Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 921

MELANESIA:

1) PNG’s Bougainville MPs get grants doubled

By Online Editor
3:00 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

MPs in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous Bougainville government are to get 100 percent increases in their electoral grants.

In the just passed 2014 budget, the 40 Bougainville MPs will get US$77,000 each to spend on projects in their electorates.

New Dawn FM reports MPs as saying they frequently come under pressure in their seats to deliver some small projects during their term of office.

Electoral grants, which also made available in other parts of Melanesia, are often called slush funds and watchdog groups repeatedly raise concerns about the lack of transparency in their acquittal.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

1b) Vanuatu daily news digest | 6 January 2014

by bobmakin

There is still considerable drawing on the New Year messages of both Vanuatu’s President and Prime Minister in current Radio Vanuatu News. President Abbil stressed his belief in Melanesian values of faith and Christianity, and the way such values are effective and fruitful in a country able to produce so much that is healthful. This will be appreciated by all, and especially rural populations and communities. Prime Minister Carcasses sees 2014 as a year for re-structuring much of what government does, and there has been considerable discussion with development partners, he said. A vision is being formed which will be carried out in 2015.

Hardnews still remains scarce. The PM announced that the travel allowance for civil servants is henceforth halved, from VT 10.000 a day down to VT 5.000 for travel within Vanuatu. Vanuatu cannot afford the higher rate, Carcasses said.

The new submarine cable is being launched at the Seafront on 15 January. It has been revealed that the shareholders are the Vanuatu National Provident Fund, the government and Vanuatu Post. Your editor believes this to be a commendable bracket of owners. TVL and Digicel (and one wonders whether other users) have been invited to join.

Prime Minister Carcasses is presently holding the Internal Affairs portfolio he has announced and a by-election budget is being considered.

If my audio recording of VBTC news is correct, 29,000 voters in Port Vila, on holiday tomorrow, will go to the polls. They will elect councillors in 5 wards and from 2 lists. The population of Port Vila in the 2009 census was given as 44040. That 2/3 of the town population was of voting age probably has an explanation of which your editor is unaware. If you know how this comes about when half the population is believed to be under 18 years of age, please advise bobmakin22

Happy municipal voting day!

MICRONESIA:

2a) Senator John McCain Assures Palau Of Support For Renewed Compact
Vacationing lawmaker says U.S. commitment to relationship is strong

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Jan. 3, 2014) – Vacationing Arizona Sen. John McCain yesterday addressed the leaders of Palau in a joint session by the Olbiil Era Kelulau at the Senate chamber and expressed his support for the approval of the renewed Palau-US Compact.

McCain said that the long delay with the US funding for the renewal of Compact is not only deeply frustrating to Palauans but also to Palau’s friends in the United States.

“I do not want any of you, or anyone in Palau, to see this delay as a reason to question America’s commitment to Palau. Nothing could be further from the truth. We cannot, and we will not, allow the political spats of Washington to cause us to let you down. Your friends in Washington will continue fighting to move forward and implement the renewed Compact. And we will get it done,” McCain said, repeating the phrase “we will get it done.”

The Republican senator believes that securing the funding to implement the renewed Palau-US agreement would be a better way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Compact next year as well as Palau’s independence. Next year also marks a historic milestone for Palau and the US as it will be the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Peleliu – the ferocious and agonizing crucible that first brought Americans in large numbers to Palau, according to McCain.

McCain expressed appreciation to Palau for its enduring support for the US – for always going with US when votes are cast in the United Nations, for the growing economic relationship between Palau and US, for the access Palau has provided to America’s men and women in uniform and the countless ties between both countries’ peoples that make Palau and US something more like a family.

“Palau may be a small nation, but it plays an outsized role in America’s foreign policy. And for that, my country is profoundly grateful,” McCain said.

In his address during the joint session, McCain also talked about America’s enduring commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.

McCain said that America’s partnership with Palau is more important today in light of Obama Administration’s talk of a need to pivot or rebalance the US more toward the Asia-Pacific region. But McCain said he does not want to term pivot as US has never left.

“America has long been a Pacific power, and we will always remain one,” the Arizona senator said.

McCain said America’s commitment to maintaining a favorable balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region is strong and enduring.

“Now, I realize that many people in this region are questioning the US commitment to the region and out staying power. And I understand why. America today has its share of challenges – from an unsustainable fiscal situation and weak economic growth, to the negative impact of sequestration on our military, to political gridlock that makes all of our hard problems harder to solve. But here, too, there is good news, for all of the things that we in Washington can find to differ over, our commitment to the Asia-Pacific region is not one of them,” McCain said.

McCain said that there a lot of things in Washington that they cannot seem to agree on but there is broad bipartisan agreement behind the idea of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific.

McCain said Palau and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region can have confidence in America and its ability to sustain its historic role as a Pacific power.

“You have good reason to count on us, just as we have good reason to count on you. And together, we can move into the new year prepared to do more than just honor and remember the successes of our shared history, but also to build on those successes and to foster greater security and development on behalf of both of our peoples,” McCain said.

The joint session yesterday was followed by a dinner reception for McCain and his family at the OEK building.

President Tommy Remengesau Jr. and First Lady, Vice President Antonio Bells, Paramount Chiefs Ibedul and Reklai, Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong, Senate and House members, Cabinet members and other local officials also attended the joint session. Information from the Senate disclosed that Senators Regis Akitaya, Mark Rudimch, Kathy Kesolei, Joel Toribiong and Mlib Tmetuchl were not present while information from the House disclosed that those who were not present from the lower chamber were Delegates Gibson Kanai, Frank Kyota and Vice Speaker Alexander Merep.

Island Times: www.islandtimes.us

NEW ZEALAND:

2b) Law change plan for migrant workers

Updated at 7:30 pm today

A major employer of Filipino workers in Christchurch says he would support legislation making the exploitation of legal immigrant workers a criminal matter.

The First Union says Filipino immigrants working in the earthquake-hit South Island city are being exploited by local employers. It says some have been made to work weekends without pay, while others have not been paid at all for several weeks.

The union said it knows of two cases. The first relates to a sub-contractor who made 40 employees work for free on Saturdays, although that matter has since been resolved. The second case, which has not been resolved, involves 15 employees who say they have not been paid for six to 11 weeks of work.

Leighs Construction employs about 60 Filipino carpenters and is recruiting for more. Managing director Anthony Leighs said often the workers value their job so highly they will do whatever an employer tells them, which is why legislation is needed.

“I wouldn’t want to see us use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but I do think that if we are going to see larger scale employment out of countries such as the Philippines it’s important that there is a regime in place – here in Christchurch or in New Zealand for that matter – so that people can’t take advantage of them.”

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says the Government is working on legislation that will make the exploitation of legal migrant workers a criminal matter, rather than a civil one.

Mr Woodhouse told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme on Monday that information for workers about their rights is being distributed in New Zealand and the Philippines.

He said people not getting that information may be working with an unlicensed immigration adviser or unscrupulous employers could be withholding it.

Mr Woodhouse said it is a small problem for Canterbury and the country at present, but the risk of it growing is significant.

Listen to Michael Woodhouse on Summer Report

Visa numbers

Almost half of the work visas granted for the Canterbury rebuild were allocated to Filipinos.

Between 1 July 2011 and 30 November last year, a total of 1926 people were granted temporary visas specifically for work associated with the rebuild.

Of these, 860 were Filipino nationals – 575 of whom got visas for occupations categorised as construction trades workers. That category includes carpenters, plasterers, glaziers, painters and stonemasons.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

TOK PISIN:

3) PNG Morobe lida bifo ino wanbel wantem Palaman spika

Updated 6 January 2014, 18:00 AEST
Pius Bonjui

Luther Wenge itok pasin em Palaman spika Theo Zurenuoc i mekim long rausim ol kaving na totem pos long Haus Palaman in stret

Luther Wenge bin wok olsem Gavana bilong Morobe Provins stat long 2002 na i bin memba bilong PNG Nesinal Parlament ikam nap long eleksan long 2012 na ibin lus.

Kelly Nauru ibin win na nau i niupela gavman bilong Morobe Provins.

Ibin gat ripot olsem, Kelly Nauru ibin sapotim Speaker Theo Zurenuoc, long rausim ol carvings na totem poles long PNG National Parliment House.

Dispela longwanem, oli lukim sampela long ol kavings i soim pasin satan na ino bihainim bilip bilong ol olsem Christian.

Mr Wenge itok despla tupla wantok blong en ino gat save stret olsem pasin tumbuna emi wanpla bikpla samting long kalsa na sidaon blong ol pipal long kantri.

Emi tok tu olsem emi save sampla pasin tumbuna olsem pasin sanguma ino gutpla tumas, tasol emi tok Haus Palaman emi ples blong olgeta pipal blong Papua New Guinea.

Mr Wenge itok ol despla kaving na totem pos emi soim kalsa blong kantri, na long wankaen taem ol pipal oli Christian, tasol despla tupla samting imas stap wantem.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

4) Melanesia ino wankaen olsem Polynesia na Micronesia

Updated 6 January 2014, 18:09 AEST

Caroline Tiriman

Ol kantri long Merlanesia isave bungim planti moa trabal na heve winim tupla narapla rijan blong Pacific olsem Micronesia na Polynesia.

Wanpla photo-journalist husat igat bikpla save long sidaon blong ol pipal blong Pacific, Ben Bohane itok, emi lukim tupla samting emi save halvim long statim ol despla heve long Melanesia.

Wanpla em olsem ol kantri blong Melanesia i bikpla na tu graon emi bikpla samting tumas long laif blong ol pipal blong Melanesia.

Na sampla long ol despla stori istap insaet long nupla buk blong en emi kolim long “The Black Islands: Spirit na  War  long  Melanesia”

Ol kantri blong Melanesia em Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu na West Papua.

