Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 935
1) Vanuatu daily news digest | 4 February 2014
- Daily Post today has the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) inviting Prime Minister Carcasses and all leaders of “moderate parties” to “discuss the current evolution of Vanuatu politics.” If this is in answer to the claimed reconciliation between the VP and NUP it might be leading us back to big parties of some clout rather than lots of little ones echoing the same platitudes. The Modérés (remember them?) are all going to be able to meet in Luganville on 16 February, suggesting they have money. Watch this space.
- New Zealand has given valuable equipment to the Survey Department for mapping purposes – GPS receivers and theodolites and other equipment of which Lands has need. The government and Minister Regenvanu have expressed their appreciation.
- Radio Vanuatu News began this morning with the information that the Carcasses government will be trying to enable ni-Vanuatu to work in the hospitality industry in New Caledonia.The notion seems a little skew-whiff when Vanuatu hospitality training is provided by foreign aid givers, surely to assist ni-Vanuatu business and professionalism rather than the French tourism industry. Some “technical people from Caledonie” would, however, be brought here to work on “exchange”. Curious.
- The Supreme Court is considering whether the Tanna election of 2012 should be declared nul and void. There is an election petition alleging proxy votes were not in order and giving evidence of persons voting in Port Vila holding proxies on Tanna, the VBTC report stated.
- Two recent comments to this blog have touched the employment situation. One concerned the number of young adults out of work in Vanuatu and observed that the situation is likely to increase with more so-called investors from Asia and China [using Asian workers on their building sites]. That comment also drew attention to the increasing percentage of the total population of persons aged under 25. The other employment related communication observed that the opportunities forintending RSE workers are being blighted by the bad behaviour of those being sent home.
- Another very valid comment concerned the proposed tax on raw copra exports which surely amounts to an income tax. Sadly it will be paid by the segment of the community least able to afford it and it will contribute greatly to the element ofinequality in Vanuatu.
- There has been further comment on the CIIP “new product” pointing out that CIIP and South Sea Islanders’ issues are not connected in any way, CIIP to do with purchasing dual citizenship for foreign nationals whereas South Sea Islanders (SSI) should not encounter any red tape as being descendants of New Hebrideans anyway. Nasimal insists the government must differentiate between the two types of citizenship. He also mentioned the Vanu-Fijians still living in Fiji and who should be treated like the SSI Australians.
- And in another matter, Charles Kick points out that the ultimate result of CRP was well predicted by S. Siwatibau and A.V. Hughes, then both in ESCAP. However, leaders were”browbeat” to accept the CRP model – the wrong model – by one particular person. Charles also goes on to add thatVanuatu’s inequality is less than that of the Solomons or PNG.
- Daily post highlights the launching of the 2014 Namatan Short Film Festival by Tanya Parkin of the Australian High Commission and Stephenson Liu of TBV. It gives a further medium of expression to the people of Vanuatu. Last year’s festival reached 3,000 people. Well done Namatan.
2) Vanuatu daily news digest | 3 February 2014
- Radio Vanuatu News this morning began with a statement sayingthe Education Ministry wishes to “correct” a news item from the Chairman of the Vanuatu Teachers’ Union concerning the volunteer teachers from Fiji for 2014. The Ministry statement speaks of the fast-growing population today and the need to maintain the policies of Universal Primary Education and Education for All, and to this end there must be a sufficient number of teachers. Vanuatu is facing a shortage of over 200 teachers as schools resume today. Trained teachers in specialised fields in secondary anglophone studies are particularly needed, the statement pointed out. The Fiji teachers are volunteers. Outstanding school fees are going to be a barrier to some entering school today says Radio Vanuatu News.
- At a time like now when the copra price really matters in order for school fees to be met, Daily Post has seven MPs insisting on consultation with the electorate before an industry Bill is debated in Parliament to tax raw copra exports. Santo copra buyers are presently paying VT 45.000 a ton without a government subsidy (these having died some time ago) and the MPs feel competition would be discouraged if a tax is imposed. Agriculture receives little government support anyway, so taxing of production is felt to be justified only if the Bill will benefit people in the rural areas. The seven MPs, mostly from northern islands, want consultation in the matter with the rural electorates.
- Some RSE workers in New Zealand have been returned to Vanuatu after brawling with others in drunken brawls during the year-end festivities. Last weekend saw further drinking excesses and damage to the accommodation of certain workers and the Vanuatu participants are held responsible. Labour Commissioner Kaluat said Solomon Islanders are now more likely to be accepted in the RSE programme. New Vanuatu recruits will be expected to be non-drinkers. This blog thought that was the policy already anyway.
3) CNMI Could Be Sitting On A Gold Mine: House Speaker
Mining companies have already applied for exploratory licenses
By Haidee V. Eugenio
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 4, 2014) – If international seafloor mining companies’ interests in previous years are a gauge, then the CNMI may be sitting on or surrounded by multimillion worth of high-grade hydrothermal deposits rich in copper, zinc and lead with a high gold and silver content as well as large oil and natural gas reserves—without its local government even knowing about it—based on information that House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) recently gathered.
Meanwhile, the Inos administration said it would like to obtain more information about the reported minerals.
The speaker, on his way to Washington, D.C. later this month to meet with federal officials, said he would be posing questions—and hopes to obtain answers—about reported valuable minerals within or near the CNMI.
He cited, for example, online publications stating that two seafloor mining companies—Canada-based Nautilus Minerals and Australia-based Neptune Minerals—have applied for mining exploration licenses in the CNMI.
In their respective websites, the companies said they plan to mine the world’s seafloor copper-gold sites, also called seafloor massive sulphide, or SMS, deposits.
SMS are high-grade hydrothermal deposits rich in copper, zinc, and lead with a high gold and silver content found on the ocean floor.
Quoting online resources, the speaker cited that in January 2006, Neptune Minerals applied for exploration licenses covering approximately 147,000 square kilometers along the Marianas Arc and the associated back-arc basin offshore from the CNMI.
Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com
4) Pink batts inquiry: Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard asked to provide documents to royal commission
Updated 4 February 2014, 15:12 AEST
By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths
Former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have been asked to provide documents to the royal commission investigating the former Labor government’s troubled home insulation scheme.
The Abbott Government set up the royal commission in December to look into whether the former government’s management of the program contributed to the deaths of four men and hundreds of house fires.
The commission has begun holding hearings and is due to report by the end of June.
Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard and other senior figures in the former government – including current frontbencher Penny Wong, the ABC understands – have been contacted by the commission and asked to provide documents.
They face the prospect of being called to appear in person before Commissioner Ian Hangar, QC.
Opposition frontbencher Brendan O’Connor expects the ALP figures involved will cooperate.
“I’m sure that members of Parliament or former members of Parliament will cooperate with the commission,” he told Radio National.
“And, of course, the Labor Party would hope to think as a result of this process that we’ll see safer workplaces, if that is indeed the primary purpose behind such an inquiry.”
The $2.5 billion scheme was established in 2009 as part of a package to create jobs and help the Australian economy withstand the shocks from the global financial crisis.
But the rush to take advantage of the “pink batts” program attracted new operators, with some inexperienced workers and questionable work practices.
Royal Commission looking into Labor government’s pink batts scheme
Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard asked to provide documents to inquiry
Ex-PMs could be asked to appear in person
Four men died during scheme roll-out, with hundreds of fires linked to installation
Four men died during its roll-out and there were hundreds of house fires linked to the installation of insulation.
The royal commission will inquire into whether the former government was given any advice, warnings or recommendations about the program and how they were identified, assessed and managed.
Last July, Queensland Coroner Michael Barnes investigated the deaths of three tradesmen who were killed while installing roof insulation, and concluded the dangers should have been foreseen and mitigated before anyone died.
Then-prime minister Mr Rudd apologised to the families of the dead men, saying he was “deeply sorry” for the “unspeakable tragedy”. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
5) Women slaves in Australia silent and isolated, according to Australian Institute of Criminology study
Updated 4 February 2014, 17:54 AEST
A new study is casting light on why migrant women kept as slaves in Australia often do not seek help or understand they are being exploited.
The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has examined the plight of women who have been trafficked and trapped into servitude through the partner migration process.
That includes women who meet Australian partners overseas and later migrate to Australia.
The research included in-depth interviews with eight migrant women who escaped from situations where they found themselves in sexual and domestic servitude or doing forced labour.
The report finds that fear of retribution, lack of trust in authorities and lack of knowledge about support services are among the barriers preventing women in slavery-like situations from seeking help.
Social isolation and limited understanding of Australian culture and laws are also identified as reasons for women remaining in slavery.
They often don’t identify their experience as being violent or exploitative and unfortunately they didn’t experience an effective experience when they sought help in the first instance.
AIC research analyst Samantha Lyneham says servitude cases are commonly identified as domestic violence, and authorities and social service providers must increase their awareness.
“The research intends to create a better understanding of the type of exploitation that these women experience,” she said.
“They can seek appropriate help and authorities can identify their cases appropriately and perpetrators can then be prosecuted using trafficking and slavery legislation.”
Ms Lyneham says language barriers were a huge issue for the women involved in the study.
“Most of them could barely communicate in English and, therefore, experienced greater social isolation and an inability to ask for help when they needed it,” she said.
“They often don’t identify their experience as being violent or exploitative and unfortunately they didn’t experience an effective experience when they sought help in the first instance.”
The research notes that often informal contact with service providers gives women a way out of exploitative situations.
It is hoped the findings will inform government policy and help social service providers heed the warning signs.
The report was prepared as part of an AIC trafficking study in partnership with the Federal Government Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
6) DFAT staff in Fiji face job losses
By Online Editor
10:17 am GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Fiji
Staff of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Fiji have been offered voluntary redundancy packages.
The offer applies to all local DFAT staff outside of Australia. This includes Fiji.
However, the High Commission in Fiji maintains that this is a voluntary process.
The voluntary redundancy offer was made last week to all local staff of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at its posts overseas.
This also includes locals at the Australian High Commission in Suva.
A spokesperson for the Australian High Commission says this is in line with the department’s integration of the aid programme adding that the offer to local staff is an extension of the same offer made to all Australian based DFAT staff.
The spokesperson says these staff were given the option of expressing interest in the voluntary redundancy.
The High Commission maintains that this is a purely voluntary process and no staff cuts were being made.
This process is not expected to affect the High Commission’s daily operations.
It adds that this was an internal process and that no specific directive on the issue was made. The spokesperson says all offers adhere to our labour laws.
While not indicating how many Fijians working at the High Commission will be affected, the spokesperson only says that no concerns have been raised so far.
Expressions of interest for the voluntary redundancy are expected by mid this month.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has called for submissions for the build of its AUD$216 million replacement global communications network.
Funding was allocated for the new International Communications Network (ICN) in the 2013 budget handed down in May. It will replace the ageing Secure Australian Telecommunications and Information Network (SATIN), which was designed in the late 1990s.
Tender documents reveal the legacy SATIN infrastructure is struggling under the demands of modern diplomacy and 24/7 offshore operations of the Australian Government.
“The business of DFAT and other agencies operating overseas is faster, more complex and more collaborative than ever before,” the documents state.
“Today, information flows across the globe so fast that people everywhere know about events around the world within minutes. Expectations of fast turnaround times and a 24/7 work environment are growing, particularly as they relate to essential public-facing services such as consular, passport and visa services.”
