD$187,380 as host of the weekly 15-minute program before he was replaced by Paul Barry in July. The program’s executive producer, Lin Buckfield, is on AUD$146,000.

The corporation’s top-earning radio presenters are Sydney Drive’s Richard Glover and Melbourne Mornings’ Jon Faine, earning AUD$290,000 and $285,249 respectively.

Former political editor Christopher Uhlmann is reported as earning AUD$255,400 last year and Radio National’s Breakfast host Fran Kelly is on AUD$255,000. ABC’s online political editor Annabel Crabb is on AUD$217,426.

The documents reveal an erratic approach to the pay rates of the broadcaster’s highest profile presenters, and is certain to lead to wage demands from employees as staff seek to redress perceived inequities. It may also spark wage claims at rival public broadcaster SBS as that station’s presenters compare pay packets.

Today’s revelation of the broadcaster’s salary payments will also stoke rivalries across state borders, with equivalent positions in each state varying wildly. ABC News weeknight anchors in Adelaide and Perth earn less than a third of their Sydney counterparts. Adelaide-based anchor Jessica Harmsen is on AUD$104,007 and Perth-based James McHale is on AUD$102,166.

The data also reveals the ABC’s large wage spend in NSW compared with the rest of the country. More than AUD$214m of the AUD$453m national wage bill is spent at Ultimo in inner Sydney.

The ABC has argued against releasing the salary information on the grounds that it is contrary to public interest and is connected to confidential programming material.

Scott has previously argued that because the public broadcaster pays less than the commercial networks, revealing the salaries of its employees would make it more difficult to retain quality staff.

Former ABC managing director David Hill has said the broadcaster should adhere to the principle of transparency.



24) PNG haute couture
By Online Editor
2:25 pm GMT+12, 21/11/2013, Papua New Guinea

Pacific fashion has a huge place in the international haute couture industry and designers need to develop lucrative opportunities for their traditional art, City Pharmacy Group chairman Mahesh Patel said.

He said fashion as retail business was important to any economy and Papua New Guinea was no different.

He made the comments as he launched a partnership to stage the Port Moresby fashion week next Wednesday.

“As I understand it, fashion week in the Pacific has been a huge success largely because of the partnership and support of dynamic retail businesses who realise the value of a diversified economy and who support fast growing brands.

“CPL Group is committed to adding value to our current portfolio so this partnership is a natural fit,” Patel said.

“Fashion Week Ltd is committed to showcasing Pacific talent and they are a proven success at promoting locally-made fashion wear.

“We know this partnership would eventually lead to the same trend for Papua New Guinea.

“CPL Group is proud to present for the first time in PNG, the Port Moresby fashion week.”

The show would be held at the newly-opened Cosmopolitan Club at Vision City in Waigani, a new entertainment phenomena for PNG.

Fiji Fashion week managing director Ellen Whippy-Knight said her company was proud to have PNG’s biggest retailer, the CPL Group, as its naming rights sponsor, because of its history in PNG.

Although FJFW is a Fiji-based company, her organisation had since its creation been committed to raising the visibility of Pacific fashion instead of just Fijian.

She said PNG was always going to be a natural next step.

“I jumped at the opportunity to take fashion week to PNG firstly because i knew there was already interest here due to a fashion and design institute that was in Lae some years ago.

“The other reason is that what works for Fiji is a feature common to any Pacific country and that is, we are rich in our culture and traditional expressions of art. “

“We have been carving beautiful traditional totems and motifs for thousands of years and so creativity and imagination is at the very fabric of our cultural identity, it is who we are. It is also what makes fashion a natural progression,” Knight said.

She added: “The biggest fashion houses of the world in Europe, the Americas and even in our neighbouring Pacific countries are benefitting financially with their interpretations of our traditional expressions.

This year alone, FJFW has been following and contributed to international debate about cultural misappropriation cases in at least three different instances.

“Now while these are cases of cultural misappropriation, the other side of the coin is that largely European communities appreciate Pacific art and traditional expressions beautiful.”

“It is up to us the people of the Pacific to own our traditional expressions of art and accept its beauty and make it an acceptable form of fashion wear for ourselves in our own countries.”

FJFW is positive that the success of POMFW would automatically mean economic opportunities for PNG, beginning with creative people who functioned mostly in the informal design sector.

“The shows generate interest and this in turn generates demand.

“The demand can either continue to be supplied by international fashion we can start to invest in local production so consumers can buy PNG made,”Knight said.

POMFW will highlight the work of PNG IAN KALA, a fashion house run by local designer Sarah Todd from Lae who was the first PNG designer to be featured at Fiji Fashion Week months ago.

Her works will be shown alongside the works of MHCC FJFW winners, Riddhi Damodar(best emerging designer), Andrew Powell and Lana Smith (best established designer) and HupfeldHoerder(Pacific designer of the year).

FJFW was also bringing across 10 other of Fiji’s top design works as well as the work of Elena Tavioni of the Cook Islands brand TAV Resort Wear.


