Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 904


1) PNG Committed To Stamping Out Sorcery Violence
Official, however, says currently no way to prosecute accusers

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 3, 2013) – The Papua New Guinea government has pledged its commitment to stamping out sorcery-related violence at the opening of a conference on the issue in Eastern Highlands province.

The three-day work shop, hosted by the University of Goroka in the provincial capital, is tasked with developing a national response to an increasing number of brutal crimes associated with witchcraft and sorcery.

Annell Husband reports from Goroka.

“Ferocious drumming opened the conference which has drawn fewer than expected participants. The prime minister, Peter O’Neill, was to have delivered the today’s key note but in his place, the Chairperson of the Family and Sexual violence action committee, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, underlined the seriousness with which the government views the brutality associated with sorcery along with its commitment to stopping it. He says the idea that sorcery is part of PNG culture is a nonsense that must not be perpetuated and acknowledged government’s repealing of the 1971 Sorcery Act as a good first step towards achieving that. But when asked how those making accusations of sorcery might be prosecuted before taking violent action, Dr Kalinoe freely admitted that PNG is now in the situation of being unable to take legal action against such people. He says he will look to the outcomes of the conference for a solution to that conundrum.”
Radio New Zealand International:

2) Solomon Islands Girls Being Married Off In Logging Camps
Leaders want laws to stop families trading daughters for money

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 3, 2013) – Community leaders in Solomon Islands are calling on provincial governments to introduce legislation to prevent families from marrying off young girls to workers at logging camps.

The Chairman of the Child Protection Unit in Honiara Aaron Olofia told Pacific Beat teenagers under the age of 18 in Solomon Islands need parental consent to marry.

He says many families have been marrying off their young daughters in return for food or money.

“The families themselves, because they do not have plenty of money at their disposal allow their daughters to be married to these loggers, so these loggers could maintain them by giving money or food,” he said.

“There is an assumption that parents allow their daughters to be married.

“When you are in a state of powerlessness, what can you do? Sometimes the girls themselves were forced to be married.”

Impact of logging industry

Logging is the largest industry in Solomon Islands and accounts for 60 per cent of its export earnings.

Despite this, locals say they’ve seen little benefit and instead claim their lives are now much worse.

Financial hardship has led to greater inequality and a violation of human rights, such as the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

The sexual exploitation of young girls remains a huge problem in the Malaita province.

The president of the Malaita Council of Women Martha Rurai says while community leaders are making efforts to address the issue, they are pleading for help from the provincial governments.

She says they want legislation introduced that would provide protection for these young girls.

“We would like to give it up to the provincial government so that we have some kind of resolution to be controlled… with the communities and loggers,” she said.

Ms Rurai says some communities “are very strong” in ensuring the young girls do not land in the hands of the loggers, something which Mr Olofia has observed as well.

“One of the logging companies that we went and talked to actually told us a policy that any logger who married a local girl would be sent home US$10,000 fine,” he said.

“They do not encourage their loggers to get married to a local girl.”

However, other communities are not as strong in their resolve.

Vulnerable young women

Despite their vulnerable situation, the women do not get any support or protection from the provincial government.

Mr Olofia says the Child Protection Unit is calling on the government to have strict policies to help protect the women from such abusive situations.

“If you have influence, you can ask the loggers to pay compensation. But again, the compensation is only to settle the breach that has occurred,” he said.

The compensation does not cater for the upbringing of any children, but Mr Olofia says there is little some families can do.

“The committee is trying to advocate for a change in government policy that makes it hard, that helps us to provide laws for the protection of these kinds of situations for young girls who work in these logging camps,” he said.
Radio Australia:

3) Biometric Voter Registration Launches In Solomon Islands
New system will record individual’s biometrics on voter ID card

By Stephen Diisango, USP journalist student

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 4, 2013) – A new and improved voter registration system has been launched yesterday in Solomon Islands.

Called the Biometric Voter Registration, the system is expected to solve problems normally faced during voting such as double voting and or voting on other people’s names.

The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission held the launching at the National Museum to mark the start of the Biometric Voters Registration Campaign.

The ceremony was attended by the chairman of the SIEC, Sir Allen Kemakeza, Opposition leader Dr, Dereck Sikua, Permanent Secretary of Home affairs, Mr. Fred Fakarii and Representatives.

Chief Electoral Officer Polycarp Haununu said the Electoral Commission will undertake a nationwide registration of eligible electors using the new system, starting from January to March 2014.

“This is part of strengthening of the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands,” Mr Haununu said.

He said the commission has taken the “bold decision” to replace the current voters list with a list to be compiled using the Biometric technology, in the face of advancing ICT and emerging challenges in voter registration in the Solomon Islands.

“In the past years, registrations of voters were captured manually which sometimes not accurate and takes up a lot of time.

“With the use of this system, it will be simple, fast, and reliable.

Biometric Voter Registration is simply the use of a laptop computer attached to a scanner and a camera to capture an individual’s details, thumbprint, an ID photo for reference purposes and for future corrections on the data base.

Mr Haununu explained that after a voter is registered, he or she will be issued with an identity card.

“The identification cards will be used by voters during the voting time,” he said.

He said previously, many voters engaged in multiple registrations, there were inflated voters lists; there were difficulties in removing deceased persons from the voters list and also making amendments.

“There was also difficulty and challenges in managing information of electors and assigning electors to designated polling.”

The chief Electoral Officer said the past method of registering voters did not have inbuilt mechanism for detecting multiple registrations which always allow some people to register and vote more than once.

“This new registration process will help in identification of individuals and will be accurate.

He urged everyone over 18 years of age to register and vote.

“The Electoral Commission has been working very hard behind the scene to develop a process which will allow all eligible citizens of the Solomon Islands to register as an elector so that they can vote in the 2014 General Election.

“It is therefore vital that everyone understands the new registration system and have to re-register during this up-coming period,” he said.