DFAT is also hoping that the contract refresh will allow it to reel in a number of independent agency-to-carrier deals that have multiplied over the years, and which have led to a duplication of international services, as well as “sub-optimal last mile arrangements, disaggregation of business activities at sites, and an inability to share network resources”.
It also intends to reduce its reliance on satellite communications under the new deal.
The ICN will need to connect 140 domestic and overseas posts, ranging from embassies to ministerial offices, and transmit highly classified information. DFAT will retain responsibility for the encryption of network traffic.
Expressions of interest close on 13 March and it is anticipated that the transition to the new infrastructure will take 12 to 18 months.
SOURCE: FIJI TV/IT NEWS/PACNEWS
7) Australia to assist Fiji Election with technical expertise, voter registration details announced
By Online Editor
4:24 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Fiji
Australia’s aid towards Fiji elections will be in the form of technical expertise.
And, Acting High Commissioner Glenn Miles confirmed there won’t be any monetary assistance.
He said discussions with elections officials in Fiji identified technical assistance as priority for the government.
“As we move forward, there will be other gaps identified. We’ll work with other donors and the Fijian government to see how we can help. What we can provide support in – is experts and technical assistance. That’s where they would like us to help and that’s where we have been offering help.”
There are currently two Australians working with the Elections Office in the field of human resources and logistics.
Miles said more technical assistance will be made available based on the needs of the Elections Office.
Meanwhile, the Fijian Elections Office has announced the details of its campaign to register Fijians living in Australia to vote in the 2014 General Election.
Five registration teams from the Elections Office will be registering potential voters from 14 February until 22 February at multiple locations across Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.
The teams will also be visiting other major towns and cities in these three states, such as Penrith, Griffith, Ballarat, Banyo, and Cairns.
Every Fijian over the age of 18 is being encouraged to come forward and is required to produce a valid Fijian passport.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Chen Bunn Young said the Commission would be working closely with the Permanent Secretary Responsible for Elections, Mohammed Saneem, and the Fiji High Commission to oversee this important undertaking.
“This is the chance for Fijians in Australia to register to make their voices heard next year in the 2014 General Election and I urge them to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.
In announcing the details of the registration drive, the Permanent Secretary urged potential voters to check the official program that is available on the Elections Office website or from the Fiji High Commission.
“With the assistance of the High Commission, careful planning has gone into this exercise to allow our registration teams to canvas as wide an area as possible in only nine days. It is very important that people check the program to know when a team will be visiting a town or city near them,” he said.
Commenting on the announcement, the Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said that the registration of overseas voters was an important part of ensuring a free and fair election.
“The Bainimarama Government is determined to meet our goal of an election that is fair, credible and conducted to the best international standards. This includes giving Fijians living abroad the opportunity to register and vote,” he said.
The campaign of registering Fijian voters living abroad began in October last year in New Zealand. After Australia, voter registration teams will travel to the west coast of North America and Britain.
The registration teams in Australia will be led by Asenaca Kolinivala, Acting Principal Administration Officer at the Fijian Elections Office.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/ MINFO/PACNEWS
8) PNG Gavaman i isi tumas long SABL Ripot: John Numapo
Updated 4 February 2014, 18:04 AEST
Siaman blong wok painimaut igo insaet long ol tok oraet blong SABL, Special Agrikalsa Bisnis Leases long Papua New Guinea i tok gavaman iwok long isi tumas long bihaenim sampla tingting blong despla enkuairi.
Odio: Siaman blong wok painimaut ig insaet long ol tok oraet blong special agrikalsa bisnis leases long Papua New Guinea itok gavman iwok long isi tumas long bihaenim sampla tingting blong despla enkuairi.
Siaman blong wok painimaut igo insaet long ol tok oraet blong SABL long Papua New Guinea itok gavman iwok long isi tumas long bihaenim sampla tingting blong despla enkuairi.
Chif Commissioner John Numapo itok tu olsem em na narapla wanwok blong en i givim pinis ripot blong ol long 2013, tasol gavman ino mekim iet wanpla samting.
Despla wok painimaut ibin bihaenim planti wari na kros long komuniti olsem planti papa na mama graon ino bin givim tok oraet blong ol igo long bisnis laen long kisim na iusim graon blong ol inap long 99 yiar.
Wok painim aut ibin painim olsem, 66 ol leases ibin kamap bihaenim ol korap pasin na gavman nau imas hariap na rausim ol despla tok oraet na givim bek graon igo long ol pipal.
Despla enkuairi ibin painim tu olsem ol kampani ibin grisim gut ol papa graon long givim graon blong ol, na bikos oli no bin gat gutpla save oli bin givim nating graon blong ol.
Thomas Parker, bosman blong PNG Eco Forestry forum i tok long stat gavman ino bin givim gutpla toksave oa aweanes. Moa long ripot blong Caroline Tiriman.radio australia
9) Vanuatu Counselling senta i lukim planti yangpla meri long femili violens
Updated 4 February 2014, 10:30 AEST
Mak blong ol yangpla meri, em ol man i save mekim pasin nogut long oa sexual abuse agensim ol igo antap tumas long Santo, namba tu bikpla Provins long Vanuatu.
Odio: Cathy Bani blong Sanma Counselling Centre, Luganville long Santo, Vanuatu
Mak blong ol yangpla meri em ol man isave mekim pasin nogut oa sexual abuse egensim ol igo antap tumas long Santo, namba tu bikpla provins long Vanuatu.
Women’s Centre long Luganville ibin mekim displa ol toktok bihainim wanpla wok painim aut long hap.
Ol i tok kaen bagarap oa pasin nogut ol yangpla meri i save kisim i save, wok painim aut i soim olsem, displa em i wanpla bikpla heve na i wok kamap bikpla.
Tasol nau laen blong Sanma Counselling Centre long Luganville istat long ronim ol awenes progrem long despla bikpla wari.
Cathy Bani blong senta i tok krismas blong planti long ol yangpla meri igo lukim ol, i stap olsem 15 na igo daon.
“Research blong mifala i soim olsem planti long ol sexual abuse i kamap long ol yangpla meri taem ol i yangpla it.”
Ms Bani i tok tu olsem wok research blong ol ibin toktok wantaim ol bik meri tu, olsem krismas blong ol igo antap long 45.
Stori wantaim displa ol meri, Women’s Centre tu i painim olsem olgeta meri i feisim ol narapla heve tu.
“Not only sexual violens we mifala i faindim aut, tru em i bikpla long wok painim blong mipla, mifala i faindim planti meri i save fesim emotional violens, ol i save wari long laif na femili blong ol,” em ibin tok.radio australia
10) Australie: vers une reconnaissance des Aborigènes
Mis à jour 4 February 2014, 19:48 AEST
Ils sont les grands absents de la Constitution australienne. Les peuples aborigènes n’apparaissent pas dans le texte suprême, comme si l’histoire de l’Australie n’avait commencé qu’avec l’arrivée des premiers colons blancs en 1788.
Une affiche du groupe de pression Recognition, qui milite en faveur de la reconnaissance des Aborigènes dans la Constitution. Certains groupes d’Aborigènes sont contre, estimant que cela empêcherait une reconnaissance de leur souveraineté.
Depuis des années cependant, la reconnaissance officielle des Premiers Australiens dans le Préambule de la Constitution est en projet. Georges Williams est professeur en droit constitutionnel à l’Université de la Nouvelle-Galles du Sud :
« Le texte fondateur de la nation australienne ignore la présence des Aborigènes sur cette terre depuis plus de 40 000 ans. L’idée est de réparer ça, de reconnaître l’histoire des Aborigènes, ainsi que leurs langues et leurs cultures, bref, rétablir la vérité de l’histoire et du passé de l’Australie. »
Le précédent gouvernement travailliste, dirigé par Julia Gillard, a abandonné l’idée d’un référendum sur la réforme constitutionnelle, les sondages étant défavorables.
Mais depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir de Tony Abbott début septembre, la reconnaissance des Aborigènes dans la Constitution est redevenue un sujet d’actualité. Le Premier ministre libéral est considéré comme l’homme le mieux à même de faire passer cette réforme, particulièrement auprès des parlementaires les plus conservateurs, là où un Premier ministre travailliste, progressiste, aurait échoué.
Un mouvement s’est créé pour faire pression sur le gouvernement. Plus de 175 000 Australiens ont signé une pétition pour la reconnaissance officielle et uniquement symbolique des Premiers Australiens dans la Constitution, qui semble faire consensus. Mais le réel enjeu politique est ailleurs.
« Le consensus est assez large sur la question de la reconnaissance, mais le vrai problème, ce sont ces articles dans la Constitution qui autorisent la discrimination raciale. Par exemple la section 25 permet aux Etats australiens d’interdire le droit de vote à certains groupes en raison de leur race. Mais il y a aussi un autre article qui autorise le Parlement fédéral à traiter les Australiens différemment en fonction de leur race. Une clause qui est utilisée de manière positive, par exemple elle a permis de passer une loi de protection des sites sacrés aborigènes. Mais elle a aussi légitimé la politique dite de l’Intervention, qui cible les communautés aborigènes du Territoire du Nord, leur interdit l’alcool, met leurs allocations sous tutelle, et suspend leurs droits fonciers. Ce sont de vieux articles totalement périmés, mais nous ne pouvons pas reconnaître les Aborigènes dans le préambule, et garder des articles racistes dans le reste de la Constitution. Nous avons l’une des seules Constitutions au monde qui comprenne des articles racistes. »
Début 2012 un panel d’experts désigné par le gouvernement travailliste a publié ses recommandations, après une année de voyages dans toute l’Australie et particulièrement dans les communautés aborigènes. Le verdict du panel est clair : en plus de supprimer les articles racistes, il faudrait ajouter un article à la Constitution qui interdise toute discrimination raciale.
Au-delà de la reconnaissance de la primauté historique et culturelle des Aborigènes et de la suppression des articles racistes de la Constitution, un troisième débat agite la société australienne : celui de la souveraineté aborigène, réclamée par beaucoup de groupes indigènes, et qui pourrait être reconnue dans des traités entre le gouvernement australien et les peuples aborigènes. Tout le problème est de se mettre d’accord sur la définition de la souveraineté. George Williams :
« Tout le monde a sa propre définition de la souveraineté. Certains groupes aborigènes réclament leur souveraineté en tant que pays séparé du reste de l’Australie, une solution extrême qui n’est soutenue par personne en dehors de ces groupes. De manière plus réaliste, la souveraineté des Aborigènes consisterait à leur conférer une certaine autonomie, qui pourrait être formalisée dans un traité. »
En Australie actuellement, il n’existe qu’un mécanisme accordant un minimum de souveraineté aux Premiers Australiens : celui des « native titles », les titres de propriété coutumière des peuples sur leur bout de terre.
« Les titres de propriété traditionnelle reconnaissent un certain niveau de souveraineté aux peuples aborigènes, sur la terre qui leur est accordée, mais c’est très limité. Les licences d’exploitation minière annulent par exemple les droits fonciers des propriétaires traditionnels. Et beaucoup d’Aborigènes ne sont pas encore reconnus comme propriétaires traditionnels de leurs terres. Un traité solutionnerait le problème, et concernerait toutes les communautés aborigènes. »
C’était Georges Williams, professeur en droit constitutionnel à l’Université de la Nouvelles-Galles du Sud.
