Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 927


1) Vanuatu daily news digest | 20 January 2014

by bobmakin

A slight problem with mailing today, so no highlighting, not that there’s anything much to be treated as achievement.

Municipal matters were broached in mid-day Radio Vanuatu News today as nearing conclusion “after many challenges”, especially as regards the position of mayor which many new councillors who have just entered the PVMC were seeking after fighting the election to achieve this post. Radio Vanuatu News understands the VP, UMP and GJP signed an MoU last Friday which leaves out the Green Confederation of PM Carcasses. Anyway, the Green Confederation says it is trying to secure the numbers still. GJP is said to be no longer able to work with the Greens following the failure of their agreement for the southern ward in which Greens were supposed to support GJP.

The national government must give freedom to the provincial
governments to make bank loans to fulfill their development objectives and the national government must guarantee their loans, said the late Minister of Internal Affairs Patrick Crowby Manarewo. So began the VBTC Radio News early this morning, curiously reporting an address of late Minister Crowby to Parliament in December.

Radio Vanuatu also reported Health Minister Vohor promising the services of foreign doctors this year. Some would be based at Vila Central Hospital, others at the Northern hospital. Their work at the two referral hospitals is said to be in order to strengthen these hospitals in their work. He also announced the training of 200 nurses this year and existing doctors would assist in the nurse training.

Thirty-three police officers are to be recruited this year.

2) Vanuatu daily news digest | 16 January 2014

by bobmakin

The latest news concerning the formation of the Port Vila town council has the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), Vanuaaku Pati (VP) and Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP) working together to run the Port Vila Municipal Council. A “reliable source” says the three parties are ready to go to the mayoral election next week. The informant said it was decided UMP would hold the mayoral role, and VP that of the deputy. Pressure from electors, the source added, has insisted that the mayoral position goes to one of the two big and oldest parties in the country, their history going back to before Independence. Formerly they were always the strongest parties. However in recent years there have been many break-away groups owing more to political ambition on the part of the leadership of such movements rather than to any new political vision or philosophy. The Radio Vanuatu News source said there were other possibilities than a VP / UMP / GJP municipal council they had considered, but these would all havemajor impacts on the national coalition government. That said, there is also likely to be an impact on the national government with the VP / UMP / GJP mayoral solution, the Greens’ PM Carcasses having expressed himself and announced his preferred candidate soon after the election.

The Prime Minister has also expressed himself on the subject ofmaritime safety in Vila Harbour. He said that small rescue boats would be needed in the capital following the shipping mishap last week which saw the sinking of the MV Fresh Cargo. The vessel was in difficulty between Hat Island and Devil’s Point, just outside Mele Bay on which lies the capital. The patrol vessel RVS Tukoro needs a crew of 20 and takes quite a while to be made ready for any unexpected voyage. Of course there must be an inquiry concerning the mishap or mismanagement of Fresh Cargo at the time, with many lives in danger.

The Director General of the Agriculture Ministry says there will be a meeting next week to look into the question of the Chinese fish processing plant at Blacksands near Port Vila. DG Aru said the government has been seriously considering making the project operative to grow the economy of the country. Technical issues remain, Aru said, like the question of maritime traffic in Mele Bay and the safety of the anchorage, but the ministry hopes these can be overcome to get the project serving its purpose this year. It should be noted that Green PM Carcasses was against the project when protest meetings were held some years ago.

The Assistant Secretary General of the Tafea Provincial Government, David Tovuvur, says there is need for outside help to deal with the tension which has arisen with the move to change the provincial Secretary General. A mediator will need to be appointed, says Tovuvur, to work through the many issues.

The Tafea Provincial Council has signed an agreement with the Niko Letan council of chiefs of Tanna, Radio Vanuatu reports. It would seem the move follows the introduction of the new land legislation to require customary responsibility for land matters. The Nikom Letan has been a significant force in Tannese customary matters for a very long time.

An international consultancy based in the Solomon Islands is presently helping the Vanuatu National Provident Fund to develop its 5-year strategic plan and to review the processes of the VNPF. The project will also assist in developing a plan for the human resource development of personnel. This was revealed by Finance Minister Maki Simelum, although Radio Vanuatu News did not give the name of the company.


3) Australian foreign aid funding cut by $95 million

By Online Editor
09:28 am GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Australia

The Australian federal government quietly chopped another AUD$95 million out of Australia’s foreign aid effort last month.

The Department of Foreign Affairs  and Trade (DFAT) has confirmed that Australia’s share of the latest round of funding to the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s lending arm, will be cut from AUD$830 million to AUD$735 million.

DFAT insists that Australia is still paying its fair share to the fund, that provides loans in an effort to help poor nations develop their economies, but aid experts say they are puzzled by the thinking behind the cut.

The cut to the IDA’s three-year funding cycle is expected to be part of an overall reduction of AUD$4.5 billion in Australia’s foreign aid effort over the next four years.

According to DFAT, Australia’s contribution to the development fund will remain at about 1.8 per cent of the total funding for the next three years but Stephen Howes, Director of the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University says the cut makes little sense.

“It is not clear why the World Bank was singled out for a cut, especially given its focus on economic development, a key priority for the Coalition,” Professor Howes said.

“Probably the reason is simply that the “supplemental” contribution of three years ago was an easy target.

“But that is hardly a satisfactory rationale.”

DFAT’s statement says Australia is continuing to meet its obligations.

“On 17 December 2013, Australia pledged to maintain its burden share to the seventeenth replenishment of the World Bank’s concessional lending arm, the International Development Association,” the statement says.

“Consistent with our earlier contribution…our burden share will be 1.80 per cent for contributions to IDA loans and grants, and 1.61 per cent for IDA’s debt relief initiatives.

“Australia will also meet its expected obligations for the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.

“How this pledge equates in dollar terms remains subject to confirmation by the World Bank, but is expected to be in the order of $735 million.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the total aid budget this year will be more than AUD$5 billion – AUD$107 million less than the year before – and will be tied to rigorous benchmarks.

Two days before the federal election, the Coalition announced it would slash the growth of the foreign aid budget to the tune of AUD$4.5 billion over the coming four years.

Bishop says it is vital Australia’s foreign aid budget is “on a sustainable footing”.

“The aid budget will be over $5 billion this year and hereafter it will increase year on year according to the Consumer Price Index,” she said.

“We believe that this refocus of our aid budget will deliver effective outcomes.

“We are focusing on alleviating poverty, we are focusing on economic growth and empowering women and girls, better educational outcomes and better health outcomes in our region. We also want to ensure we can leverage private sector involvement.”

Aid groups panned the cuts when they were first announced saying the drop in funding will force them to review a number of programs in the region.

However,Bishop defended the cuts, saying the funding commitment represents an increase in aid funding.

“Under Labor’s last budget they were to receive 2.5 per cent of overseas development assistance (ODA),” she said.

“Under this revised budget they will receive 2.7 per cent of ODA – that is four times what these non-Government organisations received from 2007 and 2008.”

Bishop said the aid budget will be focused on countries across the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific including investment in Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Nauru and The Philippines.

Archie Law, the executive director of ActionAid which operates in 40 countries worldwide, said the cuts were anticipated but aid groups would like to see more detail regarding their implementation.

“But what it hasn’t done until now is give a little bit more detail of where those cuts are coming from,” he told ABC News 24.

“Particularly concerning is the fact that it looks like the Africa program will be cut in half. The region which has more people living in poverty per capita than anywhere else in the world will receive half the assistance from Australia when they receive pretty little in the first place.”

Law agreed there needed to be a healthy level of accountability overseeing how Australian aid money is spent, but said current checks and balances were adequate.

“I would argue the Australian aid program is managed very rigidly and tightly,” he said.

“For example, the amount of reporting that we have to do now as an NGO on Australian aid money from the Government, to what we had to do when I got into this business 20 years ago, has tripled.

“It’s inherently complicated when you are working in a development situation. Things are fluid. You need room to move within a framework.”

Australian Council for International Development vice-president Julia Newton-Howes

“If the Government’s commitment [is] to focus on our region, well, it’s understandable, it’s important,” Newton-Howe, who is also the head of CARE Australia, said.

“We agree that there’s a need to have a focus of the aid program and the most important thing for effectiveness is to have predictability.

“To have a predictable, consistent set of programs in Africa, in areas of high need, will be important if the Government is to meet its objective of reducing global poverty.”

Oxfam Australia’s Helen Szoke says it will be forced to scale back a number of its programs as a result of the cuts.

“We, like many other agencies, will have to tell partners and people on the ground that we’ll have to scale back programs,” Dr Szoke said.

However, Bishop says Oxfam is judging the government’s announcement against the Labor government’s promises “rather than what was delivered in the 2012-2013 budget”.

“This is an ideal opportunity for organisations such as Oxfam to work with the Government to develop rigorous benchmarks,” she said.

“We will direct funding to the high-performing organisations that deliver the best and most effective outcomes for the people most in need.”

Labor’s acting foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong says the cut represents a broken election promise.

“One of the things that Joe Hockey [and] Andrew Robb promised before the election is when they cut foreign aid they weren’t going to take money from organisations like CARE Australia…Save the Children, organisations like Caritas and many others.

“Well, that’s another broken promise from Tony Abbott because that’s what they’ve done.”

She says the Government’s claim that the program is wasteful was just an attempt to justify the cut.

“There are many children around the world who live in extraordinary poverty.

“If you can look at me and say that that’s something that we should all turn a blind eye to, I done agree with you.



4) NZ housing ‘severely unaffordable’

Updated 3 minutes ago 20/1/14.

New Zealand has been named as one of the least affordable housing markets in the world.

The annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey ranked 360 cities in 10 countries according to their affordability.

New Zealand and Australia were ranked as the second most expensive to buy in, behind Hong Kong.

The survey found that house prices in New Zealand have risen while incomes have fallen.

In particular, it ranked Auckland as the 347th most unaffordable out of 360 cities. It explained that while the median house price in Auckland has risen 11% in the last year, income has fallen by more than 6%.

Housing in Auckland is the least affordable in New Zealand.

The survey defines an affordable home as one that costs less than three times the median household income. In New Zealand, buyers need five-and-a-half times.

Co-author of the study, Hugh Pavletich who is based in Christchurch, said it was easier to buy a home in Britain than in New Zealand.

“New Zealand ranks very poorly against others around the world, other than places like Hong Kong where it’s over fourteen times household incomes. Overall we’re about five-and-a-half times (household incomes), on a par with Australia.”

Mr Pavletich says that is a slight decrease last year, but it’s because of new census figures for incomes – not a reflection of houses becoming more affordable.

“This is pretty much throughout the whole country, it’s a massive problem. People should not have to spend any more that three times their household income to buy a home with two-and-a-half times their annual income of mortgage loan. It’s very basic arithmetic, so we’re a million miles off the mark throughout the whole country.”

After Auckland, Tauranga and the western Bay of Plenty were the next most unaffordable cities, followed by Christchurch and Wellington, he says.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens believes house prices in New Zealand won’t be able to remain at very high levels. He says properties have been selling for high prices because borrowing is cheap right now.Radio New Zealand.


5) West Papua sapota itok MSG imas rausim Indonesia

Updated 20 January 2014, 13:33 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Melanesian spearhead grup imas rausim observer status blong Indonesia long wonem emi wok long traem long brukim na bagarapim despla wokbung blong MSG.

Siaman blong  Vanuatu Free West Papua Association Pastor Alan Nafuki  itok Indonesia iwok long grisim ol Melanesian kantri long noken toktok tumas long laik blong ol pipal blong West Papua long kisim indipendans.

Pastor Nafuki i mekim despla toktok bihaenim wokabaut blong sampla gavman lida blong ol MSG kantri olsem Fiji, PNG na Solomon Islands ibin go raon long Indonesia long wik igo pinis.

Vanuatu gavman ino bin salim wanpla lida blong en long despla raon igo long Indonesia.

