Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 923

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1) MSG mission to Indonesia imminent

Updated at 4:28 pm on 9 January 2014

A Foreign Ministers’ delegation of the Melanesia Spearhead Group is reportedly due to visit Indonesia within days to discuss and observe West Papua.

The delegation’s visit stems from a resolution at last June’s MSG leaders summit in Noumea to engage more closely with Jakarta over issues raised about extensive alleged human rights abuses in Indonesia’s Papua region.

The visit by the MSG is to commence on Sunday, taking in legs in Jakarta and in Papua province, according to the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.

The trip was originally planned for late last year.

The Coalition’s formal bid to become a full member of the MSG had been deferred by member governments pending the outcome of the mission to Indonesia.

The MSG is split over the Papua issue, with Vanuatu pushing for the former Dutch colony’s right to self-determination while Fiji acknowledging Indonesia’s control of the area as legitimate.

2) Fiji stays away from West Papua issue

By Online Editor
09:30 am GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Fiji

The Fiji Government will not interfere with West Papua’s call to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

This has been confirmed by Defence Minister Joketani Cokanasiga who said he would leave the matter to the Indonesian Government to deal with.

“Our policy is never to interfere with other people’s internal affairs,” he said.

“I believe there is a delegation from MSG going up to see West Papua — we maintain our very strong stand that if any thing should happen, it should emanate from Indonesia rather than us going outside and getting them.”

The Indonesian Government confirmed it will deal with the issue because it claims West Papua is part of its sovereignty.

Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Lieutenant General Langgeng Sulistiyono said they would tackle the call by West Papua to join the MSG.

“With regards to the issue of West Papua — it is part of our issue, so we have to tackle it by ourself because it is part of our sovereignty,” he said.

Lt Gen Sulistiyono also confirmed the Indonesian government will invite MSG leaders to visit Indonesia.

“We are also inviting all the leaders from the MSG countries to visit Indonesia to build closer relations and allow better co-operation between these Ministers,” he said in a Fiji government statement.

Lt Gen Sulistiyono said Indonesia has been supporting the MSG for a while and wanted their relations to further strengthen.


3) Need for more funds for MSG Regional Police Academy
By Online Editor
2:37 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Fiji

Plans to establish the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) regional police academy in Fiji remain in limbo as the Defence Ministry calls for more funding to construct the proposed institution.

Yesterday the Indonesian Government injected $US500, 000 as the first funding for the construction of the academy.

Defence Minister Joketani Cokanasiga said more than $20m (US$10 million) was needed for the project, which is expected to be built at Nabukavesi, outside Lami Town.

The project had been scheduled for construction in 2011.

“The academy would have been established long time ago but funding is an issue because it’s regional — we have to be mindful,” he said.

Cokanasiga said the issue now was how to progress, adding with the Indonesian Government injecting the first funds, more funds from donor agencies would enable construction.

The handover was made to Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama by Indonesian Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Lieutenant General Langgeng Sulistiyono.

“I think it is a timely donation because this has been going on since 2011 and one of the issues that we have is how we progress this. This is the first funding from our donor agents,” Cokanasiga said.

He said Fiji was contributing towards the establishment of the academy through an interim academy at Nasese and from the ministry’s budget.

The academy will train police officers from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.


4) Vanuatu daily news digest | 9 January 2014

by bobmakin

Both Daily Post and VBTC News today have another Matthew / Hunter (Leka) hero being honoured. Sandy Macfarlane, Director of Geology, Mines and Rural Water Supply through much of the ‘Seventies until into the ‘Eighties, was back on a brief visit to Vanuatu during this week, and his being one of the team which raised the Vanuatu colours on Hunter (Leka) was acknowledged by Acting President Boedoro awarding the medal other team members received last year. Macfarlane was yesterday also able to show Deputy PM Natapei, involved in negotiating the status of the two outlier volcanoes, how they are geologically part of the New Hebrides Island Arc.

The Greens and UMP from early this morning were prepared to announce the likelihood of their running the town of Port Vila as a coalition, albeit without a spokesman announcing this, simply a “source”. It appears an agreement was signed by the Prime Minister and Minister Tony Wright to that effect recently. Official results, however, are still awaited.

Daily Post this morning reports a new offence of a storekeeper,but this time at Santo. Public Works and the Luganville Municipality have had to move in and break down the new Chuan store for safety reasons. Public Works is rightly insisting on a “proper and safer plan” for any new premises Chuan might build. One wonders what professional qualifications tests are required by those person responsible for the tidal wave of immigrants Vanuatu is seeking from overseas, be they shopkeepers or builders.

Assistant Police Commissioner Willie Samuel was able to announce arrests in relation to certain recent crimes of violence. However, there was another ‘first person’ announcement in Daily Post of an attempted rape of an expatriate at Santo by a bushknife wielding young man.

Unhappy Sanma fishermen are asking the government for their compensation after the 25 years they spent at sea back in the ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties. The South Pacific Fishing Company and other such employers with-held their entitlements and this has resulted in Prime Minister Carcasses setting up a commission of inquiry. The commission’s report has gone to the relevant ministers and Council of Ministers, but the government says today there is still a wait for the fishermen to know what they will receive. It will be announced next month.

Tongoa still wants trained medical staff at the Silimauri Clinic which has been unable to function properly due to a staff shortage which island people naturally want corrected.

5) Island woes

Repeka Nasiko
Thursday, January 09, 2014

YAWINI Island — an isle off the coast of Yasawa-i-Rara Village — is at the centre of controversy after the villagers found it was offered for lease on an international website without their knowledge.

Following an enquiry with the iTaukei Land Trust Board, The Fiji Times was told that the board, which has the exclusive right to lease iTaukei land on behalf of the iTaukei landowning units, knew nothing about any lease of the island. And the tourism department of the TLTB also confirmed the island was known to be a conservation site and had a marine protected area.

TLTB general manager Alipate Qetaki says the island is owned by the mataqali o Natalau from Yasawa-i-Rara Village on Yasawa Island. Mr Qetaki said only the TLTB could lease iTaukei land on behalf of the mataqali under the iTaukei Land Trust Act Cap 134.

“No individual member of a unit can authorise the leasing of his or her unit’s land,” he said. “The consent of the majority of members is necessary. TLTB has the final say on whether to grant a lease of any iTaukei land.”

Mr Qetaki said it was illegal to deal with traditionally-owned land without the consent of the board.

Also confirming the ownership of the island was Yasawa-i-Rara mata ni tikina Siona Ratulevu who said he’d heard about the alleged leasing of the island.

“The best thing for the Natalau people to do is to go to the necessary authorities to seek assistance,” he said.

The 93-acre land mass was featured prominently on international real estate website which provided detailed information about the island’s location and natural reserves.

Expressing disappointment, Natalau member Atunaisa Tauvoli claimed mataqali members were not consulted on any plan to lease the island.

“I did not know about it until guests at Yasawa Island Resort were talking about it when they visited last November,” Mr Tauvoli said.

“I was surprised when they told me about the website and how the island was being offered on lease to interested persons overseas.”

Mr Tauvoli said after several inquiries with other clan members, it was discovered that most were also in the dark.

On the website, Yawini Island was described as an “awe-inspiring spectacle of beauty and seclusion”.

“Presiding over 93 acres, Yawini pushes the boundaries of both explorative opportunity and grandeur presence, rising from the water’s edge as one of Fiji’s finest ocean oasis,” the website stated.

“Being situated in the Yasawa Islands means that it gains exposure to some of Fiji’s most spectacular weather, as Yasawa is in the sunniest and driest part of Fiji.”

Meanwhile, the police have confirmed receiving a complaint from a landowner and were investigating.


6) Kot keis blong tupla West Papua asailam sika bai go long kot long mun March

Updated 9 January 2014, 16:22 AEST

Tupla long sevenpla West Papua asailam sika, husait ibin kamap long Boigu Island long las yar 2013, na bihain Austalia ofisal ibin kisim ol igo long Port Moresby, nao bai kamap long kot long neks mun, march.

Wanpla West Papua Komuniti lida insait long Port Moresby i tok isu blong West Papua nao long displa yar bai ibungim planti Papua New Guinea pipol i tok aut moa longen.

Fred Mambraser ibin mekim displa ol toktok bihain long ol askim blong wanpla kot keis blong tupla long sevenpla West Papua asailam sika, em Australia atoriti ibin kisim ol igo long kepital blong Papua New Guinea long Boigu Island insait long Australia long las yar.

Kot keis mani blong tupla ibin kamap wantaim halvim blong West Papua komuniti na frens long Port Moresby.

Displa kot keis i blong tokim kot olsem em ibin rong long trikim ol long kisim balus na lusim Austalia wea ol ibin karem ol igo long Port Moresby na bihain kisim ol igo long refuji kemp long Papua New Guinea boda.Radio Australia

7) Solomon Islands Marley Musik konset i bagarap

Updated 9 January 2014, 18:18 AEST
John Papik

Bikpla musik sho blong pikinini blong Bob Marley ibin kamap gut tasol emi bin bungim heve tu long Honiara

Aste nait long Panatina Show graun long Honiara lukim planti pipol ibin kamap long lukim konset blong Julian Marley pikinini man blong dispela bikneim reggae musik man Bob Marley .

