Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 907


1) Fiji signs volunteer scheme agreement with Vanuatu

By Online Editor
09:31 am GMT+12, 12/12/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) under the Fiji Volunteer Scheme (FVS) with Vanuatu’s Minister for Education, Bob Loughman.

In a historic development, Vanuatu becomes the first country in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to sign the volunteer service agreement that will see the engagement of experienced teachers from Fiji to work in Vanuatu.

Ratu Inoke said this agreement builds on the development cooperation MOU signed by the leaders of the two countries on the margins of the UNGA this last September to cooperate on a range of areas. “Fiji wishes to share its experiences of good practices in areas of education, public administration, disaster management, peacekeeping, social protection and environment. And in pursuing this initiative, the Government of Fiji supports the human resource development of its neighbors. “

He further said that this was reinforced by the two fold increase in the 2014 budget allocation to the Fiji Volunteer Scheme recently announced by Fiji’s Prime Minister.

Similar development cooperation agreements have already been signed by Fiji with Nauru and the Marshall Islands. Fiji nationals are already working in the education sector of the two countries.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ratu Inoke said the costs will be shared between the two countries and in their collaboration would act in good faith to see that the bilateral agreement flourishes.

Ratu Inoke said that “Fiji is grateful to the Government of Vanuatu for accepting to utilize the Fiji Volunteer Scheme and this historic milestone realizes our commitment to growing closer and mutually beneficial relations within the MSG framework.”.

2a) Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 December 2013

by bobmakin

The worst aspects of an ill-conceived coalition will soon be felt by the many, especially the unwell. Over one hundred Health Department staff have now been suspended on half pay for six months by the ministerial crony and DG, Dr Santus Wari, without reference to the Public Service Commission (PSC) which has its own problems. That doctor is the author of the present policy of the health services going to the patient rather than the patient going to the doctor. Such a policy is unlikely ever to become effective in an under-developed country like Vanuatu when even rich countries cannot afford such luxury. The 101 staff members are suspended for having signed a petition to the Prime Minister asking for removal of both their minister (Serge Vohor) and DG (Wari). Signatory petitioners say they are to be interrogated in the coming weeks and that this will see the health crisis moving from bad to worse, Daily Post reports today. Thirteen nurses are suspended from the Vila Central Hospital children’s and surgical wards and six of the eight nursing school teachers. In Torba all fifteen staff signed the petition. Daily Post says “the Prime Minister’s Office which has been quiet all this time over the saga in the Ministry of Health is understood to be preparing to take steps to act in the best interests of the country.” Let us so hope.

Meanwhile, Daily Post reports in just three sentences that a motion of no confidence in the PM was lodged at 11 am yesterday. It is not established whether this is related primarily to the side-stepped “100 Days List,” which public relations exercise brought the PM to power, or to the various political thrusts prior to up-coming municipal elections early next month or to the health crisis.

Radio Vanuatu News has the European Union giving 1.5 billion vatu budgetary support and assistance to “build up the human resource of the country.” This was explained by the new EU ambassador to the Melanesian countries, Martin Dihn, and aid and cooperation officer, Adrien Mourgues. Mourgues told Daily Post the EU will continue support to Vanuatu even though the office here is being closed. It will focus on rural development, mainly in beef, coconuts and food and vegetables.

The present justice system in Vanuatu is too expensive says Port Vila Town MP Willie Jimmy, reported by Radio Vanuatu. The indigenous citizens who struggled for Independence still cannot afford the cost of the justice system which presently works only for those who are healthy, wealthy and well educated. This is the reality which exists today, he told Parliament, adding “What a shame on us. Today’s government and any future government should address the issue quickly before we become strangers in our own land.”

Daily Post carries a story from “Supplied” today which aims to suggest that Pacific Island Countries – PICs – took a united approach to the Bali WTO ministerial meeting. They are expected to “benefit from the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda and other trade related concerns,” Forum Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade says, giving the only optimistic view of the Bali decisions.

2b) Vanuatu daily news digest | 12 December 2013

by bobmakin

The Speaker of Parliament has confirmed receiving the notice of a motion of no confidence signed by an adequate number of people (variously 9 or 10). It will be debated next Tuesday afternoon. Prime Minister Carcasses was reported by Radio Vanuatu as saying he is ready to face the motion. He is confident it does not represent a real threat to his government. Carcasses points out that the recent voting for the Constitutional changes showed he has the support of 36 of the 52 MPs. Moreover, his ministers, he says, represent a hard-working group. Radio Vanuatu also said DPM Natapei of the Vanuaaku Pati made a point of it being necessary to maintain stability.

The new mayor of Luganville is said by his town clerk to be working outside the rules. The town clerk says an appointments panel (with representation from the private sector) should consider all applications for appointment and these should only then be approved by the full council. Radio Vanuatu News also reported the Minister for Internal Affairs saying that there would be provision for headquarters for parties campaigning for the early January municipal elections and that such headquarters would be able to provide food for party supporters involved in campaigning.

This news source is most likely curtailed for the next three days.

3) Fijians reminded to register to vote

By Online Editor
12:15 pm GMT+12, 12/12/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Acting Permanent Secretary Responsible for Elections, Mohammed Saneem has reminded Fijians who have not yet registered to vote in the upcoming 2014 Elections that there are  five locations around the country where they can go to register.

Permanent registration centres are currently open in Nausori, Lautoka, Rakiraki and Labasa and more are scheduled to open in other urban centres in the coming weeks and months.

Fijians can also register at the Elections Office Headquarters in Suva.

Saneem encouraged young Fijians in particular to make use of these facilities as they turn 18.

“Any Fijian who turns 18 before the election writs are issued will be eligible to register and they can do so by visiting one of the registration centres around the country,” he said.

Saneem reminded those interested in registering to bring one valid form of identification with them on the day they go to register.

Valid forms of identification include Birth Certificate, Fijian Passport, Driving License, FNPF Card, Employment Card (with Photo ID), or Social Welfare Card.

Saneem added that Fijians who are already registered can visit one of the centres to check that their registration details are correct or to replace a lost voter card.

4) Former Fiji Land Force Commander jailed for 5 years

By Online Editor
4:02 pm GMT+12, 11/12/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s High Court Judge Justice Paul Madigan has sentenced former Land Force Commander Pita Driti to 5 years imprisonment.

He was sentenced at the high court in Suva today after he was found guilty of inciting mutiny.

Driti is not eligible for parole until he’s served four years.

Driti was convicted of inciting mutiny and was found guilty by Justice Madigan after overturning the not guilty verdict of a panel of assessors.

