Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1130b ( Monday 12 October 2015 )

MELANESIA

1) Situesen tede

Olgeta –

Yestede Akting Presiden mo semtaem Spika blong Palamen mo semtaem convicted criminal Marcellino Pipite i kamaot long media blong talem se hemi bin yusum paoa blong hem olsem Akting Presiden blong pardonem hemwan wetem ol narafala 13 MP we oli convictim olgeta long Fraede.

Artikol 38 we hemi stap kleim blong yusum blong givim pardon ia i talem olsem:
38. Presidential powers of pardon, commutation and reduction of sentences
The President of the Republic may pardon, commute or reduce a sentence imposed on a person convicted of an offence. Parliament may provide for a committee to advise the President in the exercise of this function.

I minim se paoa blong Presiden hemi blong pardonem wan SENTENCE, i no blong pardonem wan conviction blong kot. Olsem yumi save, olgeta 14 MP oli no risivim eni sentence yet, hemia bae i hapen long namba 22. Hemi bin traem blong mekem unlawful aksen ia bifo Presiden i kambak long ovasi (Presiden i kambak las naet long 5pm finis).

So pardon ia hemi unconstitutional mo unlawful mo pepa nating.

Be long narafala saed, instrument (pepa) blong pardon ia hemi evidens blong wan attempt blong “pervertem course of justice” mo intafia wetem proses blong kot. Pablik Prosekyuta i stap wok naoia blong presentem wan aplikesen long kot long saed ia.

Naoia tu Gavman i stap attempt blong diportem Justice Sey.

Mo Praem Minista i rifyus blong mit wetem mifala ol Lida blong Oposisien taem mifala askem blong urgentli mitim hem yestede folem situesen we i stap.

Be stap kwaet, letem loa i mekem wok blong hem.
Hamas, hamas, bae ol 14 MP ia i go long kalabus i no long taem.

Ta, MP Ralph Regenvanu – Websaet: www.graonmojastis.org


2) Keeping traditions alive


Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
Monday, October 12, 2015

THE Fiji Museum is working on keeping traditions alive, and it has done this by introducing a show on how iTaukei people used to live.

Similar to the old cultural centre at Pacific Harbour, the Fiji Museum opened its doors to tourists and passers-by for an exhibition on Saturday showcasing how mats were woven and how clay pots were made.

Fiji Museum co-ordinator Semi Buwawa Laliqavoka said they had included this to bring life to the artefacts that were on display at the museum.

“We have decided to do this so that it could give meaning to the artefacts that we have on display. This is also a way that we could retain the knowledge of how our elders used to do things in the past,” Mr Laliqavoka said.

“We want to change the museum into a living museum.”

Mr Laliqavoka said because the museum was under the portfolio of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Heritage, this was also a way to educate young people on traditional knowledge.

On Saturday, the Fiji Museum recorded a total of 424 tourist visitors at the museum.

Meanwhile, the entry fee at the Fiji Museum stands at $7 for adults and $5 for children, a rate they hoped to increase soon.Fijitimes

POLYNESIA

3) Tonga Gov: New Internet Law Desired By Public
New body with powers to block certain internet content

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 12, 2015) – The Communications Minister in Tonga says moves to create a new body with powers to block selected online content has addressed public concerns about internet usage.

Siaosi Sovaleni says bills passed through the house last week aim to protect children from misusing the internet.

If a website or internet connection is disseminating information deemed not good for the community, a new commission will have the authority to take down the website.

Mandatory filtering will also come into force which will block some inappropriate websites although people can opt out of this.

Mr Sovaleni says the changes in law answer issues that came up in public consultations.

“There were some concerns about the negative impact of the high penetration of using the internet and so forth so there are a couple of provisions that actually provide some measures to mitigate

those potential problems.”

Mr Sovaleni says it is important to keep child pornography and other such material out of the kingdom but peoples’ freedoms will not be infringed upon in doing so.

Radio New Zealand International 

4) Grounded Boat In Samoa Investigated For Illegal Fishing
Few details released by police

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 10, 2015) – Investigations are underway in Samoa into a boat that ran aground at Falealupo, on the most western part of Savai’i island.

Police spokesman Su’a Muliaga Tiumala says the vessel was reported to have ran aground on Wednesday but very few details are so far available such as the boat’s name and country of registration.

Su’a confirmed however that there are 12 people onboard and of different nationalities including Filipinos and Koreans.

Local media is reporting the ship could have been fishing illegally off Samoa waters.

Radio New Zealand International 

5) Air Tahiti to sell six ATR 72-500s
4:44 pm GMT+12, 11/10/2015, French Polynesia


Air Tahiti has put six ATR 72-500s on the market as part of its fleet renewal program.
 
The aircraft will be remarketed via UK lessor Falko Regional Aircraft as it re-equips with three ATR 42-600s and four ATR 72-600s that it has on order with the Toulouse-based manufacturer.
 
The six -500s were built between 2005-2009 and will be available from this quarter. They have been operated from new by the Pacific Ocean airline, whose route network covers 47 islands in French Polynesia.
 
The airline’s website gives its current fleet strength as two ATR 42s and seven ATR 72s, without specifying precise models, as well as two DHC Twin Otters and three Beechcraft King Air 200s.
 
“It’s a fairly strong market for the ATR 72 at the moment,” Falko manager-corporate finance Richard Dudley-Cave said. “There’s a fairly healthy delivery pipeline for ATR 72-600s, creating availability of -500s.”
 
While Falko would not be limiting its remarketing efforts to any particular region, the ATR was particularly popular in both Asia-Pacific and Europe, he added. 
 
SOURCE: AIR TRANSPORT WORLD/PACNEWS

MICRONESIA

6) Month of mourning for former Marshalls president
8:37 pm GMT+12, 11/10/2015, Marshall Islands


Flags were lowered to half mast and a month of national mourning was declared Saturday to honor former Marshall Islands President and paramount chief Jurelang Zedkaia.
 
Zedkaia, 65, died in Majuro Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack.
 
He was elected President of the Marshall Islands in 2009, following a vote of no-confidence that ousted President Litokwa Tomeing, also a traditional chief.
 
A 24-year veteran of parliament, Zedkaia was never identified with a particular political party and was seen as a potential ally by all factions in the national parliament.
 
After the successful vote of no-confidence against Tomeing in 2009, he was courted by both the government party and opposition leaders, eventually joining the opposition that propelled him to a two-year stint as president.
 
Despite his high traditional rank, Zedkaia had an easy going manner and preferred wearing a T-shirt and baseball cap over a suit and tie.
 
He could often be seen at the capital building after a formal event handing his jacket and tie to a staff member. He enjoyed fishing and was an accomplished ukulele player who enjoyed entertaining at any event.
 
As the traditional leader for Majuro, he oversaw landholdings throughout the capital atoll as well as dealing with customary disputes and activities. His title passes to his younger brother.
 
In declaring a month of national mourning, President Christopher Loeak, who is also from a chiefly family, said “our hearts are laden with grief at this time of great loss. Iroijlaplap Jurelang Zedkaia will be remembered with gratitude for the contributions made toward our country’s development and growth.”
 
He will be accorded a state funeral at the parliament building early in the week and then funeral activities at the main Assembly of God church are expected to follow for several days before his burial in a cemetery for traditional leaders in a rural section of Majuro Atoll.

SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS

7) Reconditioned transformers arrive on Saipan


12 October 2015

Efforts to electrify parts of Saipan have received a much-needed boost with the arrival in the Northern Marianas of the first batch of reconditioned transformers.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation acting executive director, John Riegel, says the 180 reconditioned transformers are the first of 486 ordered from Kansas City.