West Papua iwok long askim long joinim MSG, tasol emi no kamap memba iet. RADIO AUSTRALia.

6) Tupla civil society grup long Solomon Islands i bruk pinis

Pastor Nafuki itok tu olsem taem Indonesia igat observor status long Melanesian Spearhead grup, emi save stopim ol pipal blong West Papua long kamap olsem memba blong MSG.

Updated 20 January 2014, 16:28 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Tupla  civil society  grup long Solomon Islands i bruk pinis bihaenim ol toktok em oli sutim long interim siaman blong wanpla grup olsem emi bin givim bikpla moni long sampla palaman memba long lusim gavman blong Praim Minista Gordon Darcy Lilo.

Tupla  civil society  grup long Solomon Islands i bruk pinis bihaenim ol toktok em oli sutim long interim siaman blong wanpla grup olsem emi bin givim bikpla moni long sampla palaman memba long lusim gavman blong Praim Minista Gordon Darcy Lilo.

Laen blong Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) na Joint Civil Society Group na  Concerned Citizens ibin stap na wokbung gut bifo, tasol tupla ibin bruk samting olsem tripla wik igo pinis.

Oli bin kirapim  joint civil society group long sapotim tingting blong ol pipal blong kantri long Praim Minista Lilo long lusim wok blong en bihaenim ol toktok blong korapsan.

Barnabas Henson, interim siaman blong  Joint Civil Society Group na  Concerned Citizens itok ol toktok em oli sutim long en ino tru.

Em i tok sampela memba bilong palamen em ibin toktok wantaim ol bihnainim petisen oli putim igo i tok ol bai ino nap toktok long ol iet, tasol bai sapotim ol narapela memba bilong palamen sapos oli putim ol isu i gat nesinel intrest. long ol.RADIO AUSTRALIA.


7) Melbourne Peringati Dua Warga Aborigin yang Dihukum Gantung

Diperbaharui 20 January 2014, 16:34 AEST

Bersamaan dengan kian dekatnya perayaan Australia Day 26 Januari, Pemerintah Kota Melbourne berencana memperingati kematian dua warga Aborigin yang pertama kali dihukum gantung di negara bagian Victoria.

Gambar rekaan dua warga Aborigin, Tunnerminnerwait dan Maulboyheenner.

Pada tahun 1842, dua warga Aborigin asal Tasmania, bernama Tunnerminnerwait dan Maulboyheenner, dituduh melakukan pembunuhan. Keduanya dibawa ke Melbourne bersama 14 warga Aborigin lainnya, namun mereka kemudian dituduh melakukan pemberontakan melawan pendatang kulit putih.

Sebuah lukisan di Perpustakaan State Library menggambarkan kedua warga asli Australia tersebut digiring dengan kereta kuda, di bawah pengawalan pasukan bersenjata saat sedang menuju tempat hukuman gantung akan dilaksanakan pada 20 Januari 1842.

Dalam peringatan hukuman gantung tersebut Senin (20/1/2014), pemerintah Kota Melbourne menyatakan mendukung didirikannya monumen di tempat hukuman gantung tersebut, tepatnya di pojokan Jalan Bowen dan Jalan Franklin di tengah kota Melbourne.

Kedua warga Aborigin dipercaya dikuburkan di lokasi yang kini menjadi Queen Victoria Market.

Menurut Claire Land dari Monash University, tuduhan pembunuhan yang dilakukan kedua orang ini harus dilihat dalam konteks perlawanan penduduk Aborigin terhadap para pendatang kulit putih.

Dr Joseph Toscano dari panitia peringatan kematian kedua warga tersebut menyatakan, pihaknya ingin menunjukkan bahwa Australia memiliki sejarah kelam di masa lalu.

“Kedua orang ini adalah korban karena mereka terlibat dalam perang melawan pendatang kulit putih yang merampas tanah mereka, cara hidup mereka, bahasa dan budaya mereka,” tegas Dr Toscano.

Bulan lalu, Pemerintah Kota Melbourne menyetujui dibangunnya tugu peringatan bagi kedua warga yang hingga kini dipandang sebagai pahlawan kaum Aborigin tersebut.

Usulan yang dipertimbangkan di antaranya berupa patung dan tur menapaktilasi hukuman gantung tersebut.RADIO AUSTRALIA.


8) Bonnes nouvelles de la Banque mondiale pour la région du Pacifique

Posté à 20 January 2014, 8:17 AEST
Pierre Riant

Selon le dernier rapport sur les Perspectives économiques mondiales, et 5 après la crise financière globale, l’économie mondiale commence à afficher sa capacité de rebondir cette année.

Ce rapport publié tous les 6 mois se concentre sur l’impact de l’économie internationale sur les pays en développement.

Robert Utz, de la Banque mondiale, s’occupe du Pacifique.

UTZ : « En général, c’est un message positif pour les nations du Pacifique car nombre de ces nations ont souffert de la crise économique mondiale. Et maintenant que la situation devient un peu plus normale dans le monde développé, c’est prometteur pour les pays du Pacifique. »

Les programmes d’aide ont pas mal souffert de cette crise économique mondiale, est-ce que l’on peut envisager un changement dans ce domaine ?

UTZ : « Nous espérons certainement qu’au fur et à mesure que l’économie reprend, l’aide va également se rétablir. Et nous l’avons déjà observé avec le réapprovisionnement de l’IDA : l’Association internationale de développement qui est le guichet de la Banque mondiale destiné aux pays pauvres. Un réapprovisionnement record en fait.

Nous avons donc déjà le signe que les pays développés deviennent un peu plus généreux et quand nous regardons dans le Pacifique, nous n’avons pas vraiment vu une chute importante de l’aide. Il faut dire que la plupart de ces pays sont petits et qu’ils reçoivent une petite part de l’aide globale mais que cette aide est en général déterminée par les relations spécifiques qu’ils ont avec les principaux donateurs de la région. »

Exactement, et le plus grand donateur de la région c’est l’Australie et le gouvernement australien envisage de réduire l’aide australienne de 4 milliards de dollars au cours de ces 4 prochaines années et a annoncé une réduction de 650 millions de dollars le week-end dernier.

D’autres pays comme la Corée du sud a augmenté son aide de 18% depuis 2010. Est-ce que les Sud-Coréens pourraient devenir une nouvelle source d’aide pour le Pacifique ?

UTZ : « Et bien la Corée du Sud est un pays de la région et je pense qu’ils vont essayer de s’engager avec des nations océaniennes du Pacifique. C’est comme ça que ça marche ; on commence par regarder vers les pays qui sont à proximité. Et globalement, c’est ce que nous avons observé et pas simplement avec la Corée du sud, plusieurs économies émergentes sont en train de devenir de donateurs émergents. »RADIO AUSTRALIA

9) Australie : réduction de l’aide à l’étranger

Posté à 20 January 2014, 8:22 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le gouvernement fédéral a annoncé une diminution de 650 millions de dollars de sa contribution à des initiatives globales dans le domaine du changement climatique, de l’éducation et de la santé dans les pays en développement.

Cette coupe signifie une baisse près d’un quart de milliard de dollars pour la région Asie – Pacifique et de 61 millions de dollars pour le Pacifique. Seule la République de Nauru, qui abrite un centre de détention de demandeurs d’asile du gouvernement australien, a été épargnée.

c’est un total de 4,5 milliards de dollars qui sera amputé au cours de ces 4 prochaines années.

Julie Bishop, la ministre des Affaires étrangères, estime qu’avec un déficit public de 47 milliards de dollars, l’Australie se doit de réduire son aide à l’étranger et que le pays reste quand même, au prorata de sa population, l’un des plus généreux donateurs du monde.

Des mesures de réduction ‘sans cœur’, pour Penny Wong, dirigeante de l’opposition au sénat. RADIO AUSTRALIA

10) Le Fer de lance dans les colonnes du Jakarta Post

Posté à 20 January 2014, 8:30 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le quotidien indonésien fait référence à la visite, la semaine dernière en Indonésie, d’une délégation du Groupe mélanésien Fer de lance (GMFL) pour évaluer la situation en Papouasie indonésienne. Une visite boycottée par le Vanuatu.

Et le Jakarta Post de titrer : « Les nations membre du Groupe mélanésien Fer de lance (GMFL) qui ont souvent élevé la voix sur des allégations de violations des droits de l’Homme en Papouasie ont indiqué mercredi dernier qu’elles respectaient pleinement la souveraineté indonésienne. »

Cette initiative, poursuit le quotidien, augmente les spéculations selon lesquelles le GMFL s’opposera à la requête de la Coalition nationale pour la libération de la Papouasie occidentale qui désire devenir membre du fer de lance.

Sans l’aval du Vanuatu en tous les cas, puisque le ministre des Affaires étrangeres, Edward Natapei, a tout récemment réitérer son soutien à Coalition nationale pour la libération de la Papouasie occidentale.RADIO AUSTRALIA


11) UN staff among 21 dead in Kabul attack

Monday, January 20, 2014

KABUL – Survivors of the devastating Taliban suicide attack on a restaurant in Kabul have told of the carnage and bloodshed as details emerge of the 21 people, including 13 foreigners, who died in the assault.

Desperate customers hid under tables when one attacker detonated his suicide vest at the fortified entrance to the Taverna du Liban and two other militants stormed inside and opened fire.

Among the dead were three Americans, two British citizens, two Canadians, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) head of mission, and the restaurant’s Lebanese owner, who was killed as he tried to fire back at the attackers.

A female Danish member of the European police mission in Afghanistan and a Russian UN political officer also died in the Friday evening massacre, which was the deadliest attack on foreign civilians since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

12)Anti-discrimination law to improve life

Monday, January 20, 2014

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Rickshaw-pullers in Dhaka will take their passengers inside almost any residential colony. But one loyal customer was surprised when a puller refused to enter Ganaktuli City Colony, a dilapidated area housing more than 3000 members of the Dalit population. The Dalits were once known as “the untouchables” in many parts of South Asia.

This sort of ongoing discrimination has taken a toll on more than 6.5 million Dalits in Bangladesh. Due to their profession and identity, the Dalits — the term comes from the word dalita or “oppressed” — are still not allowed to rent houses outside their communities.

Although younger generations of Dalits are increasingly educating themselves, many say they are not able to get jobs consummate to their training, because of discrimination.

But a draft anti-discrimination law, which could be approved by June, has the potential to improve life for members of the marginalised community, human rights activists have said.

13) Food security, rural environment top China’s policy agenda in 2014

Posted 20 January 2014, 3:37 AEST

China’s top policy priorities for 2014 will be improving the rural environment and maintaining food security, according to a a key policy document published by the official Xinhua news agency.

The “number one document”, issued every January by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, sets the country’s policy priorities for the year, and has focused on rural matters every year since 2003.

This year’s document also focused on the development of “modern agriculture” and laid out improvements to the way the countryside is governed.

However, hopes that Beijing would explicitly relax a longstanding 95-percent food self-sufficiency target and open the floodgates for more imports appear to have been dashed.

The document said China would continue to pursue “basic grain self-sufficiency” while increasing the use of overseas markets and allowing an “appropriate” amount of imports.

But it stressed it “would not relax domestic food production at any time”.

Beijing has been preoccupied with cleaning up urban pollution following a spate of severe smog problems, but has also acknowledged that industrial contamination of water and soil has caused severe environmental problems in the countryside.

Rural pollution

The fight against rural pollution is also part of China’s efforts to ensure it has enough farmland, water and rural labour to feed a growing urban population without having to turn to overseas markets.

Xinhua, citing the policy document, said China would seek to resolve environmental constraints such as water shortages.

It would also work over the rest of the year to strengthen food security, set up mechanisms to ensure sustainable rural development and deepen reforms to allow the transfer of land.

More than 3 million hectares of farmland is now too polluted to grow crops, China said at the end of last year.

Rejuvenating contaminated land will help China ensure that at least 120 million hectares of land is reserved for farming, a policy known as the “red line”.

