Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 995


1) Solomon Islands Christian Association support West Papua

By Online Editor
5:46 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Solomon Islands

Churches in the Solomon Islands have agreed to actively support the struggle for political independence of the people of West Papua.

The call comes a week before Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono attends the Pacific Islands Development Forum Summit in Denarau, Fiji.

“We in the Solomon Islands have heard the cries of the people of West Papua and we commit to advocating for their inherent right to gainful political self determination and true freedom,” said Father Peter Houhou, Vicar-General of the Anglican Archdiocese of Honiara.

The re-articulation of this commitment to West Papua’s political self determination by the church meeting is aligned with the mandate adopted by the Pacific Conference of Churches General Assembly – in the same meeting complex last year.

The assembly called on all Pacific churches to advocate the freedoms of peoples still under colonial rule in the Pacific.

“Whilst we in the Solomon Islands need to embark again on a journey to rethinking our own self determination, we make this statement in recognition of our moral responsibility to heed the cries of our brothers and sisters in West Papua who are struggling for justice on a daily basis,” Fr Houhou said..

Two weeks ago Solomon Islands church leaders learned that the Churches must continue to exercise without fear, its prophetic role in ‘speaking truth to power’, and in reclaiming this voice, stand up to
defend, affirm and announce its solidarity with all peoples who suffer mightily under colonial oppression.

Reverend Wilfred Kurepitu, Moderator of the United Church in Solomon Islands (UCSI) called on churches to do their duty.

“It is the moral duty of the church to counter oppressive regimes of authority and to actively engage the struggle for justice, freedom and peace. We are hereby called, not only to wish freedom on people that remain under colonial rule, but to actively work in striving for all
oppressed people’s freedom, which also includes our brothers and sisters in Kanaky (New Caledonia) and Maohi Nui (French Polynesia),” he said.

In applauding its Government’s support in sponsoring Maohi Nui’s (French Polynesia) re-inscription onto the UN Decolonization List last year, churches in the Solomon Islands called on government to urgently show similar support to West Papua’s struggle for politicalindependence, and in solidarity with the example set by the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu.

The workshop on Rethinking the Household of God in the Solomon Islands took place June 2-3 and was jointly organised by the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) and the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC)…..PACNEWS

2) Indonesia remains sensitive over West Papua

13 june 2014
The journalist who revealed Indonesia’s move to pull out of a New Zealand-funded police training programme in West Papua says he believes political sensitivity is behind the decision.

The story in the Jakarta Globe newspaper quotes a high-ranking Indonesian police officer saying the Indonesian government stopped the programme amid concerns about New Zealand’s hidden motives.

Harry Pearl, who co-wrote the article, says he can only speculate about the real reasons.

But he says Indonesia remains very sensitive about activities in the province.

“It’s not unusual for them to turn down aid programmes in West Papua, they are quite strict you could say on what aid programmes go on there. I still think they are pretty sensitive to outside scrutiny.”

Harry Pearl says Indonesia is touchy about the West Papuan independence movement.Radio NZ

3a) NZ Govt – no complaints from Jakarta over Papua policing plan

12 June 2014
The New Zealand government says reported concerns about New Zealand’s political motives in funding police training in the troubled Indonesian province of Papua have not been raised with its officials.

The five million US dollar project was due to start this year but cancelled last month after Indonesia pulled out.

According to the Jakarta Globe newspaper, the Indonesia Government pulled out over fears New Zealand had a hidden motive.

However, a spokesperson for the Ministry says the reported concerns have not been raised with the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta.Radio NZ

3b) Vanuatu daily news digest | 12 June 2014

by bobmakin

  • Prime Minister Natuman drew attention to the link provided by the Tafea / Kanaky Festival to Matthew and Hunter islands now recognised as Umaenupne and Leka on his tour in Tanna. He also stated that he needed a report concerning the use of funds for the Festival before a further such major cultural event could take place – a request of the Tafea Provincial Government. There have been allegations of mis-use of funding with the first such festival.
  • The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department is holding a conference on coral reefs and fisheries, coastal erosion and civil rights. Experts in these fields and representatives of civil society will help to plan for any possible impact by coastal erosion.
  • Vanuatu will host the second European Union / Pacific Public and Private Sector Business Dialogue between 25 and 27 June. It will be concerned with funds available under the European Development Fund for the ACP developing countries. The dialogue involves regional bodies and will be held at the Warwick Le Lagon Resort.
  • The people of Waisisi, Whitesands, on east Tanna have just received their first cruise liner visit, the Paul Gaugin. Both islanders and visitors were reported to be delighted with the success of the visit.


4) Tonga’s Record Budget Relies Heavily On Foreign Assistance
35% increase raises concerns about debt levels, aid dependence

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 11, 2014) – Tonga’s biggest annual budget of $483.7 million Pa’anga [US$ 257.7 million] was presented to the Tongan Parliament by the Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr ‘Aisake Eke this morning, 11 June.

The 2014-2015 National Budget is 35% more than the 2013-2014 budget of $357.6million. It is also historical document in that 59% of it is financed with budget support funding from aid donors, and the remaining 41% from Tonga’s own financial resources.

‘Aisake told the House that government would finance its portion of the budget with earnings from the sales of $26 million of government bonds.

The aid donors who will finance 59% of Tonga’s 2014-2015 national budget are: the World Bank, Japan, China. Asian Development Bank, Australia, New Zealand, EU Budget Support, Pooled Funds – Australia and New Zealand, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, United National Development Program, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, World Health Organisation, and there were also “unconfirmed” donors.

‘Aisake also told the House that with the 2014-2015 budget special care was given to the allocations for the Ministry of Justice, the Auditor General, and the Commissioner of Public Relations. The budget allocation for the Ministry of Justice will increase by 32%, the Auditor General by 75% and the Commissioner of Public Relations by 325%.

The 5% COLA for the salaries of public servants will continue; he also reminded the House that government still owed the public servants retirement fund $17 million.

In an effort to free the Tonga economy from what the Minister of Finance referred to as an “Economic Trap” he said special attention has been directed toward upgrading infrastructures such as airports. There were also concessional loans at 1% interest to the Agriculture Marketing Fund, Fisheries Development and Export Fund, Tourism Fund, Manufacturing Fund, a Student loan Scheme, and an Economic Growth Facility of $10 million at 4% interest.

‘Aisake also told the House that the Reserve Bank Act will be amended, making it possible for the Bank to direct funds to government. This capital fund will be managed by the Tonga Development Bank TDB, which could offer loans at 4% interest.