Mr Haununu said the important thing eligible voters must understand is the creation of new lists under the new registration system.

“Although your name may have been on the register of electors for many years, we are creating new lists and this means everyone needs to register again,” he stated.

He said that the reason for the re-registration is because the current lists were over the years becoming inaccurate and out of date.

He said that from late January 2014, the first voter registration centres will be opened to allow everyone to register.

“These will not only open for one day, but they will be opened in all locations to give time to enable everyone to register.

He said that it is the responsibility of eligible voters to register and take part in deciding future leaders.

Solomon Star

4) New post on Vanuatu Daily Digest

Vanuatu daily news digest | 4 December 2013

by bobmakin

a) A royal visit begins about the time you receive this, the first in 40 years. The King and Queen of Tonga, the Pacific’s only kingdom, are arriving, the King as USP Chancellor, for the graduation ceremony at the weekend.

b) Prime Minister Carcasses has advised through VBTC News that the Commission of Enquiry into Illegal Passport Issue and Citizenship Sales has completed its work. A report has been handed over to the Police Commissioner and criminal charges will be laid against offenders. The announcement follows introduction of the dual citizenship changes to the Constitution, effected Friday. Foreign Minister Natapei has called on New Caledonia (France), Australia and New Zealand to offer visas free of charge for travel to those countries. He made his appeal at the function to close the European Union office in Port Vila, saying that with free visas to European countries, the same must apply to New Caledonia which is a part of France and could apply to Australia and New Zealand, too. Negotiations are to start. Also on the subject of dual citizenship, Trade Minister Toara Daniel sees aneed for greater border controls with the introduction of dual citizenship for ni-Vanuatu.

c) Lands Minister Regenvanu has noted the details of the four Constitutional changes on his party’s web site. Articles 4, 5, 10 and 13 of the Mama Loa of Vanuatu are being changed. The first major change is that ni-Vanuatu (citizens of Vanuatu) may now hold another nationality in addition to their Vanuatu citizenship. Persons resident for 10 years seeking naturalisation will not have to renounce their earlier citizenship(s). Parliament will be able to legislate to enable foreigners to buy Vanuatu citizenship.However, in so doing, they will not be entitled to the same rights as indigenous or naturalised citizens. A quite unremarkable amendment concerns Parliament’s sitting when a quorum is not quickly obtained. Yet another importantly requires theMalvatumauri to be consulted where land, custom and tradition are concerned. The final and most controversial change removes the courts from any decisions concerning land ownership. The citizenship and land Constitutional changesdo not become effective until new orders are publishedfollowing last public awareness consultations to be held.

d) MP Robert Bohn’s weekend criticism of Airports Vanuatu Limited and the Civil Aviation Authority was picked up in yesterday’s Daily Post by Santo businessman Ronan Harvey who started the complaint in the first place it is said. However, Harvey admits to not having inspected Bauerfield which is surely what all trenchant and meaningful complaints concern. Its pitiful state has been recognised by everyone from a long time ago, including AVL and CAA, and were it not for government changing its mind about what it wanted (a jumbo airport at Rentabau) the terrible state of the runway might have been fixed a long time ago.

e) The Vaturisu Land Commission, affecting Efate, says theproposed changes to the Acts of Parliament concerning land have not totally removed the powers of the government to deal with rural custom land. The Land Planning and Management Committees (LPMCs) and the Lands Minister remain institutions, or instruments of government, they say in yesterday’s Daily Post. So the Vaturisu sees the removal of ministerial powers over land and the transferral of such authority to the LPMC as making little difference. They also question the role and statutory powers of the Island Court and see disputes being inevitable when left to nakamal jurisdiction.

f) A road design contract worth 36.5 million vatu has been granted to the Australian company SMEC International, Daily Post headlines today. It aims to massively improve road design to achieve standards which are compatible with Climate Change and show energy efficiency.

g) Ambrym is launching a web site to promote tourism to that most challenging and interesting of islands. Furthermore it is doing so on the eve of the opening of the first exhibition of artists at the Bastien Foundation Gallery entitled “Ambrym 1913 – 2013”.And Friday is the 100th anniversary of the major eruption of Benbow volcano on Ambrym.

5) Maritime Surveillance Costs Reportedly High For Vanuatu
PM says Vanuatu police boat needs about $15,700 to refuel

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 3, 2013) – Vanuatu is clamping down on illegal fishing activity in its territorial waters but the financial costs of surveillance operations is high- for instance Vt1.5million [US$15,706] is the cost of fuel if the RVS Tukoro was to be deployed to arrest a boat somewhere in the south-near Matthew and Hunter.

Prime Minister Moana Carcasses revealed the above when responding to questions raised on the Bill for the Agreement on Port State Measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal , unreported and unregulated fishing (Ratification) Act No. of 2013 in the Third Extraordinary Session of Parliament last week.

The Prime minister said the patrol boat RVS Tukoro plays its part and is currently in Australia and will return at the end of 2013 fully refurbished.

“Over Vt700 million [US$7.3 million] is injected into refurbishments, bodywork and engines to ensure it play its part in meeting surveillance operation expectations,” he said.

“We have an agreement with France, Australia and New Zealand (FRANZ) to assist Vanuatu in surveillance against illegal fishing activity.”

He said surveillance costs are high but Vanuatu has assistance.

“Vt1.5million is the immediate cost of fuel if the RVS Tukoro is to be deployed to arrest a boat somewhere in the south-near Matthew and Hunter,” the Prime Minister said in illustrating the cost of the exercise.

“Australia is willing to inject financial assistance into our budget to ensure anytime there is a need to be send on a mission of this nature or in the event of a search and rescue operation ,funds are available.”

Minister of Finance Maki Simelum, in a supplementary response, said the ratification of this Bill is overdue.

“We have heard that Vanuatu was ‘yellow flagged’ by the European Union and these are some of the measures being put in place by Fisheries as the responsible authority and technical experts,” he said.