A further 800 new transformers have been ordered.

Mr Riegel says the transformers will enable the electricity provider to increase the speed at which they hook up customers.

CUC has collected 635 damaged transformers following Typhoon Soudelor, which crippled the utility’s power and distribution grid in August.RNZI

TOK PISIN

8) PNG ikonomi mak i pudaon

Updated 12 October 2015, 12:24 AEDT

Caroline Tiriman

Mark oa  international credit rating blong Papua New Guinea  nau i lusim stable, igo long  negative oa emi no gutpla tumas.

Mak blong PNG sopos yu makim egensim ol narapla kantri istap iet long  B plus, tasol laen emi save givim ol despla kaen mak,  Standard & Poors itok despla mak em oli givim PNG inap min olsem bai oli nap surikim igo daon ken long despla yia ikam.

Papua New Guinea, wankaen olsem ol narapla kantri long wold iwok long bungim heve wantem ol ikonomi blong ol long wonem prais blong planti bikpla samting olsem Gold, Copper, Gas na Oil  ibin pudaon tru.

Paul Barker, Executive direkta blong Institiute of National Affairs long PNG itok olsem, wari em PNG igat em olsem emi save lukluk tumas long wanpla komoditi olsem Gas na isave lus tingting long ol narapla wok we inap bringim moni ikam long kantri.

Wanpla long ol despla wok em agrikalsa.ABC

9) Vanuatu igat bikpla wari long mama loa

Updated 12 October 2015, 17:23 AEDT
Sam Seke/Hilare Bule

Vanuatu i nau i bungim wanpela bikpela wari blong mama loa oa konstitusinal crisis bihain long Acting President blong ripablik, Speaker blong Palamen Marcellino Pipite i givim pardon oa marimari long em yet na 13 arapela memba blong palamen.

Mr Pipite i givim marimari ia bihain long Supreme Kot blong Vanuatu ibin givim out tingting long Friday olsem ol 14 memba blong palamen i gilti long ol korapsen sas long sait long bribery.

Supreme kot Judge, Justice Mary Sey bai givim sentence long naba 22 long October.

Tasol Acting President Marcellino Pipite i tok em imas givim marimari long ol gilti memba ia long wanem em i no laik long pablik i kamapim ol trabol olsem ibin kamap long Bougainville, long Solomon Islands na long Fiji.

Keis ia ibin kamap bihain long ol tokwin olsem ol i kisim braib moni long oposisan lida bipo, Moana Carcasses Kalosil long rausim gavman blong Joe Natuman last yia.

Minista blong Finance Willie Jimmy ibin plid gilti pinis long bribery – tasol nem blongen ino stap insait long list blong ol memba we Mr Pipite ibin givim marimari long ol.

Tede sampela grup blong ol lida blong Vanuatu i wok long lukluk long hau ol bai dil wantaim issiu ia bihain long disisan blong Acting Speaker Marcelloino Pipite.

Niusman Hilaire Bule i tok ol lain blong Oposisan ibin toktok na igo bungim President trutru blong Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale husat  i kam bek pinis long kantri.

Em i tok ol toktok we ino konfem yet i tok olsem President Lonsdale i rausim pinis dispela pardon or marimari em Mr Pipite ibin givim.

Hilaire i tok 4-pela president bipo blong Vanuatu  na tu ol Malvatumauri Council of Chief ibin bungim President Lonsdale.

Despla tingting blong Acting President i kamapim planti bikpla wari na kros. Wanpla laen em oli no wanbel em laen blong Vanuatu Women Against Crime And Corruption Chairwoman.  Jenny Ligo itok wanem we Mr Pipite i wokim  i wanpela pasin nogut na pasin blong sem longen.

Ms Ligo i tok oli lukluk na askim ofis blong Komisina blong Polis long kisim tok klia na tok orait long mekim wanpela protest egensim despla pasin em Acting President i mekim long Port Vila.ABC

FRENCH

10a ) Le Vanuatu invente « l’auto-grâce »

Mis à jour 12 October 2015, 19:05 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

Au Vanuatu rien ne semble impossible, même quand quelqu’un est condamné pour corruption, il y a toujours moyen de s’arranger. Le Speaker du Parlement, actuellement Président de la République par intérim, s’est « auto-grâcié », et il a aussi annulé la condamnation des 13 autres députés. 

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Pipite Marcellino a décidé de grâcier tous les membres du gouvernement condamnés pour corruption, y compris lui-même.
Vendredi,14 députés et membres du gouvernement ont été reconnus coupables d’avoir de corruption. Parmi eux, l’actuel vice-Premier ministre, Moana Carcasses, qui a reconnu avoir offert 452 000 dollars à 13 députés et ministres. Mais il a toujours nié l’objectif, c’est-à-dire obtenir le soutien de ces politiciens pour renverser le gouvernement grâce à une motion de censure.
Parmi ces députés, outre Moana Carcasses, il y a le Speaker du Parlement vanuatais, Pipite Marcellino. Le Président de la République, Baldwin Lonsdale, étant parti à l’étranger ce week-end, le Speaker assure l’intérim en son absence. Il a mis ce remplacement à profit pour annuler sa propre condamnation et celle des 13 autres députés et ministres. Pipite Marcellino:
« J’ai pris cette décision pour maintenir la paix et l’unité dans notre pays. Nous savons tous ce qui s’est passé aux Îles Salomon, à Honiara, il y a quelques années. Nous avons vu ce qui s’est passé à Bougainville, en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, et à Fijdi également. Donc en tant que Président par intérim, j’ai pris cette décision. » 
Officiellement, Pipite Marcellino veut éviter l’instabilité politique au Vanuatu, instabilité qui pourrait mener à des troubles, à des émeutes. En effet, si les 14 députés étaient bel et bien condamnés, le gouvernement chuterait, et il ne resterait plus que 20 députés au Parlement – qui compte 33 sièges.
La décision du Speaker de grâcier les 14 députés, y compris lui-même, crée l’indignation. Jenny Ligo, une Vanuataise qui milite contre la corruption, estime que  « c’est une honte », et que Pipite Marcellino a durablement « terni la réputation du Vanuatu ».
Mais selon Cheryl Saunders, professeure de droit à l’université de Melbourne, si l’on s’en tient au texte de la Constitution, Pipite Marcellino n’a rien commis d’illégal:
« La Constitution vanuataise autorise le Président à grâcier des personnes qui ont été condamnées. Et le texte ne prévoit aucune restriction, en d’autres termes, selon la Constitution, le Président peut se grâcier lui-même. Et si le Speaker assure l’intérim pendant que le Président est à l’étranger, alors il jouit des mêmes pouvoirs que le Président, donc oui, il peut s’auto-grâcier, aussi surprenant que cela puisse paraître. » 
Pipite Marcellino affirme avoir pris conseil auprès de cinq avocats avant de prendre sa décision. ABC

10b) Vanuatu: Moana Carcasses condamné pour corruption

Mis à jour 9 October 2015, 18:46 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

14 condamnations et un acquittement. C’est le bilan d’une des journées les plus agitées de l’histoire politique du Vanuatu. 

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L’ancien Premier ministre, Moana Carcasses, a été reconnu coupable d’avoir versé 452 000 dollars à 14 députés, dont certains étaient membres du gouvernement, l’an dernier.

L’ancien Premier ministre a reconnu avoir offert de l’argent à ces 14 députés et membres du gouvernement. Il a toujours nié qu’il s’agissait de pots de vin pour inciter les 14 députés à provoquer la chute du gouvernement de Joe Natuman, en votant pour une motion de censure au Parlement. Et finalement, Joe Natuman a bel et bien été renversé par une motion de censure, en juin.