L’Australie est très en retard sur le Canada, qui a créé en 1999 un territoire indigène autonome, le Nunavut, où les Inuits se gouvernent eux-mêmes, et même sur les Etats-Unis, dont les lois reconnaissent un certain degré de souveraineté aux Indiens sur certains territoires. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
11) Nauru: un spécialiste du BTP pour s’occuper des migrants
Posté à 4 February 2014, 20:15 AEST
L’Australie pourrait confier les services sociaux aux demandeurs d’asile de Nauru à une entreprise du BTP.
Le gouvernement négocie actuellement avec Transfield pourrait prendre la suite de l’Armée du Salut, dont le contrat a expiré fin janvier, et dont l’image en Australie est ternie par un scandale de pédophilie. L’entreprise australienne de BTP hériterait ainsi d’un contrat de 65 millions de dollars, mais elle ne garderait que 40% des 300 employés de l’Armée du Salut dans le centre de rétention de Nauru.
Transfield a l’habitude d’assurer des services de loisir sur les base militaires en Australie, mais n’a jamais fait dans le social. Le PDG précise que rien ne changerait, le soutien psychologique aux demandeurs d’asile enfermés serait assuré par les médecins.
Ian Rintoul, le porte-parole de la Coalition d’Action pour les Réfugiés, la principale association australienne de défense des demandeurs d’asile, prédit que la priorité de Transfield sera de satisfaire ses actionnaires et non de soulager les demandeurs d’asile.
Lundi la Présidente de la Commission australienne des Droits de l’Homme a annoncé l’ouverture d’une enquete nationale sur la détention des enfants de demandeurs d’asile sur Nauru et Manus, ainsi que sur le territoire australien. radio australia
12) Call for united Pacific voice on nuclear issues
4 February 2014
There’s been a call for Pacific Island leaders and churches to unite in the fight to ban nuclear weapons and address nuclear waste issues.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is urging these groups to be represented at the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons next month in Mexico and help build momentum for talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty.
Reverend Francois Pihaatae of the Pacific Conference of Churches says the region must also get big powers to address the impacts of nuclear testing in the region last century.
“You can see those Pacific Islanders that are still a colony or under a government like the US, France or Britain, they are still always under compromise … if you do that, we will cut some of the aid’ … but our call is for all Pacific Island leaders to really be united.”
Reverend Francois Pihaatae of the Pacific Conference of Churches says nearly seventy years on victims of nuclear testing are still battling for justice for the misuse of their land and resources.c/- radio new zealand.
13) Sth African party deal falls apart
4 February 2014
A merger deal between the main opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance, with a smaller party in order to challenge the governing ANC has collapsed.
When the merger was announced last week, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, the leader of the Agang party, was put forward as the group’s candidate for this year’s presidential election.
But the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday the merger has collapsed and it accused Dr Ramphele of reneging on her pledge to stand for the presidency.
The BBC says the merged party had been billed as the strongest challenger to the ANC since it came to power in 1994. It would have been the first time the DA had fielded a black presidential candidate.
Agang is named after the Sesotho word for “Let us build”. Dr Ramphele launched the party a year ago, but it has not made an impact. It is now bankrupt and a month ago was unable to pay its staff.C/- radio new zealand.
14) Extent of corruption in Europe
4 February 2014
The European Commission says corruption in Europe is “breathtaking” and costs the EU economy at least 120 billion euros annually.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.
Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the true cost of corruption was “probably much higher” than 120 billion.
Three-quarters of Europeans surveyed for the Commission study said that corruption was widespread, and more than half said the level had increased.
“The extent of the problem in Europe is breathtaking, although Sweden is among the countries with the least problems,” Ms Malmstroem wrote in Goeteborgs-Posten, a Swedish daily.
The cost to the EU economy is equivalent to the bloc’s annual budget.
For the report the Commission studied corruption in all 28 EU member states. The Commission says it is the first time it has done such a survey.
In Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, between 6% – 29% of respondents said they had been asked for a bribe, or had been expected to pay one, in the past 12 months.
The BBC reports there were also high levels of bribery in Poland (15%), Slovakia (14%) and Hungary (13%).
Ms Malmstroem said corruption was eroding trust in democracy and draining resources from the legal economy.
“The political commitment to really root out corruption seems to be missing,” she complained.C/- radio new zealand.
15) Rep.: Immigration legislation unlikely in 2014
By Online Editor
09:43 am GMT+12, 03/02/2014, United States
Days after House Republicans unveiled a roadmap for an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system, one of its backers said legislation is unlikely to pass during this election year.
Rep. Paul Ryan said distrust of President Barack Obama runs so deep in his party that he’s skeptical the Republican-led House would pass any immigration measure. He said a plan that puts security first could only pass if lawmakers believe the administration would enforce it an unlikely prospect given Republicans’ deep opposition to Obama.
“This isn’t a trust-but-verify, this is a verify-then-trust approach,” Ryan said.
Last week, House Republicans announced their broad concerns for any immigration overhaul but emphasized they would tackle the challenge bill-by-bill. Immigration legislation is a dicey political question for the Republicans. The party’s conservative base opposes any measure that would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally, but many in the party worry that failing to act could drive many voters to Democratic candidates. In 2012, Obama won re-election with the backing of 71 percent of Hispanic voters and 73 percent of Asian voters. The issue is important to both blocs.
Republicans have preemptively been trying to blame the White House for immigration legislation’s failure, even before a House bill comes together. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said “there’s a lot of distrust of this administration in implanting the law.” And Republican Sen. Marco Rubio last week warned that distrust of Obama would trump the desire to find a solution for the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally.
“We just don’t think government will enforce the law anyway,” Rubio said, recounting conversations he’s had with fellow Republicans.
House Republicans are pushing a piecemeal approach to immigration that puts a priority on security before considering a pathway for those here illegally to earn citizenship. That strategy runs counter to a comprehensive bill, passed through the Senate seven months ago with bipartisan support that includes a long and difficult pathway to citizenship.
The White House, meanwhile returned to its position that any legislation must include a way for those here illegally to earn citizenship and that the system cannot divide Americans into two classes citizens and noncitizens.
“We ought to see a pathway to citizenship for people,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday. “We don’t want to have a permanent separation of classes or two permanent different classes of Americans in this country.”
Last week, Obama suggested that he’s open to a legal status for immigration that falls short of citizenship, hinting he could find common ground with House Republicans.
“I’m going to do everything I can in the coming months to see if we can get this over the finish line,” Obama said Friday.
Obama’s flexibility was a clear indication of the president’s desire to secure an elusive legislative achievement before voters decide whether to hand him even more opposition in Congress. Republicans are expected to maintain their grip on the House and have a legitimate shot at grabbing the majority in the Senate.
McDonough said the White House remains optimistic that legislation that includes citizenship could reach the president’s desk: “We feel pretty good that we’ll get a bill done this year.”
Not so, countered Ryan, the Republican’s vice presidential nominee in 2012.
“Here’s the issue that all Republicans agree on: We don’t trust the president to enforce the law,” he added.
Ryan spoke to ABC’s “This Week.” Cantor was interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” McDonough appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS.
16) More cases
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
MENTAL disorders among Fijians are increasing with at least 30 cases seen on a daily basis at the country’s largest psychiatric institution, St Giles Hospital.
Confirming this yesterday, the hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Peni Biukoto said common disorders affecting the population were memory loss and anxiety.
“The cases are much more than what they were 10 years ago. We have more people coming voluntarily to seek help,” Dr Biukoto said.
“Our outpatient count, which runs from 10am to 1pm, we can see between 10 and 30 patients.
“Some patients are returnees and some come with their family members.”
Dr Biukoto said most cases were the result of relationship issues.
“Because this is a psychiatric hospital, most present themselves when their lives or relationships with others are disrupted by symptoms they have in most cases.
“In other cases, people come in complaining about memory problems, complaining of anxiety which, after assessment in our opinion, the problem is mild enough to be seen by a counsellor.”
Dr Biukoto said only serious cases that warranted medication were admitted.
“We are managing with the resources we have, we would always like to have more but we are being realistic.”
Dr Biukoto also outlined that with fewer psychiatrists available in the country, nothing much could be done as the ministry’s intake was low.
“The intake of doctors and nurses into psychiatry and mental health … the rate will always be much less than the rising population,” he said.
“We are trying to make our services more efficient and trying to balance the demand from the community with the resources that we have.”Fijitimes
17) HIV siege in Fiji
By Online Editor
1:10 pm GMT+12, 03/02/2014, Fiji
Some students in Fiji who live with parents infected with HIV/AIDS are being discriminated against in schools.
And according to Temo Sasau of FJN Plus, the NGO has received reports of children being victimised to the point of being told they had to change schools.
“Some have even had their house stoned,” he said.
FJN Plus is involved in empowering and educating those living with HIV/AIDS.
Sasau said hopefully the new HIV/AIDS policy for schools to be implemented by the Ministry of Education this year would put an end to discrimination of children.
He said the policy would give parents living with HIV/AIDS the confidence to send their children to school.
The Education Ministry has confirmed it was in the process of distributing the policy to schools.
This will be followed by visits from the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC) which will conduct workshops and training.
NSAAC director Misaele Driubalavu said while the HIV/AIDS decree made it illegal for such discrimination to take place, the introduction of such a policy in schools was necessary.
He said all schools would get a copy and be made aware of the contents of the policy.
“The policy has also been published in the Ministry of Education Term 3 Gazette 2013 which has been circulated to all schools in the country,” he said.
“The NSAAC team will also be carrying out awareness programs to teachers in schools during its training of trainers program during the year.
“The risk is much higher now. It needs to be pointed out that the total accumulative figure as at March, 31, 2013, has gone up to 491 cases.”
HIV/AIDS is now also covered in the family life education program in schools.
The new Policy of National Management of HIV/AIDS in Fiji Schools – passed by the Ministry of Education this year – says it can no longer be denied “our students and school personnel are indulging in unprotected sex which is becoming a problem amongst young people and the risk of getting STI and teenage pregnancy is very high through which they become more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS”.
“Within the context of early sexual activities, the risk of young students contracting the virus is increasing,” section 3.2.5 says.
“Similarly, the increased sexual activities among older students and the evidence of unprotected sexual relations expose older students and members of the schools community to the risk of infection through sexual transmission.”
The objectives of the policy “is to ensure the effective prevention of HIV and AIDS and the appropriate care, treatment of students and school personnel living with HIV and AIDS.
“It is to also ensure the provision of a systematic and consistent information and educational material on HIV and AIDS throughout the educational system.”.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
18) Pregnant Women To Benefit From Fiji Food Voucher Program
Rural health clinics get FJ$1.4 million for pre- and post-natal care
By Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 3, 2014) – 4,000 rural mothers in Fiji will benefit from the government’s Expanded Food Voucher Program reintroduced to assist pregnant women.
This is after the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni revealed that a budget of FJ$1.4 million [US$734,021] has been allocated to rural health clinics for pre and post natal care.
“The program will encourage rural pregnant mothers to register early in their health facilities as to avoid later complications during their pregnancy in later stages of pregnancy or during child birth. It will also improve maternal health and prevent malnutrition which according to Ministry of Health records is commonly seen in rural areas.
“The Expanded Food Voucher Program for pregnant mothers will contribute in progressing Fiji towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 which focuses on reducing child mortality rates and MDG 5 which is to improve maternal health,” Dr Luveni said
Dr Luveni said the program would be coordinated in conjunction with the Ministry of Health where they will identify pregnant mothers when they go for bookings.
