Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 941

MELANESIA

1) Four men in Indonesia’s Papua sentenced for raising banned flag

12 February 2014

Four Papuan men in the Indonesian town of Biak have been sentenced to jail for raising the banned Morning Star flag used by West Papuan separatists.

The flag is banned under Indonesia’s criminal code.

Oktavianus Warnares was sentenced for three years for raising the flag last May.

According to Antara News, Warnares says he is considering an appeal, while the prosecutor, Leni Silaban, says she will appeal the sentence.

Three other defendants were sentenced to 1.8 years, 2.6 years and two years respectively.

In their consideration, the judges ruled that raising the flag had threatened the existence of the unitary state of Indonesia.

Apart from the flag, there were other items used as evidence in the trial including a revolver, a military costume, 39 bullets and a home-made bomb.c/- radio new zealand.

2) Vanuatu daily news digest | 12 February 2014

by bobmakin

  • The Vanuatu Strategic Tourism Action Plan (VSTAP) has been announced by Minister Toara Daniel, a plan to work for the next five years and help build upon the already forward moving tourism industry. The Daily Post report yesterday highlighted the New Zealand role in tourism development which is also strongly supported by AusAid projects. Spreading tourism benefits to the outer islands is one of the main objects of the plan. It will also up a network to establish what tourism developments are taking place. New Zealand High Commissioner Bill Dobbie said “tourism celebrates Vanuatu’s culture and environment, empowers its people and captivates visitors throughout the islands.” Quite true. It will be good to see the tourism accent finally concentrating on this kind of secure and regional market in the islands of Vanuatu rather, it is hoped, than 747s from Korea which are already a big disappointment for Fiji.
  • The government says it has the idea to appoint an international public prosecutor to bring back the required status of public trust to the important office. Roger Abiut of the Justice Ministry spoke to VBTC Radio News in the matter. The Judicial Services Commission has said the position will be advertised from 9 March both in Vanuatu and elsewhere.
  • The Electoral Office has announced 15 April as the date for the Port Vila by-election, owing to the death of MP Patrick Crowby Manarewo. The Principal Electoral Officer, Charles Vatu, said the date still needed to be confirmed by State Office but the date recommended would mean candidacy applications starting 19 February and ending 7 March. Parliament is required to meet every month of March, but no date has been given so far for the first ordinary sitting for this year. The Vanua’aku Pati is actually calling on persons who would consider themselves appropriate candidates, especially young people, to apply for candidacy for the Port Vila election, in order to build up their national leadership once again. And meantime, the Tanna electoral petition against the result of the 2012 poll remains before the courts.
  • The Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC) rather than the Foreign Ministry has announced how it will make appointments of diplomats overseas. The so-called Consular Programme will help the government considerably, Radio Vanuatu News was told, in bringing large quantities of money into Vanuatu. The Task Force of the VFSC will pass its candidacy findings to Foreign Affairs which will then make “an independent appointment” the Task Force representative said. USD 500,000 would achieve the fee required and enable local registration of foreign companies. Certain changes are needed to existing legislation.
  • The government will engage the services of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) as partners to work on the Blacksands Fishery project. There is a meeting this afternoon (Wednesday) of VFSC and Agriculture personnel. This will incorporate a visit to the established Chinese fishery.
  • A ni-Vanuatu education attaché will be appointed to the embassy in Fiji to look after Vanuatu students in that country. The announcement of the decision of Education Minister Loughman will be welcomed by the large number of students resident in Fiji.
  • Roy Mickey Joy, re-appointed by the Council of Ministers to his post in Brussels a week ago, has announced a waiver of visa entry to the European Union countries for Vanuatu passport holders in the near future. Daily Post reported Vanuatu will join other Pacific states – Samoa, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, the Solomons, Timor-Leste and Tuvalu. However, visas will still be needed for travel to New Caledonia (and those persons presently in the neighbouring French territory). After formal agreement by the European Parliament and EC, visa-free entry to Europe should become effective by end April.
  • Silas Yatan of the Greens says the Vanua’aku Pati, the Union of Moderate Parties, the Melanesian Progressive Party, National United Party, Green Confederation and People’s Progressive Party have all signed agreements with the Chinese Communist Party to receive container loads of iron roofing. Such shipments to leaders have been recently reported. Asiatic style patronage proceeds apace.

Moses Amos starts his 3 year contract in the SPC Fisheries in Noumea in March. His considerable experience and knowledge have been welcomed by many in the region.

AUSTRALIA

3) Closing the Gap: Tony Abbott delivers mixed report card on Indigenous disadvantage

Updated 12 February 2014, 14:56 AEST
By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told Parliament that the nation is failing to meet the “more important and the more meaningful targets” in Indigenous disadvantage Mr Abbott has delivered this year’s Closing the Gap report, which covers areas such as life expectancy, education and unemployment, and aims to breach the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030.

Mr Abbott has delivered this year’s Closing the Gap report, which covers areas such as life expectancy, education and unemployment, and aims to breach the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030.

He told MPs that the targets to halve the gap in child mortality within a decade and to have 95 per cent of remote children enrolled in preschool are on track.

However, he revealed the “bad news” that there has been almost no progress in closing the life expectancy gap and very little improvement in literacy.

“And Indigenous employment, I deeply regret to say, has, if anything, slipped backwards over the past few years,” he said.

“So we are not on track to achieve the more important and the more meaningful targets.

“Because it’s hard to be literate and numerate without attending school.

“It’s hard to find work without a basic education and it’s hard to live well without a job.”