Tasol namel blong dispela konset sampela ol bikhed lain em planti blong ol em ol Yut ibin igo na traim brukim banis blong dispela konset na ilaik igo insait.

Polis na ol sekuriti gad ibin traim igo stopim ol , na bikpela trabel ibim kamap long en.

Godffrey Abiah media ofisa wantaim Solomon Islands polis itok oli no save gut long wone samting tru ibin kirapim trabal long despla konset.

Tasol emi ting sampla pipal husat ino bin gat tiket long go insaet long konset ibin brukim banis na go insaet.

Mr Abiah itok taem trabal ibin kamap ol polis ibin hariap na stopim.Radio Australia


8) Des postes d’assistance médicales font la différence au Vanuatu

Mis à jour 9 January 2014, 8:34 AEST
Pierre Riant

Plus de 200 postes disséminés à travers l’archipel offrent à environ 30 000 villageois l’accès à des soins de santé élémentaires.

Cette initiative du ministère de la Santé est financée par l’aide étrangère australienne et c’est l’organisation Save The Children qui s’est occupé de sa concrétisation sur le terrain.

Chris Hagarty, un directeur des programmes de santé au sein de Save The Children, a participé à la mise en place du programme : « La population rurale est très dispersée au Vanuatu et de nombreux habitants locaux n’ont pas accès à des services de santé performants. Ainsi, le manque de médicaments fait des ravages. Les taux de mortalité maternelle et infantile sont plus élevés qu’ils ne devraient l’être au Vanuatu. Les enfants souffrent d’infections respiratoires aiguës, notamment de pneumonie, les maladies diarrhéiques sont un grand problème pour les enfants et les nourrissons et le paludisme affecte encore la santé des habitants, surtout dans la partie nord du pays. »

En quoi ces postes d’assistance médicale ont contribué à l’amélioration de la situation et comment ?

HAGARTY : «  Ces postes d’assistance font partie d’un programme de création d’agents de santé de village, que l’on doit au ministère de la Santé, et qui est en place depuis 25 ans.
Cela fait 15 ans que Save The Children travaille sur ce programme avec le gouvernement. Le programme consiste à former des agents de santé dans les villages tout en valorisant les compétences des villageois. Ces agents de santé sont des bénévoles qui vont dans les communautés rurales pour assurer des services de santé essentiels à ceux qui sont en dehors du système de santé officiel.

Le poste d’assistance construit dans le village appartient au village. La construction est financée par le gouvernement australien mais aussi par d’autres donateurs, comme la société de croisière : P & O Cruises. Nous aidons les villages à construire ces postes d’assistance médicale. »

Alors qu’est qui a été accompli en 15 ans de travail ?

HAGARTY : « De nombreux aspects de la santé se sont vivement améliorés pendant tout ce temps. La réduction de la mortalité maternelle et infantile en 15 ans est une réalisation remarquable. Le paludisme est à la baisse au Vanuatu et le gouvernement pense pouvoir l’éradiquer dans les provinces sud d’ici 12 mois.
Tous les grands problèmes de santé des enfants ; les infections respiratoires aiguës et les maladies diarrhéiques sont aussi à la baisse.

Et les agents de santé sont en première ligne pour identifier les possibilités de prévention. La santé s’est vraiment améliorée et les maladies ont perdu du terrain en 15 ans. Mais il y a encore beaucoup de travail parce que la population est dispersée et c’est donc capital de pouvoir offrir un accès à des soins de santé à ceux qui sont en dehors du système pour que nous puissions continuer de nous battre contre les maladies. »

9) Saisie de Kava dans le Territoire du Nord australien

Posté à 9 January 2014, 8:47 AEST
Pierre Riant

Un homme de 37 ans a été mis en examen  après avoir été interpellé par la police en possession d’une quantité commerciale de kava d’une valeur estimée à un demi-million de dollars.

Suite à des abus de consommation de kava, principalement en milieu aborigène,  cette boisson aux vertus relaxantes est interdite dans ce Territoire. Précisons toutefois que le kava peut-être importé en Australie mais qu’il est interdit de le distribuer ou d’en posséder dans le Territoire du Nord.

Selon la police, cet homme de l’État de Nouvelle-Galles du Sud a tenté de faire passer 294 kilos de kava dans le Territoire du Nord pour le distribuer à des communautés aborigènes reculées.


10) Decision on Sydney casino due in March

Updated at 10:45 am on 9 January 2014

An Australian gaming authority is set to decide within three months whether to grant James Packer a licence to build Sydney’s second casino.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) on Wednesday called for public submissions on the suitability of billionaire Mr Packer, Crown and its associates to operate the proposed casino.

The planned $1.3 billion luxury resort and VIP-only casino at harbourside Barangaroo has bipartisan support from both the New South Wales government and Labor opposition but must still obtain ILGA and planning approval.

The state’s Casino Control Act requires that any holder of a casino licence has to be regarded by the ILGA as a “suitable person”.

However, Crown only recently had to pass those hurdles to get approval to boost its stake above 10% in rival Echo Entertainment, which is the operator of Sydney’s existing casino, The Star.

Crown sold its Echo stake before winning approval from the NSW government to build the Barangaroo hotel-casino, in July.

The NSW government rejected Echo’s proposal to further develop The Star.

However, that approval process, which took 14 months, would assist in the current investigation, an ILGA spokesman told AAP. He said the probity clearance was expected to be completed in March.

Crown’s core casino operations are in Australia and Macau. It also has interests in the United State and the UK, and plans to develop casinos in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.Radio New Zealand.


11) China to allow private banks this year

Updated 9 January 2014, 12:14 AEST

China’s economic transition is about to take another great leap forward.

The financial regulator will permit the creation of up to five private banks this year, in an effort to boost lending to small businesses.

However, the change is expected to carry serious risks for the broader economy.

Presenter: Pat McGrath

Speakers: Rodney Maddock, former Commonwealth Bank executive; Huw Mckay, Westpac economist

MCGRATH: Much like Australia, China’s finance sector is dominated by four big banks. But they’re significantly bigger than ours and remain majority-owned and completely controlled by China’s government.

And, according to Westpac economist Huw McKay, that’s led to some unfavourable economic conditions.

MCKAY: Because of the lack of competition that comes with such a tightly held system, that isn’t good news for the consumer. You need competitive dynamics to spur innovation, to bring the price of capital to households, to private businesses, to small businesses down where they need it to be.

MCGRATH: The Chinese government appears to agree. Its Banking Regulatory Commission is launching a closely supervised pilot program that will allow between three and five privately financed banks to be set up this year.

It hasn’t said who will be permitted to open a new bank, or in which areas of banking they’ll be allowed to operate.

Despite the scarcity of detail, the program is being seen as another step in China’s goal of boosting domestic consumption and expanding the number of small and medium-sized businesses.

At the moment, the big state-owned banks predominately lend to other government businesses and local governments.

Huw McKay believes the shift away from that arrangement will take some time.

MCKAY: One of the issues with getting money to smaller firms in China is good access to credit information, so a financial organisation can make good decisions about who is a good credit risk and who is not.

So China is a long way away from having a very, very good repository of credit information along those lines that would enable banks to lend with more confidence to those smaller businesses.

Now, the new firms which arise: it would be great if they would become specialists in SME (small- and medium-sized enterprises) financing and build that information internally. But that will still take time. So we should see this as a positive move that will eventually bear fruit but we shouldn’t be expecting dramatic outcomes for small business in the short term.

MCGRATH: Rodney Maddock has worked as head of strategy at the Commonwealth Bank. He expects many existing big businesses in China to swoop on the program.

MADDOCK: Some of the big groups in China will actually grab this and run with it and will actually get quite a shake-up of the banking sector in China.

We’ve actually seen it with a few small banks, in fact. I remember studying one of the small banks in China which refused to employ anybody who had ever worked for any other bank, because they didn’t want to have anybody with the state banking mentality. But they were very efficient, very aggressive and growing very quickly in one of the provinces.

MCGRATH: And while such innovation often breeds fast growth, it comes with risks.

MADDOCK: Most countries, when they first deregulate, banks try to grow quickly. And if you grow quickly then you tend not to pay enough attention to the quality of lending.

We saw in Australia in around 1990 some very big companies like Qintex fall over and Alan Bond’s empire fall over. And banks got into lots of trouble because they were very exposed to those businesses and I think that’s more the risk. That inexperienced lenders will actually put their institution at risk and if a bank falls over, then it upsets all the depositors and has sort of a spill-over effect of the sort we saw in the financial crisis.

MCGRATH: In a sense, the banking system will have to go through a crisis to learn how to do banking properly?

MADDOCK: (laughs) That’s a very cynical way of putting it, but that certainly has been the historical experience. As I said, almost all the systems which have liberalised have actually had some bad experiences along the way and, almost certainly, that’s what will happen in China as well.

12) Japan to nationalise 280 remote islands
By Online Editor
11:49 am GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Japan

Japan will nationalise about 280 of the about 400 remote islands that serve as markers for determining Japan’s territorial waters, the state minister for oceanic policy and territorial issues has announced.

