Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 913

MELANESIA:

1) PNG Culture fading away

By Online Editor
09:19 am GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Papua New Guinea

The future of Papua New Guinea’s diverse cultures looks bleak as its destruction is being fast-tracked by the removal and partial destroying of intricate carvings within the National Parliament.

National Cultural Commission director Dr Jacob Simet sounded the warning Thursday at a forum in Port Moresby which attracted academics, media organisations, international organisations and members of the public.

Despite the personal intervention of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and veteran politician and East Sepik Governor Sir Michael Somare, Dr Simet said the destruction continued and did not augur well for the country’s world-famous cultural diversity.

The NCC-organised forum was to provide a platform for the public to debate the issues and to force an outcome for the benefit of all stakeholders. A majority of the participants at the forum opposed the actions of National Parliament Speaker Theo Zurenuoc and openly expressed their frustrations, which left little room for comments from those who supported the MP.

A representative from UNESCO PNG Commission, Mali Voe, thanked participants for their attendance saying it was a sign that they cared for their culture whilst reminding them that the country was a signatory to various UNESCO conventions to protect cultures. PNG has also been actively involved in Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) safeguarding, as a state party to the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, since its ratification of the convention in 2008.

Papua New Guinean artists, carvers and cultural item designers also expressed concern at the developments in the National Parliament and added that the designers and carvers of the targeted carvings in the National Parliament had intellectual and property rights to their artwork.

Zurenuoc’s controversial destruction of the artifacts has also put scientists who work in the field of cultural studies under pressure, such as Dr Don Niles from the Institute of PNG Studies who told participants at the forum that he was now questioning his own career as an ethnomusicologist who specialises in studying and researching traditional music.

The move by Zurenuoc also appears to be legally flawed according to former Supreme and National Court judge Nemo Yalo in a commentary on the issue from a legal perspective.

He said the PNG Constitution was clear on religious rights and freedom and that everyone should tolerate the religion of others.

“If Christianity is the only religion promoted in this country, are followers of other faiths and religions to go somewhere and create their own nation? How does that unify an inherently diverse nation? One must appreciate the utility and wisdom of Section 45.”It unifies a diverse nation through religious freedom, tolerance and religious plurality,” said the lawyer and former judge.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister and Leader of the People’s Progress Party Sir Julius Chan distanced himself from the controversial Parliament House cleansing issue.

When asked yesterday in an interview whether he had anything to do with the removal process of the carvings and the totem pole he said that there was no consultation, however, he wanted to remain neutral on the issue.

“The controversy is there. As a leader of the People’s Progress Party in which Theodore Zurenuoc is in, he has not consulted or talked to us, anything about it. So I have not seen him since the thing was published. I have not seen him at all. I have tried to call him, but I had not. But we must respect somehow the House Committee.

There is a Parliamentary House Committee and they are given certain powers and privileges to run this Parliament.

“What you should know, a lot of people don’t know this … but you should know is that I helped to design this parliament. It was in my time that Fletcher of New Zealand came to build this place and this is back in 1981/1982 and of course, when they opened it, I was out of office.

“Bob Hawke came and opened it, they didn’t even invite me … but I helped build this so naturally, anything that you do was … sort of hit me a little bit and I feel it. But I am not going to say anything on this by the law because I don’t think it is the Speaker’s absolute individual authority. He is run by the Parliamentary Committee. But I hope there will be greater consultation between all of us.

“….the rule of the game is backed by convention and the biggest law of the land will uphold it. The authority that appoints is the authority with the power to remove. The Parliament appointed the Speaker and the Parliament has the power to remove him.

“I live it to the MPs … I am neither happy or disagree.I am happy because I have not been involved in it … but the Speaker is not obliged to talk to me because he is the Speaker of Parliament. When I put him up there I expect him to be neutral.

“We try to lead by convention under the Westminster system of government so we want to preserve the neutrality of the Speaker. He is guided by the House Committee and the House Committee has specific powers to do things whether those specific powers can be exercised without consultation or not is outside of my reign. I don’t have control of it.”.
POST COURIER/PACNEWS

2) PNG NGO questions lack of action on SABLs

Updated at 6:41 pm on 20 December 2013

An NGO which pushed for an investigation into the issuing of Special Agriculture Business Leases in Papua New Guinea is questioning why the government hasn’t acted on the findings of a Commission of Inquiry.

In September the prime minister Peter O’Neill tabled a report in parliament from the inquiry which found more than 90 percent of those leases were fraudulently or improperly obtained from customary landowners.

However Mr O’Neill said the final report was incomplete and decided a taskforce should be set up to review its recommendations.

But a manager at the PNG Eco-Foresty Forum, Mary Boni, says there’s more than enough evidence for the government to declare those leases null and void.

“We were of the view that even if that report was incomplete there was still findings on it and there was still recommendations made and therefore they need to act on those rather than wait for a complete report because people who have been affected by this want their land back.”

Mary Boni says landowners have no redress because taking legal action is too expensive for most.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

3) Vanuatu daily news digest | 20 December 2013

by bobmakin

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has reinforced Australia’s commitment to Vanuatu as an important economic partner. The Australian Government will provide up to $48 million over the next three years in support of economic growth through rehabilitating and maintaining rural roads and strengthening technical and business skills, Minister Bishop said yesterday. The Australian Foreign Minister and Shadow Foreign Minister jointly visited yesterday. Australia is well-known to value its relationship to Vanuatu and is the main source of foreign investment in agriculture, tourism, finance and construction. Ms Bishop said her visit reflects Australia’s re-focusing its foreign policy on its own neighbourhood and improving the lives of ni-Vanuatu by helping to grow the local economy. Australia will support the economic empowerment of women living in rural areas with dedicated training, particularly in tourism matters. At the Vanuatu Women’s Centre, Ms Bishop learned how training of women had helped them start new businesses giving employment and contributing to their communities. Foreign Minister Bishop visited the RVS Tukoro together with Prime Minister Carcasses following its VT 700 million refit in Australia and expressed appreciation for the high level of bilateral security which presently exists and for the level of police cooperation.

Parliament has closed its last sitting for this year. Twenty-two government bills were debated including the budget for 2014.PM Carcasses was happy with the consensus which had been achieved on many matters. Radio Vanuatu reported Pentecost MP Charlot Salwai pointing out that many of the country’s leaders are receiving benefit from government contracts,such as in public works undertakings. DGs and politicians were so benefiting, he said. He wants to see better supervision of contract approval. Finance MInister Simelum was anxious to see more ni-Vanuatu participating in business.

Dr Charles Kick has raised an interesting question concerning the “illegal” land dealings of former lands ministers in Vanuatu, brought up in Parliament and Wednesday’s vanuatudaily bulletin. He asks whether the nefarious acts of previous ministers are really illegal under the laws then in effect, and if they are illegal, are they also a crime, or merely civil offences. Why has the theft of land rights, given the Constitutional attention to land rights, been treated more gently than the many forms of theft which are criminal offences? The question is exacerbated by the fact that it is widely understood the Custom Owners’ Trust Account of lease payments already made to government by lessees has been mis-used by governments.

4) Deputy Vanuatu PM relieved not named in inquiry report

By Online Editor
09:20 am GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Vanuatu

The deputy prime minister of Vanuatu says he is happy his and the prime minister’s names are not in a commission of inquiry report that looked into the sale of diplomatic passports.

Edward Natapei says just one MP in the government coalition is mentioned in the report.

Natapei told local media that three MPs from the opposition side have been alleged by the commission to have sold Vanuatu passports.

He says he and Prime Minister Moana Carcasses are not on the list and that confirms that any allegations against them are baseless.

The secretary of the Citizenship Commission, John Enock Ware, says the report has to be submitted to the Council of Ministers before it can be made public.
RNZI/PACNEWS

5) Not again

Mere Naleba
Saturday, December 21, 2013

PRIME Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says anyone with plans to reinstall the Great Council of Chiefs should forget about it.

He told this to soldiers during his address at the RFMF’s Christmas church service at the Reverend Tuvasu Hall at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Nabua, Suva, yesterday.

Speaking in the iTaukei language, Commodore Bainimarama, who is also army commander, told members of two disciplined forces — Fiji Navy and Republic of Fiji Military Forces — that some former politicians are going around to communities telling people that the GCC would be reinstalled. He said this would never happen.

Commodore Bainimarama said chiefs, religious leaders and some politicians had strongly supported the 2000 coup.

He said they did not want that to happen again.

He said they had to get rid of racial discrimination, which was one reason why they had to support this Constitution.