The report states that non-Indigenous Australians live about 10 years longer than Aboriginal Australians, that the progress in closing the gap in literacy has improved in only Year 3 and Year 5 Reading (based on NAPLAN results) and that only 30 per cent of Indigenous adults in remote areas were employed in a mainstream job.

Abbott sets new target for school attendance

As part of his first Closing the Gap report, Mr Abbott, who is also the minister responsible for Indigenous affairs, announced he wants to set a new target to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years.

“We are all passionate to close the gap,” he said.

“We may be doomed to fail, I fear, until we achieve the most basic target of all: the expectation that every child will attend school every day.”

Mr Abbott said that in remote areas, only 31 per cent of Indigenous students met the national standards for reading skills.

“Yet it’s being demonstrated in places like Aurukun that a strong education in traditional culture is actually helped by a good education in English,” he said.

“Right around our country, it should be possible to be proudly Aboriginal and a full participant in modern Australia.

“That doesn’t just mean access to a good education in cities, towns and remote settlements – it means actually going to school.

“One of the worst forms of neglect is failing to give children the education they need for a decent life.”

The Prime Minister said when school attendance is above 90 per cent for all schools, regardless of the number of Aboriginal students enrolled, the gap will have been closed.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said the ALP will support Mr Abbott’s move.

“And we hope that the 44th Parliament will build upon the progress of the 42nd and the 43rd,” he said.

“But the challenge of Closing The Gap does not belong to the Parliament alone. It belongs to the nation and the work of our generation.

“Success will only come when Aboriginal people are central to the political process, not just subject to it.

“Let us empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, teachers, nurses, not-for-profits and business to tell us what works – rather than demanding policies that fit the rhetoric of the moment – an approach that empowers, not directives from the top-down.

“Aboriginal people deserve better than being told it’s as simple as: ‘go to school, go to work’ and ‘obey the law’.

In his reply to the report, Mr Shorten focused on the bipartisan support for Indigenous recognition in the Constitution and the damage caused by alcohol abuse.

“The rivers of grog are flowing again – and violence is being borne along in their current,” he said.

Warren Mundine, who chairs the Government’s Indigenous advisory council, says the speeches were heartening but action is now needed.

He is pushing to get a 100 per cent school attendance rate by the end of the year.

“That’s a personal commitment I have given to myself. If I have to personally go out in these communities and work with those parents and work with those community leadership and those kids, I will do that,” he said.

“The Minister’s also made a commitment to that as well because you can’t get an education if you’re not at school.

“From there we need the work on what they have been taught and how to make the schools more attractive, but unless the kids are going to school we’re wasting our time.”

Indigenous parliamentarians say there is still much work to be done

Earlier today, the first female Indigenous federal parliamentarian, NT Labor Senator Nova Peris, said women in the Territory were 80 times more likely to be hospitalised due to assault than non-Indigenous Territorians.

“As of right now, life is not a bed of roses for Aboriginal people,” she said.

“This is a horrific statistic that no Australian should accept.

“Whilst the Northern Territory has made more progress towards closing the gap targets than any other jurisdiction, I fear that our gains may be lost.”

The nation’s first Indigenous MP, the Liberal member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt, said: “We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

“I think the issues of incarceration rates, certainly employment and long-term [school] attendance, are important measures that we have to achieve,” he told ABC News 24’s Capital Hill program.

“Education is the way in which we acquire knowledge, make discernible choices and then pick opportunities and take opportunities that give us a better pathway.”

Northern Territory Health Minister Robyn Lamley welcomes the Federal Government’s focus on Indigenous school attendance.

“I think education, getting kids to school, is an obvious area that we need to work on,” she said.

“We are closing the gap in lots of respects in health, in fact we are leading the way in lots of measures.

“We’ve got to keep working on this, obviously a large proportion of our population is Indigenous so the emphasis is on us to continue to provide top quality services throughout the Territory.

“It is a huge challenge.”

Indigenous affairs close to PM’s heart

Mr Abbott has emphasised how “personal” the issue is to him and, in a speech he wrote himself, has spoken of his visits to Indigenous communities and the time he spent, while an MP, as a teacher’s aide and a truancy helper.

“Many of us have been on a long journey. I can’t say that I have always been where I am now,” he said.

Photo: Tony Abbott speaking at a morning tea after he delivered the report to Parliament (AAP: Alan Porritt)

“The further this journey has gone, the more, for me, Aboriginal policy has become personal rather than just political.

“It has become a personal mission to help my fellow Australians, to open their hearts as much as to change their minds on Aboriginal policy.”

Mr Abbott said that he will spend a week in East Arnhem Land later this year and will make Indigenous affairs “if only for a few days, the focus of our national Government”.

“There is probably no aspect of public policy on which there is more unity of purpose and readiness to give others the benefit of the doubt,” he told federal MPs.

“On this subject at least, our Parliament is at its best and our duty is to make the most of this precious moment.”

This is the sixth annual Closing the Gap report. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

NEW ZEALAND

4) Child poverty seen as timebomb

Updated at 6:31 pm on 12 February 2014

The Salvation Army’s latest State of the Nation report claims the level of child poverty in New Zealand is a timebomb and virtually no effort has been made to address it.

The seventh edition of the annual review says the number of cases of child abuse has risen, and domestic violence remains the most common type of violent offending.

The Salvation Army says despite all the attention on child poverty, little has been achieved and significant policy changes are needed.

It also says the shortage of affordable housing in Auckland has deepened, and rents in Auckland and Christchurch are becoming even less affordable.

There were some positives in the report, including a fall in the teenage pregnancy rate and more young people leaving school with better qualifications.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says New Zealand has one of the world’s most generous welfare systems.

