Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 910


1) West Papua massacre: University of Sydney citizen’s tribunal calls for Indonesia to investigate Biak slaughter

By Online Editor
12:46 pm GMT+12, 17/12/2013, Australia

Indonesia is facing calls to investigate the killing, raping, and torture of more than 150 civilians on the West Papuan island of Biak 15 years ago.

A Sydney University citizen’s tribunal presided over by former NSW attorney-general John Dowd, now the president of the International Commission of Jurists, today found that “large numbers” of West Papuans had been tortured and mutilated.

The tribunal urged Indonesia to bring those responsible for the “crimes against humanity” to justice.

It is estimated more than 150 people were killed and their bodies dumped at sea after a West Papuan protest which raised the banned West Papuan Morning Star in Biak in June, 1998.

Indonesia has never admitted the massacre, claiming only one person was killed, and blaming the bodies washed ashore on a subsequent tsunami.

The action was strongly supported by the then-head of Indonesia’s military, General Wiranto.

Yudha Korwa, who was 17 at the time of the massacre, was at the protest with a friend.

He has since been granted political asylum after escaping to Australia on a wooden boat six years ago.

“I saw so many people getting killed by the military. I saw little boy killed, old people, pregnant women and the little girl,” he said.

“One of the army hit me with a gun and my face filled with blood and I was really sacred so I pretend to die. [I heard] people yelling ‘Help me, help me’.”

His skull cracked and stabbed, Korwa was one of the few to escape. He limped away and hid for two days in a road culvert.

UNSW anthropologist Dr Eben Kirksey was a young American undergraduate then passing through Biak.

“As everyone was singing the troops started shooting into the crowds and in those initial moments people were mowed down, started falling – others started running,” he said.

“The people who survived were herded onto the harbour and as they were put on ships they could see the dead and dying from initial assault were being loaded onto trucks.”

Earlier this year at the University of Sydney, a citizen’s tribunal took evidence of what happened at Biak 15 years ago.

Testifying for the first time, Tineke Rumakabu said she saw her friend beheaded. She herself was tortured horribly.

Former NSW crown prosecutor Nicholas Cowdery was Counsel Assisting at the tribunal.

“She was burnt, she was mutilated – genitally mutilated – raped, treated in the most brutal and degrading fashion by Indonesian police,” he said of Rumakabu.

“The specific mutilations of the females was a specific terror policy. It’s hard to believe human beings can behave like these soldiers.”

A few months later Indonesia launched a military crackdown in East Timor – one that ultimately failed, despite similar proven atrocities against unarmed civilians.

But while world attention focused on East Timor, the Biak attack was never investigated.

The tribunal has now called on Indonesia to do just that.

“We want those that are responsible to be brought to justice,” Dowd said.

“We want an investigation, we want criminal prosecutions, and we want people to pay a penalty for what they did to these wonderful people.

“There are investigations that can be conducted by an independent judicial body in Indonesia.

“There is the opportunity for a special prosecutor to conduct investigations in Indonesia, there is the opportunity for Indonesians to provide compensation to people.”

Indonesia has refused to comment on the citizen’s tribunal, which has also called on Australia take action.

“The Australian Government has a duty to the people who died and their families to expose what happened to stop it happening again,” Dowd said.


2) Malaita Airport Closed By Landowners In Solomon Islands
Civil aviation authority allegedly breached 2012 agreement

By Eddie Osifelo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 17, 2013) – Landowners in Solomon Islands have indefinitely closed the Gwaunaru’u airport near Auki, Malaita province since Friday last week.

The Solomon Star understands this came after the civil aviation authority has breached some parts of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the landowners to reopen it last year.

It’s unclear which part of the MOU was breached by the government.

The closure of the airport has hampered passengers who want to travel to Auki on business and vacation trips ahead of the Christmas festivity.

One officer within the flight operation of the ministry of communication and aviation has confirmed receiving a notice to stop any flights to Gwaunaru’u airport until further notice.

Malaita Premier Edwin Suibaea said he had heard of this news but was still to get the full details of it.

Solomon Airline provides daily service to Gwaunaru’u airport since it reopened last year.

However, with the closure of the airport, passengers will now resort to travel by boat to and from Auki causing a lot of inconvenience for the traveling public.

It takes about more than five hours to travel to and from Auki on ships like Matalau, Pelican Express, 360 Discovery, Day Star and others, while it takes about 25 minutes to 30 minutes by air.

Gwaunaru’u airport was closed for sometimes but was reopened last year after government and the landowners reached an agreement.

Solomon Star

3) Clarification wanted around occupations reserved for ni-Vanuatu

Posted at 06:12 on 17 December, 2013 UTC

Business owners in Vanuatu want more details about the addition of seven occupations to the reserved list for ni-Vanuatu.

The addition of new vocations, which include engineers and cashiers, is aimed at promoting jobs for locals but some critics say the categories are too vague.

Company owner and Chamber of Commerce tourism sector spokesperson, Bryan Death, says the changes weren’t discussed with the private sector before being passed in parliament.

He says there are cases where a business needs a technically qualified person to fill a position, who cannot be found within the indigenous population.

“There is some very broad categories mentioned in that and the category of engineer is far too broad and we need to see the full content of what the State Law Office is preparing for gazetting.”

Bryan Death says the Chamber of Commerce has since discussed the issue with the Commissioner for Labour and he’s given assurances the change won’t impact on general work permit applications for foreign workers.