He was alleged to have been part of a plot to overthrow the Fijian government and assassinate the attorney-general in 2010. He was in remand since convicted last month.

5) Fiji Regime Criticized For Not Revealing Leaders’ Salaries
Corruption higher than any previous administration: FLP leader

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 10, 2013) – The Fiji Labour Party (FLP) says the regime is showing it has something to hide by continually refusing to disclose government financial statements or its leaders’ salaries.

The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry used Monday’s UN sponsored Anti-Corruption Day to highlight what he says is the failure of the Fiji regime to rid the country of corruption.

Amelia Langford reports.

Mahendra Chaudhry says government financial statements and the auditor-general’s reports have not been made public for the past five years. He also says the regime will not reveal the salaries paid to its leaders, which he says could be in excess of US$700,000 a year.

“MAHENDRA CHAUDHRY: There is not enough information concerning how the government spends the money. The accounts are not published, nor are the auditor general’s reports published. Because they have something to hide. If they’re clean, they’ll disclose that. And of course the taxpayer is entitled to know what the people who are running the country are getting, because they’re the ones who are paying.”

Mahendra Chaudhry says there is an absence of Freedom of Information legislation and a Code of Ethics for people in high office, despite promises to enact such measures. He says the regime demands accountability and transparency from everyone else, but is not applying the same rules of good governance itself. He says the situation has got worse since the coup seven years ago.

“MAHENDRA CHAUDHRY: The question now is whether we are today living in a less corrupt society and what difference has the military regime made. The answer to all those questions are in the negative. Corruption is probably at its highest compared to any other previous administration.”

Transparency International Fiji says it cannot comment because there have been no specific complaints made about lack of transparency over leaders’ salaries or government financial records. It says it is not the organisation’s role to investigate such matters, but rather to promote a Fiji free of corruption. But a pro-democracy campaigner in Fiji, Laisa Digitaki Weleilakeba, is backing Mr Chaudhry’s calls for the Government to be more transparent.

“LAISA DIGITAKI WELEILAKEBA: Transparency is very important to make people feel good like for me personally I don’t mind the Government spending money on good things as long as they are honest about where they are paying my taxes and things like that then I am comfortable but right now nothing like that has happened so what are they hiding?”

The Fiji Government has not responded to the criticism or explained why leaders’ salaries, government financial statements and auditor-general reports are not made public. Earlier this year, in January, the attorney general, said he and the interim prime minister were not officials of a political party and therefore not obliged to divulge their pay. Later, in April, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said he would disclose his pay in July, but in July, he said their pay would be made public after the constitution was finalised.
Radio New Zealand International:


6) Nanumaga to go to the polls soon

By Online Editor
4:04 pm GMT+12, 11/12/2013, Tuvalu

Tuvalu’s Governor General, Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli has declared one of the two parliamentary seats for the Island Constituency of Nanumaga, previously occupied by Dr Falesa Pitoi who has been away on medical leave, is now vacant.

The decision is based on a report prepared by a team of medical professionals tasked to look into the health condition of the Member, as required under Section 99(2) of the Constitution of Tuvalu.

The Office of Elections, under the Office of the Prime Minister, is now preparing for the bye-election for Nanumaga.

The bye-election is the fourth in four-years. The first was held for the island of Nui in 2010 to elect a member to replace  the late Isaia Taeia. The second for Nukufetau Islands to replace the late Lotoala Metia who passed away in December 2012. The third bye-election was for the replacement of Taom Tanukale who resigned from Parliament in August 2013.


7) Holden shutdown: Weatherill criticises Government for ‘lack of preparedness’ after talks with PM Tony Abbott

Updated 12 December 2013, 20:08 AEST
By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has emerged from talks with the Prime Minister, criticising the Federal Government for a lack of urgency in dealing with the fallout from the Holden shutdown.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has emerged from talks with the Prime Minister, criticising the Federal Government for a lack of urgency in dealing with the fallout from the Holden shutdown.

The iconic carmaker announced yesterday it would shut down most of its operations in Australia by 2017 – putting 2,900 people out of work.

The only other car manufacturer in Australia – Toyota – has warned it will put “unprecedented pressure” on its ability to build cars in the country too.

In South Australia, the Holden plant at Elizabeth in Adelaide’s north will close with a cost of 1,600 jobs, while in Victoria 1,300 jobs will go.

Mr Weatherill and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine met Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey this afternoon to discuss support for workers and their local economies.

The Labor Premier for South Australia criticised the Federal Government for a “lack of preparedness”.

“There is no plan,” he said following the meeting.

“Remember, this is a government that was actually calling on this decision to be made. You would have imagined there was a plan ready to go – there’s nothing.

“And indeed the sense of urgency is just completely lacking.

“I do not think there is an appreciation in Canberra about the enormity of the changes for the South Australian and the national economy as a consequence of the closure of Holden.”

But his conservative counterpart in Victoria, Dr Napthine, had a different take.

“My impression was that the Prime Minister was fully aware of the significance of this decision in terms of the impact on direct employment, particularly on the workers and their families,” he said.

“I think he also understood the ripple effect into the supply chain and into the service industry.”

Both premiers are pushing Mr Abbott for assistance but neither will outline a dollar figure.

Weatherill wants infrastructure projects fast-tracked

As an immediate first step, Mr Weatherill also wants the Federal Government to fast-track approval for new roads and public transport in the state.

“Infrastructure projects which are ready to go which are being stalled by decisions of his Government they can be unlocked immediately,” he said.

“We have been in discussions for weeks with the incoming Federal Government about these matters.”

He said no dollar amount had been put on the table but added “it’ll cost them many multiples more it would’ve cost to keep Holden in Australia”.

Mr Weatherill said he has asked Mr Abbott to make an initial announcement tomorrow after discussions with state and territory leaders at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra, but the Prime Minister had indicated it will take “days” to respond instead.

Napthine urges ‘substantial’ package to help workers

Dr Napthine has asked for a “substantial” package of assistance to help workers find new jobs, but would not outline how much.

Like the Federal Government he is also worried about the future of Toyota, which employs 4,200 people in Australia and has a plant at Altona in Melbourne’s west.

“We as a Victorian Government are quite willing and believe it is in the best long-term interests of jobs and the economy of Victoria that the Victorian Government provides ongoing support to Toyota,” he said.

Mr Abbott spoke to Toyota’s Australian boss Max Yasuda last night about the situation.

“It’s important to remember that Toyota have a different business model to Holden,” he said earlier today.

“The Toyota business model is based much more on exports than Holden’s was in recent times.