Loans from China

‘Aisake expressed his concern over Tonga’s external debt, particularly relating to the repayment of its multi-million dollars loan from China for the reconstruction of Nuku’alofa. He said that China had agreed to defer the repayment of the principal amount for another 10 years, but the Minister had set up what he called a “Sinking Fund” in preparation for when Tonga will start repaying China the $119 million (USD) loan.

In addition to the loan for the reconstruction of Nuku’alofa, the Tonga government bought back the majority shares of Janfull International the Dateline Hotel by settling their unpaid loan of $11 million, also from China.

Meanwhile, the Tongan government had been paying only the interest on the Chinese loans. The interest amounted to over $50 million pa’anga a year since 2011.


Sione Taione, a Tongatapu People’s Representative expressed his concern over how some property owners had got their multi-million pa’anga buildings constructed and rented out, but had not signed a loan agreement with government. There were others who had signed a loan agreement and were renting their properties but had not repaid their loan to government.

Tonga’s loan arrangement with China for the reconstruction of Nuku’alofa was for the Tongan government to borrow from China and then lend to property owners in the Nuku’alofa CBD whose properties were destroyed during the riots of November 2006.

Dr Sitiveni Halapua, a Tongatapu People’s Representative also expressed his concern over the reliance of Tonga on foreign aid donors to balance the national budget, he compared the exercise to one building a family home with donor’s fund so that at the end one would feel that the donor owned the home.

Matangi Tonga Magazine

5) Open Period For Telecom Cook Islands Bidding Ends
‘Several’ parties express interest in buying Telecom NZ’s shares

By Ben Chapman-Smith

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, June 11, 2014) – Telecom New Zealand says “several” parties have formally expressed interest in buying its 60 per cent share of Telecom Cook Islands.

Two local consortiums which have made offers say they are waiting to find out what happens next, now that the period for expressions of interest has closed.

Telecom NZ has entered into a conditional agreement to sell its majority stake to Digicel for $23 million [US$19.6 million], but Cook Islanders had until yesterday to make a rival bid.

Richard Llewellyn, Telecom NZ’s Head of Corporate Communications, would not say exactly how many Cook Islands parties have thrown their hat in the ring.

“Telecom has received several expressions of interest, however we are not at liberty to disclose the details of these. An assessment process is ongoing, and we will advise details of this in due course.”

Tim Arnold, Telecom NZ’s legal representative in Rarotonga, said he was unable to comment.

“There have been a number of expressions of local interest but as to the process now, I’d be going way beyond my brief to say anything,” he said.

One group known to have made an offer is being led by local businessman Brian Baudinet, and includes Telecom Cook Islands’ (TCI) executive management team, and foreign company Bluesky.

Baudinet said his group investors are “twiddling their thumbs” waiting for information.

“We’ve been in the dark for weeks. We put in our expression of interest in May and since then we’ve heard nothing.”

He said the investors have signed a non-disclosure agreement, which means they cannot share any details about who is in the group.

Baudinet did say he is in discussions with Mike Tavioni, who has created a proposal to get Cook Islanders to invest $1000 [US$850] each for an equal share in TCI.

“He hasn’t come in with us yet. We’re talking about that and are quite happy to have him join us.”

Baudinet is not sure if and when Telecom NZ will decide whether his group can carry out due diligence of Telecom Cook Islands.

“That’s what we don’t know. They’ve not given us a time frame.”

The other group known to have made an offer is being led by local businessman William Framhein and involves investment from an overseas telecommunications company.

Like Baudinet, Framhein said he doesn’t know what the next step is and he is waiting to hear from Telecom NZ.

“It’s a wait and see situation.”

Cook Islands News


6) Income tax to finally arrive on Nauru

By Online Editor
10:33 am GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Nauru

Income tax is to be imposed in Nauru from 01 October with a business tax to apply from July next year.

This has been revealed in the country’s new Budget.

The Government says the economy has grown significantly in the past two years, largely due to income from the huge Australian run detention camp for asylum seekers, but it says it wants to broaden the country’s revenue base.

The Finance Minister David Adeang, who presented the Budget, says a small surplus should accrue with spending of just under 92 million US dollars predicted for the coming year.

Adeang says higher income earners will be taxed at a flat rate of 10 percent while there will be a tax-free threshold for some.

He says the second significant revenue gathering measure is the introduction of visa fees for refugees resettled into the Nauru community.

Adeang says this is to cover the additional services the refugees need. He does not say who will pay it.

The Budget was pushed through unopposed with five Opposition MPs now expelled from Parliament in controversial circumstances.


7) Suspended Nauru MP Stripped Of Entitlements
Offices, salaries withheld allegedly for speaking out against government

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 12, 2014) – One of five opposition MPs suspended from Nauru’s parliament says they have now been stripped of their entitlements, offices and salaries for speaking out against the government.

Three MPs were suspended last month, and two more followed last Thursday in a motion they say was unconstitutional.

Mathew Batsiua says that while the MPs may have been suspended from the legislature, they are still elected representatives of the people of Nauru.

He says the government has gone completely beyond its powers in an attempt to disable Nauru’s democracy.

They are treating us as removed members, or members who are no longer considered to be Members of Parliament, which is just absurd and unlawful because we continue to be Members of Parliament. What the motion tried to do was to prevent us from attending meetings of parliament. So they are completely different matters and if this is the way that the government is going, then it’s going to be strongly challenged.

Mathew Batsiua says the suspended MPs want an independent inquiry into the matter and are looking at whether to challenge it in the Supreme Court, which is currently without a Chief Justice.

Radio New Zealand International


8) Brèves d’Australie et du Pacifique – jeudi 12 juin 2014

Mis à jour 12 June 2014, 14:03 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

  • Allemagne: la cour administrative fédérale lève la prohibition du kava.

Stimulant, tonique, anxiolytique, antiseptique urinaire, antalgique et somnifère – mais également hépatotoxique. Le kava fait débat depuis douze ans. En novembre 2001, les autorités allemandes l’ont interdit après plusieurs cas d’hépatites fulminantes.