Radio New Zealand International

4) Vanuatu Inquiry finds politicians sold diplomatic passports

Posted at 09:48 on 17 December, 2013 UTC

Political appointees and former Vanuatu diplomats have been implicated in the selling of Vanuatu diplomatic passports to foreigners following a major inquiry.

The three-month Commission of Inquiry, commissioned by the Justice and Community Services Minister Jonas James, has found that the alleged sales of Vanuatu diplomatic passports began in 2002.

The five man commission discovered that the sale of passports was done despite the fact that there was no legislation in place to guide the issuance of diplomatic passports.

The inquiry found that from 2002 to 2007, before the enactment of the Foreign Service Act and the Passports Act, there were many anomalies in the issuance of diplomatic passports.

The diplomatic passports were sometimes issued to persons bearing titles that did not exist within diplomatic ranks.

Furthermore the inquiry’s report revealed that diplomatic passports were issued to de-facto partners and middlemen for delivery overseas.

The Commission also found that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – between 2007 and 2008 in particular, a period in which George Wells was Foreign Minister – was managing the issuance of diplomatic passports and that those passports at the time were being handwritten.

The Commission has made a number of recommendations aimed at regulating the process around issuing diplomatic passports, including that appointees be given the status based on merit rather than political affiliations.

Radio New Zealand International

5) Vanuatu opposition withdraws motion against PM Carcasses

Posted at 09:48 on 17 December, 2013 UTC

The leader of Vanuatu’s opposition, Ham Lini has withdraw a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Moana Carcasses due to lack of members of parliament supporting it.

The opposition deposited the motion last week, saying a number of government backbenchers disagreed with the leadership of the prime minister.

The motion was set to be debated in parliament this afternoon.

However it became clear this morning that Mr Carcasses has a strong majority in the 52-seat parliament.

The Prime Minister’s office says that 36 MPs have confirmed their support for the Carcasses-led coalition government

Radio New Zealand International

6) Vanuatu daily news digest | weekend print stories

by bobmakin

The weekend print media …

The Saturday Daily Post begins with a headline from Willie Jimmy MP expressing discontent at the Vanuatu National Provident Fund investing in companies needing what he calls a bail-out. The former Finance Minister is opposed to the company holding worker savings in this manner and points out that the Fund operates through an Act of Parliament which specifiesinvestment guidelines which MP Jimmy maintains are not being followed.

The weekend Daily Post also draws attention to ‘illegal’ tenants in government houses. Prime Minister Carcasses is giving one week’s notice to such persons to quit the state owned premises. An MP question in the House was being answered by a prime ministerial reply.

Post on Saturday also draws attention to the Fishermen’s Association wanting their money which still has to be paid out and for which there has been a much publicised Commission of Inquiry. Daily Post, too, deals with the agreement reached by certain customary land-owners of the Big Bay area with Stephan Mandel of the Mondragon Organization which had the intention to set up a Free Trade Zone. Mandel has been announced as the contractor to run the project of the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission. The agreement with the land owners for a smaller parcel of land was never honoured they say.

The weekend Independent deals with the Commission of Inquiry into passport sales by officer(s) responsible for citizenship and passport issue. The validity of the Inquiry is therefore highly suspect. Everyone knows there has been evidence given in courts as to illegal citizenship issue. The police, however, only have evidence brought to them by persons of the official inquiry, whose identity has not been made known publicly.

A) (17/12/13) The weekend Independent has MP Robert Bohn denouncing the Director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Joseph Nial, for criminal convictions. Bohn should know a criminal conviction when he sees one, having been convicted in such a matter himself and which conviction was confirmed as recently 6 June 2008 by the Western District of Michigan. It is preposterous he uses the Nial conviction to denigrate Nial’s professional performance. The Independent, however, saw this as a valid excuse to make news of the story.
7) ( Answer refering to article A 18/12/13 ) 
Today’s Vanuatu daily news digest will be late owing to other commitments. Ronan Harvey commented on the bulletin concerning weekend print stories posted yesterday. He says:
I am staggered, beyond belief, that this “news digest” supports the wholly untenable position of Joseph Niel, Director of CAAV. It is clear that the author of this piece has no knowledge of the legal obligations and qualifications required of the incumbent CAAV Director. The primary step for appointment is the “fit and proper person” test. Joseph Niel has single-handedly brought aviation in Vanuatu to its knees. Air Vanuatu is under investigation, Qantas as have cancelled their code-share agreement and may deny Air Vanuatu access to their ticketing / booking system. Airports Vanuatu are grossly delinquent in their required compliance with ICAO regulations, as a consequence Virgin will terminate their services in February 2014. CAAV are little more than “casual observers” of aviation in Vanuatu. It will be interesting to see where this matter ends. In my view an aviation incident of “significant proportions” is just around the corner, a view collectively shared by the qualified aviation commentators in and outside of Vanuatu.
I bet you don’t print this eh ?
Ronan Harvey

8) Former Vanuatu Officials Warned To Vacate State Housing
Police will evict those not in compliance by next week: PM

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 16, 2013) – Starting Monday December 16, 2013, Police will deliver letters to former Vanuatu government ministers still ‘illegally’ occupying government houses, giving a one-week notice to vacate the state-owned premises.

Prime Minister Moana Carcasses, who said the above in Parliament yesterday afternoon in response to queries raised, also said next week a list will come before Parliament, detailing all outstanding monies by all political parties and every individual politicians owing money to Air Vanuatu.

