Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1063 ( Monday 19 January 2015 )

MELANESIA

1) West Papua group to submit MSG application in February

19 January 2015

The international spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua says the group will submit its application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group in February.

The ULM was formed in Vanuatu in December when three independence groups agreed to form a unified voice on political fronts.

A bid by West Papua to join the MSG was knocked back last year because the bid was not deemed to be representative.

The ULM’s spokesperson, Benny Wenda, says once the latest bid is lodged, a massive campaign will be launched to try and gain West Papua admission.

“We are excited and I am really confident. Our people back home already support it that’s why I hope that this is also really positive for our struggle and I hope our brothers and sisters across Melanesia and across the Pacific will pray for this.”RNZI

2) West Papuan Villagers Flee Indonesian Military 
Mass arrests and house burnings in Utikini village


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, January 16, 2015) – An exiled West Papuan independence leader says people from a remote village near the Freeport mine have fled into mountains for fear of the Indonesian military.

Benny Wenda says Indonesian authorities have conducted mass arrests and burned down homes in the village of Utikini.

The police have confirmed that a 500-strong joint police and military force has been deployed to the Timika region in response to the shooting of two officers and a Freeport mine security guard on New Year’s Day.

However, Mr Wenda — who says he has spoken to people from the village — says the military has beaten and tortured innocent people in their hunt for the perpetrators and burned a number of houses after finding independence flags.

“[in the] last four days, most of the people in the villages have run, and some of them are still hiding because this village, the Indonesian police and military have occupied and all the roads are blockaded and there is no way to go out.”

Benny Wenda has questioned the speed of the response to the shootings, when there is still no resolution over the deaths of five protesters allegedly shot by the military in Paniai last month.

Radio New Zealand International 

3) Fiji Announces Support for West Papua 
Hope for Indonesian government accountability


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, January 17, 2015) – Fiji’s opposition parties have rallied behind the Free West Papua Movement in a move they hope will put pressure on authorities to act.

The Opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, says the Melanesian people of West Papua have been terrorised for years and hopes for freedom have been suppressed.

The Fiji Times reports the opposition is hoping authorities will be pressured to hold the Indonesian government to account for human rights abuses in the restive province.

Radio New Zealand International 

4) Vanuatu daily news digest | 40 million vatu to retire VBTC staff

by bobmakin

The Vanuatu Government will be spending some 40 million vatu to retire staff from VBTC as part of its plan to rejuvenate the national broadcaster, VBTC, Radio Vanuatu said this morning. Over 20 staff are willing to be terminated. A task force to deal with this and other matters, appointed by Prime Minister Natuman last year, has now agreed to their terms of reference to begin working on the changes seen as essential. Government gives a grant of VT 40 million each year to the Corporation which then has to find another VT 60 million to meet its annual budget says VBTC News. There are presently 52 staff members. Additional funding will need to be approved by Parliament at its next meeting. A new GM is expected to be announced soon.

5) Vanuatu daily news digest | 19 January 2015

by bobmakin

  • The weekend papers were interesting over particular issues. The first was the likely drop in fuel prices come 1 February. Pacific Petroleum’s Randall Vallette promised an initial reduction in February to be followed by more lowering of the price in the months to come, based on their 55-day rotation period for tankers to bring petroleum products from Singapore. In The Independent, MP Robert Bohn challenges Vallette’s statement about the rotation period suggesting that with Pacific Petroleum’s monopoly, Vanuatu was the first place to put prices up when the world oil price rlses, but the last country to lower them when they fell. Daily Post gives a different rotation period for tanker arrivals. The price in Vanuatu for unleaded benzine has remained at VT 174 a litre.
  • The Independent was also particularly interesting on the appointment of a state prosecutor from overseas who has lately been declared a prohibited immigrant.Acting Public Prosecutor John William Timakata says Christopher Griggs’ appointment “remains unclear”. Griggs had no work permit and left significant personal debt on departure. The general public must surely be concerned that such an appointment can ever take place. What is the role of the Public Service Commission in the matter? Was the PSC involved?
  • Also very interesting at the weekend: the Council of Ministers agrees to a price rise for electoral disputes from VT 20,000 to VT 1 million to prevent “superficial election disputes.” How right. Some have taken years to finalize.

POLYNESIA

6) Pohiva sworn in as Tongan PM

19 January 2015 

‘Akilisi Pohiva has been sworn in as the Prime Minister of Tonga during the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly.

Matangi Tonga reports that the Speaker Lord Tu’ivakano led the swearing in of Mr Pohiva as Prime Minister and as Minister of Education and Foreign Affairs.

Other Cabinet Ministers were also sworn in.

Members of parliament were sworn in, except for the Noble’s Representative Lord Nuku and People’s Representative Semisi Sika, who were absent.

The House adjourned to allow Noble’s Representative Lord Vaea and People’s Representative Veivosa Taka to deliver the parliament’s response to the King’s opening address.

The agenda tomorrow is expected to include the appointment of the Chairman of the Whole House Committee, as well as members and chairs of Parliamentary Standing Committees.RNZI

7) New Tonga parliament hold first session

19 January 2015

Tonga’s Parliament will hold its first session today after the election of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva last month.

The first session follows the official opening last week, where an address from the King was presented by Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala.

Mr Pohiva, a veteran democracy campaigner, was elected Prime Minister at the end of December following a five- week election process.

He says his main priorities are better governance and accountability procedures, and issues such as the state of the economy.RNZI

8) Polynesian seeks new extension to A Samoa flights

19 January 2015

Polynesian Airlines has requested another 30 day extension to cabotage exemption so it can continue domestic flights in American Samoa.

The US Government prohibits a foreign airline from flying between two US destinations, a rule known as cabotage.

Since September last year the Samoa carrier has been authorized by the US Transportation Department to fly between American Samoa’s main island of Tututila and the outer Manu’a islands.

The department has been issuing 30 day approvals to Polynesian and the latest authorization expires at the end of January.

The American Samoa airline that was flying this route Inter Island Airways stopped flights in June saying its Dornier aircraft needed an engine overhaul.