  • Les autorités avaient interdit le produit en 2002, craignant des effets hépatotoxiques sur les consommateurs. Mais mercredi, les juges allemands ont estimé que de simples doutes ne suffisaient pas à justifier une interdiction. C’est donc la fin d’une bataille judiciaire de 12 ans. Les exportations de kava pourraient reprendre vers l’Europe, mais il faudra encore faire des progrès sur la qualité du kava produit dans le Pacifique, d’après le chercheur Vincent Lebot, interrogé sur la radio néo-zélandaise internationale.
  • L’Union européenne sort le carton jaune contre la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée et les Philippines. Selon Maria Damanaki, la commissaire européenne à la pêche et aux affaires maritimes, « les deux pays sont incapables de garantir que le poisson qu’ils exportent vers l’Union Européenne a été pêché légalement. »  Fidji et le Vanuatu ont aussi reçu une mise en garde ces deux dernières années.
  • L’Australie est le troisième pays au monde où les maisons sont les plus chères, selon le FMI. Le marché de l’immobilier n’a pas connu de répit. Les prix augmentent en continu depuis deux ans. Les maisons ont atteint des tarifs historiques, au-delà des records connus en Belgique, au Canada, en Norvège et en Suède. Le Fonds Monétaire International met donc en garde l’Australie contre la formation d’une bulle immobilière, comme celle qui a provoqué la dernière crise financière mondiale. L’institution demande à la banque centrale et à l’autorité de régulation prudentielle australiennes de prendre des mesures.
  • C’est une maladie oubliée, et pourtant elle sévit encore aux Îles Salomon. La lèpre ronge 24 malades actuellement, dont 3 enfants, d’après le ministère de la santé. Les inondations de début avril ont aidé au dépistage. Car la surveillance médicale est bien plus étroite dans les centres d’hébergement provisoires où les victimes se sont réfugiées. La lèpre se guérit facilement.
  • Tennis: il « n’apprécie pas le jeu des femmes » et il ne lui viendrait jamais à l’idée d’avoir une femme comme entraîneur. Le joueur de tennis australien Marinko Matosevic, 60ème au classement ATP, réagit ainsi à l’annonce d’Andy Murray. Le numéro 5 du tennis mondial vient en effet de choisir Amélie Mauresmo comme coach. « Marinko Matosevic est une véritable tête de mule », a déclaré sa compatriote, Sam Stosur. Mais le tennisman australien persiste et signe : « demandez au public, vous aurez la réponse, il préfère regarder un match avec des hommes ».
  • Tony Abbott se prépare à rencontrer le Président Obama. Il devra rendre des comptes sur le climat. Le Premier ministre australien tentera de centrer les discussions sur les sujets consensuels entre les deux pays – leur politique de défense, le partage des renseignements, la sécurité, leur influence en Asie, etc. Mais il n’échappera pas au sujet qui fâche : la lutte contre le changement climatique. En début de semaine, au Canada, avec son homologue Stephen Harper, Tony Abbott a dénoncé la taxe et les marchés carbone « qui détruisent l’emploi ». Le sénateur démocrate américain Henry Waxman a déclaré que l’Australie était à la traîne en matière de lutte contre le changement climatique. Juste au moment où le Président Obama accélère. Il a annoncé la semaine dernière son plan de 30% de réduction des émissions de CO2 dans le secteur de l’électricité.
  • Îles Salomon: la tension monte dans les centres d’hébergement provisoires. Mardi le gouvernement a assuré qu’il n’expulserait pas les 1500 réfugiés des inondations. Mais hier le directeur du Bureau des catastrophes naturelles a confirmé que les centres fermeront ce weekend. Loti Yates explique qu’il n’a plus d’argent. Les réfugiés l’ont menacé. Ils menacent également de brûler les locaux du Bureau des catastrophes naturelles. Loti Yates promet de financer le billet de retour des réfugiés originaires des provinces. Selon lui, il y a des opportunistes dans cette foule de réfugiés, qui n’étaient pas nécessairement affectés par les inondations mais sont montés à la capitale pour trouver un emploi.
  • Nauru: 5 députés d’opposition sont privés de tous leurs avantages, de leurs bureaux. Et leur salaire est retenu. L’affaire a éclaté en mai. Le ministre de la Justice a exclu du Parlement Matthew Batsiua, Keren Kieke et Roland Kun. Motif : leurs interviews aux media étrangers, dans lesquelles ils dénoncent l’accueil des demandeurs d’asile envoyés par l’Australie et le limogeage de plsuieurs juges par le gouvernement nauruan. Deux autres députés d’opposition ont été suspendus du Parlement jeudi dernier.


9) Fiji punching above its weight in regional and global affairs: PM Bainimarama

By Online Editor
1:57 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s Prime Minister Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama Thursday says the presence of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the island nation next week shows that Fiji matters in global affairs.

Rear Admiral Bainimarama comments came as Fiji prepares to host the Second Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) Meeting in Nadi.

“Next week, many of us will be gathering again in Nadi for the second Pacific Islands Development Forum – our unique grand coalition of Pacific governments, civil society groups and members of the business community. Little did we realise when we embarked on the idea of the PIDF that it would capture the collective imagination of our region in the way that it has.

Next week, not only will we have more Pacific governments and other stakeholders attending than last year, but many more development partners from around the world. And it will be our unique privilege to welcome to Fiji for the first time, the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, ”  Rear Admiral Bainimara said while speaking at the Green Growth Summit in Suva.

He said President Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit shows Fiji’s great importance in the region.

“The presence in our country of this great man will be a signal honour – the leader of the most populous country in our immediate region and one that has made a successful transition itself to a vibrant genuine democracy.

Among other things, it shows that Fiji matters, Fiji is punching above its weight in regional and global affairs. Our voice is not only being heard more and is more respected but we have also provided a voice for others to be heard. This includes not only the governments that have joined us in the PIDF but those civil society groups and business leaders that represent the grassroots in our societies,” he said.

Bainimarama emphasised that PIDF accommodated people whose voice were not heard and excluded from the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

“These are the people who were excluded from the Pacific islands Forum but are now centre stage at the PIDF. And they are the voices of those who ultimately matter above all else – the ordinary men and women who we are all here to serve.

“I spoke at the first PIDF of us all forming a grand coalition throughout the Pacific to protect our environment in order to make sure that development is sustainable and that the common good comes before sectional interests, so that we leave the Pacific to our children and grandchildren in a better state than when we inherited it.

That crusade continues and I ask you all to place it at the forefront of your deliberations here,” Rear Admiral Bainimarama said.


10) French participation in Pacific Island development Forum 2014

The Ambassador of France H.E Gilles Montagnier will attend the 2nd summit of the Pacific Island development forum (PIDF) that will be held in Nadi from 18th to 20th of June 2014.