“These names will then be submitted to the Department of Social Welfare through their divisional offices through which we will verify that they are not recipients of its other welfare programs. The vouchers will then be printed and sent back to the Ministry of Health to distribute it from their end. Vouchers will be redeemed through the nearest Post Offices,” Dr Luveni explained.
Meanwhile the Department of Social Welfare is awaiting for the funds to be released from Ministry of Finance.
“Applications will be processed once the pregnant mothers register with their local health centres. Recipients of the Poverty Benefit Scheme and the Care and Protection Program will not be eligible for this assistance,” Minister Luveni said.
Dr Luveni reiterated that the objective of this program is to improve the maternal health and provide basic nutrition needs required during pregnancies.
19) US study links sugar, heart disease deaths
By Online Editor
2:22 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2014, United States
Could too much sugar be deadly? The biggest U.S. study of its kind suggests the answer is yes, at least when it comes to fatal heart problems.
It doesn’t take all that much extra sugar, hidden in many processed foods, to substantially raise the risk, the researchers found, and most Americans eat more than the safest amount.
Being in the highest risk category in the study means your chance of dying prematurely from heart problems is nearly three times greater than for people who eat only foods with little added sugar.
For someone who normally eats 2,000 calories daily, even consuming two 12-ounce (340-gram) cans of soda substantially increases the risk. For most American adults, sodas and other sugary drinks are the main source of added sugar.
Lead author Quanhe Yang of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention called the results sobering and said it’s the first nationally representative study to examine the issue.
Scientists aren’t certain exactly how sugar may contribute to deadly heart problems, but it has been shown to increase blood pressure and levels of unhealthy cholesterol and triglycerides; and also may increase signs of inflammation linked with heart disease, said Rachel Johnson, head of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee and a University of Vermont nutrition professor.
Yang and colleagues analyzed national health surveys between 1988 and 2010 that included questions about people’s diets. The authors used national death data to calculate risks of dying during 15 years of follow-up.
Overall, more than 30,000 American adults aged 44 on average were involved.
Previous studies have linked diets high in sugar with increased risks for non-fatal heart problems, and with obesity, which can also lead to heart trouble. But in the new study, obesity didn’t explain the link between sugary diets and death. That link was found even in normal-weight people who ate lots of added sugar.
“Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick,” said Laura Schmidt, a health policy specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. She wrote an editorial accompanying the study in Monday’s JAMA Internal Medicine.
The researchers focused on sugar added to processed foods or drinks, or sprinkled in coffee or cereal. Even foods that don’t taste sweet have added sugar, including many brands of packaged bread, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Naturally occurring sugar, in fruit and some other foods, wasn’t counted.
Most health experts agree that too much sugar isn’t healthy, but there is no universal consensus on how much is too much.
U.S government dietary guidelines issued in 2010 say “empty” calories including those from added sugars should account for no more than 15 percent of total daily calories.
The average number of daily calories from added sugar among U.S. adults was about 15 percent toward the end of the study, slightly lower than in previous years.
The authors divided participants into five categories based on sugar intake, from less than 10 percent of daily calories the safest amount to more than 25 percent.
Most adults exceed the safest level; and for 1 in 10 adults, added sugar accounts for at least 25 percent of daily calories, the researchers said.
The researchers had death data on almost 12,000 adults, including 831 who died from heart disease during the 15-year follow-up. They took into account other factors known to contribute to heart problems, including smoking, inactivity and excess weight, and still found risks for sugar.
As sugar intake increased, risks climbed steeply.
Adults who got at least 25 percent of their calories from added sugar were almost three times more likely to die of heart problems than those who consumed the least less than 10 percent.
For those who got more than 15 percent or the equivalent of about two cans of sugary soda out of 2,000 calories daily the risk was almost 20 percent higher than the safest level.
Sugar calories quickly add up: One teaspoon has about 16 calories; one 12-ounce can of non-diet soda contains has about 9 teaspoons of sugar or about 140 calories; many cinnamon rolls have about 13 teaspoons of sugar; one scoop of chocolate ice cream has about 5 teaspoons of sugar.
Dr. Jonathan Purnell, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cardiovascular Institute, said while the research doesn’t prove “sugar can cause you to die of a heart attack”, it adds to a growing body of circumstantial evidence suggesting that limiting sugar intake can lead to healthier, longer lives.
20) Cancer now biggest killer in Australia, ahead of heart disease: WHO report
Updated 4 February 2014, 14:49 AEST
By medical reporter Sophie Scott and Alison Branley
Cancer has surpassed heart disease as the biggest killer in Australia, according to a new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO’s World Cancer Report found 8.2 million people died from cancer globally in 2012, including 40,000 Australians.
The report was last released six years ago and this is the first major international update on the disease since then.
It found that cancer surpassed heart disease as the world’s biggest killer in 2011, with 7.87 million cancer deaths compared to 7.02 million from heart disease. Stroke was considered separately.
8.2 million deaths from cancer in 2012.
Lung, liver, stomach, colorectal and breast cancers cause most deaths.
1.59 million lung cancer deaths in 2012.
745,000 liver cancer deaths in 2012.
Tobacco use is biggest risk factor, accounting for 70 per cent of lung cancer deaths.
Africa, Asia, Central and South America account for 70 per cent of world’s cancer deaths.
In Australia and other Western countries, the rise in cancer cases has been attributed to ageing populations and increased screening.
Lifestyle has also been highlighted as a major factor, with cancer particularly prevalent in countries where people have a poor diet and inactive lifestyles, and countries with high smoking rates.
Doctors predict global cancer rates will increase by three-quarters over the next two decades and they expect 20 million new cases by 2025.
Prevention is better than cure
The report says 3.7 million cancer deaths could have been avoided by lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy weight.
Video: Report editor Prof. Bernard Stewart talks about the contribution of lifestyle factors (ABC News)
“About 5 per cent of all cancers is due to alcohol consumption – that’s an important part of the preventable cancer story,” said Cancer Council Australia’s Terry Slevin.
“Let’s make no bones about it, alcohol is a class one known carcinogen, it’s listed by the World Health Organisation as such.”
Research shows women’s risk of breast cancer can increase by having as little as one alcoholic drink a day. For men, the risk of tumours increases with two to three drinks a day.
Lung cancer was the biggest killer globally. It was also the biggest killer among men, while breast cancer killed more women.
Mr Slevin said lung cancer was an area where treatments were less successful than other areas.
“That’s why prevention, when it comes to lung cancer, is so important,” he said.
Melanoma continued to be more of a problem in Australia than overseas, with Australians and New Zealanders twice as likely to be diagnosed than anywhere else in the world.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Australia, with the Cancer Council putting the number of diagnoses in 2009 at 21,800.
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia chief executive Anthony Lowe says more than 3,300 Australian men die from the disease each year and one in four men over 85 will develop it.
“Many cancers including prostate cancer are disease of ageing and the population is ageing,” he said.
“Unfortunately the lifestyle that we live in Australia – lack of exercise, poor diet and high alcohol consumption are certainly risk factors.”
Worldwide there are more than 14 million cancer diagnoses each year, the report found, and it costs the world more than $1 trillion each year.
It says one-fifth of that could be avoided by investing in prevention strategies.
More on this story from ABC Health
Why do skin cancers occur on parts of the body not exposed to the sun? –
You can reduce your risk of bowel cancer
Can circumcision help prevent prostate cancer?
Big four ways to avoid the ‘Big C’
Cardiovascular disease as a whole still the most common cause of death
The Heart Foundation says while cancer may have overtaken heart disease as Australia’s biggest killer, when cardiovascular disease is looked at as a whole, it adds up to be the most common cause of death.
Heart Foundation national director Dr Rob Grenfell says cardiovascular disease, which includes strokes as well as heart and vascular diseases, killed 45,622 people in 2011.
It was closely followed by cancer, which claimed the lives of 43,721 Australians.
Heart disease alone killed 21,500.
Dr Grenfell says cancer and cardiovascular disease have common risk factors such as smoking, obesity and inactivity and could be tackled together.
“As a group of diseases, cancers and cardiovascular diseases are attributable to 60 per cent of the country’s deaths and both are largely preventable,” he said.
“If we were to have a coordinated approach to the management of these risk factors we would reduce the prevalence of preventable deaths.” http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
21) Students face money laundering charges
By Shalveen Chand
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Update: 12:44PM TWO tertiary school students will be produced at the Suva Magistrates Court this afternoon for their alleged involvement in a money laundering case.
The two – a 23 and 24-year-old – have been charged with money laundering.
It is alleged that sometimes between Christmas and New Year last year, the two hacked into a bank system and transferred $24,000 from two separate accounts.
Others will be charges later.Fijitimes
22) Lawyer heads Uni
By Shayal Devi
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Update: 12:59PM LAWYER Anil Tikaram has been appointed the new pro-chancellor of the University of Fiji.
An official statement by the university said Mr Tikaram was appointed through a unanimous vote by the university council.
He will also takes the responsibilities of the chair of the university council.Fijitimes
23) PNG National Women’s Council President Scholar Kakas Dies
Kakas remembered for being ‘married to women’s work’ in PNG
By Natasha Emeck
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 3, 2014) – Women around Papua New Guinea are mourning the death of National Council of Women president Scholar Kakas last Thursday.
Kakas died at the Wabag Hospital after being sick for the past three weeks.
Her body was received by a crowd of mourners in Port Moresby on Saturday after it was flown in from Wapenamunda.
Relatives said Kakas, 57, had been struggling with illness until she died at 5pm last Thursday.
People gathered at her home in Gerehu for her haus krai on Saturday.
Relatives said it was a testament to the lives of people she touched.
NCD Women’s Council president Maria Andrew described Kakas as a lady with a heart for the people, especially women and children.
“She was never married nor had children. She was married to women’s work, she was married to the half of the population of PNG made up of women,” Andrew said.
“She was different from previous (women’s council) presidents – she came in with a vision and the first thing she looked at was the National Council of Women’s Act.”
After an eight-year-long campaign led by Kakas, the legislation was finally passed in 2012.
“I was really proud and even today I am really proud that she had done something – she had left something behind that women of Papua New Guinea will inherent long after she had gone.”
NCD Govenor Powes Parkop was one of the people who paid their respects to Kakas on Saturday.
He described her as a sister and a true champion of the people.
“She deserved the respect that’s being given to her because we have lost a true champion and she was a person who has sacrificed her entire life for the cause of our people, not just women,” Parkop said.
“During Scholar’s time as president we have achieved a lot. We tried to put the women’s bill to parliament and we nearly got it and jumped over that first hurdle but there are still more to come to have women’s seat in parliament.”
Parkop applauded Kaka’s efforts to raise the status of women in the PNG to bridge the gaps of inequality between genders.
The Women’s Council has asked the Government to accord Kakas a state funeral.
Parkop said Kakas deserved the respect of a State-paid funeral for she was just as good as, if not better than any MP since she was elected by the women of PNG.
The National: www.thenational.com.pg/
24) PNG NGO’s slam land scandal task force
Updated 4 February 2014, 18:42 AEST
By Jemima Garrett
Non-government organisations in Papua New Guinea are concerned that nothing will come of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s task force set up to examine findings of an inquiry into PNG’s land scandal.