The PM said the GCC would never be brought into existence again because many chiefs had used that body to push forward their own personal agendas and it was a platform used by many to promote racial discrimination.

He said the chiefs had their roles to play in their own vanua.

Commodore Bainimarama added those chiefs have people to lead in their vanua, villages, districts and that is their primary role as chiefs.

He claimed when the chiefs were in the GCC, they were easily manipulated by politicians for their own political and personal agendas.

Commodore Bainimarama said most chiefs mixed the roles of a chief and a politician and therefore confused themselves with the different agendas.

He added it was better that chiefs remain in the vanua and lead their people at that level.

Commodore Bainimarama reiterated that the GCC would not be reinstated as stipulated in the Constitution.

He told soldiers that people should not be fooled by what politicians say on this issue.http://www.fijitimes.com/

6) Fiji, Chair of G77 urges acceleration of efforts of UN budget comittee in concluding 2014 – 2015 budget

By Online Editor
09:18 am GMT+12, 20/12/2013, United States

Speaking as 2013 Chair of the Group of 77 and China, Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, addressed the United Nations 5th Committee on the need for the budgetary committee to move responsibly towards the completion of its work in 2013.

The 5th Committee has before it the task of approving the United Nations budget for the biennium 2014-2015.

Noting the heavy workload, Ambassador Peter Thomson, called for acceleration of efforts and assured the 5th Committee’s Chair of the Group’s support in this regard.   He said the Group was ready to engage constructively in negotiations on the very important agenda items still before the UN’s budgetary committee.

Ambassador Thompson highlighted budgetary provisions for the convening of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa in September 2014.

He emphasised that the Group of 77 fully supports the provision of adequate resources from the UN’s regular budget to ensure the success of the preparatory process for the conference, as well as the services required for the successful staging of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa.

Ambassador Thomson also spoke in support of the Habitat III Conference to be held in 2016.  He said that the Group of 77 regards the Habitat III Conference to be of critical importance.

Speaking in favour of adequate budgetary support for the preparatory process, Ambassador Thomson said the conference would provide the world with the opportunity to “chart new pathways in response to the challenges of urbanisation and the implementation of relevant sustainable development goals.”..

MINFO/PACNEWS

7) No changes to Fiji constitution to date: AG

By Online Editor
12:18 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Fiji

With less than two weeks to go before its finalised, there has not been any changes made to Fiji’s 2013 Constitution.

The 2013 Constitution, assented to by the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on 07 September is due to be finalised by 31 December 2013. According to the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, to date there has not been any submission for changes to the document.

“But, we still have a few more days to go before the month ends,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

These changes as per the constitution is limited to correcting any inconsistency or errors and not to remove clauses. If there aren’t any changes by 31 December 2013, the 2013 Constitution which was assented to by the President will be passed.

Sections 160 and 161 which contains provisions on the amendment of the constitution states that between 7 September and 31 December, if there are any amendments, cabinet must obtain a certification from the Supreme Court.

After 31 December, the only way any amendment can be made, as highlighted in section 160, is that if the bill to amend the constitution is read three times in parliament.

At the second and third readings, it should be supported by the votes of at least three-quarters of the members of the parliament and must be endorsed by three quarters of the registered voters in a referendum organised by the Electoral Commission.

The provisions for amendment is to ensure the protection of the Bill of Rights, Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Meanwhile, registration of Fiji citizens in Australia will begin from mid February next year.

Minister Responsible for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Australia is a big country and a lot of Fijians live there.

He says they will register all Fiji citizens regardless of their immigration status.

“Somebody asked me… will you register the over stayers? Yes, of course as far as we are concerned they are Fijians citizens so whatever their immigration status is in the country where they are living at the moment that is not our issues as long as they are Fijian citizens we will register them.”

Sayed-Khaiyum says they will later move to the United Kingdom and West Coast of North America.

With regards to online registration he says people can only show their interest to register as Fiji does not have that level of IT sophistication and verification process to register people online.
FIJI LIVE/FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

POLYNESIA:

8) Australia eases restrictions on prospective Tongan seasonal workers

By Online Editor
3:43 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Tonga

The Tonga government has welcomed changes made by the Australian government to eligibility for the Australian seasonal work programme.

The two changes, effective from next month, are the removal of the 45 years of age upper limit on prospective workers and the end of a stand-down period for those who have already participated in the similar New Zealand scheme.

Radio Tonga reports that in the year to June 1573 Tongans went to New Zealand under the recognised seasonal employer’s scheme and another 1199 went to Australia under its programme.

The seasonal work brings tens of millions of dollars into the Tonga economy each year.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Tonga opposition, Akilisi Pohiva, says the country risks being put in a very difficult position as it tries to get China to turn a huge loan into a grant.

China gave Tonga a loan of more than US$60 million  for the rebuild of Nuku’alofa after riots in 2006.

Repayments on the loan were due to commence in September this year but China has agreed to an indefinite delay.

In the meantime the Tonga government has made several trips to Beijing to plea for the loan to become a grant.

Pohiva says the country will not be able to repay the debt but if it is to become a grant China will expect something from Tonga.

“We are now in a very difficult position to make any choice because failure to pay the loan would give China a chance to make a choice. Whatever China will need Tonga to do – that’s what will happen.”

Pohiva suggests China could ask Tonga to allow it to establish a naval base in the Kingdom.
RNZI/PACNEWS

9) Tonga Police chief denies confiscation of passports from senior government officials

By Online Editor
12:10 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Tonga

Tonga’s Police Commissioner, Grant O’fee has denied rumours that his officers have confiscated passports belonging to some high ranking government officials.

O’fee revealed this in an exclusive interview on Radio and Television Tonga News.

“It’s a complex investigation involving offshore investigation that will probably take several months to determine what the final results that is.”

The Police Commissioner revealed they have requested the assistance of their New Zealand and Australian counterparts.

O’Fee said collaboration with foreign authorities looks at how to deal with deportees sent back to Tonga.

“We have been advised by NZ, Australia and the United States of deportees sent to Tonga, especially those involved in hard crimes….”

The Police chief admits there have been concerns over people who are sent back to Tonga because of criminal offences. He assured members of the public that their safety is paramount.

RADIO &TV TONGA/PACNEWS

10) Chinese Loan Puts Tonga In Difficult Position: ‘Akilisi Pohiva
Tonga recently asked to turn over $60 million loan into grant

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 19, 2013) – The leader of the Tonga opposition, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, says the country risks being put in a very difficult position as it tries to get China to turn a huge loan into a grant.

China gave Tonga a loan of more than US$60 million for the rebuild of Nuku’alofa after riots in 2006.

Repayments on the loan were due to commence in September this year but China has agreed to an indefinite delay.

In the meantime the Tonga government has made several trips to Beijing to plea for the loan to become a grant.

Mr Pohiva says the country will not be able to repay the debt but if it is to become a grant China will expect something from Tonga.

“We are now in a very difficult position to make any choice because failure to pay the loan would give China a chance to make a choice. Whatever China will need Tonga to do – that’s what will happen.”

‘Akilisi Pohiva suggests China could ask Tonga to allow it to establish a naval base in the Kingdom.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

AUSTRALIA:

11) Australian and US scientists reverse ageing in mice, humans could be next

Posted 20 December 2013, 8:18 AEST
Ashley Hall, staff

Researchers are poised to start human trials after discovering how to reverse the ageing process in mice.

Australian and US researchers have developed a compound which reverses muscle ageing in mice, saying it could be one of the keys to reversing ageing in humans.

When used in trials, the compound gave mice more energy, toned their muscles , reduced inflammation, and led to big improvements in insulin resistance.

Scientists say it actually reversed the ageing process, not just slowing it down, and say that for humans the effect would be similar to a 60-year-old feeling like a 20-year-old.

And they say human trials could start within the year.

The study has been published this morning in the research journal Cell.

“I’ve been studying ageing at the molecular level now for nearly 20 years and I didn’t think I’d see a day when ageing could be reversed. I thought we’d be lucky to slow it down a little bit,” University of New South Wales geneticist Professor David Sinclair said.

Video: Dr Nigel Turner from the University of NSW explains the anti-ageing research. (ABC News)

“The mice had more energy, their muscles were as though they’d be exercising and it was able to mimic the benefits of diet and exercise just within a week.”

Professor Sinclair led the study from his base at Harvard Medical School in the US.

“We think that should be able to keep people healthier for longer and keep them from getting diseases of ageing,” he said.

The researchers also looked at particular diseases in the old mice.