“I’m are very hopeful that the integration of Toyota into the global operations of the company means that it can have a strong and prosperous future in this country.”

Labor concerned about knock-on effect

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says he is concerned about what Holden’s decision means for workers in the car components sector, which employs up to 33,000 people.

“We want Toyota to stay, but one of the dilemmas is when you look at the car industry, you have a number of thousands of people who work directly for Holden and Toyota,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“There are tens of thousands of people who make everything from radiators, to brake parts, to cylinders, to windscreen wipers to windscreens.

“The problem is the people supplying Toyota need a volume of work to justify their businesses being sustained. Holden was part of that justification.”

The car manufacturing industry says re-training Holden employees will take “years”.

Richard Reilly from the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers says a big assistance package will be needed to guarantee workers find jobs.

“I think there’s going to have to be a huge re-skilling program to try and make these people job-ready for other industries,” he said.

“Again they’re specialist people in what they do. Don’t me wrong, they’re highly skilled people, but [while] those skills can be transferred to other areas… they certainly will need training in other areas.”

Holden’s general manager Mike Devereux says the entire industry is “devastated” and says the economy needs to diversify.

“We can’t all work in the services industry. We can’t all be working in the mining industry. There are a million manufacturers in this country,” he told ABC Radio in Melbourne.

8) Australia ready to assist Fiji

By Online Editor
4:00 pm GMT+12, 11/12/2013, Australia

“We stand ready to support Fiji as they move towards returning to democracy”

These were the words from Acting Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Glenn Miles.

In an interview with FBC NEWS Miles says they are ready to assist Fiji as the country prepares for elections next year.

“We are encouraged by the progress and as we have always said we stand ready to support Fiji as they move towards returning to democracy and elections next year, and as part of that last year we provided two point four million dollars in support”.

Miles says whatever assistance Fiji requires from the international community, Australia stands by to assist.

“We are in continuous discussions with the government and obviously as they move forward in this process they’ll identify gaps, and they will come to the international community and ask for those to be filled, but ultimately it will be up to the government here, what sort of support they require but when they do come to us we’ll be ready to assist.”

Miles also confirmed that Australia is working towards having flexible sanctions against senior government and military officers who have been subjected to a travel ban since December 2006.


9) Noken wokim ripot nating long pait agensin korapsen long PNG

Postim 12 December 2013, 17:35 AEST
Paulus Kombo

Siaman blong Transparency International Papua New Guinea, Lawrence Stephen i tok i no gutpela long likum ol kainkain ripot ol i mekim long pait agensim kosapren long kantri i stap nating.

Noken mekim ripot nating long pait agensim korapsen long PNG gavman
Odio: Siaman blong Transparency International Papua New Guinea, Lawrence Stephen i toktok
Mr Stephen i tok planti ol kainkain wokpainim igo insait long ol sutim tok bilong corruption ibin kamap insait long ol yiar igo pinis tasol ol risalt bilongen ino save kamap.

Na em i askim, bilong wanem tru na  han bilong lo ino save kisim na givim mekimsave long ol despela lain istap insait long ol paul pasin.

Mr Stephen i laik long ol nius media tu i mas karim ol stori blong ol korap lain long putim long pablik i lukim na harim.

Em itok ol lidaman i mas traim na bihainim ol gutpela pasin blong lida we president blong South Africa bipo i dai pinis nau ia, Nelson Mandela ibin bihainim na soim long wol.


10) Australie: la fermeture de Holden annoncée pour 2017

Mis à jour 12 December 2013, 10:27 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le constructeur automobile et véritable icône en Australie va licencier 2 900 personnes au cours de ces 4 prochaines années : 1 600 à l’usine d’Australie du Sud et 1 300 dans l’état du Victoria.

Mais 33 000 personnes employées dans le secteur des pièces automobiles seront affectées par cette décision annoncée par le directeur général de cette société, Mike Devereux : « Ce fut une décision difficile étant donné la longue et fière tradition de Holden de construire des automobiles en Australie. »

Pour le chef de gouvernement de l’État du Victoria, Denis Napthine, la décision de Holden est « une terrible nouvelle » et « un jour très triste ».

La Direction de General Motors Holden, en opération dans le pays depuis 65 ans, envisage toujours de rencontrer le Premier ministre, Tony Abbott, mais M. Abbott a répété à plusieurs reprises qu’il n’envisageait pas de subventionner l’industrie automobile.

Holden pour sa part invoque trois raisons pour justifier sa décision : la valeur élevé du dollar australien, de hauts coûts de production et un marché restreint et fragmenté.

En attendant : 33 000 personnes se rongent les ongles et l’autre grand constructeur automobile, Toyota, commence à s’interroger lui aussi sur sa présence en Australie.


11) New system for UPNG

The National, Thursday December 12th, 2013

By TED WIKA KALEO, UPNG , journalism student
THE University of Papua New Guinea Open College (UPNGOC) has launched a new student management system (SMS) technology to manage thousands of student enrolments each year.
The SMS was imported from New Zealand for K107,000 and will be implemented next year to cater for students enrolling in Certificate in Tertiary and Community Studies (CTS) programme in the university centres throughout the country.
Pro Vice-Chancellor Vincent Malaibe said the SMS programme would ensure efficiency in student registration, updating student bio data, updating and printing student transcripts and student account statements on time.
“It is very amazing. It takes less than a minute to sort out the registration of students and updating transcripts. Just one click of a button and student information is there,” he said.
Malaibe said with the new system, the administration would know the exact number of students enrolling so it could print course material accordingly and send them.
“The installation of SMS programme means there is no more estimation. We already know the real value,” he said.
He said the SMS would also be used to record the data of degree and diploma programmes run by the university and offered to the open college.
Malaibe said the system would ensure staff were transparent in their roles and responsibilities.
“If staff dishonestly wants to enroll students not accepted, the system will automatically reject them even if they pay their fees, because it only keeps the list and records of those who are accepted”.


12) Bougainville meri i kisim Best Actress awod long New Zealand

Updated 12 December 2013, 11:28 AEST
Bethany Keats

Meri star blong dispela Mr Pip muvi i kisim Best Actress Award long Tuesday nait long New Zealand Film Awards.

Odio: Xzannjah blong Bougainville, star blong Mr Pip muvi i toktok

17 yar ol Xzannjah blong Bougainville i tokim Tok Pisin sevis olsem em i hamamas tumas taim oli nominetim em tasol em i no bin ting em bai winim dispela awod.

Em itok em i hop dispela film bai givim hop long ol arapela man na meri long Papua New Guinea husat i laik kamap olsem akta long ol muvi.