Certains députés partisans de Moana Carcasses ont tenté de faire annuler leur mise en examen avec cet argument: selon eux, l’argent de Moana Carcasses, ce n’étaient pas des pots de vin, mais bien des prêts. Cette défense n’a pas fonctionné, car ils se sont retrouvés mis en examen pour avoir accepté des prêts illégaux.

Il faudra encore attendre la semaine prochaine pour savoir de quelles peines écoperont les 14 députés. Mais Moana Carcasses a d’ores et déjà annoncé qu’il ferait appel.

L’ancien Premier ministre a aussi appelé la foule au calme. Plusieurs centaines de personnes s’étaient en effet rassemblées sur le parvis de la Cour Suprême, à Port-Vila, mais il n’y aurait pas eu de troubles.

Le Premier ministre, Sato Kilman, a fait redoubler la sécurité dans la capitale, par peur des débordements des supporters de Moana Carcasses. Plusieurs écoles avaient même fermé leurs portes aujourd’hui à Port-Vila, car elles craignaient des émeutes.

10c) Brèves du Pacifique – lundi 12 octobre 2015

Mis à jour 12 October 2015, 19:04 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

  • À Nauru, la plainte d’une réfugiée est finalement classée sans suite. Cette jeune Somalienne affirme avoir été violée par deux Nauruans le 21 août, dans une grotte de l’île.
À
Mais la police nauruane a publié les résultats de l’enquête et elle a conclu que l’examen médical de la jeune femme n’avait révélé aucune trace de violence physique et sexuelle. Elle affirme également ne pas réussir à localiser la grotte évoquée par la réfugiée. Enfin, la jeune femme n’a pas pu donner de description physique de ses deux agresseurs, car selon elle, ils s’étaient couvert la tête avec leurs t-shirts.
  • En Indonésie, le gouvernement pourrait changer les lois minières, afin d’aider Freeport Mc Moran, la filiale de l’américain Freeport, qui exploite la mine de Grasberg en Papouasie indonésienne. Il s’agit de la plus grande mine d’or et de cuivre du monde. La licence d’exploitation de Freeport Mc Moran expirera an 2021. Actuellement, la loi indonésienne n’autorise la renégociation des licences qu’à partir de deux ans avant l’expiration du contrat. Jakarta pourrait faire voter un amendement, pour permettre aux compagnies minières de renégocier leur licence à partir de 10 ans avant l’expiration du contrat. Freeport veut en effet des garanties, car elle prévoit des investissements massifs à Grasberg. Elle s’apprête à creuser une mine souterraine, pour un coût de 18 milliards de dollars. Pour le moment, elle exploite des gisements à ciel ouvert.
  • Le gouvernement des Salomon met en vente du bois illégal. Ce sont des grumes issues de plantations clandestines sur l’île de Rennell. La coupable serait l’entreprise Asia Pacific Investment Development. Elle est sous le coup d’une enquête de police, accusée d’avoir abattu ces arbres sans permis. La police de l’île est chargée de surveiller ces plantations.
« Une perte de temps ». C’est ainsi que Christophe Emmelee décrit les conférences régionales et internationales. Le ministre vanuatais de l’Agriculture et de la Pêche a fait ce commentaire la semaine dernière au retour d’une réunion régionale sur l’exploitation forestière à Fidji. Selon lui, les bonnes résolutions et les voeux pieux, c’est bien, mais « elles ne bénéficieront pas aux Vanuatais avant longtemps », et, ajoute-t-il, « pendant que les ministres parlent, il y a des gens qui souffrent de la sécheresse, des suites du cyclone Pam, de la faim et de la soif, au Vanuatu. » 
  •  Fidji a un nouveau Président de la République. Jioji Konrote, le candidat présenté par le gouvernement, a été élu aujourd’hui par le Parlement, par 31 voix contre 14. Il était jusqu’à présent le ministre de l’Emploi, un poste qu’il a bien sûr du abandonner pour accepter celui de Président.
  •  La Chine participe pour la première fois à l’opération “Crépuscule sous les tropiques”. C’est un exercice de secours post-catastrophe naturelle, un rendez-vous annuel, financé par Wellington, auquel participent, outre des militaires néo-zélandais, des Britanniques et des Américains 60 ans. Cette année pour la première fois, la Chine était invitée. « Ça a été une formidable opportunité pour nous habituer à travailler ensemble », a déclaré le haut-commissaire kiwi (équivalent d’un ambassadeur) aux Îles Cook, Nick Hurley. L’exercice s’est déroulé pendant six semaines dans le nord des Îles Cook, à Penrhyn et Manihiki. Les militaires des quatre pays ont construit un nouveau dépôt de pétrole, et rénové des écoles et des hôpitaux.
Jet Star relie le monde aux Îles Cook. La compagnie low cost australienne, filiale de Qantas, assurera des vols entre la Nouvelle-Zélande et Rarotonga à partir de mars prochain. Jet Star devient ainsi la troisième compagnie aérienne internationale à desservir le pays. L’office du tourisme des Îles Cook se félicite de cette décision. Il estime que l’ouverture de cette nouvelle ligne peut attirer 25 000 touristes de plus par an. Mais pour le moment, il n’y a pas assez de lits aux Îles Cook pour héberger ces visiteurs.   ABC

AUSTRALIA

11) Turnbull ‘open to feedback’

Aap
Monday, October 12, 2015

CANBERRA – Malcolm Turnbull has made light of the awkward moment when he was heckled while preaching to the party faithful.

The prime minister was jeered during a speech to the NSW Liberal Party State Council after saying the Liberals were not ruled by factions or big business.

“It’s good to get some constructive feedback,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

He said he was trying to make the point that the parliamentary Liberal Party was a much more independent group of individuals.

Senior Liberal Andrew Robb agreed.

“Factions are part of everyday life … we have got factions, always have in the Liberal Party, but they don’t control us and that’s a big difference,” Mr Robb, a former federal director of the Liberal Party, told Sky News.

But Mr Robb, the minster for trade, said Mr Turnbull’s comments did stir the passions of one or two in the audience.

12) Australia In Talks With Philippines For Refugee Transfer
Deal reportedly worth US $100 Million


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 9, 2015) – Australian media reports say Canberra is in talks with the Philippines for a transfer of some of the refugees it earlier sent to Papua New Guinea.

Hundreds of people are at Australian-run facilities on PNG’s Manus islands and a similar number of asylum-seekers and refugees are on Nauru as part of Australia’s policy to process them abroad.

The deal with Manila is reported to be worth more than 100 million US dollars and follows one struck with Cambodia, which has so far accepted a handful of refugees from Nauru.

The opposition Greens say the government will be throwing good money after bad if it pursues a refugee deal with the Philipines.

Earlier this week, Australia’s immigration minister Peter Dutton said Canberra was considering several third party resettlement options for its refugees,

When Australia launched its policy of processing its asylum-seekers abroad in 2001, it unsuccessfully approached among others Tuvalu, Kiribati, Fiji, Palau and Tonga.

Radio New Zealand International 

PACIFIC 


13) Date set for France-Pacific summit
10:34 pm GMT+12, 11/10/2015, France

France has set a date for a summit of Pacific and French leaders which is to go ahead on 26 November.

The French president, François Hollande, officially invited Pacific leaders to the event in Paris.

The summit, which coincides with the COP 21 climate conference, will discuss the challenges climate change poses to the Pacific.