But Alan Johnson, who wrote the report, told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme on Wednesday it is not the dollar value that counts and the high cost of living is eroding the value of benefits, leaving people in poverty.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the Government doesn’t want to be held accountable by implementing the Children’s Commissioner’s recommendation to monitor poverty measures annually.

But Paula Bennett said the Government is more interested in action that needs to be taken on poverty.c/- radio new zealand.

TOK PISIN

5) PNG Grup agensim sesbed maining i wokim fund raising

Updated 12 February 2014, 15:11 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

PNG Grup Against Seabed Experimental Mining i statim wok blong bungim moni long helpim long ol wok blong em

Laen blong Papua New Guinea Grup Against Seabed Experimental Mining i statim pinis wanpla bikpla wok blong bungim moni long ronim ol kempein blong ol long stopim ol wok mining long solwara.

Oli tok bai oli iusim tu sampla long despla moni long bringim gavman na Nautilus mining igo long kot sopos oli no laik harim askim long stopim ol wok painimaut long undersea mining long PNG.

Nautlius Mining Limited i wanpla kampani blong Canada na PNG gavman i givim em licence long go hed na lukluk sopos emi ken mekim ol wok mining long Bismark Sea long New Guinea Islands rijan.

Deputi siaman blong dispela grup Wenceslaus Magun itok bikpela tingting long dispela fund raising em  long sapotim wok kempein blong ol.

Ol bai askim gavaman long putim stop long dispela maining wok blong kampani Nautilus long solowara blong Bismark.

Bikpela wari Mr Magun itok em gavaman i givim laisens pinis long kampani, tasol oli no laikim Nautilus igo hed na digim solowara na painim ol minerals olsem gold, copa, silver  na zinc.

Mr Magun igo hed na itok olgeta wari olgeta scientist blong ol ibin painim long en oli,oli putim insait long petisen pas blong ol na salim igo long PNG Maining Minista Byron Chan na Gerry Jufa gavana blong PNG Oro Provins olsem oli ken save gut long wari blong ol.radio australia

6) Ples balus long Auki long Solomon Islands istap pas yet

Updated 12 February 2014, 16:10 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Solomon Airlines itok pasin em ol papa graun ibin mekim long pasim Auki ples balus  long Malaita provins iwok long kamapim heve long ol pipal.

General manager operations blong Solomon Airlines, Gus Kraus i mekim despla toktok bihaen long ol chif blong ol ples em airport i stap long en itok bai oli no nap larim airport i open ken inap gavman i stretim ol wari blong ol.

Kros blong ol ibin stat iet long 2013 na oli bin pasim despla airport pastem iet long krismas.

Mr Kraus itok tu olsem kampani blong en iwok long lusim planti moni taem despla airport i pas.

Wari blong ol papa graun em  Solomon Islands gavaman ibin peim rong pipol long dispela kontrak moni long mekim ol wok long stretim dispela ples balus

Mr Kraus igo hed na itok ol papa graun ibin holim toktok wantaim Civil Aviation long Hpniara na iluk olsem ol toktok blong aste ibin soim olsem ol papa graun em oli bin pasim ples balus, oli no hamamas long toktok em Civil Aviation ibin tokim ol long en.

Na bekos long dispela ples balus long Auki bai stap pas inap taim Civil Aviation i kamap wantaim stretpela toksave wantaim  ol.oa givim kontrak ino long ol arapela pipol.radio australia.

FRENCH

7) Mini-Jeux du Pacifique ou Jeux de la Jeunesse ?

Posté à 12 February 2014, 8:33 AEST
Pierre Riant

C’est à Wallis et Futuna que se sont déroulés en septembre 2013 les 9ème Mini-Jeux du Pacifique et c’est au Vanuatu que se dérouleront les prochains en 2017. En attendant, le concept de ces Mini-Jeux est remis en question.

Andrew Minogue, le directeur du Conseil des Jeux du Pacifique, l’organe propriétaire des Jeux et Mini-Jeux du Pacifique qui rassemble les représentants des 22 États et Territoires du Pacifique,  nous a appris que ce Conseil des Jeux discute de la possibilité de remplacer les Min-Jeux par les Jeux de la Jeunesse du Pacifique pour préparer les athlètes en herbe aux grandes compétitions internationales : « Ça ne va pas arriver du jour au lendemain,  mais comme vous le savez, les Jeux Olympiques et les Jeux du Commonwealth proposent maintenant des Jeux de la Jeunesse qui font partie de leurs structures. Je pense que nombre de nos pays membres aimeraient que ces Mini-Jeux puissent devenir des Jeux de la jeunesse pour que les athlètes du Pacifique puissent vivre cette expérience avant d’aller aux Jeux de la Jeunesse du Commonwealth ou au Jeux Olympiques de la Jeunesse. »

C’est Jeux Olympiques de la Jeunesse auront lieu en juillet prochain à Nanjing en Chine et sont réservés aux athlètes de 15 à 18 ans. Est-ce à dire qu’en l’état actuel des choses, les jeunes athlètes du Pacifique ne sont pas à la hauteur des Jeux de Nanjing faute de Jeux de la Jeunesse du Pacifique : « Non, je ne dirais pas cela. Certains des athlètes qui iront à Nanjing bénéficient de quelques bonnes plateformes dans le Pacifique et de compétitions d’athlétisme et d’haltérophilie. Ces disciplines ont de très bons programmes pour les jeunes athlètes.
Pour le Conseil des Jeux du Pacifique, la question est de déterminer si les Mini-Jeux remplissent leur rôle en termes de développement des athlètes de demain ou si nous devons en faire des Jeux de la Jeunesse. Nous essayons tout simplement de nous assurer que les Mini-Jeux et tous nos Jeux d’ailleurs, sont des tremplins de développement pour préparer nos athlètes aux grands évènements internationaux. »