Maski em i laik long stadi long kamap olsem enjinia long petroleum long university, Xzannjah itok win blong en long dispela awod i no senisim tingting blong en.

Tasol em i tok kain wei em i winim dispela awod olsem Best Actress em i givim em tingting long wok akting tu long wankain taim.

Em itok em i hop dispela film Mr Pip bai halvim ol pipol blong Bougainville long tingting long kalsa na peles blong ol na i kamapim moa nem blong Bougainville na Melanesia.

13) New Caledonia’s First Indigenous TV Station Broadcasting
Government to provide $4.5 million annually for station

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 10, 2013) – New Caledonia’s first indigenous television station has begun broadcasting.

NC.TV was launched in Kone in the northern province, whose Kanak administration is funding the enterprise with US$4.5 million a year.

The head of the station, who is also the province’s vice president, Jean-Pierre Djaiwe, says the idea is to be close to the viewers and help build on what he calls the territory’s common destiny.

The programme line-up includes items about the environment, history and marine science.

So far the territory’s only channel has been New Caledonia Premiere, which is part of France Television.

Radio New Zealand International: Phils Opinion:Congratulations NC and JUST in time for 2014 referendum,may be autonomy or Independence..Go Kanaky Go!!)

14) New radio station Power FM launched in Samoa
By Online Editor
12:13 pm GMT+12, 12/12/2013, Samoa

Samoa woke up with a new kind of power Wednesday after Lauano Henry Vaiotu took to the airwaves, launching the nation’s newest radio station.

Called “Power FM,” the station is located at Nia Mall in Apia.

The inaugural broadcast was given by the Speaker of the House, La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao who welcomed the new radio station.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Lauano said he always dreamt of being a radio disc jockey (DJ).

Eleven months and one week later in Samoa, he has a community radio station for the community.

“From a young age as a kid I have always wanted to be a radio jockey like Casey Kasem and Shotgun Tom Kelly,” he said.

“They were always my idols when I was listening to the radio in the 70s. So it is just like a dream.”

Asked what it was like to have this dream realised, he said:

“It’s a bit mind-boggling, it is a nice feeling a nice sense of achievement “I couldn’t have gotten it done without the help of the team. So I am proud of myself.”

Those 11 months wasn’t plain sailing for the station as Lauano came up against a number of regulations that he hadn’t counted on.

“I had bought equipment from Singapore and Indonesia with out conducting some research,” he said.

“When I got here the regulations and laws here didn’t fit with the equipment I bought.

“But we eventually overcame that and we are up and running.”

Not bad for something he though he would do just for fun.

“I thought I would try to start it as a hobby,” he said.

“(However) not knowing the cost of running just to get your broadcast licence, I have changed my hobby to commercial.”

Despite these obstacles, he said the upside was meeting a “great bunch of blokes and the people who come in and out of the station every day.

“And the sense of achievement that is a highlight,” he said.

“And hopefully I get to help the community and maybe one day the disabled will see that.

“Well if he can run and own a station then I could do it.”

So if you want to tune into a new kind of power with shows for youth, Samoa Aganu’u and current affairs – not to mention great music by some local artists such as Five Star, Penina and Tiafau then tune your dial to 96.9 or 106.7 FM.

15) Solomon Islands Telecom Union May Go On Strike
Threat comes as restructuring planned at Our Telekom company

By Jeremy Inifiri

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 10, 2013) – The Solomon Islands Telekom Workers Union (SITWU) is expected to submit yet another strike notice to the management, citing dissatisfaction with the organization’s planned restructuring exercise.

This came a little over a month after dialogues between SITWU and Our Telekom management failed to resolve the impasse.

As a result SITWU has again taken the stand to hand in yet another strike notice to the management, calling for their demands to be met and the matter resolved.

According to sources, the new restructuring exercise which requires all employees to re-apply for their current jobs (positions), will most likely result in up to 20 percent of all 395 local employees losing their jobs.

Speaking to this paper yesterday, SITWU Vice President, James Kaukui confirmed that the notice will most likely be submitted in by the end of today, having drafted it with the backing of all SITWU members based on legal advice given.

“Currently we are finalizing the required documents with the help of our legal advisor.

“The notice will be submitted to the management upon its completion, the latest tomorrow (today),” Mr Kaukui told this paper yesterday.

SITWU president, Noel Nelu who is currently in Lata, also confirmed to this paper yesterday that the notice will be submitted in as soon as it is completed.

Asked what the context of the notice was, Mr Nelu said that it demands the removal of the Head of Support Services and the Chief Financial Officer, and for the two positions to be localized.

Also the notice calls for the restructure to be carried out in “the best way possible and in a way that is beneficial to both the employees and the organization.

“We have been lenient with the management for quite some time now and yet nothing had been achieved to resolve the matter.

“Therefore we see that going on strike is the only necessary option we have at the moment. Maybe through it the management will hear our pleas and demands,” Mr Nelu said.

Attempts to acquire a statement from Our Telekom management regarding the matter were unsuccessful yesterday.

Solomon Star


16) PNG solar charging stations for cellphones will mean more business

Posted at 04:33 on 12 December, 2013 UTC

The World Bank Group says Papua New Guinea’s new solar charging stations for mobile phones will give villagers entrepreneurial opportunities and allow people in remote areas to better do business.

The International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank, the New Zealand government and the phone operator, Digicel, are trialling a solar station at a village two hours from Port Moresby, Hula.

Its regional manager for the Pacific, Gavin Murray, says if the trial is a success, there may be more than 500 stations across rural areas by 2015, being used by half a million to a million people.

He told Mary Baines about the project.

GAVIN MURRAY: It’s quite remarkable. They call it the ’telecommunications revolution’ in Papua New Guinea and we see it in other Pacific Islands, as well. But I think perhaps it’s most stark here in Papua New Guinea just given the difficulty of communications, the difficulty of access because of the terrain. And mobile telephony has completely changed the way the community now interacts and can now communicate and, in fact, do business. It goes from two extremes. The week before last we actually launched an online business registry, which is the first in the Pacific, to be available for small business to be able to register online. The interesting thing about that is when we were out in this village it was one of the local villagers who was aware of that and said ’Now not only can I charge my phone, but I can use my smartphone to go online and register my business.’ Here in a remote community in Papua New Guinea people could already see the benefits of how these different activities are coming together. So that’s at one extreme. At the other extreme we’ve heard stories that mobile phones have been used at night, where there is no electricity, for childbirth, to be able to provide light. A number of women were telling us that the benefit of having this here was a) they’d be able to charge their phones, b) there was a streetlight so they would feel safer moving around at night and then they would have the ability to use their phones in this perhaps more basic way.