This meeting is an important moment after the inauguration of the Secretariat of the PIDF in Suva last April. The forum will make available an opportunity for Pacific islands development countries to come together to discuss matters of mutual regional interest in an empowering executive atmosphere, based on the principles of international collaboration.

“This regional organization is important for us because all countries and territories are members, without discrimination. This allows French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna – all together, more than half a million of people – to fully participate and share about common challenges,” H.E Gilles Montagnier stated.

The fact that private sector is closely associate is also very positive as it makes the PIDF a genuinely regional organization.



11) Chancellor Merkel defends German-backed EU Presidential candidate Juncker

By Online Editor
10:06 am GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned British Prime Minister David Cameron not to threaten her over the appointment of an arch-federalist as President of the European Commission.

Cameron has said that the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker could make Britain more likely to leave the European Union in a referendum in 2017.

But Merkel said that “threats” went against the European spirit, as she gave her public support for Juncker.

Cameron said that if Europe fails to heed his calls to reform it will be “unhelpful” ahead of his pledged referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2017. He believes that the appointment of Juncker will damage his attempts to convince the British public that it should stay in the EU.

The Prime Minister also said he wants to stop foreigners from “free riding” and abusing Britain’s welfare system.

The European leaders were speaking after a summit at the official residence in Sweden with Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister, and Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister.

They discussed the need for the European Council to become more competitive and open to reform, as well as potential candidates for the post of President of the European Commission.

Responding to reports that Cameron had warned Britain could leave the EU over Juncker’s appointment, Merkel said: “I made myself clear by saying that I am for Jean-Claude Juncker. But when I made that statement in Germany I also made the point that we act in a European spirit.

“We always do that. Otherwise we can’t arrive at a compromise. We cannot just consign to the back-burner the question of European spirit.

“Threats are not part and parcel of that spirit, that’s not how we usually proceed.”

A source close to Downing Street suggested Merkel has private concerns about Juncker’s appointment but has to show public support because of political pressure in Germany.

Cameron said that it was “plain and obvious” that if Europe fails to reform, Britain will be more likely to leave the EU.



12) ‘Depressing’ forecast: Fiji’s Health Ministry

By Online Editor
10:20 am GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Fiji

The World Health Organization (WHO) has projected that by 2020, the world’s second largest sickness will be depression.

And as a result, the Fiji’s Ministry of Health is working hard to tackle the issue by getting more Fijians to understand that the sickness can be healed at an early stage.

National adviser non-communicable diseases, Dr Isimeli Tukana said Fiji needed a mind-set change and it was time everyone worked together to address the issue.

“WHO has told us that in 2020, depression will be the second most common sickness in the world and the ministry is looking at the issue seriously,” Dr Tukana said.

“What we are saying is if people are coming with mental disorders this much, then the depression and distress is big and it doesn’t take overnight to de-stress so there are many cases here in the country.

“Again, Fiji is in an NCD crisis so those with amputations, heart attacks, stroke, it will definitely affect their thinking and this is why I am saying that this is the whole area of mental health.”

Dr Tukana said Fijians should have a better idea of the food and drinks they consumed so their bodies were not badly affected.

He said once part of the body was affected, it could affect the way a person thinks, leading possibly to depression.

“We ask those who need mental counselling to take advantage of organisations available like Empower Pacific and Youths Champs for Mental Health, which can help them overcome these problems.

“I feel there are a lot of people in society who are under stress and anxiety and need help. There is even an increase in the number of people walking on the streets of Suva talking to them.”

Dr Tukana said the WHO projected that in six years time, heart attacks would be the number one killer, followed by depression, and injuries and violence.


13) HIV sufferers in PNG dying unnecessarily

By Online Editor
1:47 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s national body for people living with HIV says some people are dying because they’re not taking their medication properly, and better access to counselling and education services are needed.

The body, Igat Hope, says four people on anti-retroviral treatment died recently.

It’s president, John West Torie, says he believes the drugs are working, but some think that once they start to look and feel better, they can stop taking the medication.

He says others also face pressure from different religious groups to believe they’re healed, and as a result stop taking medication.

“So we’ve got to remind them that regardless of that, the good Lord has given us the knowledge, the drugs are the result of the knowledge that he has given us, so please take your drugs…counselling in itself would remind us of adhering to the drugs, about all these other little things that can make life so that you can live longer with HIV, and I think we lack that support.


14) Japan Provides Vanuatu With New Rehabilitation Hospital For Port Vila
$14.1 million facility handed-over to government

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 11, 2014) – The Japanese Government handed over the Vt1.4 billion new Vila Central Hospital rehabilitation facilities to the Vanuatu Government yesterday afternoon.

The new Vt1.4 billion [US$14.6 million] rehabilitation facilities were officially handed- over by the newly appointed Japanese Ambassador to Vanuatu Takuji Hanatani, to the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Joe Natuman, in an official ceremony witnessed by Government State Ministers and Ministries and Department Officials, Japanese Ambassador officials, JICA Officials, Vila Central Hospital Management and Staff, doctors and nurses, consultants, constructors, sub-constructors, construction workers and various partners that were involved in the construction of the new medical rehabilitation facilities.

The handing over ceremonies included the joint cutting of the ribbon by the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Joe Natuman and the Japanese Ambassador Takuji Hanatani, and officially opening the main entrance to all lower level and upper level medical facilities, the unveiling of the plaque, tour of all the facilities.

A gift of a Vanuatu tamtam was presented by PM Natuman to the Japanese Ambassador Hanatani.

In his speech the prime minister touched on the history of the project and the importance of the project for the health and the life of the population of Vanuatu.

He also mentioned the importance of the relationship between the Japanese Government and the Vanuatu Government,particularly the importance that the Japanese Government realized in the much needed upgrading of the new and modern technology facilities that has now been brought to the Government and the people of Vanuatu.

The Japanese Ambassador said in his response that being newly appointed to the position of the Japanese Ambassador to Vanuatu, he will liaise closely with the Vanuatu Government in providing similar and other important projects to Vanuatu and the Pacific region.

More of the speeches will be carried in the next issue.

The new Vt1.4 billion rehabilitation medical facilities include; the Outpatients Department, the Emergency Department, the Operation Theatre, Radiology Department,Laborotary Department and Pharmacy.

Vanuatu Daily Post


15) Fiji leader slams parties at launch

13 june 2014
Fiji’s regime leader Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama has taken a swipe at his opponents at the launch of his political party.

He launched the party and the Suva headquarters of Fiji First at a ceremony in the Fiji capital on Thursday.