Ce qui n’est donc pas le cas actuellement : « Et bien si vous regardez la création de ces Mini-Jeux dans les années 80, le but était de permettre aux nations trop petites pour participer aux Jeux du Pacifique d’accueillir dans des Mini-Jeux les meilleurs athlètes du Pacifique sans se soucier du groupe d’âge. C’est pour cela que les Mini-Jeux existent, c’est la logique derrière ces Mini-Jeux depuis plus de 30 ans.
Tout le débat d’aujourd’hui est là. Est-ce que ces Mini-Jeux sont la meilleure plateforme pour l’avenir de nos athlètes ou est-ce que nous devrions développer des Jeux de la Jeunesse au lieu des Mini-Jeux. »radio australia

8) Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika et quoi d’autres…

Mis à jour 12 February 2014, 8:41 AEST
Pierre Riant

Les maladies transmises par les moustiques sont à la hausse à travers le Pacifique et représentent un défi pour la région en 2014.

De nouveaux noms sont apparus depuis ces 2 dernières années, notamment Chikungunya et Zika qui représentent de nouvelles menaces et qui s’ajoutent au virus de la dengue omniprésente et à la résurgence du sérotype 3 dans plusieurs pays de la région.

Une situation qui inquiète les services de santé. Yvan Souares, est le directeur des Services de santé publique à la CPS, le Secrétariat de la Communauté du Pacifique : «Nous observons en effet une augmentation dans la fréquence et la variété des maladies transmises par les moustiques dans la région depuis au moins ces deux dernières années. »

En fait, la CPS possède 40 ans d’archives de 22 nations et territoires du Pacifique et selon ces 40 années d’archives, jamais la dengue n’a aussi active que depuis ces 2 dernières années.

En 2013, la région du Pacifique a enregistré 11 épidémies de dengue, 3 épidémies de chikungunya et une épidémie de zika. Et les perspectives pour 2014, n’incitent pas à l’optimisme : « Nous sommes maintenant dans la saison des pluies dans le Pacifique Sud, les températures sont élevées et les pluies abondantes. Et selon les prévisions météorologiques, les risques de dépression tropicale augmentent. Les températures moyennes devraient aussi augmenter ainsi que les précipitations au cours de ces prochaines semaines. Ça va être la foire aux moustiques. »

Et en Australie, et notamment dans l’extrême nord de l’État du Queensland, la dengue est aussi à la hausse et la situation inquiète Richard Gair, le directeur des Services de santé publique tropicale : « Nous avons deux épidémies, l’une de sérotype 3 qui vient de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée et l’autre est de type 1 et elle nous vient de Thaïlande. »

En fait, c’est la dengue de sérotype 3, qui réapparaît après 20 ans, qui suscite le plus d’inquiétude et a déjà frappé Fidji, Kiribati, la Nouvelle-Calédonie  et la Polynésie française.

Le zika et le chikungunya ont donc fait leur apparition mais sont difficile à identifier étant donné que les symptômes sont en général proches la dengue.

Une seule réponse : détruire les gîtes larvaires des moustiques qui prospèrent dans l’eau des pots de fleurs, des pneus ou des gouttières et se protéger avec des produits anti-moustique ainsi que des chemises à manches longues et des pantalons ce qui n’est pas idéal quand on habite dans un climat tropical.

Une épidémie de dengue a aussi été rapportée au Vanuatu ou plus de 150 aurait été rapportés depuis le mois de janvier.radio australia

POLITIC

9) PNG PM: Zero tolerance on diplomatic bungles
By Online Editor
6:59 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2014, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Prime  Minister Peter O’Neill Tuesday announced a zero-tolerance policy to any incident that will bring embarrassment on the country and its diplomatic service.

The announcement was made by  O’Neill while officiating at the Heads of Mission conference which got underway in Port Moresby.

O’Neill said Papua New Guinea’s standing and engagement has grown on the international scene.

He said anybody doubting its growing influence, need not look further than the “history making decision” for it to host the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic (APEC) Leaders Summit.

“This will be our most important international event since Independence,” O’Neill said.

“It reflects how far we have grown and matured as a nation over a relatively short period. What is for now and the period until then is an important challenge for all our international missions and especially their heads.”

He told the country’s envoys, totaling 20, that it is now incumbent that PNG’s presence among countries make up the APEC is of high quality behavior and standing and representation in all its form.

“We need to have the highest quality, highest standards of representation in all our missions as our regional and international standing grows,” he said.

O’Neill said it is not just the hosting of the APEC  meeting in 2018 that should make them enthusiastic and committed but also the nation’s economy and prospects this year and beyond.

He extended his government’s appreciation to the envoys and also challenged them to make the extra effort to be proactive in promoting the positive image of the country and its future and in doing so help to overcome some of the negative publicity it is receiving abroad.

“Some of the publicity might not make it into the media in the countries you serve in but modern communication means it is often accessible online,” he said.

In attendance yesterday was the Minister for Foreign Affairs Rimbink Pato, Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary William Dhim, other cabinet ministers, departmental heads, representatives from the private sector and the churches.

The purpose of the meeting, which ends today, is to review and provide advice on the department’s draft corporate plan, a document which is intended to suggest the way forward for the country.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

10) Fiji’s Electoral Decree expected by the month’s end
By Online Editor
7:04 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s Electoral Decree is expected to be out before the end of the month.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed this saying the electoral rules will be finalised by this weekend.