France has so far hosted three summits with Pacific leaders – two chaired by President Jacques Chirac in 2003 and 2006 and the last one, in 2009, by the then foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

14) Fiji and Tuvalu signs MOU for provision of Observer services
10:31 pm GMT+12, 11/10/2015, Fiji

The Fiji and Tuvalu Ministry of Fisheries have signed a memorandum of understanding for the provision of Observer Services and the sharing of monitoring, control and surveillance data.

The arrangement will see the immediate deployment of Fiji’s observers on Tuvalu’s long line fishing vessels that are based out of the port of Suva but fish in Tuvalu waters.

Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Fisheries Inoke Wainiqolo says these observers are trained to specifically collect catch, effort and compliance data during fishing operations.

Wainiqolo said  that observers will extract stomach, muscles, gonads and otolith samples to assist in the diet, sex and growth studies of fish caught from Tuvalu waters.

“We are grateful and thankful for your government for agreeing for our observers to be boarding your vessels that are flagged by your government when they’re operating in your EEZ’s and the areas that are designated when they are required to be fishing in”.

While in port on return from the fishing grounds, Fiji observers will carry out port sampling work to ascertain the length classes of all fish species.

Wainiqolo says Fiji will also ensure the quality of data reporting is maintained at high standards through the provision of pre-trip briefings and post trip debriefings on observers.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

WORLD

15) Spanish police bust smuggling ring

Reuters
Monday, October 12, 2015

MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish police have arrested 89 people accused of being part of a network which smuggled Chinese nationals into Britain, Ireland, Canada and the US, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

The network, run by Chinese and Pakistani citizens, used Spain as a transit point, housing the people in apartments in the northeast of the country while they awaited falsified travel documents, the ministry said.

The smugglers charged up to 20,000 euros (£14,814) per person, half paid in the country of origin and the other half to be handed over once they arrived at their destination, according to ministry.

If the second payment was not made, travel documentation was withheld and, in many cases, family members were threatened, it said.

16) Thousands protest in Berlin against EU-US trade deal

Reuters
Monday, October 12, 2015

BERLIN (Reuters) – At least 150,000 people marched in Berlin on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the US that they say is anti-democratic and will lower food safety, labour and environmental standards.

Organisers — an alliance of environmental groups, charities and opposition parties — said 250,000 people had taken part in the rally against free trade deals with both the US and Canada, far more than they had anticipated.

“This is the biggest protest that this country has seen for many, many years,” Christoph Bautz, director of citizens’ movement Campact told protesters in a speech.

Police said 150,000 people had taken part in the demonstration which was trouble free. There were 1000 police officers on duty at the march.

Opposition to the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has risen over the past year in Germany, with critics fearing the pact will hand too much power to big multinationals at the expense of consumers and workers.

“What bothers me the most is that I don’t want all our consumer laws to be softened,” Oliver Zloty told Reuters TV. “And I don’t want to have a dictatorship by any companies.”

Dietmar Bartsch, deputy leader of the parliamentary group for the Left party, who was taking part in the rally said he was concerned about the lack of transparency surrounding the talks.

“We definitely need to know what is supposed to be being decided,” he said.

Marchers banged drums, blew whistles and held up posters reading “Yes we can – Stop TTIP.”

The level of resistance has taken Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government by surprise and underscores the challenge it faces to turn the tide in favour of the deal which proponents say will create a market of 800 million and serve as a counterweight to China’s economic clout.

In a full-page letter published in several German newspapers on Saturday, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned against “scaremongering”.

“We have the chance to set new and goods standards for growing global trade. With ambitious, standards for the environment and consumers and with fair conditions for investment and workers. This must be our aim,” Mr Gabriel wrote.

POLITIC

17) Vanuatu Could Dissolve Parliament After Convictions Of MPs
Future of gov uncertain after 15 MP bribery convictions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 12, 2015) – The future of Vanuatu’s government is uncertain after 15 of its MPs were last week convicted of bribery charges.

The Supreme Court on Friday found 14 MPs, including the deputy prime minister Moana Carcasses, guilty of giving and receiving corrupt payments.

Another MP, Willie Jimmy, had already pleaded guilty.

Under Vanuatu law, the MPs are likely to automatically lose their seats once sentenced, and if that happens the government will likely become a minority one.

An opposition MP, Ralph Regenvanu, says all sides need to come together to work out how the laws will be applied, so there can be a stable outcome for the governance of Vanuatu.

“That decision can either be that he resigns, or he tries to find a way to bring some of the opposition into his government, or we all sit down together and then decide what’s the best government that we can have that is going to take the government through to the next by-elections for all these seats, or whether we need to dissolve parliament and just have fresh elections because the cost of by-elections for 15 seats is probably going to be close to the cost of a general election.”

Ralph Regenvanu says if no progress is made, a motion of no confidence could be submitted.

Radio New Zealand International

18) Vanuatu president vows to ‘stop crooked ways’ after MPs pardoned; ombudsman receives suspension notice

Updated 12 October 2015, 20:10 AEDT

A visibly shaken president of Vanuatu has addressed the nation expressing “shame and sorrow” after his acting president used interim executive powers to issue pardons to recently-convicted MPs, including himself, on Sunday.

“I will clean the dirt from my backyard,” president Baldwin Lonsdale said in his address Monday evening, adding: “We as a nation have to stop these crooked ways”.

“The power of mercy is vested in the president and not the acting president,” he said.

Parliamentary speaker Marcellino Pipite, acting with executive power according to the constitution while president Lonsdale was abroad, issued pardons for himself and 13 other MPs following their convictions for bribery by the Supreme Court last Friday.

Justice Mary Sey ruled that payments amounting to 35 million vat ($452,000) were corruptly made by the deputy prime minister, corruptly received, and designed to influence MPs in their capacity as public officials.

Mr Pipite said the unprecedented move was made in the best interests of the country and to avoid political instability seen elsewhere in the Pacific in recent decades.

In response, Mr Lonsdale said “no-one is above the law”, and the constitution should be amended so the speaker cannot become acting president as the speaker occupied a political position.

President Lonsdale said all options were being considered and he would rule on the outcome in the coming days, not weeks.

Mr Pipite and the 13 other MPs, including deputy prime minister Moana Carcasses, were due to be sentenced on October 22.

They were facing a maximum of 10 years in jail along with the loss of their seats in parliament.

Ombudsman also ‘suspended’

It emerged late this afternoon that Mr Pepite also issued an order suspending the nation’s ombudsman, Kalkot Mataskelekele, while in his acting capacity as president.

Mr Mataskelekele, a former president himself, is refusing to accept its legality and insists he is still the ombudsman.

He said the letter, which he only received this morning, is dated October 10 and “alleges to suspend me because of alleged gross misconduct”.

“I have conferred with senior staff of the ombudsman’s office and especially the principle legal officer, and looking at the Ombudsman’s Act myself there’s nothing at all in the Ombudsman’s Act referring to the power of a president to suspend an ombudsman,” he said.

“I am still the ombudsman of Vanuatu, and I am in the throes of writing a letter to the head of state to seek his advice on the allegations of the acting president, previously.”

‘Extraordinary’ case

Under Vanuatu law, the speaker acts as president when the latter is travelling overseas and has the powers of pardoning, commutation and reduction of sentences.

President Baldwin Lonsdale returned to Port Vila late Sunday afternoon, ending Mr Pipite’s acting role.

Photo: Marcellino Pipite said the move was necessary to protect stability in Vanuatu. (Supplied: Government of Fiji)

Professor Cheryl Saunders, from Melbourne University’s law school, said that while the pardon appears to be constitutional, it remains to be seen whether the decision can be overturned by a court.

“There is a provision in the constitution that allows the president to pardon people who have been convicted, and the section appears to be unrestricted in the sense that it doesn’t prevent a president pardoning himself or herself,” Ms Saunders said.