25) Bemobile vows more for 2014 in Solomon Islands

By Online Editor
3:25 pm GMT+12, 19/11/2013, Solomon Islands

The country’s second mobile provider Bemobile SI Limited is promising a much better services for its customers next year.

In a statement yesterday the company said since the (Independent public business corporation (IBPC) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) took over as the 85% shareholder in Bemobile limited in September they have shown leadership and commitment to the Solomon Islands business.

The IBPC appointed a new Group CEO in Sundar Ramamurthy who is an experienced business leader with over 20 years’ experience in PNG.

He set up and owned Datanetz in Port Moresby and then successfully sold this to Digicel in 2010.

The IBPC have also signed in September a six-month upgrade contract with Huawei the Bemobile network vendor which included in-country engineering support.

The statement said this program started at the beginning of October and Huawei teams have worked closely with the Solomon Islands technical team.

This combination has proceeded to make huge strides in improving the Bemobile customer experience.

In recent weeks the company said it had removed all noise interference between Telekom and Bemobile which had been a large nuisance to domestic calls since 2010.

“More importantly Bemobile have improved call quality especially in the Western province. With this commitment from Huawei their network vendor, the Bemobile internal engineering team have also engaged to ensure sites improve especially in the Western Province which in the past has experienced technical issues.”

Bemobile further announced that it had opened an office in Noro and look forward to providing stiffer competition to Telekom in this region.

This will be their key growth area with more towers to be rolled out in 2014, the statement added.

Bemobile has also been working on providing better value promotions for their customers and have launched on the 18th of November Blazing bundles.

“This is the first promotion of its kind in the Solomon’s that offers value in SMS, voice and data.
“Bemobile are committed to developing their data services and this is their main goal for 2014. All promotions for 2014 will involve some component of data value,” the statement said.

The first phase of Bemobile data upgrade has been completed at the start of November with continually upgrades persisting for the remainder of the year.

The aim of Bemobile is to offer superior data services to their competition with 4G services the goal of the IBPC by the end of 2014 for the Bemobile business.

The statement added that Bemobile SI have made structural changes in their organization since last month.

“And the benefits of these improvements are beginning to be seen in the performance of the network and the improved call quality.

“Customers are no longer experiencing dropped calls and noise interference, resulting in clear crisp domestic calls.

“Feedback from customers on the streets is they no longer complain about Bemobile services but happy with these improvements since September and now encouraging friends and family to try it.

“This can be mirrored in their billboards signs in Honiara that had the same faded old message from their launch in 2010 and portrayed a poor image for the company.

“Suddenly now with improved call quality Bemobile seemed to have ignited with bright new fresh images around town for their company which is replicated in their new exciting promotions,” the statement said.

Bemobile went back to basics in September and worked to ensure they improved with better data speeds and less outages.

“Bemobile are on course to achieve this by the end of the year.” Bemobile said it haven’t embarked on providing mobile banking and other value services till they are happy with their own local performance and they then will follow this route in 2014.

The company said it will also be offering 50% of international calls this Christmas for their customers only, this is to ensure their customers can contact their loved ones overseas.

“Bemobile are fully aware that is cheaper to call out of the Solomon’s then to ring in from overseas where the big network over-charge massively.”

Chief executive officer (CEO) of Bemobile in the country Niall Downey said the Bemobile management are confident of providing a strong performing network with best ever value this Christmas and New Year with strong support from IBPC in PNG who are currently investing heavily in the network with improved training for the national staff members.

“Bemobile have worked very hard over the last eight weeks especially the technical department. The improvements can be witnessed by our customers now with improved call quality.

“With the IBPC support since September from PNG the business here is beginning to see the improvements which have just started to be felt by our customers. Our free phone customer call center is also experiencing this on 8444100 and 100.

“This is only the beginning of the plans for Bemobile SI and the tip of the iceberg, we still have plenty of work to do but the foundations for a solid performing network have been deeply laid over the last couple of months. The team here are now excited for 2014 with large roll-out plans for more towers and the provision of high speed data for urban areas,” Downey said.

26) Going Mobile in Vanuatu

By Online Editor
3:30 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Vanuatu

While the so-called ‘telecommunications revolution’ may be relatively old news for much of the world, in the Pacific region, the revolution has taken a little longer to arrive. But that’s not for lack of want.

This is the most dispersed region on the planet, and many Pacific countries have been hamstrung by long-stagnating telecoms monopolies that have resulted in continued high prices and poor coverage outside major urban centers.

The Republic of Vanuatu is a textbook example of where, with the World Bank’s support, Pacific nations are seeing the massive benefits of competition. Costs have come down and access has skyrocketed; in 2007, 11 percent of the country had a mobile phone subscription. Just five years later, that figure is 64 percent. Coverage now reaches over 90 percent of the country.

Some of the most cut-off communities in the remote north are now connected, and after years of having to travel hours simply to make a phone call, they are now talking and texting their wantoks (those close to their heart).

Farmers and fishermen can deliver goods at the right time

The island of Malekula produces what many consider the best cocoa in the Pacific. In 2007, a group of farmers formed the Cocoa Growers Association of Malekula, a not-for-profit collective that manages the packaging, distribution and export of cocoa from more than 400 Malekula-based farmers.