Under the plan, announced on Tuesday, the government will complete its search for the islands’ owners by June. Islands whose owners have not been tracked down by then will be registered on the national asset ledger.

The move aims to clarify the government’s intention to protect territories and territorial waters by designating remote islands as “important national territories,” and to reinforce the management of marine resources and national security.

The search for owners was started in August last year by the Headquarters for Ocean Policy, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. About 50 of the islands are inhabited and about 350 uninhabited. Owners of about 70 uninhabited islands have been tracked down. However, it remains unknown whether 280 islands have owners.

The Civil Code stipulates that land with no owner becomes state property.

“Registering [remote islands] as Japan’s national assets would send a message that we intend to strengthen management of them,” Ichita Yamamoto, the state minister for oceanic policy and territorial issues, said at a press conference. “The government must accurately grasp the state of these remote islands.”

The government will check whether about 160 islands without names have only locally known titles before giving them names. The governments might invite the public through local authorities to suggest ideas for names.

About 500 islands serve as the base points for establishing Japan’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. However, information about some of the islands, including their owners, has yet to be confirmed.

Of 99 remote islands that form base points of Japan’s EEZ, the government nationalised islands with no apparent owner after investigating their ownership based on a basic policy for conserving and managing remote islands for oceanic management, which the government compiled in 2009.

Territorial waters of a country facing the ocean is established by the country based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and extend up to 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) from the coast.

The low-water line along the coast, where sea and land meet at low tide, becomes the baseline for establishing territorial waters. The convention states, “An island is a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide.”.


13) New strain Dengue origins from PNG : Fiji Health Ministry
By Online Editor
12:03 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s Health Ministry has activated environmental teams to increase their surveillance in the fight to reduce the increasing number of dengue cases.

Acting National Advisor Communicable Diseases Dr Mike Kama says the new strain Dengue 3 was first flagged in Papua New Guinea.

“It emerged from PNG in 2008, so it’s that strain, that’s how they actually flag it. This Dengue virus has been circulating in the Pacific and not only in PNG, but it has circulated for a while and it has just knocked on our doors during the festive season last year.”

The greater Nasinu outside Suva area recorded most of the cases.

Dr Kama says classifying this as an outbreak won’t help but what really matters is the proactive measures we take to protect our loved ones.

According to the World Health Organization this strain has not been seen in the region for the last twenty years.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has declared next Thursday as clean up day for residents in the central division as it ups the tempo against a dengue fever outbreak currently experienced in the country.

On the day, residents in Lami, Suva, Nasinu and Nausori are required to identify and properly dispose things that may facilitate mosquito breeding.

Health Ministry’s media officer Evelyn Mani said damaged white goods such as washing machine, TV and refrigerators must be placed on the roadside for collection.

“The ministry warns that any resident found guilty of breeding mosquitoes after the 16 January, 2014 will be liable for prosecution,” Mani said.

Between November last year and 6 January 2014, a total of 478 dengue fever cases were reported with the majority recorded in the central division.

14) Vanuatu Nurses Association Activities On Hiatus: President
Documents apparently signed without president’s approval

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 8, 2014) – President of the Vanuatu Nurses Executive Association (VNA) Willie Reuben said all Nurses Executive Association activities are on hold until further notice.

In a circular to the Executive Members, Reuben said he noticed that some of the members of the Executive of the Association have signed letters and documents without his prior knowledge which is contrary to the Association’s Article 9 (9.7) (9.7.1) of the Constitution of the Vanuatu Nurses Association.

He did not specify the issues confronting the association but late last year many nurses were terminated but later reinstated by the Public Service Commission upon the instruction of the Prime Ministers’ Office.

Mr. Rueben claims he has the powers as the President of the Association to make decisions for and on behalf of the Association.

“Since we are faced with critical issues involving some members and causing divisions within the association, I believe it is more prudent to freeze all meetings of the VNA until the current matters are resolved and the executive can thereafter resumed its roles,” Reuben told Daily Post.

He said in alignment with the association’s constitution, any member of the executive or other members who are not happy with any issues concerning the association should approach him rather than seeking other avenues for redress.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

 15) WHO monitoring French Polynesia zika and dengue

By Online Editor
11:51 am GMT+12, 09/01/2014, French Polynesia

The World Health Organisation says it’s monitoring closely the situation in French Polynesia which is fighting outbreaks of zika virus and dengue fever.

Officials say 20,000 people have sought medical help because of zika but they fear many more thousands could be infected.

The French territory also has about 1,500 people confirmed with dengue fever.

The WHO’s head of emerging disease surveillance and response, Suva-based Dr Eric Nilles, says an epidemiologist from the WHO, and a entomologist from the SPC have been sent to French Polynesia to assist.

Dr Nilles says they are keeping a close eye on what is going on.

“Anytime there is a virus circulating in the blood of humans and that human flies to another country or another territory, there are mosquitoes in that destination or territory that could transmit that virus then there is a chance that this could spread and certainly that is always a concern for us that there is potential for spread of this virus to other areas of the Pacific”

Dr Nilles says the zika virus has spread to New Caledonia from French Polynesia.

Dr Nilles also says it’s the second zika virus outbreak in the Pacific, the first was in 2007 in the Federated States of Micronesia where more than 70 percent of the population of Yap was infected.

16) Samoa Health Service Announces Hospital Fee Increases
General visits, inpatient and admittance costs to be raised

By Pai Mulitalo ‘Ale

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 7, 2014) – A visit to the hospital in Samoa will cost you more, starting from Monday next week.

That is when the latest increase to hospital fees will come into effect, with the general visit to a doctor doubling in price to WST$10 [US$4.23] per patient.

According to a notice from the National Health Service (NHS), in addition to the increase in consultation fees which were previously free of charge, they will now incur a cost – with general X-rays and laboratory services now WST$5 [US$2.19] each.

“Inpatient fees shall be 30 tala [US$12.71] per night at Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital at Moto’otua, 15 tala [US$6.36] per admission episode at Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital in Savai’i, and 10 tala per admission episode at all other district hospitals,” the notice reads.

The notice does, however, say that certain groups will be exempted from paying the above fees.

“All children aged below 15 years,” it reads. “All elderly people aged 65 years and above, who are registered with the NPF Pensioner’s scheme. (They) must bring current ID to qualify for exemption.

“All women presenting for maternal health conditions, such as for all care related to pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal period.

“(And) Persons with special needs, (although) special conditions apply for registration.”

The notice says the full revised list of fees and charges are posted at various service areas of the main hospitals at Moto’otua, and Tuasivi and all district hospitals and medical centers.

“Please note there are separate charges for non-Samoan Citizens and non-residents,” it reads.

“Exemptions as stated above do not apply to non-citizens and nonresidents.”

The NHS General Manager Leota Laki Sio was contacted for comment, but was unavailable at the time of press.

However, he did speak about the issue during an interview with the Samoa Observer in August last year.

He said then the public are protected under the proposed NHS Act 2013 and there are provisions in place to ensure NHS maintains its social responsibility to the public.

Part VII of the 2006 Act discusses the fees and charges that the public currently pay to the NHS and states that the (Health) Minister is to determine the costs.

“The Minister by Notice may determine fees and charges concerning any matter under or concerning this Act and for any goods or services provided by the Service,” the Act reads.

“Or for any goods or services funded by or through the Service and provided by another person or body, and provide for the time and manner of payment of any fee or charge determined under this section.

“The Minister shall consult with the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry, the Board, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, concerning any proposed fees and charges and their anticipated effects and consequences.

“Subject to section 21, any fee or charge determined under this section shall be nonrefundable unless the Minister determines otherwise.

“Any Notice under this section shall be published in Samoan and English in the Savali and one other newspaper circulating in Samoa.”

Leota said this section of the act does not allow the NHS to take control of the fees and charges.

In June 2012, Tautua Economic Spokesperson Afualo Dr Wood Salele criticised the fee increase saying they will make “the rich richer and the poor poorer.” He said at the time that these increases were “just another form of tax.”

Samoa Observer:

17) Off-Island Medical Referral Cases On The Rise In CNMI
732 patients recorded during 2013, costing at least $5.3 million

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 9, 2014) – Despite tight controls in the CNMI government’s medical referral program, there seems to be an increasing number of patients being referred off-island for medical treatment, with more than 700 served last year.

Ronald D. Sablan, director for medical referral services, disclosed to Saipan Tribune yesterday that a total of 732 off-island referrals were recorded in 2013, nearly a hundred patients more than the 645 recorded in 2012.

The medical referral program, which is under the Governor’s Office, has been one of the government’s largest expenditures over the years. In 2013, Sablan bared that the administration spent $5.274 million on these referral expenses, not including the program‘s personnel and operational expenditures.

Records obtained by Saipan Tribune show that of the 732 referrals last year, the bulk was sent to neighboring Guam hospitals, totaling 442. Patients referred to Philippine hospitals came next with 211, which Sablan said is where most of the funding went last year.

“This is a concern because at times, due to a patient’s medical condition, we are forced to send the patient to the Philippines at 100-percent expense versus nothing if a patient’s Medicaid coverage would be accepted in a U.S. certified medical institution,” Sablan said.