Over a period of less than a decade, more than 5 million hectares of land belonging to tens of thousands of traditional landowners was leased out using Special Agricultural or Business Leases (SABLs).
In many cases the leases are for 99 years and do not have landowner consent.
The inquiry recommended 66 of the 75 leases it investigated be revoked.
It gave its report to Mr O’Neill in June last year.
Effrey Dademo, Executive Officer at Act Now, the lead NGO acting for others on the land scandal criticised the government’s lack of action.
“The O’Neill-Dion government has done nothing to implement the findings and that is a big let down to the people of PNG,” she said.
Task force ‘a delaying tactic’
In September, Mr O’Neill told parliament corruption and mismanagement by public servants charged with looking after landowner interests had allowed foreign logging companies to con landowners, to chop down forests and to take the proceeds offshore.
Mr O’Neill said drastic action was necessary and announced the task force to advise him how to implement the inquiry’s recommendations.
Ms Dademo says the task force is a diversion.
“We think that the task force is a diversion and a delay tactic because basically the recommendations are very clear,” she said.
“It (the Commission of Inquiry) says revoke the leases because they are illegal. It is as simple as that.’
‘I don’t know why there has been a task force put in there to look into and make their own recommendations.’
Logging industry pressure
The loss of land is a serious blow for landowners, the vast majority of whom rely on the forest for their basic needs, including food, shelter and income-generating activities.
Transparency International (TI) says logging companies are making huge profits and do not want the leases revoked.
TI’s PNG chairman Lawrence Stephens says it has been many years since PNG had a Prime Minister who was not placed under pressure by timber companies.
“It would be amazing if the current Prime Minister is not under incredible pressure … to find ways to restrict the damage this commission of inquiry may cause for the ambitions of the forest industry,” he said.
TI and other NGOs want an open, independent process to implement the commission’s recommendations but the task force includes representatives of government departments criticised by the inquiry.
“Some of those people who compose the task force are the very people who have been implicated in the SABL saga,” Ms Dademo said.
“The whole thing is flawed.” http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
25) West Papuans ‘beaten and had guns held to head’ in military operation
By Online Editor
4:21 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Indonesia
Villagers in a remote West Papuan town have described being beaten and having guns pointed at their heads during a “terrifying” police and military operation at a local church.
One victim, who spoke to Guardian Australia but asked not to be named because of fear for his safety, said Indonesian police and military officers herded villagers into a church in Dondobaga, in the mountainous Puncak Jaya region of West Papua, early on a Sunday morning and told them they would be killed.
Villagers were woken and ordered to enter the church at 3am, according to the victim. There they were interrogated about their involvement with the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM), threatened and beaten with the butts of rifles, he said.
“At 3am the military woke us up and ordered all of us to enter the church building. At 10am we were ordered to return outside to the churchyard and there we crouched for two hours.
“One by one we … were interrogated in the yard of the church. After two hours [the soldiers] told us, ‘close your eyes’. They were going to shoot [us].”
The victim said the villagers were saved by a military commander who “came from behind and said ‘stop!’”.
“Because of that we were saved.”
“We had closed our eyes as the soldiers were going to shoot.”
“We were … surrounded by soldiers who were using guns,” he said. “We were all terrified.”
The victim said at least 200 police and army personnel were involved in the alleged operation and that seven villagers were arrested. “They were beaten up then taken away to the place of detention at the military post.” Among those detained were a church minister, office workers and local government department bureaucrats, he said.
The victim said he and other villagers were kicked and beaten with rifle butts while detained in the church until midday on Sunday 26 January, and that they remained “very scared”.
“The situation is not suitable yet to go into the town. The community is empty. There are five churches and they are also now empty,” he said when Guardian Australia spoke to him on Tuesday.
Two families were also forced at gunpoint to burn down their own houses, he said.
Guardian Australia approached the Indonesian embassy in Canberra about the alleged incidents, but a spokesperson declined to comment.
The chief of Puncak Jaya police, Marselis Sarimin, denied there was a siege at the church and said reports about violent conduct on behalf of the armed forces had been “exaggerated”.
Sarimin said he and other officers were at the church in Dondobaga early on 26 January morning to investigate reports that someone had entered the building carrying a weapon.
He said three people were arrested for questioning during the investigation but they had since been released.
“There were not seven people, they were only three people. The first one was released that day. The second was released the next day. There’s no proof of anything that has been said. We released them all,” he told Guardian Australia.
He denied civilians had been beaten and threatened at gunpoint.
“If there are stories around the community that there was torture, it’s lies,” he said. “The news is exaggerated.”
Sarimin said the town had since returned to normal. “The community here is as usual. They hear gunshots but that’s usual here, because there’s a TPN/OPM base here,” he said.
“I have worked in this area for five years now, so I know the reality. There’s no problem here.”
The alleged incident took place a day after members of the OPM attacked a local Indonesian military post and stole weapons and set alight a military vehicle. A soldier and a member of the OPM were then killed in a shootout, a local military commander told Indonesian media.
Other reports said three guerrillas were killed in the fighting.
The OPM, which is waging an armed struggle for independence in West Papua, has claimed full responsibility for last Saturday’s attack on the military post and said the targeting of civilians is unwarranted.
“We carried out all the actions as acts of resistance in Puncak Jaya, to decide our own destiny. It wasn’t the community and church minister who they viciously treated that carried out those acts,” a spokesperson for the OPM, Yunus Enumbi, told West Papuan news outlet Jubi.
“The church leader has never taught us to resist [the Indonesian government]. Those who are carrying out the true resistance are the TPN/OPM. We will not run away. We are at our headquarters. Come if you want and face us,” he said.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN/PACNEWS
26) Changes To PNG Visa Program Affects Solomons Students
Short notice from PNG government frustrates students
By Teddy Kafo, Journalism Student
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 4, 2014) – Changes in the process of renewing visas program for entry permits by Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) government has affected local students from the Solomon Islands who are trying to travel to PNG in time for the start of their academic year.
Reports reaching the paper said the new process was agreed on and imposed late last month by the PNG government.
And because of the lengthy process, it has forced many local students to delay their flights which will result in many students arriving late for the start of their 2014 academic year.
Under the new process students wishing to renew their visa must deal directly with the ministry of education and human resource development (MEHRD) which in turn will lodge the visa application forms to the PNG high commission office.
Furthermore, the visa renewal fee has increased from SBD$150 [US$20.37] to SBD$638 [US$86.64] which is equivalent to K150.
[PIR editor’s note: According conversion information provided by Oanda, SBD$638 is equivalent to K216.33]
“The new visa processing procedure is making the visa renewal process a stumbling block,” a frustrated student said over the weekend.
The student added that the short notification by the PNG government concerning the changes to the visa process is causing a delay to many students from traveling.
“If they have notified us in the first place we would have made attempts to lodge the visa forms in time to avoid lateness.”
Universities in PNG will kick off their registration starting today which means most Solomon Island students will arrive late for registration in their respective campus.
The Solomon Star understands that the National Training Unit (NTU) officers have held a meeting with the PNG High commission office last week to discuss the matter.
Attempts to contact the PNG high commission officials yesterday for comments were unsuccessful.
27) Effective Land Usage ‘Critical’ For Solomon Islands: Official
Agriculture director says planning need to avoid serious problems
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 3, 2014) – The Solomon Islands government says the country can expect adverse effects on its future development if no sound land use policy is in place.
The director of the Land Use Planning Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Titus Sura, says effective land use planning is critical for the country.
Mr Sura says livelihoods could be damaged by unsustainable development, natural resource degradation, increased food insecurity, and loss of opportunities for productive development, among other things.
He also says land conflicts are a threat, and a proper land use policy would help to avoid them.
The National Land Rural Use Policy will commit the government to adopting and implementing a systematic and rigorous land use planning process throughout the country.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
28) Vanuatu Government Policies Set Back By Lack Of Funds: PM
Carcasses details problems during government officials’ retreat
By Thompson Marango
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 3, 2014) – Lack of sufficient funds has been identified as one of the major areas of setbacks in the implementation of Government policies in Vanuatu.
This was revealed by Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses this week when announcing the findings of a government retreat at Le Lagoon.
As intended, the retreat produced a list of problematic areas that are hindering the implementation of government policy directive.
The retreat, attended by all government Ministers, Director Generals, Political Advisors, Head of Constitutional Bodies and State Owned Agencies and Directors also agreed on the way forward to address identified bottle necks affecting service delivery.
Speaking to media after the closing of the retreat Prime Minister Carcasses and his Deputy, Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Natapei, announced that a way forward to tackle issue of budget constraints is the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP).
“The plan (CIIP) will hopefully raise sufficient funds and generate revenue for the government,” said Deputy Prime Minister Natapei.
Natapei added that the program will also encourage foreign investment in which the participation of local landowners will be encouraged.
He said partnership between locals and investors is encouraged and arrangements will be identified to allow landowners to use their land as shares in business partnership with foreign investors.
Other problematic areas identified during the retreat include continued weakness in decentralization, human resource capacity, ineffective PSC, caseload of court cases/litigation costs, land issues, linkages, service cost, political influence, accessibility, sustainability issues and poor management to name a few.
Despite the challenges, the retreat has provided the opportunity to chart a path way to guide the government towards improved and effective service delivery.
Saying it will take time and resources to deal with the identified issues, Carcasses calls on the collective effort and commitment, including joint leadership at all levels.
“We can move this country further towards our dream of making Vanuatu the economic hub of the Pacific, “the new Singapore” of the Pacific if we begin to address them.
“I strongly belief that together we can implement the way forward that we have collectively charted,” he said.
The finalized outcomes of the retreat will be put through the Development Committee of officials and Council of ministries for to be adopted as the action plan to move forward.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
29) Seized Properties Returned To Port Vila Municipal Council
Property taken over claim related to procuring new cemetery land
By Thompson Marango
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 3, 2014) – Port Vila Municipal Council (PVMC) properties seized by the Supreme Court over a Vt30 million [US$309,246] claim have been released.
The properties were release after the court granted an application by the State Law Office on behalf of the PVMC this week.
PVMC assets seized by the warrant includes part of the leasehold title of the ex-British joinery (Dumbea Hall), council vehicles including the mayor’s car and a machine used to operate the Bouffa landfill.
The seizure of the PVMC properties early this year has hindered the operation of the council as the already financially struggling institution made effort to comply with court orders to make payments. According to the PVMC, Vt12 million [US$123,699] of the claim has been settled leaving an outstanding of Vt18 million [US$185,548].
Council sources confirmed the issue has been taken back to court to review and seek new orders.
The Vt30 million claim is in relation to a failed deal between the PVMC and two individuals, namely Peter Bong and Daniel Yawah, over land which PVMC intended to secure for a new cemetery.
Meanwhile it is understood that the land concerned had been sold off by the custom landowners whom the PVMC had been consulting over the issue.
While Port Vila taxpayers’ money is being spent on the claim, the current Port Vila cemetery is running out of space.
Daily Post has been informed that securing a new spot for the town’s cemetery is on the newly elected council’s priority list.
There are two options available, either to expand cemetery to the vacant area opposite the current site or to secure another land elsewhere.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
30) Vanuatu hands over ACP Regional Coordination role to Tuvalu
By Online Editor
4:22 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Belgium
“Over the years, the Pacific Parliamentarians are becoming more vocal and well versed with a number of debates in the Joint Parliamentary Assembly particularly those relating to EPA negotiations with the EC and that concerning IUU Fisheries”.