Rear Admiral Bainimarama criticised other parties for elitism, lacking courage and being desperate for votes.

He described the launch as historic.

“Today at 12th June, 2014, will go down in the annals of Fijian history as the day when Fiji’s first truly modern, progressive, transparent, non-corrupt, nation-focussed and inclusive political party was officially launched.”

Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama.Radio NZ

16a) NFP lays out vision for Fiji’s future

13 june 2014
The leader of Fiji’s National Federation Party says Fiji can have a quality of life to rival New Zealand’s.

With just 3 months to promised elections, Professor Biman Prasad has outlined his vision in a speech in Suva.

Don Wiseman has more:

“Professor Prasad says it is within Fiji’s grasp to do better than New Zealand by 2030. Mr Prasad, in his vision for Fiji, says by 2030 it will be a free nation, absolutely confident in its diversity, celebrating it and reaping the benefits of growth. He says the country’s hospitals, schools and incomes will be on par with New Zealand. But he told his business audience that this will not happen in an atmosphere of intimidation and governance that stifles voices and weakens the rule of law. Mr Prasad says the NFP wants; a strong economy, world class health care, fairness in the legal system, a high skilled military, an I-Taukei community that is confident and secure, gender equality, a pristine environment and a media that protects the country’s freedoms.”Radio NZ


16b) Owners want land returned

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, June 13, 2014

TRADITIONAL owners of leased cane land in Nawaicoba near Nadi have asked the iTaukei Land Trust Board for some expired leases to be returned to them.

TLTB CEO Alipate Qetaki said consultations on the issue had been held between the yavusa Leweivunaniu of Yako, 72 farmers from Nawaicoba and sugar industry stakeholders in April and again last week.

Another meeting has been scheduled between the parties for next week.

“In the meetings, the farmers are fully consulted and informed of the requirements for the renewal of leases,” Mr Qetaki said.

“For most of the farms, there are no foreseeable impediments to the renewal of their leases subject to them meeting the renewal requirements and field or site inspections.

“However, the traditional landowners, the yavusa Leweivunaniu of Yako, have expressed their desire that some expired leases are to be returned to them for their own use, maintenance and support.

“They have engaged a solicitor to assist them in negotiating and discussing their land needs with the stakeholders.”

Mr Qetaki said affected farmers had been informed of the process and it would take up to one month for discussions to be completed.

“Consultations amongst stakeholders have been carried out in a cordial, transparent and friendly atmosphere and in the spirit of co-operation.”Fijitimes

16c ) $4.5m for landowners

Serafina Silaitoga
Friday, June 13, 2014

THE Land Use Unit has so far paid out a total of $4.58million to landowners whose land are leased out under government’s land bank.

Ministry of Lands director Samuela Naicegucegu said the lease payment had been made since 2011.

“Up to May this year, a total of $4,586,653.15 has been paid to all landowners in Fiji who have their land in the land bank and leased out,” Mr Naicegucegu said.

“Trustees are elected by the landowners and they are entrusted to oversee how landowners utilise their money in accordance with what have been prescribed in their deed.”

Mr Naicegucegu said the Land Use Unit had also taken the initiative to advise landowners on investment issues.

“We also rope in relevant institutions to advise on investments and other business undertakings.

“But at the end of the day, the trustees and landowners have the right to any money paid for the utilisation of their land.

“All trustees are expected to conduct their own annual general meetings before the end of January each year.”

The meeting, Mr Naicegucegu added, would include the auditing and endorsement of financial statements.

“Copies of the minutes and financial statements should be forwarded to the Ministry of Lands, which is under Section 8 of the Land Use Regulations.

“TLTB helps facilitate government initiatives in making more land available for socio and economic purposes.” Fijitimes


17) High speed internet solution for Pacific

12 June 2014
A broadband satellite company says it’s offering the perfect solution for small Pacific nations that currently find it difficult to provide high speed internet to all outlying atolls.

The Tuvalu Telecommunications Corporation has entered into a five year agreement with Singapore company, Kacific Broadband Satellites, and is the first Pacific nation to do so.

Kacific’s chief executive, Christian Patouraux, says the satellite broadband fits with Tuvalu’s needs in terms of being able to reach out and give access to all atolls, and will be a game-changer.

“We’re talking about a level of internet speed that is ten times higher than what they get today. It will affect every level of Tuvalu citizens everyday life, whether education, health, security, government service delivery, it’s definitely going to be a substantial change in terms of connectivity among the Tuvaluans but also with their communication with the rest of the world.”

Christian Patouraux says the technology is specifically designed to serve small nations and still make a profit.

The broadband satellite is expected to go online early 2017.Radio NZ

18) NGO says PNG no guinea pig

12 June 2014
An environmental non government organisation in New Caledonia says the conditions given to the Vale nickel processing plant on its re-opening are not enough to protect the environment.

The government of the southern province has said the Goro plant can reopen if safety standards are improved, after an acid spill prompted its suspension almost six weeks ago.

It is the sixth spill since 2009.

The WWF New Caledonia manager, Hubert Geraux, says the conditions relate to ensuring there is not another acid spill, but do not take into account the risk of ongoing environmental damage caused by the plant.

We know that there are other risks of pollution, from the residue storage basins, with the ramsar zone close to the mining site. There are already some effects on some forest and sub-forests close to the work site. What what we ask really, is the re-think of Vale project’s risk management, for all the risks.

Hubert Geraux says environmental groups are waiting to have a meeting with Vale and the government of the southern province to raise their concerns.Radio NZ

19) Bemobile Introduces 3G Service To Solomon Islands
Smart phone Internet users gain high speed access

By Denver Newter

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 11, 2014) – Bemobile yesterday announced its 3G service is now operational in Honiara.

Chief executive officer Niall Downey relayed the news to the media.

He said mobile subscribers with smarts phones can now access their 3G service.

“Our 3G service is now operational in Honiara. So our subscribers who have smart phones can now access it,” Mr Downey said.

He said the service, which is faster for internet users, is only available to those in Honiara.

People in the provinces will access it later as the company continues to expand its services out of Honiara.

Mr Downey said this new service will be officially launched on 16 June.

The bemobile chief thanked their customers for their support.

bemobile, a Papua New Guinea-based company, is the second telecommunications firm here besides Our Telekom.

It started operations here in 2010.

Solomon Star

20a ) German Court Overturns Kava Import Ban
12-year battle over toxicity of kava successful

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 12, 2014) – One of Germany’s highest courts has ruled that Germany’s ban on products containing kava is unlawful and inappropriate.