For hospitals in Hawaii, the CNMI referred 62 patients while referrals to the U.S. mainland totaled 17.

Saipan Tribune learned that the medical referral program gets a budget of $2 million to $3 million a year—much lower than what it always proposes, resulting in a significant shortfall.

When asked how the program copes with its budgetary constraints, Sablan said the reprogramming authority of the governor is a big help.

“The governor’s office reprograms funds to cover the shortfall. Our expenditures for prior fiscal years are right around our budget submissions. Unfortunately, the actual budget passed by the Legislature has always been underfunded,” he said.

Higher referrals

According to Sablan, one important factor that contributed to the increase in medical referrals last year is the lack of medical maintenance among many patients. When they come in and seek help, many are in worse stages of their illnesses or diseases.

“[The] impact of members dropping their health insurance benefit [is the] higher number of referral submissions and at worse stages due to lack of medical maintenance. Fortunately, [the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.] medical staff are now proactive and new recruits are experienced and well-rounded, allowing some cases that are normally sent off-island to be treated locally,” said Sablan.

The program’s biggest challenge right now is its inadequate funding to run its operation. Sablan said the lack of funds hampers their ability to do utilization review and hire more people, affecting processing time, the frequent complaints of patients, the delivery of service in designated off-island field offices, and the challenge of where to send patients because most providers in Guam and Hawaii will not accept Medicaid coverage due to the unpaid obligations of the CNMI government.
Saipan Tribune


18) Scholarships for civil servants

Nasik Swami
Thursday, January 09, 2014

GOOD news for civil servants as the Government of the People’s Republic of China has offered scholarships to study for the International Master of Public Administration program.

An Information Ministry statement released yesterday said the scholarship entitlements would include tuition fees, allowances, accommodation, medical insurance, one time roundtrip air ticket and overseas travel insurance.

PSC permanent secretary Parmesh Chand encouraged eligible civil servants to apply for the program.

Mr Chand said this was one of the priority areas of training for public servants and as such Fiji was deeply appreciative of the offer of assistance by the People’s Republic of China in this field.

“Applicants must be a Fiji citizen working in government and he or she must have the endorsement of his/her permanent secretary,” Mr Chand said.

In addition, applicants must be under 45 years of age when taking up the award and have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

Further details on the application can be obtained from the PSC website

The applications close on January 10.

19) Historic deal for uni

Shayal Devi
Thursday, January 09, 2014

A new Memorandum of Understanding between the Fiji College of General Practitioners, the University of Fiji and Umanand Prasad School of Medicine will allow general practitioners to get a postgraduate certificate in general practice. Picture: JAI PRASAD

FIJI needs more qualified general practitioners, says Dr Ram Raju, the western branch president of the Fiji College of General Practitioners.

He made the comment at the signing of an agreement between the Umanand Prasad School of Medicine, the University of Fiji and the Fiji College of General Practitioners.

The agreement allows for the start of a postgraduate certificate program in general practice, which Dr Raju said was a historic development.

“For about a year, we were having negotiations and I’m glad that we have finally reached an agreement in time,” he said.

“It is a significant milestone and we are now able to embark on a golden education process in this country and I must thank UPSM and University of Fiji in particular for making this happen.

“We have managed to come to this stage and while it may be the first step, a lot of work needs to be done.

“We have invested in the department of medicine and we have had discussions with the dean of the medical school and we are involved in trying to get this program off the ground.”

Dr Raju said general practitioners were the frontliners in the provision of primary and preventative medicine to the community.

“Fiji as whole will benefit once we have more qualified general practitioners to continue to provide quality medical care,” he said.

Departing vice-chancellor Dr Chandra Dulare said he was quite happy that the university had come on board along with UPSM.

“We now want to ensure that this program comes to fruition and we are happy to say that we can start this program from this year,” Dr Dulare said.


20) Independent private group established to undertake Vanuatu Constitutional Review
By Online Editor
2:35 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Vanuatu

A private Ni-Vanuatu group has established itself to undertake Constitutional Review that it intends to present to the Vanuatu Government on completion of its tasks.

Headed by Philemon Hango as its president, the group has gathered support from community leaders and members of the public to support their cause.

“The Review of the National Constitution is long overdue and must become the number one priority for the Government in 2014,”Hango told Daily Post.

He said the National Constitution was drafted and accepted in 1979 by political leaders at the time because they wanted to see the immediate lowering of the Union Jack of Britain and Tricolor of France but the Constitution no longer serves the real needs of the people of today and tomorrow.

“We need the Constitution today which will take this country forward for the next 50 years and which will guarantee both citizens of Vanuatu and foreign investors an atmosphere of trust and confidence that stops corruption in high places by politicians, public servants”, he said.

Asked why his group set up a private constitutional review committee when the Government is the appropriate authority to do this, Hango replied, “Minister Ralph Regenvanu was about to appoint a new Constitutional Review Committee but was then removed from the Ministry of Justice”, he said.

“Today we hear about the setting up of a constitutional review committee but we have not seen one in place yet. Years ago past Governments spent millions of vatu on Constitutional Review Committee(s) whose report(s) now gather dusts somewhere up in the parliamentary offices. Are we going to walk down the same avenue again for the new decade?”

On the question of what legal power(s) his committee has to carry out the tasks and how to go about getting it through to the Government and parliament, he answered, “We hold the voice of the people and will make our voice heard when the review we work on is ready. The real voice of the people has not been voiced and heard for many years now except through minority representations in parliament.”…

21) Fiji Electoral Commission announced
By Online Editor
3:11 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s Electoral Commission was announced by the Attorney General and Minister responsible for elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Suva this afternoon

Former Fiji Law Society president Chen Yung heads the six member commission.

The six members include Jenny Seeto, Larry Thomas, Father David Arms, Alisi Daurewa and Vijay Naidu.


22) Port Vila Municipal Elections Underway In Vanuatu
Among 232 candidates, 42 women to contest reserved seats

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 8, 2014) – A total of 28,000 registered voters in Port Vila, Vanuatu, are going to the polls today to elect the capital’s new municipal council of 12 general seats and for the first time, 5 reserved seats for women.

Chairman of the Electoral Commission Killion Taleo says 232 candidates are contesting the elections – 42 for the five reserved seats for women and 190 for the 12 general seats.

Eight polling stations in the city’s five wards open at 7.30 this morning for registered voters to start casting their ballots and the polling stations will close at 4.30 p.m. today

Chairman Taleo explains that each voter will make two choices when entering the polling both – one for a general seat candidate and the other for a reserved seat candidate and deposit the two envelopes in their designated ballot boxes.

Taleo explains further that voting for the reserved seats is on a first-past the post system while the general seats poll is on a preferential voting arrangement.

Principal Electoral Officer, Charles Vatu says voters at the Malapoa/Tagabe Ward will vote at the Anglican Church Hall at Tagabe and Vila North School, Anabrou/Melcoffee Ward at Anabrou School, Freswota/Tassiriki voters at either Ex-FOL or Freswota School polling stations, Central Ward at the Town Hall and Dumbea Hall, and the South Ward voters at the Chiefs’ Nakamal.

Electoral Commission Chairman Taleo says provisional results from the elections should be known tonight or tomorrow while the official results will be known on Thursday.

He says the future of the four-term trial with the women’s reserved seats for Port Vila Municipal Council will start to be tested after today when the results of those women who are contesting the general seats fare against those on the reserved seats list.

Taleo explains that the Port Vila Municipal election is a closed poll that ought not to be confused with the election for the constituency’s Parliamentary seats which involves nine polling stations and Noumea in New Caledonia.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

23) Tonga’s finance minister sacked after defying order to quit

Updated 9 January 2014, 18:32 AEST

Tonga’s Finance minister Lisiate Akolo has been formally dismissed after resisting pressure from the prime minister to resign.

The move was confirmed by Tonga’s Justice Minister Clive Edwards after days of uncertainty.

Presenter: Tom Fayle

Speaker: Clive Edwards, Tonga’s Minister of Justice

EDWARDS: He was invited to submit his resignation by the 8th of January. He has refused to put in his resignation, so a notice has gone out today terminating his warrant. And the Prime Minister is acting until he makes a substantive appointment.

FAYLE: So let me just clarify that Mr Akolo has officially been sacked?

EDWARDS: Yes you can say he’s been officially sacked because he has refused to submit a resignation.

FAYLE: And why was that?

EDWARDS: Well I think you’d better ask Akolo why he’s refused to submit his resignation, because the Prime Minister had asked him as is his prerogative to appoint and remove ministers that he should resign because I don’t think he’s following the decisions of cabinet. And there’s a difference between the Prime Minister and Akolo, and I believe that the Prime Minister is in order in asking Akolo to resign.

FAYLE: Now you were at yesterday’s cabinet meeting when the fate of Mr Akolo was discussed?

EDWARDS: No the cabinet meeting yesterday was to allow the ministers to express their views and for the Prime Minister to hear what they’ve got to say on the letter inviting Mr Akolo to resign. It wasn’t an open cabinet meeting for Akolo to attend, but because some ministers may have views as to Akolo’s position and they were afforded that opportunity to have their say.