China’s rapid urbanisation has cut surplus farm labour and boosted incomes, but the government worries a dwindling rural workforce will be incapable of producing enough food to meet growing demand.

So it has sought ways to spur farmers to stay on their land by providing subsidies and investing in rural infrastructure.

China has to work to improve conditions in the countryside in order to stop an exodus of rural workers into the cities, Agriculture Minister Han Changfu told Xinhua last year.

“Chinese farmers want to move to the cities, but it is not possible for them all to do so, and it is even less possible for them all to move into the big cities,” he said.

“So we must plan urbanisation and rural construction accordingly and build homes that allow rural people to live a happy life.”



14) Medical treatment protocol

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, January 20, 2014

THE government has developed protocols for patients and their relatives applying for financial assistance for overseas medical treatment.

It has been done through the Health Ministry.

Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said in an Information Ministry statement that after a diagnosis of a patient by the local specialist, patients were referred to the Medical Board for consideration of overseas treatment via a formal report.

The statement said the Medical Board and the Health Ministry would determine the level of financial support for the patient and relatives to determine whether they are in a position for partial payment or full payment.

Following a comprehensive assessment, the Health Ministry provides medical expenses for travels abroad while the relative of a patient has to make arrangements for air travel, accommodation and miscellaneous expenses.

In cases of kidney transplants, the ministry provides air travel costs while the relative or donor arranges funds for the transplant.

“However, patients and relatives need to be aware that a vast range of surgeries are undertaken in Fiji now,” said Dr Sharma.

The surgeries, which include rheumatic heart disease treatment, are done by visiting teams from Australia and New Zealand.

Doctors from Sahyadri Hospitals in India perform open heart surgery, orthopaedic and neuro surgeries.

“The need for overseas referrals has now reduced drastically in 2013 with a few cases being referred to New Zealand and India,” said Dr Sharma.FIJITIMES

15) Career in nursing

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, January 20, 2014

THOSE interested in pursuing a career in health care can now opt for the one-year enrolled nursing program with the Fiji National University’s Medicine, Nursing and Health Service College.

An Information Ministry statement said the program would offer basic patient care training and those graduating would be able to provide a level of nursing care in communities, health centres, hospitals and private medical practices.

“The Health Ministry is hoping to commence with this program in 2014 which will start off as a trial project with 35 candidates.

“Possible venue options are currently being negotiated,” the statement said.

“Those enrolling in this program will undergo six months of theory work and six months of clinical hospital-based training.

“This new program will now allow young people a career choice and will also be a platform for a career opportunity in the region,” said the statement.FIJITIMES

16) Rise in flu-like illnesses noted in CNMI

Updated at 7:30 am today 20/1/14

The Public Health Division of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has warned citizens to immediately vaccinate themselves against influenza after a spike in patients reporting flu-like symptoms.

The Healthcare Corporation says there has been an increase in the number patients complaining of influenza or flu-like illnesses and says the flu season may continue for weeks.

The public health division says the flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect people from contracting flu and its potentially serious complications.

The Healthcare Corporation says it has enough stock of vaccines to administer to community members.RADIO NEW ZEALAND.

17) Lack of water supplies in Ha’apai causing health problems for residents

By Online Editor
3:33 pm GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Tonga

The lack of water supplies is causing health issues for people in Tonga, a week after Tropical Cyclone Ian devastated the country’s northern islands.

Despite water supplies being flown in by aid agencies, water has become a “valuable commodity” according to local reporter Monalisa Palu who has visited Ha’apai at least twice since the disaster struck.

Palu told Radio Australia Pacific Beat health authorities are reporting increasing rates of diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases.

“They are seeing new cases of people coming in with diarrhoea, ringworms,” she said.

“A lot of the food that were stored… with the power being off, those were destroyed but families who are desperate are starting to cook it.

“And people are coming in with stomach pains and the likes to the hospital.”

Residents have been left without much water after tanks were destroyed by the cyclone.

It is estimated that 10,000 litres of water is urgently needed to improve sanitation in the affected areas or else conditions are expected to worsen over the next week.

The people of Ha’apai are also struggling to rebuild their homes which were blown away by the storm.

Many people continue to live in makeshift tents as the pace of rebuilding is slow.

“When we were flying over Ha’apai, we could see spots of blue and white, being the tents that were given out to the worst hit areas,” Palu said.

“There is a very small amount of rebuilding… as in using whatever was left lying around so you’re seeing shanty-like shelters appearing.”.



18) CPA approves uni programs

Geraldine Panapasa
Monday, January 20, 2014

CERTIFIED Practising Accountants (CPA) Australia has approved the accreditation of accounting programs offered by the Fiji National University.

In a statement, Fiji National University college of business, hospitality and tourism studies dean Doctor Mahendra Reddy said FNU had submitted its accounting programs to CPA Australia for its examination and decision on accreditation following accreditation of its accounting programs by the Fiji Institute of Accountants.

“The CPA Australia had informed FNU that all its accounting programs, namely Bachelor of Commerce in accounting, Bachelor of Accounting, postgraduate diploma in forensic accounting, postgraduate diploma in accounting, Master of Commerce in forensic accounting and Master of Commerce in accounting, were formally accredited by CPA Australia,” said Dr Reddy.

“This accreditation further reinforces FNU’s claim that its programs are of the highest quality and internationally recognised.”

He said graduates could walk into the job market in any country without being harassed on where they had obtained their degree from.

“The college has established excellent ties with the industry through the Fiji Institute of Accountants and we look forward to further strengthening these to benefit both the parties,” he said.

Dr Reddy said the college had appointed two professors and four assistant professors to boost its teaching staff and would continue to undertake activities that would uphold the integrity of their programs.FIJITIMES

19) Learning chance for youths

Mere Naleba
Monday, January 20, 2014

YOUTHS in the country can soon be learning entrepreneurship after a Jakarta-based company showed interest in educating youths on entrepreneurship programs to begin this year.

The Ciputra Group of Companies, which owns various businesses in Jakarta in Indonesia, is working in consultation with the Prime Minister’s office and the ministries of Labour and Social Welfare to include an entrepreneurship program this year.

Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola last week met with the founder of the Ciputra Group of Companies, which owns a number of properties, hotels, four universities which caters for 10 schools and several incubation centres on entrepreneurship.

Ratu Inoke said in an Information Ministry statement that the meeting was an excellent opportunity to meet Mr Ciputra and discuss developments in Fiji.

He said the meeting also laid the platform to further existing relations between the two parties.

He thanked Mr Ciputra on behalf of the people of Fiji for their support and assistance provided by his company.FIJITIMES

20) Research to protect turtle population

Luke Rawalai
Monday, January 20, 2014

A MAJOR research to gather baseline data that will provide statistical evidence and strengthen advocacy for the protection of turtles is being carried out on Yadua Island.

World Wide Fund for Nature communications officer Theresa Ralogaivau said the project targeted the Great Sea Reef in Vanua Levu, an area of global biological significance.

Ms Ralogaivau said the research, funded by WWF South Pacific’s Marine Species Program, targeted nesting sites on Yaqaga, Yadua and Galoa island in Bua province and Kia, Mali and Kavewa islands in Macuata.

“In undertaking this research expedition, WWF South Pacific has partnered with both the Fiji National University and University of the South Pacific,” she said

“Marine science students from both universities form the research teams that are now located at the various nesting sites, three researchers at each site, guided and assisted by turtle monitors or Dau Ni Vonu to gather data.”

WWF’s marine species co-ordinator Laitia Tamata emphasised these baseline data would provide statistical evidence and strengthen advocacy for turtle protection.

“Lessons in turtle conservation backed up with statistical evidence will be shared with the Fiji Sea Turtle Steering Committee to inform the formulation of policies and laws for turtle protection and similarly assist Pacific Island countries pursue sea turtle protection,” he said.

“The type of data being collected include those relating to nesting beach surveys and catch per unit effort.

“Nesting beach surveys involve gathering information like the name of the beach.”FIJITIMES.

21) American Samoa education director begins Samoan recruitment drive

Updated at 4:17 pm today 20/1/14

American Samoa’s Director of Education, Vaitinasa Dr Salu Hunkin, is in Samoa this week to start a search for highly qualified teachers to work in the US territory.

30 teachers are urgently needed to begin in September, but according to Mrs Hunkin’s deputy, that number can be increased to 60.

The deputy director, Faauifono Vaitautolu, says the recruitment process was stopped in 2004 when American Samoa hired qualified teachers from India and the United States, but was restarted this year.

Samoa is also facing a shortage of teachers in both government and mission schools, but the American Samoan team is still holding high hopes that its need will be met by interested teachers in Samoa.Radio New Zealand.

22) Marianas College Students Not Finishing Degrees On Time
8% of 2-year degrees, no 4-year degrees finished on schedule

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 20, 2014) – Officials of the Northern Marianas College disclosed Friday that too few of its students graduate on time. Only 8 percent of students taking up an associate degree finish within two years while none of its students complete the four-year degree on time.

This was based on the latest data presented to the board Friday.

NMC has only one four-year degree program, the School of Education. Most of its courses are for associate degree, or two-year programs.

At the national level, 12 percent of students pursuing two-year degrees graduate on time; 22 percent complete the two-year degree in three years; while 28 percent complete the degree in four years.

According to Barbara Merfalen, NMC dean of Academic Programs and Services, only 8 percent of students under two-year degree programs complete the course within two years; 18 percent of students graduate in three years; 21 percent complete the degree in four years; 22 percent graduate in five years; and 23 percent graduate after six years.

For NMC’s only four-year degree program, no student has completed the degree within four years. At the national level, 31 percent of students finish their four-year degrees within four years; 56 percent complete the degree in six years; and 59 percent after eight years.

Merfalen, along with her team, reported Friday that 20 percent of NMC students taking a four-year degree graduate after six years, and 24 percent complete it in eight years.

Merfalen said that NMC is actually in the “neighborhood” compared with the national data on the two-year degree record. But she described the four-year degree numbers as “a glaring concern” that must be addressed if NMC wants to continue to receive federal financial assistance for its students.

According to NMC president Dr. Sharon Y. Hart, the college must improve its “completion and retention” rates because that data would be used for how federal dollars will be allocated for individual institutions.

“What we see down the road is that the college would ultimately be ranked and depending on the institution’s data on these areas (completion and retention), they will decide the federal funding allocation. Once that happen, we want to make sure that CNMI students are able to receive the increase in those federal aids,” Hart said Friday.

Merfalen admitted that NMC’s completion rates are dismal at this time but the record would be an important baseline for the college to plan initiatives and programs that would boost completion data.

“I am excited about this, I am for it. Our number may be dismal now, but this could be a baseline for us … and we will move from there,” said Merfalen.

Clear factors

According to NMC officials, several factors affect course and college completion rates. One is placement at the remedial level. It was disclosed that 90 percent of incoming students place in the remedial level in Math and English courses.

Other factors are the lack of regular class attendance, work and personal related absences, challenging program requirements, limited and inconsistent academic advising, poor financial planning, the transition from high school to college, and the social and cultural realities of life in the community.

Merfalen said they will have a series of meetings to discuss the data and institutional actions that may be initiated.

Saipan Tribune:


23) Bougainville leaders fly in for reconcilliation

By Online Editor
09:32 am GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

A major reconciliation is being planned between the Autonomous Bougainville Government leaders and the national Government this week in Port Moresby.

ABG President John Momis and his ministers, including administrative leaders, will be in Port Moresby today for two very important ceremonies.

According to the organisers and the leaders responsible for the program,Momis and his team will travel to Port Moresby to witness the reconciliation ceremony between two Bougainvillean MPs and Ministers – Bougainville Affairs Minister Steven Kamma and Communications Minister Jimmy Mirngtoro.

The other major event will be a reconciliation ceremony between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the ABG leaders, which will take place in Port Moresby, facilitated by the Office of the National Coordination of Bougainville Affairs (NACOBA) and the ABG leadership.