“We looked at diabetes, we looked at muscle wasting or frailty, and we also look at inflammations as something that gives rise to many diseases like arthritis. All of those aspects of ageing were reversed within that week and that was really quite a striking result,” Professor Sinclair said.

He said the team identified a new cause of ageing that is particularly prevalent in muscle, including the heart.

“What we think is going on is that we have two major chromosome sets in our body,” he said

“We have chromosomes that we all know about, we call it our genome, but there’s other DNA that we often don’t think about – the mitochondrial DNA that we get from our mothers.

“What we found is that during ageing these two genomes, the chromosomes, don’t talk to each other,” he said.

“Much like a married couple talks to each other when they’re newly married but then they stop communicating after about 20 years, at least in some cases.

“Then we found that we could reverse that and get the communication going again and the animals went back to being young again.

“We used a molecule that raises a chemical in the body that goes down as we get older – its simple name is NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide),” he added.

“When we’re young we have the high levels of NAD and if we exercise and diet, the levels of this NAD molecule are high in our body.

“But as we get older, and as these mice in our experiments got older, the levels went down about 50 per cent and then we could give this drug to bring the levels back up again.”

The next stage in the research involves trials with humans, most likely within the next year.

Professor Sinclair is reluctant to forecast how long it will be before the compound might be readily available for use but he says he has established a company to push things along.

“These trials, if we do manage to do them in patients, are millions of dollars and really I need to raise money to be able to do them and that’s the mechanism,” he said.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

NEW ZEALAND:

12) Maori Party holds key to NZ government

By Online Editor
12:05 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, New Zealand

Latest poll suggests minor party’s three seats would be vital to both major parties

Labour’s poll support has slipped after an initial surge following David Cunliffe’s election as leader, the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey shows.

The Maori Party would hold the balance of power if the figures were translated to an election result.

With the left and right blocs fairly evenly split, it could be a close election next year.

Neither National nor Labour would be able to form a government without the Maori Party.

Labour has fallen 2.3 points in the survey to 35.4 per cent. In the September poll, it had a surge in support and could have formed a government with just the Greens and Mana.

National has risen 3.1 points and Prime Minister John Key has somewhat recovered in the preferred Prime Minister stakes, after taking a 9.4 point dive in the last poll.

He has jumped 6.1 points to 61.9 per cent, well ahead of r Cunliffe on 16.5 per cent.

PPM Key told the Herald that it was good to end the year in a strong position. “”That reflects the growing economic confidence and the acknowledgement by voters that we’ve steered the ship on a very deliberate and accurate course to economic prosperity.”

He said that strong year-end polls were important to parties “because people go on their summer holidays and over the barbecue they talk about who is likely to win the election and this poll has got to be very good news for National”.

Cunliffe was elected in September after the resignation of David Shearer in August.

Shearer’s personal popularity in a Herald-DigiPoll survey peaked in March this year when he was preferred by 18.5 per cent, which Mr Cunliffe has yet to surpass, and the party vote at the time of 36.4 per cent was close to its current polling.

The Maori Party would hold the balance of power under this poll, assuming it returned three MPs, but two of its current MPs, co-leader Tariana Turia and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, are retiring next election.

The poll shows Act and United Future as having virtually no party vote support. The seat calculations here assume the retention of currently held constituency seats for Mana, the Maori Party, Act and United Future, as is the case with most polls under the two-vote MMP system.

But in this particular poll, National could form a government with the Maori Party alone, without an Act or United Future add-on.

Labour would be able to form a government but it would need three other support parties: the Greens, Mana and the Maori Party.

The poll of 750 was conducted December 9-17 and the margin of error is 3.6 per cent. The party vote results are of decided voters. Undecided respondents were 12.6 per cent.

NZ HERALD/PACNEWS

TOK PISIN:

13) PNG Morobe pipal ino wanbel long provinsal gavman

Updated 20 December 2013, 11:10 AEST
Paulus Kombo

Ol Otoriti long Morobe Provins long Papua New Guinea iwok long lus tingting na ino kia tumas long  safety bilong planti pipol isave usim ship na bris long Voco Point.

Mayor bilong Finschhafen, Manasseh Laina ibin autim despela wari.

Mr Laina itok, planti pipal bilong Finschhafen, Tewai-Siassi, Kabwum na  Huon Gulf districts isave usim despela wanpela biris  tasol bilong raun igo ikam, tasol inogat ol Polis or security lain bilong was long safety bilong ol despela pipol.

Em itok planti planti ol criminal na stil lain isave hangamap raun long Voco Point na stilim ol samting long ol pasinjia na tu long ol fishermen na em askim ol authority long hap long strongim ol wok security.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

14) Wanpla sip i kapsaet long Solomon Islands

Updated 20 December 2013, 12:01 AEST
Paulus Kombo

Gavman long  Solomon Islands itok oli laki tru na nogat wanpla pasinjia ibin dai bihaen long wanpla birua blong wanpla pasinjia ship. 400 pipal ibin stap long despla sip.

Despla ship em oli kolim Francis Gerena ibin lusim Honiara long Trinde wantem 389 pasinjia na emi bin wok long ron igo long  North Malaita.

Ol ofisa blong nationa disasta ofis itok despla sip ibin kapsaet na go daon long solwara klostu long  Florida Islands, emi oli stap long north blong Honiara.

Bosman blong  Solomon Islands maritime safety authoriti, Captain Brian Aonima, olsem despla sip ibin pulap tru long ol pasinjia na oli bin tokim ol papa blong despla sip long noken ron long solwara, tasol oli no bin harim tok.

Captain Aonima itok oli bin stopim despla ship long karim ol pasinjia, tasol emi bin ronowei na bihaen emi bin bungim birua long solwara.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

FRENCH:

15) Australie : mauvaises nouvelles économiques

Posté à 20 December 2013, 8:46 AEST
Pierre Riant

L’économie est aux abois, le chômage augmente, les pertes en revenus sont conséquentes, les bilans prévisionnels font état d’un déficit de 123 milliards de dollars sur quatre ans et la dette pourrait atteindre 660 milliards de dollars.

Le ministre de l’Économie et des Finances, Joe Hockey, a révélé mardi que le déficit a grimpé de 70 milliards de dollars depuis que le gouvernement du Premier ministre Tony Abbott s’est emparé du pouvoir en septembre dernier. Il a aussi révélé que des coupes sombres auraient lieu.

Que signifient tous ces chiffres pour l’aide à l’étranger sur laquelle compte de nombreuses nations océaniennes d’autant plus que le gouvernement a déjà annoncé une réduction de cette aide ?

C’est ce que nous avons demandé à Marc Purcell, le directeur du Conseil australien de l’aide à l’étranger : « Et bien j’espère qu’il n’y aura pas d’autres coupes parce que le gouvernement a déja annoncé d’énormes coupes de 653 millions de dollars deux jours avant son arrivée au pouvoir en septembre.
Et les déclarations mardi [de Joe hockey] n’ont pas clarifié la situation, nous ne savons pas dans quels secteur les éventuelles coupes se feront. Donc à mi-exercice, nous sommes toujours dans le flou. C’est difficile pour nous de programmer quoi que ce soit puisque nous n’avons même pas tous les détails concernant les coupes de 653 millions de dollars. »

En clair, des projets déjà établis sont pratiquement paralysés et les personnes qui travaillent à ces projets ne savent pas de quoi l’avenir sera fait ?

PURCELL : « Dans certains cas, oui. Notre personnel dépense de l’argent mais on ne sait pas si le gouvernement va continuer le financement. J’ai visité hier un projet sur le terrain : la mise en place de  structures de base d’approvisionnement en eau pour des communautés très pauvres pour les aider à développer l’économie et ne plus avoir à marcher des heures pour trouver de l’eau. Et bien ses programmes ne pourront plus aller de l’avant si nous n’avons des informations dès que possible. Nous demandons donc au gouvernement d’être plus transparent avant Noël et de nous dire où ces coupes se feront. »

Est-ce que Marc Purcell pense que le gouvernement va clarifier la situation avant Noël ou faut-il attendre l’annonce du budget en mai 2014 ?

PURCELL : « Et bien, d’après ce que nous comprenons, le gouvernement est attaché à la transparence et je pense que de ne pas dévoiler les informations aura un impact négatif sur les programmes [de développement] et les associations caritatives qui travaillent avec nous. Le gouvernement a pris l’engagement de travailler avec nous et il accorde davantage de ressources aux associations caritatives. Nous espérons donc qu’il va tenir promesse. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

16) Julie Bishop poursuit sa tournée dans le Pacifique

Posté à 20 December 2013, 8:58 AEST
Pierre Riant

Trois pays en trois jours. Après les îles Salomon ; Nauru et le Vanuatu. Lors de son escale à Nauru, la ministre des Affaires étrangères australienne a visité le camp de détention de demandeurs d’asile (700 environ)  du gouvernement australien.

