Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 942
1) PNG Government To Acquire All Recreational Land In Capital
PM says land trust would be established to issue titles
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 12, 2014) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has announced his government’s intention to acquire all recreational and public land in Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District (NCD).
O’Neill said it would be compulsory to acquire the land under the Lands Act and give the titles to the National Capital District Commission.
“The established land trust would give titles for all recreational and public land in Port Moresby to the NCDC,” O’Neill said.
“We will try and secure all recreational and public land in the National Capital District,” he said.
O’Neill said that it was a strong and clear indication by his government signalling to illegal land occupiers that his government would be reclaiming the land.
The project – an O’Neill initiative – will be trialed in Port Moresby before it is extended to other provinces.
NCD Governor Powes Parkop said there were about 155 portions of recreational and public land in Port Moresby that would be looked at first to determine the legitimacy and process in which they were acquired and given title to.
“There has been a lot of land-grabbing through the Lands Title Commission, I do not know whether it is by design or neglect,” he said.
Parkop said the commission had spent K2 million [US$765,318] to correct the land title to the Unagi Oval while losing the title to Jack Pidik Park.
He said the city was growing and needed portions classified as recreational to be utilised by the public and not by illegal owners through dubious deals with the Lands Title Commission.
The National: www.thenational.com.pg/
2) BoH Departure Hurting Am. Samoa Money Transfer Services
MoneyGram to close, Western Union in ‘very bad situation’
By Rhonda Annesley, Editor-in-Chief
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Feb. 12, 2014) – On Thursday, February 13th — this Thursday — look to most money service businesses closing their doors, as the only bank in American Samoa that was handling their accounts — Bank of Hawai‘i (BoH) — will be closing these types of accounts down, due to strict federal and global banking regulations and compliance issues.
According to one of the local managers of MoneyGram, Charlie Ho-Ching, they were notified by BoH several months ago of the bank’s decision to no longer deal with money service business accounts, which also include Western Union. These are businesses that deal with money transfers.
He said, since the BoH notification, they had been working with the local ANZ Bank branch to see if they would open a money service account for the company. However, they were recently notified that it would not happen — based on a bank policy not to deal with any money service businesses locally or globally.
Ho-Ching said, “It’s completely out of our hands, it’s a global decision by the banking industry and we have no control over their decision. We did nothing wrong.”
In addition, he said, at the time of BoH’s notification, “Our home office told us they would handle it by shipping in money to be deposited directly into our account. But, we were notified on Monday (Feb. 10) that as of now — they are not going to do it because it is ‘too risky’ and ‘too expensive’… so as of this Thursday — we will have to close our doors, until another bank helps us or regulations are relaxed enough to not be such a headache to the banks.”
Samoa News also spoke to an owner of one of the Western Union branches on island, who says he is currently trying to resolve the issue of no bank account.
Asked if he will be closing his doors on Thursday, like MoneyGram, he said, “Not really, but it is a ‘very bad situation’ — and I won’t be able to service all my clients like I used to — as I will have very limited funds.”
How will you be able to send money off-island?
Ho-Ching says you will still be able to use the banks to transfer money — they are still offering that service. Whether it will be ‘next day’ or ‘instantaneous’ available as in the case of most money service businesses — is unknown.
How will you receive money from off-island? Again, the banks will still be handling that type of transaction, he said.
Remittances through money transfer operators
Remittances, money sent off-island or received from off-island as a ‘gift,’ are believed to constitute a major part of household cash income for many families in the Pacific island countries, according to an overview report, “Remittances in the Pacific” by John Connell and Richard P.C. Brown, published by the Asian Development Bank in March 2005. In the overview, remittances are said to “ensure a balance of payment surplus in most receiving countries.”
A paper in Samoa, the Samoa Observer, reported in September 2013 that source countries of remittances were namely New Zealand, Australia and the USA, according to the Central Bank of Samoa, which also reported that for the twelve months of fiscal year 2012-2013, total private remittances were WST$418.9 million [US$177.5 million].
According to the Bank, the formal channel of receiving remittances continued to be dominated by Money Transfer Operator (MTO’s), with its share rising to 68.2 per cent of total private remittances in June 2013. (MTO’s are Money Service businesses)
“On the contrary, the share of private remittances received through commercial banks decreased to 31.8 per cent in the month under review,” the Central Bank said.
Samoa News notes that Paypal is an alternative method to transfer funds.
The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/
3) American Samoa Hospital Board Member Resigns
Velega Savali leaves, frustrated over unsolved issues
By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Feb. 12, 2014) – Outspoken LBJ Hospital Board member Velega Savali has resigned as a member of the Board as of last Friday in a meeting with American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga.
Velega confirmed with Samoa News he has stepped down, because it is his passion to overturn the problems at the hospital, but that is not being met. He says his current position as a board member does not allow him to make decisions which he feels would better the hospital.
Samoa News yesterday received phone calls from members of the public appealing to Velega to remain on the hospital board, as they believe he can solve the numerous issues at the hospital, given his expertise and his leadership skills.
“In order for problems to be fixed at the hospital, we must go to the core of the problem and from there is where we start to remedy the ongoing predicaments at the hospital,” he told Samoa News, but he did not elaborate.
Velega said he asked the question to board members as to why, to date, there have been five CEO’s at the hospital, compared to other Semi Autonomy agencies like ASPA and ASTCA, where there have only been a couple. “This tells us there is something wrong, and something must be done about it,” he stated.
Velega did echo concerns raised by the Governor about the current hospital CEO, Joseph Davis Fleming, who is reportedly always traveling off island and hiring employees with high salaries.
“Also, mandates by the Governor have not been met, mandates which would benefit our people, like the off island referral program, the reduction of the current $20 fee to $10 to see a physician, and the recommendation to establish one fee structure for all residents of American Samoa, regardless of immigration status,” he added.
“Unless management is changed, then the new deliverables won’t be implemented,” said Velega.
Another issue which Velega pointed out is that when the CEO is off island, the Chief Medical Officer is in charge. “Key word is Medical Officer — how can the Chief Medical Officer run the hospital? They were hired to treat patients, yet they are doing something totally out of their field.”
Velega told Samoa News that unless they change how things operate in the hospital there will be no “real changes, which would benefit our people, who are suffering the most.”
Last month Velega told Samoa News that he was moving to have the hospital CEO, Joseph Davis Fleming, removed from his position, because he ‘failed to do his job’ as CEO. Emails to the Administration and chairman of the hospital board seeking comment were not returned as of press time.
Samoa News understands members of the public have been seeking assistance directly from the Governor and Lt Governor to help them with airfare and referral to a hospital off-island.
Last week, the Governor’s Executive Assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira told Samoa News that a 75-year-old woman visited the Governor and Lt. Governor, seeking such assistance, due to her heart condition. He said the hospital did not give any kind of assistance to the elderly woman.
“No assistance was given to her with regards to setting up an appointment with one of the medical institutions in Hawai’i … she was expected to do this on her own.”
Iulogologo noted, “It is rather sad that this elderly lady is further placed under unnecessary stress given her heart problems, because we lacked the basic human compassion to provide basic services to our people given that fact that the off-island referral program has been suspended for years.”
The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/
4) Guam Youth Treatment Program Facing Potential Shutdown
Sanctuary Inc. ‘struggling’ to collect debts from government
By Cameron Miculka
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 13, 2014) – The island’s only youth drug- and alcohol-treatment program may be forced to shut its doors unless the government of Guam starts meeting its funding obligations.
Sanctuary Inc., which provides numerous services to adolescents with substance-abuse problems, has been struggling for months to collect what it is owed from the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.
Yesterday, the organization announced that without assistance from the government, the program will stop accepting clients on April 1.
“We can no longer foot the bill for the government of Guam as we have exhausted our resources,” wrote Sanctuary Inc. Executive Director Mildred Q. Lujan in a letter to Behavioral Health Director Rey Vega.
Lujan said yesterday that on March 31, the $320,000 it’s paid by the local government will run out.
An additional $230,000 is needed from the government to fund inpatient and outpatient drug-and-alcohol treatment services for the rest of the fiscal year.
There hasn’t been a contract in place between the government and Sanctuary since fiscal 2013, Lujan added.
Vega has said he can’t pay any more than the $320,000 he’s authorized to pay; additional funds would have to be released by the Legislature and governor.
The organization has projected 257 kids will seek services from Sanctuary this fiscal year. But after just four months, said Lujan, Sanctuary had already served half that number.
Cutting staff, hours
In order to keep costs down, she said, the organization has cut staff and staff hours and has taken other austerity measures.
Vega said yesterday the issue comes down to “whether the cost is reasonable.”
“I don’t believe what they’re billing me now is reasonable,” he said.
Since October, Sanctuary has been charging the agency more than $26,000 every two weeks.
“I can understand the cost is a bit higher,” Vega said, “but not to the extent of the invoiced amount.”
Less grant money
O.J. Thomas Taitano, Sanctuary program director, said the organization’s federal grants have dropped by about $700,000 due to sequestration and cuts to grants.
If Sanctuary’s treatment program is forced to close, Vega said his agency has the facilities and staff to take in youths in need of drug-and-alcohol treatment.
In her letter, Lujan expressed skepticism that Behavioral Health has “the resources and personnel expertise to serve the youth population.”
Vega said having his agency serve youths directly is only a contingency plan and he wants to see services continue at the Sanctuary.
Both Vega and Lujan said yesterday the door hasn’t shut on negotiations to sort out the payment disagreement.
Vega said a request for proposal would give the organization a chance to justify its billing request.
“It’s an avenue for them to justify their bid,” he said.
If negotiations are successful, a contract would establish and enforce a pay rate.
Even if the drug- and alcohol-treatment program shuts down, Lujan said that wouldn’t affect the organization’s crisis hotline or emergency shelters.
Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com
5) Depletion Of CNMI Settlement Fund Projected By 2019
Monthly drawdown from investments draining fund’s resources
By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 13, 2014) – Owing to the need to draw down from the investment accounts to cover the shortfall for pension payments, it is projected that the CNMI Settlement Fund’s investments will be depleted by 2019.
In Civille & Tang PLLC’s initial report as Settlement Trustee, the trustee sounded the alarm that the Fund’s investment accounts will be depleted over the next five years.
“Because of the required monthly drawdown from the investment accounts, assuming zero investment income from the investment accounts and that the NMI government will continue to make its annual payments, the investment accounts will be completely depleted by 2019,” the Settlement Trustee reported.
With a settlement reached in the Betty Johnson case on Sept. 30 that effectively reduced retirement benefits by 25 percent, the Settlement Fund account began with a balance of $128,322,000 inclusive of the $13 million balance of the P.L. 17-82 and P.L. 18-02 withdrawals after the Fund paid out $40,615,807 between October and November last year.
It was déjà vu for the Settlement Trustee as the report appeared to mirror former Fund Administrator Richard Villagomez’ warning of depletion because of the continuous drawdowns from the investment corpus.
For fiscal year 2014, the Fund projects operating expenses of about $51,662,214.
If the government is able to remit $25 million this year, the Fund will still be short $26,662,714.
The report states that the Settlement Fund’s $51.587 million in expenses for fiscal year 2014 are broken down into five categories: $49.425 million, pension and disability payments; $898,082, wages, salaries, and employer expenses; $822,670, consultant and professional fees; $226,600, general administrative expenses; and $215,000, other expenses.
“In order for the Fund to meet its financial obligations, the Settlement Fund is drawing down on its investments accounts each month,” reports the Settlement Trustee.
Monthly, pension payments amount to $4.2 million while operational expenses are budgeted at $215,000 a month.
Of the $27.98 million projected shortfall this year, the Trustee reported that shortfalls per months are as follows: $4.415 million, Oct. 2013; $3.374 million, Nov. 2013; $1.706 million, Dec. 2013; $1.498 million, Jan. 2014; $1.498 million, Feb. 2014; $1.498 million, March 2014; $2.748 million, April 2014; $2.748 million, May 2014; $2.748 million, June 2014; $1.915 million, July 2014; $1.915 million, Aug. 2014; and $1.915 million, Sept. 2014.
The trustee also said, “The combination of high outflow of funds coupled with low returns seriously limits the options for earning investment income.”
As short as the Fund’s investment horizon is, they can’t take higher risk. The trustee explained, “If an investor does not have a long investment horizon, the short-term volatilities of the stock market may deplete the investor’s asset base before the market recovery takes place.”
The trustee said that a long investment horizon would be at least 10 years.
“Given the sustained high rates of cash outflow, short expected life and uncertainty whether the NMI government will continue to meet its annual payment obligations, the Settlement Fund does not have the ability to take on much investment risk in the financial markets,” said the Trustee.
The Fund’s portfolio is predominantly “fixed income based.”
The most common type of fixed income are bonds issued by federal governments, local municipalities or major corporations.
The Fund, with its short horizon, cannot invest in stocks that reward investors with high returns.
Based on the investment report by the Fund’s consultant Wilshire as of Dec. 31, 2013, the Settlement Fund was invested as follows: Blackrock, $3.084 million; $959,000, JP Morgan; $721,000, mutual funds; and PIMCO/Richmond Capital, $100.757 million.
Unpaid employer contributions
Although the Trustee acknowledged that the government did make its first quarter payment, and it had received employee contributions, it has yet to receive $968,407.75 in employer contributions from the central government and autonomous agencies for the period from Oct. 5, 2013 to Jan. 11, 2014. The outstanding employer contributions were $419,120.19, central government and $549,284.56, autonomous agencies.
Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com
6) Nauru Home Minister Defends Increased Journalist Visa Fee
Scotty admits hike in response to coverage of asylum processing
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 13, 2014) – Nauru’s Home Affairs Minister has defended moves by the government to raise a visa fee for visiting journalists.
Last month Nauru hiked journalists’ visas from AU$200 dollars to AU$8000 dollars.
The Minister, Charmaine Scotty, admits the move is a response to the significant damage that foreign media personnel inflict on Nauru through their negative coverage of the island’s role as a venue processing asylum seekers on Australia’s behalf.
The minister says journalists seem to have made up their minds in advance of arriving to vilify Nauru.
“With all the bad press that they come and do, we have extra hard problems in regards to the local community and the visitors that are called transferees. We have community programmes for them, community outreach programmes which are being severely held back because through the really bad press the people in Nauru are getting really afraid of these people,” Scotty said.
[PIR editor’s note: New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, Murray McCully, has meanwhile encouraged Nauru to reconsider the dramatic increase in journalist visa prices. He told visiting Nauru foreign minister, David Adeang, that media scrutiny is vital to transparency.]
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
7) Australia to demand greater accountability from overseas aid recipients
Updated 14 February 2014, 7:10 AEST
By Asia Editor Catherine McGrath, and staff
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the country needs an aid program with a strong culture of accountability.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the country needs an aid program with a strong culture of accountability.
Ms Bishop has singled out Australia’s second largest aid recipient Papua New Guinea in calling for greater scrutiny of overseas aid.
In a speech at the Australian National University in Canberra, Ms Bishop says Australia needs a “more effective and efficient” aid program.
“I take issue with those who focus on quantity not quality,” she said.
“There are many examples in domestic policies where billions of dollars have been poured into aid programs, only to find that standards have gone backwards.
“When we get it right, we can make a real difference, and we can do this by focusing on our region.”
There will be new mutual obligations requirements with partner countries so that both parties are held accountable for outcomes, and poor performing programs will be reviewed – and if appropriate, lose funding.
Ms Bishop says there are issues across the region for Australian aid funding, but she’s singled out Papua New Guinea.
“(It’s) distressing to know that despite the fact that Australia invests about half a billion dollars each and every year into Papua New Guinea it will not meet one of its Millenium Development Goals. In fact, it is going backwards,” she said.
The Australian Government has cut $4.5 billion over four years from the aid budget, but Ms Bishop is promising the new approach with trade as its focus will be more effective.
“We’ll work with partner governments to build the critical institutions and the policies that they need to facilitate trade and promote functioning economies,” Ms Bishop said.
“This is all part of what I call ‘economic diplomacy’.
“We are still one of the most generous donor nations in the world. We remain amongst the top 10, per capita.”
Meanwhile, Ms Bishop says lifting travel sanctions against Fiji’s military-backed regime is on the agenda during her visit to the country this weekend.
Ms Bishop will arrive in Fiji on Friday as a member of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group.
She says meetings have been scheduled with members of Fiji’s leadership, including the 2006 coup leader and current Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
Ms Bishop says the group will be discussing ways to assist with promised elections later this year and the possible removal of travel bans on Fiji’s leaders as well as Fiji’s bans on foreign journalists.
“Australia wants to provide support to their electoral commission and to provide assistance in ensuring that elections are held,” she said.
“We should support Fiji in it’s efforts to bring back democratic institutions and hold a free and fair election, and that’s what I’ll be aiming to achieve this weekend.”
Ms Bishop says Australia wants to normalise relations with Fiji, and to rebuild political, defence and economic ties with the country.
“Fiji is an important Pacific nation, and I believe it’s time that Australia embraced Fiji, that we work with Fiji to normalise relations with not only Australia and New Zealand but also other Pacific nations.”http://www.radioaustralia.net.
8) PNG East New Britain pipol i laikim PM O’Neill i rausim SABL
Updated 13 February 2014, 18:31 AEST
PNG Praim Minista Peter O’Neill imas luksave long bikpla wari blong ol East New Britain pipol na rausim ol special agrikalsa bisnis Leases
Ol papa graon long Papua New Guinea East New Britain provins i askim strong PNG Praim Minista Peter O’Neill long luksave long bikpla wari blong ol na rausim ol special agrikalsa bisnis leases.
Oli mekim despla toktok bihaen long gavman ibin tokaut olsem bai oli kamapim wanpla Land Trust Board long kisim bek olgeta graon blong gavman em ol pipal na bisnis laen isave kisim nating long kantri.
Mr O’Neill ibin tokaut long despla tingting long Tunde taem emi bin lonchim National Capital District Commission Land Trust Board long Port Moresby.
Ol papa graon long PNG itok despla loa imas karamapim tu ol graon em planti kampani ibin kisim nating aninit long special agrikalsa bisnis leases.
Nobert Pames, mausman blong ol papa graun long Pomio long East New Britain Provins itok em nau i askim strong Praim Minista Peter O’Neill long tingim dispela kantri na kamap wantaim gutpela tingting long rausim ol korap pasin na givim em ol graun oli save nating igo long ol autsait pipol.
Em i tok oli bikpela bilif long gavaman blong em na tu oli bilif long ol toktok blong em long savim pipol nau olsem ol kain wok development iwok long kamap na bagarapim sidaun blong ol.
Mr Pames itok gavaman blong Praim Minista igat ol gutpela tingting istap pinis olsem long fri education tasol nau bikpela wok emi imas mekim long lukluk long dispela wari blong SABL, na imas givim bek graun igo bek long ol olsem ol pipol yet iken mekim tingting long wanem samting ol bai mekim long graun blong ol.Radio Australia
9) Les médias du Pacifique sur la sellette
Posté à 13 February 2014, 8:43 AEST
C’est à Nouméa que se déroule le troisième sommet des médias du Pacifique, des médias qui ne sont pas assez scrutateurs et trop consentants, selon Colin Tukuitonga, le nouveau directeur du Secrétariat de la Communauté du Pacifique (CPS).
Notre correspondant dans le Pacifique, Sean Dorney, a écouté attentivement le discours de Tukuitonga et nous avons pu le joindre à Nouméa : « Il a effectivement dit que les médias ont tendance à rapporter des communiqués publiés par des gouvernements ou des organisations comme la sienne et que personne ne pose les questions difficiles. Il a dit aux 150 délégués présents qu’il se ferait un plaisir de répondre aux questions difficiles.
Il a aussi souligné que les médias ont un rôle majeur à jouer, surtout dans le Pacifique, pour que les gouvernements soient obligés de rendre des comptes.
Les gouvernements sont très puissants, a-t-il ajouté, notamment dans les petites nations, ce sont eux qui décident de délivrer des services ou non et les médias ne doivent pas les lâcher et doivent leur poser des questions. »
Colin Tukuitonga a aussi pris la question du changement climatique pour dénoncer une certaine réticence des médias : «Il pense que dans le domaine du changement climatique, la voix des médias pourrait être plus forte. Pour lui, le changement climatique est un défi majeur et que c’est aux médias du Pacifique de parler de la situation des îles du Pacifique à propos du changement climatique. »
Les journalistes de la région ne sont donc pas assez scrutateurs et se contenteraient d’être un simple relais entre le communiqué de presse d’un gouvernement et le public. Mais est-ce que le directeur de la CPS visait la presse ne général ou tout spécialement les journalistes du Pacifique puisque cette circonspection de la presse n’est pas unique au Pacifique : « Effectivement, elle ne l’est pas. Mais Tukuitonga s’est adressé à une audience composé de délégués des médias du Pacifique et il leur disait qu’ils n’étaient pas assez curieux par rapport à des journalistes extérieurs à la région. Il leur a lancé un véritable défi en soulignant que les gouvernements sont très puissants dans le Pacifique et les médias doivent s’endurcir et pourraient faire mieux. » Radio Australia
10) Une société australienne impliquée dans un vaste scandale foncier
Posté à 13 February 2014, 8:33 AEST
L’un des plus grands scandales fonciers de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée avec des millions d’hectares de terres coutumières attribuées parfois sans le consentement des propriétaires.
En moins d’une décennie, 11% de la superficie totale du pays ont été attribués à des sociétés d’exploitation forestière étrangères en vertu des Baux Agricoles et Commerciaux Spéciaux, (BACS).
Au nombre de ces sociétés : Independent Timbers and Stevedoring (IT&S), (Société indépendante de bois et d’acconage), une petite société enregistrée en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée mais dirigée depuis l’État australien du Queensland.
Au départ, le projet de cette société consistait à construire une route de 600 kilomètres pour relier la ville de Kianga, dans la Province Ouest, à Port Moresby la capitale de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.
Pour financer la construction, la société entendait abattre des arbres sur un couloir de 40 mètres le long de la route. Les propriétaires fonciers séduits par l’idée d’être reliés à la capitale ont accepté de louer leurs terres sur cet étroit couloir le long de l’axe routier.
Mais une commission d’enquête a depuis découvert que cette société sous contrôle australien a profité des Baux Agricoles et Commerciaux Spéciaux, (BACS), destinés à des petits projets de développement rural, pour s’attribuer 2 millions d’hectares. Si la loi ne le permet pas, les BACS eux autorisent le déboisement dans le cadre de ces petits projets de développement rural.
Lawrence Stephens, président de la branche de Transparency International en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, espère que l’enquête ira jusqu’au bout : « Dès le départ nous avions été scandalisés par cette affaire. [Ces 2 millions d’hectares] représentent presqu’un tiers de la superficie de la Province Ouest. Et ils ont été obtenus par le biais d’un bail agricole alors que le nom même de cette société de bois et d’acconage montrait bien qu’ils étaient là pour le bois. C’est vraiment choquant. C’est une violation choquante d’un concept destiné à libérer des terres pour des [petits] projets agricoles alors qu’ils ont volé ce qu’il y avait dans la forêt. »
La Commission d’enquête a également révélé que IT&S n’a pas fourni aux populations locales un accès suffisant à des espaces destinés à la pêche, à la chasse et à l’agriculture et autres nécessités de la vie quotidienne.
Nous avons essayé d’obtenir une réponse de la société IT&S. Son directeur général, Neville Harsley, a transmis un communiqué indiquant que sa société n’avait pas encore tous les éléments à sa disposition : « La société a demandé à avoir accès à tous les documents, transcriptions et autres pièces justificatives ayant trait aux sources de la Commission d’enquête et qui n’ont toujours pas été mis à notre disposition. »
L’affaire continue….radio Australia
11) PIDF free from outside influence unlike Pacific Islands Forum: Fiji President
By Online Editor
6:10 pm GMT+12, 13/02/2014, Nauru
Fiji’s President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says the establishment of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) has enabled the voice of grassroots people to be heard.
Ratu Epeli made the statement in his state visit to Nauru Wednesday praising his Nauruan counterpart Baron Waqa for his support towards PIDF last year.
He said the PIDF was free from outside influence unlike the Pacific Islands Forum.
“We especially appreciate your strong support for the Pacific Islands Development Forum – the PIDF – and Nauru’s work as a member of the governing council. Together, we are building a new regional structure to give ordinary Pacific Islanders a bigger voice.
“The PIDF, unlike the Pacific Islands Forum, includes representatives of civil society groups and businesses. This means that the views of the grassroots are being heard as never before. And unlike the Pacific Islands Forum, the PIDF is a genuinely Pacific Island grouping, relatively free from outside influence
Together, we are also making the Pacific voice heard in the great forums of the world, he said.
“The Pacific Small Island Developing States – with both Nauru and Fiji playing leading roles – are placing the issues that matter to us, like climate change, before the United Nations and its various agencies. It is the best opportunity that we have of getting our needs and concerns heard and addressed.
“These are partnerships that benefit all our people. Because only by working together and speaking with one voice can we hope to be heard above the competing interests of other nations,” he said.
Ratu Epeli 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.
“We are especially keen – with working closely with Nauru – to lead and assist our joint effort to persuade the rest of the world to finally take decisive action on climate change.
“I have just come to Nauru from Kiribati, which along with Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, is facing catastrophe because of rising sea levels caused by global warming. It is simply not acceptable for the world to stand by and watch these Pacific Nations sink beneath the waves.
“Our recent leadership of the biggest voting bloc at the United Nations – the G77 plus China – gave us a unique opportunity to advance this cause. We sit on the main United Nations committee on climate change.
And by recently taking the Chair of the Governing Board of the United Nations Development Program, we are also in a position to push our collective agenda forward. This matters not just to the people of the four islands I had earlier mentioned but to every Pacific Islander,” he said.
He added that the issue of climate change matters not just to the people of Nauru, but to every Pacific Islander.
“In Fiji, we have already moved one village altogether out of the way of the rising sea and a second will soon be also relocated. But we have identified a further 676 communities throughout our nation that are threatened in some way, including 42 that will need to be moved in the next five to ten years.
“Of course, all this pales into insignificance beside the catastrophe facing the citizens of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands. I carried a message to Kiribati that Fiji would stand shoulder to shoulder with Kiribati as it faced this crisis, as well as doing everything possible to try to avert it.
“I also repeated the assurance given by our Prime Minister that in a worst case scenario and if all else fails, some or all of the people of Kiribati may have to be resettled in Fiji. They will not be refugees. They deserve to be able to migrate with dignity. Their spirit 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 minds of its citizens wherever they may be.
“I also come to Nauru repeating the message that we must all do more as Pacific Islanders to take charge of our own affairs. We need a fundamental change in our psyche – in our mindset – and in the way we see the world.
We need to take ownership of our problems, to acknowledge our own roles and responsibilities instead of seeing them as someone else’s,” said Ratu Epeli.
12) Bleak Future In Store For Pasifika Youth: New Zealand MP
Su’a William Sio cites recent report by Salvation Army
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 12, 2014) – A New Zealand opposition MP, Su’a William Sio, says young Pacific Island people have a bleak future in the country.
He says a new report by the Salvation Army shows young Pacific people are lagging even further behind since the National-led government came to power in 2008.
The report “Striking a Better Balance” shows Pacific unemployment was at 13-point-nine percent in December last year down from 16 percent a year earlier.
But Mr Sio says it’s still much worse than in 2008 when nearly 26,000 young Pacific Islanders had jobs compared to the 21,000 in employment now.
“These are not full-time quality, high earning jobs. These are mainly casual part-time jobs and low paid at that.”
Su’a William Sio says higher rates of Pacific Island pre-schoolers being educated is good news but he questions whether the community’s demand for bilingual education is being met.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
13) Obama’s Asian tour dates set
Friday, February 14, 2014
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama will travel to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in April, the White House says.
The visit is intended to quell doubts in the region about Mr Obama’s strategy of rebalancing US power to Asia, following the cancellation of his last planned trip there in October for domestic political reasons.
“The president will travel to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in late April as part of his ongoing commitment to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” the White House said in a statement.
Mr Obama is expected to return again to Asia later in the year for regional summits in Australia, Beijing and Myanmar.
The White House announced in November that Mr Obama would return to Asia to make up for his cancelled visit, which included planned stops in Manila and Kuala Lumpur. And it was an open secret that he would call in Japan, too, to take up an invitation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December 2012.
14) China defends holding of military exercises between Australia and Indonesia
Posted 14 February 2014, 2:50 AEST
By China correspondent Stephen McDonell and staff
The Chinese military has defended the holding of naval exercises in between Australia and Indonesia.
China’s defence ministry says last week’s exercises were not aimed at any particular country.
It’s believed the Chinese navy has never before held such activities so close to Australia.
Chinese television reports have showed what appeared to be simulated combat drills, including weapons firing.
But the Chinese defence ministry has told the ABC that this was “normal training” as part of an annual plan.
In a statement in response to questions, the ministry also said that the exercises were “not aimed at any countries” and had “nothing to do with the regional situation”.
It added: “China has the lawful right to sail freely in these waters”.
Last week, Chinese destroyers Wuhan and Haikou and amphibious landing craft Changbaishan carried out combat simulation drills.
This prompted concern that Beijing is flexing its muscles further afield.
Analysts say that by sending ships through the region in such a way, Beijing is making it clear that it now considers the Indian Ocean a strategic priority.
The Australian air force monitored the exercises.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop told Australia Network that “China is an emerging power in our region and globally”.
“These exercises are taking place in international waters and Australia conducts similar exercises in international waters,” she said.http://www.
15) FACT FILE
Siteri Sauvakacolo – Fijitimes
Friday, February 14, 2014
* There are 4600 dengue fever cases;
* Three deaths have been recorded by the Health Ministry; and
* Two municipal councils — Nasinu Town Council and Suva City Council have
carried out anti-dengue clean up campaigns.
16) Vanuatu Among Nations Approved For No Visa Travel To EU
Citizens from 22 countries exempted after agreements are signed
By Len Garae
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 12, 2014) – A landmark decision by 28 member states comprising the European Union (EU) have approved of allowing passport holders from 22 non-European Union countries including Vanuatu to travel to the EU without needing an entry visa.
Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the EU, Roy Mickey Joy who has been re-appointed by the Council of Ministers to his post on February 6, 2014, has been on the forefront of negotiating and moving this dossier forward with the EU over the last few years during his term in office.
The Ambassador said, “In order for this regulation to come into force, the draft still needs to be formally approved by both the European Parliament and the EC provisionally around the end of April 2014 as the deadline.”
According to the EU’s amended regulation, nationals and citizens from Colombia, Dominica, Grenada, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Peru, St Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobacco, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates and of course Vanuatu will be exempt from the Visa requirement if they were traveling to the Schengen zone including France, and Kingdom of Belgium.
Ambassador Joy said the exemption will come into force only when bilateral agreements on Visa Waiver between the EU and the countries concerned have been concluded in order to ensure full reciprocity and full implementation.
The announcement was made this week in Brussels by the Council of the European Union (EU) to Pacific ACP Ambassadors confirming that special provisions are being finalized to facilitate Visa–Waiver for selected non-EU countries to enter the member states of the EU.
Second Secretary to the Vanuatu Embassy in Brussels, Shirley Joy said, “This historic decision by the EU is a product of a long and standing protracted negotiations between the EU, the European Commission (EC), the European Parliament and selected representatives of non-EU countries including Vanuatu; as a stepping stone to assisting in the movement of natural persons to the EU environment either for business or investment purposes.”
She said the decision is also a testimony on the EU’s global Agenda for Change and inevitably constitutes fundamental part of EU’s growing global integration agenda.
It is envisaged that to effectively ensure Vanuatu’s eligibility and participation in this important programme, a proposed bilateral agreement on this matter between Vanuatu and the EC is likely to be included in the next Enhanced Political Dialogue, which is likely to take place in Vanuatu in the later part of this year.
Prime Minister Moana Carcasses is currently being advised and briefed on the convening of the 3rd Vanuatu-EC Enhanced Political Dialogue and a political decision on the timing will be announced soon.
This new EU regulation once approved, will be a corner stone to facilitate business and commerce as well as encourage swift and free movement of Vanuatu citizens into the huge Schengen area within the EU.
Meanwhile, the landmark decision by the EU comes at a time when ni-Vanuatu citizens intending to travel to regional neighbours like New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand are facing tremendous challenges due to changing immigration rules and stiff regulations in these countries.
The Vanuatu Embassy to the EU will continue to work closely with the European Council and the European Parliament with a view to facilitating a smooth transition and implementation of this new policy directive.
[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Joy has clarified that ni-Vanuatu wishing to enter New Caledonia or already live in the French territory must apply for a French visa. He said this was due to France giving New Caledonia special consideration, along with concerns of ni-Vanuatu illegally living in the territory.]
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
17) Australian Company Implicated In PNG Land Lease Inquiry
Report alleges processes manipulated to obtain special leases
By Jemima Garrett
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 12, 2014) – 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.
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.
“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.
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.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
18) Forbidden donations for coporate companies to political parties: FIJI AG
By Online Editor
6:06 pm GMT+12, 13/02/2014, Fiji
Companies and corporate entities are not allowed to donate money directly to political parties.
This was reiterated this week by Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who said political parties needed to adhere to the law on this point.
“The law is quite clear and it is done for a specific reason.
“The law states that a company or corporate entity cannot donate money directly to a political party,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“It also states that any person or individual that does donate to a political party can donate a maximum of only $10,000 annually.”
He said foreign entities were also not allowed to donate money to political parties and it was done this way in a number of countries around the world for the sake of transparency and fairness.
“There’s a reason for that — to keep a level of transparency, to make sure that we don’t have political campaigns being run by big businesses.
“It is also to ensure that small political parties have the ability to also campaign on equal footing.
“Their ability to campaign on policies and issues will in fact be watered down simply because they don’t have access to funds.
“Of course some countries have a rule in place where the actual Parliament gives money to political parties, but that’s something for the new Parliament to decide.”.
Meanwhile, voter education prior to this year’s general election is an important aspect of Fiji’s voting process.
Sayed-Khaiyum said with the elections approaching, the Electoral Commission would be working towards addressing key areas surrounding voter education in the country.
“The Electoral Commission will be conducting that and indeed many of the countries that we’ve been meeting up with have indicated their willingness to provide funding for voter education,” he said
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
19) Fiji Electoral Decree Expected Before March: Attorney General
Draft, due this weekend, will go to commission for review
By Dawn Gibson
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 12, 2014) – 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,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said at a press conference in Suva yesterday.
“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 AG confirmed.
[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, FijiLive reports that, according to Sayed-Khaiyum, the government expects to name an elections supervisor soon, as all applications for the position are being compiled by the Solicitor General. The AG also urged political parties to begin or continue their campaign efforts, despite the Electoral Decree not being finalized yet. Sayed-Khaiyum said the fact that the decree had not come out yet did not prevent political campaigning.]
Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.
20) PINA registered in Fiji as a company limited by guarantee
By Online Editor
6:17 pm GMT+12, 13/02/2014, New Caledonia
The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) will achieve another milestone Friday when its members adopt to allow the regional organization to operate as a company limited by guarantee.
PINA Limited has been registered in Fiji under the company laws.
PINA President, Moses Stevens has confirmed the new legal status of the organization, saying it was first mooted in 2005 by the then board.
“I am also pleased to announce that as of today (after 7 years) PINA is now registered in Fiji as a Company Limited by Guarantee.
“This status means a strengthening of our accountability and governance from a charitable organisation (since our registration in 1986 in Samoa).
PINA has been operating as a charitable trust organization since its office was re-located to Suva in 1997.
Stevens says the company status will also mean PINA has to file periodic reports to the Registrar of Companies in Fiji.
He adds this will ensure good governance and transparency within PINA.
“We’ve had independent reviews conducted on our structure; we’ve had to look into and re-work our governance model, we’ve had to work and build our financial integrity (through the provision of independent financial audits – with the most recent 2011-2012 Audit Report to be presented to the AGM this Friday) and most importantly we’ve had to strengthen our relationships with all our members and stakeholders, especially our National Associations
“We’ve had to work through the issues surrounding the positioning of the secretariat, National Bodies, Media Responsibility, Clarity on the working boundaries between similar entities, donor engagement, retention of our membership, and “implementation challenges of the business-as-usual” verses resources (both funding and human resources) .
That aside we continue to be the premier regional organisation representing the interests of media professions in the Pacific region,” said Stevens.
SOURCE: PACNEWS/FIJI TV
21) Pacific Islands Media Challenged To Overcome Passivity
SPC director general wants journalists to ask hard questions
By Sean Dorney, Pacific correspondent
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 13, 2014) – The media in the Pacific Islands has been challenged to be more inquisitive and to hold governments and organisations to account at this year’s Pacific Media Summit in New Caledonia.
The challenge has been issued by the new director general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Dr Colin Tukuitonga, at the opening of the third Pacific Media Summit.
Dr Colin Tukuitonga has told the official opening of the summit that he believes the media in the Pacific is too passive.
In his keynote address, Dr Tukuitonga challenged Pacific journalists to be proactive and not simply accept the word of governments and international and regional organisations.
“In general I would put it to you that you do not ask us the hard questions and I would invite you to ask us the hard questions,” he said.
Mr Roch Wamytam, the president of the Congress of New Caledonia, is attending the media summit, along with 150 delegates from throughout the Pacific.
He said New Caledonia had only one newspaper.
“This does not guarantee the independence and reliability of journalists but this is the situation in New Caledonia now with the monopoly of the press,” he said.
Dr Tukuitonga has also criticised international food processing companies, saying highly processed food was killing three out of four people in the Pacific.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
22) Media plays key role in promoting trade in Pacific: Trade Pasifika
By Online Editor
6:01 pm GMT+12, 13/02/2014, New Caledonia
The media’s role in Pacific regionalism is equally important when it comes to trade, delegates at the 3rd Pacific Media Summit in Noumea heard today.
Inoke Bainimarama, the Event Manager for Trade Pasifika 2014 mentioned to delegates present at the plenary session on “The media and Pacific regionalism” said that the media plays a key role in promoting the trade potential from the Pacific in particular the niche products the Pacific has to offer.
He challenged media owners, media practioners and partners attending the 3-day summit to look into the informative role the media plays in educating and profiling local producers and exhibitors in their countries.
“While this will be subtle marketing for the producer, it could be inspirational for those wanting to go into business or those that are in business but are looking for innovative ideas to grow their business”, Bainimarama said.
“Trade Pasifika, to be held in April this year, is one such event, as it is about showcasing the best the Pacific has to offer as well about providing market access for our niche producers,” he said.
A special media focus group on trade, in collaboration with Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) will also see greater participation of media organisations from around the Pacific during Trade Pasifika 2014.
The focus group is made up of business writers and broadcasters from around the Pacific who meet virtually online to share experiences and news ideas in the lead up to the event in April.
Trade Pasifika 2014 will be held in Suva, Fiji from 2 to 4 April with more than 100 exhibitors and more than 50 buyers from key global markets. Development partners behind the event include the Pacific Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), UNDP, SPC IACT, MSG Secretariat, the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) including local partners Fiji’s Ministry of Trade and Investment Fiji. A series of sponsors have signed on with the main Gold Sponsor for this year being ANZ Bank.
23) Spotlight on role of the media
Friday, February 14, 2014
THE media can play a big role in highlighting issues of advocacy and human rights, particularly as a preface to the election.
These issues and more were discussed at a workshop hosted by the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum in Suva on Wednesday.
Participant Kasim Nazeem said Fiji needed more forums.
“The whole idea behind the workshop was to map out how different CSOs, NGOs and the media in Fiji can build genuine collaboration and partnership and work together in the lead up to the polls in September,” Mr Nazeem said.
He said where the government fell short, it was the role of the media and NGOs to make up for it.
24) Need to educate journos
Friday, February 14, 2014
THE need to educate journalists about the role of media and self-regulation were among the topics discussed at the third Pacific Islands Media Summit in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Speaking to participants, Ricardo Morris, Pacific Freedom Forum’s regional co-ordinator, said the idea of a regional media self-regulation body came out of discussions during World Press Freedom Day celebrations in 2012.
He said this was an option for the media to make a decision on, rather than simply saying it could not be done.
He said they would like the media to discuss what the implications are with regards to a regional self-regulation scheme.
As part of the feasibility study on self regulation , a survey was conducted that collected perceptions of media self-regulation from media stakeholders in 10 Pacific islands countries — Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Solomon Islands, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The feedback revealed common priorities across the region such as training for media professionals and the need for public awareness on self-regulation.
The feasibility study is expected to be finalised by April this year.
Participants who attended the Pacific Media Summit also heard the perspectives on self-regulation from media practitioners during a panel discussion.
Panelists included Fiji Media Industry Development Authority director Matai Akauola, Samoa Observer editor Keni Lesa, Kalafi Moala, Taimi Media Network in Tonga, and Dr Weber.
Kalafi Moala called for the need to take cultural diversity that shapes media and the dynamics within the media into consideration.
Keni Lesa from the Samoa Observer noted that factionalism was the biggest stumbling block to advancing self-regulation and he stressed the need for national mechanisms to form the basis for a regional scheme.
Mr Akauola noted the need for self-regulation and that Fiji was pursuing a different path from other countries in the Pacific with the establishment of the Media Industry Development Authority.
In conclusion, Dr Weber noted that “regional and national self-regulation mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and there are specific issues and functions that pertain to either mechanism”.
25) Separation Of Mobile Force From Vanuatu Police Explored
Police commissioner says distinct roles must be determined
By Godwin Ligo
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 12, 2014) – A study by a Special Task Force set up by the Government under its 100 Day Plan to separate the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) from the Vanuatu Police General Duty is being undertaken.
This was confirmed to Daily Post by the Government Parliamentary Secretary MP Silas Yatan.
He said it will take time for wider and deeper consultations to receive comprehensive views, opinions and recommendations that are vital and important for the government of the day to take into consideration before final decision is made through the Council of Ministers and the National Parliament. MP Yatan added that when the time is right, one of the considerations will be that the Police General Duty Operations will remain under the Ministry of Internal Affairs while the Vanuatu Mobile Force will come under the Prime Minister’s portfolio.
“The Special Task Force has been mandated to accommodate, wider and broader views of appropriate government and other related agencies in its undertakings to form the recommendations that will have to go to the Council of Ministers and eventually to the national parliament for final approval.
“This is the first time in the history of Vanuatu since 1980 that the present government is undertaking this initiative under its 100 Day policies,” said MP Yatan.
Commenting on the government policy initiative to separate the VMF from the Vanuatu General Police Duty, the Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton, said deep considerations must be given to a lot of factors if and when the government finally decide to go ahead and adopt the policy of dividing the VMF from the General Police Duty.
“First and foremost the government must set up a ‘National Security Council’ under a ‘White Paper Policy’ to ensure clear and distinct roles of the two Forces. This is vital also because currently 40% of the operational costs of the running of the 680 members of the VMF and the General Police Duty are funded by the Australian and the New Zealand Government under the existing agreement. This included the fuel and maintenance costs of the RVS Tukoro, apart from the salaries and wages borne by the Vanuatu Government,” Commissioner Caulton told Daily Post. He added that since the creation of the VMF in 1980 along with the General Policing Duties, successive governments have always found it difficult to maintain 100% costs of the running and operations of the VMF and the General Policing Duties.
“The Government must be able to pick the full costs of the running of the two law and order and security organizations especially the VMF if the separation is to go ahead because already 40% of the running costs of the operations, vehicle, fuel and maintenance of the RVS Tukoro are funded by Australia and New Zealand.
“The Government must also ensure that the General Duty Policing must be fully and properly funded and supported to effectively carry out the day to day law and order in the country and more of the duties being carried out by the Policing duties, “said Police Commissioner Caulton.
“The obligations and duties must be clear and to ensure this is effective it is vital that it is a must that the government establish a ‘National Security Council’ which will have an independent role to guide the General Police Duty and the VMF in their respective roles while serving the country in the respective roles they will each play from there onward. Because at the end of the day the government of the day will always be responsible for whatever questions that arises in line with the duties of both the General Police Duties and the VMF,” said Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton.
“Deep considerations must be undertaken by the national government and the parliament once the Task Force completes its work and recommendations to go to the Council of Ministers and the parliament prior to the implementation of the idea which deals with the law and order and the security within the country. A National Security Council is a must for the government to bear in mind while moving on this proposal,” said Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT
26) People Of Kiribati Welcome To Live In Fiji: Ratu Epeli
Fiji president gives speech during state visit in Tarawa
By Nemani Delaibatiki
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Feb. 12, 2014) – The people of Kiribati are welcome to live in Fiji if their islands are swamped by rising sea level, says President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
“I want to assure you all that Fiji will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you face this crisis, as well as doing everything possible to try to avert it,” he said.
Speaking at a dinner in Tarawa during his state visit to Kiribati, Ratu Epeli said: “In a worst case scenario and if all else fails, you will not be refugees. You will be able to migrate with dignity. 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 minds of its citizens wherever they may be.
“If the sea level continues to rise because the international community won’t tackle global warming, some or all of the people of Kiribati may have to come and live in Fiji. Fiji will not turn its back on our neighbours in their hour of need. We accepted the Banaban people when they were forced to leave Ocean Island [Banaba] 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.
“You have already purchased 6000 acres of land on Fiji’s second biggest island, Vanua Levu, to ensure your food security as the sea encroaches on your arable land. What the future holds we cannot say.
“But I want to assure you that if all else fails, you have true friends in Fiji who will not let you down. Because only our size and topography – our mountainous interiors – prevent us from suffering the same fate.
“I also come with a message that we must all do more as Pacific islanders to take charge of our own affairs. We need a fundamental change in our psyche – in our mindset – and the way we see the world. We need to take ownership of our problems, to acknowledge our own roles and responsibilities instead of seeing them as someone else’s.”
The President also praised their support for Fiji.
“Together, we face many of the same challenges. Together, we are working to meet those challenges. And I want to express my sincere thanks to you, President Tong, for your regional leadership and especially for your unwavering support for Fiji.
“Under your Government, our relationship has never been closer. You are a frequent and very welcome visitor to Fiji. You are a trusted friend and confidant. And where others of our neighbours have been less than reliable friends in recent years, Kiribati has been steadfast and constant.”
Ratu Epeli also reiterated his reasons why he was visiting Kiribati.
“I have come to Kiribati as part of Fiji’s effort to bind us even closer together. But in my meetings, I will also be explaining the huge strides we have made and are making in Fiji to produce a nation that is fairer, more just and provides better opportunities for every Fijian. Before the end of September, we will hold the first genuinely democratic election in our history, of equal votes of equal value instead of the racial weighted formula employed in the past. We have a new Constitution that establishes a common and equal citizenry, guarantees a range of civil and political rights and provides ordinary Fijians with an unprecedented array of social and economic rights, such as the right to education, housing, and clean water.
“This year, we have achieved a wonderful breakthrough in being able to provide our young people with free primary and secondary school education and a tertiary loans scheme so that poverty is no longer a barrier to higher studies. Our national infrastructure – such as our roads and ports – is also being upgraded to encourage the investment and jobs on which the ultimate fortune of every Fijian depends.”
He said Fiji already stood proud and tall in the world – having forged an independent foreign policy based on the fundamental premise of being friends to all and enemies to none.
“And we are sending our civilian volunteers, including teachers and health workers, into our Pacific neighbours to boost their capacity and improve the lives of their people,” he said.
“We are especially keen to lead and assist our joint 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 member of the United Nations – sink slowly beneath the waves. Fiji is using every possible means at the United Nations and in its agencies to draw attention to your plight and the selfishness of the big carbon polluters in putting their interests before those of us in the Pacific. Our recent leadership of the biggest voting bloc at the United Nations – the G77 Plus China – gave us a unique opportunity to advance this cause. We sit on the main United Nations committee on climate change. And by recently taking the Chair of the Governing Board of the United Nations Development Program, we are also in a position to push our collective agenda forward. This matters not just to the people of Kiribati but every Pacific Islander.”
27) New Shark Protection Laws Being Prepared For Pacific
Stakeholders conference currently underway in Nadi, Fiji
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 12, 2014) – Conservationists throughout the Pacific are hoping to strike a significant blow to the global trade in shark fin.
Fisheries officials and non-government organisations throughout the Pacific are in Fiji preparing to introduce historic new measures to preserve shark numbers.
Protection for a number of shark species has been promised by members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
More than 170 countries will begin enforcing those protections by September.
Imogen Zethoven, director of global shark conservation for the Pew Charitable Trusts, told Pacific Beat overfishing remains the biggest threat to sharks, which are often caught as by-product in longline catches.
“Longline operations focus mainly on tuna but due to the significant demand in Asia for shark fin soup, it is actually quite valuable to keep sharks, particularly their fins,” she said.
“Because of that value there has been a really rapid decline in a lot of the shark species throughout the Pacific and other oceans.”
In the Pacific the porbeagle, Oceanic whitetip and a number of species of hammerhead sharks are listed as endangered.
Ms Zethoven hopes the conference will see participants discuss potential conservation methods to save these species and prevent others from heading toward extinction.
However, she admits finding solutions for individual countries may prove to be difficult.
“It doesn’t mean fishing will stop, it just means that sharks and shark parts may not be exported,” Ms Zethoven said.
“It could have a very significant impact on the global shark fin trade, which is the very thing is driving many shark species to the brink of extinction.”
The two-day conference in Nadi concludes on Wednesday.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
28) Heat takes toll on Fiji Warriors players
Friday, February 14, 2014
THE Fiji Warriors squad is feeling the heat during its training sessions in preparation for the upcoming Pacific Rugby Cup competition.
The hot weather condition in the Central Division has prompted the team to shift its afternoon training session to an hour ahead to minimise the effect of the heat.
Fiji Warriors manager Joseph Browne said the side had been undergoing tough training sessions regularly.
Yesterday, he said the players were exposed to physical training before assistant coach Eroni Vereivalu carried out the skills work.
“It’s just too hot. We don’t want to get the players dehydrated. We have been planning properly on the recovery after the training sessions.
“We took them to Waimanu (yesterday) after the training because it’s cooler there. We drove them to Waimanu and got them to jump in the river.”
Browne said the preparation was on track with the team focusing on getting the combination right before the end of this month.
Defending champions Fiji Warriors plays the Queensland Reds A in its opening PRC match in Brisbane on March 2.
29) ‘Ikale Tahi captain named Pacific Player of the Year
By Online Editor
6:27 pm GMT+12, 13/02/2014, Tonga
‘Ikale Tahi Captain, Nili Latu has been voted Pacific Rugby Player of the year by the Pacific Islands Players Association (PIPA) for his achievements during 2013.
The 31 year-old was awarded the “Digicel Pacific Island Players Player of the Year Award” after a vote among players from Tonga, Fiji and Samoa, after last year’s November rugby tests.
Latu was also voted Tongan Player of the Year, while the Samoan Flanker, Jack Lam was voted Samoan Player of the year, and the Fijian Flanker, Akapusi Qera was voted Fijian Player of the Year. Each received a presentation Kava bowl.
Said Latu, “It’s just a big honour for me to win this award, especially with the Fijians and Samoans voting as well.”
The Pacific Islands Players Association’s founding member Seilala Mapusua said it was important for the Association to recognise outstanding players “all Pacific island players cherish every opportunity to represent their country. With these awards we hope to inspire players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to strive for excellence both on and off the field.”
Digicel’s Pacific Head, Katie Taylor said “we are delighted to be associated with PIPA and endorse individual member’s achievements in 2013 through these awards. On behalf of Digicel I would like to congratulate all the winners and nominees.
SOURCE: MATANGI TONGA/PACNEWS
30a) Sunia appointed to FIFA disciplinary committee
By Online Editor
6:22 pm GMT+12, 13/02/2014, New Zealand
American Samoa attorney Fiti Sunia, former Attorney General of American Samoa, has been appointed to sit on one of FIFA’s judicial bodies, the Disciplinary Committee.
His appointment was made formal in a letter to Sunia by FIFA Deputy Secretary General Markus Kattner on 18 December, 2013.
“I’m truly honoured by this appointment and I look forward to serving on this committee and hopefully make some contribution to FIFA’s mission here and abroad,” Sunia said.
“I wish to thanks the Oceania Football Confederation and FFAS for trusting me with their recommendation.”
OFC Member Associations were tasked with sending in their own nominations with Sunia becoming OFC’s selection for the vacant FIFA Disciplinary Committee seat.
“We are very honoured to have FIFA and OFC select a lawyer from American Samoa to sit on this committee,” FFAS President Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet said.
“With the background that he has I am sure he is going to fit right in.”
Under the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the “FIFA Disciplinary Committee is authorised to sanction any breach of FIFA regulations which does not come under the jurisdiction of another body.”
It’s specific jurisdictions are:
a) sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials attention;
b) rectifying obvious errors in teh referee’s disciplinary decisions;
c) extending the duration of a match suspension incurred automatically by an expulsion (cf. art18, par. 4);
d) pronouncing additional sanctions, such as a fine.
Sunia served as a government attorney for American Samoa for eight years, four of those years as American Samoa’s Attorney General (2001-2005).
He received his bachelor’s degree in public administration from Drake University; a master’s degree in public administration from American University and his juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law.
After leaving government service in 2005, Sunia opened his own private practice specialising in civil, land and matai title cases.
SOURCE: OFC/SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS
30b) Defence the key in Nines
Friday, February 14, 2014
AUCKLAND, AAP – “Host” team the Warriors are putting the accent on defence as they target winning the inaugural NRL Auckland Nines.
Fewer players on the field and rule tweaks carry the promise of fast, open action at Eden Park on Saturday and Sunday.
The Warriors have plenty of attacking threat in their armoury, with the likes of mercurial half Shaun Johnson, new English recruit Sam Tomkins, blockbusting centre Konrad Hurrell and speedster Glen Fisiiahi.
But their Nines coach Ricky Henry believes it’s what his players do without the ball that will be the key to success.
“Definitely defence is a priority and it probably will be across all the other teams as well,” he said.
“If you can defend well, you have a better chance of winning, so we’re doing a lot of defensive stuff and looking at structures.”
Henry, who is one of Warriors NRL coach Matthew Elliott’s assistants, was an interested observer of rugby union’s Wellington Sevens last weekend.
He has also talked to club icon Stacey Jones, who was part of New Zealand’s winning campaigns when the World Nines were held in 1996 and 1997. While much in the game had changed since then, Henry said the fundamentals remained similar.
“You’ve still got big guys involved, you have to control the ball, you have to get the defence right, you have to make your tackles,” he said.
30c) Man United keeps Gunners in check
Friday, February 14, 2014
LONDON, AFP – Arsenal and Manchester United each had cause for regret after playing out an attritional and occasionally turgid 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League yesterday.
Both teams suffered damaging results at the weekend, Arsenal crashing 5-1 at Liverpool and United drawing 2-2 at home to bottom club Fulham, and the tentativeness on either side made for a game of only sporadic excitement.
Robin van Persie came closest to scoring for United, spurning an excellent early chance and later hitting the crossbar with a header, while Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny had a header cleared of the line.
Arsenal would have gone top of the table with victory, but the draw left Arsene Wenger’s side a point behind Chelsea in second place.
“The title race is absolutely open for many teams,” said Wenger.
“Overall, we could have won it. It was a game of few chances. Our defensive focus was extreme as we conceded so many goals on Saturday. In the end, either side could have won 1-0.”
The result also had costly ramifications for United, who fell 11 points below fourth-place Liverpool in the race for Champions League football after the Merseyside club won 3-2 at Fulham.
“We have a lot of catching up to do. We have to win games and keep plugging away,” said United manager David Moyes.
“I am pleased, but I wanted all three points. Arsenal are having a great season, so it is not a bad draw for us.
“The last couple of games we have had Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie back. The record with the two of them has been very good.”
30d) Barca to face Real Madrid in final
Friday, February 14, 2014
MADRID, AFP – Barcelona will face Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final on April 19 after they drew 1-1 away to Real Sociedad to progress 3-1 on aggregate.
Lionel Messi continued his return to goalscoring form after netting twice against Sevilla on Sunday, with a fine solo run and finish to put Barca in front midway through the first-half yesterday.
The hosts were then thankful to a number of saves from Enaut Zubikarai to prevent Barcelona extending their lead on the night, but the Basques got some recompense for their efforts three minutes from time when Antoine Griezmann thumped Chory Castro’s low cross past Jose Manuel Pinto.
Barca boss Gerardo Martino was happy to have reached his first major final since taking charge at the start of the season, but said it was far too early to judge who will be favourites to lift the trophy come April.
“There were three objectives this year and we have managed to make the final in one of them. Now we have to try and win it, but we have complied with the demands until now,” he said.
Martino showed he wasn’t prepared to rest on last week’s 2-0 win in the first leg at the Camp Nou as he named a strong side and the visitors managed to take the sting out of the game early on by dominating possession without overly threatening the Sociedad goal.