Mr Bohane itok tu olsem ol pipal blong Melanesia igat planti kaen kaen tok ples na bilip blong ol long ol samting blong bifo i strong iet.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

FRENCH:

5) Australie Occidentale: l’abattage des requins aura bien lieu

Posté à 6 January 2014, 14:32 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

Malgré une opposition grandissante. Hier dimanche, 4000 personnes ont manifesté contre cette mesure.

La manifestation était organisée sur la plage de Cottesloe, la plus courue de Perth, et au large de laquelle un sexagénaire a été mortellement blessé par un grand blanc en février 2012.

Devant la recrudescence des attaques mortelles de requins sur la côte de l’Australie Occidentale, le gouvernement de l’état a décidé d’autoriser l’abattage de tout requin de plus de trois mètres qui s’approche à moins d’un kilomètre des plages les plus populaires.

Les défenseurs des requins affirment que l’abattage n’empêchera pas les attaques et dénoncent le système d’appâts mis en place par le gouvernement, qui tuera nécessairement d’autres animaux marins.

Mais le Premier ministre tient bon, invoquant le nombre record de victimes – 7 morts en trois ans, alors qu’avant c’était un par an. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

6) Papouasie indonésienne: 2013, année désastreuse pour les journalistes

Posté à 6 January 2014, 14:34 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

L’Alliance locale des Journalistes Indépendants vient de sortir son rapport annuel.

Le bilan est inquiétant : en 2013, elle a enregistré 20 cas de menaces et de violences à l’encontre des journalistes en Papouasie indonésienne, une nette augmentation par rapport aux 12 agressions rapportées en 2012.

Sur les 20 cas d’agressions de 2013, 16 ont eu lieu en Papouasie, et 4 en Papouasie Occidentale. Il s’agit d’agressions verbales et physiques, avec quelques expéditions punitives dans les salles de rédaction.

Et d’après l’Alliance des Journalistes Indépendants, 8 attaques sont le fait de policiers indonésiens, soit le double de l’année précédente.  http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

WORLD:

7) US Republican senator Rand Paul says Edward Snowden shouldn’t get death penalty

Updated 6 January 2014, 6:52 AEST

A leading conservative US senator says former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden should only receive “a few years in prison”, not the death penalty, as punishment for his disclosure of information on government surveillance programs.

A leading conservative US senator says former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden should only receive “a few years in prison”, not the death penalty, as punishment for his disclosure of information on government surveillance programs.

Rand Paul, a Republican, said in an interview with ABC America that Snowden does not deserve the death penalty or life in prison for the leaks, which have rattled the US intelligence community, not to mention an American public that had been unaware of the extent of the National Security Agency (NSA) data collection program.

Instead, Mr Paul spoke favourably of “some penalty of a few years in prison” if Snowden were to return to the US from Russia, where he currently is living, to face trial.

Mr Paul, a freshman senator from Kentucky and a Tea Party favourite who has his eye on running for president in 2016, made his remarks a few days after a New York Times editorial said Snowden had done the US “a great service” in divulging details of NSA surveillance.

The newspaper said the US government should offer Snowden “a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home.”

Senator Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, also on ABC, said Snowden should return to stand trial but that the US should not offer a plea bargain to him.

Mr Schumer said a trial could help clarify several issues, including whether the vast amounts of data being collected by the NSA actually help the US root out terrorists and how much damage Snowden’s leaks have done to American intelligence agents.

Last month, a federal judge criticised the NSA’s metadata counter-terrorism program, saying that he could not imagine a more “indiscriminate” and “arbitrary invasion.”

The Obama administration on Friday appealed that court’s ruling, which said that the NSA’s gathering of Americans’ telephone records was probably unconstitutional.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

8) US and Canada brace for polar blast

Updated at 6:30 pm today

Parts of the United States could see record-breaking low temperatures as an Arctic chill brings more freezing weather to the US and Canada.

The stream of bitterly cold air is beginning to sweep down on the American mid-west, with termperatures in some places already minus 30 degrees Celsius.

Forecasters say a polar vortex – an Arctic blast – will bring with it sub-zero temperatures many Americans have never experienced before, the BBC reports.

Wind chill warnings have been issued for large swathes of the country – from Montanna to Alabama. The lowest temperatures are expected to hit North Dakota, Minnesota and Chicago.

Officials say the weather can be life-threatning and are urging people in the worst-hit areas only to make necessary journeys, warning that frostbite and hypothermia can set in after minutes in the cold.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

HEALTH:

9) Students on a mission

By SITERI SAUVAKACOLO
Monday, January 06, 2014

Update: 2:06PM MEDICAL students of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences of the FNU are on a mission to reach out to rural people and assist.

Faculty dean Professor Ian Rouse said this was done to help them understand the way of life of village people so they get a fair idea of treating and understanding people before graduating.

As part of this mission a group of 30 students along with 30 other  volunteers from New Zealand and Australia depart Suva today for a two week project in Nairukuruku and Taulevu villages in Naitasiri.

Apart from fixing their water source alone, they will also do health promotions and screeing programs for villagers, Professor Rouse said.

The project which is into its seventh year was launched in Suva today.http://www.fijitimes.com/

10) People of PNG will die as aid goes: MP

By Online Editor
12:21 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

Australia’s withdrawal from its $38 million funding of the delivery of medicines throughout Papua New Guinea will cause “certain death for many innocent Papua New Guineans”, especially in remote areas, a senior PNG politician has warned.

Gary Juffa, the Governor of Oro province and PNG’s former Customs commissioner, has urged Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to intervene in the case.

The Australian government halted last week its two-year, $38m program to supply more than 3000 health centres out of concern about PNG’s tender process.

The winning tenderer, Borneo Pacific, won with a bid to supply medical kits that was 40 per cent more than two more highly qualified competitors.

After a corruption scandal that triggered a dangerous shortage of drug supplies three years ago, Australia stepped in to fund deliveries to health centres. The latest tender award marked a return to PNG Health Department processes, though with Australia providing much of the funding.

Juffa said: “We certainly want to demonstrate our sovereignty as an independent nation. However, the fact remains that healthcare in PNG is far from satisfactory. In remote, rural parts of PNG, many cannot access basic healthcare. The victims are mostly vulnerable — infants, mothers and the elderly. This is reality.”

He said much of the support provinces received, in terms of healthcare funding and logistics and training, “comes from the aid that Australia gives.”

“To dismiss this would be inhumane. The healthcare system in PNG needs an overhaul. Substantial funds are overpaid in suspicious circumstances to private companies to deliver drugs and equipment, and this simply was not being done.

“The government has a duty to ensure that the best services and goods are procured.

“People are dying from lack of basic healthcare because of corruption.”

Juffa said in his province, people travelled from regional areas to the capital, Popondetta, for treatment because health centres in remote areas “have no drugs”.

PNG Health Minister Michael Malabag said he had instructed his department to monitor the new contract with Borneo Pacific, which has previously provided drugs from a Chinese supplier that were found to have been substandard, and in one case counterfeit, “to make sure that we receive quality medicines.”

He said he did not understand “why Australia carries on interfering” when PNG has pursued its own legal tender processes.

SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS

11) Dengue caution

Shalveen Chand
Monday, January 06, 2014

THERE could be more dengue cases than those recorded by the Health Ministry, with some people opting to seek medical aid from private practitioners.

And according to the Health Ministry, the new strain of dengue could be spreading with movement of people from urban to rural areas.

At the end of December, there were 283 cases but in the first three days of this year, 123 cases were recorded, taking the tally to 406.

These are the cases recorded at the ministry-run hospitals and health centres.

Health spokeswoman Evlyn Mani said because of the high likelihood of travel by people from urban to rural areas during this festive period, it effectively puts the other health divisions at risk as well.

She said this would also depend on the density of the dengue-transmitting mosquito (Aedes Aegypti) in those localities.

Residents in the suburb of Vatuwaqa in Suva fear that their area could prove to be a mosquito breeding haven. Fletcher Rd resident Vikash Lal, 38, said Vatuwaqa had a large drainage network, however, some of these drains were blocked.

“There are drains running behind my house which are clogged with rubbish, plastic bottles, plastics, paper, cardboards,” he said.

“Now this is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes. Vatuwaqa is very crowded, there is Wailea Settlement, Nanuku and Viria Settlement.

“My daughter was diagnosed with dengue two days ago, just hoping nobody else in my family gets it.”

Pacific Community Network, an NGO which works with squatter settlements around the greater Suva area agrees that some of the settlements could foster suitable conditions for breeding mosquitoes.

PCN’s Father Kevin Barr said Wailea is a water-logged community but they have set-up clean-up committees within the settlements.

The Health Ministry is still working on collating data to confirm how many people have been admitted because of dengue.

It is also advising people that should symptoms like abdominal pain, vomiting and severe fever continue, they should not hesitate to go to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the Suva City Council is carrying out a mosquito spraying campaign in the city’s suburbs to help prevent the further spread of dengue.

The authorities have also advised people to destroy mosquito breeding grounds in their surroundings and to keep their compounds clean.

“There are drains running behind my house which are clogged with rubbish, plastic bottles, plastics, paper, cardboards,” he said.

“Now this is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes. Vatuwaqa is very crowded, there is Wailea settlement, Nanuku and Viria settlement.

“My daughter was diagnosed with dengue two days ago, just hoping nobody else in my family gets it.”

Pacific Community Network, an NGO which works with squatter settlements around the greater Suva area, agrees that some of the settlements can foster suitable conditions for breeding mosquitoes.

PCN’s Father Kevin Barr said Wailea was a waterlogged community where they had set up a clean-up committee.

The Health Ministry is still working on collating data to confirm how many people have been admitted because of dengue.