The decision by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court overturns a ban brought in 2002 because of public health authorities’ fears over kava’s toxicity.

The court found the risk of using kava was not unusually high and mere doubts over a medicinal product did not justify it being banned.

A Vanuatu-based researcher who provided scientific evidence at the trial, Vincent Lebot, says the victory comes after a hard-fought battle lasting 12 years which has had an impact on exports to the EU and the US.

“It’s a clear victory for all of us who know that when kava is properly used with the right varieties cultivated with the right agricultural practices in a reasonable way, we know that it’s not a dangerous product.”

Dr Lebot says the region’s kava trade is still under threat as there are serious problems with the quality of kava being exported from the region.

Radio New Zealand International

20b) Pacific kava exports still under threat

By Online Editor
5:51 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Vanuatu

A kava researcher based in Vanuatu says the future of the kava trade into Europe is still threatened despite a landmark German court ruling on the traditional herb.

The decision by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court overturns Germany’s twelve year old ban on kava because of fears overs its toxicity.

The ban has also reduced trade into the rest of Europe and the United States representing up to US$200 million in losses for the Pacific region.

Vincent Lebot says the trade is still at risk because there are serious problems with the quality of kava being traded.

“The wrong varieties are being exported, the wrong parts of the plants are being exported. This is potentially very dangerous, because if some kava of poor quality is exported to the EU it will be the end of kava for good”.


20c) Rebuilding Pacific kava trade will take time

13 june 2014
It’s estimated it could take at least three years to rebuild the supply of the Pacific kava industry to international export levels.

A landmark decision by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court has overturned Germany’s twelve year old ban on kava because of fears over its toxicity.

The chair of the International Kava Executive Council, Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, says the restrictions basically cut off the international demand for kava.

Tagaloa says it can take up to five years for kava to mature, but he expects supplies will be back to normal within three years.

“Now we are gonna have to work with our farmers to rebuild and get supply production up again in order to support the markets. At the moment there is still supplies ready, available now, but not in the quantities that the market we anticipate will require.”

Tagaloa Eddie Wilson says ultimately it’s great news for farmers of the Pacific, and the production process should naturally start to take place again.Radio NZ

21) Fiji’s Reserve Bank Governor re-appointed

By Online Editor
10:29 am GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Fiji

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Barry Whiteside, has been re-appointed for another three years.

The renewal of his term was made on the advice of the Constitutional Offices Commission.

Whiteside has served as Governor of the country’s central bank since 2011. He was formerly Deputy Governor after a long career in various departments of the Reserve Bank stretching back to 1976.

22) Pacific nations look to increase tuna fishing fees

By Online Editor
5:49 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Marshall Islands

Pacific island nations announced plans Thursday to dramatically increase the fees they charge tuna fishing boats for the right to enter their waters, saying it will boost revenue and help conservation efforts.

Around half the world’s skipjack tuna, the most commonly canned variety, is caught in waters belonging to an eight-nation group known as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), which opened its annual meeting in Majuro on Thursday.

Much of the fishing is conducted by so-called “distant water” fleets from as far afield as Europe, the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, who pay US$6,000 a day for the privilege.

Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak said a plan by PNA nations to lift the day rate to US$10,000 in 2015 would help them improve management of a vital natural resource and ensure it was sustainable.

The fee system had allowed Pacific nations to increase earnings from their tuna fisheries from US$60 million in 2010 to more than US$240 million last year, he said.

“The PNA has shown how valuable the tuna resource is,” Loeak said Thursday.

“The need for enhanced, closer cooperation has never been more crucial if we want to continue reaping economic gains from our tuna resources.”

The PNA allocates 50,000 fishing days a year to tuna boats, with demand high from both international and local operators.

The PNA comprises Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu and Marshall Islands.


23a) Drug probe

Shalveen Chand
Friday, June 13, 2014

POLICE are investigating cases of hard drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine in the country.

And according to deputy Police Commissioner Ravi Narayan, new evidence is emerging on the increasing use of hard drugs.

“All I can say is that police are aware and, as usual, to get to the bottom of the story, we have to do our part and investigate the matter,” Mr Narayan said.

“We are still compiling information and at this point in time, we can’t say who is involved or how big the hard drug industry in Fiji is.”

On Wednesday, a man was charged with importation of illicit drug, namely methamphetamine or crystal meth, sent to Fiji from abroad hidden in chocolate cookies.

Shalendra Narayan has been charged while more will be charged, the Suva Magistrates Court was told.

Prior to this arrest, many other people were arrested, either bringing the narcotic into the country or attempting to take it through. Apart from Mr Shalendra’s case, there are two other such cases.

A similar drug was allegedly found in Nadonumai at the house of Josese Rakuita during a police raid.

There is another matter before Justice Prabaharan Kumararatnam where a Fiji man deported from the US was charged with possession of methamphetamine.

Mr Narayan refused to comment if there was any connection between the cases or if a network existed.

A week earlier, the UN sounded a warning for Fiji regarding the drugs and the possibility of it being present in the country.

Methamphetamine is also known as ice.Fijitimes

23b ) Amnesty International Decries PNG Crackdown On Illegal Miners
‘Destroying peoples’ homes is an excessive response’

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 11, 2014) – Amnesty International has condemned a police crackdown on illegal miners in Papua New Guinea, labelling police actions “horrific” and excessive.

Police raided a village near the Porgera gold mine in Enga Province last Friday, burning a number of homes to the ground.

Police say they were targeting unauthorised miners and set fire to 20 houses in the village, while local politicians claim 200 homes were burnt.

The PNG government declared a state of emergency in the area in May, in an attempt to address “law and order issues”, mostly connected to the Barrick gold mine.

Amnesty International Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze says destroying peoples’ homes is an excessive response.

“That does not by any standards justify the horrific acts against these people which has left many people homeless,” she said.

Ms Schuetze says the incident is just one more in the ongoing tension between the Canadian-owned mining site and local landowners, which has seen a number of human rights violations against villagers, including rape and sexual assault.

“There have been serious human rights violations happening over a number of years which Amnesty International has documented, not just the forced evictions and destruction of homes,” she said.

“Human Rights Watch has reported on sexual assault cases and rape by security contractors employed at the mine.”

She says the draconian response to illegal miners is inappropriate.

“That’s not really a solution to any of these issues,” she said.

“You certainly don’t solve it by burning down people’s homes and what we’re seeing is this ‘tit for tat’ sort of response which is entirely inappropriate for a credible police force.