In November and December, Polynesian says it performed several medical evacuations from the Manu’a Islands.RNZI

9) Change to Samoa loan scheme postponed

19 January 2015

Samoa’s National Provident Fund has accepted a cabinet directive to postpone its policy change to the contributor’s small loan scheme until March, after thousands of people voiced anger at the change.

The Prime Minister, Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi says the change to the total contribution for an entitlement loan from 50 percent to 45 percent is a great move that allows contributors to save more funds for their retirement.

However, he says NPF management has not given enough time to introduce and discuss the policy change.

Our correspondent says hundreds of people have been turned away from the normal process of applying for loans since the implementation of the policy at the start of the year.

The NPF’s general manager, Faumuina Esther Lameko Poutua, has apologised for errors.RNZI

10) U.S. EU Free Trade Agreement Potentially Troubling For Am. Samoa
Tuna looking to avoid European duty fees and new EU competition

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, January 17, 2015) – Tri Marine International is targeting the European markets for export of its canned tuna products and the company is currently waiting for authorization from the European Union (EU), which at this point does not recognize that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the authorized federal regulator for exports from the U.S. territory.

With free-trade negotiations ongoing between the U.S. and the EU, Tri Marine along with ASG wants to make sure that American Samoa is not excluded, because such exclusion will mean tuna products from the territory would pay a 24% duty fee in Europe.

Tri Marine’s cannery operations will be launched on Jan. 24 at its local Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., facility in Atu’u and the target market is duty-free export to the U.S. with its canned tuna carrying the “Made In USA” label.

It is also targeting the European markets where there are “export impediments”, which Tri Marine and the American Samoa government are collaborating to have removed.

Read more: The Samoa News

11) New research blows Rapa Nui collapse theory

19 January 2015

Newly-published research into ancient land use on Rapa Nui or Easter Island shows the collapse of society there wasn’t as dramatic as first thought.

A multi-national team of scientists and archaeologists has come up with the first empirical evidence of changes in land use on the island which reveals how the slowly changing environment influenced people’s living and farming patterns.

Theories up until now have centred around people starving to death due to slashing and burning the land for agriculture and the introduction of disease after contact with Europeans.

An archaeologist who helped in the latest research, Thegn Ladefoged, says the team used new technology to date hundreds of artefacts found lying around Rapa Nui.

“Our research does suggest that there’s change going on but it doesn’t support the notion that there was a huge environmental collapse rather it’s a much slower change, more of a continuum of change rather than a punctuated collapse.”

Professor Ladefoged says the new findings don’t support the orthodox archaeological story of of dramatic collapse, anarchy and cannabalism on Rapa Nui.RNZI

12) Heavy rain causes floods in Tahiti

19 January 2015 

Heavy rain in French Polynesia has caused floods in Papeete.

120 millimetres fell in a downpour in Tahiti, prompting rivers to burst their banks and to flood several city streets.

On Moorea, a man was found dead on the beach, but his death has not immediatetly been linked to the weather.

Trees were washed away and got caught under bridges.RNZI

13) French Polynesia Assembly President In Ongoing Theft Probe 
At issue is stolen china from presidential palace

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, January 16, 2015) – The president of French Polynesia’s assembly, Marcel Tuihani, has again been questioned as part of an investigation into the alleged theft of about 70,000 US dollars worth of china from the presidential palace.

This comes three weeks after Mr Tuihani was charged with receiving stolen public property as some of the china was found at the assembly in the office of the disgraced former president, Gaston Flosse.

Flosse, who was earlier charged over the same matter, was given an office at the assembly by Mr Tuihani after he had lost the presidency in September because of a corruption conviction.

Flosse says he refurbished the office using his own money and Mr Tuihani says as far as he knows the work was done by staff while they were on leave.

Last month, Flosse was banned from entering the assembly premises as part of new conditions imposed by the investigative judge dealing with the alleged theft.

The two men are also banned from being in touch with other as the probe continues.

Radio New Zealand International 

MICRONESIA

14) Kiribati’s Human Rights Record To Be Reviewed By UN 
Ongoing review of all member states, initial scrutiny notes issues

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, January 16, 2015) – Kiribati’s human rights record is to be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.

It is one of 14 states that will be looked at by the Universial Periodic Review as part of an ongoing review of all members.

The UN Human Rights Officer in the Pacific Regional Office, Satya Jennings, says Kiribati first took part in the process in 2010.

Ms Jennings says that initial review highlighted a number of issues.

“High levels of violence against women, criminilisation of homosexuality, the pending ratification of core human rights treaties and the need to establish a national human rights institution. These concerns were addressed through recommendations.”

Ms Jennings says Monday’s review will focus on implementation of those recommendations.

The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Australia are scheduled to be reviewed in October.

Radio New Zealand International 

TOK PISIN

15) PNG Brodkasta Justin Kili i dai pinis

Updated 19 January 2015, 15:42 AEDT

Caroline Tiriman

Wanpela popula vois blong redio na midia long Papua New Guinea i dai pinis na planti pipal i sore tru.

Justin Kili husai igat wanpela award long Memba blong British Empire oa MBE, i bin kam long Buka long Autonomous Region blong Bougainville.
 
Em ibin dai tupla dei igo pinis long East New Britain provins.
 
Kili ibin wok long NBC long planti yia olsem anaunsa na bihaen emi bin go mekim ol narapla kaen wok wantem ol narapla laen midia olsem niusman.
 
Em ibin stat wok long NBC klostu long pinis blong 1970’s.
 
Planti pipal long PNG na tu sampela long Australia i sore tru long harim Justin Kili emi dai pinis.
 
Keith Jackson husat isave stap nau long Sydney ibin manager long NBC Bougainville na emi tok em iet bin kisim Justin Kili long wok long NBC Bougainville.
 
Alan Arifeai, direkta blong NBC progrems nau i tok emi tingim JK olsem wanpla man husat igat save long midia.
 