When the Association began operating, farmers had to take a truck to the Association’s packaging office in the town of Lakatoro simply to find out whether the Association was currently buying cocoa.

“It is a long journey, and expensive for those with only a small income,” according to Manager Basile Malily.

Many would take the risk and also bring their crop – produced over many long months of hard work – in hope of a sale, only to arrive and find the Association already had an oversupply.

“With cell phones, farmers can be in the field and they can just call  and ask, ‘Is it a good day for me to bring my cocoa?’” said Malily.

For Charles Wesley, a soft-spoken fisherman who is out on the water between 6am and 4pm each day, having a mobile phone, and being able to make a call from out on the water, has changed his working life.

He says that for many years, before he was able to afford a phone, selling his day’s catch was a frustrating process.

“It was hard. When I had caught some fish, I would return to town, carry them to the main road to find a truck and then I’d get the truck to drop me off in front of the hotels to see if they wanted to buy any.”

He says that his phone, which he purchased soon after telecommunications provider Digicel arrived in Vanuatu in 2008, is now part of his working life.

“When I’m out and I catch some fish, I can just call the hotels to see if they need them,” Charles explained. “They can book them so that when I come ashore, they can meet me and I can look after their order. I just ask them ‘How many kilos do you need?’”.

Certainty of salaries for government workers

For government workers in Vanuatu, the most frustrating day of the week has traditionally been every second Friday, which is Pay Day for the country’s civil servants. With  government payment systems often unreliable, the prospect of not getting paid for days – even weeks – has, in the past, been the source of enormous frustration for many.

And for thousands of government employees – the teachers, doctors, nurses and officials that live and work in this 83-island nation spread across more than 12,000-square kilometers – that frustration would be compounded by having to make a difficult decision: pay the fee for the journey to the nearest bank (often hours away and on neighboring islands), or wait a few more days to give payments the extra time to be made.

“I would need to take a long truck journey to go to the bank,” explained Helen Lingtamat, a secretary at the Malekula office of the Vanuatu Public Solicitor’s Office. “Without a mobile, we had to take transport to go to the bank, just to check our accounts.”

When prices of mobile phones came down, Helen bought one and is now an avid user of the National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV)’s recently introduced isiMS system, which provides simple SMS-based account balance updates.

“I receive an SMS when my pay is in my account,” says Helen. “I don’t have to buy credit and I don’t have to pay for transport–100 vatu to go down to the bank, and then another 100 vatu to go back to my house.”

With the support of the World Bank and other partners, including the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, Vanuatu is one of several countries in the Pacific region that has benefitted from the recent telecommunications revolution, which has helped give over 2 million more people access to mobile phones in a short space of time.

This is helping Pacific islanders access services, reach families and do business, in distinctly Pacific ways.


27) PNG government hires RMG to help develop its resources

By Online Editor
3:36 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has hired the Raw Materials Group has advisers to develop its nation’s natural resources.

RMG will help the country in strengthening the investment promotion capabilities of its Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) and its Geological Survey Division.

It comes as the nation puts a greater focus on its mineral wealth in developing a strategy for economic growth and development.

It has already started the GEOMAP project, which generated new scientific data from relatively unmapped prospective parts of the country’s Highlands and peninsular.

The MRA has also made progress in promoting its mining sector to international investors.

RMG will now guide the PNG government in further developing its investment promotion competencies as well as the capabilities of the MRA and Geological Survey Division, the company said.

The team will be led by Magnus Ericsson, who has previously worked with PNG in developing its natural resources sector.

“It is our pleasure to continue working with our MRA colleagues. Papua New Guinea is committed to the sustainable development of its mineral sector, and through this project, we will work together to promote responsible mining investments in the country,” Ericsson said.

Running over six months, the project will involve designing investment promotion and client relation strategies, collaborating with major international mining investment conferences, and training the government bureaus.


28) IMF: PNG gains strong economy

By Online Editor
3:37 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Papua New Guinea

he International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive said Papua New Guinea has achieved strong economic growth over the past decade as it concluded Article IV consultation with the government last Monday.

In a statement, IMF said the country was benefiting from high commodity prices, mineral investment inflows, sound macroeconomic policies and financial sector stability.

The construction of a large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) project has boosted growth and employment over the past few years.

However, as the LNG project moves from construction to production phase, the non-mineral sector faces a sharp slowdown, spotlighting the need for structural reforms and financial deepening to support more inclusive growth.

The current account deficit was expected to narrow sharply this year as imports and income outflows declined with the winding down of LNG project construction.

Capital inflows associated with the LNG project were also declining and, together with falling commodity prices, had  led to the depreciation of the kina since middle of last year.

The Bank of Papua New Guinea had kept the policy interest rate unchanged since early this year, given weakening non-mineral sector demand, but had issued central bank bills and raised cash reserve requirements to absorb excess liquidity in the banking system.

Risks to economic growth in 2013-15 were broadly balanced, but tilted toward the downside over the longer term.

