Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 994
1a ) Vanuatu Paper Obtains Copy Of Controversial Airport Agreement
Singapore-based company granted 50-year deal to build, own, operate facility
By Bob Makin
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 10, 2014) – Four months after the formation of their government last year, former PM Carcasses and DPM Natapei signed a 50 year Agreement with the company called Vanuatu Trade Development Pte Ltd (VTDPL), incorporated in Singapore, to build, own and operate an international airport for Port Vila.
It was agreed that four unconditional and on-demand promissory notes for a total of US$350 million would be issued to VTDPL whose membership is unknown.
Daily Post has obtained a copy of this first major development Agreement of the Carcasses Government, achieved without any recourse to a tendering process.
The document clearly lacks any advice of the State Law Office.
It is simply signed by the former PM and DPM and Mak Kum Hoong David and Eric Ong Kok Eng who had presumably set up the company VTDPL, the seal of which was attached.
Daily Post has been advised that changes were made to the Agreement, possibly following the huge public outcry when the existence of such an agreement previously became known. However, these changes have not been made publicly known.
The document was continually kept secret by the former government and still is effectively ‘secret’ whilst the ad hoc committee investigates and whilst its enquiries continue.
There had not been any aviation or tourism industry pressure for a new airport of any kind for the capital — only demands by the airport managing authority (Airports Vanuatu Limited — AVL) and airline users of Bauerfield. This was for funding of urgently needed runway repairs and taxi-way and plane parking extensions. Indeed the concessionary company (VTDPL) was requiring the termination of AVL in the Agreement. (AVL, it should be noted, also has responsibilities for outer island airfields.) VTDPL was to be given the operator status for Bauerfield immediately commercial operations under the Agreement were to begin.
The Agreement contains a variety of ‘conditions precedent’, such as the promissory notes already mentioned. If these were not met by either side it seems the Vanuatu Government would be required to pay for the Bauerfield works.
The Agreement signed on 27 July last year was to give VTDPL the exclusive right to “develop, finance, design, construct, modernise, operate, maintain, use and regulate the use by any Person of the Airports in any manner it deems appropriate and without any interruption or intervention by the Government or any Government Authority.” State authority and responsibility were in this manner to be assigned to the already contracted company.
In addition, VTDPL would “determine, adjust, demand, collect, retain and appropriate the Aeronautical Charges and Non-Aeronautical Charges and such other revenue and income as may be generated from the operation of the airports.” It could also sub-lease or license any part of the airports to anyone. VTDPL, initiating the Agreement, effectively put itself in a position to collect any and all profits for the fifty year term of the Agreement. The government agreed.
VTDPL was to be given precedence in any new Vanuatu airport development. One wonders whether this meant even Sola and Motalava. All current projects were to be likely to stoppage for 6 months to give VTDPL the chance to consider whether their precedence right would operate. Overflight Agreements with Fiji, already operating, were similarly to be suspended to give VTDPL the chance to consider purchase of the necessary equipment. VTDPL is required to take over Tanna and Norsup re-development with no compensation required to AVL for work possibly already undertaken.
One of the requirements of the Agreement is for the Vanuatu Government to assist VTDPL bring into the country free-of-charge any persons VTDPL might require visas or entry permits for. Ni-Vanuatu may well wonder whether the company intends to bring its membership to a less crowded island than Singapore, where certainly some reside.
Vanuatu Daily Post
1b) Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 June 2014
- All media have reported the huge welcome PM Natuman received on his first official visit to Tanna as PM. Over a thousand were at Laminu Field and heard him explain how he had come to the people to listen to and learn about their needs because “government cannot work in isolation from its people.” He has postponed overseas travel to New Zealand where he was to meet the New Zealand Prime Minister for this purpose.
- The new hospital facilities are also still very much in the news because of their enablinga doubling of the number of surgical cases in a year.
- Daily Post announces the Justice Ministry being able to confirm the proposed new Correctional Facility for Etas and an upgrade of the Stade facility to also house women and juvenile offenders. A foundation stone is soon to be laid at Etas for the beginning of the work there. New Zealand, which has provided significant professional advice and funding for the reformation of Vanuatu prisons, will be giving further huge financial assistance for the new facility and upgrade.
- The Asian investment that seemed to get away with no current EIA for building a huge view-obscuring wall near the Mele cemetry has been billed half a million vatu for the offence.
1c) Illegal cigarette importers as aviation advisers
- Daily Post can take credit last year for establishing that Singaporean company Vanuatu Trade Development Pte Ltd was a signatory to the Vanuatu Airports Contract Agreement signed by the former Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The two signatories on behalf of the company to take over from Airports Vanuatu Limited were David Mak Kum Hoong and Eric Ong Kok Eng. Daily Post established that both these individuals were here to investigate the possibility of tobacco growing on Tanna.
- On Friday, Daily Post carried more details of what was in the contract Carcasses and Natapei had signed.
- Wonderfully curiously the other story on page 1 of Daily Post on that day was the Customs destruction of 180,000 sticks of tobacco imported by the company Rock International Tobacco. A David Mak of that tobacco company (UK limited liability) is clearly labeled on the internet as having served 2 years and 11 months with Rock. He is its director. Variously described as Indonesian and Singaporean, the company is said to be privately owned. It would seem not to have a lot going for it, and now it has 180,000 sticks of tobacco less. Gone up in smoke!