MARY BAINES: How do they work?

GM: It’s simple in nature. It’s a photovoltaic array sitting on top of a pole. It captures the sun’s energy and transmits that to a battery in a small box at the bottom of the pole and then there’s a number of mobile phone direct connections that are available for people to use to charge their mobile phone. And then also on top of the pole is an LED light, effectively a streetlight, so at night the whole area also gets lit up and can be used for community activities.

MB: So at the moment it’s still at pilot stage, but it will be rolled out across the country?

GM: Yes. The model that we’re testing here is actually a mini business model. The idea is for a local in the community to take charge of these installations and effectively to run them as a small business. So they would then charge a small fee for people to recharge their phones and in return they have responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the unit.

MB: And how much is this costing?

GM: Each of these installations costs about $150,000 in the pilot phase, but we’re hoping to reduce that cost to about half. And the initial cost is underwritten by the IFC, the telephone operator. Then IFC has a partnership with New Zealand aid programme to support that, as well.

Radio New Zealand International

17) Satellite to deliver cheap high-speed internet to Pacific

Posted at 04:33 on 12 December, 2013 UTC

It’s believed advanced satellite technology, currently being designed to deliver affordable broadband to the Pacific by the end of 2016, could have a big impact on those economies.

Kacific Broadband Satellites, a Singapore based company, has announced plans to launch a satellite to provide internet connectivity over the Pacific Islands region.

The chief executive, Christian Patouraux, says the high powered signal will overcome traditional challenges posed by widely spread populations separated by large ocean expanses.

He told Bridget Tunnicliffe there are large pools of internet users in parts of the Pacific which aren’t tapped into.

CHRISTIAN PATOURAUX: There are a lot of users who basically are not using the internet because they either don’t have access, that simple, they are either too far away on remote atolls and there is simply no internet for them. I learned in a recent trip in the islands sometimes they have to travel over expanses of water to reach another island that is connected to go and access their email and then return home where they don’t have connectivity. So that’s the residential aspect. But then you have the whole public service aspect, the enterprise aspect of the connectivity market. Today there’s a substantial drive from the government to connect the government departments, the schools, the education departments, the hospitals, the clinics and there is in the Pacific a lot of tourists. And there’s a lot of hotels that need to be connected, as well, so all in all there’s a whole unaddressed demand of customers in the islands that needs to be addressed. And it’s very challenging with the current technology that is deployed.

BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: What kind of impact could improved broadband access have on these economies?

CHRISTIAN PATOURAUX: Well, from some reports from the World Bank, for instance, it could have a significant impact on the GDP of those countries. It could increase the GDP by 1.3% for every 10% of internet penetration among the population. So that can actually translate into quite a bit of additional wealth for those countries that would itself cover the cost of our deployment. So at this stage many of those nations don’t even have 5% of internet penetration because there’s so many hurdles that prevent it from being deployed. So what the World Bank believes is that as soon as you reach 10% of the population using internet then you have a direct impact on the economy and that is all go and I think it’s totally achievable and it’s been achieved in some Middle Eastern countries, for instance with the same type of satellite bringing cheap connectivity and thereby reaching a high penetration of internet and therefore having a direct impact on the GDP.

Christian Patouraux says he has just returned from a trip to Melanesia where governments have responded favourably to the plan.

Radio New Zealand International

18) Vanuatu Appeals To WTO Ministers To Lift EU’s Kava Ban
Small nations face unique economic challenges: trade official

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 11, 2013) – Vanuatu wrote its own history by addressing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 9th Ministerial Conference for the first time, to appeal to its members to recognise its economic vulnerability and get its European Union member countries to lift the ban of kava from the Pacific to the European Market.

Ministerial Envoy and Director General for the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Commerce Marokon Alilee made the appeal on behalf of the Minister, Toara Daniel, at the WTO Conference in Bali, Indonesia on December 5.

The DG acknowledged the President of Indonesia for his country’s hospitality and excellent organisation and facilitation of the Conference. “We recognise Ambassador Roberto Azevedo on assuming the helm of the WTO at this crucial time and we fully endorse this statement that ‘trade, underpinned by the multilateral trading system, has been a powerful force for growth and development,” he said.

“We would also like to thank him for his substantive and transparent approach in the negotiations and hope that this process will continue and we look forward to working with all WTO Members to promote and strengthen this multilateral trading system in the coming years.”

The DG said like most small economies, Vanuatu depends significantly on international trade in goods and services for its economic development and to improve the standard of living of its people.

“The rules-based multilateral trading system should be responsive to the aspirations of small and vulnerable economies (SVEs) and least-developed countries (LDCs) by continuing to provide a robust platform which would enable them to expand and diversify their economies and use trade as an engine of economic growth and sustainable development,” Alilee said.

The ninth WTO Ministerial Conference he said holds a special significance for Pacific WTO Members. “We face unique challenges including small nations surrounded by enormous seas, geographical isolation and vast distances from major markets, environmental challenges from climate change and rising sea levels and the smallness of our economies. We call upon all WTO Members to intensify their efforts to reach agreement on the Bali package, which has development at its core and is consistent with the letter and spirit of the Doha Ministerial Declaration,” he said.

“We also expect that at this meeting, WTO Members will agree on a post Bali Work Programme which will give high priority to issues of utmost importance to SVEs and LDCs across all the negotiating areas.”

He urged the developed country Members to support a Work Programme that addresses the particular structural disadvantages and inherent vulnerabilities of SVEs and LDCs in a holistic manner. “The commitments that would emerge from the negotiations will be crucial in determining whether or not we should continue to place our confidence in the multilateral trading system. We reaffirm the importance of Aid for Trade, and more particularly, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), for developing and strengthening the productive capacity and economic infrastructure of LDCs. We call on our development partners to positively support the extension of the EIF programme post 2015,” he continued.

While Vanuatu has come a long way in liberalising its international trade regime and ensuring non-discrimination through the WTO, he said its exports continue to face non-tariff barriers in key export markets. In much the same way for cotton for some LDCs, a product of significant importance for Vanuatu and other Pacific WTO Members, being kava, a product which is valued for its food and beverage quality, is being denied access by major trading partners without any scientific or legal basis.

Even with the impasse in the DDA, the DG appealed to those countries maintaining these restrictions to immediately lift the ban on kava, so that Vanuatu and other Pacific countries could derive significant benefits from international trade. The rules-based multilateral trading system should cater for the interests of the weak and poor, otherwise its credibility will be undermined.