The organisers told the Post-Courier that these gestures have to be carried out and will be witnessed before Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his entourage of ministers and leaders take their trip to Bougainville next week.

The ceremony kicks off on Wednesday at the NACOBA office.

The Prime Minister is expected to travel to Buka on January 27 and will visit Arawa, Panguna and South Bougainville during the two day visit.


24) PNG Opposition leader arrest fails

By Online Editor
09:32 am GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

Police attempts to arrest Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Belden Namah at his Port Moresby residence Sunday failed after security guards and members of the civil community blocked the entrance.

There was a near confrontation by a group of about eight policemen travelling in unmarked vehicles, specifically red, blue and white Toyota Land Cruisers, with Namah’s security guards and the activists who arrived at his residence as early as 7am yesterday.

They learnt of Namah’s impending arrest from the social media and on the streets of Port Moresby and took to his Gordon residence to give him support.

Namah’s security personnel flocked to be with him and provide that security from 11am yesterday. For about two hours, police vehicles, PNG Defence Force soldiers and private security firms patrolled the street where Namah lives.  The arrest did not take place, with people blocking the entrance making it difficult for the arrest to be effected.

Many assumed that Namah was going to be arrested by the police mobile squad contingent that flew in from Mt Hagen last week but that also was not the case.

Meanwhile, the National Court in PNG has temporarily restrained police from arresting Opposition Leader Belden Namah.

This follows an order by the Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga over the weekend to have Namah arrested for allegedly issuing a threat.

A huge crowd of supporters had barricaded the entrance to Namah’s residence at Gordon Five, chanting that the Opposition Leader had not committed an offence and that as a leader he had a right to speak out on matters of public importance, including the question of non performance of public duties by persons holding constitutional offices.

Police had to withdraw. A police spokesperson said because of the crowd they had to withdraw but they would still effect the arrest anytime from now. After the incident, Namah’s lawyer , Alois Jerewai, went to the National Court and successfully obtained a temporary stay on his client’s arrest until the matter returns to court this morning.

The ex parte application was heard in-camera, preventing the public and reporters from witnessing the hearing.

After the court proceedings Jerewai in a brief statement to reporters said:  “We have obtained temporary orders restraining the Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga or his subordinates from arresting my client until the matter returns tomorrow at 9.30am (today).’’

25) Reserve Seats For Women In Vanuatu Applauded
No women wins outright in municipal elections, 5 get seats

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 18, 2014) – The Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Vanuatu government, Letty Kaltonga has applauded the present government’s initiative to create reserved seats for women.

While congratulating the 43 women who took up the challenge of contesting seats in the recent Port Vila municipal elections, Kaltonga pointed out that in approving the bill for reserved seats for women, the government had shown that it recognises the significance of women in our society and has therefore provided women with the opportunity to represent the electorate, especially in the Port Vila municipal council.

She said this is a way forward for Vanuatu women to become political leaders, especially in a society where men always dominate in decision-making roles. “Given this amendment to the municipal act, women and men leaders can work together and make balanced decisions which will be beneficial to the citizens of Port Vila”.

Out of the 43 women contestants, not one of them managed to secure one of the general seats, but thanks to the government and its reserved seats amendment, five women have been given the chance to be the voice of Port Vila women in the new council.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

26) Funds Lacking For Solomon Islands Voter Registration
Delay expected in registration period for 2014 national elections

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 20, 2014) – Lack of government funding has put this year’s national elections at stake.

The Electoral Commission on Friday warned its planned voter registration field work, scheduled to start January 27, may now not possible due to lack of funding.

“It is very important the Commission has an assurance from the Government that sufficient funding will be committed for the entire operation,” chairman of the Electoral Commissioner Sir Allan Kemakeza said on Friday.

“We do not want to be in a position where we are forced to stop mid-way through the process because this will cause widespread confusion for the public,” he added.

“It will result in an increase in overall costs; and it will cause us significant operational difficulties.”

Acting Chief Electoral Officer Alphonsus Pero said they are working with the Ministry of Finance to try to secure the necessary funding so they can get the process underway.

“Discussions have been positive and with the support of the Ministry of Home Affairs I am pleased that we may shortly be able to commence the Biometric Voter Registration process,” Pero said.

“It is expected that the new start date for the 40 day period for voter registration in all voter registration centres around the Solomon Islands will now be in March.

“The public and other stakeholders will be kept fully informed about this period once the funding issues have been resolved and a new commencement date has been determined,” Pero added.

Solomon Star

27) Solomon islands parliament to dissolve in September

By Online Editor
09:36 am GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Solomon Islands

The Clerk of parliament in the Solomon Islands has announced the national parliament will dissolve on 08 September.

Taeasi Sanga says this will pave the way for the 2014 general elections to be held within the four months after the dissolution of parliament.

Sanga says the dissolution falls in line with the first sitting of the current parliament on September the 8th, 2010.

She says it is the governor general’s prerogative to proclaim the date of the parliamentary elections.

The current parliament is expected to hold one or two more meetings before it is dissolved.


28) Electronic Registration Systems Wows Fiji Voters
Database containing photos, names popular with village people

By Mere Naleba

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 20, 2014) – Officials from the Elections Office are registering voters in the Lau Group.

At the same time, they are showing registered voters the database that contains their registration details.

In an Information Ministry statement, the village headman of Lomati in Cicia, Jeke Bese, said people were happy to see their names and photos in the National Register of Voters.

“Voters were eager to find their names and photos in the National Voter Register. It’s the first time for this to happen and that is why the register is very popular with the village people,” he said.

Mabula Village headman Torani Koroi said in the statement that villagers were making good use of the opportunity given by the Elections Office.

“Some who haven’t been registered were registered. There were some who made corrections to their names,” he said.

“I must say the availability of the facilities in the Elections Office to people in the village is very educational and we really appreciate this.”

Elections Office official Vika Taka said the response by villagers had been overwhelming.

“We are really happy about their interest in making sure they are registered for the 2014 National Election,” she said in the Information Ministry statement.

Apart from the continuing local registration, the Elections Office is also expected to register Fijians living overseas for the election, which is scheduled to be held before the end of September.

Four parties have registered to contest the polls and Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is expected to name his political party soon.

Commodore Bainimarama has also stated he will step down as the military commander before announcing his party.

With the naming of the Electoral Commission two weeks ago, political parties are now waiting for the electoral legislation to be released and the appointment of the Supervisor of Elections.

Fiji Times Online:

29) Fiji Defense Minister Unveils Security Plan For 2014
Internal stability, security vital for successful elections: Cokanasiga

By Mere Naleba

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 20, 2014) – The maintenance of internal stability and security is an integral requirement for the successful conduct of national elections and transition into parliamentary democracy, says the Defence Minister Joketani Cokanasiga.

He made the comments while launching the Defence, National Security and Immigration Ministry’s Annual Corporate Plan 2014 on Friday.

“This year, 2014, will be a historical year for our nation, as we will for the first time ever, hold truly free, fair and representative elections,” he said.

“However, in order for the successful conduct of national elections and transition into parliamentary democracy, the maintenance of internal stability and security is an integral requirement.

“The ministry, through the four divisions based in HQ, in concert with the Department of Immigration, Fiji Police Force and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), will strive to ensure that this internal stability and security is maintained and enhanced in the interest of our continued democratic development and sustainable socio-economic growth.”

Mr Cokanasiga said the ministry was also striving to complete all capital projects this year.

The National War Memorial and the construction of a detention centre in Nadi for the Immigration Department are capital projects the ministry has earmarked for completion this year.

“We will also be conducting monthly in-house monitoring of these capital projects to ensure we achieve their implementation as agreed with the PM’s and the Strategic Planning Office by the month of July, 2014,” said Mr Cokanasiga.

“Needless to say, the implementation of a new and revitalised national security apparatus is of utmost importance to the work of this ministry.

“It will be critical in our co-ordination and management of security issues, how we handle risks and threats whether faced at district, divisional or at national level.”

Fiji Times Online:

30) Fiji expert says Commodore Bainimarama has continued military support in election tilt

By Online Editor
3:41 pm GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Fiji

An expert on the Pacific says Fiji’s military leader and Prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama will continue to enjoy the support of the military, even after stepping down.

Commodore Bainimarama announced Monday his resignation at the Commander’s first parade at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks.

Commodore Bainimarama confirmed he will resign as Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces on 28 February and he will hand over to the new Commander on 01 March.

He said the duty of the military must remain firm when the head of the military changes.

Commodore Bainimarama challenged more than 300 senior officers and soldiers present at the parade that this year is a challenging year for Fiji and the military.

He said soldiers must work together and support each other as the people of Fiji will rely on the military for public safety.

Meanwhile Professor Brij Lal from the Australian National University has told Radio Australia that Commodore Bainimarama will continue to enjoy support from military officials.

“Many senior military officers have come out openly saying they prefer Bainimarama to lead the country, by implication saying that any other government might not enjoy their support,” he said.

He says Commodore Bainimarama has taken good care of the military.

“The budget of the military has increased substantially over the last 7 or 8 years and he has always said that he will stand by his men,” he said.

“There is a sense that he has forged a very tight knit unit, he has given his young soldiers a sense of purpose and a sense of identity, all their livelihood to him.”

Bainimarama has served in the Fijian navy for almost three decades, has been head of Fiji’s military forces since 1999, and led the country’s fourth coup in late 2006.

The military moved against the government of Laisenia Qarase in December of that year, and the commodore was appointed as prime minister in 2007.

The first elections since the 2006 coup are expected by September 2014.

Under Fiji laws governing political parties, members of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces are not permitted to be members of political parties and must not engage in political activity.

The head of one of Fiji’s most prominent civil society groups, Akuila Yabaki of the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, has welcomed the news that the military leader is to stand down in March.

“It’s good news that at last he’s confirmed it,” he said.

“A couple of issues come up – one is who is going to replace him and how that’s going to be played out, whether he has a say in it.

“And perhaps what is most important is for him to step down as prime minister so we can ensure free and fair elections.”

Commodore Bainimarama will recommend a replacement military leader to the president ahead of the election.

Last September, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon called on Fiji to make sure elections promised this year are transparent and democratic.

And in November, the final statement from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting pledged solidarity with the people of Fiji and their expectation that Fiji will be reinstated as a full member of the Commonwealth family.

But they said this could only happen through the ‘restoration of constitutional civilian democracy, the rule of law and human rights’.

31) Fiji’s Military Commander to announce political party on 01 March

By Online Editor
09:41 am GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama will announce his new political party on 01 March.

Before that, on 28 February, Commodore Bainimarama will hand over the reins of Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander to his successor.

He said he chose 01 March to announce his party and election plan because that was the date he became Commander of Republic of Fiji Military Forces in 1999.

He would not release details about his successor but he said he would meet the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, to discuss the matter before the new Commander was named.

Under the Constitution, the Commander is appointed by the President, on the advice of the Constitutional Offices Commission, following consultation with the minister responsible for the RFMF. Commodore Bainimarama is the minister.

Meanwhile, Commodore Bainimarama has assured the people in Fiji that his party will deliver.

“We cared, we acted and delivered,” the Prime Minister said.

“The political party I will form to contest the general elections will, of course, be standing on the record of delivering basic services in which it will create a fairer and more equal society with justice and opportunity for all.

“The new Constitution gives more rights than ever before. The present government is addressing years of neglect when it comes to providing people with basic services and in eight months time the nation will have the first genuinely democratic elections in Fiji.”

Commodore Bainimarama said during the forthcoming campaign, he would lay out his vision for Fiji after the election.

That will be in the new and genuine democracy that the Government created in which everyone will play a part.

“The vision is to build on the progress that the government has made and the stability that has been created to attract new investment in Fiji and provide new and sustainable jobs for the young people,” he said.

“These young people will be prepared for life in a way that few young people in Fiji have ever been prepared before.

“With free education initiative, more young people will gain basic skills and knowledge in primary and secondary schools and the ability to go on to higher education.