- Ni-Vanuatu in nakamals and on buses are hoping the government’s investigative reporting by the ad hoc committee of Parliament will lead, at the very least, to charges under the Leadership Code, of civil servants who have wrongly guided their ministerial bosses to promises of 350 million US dollars. The Committee report is due this week. Criminal cases are also likely to be involved. Daily Post will continue to investigate. There is a case to be answered here and it should not be allowed to go up in smoke.
2) Tonga fig trees could be used for bio-desel
11 June 2014
Tonga is investigating selling fig trees to China where they will be used for bio-diesel for aircraft.
Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure, Samiu Vaipulu, told Radio Tonga fig trees exports could help Tonga’s economy.
He says delegates from China will check the fig trees during a visit to this year’s Tonga Royal Agricultural Show.Radio NZ
Real Tonga Airlines To Cease Flying Troubled Chinese Airplane
Airline purchases replacement planes
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 11, 2014) – The general manager of the Tongan Tourism Authority, Stuart Perry, says Real Tonga Airlines has purchased two Jetstream 32 aeroplanes and will cease to fly its troubled MA60 which was gifted by China.
At least one plane is due to arrive as early as next week.
New Zealand has a travel advisory in place, warning potential tourists about the Chinese aircraft that flies between the main island of Tongatapu and Vava’u.
Mr Perry says the NZ advisory on the MA60 had a real dollar impact on many of the small business operators, particularly in Tonga’s outlying areas.
He told Radio Australia the Vava’u group have been devastated by the impact of this travel advisory.
Mr Perry said the CEO of Real Tonga has purchased the Jetstream 32 aeroplanes from Australia.
He added the Jetstream 32’s have an excellent track record and more importantly, are recognised as airworthy by New Zealand civil aviation.
Radio New Zealand International
3) High Court Appeal Into Legality Of Cooks Superannuation Fund Begins
Lower court declared legislation government fund unconstitutional
By Emmanuel Samoglou
RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, June 10, 2014) – Arguments began to be heard yesterday as part of the Crown’s appeal of a recent High Court decision that declared the Cook Islands Superannuation Fund’s legislation as unconstitutional.
Five days have been set aside for the current sitting of the Court of Appeal to deal with the matter, which is being resided by Justice Sir Ian Barker, Justice David Williams and Justice Barry Paterson.
According to documents filed in court, the appeal has been launched by Cabinet Minister Mark Brown, who holds responsibilities for the Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund (CINSF) as part of his ministerial portfolio.
The appeal came about in the aftermath of a January ruling by Chief Justice Thomas Weston, who declared the legislation governing the superfund as unconstitutional.
In his judgement, Weston upheld arguments made by lawyer Tim Arnold that contributions to the fund are being taken by authorities without sufficient compensation, as neither the Fund nor government make any guarantees on the investment of contributions or earnings of the scheme.
Based on his submissions, Arnold – who’s acting on behalf of seven respondents including Arorongi Timberland owner Andy Olah and James Beer of Manea Foods – is asking the Court to uphold Weston’s decision that the CINSF Act is unconstitutional.
Representing the Crown is Solicitor-General Kim Saunders and Auckland lawyer Mike Ruffin, who will be arguing, among other things, that there is no compulsory taking of property as part of the superfund.
They contend that in receiving fund contributions, those monies remain credited to the contributor.
Additionally, based on their interpretation of the constitution, they are expected to argue the Government is not required to make guarantees to capital and interest earned in relation to the fund.
In was said in court Monday morning that, based on the “comprehensive” submissions made by sides, the court should be able to deal with the case in four days with a possible decision by the end of the week.
As the legalities are worked out in Court, CINSF officials have said ongoing operations of the fund remain unchanged and employers and employees should continue to make deductions and make monthly submittals.
Cook Islands News
4) University Of Guam Extensively Discussing Buildup Impacts: Underwood
Various research projects could be hindered by restricted access
By Louella Losinio
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, June 11, 2014) – The draft supplemental environmental impact statement is being discussed extensively at the University of Guam, UOG President Robert Underwood reported during the recent briefing on the impact of the DSEIS on education held at the legislature.
According to Underwood, the DSEIS is being tackled at the university in courses and classwork with papers being done in all classes, in particular at the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the School of Business and Public Administration.
The College of Science, he said, is particularly concerned with the access to Ritidian and surrounding areas should the plan to place a surface danger zone over the wildlife refuge be implemented.
“Our three research projects that are ongoing, two are archaeological-related; one (is) water quality-related. Those three projects, in particular the water project, have to have weekly access,” Underwood said.
Underwood also reported that UOG is working on the Micronesia Biosecurity Plan, in collaboration with the Department of Defense and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The plan addresses ways to prevent the spread of invasive species.
During the same briefing, GCC President Mary Okada said since 2010, the school has been anticipating and assessing what the impact of the buildup would be on the college.
“We think of this buildup as an opportunity for job placement for many of our students who are in career technical fields. It is interesting that what was previously a seven-year aggressive component has now been expanded to a 13-year (component) which is better in terms of student or worker employment,” Okada said.
“We do identify that with the buildup there would be an increase in the manpower development funding, which would help train additional students on Guam, we can reduce the number of H-2 workers in the years to come provided they are in the areas of construction and manpower development,” she said.
Earlier, the Guam Department Education reported potential impacts to student enrollment, human resources and student safety with the increase in population on Guam as a result of the military buildup.
The Guam Legislature’s education committee, chaired by Speaker Judith Won Pat convened the roundtable/informational briefing Monday afternoon.