“If you do not vacate the house by next Sunday, Police will evict you on Monday, I am asking, if you are residing in a government house which you are not supposed to reside in please vacate the premises,” he said.

“The police will deliver letters which I as Prime minister give a week’s notice (to former) government ministers to vacate the government property.

PM Carcasses was responding to a question from MP for Efate Rural Gillion William, enquiring the government’s policy on former ministers in the previous government still residing in government houses.

Previously MP for Malekula Don Ken asked PM Carcasses and Minister of Justice Jonas James to respond to the allegation of an LPO used by the minister on private property and also at the Academy, saying it is public money and should be addressed in the parliament.

PM Carcasses acknowledged the former minister of Health and said, “The Minister of Justice received threats from the Fishermen; his Director General (Justice DG) decided that they will use the money to erect a fence on the minister’s private residence for safety and the minister’s Vt50,000 [US$517] housing allowance will be deducted. Based on safety reasons as prime minister I agree to this.”

The response on Air Vanuatu was to Santo Rural MP Alfred Maoh who queried about an allegation raised by Port Vila MP Willie Jimmy regarding a fishing company owing monies to Air Vanuatu.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

9) Fiji voters register out today

By Online Editor
3:39 pm GMT+12, 17/12/2013, Fiji

The Fijian Government Tuesday released the voters register to political parties in the lead up to the 2014 election.

Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) general secretary, Pio Tabaiwalu said it’s a welcomed development which will enable parties’ to cross-check their members’ details.

“We’d like to check through the accuracy of voters. We’d want our members to check their details to ensure it corresponds with what’s on their cards. If corrections are to be made, then we can do that then,” he said.

“At the same time, the registration will help us determine the distribution of voters around Fiji.”

He said after January, parties have only seven months to get all logistics in place in time for the 2014 elections.

Meanwhile, Fiji’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) says the release of the electoral rolls today proves true the Fijian Government’s promise to hold elections by September 2014.

Some 500,000 copies contained in two boxes were handed over to political parties in Suva today.

“We are happy to have it. We are happy that the process is rolling,” says interim National Federation Party general secretary Sat Narayan.

“Our members will be able to check their details over the next few weeks. There will be time for verification process.”

A supplementary copy of the voter registration list will be released early next year for those who will register later and particularly for those who turn 18 by January 2014.


10) Australia supports social projects in the Pacific

Posted 17 December 2013, 18:01 AEST

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has unveiled a number of social and investment projects for the Pacific, during a visit to Solomon Islands.

Among the projects, Ms Bishop says Australia will spend $15 million over the next five years to provide support to more than 250 businesses in the Pacific.

As well, there are specific programs for Solomon Islands – $5 million to help prevent domestic and family violence and $500,000 for major renovations for the Royal Solomon Islands Police.

Australia will dedicate $500,000 over two years to open up economic opportunities for Pacific women through a private sector development initiative.

Ms Bishop told Pacific Beat that Australia’s engagement in the Pacific is about making the region more self-sufficient.

“This is our neighbourhood. This is where we live,” she said.

“There is a significant history that exists between Australia Pacific islands particularly through World War Two. And geography binds us together. But there’s also a deep affection between the Australian people and Pacific Islanders, including Solomon Islanders.”

Ms Bishop is leading a bi-partisan delegation including the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Brett Mason, the Opposition Foreign Affairs spokeswomen Tanya Plibersek and her colleague Matt Thistlethwaite, as well as the new Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja, on a three-day visit to Melanesia. The delegation will also visit Vanuatu and Nauru.

“This is an opportunity to visit other countries in the region who are significant recipients of Australian overseas assistance and also countries that are of specific interest in terms of Australia’s security,” Ms Bishop said.

Australia has recently cut its aid budget and announced a new focus for assistance but Ms Bishop says Australia will remain the biggest aid donor for the Pacific.

“Our aid program will continue to support Australia’s foreign and trade priorities which includes a safe and secure and prosperous Pacific region,” she says.

“About 19-20 per cent of all Australia’s official development assistance is provided for the Pacific so we will continue to be a major player in international development assistance in the Pacific region – it will remain an important area of focus for Australia.

“Our engagement in the Pacific is about making the Pacific islands more self sufficient, to transform the engagement with Australia from aid to donor, aid recipient to equal partnerships.

“(In Vanuatu) we will be focussing on PACER Plus which is a free-trade agreement that’s being negotiated with Pacific islands, we will be discussing way we can enhance economic development in Vanuatu.

“I want to ensure the relationship with Australia is on a sound and firm footing.”

11) Sacked AusAID graduates to take DFAT to Fair Work Commission

By Online Editor
3:34 pm GMT+12, 17/12/2013, Australia

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) faces legal action over its dumping of young people hired by the AusAID graduate program then sacked before they could start their careers.

The public sector union, the CPSU, says it is taking the department to the Fair Work Commission in a bid to force the department to give the graduates jobs.

The applicants for the AusAID program had been offered graduate positions with the agency but were then told by the department not to show up. The department will go ahead with its own graduate program as usual next year.

CPSU deputy secretary Rupert Evans said the Fair Work Commission action was aimed at trying to persuade the department to find work for the graduates, many of whom rejected other job offers so they could work at AusAID.

“We are going to the Fair Work Commission to seek its assistance in persuading the department to look at alternative employment options for those affected staff,” he said.