“Early this year the Vanuatu government invested Vt15million [US$157,068] in the purchase of monitoring devices including computers and now we can track Vanuatu flagged vessels around the world.

“There are well over 100 fishing vessels flying the Vanuatu flag and our installed monitoring system is in place.

“I must say through European Union (EU)’s assessment, it is pleased with the investment and that we are now monitoring the catch of fish in Vanuatu flagged vessels.”

Torba MP Dunstan Hilton reiterated on the query of the six miles zone and what the government of the day is doing about it, because in Torba, vessels fish inside the 6 miles zone.

“It is good that we have such machines in place, will fishing authorities now look at fishing activities inside the six miles radius?,” he asked.

In response Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Biosecurity and Fisheries David Tosul invited his colleague parliamentarians to visit the Fisheries monitoring section and see for themselves the ships passing through Vanuatu and international waters. But he added, “Sometimes, the light pass throughm indicating a vessel transiting, however if it (the ship’s light) stops moving, then it is fishing.

“If locals see this they must notify the surveillance team, immediately.”
Vanuatu Daily Post:

6) Fiji National Federation Party Skeptical Of 2014 Elections
NFP president says focusing on little details currently premature

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 3, 2013) – Fiji’s National Federation Party (FNP) appears unconvinced about elections taking place in 2014 as planned.

Party president Raman Pratap Singh says vital pieces of the legislation pertaining to the 2014 elections are not in place to reassure the party that elections will indeed go ahead next year.

Things like the writ of election have not been issued and the Electoral Act to govern the elections is not in place, Singh says.

He says given the situation it’s premature to start focusing on the little preparation details including selecting their candidates to contest the election.

To that end the party is looking forward to the 31 December 2013 when the country’s 2013 Constitution is set to be finalised.

The date is significant in that it would reaffirm provisions included in the document particularly those pertaining to the 2014 elections.

“When that [2013 Constitution] is finalised, then we will await the vital pieces of the election legislation to be put in place after which the party will make its decision going forward,” Singh said.

In the meantime, the party has been continuing with their pocket meetings around the country which he says has been “all right.”

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum brushed off claims they were stalling key election preparation on purpose.

He said the Electoral Commission will be announced in new weeks and that they have identified potential candidates for the seven-member commission.

Some of these candidates he says are hesitant despite assurances from the government they had confirmation from the Australian and New Zealand governments that travel bans won’t apply to them as commissioners.

Sayed-Khaiyum insists plans are still in place “to have transparent credible elections which requires making sure all the ducks are lined up, all the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted which means perhaps spending a bit more time in respect of the nuts and bolts of running the elections office.”


7) No chance of vote-buying in election run-up says Fiji’s Attorney-General

Posted at 05:15 on 04 December, 2013 UTC

Fiji’s Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says there’s no chance of vote-buying in the run up to the election.

There have been calls for the prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to step down and an interim administration to be installed before the polls to ensure he does not have the advantage of government machinery and funds to win the election.

But Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says there are assurances against vote-buying under the constitution.

“We have for the first time in Fiji’s history an anti-corruption commission, we have for the first time an accountability and transparency commission that holds public office holders including the president, prime minister, ministers and senior civil servants accountable. Nothing hitherto has existed of that like. Obviously this government will ensure that that type of vote-buying will not take place at all.”

Fiji’s Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Fiji is still waiting for the setting up of the Accountability and Transparency Commission and a code of conduct for public office holders, which the regime promised by July.

The anti-corruption agency, FICAC, started work in 2006.

Radio New Zealand International

8) No support from the Pacific Islands Forum towards Fiji’s Election: Slade

By Online Editor
4:02 pm GMT+12, 04/12/2013, Fiji

The Pacific Islands Forum says they have no direct assistance to offer the Fijian Government in the electoral process although they are supportive of progress made to hold elections in 2014.

Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni-Slade says any form of assistance is done in consultation between the Fijian government and the respective forum governments who are able to assist.

“The forum leaders are very supportive of the return of Fiji to the forum. They are all committed and supportive of arrangements being made for elections next year. The leaders have commended and committed to supporting the new constitution on how it is being implemented to support elections and the governance of Fiji,” he said. “

They are taking their cue from their governments. The general commitment is to assist as required by government and people of Fiji. I understand assistance has been discussed and offered in respect to the electoral machinery but these are matters best left in consultation between the Fijian government and the respective forum governments.”

The three-day Pacific Islands Forum Officials Committee meeting  began in Suva today.

The meeting which comprises senior government officials from forum member countries, associate members, observers and CROP agencies will discuss the Pacific Plan Review 2013 Report and the budget and work programme of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

The committee will then submit their review report to forum leaders on next steps for their consideration at a special leaders retreat to be held in 2014.

The FOC meeting is being held at the Forum Secretariat in Suva.


9) No chance of vote-buying in election run-up says Fiji’s Attorney-General

By Online Editor
4:00 pm GMT+12, 04/12/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says there’s no chance of vote-buying in the run up to the election.

There have been calls for the prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to step down and an interim administration to be installed before the polls to ensure he does not have the advantage of government machinery and funds to win the election.

But Sayed-Khaiyum says there are assurances against vote-buying under the constitution.

“We have for the first time in Fiji’s history an anti-corruption commission, we have for the first time an accountability and transparency commission that holds public office holders including the president, prime minister, ministers and senior civil servants accountable. Nothing hitherto has existed of that like. Obviously this government will ensure that that type of vote-buying will not take place at all.”

Fiji is still waiting for the setting up of the Accountability and Transparency Commission and a code of conduct for public office holders, which the regime promised by July.

Meanwhile the Fiji government is in discussions with consultants on recruiting and training casual electoral staff to man polling stations next year.

Sayed-Khaiyum told FBC NEWS they will need thousands of people.