In conclusion he said, “We need to send a powerful signal from this Conference that the WTO is very much alive by adopting the Bali package. We need to see the bigger picture and not focus on our own small and narrow interests. The multilateral trading system has contributed greatly to the expansion of the global economy and we should do whatever is necessary at this meeting to adopt the Bali package and fulfill the aspirations of SVEs and LDCs.”
Vanuatu Daily Post:

19) Australian Banks Close Money Transfer Companies’ Accounts
World Bank says concerns of laundering to Pacific unfounded

By Jemima Garrett

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 11, 2013) – Australia’s big four banks are closing the accounts of money transfer organisations that help the poorest people in Asia and the Pacific receive money from relatives living in Australia.

The banks say money transfer companies catering to people who are only able to send small sums do not have the anti-money laundering controls they require.

They are reviewing money transfer company accounts and exiting relationships that do not meet robust controls.

Pacific Islanders have turned to a proliferating number of small money transfer companies and the Australian government is helping by providing a website which compares the costs of different money transfer options.

Jonathan Capal, from the London-based company Developing Markets Associates, who manages the website, says he is aware that there have been a number of account closures by various banks across the Pacific Islands.

“There also appears to be a situation where money transfer bank accounts have been closed within Australia too, so at both ends this is making it potentially harder for migrants to send money back home, he said.

Social problems

Many of the Pacific Islanders rely on small sums of money sent through money transfer companies and such closures could leave people without money for hospital visits, school fees and even food.

Pacific Islanders in Australia, New Zealand and the United States send around $500 million to their relatives each year.

The Tongan co-ordinator for Melbourne-based Uniting Church Reverend Jason Kioa says if the money sent by members of his congregation does not arrive in Tonga, it creates problems.

“People will start to borrow money from their neighbours, and this is very common in a communal lifestyle,” he said.

“You borrow money from your neighbour, but then if you don’t get your money, or it is delayed, then your neighbour is also in trouble. It affects the whole community really.”

While the banks say the small money transfer companies pose a money laundering risk, the World Bank’s Senior Payments Systems Specialist Carlo Corazza say those concerns are unfounded.

“There is no evidence of money laundering-laundering activities from Australia to the Pacific Islands through the remittances channels,” he said.

Risk of drug cartels

There are reports of international drug cartels using the Pacific to get access to Australia but Mr Corazza says it is simply not feasible for criminals to use small money transfers.

“Money laundering a huge amount of money with transfers of $200, $300 and $400 each, it is basically impossible,” he said.

“It would cost a huge amount of money to any criminal organisation.”

Money transfer companies have to undergo strict checks before they are registered and comply with anti-money-laundering and counter financing of terrorism legislation.

Mr Capal from Developing Markets Associates says any attempts at money laundering are likely to be picked up.

“Austrac is the regulatory authority in Australia and they have very tight automated procedures with the idea being that any erroneous transaction gets captured in the system very easily,” he said.

“There are plenty of checks and balances in place but it is something that appears to be causing more of an issue with banks.”

The banks are in competition with the small money transfer companies for that business so they have little incentive to solve issues they see with anti-money laundering rules.

Mr Corazza says action is needed to bring the banks and the regulatory authorities together.

“The best thing is to review the anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism compliance rules,” he said.

“Discuss it with the legislature and the banking sector and money transfer operators, they have to sit together and start applying a risk-based approach to this business.

“Probably identifying a threshold below which these payments are not considered as risky, to which the rules are applied in a bit more loosen way than for transfer of high value.”

Radio Australia:


20) Solomons’ politicians lose confidence in the country’s police

Posted at 07:27 on 12 December, 2013 UTC

Members of the Solomon Islands Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee are voicing concerns over corruption in the police force.

It comes as PAC members consider next year’s budget for the Police and Correctional Services.

Opposition MP for Aoke-Langalanga, Mathew Wale, alleges corruption is rife in the force with officers accepting bribes to delay or put aside investigations.

Mr Wale says he holds zero confidence in the force.

The PAC chairman, Douglas Ete, says he and members of the East Honiara constituency are losing their trust and confidence in the nation’s law enforcers.

The acting Commissioner of Police, Juanita Matanga, says most police officers do a commendable job but a few officers are not helping improve the image or integrity of the force.

The Ministry of Police and National Security says it will investigate the PAC members’ concerns.

Radio New Zealand International

21) School Violence In American Samoa Intensifying
Recent fights linked to students wearing school uniforms

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Dec. 10, 2013) – School violence in American Samoa has escalated to the point where Samoana High School students were told last Friday “that if they need to head towards the west side of the island, please REMOVE their SHS uniform for safety reasons,” in addition to avoiding the Fagatogo Marketplace “as much as possible.”

The SHS school principal is on leave and could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Samoa News understands that the announcement was made over the school’s intercom last Friday.

The announcement follows several fights and beatings that have occurred between students of different high schools, with some kids getting jumped just for wearing their school uniform in the wrong part of town.

Last week, a photo of Samoana students — identified by their uniforms — attempting to burn a Tafuna High School uniform was plastered all over the internet and garnered numerous comments on Facebook, with some cheering on the act while others expressing their disgust and anger at how school violence has escalated over the years.

A concerned teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said the animosity has gotten so out of hand, that now all students, even teachers, are and will be affected by it. “Getting beat up just for wearing your school uniform is ridiculous. This is getting way too out of hand.”

Many speculate that the burning of the Tafuna uniform by Samoana students was in reaction to the recent ASHSAA football championship game where the Warriors beat the Sharks 44-6.

Efforts to obtain comments from the DOE main office on what the Education Department is going to do to address the issue were unsuccessful as of press time yesterday.
The Samoa News:

22) Latest National Women’s Report Launched In Fiji
Report claims gender violence one of Fiji’s biggest challenges

By Dawn Gibson

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 10, 2013) – Every day one woman in Fiji is permanently disabled as a direct result of violence from her husband or partner, a report claims.

Additionally, 71 women lose consciousness each day and 43 women are also injured on a daily basis because of her husband or partner.

These alarming figures were some of the major findings of the country’s latest national report on women launched by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) yesterday morning.

The report, titled Somebody’s Life, Everybody’s Business, provided a detailed survey and analysis of physical, sexual and emotional violence shown towards women by intimate partners or husbands and also from non-intimate partners.

The survey sampled a key population of 3193 women and 3538 households in Fiji and has produced some alarming but important information.

[PIR editor’s note: Fiji Times also reported, at the launch, that under-reporting of domestic violence remains a serious problem, with only 10 percent of those experiencing violence actually reporting it. Fiji was also scored as 4 of 20 countries in terms of the prevalence of violence against women by a World Health Organisation methodology. For example, the national report found that 15 percent of women were subjected to violence while pregnant, with one-third being punched or kicked in the abdomen by partners.]