Marianas Variety Guam
5) Guam Business Leaders: Most Of Community Support Military Buildup
Silent majority encouraged to speak up to drown out vocal minority opposed
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 10, 2014) – The military buildup’s $8.6 billion price tag will significantly boost Guam’s small economy, and Guamanians who support it should speak up before the window to do so closes, a leader in the business community said yesterday.
Construction activities related to the relocation of thousands of Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam could be compared to the impact of building 50 to 90 hotels in Tumon, said Joe Arnett, with the Guam Chamber of Commerce’s Armed Services Committee. He’s also a tax partner at Deloitte & Touche.
“I think the impact would be huge,” said Arnett, who was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay meeting at the Pacific Star Resort & Spa yesterday.
More : Pacific Daily News
6) Australian Government unclear on ABC value: Scott
By Online Editor
10:10 am GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Australia
ABC managing director Mark Scott has hit out at the federal government’s attitude to the broadcaster, saying the public is more in tune with the organisation’s true value.
“If we look at our research it’s very clear, nearly nine in 10 Australians believe the ABC provides a valuable service,” Scott told an audience at Australia House in London on Tuesday.
“At times I’ve felt in Canberra that they’re not quite attuned in the way our audiences are attuned to the breadth of ABC content.”
Scott, who was part of a discussion on the future of public broadcasters, said there was a disproportionate focus in Australian political circles on certain ABC content.
“There’s a focus on a handful of programs, a handful of broadcasters that seems to dominate the debate … At times I think the focus is too narrowly on political programming and political coverage.”
The comments follow last month’s budget, in which the ABC lost its $220 million contract to run the Australia Network and was dealt a one per cent funding cut.
Scott said on Tuesday the ABC would try to find efficiencies but the effect of potential future cuts was a concern.
“There’s a limit to how much efficiency we can find, and sooner or later if the budget cuts are too great, it fundamentally has to go to programming and people.”
Responding last month to questions on the ABC cut back, Treasurer Joe Hockey told the Today Show that the broadcaster had not produced an efficiency dividend for up to 15 years, while every other area of government had.
To complain about a one per cent cut was “frankly ridiculous”, Hockey said.
7) Air New Zealand revamps fares
By Online Editor
4:32 pm GMT+12, 11/06/2014, New Zealand
Air New Zealand has revamped its fare options for domestic flights, with last-minute business customers most likely to benefit from the changes.
Before the new fare structure, those who booked flights late often had to buy services and add-ons they did not need.
From June 24, travellers will always be able to opt for a bare-bones “seat” option, which the airline estimates will save them up to NZD$50 on what they would pay today.
The entry-level fare will also collect Airpoint Dollars and status points, as well as the standard carry-on luggage and tea and coffee.
The next tier, Seat Bag, costs NZD$10 extra but allows passengers a piece of checked luggage.
Flexitime, which replaces the Smart Saver fares, is NZD$20 more expensive again but allows customers to change their flight to another service on the same day, free of charge.
The existing Flexiplus premium option has been beefed up, giving customers two pieces of checked luggage, seat selection and higher earn rates on Airpoints Dollars and status points.
Flexiplus costs NZD$20 more than Flexitime and is fully refundable, letting travellers change the day, time, destination or origin of their flight without paying a fee.
Air New Zealand said in a note to customers that it had introduced the new fare structure in response to feedback.
“We asked Kiwis what they wanted when travelling around the country,” it said.
“The same answers came up again and again – flexibility, affordability and choice.”.
8) Germany kot i rausim pasin gavman i stopim impot blong kava
Postim 11 June 2014, 17:15 AEST
Vanuatu i hamamas tru long wanpela kot disisan long Germany aste we i rausim wanpela ban or stopim long salim kava igo long Germany. Long wankain taim tu, President blong Penama provins i autim wari long ol forena i wokim kava bisnis long Vanuatu.
Ol kava fama blong Vanuatu i bringim ol kava bag blong ol long wof long Port Vila (Credit: ABC)
Odio: Man save long sait long kava long Vanuatu, Dokta Vincent Lebot i toktok
Odio: Presiden blong Penama provins long Vanuatu, Lonsdale Hinge i toktok
Germany ibin stopim long impotim kava long 2002 bihain wanpela lapun meri ibin dai bihain long ol i tok em i dringim pil or marasin ol i wokim long kava.
Man save long sait long kava long Vanuatu, Dokta Vincent Lebot, itok dispela i gutpela nius blong ol kantri long Pacific save expotim kava long Germany naol kantri long Europe.
Kot ia i rulim olsem BfArM we i health administrative arm blong German gavman i nogat pruf long kava i bagarapim helt.
Tasol Dr Lebot i laik long olgeta kantri long Pacific i mas meksua long expotim ol gutpela qualiti kava.
Gavman blong Penama provins long Vanuatu i askim strong long nasenal gavman long pasim ol forena long wokim bisnis long sait long kava long ailan blong Pentecost.
Long narapela stori, Presiden blong Penama provins, Lonsdale Hinge ibin kamap long Port Vila na i wok long toktok wantaim ol gavman dipatmen long stopim wanpela forena husat i stap nau ia long baim kava long provins.
Mr Hinge itok kava em i stap long RESERVED LIST blong ol prodak we em ol pipol blong Vanuatu yet nau i ken wokim bisnis longen.
Em i tok dispela i karamapim bisnis long peles, na expotim long rijin na long ovasi.