Elle a rencontré plusieurs fournisseurs de service et s’est déclaré satisfaite des conditions sur place : «  C’est certainement mieux que les camps de mineurs en Australie et les normes en matière de soins et de services sont très élevées. »

Arrivée au Vanuatu, Julie Bishop a annoncé une assistance financière de 37 millions de dollars pour améliorer 350 kilomètres de réseau routier : « Le Vanuatu est un pôle touristique et l’amélioration des routes devrait leur permettre de capter une part plus importante de ce marché florissant. »

Le tourisme représente environ 18% du Produit Intérieur Brut duVanuatu.

La ministre des Affaires étrangères a également rencontré le Premier ministre Moana Carcasses Kalosil qui s’est déclaré enchanté de l’aide australienne en dépit des coupes annoncées. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

WORLD:

17) Mariah Carey under fire

Contactmusic
Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mariah Carey has come under fire after she was paid $1million to perform for a dictator.

The All I Want for Christmas is You singer gave a two-hour concert for authoritarian Angolan President Josè Eduardo Dos Santos last Sunday, in return for the huge amount, angering human rights groups.

Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen said, “it is the sad spectacle of an international artist purchased by a ruthless police state to entertain and whitewash the father-daughter kleptocracy that has amassed billions in ill-gotten wealth while the majority of Angola lives on less than $2 a day”.

Mariah’s show was sponsored by Unitel, a mobile-phone company owned by Dos Santos’ daughter, who is also head of the Angolan Red Cross, which reportedly received $65,000 in benefit funds from the concert.

The concert comes five years after Mariah apologised after performing for notorious dictator Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was toppled and killed during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Thor added, “Mariah Carey can’t seem to get enough dictator cash. Just five years ago she performed for the family of Libyan dictator Mr Muammar al-Gaddafi. Now, she goes from private performances to public displays of support and credibility for one of Africa’s chief human rights violators and most corrupt tyrants”.

Mariah, 43, posed for a picture with Dos Santos and his family, and according to the Human Rights Foundation, said, “I am happy to be here in this room and I am honoured to share this show with the President of Angola.”

18) Actor Morgan Freeman mistaken for Nelson Mandela on Indian billboard

Updated 20 December 2013, 13:50 AEST

In southern India, the owner of a billboard dedicated to Nelson Mandela was left red-faced after it was discovered a photo of actor Morgan Freeman had been used instead of the South African anti-apartheid campaigner.

The owner of a billboard dedicated to Nelson Mandela in southern India has been left red-faced after a photo of actor Morgan Freeman had been used instead of the iconic South African freedom fighter.

The sign had been erected on a roadside in the southern city of Coimbatore as part of memorials across India and the world to Mandela, who died on December 5.

But Freeman’s face loomed large above over smaller images of Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi.

Morgan Freeman played Mandela in the 2009 film Invictus.

“We should be proud that we were part of an era when they lived,” the Tamil-language condolence message read.

Cloth merchant Chandrashekhar, who paid for the board in a private capacity as a mark of respect to the former South African leader, said it was a mistake by the designer.

“We will replace it with the correct picture of Mandela,” he said, adding he did not know how the gaffe happened.

A photo of the billboard has been widely circulated on Twitter.

India declared five days of national mourning for Mandela, who was hailed as a “true Gandhian” and a “great friend” by the country’s leaders.

AFP

19) U.S. Senate passes budget deal, focus shifts to spending

By Online Editor
2:56 pm GMT+12, 19/12/2013, United States

The U.S. Senate passed a two-year budget deal on Wednesday to ease automatic spending cuts and reduce the risk of a government shutdown, but fights were already breaking out over how to implement the budget pact.

By a vote of 64-36, the Senate sent the measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law, an achievement for a divided Congress that has failed to agree on a budget since 2009.

The deal, passed in the House of Representatives last week by an overwhelming margin, restores overall fiscal 2014 spending levels for government agencies to $1.012 trillion, trimming the across-the-board budget cuts that were set to begin next month by about $63 billion over two years.

Now, there will be a mad dash by the House and Senate Appropriations committees to cobble together a massive spending bill that implements the deal and carves up the funding pie among thousands of government programs from national parks to the military.

Without the new spending authority, the federal government on January 15 could partially shut down, as it did for 16 days last October.

Not surprisingly, one of fights ahead involves funding of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, according to Republican and Democratic aides in the House and Senate.

“It’s one of many flashpoints,” said a House Republican aide who asked not to be identified, adding, “But it’s not insurmountable.”

Republicans are warning that they will not tolerate any increase in funding for administering the troubled healthcare program.

Democrats hope to maintain or add small amounts of money for the program they say will provide insurance for millions of previously uninsured people.

As is the case with all spending bills in a deeply divided Congress, there are plenty of other disagreements besides the Obamacare funding level.

Among the most difficult will be money for the Internal Revenue Service, the nation’s tax collector; funds for western wildfire fighting and for the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, nuclear waste repository.

Separate battles also could be waged over policy proposals that House Republican leaders are likely to attach to the funding bill.

These could include forcing the Obama administration to approve a controversial Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

There also could be moves to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing carbon emissions regulations that the coal industry hates and to block federal money for building a California high-speed train.

Given all of the disagreements, one House Democratic aide familiar with the appropriations process that is under way warned: “Nobody should be getting ahead of themselves; it’s not a given that we’re out of the woods” in passing the bill that would carry out the budget deal and avoid a January 15 government shutdown.

The budget plan negotiated by Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican Representative Paul Ryan won overwhelming support from House Republicans, including some of the chamber’s most conservative ones.

Murray said the deal “breaks through the partisanship and gridlock, and shows that Congress can function when Democrats and Republicans work together to make some compromises for the good of the country.”

But congressional aides said there nonetheless are worries that some of those conservatives might balk at the prospect of voting for a $1 trillion spending bill that wraps a slew of controversial programs into one gigantic package.

“There was broad bipartisan support for the (budget) deal. There should be the same broad bipartisan vote for the package implementing that deal,” said the House Democratic aide, adding, “This is a very open question””

The House Republican aide echoed those concerns.

AP/PACNEWS

20) UN votes to protect privacy in digital age

By Online Editor
2:54 pm GMT+12, 19/12/2013, United States

The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at protecting the right to privacy against unlawful surveillance in the digital age on Wednesday in the most vocal global criticism of US eavesdropping.

Germany and Brazil introduced the resolution following a series of reports of US surveillance, interception, and data collection abroad including on Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that surprised and angered friends and allies.

The resolution “affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy.”

It calls on the 193 UN member states “to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication,” to take measures to end violations of those rights, and to prevent such violations including by ensuring that national legislation complies with international human rights law.

It also calls on all countries “to review their procedures, practices and legislation regarding the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, interception and collection, with a view to upholding the right to privacy of all their obligations under international human rights law.”

The resolution calls on UN members to establish or maintain independent and effective oversight methods to ensure transparency, when appropriate, and accountability for state surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data.

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry political weight.

Brazil’s Rousseff canceled a state visit to Washington after classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden. The documents revealed Brazil is the top NSA target in Latin America, with spying that has included the monitoring of Rousseff’s cellphone and hacking into the internal network of state-run oil company Petrobras.

Merkel and other European leaders also expressed anger after reports that the NSA allegedly monitored Merkel’s cell phone and swept up millions of French telephone records.

The United States did not fight the measure after it engaged in lobbying with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which comprise the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing group, to dilute some of the original draft resolution’s language.

The key compromise dropped the contention that the domestic and international interception and collection of communications and personal data, “in particular massive surveillance,” may constitute a human rights violation.

The resolution instead expresses deep concern at “the negative impact” that such surveillance, “in particular when carried out on a mass scale, may have on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights.”

It directs UN human rights chief Navi Pillay to report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the protection and promotion of privacy “in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance … including on a mass scale.”

Cynthia Wong, senior internet researcher at Human Rights Watch, and Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program, welcomed the resolution’s unanimous adoption.

“With the internet age quickly becoming a golden age for surveillance,” Wong said, “this resolution is a critical first step that puts mass surveillance squarely on the international agenda.”

“Given the scale of snooping that technology now enables, all states should modernize privacy protections or we risk undermining the internet’s potential as a tool for advancing human rights,” she said.