FAYLE: But was it fair to prevent Mr Akolo from attending that meeting to defend his position?

EDWARDS: Well that’s for Akolo to submit to the Prime Minister, not to cabinet. And he had chosen not to say anything or write anything to the Prime Minister. He had the opportunity to say to the Prime Minister that the allegations against him are not correct and he would like to have an interview with him or discussion with him, but he did nothing.

FAYLE: So did the Prime Minister get unanimous support for his move to get rid of the Finance Minister at yesterday’s cabinet meeting?

EDWARDS: At the end, yes.

FAYLE: At the end?

EDWARDS: At the end because there were a couple of people who asked for mercy to give him another chance.

FAYLE: But the Prime Minister was insistent that his views prevail?

EDWARDS: The Prime Minister just listened right through while the ministers spoke, and the general view was no.

FAYLE: So exactly why was Mr Akolo removed from office?

EDWARDS: Well look this is not the first time that Akolo has done this to the Prime Minister, and I don’t want to go back on it but on this occasion he was present in cabinet, he was a party to a cabinet decision and he goes on the air and television and say the government has no money to pay out this cabinet decision, and it’s not reasonable, it’s not a reasonable decision when he was a party to it and it was his recommendation.

FAYLE: So at the heart of it it’s a matter of cabinet solidarity?

EDWARDS: Yes,  why didn’t he oppose it because we had received the submissions and recommendations from the public service commission recommending a 20 per cent increase of salary for public servants. Akolo as Minister of Finance had asked on a previous occasion when we first received this to give him time and the Ministry of Finance to work it out. So they were given that time and they came back with four different options; 20 per cent, 15 per cent, 10 per cent and 5 per cent and what’s affordable to government. And they recommended 5 per cent. And that’s what cabinet did, and then he goes on the air and says it’s unreasonable.

FAYLE: But you say he supported that lower position?

EDWARDS: Yes he did and that was his recommendation.

FAYLE: And finally Mr Akolo has a reputation as something of a financial conservative who doesn’t want to see Tonga overwhelmed by debt repayments. Will his departure damage Tonga’s reputation among the donor community?

EDWARDS: Well why didn’t Akolo say that to us in cabinet? And he goes and says that now. Why does he do that? This is the thing, this is not the first time he’s done it.

24) Samoa Ministry Wrote Off Millions In Debts: Report

Bulk of outstanding debts came from printing services

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 7, 2014) – Outstanding printing debts wreaked havoc with the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development’s (MWCSD) budget in Samoa.

So heavily in the red was the Ministry that it wrote off its debts from 1996 to 2003 totaling WST$399,986,06 [US$16.9 million].

In response to the Controller and Chief Auditor’s 2008-2009 report, the Parliamentary Officer’s Committee (OPC) recommended for the Ministry to work together with the Ministry of Finance in monitoring and payment of outstanding debts of some of the Ministries and Government Corporations, which in this case is the Printing Press for the sake of its revenues.

[PIR editor’s note: A translation of the full report can be found here, courtesy of the Samoa Observer.]

“That the Ministry seriously address the issues raised by the Audit Office so to avoid the recurrence of these administrative problems in future,” the OPC report reads.

In the original Auditor’s report it was found that the MWCSD’s Accounts Receivables balance of WST$1,505,403 [US$637,829] for the year under audit had increased by WST$436,969 [US$185,141] from the previous financial year.

“The bulk of these outstanding debts were of unpaid printing accounts which could be unrecoverable,” the Auditor reported.

However, the Auditor did note that the Ministry did take the time to respond to the questions he had about their account keeping.

“The outstanding debts from 1996 to 2003 totaling WST $399,986,06 have been written of as per FK(10)47 dated 9 November 2010,” the Ministry’s response in Fuimaono C. Afele’s report says.

“We have been issuing monthly statements regularly to debtors including the Line Ministries.

“We have also sought the assistance of the Ministry of Finance Budget Committee to make provisions in the respective Ministries annual budget to settle their outstanding debts for printing services.

“In trying to resolve this issue an Accounts Officer position has been created at the Division for Printing for the management of debtors accounts.

“The Division for Printing now directly accesses the Finance One system at Matautu Tai so that the receipting process is done immediately at the first point of contact and we hope to operate online receipting from the Matautu Tai Office in the future.”

The OPC acknowledged the Ministry for clarifying the matters the Auditor raised in his report.

“As for the outstanding accounts of the Printing Press, the Ministry has already determined the release of the programme (Finance One) to it for use to prepare a paper (Invoice) for monies paid for services including other suitable papers to be in line with financial dealings of Government,” the OPC report reads.

“In addition an officer has been hired for the Finance Division to be responsible for the collection of revenues. The PSC had also approved our request for a Cashier to work in the Printing Press for the collection of payments due to the Ministry for its services at the moment.

“The Ministry had also referred to the weakness that existed in the past that are now being addressed.

“The truth is that the Ministry was concerned with the debts of the Printing Press, however the Ministry previously responsible for Printing had continuously reminded by sending letters and reminders to the outstanding bettors to pay up.

“In addition the Ministry is undertaking another task of reviewing these debts.”

Samoa Observer:

25) Fiji Political Parties Call For Release Of Electoral Legislation
Government yet to appoint electoral commission, supervisor

By Shalveen Chand

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 8, 2014) – Political parties are hoping Fiji’s government sets up the Elections Office and releases its electoral legislation so they know where they stand.

The United Front for a Democratic Fiji (UFDF) has said the Electoral Act would reveal what they called the rules of engagement for the upcoming elections.

“Right now, we are just sort of waiting on the Electoral Act and of course the Electoral Act will tell us how the elections are being planned to be run and that’s what we are keen to understand,” said UFDF member Mick Beddoes.

UFDF is also seeking answers on how the Constitutional Offices Commission will operate.

The Fiji Labour Party (FLP) has voiced similar concerns, saying it would only finalise its candidates after the electoral legislation is in place.

The Social Democratic and Liberal Party (SODELPA) has voiced similar sentiments through the UFDF.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) has also called on the government to speed up electoral appointments.

According to the government, the elections will happen in September although the Electoral Commission and a Supervisor of Elections have yet to be appointed.

The Elections portfolio falls under the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who is currently abroad on personal commitments.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told Radio New Zealand last month the body tasked with overseeing Fiji’s elections would be set up by the end of the month.

He said the next few weeks would focus on the structure of the Elections Office and the appointment of commissioners to the body which would direct it, the Electoral Commission.

In his interview with Sally Rounds, he said: “We’ve approached a few people, and some were initially hesitant to join up because of travel bans posed by Australia and New Zealand. But we do have letters from the Australian and New Zealand governments confirming that travel bans won’t apply to people who are appointed as commissioners.

“So we do have the letter and we have that assurance from them.

“Of course, given the past six-year history of travel bans applied rather widely some people are still hesitant and don’t want to take that risk.

“But we’re still looking at getting some good, credible people on board. We’ve identified some people and we’d like to appoint all seven of them at once, or at least recommend the names of the constitution office submission.”

Fiji Times Online:

 26) Indonesia to assist in Fiji elections

By Online Editor
12:03 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Fiji

The Indonesian government continues to take significant steps to improve its relationship with Fiji, it will now also assist in the general elections.

This was revealed by Indonesia’s Security Minister Lieutenant General LanggengSulistiyono in Suva.

Speaking through an interpreter, General LanggenSulisiyono gave a brief outline of his government’s intentions.

“With regard to your election in September, in principle, we’ll assist Fiji in cooperation between Fiji and Indonesia but in terms of capacity building.”

Defense Minister Joketani Cokanasiga says Fiji looks forward to a response from Indonesia.

“We’ve identified the needs, the government’s needs and I think they’ve taken that into account and I hope we’ll see further development on that line.”

Fiji will go to polls in September.


27) Nauru media visa fee hike to ‘cover up harsh conditions at Australian tax-payer funded detention centre’

Updated 9 January 2014, 12:40 AEST

A huge hike in journalists’ visa fees for Nauru is designed to cover up how Australian taxpayers’ money is being spent on the “cruel” detention centre there, the Greens say.

A spokeswoman for Nauru’s government has confirmed the cost of a single-entry media visa is due to rise from $200 to $8,000.

Hundreds of asylum seekers who have arrived in Australian waters by boat are held at a detention centre on the island, and the Greens say the sudden price rise is an attempt to cover up what is happening there.

“This is of course part of Tony Abbott’s strategy to shut down public information about how Australian taxpayer money is being spent on the cruel and harsh detention camps on Nauru,” Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“It’s designed to make it difficult for the media to access Nauru and to get information back to Australia.

“This is just more fuel to the fire of Tony Abbott’s media blackout strategy rather than anything to do with what is best for humanitarian needs of refugees.”

The Government has batted away the claim, with a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison telling the ABC: “This is a matter for the government of Nauru.”

Only three or four media visas were granted last year, according to Nauru’s top visa officer Ernest Stephen, who spoke to current affairs website The Global Mail.

The site also reported that there was a notable increase in the issuing of media visas in the weeks after the former Labor government reintroduced offshore processing for asylum seekers in September.

A damning United Nations report into conditions on Nauru, released in November, found asylum seekers lived in harsh conditions with little privacy and limited services for those suffering from trauma and the effects of torture.