A weak global economy could further dampen external demand and commodity prices, while global shale gas development could reduce LNG prices, with each potentially exerting pressure on government revenue, export earnings, and the kina.

The executive directors commended PNG authorities for achieving a strong economic performance over the past decade.

“While growth prospects remain favourable in the medium term, the expected slowdown in the non-mineral sector, uncertain mineral prices and large development needs pose challenges”.

The directors saw some scope for fiscal support to growth in the short term, but cautioned that spending should stay in line with PNG’s absorptive capacity.


29) Bougainville’s new foreign investment law lays out key criteria to be met

Posted at 05:00 on 19 November, 2013 UTC

The autonomous Bougainville government in Papua New Guinea is about to gazette new laws establishing controls on foreign investment.

The Inward Investment Bill was passed by the ABG parliament on Wednesday last week and aims to ensure that any foreign investment is responsible and meets Bougainville’s cultural, economic and social needs.

A New Zealand company, Tuia International, has spent more than two years in Bougainville, preparing a policy on responsible investment which chief executive Tim Gibson says is incorporated into the new law.

He says every inward investment proposal will have to meet six clear criteria.

“And that is defined as being aligned with the values and culture of the people of Bougainville – ethical, moral and fair, recognises and protects land rights, is environmentally sustainable, involves maximum participation of the people and achieves social and cultural outcomes.”

Tuia International’s Tim Gibson

Radio New Zealand International


30) Money laundering fuels corruption: Fiji’s DPP Pryde
By Online Editor
12:19 pm GMT+12, 21/11/2013, Fiji

Money laundering fuels corruption and organised crime and detection is vital to combat such activities, says Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde.

Speaking at the fourth National Anti-Money Laundering Conference in Suva, Pryde said It is not only the lawyers and the accountants that need to be vigilant but also the public who are used by money launders and duped into assisting the concealing of illicit or stolen proceeds.

He said the law in Fiji has been strengthened to keep up with emerging trends in money laundering with the use of tools such as civil and conviction based penalty applications in the courts.

“Fiji has one of the most sophisticated anti-money laundering legal frameworks in the Pacific.

We have further amended the Proceeds of Crimes Act to allow for the forfeiture of unexplained wealth.”

“This, as yet untested device allows the DPP to make an application in court for the forfeiture of assets that are “unexplained” to the satisfaction of the court.

In other words, the burden of proving that wealth is lawfully obtained is on the respondent or the person against whom the order is sought.” He added that financial agencies need to work together in early detection of money laundering in order for authorities to quickly restrain the money and have it forfeited to the State.

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) under the Reserve Bank of Fiji implements the Financial Transactions Reporting (FTR) Act and the FTR Regulations in order to fight against money laundering , terrorist financing, fraudulent activities and other financial crimes in Fiji. Since 2006, there have been a total of 4,054 suspicious transactions reported by various financial institutions in Fiji.

Meanwhile, about 20 cases of unexplained wealth worth millions of dollars are being investigated by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

FIU director Razim Buksh told the Fiji Times newspaper most of the suspected persons were locals while some were foreigners living in Fiji.

“It would run into millions of dollars and we have not really worked out the dollar value,” Buksh said.

“One particular case it involved $2.8m (US$1.5 million). The person was unemployed for the last four years and had accumulated properties worth $2.8m.

“We are currently working on the cases and hopefully in the next few months we should see these cases translated into court cases.

“We are profiling these people for suspected accumulation of unexplained wealth. Once these cases are fully investigated, hopefully in the next few months these will be given to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to take the cases before court where a suspected person is holding a disproportionate amount of money.”

He said FIU would conduct full profiling of suspected persons.

However, under the new framework, he said, the prosecution or the investigation team did not have to show that the wealth was linked to unlawful activity.

“It is the person that now has to convince the court that money was acquired by legitimate means to retain the property if the person is unable to do that the property will be forfeited to the State.

“It is the nature that the work that FIU does is discreetly done.

“We suspect there are many more people who can be subjected to unexplained wealth investigations and we are encouraging members of the public to report any suspicious unexplained wealth to the authority for investigations.”.


31) Visa woes for UK Fijians
By Online Editor
2:33 pm GMT+12, 21/11/2013, United Kingdom

The strict immigration requirements in the United Kingdom, are now a growing problem for Fijian nationals residing there.

Fiji’s High Commissioner to the UK Solo Mara in his response to queries sent to his office by the Fiji Sun said: “Yes, we have a growing number of our nationals who find themselves in difficult immigration situations because of oversight or ignorance of the strict immigration requirements here in the UK.”

Mara said to make things worse most of them did not seek assistance or advice from competent authorities until it was too late.

He said a team from the Fiji High Commission in London was now visiting areas where there was a high concentration of Fijian nationals to advise them.

He said the team was also visiting camps to engage with British Army welfare officers on the need to be proactive with Fijians when it came to immigration matters.

Mara said some were unaware that their current visa would cease to be valid 28 days after leaving the British Army and they needed to apply for a new visa to remain in the UK.