Because if we have for example about 2800 or 3000 polling stations, we’ll need literally thousands of people to manage those polling stations and we’ll have to hire people for a day or two, whatever the case maybe but they need to be also trained.

Sayed-Khaiyum adds that they’re hoping to train the casual staff in batches.

Previously some have had the approach of having what they call a cascading training approach, in other words you get some people from overseas, come and train a few locals, you know train the trainers and they go and train the other people but we rather not do that because sometimes they can get lost, so we rather have..If you have to train few thousand people do it in batches, hire a gymnasium or Vodafone arena and train people.

The government has also approved the printing of the electoral rolls – a list of all the registered voters.



10) Ol wok gas na oil bai kamapim moa ikonomi blong PNG

Postim 4 December 2013, 16:03 AEST

ol bikpela gas na oil projek we i wok long kamap bikpela long Papua New Guinea bai help long kamapim moa ikonomi blong kantri

Odio: Richard Kassman emi vice president blong PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum i toktok
Praim Minista blong Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill itok emi laikim bai ol pipal long kantri imas wokbung moa wantem ol mining, gas na petroleum bisnis long kantri.

Emi bin mekim despla toktok aste taem emi bin opim bikpla mining na petroleum miting emi go hed nau long Port Moresby.

Planti bisnis laen usat isave wok long mining indastri long kantri na tu ol narapla kantri istap long despla konfrans.

Wanla samting em oli toktok tumas long en em wok blong Gas em bae stat long salim gas long 2014.

Richard Kassman emi vice president blong PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum i wanbel long i taim blong gas na oil long kamap strong blong halvim ikonomi .

11) Australia bau halvim PNG daunim korapsen

Postim 4 December 2013, 16:22 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Gavman blong Australia na Papua New Guinea i sainim wanpela toktok long wokbung long daunim ol kainkain korap pasin i save gohet insait long gavman,

Odio: Chairman blong Task Force sweep Sam Koim i toktok

Australia nau bae stat long helpim Papua New Guinea long daonim korapsan na traem stopim ol PNG pipal husat isave stilim moni blong publik na baem property oa haus na ol narapla samting long Australia.

Australian Federal Polis ibin sainim wanpla tok oraet wantem Task Fos Sweep blong PNG aste nait long statim despla wok bung.

Long planti yia nau planti lida blong kantri na ol narapla pipal isave faulim moni blong gavman na go stap long Australia.

Assistanc Commissioner blong Australian Federal Polis Ramsy Jabbour na Chairman blong Task Force sweep Sam Koim ibin sainim despla tok oraet long haus blong Australian High Commissioner long Port Moresby.


12) La PNG adopte les méthodes indonésiennes

Mis à jour 4 December 2013, 19:28 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

Trois organisateurs d’une manifestation pour l’indépendance de la Papouasie occidentale ont été arrêtés à Port-Moresby, en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée dimanche après-midi.

C’était le 1er décembre, jour de la fête nationale de la Papouasie occidentale. Le drapeau indépendantiste papou, l’Étoile du matin, a en effet été brandi pour la première fois le 1er décembre 1961, quand la Papouasie occidentale était encore sous domination néerlandaise. Seul un millier de personnes ont répondu présent.

Les trois militants arrêtés dimanche, Fred Mambrasar, Tony Fofoe et Patrick Kaiku, sont tous des citoyens de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.

Pour Powes Parkop, gouverneur du territoire de Port-Moresby et co-organisateur de cette manifestation de soutien aux indépendantistes papous, cela ne fait aucun doute, ces arrestations « sont motivées par des pressions du gouvernement indonésien sur les autorités papoues. Mais nous sommes une nation indépendante, a poursuivi le gouverneur, et nous ne nous laisserons pas intimider par les Indonésiens. »

Ces arrestations sont d’autant plus surprenantes que la manifestation a été autorisée en bonne et due forme par le gouvernement municipal de Powes Parkop.

Benny Wenda, l’icône du mouvement indépendantiste papou réfugié en Grande-Bretagne, était également présent à la manifestation de Port-Moresby. À ses côtés, l’avocate australienne Jenny Robinson, membre de l’Association des avocats internationaux pour la Papouasie Occidentale. Tous les deux ont été menacés d’expulsion s’ils prenaient part à la manifestation. Il a fallu l’intervention du gouverneur Parkop pour éteindre la menace.

On attend toujours le commentaire de Peter O’Neill, le Premier ministre papou.


13) Public health researcher warns of infectious diseases link to poverty

Posted at 05:15 on 04 December, 2013 UTC

A leading public health researcher says poverty has a bigger influence than climate change on Pacific people’s vulnerability to infectious diseases.

Professor Michael Baker says New Zealand hospital admissions for infections such as skin abscesses, rheumatic fever and gastric illness, have increased by 50 per cent in the past 20 years, with Maori and Pacific people twice as vulnerable as others.

He says there is solid evidence that rising economic inequality fuels disease, while the effects of ongoing climate change on various infectious diseases in Pacific nations is harder to predict.

“The thing we do know for certain is that much bigger factors are really related to poverty. And infectious diseases love poverty. They’ve got a phenomenal history of doing very well in times of social and economic disruption and have always been rife in deprived overcrowded communities.”

Professor Baker says a new study is just about to start in New Zealand to try and find out why Maori and Pacific people are 40 times more likely to succumb to rheumatic fever than the general population.

Radio New Zealand International


14) Academic wants conservation strategy clearly spelt out

By Online Editor
10:28 am GMT+12, 04/12/2013, Fiji

A University of the South Pacific academic feels that any new strategy on conservation must clearly indicate the need to protect all of our eco-systems.

Professor Randy Thaman made the statement at the 9th Pacific Island Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas underway in Suva.

Professor Randy Thaman pointed out that any national development strategy must ensure the protection of agriculture, forests, river, home garden and reef ecosystems.