Mr Hinge i tok dispela forena i save baim kava long ‘cheap’ praes long ol kava fama na i expotim igo long Amerika.
Aelan blong Pentecost em i nabawan i save planim planti kava we ol i save salim long tufala taon blong Port Vila na long Luganville.
Long wik igo pinis, Pentecost i saplaim planti tan blong kava igo long Port Vila na Luganville. Wan kilo blong kava tete, em i bai kisim 200 vatu.Radio Australia
9) Brèves d’Australie et du Pacifique – mercredi 11 juin 2014
Mis à jour 11 June 2014, 13:44 AEST
- Fidji perd un de ses meilleurs athlètes. Roy Ravana Junior a été tué mardi matin à Sacramento, en Californie, où il avait obtenu une bourse pour s’entraîner.
L’athlète, âgé de 20 ans, s’est retrouvé au mauvais endroit, au mauvais moment. Il a tenté de porter secours à un passant qui s’était fait tirer dessus et gisait blessé, à terre. Mais le tireur était encore sur les lieux, il a abattu Roy Ravana Junior alors qu’il marchait vers le blessé. « Les Fidjiens veulent toujours aider, Roy a eu une réaction instinctive, qui lui a coûté la vie », estime Jo Rodan Senior, le Président de la Fédération d’Athlétisme de Fidji. Franck Bainimarama a présenté ses condoléances à sa famille. Roy Ravana Junior, qui avait représenté Fidji aux championniats du monde junior d’athlétisme, devait participer aux Jeux du Commonwealth à Glasgow cet été.
- Aux Îles Salomon, les 1500 réfugiés victimes des inondations début avril ne seront pas expulsés des centres d’hébergement provisoires. Le gouvernement l’a confirmé mardi, mettant fin aux rumeurs d’une éviction prévue ce week-end. Le porte-parole des réfugiés, Charles Ketea, demande au gouvernement de leur donner des terres dans des zones non inondables pour reconstruire leurs maisons.
- Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée: la destruction d’un village d’orpailleurs illégaux « était elle-même illégale ». C’est l’analyse du député de la circonscription de Porgera, dans les Hauts-Plateaux, où se trouve la mine d’or, exploitée par le Canadien Barrick Gold. La mine attire des orpailleurs illégaux depuis des années. Parmi eux, il y a des propriétaires coutumiers de la mine. Vendredi, la police a fait une descente dans leur village, Wingima, mettant le feu à 200 masures. Mais elle assure aujourd’hui n’avoir incendié que 20 maisons. « La police a jeté de l’huile sur le feu, les orpailleurs vont se venger », prévient le député Nixon Mangape.
- Nouvelle-Zélande: Auckland battue par les vents dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi. Les rafales de 170 km/h ont abattu des arbres, des poteaux électriques et endommagé des maisons. 55 000 foyers étaient encore sans électricité mercredi matin à Auckland et dans la péninsule de Coromandel. Le pont de la baie d’Auckland a du être fermé à la circulation cette nuit après qu’un camion a été renversé par les vents. La tempête se dirige maintenant vers le sud du pays.
- Poste australienne: il vient d’annoncer 900 suppressions d’emplois. Et il gagne 4.8 millions de dollars par an. Ahmed Fahour, le PDG de la Poste australienne, est fortement décrié dans la presse australienne, et c’est une litote. Cet ancien directeur des banques NAB et Citigroup gagne plus que le PDG de la Poste américaine, qui émarge à 550 000 dollars par an, et que celui de la Poste française, à 1.06 million de dollars. Ahmed Fahour a justifié son plan social par la baisse du volume du courrier en Australie, du au développement du numérique.
- Tonga: le gouvernement envisage d’augmentation les taxes sur le sucre, le sel et le gras. Objectif : combattre l’obésité, dont le pays détient le record mondial. Le gouvernement ne sait pas encore comment il va utiliser le revenu tiré de cette taxe.
- Tonga: Samiu Vaipulu négocie avec la Chine le financement de la reconstruction de l’aéroport de Ha’apai. Elle va coûter 4.7 millions de dollars américains. La nouvelle piste d’atterrissage sera rallongée, pour permettre des vols directs entre Ha’apai et Niue. Selon le ministre chinois des Affaires étrangères, Wang Yi, Tonga peut demander un prêt à taux privilégié, très bas, et peut aussi demander une subvention au fond chinois d’aide au développement. Le groupe des îles Ha’apai a subi de gros dégâts lors du passage du cyclone Ian début janvier.
- Les figuiers tongiennes pourraient servir de biocarburant aux avions chinois. C’est l’idée du vice Premier ministre et ministre des Transports Samiu Vaipulu. Il a annoncé sur Radio Tonga son intention de se lancer dans l’exportation de figuiers. Des représentants chinois assisteront au salon de l’agriculture tongien en août. Ils auront l’occasion d’examiner les figuiers pour voir s’ils peuvent en tirer du biocarburant.
10) 24 cases of leprosy confirmed in Solomon Islands
By Online Editor
4:24 pm GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Solomon Islands
Save the Children in Solomon Islands says there’s an outbreak of leprosy affecting 24 people living in displaced people’s centres in Honiara.
The head of logistics and emergency, Graeme Kenna, says no one has died from leprosy but the situation is stretching the health services in Solomon Islands as the country struggles to recover from the severe flooding in April.