He said thankfully, they had charities like Veterans Aid that were coming to help those who had left the army and were in trouble with UK Border Agency over immigration status.

For those who are still in the Army, he said they had helped establish another charity two months ago; Communities Fiji Britain, to assist those who were planning to leave the Army with immigration advice. Ten families were being assisted right now by CFB.

Mara said during their visits they were encouraging Fijian nationals in the British Army to take advantage of the immigration provision that allowed Army personal and their spouse to apply for “Indefinite Leave to Remain” after four years serving in the Armed Forces.

“We are hopeful that many will heed this advice as most have served between eight to 15 years to date and therefore are more than qualified for the ILR visa,” Mara said.

Last week  Mara visited Fijian nationals in the British Army based in Cyprus.Private Filimoni Lacanivalu, who was supposed to be deported to Fiji last week, had faced the same problem but was allowed to stay after the Home Secretary intervened.


32) Trial of alleged plot to remove Fiji’s Military Commander begins

By Online Editor
09:24 am GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Fiji

The High Court in Suva Tuesday heard of plans that were allegedly in place to eliminate the life of  Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Revelations also surfaced of plans to have him killed before Christmas in 2010.

This, among others, was revealed by State witness Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Tagicakibau who gave evidence yesterday against former Land Force Commander Pita Driti who is being tried on a charge of inciting mutiny and one of committing a seditious act.

He told the court the reason behind the alleged plot was a result of claims that the A-G was influencing the Commander of the Fiji Military Forces and Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in making decisions for the country.

Giving evidence under oath, Lt-Col Tagicakibau said in September 2010, while he was still the commanding officer of the Logistics Support Unit based at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks, he was called to meet Mr Driti where he was told of plans to remove the government.

Lt-Col Tagicakibau said the former Commanding Officer 3FIR Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, called that particular morning saying that “plans are ready to be executed”.

He said Driti and Mara’s plans were to have an audience with Commodore Bainimarama to discuss issues regarding the country’s economy, which to them was “not well” and that the A-G was influencing the Prime Minister in making “critical decisions which was moving the government away from the intended chartered course”.

He said those alleged plans revealed that Driti and (then) Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Aziz were to seek an audience with the President.

He said this was to happen when Commodore Bainimarama was visiting troops in Sudan.

The court heard that the two men were to request the President to dissolve the current administration and that Driti was going to contact the Immigration Department to render Commodore Bainimarama’s passport invalid.

Lt-Col Tagicakibau also alleged that if the President did not sack the current administration, “they had no other option but to remove his Excellency too”.

The court also heard that the plan was to contact Commodore Bainimarama while he was still in Sudan and tell him that he had been exiled from Fiji, and “his family will be sent to him in whichever country he wished to settle in”.

Other plans included the reinstatement of the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party as the interim caretaker government leading up to a general election in 2011.

“The SDL government was to lead the country back to elections, the Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church will be invited to QEB where an apology will be made to these two organisations regarding past matters and that foreign aid will also be invited into the country to strengthen the Fiji Military Forces from any further possible uprising,” Lt-Col Tagicakibau said in his testimony.


33) Prime Minister of PM says corruption allegations are ’mud-throwing’

Posted at 01:55 on 19 November, 2013 UTC

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister has responded to claims he is implicated in a corruption investigation by saying he initiated the probe.

Peter O’Neill says any sensible person wouldn’t ask police to investigate a matter in which they were involved.

Mr O’Neill says he believes Task Force Sweep has already cleared his name, although the head of the operation, Sam Koim, has not confirmed the same, but admitted that the letter with Mr O’Neill’s signature was part of the investigation.

Mr O’Neill says the letter was forged and his opponents are simply throwing mud.

“The point of the matter is I am the one who is pushing for Paraka’s case to be investigated and I am the one who established this task force to carry out this work. If I were not confident, do you think any sensible person would engage into this kind of matter? I am determined to fight corruption in the country and as much as they can throw mud on me that is their business.”

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.

Radio New Zealand International

 34) China may have largest Pacific fleet by 2020: US

By Online Editor
12:26 pm GMT+12, 21/11/2013, United States

A US congressional advisory panel sounded a warning Wednesday about China’s military buildup, predicting Beijing could possess the largest fleet of modern submarine and combatant ships in the western Pacific by 2020.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said China’s military modernisation is altering the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region and challenging decades of US pre-eminence.

The commission advises Congress on the national security implications of the relationship between the two world powers.

The groups’ annual report also examined cyberintrusions from China, the trade and economic relationship with the US, and China’s global ties.

The primary recommendation is that Congress fund shipbuilding and increase the Navy’s operational presence region in support of the Defence Department’s goal to base 60 percent of its warships in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020, compared with about 50 percent currently.

That’s a priority of the Obama administration’s diplomatic and military rebalance to Asia after a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The commission said it welcomes the policy, but added: “There is growing concern among US allies and partners that the Department of Defense will be unable to follow through on its commitment to the rebalance due to declining defence budget and continuing security challenges elsewhere.”

The panel also recommended that the US improve air and maritime capabilities of allies in the region.