“There needs to be proper investigation into what’s happening and those people responsible need to be held accountable, so if there are accusations that people have acted unlawfully by engaging in illicit mining activities then that needs to go through a justice process the same as the accusations of sexual assault, the accusations of violence and the accusations of burnt down homes.”

Radio Australia

24a) Australia’s Justice Minister Visits Solomon Islands
Keenan to discuss ongoing ‘law and justice initiatives’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 11, 2014) – Australia’s Minister for Justice Michael Keenan will visit Solomon Islands over the next two days to discuss continuing support for the Solomon Islands people through law and justice initiatives.

Mr Keenan is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, the Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services Chris Laore, the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs Commins Mewa, High Court Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer, and acting Commissioner of Police Juanita Matanga.

Mr Keenan will also spend time meeting Australian and international police who are part of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), and representatives of the Australian diplomatic service working in the Solomon Islands.

“The support that Australia provides the government and people of Solomon Islands is vital in continuing to strengthen the rule of law,” Mr Keenan said.

In April one of the worst floods in Solomon Islands history resulted in the tragic loss of life and widespread damage.

A vast majority of the Australian assistance announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, following the floods were directed to help address immediate humanitarian needs including safe drinking water, emergency shelter, sanitation and hygiene.

Australia’s assistance was also supported by Australian Civilian Corps engineers, Australian Government Rapid Response Teams and Australian Defence Force personnel and assets. In addition, Australian Federal Police and the RAMSI Participating Police Force are also assisting the Royal Solomon Island Police Force with personnel and equipment.

“Australia enjoys a strong partnership with Solomon Islands, as we work together to promote law and order through RAMSI and our bilateral aid program,” Mr Keenan said.

The police deployed to RAMSI include members from Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Solomon Star


24b) No prejudice, says Times amid claims of bias

Nasik Swami
Friday, June 13, 2014

THE Fiji Times believes in being fair and unbiased.

This was the newspaper’s editor-in-chief and publisher Fred Wesley’s comment in response to allegations made by Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama at the launch of his party office yesterday, claiming the media organisation’s journalistic standards were not only “unprofessional” but “blatantly biased”.

Wesley said the newspaper reported without prejudice.

“The Fiji Times believes in being fair, unbiased and reporting on the country’s development and the coming election without prejudice,” he said.

“We offer every political party an equal opportunity to voice their opinions.”

He said the newspaper also stood by its reporters.

Rear Admiral (Ret) Bainimarama alleged The Fiji Times sought to distort facts, manipulate figures and blatantly print misleading headlines and stories.

“If they have a political bias, they need to declare it. In the meantime, I urge all Fijians to get other sources of information other than the distorted views of The Fiji Times.”

He claimed many senior journalists and associates of the organisation, through social media and other forums, spread misinformation and were anti-government. Fijitimes

24c ) Pacific journos participate in regional training

Geraldine Panapasa
Thursday, June 12, 2014

ABOUT 13 business journalists from the Pacific region gathered in Apia, Samoa this week for the three-day Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) Business and Economic Reporting workshop.

In a statement, PACMAS said the training would provide the group of Pacific reporters with an overview of reporting on business and economic issues in the region.

“It’s also aimed at developing their knowledge and skills in an effort to demystify financial jargon. The workshop is facilitated by ABC Radio Australia’s Pacific economic and business reporter Jemima Garret, who is also an author and journalism trainer.

PACMAS said workshop participants would be involved in lively discussions and practical learning and topics would include the anatomy of the Pacific economics and their place in the world.


25) Former Manus Security Guard: Resettled Refugees Will Be In Danger
Despite improved conditions, ‘tensions remain’ witness claims

By Naomi Woodley

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 12, 2014) – A former security guard at the Manus Island detention centre has warned that any refugees who are resettled on the island will be in danger unless there is a significant payoff for local residents.

Steve Kilburn was on shift at the Manus Island centre on the night Reza Barati died from head injuries during violent clashes between asylum seekers and PNG staff, locals and police.

Mr Kilburn has already provided a detailed account to the ABC’s Four Corners program, and on Wednesday repeated his recollections to a Senate inquiry despite signing a confidentiality agreement.

He said those responsible for the centre struggled to provide enough food and essentials for those in their care and that tensions were growing between detainees and locals.

“We struggled to fit them through the two-hour slot that they had for a meal, and quite often due to the lack of kitchen facilities, the ability to cook enough meals in advance, they would run out of some things half way through,” he said.

More : Radio Australia


26a) Data: El Nino likely to hit Moresby
By Online Editor
09:49 am GMT+12, 13/06/2014, Papua New Guinea

The Pacific Ocean’s temperature is expected to increase in the coming months, and El Nino conditions may be a likely outcome.

According to data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and the National Centres for Environmental Prediction, a number of forecasts by meteorologists about the likely occurrence of El Nino in 2014 have increased since April.

Based on previous El Nino events in 1997/98, droughts were followed by severe frost in the Highlands provinces of Papua New Guinea.

A similar severe El Nino – Southern Oscillation could severely impact domestic garden and crop yields this planting season. The Disaster Management Team held a two-day workshop soon after the warning was brought to their attention.

The workshop’s main aim was to discuss possible ways to prepare for and respond to any type of El Nino that was predicted for the months of June to October.

The National Agriculture Resource Institute’s project leader for climate change, Dr. Ramaksishna Akkinapally, said that lessons learnt in the late 1990s show the country needs to supply a drought escaping mechanism, ready access to water and food, and people need to be made aware of the potential problems early.

“Drought is a slow killer; unlike tsunamis and volcanoes. It happens slowly but slowly and rural areas are mostly affected,” said Dr. Akkinapally.

“Stakeholders need to put in place appropriate mitigation measures in expectation of a worst case scenario.”

He said the team needs to identify hotspot areas as well and establish information centres, which will help to communicate and respond to the affected areas immediately

26b ) Fiji PM Calls For New Holistic Development Strategies
Bainimarama spoke at Green Growth Framework Summit

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 12, 2014) – Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has challenged stakeholders on day one of the Green Growth Framework Summit to consider new ways in which resources can be protected and sustained.

He says there is a need to reshape development strategies away from the conventional growth model of exploiting particular resources for own use.

“We need to refine our existing approaches and forge a new development model – one that is more holistic, integrated, inclusive and above all sustainable,” he said The term ‘green Growth” he says has been adopted globally to describe a path of economic growth which uses natural resources in a sustainable manner.