It is also advising people that should symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting and severe fever continue, they should not hesitate to go to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the Suva City Council is carrying out a mosquito spraying campaign in the city’s suburbs to help prevent the further spread of dengue.

The authorities have also advised people to destroy mosquito breeding grounds in their surroundings and to keep their compounds clean.http://www.fijitimes.com/

12) Guam Hospital Institutes Off-Island Third-Party Peer Review
Certain cases to be reviewed by Chicago physician team

By Jasmine Stole

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Jan. 6, 2014) – Guam Memorial Hospital has instituted a new step in its peer review process. The hospital now has the means to have certain patient cases reviewed by an off-island team of physicians, according to Joseph Verga, CEO of GMH.

In November, the hospital entered into a contract with Dr. Steven Lowenthal and his team of multi-specialists to further examine cases sent to it by GMH.

Lowenthal is a physician from Chicago, who specializes in peer review, Verga said. He added that peer review by a third party is something the hospital has not had before. Marianas Variety Guam: www.mvguam.com

EDUCATION:

13) Marshalls college to launch first maritime training program

By Online Editor
12:14 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Marshall Islands

The College of the Marshall Islands is set to launch its first maritime training course in January, with the rollout of a more comprehensive program scheduled later in 2014.

“Initial classes will consist entirely of a 40-hour basic safety training under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers” said Mike Vredenberg, who has been developing curriculum for the program. The college is collaborating with the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority to launch the new training opportunity.

Fisheries Observer courses, Basic Crewmember courses and   a Maritime Apprentice program will start after April, 2014, he said.

The first class in January will be reserved for an expected intake consisting mainly of employees from the Majuro-based Luen Thai Fishing Venture, which operates a fleet of longliners that catch tuna, which is exported to sashimi markets in the United States and Japan.

Equipment and supplies for the new program — including first aid and medical training materials, textbooks and videos — are expected to arrive the first week of January. Shipping containers to be used to construct a firefighting training structure and for storage have been purchased, and a contract has been awarded to a local contractor by the college to clear and grade the firefighting site at college’s Arrak campus.

The aim is to get the maritime training program accredited by the U.S. Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which accredits the college’s other academic programs.

“Pending the certification process with WASC, [Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers] certificates will be issued under the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority,” Vredenberg said. Course curriculum outlines, program proposals and substantive-change proposals to be submitted to WASC are currently under review by the college.
SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS

POLITIC:

14) Academic says Fiji needs to set up an Electoral Commission as soon as possible

Updated at 7:06 pm today

An Auckland University political scientist says the Fiji Government needs to set up an Electoral Commission as soon as possible, in preparation for the country’s approaching elections.

A general election is promised for September but the members for the commission and an election supervisor are yet to be appointed.

Stephen Ratuva says an Electoral Commission is needed soon.

“Some names have been bandied around but nothing has been confirmed yet so they are still looking for people to be on the commission – that’s a very very important aspect of the electoral process – to have a commission in place and also the electoral regulations to be in place before the election. Because the electoral commission will basically look after the election process.”

Stephen Ratuva also says people are waiting for the regime’s leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to set up his own political party.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

15) UFDF calling for CEOs sponsored by regime to be held to account

Updated at 6:41 pm today

The political grouping, the United Front for a Democratic Fiji, is calling on all government departments to document what it describes as excesses and abuses by regime-sponsored chief executives and directors.

In a statement, the UFDF says the Fiji Electricity Authority’s chief executive, Hasmukh Patel, has received back pay in in the past month in excess of 50,000 US dollars, while other senior staff received nothing.

The UFDF says his contract was recently extended by three years and his salary increased to more than 190,000 US dollars in addition to back pay and benefits.

It says sources from the Fiji Electricity Authority report Mr Patel named his own salary and asked the accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers to provide a justification for the increase before it was signed off by the board and the Attorney General.

The UFDF says such excesses need to be documented so when a democratic government is installed those involved can be held to account.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

16) PNG govt cautioned on diplomacy, Fugitive’s report ready

By Online Editor
09:08 am GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

The former ambassador to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Brian Yombon-Copio has cautioned the government to be careful when dealing with regional diplomacy.

Yombon-Copio said PNG government should be careful in its engagement in global diplomacy, especially dealing with sensitive issues of other countries which are of interest to the country’s national interests.

He said this observation was made in the light of Indonesia’s concerns on fugitive-turned PNG citizen Djoko Tjandra, also known as Joe Chan.

Yombon-Copio said the Indonesian government had a serious issue with Djoko Tjandra (Joe Chan) and PNG government should review the process in which he was granted citizenship with a view to cancel it and return the fugitive to his country of origin to face authorities.

He said PNG should not provide safe haven for Tjandra, who was named a fugitive and wanted by the government of Indonesia.

Yombon-Copio warned that such a manageable issue had the potential to translate into a major issue which would have a detrimental effect on PNG-Indonesia relations.

He said PNG’s global counterparts were not comfortable with PNG’s involvement in Indonesia’s domestic issue with Djoko Tjandra.

PNG was wrong in issuing quick citizenship to Tjandra at the first place without proper character checks and consultation with the Indonesian government,Yombon Copio said.

He said the PNG government had demonstrated potential in meaningfully contributing to global diplomacy through sound networking and Indonesia’s issue with Tjandra should not destroy the standing built at the global level.

He said he understands that Tjandra has investments in PNG but his exclusive travels within the Asia-Pacific region using a PNG passport has so far posed serious security concerns for PNG.

Meanwhile, the investigation report detailing the findings and recommendations on the issuance of a PNG passport and citizenship to Indonesian fugitive Djoko Tjandra has been tabled seven months ago.

The Chief Secretary’s office advised last Friday that the report, completed by the committee tasked and appointed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc was presented to Attorney-General  Kerenga Kua and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato seven months ago.

The report was produced by the committee, chaired by Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch, immediately after the Prime Minister announced an investigation into the awarding of a citizenship certificate to Tjandra also known as Joe Chan.

Officials from Sir Manasupe’s office said last Friday that it was now up to Kua and  Pato to act upon the recommendations.

The Post-Courier’s attempt to contact Kua and Pato did not succeed as the two are still on holidays.

The Chief Secretary’s office responded after reports that Indonesia was stepping up its efforts to try to bring Tjandra home from PNG this year.

The Attorney-General’s office in Indonesia singled out successive meetings with the PNG leaders last year but detailed that this year they expect to have more from what they left off in 2013 with the counterparts. Tjandra was convicted of misusing Bank Indonesia Liquidity Support (BLBI) funds in the Bank Bali case.

He fled to PNG one day before the Supreme Court sentenced him to prison for fraud in 2009.

The court sentenced both Tjandra and former Bank Indonesia (BI) governor Syahril Sabirin, to two years imprisonment and ordered Tjandra to pay Rp 546 billion ($US57.7 million) in restitution for illegally disbursing BLBI funds to Bank Bali in 1999, causing Rp 546 billion in state losses. Tjandra has reportedly secured PNG citizenship.

Peter Ilau, PNG’s Ambassador to Indonesia, said on July 12 that Tjandra had obtained PNG citizenship in June.

One of the solutions proposed by the Indonesian Attorney General’s office was to request mutual legal assistance from the PNG government and urge them to conduct an internal investigation on Tjandra citizenship.

The Indonesian Attorney General suspected that Tjandra had falsified legal documents when applying for PNG citizenship, as he was a fugitive and would have concealed information during his application process

Tjandra left Indonesia on a chartered flight from Halim Perdanakusumah Airport in East Jakarta on June 10, just one day before the Supreme Court issued its decision on the AGO’s case review.

He is still running around the world with a PNG passport with the name Joe Chan and has been running business in the country supported by PNG ministers and top bureaucrats.

The fugitive also has strings of businesses already lined up in PNG including a multi-million kina contract on Government Buildings at Waigani.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

17) Vanuatu ‘Chief’ Accused Of Misusing Title To Apply For Aid
Court orders man to stop using Chiefly title until appeal decided

By Glenda Shing

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 3, 2014) – Chief Sasamakinata and Chief Petere of Fenonge Village, Emae Island, have claimed that chief Willie Wati has been using the Chiefly title name, Tinapuamata, to request for aid from donor partners, although, he was not entitled to exercise his powers under that Chiefly name.

To support their statement, according to the court ruling of the Civil Appeal Case No. 1 of 2013, the Magistrate Court has ruled that Willie Wati, be restrained from using the Chiefly title name of Tinapuamata of Nambua Nakamai, Fenonge Village on Emae Island, until the final determination of this appeal.

The judgment further stated that Wati be restrained from exercising the rights, powers and privileges according to the Chiefly title Tinapuamata until further court judgment scheduled for early 2014.

They added that Wati was also using some group of people, whom he claimed to be high ranking chiefs from Emae, to support his statements when requesting aid from donors.

But according to Chief Sasamakinata and Chief Petere, this group of people is not recognised as high ranking chiefs on Emae and have allegedly not gone through the right procedure for their chiefly ordinations.

Chief Petere and Chief Sasamakinata are therefore calling on to donor partners to reject any aid request from Willie Wati, under the chiefly name Tinapuamata.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com

MEDIA:

18) Head of media watchdog says Fiji media fair and balanced

Updated at 7:08 pm today

The head of Fiji’s Media Industry Development Authority says he’s comfortable that media outlets in the country are producing impartial, balanced, and fair reports.

MIDA was established with the promulgation of the Media Decree in 2010 with the aim of improving the media’s objectivity and discipline.

The United Democratic Front for a Democratic Fiji says local media are not complying with the provisions of the decree and often run statements from the regime, without seeking the opposition view point.

It says MIDA should act but the organisation’s director Matai Akauola says there has been no reason to.