Arifeai itok wanpla long ol bikpla wok em planti pipal long PNG ibin save olsem Justin Kili ibin gat bikpla nem long en, em blong statim nambawan radio music program.Radio Australia

16) Tok lukaut long ol kriminol i noken stilim moni blong Solomon Islands gavman

Postim 19 January 2015, 14:50 AEDT

Sam Seke

Bikman blong waus long ol rekod blong ol moni blong Solomon Islands gavman i givim tok lukaut long nokem givim rot long ol stil na korap pipol long stilim moni blong gavman. 

Robert Cohen, Auditor General blong Solomon Islands itok ofis blongen i wok long strongim wok long lukautim gut moni blong gavman (Credit: ABC) 
Odio: Robert Cohen, Auditor General blong Solomon Islands i toktok

Auditor General blong Solomon Islands itok em i impotan tumas long kipim gutpela rekod blong ol moni blong gavman we i kam insait long ol akaunt oa go aut.
 
Robert Cohen itok dispela i karamapim olgeta gavman dipatmen, ol State Owned Enterprises na tu ol provinsal gavman wantaim Honiara City Council.
 
Mr Cohen i tok ol kriminol lain bai gat chans long stilim ol moni sapos ol akaunting ofisa ino bihainim gut ol sistim blong kipim gutpela rekod.
 
Em i tok, wok blong Auditor General’s Ofis i wok long kamap gutpela moa nau ia wantaim help blong gavman blong Australia na RAMSI.Radio Australia

FRENCH

17) Brèves du Pacifique – lundi 19 janvier 2015

Mis à jour 19 January 2015, 16:17 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

  • Un nouveau décès qui aurait pu être évité dans l’Outback : un chauffeur de camion est mort de déshydratation la semaine dernière.
  • Ironie amère, il livrait des reservoirs d’eau à un éleveur dans le comté de Murchison, une région très isolée en Australie occidentale. Son camion s’est ensablé. L’homme de 39 ans a commis l’erreur de partir chercher des secours à pied. Le chauffeur a parcouru 25 km, par 46 degrés, ne prenant qu’une petite bouteille d’eau avec lui. Début janvier, un automobiliste sexagénaire est mort dans les mêmes circonstances, dans l’Outback de l’Australie occidentale. Les autorités rappellent qu’il ne faut jamais quitter son véhicule quand on tombe en panne dans l’Outback. 
  •  Les indépendantistes papous déposeront leur nouvelle candidature au Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance en février.Ils se sont réunis en décembre à Port-Vila, la capitale vanuataise, pour la rédiger. C’est là qu’ils se sont fédérés au sein du Mouvement uni pour la libération de la Papouasie occidentale. La première candidature d’un groupe indépendantiste a été rejetée en juillet dernier. L’institution mélanésienne avait en effet estimé que ce groupe n’était pas représentatif du peuple papou. Radio Australia

18) PNG: une expédition au village des chasseurs de sorcières

Mis à jour 16 January 2015, 21:09 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

Les autorités se mobilisent pour sauver quatre femmes accusées d’avoir pratiqué la magie noire. Elles vivent à Wanakipa, un village très isolé, dans la province d’Enga, dans les Hauts-Plateaux. 

6 février 2014: des centaines de témoins regardent brûler Helen Rumbali, une femme accusée d’avoir pratique la magie noire, près de Mont Hagen, la capitale de la province des Hauts-Plateaux de l’Ouest. (Photo: AP) 
Les autres villageois accusent ces femmes d’être responsables de l’épidémie de rougeole qui a fait plusieurs morts ces dernières semaines. Leurs 13 enfants et petits-enfants sont également menacés. 
 
Il n’y a pas de route pour accéder au village. Des missionnaires, des chefs coutumiers et le gouvernement provincial affrètent donc un avion. La mission partira ce week-end. L’avion atterrira sur une petite piste située à plusieurs heures de marche du village. 
 
Un officier de police accompagnera la mission. Le commandant de la police de la province d’Enga, George Kakas, au micro de Bruce Hill: 
 
« Mon adjoint va parler aux villageois et leur expliquer ce que dit la loi, qu’elle interdit les crimes envers des gens soupçonnés de sorcellerie, et que nous, la police, nous les surveillons et que s’ils violent la loi nous serons là pour les punir. »  
 
Ces dernières années une série d’exécutions de personnes accusées de magie noire, précédées de séances de torture, ont beaucoup choqué la communauté internationale. 
 
Fin mai 2013, le Parlement de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée a donc voté la suppression de la loi sur la sorcellerie, qui criminalisait la pratique de la magie noire. La loi reconnaissait les soupcons de sorcellerie comme une circonstance atténuante dans les affaires de meurtre.
 
La peine de mort est désormais censée s’appliquer pour les chasseurs de sorciers. Mais la loi n’est pas encore entrée en vigueur. Et de toute façon, la croyance dans la sorcellerie est profondément ancrée dans la société papoue. George Kakas: 
 
« C’est un problème important, lié à la mentalité des gens. Même dans la police, même parmi les officiers éduqués, il y a encore des gens qui croient en la magie noire. Donc il faut vraiment que le gouvernement intervienne et menace de punir les chasseurs de sorciers, comme le prévoit la loi. »  
 
La police de la province d’Enga manque cruellement de moyens. Elle ne dispose que de 300 policiers pour veiller sur les 462 000 habitants de la province. Radio Australia

WORLD

19) Indonesia executes six drug convicts


News.Com.Au/Afp
Monday, January 19, 2015

INDONESIA has executed six people convicted of drugs offences, including five foreigners.

The foreigners were from Brazil, the Netherlands, Vietnam, Malawi and Nigeria. All the convicts were executed by firing squad shortly after midnight yesterday.

“The execution of the six convicts has been carried out,” spokesman Tony Spontana told AFP.

He said five were executed on Nusa Kambangan Island, off the south coast of the archipelago’s main island of Java and home to a high-security prison.

The sixth was executed in Boyolali district in central Java. They were the first executions to be carried out under the new government of President Joko Widodo, who took office in October.

Five of them were shot dead by five firing squads of 12 paramilitary police at exactly the same time.

In chilling details, the group’s last wishes and requests for what happens to their bodies have been detailed.