Last year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the commission of “indulging in Cold War mentality.” Beijing says it has no offensive intent, and says Washington of trying to contain it.

The US far outstrips China in military spending, but in Asia faces a greater burden in fielding forces far from its own shores.

Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, voiced concern that at a time when the US military faces budget cuts, China’s military spending is increasing and its leaders want to increase combat readiness.

“Its current pace of military modernisation shows that Beijing is developing the ability to project power and influence further abroad,” Congressman McKeon, , told a committee hearing Wednesday.

Representative Adam Smith said that while the US should monitor military developments in China, an adversarial relationship between the two powers is not inevitable.

“There is no reason that we should have China as an enemy,” Smith said. “We should certainly look for ways to work together.”

The report’s assessment of China’s naval capabilities draws on information from think tanks and US naval intelligence. It said China is known to be building seven classes of vessels, including nuclear and diesel submarines, destroyers and other warships. It expects the naval modernisation to continue for the “forseeable future.”

China’s is also advancing its capabilities in space, which is viewed as critical because of the use of communication satellites for intelligence and modern warfare.

For the first time, there are public indications China may be developing the ability to target satellites at the high altitude used by the US global positioning system and many military and intelligence satellites, according to the report.

But China described a May suborbital rocket launch it conducted as part of a high-altitude scientific experiment.



35) TEPCO clean-up boss says Fukushima’s radioactive water will be dumped into Pacific Ocean

By Online Editor
3:48 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Japan

The man in charge of the clean-up at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant says growing stores of contaminated water from the site will eventually have to be dumped into the sea.

In an exclusive interview with the ABC, the chairman of the Fukushima Monitoring Committee, Dale Klein, has also admitted there are likely to be more blunders and slip-ups at the plant in the months and years to come.

“I think the best word to use with Fukushima is challenging,” the former chief nuclear watchdog in the US said.

Since the 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami sparked the nuclear disaster, TEPCO has been pouring millions of litres of water onto Fukushima’s reactors to try and keep them cool.

That radioactive water is now being stored in tanks at the site but already thousands of litres have leaked into the Pacific Ocean.

Klein says the biggest challenge for TEPCO is dealing with these ever-growing volumes of contaminated water being stored at Fukushima.

He believes that after the water is treated and stripped of most radioactive elements, it will be safe to dump into the Pacific.

“At the end of the day, when the water is discharged, it will be released in a way that it’s diluted,” he said.

“So there’s no risk to public health and safety. But it’s an emotional issue.”

It is not just contaminated water causing problems at Fukushima.

Hastily and shoddily built systems at the nuclear plant have also triggered some anxious moments.

The ABC has spoken to one man who worked at the Fukushima site until he reached his maximum radiation exposure limit.

He still works for TEPCO, and only agreed to speak to the ABC on the condition of anonymity.

“I was at the plant earlier this year when a rat chewed through some wiring and knocked out power to several used fuel pools,” he said.

“I thought, ‘how could one rat cause such a big problem?’ There were no back-up systems.”

Klein has told the ABC he believes there will be more dramas at Fukushima.

“I think we will see more of those. When you look at that site, it’s massive,” he said.

“It’s a big site and it’s not unusual to have other things like that.”.

36) Vanuatu Ranks High For Vulnerability To Natural Disasters
World Bank says almost 7% of GDP lost in calamities

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 19, 2013) – The World Bank says Vanuatu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural hazards such as volcanoes, cyclones and tsunamis.

Vanuatu is in the top ten of countries around the globe with the highest average annual disaster losses as a share of gross domestic product or GDP.

According to the World Bank, almost seven percent of GDP is lost, on average, every year due to natural disasters.

It says a national early warning centre will be opened in the capital Port Vila this to help Vanuatu assess the threats posed by natural hazards like volcanoes, cyclones and tsunamis.

Radio New Zealand International:

37) Annual losses from disasters quadruples as World Bank links typhoon to climate change

By Online Editor
12:40 pm GMT+12, 19/11/2013, United States

Annual economic losses from natural disasters have almost quadrupled in the past three decades, the World Bank said in a report that recommends investments ranging from early-warning systems to safer roads and buildings.

The average reported losses rose from around $US50 billion a year in the 1980s to almost $US200 billion a year in the past decade, totaling $US3.8 trillion from 1980 to 2012, according to the report, which used data by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer. Three-quarters of the total was due to extreme weather, it said.

The report was released 10 days after one of the deadliest typhoons in Philippines history killed more than 3,600 and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The report by the Washington-based bank urges a bigger role for “disaster resilience” planning in economic development.

Typhoon Haiyan “brought into sharp focus how climate change is intensifying the severity of extreme weather events, which hurts the poor the most,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in an e-mailed statement.

“The world can no longer afford to put off action to slow greenhouse emissions, and help countries prepare for a world of greater climate and disaster risks.”

United Nations climate talks start their second week in Warsaw today.

Developing nations led by the 44-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) are seeking an international mechanism that would help them cope with rising sea levels and acidifying oceans, as well as compensate them for the effects of storms and droughts that scientists say will become more intense as the planet warms.