Twenty seven evacuation centres were set up after the April floods in which thousands were left homeless and at least 22 people died.
He says this latest outbreak is compounding efforts to contain the rotavirus illness which has claimed the lives of a further two children this week, taking the death toll to 18 in the past three weeks.
“Leprosy does happen in Pacific Island countries. But to have a sudden reporting of 24 cases, most of them in young children is quite alarming. The government is telling us and the World Health Organisation are telling us that they have the situation under control”
Save the Children’s Graeme Kenna says authorities are now searching to see how many other people could be affected by leprosy.
11) 64 new HIV infections in 2013: Fiji Health Ministry
By Online Editor
4:16 pm GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Fiji
Fiji recorded 64 new cases of Human Immunodeficiency (HIV) syndrome infections in 2013. This brings to 546 the cumulative total since 1989.
At the end of 2012 there were 482 confirmed infections. Fiji’s Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma has assured the government’s commitment to address the issue whilst ensuring the required treatment and medicine is available to all infected persons.
“Health care workers have strengthened their capacity in recognising, diagnosing, treating and caring for all patients either infected or affected by HIV,”Dr Sharma said
“Fiji introduced treatment for HIV for the first time in 2004 which had almost 10 drugs, but now we have, “one pill a day” available for all our patients in need of treatment.”
Meanwhile, of the 482 cases as of December end in 2012, the majority were reported to be heterosexually transmitted, 13 were transmitted through male-to-male sex, one through injecting drug use and 24 through perinatal transmission.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
12) PNG watchdog sees threats
By Online Editor
09:53 am GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Papua New Guinea
The Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission is under threat from other institutions that could take over its functions and responsibilities.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was Tuesday singled out by the watchdog as one such organisation.
The departure of employees from the commission, which Chief Ombudsman Rigo Lua described as a “brain drain”, was also a major concern for the state-funded institution, which recently came under the spotlight when Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said it should not go against the work of the executive government.
Lua said the commission was not taking the threats lightly and has put a strategic plan to address these challenges.
These include the loss of employees to ICAC or any other organisation.
“There are a lot of threats now facing us and there are real threats especially brain drain. Threats in the form of staff drain and duplication of roles have the potential to paralyse the Ombudsman if they are not properly considered and addressed,” he said during the launch of the commission’s five-year revised strategic plan 2014-2018.
Lua said the commission realised the importance and the need to reform, reorganise, improve and advance in the way it has been conducting its mandatory roles and responsibilities in the last 39 years.
“With the imminent threats and challenges likely to face the commission, it is forced to overhaul, improve and modernise itself to be able to overcome those challenges. The commission is working to review its organisational structure and its internal systems, processes, practices and delegation of authorities to make the decision to propel its performances to meet the current demands and challenges.”
Zooming in on the strategic plan, Lua said they will continue to collaborate with other agencies and organisations.
“Within the five-year period, the commission will continue to work in partnership with the relevant institutions and organisations and to implement its strategic priorities listed under its four key result areas in the plan. I am passionate to drive this commission forward. We have to think outside the box within a reasonable time,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
13) Fijians In The U.S. Protest Bainimarama’s Presence In California
Host of dinner with PM calls protestors ‘misguided’
By Luke Rawalai
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 11, 2014) – Former Fiji residents in America protested outside a community hall on Friday last week where Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama was being hosted to dinner.
The former residents held banners and placards which read “Free Fiji” and “Stop the Violence in Fiji”.
But according to the organiser of the dinner, the protesters were misguided.
Local paper the Sanata Rosa Press Democrat quoted Ben Nawagauou who organised the dinner saying that Rear Admiral (Ret) Bainimarama was there to spend time with the people.
“Those people (protesters) don’t know what they’re talking about.
“They don’t know anything about him.”
When informed of the protest and asked for a comment yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said he was not aware of the incident.
The minister said he had just arrived in Korea and was not aware of any protest in Finley, Santa Rosa in California.
Organiser and head of a group calling themselves the Fiji Democratic Movement Vilisi Nadaku, yesterday said they had wanted to meet and discuss issues with Rear Admiral (Ret) Bainimarama.
Mr Nadaku said they were disappointed after being disallowed to talk to him.
“It was more like a private meeting but the Fijian community here had wanted to take the opportunity to iron out issues with the Prime Minister regarding the election process which is still vague to us,” he said.
“We had also wanted to talk to him about the Election Decree and why the Auditor General’s report has not been released for a long time now.
“We are really disappointed that they did not allow us to attend the event.”
Attempts to get a response from the Prime Minister were unsuccessful as he is currently out of the country.
Fiji Times Online.
14) Fiji media personnel undergo voter exercise, Postal voting application form released
By Online Editor
09:55 am GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Fiji
A voter education training exercise for the media industry was conducted by the Fijian Elections Office on Tuesday.
This follows the induction of 18 civic educators for the voter education program which begins next week.
On the 4th of August – the President is expected to issue the writ for elections.
So from today until the 4th of August, members of the public have time to register to vote and for those who have already voted they can make necessary corrections to their registration details.
Outlining the voter education program which will start from next Monday, the elections office Director for Communications Josua Tuwere said it will focus on what is new in this year’s election.
“In 2006, you had 71 elected members, this year you have 50. In 2006 you had 71 constituencies and this was comprised of communal constituencies. The big difference this year is that you have just one constituency and that’s going to be the thrust of the civic education program is to make people really grasp this concept that it’s just one constituency,” Tuwere said.