“We believe there are options that exist and we are encouraging the department to explore them so that these people who were so keen to go into public service might be able to find a job elsewhere.”

AusAID staff still face a wait of several months before they know if they have a job.


12) Moa Australia Federal Polis igo long PNG

Updated 17 December 2013, 15:18 AEST
John Papik

Ol wokbung namel long  Australia na Papua New Guinea long saed blong polis na sekiuriti iwok long kamapim gutpela kaikai yet.

Long Fraide long wik igo pinis narapela lain offisa blong Australia Federal polis ibin igo antap long Papua New Guinea we ol bai igo wok long Lae, namba tu bikpela city blong kantri.

Governor blong Morobe Provins Kelly Naru, Australia High Kominisina long Papua New Guinea, Deborah Stokes, deputi Komisina blong Polis Operations, Simon Kauba, Ian Scott .Komanda blong Australia Federal polis PNG Operations na Metropolitan Superintendent blong Lae City Ivan Lakatani ibin go long Lae long welkamim despla nupla laen blong Australia husat bai wok long PNG.

Long dispela grup blong Australia Federal Polis igo long Lae em ol 13-pela olgeta tasol Governor Kelly Naru itok maski namba i liklik emi hamamas long save ol bai bringim long wok blong ol long lukautim loa na oda long Lae city.


13) Des objets diaboliques au Parlement papou

Posté à 17 December 2013, 8:46 AEST
Pierre Riant

Plusieurs  ministres réclament la démission du Président du Parlement, Theo Zuneroc, qui s’est lancé dans une croisade contre les mécréants ; une opération de nettoyage pour enlever du Parlement tout ce qui pourrait montrer du mépris pour la religion.

Des linteaux traditionnels sculptés surplombant l’entrée à la tribune du public au Parlement ont été arrachés et coupés en morceaux.

Des têtes sculptées de totems traditionnels ont été détruites parce qu’elles représentaient, dit-il, des esprits malveillants.

7 ministres papous sont à Canberra, la capitale fédérale australienne,  pour des entretiens de haut niveau avec leurs homologues australiens. Nous avons pu avoir en ligne Sir Puka Temu pour lui demander ce qu’il pensait de la croisade du Président du Parlement : « Moi-même et 7 autres ministres sommes à Canberra pour le Forum ministériel entre l’Australie et la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. Quand nous avons appris ce que le Président du Parlement avait fait, nous avons été très déçus. Le Président du Parlement a des opinions chrétiennes radicales.

Nous avons donc envoyé un texto au Premier ministre, Peter O’Neill pour qu’il ordonne au Président du Parlement d’arrêter de faire ce qu’il était en train de faire.
Pour nous, c’est absurde. Il est en train de saper des traditions et des cultures d’un pays où nous vivons depuis des centaines de milliers d’années. »

Théo Zuneroc a en fait pris cette décision de supprimer des symboles blasphématoires unilatéralement, c’est-à-dire sans consulter le Parlement dont il est le Président.

Peter O’Neill, le Premier ministre, a effectivement ordonné é Théo Zuneroc de tout arrêter mais le Président du Parlement a fait la sourde oreille en coupant la cime de deux totems : « C’est incroyable. Ce sont des choses que nos ancêtres ont élaboré au fil des ans en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée. Qu’un dirigeant à la tête du corps législatif puisse faire ce qu’il a fait unilatéralement  est incroyable. »

Et comment le Président du Parlement va se sortir de cette situation : « La société doit réclamer sa démission, il doit partir. Il ne peut pas imposer unilatéralement ses valeurs chrétiennes dans notre icône nationale et symbole d’une jeune et dynamique démocratie. On va devoir bâtir une seconde chapelle au Parlement maintenant ou quoi ?
Nous avons cette très belle et magnifiquement conçue Maison du Parlement et tout le monde en est très fier.

La seule chose qu’il lui reste à faire, c’est de démissionner. Je le réclame  et je le demanderais au Premier ministre. Ce que le Président du Parlement a fait sans consulter personne est impardonnable, il doit démissionner. »

Des propos recueillis par Bruce Hill.

14) Julie Bishop dans le Pacifique

Posté à 17 December 2013, 9:00 AEST
Pierre Riant

La ministre australienne des Affaires étrangères est arrivée hier soir aux Îles Salomon.

Julie Bishop est à la tête d’une délégation bipartisane. Elle est accompagnée, entre autres, par Tanya Plibersek en charge des Affaires étrangères dans les rangs de l’opposition.
Les discussions avec le Premier ministre salomonais, Gordon Darcy Lilo, porteront sur la Mission d’assistance régionale aux Îles Salomon et  l’impact de l’aide australienne pour la population de l’archipel.

À Nauru Julie Bishop rencontrera le Président Waqa pour parler de plusieurs projets d’aide. Elle se rendra ensuite au Centre de détention pour demandeurs d’asile.

Et au Vanuatu c’est en compagnie du Premier ministre, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, que la délégation s’entretiendra de projets de développement économique. Une visite est également prévue au Centre des femmes du Vanuatu pour des discussions avec plusieurs dirigeantes locales.

En fait, la condition féminine dans la région est au centre de cette visite.


15) Mandela statue unveiled in Pretoria

By Online Editor
3:28 pm GMT+12, 17/12/2013, South Africa

On a public holiday dedicated to reconciliation, South Africans have started to come to terms with the loss of Nelson Mandela, unveiling a giant statue to honour his struggle for equality.