“And then the draft copy, very much in its final form, will be sent to the Electoral Commission, as you know who has requested for a copy of it for their input and their review of it,” Sayed-Khaiyum said at a press conference in Suva .

“We’ve had discussions with the chairman of the commission who said that they would turn it around within a week and thereafter, upon its finalisation, we should then have it gazetted.”

He said the public could expect the decree to be implemented by the end of the month. The decree will include rules for the electoral process, how polling is to be conducted and when people can expect a “blackout period”, among other things.

“The Electoral Decree in fact contains a number of specific guidelines, rules and regulations which we are trying to modernise from what used to exist and indeed ensure that there’s objectivity in terms of the implementation of those rules.

“It also then talks about the rules pertaining to voting and, of course, the manner in which votes are cast and it also contains rules pertaining to the counting of votes.” President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau is expected to announce the date of election at least 60 days before the election day itself, the A-G confirmed.

Meanwhile, Political parties are being urged to begin and or continue their campaigns regardless of when the Electoral Decree comes out.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the fact that the decree was yet to come out did not, in any way, prevent political parties from campaigning.

“So for some of these politicians to come out and say ‘oh, we’ll only make a decision once the Electoral Decree is put in place’ is a superfluous statement,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“It does not, in any way, preclude any political party from going out and campaigning now, going out and having their meetings now, as you know many of them are already holding seminars ”.

In another development, a visiting Commonwealth delegation was briefed by the  Fiji Electoral Commission this afternoon on the progress it has made thus far.

Chairman, Chen Bunn Young says the meeting was positive but remained tight-lipped about the details.

It was the first meeting between Fiji Independent Electoral Commission with any visiting overseas delegation.

Young came out of the closed meeting optimistic of the relations between the two teams as Fiji head to the September polls.

With help now promised, the onus is on the Commission to let the Commonwealth know in which areas they should direct their assistance.

The Electoral Commission still need to finalise their wishlist to the Commonwealth and did not want to disclose too much today.

The question of having observers from the Commonwealth during Elections in September was also discussed but there is also no confirmation.

The Electoral Commission is now focused on preparations to conduct free and fair elections, but says there are many challenges ahead.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/ FIJI TV/PACNEWS

11) Fiji wants travel sanctions removed
By Online Editor
7:02 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2014, Fiji

The Fijian government is disappointed that despite the hype of Fiji and Australia working to mend its relations, there are still sanctions in place.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says that nothing has happened to really indicate that the two countries are moving forward together.

“”There’s absolutely been no real rolling back of the so-called stance that they have in place for a long period of time. And I think these are some of the issues that need to be put on the table. We understand that Julie Bishop is coming to Fiji this week and I think that these are some of the issues that need to be highlighted.”_

Sayed-Khaiyum adds that the government getting invited to cocktails does not mean a thing if our close neighbours’ don’t make any effort to change their stance.

“People are getting invited to cocktails etc, does not mean that these issues are being addressed. And we are not actually hanging out to be invited to cocktails, we actually want to do what is right for Fiji.”

“All this supposedly overtures being made about how we are best mates again, but then again alot of these fundamental issues need to be addressed…we still have travel bans.”

The Attorney General says this is also part of the issues he will raise with Australia’s foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop when she arrives into the country this week.

Sayed-Khaiyum said he will raise a few fundamental issues with Bishop during her visit. The AG highlighted that one of it was on taxations and also on the ban placed on those providing their services to government and sitting on a few boards.

He said Australia charges Fiji more than they charge other bigger countries.

“Indian Double Taxation Agreement is quite generous; the one with Australia is one sided as non resident dividend withholding tax with India its 15 % with Australia its 20 %.”

“In fact look at withholding tax that Australians have agreed to with other bigger countries and other jurisdictions its 15% and with Fiji it is 20 %.”

He added Australians have fallen out of the 1995 tax provisions which see any Australian investor taking advantage of Fiji’s tax free zones however they are taxed from income that Fiji has foregone when they return to their home country.
SOURCE: FBC FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

12) Fiji’s AG says ‘cocktail invites’ won’t solve problems with NZ and Australia

12 February 2014

Fiji’s Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says cocktail invites from New Zealand and Australia won’t solve problems caused by unfair policies.

Foreign ministers from the two countries will be in Fiji later this week as part of a Pacific Islands Forum delegation to check on progress towards democracy in Fiji, which has been suspended from the regional body since 2009.

The Fiji Village website reports Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says he will put a number of issues relating to unfair policies on the table when he meets the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

He says innocent people have been affected by travel bans still in place.

Those connected to the regime have not been allowed to travel to New Zealand and Australia as part of sanctions imposed after the 2006 coup, but New Zealand has announced an easing of sanctions in the last few months as Fiji heads towards elections later this year.

Fiji Village reports Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also plans to raise taxation issues with Australia.c/- radio new zealand.

MEDIA


13) Analytical reporting needed in Pacific
By Online Editor
7:12 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2014, New Caledonia

The Pacific needs more analytical reporting.

That was the message of the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Dr Colin Tukuitonga at the opening of the 3rd Pacific Media Summit in New Caledonia.

Speaking to more that 1 hundred and 30 delegates, Tukuitonga called for increased analytical journalism in the region.

He said while the region faced many problems, they were not being covered in-depth by Journalists.

Tukuitonga challenged all media outlets to get more public participation in their reporting so that governments could hear their views.

The SPC D-G reminded delegates the myth of the media being a 4th estate is slowly eroding away as social media reporting is now on the rise.