38) Fiji to keep faith against Aussies at RLWC

By Online Editor
3:54 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, United Kingdom

Logic says Fiji do not have a prayer against Australia in Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup semi-final, but the Bati have a faith that transcends all pre-ordained thinking.

While their Pacific Island rivals warm up for matches with their versions of the Haka, the Fijians turn to song with a pre-game hymn and conclude it with a team prayer in the middle of the pitch.

The unusual combination has thrilled crowds from Rochdale to Hull, but the Bati’s musical turn is not just for show.

“I’m not sure if many people know but we’re into Christian devotion every morning and every night as a team,” said Daryl Millard, who has appeared in their past three matches.

“Fiji is a very Christian country and I think the Fijian supporters in Fiji really appreciate that we pay homage to the Lord and that gives us strength and unity as a team.”

Millard says every member of the squad buys into the concept, regardless of their own religious beliefs, and thinks other teams could benefit from their practices.

“The messages the pastor gives to us are for everyday life and in the end they are all bringing us closer together and keeping us focused,” he said.

“Being a long time away from home, living in hotels, can be distracting sometimes so it’s a really good thing we’ve got in the Fiji camp.

“Maybe some professional teams can come and look at it. There would definitely be some advantages from just seeing the lift we get from it.”

The Fijians have made a habit of inviting their opponents into their circle at the end of each World Cup game to join with them in prayer, and Millard says the tourists have been delighted with the responses.

“On the field it’s an aggressive and combative game,” Millard said.

“It can be seen that we don’t like each other but after the game we come together and give thanks.”

There are sure to be smiles all round at the end of Saturday’s semi-final double-header at Wembley, but for 80 minutes the Fijians will be fiercely competitive.

Beaten 52-0 by the Kangaroos in the 2008 semi-final in Sydney, Fiji put up more of a fight in their group game in St Helens earlier this month, but eventually lost 34-2.

Millard believes they can get even closer this time, especially if there is a dry track.

“I’d like to think we’ve learned some stuff from the last time we played them,” said Millard, who is one of six survivors from the 2008 semi-final.

“It was a very cold and wet night so maybe, if the conditions are different, it might be a different game.

“We’re not going to shirk away from the game.”.


39) Springboks, All Blacks dominate Barbarians squad to face Fiji

By Online Editor
3:53 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, United Kingdom

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers is one of nine Springboks included in a 23-man Barbarians squad to face Fiji at Twickenham.

The squad contains eight members of the South Africa squad who have already beaten Wales and Scotland on their current tour of Europe, as well as legendary Springbok flanker Schalk Burger.

Full-back Willie le Roux, so impressive in last weekend’s 28-0 win over Scotland, is also included as are fly-half Pat Lambie and forwards Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth, Coenie Oosthuizen, Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis.

World champions New Zealand provide the coach in Steve Hansen, plus eight All Blacks.

There are also five Argentina internationals at Hansen’s disposal.

Barbarians’ teams traditionally include at least one uncapped player and that role is filled against Fiji by Wellington Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara.

This month’s fixture, on November 30, celebrates the centenary of the Fiji Rugby Union and is a re-match of the Fijians’ shock 29-9 win over the Barbarians at Newcastle Gosforth, north-east England, in 1970.

Barbarians chairman John Spencer, who played in that match, said: “I suppose you could say that we were favourites to win the match but in the event we were overwhelmed by Fiji’s relentless attacking.

“If I remember rightly, we were level at half-time but Fiji finished with seven tries! All we could do at the end was congratulate them on a phenomenal performance,” added the 66-year-old former centre, who played 14 Tests for England from 1969-71.

A large crowd is expected for the match, with more than 60,000 seats sold at a Twickenham ground where the capacity is over 80,000.

Although not normally accorded full Test status, matches for the Barbarians – rugby union’s most famous invitational side – have traditionally been regarded as a significant honour for the players selected.

The Barbarians’ most celebrated fixture was their 23-11 win against New Zealand in Cardiff in 1973.

Gareth Edwards’s opening score, when the outstanding Wales scrum-half finished off a seven-man length-of-the-field move initiated by half-back partner Phil Bennett, is still widely regarded as one of rugby union’s greatest tries.

Barbarians squad to play Fiji

Backs: Willie le Roux (RSA), Santiago Cordero (ARG), Charles Piutau (NZL), Frank Halai (NZL), Jean de Villiers (RSA), Gavin Williams (SAM), Patrick Lambie (RSA), Tom Taylor (NZL), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes), Martin Landajo (ARG)

Forwards: Keven Mealamu (NZL), Bismarck du Plessis (RSA), Tendai Mtawarira (RSA), Guillermo Roan (ARG), Coenie Oosthuizen (RSA), Matias Diaz (ARG), Eben Etzebeth (RSA), Dominic Bird (NZL), Manuel Carizza (ARG), Steven Luatua (NZL), Luke Whitelock (NZL), Schalk Burger (RSA), Duane Vermeulen (RSA)


40) Commonwealth Games ban for Fiji stays

By Online Editor
3:51 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s continuing suspension from the Commonwealth Games is not a worry, says Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee president Reg Sanday.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka voted to maintain Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth which also means Fiji will not be able to compete in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

Sanday said national federations should not be disappointed with the continuing suspension but focus on higher competitions such as World Championships and the Olympic Games.