A day after the democracy icon was buried with full honours in his boyhood village, a nine-metre bronze likeness was unveiled on Monday on the lawns of the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria.

This is where generations of apartheid heads of state signed many of the racial laws Mandela spent most of his life fighting against, but also where he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

Last week, the venue saw up to 100,000 people stand in hours-long queues to file past the statesman’s open casket in a last token of respect as he lay in state for three days.

President Jacob Zuma presided over the unveiling of the giant statue of a broadly smiling Mandela in mid-stride, arms stretched out in a welcoming gesture, sporting his trademark ‘Madiba shirt’.

Zuma said the position of the arms ‘denotes that South Africa is now a democratic country, he is embracing the entire nation, he is advancing to the nation to say: ‘let us come together, lets us unite’.’

The 4.5-tonne statue is the largest of many erected around the world in honour of the anti-apartheid hero. Many of them show Mandela with his fist raised defiantly in the air.

Built at a cost of about 8 million rand ($A896,860), the statue replaces one of Barry Hertzog, an Afrikaner nationalist and general who was prime minister of South Africa from 1924 to 1939.

Symbolically, members of the Hertzog family were present for Monday’s ceremony.

For 50 million compatriots, Mandela was not just a statesman and president, but a moral guide who led the country away from internecine racial conflict.

While the man lovingly called the father of the ‘rainbow nation’ had been critically ill for months, the announcement of his death aged 95 on December 5 nevertheless sent a shock wave through a country struggling to carry forward his vision of a harmonious multiracial democracy of shared prosperity.

South Africans of all hues gathered on the lawns of the Union Buildings for Monday’s ceremony, watching the unveiling on big screens as a 21-gun salute rang out and air force jets flew over the venue in a ‘missing man’ formation usually reserved for honouring a fallen pilot.

“Reconciliation, peace, that’s what this is about,” said Afrikaner Retha Jansen, 63, who said she had come to be part of history.

At Sunday’s funeral, Zuma had urged the country to carry on Mandela’s legacy of unity.

“One thing we can assure you of today, Tata (father), as you take your final steps, is that South Africa will continue to rise … because we dare not fail you,” he said.

The Nobel peace laureate was given a state burial in his rural boyhood village of Qunu, marked by tearful eulogies and strident vows to pursue his ideals.

“Madiba’s values and ideals must guide us as a nation as we contemplate a South Africa without his towering presence,’ a government statement said, using the clan name by which the anti-apartheid hero is fondly known.

“Former president Mandela is associated with the promotion of reconciliation which is why the day was chosen for the unveiling (of the statue)” said the government.

The event had been planned long before Mandela’s death.


16) Japan invests in military spending amid simmering territorial row with China

Posted 17 December 2013, 20:08 AEST

Tokyo is set to increase its military spending by five per cent over the next five years, in a move that will boost Japan’s defence of remote islands amid an ongoing territorial dispute with China.

Tokyo is set to increase its military spending by five per cent over the next five years, in a move that will boost Japan’s defence of remote islands amid an ongoing territorial dispute with China.

It includes spending on an amphibious unit designed to defend or take back islands in the East China Sea, currently the focus of the dispute with Beijing.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet have agreed to a $US 240 billion defence build-up plan, which includes the purchase of drones, submarines, fighter jets and amphibious vehicles between 2014 and 2019.

The equipment will help Japan respond more quickly and effectively to any contingency but especially to any territorial threat over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The new defence guidelines approved by Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet include a note that “China is taking dangerous action that can draw unexpected contingencies”.

It is part of efforts by Mr Abe to normalise the military in Japan, which has been officially pacifist since defeat in World War II.

Its well-equipped and highly professional services are limited to a narrowly defined self-defensive role.

Mr Abe said the shift would allow Japan’s military to better shoulder its responsibilities on the global stage.

“We hope to make further contributions to the peace and stability of the international community through proactive pacifism,” he said.

“This shows with transparency our country’s diplomatic and defence policies.”

Analysts say that while much of the purchases will replace obsolete equipment, the shift in military priorities is evident.

“The guidelines underscore a clear shift of Japan’s major defence focus to the protection of its islands in the East China Sea,” said Hideshi Takesada, an expert on regional security at Takushoku University in Tokyo.

The guidelines show Japan’s readiness for practical defence if China’s bluff turns to be real military action,” he said.

Regional tensions were raised in November after China declared a new Air Defence Identification Zone over the East China Sea, including over disputed Tokyo-controlled islands called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

At a Southeast Asian summit at the weekend, Mr Abe denounced the declaration and demanded Beijing retract it immediately and unconditionally.

The ASEAN joint statement called for freedom of travel on the seas and in the air.

But Beijing rebuked the comments and singled Mr Abe out Abe for “slanderous remarks”.



17) Samoan grandmother breaks new ground

Posted at 06:12 on 17 December, 2013 UTC

A Samoan grandmother has become the first student to graduate with a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington’s Pacific Studies programme.

Dr Esther Tumama Cowley-Malcolm’s doctoral research explored Samoan parents’ perceptions of and responses to aggressive behaviour in young children and the usefulness of an intervention tool.

The 60-year-old told Bridget Tunnicliffe when she registered for her PhD in 2008, she had no idea she was breaking new ground.


18) Association Banks of Fiji welcomes new pay system

By Online Editor
12:40 pm GMT+12, 17/12/2013, Fiji

The Association Banks of Fiji (ABF) says it welcomes efforts by the Fijian Government to move to a more efficient pay system across Fiji although none of it member banks have registered for the National Switch and FijiPay system.