“So far so good, things are going according to what we felt should be the case in Fiji so in the last three years since the Media Decree we haven’t taken anyone to task so that speaks for itself.”

Matai Akauola.

The United Democratic Front for a Democratic Fiji has invited members of the government to national debates on TV and radio.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

BUSINESS:

19) Bilum sales meet daily family needs

Source:
The National, Monday January 6th, 2014

A LOCAL woman has realised that money from the daily sales of her bilums and traditional costumes (bilas) is more than enough to meet her household’s daily needs.
Stella David, of Moim in Angoram, East Sepik, sells her bilums, traditional necklaces, hand bands, headdresses and a lot more at the crafts market at Boroko, Port Moresby.
She said she could make up to K300 a day.
“Some of the bilums and baskets are from Wewak, while we make the other items ourselves,” David said.
She said the bilums were fashioned from a certain type of tree bark.
The bark was pounded and the fibre processed into small strands (strings), by rolling it with hands.
The bark strings are then coloured according to the bilum design she wished to follow.
“We buy the paints in bottles from Agmark and Chemica. Some of them cost K60-K70. “Sometimes, we transfer the paints into smaller bottles and re-sell them for K5 to those who are also making bilums,
“The bilums are sold from K50 to K70 … in a day, we could make up to K300,” David said.
She said customers would buy the items for school children, especially during independence celebrations.
“I usually have many customers during independence celebrations.
“I can make up to K1,000 a day, especially on days leading up to the  big day,” she said.

20) Villager pins hope on sandalwood farm

Repeka Nasiko
Monday, January 06, 2014

FOR Nasau villager Meli Naisele, a sandalwood farm is the answer to financial woes that many iTaukei people may be facing.

Situated on the hilltops of Nasau Village in the Navitilevu district of Ra Province, Mr Naisele’s farm started two years ago and now boasts 4000 sandalwood seedlings.

Mr Naisele said the farm was an initiative he pioneered when approached by officials from Nature Fiji.

“They had conducted workshops with us at the village and showed us some of the village projects that we could go into to earn a living,” he said.

“Many of our villagers in Nasau depend on selling coconuts and sasa brooms.

“I wanted to start something different, so I decided to venture into sandalwood farming.”

Mr Naisele said the workshops with Nature Fiji had offered enough information for the farmer to start cultivation. “They had given us books on how to start sandalwood farming and the right kind of conditions we had to provide.”

He said the nursery had faced challenges initially.

“We don’t have a lot of land in our area.

“Because of sea level rise, our village does not have a lot of land mass for planting crops so a sandalwood farm would be even difficult.”

Situated along the coastal lines of the Ra Province, the village has seen the direct impact of climate change with rising sea levels threatening homes and food source.

Mr Naisele said a project such as sandalwood farming was always going to be a challenge given the community’s current situation.

“I had to go to another area far away from the village to set up the nursery.”

He said conditions for the nursery also proved to be a challenge but after more research, he managed to erect a homemade greenhouse for the nursery.

“With that first nursery, I managed to breed about 400 seedlings, then that grew to 1000 and now I have about 4000 seedlings.”

Mr Naisele said the secret to the quick growth of the nursery was water.

“I constantly water the seedlings. I noticed every time I watered them every day for about a week, the seedlings were healthy and grew very quickly.”

However, the Nasau villager said personally nourishing the plants was also a challenge. “I have to get water in a bucket and then take it to the nursery. That kind of task for 4000 seedlings is too much.”

He said a water tank was a much better solution to his problem.

“I am working on getting a water tank but with help I know I can get it,” he said.

According to Mr Naisele, with each tree valued at $30,000, he hopes the farm would expand into a bigger business to provide financial assistance for his family and the village.http://www.fijitimes.com/

21) Fiji Kava Council seeks help from EU

By Online Editor
2:50 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Fiji

The Fiji Kava Council (FKC) is seeking the assistance of the European Union and the Ministry of Agriculture to help them develop the planting of kava seedlings in nurseries for exportation.

The council’s chairman, Rupeni Koroi said: “We have asked the European Union to help in the development of kava seedling planting and later be given out to farmers.

“Since the European Union helps the sugar industry a lot, we are targeting sugarcane farmers in the Nadroga, Ba and the Ra provinces to be given transplanted kava seedlings to plant,”  Koroi said.

He said they hoped to export all 12 varieties of kava found in the country.

But before exporting each variety needed to be declared, photographed and given a name.

Koroi said once this process was done the testing of kava would take place to determine the percentage of kava lactones present in each variety.

He said this should help pharmaceutical retailers overseas buy kava from Fiji to be used as medicine.

He said the council was planning to start the seedling planting phase in January and start exporting in three years time.

With the shortage of kava in the country the council is trying to ensure there was less importation of kava from Vanuatu.

Some kava exporters are currently buying kava from Vanuatu.

Koroi said their aim was to export kava for human consumption and medicinal use overseas.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

22) Bougainville Atolls To Defy Beche-De-Mer Harvesting Ban
Islanders say they have no other way to sustain livelihoods

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 6, 2014) – Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville Islanders are warning the Government that they will defy an extended ban on harvesting beche-de-mer.

In a letter to the National Fisheries Minister, Tauhu Pais of Tasman Island, who represents the province’s atolls says his communities have not been provided with any alternative arrangements to sustain their livelihoods.

The 2010 ban on beche-de-mer collection was recently extended to 2017 to allow stocks to recover.

The Post Courier reports that the former provincial politician says the atoll communities have complied with the ban until now but have faced severe hardships as a result, including food shortages.

Mr Pais says the communities, except for the Cartarets, intend to harvest the marine species, starting this month for six months.

He says a constitutional clause empowers the paramount chiefs of any ethnic group to have total control over its resources.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

23) Betel Nut Ban In Port Moresby Unconstitutional: Attorney
Validity of Port Moresby buai ban to be challenged in court

By Charles Moi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 3, 2014) – The ban on betel nut sales in the National Capital District is unconstitutional, lawyer Lawrence Pukali says.

And he intends to file court proceedings to challenge the validity of the ban.

Pukali said yesterday the ban restricted the freedom of movement of people into the NCD and prohibited villagers from selling betel nuts, which was a legal cash crop.

He urged NCD Governor Powes Parkop to relax the betel nut ban as it severely affected the livelihood of the people.

Pukali, from Mekeo, in Central, is contesting the Kairuku-Hiri by-election for the seat vacated by Paru Aihi.

Similar concerns have been raised by settlers from Tari, Hela, who have become dependent on the sale of betel nuts for their livelihood in the NCD.

Spokesman Ben Gipe said they would meet this weekend to consider their options, including the possibility of taking legal action against the ban.

Gipe said while they agreed with the governor’s move to clean up the city, they wanted Parkop to ensure that markets were properly set up outside the NCD for them to sell betel nuts.

In response to Pukali’s statement, Parkop (pictured) said he did not see any constitutional issues arising from the ban on betel nut sales in the NCD.

“The National Capital District Commission as the city authority has powers to allow or disallow any type of business activity within the city limits,” he said.

Parkop said other laws such as the Summary Offences Act and the Public Health Act were breached everyday when betel nut vendors and chewers were trading as they pleased and “spitting all over the city”.

The betel nut ban is in force and vendors have been given a seven-day grace period as of yesterday to sell off all their current stock.

All vehicles entering the NCD would be checked on the Hiritano Highway and at Laloki Bridge to prevent people smuggling betel nut into the city.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

24) Losing Money, American Samoa Fishing Fleet Up For Sale
Nearly 20 longliners attempt to sell due to business difficulties

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 3, 2014) – “For Sale” signs were posted yesterday morning on many local longliners anchored at the main dock at the port of Pago Pago, as boat owners moved to sell their vessels due to, among other things, the high costs of operation, making the business a losing proposition.

A list provided by the Tautai o Samoa Fishing and Longline Association shows close to 20 vessels up for sale. The sale was first announced late last month by boat owners.

“Aside from an increase in operating costs [and] a steady decrease in fish prices, the continuous low catch rates have made it no longer feasible to continue operating these fishing boats unless conditions improve,” boat owners said in a statement two weeks ago, when they first announced the move to put their boats up for sale.

They were also concerned with the lack of dock space at the main dock and then being double charged for using the marina dock.

Further, the price of albacore has dropped by almost $1,000 per metric ton with the increase in the South Pacific region of Chinese fishing boats which are subsidized by their government. (See Samoa News edition of Dec.18 for more details)

ASG, which recently established a committee to identify needs for the longline fishing fleet with a report to be submitted soon to the governor, informed Samoa News, through the Governor’s Office, that the price of fish is something beyond the government’s control.

However, boat owners have maintained that the government has continued to ignore their blight, and a recent decision by ASG Treasurer Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ Pili seems to point to this.

Boat owners said they have been asking the government for some ten years to waive the excise tax on fish caught in American Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and a recent Attorney General’s legal opinion agreed — saying fish caught by local longliners in the territory’s EEZ is not subject to excise tax per local and federal law.

However, the ASG Treasurer told Samoa News two weeks ago he will continue to levy an excise tax on fish caught in American Samoa’s EEZ, because Customs can’t determined for sure if the fish was caught there. He said discussions continue.

Local businessman James Mahoney, in a Letter to the Editor, suggested the boat owners take the matter to court to enjoin ASG from any further collection of the excise tax on the local fleet and “file a suit against ASG to recover previous unlawfully collected excise taxes to the extent possible.” (See Samoa News edition on Dec. 30 for more details of Mahoney’s letter.

In comments posted on Samoa News online regarding Mahoney’s suggestion, Carlos Sanchez, President of Longline Services, Inc., owner of six local longliners, agreed.