“All of the prevalence figures we have are higher than the global average. Many of them are twice as high as the global average,” explained the report author, Dr Juliet Hunt, who has spent a lot of time working with the FWCC on women’s issues in Fiji and used this World Health Organization method to collate the data.

“For those women who are experiencing violence, it describes a situation of repeated attacks and it describes a situation of oppression and for me, that’s torture.”

The report described violence in Fiji as one of the biggest challenges the country faces in the 21st century.

“Men’s violence against women is an enormous problem for Fiji with far-reaching and highly damaging impacts on individuals, families, communities and the whole nation.

“Entrenched social norms about mind-sets about women’s roles and status need to be challenged and changed to prevent violence,” the report read.

Disturbingly, what the report also highlighted was that in a number of cases, children witnessed the violent acts.

Fiji Times Online:


23) Niue offers to take Australia’s asylum seekers

By Online Editor
3:56 pm GMT+12, 11/12/2013, Niue

The Niue government has approached Australia and offered the country as a site where Canberra could assess its asylum seekers for refugee status.

Australia is running several camps in Nauru housing nearly 700 people and another on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea that is holding more than one thousand.

The premier of Niue, Toke Talagi, says they approached Australia to be a good neighbour and as a responsible member of the Pacific Islands Forum.

He says they have offered to take vulnerable women and children but both countries have agreed to conduct a study to determine if the island has the capability to host the would-be refugees.

“Because we are working together with them to determine whether it is feasible or not. It is not a question of we have made an offer and therefore we are ready to take refugees tomorrow. It is not. It will probably take about, possibly, one to two to three years before anything is actually actioned on the ground.”.


24) Imam Files Racial Hatred Complaint In French Polynesia
Anti-Muslim sentiments allegedly raised after mosque was to open

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 11, 2013) – Media reports in French Polynesia say the lawyer acting for a French imam in Tahiti has lodged a complaint for inciting racial hatred.

The reports say the complaint is directed at the authors of anti-Muslim postings on the internet and the administrators of Facebook where pages were set up to denounce the opening of a prayer room in Tahiti.

If anyone is found guilty of such a crime, the sentence is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to US$60,000.

A month ago, about 400 people marched through Papeete in an unprecedented protest against the planned mosque.

The prayer room was shut within days of its opening after the city administration found that the premises were only to be used as office space.

The imam’s project prompted an extraordinary debate in the territorial assembly and his lawyer said he received death threats.

Radio New Zealand International:

25) Fiji Methodist Church ban yaqona consumption on Sunday

By Online Editor
3:53 pm GMT+12, 11/12/2013, Fiji

Consumption of yaqona on Sunday is now officially banned by the Methodist Church in Fiji for its congregation.

This was revealed to the Fiji Sun by the church general secretary, Reverend Tevita Nawadra Banivanua.

“The ban on yaqona consumption for church members on Sunday is now official,” Reverend Banivanua said.

He said the President Reverend Dr Tuikilakila Waqairatu had floated the idea when he made a speech at the last church annual conference (Bose Ko Viti) in August.

Reverend Banivanua said the decision was referred to a special committee headed by the church vice- president, Ratu Peni Volavola.

The committee reported back and had said that yaqona consumption was to be banned on Sunday for the church congregation.

“The ban will be on Sundays only.”

However he said the committee did receive a submission in relation to yaqona to be consumed on some special Sundays like the monthly church service (lotu vulavou).

This, he said, would be looked into after the head office receives a request on it.

Rev Banivanua said other ban in relation to yaqona would be discussed at circuit and divisional meetings.

“After the divisional meeting a motion would be put forward by the division to the Bose Ko Viti for a decision to be made by the members,” the general secretary said.

He admitted that church members were divided on this.

However once a decision was passed in the Bose Ko Viti it would be official, Reverend Banivanua said.

The president of the church toured all the church divisions before the Bose Ko Viti this year and found that church ministers and members continue to consume yaqona despite the ban in place.

In his recent address at the graduation at the Davuilevu Theological College, he told the 13 graduands who graduated with a Diploma of Theology not to consume yaqona.

“You are to not drink yaqona with married women as they will lead you to evil things that could affect your work,” the church president said.

He said this was a challenge to the church but it could be resolved easily.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Suva, Father Peter Loy Chong says churches shouldn’t influence their members on which political party to choose.

The head of the Catholic Church in Fiji was speaking at a workshop hosted by the Fiji Council of Churches at the Raintree Lodge in Colo-i-Suva Tuesday.

“We don’t get involved in party politics; our role is just to help people to be able to act responsibly,” Archbishop Chong said.

Setting the platform of the re-establishment of the council’s mission and vision, Archbishop Chong discussed the role of churches in building a just society.

“We as leaders need to train our people to make informed decisions as responsible citizens of a country.”

Drawing his presentation from a Catholic methodology called the ‘Pastoral Cycle’ or the ‘See, Judge, Act’, Archbishop Chong said churches should immerse into the experience of the people and respond effectively to the social challenges faced by society.

Interim general secretary of the council Reverend James Bhagwan said the programme of the three-day workshop would be a process of re-evaluation for the council.

Reverend Bhagwan said the council was looking at how it could better its relationship with the Assembly of Christian Churches.


26) Killer drought wrecks island

The National, Thursday December 12th, 2013

THE prolonged drought on Long Island in the Rai Coast district of Madang has claimed the lives of 19 people and left hundreds of families without food and clean drinking water, according to a report.
A situation report on the current
status on the island was compiled by Lutheran Church officials and sent to the provincial disaster office last Thursday.
Acting provincial disaster coordinator Norman Philemon told The National yesterday that they were waiting for the district administrator to submit a follow-up report which he would forward to Governor Jim Kas and the provincial administrator.
The report says 8,000 people in 15 villages on the island had been severely affected by the six-month long drought.
It says there has been no rain on the island since June and that Kas and the provincial administrator are aware of the situation.
“People are starving and so far 19 people are confirmed dead from eating wild palm buds and shoots that are collected and pulped into sago-like pastes,” the report says.
“In almost all villages on the island, there has been an increase in the number of cases of food poisoning and diarrhoea that have caused deaths.
Malnutrition and starvation are increasing by the day.
“Many children are now prone to an outbreak of diarrhoea, influenza and other related diseases if nothing is done quickly to alleviate the drought situation with relief assistance.”
There is an urgent need for safe and clean drinking water, food and relief supplies.
The water tanks have run dry and water in wells have a high salinity content and unsafe to drink.
Philemon said about K350,000 was immediately needed for relief operations.
This covers allowances for workers (K35,000), relief supplies (K135,000) and operating expenses (K180,000).
The island has a large freshwater lake but the water there is also unsafe for human consumption because of the sulphuric content from the effects of past volcanic eruptions.
The report says the drought has spread across the island and damaged food crops such as breadfruit, garden fruits, greens, beans taro, bananas, yams, pumpkins, tapioca and sweet potatoes.
“The entire village population is now dependent on fish, crabs and other coastal food resources for their survival,” it says.
Kas could not be reached for comment yesterday.