He urged all Journalists to equip themselves with how social media works.

Dr Tukuitonga also proposed signing a working agreement with  Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) today presented an outline on what are MIDA’s responsibilities in current Fiji.

Ashwin Raj was a panelist on a session that examined legislation’s in Pacific countries at the PINA summit in Noumea this morning.

He said MIDA is there to ensure the Media Industry Development Decree is followed by all those who are working in Fiji.

Raj added while the new Fiji constitution superceded parts of the media decree, that doesn’t mean that MIDA can’t receive and adjudicate on complaints.

He said the media in Fiji was now free to report on any issue as long as they followed the provisions in the media decree.

Raj said MIDA has held several meetings with donor agencies to secure funding for training.

On answering a question from the floor, Raj said international journalists who are banned from entering the country might be allowed back in as their individual cases are currently being reviewed.

SOURCE: FIJI TV/PACNEWS

BUSINESS

14) Manager of Vanuatu passport sales justifies fee payments

12 February 2014

The man in charge of selling Vanuatu passports to foreigners denies a claim that most of the money will not come back to the country.

John Stevens Tougon, from the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, denies the claim by Port Vila MP Willie Jimmy that only 25 percent of the funds will return to the government, and that his appointment was done behind closed doors.

Mr Tougon says his appointment was above board and he has been managing the permanent residence programme in Hong Kong successfully.

He says all of the funds will return, apart from a 20,000 US dollar fee for the Hong Kong- based agent.

“They have to be entitled to their fee, they’ve got an office to run, people to pay and stationeries and stuff, and due diligence and who knows, many more things to do. And I will deal with them to make sure they do their work and I am sure they would like their fee.”

John Stevens Tougon says from the balance of the 300,000 US-dollar fee, another 20,000 US dollars will be paid to the government, and the rest will be invested on the applicant’s behalf for seven years.c/- Radio New Zealand

15) PNG govt cannot reclaim Milne Bay islands


By Online Editor
6:46 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2014, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Government has admitted that it cannot reclaim the Conflict Groups of Islands that has been sold but only to review this ancient colonial law to the land in the future.

Lands Minister Benny Allen said this in Parliament during Question Time Tuesday in response to questions raised by Kiriwina-Goodenough MP Douglas Tumuriesa regarding the islands in Milne Bay Province.

“I have received a letter from people who are seeking help with the Department of Lands regarding the group of Islands where some people who are based in the United States who are talking with some people here to sell the island,” Allen said.

“These islands are in a situation where before Independence the government at that time used to issue some license call free hold lease. It means once a person has this title he has total right to this land. It is no longer state land but private land, so he is free to make decision about his land.”

Allen said the Government does not have any say over this land, giving an example of one such title at Badili in Port Moresby call Kenmore City, which is also a free hold lease.

“The Conflict Group also is under free hold lease where a person has the title over the islands, we understand that he is in the United States and is selling it to another person.”

He said the concerns have been raised with the Lands Department which is looking into the issue and will respond after getting more details.

“We need to review such laws to help Papua New Guineans, it is a very old law and we have to review it,” Allen said.

He said this after questions by Tumuriesa who said there has been great concerns raised in the media regarding the sale of these islands.

“This is great concern because that is our garden and supermarket, it is our livelihood, this has caused a lot of concern and uneasiness and if we are not careful there is danger of disharmony in future,” Mr Tumuriesa said.

Meanwhile, the O’Neill-Dion Government will set up a Land Trust Board to recover and take back all state land throughout the country and to undo the land grabbing.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said these yesterday in Port Moresby during the launching of the National Capital District Commission Land Trust Board.

He said the Land Trust Board will be set up in each province to recover and acquire back state lands which have been obtained through unknown deals or through other land grabbing means.

“Through this board, we are determined to acquire back all state land for public use and to prevent and monitor all land grabbing activities throughout the country,” the PM said.

“So much public land has been illegally occupied by person(s) and companies so the Board will deal with these issues to bring back land for public use.”

The Prime Minister said under the national Governments Lands Acquisition Act, the government is determined to compulsorily claim back illegally occupied land.

“There is a mad rush for all pieces of public land throughout the country and this must come to an end, people are grabbing and squatting on land just to enrich themselves,” he said.

“The NCDC Land Trust Board is set up for NCD as a pilot project and after observing the outcome, it will be rolled out to the other provinces.”

He has appealed to all city residents and companies to comply with the NCDC Land Trust Board.

NCD Governor Powes Parkop has welcomed the Government’s decision and thanked the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his government for setting up NCDC Land Trust Board.

He said NCD has been faced with so many issues of land grabbing and this is a timely decision for the Commission and the people of NCD.

“We (NCDC) have spent more than K2 million to acquire back the Jack Pidick controversial land which NCDC had lost through a Supreme Court Decision some years back,” Parkop said.

“It is one of NCDs recreational areas and we need to maintain it for recreational purposes where people can enjoy themselves.”

The national Government is determined to use its powers for compulsory acquisition and this will solve all land grabbing issues throughout the country, he said.

The NCD Governor has also thanked O’Neill and his government for their assistance in funding all NCD projects in preparation for major upcoming events in the coming months and years, starting with the 2015 Pacific Games.

He said although it is a politically risky decision for the PM and his government, it was done strategically for the people of PNG and the nation as a whole….

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT

16) PNG’s land scandal inquiry names an Australian-led company

Updated 12 February 2014, 19:38 AEST
By Jemima Garrett

A PNG inquiry recommends a probe into an Australian-led company’s land leases obtained without landowners’ consent.