Tuwere also stressed that a person can only vote in the polling station that they are assigned to vote in.
“It’s important to remember that we can only vote at the designated polling station, no where else and its only one day so it’s important to know where you go to.”
On the allocation of seats for party members, the elections office says that even though an individual party member does not get the required votes, the member can still make it into parliament through the party votes.
“After everything has been confirmed, we have the final national results tally prepared by the Supervisor of elections, after receiving all of the results and submitted to the electoral commission for allocation of seats,” Tuwere said.
The Elections office will be working with telecommunications service providers Vodafone and Digicel to help provide details on where a person has to vote.
Meanwhile, the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) has released the Postal Voting Application Form and the Postal Voting Information paper for voters who intend to do Postal Voting.
Postal Voting is available to registered voters in Fiji and overseas. Voters Registered overseas will also be required to apply to be eligible to receive Postal ballot.
According to the Electoral Decree, an application for Postal Voting may only be made on one of the following grounds—
•The applicant is living outside of Fiji or will be outside of Fiji on the polling day;
•Due to serious illness or infirmity, the applicant is unable to travel from his or her place of living to his or her assigned polling station;
•Under pre-trial detention or sentence of imprisonment;
•Because of the applicant’s religious beliefs or membership of a religious order, he or she— an application under this section must be accompanied by a statutory declaration by the applicant.
•The applicant will be away from his or her usual place of residence and in a place not convenient to his or her assigned polling station due to work commitments on the polling day.
Applications must include a copy of the voter’s identification card and the signature or thumbprint of the voter. If an application is made at the Fijian Elections Office then the voter’s identification card is not required.
An application under this section must be accompanied by a statutory declaration by the applicant and should reach the Supervisor of Elections no later than 6pm on 27th August 2014. .
The forms are now available on the Fijian Elections website or the nearest Voter Information Centre.
SOURCE: FIJI TV/ FEO/PACNEWS
15) EMTV journalists assaulted in PNG, Daily newspapers cop hefty fines
By Online Editor
1:22 pm GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Papua New Guinea
The management of Papua New Guinea National Television station, EMTV has backed efforts by its news department to lodge an official complaint to police after two of their reporting staff were manhandled and one punched on the side of his head, while covering a story at 15 mile Tuesday.
The cameraman reported to work today, with a medical report and a bruised right eye.
News Manager, Sincha Dimara said the crew had driven out to 15 mile to attend to a story alleging police had used knives to jab and poke five male youths over land disputes.
“While filming scenes of the nearby area, police rushed the group and manhandled both men, eventually locking them in the local police post,” Dimara said.
She said cameraman, Gesoko Adrian was punched by a guard at the station on the side of his head.
“Reporter, Quinton Alomp was grabbed by the shirt around his neck by the angry policemen.”
“They tore pages from their notebooks and ordered that the pictures recorded be deleted, which the crew did out of fear,” she said.
The company driver raised the alarm with his management soon after. Calls were made to Central Police bosses where orders were later relayed to release the media workers.
“They were both shaken by the experience and this is just unacceptable,” Dimara says.
Meanwhile the National Court has ordered PNG’s two daily news papers to pay hefty fines for publishing information it had restricted.
The ruling Tuesday related to charges laid against two reporters from Post Courier and The National for disobeying Judge David Cannings by publishing photographs of the dwellers of Manus Asylum Centre during his visit for an inquiry there.
Post Courier was fined K50 000 (US$18,416) whilst it reporter Todagia Kelola was fined K2 500 (US$920). Charles Moi from The National was fined K1000 (US$368) and his company will pay K20 000 (US$7,366).
SOURCE: LOOP PNG/ FIJI VILLAGE/PACNEWS
16) ABG passes bill to fund priority projects
By Online Editor
4:30 pm GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Papua New Guinea
The Autonomous Bougainville Government passed a Bill on Friday to authorise expenditure from the Special Intervention Fund Trust Account to implement a range of priority projects.
The fund is a grant for ABG which the Government appropriated, K200 million (US$73 million) for last year and this year under its K500 million (US$184 million) a year package that started in 2011.
Finance Minister Albert Punghau said several of these projects were provided for under the ABG Appropriation (2014) Act 2013 but the late availability of funds and changes to the law created a need for a different approach from the one previously taken.
He said with the introduction of the new Bougainville public finance (management and administration) Act 2014, all trust accounts previously created under the national public finance Act 1995 will now form part of the new Bougainville Trust Fund.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
17) PNG Ombudsman Investigation Into UBS Loan Complete
Findings won’t be released until full report is done
By Gorethy Kenneth
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 11, 2014) – Investigations by the Ombudsman Commission into the leaders who played a part in facilitating the US$3billion USB loan are complete, Chief Ombudsman Rigo Lua said yesterday.
The investigations centred on breaches, if any, of the Leadership Code by those MPs and leaders who assisted in the facilitation of the loan early this year.
But Mr Lua said the results of this Leadership Code investigations will not be made public until such time the full investigations are complete.
Mr Lua said the investigations are on-going but the commission is battling with capacity problems. He said however, these problems are now being addressed and that is one reason affecting the effective operations of the commission.
[PIR editor’s note: PNG Post-Courier reported that “The Ombudsman Commission is under threat from other institutions that could take over its functions and responsibilities. … The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was yesterday singled out by the watchdog as one such organisation. … The departure of employees from the commission, which Chief Ombudsman Rigo Lua described as a “brain drain”, was also a major concern for the state-funded institution, which recently came under the spotlight when Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said it should not go against the work of the executive government.”]