Dakwar said that while somewhat watered down, “the measure still sends a strong message to the United States that it’s time to reverse course and end NSA dragnet surveillance.”.

AP/PACNEWS

HEALTH:

21) Vanuatu Nurses Association dismisses strike rumours

Updated at 6:41 pm on 20 December 2013

The Vanuatu Nurses Association says nurses do not plan to strike on Christmas Day, despite the Government not acknowledging their petition.

Three weeks ago, nurses petitioned the Prime Minister to remove the current minister of health, Serge Vohor, and the acting director general of health, Doctor Santos Wari.

Dr Wari suspended about 100 nurses following the petition but they were reinstated by the Government just a day later.

The association’s acting president, Anne Pakoa, says nurses want an answer from the Government over the petition – whatever that answer may be.

There is kind of a plan B if we don’t hear anything from the honourable Prime Minister but to just put everyone at ease because it is Christmas and the New Years’ season is here, and just to put everyone at peace, we’re not thinking about a strike.

Anne Pakoa says it is a shame that the problem could not be solved earlier to prevent it becoming such a public issue.Radio New Zealand.

22) Doctor shortage gets worse at Marshalls hospital

By Online Editor
09:25 am GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Marshall Islands

A doctor shortage at Majuro Hospital is reaching a crisis level compelling the Marshall Islands Government to reach out to Marshallese doctors living abroad for help.

The abrupt departure of two surgeons in early December is the latest in a string of doctors breaking contracts and leaving Majuro.

The only surgeon now on staff is set to leave Christmas week, which could leave the nation’s capital without the services of a surgeon.

But Health Minister David Kabua is optimistic the doctor shortage will be solved with outside support. The Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Health are “working around the clock to quickly remedy the situation at the hospital,” Kabua said Thursday.

Majuro Hospital has had a difficult time keeping overseas doctors and dentists, which it depends on because of a lack of locally trained medical specialists. Kabua said the government is asking several Marshallese doctors who are working in Palau and Yap to return to work at the hospital.

But former health minister and now opposition leader Senator Alvin Jacklick said Thursday bringing back Marshallese doctors is not the solution since there are many more vacant MD positions at the hospital than there are Marshallese doctors overseas. “My recommendation to government is to change (hospital) management,” he said. “When doctors resign suddenly, there is a reason. They (hospital administrators) talk to doctors like they are clerks. We must allow them to perform their jobs without interference.”

Jacklick said the reason doctors are leaving is they “cannot function in this environment.”

Public Service Commission Chairwoman Marie Maddison said the government is asking Marshallese doctors working in other places to return home to work.

Currently, in addition to the imminent lack of surgeons at the hospital, there is no obstetrics/gynecologist, radiologist, anesthetist, and there are shortages of internists and pediatricians.

“We have contacted our Marshallese doctors working abroad for assistance and Dr. Robert Maddison will be returning and hopefully along with his wife who is an OBGYN specialist,” Kabua said. However, Kabua pointed out that Maddison’s contact in Palau does not end until March.

Meanwhile, hospital officials are also working on recruiting a Marshallese doctor working in Yap with her doctor husband, both of whom previously worked in Majuro.

Kabua also said they hope a Majuro-based doctor who left the hospital because of issues with management will return to work at the hospital.

The Ministry of Health has also asked assistance from the California-based Canvasback health group, and medical groups in Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand to provide physicians. Taiwan has previously provided specialists to fill gaps at Majuro Hospital on short-term, six-week assignments.

Jacklick said, however, the problem is management at Majuro Hospital. “If we give the doctors and nurses the tools they need to function, the hospital will work well. But management is not providing the tools.”

The current doctor shortage is extreme, he said. On top of this, hospital bathrooms are locked, the floors are not clean, and the hospital “smells like old wounds,” Jacklick said.

The Ministry of Health is the second-highest funded ministry in government, with a budget this year of $24.7 million, or about 17 percent of the government’s annual national budget for fiscal year 2014.

MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS

EDUCATION:

23) Uni to expand program

Geraldine Panapasa
Saturday, December 21, 2013

THE University of the South Pacific has shown interest in expanding its tourism and hospitality management school following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Tourism on Monday.

The signing was to establish a formal partnership between the ministry and the university that identified areas of co-operation.

USP vice-chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra said tourism was a significant sector for the Fijian economy in terms of its contribution to growth and development.

“We believe with tourism now being fairly close to more than half of the gross domestic product of many countries, it is very significant in terms of employment and GDP contributions,” he said.

“That kind of industry needs a lot bigger effort on the part of tertiary education providers. We have plans going forward for expanded work and we are excited by the prospect of working closely with the ministry.

“It sets new standards in tourism development and planning for the industry as a whole. We believe that we deliver good value and good standards, and we can be a very worthwhile partner in Fiji’s effort to further expand and create much greater value out of the tourism industry.”

Under the MOU, USP would keep the ministry informed of research being carried out in Fiji or elsewhere which was relevant to tourism in Fiji; carry out approved supervised student projects to provide information and analysis useful to the ministry.

Ministry of Tourism permanent secretary Elizabeth Powell said the partnership agreement, which also included providing internships to students recently graduating from the university, was aimed at developing youths.

“This is so that students of USP will have experience with many of the huge national projects that are occurring in the tourism industry,” she said.

“We can spread the learnings and improve the quality with their input, the quality that we are producing at the ministry.”

She said Cabinet had approved an expansion for the ministry, which would now include more operations and additional staffing levels.

Ms Powell said this would develop competencies throughout the ministry.

http://www.fijitimes.com/

24) Trainer: Illiteracy major problem for PNG’s growth

By Online Editor
11:56 am GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Papua New Guinea

Illiteracy is a major impediment to development in Papua New Guinea, says a literacy trainer.

Kitake Darius, the co-ordinator of the Literacy Volunteers of Morobe (LVM) said yesterday that illiteracy had contributed to lack of personal and community development. LVM is a group consisted of mothers who have the vision, mission and passion to help people to read and write in their lives.

These mothers, as literacy trainers, go out into settlements and villages in Morobe Province and educate the people to read and write. “Learning to read and write is vital for the development of a person and a community,” she said.

Darius said literacy played an essential role in the community development of a nation.

“Every year , when we go out into the villages, communities, settlements, and churches to do awareness on violence against women, HIV and AIDS, and women and children’s rights, we realized that information given out were not understood or no feed backs have been received from that particular area,” Darius said.

She revealed that illiteracy was the biggest problem in communication for development in the country.

“It was through our literacy training and teaching programs that we have experience and successfully  dealt with women, young girls and children who were violently beaten up, abused, restricted from their human rights, living in poverty and all have a common problems and that is illiteracy,” Darius said. Darius said the government was focusing on educating the children in Papua New Guinea.

“Our government is focusing on educating our children, and are forgetting our illiterate adults,” she said. Darius said adult literacy was a vital program to help illiterate people in PNG.

“Reading and writing are vital skills to help people in their daily lives. “Literacy is the key to development,” she said.

POST COURIER/PACNEWS

25) 60 Solomon Islanders to study under Australia scholarships next year

By Online Editor
12:06 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Solomon Islands

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has congratulated 60 Solomon Islanders who will receive Australia Awards scholarships to study at Australian or regional universities next year.

The Minister joined the Australia Awards scholarship recipients and members of the Solomon Islands Alumni at a function hosted by the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands during her visit to Solomon Islands.

Congratulating the 2014 scholars, Bishop said the scholarships represent a significant investment in the long term development of Solomon Islands.

“The scholarships are an important part of Australia’s partnership with Solomon Islands. They provide opportunities for Solomon Islanders to receive a quality education and to build skills, leadership, knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the whole country,” Bishop said.

“When the scholars return home after completing their studies, they will use their new skills to influence change and contribute to development in Solomon Islands.”

“Many former Australian scholars now hold senior positions in both the public and private sectors in Solomon Islands, so the opportunity offered through scholarships can be life changing.”

The Australia Awards are considered to be prestigious scholarships which build knowledge, education and enduring ties between Australia and its neighbours.

The Australia Awards create a global network of leaders committed to social development and economic growth with strong links to Australia.

The Australia Awards cover travel, health insurance, living allowances, tuition fees and university costs.

Australia will allocate A$4 million this year to scholarships for Solomon Islanders, reinforcing a major investment in both education and the future of Solomon Islands.
SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS

MEDIA:

26) Journalism In Timor-Leste In Transition: José Belo
Says media needs to take responsibility for country’s future

By Dr. David Robie

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, Dec. 19, 2013) – Timor-Leste newspaper editor and investigative journalist José Belo is no stranger to controversy, legal threats or the inside of a prison cell.