A Commission of Inquiry in Papua New Guinea has recommended an Australian-led company involved in obtaining leases over more than two million hectares of traditional land be investigated for criminal misconduct and conspiracy.

In 2011 a public outcry over the rorting, mainly by logging companies, of a leasing scheme intended for small agriculture projects, prompted the PNG Government to set up the Commission of Inquiry.

Three commissioners were set the task of investigating how 11 per cent of PNG’s land mass came to be leased, mostly for 99 years, often without permission of landowners.

The largest of the land grabs involved four leases for more than two million hectares belonging to tens of thousands of people in PNG’s Western Province.

It was orchestrated by a small PNG-registered, Queensland-led company called Independent Timbers and Stevedoring Limited (IT&S).

The Commission report, which has just become public, found IT&S ‘manipulated’ the supposedly independent lease approval process to obtain control over four Special Agricultural and Business Leases, or SABLs.

Look nobody told me, my people about the lease… we had no idea about this SABL process.

Now our land is with the company.

Waeya Bugaebo, Western Province landowner

Commissioner Nicholas Mirou found documents prepared by the company were ‘deceptive and clearly fraudulent’ and recommended that further investigation be undertaken to establish if ‘international racketeering over land acquisition has been committed’.

PNG government agencies responsible for monitoring and approving the project were found to be guilty of ‘gross negligence’.

Commissioner Mirou spent two weeks in Western Province listening to testimony from landowners and found the majority did not give consent to the leases.

“One of the fundamental requirements under the Lands Act itself is consent… if you don’t have consent of the landowners, obviously, it is the prerequisite for an SABL lease to be granted,” he said.

He was particularly touched by a pastor’s wife, Waeya Bugaebo, who crossed mountains and swamps on foot to give her testimony.

“She walked, actually walked eight days to come to Kiunga… she gave her evidence, and she cried, and said ‘Look nobody told me, my people about the lease… we had no idea about this SABL process. Now our land is with the company,'” Commissioner Mirou recounted.

The Commission of Inquiry has recommended the four leases be revoked.

PNG’s biggest logging project

The IT&S project began life as a plan to build a road 600 kilometres from the Western Province town of Kiunga to the PNG capital, Port Moresby, and to pay for it by harvesting logs along a 40-metre road corridor.

Landowners were keen for the opportunities road access would bring and happy to lease a narrow passage through the forest.

But the commission found that by the time all the paperwork was finished, Lands Department officials and executives of landowner companies had unwittingly signed approval for the leasing of more than two million hectares.

The four leases obtained for the IT&S project were also found to have failed to provide reasonable access for hunting, fishing, gardening and other necessities of life.

Commissioner Mirou says many communities did not discover their land had been leased, until he took his hearings to Kiunga.

If it goes ahead the IT&S project, by the company’s own admission, will be the biggest logging project PNG has ever seen.

The ABC sought IT&S’s response to the Commission of Inquiry’s findings.

IT&S distinguishes itself from many of the other developers listed in the Commission of Inquiry by the simple fact that operations have not commenced.

Neville Harsley, CEO of Independent Timbers & Stevedoring LTD

“The company has requested all of the supporting documents, transcripts and other related exhibits from Commission of Inquiry sources as they have not been made readily available,” a statement issued by Neville Harsley, chief executive officer of IT&S, said.

“IT&S distinguishes itself from many of the other developers listed in the Commission of Inquiry by the simple fact that operations have not commenced,” the statement added.

For many landowners the fact that their forest is still intact has given comfort.

The statement suggests the company is keen to continue with the project.

“IT&S has been working methodically in collaboration with landowners for over the last 10 years” it said.

“IT&S remains committed to the customary landowners through the course of the project which will provide the local communities with access to medical resources, water treatment plants at villages, schools, community centres, infrastructure, job opportunities and significant landowner benefits and royalties” said the statement. Radio Australia

Gallery: PNG land scandal

Australian and PNG government role

The commission has recommended 66 flawed leases be revoked across Papua New Guinea.

Last year when Prime Minister Peter O’Neill presented the Commission’s final report to parliament, he said the Inquiry revealed a shocking trend of corruption and mismanagement.

Mr O’Neill said drastic action was needed.

NGOS in PNG are concerned about the delay and have called for immediate revocation of the 66 leases.

Last week Mr O’Neill told an FM100 talk-back program he had appointed a ministerial committee and SABLs would be cancelled. As yet there has been no action.

Anti-corruption watch-dog, Transparency International (TI), wants Australian, as well as PNG authorities, to investigate IT&S.

“Our reaction from the start with that case was that it was appalling, that it was almost a third of the land area of the province,” Lawrence Stephens, chairman of the TI’s PNG Chapter, said.

17) Fiji will support Kiribati as Sea level rises


By Online Editor
6:52 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2014, Kiribati

Fiji will ensure that the people of Kiribati have a home if their country is submerged by the rising sea level as a result of climate change, said Fijian President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

The president made the announcement during his state visit to Kiribati this week, confirming the suggestion made recently by Fiji’s Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, that Fiji would assist Kiribati in any way it could.

If the sea level continues to rise at its current rate, Kiribati, a nation of low lying atolls, faces the likelihood of complete submersion by the end of the century if not sooner, threatening the country’s very existence.

Kiribati has already purchased 6,000 acres of land on Fiji’s second biggest island, Vanua Levu, to ensure its food security as the sea encroaches on its arable land.

Speaking at a state dinner hosted by Kiribati President Anote Tong on Tuesday, the Fijian president announced that some or all of the people of Kiribati would be able to migrate to Fiji with dignity if the need arose.