“But here many of the discussions are still just talking about a protected area or a natural landscape. The protection of biodiversity is much much more than western conservation. It is the sustainable use and protection of all the taro, the yam, all of the fruit trees, all of the native trees, our mangroves, our costal literal forest, probably Qelelevu the atoll. We need to protect that forest because that is the only thing on the front line of climate change.”

The Conference will discuss and put together a strategy on conservation and protected areas for implementation by countries and support organisations in the next five years.

“So to me I would just like to see this embracing thing that clearly states whether we’re in land use planning. We first recognize what is the bio-diversity there, what are the threats to that bio-diversity whether its invasive alian species or diseases, whether its climate change, whether its poor land use practice or whenever we have a new project whether its mining, residential is that we decide on which eco system we much protect.”

The 9th Pacific Island Conference On Nature Conservation And Protected Areas is being held in Suva.


15) News Release

Chuuk Advisory Group on Education Reform
Weno, Chuuk, FSM

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chuuk Undertakes Education Infrastructure Improvements

The Chuuk Advisory Group on Education Reform focused on the issue of improving education infrastructure in the state during its fourth quarterly meeting here, during the week of Nov. 4, 2013.

The advisory group is assisting the Chuuk State Board of Education and the Department of Education to follow through on reform commitments that were made at the high-level meeting on education reform held in Nov. 2012, with representatives from the FSM national government, the U.S. government and the Chuuk state government.

Thomas Bussanich, the director of the division of budget and grants management in the Office of Insular Affairs-United States Department of the Interior, and Patrick Tellei, the president of Palau Community College, attended the meeting.

Francis X. Hezel, a Jesuit Priest and the founder of the Micronesian Seminar was unable to attend this particular meeting.

While the advisory group discussed a broad range of issues with Chuuk leaders and educators, the focus of this visit was on breaking through barriers and accelerating the improvement of education infrastructure in Chuuk.

Since the beginning of the Amended Compact in 2004, only one high school has been constructed in Chuuk despite the availability of significant available funding for infrastructure.

An estimated $140 million remains available for Chuuk state to improve infrastructure over the next ten years, and all parties agreed education must be a priority going forward.

To assist in moving forward on the construction of school buildings, a one day meeting was held on Nov. 7 between Chuuk state leadership and the advisory group, along with the infrastructure grants manager for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, Steve Savage, and the head of the FSM national government’ project management unit, Bruce Howell, PE.

The meeting fully achieved its expected outcomes of:

(i) a clear understanding of the challenges and obstacles that have stalled action on education infrastructure in Chuuk to date, together with a clear articulation of workable solutions;

(ii) a clear and workable “model” for project preparation, modular school design, and construction management that meets Chuuk’s specific needs;

(iii) a clear and specific list of projects/school sites that will be used for initial site assessments; and

(iv) a clear understanding of timeline and tasks to be completed, as soon as practicable, to move forward on major renovations and new construction at school sites.

During the meeting, a revised list of 25 prioritized public school sites in all five regions of the state were agreed upon to move forward with professional engineering work and other necessary assessments to determine their appropriateness for major renovation and/or new construction.

It was agreed by all parties that this process will require outside engineering contractors and at least one full time project manager.

Through this close partnership and planning effort by Chuuk state, the national government through the project management unit and the Office of Insular Affairs, with the assistance of the advisory group, it is hoped to begin project construction on a shortened list of schools prior to the next school year.

According to Bussanich, “We feel that with this high level meeting, we have moved significantly forward in our efforts to overcome a variety of obstacles to building and improving schools here in Chuuk. It is our hope that these efforts will result in the construction of numerous schools next school year to the benefit of students, teachers and the broader community.”

The advisory group also continued to discuss a broad variety of other issues directed at improving educational performance in Chuuk’s primary and secondary schools.

The Board of Education and the advisory group agreed on a revised list of school consolidations that will be completed by Dec. 31, 2013.

The Board of Education also agreed that they would finalize comprehensive plans, with the assistance of consultants, for teacher and professional educator contracts, school attendance monitoring, board training, a primary school pilot project, WorldTeach volunteer utilization, basic school standards, and procurement, distribution and warehousing of supplies.

During its one week of meetings in Chuuk, the advisory group once again held separate and joint meetings with the governor, the legislature, the board of education and the Department of Education to discuss the on-going progress of 10 high-level commitments made at the high-level event as well as additional recommendations made by the advisory group during its first three quarterly meetings.

The group and the board have developed a productive working relationship as they partner to ensure implementation of needed reforms.

The advisory group will return to Chuuk for its next quarterly meeting on or about the last week of February 2014.

For additional information on background documents, meeting proceedings, correspondence and advisory group reports, visit


16) Money conference in London

The National, Wednesday December 4th, 2013

PAPUA New Guinea is one of many participants at the mines and money investment conference in London that began on Sunday.
This conference, to close tomorrow (Thursday), would allow investors, financiers, business analysts, engineers, suppliers, stockbrokers and government agencies to showcase their profiles for potential investment deals.
PNG is represented by the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), which is promoting the country’s mining and exploration regulatory policies, geological data and the mining investment climate in the country.
MRA was stepping up its efforts to encourage investors to invest in PNG for other minerals such as cobalt, nickel and chromite aside from investing in precious metals such as gold and copper.
Organisers of the conference said the event was showcasing an array of great value mining investment opportunities.
The event had brought together investors from China, Japan, the Gulf, Australia, Canada and Latin America.

17) Bali may be last chance for WTO trade deal

By Online Editor
3:57 pm GMT+12, 04/12/2013, Indonesia

Top trade officials began talks Tuesday that will either produce an eleventh hour deal that could boost the global economy by US$1 trillion or possibly spell the end of the World Trade Organisation’s relevance as a forum for negotiations.