But Australia’s former immigration minister, Chris Bowen, said services at the detention centre were adequate.

Another attempt to ‘censor the media’

Mathew Batsiua, a member of Nauru Opposition Group, says the new rules, expected to come into force this week, are a Nauru government tactic to censor the media.

“They certainly bully our local media in terms of what they can show, who they can interview, and this is another illustration of that kind of behaviour in terms of bullying media and avoiding accountability,” he said.

“It is an alarming trend, and this [Nauruan] government since they’ve come in has slowly shown its true colours – they are not interested in true accountability; they are not interested in true transparency.

“They talk hot about it, but it’s all lip-service. When it comes down to the crunch, they won’t baulk in trying to censor media, and this latest policy … is another illustration of that kind of behaviour and conduct.”

He said his party was opposed to any policy that attempts to curtail any transparency of their actions.

“This hiking up of fees for journalists coming in to Nauru is a step in that direction, and we think that it’s the wrong move and we’re certainly opposing it.”

Visitors from Commonwealth countries travelling to Nauru for holidays can be granted visas on arrival which cost $100.

The journalists fee will not be refunded if the application is unsuccessful.

28) Radio New Zealand International has full-time opportunities for talented journalists 

to join their small, multi-skilled team producing stories and
features about the Pacific.  As well as reporting on the region you may also be required to read news bulletins and present programmes from

They are looking for journalists with a real interest in the Pacific region; a commitment to the highest standards of journalism; a keen news
sense and a strong broadcast quality voice.

Click here for more information on the vacancies and how to

29) PACMAS is seeking to sponsor 20 successful nominees to attend the PACMASWorkshop for Engineering Managers and Broadcast Technicians.

It is rare to find the Pacific’s broadcast engineers come together to discuss issues of mutual interest so PACMAS is hosting a four day pre-Pacific Media Summit workshop for Engineering Managers and senior Broadcast Technicians.

To send through a nomination please click on this link:


 30) $50m for plans for Fiji Development Bank

By Online Editor
09:18 am GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Fiji

With $50million (US$26 million) set aside for disbursement plans this year, the Fiji Development Bank is focused on expanding its products and services to boost development and growth in the economy.

FDB acting chief executive officer Nafitalai Cakacaka said they had finalised accounts for the past financial year and remained focused on development plans in the new year.

“Apart from expanding and offering a wide range of products this year, we are also looking at developments in the North,” he said.

“Last year, about 70-80 per cent of loans given out were for the agricultural sector. It’s always been that way but in terms of volume, bigger loans are taken by customers in the tourism and real estate sectors.

“People have been coming in for loans to start their business. In the past six months, there have been a lot of developments and this has boosted confidence levels of investors.”

To achieve their aim of expanding their products, Cakacaka said, they would monitor market wants and needs.

“That’s what we need to look at, probably conduct a survey to see the immediate or long-term requirements. Our present projects redefine what we have at the moment,” he said.

Cakacaka said the recent signing with Western Union to act as a sub-agent was a boost for their customers.

He said the agreement would result in upskilling FDB officers to carry out Western Union transactions at FDB branches.

He said customers would be able to utilise the new money transfer service to repay their loans instead of travelling to their offices to make direct payments.


31) Marley show in Solomon Islands turns ugly
By Online Editor
09:21 am GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Police and security guards clashed with youths trying to break into the Panatina showground to watch Julian Marley Wednesday.

Marly, son of reggae legend Bob Marley, continue performing despite the disturbances, which show the exchange of stone throwing between thugs and security guards.

Thugs, mostly youths, started knocking the wooden perimetres of the showground from the eastern side near the Solomon Islands Football Federation Academy.

When security guards and police officers confronted them, they started throwing stones at them.

The National Referral Hospital last night said they attended to 16 casualties – 11 police and security guards, three suspects, and two spectators.

They were treated and released.

Police also made a number of arrests.

The disturbances continued almost during the entire show but Julian Marley continued to perform.

Two police officers sustained severe injuries on their heads and were rushed to the national referral hospital for medical attention.

The Police Response Team was deployed on the eastern side of the showground and managed to drive the thugs back further beyond the King George Sixth field.

Tear gas were fired and with the help of security officers, the trouble-makers were pushed further back to the Burns Creek and Lungga areas.

The standoff continued into the night and police last night set up a roadblock in the Burns Creek area to prevent the thugs from causing further damages.

Although they set alight a building within the SIFF academy, police were quick to put the blaze off.


32) Indonesia Gives Funds For Proposed Police Academy In Fiji
Academy would train police from Melanesian Spearhead members

By Unaisi Vesikula

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 8, 2014) – The Indonesia government today donated FJ$1 million [US$528,899] towards the formation of the proposed Regional Police Academy at Nasova, Suva.

Lieutenant General Langgeng Sulistityono made the presentation Minister for Defence Joketani Cokanasiga.

The assistance will enable the Fiji Police Force to train more officers.

Cokanasiga said the timely assistance was indicative of the Indonesian government’s support.

Lieutenant General Langgeng Sulistityono says relations with the Fijian government began back in 1974 and it is getting better.

“We have a very good relationship with Fiji and we have bigger plans as it gets better and better,” Sulistityono said.

The academy which will be based in Fiji will train police officers from the five Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) countries.

The interim regional academy is currently based at the Fiji Police Force Nasese Training Centre.

A land close to Naboro, Nabukavesi, has been earmarked as a possible location. By



33) Extreme fire risk in New Caledonia

Updated at 7:00 pm on 9 January 2014

The New Caledonian government has issued a red alert for most of the main island’s west coast because of an extreme fire risk.

15 communes have strict fire bans while most of the rest of the territory is on orange alert.

The drought has been accompanied by high temperatures and strong winds.

About 75 kilometres north of Noumea, a fire has already destroyed about 10 square kilometers of vegetation, reportedly after two fires were deliberately lit.

An official says because of very strong winds the situation is catastrophic, and although two helicopters are in use to battle the fire, he says the means are inadequate.

34) Cyclone Ian approaching Tonga with ‘catastrophic’ winds

Posted 9 January 2014, 14:32 AEST

Forecasters in Fiji are warning that an increasingly powerful Tropical Cyclone Ian is directly threatening Tonga’s northern islands.

In the latest advisory, Ian has estimated winds of 120 kilometres per hour, with gusts up to 170kmh.

It is expected to intensify and is moving east towards Niaufo’ou and Vava’u, but is expected to turn south-east in the next 6-12 hours.

A forecaster from the Fiji Meteorological service, Sanjay Prakash, told Pacific Beat the cyclone became stronger overnight.

“Ian has intensified… it’s become a Category 3 system,” he said.

“It is expected to intensify further and probably reach its maximum intensity by tomorrow.”

The Tonga Met office says on its current track, Ian may bring gale force winds to Niaufo’ou in the next few hours, and Vava’u in the next 18-24 hours.

Mr Prakash says the cyclone will be “catastrophic” and “bring a lot of damage to the kingdom”.

“It will be at its peak during the time of the landfall, I expect it to be at maximum intensity on the Category 3 stage, that is having a sustained wind speeds of close to 85 knots (160kmh) at its centre,” he said.

Earlier this week, a cyclone alert was issued for the island groups of Ha’apai and Vava’u with warnings of gale force winds, heavy rain, squally thunderstorms and the risk of sea flooding.

The alert was cancelled early on Tuesday, but both the Fiji Meteorological Service and the Tonga Meteorological Service re-issued warnings on Wednesday.

Ian has been hovering in the ocean between Fiji and Tonga since Monday.

A tropical cyclone alert and wind warning has also been issued for the Niuas.

35) Auki hit by water shortage in Solomon Islands
By Online Editor
2:33 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Solomon Islands

Climate change is having a dire impact on people living on Auki township and surrounding communities on Malaita province in Solomon Islands

Redley Agiomea of Weather office in Auki confirmed to the Solomon Star yesterday that the rainfall over the past three months was unbelievably low.

Agiomea said normally from November to April is cyclone season where they would be rainfall and strong winds.

“Climate change has affected all aspect of lives including health, water and agriculture,” he said.

“What people need to do is to find ways to adapt to climate change; that is moving to places where sources of water is good.

“As we know if the weather is sunny for months it will affect crops, make water level down, cause migration of fish to find cool temperature and create new diseases,” Agiomea said.

In the meantime, one residents of Kiluufi, David Oto said water supply to residents and nearby communities was not reliable because the pump always experienced problem.

Oto said luckily, they normally go to Kwalabusu to collect water when the pump stopped working.

For residents of Auki township, they have been complaining to Solomon Islands Water Authority (SIWA) to restore water to their residences in past days.

However, officer in charge of SIWA office in Auki said their officers have already rectified the problem by filling up tanks that supplied water to the residents.

She said in the last two days, there were no complaints coming from the residences, which showed that they have received their water again.

Meanwhile, Auki residents and surrounding communities are hoping for the day that SIWA will address the inconsistency in the water supply service.