“Fiji will not turn its back on our neighbours in their hour of need,” he said. “I want to assure you all that Fiji will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you face this crisis, as well as in doing everything possible to try to avert it. In a worst case scenario and if all else fails, you will not be refugees.”

Such a migration is not without precedent. Fiji has previously accepted the Banaban people when they were forced to leave Ocean Island – one of Kiribati’s thirty-three islands – because of the pressure of phosphate mining there.

“These people now live in Fiji but have their own seat in the parliament of Kiribati and if necessary, we will do it again,” the president said.

“The spirit of the people of Kiribati will not be extinguished. It will live on somewhere else because a nation isn’t only a physical place. A nation – and the sense of belonging that comes with it – exists in the hearts and the minds of its citizens wherever they may be,” he said.

The president added that Fiji is especially keen to lead and assist the Pacific region’s effort to persuade the rest of the world to finally take decisive action on climate change.

“It is simply not acceptable for the world to stand by and watch the republic of Kiribati – a sovereign nation and a member of the United Nations – sink slowly beneath the waves,” the President said on Tuesday.

He said that Fiji is using every possible means at the United Nations and in its agencies to draw attention to the plight Pacific island nations face and the selfishness of the big carbon polluters in putting their interests above all else.

He added that the issue of climate change matters not just to the people of Kiribati, but to every Pacific Islander.

“For example, in Fiji, we have already had to move one village altogether out of the way of the rising sea, and a second will soon be relocated, and a further 676 communities throughout the nation are threatened in some way” he said….
SOURCE: PR NEWS IRE/PACNEWS

SPORTS

18) Former Nadi striker to join Australian club

Zanzeer Singh
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

NADI striker Uraia Loki has followed the footsteps of Ba duo Jone Ralulu and Malakai Tiwa by joining the Yoogali Football Club in Australia.

The Yoogali Football Club which plays in the Griffith & District Amateur Football Association competition is coached by former Fiji captain Abraham Watkins.

His sons Archie Junior and Sitiveni also play for the team.

Loki represented the Jetsetters in the Fiji Sun/Skipper Tuna National Football League against Navua last Saturday before flying out.

Nadi team manager Kamlesh Sami confirmed that Loki would not be available for the clash against Labasa this Saturday.

Sami said they would also miss the services of midfielder Munit Krishna who had been ruled out because of injury.

“This is a crucial match for us because Suva has opened up a big gap by winning all their games,” he said.

“The team regrouped on Monday and all the other players turned up for training.

“The players are showing commitment which is a good sign. With Suva in top form, we cannot afford to drop any points.

“The aim is to qualify for the next Oceania Champions League,” he said.

Nadi held the upper hand against the Babasiga Lions in the competition last year.

The Kamal Swamy coached team won both matches beating the Northerners 2-1 and 2-0 respectively.

The Nadi team will fly to Vanua Levu on Saturday morning.

The match is scheduled to kick off at Subrail Park at 3pm.Fijitimes

19) South Africa favourites against Australia in Test series, says Proteas captain Graeme Smith

Updated 12 February 2014, 11:46 AEST

South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his side is entitled to the favourites tag for the three-Test series against Australia.

The Australians are underdogs for the three-test series in South Africa, according to Proteas captain Graeme Smith.

Despite coming off an emphatic 5-0 Ashes whitewash last month, Australia is now facing a very different beast in the world’s number one Test team.

“If you’re the number one team in the world you have to be favourites,” Smith told a news conference on the eve of the first Test in Centurion.

“It’s something we’ve become accustomed to and very comfortable with over a period of time. We’ve been number one in the world and travelled to some tough places to get it firstly and then to defend it.”

Smith said he was banking on his team to carry on performing at their best against Michael Clarke’s Australia.

“In a series like this it’s going to be intense and there are going to be moments of pressure,” said the opening batsman.

“Our breaking point as a team has extended over a long period of time. We have a great ability to handle pressure and to still perform at a high level.”

Clarke, whose side is ranked third in the world, said Smith’s outfit was deservedly top of the pile.

“It’s a great test for my team playing the number one team in their own backyard,” he added.

“South Africa have through my career been as tough as any opposition.

“They’ve been extremely successful over the years, they’ve got a great mix of youth and experience and they’ve earned their position on top.”

Aggressive batting needed to repel Proteas’ attack: Clarke

Clarke said the batting surfaces would assist the two top-quality pace attacks.

“The wickets are conducive to fast bowling but that’s the challenge you look forward to,” he explained.

Clarke said his approach to confronting a pace attack as good as South Africa’s is to bat positively.

“The better the bowling, the more aggressive you have to be as a batsman,” Clarke told Grandstand.

‘You have to find a way to put them under pressure. The wicket does a little more over here so it is going to be tough for batters, but you have to take the game to them and back yourself.”

Clarke said the South African attack is as good as he has faced as a batsman and he is looking forward to the challenge.

“If you are not excited by this you are playing the wrong sport,” Clarke said.

Both teams have yet to determine their line-ups with South Africa looking to replace the retired Jacques Kallis and Australia needing to bring someone in for the injured Shane Watson.

Alex Doolan is being tipped to make his Test debut and bat at number three while it looks as if Shaun Marsh will come into the number-six spot for Ashes discard George Bailey.

Faf du Plessis could go up the order for South Africa while wicket-keeper batsman AB de Villiers is fully fit after undergoing hand surgery last month.

South Africa come off a 1-0 home win over India in December but has not beaten a touring Australian team in a series since 1970.

Reuters/ABC

www.voiceofmelanesia.com

Leave a Reply

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