After more than a decade of inertia in WTO talks, negotiators are close to a slimmed-down deal but there is no finished document for the dozens of trade ministers attending a summit on the Indonesia resort island of Bali to sign. So close to an agreement, some have been urging the trade ministers to take the unusual step of completing the negotiations themselves.

An agreement on simplifying customs procedures could help revive the WTO’s broader Doha Round of trade negotiations, sometimes known as the development round because of sweeping changes in regulations, taxes and subsidies that would benefit low income countries. Still, WTO ministerial summits are designed for enshrining done deals, not technical negotiations, so producing an agreement at a four-day conference would be unprecedented.

“Even though still possible, the chances of reaching a deal are rather slim,” said Matthias Helble, a global trade expert at the Asian Development Bank Institute and former WTO adviser.

The goal of the Doha Round, so called because it was launched in the Qatari capital in 2001, is to create unified rules for the 159 member economies of the WTO in myriad areas: lowering import taxes on hundreds of goods, limiting market-distorting subsidies for farm produce and creating one standard for customs procedures that will make it easier for goods to move across borders.

The idea is that if all countries play by the same trade rules, then all countries, rich or poor, will benefit. With fewer trade barriers, goods and services of all types would be more affordable, creating more employment and business opportunities. The WTO estimates that easing customs barriers would increase total world trade to US$23 trillion from its current estimate of US$22 trillion.

Critics of the WTO rules, though, say they may hinder countries from setting their own priorities in environmental protection, worker rights, food security and other areas. And they say sudden reductions in import tariffs can wipe out industries, causing job losses in rich and poor countries. Hundreds of Indonesian activists protested outside government buildings in Bali.

“We know it is not an easy task,” said Brazil’s Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado. “But we are now here, and we are here to do something,” he said. “We are willing to do our best effort to leave Bali with an adopted package.”

Because all WTO members must agree on every aspect of the dozens of points of contention for a broad trade agreement, progress has been tortuously slow. The recent negotiations meant to revive the talks are on trade facilitation, only part of the agenda but still sweeping and complex.

In the meantime, the US and other countries have been developing separate regional trade deals. Many such pacts already exist. The newest, largest of them in the works the Trans-Pacific Partnership among the US and 11 other Pacific Rim economies and a U.S.-European Union free trade deal would give developed economies fewer incentives to forge WTO deals.

That’s why another summit with no deal after more than a decade of trying could signal the twilight of the WTO’s significance as a forum for trade negotiations. It has thrived in its other a major role, as arbitrator of trade disputes, where countries can file complaints against each other for distorting world commerce by using tools such as subsidies to create an unfair advantage.

“Failure is not an option,” host Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told delegates Tuesday as he opened the summit. “I fear that should we let this opportunity slip, it is developing countries that will lose out the most.”

With last week’s progress on customs rules, the difficult issue of limiting agricultural subsidies remains. Anti-poverty activists have long argued that billions of dollars that the US and Europe give to support their farmers help large agricultural conglomerates more than family farmers and also hurt developing countries.

Economist Mark Malloch Brown, former head of the UN Development program, has said that developing countries lose potential earnings of US$50 billion per year because wealthy countries’ subsidies keep them from competing in markets.

The last best attempt to seal the Doha deal failed partly because the US refused to give up cotton subsidies. But with budget crunches in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, subsidies have lost favor in many developed nations and they are now more willing to limit them.

Yet since the core principle of the WTO is the same rules for all members, developing countries that subsidize agriculture to feed the poor like India, whose recently enacted food security law would provide $22 billion in grain subsidies might be unable to do so under the new rules. That is why India may hold the key to any last-ditch attempt to produce an agreement at this week’s summit.

Indian Trade Minister Anand Sharma said Sunday that India’s food-for-the-poor programs “cannot be compromised for minor gains of the developed countries.”.


18) PNG PM wants rent costs controlled

By Online Editor
12:34 pm GMT+12, 04/12/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has written to Public Service Minister to make efforts to save the K200 million (US$78.3 million) wasted on government office rentals.

O’Neill also made recommendations for an audit into the operations and management and a restructure of office leases.

O’Neill in a letter said current the land lease arrangements are totally in favor of the landlords and rates are far too excessive.

“As discussed with you K200 million a year is significant costs to the State and it is important that the government continues to reduce the cost by building new office complexes and proper management of these leases by ensuring the lease rates are consistent with the real estate market and Lease Agreements allow for review of the rental on a periodic basis.”

O’Neill stated in his letter of November 18. “The current lease agreements are totally in favour of the landlords, which if challenge in courts, will surely be nullified.

The Prime Minister also stated that there is inconsistency in the lease rates applied in the properties and in many instances, the rates are far too excessive for properties outside of Port Moresby town, which contributes to soaring increase in the budget for office leases every year.

O’Neill also made strong recommendations to be considered by Sir Puka Temu, who is the Public Services Minister. The recommendations included the following:

* The current office lease committee to be restructured to include Chief Secretary as chairman, secretaries of DPM, Finance, Lands and State Solicitor;

* An independent audit investigation to be immediately conducted into the operation and management of the office lease;

* All future office leases to be obtained under the Financial Management Act as it involves procurement of services (public tender) where public finance is involved, and;

*The management of office leases should be outsourced to the private sector in the future.

“We cannot continue to operate or maintain the same status quo, which is clearly an overly expensive exercise and unsustainable operation,” he said.

“Budget outlay of K200 million a year is a lot of money and money which we can save to fund essential services for our people. I am sure with the above measures in place, savings will be realized over time.

19) PNG Government Helps Groups Develop Fisheries Projects
Provincial official thanks National Fisheries Authority

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 3, 2013) – Papua New Guinea’s National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has helped 51 cooperative groups in Milne Bay to further develop their village-based fisheries projects.

Senior NFA officer Leka Pitoi and Milne Bay acting provincial administrator Michael Kape presented cheques worth K50,000 [US$19,203] to the groups at the Alotau International hotel.