“We will take this case to court if need be. Four local lawyers have offered to help and take this to court for free if necessary,” Sanchez said. “Imagine how bad this would make the Treasurer look in court when the people that have to defend him — which is the AG’s office — tell the judge that their opinion is based on local laws, that we should not pay this.”

The following is the list of U.S. boats in American Samoa now up “For Sale”: FV Tifaimoana, FV Samoan Boy, FV Taimane, FV Southern Horizon, FV Gloria Park, FV Isabella T, FV Survivor, FV Rival, FV Jihyun, FV Princess Karlinna II, FV Mee Jin Park, FV Pacific Horizon, FV Inja, FV America, FV Princess Yasminna, FV Flora, FV Auro, FV Chico.

Samoa News Editor-in-Chief Rhonda Annesley and reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.

The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/

LAW&ORDER/CORRUPTION+:

25) Palau governor charged with human trafficking

By Online Editor
12:29 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Palau

Palau state governor, a business executive and two Filipino nationals are facing charges in relation to prostitution and money-laundering operations at the ATT Karaoke Bar and Disco in the Malakal district of Palau’s largest city, Koror.

Peleliu Gov. Temmy Shmull is charged with soliciting prostitution from the establishment. Local businessman and the sponsor of the ATT establishment, Haruo Esang, is facing charges of unlawful employment restrictions, and aiding and abetting a violation of the requirement to obtain a foreign investment approval certificate to operate a business with a foreign national.

ATT “owner” Grace Baconga, a citizen of the Philippines, and local sponsor Jeryl Blas, also a Philippine national, are facing numerous criminal charges including people trafficking, advancing prostitution (coercion), profiting from prostitution (coercion), profiting from prostitution (no coercion), exploiting a trafficked person, money laundering, unlawful wage obligation and unlawful employee restriction.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the activities charged against all of the defendants reportedly occurred numerous times primarily at ATT.

Earlier reports indicate that three female workers fled from the bar, saying that the DJ assaulted one of them. The workers said they were recruited in the Philippines to work as waitresses or cashiers at a fine dining restaurant. ATT is not a fine dining restaurant. They said they were shocked to find out upon arrival in Palau that they were to be working at a bar as “guest-relations officers.”

The bar closed down temporarily following a police raid on Dec. 10, 2013.
SOURCE: OCEANIA TV/PACNEWS

26) US man accused of smuggling drugs from Fiji to Brisbane

By Online Editor
2:57 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Australia

A 70-year-old American man has appeared in court accused of smuggling 5kg of drugs into Brisbane on a flight from Fiji.

US citizen David William Banker was charged with a drugs offence after being stopped at the city’s airport on New Year’s Day.

Australian Federal Police will allege that Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officers found his bag “unusually heavy” during a search.

They will allege an X-ray revealed a white powder – later found to be methamphetamine, or ice – hidden in the lining.

Banker is charged with with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

He made no application for bail when he appeared briefly in the Brisbane Magistrates Court last Thursday.

He was remanded in custody and his case was adjourned to January 10.

SOURCE: THE COURIER MAIL/PACNEWS

27) Despite Violence, Fiji Peacekeepers Remain In South Sudan
RFMR confirm there are no plans to evacuate soldiers, police

By Losalini Rasoqosoqo

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Jan. 5, 2014) – All Fijians serving with the United Nations amidst growing violence in South Sudan are reported safe.

Yesterday, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) confirmed that all their security forces members were continuing with their mission.

And there are no current plans to evacuate Fijian soldiers and police officers there despite violence and civil unrest in the world’s newest nation.

“Work is normal for our members of the security forces and they are continuing with their mission,” Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga said.

However, he said, all civilian staff of the United Nations had been evacuated to Uganda. The Fijian contingents are part of a major United Nations effort to help the development of an independent South Sudan after decades of civil war and conflict in the region.

There are 15 Fijians serving there, of which six are from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, eight from the Fiji Police Force, and an officer from the Fiji Corrections Service.

Commissioner of Corrections Lieutenant-Colonel Ifereimi Vasu, earlier revealed that arrangements had been made for Chief Corrections Officer Ana Wilikibau to return home soon.

CCO Wilikibau is understood to be based where fighting has been the fiercest.

United Nations peacekeepers from Senegal and Jordan have recently been killed in violence in neighbouring Sudan’s South Darfur region, where peacekeeping efforts have taken a heavy toll on United Nations forces.

It has been reported that thousands of South Sudanese have fled their homes in recent days as fighting between forces loyal to the government of President Salva Kiir have fought against a rebellion led by his former vice president, Riek Machar, plunging the young nation into chaos and increasing fears of ethnic conflict..

The fighting began last month when some units of the national military staged an anti-government mutiny, which Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of orchestrating.

The violence soon spread across the country, pitting members of South Sudan’s two dominant ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer, against each other.

Since then an estimated 180,000 people have fled their homes, and much of the country has been left in ruins.

Many of these internally displaced persons have sought shelter in more than a dozen bases belonging to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

FijiSUN: http://www.fijisun.com.fj/

MINNING+

28) PNG’s Mineral Resources Development Company ups Fiji stake

By Online Editor
2:53 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Fiji

Papua New Guinea’s Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) new investment of FJ$8 million (K10 million) in a marina project  in Fiji has boosted its property value by 8 to 10%.

With capital infusion from MRDC, the Pearl Resort is set to become a world class tourist resort, according to chairman Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc.

Speaking at the commissioning of the Resort’s new mariner last month, he said: “I had reservations about this investment before coming here (Fiji).

“I’m now satisfied it has all the hallmarks of a successful project and the owners should be proud that their resort is the envy of others in a competitive market.”

The new facility was designed by Australian-based Marina International, designer of Singapore’s Kepple Bay Marina and Dubai’s 3km, 800- berth Marina, both first class projects.

“This facility (marina) will add considerable value to the resort’s investment. It is infrastructure investments like a marina that increase property values and as a result, we have seen an increase in our property value by around 8-10%,” Sir Manasupe said.

“Building a marina here is basically a necessity as the resort provides considerable diving, fishing and other water sport offerings as part of its package.”

The completion of the marina marks the first major milestone within the 22-month overall development programme.

Since taking over the hotel and the 200 acre freehold golf course last August, MRDC had set a course to developing a further 150 rooms in addition to the existing 80 rooms, a marina, new conference facilities, a wellness centre,  chapel and new food and beverage outlets.

The total construction budget was FJ$85 million (K108 million), not US$99 million (K239.7 million) as reported by the media recently.

The project had sought a FJ$40 million (K50.8 million) construction loan that would improve investor returns within MRDC guidelines.

MRDC investments over the past several years had drawn political and public criticism and the recent casino debacle has forced the trustee investment company to review its investment strategy, but more importantly the management of these investments.

“It is vital that we mitigate our risks and diversify our investment portfolios,” Sir Manasupe said.

“This is one of MRDC’s first major development projects outside of PNG and engaging professionals and independent experts has been a priority for MRDC.

“Cost and programme reporting is a critical factor in ensuring that this project stays within our development expectations,” he said.

International accounting firm Ernst and Young has been engaged to conduct full quarterly audits and review financial forecasts on behalf of the board to ensure full accountability is maintained.

“The Pearl Resort is one of the largest freehold operations in Fiji and in that context the land value on the company’s balance sheet look extremely attractive as we continue to add and improve value to the property,” Sir Manasupe  said.

Recent projected valuations as requested by Bank South Pacific indicate an ‘on-completion’ value of FJ$125 million (K158.9 million).

“Diversifying investments outside of the resource sector protects our landowner funds from volatile shocks.
“Investing in a growing industry presents a very stable asset,” Sir Manasupe said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:

29) Tropical cyclone Ian heads toward Tonga, poses no threat to Fiji: MET

By Online Editor
3:06 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Tonga

The summer season’s first South Pacific cyclone, a tropical cyclone named “Ian”, is heading toward Tonga.

The Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre in Fiji says Ian has formed north of Tonga but is heading south towards the island groups of Ha’apai and Vavau.

They warn of gales across Tonga, which has a population of about 106,000.

Fiji’s Acting Director Meteorological Service, Aminiasi Tuidraki said the system poses no threat to Fiji at this stage. However, they are closely monitoring the system.

“If it backtracks on its current track, then it would be felt in Fiji, but at the moment its farther away from Fiji to be felt,” Tuidraki said.

Cyclone Ian is a category 1 cyclone.

In their cyclone season outlook issued in November last year, the Fiji weather office forecated two tropical cyclones to affect Fiji during the season, with one of the two predicted to reach Category 3.

The 2013-14 South Pacific cyclone season has been slow to get started and it is the first time there have been no cyclones between July and December.

In the 2012-13 season there were 24 cyclones, including Evan which killed 14 people in Samoa.

Evan was unusual for the length of time it remained strong enough to be damaging, also hitting Wallis and Futuna Islands, Fiji and Tonga, with its remnants reaching northern New Zealand.

There have been an average of 27 cyclones a year between 1981 and 2012.

SOURCE: FAIRFAX NZ/ FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

30) Cyclone threat on the horizon with at least eight cyclones expected in Western Pacific Ocean this season

By Online Editor
12:23 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Australia

Northern Queensland is in for a hot and steamy start to a week which could end with a cyclone forming near the Torres Strait.

Forecasters are monitoring a monsoonal trough sitting to the north of Australia with the possibility of a tropical low developing near the Torres Strait this week.

But it is expected to move west towards the Northern Territory as the chances of a cyclone forming increase towards the end of the week.

“It doesn’t look like a huge chance of forming in Queensland,” weather bureau forecaster David Grant said.

“We’ll see a monsoon trough north of Australia slip gradually southward over the far northern tip of Australia.

“We expect a low to develop somewhere along the Torres Strait as it moves west to the Northern Territory.”’

Grant said there was also a chance a cyclone could form off the Coral Sea in the coming weeks.