He was imprisoned and tortured by the Indonesian occupation forces for a period during the 24 years of illegal occupation of Timor-Leste while smuggling out reports to the world from the beleaguered resistance movement.

Five years ago he was threatened with a seven-year prison sentence for criminal defamation over allegations of corruption against the then justice minister.

This prompted a high-profile international appeal by journalists, academics and media freedom campaigners to then President Jose Ramos-Horta to have the case dropped.

Threats are common over Belo’s campaigns to root out corruption and nepotism in his fledgling Asia-Pacific state – the world’s newest nation barely a decade old.

Corruption, nepotism

“Corruption, collusion, nepotism are when people take the state money and make people suffer,” he once said in a radio interview.

But Belo is a tenacious survivor and investigator.

When I met up with him, he was holding court on a Dili café terrace contemplating how best to use another bunch of leaked government documents that had fallen into his lap for his Tempo Semanal (“Weekly Times”) newspaper and website.

He now also faces a broader new challenge. As president of the Timor-Leste Press Club (TLPC), one of several media groups representing journalists in his country – but reputedly the strongest with 120 members, he is trying to put the national media house in order.

The government is keen to impose a media law that some say is draconian in controls on journalists but is not subject to serious scrutiny because few have actually seen the latest draft (originally drawn up in Portuguese rather than the national language Tetum).

Unifying the industry

Belo sees his mission as to defend the “self-regulatory” status of the media and to unify the media industry.

A national media conference last October – only the second since independence – made some encouraging headway on both counts, with a national code of ethics being adopted by the entire industry for the first time.

“Journalism is in transition in Timor-Leste,” says Belo. “The conference was in response to he so-called international aid, particularly from the United States and Australia, which has been misused in the name of journalism in this country.”

It is understood more than US$5 million has been spent on various media aid programmes in Timor-Leste, but – according to Belo – this has “mostly been wasted.”

He singled out the US International Centre for Independent Journalism (ICIJ) programme for his criticism.

Government-recruited

While the programme was supposed to produce independent and investigative journalism, “most of the so-called independent journalists ended up working for the government.”

According to Belo, leading NGOs responsible for media training “don’t know what they’re doing” and the local journalism fraternity need to take back responsibility for the future of the country.

But there are serious questions about the government’s intentions over the controversial draft media law, says Belo.

“We have asked for a copy, we have even written requesting a copy but to no avail,” he says.

“It is being orchestrated. Their [government’s] attitude is that you can’t criticise it. It’s not a Bible. Why have they made it so secret?

“I can’t see what they have in mind to control the media. It’s very suspicious that they are hiding the draft law from the journalists.”

Belo says they are in the process of lobbying parliamentarians to try to persuade them to easy off on the haste to consider this bill, and about the importance of freedom of the press in Timor-Leste.

Journalists ‘sacrificed’

“We are worried that the owners of the press are happy to protect their interests while sacrificing the journalists.”

Belo recognises the paradox of arguing for the interests of journalists when he himself is a newspaper owner, albeit the owner of a tiny but feisty publication.

“Capacity-building for trainee journalists is our number one priority. Journalism and media skills training are critical, we need scholarships and we need media industry support for investigative journalism.

“But we don’t want the government’s agenda imposed on us, and we don’t want the donors’ agenda.

“We want our own agenda for the good of journalism in this new democracy.”

Foreign aid

“And my lesson has been that we need to be very careful about foreign aid.”

In the meantime, Belo and his rival editors have a novel approach to collaboration and consultation.

They get together for an early morning brainstorming session over coffee in the Acait restaurant near Parliament – the “little people’s café” – to touch base on the day’s stories and how they have been handled editorially.

“We talk about headlines and the stories that have been given the big treatment. And we ask our fellow editors about where they think they went wrong. Our criticism is robust.”

It is a tonic that symbolises the growing “new professional” mood about journalism in Timor-Leste.

Note: The 2013 Sérgio Vieira de Mello human rights awards were presented to José Belo, the director of Tempo Semanal newspaper for his advocacy of human rights in the Civil and Political Rights category; Rosito da Silva Belo was recognised for his project called Promove Diálogu Komunitária kona-ba Rai (Promoting Community Dialogue on Land) in the same category; and Gaspar Afonso was the winner in the Social, Economic and Cultural Rights category with his project Promove Labarik no Feto Defisiénsia Matan Sira-nia Direitu (Promoting the Rights of Blind Children and Women).

Pacific Media Centre director Dr David Robie is managing editor of Pacific Scoop. This article was originally published on his blog Cafe Pacific.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – pmc@aut.ac.nz

BUSINESS:

27) PNG vital partner

Png Govt/Pacnews
Saturday, December 21, 2013

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea is considered the most important development partner for Japan.

Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Norio Mitsuya, said this when paying a courtesy call on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday at his parliament office.

“Papua New Guinea is the most important partner in the Pacific region for Japan,” Mr Mitsuya said.

He said the Japanese Government was tapping into most of the developments in the country and is keen on working closely with the PNG Government.

“Japan will come in a big way in terms of investment in gas, oil, mining, fisheries, tourism and other sectors of the economy. Currently, Japan is the biggest importer of the LNG gas in the country,” he said.

Mr Mitsuya also relayed the message that the Japanese PM Shinz Abe will be visiting PNG next year and the date will be made known once it is finalised.

In response, PM O’Neill said the PNG Government would continue to support and provide a conducive environment for all Japanese investments and to further protect Japanese citizens living in the country.

Both leaders have recognised the importance of their bilateral relations and are promoting it to enhance further developments in PNG.

28) Raw sugar for export

Felix Chaudhary
Saturday, December 21, 2013

THE FSC is preparing to conduct a survey, the results of which can result in raw sugar being exported to Middle East countries.

Sugar permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi said in light of the looming 2017 deadline marking the end of the preferential access to the EU enjoyed by African Caribbean Pacific sugar-producing countries, every effort was being made to source new markets for Fiji sugar.

“All I can say is that our quota is still with the EU until 2017 but we have to be prepared and explore other markets like the Middle East in the meantime,” he said.

“We can’t do much until our quota expires but whatever eventuates, we will sell our sugar at the best possible price for our growers, for the industry and for Fiji.”

Lt-Col Vaniqi said a full scale feasibility study would be conducted to determine the viability of selling sugar to distant markets, taking into account the high costs associated with shipping and handling.

“We have to carefully examine how feasible it is to sell our sugar to these markets,” he said.

The EU announced in June at the 43rd International Sugar Organisation meeting in Nadi its intention to abolish preferential quotas for ACP sugar-producing countries into Europe.

This means that post-2017 ACP countries, including Fiji, will no longer enjoy high prices — US24-28cents per pound — for their sugar.

These countries will be forced to sell sugar at the world market price of US16-17cents per pound.http://www.fijitimes.com/

29) Kiribati government borrows from Provident Fund for airline

Updated at 6:41 pm on 20 December 2013

The Kiribati government is facing criticism for borrowing more than 6 million US dollars from the Kiribati Provident Fund.

The money has gone to Air Kiribati partly to cover the cost of a new plane.

The opposition has attacked the loan, saying the funds belong to the employees and the government should consult them before withdrawing their money.

But the communications minister, Rimeta Beniamina, says the workers will benefit as Air Kiribati is to pay six percent in interest.

He says the monthly repayments are nearly 70 thousand US dollars.

The Kiribati Independent reports Mr Beniamina has confirmed the money was borrowed in two separate loans and that extensions on the loan repayment periods are being sought.radio new zealand.

30) Most petrol retailers in Tuvalu’s Funafuti could be shut down

Updated at 6:41 pm on 20 December 2013

The Energy Department in Tuvalu is warning petroleum retailers to have their businesses up to standard, or their operating licences will not be renewed.

An inspection of the 26 petrol retailers on Funafuti, the main island, was carried out by a technical advisor with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

The technical advisor found there were too many petrol retailers operating, and recommended the government shut down as many as 20 of the businesses.

However, the Assistant Energy Planner, Nielu Meisake, says while he takes on board the advice, it’s difficult to tell people to shut down their businesses, when for some families it’s their only source of income.

Some of the retailers storage are not very good and they are not complying as when they started so that’s where we are looking at trying to advise if they could upgrade before renewing the licence, if not, during the time period to do it and renew the licence, if they don’t comply them, we shut them down.