NFA delivered a second vehicle to the provincial administration to strengthen the development of fisheries projects in the province, and transferred the balance of the 2013 NFA grant of K2 million [US$768,138] to the provincial government and administration.

Kape thanked NFA for its commitment in supporting a MOA signed earlier for strengthening working relationship between NFA and MBPG.

Projects under the MOA to date include:

Losuia and Alotau provincial fisheries office buildings;
inshore patrol craft;
dinghy and motor for provincial fisheries extension work;
overseas technical training for officers;
project development funding for community and village-based fisheries projects and programmes; and
office equipment and supplies.

“The NFA delegated functions are important and aimed at promoting and ensuring sustainable fisheries development and management now and into the future,” Kape said.

“It is important that minimum infrastructure is put in place to strengthen the capacity of provincial fisheries to effectively implement its delegated functions and national government policy objectives and directives. NFA has demonstrated its commitment in Milne Bay through the funding assistance.”

Chairman of Habu Fisheries Cooperative on Basilaki Island Dennis Damian, has welcomed the NFA financial assistance.

The National:

20) High Price Of Flights To Fiji Concerns Tuvalu Government
Tuvalu relies on Fiji as gateway to the rest of the world: official

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 3, 2013) – The Tuvalu Government says the high cost of airfares between Fiji and Tuvalu is a major concern for locals.

The assistant secretary at the ministry of communication and transport says Tuvalu relies on the Fiji Airways’ service as Fiji is the island’s gateway to the rest of the world.

Taukave Poolo says the ministry is in the process of reviewing the airfares.

“We feel that the airfares that are currently being charged by Fiji Airways are extremely high for us and we also believe it can still go down but it’s just a matter of them being willing to go down.”

Taukave Poolo says cheaper fares would also attract more visitors to the country.

Fiji Airways says the average ticket price has to be high to cover operating costs based on the distance between Fiji and Tuvalu and the aircraft required.

It says it offers a range of fares but consumers need to be in quickly to get the lowest rates.

Radio New Zealand International:

21) Am. Samoa Aquaponics Farm Project Sees Success
Benefits of water-based farming touted for territory

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 3, 2013) – An aquaponics farming project in American Samoa has proved such a success there are hopes to start other projects in the territory.

The Centre for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture in Hawaii and the University of Hawaii are joint partners in the project.

The farm in Taputimu came about after a US$30,000 grant to Chief Apela Afoa to develop an aquaponics farm.

The Centre’s Dr Cheng-Sheng Lee and the University’s Dr Harry Ako, who provided technical support, were in the territory recently to conduct demonstrations on the benefits of aquaponic farming.

Dr Ako says the start-up products they use are very cheap, very bio-chemical, and would be very beneficial for locals.

“We want to start vegetable production in places that are short on land and short on fresh water which is what aquaponics does, it doesn’t require much land, and it doesn’t require much water.”

Dr Harry Ako says there is such a demand for fresh produce in American Samoa the aquaponics farm is unable to meet it.

Radio New Zealand International:


22) PNG anti-corruption task force to work with AFP

Posted at 07:24 on 04 December, 2013 UTC

Papua New Guinea’s premier anti-corruption investigative body Task Force Sweep had signed an agreement with the Australian Federal Police to co-operate to probe corruption cases.

The memorandum of understanding is expected to help Task Force Sweep track the movement of misused public funds from PNG into Australian banks and invested in property in Australia, particularly in Queensland.

Task Force Sweep is understood to have focussed a number of its investigations in the past year on individuals who have assets and money in Australia.

However the PNG body has been limited in its ability to collect evidence from Australia, and PNG has long lacked capacity to address trans-national crime.

Task Force Sweep’s head Sam Koim has indicated to local media that the co-operation agreement with the AFP will help overcome some of these limitations.

Radio New Zealand International

23) NZ Police carry out $120 million drug bust

By Online Editor
3:58 pm GMT+12, 04/12/2013, New Zealand

More than $120 million in drugs and assets have been seized during a record-breaking operation involving 330 officers from police, OFCANZ and Customs this morning.

Forty search warrants were executed at residential and business premises across Auckland and Waikato and 24 people were arrested at the conclusion of an 18 month investigation named Operation Ghost.

More than 330 kilograms of the Class B drug ContacNT was also seized in what police described as “the biggest haul of its kind in New Zealand history”.

ContacNT is manufactured legally in China but is used in New Zealand to produce methamphetamine.

The ContacNT seized during Operation Ghost is enough to produce up to 100 kilograms of methamphetamine which has a corresponding street value of $100 million.

Today’s operation followed the seizure of 267 kilograms of ContacNT at three Auckland addresses as part of the investigation in October. Four people were arrested at that time.

An additional 64 kilograms of ContacNT was discovered.

Assets of about $20 million were also seized.

Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said the impact on the drug market would be significant.

“Police and OFCANZ have eliminated a criminal network responsible for importing and distributing Class B drugs which are used to produce methamphetamine.

“Operation Ghost sends a powerful message to the criminal community that we will use every legal avenue at our disposal to target organised crime in New Zealand.”

During the termination phase of Operation Ghost 15.5 ounces of methamphetamine was also discovered and approximately NZ$1.5 million of cash was seized.

The investigation also saw assistance from the Ministry for Primary Industries, IRD, MBIE and the Department of Internal Affairs, Burgess said.

“We would also like to acknowledge the National Narcotics Control Commission from the Peoples Republic of China and the Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau for their help during Operation Ghost.”

The 24 individuals arrested this morning are all New Zealand citizens or permanent residents. The average age of those arrested is 40-years-old.

In total 30 suspects have been arrested during Operation Ghost and further arrests are likely, police said.


24) Tonga Power Limited Working To Fix Recent Fraud
Offending employees sacked, processes changed: CEO

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 3, 2013) – Tonga Power Ltd’s chief executive, John van Brink, says fraudulent activities uncovered at a company it acquired earlier this year have cost the company and the general public thousands of pa’anga.