A total of eight cyclones are expected in the western Pacific this season – from Queensland to just east of Vanuatu – and a further 11 in the eastern region which stretches from Vanuatu to past French Polynesia.

This is average cyclonic activity due to neutral El Nino-La Nina conditions.

One of the most dramatic recent cyclones was Yasi, which formed off Fiji on January 29, 2011 before smashing into the Mission Beach area six days later.

Other notable South Pacific cyclones included Monica in 2006, which had the highest intensity of any cyclone in Australia, and Larry in the same year which built up southeast of PNG, and Ului in 2010 which formed near Vanuatu.

A total of four cyclones come ashore in Australia annually, when those that form in the Gulf of Carpentaria, off the NT and WA also are taken into account.

SOURCE: THE COURIER MAIL/PACNEWS

31) Pacific posts record high temperatures in 2013

By Online Editor
3:02 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Samoa

The Pacific Islands experienced record temperatures in 2013 due to warmer oceans.

Neville Koop, the Meteorology and Climate adviser to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program told Pacific Beat increasing ocean temperatures have contributed to new highs in the region.

“Minimum temperatures in particular above average and we have seen warmer than normal daytime temperatures as well,” he said.

“In some cases, we definitely have set new records, some places have recorded the monthly average temperatures that are warmest ever seen and over the course of 2013.

“I’m not sure if all of the stats are done yet but it would not surprise me if we saw annual records beaten in 2013 for many places in the Pacific.”

It’s been a similar case for neighbouring Australia as well, which saw its hottest calendar year on record last year.

Koop says 2013 was a relatively “quiet tropical cyclone season” after tropical cyclone Evan which affected the Pacific in late 2012.

“Through the early part of 2013, there were a couple of other significant cyclones, mostly around the eastern part of the South Pacific,” he said.

“The middle part of the year, our winter if you like, was characterized by generally dryish weather.”

Koop says Typhoon Haiyan was most significant event for the region and he says it will be remembered for a long time by the Philippines and parts of the North Pacific.

The Pacific cyclone season for this year has started off quietly, according to Koop who says the weather has been relatively dry, hot and humid.

“I have thought we would see more cyclone activity by now, given that sea temperatures around Vanuatu to Fiji to Tonga to Samoa tend to be about at least one to one and a half degrees warmer than normal,” he said.

But countries such as Tonga, Samoa and Fiji are experiencing tough rains.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

32) Forecaster: Expect more rain

Source:
The National, Monday January 6th, 2014

PEOPLE should expect more rain over the next four months, the weatherman says.
National Weather Service senior forecaster Mai Wori said cyclones and strong winds were usual at this time of the year – up to the end of April.
Wori said the wet began in November.
“At this stage the wet season will be on and off depending on the condition of the atmosphere and the atmospheric zone,” he said.
He said the monsoon zone was south of the main land, which was moving through the Solomon Sea to the east of Port Moresby and south of the New Britain islands.
Showers will be expected when it is active.
He said the warm conditions experienced in many parts of the country were due to this changing weather pattern.
He said people in Milne Bay should expect cyclones during this period.Sea travellers should take precautions because of strong winds and rough seas.
“The weather in the month of January is (expected to be generally) fine.

33) A Year Later, Solomons Tsunami Victims Still Living In Tents
Villagers in Temotu Province say promised rehab hasn’t happened

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 6, 2014) – Almost a year on after the earthquake and tsunami struck Temotu Province on 6 February 2013, majority of those who lost their homes are still living in temporary shelters.

Santa Cruz villages that suffered the brunt of the tsunami are Venga, Nea, Malo, Nemba, Manoputi, luova and Bania.

“Where’s the shelter rehabilitation we were promised?” villagers asked when the Solomon Star visited them last month.

At Malo, villagers say they received relief supplies for three months after the disaster.

“Then everything stopped and that’s it. We have not heard from the NGOs or the government again,” one villager who asked not to be named said.

Villagers say they were told the World Vision office at provincial capital Lata would spearhead the rehabilitation process.

“But where’s the rehabilitation process? We have not seen that. Instead, what everyone was talking about here were the two new hilux and a three-tonne truck World Vision has purchased and is using them here at Lata,” one villager said.

“World Vision was established in Lata around 2006 but they never buy a vehicle until after the tsunami.

“For us villagers who were affected, we are still waiting for the promised rehabilitation so that we could rebuild our lives.”

But the World Vision office at Lata said it would be wrong for people to think they’ve purchased the vehicles using rehabilitation funds.

“These vehicles were purchased using funds World Vision had allocated in its budget,” a spokesman from the office said.

“We need these vehicles to ensure our logistics are reliable.”

The spokesman said people must also understand rehabilitation is a process and it takes time.

Solomon Star

34) Landowners Disrupt Supply, Honiara Facing Severe Water Shortage
Dispute means 24 hour water supply can’t be guaranteed

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 6, 2014) – Residents in Honiara will experience significant water shortages, rationing and prolonged outages, Solomon Water has warned.

That is if a dispute between a landowners group and the Commissioner of Lands is not resolved immediately.

Solomon Water said that a group of landowners up-stream from the Kongulai Water Source illegally shut off part of the source over Christmas.

The Kongulai water source provides more than half of Honiara’s water supply.

“This small group is holding the rest of the community to ransom for its own gain,” Solomon Water said in a statement released Friday.

“If the dispute is not resolved before the Christmas holiday ends, it will be impossible to meet the normal level of demand on the system.”

Solomon Water says it’s likely that Independence Valley, Rifle Range, parts of Rove and Kola Ridge will be the worst affected.

However, it will not be able to guarantee 24 hour water supply to any areas of Honiara.

[PIR editor’s note: Landowners in Munda, Western Province, have also recently shut down the water supply over long neglected grievance about payments.]

“A reduced water supply poses several threats to human health from poor sanitation, hygiene and increased levels of bacteria.

“The irresponsible actions of these landowners harms the whole community, but it harms children most of all.

“Children are most at risk from illnesses that are caused by poor sanitation,” the statement said.

Kongulai also supplies water to most of the Honiara Central Business District and there is a concern that the dispute will negatively impact upon businesses as they reopen after the Christmas holiday.

“Solomon Water will do its best to maxamise the water resources that are available, but it will be impossible to meet the demands of the community unless the landowners come to their senses and end this dispute,” Solomon Water said.

The water authority said a new system of water sources, provided by JICA through Grant Aid and currently being commissioned, will ultimately reduce Honiara’s reliance on Kongulai but that system is not yet fully operational.

“The Landowners, the Commissioner of Lands and the Government must work together to resolve this dispute immediately to protect the rest of the community,” Solomon Water said.

“It’s time to put aside self-interest and consider the effect that this dispute will have on the people of Honiara.”

Under the Solomon Islands Water Authority Act it is an offence to divert any water from which the Authority draws its supply.

Acting Commissioner of Lands, Lands Commissioner Nester Maelanga could not be reached for comments yesterday.

Solomon Star

35) More Heavy Rains, Flooding, Landslides Expected In Samoa
Disaster Office warns people to stay out of contaminated water

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 5, 2014) – The government agency responsible for coordinating disaster risk management programmes has issued a warning to all members of the public.

The warning from the Disaster Management Office (DMO) comes as the Samoa Meteorological Service predicts more rain, flooding and landslides over the coming days.

“Please do not allow children to play in the floodwaters,” Filomena Nelson says. “They can be mixed up with all sorts of contaminants and debris. Also, please avoid the storm drains – we don’t want any more deaths.”

Ms. Nelson is the Principal Management Disaster Officer for the Disaster Management Office.

During an interview with the Sunday Samoan yesterday, Ms. Nelson urged members of the public to take extra care.

[PIR editor’s note: Talamua reported that 2 people are dead and 2 missing after “their car was washed away crossing a river at Ti’avea on the Eastern side of Upolu Island.”] Although the weather had calmed down considerably yesterday, she urges people to avoid the receding floodwaters as they can be contaminated with toxins and littered with debris.

“Floodwaters may have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, plantations, factories and storage buildings.

Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics and medicine must be disposed of as they will make you sick.”

Ms. Nelson also urged to “always boil water before drinking as during flooding water supply is usually dirty.”

The DMO says people should ensure electrical appliances are not used straight away.

“Dry them first then check if they are safe to use. Check gas valves for potential leakages, do not smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you are sure the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.”

Ms. Nelson said the DMO emergency centre worked throughout the rough weather days during the past few days – liaising with the relevant authorities to assist people during the severe weather.

“We received calls for evacuation from families in flooded areas, mainly from villages surrounding the Vaisigano River, who didn’t have cars,” she said.

“So we coordinated with the Fire and Police services to move people out. The evacuees are now being housed with relatives.

“We also received a lot of calls from families to have trees cut down near houses. That was done from yesterday onwards. And the DMO provided tarpaulins to families in need.”

Ms. Nelson said her office is monitoring the situation through the Samoa Meteorological Service (SMS).

“If another severe weather situation occurs, we will re-open it,” she said about the DMO office which was closed on Friday at 6pm.

In regards to road closures, the only closed road in Samoa is the road linking Apia to Aleipata, where the accident occurred that claimed two lives this week.

“That is the only road closed at the moment and the LTA advises it will continue to be closed for several days until it has been fixed,” she said.

“That closure was from Thursday. There are no other reports at this stage about road closures here or in Savai’i.

“Ferry services have reopened and should be running as scheduled, we haven’t heard any reports to the contrary.”

Meanwhile, the SMS latest forecast at the time of publication reads that an active convergence zone continues to lie over Samoa.

“Associated showers and moderate to fresh northeast to northwest winds continue to affect the group,” the advisory reads.

“High wind advisory remains in effect for the Samoan region. Heavy rain warning remains in effect for Samoa.