Audio: Vanuatu pardons appear legal, but further action could be possible (Pacific Beat)

“So if the speaker is standing in the shoes of the president, the speaker has power to perform all the president’s functions, so on the face of the constitution it seems to be allowed, extraordinary it may be.

“On the other hand, you can ask yourself ‘are there any subtle legal arguments that might enable for this decision to be attacked, is there an argument based on separation of powers … or is there some sort of argument based on bias’ — the principle that says a person may not be judge in his own court.”

Vanuatu finance minister Willie Jimmy, who pleaded guilty, did not have his conviction overturned in the announcement.

In 2004, then-Vanuatu president Alfred Maseng Nalo refused to use his special powers to pardon himself of his criminal conviction.

Anti-corruption group says pardons ‘national disgrace’

An anti-corruption group in Vanuatu has blasted a minister’s decision as “a national disgrace”.

Jenny Ligo, the chair of Women Against Crime and Corruption, said it is “a national disgrace” and her group is planning a march to express their feelings.

Audio: Vanuatu women to protest controversial bribery pardons(Pacific Beat)

“This is not on. They should wait patiently for the sentencing. But instead they have come to another level of doing (sic) a criminal act,” she told Pacific Beat.

“They don’t care about this country and its people, they only care about themselves.

“The opposition having not come out yet, even the prime minister of this country is not doing anything. [Prime minister Sato Kilman] also allows part of his government to mess up his administration.”ABC

19) Vanuatu ombudsman, citing ‘illegal’ suspension, refuses to go

Updated at 9:22 pm today

Vanuatu’s ombudsman has been suspended by the government, in a move he says is illegal and invalid.

Kalkot Mataskelekele says he received a suspension letter from the speaker of Parliament, Marcelino Pipite, who over the weekend was the acting President of Vanuatu.

Mr Pipite has appointed Wilson Aumah as the acting ombudsman, but Mr Mataskelekele says the suspension and appointment is illegal.

He says that under the Ombudsman Act, he can only be suspended if he’s found guilty of corrupt practices or criminal charges, or if he resigns.

“For the moment I have not resigned, so this brings into question the validity of the alleged act of suspension by the acting president made over the weekend. I am still the ombudsman.”

Kalkot Mataskelele says the president can only appoint a new ombudsman after consultation with the prime minister, opposition leader, and other leaders.

He says he doubts Mr Pipite could have done this in one day.RNZI

20) Fiji’s Governing Party Names Its Candidate For President
Parliament to hold special sitting to elect new president

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 10, 2015) – Fiji’s governing party has named Major General Jioji Konousi Konrote as its candidate to replace the outgoing head of state.

Parliament will hold a special sitting on Monday to elect the country’s new President.

The prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, says Major General Konrote is one of Fiji’s most outstanding and decorated military officers, also serving as a senior civil servant and diplomat.

He has also been appointed as the secretary general for United Nations peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, before becoming a member of Parliament under both Laisenia Qarase and Mr Bainimarama.

Fiji’s opposition on Wednesday named Ratu Epeli Ganilau as its candidate to replace President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, whose term ends this year.

Radio New Zealand International

21) Acting Military Commander Naupoto to remain with the military
4:28 pm GMT+12, 11/10/2015, Fiji

Fiji’s Acting Military Commander Viliame Naupoto says he will not go into government but remain with the military.

With Employment Minister Jioji Konrote’s resignation from government due to his nomination for Presidency, Naupoto is the next person in line to take up the now empty parliament seat.

However, Naupoto told FBC News, he will not leave the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF).

He has had discussions with the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama over the issue and says, the PM agrees with his decision.

“I will not go into Parliament. I have decided to just stay out and help the RFMF at this time in whatever capacity I can serve RFMF in whether as Commander or any other posting. So I will be tendering my resignation from the FijiFirst Party to allow me to stay back.”

With Naupoto now backing off politics, it leaves the seat empty to be taken up by the next person in line – veteran journalist Matai Akauola.

Speaking to FBC News, Akauola says he has not made a decision at this point in time.

“I’d await the decision of the Party. It’ll be good to hear what the Leader has in regards to the set-up as he has made all the decisions for Mr Konrote to be nominated for President. So, until we get to that stage, then we’ll see the direction and the decision that will be taken.”

Akauola was the former manager for Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and recently held the post of director for the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA).

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

22) PNG’s Somare resigns from his party

Blades

Papua New Guinea’s former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has resigned from the National Alliance Party – a party he founded 20 years ago.

The Post Courier reports that Sir Michael tendered his resignation at the weekend over irrevocable differences with the party leadership over its future with the governing coalition of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

But the ruling People’s National Congress party remains unmoved, claiming last night that the move by the East Sepik Governor was only to create instability in Government and does not affect its numerical strength to challenge a possible vote of no-confidence.

Sir Michael said his reason to quit centred on his referral of the Prime Minister and other leaders to the Ombudsman Commission for alleged breaches of the Leadership Code.

He stood by his decision, he said in his letter to party leader Patrick Pruaitch, copied to president Walter Schnaubelt and general secretary Joyce Grant, saying it was due to the Prime Minister’s alleged illegal and negligent actions.RNZI

MEDIA


23) Nauru government bans all media visits from country

4:16 pm GMT+12, 11/10/2015, Nauru

Nauru’s government has banned all journalists from reporting from the country in a move likely to heighten concern about refugees being held on the island state.

Last year, the Nauruan government said it was increasing the application fee for journalist visas from AUD 200 ($145) to a non-refundable AUD 8,000 (US$5,821) per person.

But when Al Jazeera tried to apply, the networks was told “all media application [sic] is not approved”.

For some months, Al Jazeera has been emailing and phoning Nauru about the official process for a correspondent and cameraman to apply to visit the country. Most email messages and phone calls went unanswered.

But on Wednesday, producer Alice Mulheron in the network’s Sydney bureau was able to talk briefly to Darlene Dabana in Nauru’s migration office.

She told Mulheron to ask employees to fill in a business visa form, and send her copies of passports. She said once those were received, she’d send an invoice for AUD 8,000 ($5,821) per person.

However, on Thursday morning – before those forms were completed and emailed to Nauru – Al Jazeera received an email saying “Media visa is not approved”.

When Al Jazeera asked for clarification, the response from Dabana was: “I have been informed that all media application [sic] is not approved.”

Al Jazeera asked, further:

– Who specifically has informed you that “all media application is not approved”?
– Is there any point in us submitting our visa application forms now, as we had planned to?
– To confirm, are there any circumstances in which a media visa would be approved, and if so what?
– Does this amount to a ban on journalists visiting Nauru under all circumstances?

That email has not been answered. On Thursday, a phone call was answered, but immediately hung up on. On Friday, phone calls were being answered by voicemail – and messages were not returned.

“It’s interesting that Nauru would be so blatant. Clearly they won’t allow anybody there to actually look for themselves and make an independent assessment about what’s going on,” Graham Thom of Amnestry Australia said.

“It’s not surprising they won’t let people go, but it is scary that Australia is funding an independent country to detain people, to house people, and won’t allow any independent scrutiny of those centres,” Thom added.

Thom said that if the centres were open, people should have been allowed to talk to journalists.

“It’s frightening to think that journalists and others are being blocked – deliberately blocked – from going to Nauru. This is really telling when we’re looking at the conditions currently for people on Nauru and the allegations we’re hearing the mistreatment of women and treatment on Nauru,”  he said.

SOURCE: ALJAZEERA/PACNEWS

BUSINESS

24) Vanuatu employers seek lower severance pay

12 October 2015

About 200 companies in Vanuatu say they will lobby the government for it to reduce the current severance pay of four weeks per year of continuous employment to one week.