32) Fiji: No security fears as Bainimarama confirms resignation date

Updated at 4:17 pm today 20/1/14

The Fiji prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has confirmed when he’ll stand down as head of the military and says it won’t affect security.

Commodore Bainimarama told Auckland-based Radio Tarana that he will resign on February the 28th , and hand over to a new commander on March the 1st, exactly 15 years after he was appointed.

He believes the move will bring about some stability from opposition quarters who don’t want him holding the position.

He says while the command will change, the military’s values won’t.

Commodore Bainimarama says he’ll be concentrating on the governance of the country and forming a political party to contest elections promised for later this year.

In December 2006, his coup ousted Laisenia Qarase as prime minister.Radio New Zealand.

33) Fiji being tight-lipped on possible military replacement: Academic

Updated at 7:30 am today 20/1/14

An academic says the announcement that Fiji’s Prime Minister will stand down as the head of the military in March is a significant step towards promised elections this year.

Dr Steven Ratuva, from the University of Auckland, says Frank Bainimarama’s successor is likely to be announced as he steps down, and the regime is being tight-lipped on who that could be, although it is suspected they have someone in mind.

He says that the ultimate decision lies with the President on the advice of the Consititutional Offices Commission – which seems to be made up entirely of the Prime Minister.

“That’s the dilema, while it talks about the leader of the opposition at the moment, there’s no leader of the opposition. So really, the Prime Minister still has a really powerful voice in the process. So until we have a parliament, a democratic system in place, then the whole constitutional provision to do with the commission becomes unviable. At the moment, it’s going to be simply half impemented as it were.”

Dr Steven Ratuva from the University of Auckland.Radio New Zealand.

34) Nauru Sacks, Deports Australian Chief Justice, Only Magistrate
‘Politically motivated’ dismissals called ‘abuse of the rule of law’

By Melissa Clarke

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 20, 2014) – Nauru’s justice system has been thrown into chaos after its chief justice and only magistrate – both Australian citizens – were barred from the country.

On Sunday morning, Nauru’s president Baron Waqa fired resident magistrate and supreme court registrar Peter Law.

“I was found by the police… [they] came to my place and arrested me because they demanded I be on the first plane out of Nauru,” he told ABC’s AM program.

Mr Law says he was forced out of the country.

“I’d get better treatment in the Congo, you know, because I seriously was jostled and pushed by the arresting officer, it was quite unpleasant,” he said.

Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames had intervened by issuing an injunction against Mr Waqa’s deportation of Mr Law, but that was ignored.

Not only was Mr Law put on a plane back to Australia, the president then cancelled Justice Eames’ visa, preventing him from returning to Nauru to deal with the matter.

“The magistrate here was dealt with like a criminal. You’d think he was Tony Mokbel with a wig. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Justice Eames said.

Mr Law is now back in Brisbane and says Mr Waqa’s actions are clearly in contempt of court.

“To not to follow the chief judge’s orders and then to cancel his visa really throws any concept of justice out the window. It’s really outrageous,” he said.

“It was a very comprehensive injunction and it specified the various authorities, including the airlines and the police and there were copies issued to the minister of justice and I believe the president, so it’s hard to imagine why it was ignored.”

Law men say deportation is politically motivated

Both judicial figures say the move is a politically motivated attempt to change the outcome of two cases due to come before the court today.

The cases involve two residents who had been declared “prohibited immigrants” by the country’s justice minister and given a week to leave Nauru.

The residents appealed to the courts and Mr Law granted an injunction against their deportation.

Justice Eames says he has had no contact with the Nauruan government, but he believes the timing and comments from the government about the cases are revealing.

In a statement he says the actions against Mr Law are “politically motivated, designed to have the decisions overturned by a new magistrate and amounted to an abuse of the rule of law”.

Justice Eames says the actions have implications for the Australian Government.

“A government which has got such close ties with Nauru and has had for many decade – I would have thought they’d have more than a passing interest in such instability in the judicial system in the Pacific region,” he said.

Mr Law says he has been given no reason for his deportation, but the president has said it is related to allegations of misbehaviour against Mr Law by a former member of staff.

He says he had a disgruntled staff member who he suspended because he became abusive, but he denies that is the reason for his expulsion from Nauru.

“The timing of this makes it very obvious in my mind what this is all about,” he said.

Asylum seeker cases in limbo

Mr Law says dozens of court cases will now be unable to proceed.

“It’s extremely serious. Just this week we have 60 or 70 criminal matters listed, including about 30 or 40 of the asylum seeker defendants,” he said.

“Where all this is going to go, I don’t know.

“I’m in the middle of judgments, sentences, there’s civil lists, family court matters listed. So it’s just a complete debacle as far as I can see.”

Nauruan opposition MP Mathew Batsiua says the move is a great interference in the independence of the country’s judiciary.

“It’s another example of the lengths this government will go to to get its way,” he said.

“The letters that they issued to the resident magistrate didn’t spell out any reason, they just basically terminated his contract because they can.”

He says there is no plan as yet for a new magistrate or chief justice.

“That’s a question for government. How are they going to fill the void?”

“They’ve lost the plot. They’ve interfered in the media, now they’ve interfered in the judiciary.

“By disregarding the independence of the judiciary they are disregarding the constitution.”

Radio Australia:

35) East Timor demands Australia return document

By Online Editor
3:35 pm GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Australia

East Timor said it will ask an international court in the Netherlands on Monday to order Australia to return documents seized by the Australian secret service relating to a legal dispute over oil and gas revenue-sharing between the two countries.

East Timorese Minister of State Agio Pereira said in a statement that his government will ask the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague for an interim order requiring Australia to hand the documents over to the court. That order would stand pending a final decision on East Timor’s demand for their return.

Australian Security Intelligence Organization agents last month raided the homes in the Australian capital Canberra of a lawyer and a former spy who intended to testify before the same court that Australia allegedly bugged the East Timorese Cabinet ahead of sensitive oil and gas revenue-sharing negotiations.

Pereira said the agents also seized the spy’s passport, preventing him from traveling to The Hague to testify. The spy cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Pereira said the documents related to East Timor’s challenge to the validity of a bilateral treaty struck with Australia in 2006 over sharing seabed oil and gas reserves between the countries worth billions of dollars.

East Timor is arguing that the agreement is invalid because Australia had illegally bugged government offices and listened to confidential discussions relating to the negotiations.

“Timor-Leste contends that the … treaty is invalid and ineffective because Australia secretly and unlawfully spied on Timor-Leste, bugging its government offices and listening in to highly confidential discussions during the course of the negotiations on the treaty,” Pereira said, referring to East Timor by its Portuguese name.

Australian Attorney General George Brandis, who authorized the ASIO raids, could not be immediately contacted for comment on Monday.

He had previously revealed that he had told ASIO that none of the seized information was to be shared with lawyers representing Australia in The Hague.

Australia negotiated the treaty after East Timor, an impoverished half-island nation, broke away from Indonesia in a 1999 United Nations’ sanctioned independence ballot. Indonesia had previously struck a similar agreement to share the seabed.


36) American Samoa Governor Urges Fono To Amend Constitution
Lolo says changes needed to protect land tenure, advance development

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 17, 2014) – Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has urged lawmakers to use their authority cited in the territory’s constitution to make necessary amendments to the Revised Constitution of American Samoa because this process provides sufficient time to hold hearings and provide for public input.

There are two ways to approve amendments to the constitution in order to have them placed on the ballot. One is through a Constitutional Convention and the second is through the Fono, where an amendment must be approved by two-thirds of both chambers.

Many amendments to the Constitution were approved by the 2010 Constitutional Convention. However, all of the amendments were rejected in total by voters during the 2010 general election, as they had been lumped together in one question, to vote either “yes” or “no”.

At Monday’s Fono opening, the governor told lawmakers there have been efforts in past years to make necessary amendments to the constitution, but they have not been successful.

However, he says more effort should be made, because it appears to be a general consensus that the current political status no longer gives confidence and assurance that it possesses legal sufficiency, not only to guarantee the protection of local land tenure system, but “also to advance our economic and social development goals targeting the improvement of our people’s quality of lives.”

He pointed to the American Samoa Political Status Study Commission report more than eight years ago which called for exploring an alternative political relationship with the U.S. in order to “elevate our status from the perspective of expanded autonomy and authority to handle foreign policy issues directly impacting our capacity to become economically self-sufficient and self-reliant, while holding steadfast to our deep sense of patriotism and our desire to remain connected to the United States of America.”

(Samoa News should point out the report also states there was an overwhelming majority who wished to maintain the current political relationship with the U.S., but also start discussions with the federal government on what American Samoa wants in the future.)

According to the governor, the territory’s economic future is being threatened by China as it is using its economic and financial muscle to create a monopoly in the fisheries industry.

“Our local longline fishing industry is threatened because applicable federal policies create an uneven operating field, giving the Chinese fishing vessels unfair competitive advantages,” he said. “The provision of subsidies by China worsens the situation. The same scenario could someday hold true for fish canning operations.”

Lolo also said it’s imperative for local leaders to assess global economic trends, along with federal policies, and “use our insight to propose appropriate courses of action to improve our efficiency, and commit to the elimination of expenditures which generate negative impacts for the people of American Samoa.”

“In view of the volatility and uncertainty of global and federal trends, it behooves us to be vigilant in continuously reassessing the legal sufficiency of our political status, to ensure that these world changes are effectively addressed by making the required changes to our Constitution and to our political relationship with the United States,” he said.

Lolo reminded lawmakers the territory’s Constitution provides the framework which can be used to make changes to the Constitution, instead of going through another Political Study Commission and Constitutional Convention.

“The Legislature… is empowered to enact legislation to effect changes to our Constitution with subsequent placement as a referendum during the following election with the Executive Branch’s concurrence,” he noted.

The governor urged lawmakers to “take steps” to assess the recommendations contained in the Political Status Study Committee and the decisions reached in the 2010 convention “for possible enactment.”

“One of the critical issues I would like to see considered is the proposed change to the Override Veto Authority of the Legislature,” he said. (Previous efforts to change this provision of the constitution failed when it was rejected by voters.)

He said proposing changes to the constitution through the legislative process provides more time for the Fono to hear community input, comments and recommendations on every issue. He also noted Fono hearings provide sufficient time to get public input instead of holding another convention.

The governor reminded lawmakers that Afoa L.S. Lutu, who is now a senator, had previously served in the capacity of executive director for the 2010 Constitutional Convention Office and was also involved in previous conventions.

He said Afoa’s contribution to the Fono when it comes to this matter will be a great asset.


At least three times last year, Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono called on his colleagues to consider reviewing the many amendments approved in the 2010 Constitutional Convention for consideration by the Fono for inclusion in this year’s general election.

Soliai said he didn’t believe there was a need to conduct another convention, but instead for the Fono to look at issues approved during the 2010 convention to be reviewed, debated, and approved for a referendum.

The only proposed change to the constitution introduced last year, was a House measure calling to extend each Fono session from 45 to 60 days. The measure was sponsored by House Vice Speaker Tali Fa’afetai Iaulualo and remains pending in committee.

The Samoa News:

37) Samoa PM Rejects Opposition Call For Deputy To Resign
Tuilaepa: Those calling for Fonotoe to step down are like ‘Pharisees’

By Jasmine Netzler

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Dec. 19, 2014) – Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has rejected a call from the Opposition Party for his deputy, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, to step down.

He compared the people making the call to a bunch of “Pharisees,” saying they are “full of unrighteous behaviour (amio pi’opi’o).”

Referring to the Biblical story of a sinful woman whom the Pharisees wanted to have stoned to death, Tuilaepa said: “You know why that ruling (from the Bible) is wonderful?

“Because all these people who are screaming to kill the deputy Prime Minister, (and) if you go and investigate them (then) you’ll find that they are full of unrighteous behaviour.” The Prime Minister did not elaborate on what “unrighteous behaviour” he was referring to.