“Flooding and landslides are possible for vulnerable areas.”

The SMS advisory for small crafts and alia fishing boats remains in effect for all Samoa open waters due to high swells and fresh northeast to northwest winds.

“For tonight and tomorrow (there will be) scattered showers, heavy at times with thunderstorms possible. Fresh and gusty winds and showers.”

According to DMO information, certain areas of Samoa are vulnerable to flooding due to heavy rainfall and strong wave activated.

“Such as the Apia urban area, villages close to rivers and streams and low lying coastal areas,” it reads.

“Flooding usually takes place during the cyclone season from November to March of every year.

“In the event that flooding is possible, a flood advisory is issued by the Meteorology Division.

“Because flooding can happen within minutes or hours of heavy rainfall, it is very important that businesses that operate and people living in areas that are easily affected by flooding are aware of what to do.”

It says upon hearing a flood advisory people should listen for emergency instructions, ensure that all your family members are present and watch for rapidly rising water.

“Store drinking water in sealed plastic containers, move livestock to higher ground and move household items to higher levels,” it advises.

“Secure objects that could float and cause damage.

“Evacuate if necessary when it is safe to do so, don’t move quickly.

“Turn off electricity at the main switch before evacuating.”

The DMO advises that during a flood people should avoid areas that are prone to flash flooding.

“Don’t attempt to cross rivers or streams where water is above knee level and beware of water covered roads and bridges,” it says.

“Animals can swim well. Do not leave them in confined areas or pens and open gates so that animals can escape.”

For further updates on the situation please visit either the DMO’s or SMS’s Facebook pages as both are updated regularly. The DMO emergency information can also be found in the latest edition of Samoa’s Yellow Pages.

Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

36) Cook Islands Seeks to Eradicate Invasive Myna Birds
Species initially introduce to control insects, killed endemic birds

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 6, 2014) – The Cook Islands is aiming to be the first place in the world to become free of the myna bird after it was introduced to the country to help control insect pests.

Early last century, the myna was introduced to Atiu Island in the Cook Islands as a way of controlling insects and other pests in crops and gardens.

But within a few short years, its aggressive behaviour destroyed local bird populations.

In 2000, the myna was declared to be amongst the world’s 100 worst invasive species.

The people of Atiu have gone a step further, declaring a war on the myna, calling themselves the ‘myanators’.

Alan Lieberman, a research fellow at the San Diego Zoo Global Institute for Conservation Research has told Pacific Beat the myanators have been persistent in the efforts to limit the myna population.

“These people have been dogged, they have been passionate and they have never said this is going to be too hard,” he said.

The Kura Lorikeet, which was native to Atiu, disappeared following generations of hunting by traditional owners and an uneven competition for survival from the introduced myna birds.

Mr Lieberman has been working with San Diego Zoo in the United State to lay the groundwork for reintroducing the lorikeets

As part of the program, 27 of the birds were reintroduced, but it became clear that if they wanted the lorikeets to survive, the myna would have to go, or the least, be controlled.

That’s when the myanators stepped in.

Using funding from groups like Conservation International, they began hiring hunters and trappers, as well as monitoring areas where the bird was known to be in big population numbers.

By the end of 2102, over 20,000 mynas had been killed, and in their latest update, it was estimated there may be just 62 adult birds left on the island.

Gerald McCormack from the Cook Islands Natural Trust says hunting the myna bird is not easy and the hunters face a number of challenges.

“Atiu is a relatively big island. When you’re a person, you’re walking around an island that’s covered with trees, you can’t see far,” he said.

“The other thing about Atiu is that it’s got all these feeding areas for the birds. People have got pigs everywhere. You know in little pig pigsties and the birds are feeding at these places.”

Mr Lieberman says he does not know of any other island or area around the world which has been able to control the invasive myna bird as effectively as the Cook Islands.

But he says one thing in Atiu’s favour is that it has been spared the invasion of other species like rats and mongooses.

Mr Lieberman believes the success of this program is due the commitment shown by the people of Atiu.

“They have total endorsement of the local population of humans. It’s not just two or three shooters and two or three poison baiters and a couple of a trappers,” he said.

“They see a myna or a roost of mynas, they’ll let the shooters know and that’s the only way they’re going to eliminate the last few mynas and you know with that kind of support, I think they really can get to the very last bird.”
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

SPORTS:

37) World of 7s rugby

Eoghan Macguire, Of Cnn
Monday, January 06, 2014

It’s played from the sun-soaked sands of the Pacific Islands to the mud-sodden playing-fields of England’s most exclusive private schools.

The game’s professional competitions attract a colourful core of hard-drinking supporters with a penchant for fancy dress (think cowboy hats, togas and men dressed as nuns).

And come 2016, this unique combination of sport and frock-wearing spectacle will be gracing Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Games.

Welcome to the wonderful world of rugby sevens, a combination of fast and furious on-field play augmented by no little fun in the stands in a nine-leg circuit which reaches its party peak in Hong Kong.

Although it may lack some of the more brutal hits perpetrated in its 15-a-side cousin rugby union, sevens is quick, intense and just as technically demanding.

The boisterous atmosphere that surrounds the sport, meanwhile, encourages fans of all ages to get involved and participate.

“It’s as much about the party as it is about the matches themselves,” former Australia rugby union international Joe Roff told CNN’s Rugby Sevens Worldwide show.

“Everyone gets into the spirit of it, everyone has a great time but also, it’s a community and it’s just a great feel.

“I must admit I have been in the South Stand in Hong Kong incognito, in fancy dress.

“We went toga one year and cowboys one year as well. If you like rugby, these are the things you have to tick off in life.”

A rugby throwback

For old hats like Roff, modern sevens is as close as it gets to the free-spirited days of rugby as an amateur sport. Despite being hugely popular in the likes of the UK, France, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa for more than a century, rugby only went professional in the mid-1990s.

In the days before the pro era, teams would regularly tour and play against each other before drinking the bar dry together afterwards.

While there may be more of an athletic focus on conditioning, diet and preparation these days, the globetrotting nature of the leading sevens competitions means teams travel together and regularly meet in far-flung regions of the world.

Dubai, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Hong Kong are all destinations on the IRB Sevens World Series, a traveling road show that exhibits the game to crowds in regions far outside of rugby’s traditional heartlands.

“It’s a little bit of a throwback to rugby when I played,” Australian sevens coach Mick O’Connor told CNN.

“You travel and stay in the same hotel as your opposition, you respect them off the field, but the games are quite ferocious on the field. I like that aspect of it.”

For England legends Jason Robinson and Will Greenwood — both Rugby World Cup winners in 2003 — this competitive edge allied with the unmistakeable camaraderie makes sevens a great introduction for those who may be new to the wider sport.

“The more people come to this, the more people are exposed to rugby, the bigger it gets,” explained Robinson.

“It’s a broken down version of the 15s game, it’s very easy for spectators.”

Greenwood, meanwhile, lauds the high skill levels and increasing intensity of a game which he believes has become just as tough as other rugby codes.

“It’s short, it’s sharp, it’s intense, it’s pact, there’s space, there’s tries but increasingly so, there’s more physicality,” he enthused.

“Perhaps in the old days people looked down their nose in terms of sevens being a game of touch and pass — now it’s just utterly ferocious.”

Aiming for gold

While in the past, some of rugby’s leading young players would use sevens as a finishing school before making the step up to the 15-a-side game, today it’s more common for aspiring players to stay in the sevens for longer.

Increased popularity has enabled the IRB to offer more lucrative and longer contracts to the sport’s biggest stars.

The prospect of Olympic participation, meanwhile, means sevens is now at the forefront of many a rugby player’s mind.

“What we’re finding now with the Olympics coming up, some of these players that left sevens to go to fifteens want to come back into sevens to try and go for a gold medal in Rio in 2016,” International Rugby Board CEO Brett Gosper told CNN.

“Some of the 15 stars will come back and play (sevens) but it is a specialist sport and they do have their own stars and great players, whether they be from the top sides of New Zealand across the women’s games,” he added.

“I’m sure during the Olympics, some stars will be born.”

For Greenwood, however, the magic of seven-a-side rugby is about more than just the prospect of Olympic glory.

This is the case for both players and fans, he believes, and is evidenced at events the world over.

“It’s just a fantastic way to spend a weekend,” he enthused.

“You’ve got Kiwis sat next to Welshmen sat next to Irishmen sat next to Aussies, they’re all enjoying each other’s company.

“Of course they’re passionate about their country winning, but at the end of the game they all get up and have a dance together, go for a hotdog and have a great time.

38) Arsenal sinks Spurs

Afp
Monday, January 06, 2014

LONDON – Premier League leaders Arsenal overcame fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the FA Cup third round on Saturday (yesterday Fiji time), while Aston Villa was knocked out by third-tier Sheffield United.

Tottenham had won at Manchester United in its previous outing and new manager Tim Sherwood made only one change to his starting XI, but they fell behind in the 31st minute at the Emirates Stadium.

German teenager Serge Gnabry was the architect, picking the ball up wide on the Arsenal right and driving infield before finding Santi Cazorla, who arrowed a left-foot shot past Hugo Lloris.

Spurs were unable to react and Tomas Rosicky sealed victory in the 62nd minute, robbing Danny Rose on halfway and bearing down on goal before adroitly lifting the ball over the advancing Lloris.

Earlier, last season’s beaten finalists Manchester City tasted fresh disappointment in the competition when it drew 1-1 at second-tier Blackburn Rovers.

Stunned by Wigan Athletic in last year’s final, City took the lead at Ewood Park through an Alvaro Negredo goal on the stroke of half-time, only for Scott Dann to equalise early in the second period.

“I think it was a very close game,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini told BT Sport.