This has been the running issue since the reports of the UBS loan were released publicly. In an interview, Mr Lua said it was not possible to give the full details of the investigations but said for investigations under the Leadership Code to which the Constitutional Directions have been issued, the investigation, referral and prosecution of a leader is required to be carried out according to a procedural code established by Di-vision III.2 (leadership code) of the Constitution and Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leader-ship and this procedural code is carefully followed.
“We will not be deterred and will carry out our duties and responsibilities without fear or favour an in compliance with our laws,” Mr Lua said. “Unfortunately our laws prevent us from disclosing/discussing details of the investigations that we are currently undertaking.
“It is therefore not appropriate for the Chief Ombudsman or an Ombudsman to comment publicly on matters that are subject to investigations at the moment.”
18) NZ to fund building of Vanuatu’s jails
11 June 2014
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Joe Natuman, and the Minister for Justice, Alfred Carlot, say New Zealand has agreed to fund the building and renovating of the country’s jails.
The leaders says more than 9.3 million US dollars is being provided.
They say the new Correctional Facility near Port Vila is to be at Etas, which is 15 kilometres south of the capital.
The Director General for Justice, Joe Ligo, says the funding will also cover the renovation of the Low Risk Correctional Centre and the women’s jail.
A juvenile section is to be included in the new Port Vila facility and the jails in Luganville on Santo and Isangel in Tanna.Radio NZ
19) Fiji and UAE sign MOU on military cooperation
By Online Editor
10:04 am GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Fiji
Fiji and the United Arab Emirates Tuesday further strengthened their bilateral relations through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military cooperation.
The MOU was signed by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander, Brigadier-General, Mosese Tikoitoga and Major General Staff Pilot, Mohammad Rashid Obaid Al Ali of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.
The MOU will allow exchange of defence-related information, military training and education as well as cooperation in in areas of security.
Major General Ali of the UAE Armed Forces said that the MOU is a huge step forward in enhancing military cooperation between the two countries.
“This document will assist us in beginning our cooperation together and we hope that we will work together on various fields relating to military cooperation,” Major General Ali said.
RFMF Commander, Brigadier General, Mosese Tikoitoga said that the MOU enhances the capacity of the RFMF and Fiji looked forward to working with the UAE Armed Forces.
“This MOU is the beginning of a new and important relationship in the defence agreement between the UAE Armed Forces and the RFMF which will go a long way in establishing formal negotiations and ties in furthering our engagements,” Brigadier-General Tikoitoga said.
“Fiji has served in the Middle East region for over 30 years, learning a lot from these peace-keeping efforts and we would like to thank the UAE Armed Forces for the opportunity to sharing their expertise with us.”
The UAE Armed Forces also expressed their appreciation to the Fijian government for hosting them.
20) Fiji Authorities Find Methamphetamine In Cookies
Drugs sent in the mail valued at $190,000
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 11, 2014) – Authorities discovered drugs concealed in chocolate cookies in a joint operation between the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) and the Fiji Police Force.
The discovery was made on Sunday, June 9 and were sent from abroad.
The cookies tested positive for methamphetamine.
The amount of drugs discovered have an estimated street value of $350,000 [US$190,000].
The cookies were packed in boxes and were sent to two addresses.
Two locals are currently in police custody in relation to the case.
Officers of both organisations had been keeping a close watch on the suspects since April this year.
“The incident shows how creative our criminals are becoming.
But it is worrying that our locals are continuing to be involved in illicit drug smuggling cases,” FRCA chief executive Jitoko Tikolevu said.
“The Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority will continue to work harder to protect our borders and more importantly Fijians from the infiltration of prohibited items such as illicit drugs.”
Investigations are ongoing.
21) Fiji chairs UNFCCC subsidiary body meetings
By Online Editor
10:02 am GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Germany
In another first for Fiji, the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation permanent secretary Amena Yauvoli, takes up the vital role as Chair for the Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI) for the UN body that looks after Climate Change from this month.
The SBI is one of the two bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, the other one being Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
The SBI is charged with implementation of work under the UNFCCC.
Climate change negotiations are currently underway in Bonn, Germany encompassing the 40th sessions of the subsidiary bodies SBI and SBSTA, as well as the resumed second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).
For the first time at a June session, there will be a ministerial level meeting designed to provide guidance, confidence and further impetus for governments working on their national contributions to the new, universal climate change agreement in Paris in 2015.
Leaders will also meet to advance implementation of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, and to accelerate other emission reduction efforts.
The Bonn meetings are also taking place in the wake of the release of recent reports of the IPCC on adaptation and mitigation, which are part of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).
In his opening statement, Yauvoli appealed for the cooperation of all Parties in going through the key items on the SBI agenda so that they are strongly placed to take key decisions and provide a solid basis for the Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Paris in 2015.
The Paris COP is expected to take a decision on a successor agreement that will be the basis of a comprehensive global response to climate change that will address reduction of greenhouse gases (mitigation), adaptation and the necessary support to countries to make this possible.
Countries are being urged to take bold measures and ambitious targets to reduce emissions and ensure that the temperature rise remains below 2 degrees Celsius.
Business as usual will lead to temperatures rises that will lead to damaging and irreversible impacts on life and ecosystems with devastating consequences.