36) Tropical Cyclone Headed Towards Niuafo’ou In Tonga
Local weather office says cyclone continuing to intensify

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 8, 2014) – Now upgraded to Category 2 storm in Tonga, Tropical Cyclone Ian is moving towards Tonga’s northernmost island, Niuafo‘ou, and on its current track, TC Ian may bring damaging gale force winds to Niuafo‘ou in the next 12 to 24 hours.

The Fua’amotu Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre stated at 4:00pm today that the intensifying TC Ian was 200km southwest of Niuafo‘ou at 1:00pm, when it was moving north. A gale warning remains in force for Vava‘u and Ha‘apai, while a strong wind warning remains in force for Niuatoputapu and Tafahi.

TC Ian has estimated winds of 50 knots near its centre with momentary gusts up to 65 knots.

“The cyclone has moved west at 5 knots in the last six hours and continues to intensify. The system is expected to become slow moving then turn and move southeast in the next 24 hours,” Fua‘amotu TCWC advised.

Tropical Cyclone Ian, that formed two days ago near the Vava‘u Group, was upgraded to a Category 2 storm overnight by the regional RSMC Nadi Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre on a track moving southeast across Tonga, between the Vava‘u and the Ha‘apai Groups over the next three days.

The Fua’amotu weather forecast for Tonga, issued at 4:00 pm November 8, 2014:


Northwest winds 15-20 knots increasing to 25 to 35 knots with momentary gusts of 35 to 45 knots in the next 12 to 24 hours. Rain developing heavy at times with flash flooding expected. Seas rough to very rough with moderate to heavy northwest swell.

Vava‘u and Ha‘apai groups:

North to northeast winds 10-15 knots increasing to 20-25 knots with momentary gusts of 30 to 35 knots in the next 24 to 48 hours. Seas becoming rough with moderate northwest swells.

Niuatoputapu and Tafahi

Northwest winds 15-20 knots increasing 20-25 knots in the next 12 to 24 hours. Cloudy periods with occasional showers developing in to heavy rain. Seas becoming rough with moderate northwest swells.

Tongatapu and ‘Eua:

Easterly winds 10-15 knots, mainly fine apart from cloudy periods with few showers, moderate seas with moderate easterly swells.

Matangi Tonga Magazine:

37) Scientist urges action on coast threat

Updated at 9:01 pm on 9 January 2014

A climate scientist is urging the Government to begin discussions with the country’s councils on what they plan to do about rising sea levels.

A report on rising sea levels released on Wednesday recommended that the Christchurch City Council prepare the city for the prospect of some of its coastal areas being under water within 100 years.

The report by environmental and engineering consultancy Tonkin and Taylor predicts that Sumner, New Brighton, South Shore and Brooklands will be among the areas flooded by the rising sea.

Climate scientist Jim Salinger began encouraging the council to start planning for a 1 metre rise in sea level more than two years ago, and the council now plans to include the estimate in its new district plan.

However, Dr Salinger points out rising sea levels are not restricted to Christchurch and said central and local government should assess the whole coast.

He said the issue is significant, given 14 of New Zealand’s 17 largest towns and cities are at sea level or near the coast.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme on Thursday rising sea levels are a global and nationwide problem, and Christchurch is already in the process of putting together a solution as part of its district plan review.

“This is an incredibly helpful start to a really important conversation. I’m glad that Christchurch is kind of leading the way because we really do want to learn the lessons of what we’ve been through.”

Land in the Christchurch suburb of Brooklands has already sunk by up to 30 centimetres because of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Resident Stephen Bourke says it is not clear whether the council, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) or private insurers will take responsibility for raising his house to the new flood level.

The EQC says it is working to identify properties that have been made vulnerable to flooding because of quake damage and has not yet determined what settlement it will make.

Insurers say they’re not responsible for repairing sinking Christchurch land, but only for the house and foundations on which the house sits.

Insurance Council spokesperson Samson Samasoni told Summer Report there needs to be more debate about how New Zealand can better protect itself from climate change conditions and its consequences.


38) Idris replaces Jennings

Thursday, January 09, 2014

SYDNEY – Less than a year after Penrith released Michael Jennings to the Sydney Roosters, the Panthers have found someone capable of filling the superstar centre’s shoes — Jamal Idris.

In a shock move, Idris joined the Panthers from the Gold Coast on Tuesday for the next three NRL seasons.

It is a swap for fellow centre Brad Tighe, who has moved to the Titans on a two-year deal.

Idris, who was released by the Titans on compassionate grounds to be closer to his sick mother, joins Jamie Soward, Elijah Taylor, Brent Kite and Peter Wallace as high-profile off-season recruits at the foot of the mountains.

In a statement released by the Panthers, Gould could hardly contain his excitement at the signing of Idris.

39) Sochi Winter Olympics terrorist threat remains, security experts warn

Updated 9 January 2014, 9:53 AEST
By Whitney Fitzsimmons

Security experts are warning there is still a significant threat of a terrorist attack at the Winter Olympic Games in Russia, despite the host city going into lockdown.

Security experts are warning there is still a significant threat of a terrorist attack at the Winter Olympic Games in Russia, despite the host city going into lockdown.

A presidential decree has come into effect in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, enforcing a so-called forbidden zone which blocks highways into the city and prevents locals from using roads without permits.

There will be 37,000 soldiers and police, fighter jet squadrons and surface-to-air missile installations at the ready for the 22nd Games which open on February 6.

But questions remain over whether Russia will be able to stop terrorists like those who targeted the city of Volgograd last month.

Twin terror attacks at a train station and on a trolley bus in the city killed 34 people.

The attacks placed even more pressure on Russian authorities to make sure the Olympics are safe.

But security expert Tony Loughran from Zero Risk International says a statement by authorities that these will be the safest Olympics in history is interesting.

“That’s quite a profound statement to make to be perfectly honest with you,” he said.

“I think that there is a threat at large.

“The Islamic Front itself has been very active over the years in that particular kind of centre of the world… and it will continue.”

Audio: Listen to the story (AM)

Inside Sochi, security will be tightest around what are referred to as gold targets; places like the athletes’ village.

But Mr Loughran says issues remain when it comes to looking after spectators.

“The difficulty you’ve actually got really is that it is not just a question of being safe,” he said.

“If there is an instance or an attack or whatever, how are people going to be looked after? That’s the main thing really.

“Looking at it from a post-security point of view, post-event what is the medical infrastructure in place to look after these people?”

Judy Dempsey from the think tank Carnegie Europe says the attacks in Volgograd indicate there could be more to come.

“Russia is, it’s quite vulnerable and president Vladimir Putin has no doubts that he’s going to step up security,” she said.

“There are concerns that once that Sochi Games are over, there’ll be an enormous crackdown in the North Caucasus area.”

Ms Dempsey says the security crackdown is also a public relations exercise and at its heart is Mr Putin’s legacy.

“Nobody can afford any kind of bluff or anything, least of all Putin,” she said.

“He’s put his status and his image and the prestige and everything on these Olympics – just fighting enormous corruption and the soaring costs in actually trying to get the Olympics off the ground.”Radio Australia

40a) West Indies smash New Zealand by 203 runs in Hamilton to secure 2-2 ODI series tie

Posted 8 January 2014, 20:48 AEST

West Indies have recorded an enormous 203 run win over New Zealand to tie ODI series 2-2.

The West Indies’ highest total in one-day cricket proved too much for the Blacks Caps, who finished the five-match series with a thumping 203 run defeat in Hamilton on Wednesday.

The result – which came after the tourists posted 4 for 363, with centuries to Kirk Edwards and skipper Dwayne Bravo – meant the series ended tied at 2-2.

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum admitted the home side were outplayed.

“A terrible day for us but credit to Dwayne and the West Indies boys,” he said.

“They certainly came out and put in a performance that we knew they were capable of and we weren’t able to stick with them.”

McCullum said the Black Caps would have been happy with a target of 300, but the 60 extra runs were a bridge too far.

The West Indies had been ravaged by injury and Bravo paid tribute to his players’ performance.

“We came into this game with our backs against the wall and we needed a big win,” he said.

“I can’t single out anyone. It was a great team effort.”

New Zealand never built momentum in their run chase and were bowled out for 160 before the 30-over mark.

Martin Guptill (6), Jesse Ryder (17), Kane Williamson (16), Ross Taylor (9) and McCullum (6) before the hosts had passed 65.

The big-hitting Corey Anderson tried to lift the run rate, but on 29 skied a catch to leave the Black Caps at 6 for 94.

Kyle Mills led some lower-order resistance and got the only six of the New Zealand innings’ before he was run out.

Left-arm spinner Nikita Miller finished with 4 for 45, while Bravo followed up his century with a miserly 1 for 12 off five overs to be named man of the match.

The Windies, after being sent in at Seddon Park, eclipsed their previous record one-day total of 4 for 360 against Sri Lanka in the 1987 World Cup.

They got a flying start thanks to opener Kieran Powell, with 73 runs from 44 balls.

The left-hander’s knock included a six which was caught by a fan, who won $100,000 offered by a beer company for a one-handed catch.

Powell fell leg-before to spinner Nathan McCullum while trying to sweep and the run rate slowed after his departure.

Edwards and Bravo came together at 3 for 143 and they consolidated before accelerating.