ABF member banks are ANZ, BSP, BRED Bank, Bank of Baroda, and Westpac.

ABF general manager Adrian Hughes says they needed time to understand the mechanics and changes they have to make in order to implement the new system.

“We are working with the Government to understand more about what these changes mean for our member banks and how we can best implement them in an efficient and effective manner,” Hughes said.

The banks have also not been told who will foot costs of implementing the new system.

The country’s central bank has also declined to comment on the new pay system.

It’s understood, although efficient for customers in that they can access their funds through any ATM machines, implementing the new system will also mean possible loss in revenue for banks because they will not be charging current fees for the use of the ATM machines.

In his 2014 Budget Address, Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama directed that all banks and financial institutions connect at the latest by January 2014.

The new system is being done up by government’s ITC department in conjunction with Indian IT company Yalamanchili.


19) Japanese businessmen expected in Fiji in January

By Online Editor
08:42 am GMT+12, 17/12/2013, Fiji

Four potential investors from Japan have shown interest in doing business in Fiji.

Fiji’s Ambassador to Japan Isikeli Mataitoga told FBC, the investors are expected in the country next month after an earlier visit to explore the potential in our commercial sector.

“The mission actually takes them to the point where they meet their local counterparts and just make they are treated fairly when they come into Fiji and I think there are some engagement already taken place”.

Mataitoga added that investors from Russia have also come forward.

“We were surprised to see the interest in some of our sectors from Russia and I think already we have three or four new investors and they’re big in the context of our economy they’re fairly big investors”.

Our seaweed industry is one of the areas of interest.

However, Mataitoga says there are still some rough edges in our investment policies that need ironing out.


20) Tuna problem out of Fiji’s control: Southwick

By Online Editor
2:31 pm GMT+12, 16/12/2013, Fiji

The President of the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association (FTBOA) says he cannot see a solution to problems in tuna industry in the next five years.

Graham Southwick says the only long-term solution is that the region needs to work together to place their concerns on the agenda of international tuna meetings.

“Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, they’ve all have got to get together and learn to cooperate and try and take care of this problem. And can only be taken care of at the regional level. Fiji is doing what it can but internally we can only control ten or thirty percent of the problem but bulk of the problem is a regional problem. But that’s a long term thing, could be ten of fifty years of negotiation and action before we see any results.”

Southwick says Fiji’s 300-million dollar tuna industry is gasping for breath.

The FTBOA has sought assistance from the government on alternative fisheries.

The association claims state-subsidised foreign vessels flood the international market with tuna supplies thus their increasing existence in the Pacific waters, has made it hard for local players to compete for the same tuna stock.

“Fiji has to do what they can to mitigate the problem. The immediate problem is that the fishing boats are losing money heavily and they will not be able to sustain another month at this kind of losses so they just have to do what they can internally and that’s what we have been talking about.”

Meanwhile, the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association has welcomed the set up of a sub-committee by government to look into what it calls, is the “serious status” of our tuna industry.

Southwick told FBC News, the twelve companies involved are struggling to survive in the ailing industry.

“Our major concern is how we survive the next six weeks, its not the next six years. Certainly we welcome that and it’s a long process, the sooner they get going the better”.

Following meetings between Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, the tuna industry stakeholders and line Ministries, a three member government sub-committee headed by the Minister for Fisheries have been appointed to looking to the problems of the tuna industry.


21) Cooks govt could pay to guarantee Air NZ profit on Raro service

Posted at 09:48 on 17 December, 2013 UTC

The Cook Islands government could pay millions more a year to guarantee Air New Zealand a profit on its Los Angeles to Rarotonga service.

Air New Zealand has won the contract to continue providing flights to Rarotonga from LA and Sydney, and a new contract is being negotiated.

Currently, the government pays for the costs of both routes, and guarantees a 10 per cent return for the Sydney route.

An economic advisor at the ministry of finance, James Webb, says it’s likely the contract for the LA to Rarotonga service will be similar to that of the Sydney agreement.

He says both routes combined cost about 9.5 million dollars last year, and a rate of return on the LA route will add to this cost.

“We’ve budgeted for about 12.5 million, but of course fingers crossed it comes in less than that. It’s a huge cost for us, we’re a small economy so for us it’s very important that we make sure that we’re actually doing it properly and getting a return from this. Being a remote island country, we rely on tourism, and we rely on accessibility to tourists, and so without that, there’s a large part of our economy which isn’t being serviced.”

James Webb says the LA route has been found to add to the economy, however there is a small loss associated with the Sydney route.

Radio New Zealand International

22) Hotels in CNMI’s Saipan to get limited gambling

Posted at 06:12 on 17 December, 2013 UTC

The operation of electronic gaming machines in hotels on Saipan in the Northern Marianas is now legal after the governor, Eloy Inos, on Friday signing an amendment redefining a gambling device.

The new law allows electronic gaming machines only in hotels with at least 100 rooms or, if they have less than 100 rooms, they need to be attached to a golf course.

Mr Inos says he approved the measure to help the territory meet its financial obligations.

Casino gambling is legal only on Tinian and Rota.

Saipan voters have rejected a push for casinos twice, and a House casino bill was rejected three times in the Senate.

Radio New Zealand International


23) Offshore processing of asylum seekers bill hits $2 billion

By Online Editor
3:27 pm GMT+12, 17/12/2013, Australia

Offshore processing of asylum seekers will cost AUD$2 billion over the next four years.