But the call for Fonotoe to step down was made by the leader of the Tautua Samoa Party, Palusalue Fa’apo II, last week. It follows charges filed against Fonotoe and the Associate Minister of Education, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him over an alleged incident involving Police officers last year.

For the sake of accountability, transparency and good governance, Palusalue said Fonotoe should step down the position of deputy Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa disagrees.

Speaking during a press conference held inside his office on Friday, the Prime Minister compared the Opposition party members to “Pharisees.”

“Leave it to God to make a decision,” Tuilaepa said.

Asked to explain, he said: “The first thing is that an appointment like that – according to church leaders who interpret the Bible – is a divine appointment.

“Perhaps the people who came up with these conclusions and such a recommendation (to ask the deputy P.M. to step down) want to be like God.”

Tuilaepa said the Police have filed charges against Fonotoe and Muagututagata.

“If a matter has been taken to Court, then we should be patient to await a Court ruling then we will see if it’s appropriate.”

Tuilaepa then reminded about a “court hearing” in the Bible he described as the mother of all cases.

“I’m talking about that hearing where the Pharisees told Jesus that he should make a decision to put that woman to death.

“But what did Jesus say?

“He said ‘to all of you, if you know that there is one person among you who is clean, then come and carry out your recommendation for this woman to be put to death.

“Now, do you know what happened?” Tuilaepa asked.

Answering to himself, he said: “The woman lived because they were all sinners.”

The Prime Minister said Jesus Christ’s decision was such a “beautiful ruling.”

“That’s why I’m saying, such a decision (to ask them to step down) cannot be made especially against people whom the workers of God say were divinely appointed.”

On Tuesday, Fonotoe and Muagututagata appeared before the District Court.

Fonotoe faces a charge of inciting or encouraging the obstruction of a Police officer from executing his/her duty. Muagututagata is accused of making an illegal U-turn and wilfully obstructing a Police officer from executing his/her duty. The Cabinet Ministers have both denied the charges.

Last week, Fonotoe also rejected the call for him to step down.

Said Fonotoe: “It wouldn’t warrant stepping down at this time. I believe the nature of the charges are minor compared to other serious charges, criminal charges in existence.”

Samoa Observer:

38) Samoa Electoral Office gears up for 2016 Election

By Online Editor
1:35 pm GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Samoa

The Office of the Samoa Electoral Commission has started preparations for the upcoming General Election in 2016.

As part of this, the Commission is training staff members about election laws, especially so they understand the Electoral Act 1963.

The Act provides for the election of members of the Legislative Assembly.

On Thursday and Friday, a training programme was held at the Commission’s Office at Mulinu’u for staff members of the Commission. It was provided by the Electoral Commissioner, Papali’i Malietau Malietoa and Assistant Electoral Commissioner for Legal and Policy Division, Mathew Lemisio.

The training is a development and capacity building programme, designed to broaden the knowledge of participants in relation to the Electoral Act 1963 and associated laws such as the Electoral Regulations, Electoral Amendments, The constitution of Samoa and the PSC Act.

Speaking to the Weekend Observer, Lemisio said the training was important.

“The election is not that far away,” he said. “We are doing a refresher training for the staff because it’s important for them to understand the Act.”

The training is a good opportunity to examine the effectiveness of the Act, the Assistant Electoral Commissioner said.

“You can write a good act but you can only find the issues at the time you practice it. And that is the case because this is the Office that puts this Act into practise.”

Lemisio said the goal of the Electoral Office is simple.

“Our goal is to achieve a corrupt free election in 2016,” he said. “That has been a challenge for this office for many years.”

Organisation Profile The Office of the Electoral Commissioner (O.E.C) was established as a distinct organisation in 2005 following passage of The Electoral Amendment Act 2005.

Prior to that the administration of the Electoral Act was split between the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (until 2003 called the Justice Department) and the Legislative Department.

Since the inception of what used to be called the Electoral Office set up under the Electoral Act 1963, the function of ‘Returning Service’ had always remained under the administration of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

The ‘Registration Services’ function, on the other hand, was administered by the Justice Department until 1990, when universal suffrage supplanted the Matai suffrage as a result of a Plebiscite (national referendum) conducted that year. From 1990 ‘Registration Services’ moved under the charge of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly; and in 2000 it went back to the Justice Department.

The O.E.C in its administrative role has a responsibility to the community to ensure that a qualified electors and voters are registered and aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Act. The Office of the Electoral Commissioner is funded through the Annual Budget Estimates. The responsible Minister is the Minister of Justice. The relationship between the O.E.C and the Minister of Justice is governed under the Electoral Act 1963 and the 2005 Amendment.

The Commissioner, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Office, is appointed under the terms of Section 3 of the Electoral Amendment Act 2005.



39) New office for Fiji TV

Luke Rawalai
Monday, January 20, 2014

RECOGNISING the number of developments and investments happening in the North, Fiji Television Limited opened a new office in Labasa on Saturday.

Company CEO Tevita Gonelevu said they had decided to move up North to tap into the news source within the division.

Mr Gonelevu said they would have seven staff members in their news office including a full time news reporter.

“We will also be having ad hoc reporters from Suva who will be covering the latest news happenings in the North,” he said.

“While we opened today (Saturday), we had kicked-off with a promotion where we slashed our SKY Entertainment package installation for an all time low of $50 including a three months of viewing for free.

“The first 20 customers will have their SKY discs today.”

The new office was blessed by Reverend Jone Ledua of the Naseakula Methodist Church circuit who also officially opened the new office.FIJITIMES


40) Fiji Pine Ltd. Eyes Export Possibilities To US
Joint venture with US firm expected to bring in $2 million a year

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 19, 2014) – Fiji Pine Limited is aiming to take advantage of the high global demand for pine resin by increasing quality of resin to its export markets.

And to boost its export in the US market which is expected to rake in more than $2m into our national coffers from 2015, Fiji Pine Limited has entered into a joint venture with US based company Callison Pacific Pine Chemicals.

Fiji Pine board chairman Faiz Khan said pine resin is a very highly demanding commodity and there is always a spike for this product globally which they are hoping to take advantage of.

“The venture between Fiji Pine and Callison Pacific has been successful and if all goes according to plan from this venture, Fiji Pine will receive an expected revenue of $US2 million ($F3.81m) per year from 2015 onwards.” Khan said the venture had seen the creation employment opportunities for 600 Fijians and more money for land owning units.

“Of all gross proceeds from the resin, Fiji pine returns 12 per cent to land owning units however we need a little bit time to grow just like any business and this is in addition to the ground rent over the lease and the employment opportunities.

This is a very important point of the partnership model between Fiji Pine and the landowners,” he added.

The price for Fiji’s pine resin is set at $US 100 ($F190.48) per metric tonne of net resin which excludes water and waste.


41) Management Issues Threaten Honiara Wharf Project
Japanese funder tells government to resolve issue

By Bradford Theonomi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 20, 2014) – Solomon Islands government has been cautioned by the JICA representative in Papua New Guinea to settle issues within the implementing agency for the improvement of Honiara International wharf as soon as possible.

Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) is the implementing agency for this multimillion dollar project.

Chief representative JICA Papua New Guinea Shigeru Sugiyama stressed it is important matters faced by the implementing agency is sorted quickly to pave way for the projects actual construction to proceed.

“To put the project on halt on this is not good,” said Sugiyama.

“We are urging the Solomon Islands government to clearly give instructions and sort this management problem.”

He said JICA would like to see the government of Solomon Islands taking the leading role and take ownership of the project which will see greater benefit for the country.

[PIR editor’s note: The Solomons Star reported that “The implementing agency SI Ports had gone through twist of events at the executive level seeing a clash over the post of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).” Finance Minister Rick Hou has distanced himself from the problems saying “he is aware of the standoff but had nothing to do with; it is the (Port Authority) board that made the decision.”]

“I would like to request the Ministry of Infrastructure Development as responsible body, the Solomon Islands Ports Authority as implementing agency to proactively participate in the project and play a leading role, to ensure ownership and fulfill necessary undertakings, for the smooth and safe running of the project implementation.”

Solomon Islands Finance Minister Rick Hou said the government of Solomon Islands likewise would like to clear the problem quickly.

“We are doing what we can and the problem should be resolved soon.”

He said whilst the matter is before the High Court there is little the government can do at the moment but will surely be working avenues to settle the matter as soon as possible.

Solomon Star

42) Marriott Hotel Brand Plans To Exit Guam Market
Former Nauru owned property to be called Pacific Star Resort & Spa

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan .18, 2014) – The Marriott hotel brand will exit the Guam tourism market.

The current Guam Marriott Resort & Spa will begin operating under a different name. Beginning April 1, the hotel will be known as the Pacific Star Resort & Spa, the owner of the hotel property announced yesterday.

The property once was called the Pacific Star Hotel before the Marriott brand came in and managed the property.

Marriott International and the hotel property’s owner, Marianas Properties LLC, made a joint decision to part ways, according to Marianas Properties.

“The relationship between the two organizations remains cordial,” Roy Abraham, general manager of the Guam Marriott Resort & Spa, said in a statement.

Abraham added that Marriott International would “work hard to facilitate a smooth transition of the hotel operations over to Pacific Star Resort & Spa.”

Marianas Properties asset manager Ajay Pothen thanked Marriott International for its contributions to the Guam tourism industry.

He added that the organization is excited to begin establishing the Pacific Star Resort & Spa brand.

“During discussions about the resort, many people would tell me about the glory days of the Pacific Star Hotel and how fond they were of it,” Pothen said. “I am left impressed with the ability the Pacific Star Hotel had to help create and shape lasting memories for the many visitors and residents of Guam. We hope to create that magic with the Pacific Star Resort & Spa.”

The Guam Marriott Resort & Spa employees and managers are directly responsible for providing the great level of service at the hotel, Pothen said.

Marianas Properties stated it plans to retain current management and associates when the hotel transitions to the Pacific Star brand.

The hotel property’s previous owner, UFB Guam Hotel Corp., went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization that ended with a dismissal in August 2009.

Certain creditors in the bankruptcy case agreed to dismiss default judgments, including liens, against UFB, court documents show.

Creditors stated in court papers that UFB owed them more than $6.25 million.


Before UFB’s ownership, the Republic of Nauru Guam Inc. owned the former Pacific Star Hotel until the property was sold in 2004, Pacific Daily News files show.

The Nauru government-owned company lost the 19-story property in a foreclosure after it defaulted on two loans, one for $4.7 million and another for $16.5 million, according to foreclosure notices in Pacific Daily News files.

The former Pacific Star Hotel once was among a string of prime properties the Nauru government owned across the Pacific. At one time, the Nauru government, through trusts and subsidiaries, owned $1 billion worth of real estate in Guam, Saipan, Hawaii, Honolulu, Manila and other locations, federal court documents show.

When the island nation’s rich phosphate deposits ran dry, it ultimately led to the collapse of the island nation’s wealth in the 1990s, federal court papers show.

Pacific Daily News:

43) Easing Of Visa Requirements For Chinese Visitors To Tahiti Expected
France to release new rules soon, tourism increase expected

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 20, 2014) – Details are expected to be released about an easing of the requirements for Chinese tourists to visit French Polynesia.

The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, says he has approved changes that will ensure Chinese applicants can obtain a visa within two days.

This comes after years of lobbying by politicians in French Polynesia, whose economy is struggling in the face of a drop in tourism.

The publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, says it was noted that France had eased Chinese access to La Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

“Our local people just didn’t understand why we had such special restrictions. I think it might be left over from the nuclear tests and some of the public servants haven’t realised that these tests stopped 18 years ago.”

Alex du Prel says he doesn’t expect a massive increase in Chinese visitors because of the distance and costs.

Radio New Zealand International:


44) Indonesian police say situation under control after Papua shooting

Updated at 4:17 pm today 20/1/14

After a shooting in the Indonesian province of Papua on Saturday, local police say the situation is now under control.

The Jakarta Post reports the Puncak Jaya Police chief Senior Commissioner Marselis as saying the township of Mulia is stable after the incident, which included the theft of eight assault rifles from the police allegedly by separatist rebels.