Families of the condemned were yesterday arriving at the Nusa Kambangan island jail where they were being held in isolation awaiting the time they will be taken from their cells, lined up, an apron with a reflector over their heart placed on them before they are shot dead at the same time by the firing squads.

They had been allowed to meet their families and with their religious advisers, who were allowed to stay with them right up to the execution and witness it.

Dutch citizen Ang Kiem Soei asked that his body be cremated and handed over to his Dutch wife. The Vietnamese woman, Tran Thi, asked that her body be cremated and the ashes kept at the women’s prison in Semarang where she has been held.

The other woman, Rani Indriani, asked to be buried beside her mother’s grave in Cianjur.

Brazil’s president was “distressed and outraged” after Indonesia defied her repeated pleas and executed one of her countrymen convicted of drug trafficking, a spokesman said on Saturday.

“President Dilma Rousseff took note — distressed and outraged — at the execution of Brazilian Marco Archer in Indonesia today,” a statement from the spokesman said of the execution, the first of a Brazilian overseas.

“President Dilma regrets deeply that this final request, made after several earlier ones, was not heeded by the Indonesian head of state,” the Brazilian statement added.

Another last-minute apeal by the Dudge foreign minister also failed to change or delay the execution.

Meanwhile, Myuran Sukumaran’s Indonesian lawyer plans to lodge an application next week for a second judicial review of his case in a bid to have him spared the firing squad.

And yesterday renowned Australian artist Ben Quilty visited Sukumaran in Kerobokan jail as the last hours of the six other condemned drug traffickers ticked down before their executions today.

Mr Quilty is Sukumaran’s friend and mentor and has taught him painting and conducted art classes in jail and is devastated by the latest news that the 33-year-old’s clemency plea has been rejected by the Indonesian President.

His Indonesian lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis told News Corp Australia that he visited Sukumaran and fellow Bali Nine death row inmate Andrew Chan in Kerobokan jail in the past few days and now plans to lodge a case review next week.

Known in Indonesia as a PK, a judicial review is essentially an extraordinary appeal and generally requires new evidence to be heard. Sukumaran and Chan have both already lost their judicial review of their case.

And there is now uncertainty about whether or not a second judicial review is even allowed. A Government committee recently said only one PK was allowed but has yet to make a new regulation to that effect. Indonesia’s two highest courts disagree on the issue.

Mr Lubis says he plans to lodge the PK application in the Denpasar District Court next week.

He said he would be submitting that there were errors of the application of law in the previous case review made by the Supreme Court.

“Thus I want to use the second PK as an attempt to fix it because in my opinion if we can fix that mistake, it will give justice,” Mr Lubis said, adding that there should be no limit to uncovering the truth.

It will be submitted that in the 10 years that Sukumaran has been in prison, he has been rehabilitated, has set up rehabilitation programs inside the jail and helped scores of other prisoners to rehabilitate as well.

“If the purpose of any sentence is rehabilitation … those who have made a significant change in their life should be given relief. It doesn’t mean that he has to be freed because he has also admitted that he is guilty of a narcotic crime.” Mr Lubis said.

“However, there are many forms of punishment. A life sentence or 20 years prison term or 25 years prison term.

“There are many forms of other punishment. I just want to ensure that the perspective of justice should be at the forefront,” he said.

Sukumaran was told more than a week ago that his bid for Presidential clemency had been denied by the country’s new President, Joko Widodo.

He and Chan have been on death row now since 2006 when they were convicted of their role in the so-called Bali Nine plot to smuggle 8.2kg of heroin from Bali to Sydney.

At the time that Sukumaran and other prisoners were learning their clemency had been rejected, a new hard line approach to drug traffickers on death row was being announced.

There would be no clemency and no compromise, the Government said, in announcing that five foreigners and one Indonesian would be executed today.

The group is made up of four men and two women.

Five of them were shot dead by five firing squads of 12 paramilitary police at exactly the same time.

In chilling details, the group’s last wishes and requests for what happens to their bodies have been detailed.

HEALTH

20) North records dengue outbreak in Macuata

By TEVITA VUIBAU
Monday, January 19, 2015

Update: 6:21PM THE Ministry of Health confirmed there is an outbreak of Dengue in Macuata with 17 lab confirmed cases recorded at Labasa Hospital in the past two weeks.

Health Minister, Jone Usamate made the announcement today, calling for all Fijians to work as a community and with public health staff to completely eradicate the disease.

He explained the Ministry would conduct spraying as an intermediate intervention but would also require all residents in Macuata to undertake an organised and/or individually motivated clean up campaign.

Mr Usamate also announced 14 cases of Typhoid have been recorded at the Nabouwalu subdivision hospital and at the Wainunu Health Center with a further 10 cases identified by the public health team in Bua.

“The Ministry of Health and Medical services staff in the North are in the process of implementing their response plan to the dengue and typhoid situation in Macuata and Bua respectively.”Fijitimes

21) Indian Heart Surgery Team Operating In Fiji
Public-private partnership to credit for service

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, January 18, 2015) – A surgical team from India will be conducting angiograms and open heart surgeries at the CWM Hospital from Tuesday.

“This is a private-public partnership between the ministry and the Sahyadri Hospitals,” Ministry of Health media officer Sunil Chandra said.

“They will be conducting angiograms and open heart surgery (CABG) from January 20 to February 2 and February 3 to February 17 respectively.”

Mr Chandra said the estimated costs of open heart surgery performed by the visiting team are $20,000 [US$10,000] to $25,000 [US$12,500] for non-insurance patients and between $24,400 [US$12,200] to $30,500 [US$15,300] for insured patients.

Non residents’ treatment cost rakes up about $25,000 [US$12,500] to $31,250[US$15,700].

“The ministry is willing to accommodate referrals from all general practitioners, hospital, health centres and insurance companies.

“We look forward to assisting your citizens in the provision of these specialised services.”

The ministry advises that the public can contact their office for any enquiries.

Fiji Times Online.

EDUCATION

22) PNG teachers threaten boycott over leave entitlements

19 January 2015

Teachers in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands region threaten to boycott classes when the new school year begins next week, unless they’re paid leave entitlements owed to them from last year.