Brussels’ based Vanuatu Ambassador to the European Union, Roy Mickey Joy made the statement when he formally handed over his position as the Pacific ACP Regional Coordinator, to the Ambassador of Tuvalu to the European Union, Tine Lueulu on 22 January this year.
Ambassador Joy who is a prominent diplomat from the Pacific still working in Brussels said he was happy to have served the Region in the position for the last 6 months and wished Ambassador Lueulu all success in his new mandate.
While reporting on the various meetings and activities that the Pacific ACP Regional Coordinator had attended and coordinated on behalf of his colleagues, Ambassador Joy made special reference to the last ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Session held last November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and made special mention of the “very high level of Pacific representations by our designated Parliamentarians”.
He thanked the Ambassador of Tuvalu for having represented them at the recent Pacific ACP Trade Ministers meeting held in Honiara, the Solomon Islands last November and for the PACP solidarity demonstrated at the recent 9th WTO Ministerial Meeting held in Bali, Indonesia last December.
Out-going ACP President and Ambassador of Samoa Dr. Fatumanana Pa O lelei Luteru congratulated Ambassador Lueulu for agreeing to take up the challenge and assured him of the Pacific Group’s unequivocal solidarity and support in the course of his 6 months Coordination.
He also congratulated Ambassador Joy for his “sterling leadership” in ensuring that the Pacific continues to have a voice in the ACP and EU circles.
The Pacific Ambassadors also farewelled the Ambassador of the Solomon Islands to the EC, Joseph Mahaanua who was recalled after successfully serving the Government of the Solomon Islands for over 8 years.
The Pacific ACP Regional Co-ordination is comprised of the Ambassadors from the following Pacific ACP states – Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor L Este and Vanuatu.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
31) Vanuatu’s human rights record reviewed by Human Rights Council in Geneva
By Online Editor
4:39 pm GMT+12, 03/02/2014, Switzerland
The Universal Periodic Review Working Group examined the progress of Vanuatu in protecting and promoting human rights within the framework of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
The delegation of Vanuatu was headed by Roy Mickey Joy, Ambassador of Vanuatu to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.
The UPR is one of the key mechanisms of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, which provides an opportunity for each UN member State to declare what actions have been taken to improve the human rights situation in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
Vanuatu was reviewed under the UPR for the first time in 2009 and the second review will focus on progress made by the State in implementing the UPR recommendations since then.
Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s dual citizenship law is expected to come into force this month.
The Council of Ministers is still to gazette the measure after parliament amended the citizenship act last November.
The changes allow foreigners to retain their passport of origin while taking up Vanuatu citizenship.
The new law comes amid ongoing concerns at corrupt practices centring on the sale of passports.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/RNZI/PACNEWS
32) PM Bainimarama to call for application from candidates to join his party
By Online Editor
09:53 am GMT+12, 03/02/2014, Fiji
Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama says his soon to be formed party will fight a battle of ideas to determine the future of the country.
Speaking at the Chinese New Year celebration in Suva, Commodore Bainimarama said he will be asking every Fijian- no matter who they are to join him.
“As you know, in some weeks I will stand down from the Military and a job I have dearly loved. I will be forming a political movement and I will be asking every Fijian – no matter who they are – to join me. Together, our task will be to fight a battle of ideas to determine the future of our nation. And in that battle of ideas, we intend to win.
“We will not do so with arrogance. We will not do so by lying about the past or the future for that matter. On the contrary, we will offer a fresh vision for every Fijian and humbly seek their support. That vision will be laid out in detail during the election campaign, he said.
“But I can tell you now that its foundation will be continuing stability, a healthy and vigorous economy and a climate that encourages new investment to create and sustain.”
The foundation of this stability is the new Fijian constitution which amongst other things creates common and equal citizenry a prerequisite to any modern and successful nation-state.”
“Our young people of course want interesting, satisfying jobs. They want to travel, to see the world, to have their horizons broadened. They want satisfying, fulfilling lives. They want to make a difference. They care about our environment. They want sustainable development. They are our future – the new Fiji – and we must work as hard as we can, with them, to see their dreams fulfilled.”
He said his government’s initiative to allow young people to have equal opportunity to attain the highest level of education is not a handout but is a leg-up as it empowers the youth to build individual and national capacity.
Commodore Bainimarama said his government has achieved significant goals in the past eight years and the challenge would be to build on the progress so far.
“The coming weeks and months promise to be challenging and also immensely exciting. Everything my Government and I have worked for over the past seven years is coming to a climax with the general election before the end of September.
When the new Parliament is chosen – with every Fijian 18 years and over having an equal say for the first time – our revolution will be largely complete. But I want to stress that the task of building our new and better Fiji will be only just beginning. The foundation will have been laid but the real hard work is still to come,” Commodore Bainimarama said.
Fiji will head to the polls in September and to date four political parties namely the Fiji Labour Party (FLP), National Federation Party (NFP), Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have registered to contest the general election.
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) founder and spokesperson Nirmal Singh has resigned from the party and says he will be announcing his future political plans in due course.
Singh said he informed the interim PDP president Adi Sivia Qoro of his decision.
“My reason for resigning from the party is based on a fundamental disagreement with several issues. As you would have noted, there have been several conflicting statements released from the party in recent times and this does not augur well for the reputation, well-being and unity within the party,” he said.
“We have been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons and this is affecting PDP’s profile and credibility among our people.” “I am dispensable – the party is indispensible!.”
“I must admit here that the policies of the party expressed so far in the media were mostly articulated by me and this has not gone down well with some founding members and this was done in absence of party having any firmed up policies. I take responsibility for uttering those policies and will leave up to my promise to the people to deliver on those policies once I decide my political future.”
“I strongly believe that we have to serve the people of Fiji and not one segment of the society, no matter who was instrumental in forming the party. We must represent the interest of all the people of our country.”
“For sake of unity in the party, for the sake of consistency in the party and for the sake of the interest of the people we serve it is important for me to step aside, which I am doing so with immediate effect.”
Singh added that he will continue to speak up on issues important for the country and strive towards the goal of encouraging a new generation of leaders to take the political leadership of this country.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
33) Prominent Fiji unionists plan to stand for election
By Online Editor
4:23 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Fiji
Two prominent unionists in Fiji are planning to stand for parliament at this year’s election.
The president of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Daniel Urai, says he and General Secretary, Felix Anthony, will contest under the banner of the People’s Democratic Party.
Trade union office holders are banned by decree from belonging to political parties in Fiji and Urai says their candidacy may mean resigning from their union positions.
“The workers need a voice in parliament and definitely that’s where we will move. That’s the only area where the plight of workers can be heard and they no longer have to go through the difficulties they face under the current regime.”
Urai says the party is moving in a positive direction but it is still in the early stage of development.
A party spokesman, Nirmal Singh, resigned from the PDP this week saying there were fundamental disagreements over several issues.
The PDP is one of four registered political parties in Fiji.
34) India Ready To Assist With 2014 Elections In Fiji
Fiji delegation meets with India’s Electoral Commission
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 3, 2014) – The Indian government and its Electoral Commission has agreed to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding with Fiji’s Electoral Commission to enable flow of information, technical assistance and personnel between the two agencies.
They have also shown a deep level of understanding and support for a fair electoral system in Fiji.
Minister responsible for elections and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum met and briefed the Indian Electoral Commissioners, V S Sampath (Chief Commissioner), Harishankar Brahma and Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi and their staff on the preparations for the 2014 general election in New Delhi last week and informed them that holding elections that are free, fair and credible, based on a fair electoral system is the absolute priority of the Bainimarama government.
“We look forward to close cooperation between the Indian Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office and Fijian Electoral Commission,” said the Attorney General.
“We had very constructive exchange of information with the Indian Electoral commissioners and discussed a wide range of issues including the elections preparations, the role of the Fijian Electoral Commission and how for the first time Fiji will have one day polling.”
He said the Indian Electoral Commissioners also commended the appointment of the independent Fijian Electoral Commission, saying that it signifies the independence and credibility of the election process.
“To get such endorsement and pledge of assistance and cooperation by the Electoral Commission of the world’s largest democracy demonstrates confidence in the processes and work done so far in the preparations for the elections by the Bainimarama government.”
Sayed-Khaiyum and his delegation received a demonstration on the electronic voting system that has been widely and successfully used in the Indian elections.
The Indian Electoral Commission is also interested in the Fijian Registration of Political Parties Decree and asked the Attorney General for a copy of it.
By Online Editor
1:29 pm GMT+12, 03/02/2014, Fiji
The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and the Fiji’s Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) have joined more than 170 media organisations and civil society organisations around the world to demand that the United Nations include freedom and access to information as essential elements of the new development agenda.
“Human development in the coming decades will depend on people’s access to information. Groundbreaking new media and technology are enabling major expansion of economic, social and political progress.
“We believe that freedom of expression and access to independent media are essential to democratic and economic development. Freedom of speech and the media are means to advance human development and are ends in their own right, said Article 19, the organisation leading the global campaign.
The more than 170 media and civil society groups are proposing that the UN set a specific goal to ‘ensure good governance and effective institutions’ and a component of this goal is to ensure people enjoy freedom of speech, association, peaceful protests and to guarantee the public’s right to information and government data.
The UN is currently discussing a new global development agenda for 2015 after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire.
This week the Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals will be meeting in New York to further discussions on governance.
In a joint statement, coordinated by ARTICLE 19 and the Global Forum for Media Development(GFMD), 176 organisations say access to information and media freedom are vital elements for a future development plan. Systems that allow people to hold governments accountable are fundamental to achieving economic growth, social equality and environmental sustainability.
“It’s crucial that the UN recognise the broad base of support for including media freedom and access to information as essential elements of the new development agenda. Creating open governments are a fundamental prerequisite to ensure meaningful development” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
The free flow of information allows people to make informed decisions and participate meaningfully in public discussions about matters that affect their lives. Information is also critical for to encourage innovation and creativity. Access to information and a free and independent media are crucial to ensuring governments are held to account for the promises they make and to safeguard development commitments” added Hughes.
“With this statement, civil society groups from all regions of the globe are addressing their representatives at the United Nations. Ignoring the role of media and information in fostering transparency and accountability would be an absurdity while setting goals and target for development for the next decades. Access to information and independent media are essential to development. As the UN Open Working Group gathers again this week, it is of utmost importance they take account of this message”, said Leon Willems, GFMD Chairman.
Last year a high-level advisory panel – appointed to advise the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the post 2015 agenda – recommended a new goal on good governance for a future development plan. This goal would include ensuring that people have the right to free speech, independent media and access to information. The group’s report (A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development) was welcomed widely for recognising the vital role human rights play in securing meaningful economic and social development.
“The high level panel made clear that access to information and the transparency and accountability of governments are critical to ensure development. Those recommendations must be made good and be formally incorporated to make to the post 2015 agenda meaningful” said Hughes.
36) Indonesia-PNG agree currency use on border
By Online Editor
09:40 am GMT+12, 03/02/2014, Indonesia
The governments of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the use of the Indonesian rupiah and PNG kina in the two countries’ border areas.
The MoU was signed in Yogyakarta on Thursday by Bank Indonesia’s (BI) deputy governor for payment systems, Ronald Waas, and Bank of PNG Deputy Governor Benny Popoitai.
“The MoU is aimed at increasing economic activities in areas along the border between the two countries,” Ronald said after the signing ceremony.