They ended up putting on 211, the highest West Indies partnership in one-dayers against New Zealand.

Edwards’ century was his first in ODIs and he ended unbeaten on 123.

Bravo got the second hundred of his 154-ODI career, before his entertaining innings came to end at 106.

The two teams now play a two-match Twenty 20 series beginning in Auckland on Saturday.


40b) FIFA yet to decide on moving 2022 Qatar World Cup to European winter

Updated 9 January 2014, 5:30 AEST

FIFA plays down claims that Qatar’s 2022 World Cup won’t take place summer due to heat concerns.

The world governing body of soccer, FIFA, is playing down claims from its own general secretary that Qatar’s 2022 World Cup will not take place in summer.

There has been concern about the soaring summer temperatures in Qatar, since the Gulf state beat Australia in 2010 in the bid to host the tournament.

FIFA has set up an executive committee to decide whether to shift the cup from June and July to the northern winter months.

It is due to report back after the Brazil World Cup this year.

However, FIFA chief Jerome Valcke told French radio he believes the Qatar tournament will not take place during the northern summer months.

“I think it will be held between November 15 and January 15 at the latest,” he said.

“If you play between November 15 and, let’s say, the end of December, that’s the time when the weather conditions are most favourable, when the temperature is like a warm spring season in Europe.”

FIFA has since played down the comments and stressed again that no decision will be made until later this year.

Football Federation Australia has warned a season-switch may prompt it to seek compensation from FIFA for its failed bid investment.

European clubs have also opposed the move because they would lose their top players for several weeks in the middle of the season.

The International Olympic Committee is fearful of any competition with the 2022 Winter Olympics.

World Cup Organising Committee officials in Qatar have insisted they are prepared for all eventualities concerning the 2022 showpiece.

“From the beginning, we’ve always said we can stage the World Cup in summer,” said Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Organising Committee last month.

“The cooling system for the stadia will be very much part of our legacy.

“But if the football world or FIFA want it to be staged in the winter then we are happy and ready. If they want it in summer, then we are still ready.”


 40c) Fiji Sports Commission to pay 7s coach Ben Ryan

By Online Editor
12:12 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Fiji

The Fiji National Sports Commission will meet Fiji Rugby Union this Friday to discuss their application of $300,000 to pay National 7s Coach Ben Ryan.

The amount is for Ryan’s accommodation, travel and salary.

This is however only for 2014 and doesn’t include the last three months.

The funding hand of local sports Fiji National Sports Commission confirms they will only make payments for 2014.

The Fiji Rugby Union admits the Englishman wasn’t paid because he had not signed a contract.

Its still however unclear if Ryan will recover his three months expenses incurred after he took the team to Australia, Dubai and South Africa from October 2013.

As for his salary, there’s good news with the Commission coming to the rescue. FNSC Chairman Peter Mazey will meet all applicants this Friday including Fiji Rugby Union.

Ryan’s expected to get top priority from the $2 million  payout after the meeting and is expected to get his first pay as early as this month.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Rugby Union has  clarified the issue regarding Fiji 7s Head Coach, Ben Ryan’s contract.

Acting Chief Executive Officer and Board Director Dr Berlin Kafoa has responded saying that it was a mutual agreement between Ben Ryan and the FRU.

“This is to confirm that Ryan volunteered for three months after being appointed as National Coach due to the financial situation of the FRU.”

“The FRU and Fiji are indeed grateful to Ben Ryan who made two personal sacrifices when he accepted his appointment. Firstly the package offered is less than what Ben would have earned in England and secondly he volunteered at a time when FRU was facing financial difficulties. “

“Ryan’s impact and passion about 7s rugby has shown results in Dubai. The FRU is indebted to Ryan for taking on the task and taking the team to greater heights on a voluntary basis.”

FRU had also waited for the 2014 National Budget where an allocation for the hiring of Professional Overseas Coaches to train and develop our sportsmen and women into world class athletes.

“The FRU has applied to the Fiji Sports Commission for a grant based on the 2014 Budget allocation which will be used for Ben Ryan’s salary. We are still waiting for the Fiji Sports Commission to respond to our application.”

“Ben Ryan has officially signed his FRU contract which will be until 2016 and we look forward to working closely with him. We as nation should applaud a foreign individual who is willing to make personal scarifies for the love of rugby in Fiji.”

Ryan said that he was working with a team and in a country that he loved.

“It is a very exciting time coming up for Fijian rugby and I’m very grateful to be part of this unique journey. I am loving being in the country and working with the team and I just want to give it my all to help contribute as much as I can.”..


40d) Top taekwondo ref gives PNG thumbs up
By Online Editor
12:09 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

A top international referee Denzil Ray in a recent visit to Papua New Guinea said that taekwondo had the potential to become number one in the Pacific region.

Ray said PNG athletes had the attributes which included good attitude to become a force in the region if they were given the appropriate help to be nurtured into champions.

Similar comments were repeated yesterday this time coming from  Minister for Sport, Justin Tkatchenko when he presented K100,000 to the Taekwondo Papua New Guinea Federation (TPNGF).

The funds were from the Government’s Sports Enhancement Programme.

The funds were presented to the TPNGF executives led by TPNGF national coach Edward Kassman who was accompanied by secretary Samantha Kassman, vice president Sylvia Pascoe, assistant national coach Marceline Nima, senior athlete Anton Aitsi and other taekwondo athletes at the Ministers office at the Telikom Rumana office, Waigani.

This funding will assist TPNG acquire equipment that will see them train and prepare at a very higher standard than at present.

Taekwondo is among one of the individual sport that has a huge potential of winning gold medals at next year’s Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

Tkatchenko said that he will endeavor to support TPNGF to ensure that PNG lands the most of the 18 Gold that will be on offer on the taekwando programme.

Meanwhile, from  commercial banks, to beauty pageant, zumba, event management, marketing and now taekwondo – Sylvia Pascoe sees no boundaries.

Pascoe is currently the Taekwondo Papua New Guinea Federation vice president, a position she shares with former TPNGF president Simon Kama.

The Kavieng lass, daughter of retired PNG journalist Noel Pascoe, sums up her recent role in TPNGF as supporting “truly passionate” friends.

“I have friends who are involved with Taekwondo. I’ve heard them discuss their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the sport throughout the years and that inspires me.

“We need more people involved in organisations that are passionate and then people like me support them to achieve those goals.”

“I’m not a Taekwondo expert, I won’t even pretend – I told them that at the AGM.”

She resolves that being involved with many other committees mostly in environment, Art and Health care, has given her an administrative acumen.

“The basic principles of a good working board go beyond the goals of the association. It’s all about administration and management. The past boards should be commended, they have done a terrific job, there’s a real passion for the sport in PNG that I think we can nurture and grow further with the new board.

“It’s a good mix of experienced TPNG board members and new comers – that’s a great recipe for growth.”

“My experience with events and marketing is definitely going to be of great help to TPNGF, I think I’ll be able to offer a lot of professional advise that will help them take the look and feel of their brand to another level.

“If you’ve ever seen any of the projects I’ve done in the past, my main focus is community.

“Things on paper for executives, government and sponsors is written in one language and my biggest hope is we should be able to translate that into something the general public can understand and be part of.

“In the end that’s who benefits from this the most, so I basically want to bring that culture into play and set it up for the next generation to run with.”

At TPNGF’s AGM last year, an unexpected number of three women were elected to the executive.
Pascoe described this move as a reflection of a growing society.

Pascoe eventually wants more women to participate and she might even take up the discipline if it became necessary.

“I am always happy to see gender equality in any organisation and I definitely want to see more women take up the sport, who knows, you may see me tie on a belt before the years done – will show you anyone can give it a go, and that’s all it takes really – who knows what new talent we could find if everyone just gave it a go.”.

40e) Tiger tops list

Thursday, January 09, 2014

NEW YORK – World No.1 Tiger Woods has cracked $US1.3billion ($F2.43b) in career earnings by leading the Golf Digest 50 income list for 2013, with Australian Adam Scott coming in eighth.

The 14-time major champion topped the list for the 11th time in its 11-year history with $US83million ($F155.52m), including an estimated $US71m ($F133.03m) off the course and more than $US12m ($F22.48m) in prize money.

Golf Digest magazine reported on its website on Tuesday that Woods’ winnings of more than $US155m ($F290.42m) reflect less than 12 per cent of his career earnings, with $US1.16b ($F2.17b) coming from endorsements since his pro debut in 1996, a figure that continues to increase even after his infamous sex scandal and ensuing divorce.

Second on the Golf Digest list was Phil Mickelson at $US52m ($F97.43m), with an estimated $US45m ($F84.32m) in endorsements and other non-prize money income.

The US left-hander won last year’s British Open and hopes to complete a career grand slam by winning this year’s US Open, an event where he is a record six-time runner-up.

Arnold Palmer, the 84-year-old golf icon whose popularity helped spawn the television riches of today’s players, was third at $US40m ($F74.95m), largely from licensing deals in Asia.

Jack Nicklaus, who turns 74 on January 21, ranked fourth at just over $US26m ($F48.72m).

The record 18-time major champion joins Palmer and Gary Player for the annual honorary tee shots that mark the start of the Masters each year.

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