The region secretary for the PNG Teachers Association, John Melson, says teachers are entitled to a leave fare to use for the Christmas holidays, which allows them to travel to their home provinces.

He says teachers in Enga, Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands and Jiwaka submitted their leave forms correctly, but received only half their entitlements or missed out altogether.

The newspaper, The National, reports that 600 teachers from Hela, 575 from Souther Highlands and 300 from Western Highlands are still waiting to be paid.

Mr Melson says Treasury and the seven provincial governments in the region should have enough time to source funds to pay the teachers before January the 26th.RNZI

POLITIC

23) Number of government appointees shocking, Solomons opposition

19 January 2015 

The Solomon Islands opposition says the governments list of 39 political appointees leaked on social media late last week is shocking and unjustifiable.

The Solomon Star newspaper reported that the unofficial list which included the government salary scales for each appointee would cost the country 1.6 million US dollars a year.

The opposition leader, Jeremy Manele, says the number represents a 200 percent increase from the 14 appointees employed by the previous government.

Mr Manele says if the list is made official it will contradict Prime Minister Sogavare’s promise on the floor of parliament to run a cost-effective office.

“It’s important that we should note in terms of numbers, the number of political appointees because it could be a costly business. And given the fact that the economy is down it is an issue that, where we can cut costs on. So we will be concerned if there is a huge increase in terms of political appointees in the prime minister’s office.”

According to the Solomon Star, if the leaked list of 39 appointees is made official it will be the highest number of political appointees ever hired by any Solomon Islands government.RNZI

24) Vanuatu to cut frivolous election petitions

19 January 2015

The Vanuatu government says it will introduce legislation to reduce the number of what it deems to be superficial election disputes.

The Internal Affairs Minister Charlot Salwai has proposed key amendments to the the People’s Representations Act that would increase petition fees from the current 200 US dollars to almost 10-thousand US dollars.

The government says the new policy attempts to set limits so the courts strictly deal with serious election issues instead of frivolous cases with little chance of succeeding.

According to the government, funds from the fees could be held in a trust account for when costs are awarded by the courts in petition outcomes.

Also proposed is a new timeframe for courts to hear petitions, set at no more than six months after the date of the lodging of petitions with the Supreme Court.

Some recent petitions have taken two years to reach final determination.RNZI

MEDIA

25) Fiji’s opposition united on media decree

19 January 2015

The leader of Fiji’s main opposition party has joined calls for the country’s media decree to be repealed.

The SODELPA leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, says the media is still fearful about reports that cast a negative light on the Government.

The leader of the National Federation Party, Biman Prasad, says the Media Industry Development Decree, gazetted in 2010 during the military rule, still threatens journalists with its powers to order huge fines and jail terms.

Ro Teimumu says now that Fiji is a democracy, the decree has to go.

“We feel very strongly that the media, they still work in that climate where they are still fearful of how they can be taken to task by whatever it is that they print or broadcast that seems to be against the Government, that doesn’t cast the Government in a good light.”

Ro Teimumu Kepa says a truly independent regulatory body should be set up in the place of the Media Industry Development Authority.RNZI

26) Fiji’s MIDA chair charged with annoyance

19 January 2015

Reports from Fiji say the chairman of Fiji’s media regulator Ashwin Raj is to appear in court on a charge of annoyance.

This has been confirmed by the Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald following reports Mr Raj had been detained and charged.

Mr Raj, who heads Fiji’s Media Industry Development Authority, earlier described reports of the charge as malicious allegations.

The Fiji Times reports neither Mr Raj nor Mr Groenewald would give details of what led to the charge.

The commissioner said Mr Raj had also made an official complaint against him and he says that matter has been referred to the Internal Affairs Department for investigation.RNZI

BUSINESS

27) Bid to take ownership

Geraldine Panapasa
Monday, January 19, 2015

THE Department of Forests is working on certifying sandalwood products in Fiji under the Fijian-made brand.

Department national project manager for sandalwood development, Binesh Dayal, said this was important in terms of appreciation and sustainability of the Fijian-grown resource.

He said there were many challenges in terms of maintaining sufficient stock as well as encouraging Fijians to take ownership of the viable resource following concerns that Fiji-grown sandalwood was being used in finished products for other countries but not given the proper recognition.

“We gathered from our divisional forestry officers where sandalwood is found that people were harvesting sandalwood from Fiji and taking it to Vanuatu, where they have their own processing plant, to convert the sandalwood hardwood into sandalwood oil.

“If they are taking our sandalwood across, it will eventually be marked as Vanuatu-made. We are also focusing on getting some kind of certification for sandalwood so that it is the products made from it are appreciated on the international market,” Mr Dayal said.Fijitimes

28) Easier internet access


Dawn Gibson
Monday, January 19, 2015

TELECOM Fiji Limited launched their WiFi network over the weekend at the My Suva Picnic Park along the Suva foreshore in a bid to allow internet access to be made easier for members of the public.

The launch marked the beginning of what TFL envisions to be a much larger project, with the company aiming to set up similar WiFi zones in areas between the Lami-Nausori Town corridor.

This was confirmed by TFL’s general manager marketing strategy Sanjay Maharaj who said they were hoping this would allow internet users much easier access to the internet 24-7.

“TFL’s Connect internet services have traditionally been a home-based service, so you could only use the internet while you were at home and Connect customers who want to go out and about and have access to WiFi would probably be using a mobile service provider for that,” Mr Maharaj explained.

“So what this WiFi rollout is supposed to do is give those Connect home users internet access to their own internet accounts to access WiFi while they’re outside of their homes — at the university, in the city, along the foreshore — anywhere.”

He said if all went well with the rollout between the Lami-Nausori Town corridor, they would also venture to take the same project to the western and northern parts of Fiji.

He explained that people who do not have Connect accounts with TFL would also be able to access the WiFi zones, but at a price.

“We have what we call a ‘Quick Dial’ card and a ‘Connect WiFi’ card and with that you can access what we call casual use and our rates are for $5 you can get 600MB and the expiry is usually within a month’s time.”Fijitimes

29) Kava supply fails to meet demand

Josaia Ralago
Monday, January 19, 2015

YAQONA farmers in the North have been urged to increase their yield to meet the demand from the export markets.