Commissioner Marselis has warned there will be punishment for the negligence of the local police.

Police say an armed civilian group, thought to be the separatists from the Free Papua Movement, shot at the Pasar Lama post, which was manned by personnel from the Puncak Jaya Military District Command, and injured two soldiers.Radio New Zealand.


45) Cost of SA’s bushfires estimated at $10 million as farmers face scorched fields, dead livestock and ruined homes

Updated 20 January 2014, 18:09 AEST

The total damage bill from South Australia’s devastating bushfires has been estimated at $10 million and that amount could rise as more losses are accounted for.

As the smoke from South Australia’s devastating bushfires begins to clear, and the CFS continues to damp down the blazes, a fuller picture of their vast financial impact has started to emerge.

Premier Jay Weatherill says early estimates have put the total damage bill from the fires at $10 million.

A dozen homes have been confirmed lost in the fires – six in the Bangor blaze in the Mid North, four at Eden Valley in the Barossa and two in the Riverland.

About 200 farms have been affected, and Mr Weatherill says farm vehicles and many kilometres of fencing have been destroyed.

About 1700 livestock perished in the fires that broke out at the end of last week.

Photo: Dead livestock scattered across a scorched field along a track at Bangor. (Matthew Doran: ABC News)

The CFS says almost two dozen sheds have been destroyed at Bangor and Eden Valley, and Mr Weatherill says 75 per cent of Wirrabara Forest’s plantation pine has been lost.

“With the losses of Bundaleer [Forest] in an earlier fire about 60 per cent of the state’s Mid North forestry assets have been destroyed by fire in recent times,” he said.

“They’re estimated to be in the order of $7 million in that particular area.”

Mr Weatherill has previously pledged short-term $700 grants to fire victims but says some may be eligible for larger relief payments.

“As the grants become larger, $5600 grants for damage, but that’s means tested. That’s for damage to buildings and belongings,” he said.

“There’ll be losses associated with farms and there is a Commonwealth recovery and relief scheme that can be accessed for these 200 properties if they meet the Federal criteria.”

Farmers begin emotional task of sifting through ruins

Some farmers in the state’s Southern Flinders Ranges say they have never seen a fire like the Bangor blaze, which raced rapidly as it fed on stubble in paddocks.

Wongyarra farmer Geoff Zanker says he was out fighting the fire near Bangor when he was told it was surrounding his house.

Audio: Geoff Zanker counts his losses, and his blessings (ABC Rural)

“No-one I have spoken to has ever seen a fire like this one,” he said.

“I understand there was no trucks here because they just couldn’t get here. It was just too quick for them.

“This was actually a fairly heavy barley stubble and I think that’s what got us in trouble. It was just too hot.”

Mr Zanker’s home was saved but many of his sheep were forced to be put down.

“We consider ourselves the lucky ones. We’ve got our house, sheds. There’s a hayshed there that didn’t ignite, fortunately,” he said.

Paul Batchelor says he was on the roof of his house when the fire changed direction.

“I was just up there when the change came through. It went really dead for a minute or three and then all of a sudden the smoke changed direction and started coming for us, and the breeze picked up,” he said.

“It came straight over the ridge and came toward us and at that moment we knew we had to go, because, well, I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

Volunteer firefighters praised for ‘extraordinary, courageous effort’

Mr Weatherill was full of praise for the thousands of local CFS volunteers and the 330 interstate firefighters who flew in to assist.

“An extraordinary effort. A courageous effort in the face of a very frightening fire,” he said.

“They’re dedication and skill meant many losses were averted. In particular, there has been no loss of life and we’ve saved many homes and buildings and protected many properties that would otherwise have been lost.”

A relief centre has been set up at Cambrai on the Murray Plains for those affected by the Eden Valley bushfire.

Russell Peate from the Mid Murray Council says landowners will receive assistance.

“We will have a relief coordinator … going around to all the landowners affected so that we will ascertain all the assistance they need, be it fencing, be it revegetation, be it agistment or be it food assistance,” he said.

46) Magnitude 6.2 earthquake jolts New Zealand’s North Island

Updated 20 January 2014, 16:19 AEST
By New Zealand correspondent Dominique Schwartz, wires

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake has rattled the lower North Island of New Zealand, reportedly causing rockfalls and and damage to buildings.

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake has rattled the lower North Island of New Zealand, reportedly causing rockfalls and and damage to buildings.

The quake struck 15 kilometres east of the small town of Ekatahuna, about 120 kilometres north-east of Wellington.

No injuries have been reported from the quake, which struck at a depth of 33 kilometres and was felt hundreds of kilometres away.

Power and phone lines were brought down in Eketahuna, and groceries fell from the supermarket shelves.

There are reports of huge boulders falling from the cliffs near Castlepoint, about 140 kilometres north-east of Wellington.

A giant eagle prop hanging from the roof of Wellington Airport to promote The Hobbit movie trilogy also fell.

The airport’s Greg Thomas told The Herald newspaper the eagle – one of two at the airport – slowly became detached during the quake and came to rest on the floor.

He said it is still partly suspended and added that no-one was injured when it came down.

New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, forming part of the so-called Ring of Fire, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.

A devastating magnitude 6.3 tremor in the South Island city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people – one of the nation’s deadliest disasters of the modern era.

Wellington was the scene of the country’s most powerful earthquake in 1855.

That magnitude 8.2 quake caused four deaths and changed the city’s entire geography, pushing the shoreline out 200 metres as it thrust the harbour floor upwards.


47) New Caledonia cleans up after Tropical Cyclone June

By Online Editor
09:29 am GMT+12, 20/01/2014, New Caledonia

New Caledonia’s north is cleaning up after the area was struck by Tropical Cyclone June on Saturday.

The system caused flooding and cut a number of roads.

The storm also felled trees and cut power some communities.

Saturday’s flight schedules were also affected, with international flights delayed and some domestic services cancelled.

The fast-moving cyclone weakened into a depression as it veered southwards and moved onto cooler waters.


48) Tens of thousands displaced in deadly Jakarta floods

Updated 20 January 2014, 3:12 AEST

More than 30,000 Indonesians have fled their homes in the capital after flooding that has left five dead.

Search and rescue teams evacuate stranded people from their flooded houses in Jakarta on January 19, 2014 (Credit: AFP)

More than 30,000 Indonesians have fled their homes in the capital after flooding that has left at least five dead.

Residents have been using rubber dinghies and wading through waist-deep water to reach safer ground.

Many parts of Jakarta were under murky, brown water after days of torrential rain produced the city’s first significant floods of the months-long rainy season.

Buildings in some parts of the sprawling capital, which has a population of more than 10 million and is regularly afflicted by floods, were half submerged, with roads unpassable in many areas.

“Yesterday the water was knee deep in my house,” Jakarta resident Yulian Candra said.

“There has also been a power cut for the past two days.”

The number of those forced to leave their homes jumped from less than 5,000 on Saturday to more than 30,000 on Sunday after heavy rain deluged Jakarta overnight.

People waded through the floods clutching their belongings.

Others used boats to make their way to evacuation centres, which are mainly housed in mosques in the Muslim-majority country, but also in government buildings and tents erected on the roadside.

The flooding was widespread across Jakarta, with the highest number of displaced in the south and west of the city and floodwaters reaching up to three metres in some places.

Five people have so far been killed in the past week due to flooding, disaster agency official Tri Budiarto said.

Those killed had either died from drowning or being electrocuted.

Perennial problem

Flooding is a perennial problem in Jakarta, the political and economic heart of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, a fast-growing, poorly planned city.

“Floods continue to inundate several areas in Jakarta,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

“So far, 30,784 people have been displaced in Jakarta.”

Nugroho said there were also flooding in districts surrounding Jakarta, and other parts of Java island.

However he said the floods were yet to reach the same level as last year, which were the worst in five years and saw downtown commercial districts inundated.

More than 50,000 people were forced out of their homes last year, he added.

However Budiarto warned that the number of evacuees may rise in the coming days as more rain was expected.

Meanwhile on northern Sulawesi island, the death toll from flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rain earlier in the week rose to 19, an official said.

About 40,000 people were still displaced.

Indonesia is regularly affected by deadly floods and landslides during its wet season.

Environmentalists blame logging and a failure to reforest denuded land for exacerbating the floods.



49) Child abuse law in American Samoa to be broadened

Updated at 11:12 am today 20/1/14

Lawmakers in American Samoa has approved legislation which further criminalises and expands the definition of child abuse.

The bill from the Lolo Administration also criminalises the act of child neglect and amends numerous sections of the current law.

The bill’s approval came on Friday after the Senate endorsed the House version of the measure which was first introduced last September in the Fono.

Some senators say they are concered the bill will conflict with the rights of a parent to discipline a child.

The Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop says the bill does not prevent a parent from disciplining a child, but some parents have abused their children by tying them up and beating them with pieces of timber, as well as denying them food and water.

She says this goes further than just disciplining children and that is what the bill seeks to stop.RADIO NEW ZEALAND.


50) British Museum puts Pacific artefacts online

Updated 20 January 2014, 12:35 AEST

The British Museum is one of the world’s great repositories of rare and valuable cutural objects and it holds thousands of items from the Pacific.

Its collection includes artifacts, old and new, from Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia, and a wealth of cultural history.

Last year, six and a half million visitors walked through the Museum’s imposing columned entrance.

PRESENTER: Jemima Garrett

SPEAKERS: Lissant Bolton, Keeper Africa Oceania and the Americas, British Museum.

Ben Burt, Oceania Curator, British Museum

Natasha MCKinney, Oceania Curator, British Museum

Sound of footsteps

GARRETT: I’ve just arrived here outside the British Museum to see the Pacific collection, outside the massive iron gates, with gold spikes on the top, so big they are three times the height of an adult. Let’s go inside and see what treasurers are in there.

Sound of footseps

GARRETT: The first space you come to as you enter the British Museum is the Great Court: a spectacular, modern, glass-covered, courtyard that is Europe’s biggest indoor square.

When the Museum was established in 1753 it was grounded in the Enlightenment idea that human cultures, despite their differences, are able to understand each other through cross-cultural engagement.

The first gallery off the Great Court, houses many of the Pacific exhibits.

When I arrive a group of visitors is gathering for a curator’s talk.

MCKINNEY: My name is Natasha McKinney. I am in the Oceania section. So the gallery here has a rather dramatic title ‘Living and Dying’. So the idea of this gallery is that it addresses themes which are common to many communities around the world, so themes of human survival and wellbeing. I am going to be focussing my talk on this case here which is all about the Maori meeting house in New Zealand.

GARRETT: Community is the central theme of the Maori display which goes under the title ‘Sustaining Each Other’.

It is not long before Ms McKinney turns to the impact of New Zealand’s colonial history.

MCKINNEY: The chief’s dwelling house, the tribal war canoe, were formerly the two most valuable possessions of any particular tribe. However in the 19th Century there was a growing need for larger structures where people could come together to meet to discuss important issues, like land. With the arrival of European settlers there was a lot of changes, obviously. The maori were being pressured to sell their land and that was then divided up in a very dramatic way. The implications of that are still going on today.

GARRETT: The Maori display includes everything from traditional war clubs, carving and weaving through to modern-day perpex works by London-based artist George Nuku.

Like many objects in the British Museum, one of the full-length feather cloaks is not just a magnificent item in its own right, but has a place in history. It was used to drape the funerary casket of New Zealand Prime Minister Richard Seddon, over a century ago.

Many of the items from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia were collected in the early days of European contact.

The Melanesian collection comes from the Indonesian province of Papua as well as from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islalnds and New Caledonia.

Lissant Bolton, is in charge of all the collections from Africa, Oceania and the Americas.

She has a particular affection for textiles from Vanuatu.

BOLTON: Vanuatu made amazing textiles, women from Vanuatu; plaited pandanus, bark cloth. And we have done a lot of work to document those skills and that knowledge and the significance, what these textiles were used for.