A business company’s forum in Port Vila has agreed that the amount is far too high and companies don’t have the money to pay out employees if the company goes broke.

The president of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tom Bayer, says months ago when cyclone Pam forced many companies to close, they could not afford to pay their employees severance.

Mr Bayer says the Chamber has prepared a paper asking the government to make changes.

The paper calls for employers and an employee to each pay a two-percent contribution into the Vanuatu National Provident Fund to be used as unemployment benefit.

Mr Bayer says the Vanuatu National Union of Labour, the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Labour will be consulted on the paper.

Already employees have expressed concern and hope it does not become law because such a law would favour employers and not employees.RNZI

LAW&ORDER


25) PNG anti-fraud squad leader arrested and charged

Updated at 9:22 pm today

The director of Papua New Guinea’s fraud and anti-corruption squad, Mathew Damaru, has been arrested and charged with lying under oath.

In a statement, police say Mr Damaru was charged on Sunday after he was arrested by the Special Internal Investigation Team, and detained at Boroko police station.

Police have refused to comment on the matters surrounding the case, saying it is currently before the courts.

Mr Damaru has been leading an investigation that involved an attempt to bring contempt charges against the police commissioner, Gari Baki, for alleged interference.RNZI

26) Solomons: Honiara Traditional Compensation Claims Excessive
Police and traditional leaders to attempt standardization

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 10, 2015) – The police in Solomon Islands have started efforts to tackle excessive compensation claims in Honiara.

The director of the police community policing and public relations unit, Solomon Sisimia, says a two-day workshop hopes to come up with a standardised arrangement for addressing traditional compensation claims.

Mr Simisia says the meeting between traditional leaders and law enforcement agencies is a result of an increasing number of excessive compensation claims around Honiara.

He says some claims for compensation have been double the traditional standards.

Radio New Zealand International

27) UN Highlights Death Penalty Laws In Pacific Nations

Reiterates it is not a deterrent to serious crime

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 11, 2015) – The United Nations has drawn attention to the three Pacific nations that still posses the death penalty in law.

Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty, but execution has yet to be abolished in Tonga, Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

The death penalty was revived in PNG in 2013, but was put under review in May without being implemented.

The United Nations Resident Co-ordinator in PNG, Roy Trivedy, says it’s not clear when the review will be completed or what might follow.

“It’s good that the Prime Minister has come out very clearly and stated that they have no intention of carrying out the death penalty at the moment. We are continuing to monitor the situation and continuing to talk to government as opportunities arise.”

Roy Trivedy says there is strong evidence worldwide that the death penalty is not a deterrent to serious crime.

Radio New Zealand International

28) Customs revenue fraud

Selwa Nandan/Fijitimes
Saturday, October 10, 2015

FIJI Revenue and Customs Authority has come under the spotlight lately all for not too palatable reasons.

A week after it was revealed that substantial amount of Customs revenue was being lost through duty evasion, the contracts of two senior managers were summarily terminated following the alleged breach of the code of conduct.

However, for the purposes of this article I shall confine myself to the more pressing issue of revenue fraud.

Incidence of duty evasion

During his address to the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation’s TOPEX Conference the Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, while alluding to the decrease in revenue from import VAT, attributed the shortfall to the understating of value of imports, prevalence of creative accounting and close relationships between Customs officials and some of the businesses.

The minister’s concern about the inherent leakage of Customs revenue is quite justified given the consequential economic and budgetary implications.

However, we need to put things into its proper perspective in order to gain a better insight and appreciation of the complexity and gravity of the situation.

In that context it is imperative at the outset to grasp a clear understanding of the rules and principles pertaining to the valuation of imported goods.

Valuation rules

First and foremost it must be understood that some of the valuation fraud are highly sophisticated in nature particularly where there is strong collusion between the importer and the overseas supplier and is not easily detectable.

As such it cannot be picked up by normal verification of trade documents. In such circumstances obtaining documentary evidence to prove fraud can be quite challenging as it would require the co-operation of the seller of the goods.

As a contracting party to the WTO Valuation Agreement Fiji is strictly bound by its rules.

Under the agreement the primary basis for Customs value is the transaction value i.e. the price paid or payable for the goods.

It is only in cases where Customs has reasonable doubt as to the truth or accuracy of the importer’s declaration, that the burden of proof could be shifted to the importer to prove that the declared value represents the total amount actually paid or payable for the goods.

However, the fact that much of the information needed to ascertain the correct value of a transaction is not available because it remains privy to the foreign supplier makes the verification process even more complicated and difficult.

Therefore, validation or cross-checking of declared values can be often excessively cumbersome.

Balance between facilitation and control

The increase in international trade has exerted mounting pressure on Customs administrations to minimise intrusion into legitimate trade.

This demand is premised on the philosophy that a large volume of trade are of low risk and undue interventions will only incur unnecessary cost to business.

Contemporary Customs agencies are faced with the dilemma of balancing the needs for trade facilitation on one hand and the level of controls and intervention on the other.

Risk management (RM) is the only tool available to Customs to safeguard its dual interests without compromising one for the other.

In other words RM is an integrity-based system that works best in an environment where there is a high level of voluntary compliance.

Because of resource constraints Customs administrations now rely increasingly on risk analysis techniques to target their controls on high risk consignments.

Incentives for fraud

To a large extent Customs fraud is motivated by factors linked to each country’s economic policy and structures.

Consequently, the incidence of the different types of fraud encountered will vary from one country to another, in accordance with these factors. Some of the most common types of fraud include:

* Smuggling;

* Undervaluation;

* Overvaluation of low dutiable items;

* Under declaration of quantity; and

* Misdescription of tariff classification.

The existence of elements such as high import tariffs, deficient control systems and highly competitive market have been found to provide fertile ground for fraudulent activities.

The other limitations that stem from administrative constraints such as lack of qualified personnel, low level of scrutiny of import documentation, over-reliance on automated clearance systems, inadequate audit and investigation capacity, ineffective risk management systems, greater emphasis to facilitation of trade, increased dependence on intelligence information, are further compounded by rapidly changing prices of goods, easier mode of remittance of funds and connivance between the importer and the exporter.

To be continued next week.

* Selwa Nandan is a former adviser for trade facilitation with Oceania Customs Organisation and a consultant on Customs and trade matters. For feedback, email: selwa.nandan@gmail.com.

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION,ENVIROMENT

29) Bushfires In New Caledonia Continue To Increase
Drought ongoing, total fire ban in place

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 10, 2015) – Authorities in New Caledonia have launched a public awareness campaign as the number of forest fires in the territory continue to increase.

A total fire ban is in force as firefighters continue to battle dozens of bushfires across the archipelago as a prolonged dry spell continues.

Last Sunday, a helicopter involved in fighting a fire near Voh, about 300 kilometres north of Noumea, crashed, killing its pilot and a mechanic on board.

Only 20 millimetres of rain fell last month, and authorities expect the situation to worsen as what’s expected to be one of the worst El Niño systems in over a decade intensifies.

New Caledonia’s director of civil security, Eric Backès, says the coming months will be incredibly difficult, with severe drought and strong winds forecast.

Radio New Zealand International

30) Ocean acidification threatens Pacific’s ecosystems

12 October 2015

An American scientist says ocean acidification is likely to pose a further threat to the Pacific Ocean’s ecosystems in coming decades.

Almost a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the ocean, which causes water acidity to rise.

The director of a US-run Ocean Acidification Programme, Dr Elizabeth Jewett, says an increase in ocean acidity threatens marine life, coral reefs and local livelihoods in the Pacific.