Principal agricultural officer Northern John Cox said now that the European Union had lifted its ban on the export of yaqona from Fiji, farmers should increase their produce because there had been a shortage in the supply to the export market for years.

“It’s a pity because we are not supplying enough for the export market,” Mr Cox said.Fijitimes

30) First Tourist Boat Arrives In Solomons
Hope that is a sign of future growth in tourism


HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, January 15, 2015) – The first tourist boat to visit the country landed yesterday at Point Cruz.

MV Europa carried more than 130 tourists who grazed the streets yesterday in the one-day visit.

The tourists were taken to various attraction and memorial sites in and around the city.

The boat left Point Cruz yesterday afternoon to Bike Island in the Central Province before travelling to Gizo today.

From Gizo, she will continue her voyage to Papua New Guinea and then to Manila.

MV Europa landed at Santa Ana before voyaging to Honiara.

Destination Solomons boss Wilson Maelaua who arranged the visitation said it was a very good start.

“The tourists really enjoyed their day’s visit. The historical sites gave them a good reason for their visit including the natural beauty and warm climate of the country.”

Mr Maelau, former CEO of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau said the tours were successful.

“We must encourage tourists to our country by welcoming them to our towns with our warm greetings and smiles.

“They are people from different worlds who want to enjoy their time in places that worth their money and time.

“As such, if we mistreat them, the country’s image will not be good in the outside tourism world and that will discourage more tours to our Islands.”

Solomon Star

REFUGEE

31) Advocate says Manus protest in PNG likely to continue

19 January 2015 

A refugee advocate says the protest by asylum seekers at the Manus processing centre in Papua New Guinea is likely to continue.

Various hunger strikers at compounds in the Manus centre have been protesting for seven days about the planned resettlement of 50 refugees in PNG.

Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition says the asylum seekers have legitimate fears for their well-being in the PNG community.

He says meanwhile, the asylum seekers face threats from security personnel brought in to handle the protests.

“The sooner that the Australian government and the PNG government recognises that there is a very serious issue on Manus Islands, then the sooner there can be some kind of resolution to this. But the Australian government has got no plan and there is no arrangements with PNG to provide safe and secure resettlement in PNG, either in Manus Island in the immediate future or in PNG more generally.”RNZI

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION,ENVIROMENT+

32) Heavy rain warning for Fiji lifted

By REPEKA NASIKO
Monday, January 19, 2015

Update: 12:44PM THE heavy rain warning alert issued for the country over the weekend by the Fiji Meteorological Services has been lifted.

And in the Western Division, it was evident that residents were taking advantage of the clear skies. Shoppers filed the shops with last minute school shopping with one day before the new school year begins.

According to the Nadi weather office, conditions in Nadi, Ba and Lautoka would be fine apart from afternoon or evening showers and thunderstorms.

Weather forecasters predict these conditions will remain until Wednesday.Fijitimes

33) Flood warning

Dawn Gibson
Monday, January 19, 2015

THE Water Safety Council of Fiji has observed when there is flooding, the major causes of death and injury occur when people enter floodwaters, something WSCF director Colin Philp says is often a lot more dangerous than it seems.

So, when entering the year 2015, take better precautions when it comes to the rainy season and water safety, especially when you are about to start your new school year.

“Floodwater is often deeper and faster flowing than it appears, full of hidden debris,” Mr Philp told this newspaper yesterday.

“Large volumes of fast flowing water can come and go very quickly, sucking in or trapping anyone who gets close to drains or pipes.

“These places are dangerous to play when flooding. They can be slippery, have strong pulling power and can be very hard to get out of.”

Mr Philp also said extra precautions must be taken when travelling by boat during such weather conditions: “be mindful of weather forecasted during rainy weather conditions and avoid travelling when heavy rain and strong wind warnings are in place.”

He said it was important that more emphasis was placed on water safety and the dangers of drowning.

“Heavy rainstorms cause periodic flooding of local rivers, high and dangerous surfing conditions and flooding of low-rising villages.”

According to WSCF statistician Dr Stephen Galvin, there is a noticeable difference in drownings associated with those aged one to four years during the cyclone season.

“For the 2013-14 season, 64 per cent of the children aged one to four years that drowned, did so when rainfall was greater than 20mm, with 38 per cent drowning when rain was less than 20mm,” Dr Galvin said.

These, he added, were when children were reportedly unsupervised, swimming and crossing rivers.

In light of the statistics in recent years, Mr Philp says parents, guardians and children must be more responsible.

“Teach school-aged children swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills. Get regular weather forecasts by listening to the radio, turning on the news and reading the paper.

“Train bystanders in first aid and CPR by contacting Fiji Red Cross Society or the Fiji St John Ambulance.”Fijitimes

34) PNG agency says Manam Islanders still in temporary camps

19 January 2015

An aid agency in Papua New Guinea says some Manam Islanders who lost their homes after a volcano errupted 10 years ago are still living in temporary housing.

About ten thousand people were displaced after the volcano erupted and moved to the mainland in Madang.

World Vision has been working for the past 30 years in Madang as a relief and development organisation.

Its country director Curt von Boguslawski says most Manam Islanders have integrated well but some are still living in camps.

“To my knowledge, there is only two camps which have fully integrated. The others are still in semi-permanent housing but if you go to some of the local communities there, all of the houses there are semi-permanent. They are made out of bush material.”

Mr von Boguslawski says some Manam Islanders have returned to the island, despite it not being deemed safe.RNZI

35) Society focuses on climate change

Shayal Devi
Monday, January 19, 2015

ISSUES related to climate change adaptation will be a key focus for the Mamanuca Environment Society this year, says project manager Marica Vakacola.

And one way it hopes to achieve this is by working directly with communities living with the effects of climate change.

“We hope to conduct a vulnerability assessment in communities that are affected by coastal erosion and seawater inundation,” she said.

This has been made easy through the collaboration with Mamanuca-based resorts.

“The resort also supports the organisation in our community engagements and we hope to develop more environment community engagements this year.”