GARRETT: Some of these items will go on show next year when the Museum puts on an exhibition of Pacific Bark.

Lissant Bolton says Pacific textiles had many uses.

BOLTON: They were used as clothing, they were used as valuables, exchange valuables. Originally, when preople sailed across the entire Pacific, what very few people think about is the sails, but they made plaited pandanus sails. We don’t have one but we have ideas about what they were likie and information about them. They were used as bedding, clothing, furnishings. Lots of different kinds, lots of different significances. Some of them were richly sacred, dangerous, some of them were everyday.

GARRETT: Solomon Islands Curator, Ben Burt, showed me shell money displays, an intricately inlaid canoe and a large decorated fishing float carved in the shape of a bird with with a shark on top.

BURT: These floats were only used they used on special fishing nets which were alos very taboo, which were used to catch large quantities of fish when people were making a big festival to honour their anscestral ghosts. So they used it once for this festival and the net, and then after that both the net and the float were kept in the priests sanctum as you might call it. The taboo house, where women were not allowed to go and so it was a very special object.

GARRETT: One of the things that strikes you about it is that it could be a piece of modern art. It is very beautiful and it has quite a modern feel to it.

BURT: These things do appeal to us in the west. No doubt the people who made them took a lot of trouble to make them look beautiful and interesting but beyond that they represented something to do with the anscestors and that was what was most important about them.

GARRETT: Many Pacific Islanders will never get the chance to visit London but that does not mean they cannot see these treasures.

Every object in the British Museum’s collection is logged in its vast electronic database, and that database is now available online.

Ben Burt, and others, are working hard to add photographs to the records.

BURT: In the British Museum we have artifacts which have not been seen in their home countries for many year, many generations, things which in some cases people have entirely forgotten, in other cases things which they remember but don’t have any longer, many of those things they would like to see again or start making again. I see our Melanesian collection as a repository of historical and cultural and artistic information which should be available for Pacific Islanders to reconstitute their culture, if and when they are interested to do so.

GARRETT: More of the Pacific collection is going online every day but for some objects details are sparse.

The Museum is keen to get feedback from Pacific Isalnders and will update records with the new knowledge they offer.


51) Australian-Samoan boxer Alex Leapai ready for Wladimir Klitschko heavyweight title bout

Posted 20 January 2014, 8:40 AEST

Australian-Samoan boxer Alex Leapai says he welcomes the underdog status ahead of his world heavyweight title figh

Leapai says he expects to this week sign the contract for a $1 million fight against triple heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko on April 26.

Ukranian Klitschko is the longest reigning IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight Champion in history, and is seen as the clear favourite.

Despite being a towering 183cm, Leapai gives up 15 centimetres to his opponent – be he’s told Pacific Beat he’s used to being underestimated in the ring.

Audio: Alex Leapai discusses Klitschko fight (ABC News)

“To be honest, I fight pretty good when I’m the underdog – I’m pretty much always the underdog,” he said.

“Anytime you see a bigger fighter, and then you see me who is just a little fighter – a lot of people go to the big guy and they say ‘this is the guy we’re going for’.

“Then they get shocked that I knock them out in one round – so I’m pretty used to it, and it’s going to be the same story with this guy.”

Leapai sent shockwaves through the world heavyweight division when he defeated previously unbeaten WBO number one contender Denis Boytsov in Germany in November.

The unanimous points win earned him a shot at the world title.


A former truck driver who began by training between shifts, Leapai says he’s now training seven-hours a day, six times a week.

“I know now that it’s the big fight now, and it’s just a matter of training hard, getting the right sparring partners and doing the little things right,” he said.

“We’ve got a bit of time up our sleeve now and we’ve just got to get the little things right first.”

The last Australian to fight for the unified world heavyweight title was Bill Squires, who lost to Tommy Burns, in 1908.

The 34-year-old from Logan in Queensland, Leapai is hoping to make history for both Australia and his Samoan homeland.

He’s expected to visit Samoa ahead of the fight to receive a blessing from the King, and has joked that a win would see April 26 as a new national holiday there.

“It’s just massive,” he said.

“I get phone calls from everywhere from my family – down in Sydney, New Zealand, Samoa – they’re just real supportive and wishing me all the best in trying to make history as well.”

52) Cibulkova knocks out Sharapova

Updated at 5:35 pm today 20/1/14

Russian third seed Maria Sharapova has followed title favourite Serena Williams out of the Australian tennis Open in Melbourne.

Sharapova was beaten 3-6 6-4 6-1 by Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.

Sharapova’s demise came a day after Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic beat world number one and title favourite Serena Williams, also in the fourth round.

Cibulkova will now face Simona Halep of Romania in the quarter-finals, after the 11th seed beat Serbian eighth seed Jelena Jankovic 6-4 2-6 6-0.

Second seed Victoria Azarenka knocked out the American Sloane Stephens in straight sets and the Belarussian awaits the winner of the night match between Polish fifth seed Agniezska Radwanska and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.C/- Radio New Zealand..

53) Injera to captain Kenya in USA

By Online Editor
12:20 pm GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Kenya

Paul Treu has named his side for the fourth and fifth rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas, USA and New Zealand.

With regular captain Andrew Amonde out with a shoulder injury, Treu hands the captain’s armband to Kenya’s all-time leading try scorer Collins Injera.

The former South Africa Sevens coach Treu, who has won two of the last three Las Vegas Sevens titles, also welcomes back Humphrey Kayange who will make his first appearance of the 2013/14 Series and also Oscar Ouma.

Kenya currently sit seventh in the overall standings alongside Samoa on 32 points having made the Cup quarter finals at all of the rounds so far.

Patrice Agunda is also named in the squad, and Kenya will be hoping to improve on their disappointing performance in Las Vegas 12 months ago where they failed to make the Cup competition and lost to Australia in the Shield semi finals.

Kenya face pool matches with Canada and Wales on day one, before Treu comes up against his former side and the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens champions, South Africa on day two.

Kenya Sevens squad: Daniel Sikuta, Partice Agunda, Billy Odhiambo, Humphrey Kayange, Horace Otieno, Oscar Ouma, Collins Injera, Tonny Owour, Biko Adema, Mike Agevi, Oscar Ayodi, Dennis Ombachi..


54) Tongan Team announced for Wellington 7’s

By Online Editor
12:19 pm GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Tonga

Tonga’s 19 man training team has been announced for the Wellington 7’s tournament.

The team will be reduced 12 players before leaving for Wellington on February 3. The team is composed entirely of players from local rugby clubs and will be coached by veteran Manu Vunipola.

The Wellington Sevens tournament is set to take place February 7 – 8.

Tonga will face opponents Argentina, France, and Kenya in Pool B of the Wellington 7’s competition.


Paea Finau (Toa Saracens)
Paula Kata (Marist)
Fuatasi Tonga Ma’u (Marist)
Sione Vaimo’unga (Toloa Old Boys)
Feleti ‘Atiola (Toloa Old Boys)
Fe’ofa’aki Holo’ia (Toloa Old Boys)
Finau Faleovalu (Toa Saracens)
Sefo Ma’ake (Havelu Bulldogs)
Toetu’u Makaafi (Ha’akame Bronco)
Latusela Vailea (Vaini Doves)
Saia Palei (Ha’akame Bronco)
Viliami Iongi (Ha’akame Bronco)
Vai Hausia (Havelu Bulldog)
Amanaki Lea’aetoa (Kauvai)
Tevita Manumu’a (Toa Saracens)
Sitani Tei (Hofoa Turtles)
Kilifi Latu (Spartan)
Sami Fiefia (Silapelu Ua)
Frank Havea (Silapelu Ua)

Head Coach – Manu Vunipola
Manager – Filokalafi ‘Akauola
Physio – Sione Po’uliva’ati..

55) Vegas bound for Fiji 7s team

By Online Editor
12:22 pm GMT+12, 20/01/2014, Fiji

The  national 7s team left our shores last night with high hopes to bring smiles to the people of Fiji.

This is despite the financial struggle and the off-the-field saga faced by FRU in recent weeks.

Coach Ben Ryan said our gladiators know the significance of winning the IRB Las Vegas 7s tournament this weekend.

He said the boys had a point to prove for the people of Fiji as they prepared to take on the world’s best at the City of Sin.

He said the support of the fans during this trying time would be an inspiration to the boys in Vegas.

“Before every game in the changing room, the boys know everyone in Fiji are waiting to see them play,” said Ryan.

“This makes the difference and it’s probably one of the things that we have apart from other teams in the world — the huge patriotism towards the team.

“This is the people’s team and the boys know what is expected of them.

“The boys know how much rugby 7s means to the nation and it makes them work harder and makes them play well.”

Ryan said he won’t make any promises to the fans about the team’s chances but he was optimistic the boys would deliver the goods for all Fijians.

“We will try and win every game and we will work as hard as possible and give our best shot for the people of Fiji.

“I know about the financial issues going on in the paper over the past weeks but I haven’t heard the boys talking about it.

“We have a job on hand and we want to achieve our targets to the best of our abilities.”

He said the financial issue would also inspire the boys to do well this weekend.

“Other teams have everything that they need but we are financially underdogs.

“We got a point to prove, we’ve got talent, hard work, faith and all these matter in rugby that will get the team to victory. Not cash, not the contracts, not big cars.”

The side is pooled with New Zealand, Australia and Scotland.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Kiwis thrashed

Constantijn Jonker scored a hat-trick as the Netherlands thumped New Zealand 7-2 to win the inaugural Hockey World League in New Delhi on Saturday. The Dutch, who stunned reigning world champions Australia in the semi-finals, outplayed the Black Sticks in a one-sided final at the Dhyan Chand Stadium in the Indian capital.

Injured duo

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino revealed Gaston Ramirez and Dejan Lovren needed hospital treatment after suffering injuries in his side’s 2-2 draw at Sunderland on Saturday. Pochettino’s team squandered a two-goal lead at the Stadium of Light and to add to the Argentine’s frustration he is now sweating on the fitness of two key players.

Loan deal

Manchester United midfielder Anderson completed his loan switch to Fiorentina in Serie A on Saturday. “ACF Fiorentina has finalised the transfer of Anderson Luis De Abreu Oliveira on loan from Manchester United FC,” said a statement on the Fiorentina website.

Aussies top

Australia’s men will be re-crowned the world’s number one hockey team despite missing out on the bronze medal in controversial circumstances at the World League Finals in New Delhi. Australia’s final position of fourth, coupled with Germany’s seventh place finish, will see the Kookaburras leapfrog the Olympic champions in the rankings.

Pakistan trails

Opener Ahmed Shehzad scored a maiden century but Pakistan toiled for runs in their bid for a series-levelling win against Sri Lanka in the third and final Test in Sharjah on Saturday. The 22-year-old right-hander made 147 in only his second Test as Pakistan reached 6-291 at stumps on the third day, still 137 runs behind Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 9-428 declared.

Azarenka storms

Australian Open defending champion Victoria Azarenka has stormed into the fourth round and her first clash with American Sloane Stephens since a controversial semi-final last year. Second seed Azarenka booked the meeting with 13th seed Stephens by thrashing Austria’s Yvonne Meusburger 6-1 6-0 in exactly an hour on Saturday night.

Sweet revenge

Wellington Phoenix extracted sweet revenge for their fourth round defeat by Melbourne Victory with a 5-0 win at Westpac Stadium on Saturday. Outplayed and defeated 3-2 at AAMI Park in November, the Phoenix returned the favour is spades over third-placed Melbourne, in the process extending their unbeaten run to five games.

Durant rampant

In a day of key games for the top NBA teams in the West, Oklahoma City beat Golden State 127-121 with Kevin Durant scoring a career-high 54 points. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers increased its Pacific Division lead by downing New York, and Dallas edged Phoenix. Durant made 19 of 28 field goals and 11 of 13 free throws in his third straight game with at least 36 points.


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