27) All Of Kiribati’s People May End Up In Fiji: Bainimarama
PM says questions of citizenship will have to be considered

By Torika Tokalau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 10, 2013) – The Fiji Government will not turn its back on the nation of Kiribati in its hour of need.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, speaking at the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Conservation and Protected Areas last week, said the Government of Kiribati had bought six thousand acres of land on Vanua Levu.

“If the sea level continues to rise because the world won’t tackle global warming, some or all of the people of Kiribati may have to come to live in Fiji,” the PM said.

“In historical terms, this is an unprecedented scenario – a sovereign country and member of the UN simply ceasing to exist in physical form.”

He said Fiji had accepted the Banaban people in 1945 when they moved to Rabi Island. And now his government was facing a range of unprecedented and perplexing decisions as it contemplated giving them refuge against the rising sea.

“The Banaban homeland was not a sovereign state. The citizens of Kiribati most certainly are.

“We clearly cannot have another sovereign nation within our borders. So what do we do? Are these people prepared to become Fijians? Can they be dual nationals of Kiribati and Fiji? How will the whole thing work?

“These are just some of the aspects we are having to consider as the climate change crisis escalates.”
Fiji Times Online:


28) Fiji Rugby targets $1m
By Online Editor
3:12 pm GMT+12, 12/12/2013, Fiji

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama will launch the Fiji Rugby Union fundraising event next Monday at the Holiday Inn Suva.

The event is targeted to raise $1 million to help the coffers of the ailing Rugby House in Suva.

Union media officer Talei Mow said the amount would be collected from the sale of 200 specially designed Fiji Rugby jerseys which would be sold during the event.

The jersey, a limited edition to mark 100 years of Fiji Rugby centennial, will be sold to invited individuals and corporate organisations.

She said the event would also be attended by some former Fijian rugby reps.

The said rugby was believed to be first played in Fiji in the 1880s by European and Fijian soldiers of the Native Constabulary at Ba.

By the early 1900s, reports of games began to appear in the media and although most players were expatriates, a club competition began in 1904.

29) Commonwealth Games 2014: Samoa eye rugby success
By Online Editor
3:14 pm GMT+12, 12/12/2013, Samoa

Viliamu Punivalu, the coach of the Samoan rugby sevens team, has only been in the job since July but is already convinced that victory on the field is linked to an integral part of life on the Pacific island. Brotherhood.

The sense of togetherness that permeates Samoan society, coupled with the skills and conditioning training he instils in the team, are his ingredients for success – the stepping stones on the road to planned victory at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

However, before he enjoys the warm sands of the Copacabana beach, Punivalu has another important date in the more sobering weather of Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games.

“It starts inside Samoan homes – the bond between brothers and sisters and parents,” he reflects.

“We bring that same outlook from our own individual families into an environment when we get together as a group (to play rugby).”

Family and religion, mostly Christianity, are at the heart of Samoa and this is no different in rugby sevens.

Punivalu, who coached Samoa’s Under-20s team at the World Cup in France this year before taking up the new role, said the idea of a team as a “family” existed long before he arrived.

The coach was speaking from a training camp as his team prepare for the Dubai leg in the HSBC Sevens World Series, known as the IRB Sevens, on 29 and 30 November.

In the camp, 14 players and the management team start their day with prayers and religious songs.

After training the service is repeated before the group sit together and talk about any issues. The “family” then settle down for an evening meal.

Thirty-eight-year-old Punivalu, who gave up a job as an engineer to become the sevens coach, added: “You can feel the togetherness of the group.

“Those are the moments that when you are playing hard in a game, you reach out and you remember those moments. You play for each other.”

The Samoans are focused on success in Rio, and see the Commonwealth Games and this year’s Sevens Series as the key preparation for Brazil.

New players, who are predominantly in their teens or early 20s, have been introduced to the team.

Punivalu added: “I came into a team that needed a lot of work and a shift of culture.

“We make sure that everyone is expected to train and improve themselves on strength and conditioning and to make sure they value the blue jersey.”

Punivalu’s captain is Reupena Levasa, who is also a schoolteacher. Levasa knows that to win this year’s Sevens Series and next year’s Commonwealth Games, the Samoans will need to beat the favourites New Zealand.

He said: “New Zealand is a very consistent team in every tournament, so if we beat them it is a big step for us.

“We have the cultural values of respecting each other, and work together as a team.”

The All Blacks, coached since 1994 by Sir Gordon Tietjens, are the dominant force in sevens rugby. They have won 11 of the 14 Sevens Series and are the current World Cup holders.

Since the Commonwealth Games in 1998, when rugby sevens was introduced to the programme, New Zealand have won all four gold medals on offer, with a certain Jonah Lomu in the inaugural winning side.

The Samoans, which with its population of 185,000 is tiny compared to the millions of its main opponents, have yet to win a medal but have a good chance in Glasgow after finishing fourth in last year’s Sevens Series behind New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji.

With the latter nation currently suspended from the Commonwealth and its games, Samoa may just find itself on the podium after the tournament in Ibrox Stadium next summer.

“We have to do better than the last time we were at the Commonwealth,” said Punivalu, citing the island’s fifth-place finish in 2010.

“We have the Olympics to aim for, to try and develop players and increase the pool of players at a younger age. You can’t buy experience.

“All you can do is try and bridge that gap and bring something new up your sleeve for the very experienced New Zealand side. We have to try and work hard and on the day it is all up to the boys.

“By Glasgow, we should have a very strong pool of players to pick a squad from because everyone would have had a chance to play in the IRB.

“I have never been to Scotland and I am looking forward to the IRB Scotland leg (in early May) to get the feel, to understand what the weather is like. It will probably be wet, I am assuming.”

Readers in Scotland may share Punivalu’s pessimistic view of the weather, but if Samoa can cope with the unpredictable nature of Scotland’s climate, the team of “brothers” will certainly be ones to watch.



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