MES is also in the process of reviewing their school texts covering environment and conservation topics. “More activities are practical oriented. Last year, we have been conducting environment education program in eight community schools, including the new secondary school in Mamanuca, Ratu Lalabalavu Memorial High School.

“This year we hope to extend the program to Namara Village School, Vuda District- Nadroga Province and Tau Primary School, in the Wai District- Nadroga Province.

“Last year, we hosted eight overseas colleges and universities who are keen to learn about Fiji’s marine biodiversity and the projects that we are directly engaged in and we will be hosting more at our member resorts and community schools.”

“We are thankful to Fiji Airways, ANZ,QBE, Marsh and KPMG for their support through cooperate sponsorship through these years.”

The organisation is also hopeful of working with more government stakeholders and environment organisations to promote sustainable management and protection of biodiversity.Fijitimes

MINING,GAS, AGRICULTURE,FISHERIES+

36) Global union alerts Bougainville about Rio Tinto

19 January 2015

A global union representing mineworkers is campaigning to alert people in Bougainville about what it calls bad behaviour by the international mining company Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has not ruled out returning to mine on Bougainville through its controlling stake in Bougainville Copper.

Adam Lee of IndustryALL Global Union which represents 50 million workers around the world says Rio Tinto has an atrocious record on safety and the environment which the union highlighted in a report last year.

“As outsiders we’re not trying to say people should make a decision one way or the other but clearly the company isn’t being really truthful about how they operate around the world and it’s important to shine some light on how this company truly behaves because we believe once they’re exposed that’ll put some pressure on them to truly clean up their act.”

Adam Lee says it’s critical local people make an informed decision about mining again on Bougainville.

He says the latest example of its poor dealings with indigenous communities is the Resolution Copper project, in an area of the United States considered sacred to native Americans.

“Rio Tinto has pursued changes in the legislative process to enable it to get the permits required to mine in the area without having to go through some of the environmental reviews and without allowing the community including indigenous communities to really have a strong voice in the process.”

The union says Bougainville’s new mining legislation may not provide enough protection for local people.

Mr Lee says the union is working out how to convey more information about Rio Tinto in the dozens of languages spoken on Bougainville.RNZI

37) Extra power for PNG capital from natural gas

19 January 2015

Papua New Guinea’s government has signed an agreement with ExxonMobil PNG, which is the operator of the PNG LNG Project, to generate additional power for Port Moresby.

Papua New Guinea Public Enterprises Minister Ben Micah, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director Peter Graham, and ExxonMobil PNG Production Manager Andrew Barry.

Photo: Supplied

Moresby is to receive up to 25 megawatts of electrical power generated from gas produced by PNG LNG to June, and a further 50 megawatts by the end of the year.

The Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the capital’s existing electricity demand is about 150 megawatts per day, against supply of 130 megawatts.

He says the additional electricity will help cover demand as it grows towards 200 megawatts per day.

“So the availability of 75 megawatts in Port Moresby city alone will ensure that we will run the South Pacific Games that is going to come without much difficulty ensuring that power is reliable to our visitors, but most importantly reliable to our residents and customers in Port Moresby.”

Peter O’Neill says Exxon has also agreed to supply 4 megawatts of extra power to Hela and Southern Highlands provinces.RNZI


SPORTS

38) Vanuatu, Tahiti footballers stay unbeaten

19 January 2015 
Vanuatu and Tahiti closed in on a semi final berth at the Oceania Under 17 Football Championship after contrasting victories in Pago Pago.

Sylvain Worworbu scored his eighth goal of the tournament to put Vanuatu in front after just four minutes against the Solomon Islands.

Larry Zama equalised a few minutes before halftime but it was Ronaldo Wilkins who stepped up to slot the decisive penalty just after the hour mark, ensuring Vanuatu’s third straight victory.

Victorious coach Etienne Mermer was relieved by the result, admitting he was worried when the Solomons equalised but says his players have been working hard and congratulated them on their performance.

Meanwhile Tahiti continued their impressive start to the tournament with a 13-0 demolition of Tonga, with Michel Maihi bagging four goals to make it nine in two matches.RNZI

39) NZ and New Caledonia on brink of semis

19 January 2015

New Zealand and New Caledonia have a chance to seal their spots in the Oceania Under 17 Football semi finals in Apia on Monday.

Both teams are unbeaten in Group A with a maximum nine points, four points clear of nearest challenger Papua New Guinea.

The winner of today’s top of the table clash is guaranteed passage into the final four while a draw should also be enough, thanks to a superior goal difference.

PNG will know by the time they kick off against Samoa if they’re still alive in the competition.

The hosts are already out of the running but have been buoyed by their weekend victory against the Cook Islands.

Head coach Desmond Faai’uaso says the challenge is to keep going.

“We treat every game [like] a final. It’s very hard because my boys, this is their first time to play for the country but the game against PNG will bring up something”.

In the other match on Monday Fiji face the Cook Islands, with both teams still searching for their first win of the tournament.RNZI

40) Fiji Pearls excited to welcome Silver Ferns

19 January 2015

Fiji will find out exactly where they stand in international netball when they square off against New Zealand in Suva on Monday.

The opening match of the Oceania Tri Series will also be the first time the Silver Ferns have played a test match in Fiji.

The two sides last met at the 2011 World Cup and Pearls coach Kate Carpenter admits they have a tough ask in containing the world’s second ranked team, in what will be their first match together since the Pacific Series in June.

“This is just the start of what is going to be a huge year and obviously to start against the Silver Ferns here at home is fantastic – it’s such a good opportunity. There’s about five players in our team that have played against them before and that was way back in 2011. The rest of the group is all new so really excited to be playing against one of the world’s best teams”.

Samoa are also taking part in the Tri-Series and take on New Zealand in their first match on Tuesday.RNZI

41) Fiji Outrigger prepares paddlers for Pacific Games

By EMONI NARAWA
Monday, January 19, 2015

Update: 5:25PM The Fiji Outrigger Association aims to send a strong 24-member team to the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea.

And to mark the start of its campaign, the Fiji Outrigger organised its first competition from the 15 planned for this year on Saturday.