“We will be better off in the long term,” he said in a statement.

“Since 1987, Fiji has been excluded from three Commonwealth Games because of suspensions due to previous extreme political events.

“But these exclusions hardly affected our sporting performance because in the last Olympics in London in 2012, Fiji athletes turned in the best performance we’ve ever recorded.

“Furthermore, at the Paralympics in London last year, Fiji’s Iliesa Delana won our first gold medal that did Fiji and the rest of the Pacific proud.

“We did this despite missing the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi two years earlier.”

Sanday said “while the Commonwealth has associate membership status with the International Olympic Committee, it breaks an important IOC rule which is to keep sport separate from politics”.

He said it would be interesting to see how the IOC would respond to CHOGM’s decision towards Fiji.

“I wrote submissions to the Commonwealth Games Foundation, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the Pacific Forum Secretariat pleading on behalf of Fiji athletes for these agencies to respect the autonomy of sport to allow our people to take part in the Commonwealth Games,” Sanday said.

“I also wrote to Pacific Island prime ministers and articles in newspapers, but my pleas all fell on deaf ears.

“It is the dream of all athletes to be the best in their sport, and being denied the chance to test your ability against some of the best can be disappointing.”.


41) Kangaroos prepare to farewell Petero Civoniceva from rugby league

By Online Editor
3:49 pm GMT+12, 20/11/2013, United Kingdom

Even as they prepare to farewell him from rugby league, Kangaroos players remain in awe of Petero Civoniceva.

Bar the biggest upset in World Cup history, the 37-year-old prop will play the last competitive match of his career when he leads Fiji in Saturday’s semi-final against Australia at Wembley.

Civoniceva’s performances for his native nation at the tournament have shown he has lost little of the drive and ability that helped him become Australia’s most-capped forward with 45 appearances.

Kangaroos prop Matt Scott believes the tournament favourites have a big job on their hands on Saturday to stop Civoniceva, with whom he played eight State of Origin matches in the Queensland front row from 2010-2012.

But Scott says he and his teammates will be honoured to part of what could be the big prop’s farewell game.

“I’ve looked up to him my whole career,” said Scott.

“I don’t know how he does it. There are a lot of guys here who are in awe of what he’s done in the game and the fact he’s still going as well as he is at this stage in his career.

” … Hopefully I can catch up with him for a beer after the game.”

Civoniceva retired from the NRL with Brisbane at the end of 2012 and has since spent a season playing with Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup.

He deferred retirement to lead Fiji at the World Cup and his form is comparable to some of the tournament’s best props, running for 353 minutes in four matches.

Another former Maroons teammate, Corey Parker, said Civoniceva’s longevity was remarkable for a front rower

“No disrespect to outside backs but he’s played in the front row week in, week out, putting his body on the line like a battering ram for 16-17 years,” Parker said.

“It’s a credit to him and he just keeps doing what he does best.”

Tim Sheens’ squad continued preparations for the match with a training session at the prestigious Harrow School in northwest London on Tuesday.

Injured fullback Billy Slater was present at the session, watching on as he iced the left knee he injured in a 62-0 win over the United States last week.

The Melbourne Storm star will not play against Fiji, but there is growing optimism he could be fit to return should Australia reach next week’s final in Manchester.

42) Fiji Bati earn Four Nations call-up

By Online Editor
12:50 pm GMT+12, 19/11/2013, United Kingdom

Vodafone Fiji Bati’s 22-4 win in the Rugby League World Cup quarter-final has earned them the right to play in the Four Nations Championship with England, Australia and New Zealand.

This was a result of a team effort says captain Petero Civoniceva.

He says the team prepared well and following coach Rick Stone’s instruction resulted in the victory.

Civoniceva says it’s a proud moment for him.

“It’s been a fantastic moment for the team. As captain, obviously very proud of the way the boys played. We prepared well all day this week and the result of that was the fantastic win by the boys…very, very happy and looking forward to the game against Australia. Playing at Wembley against Australia. We can’t wait.”

Meanwhile, Vodafone Fiji has extended its sponsorship with the Fiji National Rugby League with a four-million dollar contract for the next three years.

The mobile service provider will sponsor all FNRL tournaments and events until 2017 as well as retain naming rights to the national team the bati.

The agreement was sealed this morning following hot on the heels of the Vodafone Fiji Bati defeat of Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup in Warrington early Monday.

Vodafone Managing Director, Aslam Khan says the win is an incredible feat and Vodafone Fiji is lucky to be associated with the champions.

FNRL chairman Peni Musunamasi applauded Vodafone for sticking with the Bati since 2006.

He says Vodafone came to the Bati’s aid seven years ago when they were thinking of withdrawing from the World Cup qualifiers due to lack of funds.


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