Ms Jewett says there are ways to increase resiliency to ocean acidification, such as protecting coral reefs.

“Very specific approaches might include protecting and enhancing seagrass beds because seagrass actually improves the chemistry of the water, making it easier for coral reefs to grow.”RNZI

MINING,FORESTRY,AGRICULTURE,FISHERIES

31) Solomons government to sell illegally harvested logs

12 October 2015

The Solomon Islands government is to sell illegally harvested logs from Rennell Island.

The government has opened bidding for the round logs, alleged to be illegally harvested by Asia Pacific Investment Development.

The Police Commissioner, Frank Prendergast, says police are investigating allegations that APID breached the Forestry Act by felling trees for round logs on Rennell Island without a logging licence.

APID’s business licence to operate in the Renbel Province has since been revoked by the government.

Mr Prendergast says local police are in contact with police in Honiara and will keep the West Rennell area under surveillance for the time being.RNZI

32) PNG chiefs talk of civil war over unpopular Australian bank deal
4:47 pm GMT+12, 11/10/2015, Fiji

Until now, the tribal chiefs in Papua New Guinea have been happy to host a hugely profitable natural gas project on the slopes of their mountainous land.

It might have disrupted hunting grounds, ruined waterways and uprooted fruit and vegetables, but the money flowing from it also promised progress and development for the people.

So they stuck with a 2009 agreement to provide access and security to a $US19 billion ExxonMobil PNG liquid natural gas project, which has given Australia’s nearest neighbour one of the highest GDP growth rates on earth.

All that, though, could change. They are threatening to “turn off the taps” after the PNG government barred their Australian lawyers from entering the country.

It was the final straw for the deal that has turned increasingly sour for local tribesmen in the mountainous Hela province, where the majority of the gas is sourced.

ExxonMobil, Australian company Oil Search, and the PNG governments have all received profits ahead of schedule, but the local people say they are missing out.

Under the deal struck in 2009 to allow the gas project to go ahead, the tribesmen and women are entitled to exercise an option to buy a 4.2 per cent equity share, which could deliver upwards of US$6 billion over the project lifespan. .

But a Fairfax Media investigation can now reveal that a complex and unlikely deal inked in March last year between Australian bankers at Swiss firm UBS and close advisers of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has unnerved tribal leaders.

They say the deal effectively “mortgaged” their equity to plug a widening fiscal hole in the government’s own finances. It’s clear that trust between these land owners, the PNG government and the bank has been obliterated.

Prime Minister O’Neill has moved quickly to attack the “politicised leak of documents, as a Fairfax report on Friday dominated social media in the country over the weekend.

He pointed blame at the previous Somare government, skirted revelations that the PNG government had “surrendered” most of the potential upside to UBS, and promised that ongoing court proceedings would provide clarity.

Fairfax can now reveal that tribal chiefs are seeking a court injunction to prevent O’Neill and UBS from having further dealings with their promised equity without their full consent.

And they are incensed that the PNG government has obstructed those court processes by banning their Queensland lawyer, Greg Egan, from entering the country.

Last week Australian diplomats dismissed the blacklisting of  Egan as a “private” matter. But matters such as this have a history in PNG of blowing up into much more than that.

The landowners cite the precedent of the civil war in Bougainville, which followed the failure of mining company Rio Tinto and governments in PNG and Australia to adequately negotiate with local people.

“We fear that when the government runs out of money, they may touch our money and spend it elsewhere,” says Dickson Ango, a chief of the Buta people, who own much of the land beneath the Hapono Block near Hides gas field in the Southern Highlands Province.

“If they are stopping us from expressing our rights to the courts of the land, then our own people will ask the government to come and talk to us by way of other means, like sit-in protests.

“It may cost the project.”

Dickson Ango is old enough to remember how his elders used to carry around the bones of their ancestors before the missionaries came. They decorated those bones, and spoke with them. These days, bones are buried in the ground and traditional animist beliefs have been supplanted by Christianity.

But there are astonishing continuities between the old world and new.

“When the white-legged man came to this mountain, Gigira, they found one of the world’s highest quality natural gas fields – enough to bring light to hundreds of thousands of people,” says Ango, recalling the “prophesy” of his forefathers.

“We can see now that everything is happening according to that prophesy,” Ango says. “So I want to tell the future generation that we must live in appreciation of what God has done.”

Ango believes his people have been “chosen” to be custodians.

“God in his divine plan put all those resources on our land, where our forefathers lived, because he knew that we – these people of Hela – we are people who are able to share, people who can laugh with others, and able to share those benefits with the rest of PNG and are able to agree with the government and welcome the developers.”

But such agreements are not without cost.

Wandigo Kau is a clan leader from the area known as PDL 1, which supplies 57 per cent of the gas to the PNG LNG project. When he was born in 1982 there were no schools, no shops and certainly no doctors to help a mother giving birth.

Life was short. Like most of his contemporaries, chronic malaria had given him a hugely swollen spleen. His own baby child, however, has been born into a world of previously unimaginable possibilities.

“My child will have a modern standard,” Kau says. “Not like my life. My life was too hard.”

For all that’s been gained, though, much has also been lost. Kau can no longer go on long hunting treks through lush jungle, crossing the tumbling streams of Mount Gigira with bow and arrows strapped across his shoulder.

Now the cassowaries, hornbills and protein-laden pythons that Wandigo Kau used to hunt have been chased away by three well-pads, three quarries, a waste dump, a huge gas conditioning plant, nine kilometres of pipeline and a main road.

Kau’s home in Tugu Tapira is the most intensely impacted in the PDL-1 area, where the majority of gas is sourced.  But all his neighbours have similar stories.

“We have given up our land, our water, our hunting grounds, our food gardens, we have given everything,” says Hamule Ngiame.

Ngiame, like Wandigo Kau and Dickson Ango, was one of the tribal leaders who travelled to Kokopo, in far-away East New Britain, to negotiate the 2009 agreement that got the project off the ground.

That meeting was an anthropological and logistical feat to rival the engineering that has followed. Thousands of clan leaders were flown to Kokopo and stayed for months of rolling talks, camping in Oil Search-issued tents, arm wrestling government leaders to work out how compensation should be apportioned and spoils divided.

Oil Search managing director Peter Botton says the scale of the discussion was unprecedented. “Where else would you get 5000 people to sit down and discuss the size of the pie, and thousands more to talk about how to divide it?”

The negotiating motto of the tribal chiefs was straightforward: “No equity, no gas.”

Many wanted a 10 per cent share. In the end, they were happy to settle for 7 per cent, plus royalties and grants – 2.8 per cent would be paid up front and the remaining 4.2 per cent when the gas was flowing.

“It was a huge task to mobilise all the people because most of the people were illiterate,” says Andy Hamaga, a leader of the Jula and Aya clans. “It took us six solid weeks to negotiate.”

The corporations had already conducted a complex social mapping exercise to work out the entitlements of 60,000 people. They had to do it an area where traditional land ownership is relatively fluid, and partly contingent upon continual occupation.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of migrants were arriving in search of work.

In the end: “We were satisfied.”

Hamaga says his people trusted then prime minister Sir Michael Somare, often referred to as the founding father of the nation, his son Arthur, then a cabinet minister, and the provincial governor, Anderson Agiru.

“They asked us to provide security to the project, which we did.”

Adding political intrigue, the land owner claims are being supported by Arthur Somare, who led the 2009 negotiations, and who is the son of Sir Michael Somare, who recently referred  O’Neill to a leadership misconduct tribunal.