The mid-year economic and fiscal outlook released on Tuesday said a AUD$1.2 billion boost in funding over the forward estimates would make up for Labor’s “inadequate” funding of the system.

Under the scheme all people arriving by boat will be processed in Papua New Guinea or Nauru, up from the forecast one in six under Labor.

The immigration budget will be bolstered by the coalition’s move to cut the humanitarian program intake from 20,000 to 13,750 places, saving AUD$964.5 million over four years.

Processing the asylum seeker backlog and providing temporary protection visas will cost $493.2 million over four years.

The government plans to grant TPVs for a maximum of three years, with a subsequent visa to be granted if the visa holder continues to be owed protection, the budget document said.

The same range of services provided under the Howard government would be made available to TPV holders.

Cuts to onshore processing will save the budget AUD$858 million over the forward estimates.

Operation Sovereign Borders, which involves intelligence, police, defence and immigration officials cooperating to “stop the boats”, will cost just under AUD$210 million over four years..



24) Bad weather warning for sea travellers

The National, Tuesday December 17th, 2013

THE Morobe Disaster and Emergency Services has warned sea travellers to take precautions and heed weather forecasts.
Director Charlie Masange confirmed yesterday that the festive season would be marked by strong winds and occasional torrential rains.
He said no major disasters had been reported from the nine districts of Morobe.
“I am yet to collect reports but it is better not to take the risk, especially when travelling,” Masange said.
Meanwhile, torrential rain in Lae on Sunday night caused flash floods in rivers, creeks and streams around the city.
The Yalu River washed away seven family homes at Yalu block in the Wampar local level government, which has more than 1,500 settlers.
The water level on the Bumbu River, which flows in the middle of Lae and serves as the main water source, rose overnight.
Joe Owera and Mathew Timothy from Yalu block said this was the fourth flooding that had affected them in recent years.
They expect more family homes to be washed away.
They said they have approached the Wampar LLG, provincial disaster and emergency services hoping to get government assistance.

25) Plight of Bougainville’s Carteret Islanders increasingly dire

Posted at 09:48 on 17 December, 2013 UTC

Tulele Peisa, a non-government organisation in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville says they need more help to cater for growing numbers of families wanting to move to the main island from the Carterets.

The tiny islands are increasingly under threat from the effects of climate change, with flooding affecting residents’ chances for producing food.

Tulele Peisa’s spokesperson Ursula Rakova says people on the Carterets are struggling to feed themselves.

She says their situation amounts to an abuse of human rights.

Tulele Peisa, supported by the Catholic Church, is providing land on Bougainville Island, near Tinputz, where the people are being resettled.

Ms Rakova says they have settled seven families so far and built 6 and a half houses, but many others want to move.

“When we started in 2009 there were 83 families that volunteered to move. The list is actually increasing and the council of elders from the Carterets keeps giving us a list of names that we cannot manage to deal with.”

Ursula Rakova says they are not able to move people until houses are built.

Radio New Zealand International

26) Sun will ‘flip upside down’ within weeks – scientists

By Online Editor
3:31 pm GMT+12, 17/12/2013, United Kingdom

The sun is set to “flip upside down” within weeks as its magnetic field reverses polarity in an event that will send ripple effects throughout the solar system.

Although it may sound like a catastrophic occurrence, there’s no need to run for cover. The sun switches its polarity, flipping its magnetic north and south, once every eleven years through an internal mechanism about which little is understood.

The swap could however cause intergalactic weather fronts such as geomagnetic storms, which can interfere with satellites and cause radio blackouts.

Nasa said in August that the change would happen in three to four months time, but it is impossible to give a more specific date. Scientist won’t know for around another three weeks whether the flip is complete.

The impact of the transfer will be widespread as the sun’s magnetic field exerts influence well beyond Pluto, past Nasa’s Voyager probes positioned near the edge of interstellar space.

The event will be watched closely by researchers at Stanford University’s Wilcox Solar Observatory, which monitors the sun’s magnetic field on a daily basis.

Todd Hoeksema, director of the Wilcox Solar Observatory, said the polarity change is built up throughout the eleven year cycle through areas of intense magnetic activity known as sunspots which gradually move towards the poles, eroding the existing opposite polarity.

Eventually, the magnetic field reduces to zero, before rebounding with the opposite polarity. “It’s kind of like a tide coming in or going out,” Hoeksema said. “Each little wave brings a little more water in, and eventually you get to the full reversal.”

One of the most noticeable effect on Earth will be a boost in the occurrence, range and visibility of auroras – the Northern Lights. “It’s not a catastrophic event, it’s a large scale event that has some real implications, but it’s not something we need to worry about,” added Hoeksema.

27) Vanuatu Chiefs Release Declaration On Climate Change
Tanna island leaders call for urgent adaptation plan

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 16, 2013) – The highest paramount chiefs from around the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, members of the Nikoletan Island Council of Chiefs, have released the country’s first traditional authority declaration on climate change.

People of Tanna are now suffering from the impacts of climate change, including declining agricultural productivity from flooding, new pests and diseases, drought, temperature extremes and cyclone damage. In response, the chiefs of the Nikoletan Council of Chiefs have been meeting local experts from the Vanuatu Department of Meteorology and Geohazards, USP Climate program, Tafea Cultural Center, Tafea Provincial Government and the SPC-GIZ Climate Change program to discuss and prepare adaptation responses.