Tonga Power bought LP Home Gas and discovered some staff had allegedly been manipulating records and skimming profits, while others had been underfilling and overcharging for gas.

Mr van Brink says they have sacked the offenders and to ensure the problems do not recur have changed processes, including reconciling deliveries.

“We have got electronic scales installed which are accurate. We are putting in place a point of system which actually links the scales back to our financial system so that people who pay the invoices, the receipts are linked to the actual cylinders being filled so that there is a reconciliation there that is automatic. And we are putting in surveillance cameras.”
Radio New Zealand International:


25) Soccer president welcomes Indons for border festival

The National, Wednesday December 4th, 2013

Vanimo Soccer Association president Gabriel Pise shared sentiments with Vanimo Town Mayor Gerrh Kinna in calling to include sport in future PNG-Indonesian Christmas Choir Festivals.
Welcoming participants from Indonesia and Sandaun for the second annual Christmas Choir Festival, Kinna called on sports and culture to be included in future festivals.
He commended Indonesian Consul in Vanimo Jahar Gultom for his initiative and collaboration with the Sandaun provincial administration for taking the lead in organising the festival.
Pise said soccer or sports in general should capitalise on this opportunity to strengthen ties between the two countries.
Pise, who managed the PNG men’s soccer team that beat Indonesia during Merdeka Cup days, said PNG still had a long way to go compare with its Melanesian neighbours  of Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.
He said Vanimo and Aitape would take the lead to use such festivals to play sport or soccer.
“The PNG Football Association should work closely with VSA to have access to Indonesia whose soccer standard is high as the Under-23 team found out recently.”
Pise repeated his call on PNGFA to quickly facilitate his affiliation fee application.

26) Mulevoro: Trust key to Fiji’s success

By Online Editor
4:03 pm GMT+12, 04/12/2013, Fiji

On this year’s HSBC Sevens World Series fans will once again have their chance to get involved through social media by voting on their favourite try from each of the nine rounds.

Collins Injera collected the most votes in the opening round in Australia, while Fiji’s Emosi Mulevoro has been voted as the ‘fans’ favourite’ from the Emirates Dubai Sevens.

Fiji had two tries in the seven nominees, both set up by Pio Tuwai, and although Benito Masilevu’s try received a lot of votes, it was Mulevoro’s effort in the 44-0 semi final defeat of New Zealand that won.

“First when I saw Pio was coming alongside me when I intercepted the ball, I passed to him, and then he shouted to call me to come around,” said Mulevoro on the try.

“He said in Fijian to me to run behind him, so I ran around and I knew he would flick the ball back to me.

“I didn’t expect it to come behind him like it did, I thought he would pass it in front, but I was very happy to see the ball come out of the back like that – it was perfect timing”

With eight different try scorers in their semi final against New Zealand, Gordon Tietjens’ biggest-ever defeat on the Series, a number of tries could have been in the nominee list – but scoring ‘stellar tries’ was something head coach Ben Ryan had said Fiji would do in Dubai.

“I think the coach knew some amazing tries would be scored because we have some players with good skills like Pio and some very wise players. We trust each other, so we are always going to score tries like that and hope for more this weekend,” added Mulevoro.

“Before we came out from the changing room against New Zealand Waisale Serevi was also giving us advice. It was a good memory for us.

“To win our first Dubai on the Series was also a great achievement for us, and it will be unforgettable for all of us. We will try our best this weekend to back up what we did.”

Each of the nine individual round winners will then go into a final vote at the end of the season for an overall ‘fans’ favourite try’ of the season, which was won by Pedro Leal of Portugal last season.

Meanwhile, Digicel Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan hopes to build on to the performance of the team from the Dubai 7s tournament.

Fiji won its first Dubai 7s title in the United Arab Emirates after an impressive display of skills over the weekend.

Ryan said it was a team effort and they would be working on maintaining the rhythm the players had set in Dubai.

“We had a few areas we wanted to concentrate on and a game plan too. Our defence is much improved and will improve further,” the former England 7s mentor said.

“This was a team effort and will continue to be all season. We should focus on the strength of the team.”

Ryan said the Nelson Mandela Bay 7s would be a “massive challenge” for the team this weekend in South Africa.

He said the side would do its best to ensure the Dubai 7s performance was not “one off”.

“All our competitors run full time programs with full time players and it’s not going to be until we start to become more full time that we get consistent results,” Ryan added.

“Very tough opening game against Australia who are playing very well. France and Scotland also excellent so a tough pool awaits us.”

The Osea Kolinisau-skippered side will take on Australia in its opening pool match at 11.28pm on Saturday followed by France at 2.34am and Scotland at 6.14am on Sunday.

Fiji 7s: Samu Saqiwa, Osea Kolinisau (C), Samisoni Viriviri, Benito Masilevu, Waisea Nacuqu, Semi Kunatani, Pio Tuwai, Donasio Ratubuli, Emosi Mulevoro, Leo Naikasau, Jonah Tuitoga, Mosese Mawalu.


27) Australia cement rankings top spot

By Online Editor
12:54 pm GMT+12, 03/12/2013, United Kingdom

Australia have inevitably consolidated their position at the top of the international rankings after their Rugby League World Cup victory.

New Zealand, runners-up to the Kangaroos after a 34-2 loss in the World Cup final at Old Trafford on Saturday, remain second, while England and France are still third and fourth respectively following the tournament.

Fiji are the most notable movers in the figures released by the game’s international federation, climbing above Wales and Papua New Guinea to fifth after reaching the semi-finals for a second successive World Cup.

Wales, who failed to win a match in a tournament they were co-hosting, have slipped to sixth.

Surprise quarter-finalists the United States have broken into the top 10 for the first time behind ninth-placed Ireland while Scotland, who also impressed, are 11th.


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