Nielu Meisake says those not currently up to standard have until the end of the year to make changes, or their licence will be taken away.Radio new Zealand

31) Tonga’s new 3G network launched

By Online Editor
12:01 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Tonga

Tonga Communication Corporation (TCC) has launched its new 3G network for mobile customers in the island kingdom.

The new 3G network allows better internet access for mobile customers, especially those in the rural areas. It also enables people to download and upload movies and other data using a speed of 2 megabits per second.

Previously, customers could only download a maximum of 3 hundred kilobit per second.

Speaking to Television Tonga News TCC’s Manager of Engineering, Sione Veikoso says the availability of new fibre optic cable has resulted in the upgraded service to customers.

“We faced a lot of problems with our old network such as low network coverage for Internet.  This caused customers to call and complain.  But the new 3G network has solved that problem.  The data application used in the old network was limited and it can only download or upload data with a maximum of 3 hundred kilibit per second while the new was more advance and a lot of data application can be used……..”

The new service means residents on Malinoa Island on the northern side of Tongataou and other parts of ‘Eua can now have internet access.
RADIO &TV TONGA/PACNEWS

LAW&ORDER:

32) Immigration mounts case against Fijian migration fraud

By Online Editor
3:59 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Australia

Unregistered migration agents who illegally obtain money from their clients have been warned that Australian authorities will actively pursue their prosecution, after search warrants were executed at the home of a western Sydney man on Wednesday.

Officers from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) were assisted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) at the Glenwood home.

Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said the AFP worked closely with DIBP to crack illegal operators who flout Australian migration laws.

“This raid should serve as a warning to those providing unregistered migration assistance – it is a criminal offence and the AFP, Australia’s lead law enforcement agency, is helping to shutdown these illegal operations,” Keenan said.
Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash, said the man is suspected of charging Fijian citizens to obtain visitor visas with no work rights and operating a service which refers them to work illegally on Australian farms.

“This individual, who is not a registered migration agent, is believed to be providing migration advice and advertises these services via his business website, while also referring visa holders with no work rights to work illegally,” Minister Cash said.

The investigation was in response to an anonymous dob-in from the community.

“The Government encourages the community to report any unregistered migration agents by either calling the department’s dob-in line or by visiting the website,” Minister Cash said.

People who advertise migration advice or assistance are required by law to be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).
AUST GOVT/PACNEWS

REFUGEE:

33) Australian Immigration backflip on protection visa freeze

By Online Editor
3:49 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Australia

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has revoked his cap on protection visas for asylum seekers rather than face a High Court challenge from the same refugee lawyers who overturned Julia Gillard’s Malaysia people-swap policy.

Frustrated that Labor and the Greens were blocking his plans to reintroduce the Howard government’s policy of temporary protection visas, Morrison imposed a cap on the number of protection visas earlier this month.

This would have prevented any new visas from being issued to asylum seekers before July 2014, when the new Senate comes into effect.

But as refugee lawyers lined up to challenge the decision, the Immigration Minister on Thursday ordered his department to revoke the temporary cap on protection visas for asylum seekers.

Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said she did not think it a coincidence that Mr Morrison had reversed his decision on the same day it emerged that the “very sharp” team of refugee lawyers would challenge him in the High Court.

“I think they realised they were going to lose,” she said.

“It’s pretty clear if they thought they were on strong legal ground they would have fought it in the court.”

Fairfax Media has contacted Morrison’s office for comment.

If Morrison had not revoked the cap on protection visas, he would have faced a High Court challenge from the same legal team that successfully challenged former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s 2011 Malaysian people-swap policy.

The legal team, which included lawyers from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, were acting for an Ethiopian they say was “on the verge” of being granted a protection visa before the freeze. The 15-year-old was stowed away on a ship leaving Djibouti and arrived in Queensland in February without a visa.

A delegate for Morrison initially refused his application for a protection visa. The Refugee Review Tribunal later found the boy to be a refugee and sent his application back to be finalised in October.

The teenager’s lawyers asked the High Court on Thursday to declare Morrison’s cap invalid because they argued it was inconsistent with his legal duty to make a decision on his application within 90 days.

While the federal government has the legal power to cap certain visas in some circumstances, it is believed this has never been used for protection visas.

The Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre’s executive director, David Manne, said the new laws had “deeply distressed” his client.

“We say that the government is under a duty to promptly complete the processing of our client refugee case as laid down by Australian law . . . which should have led to him being granted a protection visa, so he can get on with rebuilding his life,” he said.
SMH/PACNEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:

34) Sea wall to stop erosion

Tevita Vuibau

Saturday, December 21, 2013

WHEN the elders of Dakuni in Beqa decided on the location of their village, they took into account many things, including its sheltered position from hurricanes, easy access to fish in the sea, and soil quality for rootcrops from the land.

But what they could not predict was that the village’s proximity to the shore would leave it vulnerable to climate change.

Over the years the sea has been eroding the shoreline fronting the village until eventually they could bear it no longer and decided to fundraise for a sea wall. The initial sea wall did not encompass the whole beachfront so the shoreline continued to erode.

On Wednesday however, there was cause for celebration among the villagers when a new sea wall built with money from the government was finally commissioned.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the government provided $85,000 for its construction which the villagers were grateful for.

Villager Savenaca Kamikamica said the seawall gave them joy and peace of mind.

“We were running out of land to build houses but that is no longer the case now, ” Mr Kamikamica said.

“Initially the houses were right at the edge of the water because the water had advanced so far inland,” Mr Kamikamica said.http://www.fijitimes.com/

35) Caught up in floodwaters

Maciu Malo
Saturday, December 21, 2013

HUNDREDS of people and vehicles travelling on the Kings Rd from Suva to Lautoka were stranded because of flooding in Rakiraki yesterday.

Some people waited for hours for floodwaters to recede.

Vehicles lined up at Rakiraki Village as motorists waited until it was safe to cross.

Stranded Lautoka taxidriver Rakesh Chandra Singh, 44, said he was on his way to Nayavu, Wainibuka.

Nalawa, Ra, native Isoa Senikaucava, 35, said he was stranded for more than three hours.

“I am here to sell farm produce and I am concerned whether I will be able to sell all before returning to the village in the afternoon,” he said.

Members of the public have been urged to take extra precaution during this wet season.

Rakiraki interim administrator Ralulu Cirikiyasawa said the business community had been adversely affected by the flooding.

“This because of the closure of the main road leading to town both from Tavua and from Suva,” Mr Cirikiyasawa said.

“Flooding threat is always there. We cannot discount the threat entirely, threat in terms of physical damage, economic hardships both to the rural communities and the business communities, people are physically stopped from coming to town.

“The message for the people is keep your radio and TV on, the weather pattern is quite unreliable so always be prepared during cyclone season.”http://www.fijitimes.com/

36) Fiji Weather Office sounds warning

By Online Editor
12:16 pm GMT+12, 20/12/2013, Fiji

The Nadi Weather Office says people should begin preparing for a possible cyclone towards the end of December or early January next year.

Principal scientific officer forecasting at the Fiji Meteorological Service Misaele Funaki said while the possibility of a cyclone developing was slim at the moment, it would not hurt for people to be prepared.

He added that the current weather conditions are slightly different from the climate that was experienced last year prior to the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Evan.

“We are tracking a pulse that is currently over the Indian Ocean and should this begin to enter our arena then there are elevated chances as the winds gradually turn westerly for some sort of weather activity,” he said.

Funaki said the same pulse was responsible for the development of severe Tropical Cyclone Bruce in the Indian Ocean off the Indonesian coast. TC Bruce has intensified to category 3 with winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour.

“Due to the unpredictable nature of these winds, people should be prepared and not wait until the last minute to secure buildings and stock up supplies and water.”

Funaki said the intense heat, thunderstorms and increased lightning activity in the afternoons was indicative of the amount of energy in the upper atmosphere that was being dispersed in the afternoons.

“Usually this type of buildup of energy can be broken down by a cyclone.

Meanwhile, a heavy rain warning remains in force for most parts of Fiji.

This is as a result of a trough of low pressure with associated cloud and rain which slow moving over the group.

The warning is in force for western Vanua Levu, Yasawa, and Mamanuca Group, Viti Levu, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands, Lau and the Lomaiviti Group.

Fiji’s weather office warns localised heavy rain may lead to flash flooding in these areas. For the rest of Fiji, a heavy rain alert is in force.

Forecast for tomorrow, occasional rain and few thunderstorms, which may become frequent and heavy at times.
FIJI TIMES/ FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

YOUTH+ :

37) Stop to glue sniffing

Shalveen Chand
Saturday, December 21, 2013

A NASINU suburb has been able to work with the police to put a stop to youths in the area inhaling glue.