“They’re a difficult team and they play here with a lot of intensity, so we must decide who continues in the FA Cup at home.”

Villa became the first major casualty of the third round, losing 2-1 at home to League One representatives Sheffield United.

Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tasted success in his first game as manager of Cardiff City after his new side came from behind to win 2-1 at Newcastle United.

Solskjaer, who succeeded the sacked Malky Mackay on Thursday, saw his new charges fall behind to a 66th-minute Papiss Cisse strike, but two goals in seven minutes from substitutes Craig Noone and Fraizer Campbell gave Cardiff victory.

In the day’s two other all-Premier League ties, goals from Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh gave Crystal Palace a 2-0 win at West Bromwich Albion and Fulham drew 1-1 at Norwich City.

Everton crushed Championship high-fliers Queens Park Rangers 4-0, with Nikica Jelavic claiming a brace, while Southampton edged Burnley 4-3 in an entertaining game at St Mary’s.

Hull City won 2-0 at Middlesbrough and Stoke City defeated Championship leaders Leicester City 2-1.

Wigan’s trophy defence began in uncertain fashion as they were held to a 3-3 draw by third-tier Milton Keynes Dons, while Millwall, semi-finalists last year, crashed out after an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at fourth-division Southend United.

Bolton Wanderers belatedly exacted revenge for their 4-3 loss to Blackpool in the 1953 final by beating their Championship rivals 2-1, while Leeds United fell to a shock 2-0 defeat at Rochdale.

Meanwhile, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, non-league Macclesfield Town, claimed a 1-1 draw at home to second-tier Sheffield Wednesday.

39) Ratini sinks Toulon

Afp
Monday, January 06, 2014

PARIS – An intercep try from Fiji winger Alipate Ratini two minutes from fulltime, converted by Julien Caminati, handed Grenoble a dramatic 22-21 victory over Toulon in French Top 14 rugby action on Saturday.

The last-gasp defeat even left Toulon’s outspoken president, Mourad Boudjellal, wondering if coach Bernard Laporte would even be at training on Monday, such was the latter’s disappointment at the result.

“We’re prize idiots,” Boudjellal blasted after his side’s first home defeat in almost a year.

“We’ve got to get it into our heads that we’re no longer European champions, nor of anything else. We’re no longer talking about first or second place but to finish in the top six in the Top 14.”

Boudjellal, well known for often-emotional outbursts, added: “I hope the players will be able to regroup. My main concern is whether Bernard will be at training on Monday.

“He’s disappointed with many things in rugby: the refereeing which sometimes verges on amateurism and the sport which he no longer recognises since he returned to it.

“He’s far away from his loved ones (his family live in Paris) and I can tell you that tonight he’s had a gutsful.”

The European champions looked to have sealed the win thanks to seven Jonny Wilkinson penalties that had given them a 21-15 lead at the 78th minute.

But Grenoble have proven themselves to be doughty fighters this season and they duly stuck to their task this time around to claim their first victory at Toulon since 1999.

When Wilkinson, the veteran Englishman who was a World Cup winner back in 2003, fired out a late pass on the left wing with an overlap abegging, Ratini read it perfectly, came out of the line and claimed the ball.

There was to be no catching the Fijian, Caminati stepping up to kick the decisive conversion from in front of the posts.

Laporte was left fuming as, in the build-up to the interception, referee Laurent Cardona had indicated that he was playing advantage for Toulon, though that did look to have run its course by the time Wilkinson flung out his pass.

Grenoble, who were surprise 28-26 winners over Toulon the first time the two sides met this season, had four Valentin Courrent penalties and a Fabien Gengenbacher drop-goal to their credit before the dramatic denouement.

Racing-Metro suffered another shock defeat in their topsy-turvy season, going down 6-0 to promoted Oyonnax in a match played in terrible conditions.

Having beaten Clermont 13-9 in the European Cup, Racing upset Toulon 14-3 at home in the league last weekend.

Yet that apart, it has been a poor season for the expensively-assembled Parisians and two penalties by Regis Lespinas was enough for Oyonnax to scrape a valuable win.

Rock-bottom Biarritz went down 18-6 to Stade Francais, while Perpignan bucked a five-match losing run with a 20-8 victory over Bayonne.

Castres closed to three points off leaders Clermont after an uninspiring 15-9 win over struggling Bordeaux-Begles on Friday.

40a) Fiji to host Oceania Cross Country Championships

By Online Editor
3:16 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Fiji

Athletics Fiji has started the year on a historic note.

The Oceania Athletics Association has appointed Fiji – for the first time – as the host of the Oceania Cross Country Championships. It will be held at Denarau, Nadi this September.

The new dawn, said Athletics Fiji acting president Dr Ayoade Alakija, would bring a lot of benefits to the sport and the country.

“Athletics Fiji is pleased to announce that for the first time ever, Fiji is scheduled to host the Oceania Cross Country Championships in September 2014,” Dr Alakija said.

“This will involve the participation of athletes from all Pacific Island member federations of the Oceania Athletics Association region including Australia and New Zealand.”

The event, the location and the Fiji sunshine, would attract a global interest.

With global interest comes economic boost, and millions of dollars, Dr Alakija said.

“There is tremendous potential for the sport and it is expected that this event will bring in a couple of million dollars in tourism revenue as we welcome athletes from as far afield as Dubai, Kenya and Morocco to name a few countries that have shown initial interest.

“The Cross Country Championships will be held in Nadi. It is an out of stadia event.”

Dr Alakija announced the confirmation yesterday during the Jet Runners Club of Nadi-organised 3km/5km race – the first official meet for the 2014.

“The Jet Runners Club had been forerunners in the arena of distance running in the past couple of years and it is therefore only fitting that the announcement be made today (yesterday) at this inaugural event of the 2014.”

She said confirmation for Fiji to host was received last Friday.

“The Athletics Fiji Executive Committee is hard at work putting together the logistics for this event and we would like to invite the participation of all members of the public in our lead up to the OAA Championships.

There will be a mass participation fun run alongside the main event, the weekend of September 6-7,” Dr Alakija said.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

40b) Fiji 7s up the tempo

By Online Editor
3:14 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Fiji

The players in the 23-member Fiji 7s squad will undergo intensive training sessions when they regroup today in Suva.

Head coach Ben Ryan expects an exciting build-up to the third leg of the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series as players compete for the final 12 spots for the Las Vegas, US and Wellington, New Zealand sevens tournaments.

Ryan told Times Sport that they would focus on field play during training this week.

“Heavy volume of training this week, all on pitch,” the Englishman said.

“Really looking forward to getting back into camp tomorrow (today).

“Twenty-three players fighting it out for 12 spots. Scorching hot down in Pacific Harbour,” Ryan added on his Twitter page.

Players in the squad are requested to meet at the Fiji Rugby Union headquarters in Suva at 9.15am.

They are also requested to bring along the relevant documents for visa applications.

Ryan, who will be out scouting talents at a local tournament this Saturday, is not ruling out a possibility of including a new player in his final team.

“There is always a possibility but the issuing of visas always takes time.”

The Englishman, who took over the role from Alifereti Dere, has retained players from the winning Dubai team.

Fiji is in the “pool of death” in Las Vegas, which starts on January 24, with New Zealand, Australia and Scotland in Pool B.

The side is placed third on 48 points on the series points table behind leaders New Zealand (58) and South Africa (56).

Fiji 7s squad

Apisai Domolailai, Benito Masilevu, Donasio Ratubuli, Emosi Mulevoro, Eroni Sau, Henry Seniloli, Ilai Tinai, Jasa Veremalua, Jona Tuitoga, Leo Naikasau, Lepani Botia, Manoa Tamaya, Marika Vunibaka, Meli Kurisaru, Mosese Mawalu, Osea Kolinisau, Pio Tuwai, Samisoni Nasagavesi, Samu Saqiwa, Semi Kunatani, Vatemo Ravouvou, Viliame Mata, Waisea Nacuqu.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

40c) Fiji Rugby League High Performance Unit

By Online Editor
3:12 pm GMT+12, 06/01/2014, Fiji

The Fiji National Rugby League has been urged to set up a High Performance Unit as part of its development strategy.

After 21 years of rugby league’s existence in the country, some coaches and former national reps feel it is time for FNRL to set up a HPU system.

And with the funding available from major sponsor Vodafone Fiji, Nadera Panthers rugby league coach and former Fiji Bati Vula Dakuitoga believes it is about time FNRL takes action.

Australian Institute of Sports coach and former National Rugby League (NRL) star Wise Kativerata says Fiji needs such programs to prepare local players to compete at the highest level.

“Fiji needs a HPU system to help the local players,” Kativerata said.

“It’s been 21 years and something needs to be done. Scout young players, get them in the system and when it’s time for them to play at top level, they are ready for it because they’ve gone through the HPU system.”

Dakuitoka stated the same sentiments.

“It’s about time a HPU system is set up within the FNRL,” Dakuitoga said.

“We have the funding now and I believe a HPU system will help develop local players to another level.

“When they go for overseas contracts, they have bridged the gap which used to be there before because they’ve gone through all types of training at the HPU.”

Dakuitoga questioned the development of FNRL saying from the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, Fiji failed in its development program.

“When we look at the 2008 RLWC, we had a lot of local players but we lost 0-52 to Australia, and last year we had a lot of overseas players and only two local players who did not even play and we lost 0-64 to Australia.

“I don’t know what happened but what transpired we can question the development program.

“If we have a HPU system, it will help provide more competition among players who want to don the Fiji jersey.”

FNRL general manager Tomi Finau said they had plans in place to set up the HPU system.

“That is something we are looking at this year,” he said.

“We will be setting up an academy, we will select 25 players after the secondary school competition from the under-15 to under-19 to go through skills training.

“Our technical team will be looking into that matter.”.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *