Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 963

MELANESIA

1) Nyus i kam long MP mo Pati

Palemen tede mo By-Eleksen tumoro

Olgeta –

2nd Extraodineri Sesen blong Palemen blong 2014

Tede long Palamen, Gavman i bin tebolem “actual text” blong Promissory Note mo Concession Agreement blong propos niufala intanasonal eapot blong i save kam “properti blong Palamen” blong Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee i save lukluk long hem mo scrutinisim.  Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee ia i gat insaed ol MP blong Gavman (Robert Bohn, Silas Iatan, Gillion William mo Joe Natuman) mo MP blong Oposisen (James Bule, Charlot Salwai mo Alfred Carlot), mo wok blong Committee ia hemi blong “scrutinisim” Promissory Note ia mo mekem wan ripot i kam bak long palamen bifo Palemen i save vot blong sapotem Promissory Note ia. Motion blong apoentem Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee ia i bin pas long Parliament long en blong las yia, be hemi no bin save mekem gud wok blong hem from fulap risen.  Australian Gavman i givim mane finis blong Committee i save karem ol top-level lawyer mo financial analyst blong save givhan long Committee blong mekem analysis blong hem. Afta bae Committee i mas presentem ripot blong hem i kambak long Palamen blong Palamen i konsidarem bifo 13 Jun 2014. Ripot ia bae i talemaot ol risks mo benefits blong financing blong airport thru long Promissory Note as opposed to thru long wan narafala mechanism.
Bae yumi wet blong luk ripot ia bifo eni faenal disisen…

By-eleksen tumoro

Mek sua yu go vot, mo vot long raet lida blong tumoro.

“Camp” blong yumi long GJP bae i stap bakagen long Bambu Nakamal long Nambatu (kolosap long Ronny, long rod i kam long Seaside go kasem L’Houstalet). Bae sam blong yumi i stap long ples ia stat long 4pm olsem kasem taem yumi harem ol unofisel risal i kamaot.

Ta, MP Ralph Regenvanu

2) Vanuatu daily news digest | Parliament this afternoon

by bobmakin

Motions concerning acceptance of huge loans to finance the Rentabau Greenfield Airport “build / operate” project and other matters were withdrawn from Parliament this afternoon. No explanations were given: they were simply voted as tabled, their purpose never explained, so that the ad hoc committee for the project could continue to work with them. Government’s plans for the future of aviation, tourism and custom land ownership remain still murky. The add hoc committee is to report back by 13 June.

Further deputy speakers of Parliament were elected. They are Toara Daniel and Havo Moli. This was the only business conducted.

3) Vanuatu daily news digest | 14 April 2014

by bobmakin

The critical extra-ordinary session of Vanuatu’s Parliament to look into agreements signed by the Prime Minister, involving a massive airport development at South Efate, and USD 350 million worth of state guarantees to the build / operate developers, was further postponed this morning. Along with a huge loan from the Ex-Im Bank of China for some purpose not yet stated and VNPF loans to Air Vanuatu, none of these matters was ready for debate this morning. Apparently all were on the agenda simply for voting as motions.

VBTC did not explain how many MPs were present. However, there was apparently a quorum. In the face of such governmental ineptitude it becomes increasingly difficult to see Carcasses holding his coalition together.

“The Government needs to look back on the matters before Parliament for consideration this morning,” the Speaker told MPs this morning at 9.15, forty-five minutes after starting time. Parliament was therefore adjourned until 2 o’clock this afternoon.

POLYNESIA

4) Tonga Public Servants Demand 20% Cost Of Living Adjustment
Opposition MP warns about possibility of repeat of 2005 strike

By Pesi Fonua

Tonga’s Public Service Association (PSA) is demanding an additional 20% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in their salaries and wages, the Minister of Finance, Hon. ‘Aisake Eke told the Tongan Parliament on April 6.

The Minister had not responded to the PSA’s demands because the government was still preparing the new government budget and assessing the government’s expenditure for the coming financial year, along with the necessary repayments of national debts, both locally and internationally.

Whether or not government could meet the PSA’s demand for a 20% COLA would not be clear until the government’s 2014-15 budget was finalized.

The Minister informed the House that the new budget would be in two parts, “one for the current government and the other for the new government that will be elected into power following the November election.”

He was responding to a query by Dr Sitiveni Halapua, People’s Representative for Constituency No. 3, about the 5% COLA that had been approved by Cabinet.

Sitiveni warned the House of the possibility of a repeat of the Public Servants’ strike in 2005.

The rolling strikes that were staged by the civil servants in 2005, the first for Tonga, ended with an unprecedented salary rise in Tonga and even in the world, of 60%, 70% and 80%.

‘Aisake told parliament that government had already approved a 5% COLA, to be back-dated to January for all civil servants, excepting for the staff of Tonga’s diplomatic missions overseas.

He also reminded the House that the events of 2005 were over a change in the structure of salaries, whereas this time is was over an adjustment of salaries because of a fluctuation in the cost of living.

Overtime payments

The salary issue engaged the House on the final day of its 2013 session.

In answering a query about the overtime payment of members of the House, the Speaker, said that the matter had been investigated by his staff.

Lord Fakafanua confirmed that the House on 23 June 2009 had approved for Cabinet ministers not to be paid for their over-time work in the House, but other members were to be paid for their over-time.

The House had also set the salaries of the Speaker of the House at $65,000; the Chairman of the Whole House Committee, $60,000; and the salaries of members, $55,000. The House had also agreed for a 10% increase in the salaries of the permanent staff, and a weekly allowance of $500.

He believed that there was nothing in the findings of his staff that stopped members from being paid for working over-time. In the past, the House was paying members for working over-time up to 2010, when Lord Lasike was the Speaker of the House.

The Speaker also informed members that only about 30% of their budget allocation was left.

Divided views

What followed was a division between the members who wanted to leave things as they were, and those who wanted to claim their overtime payments.

‘Akilisi Pohiva, Lisiate ‘Akolo and Dr Sitiveni Halapua wanted to leave things as they were, and did not want to claim their overtime payments.

Howevef, Lord Tu’I’afitu was willing to claim his overdue overtime payments, and Lord Tu’ilakepa suggested for overtime pay envelopes of members to be made available and for those who wanted to claim theirs to come forward and take them.

But before any decision was made, Sunia Fili, the PR for constituency No. 11 told the House that he was a member of the House’s Standing Finance Committee.

There were two reports on the salaries of members of the House that were presented to the House, one by Mr Salway and their own report. He said that the House rejected Mr Salway’s report but they accepted their report that there would be no more overtime payments.

However, he suggested that perhaps there was a need for a revision of that decision.

The Speaker confirmed that the halting of over-time payment for members, also included that of the staff. He suggested that they leave the issue as it was until they reviewed a report of the Higher salary Authority to be presented to the House later in the year.

Matangi Tonga Magazine

5) Court finds Samoa deputy PM and Associate Minister guilty

By Online Editor
4:22 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2014, Samoa

Samoa’s deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo and Associate Minister Muagututagata Peter Ah Him have been found guilty by the District Court this morning.

Muagututagata was found guilty of making an unlawful U-turn in a forbidden area and one of failing to comply with performing a breathalyzer test.

Fonotoe was guilty of obstructing police work.

Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai has reserved the reasons for his decision until the defendants are sentenced 25 April 2014.

Both Members of Parliament pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The incident which led to the charges happened on the 8 October 2013.

Muagututagata was stopped by a patrol police vehicle after making the U-turn and police tried unsuccessfully three times to breath test him.

The Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe stopped alongside the police as they attempted to breath test Muagututagata.

According to police evidence before the court, Fonotoe interfered and told Muagututgata to drive off.

Muagututagata did drive off followed by Fonotoe.

SOURCE: TALAMUA ONLINE/PACNEWS

6) Samoa PM Downplays IMF Warning Over Debt Levels
Tuilaepa: We will ‘make a decision that best suits our situation’

By Mata‘afa Keni Lesa

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, April 11, 2014) – “We have brains too.”

That is Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s response to the latest warning from the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.) about Samoa’s “rising debt.”

Speaking to the media yesterday, the Prime Minister reassured that there is nothing to be alarmed about.

“There are times when we have to use our brains too,” Tuilaepa said. “We don’t have to just swallow (whatever advice) is given. We have to use our brains and make a decision that best suits our situation.”

Tuilaepa was asked for a comment following the latest caution issued by the I.M.F., urging the government to curtail the accumulation of any more debt.

The warning followed a visit by an I.M.F. delegation to Samoa last week, led by I.M.F’s senior economist, Geoffrey Bannister.

“The Samoan government has reacted appropriately to increase expenditure for recovery and reconstruction in the face of recent external shocks, including the global financial crisis, the tsunami and cyclone,” Mr. Bannister says.

“However, public debt has risen rapidly in recent years, raising risks to sustainability and leaving little fiscal space to address future disasters.

“It is thus necessary to begin a process of gradual fiscal consolidation, once the recovery has taken hold.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa said it was not unusual for major financial institutions to issue such warnings.

As a matter of fact, he recalled that between 2003 and 2004, the I.M.F. issued a similar warning.

It called on the government to stop four major projects at the time.

These projects included the construction of the SamoaTel headquarters at Maluafou, Virgin Samoa joint venture, the construction of Aggie Grey’s Resort at Mulifanua as well as the construction of Development Bank Building on Beach Road.

“I looked at it (the warning) and I said to Cabinet to go ahead (with the projects),” he said. “We have brains too.”

The Prime Minister reiterated that it is not the amount of a country’s debt that its leaders should be worried about. Rather, it is a country’s ability to service the debt.

In Samoa’s case, he assured that Samoa’s debt service capacity is stable, saying the country is generating more than enough revenue to sustain the debt.

The caution from Mr. Bannister this week is not the first time I.M.F. has warned Samoa.

Last year, I.M.F. also cautioned the government against resorting to further “external loans” as part of the post Cyclone Evan recovery effort.

The Bank instead urged the government to secure “grant financing as much as possible.”

Now, the latest warning from I.M.F follows a World Bank prediction that Samoa’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P) ratio is expected to hit the 65 per cent mark in the next fiscal year.

According to the World Bank, public debt to G.D.P. ratio has increased from 34 per cent in 2007-2008 to 62 per cent in 2012-2013, shifting from moderate to high risk of debt distress.

I.M.F. has also cautioned against a number of initiatives put in place by the government to facilitate the flow of credit to the economy.

Such initiatives include the establishment of the Unit Trust of Samoa (U.T.O.S.) and subsidized lending through the Development Bank of Samoa and the Samoa Housing Corporation.

“While these initiatives have provided resources and breathing space to the private sector and state owned enterprises, they may also result in the transfer of risk to the government’s finances and subsequent contingent liabilities that could increase the public debt in the future,” the bank said.

“Enhanced financial sector supervision by the C.B.S., covering all financial institutions, will thus be important to minimize a potential build up of risk in the financial system.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa has constantly dismissed fears about the country’s foreign debt.

Samoa Observer

7) Retailer In Am. Samoa Failed To Pay Minimum Wage To Employees
Labor Department order Manu‘a Inc to pay $120,000 in back pay

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, April 13, 2014) – Manu’a Inc., which operates three stores on Tutuila, will pay back wages to over 200 employees and fully comply with federal labor law on wages, as cited by the U.S. Department of Labor, says company owner Manu’a Chen.

USDOL announced yesterday that the retailer failed to pay at least the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime premium to 252 workers employed at their 3 stores during the period of September 21, 2013 through January 25, 2014.

Total back wages owed is $119,850 and USDOL said the employer agreed to pay the back wages in full and to immediately comply with the FLSA’s provisions.

Chen offered no comments on the case when contacted yesterday for comments, but said his company will pay the back wages and will fully comply with federal laws.

In the case, the USDOL said the minimum wage violations occurred when new employees worked 5 to 8 or more hours in a day and were paid a flat day rate of $20 dollars.

“Other employees were reduced below the American Samoa retail minimum wage rate of $4.60 per hour when paycheck deductions were made for violations of company policies such as talking back to managers, clocking in late and failing to finish an assignment,” the federal agency said in a news release.

Overtime violations occurred when the employer failed to pay employees for all hours worked including time worked past the end of their scheduled shift or during their lunch period, it said.

“Regardless of a new employee’s probationary status, they are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage rate,” said Terence Trotter, the USDOL’s director of its Wage and Hour Division in Hawai’i that conducted the probe in this case.

Also, all employees should be paid for their time actually worked, not just their weekly scheduled hours, which don’t factor unexpectedly working through lunch periods or working later than anticipated,” he said in the news release.

The Samoa News

8) Niue Premier Talagi Looks Set To Lose Power After Elections
Analysts say premier no longer has support of majority of Parliament

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 14, 2014) – The Premier of Niue has failed to gain a majority in the house of parliament at the weekend’s general election.

Toke Talagi was beaten by businessman Stanley Kalauni, who last year said the premier was “going bananas” over proposing an asylum seekers camp on Niue.

Analysts on Niue say Mr Talagi no longer has a stronghold over the 20-member parliament, with only 10 seats under his control, with Mr Kalauni likely to have the support of the other half of the house.

Two village seats could be the deciding factor in who will lead the tiny island nation with a population of 1200 for the next three years.

For the past three years there lacked a co-ordinated opposition group to challenge the Talagi regime but by early next week the numbers could well favour new leadership and a revised three-member Cabinet.

Radio New Zealand International

MICRONESIA

9) RMI Domestic Flights Grounded, Planes Await Needed Parts
Both Air Marshall Islands planes out of service

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, April 14, 2014) – Both Air Marshall Islands or AMI planes are grounded waiting for parts and at least one of them is not expected to be flying until early May.

The larger 36-seat Dash-8 was expected to be back in the air over the weekend, while the workhorse 19-seat Dornier, which normally services most of the outer islands, has been grounded since the end of last month awaiting landing gear equipment, and isn’t expected to be operational until early next month.

A lack of funds to purchase needed spare parts continues to hurt the government’s national airline, resulting in longer grounding periods for aircraft that undermine the airline’s ability to generate revenue.

The Dash-8 was grounded last Saturday when the Directorate of Civil Aviation or DCA did not approve another extension of time for installation a rudder pressure caution indicator.

DCA officials indicated that they needed to see documents confirming the Dash-8 part has been ordered, is paid for and has an expected arrival date before a second time extension can be provided under DCA regulations. “Under our specifications, AMI is allowed only one time extension (for this part),” said DCA official Elmer Langbata earlier last week.

AMI general manager Jefferson Barton said Wednesday the airline wired a $16,000 payment for the Dash-8 part that day and was hopeful that with this documentation, the DCA would allow the plane back in the air.

For the Dornier, replacement of landing gear equipment is required after a certain number of landing cycles or flight hours. It is among aircraft equipment that has a known replacement schedule, but AMI didn’t have the $50,000 needed to purchase it in advance of the deadline.

The national government approved a $100,000 emergency subsidy late last month, which has allowed for purchase of the landing gear equipment. “It is expected here late this month or early next month,” Barton said.

But, he added, this is only one of many parts needed, “and we don’t have the money to buy them.”

Barton said AMI’s woes stem largely from the poor quality of outer island runways that are “killing the planes.” The key for the airline is to get outer island runways improved as soon as possible, he said.

“We’re operating on dirt roads,” Barton said. “You can’t drive a pickup truck at 30mph on the air strips, but our planes land at 100mph.”

Marianas Variety

AUSTRALIA

10) Australian public servants to lose tax-free pay when working overseas: DFAT

By Online Editor
3:54 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2014, Australia

Hundreds of Australian public servants working overseas on aid programs will lose their tax-free wages as their new bosses in the Department of Foreign Affairs move to end one of the bureaucracy’s most treasured perks.

Saying “public servants should pay income tax”, the department’s boss says former AusAID staff will lose the tax-free exemptions when posted overseas.

Tax laws in place for decades have allowed some AusAID workers to pay no income tax while on postings, using an exemption, also open to non-public servants, for Australian workers engaged in aid projects.

Before the aid agency was swallowed up by DFAT last year, an overseas posting was long considered a financial boon to AusAIDers with the potential for tax-free wages as well as lucrative allowance payments.

But the tax entitlement has been a source of some annoyance for public servants from other departments sent abroad on diplomatic or other duties and has been one of many flashpoints in the unhappy early days of the forced marriage between DFAT and AusAID.

DFAT secretary Peter Varghese told his merged department last week that the days of tax-free wages were coming to an end as he seeks to stop “the disparity in remuneration”’ between his overseas-based staff.

“As a general principle, public servants should pay income tax,” Varghese wrote to his workers.

“’There is no reason why this principle should not apply to public servants working to deliver the aid program.”

The departmental secretary said he would pursue changes to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 so that public servants would be excluded from using the act to claim tax-free wages. “This proposal for legislative change is being pursued in consultation with relevant departments,” Varghese wrote.

But while the potentially lengthy process of legal reform was under way,  Varghese flagged changes to the lucrative system of allowances for overseas postings in an effort to even up the playing field.

“In the interim, the department is also considering what options might be available to address the disparity in remuneration between DFAT staff arising from the tax exemption,” Varghese wrote.

“This could have implications for the allowances paid to officers who are currently exempt from paying income tax.”

The departmental boss warned his workers to get their affairs in order before the changes got under way.

“It is important that all staff are aware that this process is under way, and that they take this into account in planning their personal financial circumstances,” he wrote.

Before its abolition, AusAID had about 870 employees, including local engaged workers, on its aid projects around the world.

SOURCE:PACNEWS

PASIFIK

11) Floating mobile medical clinic for Pacific underway

14/4/14

A New Zealand-based volunteer organisation is refitting a ship to travel through the Pacific, visiting remote islands providing free medical care.

Marine Reach is a Christian not-for-profit group, which has purchased the 55-metre long Pacific Hope through fundraising.

Once refurbished, the vessel will be able to carry up to 80 volunteers, including medical professionals, and 150 tonnes of supplies.

Marine Reach’s chief executive officer, Captain Jesse Misa, says the former marine training vessel from Japan is now undergoing a refit in the port of Tauranga.

“Our primary project before the ship goes to the islands is the medical units on board, which will be able to do ophthalmology, primary health care, optometry and dentistry on board.”

Captain Jesse Misa says Pacific Hope should be ready to sail next year and will visit Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu initially.Radio NZ

12) EU await formal PACP meet proposal

By Online Editor
4:18 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2014, Fiji

The European Union (EU) will consider the request by Pacific ACP countries for a meeting in Brussels at month end to hear concerns on the Economic Participation Agreement (EPA).

EU’s Head of Political and Trade and Information, Adam Janssen says they will do so when they receive a proposal in writing from the Pacific ACP countries.

The European Commission will consider this and respond after having received the formal proposal by the Pacific side,” Janssen said.

At the conclusion of Pacific ACP meetings last week, Trade Ministers’ meeting chairperson Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said they were keen to resolve.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

HEALTH

13) Calls for action on ‘dire’ drug-resistant TB threat in Asia and the Pacific

Posted 14 April 2014, 19:05 AEST
By Jemima Garrett

Doctors call on Australia to lead fight against ‘dire’ drug-resistant TB threat in Asia Pacific.

Lead author Suman Majumdar (Right), from the Centre for International Health at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne. (Credit: Audience submitted)

Medical experts are warning that drug-resistant tuberculosis is now such a problem in the Asia Pacific region that it could overwhelm health systems.

In a recent hard-hitting editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia, four leading Australian TB experts warn that the area is now home to more than half of the world’s drug-resistant tuberculosis, and it is spreading.

They are calling on the Australian government to lead a comprehensive regional response.

“I can’t think of a greater health challenge, together with drug resistance in general, in all bacteria and viruses for the Asia Pacific region,” said Dr Ben Marais from University of Sydney’s Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, and one of the report’s authors.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis takes two years to treat and costs many times more than the milder form of the disease.

The editorial warns without additional funding an extra one million lives could be lost globally before the end of 2016.

“TB is especially of concern because it is a disease which is spread via the air and we have got very dense populations throughout South East Asia and pockets of high vulnerability,” Dr Marais said.

“It will definitely be one of the biggest challenges for the region going forward.”

Lead author Dr Suman Majumdar from the Centre for International Health at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne says the challenge posed by drug-resistant TB globally is now “similar in scale and impact to HIV infection in the 1980’s”.

“Both diseases have had quite devastating effects on peoples lives and on health systems,” he said.

“The HIV story is remarkable. When it emerged it was killing thousands and it has killed millions each year and our international response has actually been quite incredible.”

Unfortunately, the global response to tuberculosis has not been on the scale of the response to HIV.

Drug-resistant TB not ‘sexy’

Dr Marais says one of the big problems with TB is that it has never been seen as a ‘sexy’ disease.

“We know there is a lot of stigma associated with being a TB patient, but there is also a lot of political stigma associated, so countries don’t want to acknowledge a TB problem. It is viewed unfavourably,” he said.

“We know that TB control-programs are grossly underfunded and especially with the rise of drug-resistant TB, not a single country in the region has allocated adequate funds.”

The doctors are calling for a co-ordinated response.

“We would like leaders from the region to come together to prioritise this as a disease for their countries and across their region,” Dr Majumdar said.

“The solutions to addressing it require some careful consideration and mapping out. The first step is getting this commitment, to say ‘look, we have a problem here’, [and] acknowledgement of that problem.”

Dr Majumdar says the funding gap to fight tuberculosis is $US2.3 billion a year.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

EDUCATION

14) NZ offers Fiji 10 postgrad scholarships

By Online Editor
4:11 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2014, Fiji

The New Zealand Pacific Scholarships is offering 10 scholarships for Fiji citizens to apply for study in 2015 at postgraduate level.

Through its New Zealand Aid Programme, scholarships are being offered for postgraduate certificate, diploma masters, and doctorate level at selected NZ universities and technical institutions.

NZ’s acting Head of Mission, Mark Ramsden, says the scholarships will contribute to Fiji’s growing population of well-educated and highly-skilled people and help to develop the leadership potential of a new generation.

“These scholarships provide opportunities for people to obtain qualifications in specific subject areas that are relevant to Fiji’s development needs and enhance their employability,” he said.

Priority subjects areas are agriculture, forestry, finance, economics, disaster risk management, education and health.

Selection will be based on strong and proven academic merit, relevance of the proposed study to the human resource development priorities of Fiji and leadership potential.

Last year 10 citizens were awarded New Zealand Pacific Scholarships and commenced studies this year.

Applications are open and will run till 30 April. Forms and the list of tertiary institutions are available from the New Zealand High Commission Office in Suva, from website (www.aid.govt.nz; www.nzembassy.com/fiji and the Fiji Government Service centres in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

POLITIC

15) Caledonian Union remains firm in election roll row

14/4/14

The pro-independence Caledonian Union has urged its members not to sign off the electoral lists being finalised by special committees this week.

This comes amid sharp disagreements over who is eligible to vote in next month’s provincial election, whose outcome is seen as crucial for a possible independence referendum.

The pro-independence FLNKS movement has demanded that more than 6,000 names be struck off the roll for failing to meet the residency terms under the 1998 Noumea Accord.

The special committees, which include local political parties and French judges, have refused to remove names, prompting the FLNKS to take urgent legal action.

The tribunal has vetted the cases last week and decisions are being sent out.

The Caledonian Union says the challenges have been thrown out, which it says amount to a denial of justice.Radio NZ

16) Vanuatu parliament again adjourned

14/4/14

An extraordinary sitting of Vanuatu’s parliament to debate the country’s proposed US$350million airport development at South Efate has again been postponed.

MPs were to look at the agreement, signed by the Prime Minister last year, on Friday but didn’t because documents relating to the development were not available.

Radio Vanuatu reports matters concerning a loan from the Ex-IM Bank of China and the Vanuatu National Provident Fund to Air Vanuatu were still not ready for debate today.

It reports parliament has been adjourned until two o’clock this afternoon for the government to give these matters further consideration.Radio NZ

17) PNG Defence Force Burns West Papuan Militant Camps
Bid to flush out OPM is attempt to quell border problems

By Haiveta Kivia

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 14, 2014) – Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers have burnt down OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) camps on the PNG side of the border, according to intelligence sources at the border.

The source said PNGDF soldiers mounted an operation last Friday to clear the Wutung area of OPM militants and in doing so burnt down and destroyed bush camps suspected of harbouring the militants.

The source said additional PNG troops were flown in from Igam Barracks in Morobe Province and Moem Barracks from neighbouring East Sepik Province last Thursday to beef up the strength of PNG troops at the Wutung border post. More PNG government officials and troops were supposed to have been airlifted out of Port Moresby on Saturday but the army plane was diverted to Daru, Western Province, on standby to assist in the Cyclone Ita operations, on instructions from the National Executive Council.

Prior to the troubles at the border, the PNG troops was only a section strong and was later beefed up by another section from the Vanimo forward base, and they were only involved in surveillance and keeping watch over the properties of the PNG Government and lives of PNG citizens. But the source said Friday’s operation was a change of tactics and in the bid to flush out the militants and end the trouble at the border.

The militants are reported to have fled into the jungles but still on the PNG side of the border towards Vanimo, the capital of West Sepik Province and up towards the Bewani ranges. The source said the Wutung people in general were happy that the camps were destroyed because they want normalcy restored at the border and the border re-opened.

“They are happy with our PNGDF action but want the militants to leave our jungles completely. They said enough is enough,” the source said.

The re-opening of the border will allow for the people to access their food gardens, most of which are on their Indonesian side of the border where 80 percent of their arable land is situated. The closing of the border meant Wutung villagers were unable to go to their gardens and they were also advised by PNG officials and security forces not to do so for their own safety.

The border was closed when OPM militants burnt and destroyed Indonesian government infrastructure and engaged in gun battles with the Indonesian security forces, in protest of the republic’s legislative elections and their continued fight for West Papuan Independence.

PNG Post-Courier

18) Indonesian Repression Of West Papuan Student Protest Exposed
Student leaders detained, beaten for 36 hours

By Ronny Kareni for New Matilda

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, April 12, 2014) – The brutal repression of West Papuan student protests last week is indicative of Indonesia’s approach to the region.

Wednesday 2 April marked a global day of action to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the 77 Papuan and Malukan political prisoners currently being held in Indonesian prisons. Protests were staged simultaneously in Melbourne, London, The Hague, Auckland, Wellington, Edinburgh and Jayapura,

The protest in the West Papuan capital Jayapura, at Cenderawasih University, was interrupted by armed police with four Dalmas trucks (a kind of troop carrier), two mobile brigade trucks and one police van.

As reported in New Matilda, the police forcefully detained Alfares Kapissa, 27, and Yali Wenda, 19, and viciously beat them for 36 hours in police custody.

Kapissa, who was the field coordinator of the event, said via Facebook on April 7 that he was in agony from his injuries. He said that organisers addressed the crowd calmly without any knowledge of the police plan to arbitrarily detain the student leaders.

“I was kicked, forcefully dragged on the road and thrown into a Dalmas vehicle while been strangled, without any negotiations,” Kapissa said.

Kapissa added to comments by Wenda in NM. He said the police kicked and electrocuted him and Wenda, and beat them with the barrel of a gun in the truck for up to half an hour.

‘Standard procedure’

Jayapura police chief Alfred Papare, told the students and local media in Papua that it is the standard procedure to detain the student leaders for questioning for 24 hours and then release them if charges were not laid.

But the two student leaders say the police detained them for more than 24 hours. According to Kapissa, Papare sarcastically told the police officers that he had not been beaten enough, saying “This is not enough, we should do harder and more.”

Kapissa told NM that “My ribs and chest were repeatedly kicked till blood coated my ribs and now I suffered so much pain.”

Yoan Wanbitman, chairperson of Papuan Student Solidarity Care for Political Prisoners, said he tried to peacefully negotiate with the police but they refused to listen — and they beat him as well. This created more tension among the crowd of around 150–200 angry students, some of whom threw stones at the police. The police fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Pilipus Robaha, 25, spokesperson of GEMPAR Papua, a Papuan student youth and civil movement, who also organised a group of approximately 100 students at Cenderawasih University’s Abepura campus. Robaha’s protest proceeded without incident, despite an armed police presence.

In a phone conversation on Friday 4 April, Robaha said that such brutal action by Indonesian police only motivates Papua’s peaceful movement and taints Indonesia’s democracy.

“We [students] are not threatened or shaken by such atrocious actions by out-of-control security forces but it only strengthens and motivates us to consolidate and organise a bigger action to tell the world that Indonesia’s democracy is valid only in Java, not Papua,” Robaha said.

Brutal response

The brutal response to the protests is indicative of the current political situation in Papua and Maluku. After more than 50 years of Indonesian rule Indigenous Papuans have seen little improvement in their material circumstances or political rights – despite Indonesia claiming to be a model democracy.

Indigenous Papuans and Malukans continue to suffer at the hands of Indonesian security forces. Since Indonesia militarily occupied the region in 1 May 1963, dissenters have been punished with arrests, violence, abuse, torture, unfair trials and intimidation. Peaceful protests, including raising the Papuan Morning Star flag, are met with harsh reprisals.

The Indonesian security forces’ brutality shows that the world’s third largest democratic country favours a culture of impunity and repressive behaviour over freedom of political expression and self-determination for the indigenous people of West Papua.

Ronny Kareni is a West Papuan activist writing for New Matilda.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – pmc@aut.ac.nz

19) Bougainville Copper Ltd. Plans Huge Reconciliation Ceremony
Panguna operator calls ceremony ‘important step’ to reopening mine

By David Lornie

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 14, 2014) – Mining company Bougainville Copper Limited is planning a big bel kol reconciliation ceremony in Arawa, Central Bougainville this year.

The ceremony, in local dialect called domang mita, is expected to include up to 3000 people.

It will be a landmark event for both the autonomus island province and the company.

The ceremony is an important step in BCL’s publicly stated goal to re-open the rich Panguna copper and gold mine in Central Bougainville.

The mine ignited a ten-year bloody war in 1989 which quickly evolved into a secessionist struggle against Papua New Guinea.

The effects of the war are still being felt in Bougainville.

It is recognised that the recent visit to Bougainville by PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has helped pave the way for the upcoming ‘Bel Kol’.

Preparations are well underway and the Autonomous Bougainville Government under the leadership of President John Momis is taking a major role.

A meeting was held in Buka recently between the President and some ex-combatant leaders to discuss the upcoming ceremony, though some key figures on the ground in Arawa have told this newspaper they have not yet been made aware of the event.

The ceremony will recognise that BCL and Bougainvilleans are willing to reconcile past differences and forge a new relationship.

There will be a feast, traditional symbolic chewing of betelnut, cleansing of blood, medicinal rites by traditional healers and an exchange of gifts.

There will also be a discussion about compensation for the company’s past wrongs.

Hardliner ex-rebel army factions have said they want K10 billion [US$3.58 billion] in compensation from the company but in an interview with this newspaper last year, BCL boss Peter Taylor said he will need to negotiate that stance.

Whilst the PNG Government – a 19 percent shareholder of the mining company – will not be directly involved in the ‘Bel Kol’ and its organisation, they will send observers.

Also attending the ceremony will be Mr Taylor, representatives from the Australian and New Zealand Governments and other foreign interests.

At this stage the Bel Kol is expected to cost K900,000 [US$322,000] and BCL has agreeed to contribute half of this sum. The Bougainville Government will provide the balance.

It is important to note that the cermony will not automatically lead to the re-opening of the mine. It is another step in a long process that will enable the next round of discussions to take place.

The event is not specifically designed as a forum for BCL to pay compensation, rather it is about discussing issues relating to the mine’s future, of which compensation is one.

In its recently released annual report BCL said it is pleased with progress so far in its attempts to re-establish its commercial presence in Central Bougainville.

The company hopes to open an office sometime soon in Arawa.

PNG Post-Courier

20) Vanimo people live in fear of Indonesian army, says PNG MP

14/4/14

A Papua New Guinea MP says people in his electorate, Vanimo Green, live in constant fear of cross-border incursions by Indonesia’s military.

Belden Namah, who is also PNG’s opposition leader, says the government has failed to provide adequate military and police capabilities to protect the border.

Ongoing Indonesian efforts to hunt down members of the OPM Free West Papua Movement recently spilled over into PNG again with another shootout between Indonesian troops and the rebels.

Mr Namah says Indonesian military have established their presence at various points in PNG including Vanimo.

“On some occasions, if not most of the occasions, they go and burn down houses. They threaten PNG citizens with guns whether for shielding OPMs or for whatever reason. So our people on the border, they live in fear all of the time. Papua New Guinea (government) should come out and make an open statement. Because, if we do not make a clear cut decision on the issue of West Papua, this problem is still going to exist.”

Belden Namah- Radio NZ

21) Fiji Discusses Terms For Australian Election Observers
Attorney-General: Observers needed after election for reconciliation

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 13, 2014) – The Fijian Government is in discussions with the Australian Government on a terms of reference (TOR) for observers for the September 17 election.

Elections Minister and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum also confirmed the Australian Government has accepted Fiji’s request for observers.

“we are now working that (terms of reference) out,” he said.

Australia’s acting head of mission to Fiji, Glen Miles says it’s moving forward.

“We are currently in discussion with the government over our involvement in the process including the terms of reference.” The Fijian Government is also speaking to other countries to send observers for the election.

While releasing the Electoral Decree almost three weeks ago, Sayed-Khaiyum said observers would also be needed after election to carry out reconciliation.

Fijilive

MEDIA

22) Media NGO in Fiji says public needs reasons to trust process

14/4/14
A media NGO in Fiji says the public needs more reasons to be able to trust the processes in place with regime decrees.

The Media Industry Development Authority issued a public warning against Fiji TV for airing a speech by Tailevu chief Ratu Timoci Vesikula, saying it was ‘hate speech’.

The Chairman of the Authority, Ashwin Raj, has been criticised for judging the actions of the media organisation before the tribunal considers the matter.

The Executive Director of Fiji Media Watch, Agatha Ferei, says there needs to be more clarity on the role of the authority, as opposed to the media tribunal, and the public need to be able to trust a robust process.

“If there’s a clause out there that we are not sure of we need to call on those that are putting those clauses out to clarify what they mean, so that people are able to trust the processes that are used. And I think this is an important time to have all of this, in Fiji.”

Agatha Ferei.Radio NZ

23) Vanuatu Daily Post Introduces Advanced Content Management System
State-of-the-art BLOX software to drive publishing, online content

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 12, 2014) – The Daily Post Newspaper has leapt into a new era in media technology after successfully adopting a totally new system through Content Management System or CMS.

No doubt this newspaper has become the first print medium in the Pacific outside New Zealand and Australia, to be equipped with the American state of the art technology.

Thanks to PACMAS for funding the programme to make it possible for TownNews.com Senior Project Manager Jim McKee, to spend three weeks with this newspaper to train the trainer, Stanley Wai and the staff to master the new system.

Publisher Marc-Neil Jones is excited describing CMS as a new era for both Daily Post and Buzz FM to maintain the edge with the most effective technological developments round the world.

Daily Post Publisher and Managing Director Marc Neil-Jones is delighted at how the staff have taken to the new Content Management system in just a short space of time.

“Jim McKee from TownNews.com has been here less than three weeks and we are all excited about what we have seen. We remain at the forefront of the very latest technology in media using this new BLOX content management system from the USA and we are the first client outside of the USA where they already have 180 newspapers using them.”

“This will truly revolutionise the way we put a newspaper together and the website, a website for pads and mobile phones and news for radio all through the one system.

“It would not have been possible without the generous assistance of Australian aid through Pacmas who have supported this concept from the word go. We will be relaunching the Daily Post shortly into our new look, improved newspaper which will look the same on our new web site which TownNews.com are designing that will be amazing for Vanuatu as it is specially designed for newspapers like ours at Daily Post. The new web site will be on air within a month hopefully. There will be a lot of audience interaction on the site. We believe our current Google 5 rating will only improve over the next 12 months with the new website.”

Vanuatu Daily Post

24) Fiji Explores Defamation, Contempt Charges For Social Media Comments
Exiled son of former PM blasted High Court over Chaudhry conviction

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 12, 2014) – The Fiji Government says it is looking to pursue defamation and contempt of court proceedings against a self-exiled lawyer for comments on social media sites.

Rajendra Chaudhry, the son of the leader of the Fiji Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, criticised the recent decision of the High Court in finding his father guilty of breaching the Exchange Controls Act.

The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum told Fiji Broadcasting Corporation that he is starting to look at how the courts can pursue those who publish allegedly defamatory and contemptuous comments online.

Rajendra Chaudhry left Fiji after being suspended for professional misconduct in 2012.

Fiji’s Independent Legal Services Commission also ordered the closure of his law firm, Gordon and Chaudhry.

Radio New Zealand International

BUSINESS

25) Fiji’s Iconic Grand Pacific Hotel Prepares For Reopening
Restaurant staff debut menu, practice services at special events

By Ropate Valemei

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 11, 2014) – Guests were treated to a taste of the Grand Pacific Hotel’s dinner menu on Wednesday night at the Five Princes Hotel in Suva.

Organised by GPH management, the event gave guests the opportunity to sample the hotel’s new chef’s dinner recipes and trial the service of new staff members.

The trial services had been a continuous training exercise for staff members since last week as preparations progress toward the hotel’s grand opening soon.

GPH general manager Eugen Diethelm said the staff services were getting better every day.

“The staff members are also trained by two internationally renowned executive chefs from France and Netherlands, and Food and Beverage manager Thomas Gunkelmann,” Mr Diethelm.

He said they would continue working on perfecting their services.

“We are serving a different set of menus and a nice daily special. You can expect this type of food at fine dining and there will be more varieties,” he said.

The event attracted about 60 guests on Sunday and was fully booked from Monday to Wednesday.

[PIR editor’s note: The Fiji Sun also reported that on April 12 “The Grand Pacific was partially opened to host the International Women’s Association Fiji’s most successful charity Grand Ball at what is Suva’s biggest Ballroom.”]

Fiji Times Online. ( Phils Note: Isa lei!Congratulations Fiji, Good to see the Grand Pacific up and running again! I was there 33 yrs ago! and I cant wait to be back soon, for a Fiji Bitter or Double Martini! watching the sun set on Suva Bay and listening…sa Full Swing to lovely Fiji tunes saraga ! Welei! I was there 2012 and they were still working on it then, so I when next door to the Holiday Inn and then back to the Suva Bowling Club! Hahaha!)

LAW&ORDER

26) Death penalty policies being drawn up in PNG

14/4/14
Policy-makers in Papua New Guinea are drawing up a framework on how the death penalty might work there.

The justice minister, Kerenga Kua, says once the policy is written up, members of government will debate the details.

He says the government will have the final say on which execution method will be used – lethal injection, firing squad, deprivation of oxygen, hanging, or electrocution.

Mr Kua says the government will choose which method is used by what the public wants, resources availiable and the need to use the most humane method that preserves human dignity.

“We will drive a message that this nation is very serious. It is up to its neck, fed up with violent, gruesome crimes already and is prepared to stand up for itself and the majority of the law abiding citizens. I’m definitely certain that a lot of would-be criminals would be deterred by it.”

Kerenga Kua says there are 14 prisoners on death row, all of whom have exhausted their avenues of appeal.Radio NZ

27) Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre says assault figures ‘disturbing’

14/4/14

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre says a rise in the reporting of rape and sexual assault in the past quarter is very disturbing.

The centre has just released its own figures into sexual violence against women and children for the January to March quarter.

The centre’s co-ordinator, Shamima Ali, says 10 cases of rape have been reported compared to five in both 2012 and 2013’s first quarters.

She says more work needs to be done to prevent sexual violence in Fiji.

“We are going to get down to the drawing board again and say what else can we do and how can we get other people involved. One of the things we are doing in Fiji is we are talking to the police officers, we are doing training for groups of police officers.

Shamima Ali says men need to respect women’s human rights.Radio NZ

28) Call for halt to cases until new Vanuatu public prosecutor in place

14/4/14
A defence lawyer from the Vanuatu Public Solicitors Office says he believes a number of cases should not be heard in court until a new Public Prosecutor is appointed.

Vanuatu’s former public prosecutor, Kayleen Tavoa, was forced to resign after reports of her allegedly neglecting her duties, and the role remains vacant.

Defence lawyer Henzler Vira says cases which were in court before the 9th of March, when Ms Tavoa left, should continue.

However, he says cases which went to court after she left, should not continue until a public prosecutor is appointed.

Mr Vira says the Public Prosecutors Act states that the public prosecutor is to take a leading role in the charges and information prepared by its office.

“Most of the work undertaken by the junior staff were not supervised by the public prosecutor, so the last time we went up to court I made an objection that all the cases be adjourned, mainly that the public prosecutors act needed to be observed.”

Henzler Vira says he successfully argued to have about 10 of his cases, most of them sexual assault cases, adjourned for now.Radio NZ

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION AND ENVIROMENT

29) Houses destroyed by Bougainville quake

14/4/14

More detail is emerging about the impact of two major earthquakes that hit the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville last Friday night.

The stronger of the two quakes measured 7.3 in magnitude and was centred close to the southern part of Bougainville island.

A 4 year old boy is believed to have been crushed to death when a house collapsed in Buin.

A government official, Nick Peniai, says they are still waiting for full reports but they have been told a number of houses have been destroyed.

In one village alone, about 20 plus houses the other villages we do not yet know the total count. We would only know about the actual damages that have been caused from the new report that will be sent over here by the task force team from the provincial disaster office.

Nick Peniai in Buka.Radio NZ

30) Severe aftershock in Solomon Islands

14/4/14
A magnitude 5.9 aftershock has struck off Solomon Islands this evening, around 90 kilometres south of Kirakira, the main town of Makira province.

The earthquake follows a powerful 7.5 tremor that struck on Sunday morning, sparking tsunami fears.

Another strong quake, of 7.4 magnitude, occurred early on Monday morning.

There have been no reports of damage or casualties resulting from the tremors.Radio NZ

31) NZ to provide temporary bridge in Solomons’ capital

14/4/14
The New Zealand government says it will provide a temporary bridge to maintain the link between the airport and Honiara’s centre following recent flash floods in Solomon Islands.

A old Bailey bridge over the Mataniko River was destroyed in the flooding nearly two weeks ago and only other over the river was damaged.

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, says a new Bailey bridge will ensure transport links are maintained while the second bridge is repaired.

He says the bridge components are expected to be shipped in the coming weeks.

Mr McCully says New Zealand will also deploy two teams of emergency management doctors and nurses, logisticians and support staff to assist local authorities.

He says the main hospital in Honiara is stretched and there is a serious risk of waterborne disease.

Two Australian doctors are to join the New Zealand medical team.

New Zealand has now contributed about 2.3 million US dollars in support for the Solomons’ recovery from the flooding.Radio NZ

32) Quake kills 1 in Bougainville

By Online Editor
4:20 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2014, Papua New Guinea

A girl was reportedly killed, homes were destroyed and many people displaced after a strong earthquake hit Buin in South Bougainville last Friday.

According to the US Geological Survey, the 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck 61km southwest of Panguna, on Bougainville Island, at a depth of 50km.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a destructive widespread tsunami. But the agency said quakes of such a size could sometimes generated waves that could be destructive to coasts within a few hundred kilometres of the epicentre.

Franklyn Lacey, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville director for disaster and emergency, said 13 homes were destroyed in Morokaimoro, Mokorino, Turungu and Maisua.

Lacey, who is currently in Lae, said reports he was receiving from the island were still “sketchy” because government officials were yet to reach the affected villages.

Lacey said emergency officials were sent to the affected areas to assess the damage.

He said the young girl was asleep at home when the house collapsed.

“She was asleep when the earthquake occurred at 5pm last Friday,” Lacey said.

Lacey said the National Disaster Office director Martin Mose would be informed once a more complete report was completed.

The Maisua United Church building and a pre-school were destroyed and people have been warned to stay away from them.

At the Pongo council of elders, four houses were destroyed at Munnu and Konga.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

33) No Reported Damage, Casualties From Solomons Quakes, Tsunami
7.6 magnitude earthquake near Makira forces thousands to higher ground

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 14, 2014) – The National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) has reported no casualties or damages from the magnitude 7.6 quake and tsunami that struck the coastal villages of mainland Makira and islands on Sunday morning.

The undersea earthquake followed by a tsunami had forced thousands of people in many parts of the country living in the coastal areas to flee from their homes and into the higher grounds.

[PIR editor’s note: Solomon Star reported that “More than 100 patients (from the National Referral Hospital in Honiara) were evacuated by health authorities when the tsunami warning was issued.” As a precaution the patients were taken up Kola Ridge to the Forum Fisheries Agency headquarters but “were later taken back to the hospital in the afternoon after the tsunami warning was later cancelled.” A second earthquake, magnitude 7.4, struck in the same area later in the day prompting another tsunami warning which was cancelled two hours later.]

As of last night NEOC reported that they have not yet received any reports of damages or casualties.

An aerial flight to Makira yesterday afternoon has spotted no signs of inundation or damages caused by the quake and tsunami along coasts of Makira and its outlying islands of Santa Ana, Santa Catalina, Three Sisters and Ugi.

An officer of NEOC said the aerial flight yesterday charted by the Australian High Commission on the request from NDMO has spotted no damages.

Four representatives from the NDMO office with three officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia were on board the chartered twin otter.

A statement from the Australian High commission said Australia will continue working closely with the Solomon Islands Government to assess the impact of the earthquake and tsunami, while continuing help with the ongoing recovery from the recent floods.

According to the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination Systems (GDACS)it has calculated that the 7.6 earth quake that struck 108 kilometres south-south east of Makira could generate maximum tsunami wave heights up to 3.2 meters.

Some of the coastal locations expecting the 3.2m waves are Na’ana, Mwaniwowo, Mwarairaru, Maniborkosi, Nasuragena, Funakumwa, Tawarogha, Geta, Star Harbour, Mami, Fageifa, Ragapu and Ghupuna.

Meanwhile Solomon Star has received reports of unconfirmed damages to some homes in eastern parts of Makira caused by the quake.

While a man from Temotu collapsed to his death after he got a shock to the quake and tsunami threat in Makira.

Solomon Star

34) PNG to give K1m to Solomons flood victims

By Online Editor
09:31 am GMT+12, 14/04/2014, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea government will commit K1 million (US$366,000) to assist the flood devastated victims of Solomon Islands.

This was announced by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill last week when conveying his “deepest sympathies” to his counterpart Gordon Darcy Lilo and the people of Solomon Islands.

O’Neill said the donation would be for relief assistance towards resettlement, infras-tructure repair and other efforts for those affected by the flash flooding.

“On behalf of the people and Government of Papua New Guinea, I convery our sincere condolence to the families of the victims and pray for God’s peace, comfort and strength during this difficult time,” O’Neill said.

He said the Government and people of Papua New Guinea stand united to support and assist in the coming weeks.

A total of 23 people have died and more than 40,000 people left homeless after the devastating flood swept through the capital Honiara, and parts of Guadalcanal province last week, according to the Solomon Islands National Disaster Operations Committee.

Honiara and the whole of the island of Guadalcanal have been declared a disaster zone following the torrential rain and strong winds that caused massive landslides and flooding resulting in the loss of life and many being left homeless.

Meanwhile, the disaster committee recently issued an all clear notice that no further flood threat exists, and it was safe for people to move around.

Solomon Islands is recovering from the disaster and looking towards rebuilding the areas affected by the disaster.

SOURCE:POST COURIER/PACNEWS

35) Flood Prone Fiji Villages To Be Relocated
Climate change causing sea, river levels to rise in Nadroga

By Jone Kalouniviti

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 14, 2014) – Work will begin soon on the relocation of flood-prone villages in Nadroga, says Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki.

The first village earmarked will be Narata on the Sigatoka River east bank.

“These are villages which often fall victim to weather conditions and also disappearing banks and soil due to the river,” he said.

“There are also other villages eyed to be relocated in the future.”

Speaking at the Nadroga Navosa Provincial Council meeting on Friday, he said climate change was a fact of life and was happening everywhere.

He said sea level and river levels would continue to rise.

Cdr Cawaki referred to Vunidogoloa Village on Vanua Levu which was relocated by the government last year because of rising river levels.

Fiji Times Online.

36) Step up action to curb global warming, or risks rise – UN

By Online Editor
09:26 am GMT+12, 14/04/2014, Germany

A United Nations report said on Sunday that governments must act faster to keep global warming in check and delays until 2030 could force them to use little-tested technologies to extract greenhouse gases from the air.

The study, drawing on work by more than 1,000 experts, said a radical shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power would shave only about 0.06 of a percentage point a year off world economic growth.

“It does not cost the world to save the planet,” Ottmar Edenhofer, a German scientist who is co-chair of a meeting of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told a news conference in Berlin.

The report, endorsed by governments, is meant as the main scientific guide for nations working on a U.N. deal to be agreed in late 2015 to rein in greenhouse gas emissions that have hit repeated highs this century, led by China’s industrial growth.

“We don’t have the luxury of time,” Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, told Reuters, saying costs would rise sharply if strong action was delayed to 2030. “We will have to move quickly and with an unprecedented level of international cooperation.”

Governments have promised to limit temperature rises to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times to avert ever more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels that the IPCC says are linked to man-made warming.

Such levels were still attainable, it said, but policies in place so far put the world on target for a temperature rise of up to 4.8C (8.6F) by 2100. Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 C (1.4F) since the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries.

IPCC scenarios showed world emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, would need to peak soon and tumble by between 40 and 70 percent from 2010 levels by 2050, and then to almost zero by 2100, to keep rises below 2C.

The IPCC said that natural gas, which emits fewer greenhouse gases than coal, could get a boost until about 2050.

“Ambitious mitigation may even require removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” the IPCC said.

Delay in acting to cut emissions until 2030 would force far greater use of such technologies, a 33-page summary for policymakers said.

One method would be to burn wood, crops or other biomass to generate electricity, capture the greenhouse gases from the exhaust fumes and bury them underground, it said.

The experimental technology would reduce the amount of carbon in a natural cycle of plant growth and decay. But there are risks, such as the need for vast land areas to grow biomass, which would displace crops and push up food prices.

A simpler method to remove these gases from the air is to plant trees that soak them up as they grow, the IPCC says.

The report did not mention “geo-engineering” options, such as placing giant mirrors in space to bounce sunlight away from the Earth. “At this point in time, it’s not a policy option, Pachauri said.

Many world leaders welcomed the IPCC report, even as it underscored they were not doing enough. “This report makes very clear we face an issue of global willpower, not capacity,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: “The report is clear: there really is no plan B for climate change. There is only plan A: collective action to reduce emissions now.”

U N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hoped world leaders would bring “ambitious announcements and actions” to a summit in New York in September to map out ways to fight global warming.

The IPCC report is the third and final part of a massive United Nations series, updating science for the first time since 2007. A summary of findings will be issued in October.

The IPCC says it is at least 95 percent probable that man-made emissions are the main cause of warming. But many voters are doubtful, suspecting that factors such as the natural vagaries of the weather or sunspots might be to blame.

Low-carbon energies, which accounted for 17 percent of world energy supplies in 2010, would have to triple or quadruple their share by 2050, displacing conventional fossil fuels as the top source of energy, IPCC scenarios showed.

Low-carbon energy can include coal-, natural gas or oil-fired power plants if they use carbon capture and storage (CCS) to bury emissions underground. That technology, however, is mostly experimental, and costly.

SOURCE: REUTERS/PACNEWS

37) Authorities assess earthquake damage in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

Updated 14 April 2014, 17:36 AEST

Officials assess earthquake damage in PNG and Solomon Islands, as recovery from the recent floods continues.

An aerial shot of Makira following the 7.6 magnitude earthquake and localised tsunami on the morning of Sunday April 13, 2014. (Credit: Audience submitted)

Officials are still assessing the damage caused by two large earthquakes in Bougainville in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

On Friday, a magnitude 7.1 quake hit off the coast of Bougainville and on Sunday there was a magnitude 7.6 earthquake, 100 kilometres south of Kira Kira in Solomon Islands.

Assistant Director of the Geophysical Observatory in Port Moresby, Chris McKee says there are reports that one small child was killed after a house collapsed in Bougainville during the quake.

He told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the damage in Bougainville appears quite widespread.

“The numbers are something like about 15 houses at Buin in southern Bougainville, but there are many other settlements in the area of southern Bougainville so it looks likely that there’s more damage than what has been reported so far,” Mr McKee said.

Mr McKee said water supplies were also hit.

“Water tanks commonly burst when there’s strong earthquake activity and some water tanks were actually shifted off their foundations.”

Yesterday, Solomons Islands experienced a large quake and aftershocks generating a tsunami warning, which was later cancelled.

The Government’s National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) has reported zero casualties or damages.

Late last night, another magnitude 7.5 quake also struck south of KiraKira, the capital of Makira Province, just before midnight and there have been a number of aftershocks since.

The US Geological Survey says the likelihood of casualties or damage from the quake was low.

Mr McKee says it’s not unusual for aftershocks to continue after quakes like those in Bougainville and Solomon Islands.

“This is a typical pattern of aftershock activity. Normally with a large magnitude earthquake the aftershocks can continue for days or weeks or sometimes months,” he said.

No damage on Makira

The Solomon Islands Government has conducted aerial surveys of the tsumami-hit areas on Makira island to determine how much clean-up is required after the quakes.

The Australian High Commission has sent a civilian engineer and a disaster management expert to help with the assessment.

High Commissioner Andrew Byrne says the aerial surveillance confirmed there has been no significant damage to buildings and crops, and no signs of inundation.

“Importantly, that enabled Solomon Islands disaster management authorities to put that aside and come back to focussing on their response to the flooding disaster on Guadalcanal,” Mr Byrne said.

Photo: Australian aid staff on board a chartered plane assess the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on Makira, Solomon Islands, Sunday April 13, 2014. (Facebook: Australia in Solomon Islands)

The quakes have come as Solomon Islands continue to deal with the aftermath of devastating flash flooding on April 3.

The flooding killed at least 21 people and washed away homes and bridges in Honiara. At least two people are still missing.

There are still 50,000 to 60,000 people homeless – most without shelter and fresh water.

Major roads throughout Guadalcanal are ruined and bridges have collapsed, making it hard for emergency teams to assess the damage.

On Tuesday, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced a $3 million aid package to help the recovery effort.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

SPORTS

38) Oceania AFL juniors too strong for NZ

14/4/14

The AFL Oceania team proved too strong for their New Zealand counterparts, running out 70 to 8 victors in yesterday’s clash at the Under 16’s South Pacific Cup.

Peter Patty from Vanuatu managed two goals for the Oceania team and was named among the best players as the Pacific side made it two wins from two against the Hawks.

Today Oceania take on the unbeaten PNG Binatangs who kept them scoreless on Saturday and also proved much too strong for New Zealand.Radio NZ

39) PNG’s Mark Mexico impresses on Cronulla debut

14/4/14

PNG Kumuls prop Mark Mexico made a winning start to life in Australia, after an impressive debut for Cronulla in the New South Wales Cup.

The 24 year old last week signed a one year deal with the Sharks NRL side after impressing for the PNG Hunters in the Queensland Cup.

He managed 14 hit ups and 16 tackles as he played 37 minutes in Cronulla’s 38-10 victory over Manly.

Kumuls coach Adrian Lam says programs that have been put in place in PNG should mean than more young players can follow in Mark Mexico’s footsteps.

“The way that the high performance programme covers right down to high school and we’ve also got AusAid stepping in there with the PNG Rugby League now doing primary schools, educating rugby league and development. It’s certainly kicking off and we’re in a great position – we’re at the base though and we’ve got a lot of work to do and these players going away certainly gives us a lot to push at the lower level to have them aspire to be”.Radio NZ

40) Ba ease through to the semi-finals

By Online Editor
4:35 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2014, Fiji

Two wins and a final day 1-1 draw against Hekari United saw Ba FC become the first side through to semi-finals of the 2014 OFC Champions League Sunday afternoon.

The side were assured their spot even before they kicked off against the Papua New Guinea champions, as AS Magenta found the form they’d been lacking previously to beat Tafea FC 3-1 in the Match Day 7 opener and destroy any hopes of a challenge for the top spot from the Vanuatu side.

In the opener, AS Magenta were straight off the mark as they looked to redeem their two previous performances, which were average at best. Having made no less than six changes to their MD4 starting line-up, Magenta were a side with a purpose as they moved the ball confidently around the field.

The shots fired in at both ends, but Magenta looked much more confident and assured on the ball as they made inroads towards the goal. After a number of decent chances were blocked away from the target by Tafea keeper Seloni Iaruel, it took a little magic from 2012 OFC Player of the Year Bertrand Kai to break the deadlock. With a charge on goal Kai beat his man and, as Iaruel dove in at his feet, he played off to an arriving Bill Nicholls who found the net on his Champions League debut.

Just before the break it was Kai taking the glory as, with only Iaruel to beat, the dreaded striker calmly shot between the young goalkeeper and his post to give his side a two goal lead.

Not a side to give up lightly, Tafea pulled back one of their own after a player took a tumble in the box to earn a penalty. Bong Kalo stepped up and sent it flying past Ixoee. Neither side dropped the intensity throughout the remainder of the half, but it was the New Caledonians who added to their advantage when substitute Kalajie Gnipate went around his marker before firing home his third.

Returning home not only with a win, but following a great performance AS Magenta coach Alain Moizan had mixed feelings about his side and their overall performance.

“You could say that we ramped up the pressure and got the result we wanted. To finish with victory and not a draw is exactly what we asked of our players, as well as to finish at the least, second in the group” he says.

“I think today we portrayed a certain valour, a certain quality of footballers that we hadn’t seen before today.”
Kai joined proceedings for Magenta’s second and third matches and his quality certainly made a difference, but Moizan doesn’t think it would have changed the standings if he’d been present from the beginning.

“Unfortunately I don’t believe it would have made a difference because football is played on the field and in the first two matches we weren’t focused. We asked the players to do the job as they do in the championship, and they had no reason not to.

“We asked Bertrand to help us because we know he has the potential in his generosity and his technical qualities to make a difference. He showed, like in 2012 when he was named the best player in the Pacific, that he remains a very good player.”

A disappointed Moise Poida says he’s not happy with the performance or the loss after pinning hopes on a final victory to round out the group stage.

“The first half didn’t go our way and I had to adapt the side by taking off one of the players and fitting in another one,” he explains.

He also believes that youth and inexperience at the top level were a contributing factor to the end results for his side.

“They were not prepared mentally. Even though they have skills and have quality – technically they are good but mentally they are still weak. They are too far from this tournament, but that’s football.

“Maybe if we can come back next year with the experience we’ve gained here mentally we’ll be able to put a stronger challenge.”

Knowing they’d already safely qualified, Ba coach Yogendra Dutt sent a much-changed starting line-up out to face Hekari United. The Papua New Guinea side were hoping to snatch a redeeming victory to take home to fans after a disappointing campaign.

Ba’s target-man Osea Vakatalesau was looking dangerous from the word go as he looked to muscle his way on goal. Applying pressure to keeper Godfrey Baniau, he came close to nicking one on a few occasions and was unlucky.

Hekari, for their part, were applying an equal amount of pressure at the other end, keeping the defenders on the back foot as they continued to make driving runs towards the box in search of an opener. They finally had that much sought after lead when Tutizamo Tanito smashed on the volley to open the scoring.

Assured of their spot they may have been, but a proud Ba were not content to be losing on their own park, in front of home fans. After much switching of possession through the centre and plenty of off-target opportunities squandered from both sides, Ba had a chance to equalise after Vakatalesau was brought down in the penalty area.

After a penalty miss in their opener against AS Magenta the opportunity for Vaketalesau to convert was passed over and instead it was Avinesh Suwamy who stepped behind the ball. Cool as ever the experience defender slotted inside the post to bring his side in line.

Hekari kept up their efforts on attack but the Ba defensive line proved too good for even their experienced strike force and the match rounded out with the two sides locked at 1-1.

Pleased to have qualified for the semi-finals ahead of kick-off, Ba coach Yogendra Dutt says he wanted his side to enjoy the final group stage match in front of a decent home crowd.

“We are proud of how they went up in the second half especially,” he says.

And having rested a number of the players who helped them through the first two matches, Dutt was pleased with how the reserves performed.

“We rested all the players who had yellow cards, as well as those who have picked up little injuries. We have a larger squad and we tried to put in people to see how they perform in this upper level of competition, and we are proud of how they did today.

Counterpart Jerry Sam was unhappy his side couldn’t hold onto the lead to take three points home.

“I’m proud of the boys, they fought hard today. We tried to get a result but that’s football. You can’t have it all your way,” he says.

“We scored early and settled down but a bit of pressure coming and this let us down.”

Looking ahead to the semi-finals, Sam says Ba will do well.

“I really believe in this Ba side, I know a lot of the boys very well – Osea and the other boys – I think if they just do their game, play the way they play, they’ll make it to the grand final.”

The final OFC Champions League Group B matches will be played today with Nadi FC taking on AS Dragon at 1pm – with both sides looking to take a first victory – before the top of the standings clash between Amicale FC and Auckland City FC follows at 4pm.

SOURCE: OFC/PACNEWS

www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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