Duvula Rd in Nadera had become a common place for teenagers and young adults to gather and inhale glue, particularly around the steps leading up to a Hindu temple.

Navin Prasad, 47, a resident said there was a time when the drain next to the temple was filled with empty glue cans.

“It was becoming quite unsafe,” he said.

“I would walk past the area after work, often in the dark.

“And there would be a gang sitting on the steps inhaling glue.

“I knew they were inhaling glue because I could see them do it.

“But there has been increased police presence in the area.

“For the past six to seven months, there haven’t been such activities.”

Another resident living in the vicinity spoke to this newspaper on condition of anonymity that there had been incidents when stones were thrown on their house in retaliation when they questioned the youths.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said this was an example of how the community and the police could work together to resolve social issues.

Under the law, people caught inhaling glue cannot be arrested because glue is not classified as a narcotic.
http://www.fijitimes.com/

SPORTS

38) Fiji’s first rugby star

Kameli Rakoko
Saturday, December 21, 2013

LAST week we saw how three Fijians rewrote New Zealand rugby history by being included in the New Zealand Rugby Almanack following their grand performances in 1951.

However, the first Fijian to be named in the NZ rugby almanack was none other than Josaia Voreqe of Bau, Tailevu in Fiji’s unbeaten tour there in 1939.

He went by the initials of JBVoreqe, which was Josaia Bainimarama Voreqe.

In the late ’70s he was in New Zealand for a visit and popped into a newspaper office requesting photos of the 1939 tour.

The rugby writer in the newspaper interviewed him and wrote a piece on him saying he was not only a member of the 1939 team. In fact he was the hero.

JB Voreqe was the only non-Kiwi among the five men who were selected to be the best five players in New Zealand in 1939.

Voreqe was a winger and he had speed and agility to also top score for his team in the famous tour.

He played for Defence in the Suva Rugby Union, a height of 1m 78 (5’9) and weighed 82.5kg (13st).

He began his rugby career in 1938 playing all three Tests against the touring Maori and scored his first try in the second Test which Fiji won 11-6.

In the 1939 tour, he scored a try against the Maori in the 11-0 win in Bay of Plenty, two tries against Auckland winning 17-11, one try each against Nelson, Ashburton Country and the 14-4 win over the Maori in their second match.

Voreqe’s last match was the 19-9 win against Tonga where he also scored a try.

Looking back on Fiji’s association with New Zealand rugby, rugby writer Paul Neazor of Skysport.co.nz in an article in June this year said: “New Zealand really became involved with Fijian rugby in the 1930s.

The standard of Fijian rugby surprised New Zealand critics, who noted: “The islanders showed that they had a wonderful knowledge of the game, and were possessed of speedy men.” The national team was comprised exclusively of native Fijians.

In 1939: Fiji made their first tour of New Zealand and caused a major surprise for the second time in two years, this time by remaining unbeaten.

They were the first team to complete a tour of New Zealand without defeat and remain the only touring side to play a significant number of matches without a loss.

Although hampered by wet, muddy conditions for the first seven matches the tourists did well, beating good sides in Auckland, Buller, North Auckland and King Country.

They played New Zealand Maori in the final match and struck a dry ground for the only time on tour, turning on an exciting exhibition of running rugby and winning easily.

The Rugby Almanack noted the Fijians’ “superior pace, combination and tactics, as well as superb handling”.

The almanack also noted the visitors could teach New Zealand players several things about “low, hard tackling, dribbling, long line-kicking, backing-up and fielding the ball cleanly, as well as the value of physical fitness”.

According to Fiji Rugby Union website, Fiji’s captain for that tour, Ratu Sir George Cakobau, decided that his side should have a war dance to rival the haka. He approached Ratu Bola, the high chief of the warrior clan of Navusaradave in Bau, who taught them the cibi which has been Fiji’s pre-match ritual ever since.

With many players still preferring to play barefoot, the Fijians played with a care-free spirit and created history by becoming the first team to go through a full tour of New Zealand unbeaten, winning seven and drawing one, a record that stands to this day. They played and beat the Maori again 14-4.

The feature of this team was, it was said that it had representatives from all 14 provinces of Fiji.

Maybe, something for our current selectors to ponder.http://www.fijitimes.com/

39) Xmas period could end Arsenal’s lead

Ap
Saturday, December 21, 2013

LONDON – Arsenal’s three-month stay atop the English Premier League will end on Monday if the Gunners lose to title rivals Chelsea in one of the biggest matches of the season so far.

After dropping five points in the past two league games, Arsenal are within range of three teams – Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City – heading into the first of four rounds of matches in quick succession over English football’s traditionally busy festive period.

Second-placed Liverpool host Cardiff on Saturday and will move provisionally top for two days with a win at Anfield. Fourth-placed City travel to Fulham.

By kickoff on Monday, Arsenal will have had eight days to get over the humiliation of losing 6-3 at Man City – a result critics seized on as evidence that Arsene Wenger’s men aren’t ready to challenge for the title.

That came after a 2-0 loss at Napoli, which almost eliminated Arsenal from the Champions League, and a 1-1 home draw against Everton. The tough run of opponents eases somewhat after the Chelsea match, so staying top of the league by Christmas Day with a win at Emirates Stadium will should see confidence returning among Arsenal’s players.

Both teams face a punishing schedule of four league games in a 10-day span, starting on Monday.

City’s prolific form of late will be tested as top scorer Sergio Aguero will be missing until the middle of January, at the earliest, because of a right calf injury.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini must decide whether to play an extra attacking midfielder or pair Negredo with Edin Dzeko, who started the midweek League Cup win over Leicester and scored two goals.

“Sergio has had an amazing season, scoring a lot of goals, and he is an important player for us,” Dzeko said after the 3-1 victory.

Fulham have conceded at least two goals in eight of the past nine games in all competitions and sit second from bottom.

40) Briefly

Afp, Aap, Ap, Pa
Saturday, December 21, 2013

SPORTS NEWS IN BRIEF

esta deal

MADRID – Spanish international Andres Iniesta has agreed to extend his Barcelona contract until at least 2018. “Iniesta’s extension is confirmed, we have shaken on it and that is enough for us,” Barcelona president Sandro Rosell told a news conference on Thursday.

Injury concern

WELLINGTON – Wellington Phoenix say injury was behind Carlos Hernandez’s sudden departure from Australia but acknowledge the playmaker has off-field concerns. Hernandez flew home to Wellington on Thursday, hours before the Phoenix’s 1-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners in Sydney, continuing their winless start to the A-League season.

NKorea b’ball

BEIJING – Former NBA star Dennis Rodman says he is hoping a basketball game he is organising in North Korea could engage the American people and president Barack Obama. “Sport is so important to people around the world so I hope this is going to engage the American people, especially Obama,” the eccentric former Chicago Bulls star said at Beijing airport on Thursday on his way to Pyongyang.

Mumm stays

LONDON – Exeter Chiefs captain and former Wallabies second-rower Dean Mumm has signed a two-year contract extension with the English Premiership club to keep him at Sandy Park until 2016. Head coach Rob Baxter said the former Waratahs forward’s decision sends a warning to the rest of the competition not to try to poach the Chiefs’ top stars.

Heat wins

MIAMI, Florida – Miami’s Ray Allen hit the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute as the Heat rallied from a late deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 97-94 on Wednesday in a clash of NBA divisional leaders. The Heat-Pacers clash was the highlight of a day when Minnesota made a powerful start which overwhelmed Portland, San Antonio ended Phoenix’s winning streak, and father Doc Rivers got the bragging rights over son Austin Rivers as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated New Orleans.

Bryant injured

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has a broken bone in his left knee and is expected to miss six weeks, the NBA team has confirmed. “You hate it for Kobe,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said on the team’s Twitter feed on Thursday. “He’s worked so hard to get back.”

Penalty walls

MARRAKECH, Morocco – After introducing technology to do away with phantom goals at the World Cup, FIFA is ensuring crafty defenders stop creeping in to cut down the distances on free kicks at next year’s tournament in Brazil. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Thursday that a vanishing spray currently being used at the Club World Cup to designate distances for free kicks will be used at the world’s biggest soccer event.

Title race

FRANKFURT, Germany – Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich are in Morocco, seeking to win the world club title, so Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund have an opportunity to make up some ground in the last round before the winter break. No matter what, Bayern will spend the break atop the standings, seven points ahead of Leverkusen and 12 points ahead of Dortmund.

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