It began with a V1 marathon starting and finishing on Mosquito Island in Lami.

The men and women’s races also doubled up as trials for the Va’a squad members vying to book themselves a spot on Team Fiji for the PNG Pacific Games.Fijitimes

42) Ronaldo, Messi keep Real Madrid, Barcelona motoring

REUTERS
Monday, January 19, 2015

Update: 7:20PM Real Madrid ensured they will top La Liga at the midway point of the season when Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice in a 3-0 win at Getafe on Sunday (Monday Fiji time) before Lionel Messi’s hat-trick helped Barcelona win 4-0 at Deportivo La Coruna.

The world’s two best players were once again in scintillating form but champions Atletico Madrid ensured they stayed in the hunt with a 2-0 success at home to bottom club Granada that lifted them back into third place.

Real, who have a game in hand, have 45 points from 18 of 38 matches, with Barca on 44 and Atletico on 41 in third, three ahead of Valencia, who won 3-2 at home to Almeria on Sunday.

“We have performed very well in this first part of the league,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

“We started with the odd problem but then we had a very good run,” added the Italian. “We are very well positioned and we have to carry on in the same way.”

Despite Ronaldo’s latest scoring feat, it was hardly a vintage performance from Real, who have stumbled at the start of 2015 and were dumped out of the King’s Cup by Atletico last week.

The European champions failed to score in the opening half of a La Liga game for the first time this season, although Toni Kroos came close when he rattled the crossbar with a left-foot piledriver moments before the break.

Ronaldo, who beat Messi to win his third Fifa Ballon d’Or award on Tuesday, broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute, clipping the ball in from close range after good work from Karim Benzema.

Gareth Bale made it 2-0 four minutes later when he finished cleverly after a swift break and Ronaldo grabbed his second 11 minutes from time with a powerful header, the Portugal forward’s 28th goal of the campaign in his 17th appearance.

Getafe battled bravely against their glamorous city neighbours and almost pulled a goal back four minutes from time but a shot from Alvaro Vazquez bounced away off a post.

43) Arsenal stun Man City 2-0

By JOSEFA MAKABA
Monday, January 19, 2015

Update: 2:47PM Arsenal has dented English Premier League title holders Manchester Citys hope of another victory this season, winning their clash at Etihad Stadium 2-0 this morning.

Goals from  Alexis Sanchez in the first half and Olivier Giroud in the second was enough to give the Gunners their first victory over Manchester City since 2012.

The win has pushed Arsenal to fifth and closing the gap to only one point behind Manchester United on the points table.  

44) Suva volleyball crowns Makoi as new champs

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, January 19, 2015

MAKOI is the new holder of the premier challenge title in the Digicel Suva Volleyball League.

The newcomer defeated former holders Innercircle 3-2 in the weekly competition at the FMF Gymnasium in Suva on Saturday.

Makoi led by Inia Vakarewa made a strong comeback to beat Innercircle by three sets to two.

In the super premier grade challenge match, Marist maintained its dominance by retaining the title after beating challengers Jammers by three straight sets.

In the women’s challenge, the star-studded Marist led by Anaseini Seniloli defeated Unix 3-0.

“It was a better turnout in this round with 21 teams turning up and a new team joining, Blackout from Cunningham,” Suva Volleyball Association secretary Samuela Rabuku said.

Results

Drifter 2-0 Jitu, Marist 2-0 Lions, Marist 2-0 Drifters, Innercircle 2-0 T/Bulls 2, Cakau 2-0 Celtics, Saint 2-0 Toba, Red Faith 1 2-0 Pegasus, T/Bulls 1 2-0 Celtics, Drifters 2- T/Bulls 1, Makoi 2-0 Blackout, Jammers 2-0 Lions, Cakau 2-0 Saints, Makoi 2-0 Red Faith 2, Red Faith 1 2-0 T/Bulls 2, Marist 2-0 T/Bulls, M/Heights 1-2 Sharks, T/Bulls 2 2-0 Pegasus, Premier Challenge: Makoi 3-2 Innercircle, Super Premier Challenge Marist 3-0 Jammers, Drifters 2-0 Sharks, Jammers 2-1 Saints, Lions 1-2 Jitu, Women Innercircle 0-2 Marist, Innercircle 0-2 Unix, Jitu 2-0 Celtics, Pegasus 2-1 Red Faith 2, Cakau 2-0 M/Heights, Innercircle 2-1 Red Faith 1, Blackout 2-1 Rd Faith 2, Jammers 0-2 Jitu, T/Bulls 1 2-0 Lions, Blackout 2-0 Nadera Coastline, Saints 2-1 M/Heights, Drifters 2-0 Lions, Marist 2-0 Cakau, Innercircle 2-0 Pegasus, Women Challenge Marist 3-0 Unix, T/Bulls 1 2-0 Jammers, Innercircle 2-0 Toba 2, Sharks 2-0 Toba1, Pegasus 2-0 T/Bulls 2, M/Height 2-0 Jitu..Fijitimes

45) NZ players given ultimatum

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, January 19, 2015

NEW Zealand Rugby has given high profile All Blacks time until May to decide whether they want to be part of its 7s side to the 2016 Olympic Games.

The All Blacks 7s is planning to assemble a star-studded team to the Rio Games including sevens specialist, Super Rugby stars and All Blacks.

NZR has pledged $3.7million towards the preparation of the All Blacks 7s to the Games.

“You’re looking at a mix of specialist gurus, the experts who have played sevens for a few years, and a smattering of other players like Sonny Bill.

“I certainly don’t see it being eight All Blacks and four other guys. It won’t work like that,” NZR general manager Neil Sorensen told stuff.co.nz.

According to stuff.co.nz, Gordon Tietjens’ wish-list is expected to include brothers Julian and Ardie Savea, Liam Messam, Sonny Bill Williams, Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Hosea Gear and Victor Vito.

Meanwhile, the Vodafone Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan is happy with the attitude of the players in the national squad preparing for the third leg of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series to be held next month.

Ryan, who has trimmed the squad down to 20, is impressed with the commitment of the players in training.Fijitimes

www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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