“But it has particular resonance in the Asia Pacific, where we all know that far too often, development has come at the cost of our environment.

In our clamour to grow our economies and raise the living standards of our people, we have far too often sacrificed our precious surroundings and squandered our natural resources.

“More and more, we have come to realise that we must overhaul our economies in a way that links economic growth and environmental protection hand in hand.

We need to build green economies in which the driver of growth is a more intelligent and effective use of our resources, along with their sustainable management.” Put simply he says, people need to be a lot smarter in the way they use resources – whether it fish at sea or forests on land – so that as people extract the most income from them for ddevelopmental needs but still protect the so that people can keep living off them now, and into the future.

The draft Green Growth Framework that will be considered over the next day and a half at the summit flows from the commitment Bainimarama made two years ago to support the decisions made at the Rio Plus 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil.

He further said in developing this draft framework, Fiji is taking the lead in the region.

“We’ve had to think for ourselves what is required rather than look to others because very few developing countries, let alone small island developing states, have embarked on this journey before.

When it’s completed, this Green Growth Framework will be one that is truly home grown, truly Fijian.

“And it will benefit not only Fijians but be ready to serve as a model for our island neighbours, who look to us for leadership on this issue as they do on other things relating to their own development.” The green growth policy will compliment the Trade Policy Framework being developed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade so as to ensure that while resources are protected and sustained, it does not impede on developing new areas of investments and trade.

“And, of course, the draft Framework includes the concept that was at the heart of the inaugural Pacific Islands Development Forum last year of green growth going hand in hand with blue growth –the sustainable development of our marine environment.

It underscores the importance for Fiji of taking steps to preserve the fishing resources in our Exclusive Economic Zone.”



27a) Tongans wary
By Online Editor
6:09 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2014, Fiji

Ikale Tahi Tonga is wary of the cards that Flying Fijians coach John McKee will have up his sleeves when the two teams meet at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Saturday for the Pacific Nations Cup.

McKee is no stranger to Tongan rugby having been their technical advisor from 2010-2012.

He was part of their 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign.

Tonga has retained only three players from the World Cup, however coach Manakaetau Otai knows well that McKee’s influence has been on the players in the squad.

Otai said this gave McKee a big advantage.

“It is absolutely a huge advantage of having a lot of knowledge about our players,” Otai said.

“He has been in the grooming process of many of them. But our focus will be on the game. We have picked the players on merit and they will be punching all the way.”

The trio who have been retained from the World Cup are number eight Viliami Ma’afu and wingers William Helu and Fetu’u Vainikolo. Otai has made wholesale changes to the squad that toured Europe last November. Twelve players on that tour are out of the squad.

Otai said he heard about the big support they had here.

“Our preparations are going well,” the former Auckland number eight said.

“We need to improve from last week’s game against Samoa. There are areas that you have to improve from the first game. Continuity and taking those opportunities is one of them.

“We have to build on our set piece play. I have heard about the big support here and we will not disappoint them.”

Tonga and Samoa drew 18-all in Apia.

This will be the 87th meeting between the neighbouring nations since the inaugural test in 1924. Fiji has won 57 times and Tonga 26 with three matches drawn.


27b) Brazil bounce back after early own goal

Friday, June 13, 2014

Update: 10:09AM Brazil opened the 2014 World Cup with a come from behind 3-1 win over Croatia today with Neymar scoring twice for the hosts.

Neymar slotted a controversial penalty in the 71st minute to ensure three points for the home side after a nervy start. Chelsea’s Oscar added a third for Brazil in the final minute.

Croatia stunned the Brazilian crowd when defender Marcelo found his own net while trying to clear a low cross by Ivica Olic inside the area in the 11th minute.

The ball got slightly redirected by striker Nikica Jelavic, and Marcelo ended up touching it backward into the goal.

But Neymar showed why he’s the host nation’s big star by clearing a defender near midfield before making a run toward the edge of the area and firing a low shot that hit the post before going in.

Brazil’s Fred was fouled in the box with 20 minutes to play, but it looked to be a harsh call.

Oscar made it 3-1 in the 90th minute after Croatia went close to making it 2-2 at the other end of the field.

The tournament finally got underway as planned after months of talk about the preparation problems that plagued Brazil since it was picked as host seven years ago.

27c) Meninga: Queensland not underdogs

Friday, June 13, 2014

GOLD COAST, Qld – Suddenly the underdog tag does not sit so well with Queensland ahead of next week’s must-win State of Origin game two clash in Sydney.

And don’t call them whingers.

The stage was set for Maroons coach Mal Meninga to play their traditional dark-horse card after injury ensured forwards Corey Parker and Josh Papalii were cut from his extended game two squad.

And he appeared to have every right to blow up after late tackles ensured Billy Slater (shoulder) and Daly Cherry-Evans (knee) were in severe doubt along with fellow strike weapon Greg Inglis (ankle) for the match.

But Meninga cut a bemused figure as he tried to make sense of the post-game one fallout from south of the border.

Asked if they would be embracing underdog status again, Meninga said: “That’s a furphy really.

“Over the years we have had some great Queensland teams and for some reason we have been underdogs. That’s NSW (saying that), not us.”

Meninga said the side always believed there was a chance of success, and didn’t talk about the underdog status.

“We talk about preparation being spot on, a good attitude, being emotionally engaged in a game and playing to our potential.”

Meninga could not help but chuckle when reflecting on former NSW rake Ben Elias dubbing Queensland Rugby League “the greatest whingers in Australian sport”.

Elias was clearly unimpressed when roundly booed as a game one guest at Queensland’s spiritual home Suncorp Stadium.

He also took exception to the QRL blowing up over NSW pivot Josh Reynolds being cleared of a dangerous throw on Queensland stalwart Brent Tate, who claimed he had “never been so frightened” in light of Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon’s broken neck.

“They call us whingers and seriously I haven’t made a comment about anything,” Meninga laughed.

Told NSW coach Laurie Daley had been complaining about the game one officiating, Meninga said: “Yeah. But I thought both sides handled poor (refereeing) decisions if they want to call them that really well.

“That’s what footy is about. It’s not about complaining about the decision — it is what you do next when it goes against you.”

Recovering Maroons fullback Slater also had his chance to gripe when NSW utility Beau Scott’s late game one hit that damaged his shoulder was brought up at their Gold Coast camp.

“I am not going to stand here and whinge about it,” he said.

“We cop our fair share but we also give our fair share as well.”

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