The MoU will, among other things, regulate the exchange mechanism between the rupiah and the kina.
Indonesian and PNG citizens living along the border often cross the divide to buy their daily provisions. “If [the two currencies] are compared, the rupiah is dominant,” Ronald said, adding that by far the most transactions took place in the border villages of Sota and Sekouw.
Ronald expressed his hope that the signing of the MoU would increase the growth of the banking industry in border areas and increase the number of money changers, thus enabling people in both countries to exchange their currencies.
So far, he said, there were only two official money changers along the Indonesia-PNG border.
The first such MoU between the two countries was introduced in 1996 and it has been amended through the years to reflect new developments. “The MoU we have signed today will be in force for five years,” he said.
Executive director of BI’s money management department, Lambok Antonius Siahaan, said payment
systems in border areas were needed to improve the economy of those areas.
People’s daily needs could also be met if the financial system ran smoothly as both the kina and rupiah were easily obtainable, he said.
“That way, the economy will automatically develop along with a growth in small and medium enterprises,” Lambok added.
Separately, Popoitai said the MoU was very important for the central banks of both Indonesia and PNG as it would help them deal with finance-sector problems in border areas. The MoU would also allow people in both countries to enjoy a good exchange mechanism and facilities.
“We have to create and support an environment on both sides of the border that will enhance the flourishing trade in the area,” Popoitai said.
He added that many PNG residents traveled to Jayapura in Papua to buy food, clothes, machines and other necessities. The same was also true of Indonesians traveling to PNG to buy their daily needs, such as coffee.
“When they [PNG nationals] do business, they take the kina to Indonesia. Now, Indonesians can change that money into rupiah in our banks,” Popoitai said.
SOURCE: THE JAKARTA POST/PACNEWS
37) OIL Search Ltd: Output to rise 400%
By Online Editor
4:15 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Papua New Guinea
OIL Search Ltd will more than quadruple its production by next year.
Managing director Peter Botten said the company’s solid oil production needed to be increased further because of the PNG LNG project.
The company is the second largest shareholder in the gas project with a 29% stake after ExxonMobil.
Botten said this year was a big one for the company as it was nearing the sales of LNG mid-year.
He said: “We’ve (Oil Search) a solid oil production business since we started operating more than 10 years.
“LNG project means we have to significantly increase our production — our first full year of production will be in 2015.
“But we will more than quadruple our production so we’ll move towards 27-28 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) up from 6-7 mmboe by 2015.
“We believe we can produce, we should beat the record this year if projections are right, contributions from LNG and oil fields are substantial this year.
“But the highlight is the successful delivery of the PNG LNG project.
“There’s a massive increase in production and obviously that flows onto significant increase in revenue and profits.
“This is a good platform to reinvest in Papua New Guinea and other growth projects, which will provide long standing shareholders with steady and improved dividends.”
Oil Search is carrying out ongoing drilling at Mananda.
Botten said seven wells were being drilled and they hoped to make full decision (on Mananda) by end of this year, as it was a potentially reasonable size oil field and would increase the company’s (production) life for good.
He said Oil Search’s operations in Kurdistan and Taza were going well.
“We have substantive programmes both in PNG and overseas.”
Botten said the drop in value of kina by another 10% as predicted by ANZ would have less impact on the company.
“Because oil and gas are sold in US currency, the flow on effect for our cost in kina becomes slightly cheaper.
“It’s a minor positive for our business for the kina to drop a little bit it is also important that reinvestments we (Oil Search) make stimulates a strong PNG economy.”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
38) Vanuatu RSE workers arrested and sent home due to alcohol
By Online Editor
4:18 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Vanuatu
Three Vanuatu RSE workers have been arrested and sent back home for their involvement in drinking (alcohol), fighting and inappropriate behaviour last Christmas.
Expressing his disappointment in a press statement, Commissioner of Labour, Lionel Kaluat named those involved as Paul Nato and Paul Iatika from Tanna and Philip Mark from Malekula, all workers from Hotus (previously known as Marlborough Vine Works).
According to the statement the three men got drunk and damaged one of the houses they lived in.
“The employer was very disappointed with the behavior of the Ni- Vanuatu men and has now decided to reduce the number of Ni- Vanuatu workers and he is looking at recruiting from the Solomon Islands.
“He also indicated at the performances of the workers during the last winter season was very poor compared to the Solomon Islanders. The three workers are returning tomorrow (today) Saturday 1st February, 2014.”
Commissioner Kaluat said his staff at the Employment Service Unit and the Licensees run pre- departure briefings to all RSE and SWP workers before they leave Vanuatu for seasonal employment. One of the points discussed in the pre-departure is the “Alcohol- Free Brand” as part of the workers policy. Anyone taking part in Seasonal employment is clearly warned that any worker who breached the Alcohol Free Brand Policy will face the penalty of being placed on the “Stand Down List” for 5 years.
Kaluat added that after numerous warnings and advises against the influence of alcohol and it negative consequences, some workers are not complying with the policy.
“This year, the Employment Services Unit will fully implement the Alcohol Free Brand Policy during the selection and recruitment of new workers and also assessing records of returning workers to ensure that all Seasonal Workers adhered to the Policy.
“Anyone failing to comply with the policy will be placed on the Stand Down List for 5 years or be totally banned from engaging in both schemes.
He appealed to all members of the community and community leaders to help protect Vanuatu’s reputation in its engagement in the RSE and SWP schemes which has been of great benefit to the people in the rural communities and the economy of the country as a whole.
Kaluat said a lot of effort, time, energy and resources to make the scheme work and Government will not tolerate nor allow such behaviors to cause such damage to Vanuatu’s image.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
39) Holidaying in paradise ‘can be costly – make sure you’re covered’
By Online Editor
4:12 pm GMT+12, 04/02/2014, New Zealand
In the last year, Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has paid out a number of medical evacuation claims including $95,000 for an evacuation from Samoa, $67,000 from Norfolk Island and a whopping $180,000 from New Caledonia.
Each year over 255,000 New Zealanders head to Pacific Islands to enjoy sun, sea and sand, but those that travel without insurance leave themselves vulnerable to expensive medical bills if something goes wrong.
Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO, says that while healthcare facilities in the islands are usually perfectly adequate for routine illnesses, the more serious medical emergencies result in evacuations to New Zealand or Australia. This is when travel insurance becomes invaluable.
“Southern Cross Worldwide Assistance manages cases that require medical evacuation and emergency transport by air ambulance on a regular basis and the cost of this starts at around $10,000 – but can escalate to more than ten times that.”
While medical evacuations are the costliest, Morrison says the most common claims SCTI receives from Pacific Island holidays result from:
– People losing jewellery
– People requiring rabies vaccinations after being bitten by stray dogs
– Injuries due to scooter accidents
– Broken teeth on hard foods (due to bones being left in meat cuts)
– Cuts that need stitches from coral
– Surfing injuries
– Gastric flu
Along with making certain they have travel insurance that covers them for the activities they are likely to do; Morrison says travellers to the islands should also take the time to pack a basic summer holiday first aid that includes sunscreen, insect repellent and antibacterial ointment.
He also warns tropical storms can play absolute havoc with travel schedules.
On average the South Pacific experiences 15 tropical cyclones each year. If travellers have taken out travel insurance prior to the notification of the storm they will be covered for expenses related to that event, disruptions or cancellations
40) Toyota calls for halt on sale of cars
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
THE world’s biggest carmaker, Toyota, has told dealers in the US to stop sales of some of its cars that are equipped with seat heaters.
The firm said that a portion of the seat fabric in the affected models could burn at a rate faster than allowed by US regulations.
The models affected by the move include the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra.
Toyota said no fires or injuries had been reported due to the issue.
The firm said that nearly 36,000 vehicles currently with dealers â€” about 13 per cent of their inventory â€” would be affected by the decision.
However, that number does not include vehicles that may have already been sold or those in transit to the dealers.
Toyota officials appear confident there is no risk and as a result they feel any hit to the company’s reputation would be short-lived and less costly than a full recall.
41) Plans For MSG Regional Police Academy In Fiji On Hold
Fiji defense minister says national elections are priority for 2014
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 3, 2014) – Fiji’s defence minister, Joketani Cokanasiga, says plans for a Melanesian Spearhead Group regional police training facility are on the back burner until after this year’s election.
The proposed facility is to be set up in Fiji and last month, the Indonesian government gave Fiji US$500,000 to help with its establishment.
But Vanuatu’s newspaper, The Independent, reports Mr Cokanasiga as saying there is no date for when the facility will start operations.
He says it would cost about US$10 million and his government has other priorities this year, namely the election, scheduled for September.
Mr Cokanasiga says Fiji already has a facility it could use for the purpose and after the elections the government will look at that.
The proposal is to train police from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
42) Australia Negotiating New Contract For Asylum Seeker Services
Construction company to take over as Salvation Army contract ends
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 3, 2014) – The Australian government is negotiating with a construction company to take over welfare services from the Salvation Army for asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island.
The Salvation Army’s US$65 million contract with the government for services in Australia’s camps on the islands ended at the end of January.
Last week Transfield Services announced to the Australian Securities Exchange it was to take over responsibility for support and welfare services.
A spokesman for Transfield Services, David Jamieson, says the company would retain 40 percent of the 300 staff working under the previous contract.
He says Transfield provides entertainment and recreation programmes at defence bases in Australia.
He says more specialised counselling is still to be handled by medical personnel.
Transfield is an Australian-based global corporation that provides operations, maintenance and construction services.
A spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, says Transfield’s top priority would be its shareholders rather than the welfare of asylum seekers.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
43) PNG Cabinet approves new youth bill
By Online Editor
10:05 am GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea National Executive Council (NEC) has recently approved a proposed bill to repeal the National Youth Commission Act 1999 and replace it with the National Youth Development Authority Act 2013.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Cabinet had endorsed the proposed bill since the National Youth Commission Act 1999 has outlived its legislative purpose in empowering the young people in nation-building.
He said for the last 38 years since, Papua New Guinea has undergone tremendous institutional and structural changess to emerge as a nation, despite its diverse social and culture groupings.
“The changes it had undergone including shifts in the social and occupational structures and the changes to its political and cultural institutions no doubt has affected both the young and old.
“This process of social, economic and political change has resulted in the social differentiation among our young people today.
“The youths are now caught in between these strains and contradictions,” he said.
O’Neill said as a nation with an evolving young population, focus must be on contemporary and emerging youth-related issues such as the lack of patriotism, HIV/AIDS, unemployment, substances abuse, alcoholism, law, order & justice problems, Selling Sex for Money (SSM), rural-urban migration, peer group pressure and entrepreneurship skills to enter job markets both in the informal and formal sectors.
“The proposed bill is the way forward as it will elevate the youth development work to the next level in reforming the delivery mechanism and improving the quality of young people’s life as embedded in the 2050 Vision and the National Youth Policy 2007- 2017,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the proposed bill, together with the National Youth Policy, would further embrace and strengthen the national government’s desire to improve the quality of young people’s lives through legislative reforms, which is experienced so far in the delivery mechanism of the public sector.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
44) Unemployed youths use rugby as source of income
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
A GROUP of unemployed youths at Navau settlement in Ba have turned the sport of rugby into an employment opportunity.
The players make up the core of the Lomavata 7s team that has been participating in the series of Lomavata and Gaunavou 7s tournaments in Lautoka and Ba. The series goes into its sixth leg this weekend.