22) Kiribati president: It is “too late” to save my islands
By Online Editor
10:06 am GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Kiribati
It is already too late to save many small island states from being swamped by rising seas, according to the President of Kiribati.
Even if the world agrees to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, “total annihilation” is now inevitable for Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives, with “drastic impacts” expected within the next 20 years, warned Anote Tong.
“Whatever is agreed within the United States today, with China, it will not have a bearing on our future, because already, it’s too late for us. And so we are that canary,” Tong said in an interview on CNN.
Carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of climate change, remains in the atmosphere for centuries after it has been emitted. This means that the world is already ‘locked in’ to a certain level of global warming in addition to the 0.8C already experienced.
Last week, Marshall Islands foreign minister Tony de Brum said that rising seas had caused World War Two skeletons to be washed from their graves.
China and the US are the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, which warm the planet. This causes the sea level rise which is now threatening to inundate the low-lying small island states.
The US announcement of strict new regulations for coal-fired power plants was welcomed this week in Bonn, where negotiators are discussing a new UN climate change treaty, set to be signed in 2015. But Tong said he felt thees efforts are too little, too late.
A special report on the small island states in the UN’s latest science report, the IPCC, warned that, even with severe emissions reductions efforts, the temperature increase in the Pacific was likely to exceed 1.5C by the end of the century.
And a report from the UN Environment Programme released last week warned that sea level rise around the small island states could be up to four times the global average of 3.2mm per year. In the tropical Western Pacific, where a large number of islands are located, sea level rise of 12mm per year was measured between 1993 and 2009.
Negotiators from small island states are pushing for the globally agreed target of a 2C limit to global warming to be revised down to 1.5C, because of the existential threat that this poses to their nations.
Tong said that, while it might be too late for his own country, he hoped that it could provide a lesson that stronger action is needed on climate change.
He said: “Hopefully, that experience will send a very strong message that we might be on the front line today, but others will be on the front line next – and the next and the next.”.
23) EU says Philippines, PNG face import ban over illegal fishing
By Online Editor
1:25 pm GMT+12, 11/06/2014, Belgium
The European Union warned Tuesday the Philippines, one of the world’s largest fishing nations, and Papua New Guinea that they faced an import ban if they do not curb illegal fishing.
The European Commission said it had failed to make progress in talks with both countries and decided to issue a formal warning — a “yellow card” — that they must reach European Union standards on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
If the Philippines, listed as the 12th biggest global fishing nation, and PNG fail to come up to scratch “through dialogue and cooperation … then the EU can proceed to trade measures,” it said.
The position will be reviewed in six months time to see if the two countries have made enough progress on action plans drawn up by the EU, it added.
Failure to do so will put them onto the “red list” of nations which are not allowed to sell fish to the 28-nation EU.
“If half of the Western Pacific’s tuna is exported to the EU, we cannot ignore illegal fishing activities in this region,” European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki
The warning follows a thorough analysis and takes into account the countries’ development level, the Commission said
In March, the EU banned fish imports from Belize, Cambodia and Guinea for “acting insufficiently against illegal fishing.”
The Commission similarly warned Panama, Fiji, Togo, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu in 2012 and South Korea, Ghana and Curacao in 2013 but said Tuesday most of these countries had “cooperated constructively” with Brussels.
Illegal fishing is estimated to account for 15 per cent of the world catch annually, with the EU importing about 65 per cent of its seafood.
Fisheries in the Philippines and PNG are under huge pressure from growing populations and environmental damage.
The EU imported fish worth 165 million euros from the Philippines in 2013 and 108 million euros from PNG.
Campaign groups the Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF welcomed the EU’s latest move, saying that illegal fishing accounted for around one in five wild-caught marine fish, a haul worth up to 17 billion euros per year.
24) Solomons Flood Victims Won’t Be Forced Out Of Evacuation Centers
Government preparing new area of land to resettle homeless
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 11, 2014) – Flood victims in Solomon Islands say they have been given assurances they won’t be forced out of government-run emergency shelters in Honiara.
About 1,500 people are still being housed in the evacuation centres after April’s deadly flash floods which killed at least 21 people and left thousands homeless.
The Solomon Islands Government has denied local media reports that the flood centres will be closed this weekend.
Flood victims spokesman Charles Ketea has told Pacific Beat the minister has given an assurance not to move anyone from the centres just yet.
“He told us that this is not true…that they will be strictly removing us from these evacuations centres,” he said.
“The victims have confidence…we trust that even though we hear the story that they’ll close this evacuation centre, we believe it will not [happen].
“We are all citizens. We should be living here. We should wait until the land planning is finished and we will move to that block of land.”
Mr Ketea says they will be staying put until the government prepares a new area of land to allow them to move.
“We had a meeting with the Minister of Land…what he has told us is that there is land there…the land that has been promised is there,” he said.
“The idea for us to move from this evacuation centre – he told us that we will never go, we will never go, we will wait until all that land-making is finished, and then we will go to that land.”
25) Adex Wera returns to PNG Hunters line-up
11 June 2014
Adex Wera returns to the PNG Hunters starting side for this weekend’s Queensland Cup clash away to the Mackay Cutters.
Wera impressed off the bench in the 43-36 win over Redcliffe Dolphins in Kokopo on Saturday, in his first match back from injury.
His return means Albert Patak drops out of the match-day squad.
Timothy Lomai also returns after missing the win over Redcliffe through suspension.
The Hunters are currently second on the table with the best attacking record in the competition.Radio NZ