Despite differences in belief systems regarding the causes of the changing climate, all chiefs agree that adaptation action is urgently required in a way that brings together Western and customary science, the church and other stakeholders. Tanna island’s customary governance and belief systems are strongly in place, and thus the role of traditional chiefs and weathermen is critical to successful adaptation outcomes.

Local weathermen, called “Tupunas”, have an important and widely-recognized role in enhancing agricultural production and enabling food security for communities on Tanna island. Acknowledging and valuing the contribution of these weathermen and other traditional authorities to climate change adaptation initiatives was highlighted by chiefs in the declaration as essential to obtaining successful outcomes.

Another key element of the declaration centers on the use of traditional cropping calendars and practices. Many of the food security problems now being exacerbated by climate change are linked to recent disregard for planting approaches locally suited to the Tanna island context. The cropping practices used in the past that yielded high production and food security are no longer being comprehensively taught to young farmers, and yields are subsequently declining. The declaration calls for a renewed focus on traditional calendars for adaptation and to maintain island identity in a changing climate.

The Nikoletan Declaration on Climate Change also calls for the promotion and revival of traditional climate adaptation approaches. Climate variability is a natural part of Pacific meteorology, with extremely dry (El Niño) and wet years (La Niña) being common phenomena. The people of Tanna have developed traditional coping strategies for these events in the past, which, with revitalization, will also serve to help people adapt to future climate change.

Mr Bruno Keha, secretary of the Nikoletan Council of Chiefs, launched the declaration by stating “we are the traditional leaders of Tanna, and we have a role to lead our people through the challenges brought by climate change. This declaration guides us in our important work towards a healthy, happy and safe future, even as our climate changes.”
Vanuatu Daily Post:


28) Fiji attacks Sports body, Commonwealth plays politics: FASANOC President

By Online Editor
3:49 pm GMT+12, 17/12/2013, Fiji

Fiji wants the Commonwealth Games Federation sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for contravening the Olympic Charter.

It has accused the federation and the Commonweath of playing politics.

It has asked IOC to intervene, lift the ban against it and allow its readmission to the Commonwealth Games.

Its submission follows a decision by the federation to allow Fiji’s return. But the federation was over-ruled by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, last month.

Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) president Reg Sanday wrote to the IOC  to seek Fiji’s participation at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

Sanday, in his letter to the IOC member Dr Robin Mitchell, called for action against the federation. Dr Mitchell, from Fiji, is the president of the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC).

The federation as an associate member of the IOC “is violating the Olympic charter,” Sanday said.
Letter to Dr Robin Mitchell

“I wish to follow up with you the matter of FASANOC’s recent campaign to get back into the Commonwealth Games.

“You are aware of the decision taken in Colombo, Sri Lanka by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) not to vary Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth that effectively means disregard for the advice provided by the Commonwealth Games Federation that supported Fiji’s re-entry to the Games, and also means Fiji’s continuing exclusion from participation at the Commonwealth Games.”

He said while the intentions of the federation were noble, it was being prevented from “acting in accordance with the Olympic Charter on the autonomy of sport, by its organic and dependent link through its Constitution to the Commonwealth, a political body that takes political decisions that has no concern nor respect for the Olympic Charter and its principles.”

“The federation is one of 47 Organisations recognised by the IOC under the category of – “Multisports Organisations and Events/Sports for All.”

It is therefore part of the Olympic Movement comprising individuals and entities inspired by the values of Olympism and whose main goal is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised in accordance with Olympism and its values.

“The fundamental principles of Olympism are refl ected in Principle 4 which states that the practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play; and Principle 6 that states that any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement. Furthermore, principle 7 states that belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter.

“The federation and its parent body, the Commonwealth fall into the category of “4. Any person or organisation belonging in any capacity whatsoever to the Olympic Movement and is (therefore) bound by the provisions of the Olympic Charter and shall abide by decisions of the IOC.” Ban breaches Charter
The decision by CHOGM to maintain Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth and “consequently our ban from the Commonwealth Games puts the Commonwealth and its dependent child, the federation in breach of the Olympic Charter.”

“It therefore means that the measures and sanctions, disciplinary procedures and dispute resolution Provisions of the Charter should be applied by the IOC to the Commonwealth and the federation.

“By being in breach of the Charter, Section 1.8 with regard to other recognised associations and organisations, the federation and Commonwealth included under the IOC Charter should face the following sanctions:

* Withdrawal of provisional recognition (IOC Executive Board).
* Withdrawal of full recognition (session).”

The Commonwealth Games is scheduled for July 23-August 4 next year.

29) The Ashes: Third Test day five, Australia v England at the WACA live blog

Updated 17 December 2013, 17:37 AEST
By Cameron Leslie

Australia has won the Ashes with a 150-run victory over England in the third Test at the WACA to win the series 3-0.

Australia has regained the Ashes in emphatic fashion with a 150-run win against England at the WACA on Tuesday.

External Link: Third Ashes Test from Perth, day five

The win gives Australia an unbeatable 3-0 series lead, with Tests still to play in Melbourne and Sydney.

Australia needed five wickets on the final day and met plenty of resistance in the first session from Ben Stokes (120), who scored England’s first century of the summer and his first Test century.

Once Stokes was dismissed after lunch, Australia moved swiftly through England’s tail.

Look back on how day five unfolded and how Australia regained the Ashes.

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