Team official Joji Tuivaga said most of the players had failed to secure permanent employment and this prompted them to try out rugby.
Tuivaga said rugby was a major income source for many Fijian players around the globe.
“Most of these boys have completed their education but failed to secure employment,” said Tuivaga.
“The success of Fijian players earning huge dollars in Europe and other parts of the world has inspired these boys to fully utilise their rugby talent.
“This is the first year that these boys have been exposed to tough and competitive games and it seems they’ve adapted well to the challenges.”
Tuivaga said another reason for involving these youths with rugby was to combat criminal activities in their residential area.
“Rugby has changed the lives of these boys and they’re been dedicated to the sport.
“The side has performed consistently in tournaments and we are looking forward to seeing an even better performance this weekend.
“Rugby has led to the decrease in criminal activities now that these boys are committed to daily training except Sunday.”
Tuivaga said the rugby training had also helped the players improve their health.
The side will compete at a Gaunavou 7s leg in Ba this weekend.Fijitimes
45) Penrith sign giant PNG youngster with size 15 feet
By Online Editor
10:23 am GMT+12, 03/02/2014, Australia
First it was a panther, now there are reports of a bigfoot sighting at the foot of the mountains.
The 194-centimetre, 104-kilogram monster from Papua New Guinea, who goes by the name of Wellington Albert, was first seen meeting with Penrith Panthers general manager Phil Gould in December.
He was last spotted at Sportingbet Stadium on Thursday carrying a personally delivered package into the club’s change rooms. The contents of the package were rare size 15 (33cm) football boots assumed to be used to trample over opposition defenders.
It is the first sighting of its kind, with Albert the first Papua New Guinean native to receive a NRL contract directly from his home country. The 19-year-old boarded a plane in PNG last Tuesday as a national hero, but touched down in Sydney as just another teenager with an NRL dream.
He will challenge Jamal Idris as the club’s biggest player but he has them all covered in the shoe department. ”We had to get him specially made boots from Asics to fit him,” Gould said.
In Papua New Guinea, they don’t cater for the athlete with size 15 shoes. It wasn’t until a schoolboys’ trip to Brisbane that Albert finally found a pair of boots that fit him properly – so he bought two. Albert, the second youngest of a family of six children, was part of the Kumuls’ World Cup campaign last year, impressing in his stints off the bench against Scotland and New Zealand.
He attracted interest from South Sydney and Wests Tigers, but it was Gould – who likened him to a young Petero Civoniceva – who struck the unique deal.
”He’s very tall, he’s got size 15 boots, hands as big as dinner plates and is the biggest PNG boy I have ever seen,” Gould said. ”He’s very fast, quite powerful. He gallops like a gazelle and is a beautiful mover. He’s very well mannered and well spoken. He said he plays front row or wing. Wing because he is fast and front row because he is big. It’s safe to say we’ll be using him as a forward.
”He’s just all raw ability at the moment. He’s never been part of a football program, he’s never lifted a weight, but he’s a big, strong lad. It’s quite exciting to get a raw talent like this just to see how far he will go.”
Since signing with the Panthers and joining fellow Papua New Guinean James Segeyaro at the club, the news has hardly made a noise in rugby league circles in Australia. But back home in PNG, the softly spoken Albert has become a household name.
”It was big news,” Albert said. ”Every day I would be in the newspaper or on TV. All of the fans in PNG who watch NRL have favourite teams like Broncos, Roosters. But when they heard I was coming to Penrith, all of them say they go for Panthers. I’m a bit famous now.”
Albert’s manager, Steve Deacon, believes the signing will have a huge impact in Papua New Guinea, where rugby league is already the No.1 sport. ”He’ll be a national treasure,” Deacon said. ”Kids will be running around wanting to be Wellington Albert. That will snowball once he gets his crack at NRL.”
Albert, who will start the season playing under coach Trent Barrett in the Panthers’ under-20s team, is living with a New Zealand family and teammates in Cranebrook.
He comes from a well-educated family in Mendi, the capital of the Southern Highlands province. One of his brothers is a doctor, another is a civil engineer. His sister is studying accounting while another brother is studying economics.
While Albert believes he won’t be homesick, he is hellbent on keeping a promise he made to his family before embarking on the new chapter of his career.
“They said, ‘Go and do not do any bad things that will affect your character’,” Albert said. ”They said, ‘Go, train hard and continue to make us proud.’ They were so happy. I want to do this for them.”
Albert, a Roosters and Broncos supporter, idolises Sonny Bill Williams. He played against Williams at the World Cup and collected a memento. ”After the game we swapped jerseys,” Albert said. ”It’s at home. I just framed it and put it in my house.”
Albert finished high school last year and will be enrolled in an economics degree at the University of Western Sydney. He speaks broken English but it isn’t his ability to hold a conversation that concerns his new teammates.
“The boys were all a bit in awe of him when he walked through the car park for the first time,” Barrett said. ”They were all asking what position he played. I said anywhere from wing to the front row so they were all a bit worried. You don’t get much of a tougher breed than the Papua New Guineans. He ticks a lot of boxes.”.
46) $40 million on offer for Fiji Rugby Union
By Online Editor
11:04 am GMT+12, 04/02/2014, Fiji
The Fiji Rugby Union board has signed a major sponsor for all it’s brands believed to be worth $40 million.
Late Monday night, the FRU announced that after careful consideration, a lucrative five year sponsorship contract has been signed.
It is understood a consortium spearheaded by Vodafone has offered to pay a whopping $8 million annually over the next five years.
This amount is now believed to have been matched by a counter Digicel offer.
The lucrative offer by both parties would be the biggest sports sponsorship deal in Fiji to date.
Last week, Digicel was ready to pay an advance of $250,000 provided FRU signed a Memorandum of Understanding saying it was based on their earlier contractual agreement.
Digicel says FRU’s delayed response forced them to commence legal proceedings against them last Friday.
SOURCE: FBC SPORTS/PACNEWS
47) Commonwealth Games: Number of sports could be cut
By Online Editor
11:01 am GMT+12, 04/02/2014, United Kingdom
The Commonwealth Games could be cut from 17 to 10 sports to keep the event alive beyond 2018, a leading Games official has told the BBC.
Glasgow will stage the 2014 event and the Gold Coast in 2018, but no bidders have yet come forward as 2022 hosts.
Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, says reducing the number of sports could encourage interest.
“We recognise the tough economic times but we have flexibility,” he said.
“If someone wanted to predicate a bid on a theme of ‘bring it back to basics’, then they could do so.
“Clearly the cost structures associated with putting on a 10 sports Games versus a 17 sports Games is vastly different and that has always been the case.”
Ten sports is the minimum allowed by the Commonwealth Games Federation, with 17 the maximum.
Bids to host the 2022 showpiece must be received by March 2015 but official notes of interest must be in by the end of March this year.
So far, no notes of interest have been received and that has led to several Nations and territories expressing concern about the future of the event.
Hooper, who will stand down from his position after the Games in Glasgow this year, said: “If you are asking me can I guarantee multiple bids for 2022, right now I can’t give you that guarantee.
“Obviously if there are no bids, the games will finish in 2018 but I don’t believe that will be the case.
Asked to clarify the current level of interest, he added: “There’s talk of Singapore, South Africa and the UK but we will wait and see.”
SOURCE: BBC SPORT/PACNEWS
48) Hooper to retire after Glasgow games
By Online Editor
11:00 am GMT+12, 04/02/2014, United Kingdom
The Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), Mike Hooper, has announced his intention to leave the organisation after the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Hooper is credited with the establishment of the modern Commonwealth Games administration, moving it from a small volunteer-based administration when he started as the Federation’s first full time CEO in 2000 to a professional operation that has supported the successful celebration of the Games since in the United Kingdom, Australia and India.
He also led the ongoing development of candidature and contractual processes associated with the award of the Games including the forthcoming Games in Glasgow this July and the Gold Coast in 2018, as well as playing a leading role on the CGF’s Coordination Commissions at each host city during his tenure at the top of the organisation. Hooper visited Port Moresby and Kavieng last year during the PNG leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay.
Hooper has also had a major hand in building the Federation’s much improved financial base and he will be leaving the Federation in a strong financial position. CGF President, HRH Tunku Imran said: “After so many years as the driving force behind the CGF, Mike has recognised that the time is right to pass the baton to a new leader for the next phase of the CGF’s development.
“We are fortunate to have had Mike serving us tirelessly for the past 13 years, and are appreciative that he has agreed to stay on until the successful delivery of the Games in Glasgow and to facilitate a successful transition to the next chapter of our development,” Imran said.
“Mike has not only made a tremendous contribution to the Games and the CGF, but also to the strengthening of sport within the Commonwealth. “We will now instigate a world-wide search for a new CEO. It is great timing for a new CEO to come in and build on Mike’s legacy.”
Hooper, former Secretary General of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, moved to London in 2000 to become the CGF’s inaugural CEO. “I’ve enjoyed the job enormously. It has been hugely challenging at times, particularly in the lead-up to Delhi, but we persevered and, in the end, those Games were a success for the athletes. “Manchester, Melbourne and Delhi have all added to the rich heritage of the Commonwealth Games and I’m sure Glasgow and the Gold Coast will do the same. “But the timing is perfect for me to make a move.
I sat down with the President and the Board, and we’ve put together a plan that sees me at the helm until Glasgow, and involved in ensuring a successful handover to the next CEO. “I’ve made many friends, had tremendous support from both Presidents under whom I have served, Mike Fennell and Tunku Imran, and had a great working relationship with our boards and committees. “This year’s Games in Glasgow are set to be great and the CGF is well placed going forward. It has been an honor to serve one of the enduring institutions of world sport.”.
SOURCE: COMMONWEALTH GAMES/PACNEWS
49) PNG cricketers careful of a different kind of drive
By Online Editor
10:31 am GMT+12, 03/02/2014, Australia
In Papua New Guinea, driving schools use the cricket ovals for training. In Vanuatu the field is littered with dangerous crab holes and in Fiji it rains 270 days a year.
But those challenges have not stopped cricket becoming one of the top participation sports in the Pacific.
The stories of the development of the summer game in the region have been chronicled in a book, Oceans of Cricket, by veteran journalist Barrie Cassidy and his son Adam, who travels throughout the Pacific region promoting the game for the International Cricket Council.
”I started coming home and telling dad all these stories and we had some great photographers travelling with us at times, so in the end we decided it would be a good idea to write a book,” Adam said.
Barrie did the historical research, while Adam told the people stories.
”PNG is now 16th in the world in cricket rankings, but growing the game in PNG has been extremely tough,” he said.
”Five years ago they hardly had any grounds that were in good condition at all and had squatters at the grounds and driving schools were driving all over the grounds as well.”
A moat to block cars seems to have worked, whereas in Vanuatu, the players have used their unique facilities to improve their game.
”They actually don’t have a single ground that’s not dangerous to play on – they’re all covered in giant crab holes – if you try to field the ball, it flies up and I’ve seen some pretty horrific injuries,” Adam said.
”They actually become incredible fielders as a result of it.”
A program which uses cricket to deliver health messages and checks to remote villages has meant women in Vanuatu and Fiji, who avoid cultural taboos by playing in island dress, reduce their blood pressure and sugar levels with the education and exercise.
SOURCE: CANBERRA TIMES/PACNEWS