Every three or four days a tanker leaves the Gulf of Papua for terminals in Japan, China and Taiwan, filled with tens of millions of dollars worth of gas, condensed at temperatures of minus-160 degrees into liquid form. Already, the $US19 billion investment in the highlands has expanded the GDP of Australia’s closest neighbour by a staggering 25 per cent in just two years.

ExxonMobil, the US oil giant, delivered the project ahead of schedule. It has buoyed the share prices of Australian gas majors Oil Search and Santos, and it has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into PNG government coffers.

Port Moresby’s Grand Papua hotel is filled to bursting and the rents on expatriate apartments have gone through the roof.

But for the country’s 8 million citizens, the boom times never came. A World Bank report released last week declares that welfare standards might actually be going backwards.

The report also said PNG had breached its legislated debt level of 35 per cent of GDP by a considerable margin. More worrying, a mid-year Treasury update said the budget deficit for this year could blow out to 9 per cent of GDP without corrective action. Government services are not being delivered and bills are going unpaid.

Partly, PNG is suffering from a king-sized version of the resources bust also affecting Australia. But mismanagement and cronyism are also to blame.

On the figures, the government might want to extract every kina of profit that it can from the “benefits-sharing” arrangement to give land owners their 4.2 per cent equity stake, which they are due to receive in the first half of next year.

And this is where Hela landowners, Australian investment bankers, and Australian and PNG politicians could all find themselves in the kind of serious conflict that, in the past, has led to civil war.

The fight is over the honouring of the old “gas for equity” deal.

Last May, the money started flowing. Exxon Mobil got its share, Australian company Oil Search got another, as did the PNG government. But what should have been a stream of revenue from royalties and grants to the local landowners has been nothing more than a trickle.

The PNG government says it has not yet finished the “vetting” process to ascertain who is entitled to a share of the money.

Landowners, however, say the government is deliberately dragging its feet. Exxon Mobil, with an eye to its biggest risk, cannot afford any further delay.

It recently offered 7 million kina (US$2.4 million) worth of Land Rovers, hotel rooms and helicopter rides to make the journey of officials from Port Moresby to Hela easier.

A respected judge has been called in to accelerate the vetting process.

Some tribal chiefs are still showing patience. Last week the court intervened by overturning the ban on lawyer Egan from entering the country.

But those who are taking the court action say time is running out for a negotiated solution. And the first thing they want is their own choice of financier and a chance to negotiate a reasonable price for their 4.2 per cent equity option.

“We don’t trust UBS … because they failed us in the first place,” says tribal leader Andy Hamaga. The government, he says, has “mortgaged our equity to get the UBS loan”.

And if they don’t get their way? “We will turn the tap off,” says Hamaga. “No choice.”

On Sunday, a UBS spokeswoman said the land owner’s 4.2 per cent equity option had been “carved out” of last year’s loan security terms, and that the bank was not doing the ongoing financing work that land owners feared. “We have not been mandated by anyone in PNG to raise the finance for the landowner call option,” said the spokeswoman.

The tribespeople have tried to talk to the politicians. Then they tried the courts. Options are running out.

Another leader, Hamule Ngiame, whose Pii and Komen clans live on the PDL-1 land, responsible for more than half of the PNG LNG’s gas supplies, says “Coming to the media is the second [last] option.”

“The last option is to disturb the project. We know that in 1989 we had the Bougainville crisis, over a similar issue of government failure in meeting its part to deliver landowner benefits.

“We will do the same.”…..PACNEWS

SOURCE: SMH/PACNEWS

33) Indonesia Could Change Law On Papua Mine Contract

Allow for decade extension for US company at Papua mine

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 12, 2015) – Indonesia’s government is planning to amend its rules on mining contracts to allow the United States company, Freeport-McMoRan, to extend its contract at the Grasberg mine in West Papua.

Freeport’s contract for the world’s largest copper and gold mine ends in 2021, but present rules only allow talks on an extension to end two years before a contract is due to expire.

Reuters reports a mines ministry official, Bambang Gatot, saying a revision to the government’s regulations is being processed by the economics ministry, and should be released by the end of the year.

The new rules may allow companies to propose an extension 10 years before their contracts expire.

Freeport says it has been assured by the Indonesian government that its Grasberg contract would be extended beyond 2021.

The company plans to invest 18 billion dollars to transition the mine from an open pit to underground mining in late 2017.

Radio New Zealand International

EVENT


34) Miss Fiji pageant launched

Felix Chaudhary
Monday, October 12, 2015

THE inaugural Miss Fiji pageant was launched simultaneously with the opening event of Airports Fiji Ltd’s 2015 Nadi International Volleyball Tournament at Prince Charles Park on Friday night.

Pageant director Hirdesh Prasad said at the launch that they used AFL’s tournament because of the large number of people that were present from all over the country.

“A celebration of diversity and unity in moving Fiji forward was fitting as it is the intent of the pageant to celebrate our Fijian women,” he said.

“This pageant has been in formative stage for over a decade and the national pageant aims to celebrate the collective beauty and intellect of our women across the Fijian archipelago.”

Mr Prasad said the high level of beauty, intellect and talent displayed by the 10 contestants from two cities and eight towns was a huge boost for Fiji’s representative to the Miss Pacific Islands pageant and for women in the country.

Telecom Fiji Ltd is the major sponsor for the Miss Fiji pageant, which will be held in Nadi from October 17 to 24.Fijitimes

SPORT

35) PNG and Fiji Contest First Melanesian Rugby Club Champs
Match endorsed by International Rugby Federation

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 10, 2015) – The rugby league club champions from Papua New Guinea and Fiji go head to head tonight for the right to call themselves the inaugural winner of the Melanesian Club championship.

The Agmark Gurias will have the benefit of home support against the Sabeto Roosters at Port Moresby’s Sir John Guise Stadium, the same venue where they won the PNG domestic title last month.

Steven Nightingale is in his first full season as Gurias coach and is keen to add to their trophy haul.

“It’s a great opportunity for myself and the team to get something else into the cabinet for 2015. It’s been a great year for us and we’re just trying to continue making history as a club if we can win this first cup.”

The Sabeto Roosters team co-ordinator, Kalioba Lumuni says with today also being Fiji’s Independence Anniversary they’re hopeful the Fijian community in Port Moresby will turn up in numbers to support them.

The bulk of the Roosters squad come from a rugby union background but Lumuni believes they are capable of an upset.

“It’s a big challenge for the boys – rugby league back home is ranked fourth sport in Fiji – coming against Papua New Guinea’s number one team and we are the Fiji number one team so we are representing our country and representing all our clubs. We will play the way we normally play – we didn’t change our game plan – but we have to defend well on Saturday [if we are to] win the game.”

The match will be broadcast live on TV and radio and has been endorsed by the International Rugby League Federation and Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederate.

Radio New Zealand International

36) PNG cricketers end with loss

12 October 2015

Papua New Guinea’s cricketers have been soundly beaten in their final two-day match in the South Australian Premier League.

The Barramundi’s were all out for 182 batting first, with the Southern Force declaring at 186 for 8 to claim first innings points.

PNG were again bunded out cheaply for 161, with the Force cruising to their target with eight wickets to spare.

The squad now returns to Port Moresby in time for the annual Legends Big Bash Event on Friday, where the special guests: former England international Adam Hollioake, former New Zealand batsman and coach Mark Greatbatch, former Australian player Brad Hodge and ex Australia women’s international player and coach Cathryn Fitzpatrick will play alongside Barramundi’s and Lewas players at Amini Park.RNZI

37) RWC 2015: Pacific islands stripped of their natural talent
10:43 pm GMT+12, 11/10/2015, United Kingdom

It is the great shame of world rugby.

A documentary, Pacific Warr­iors, has revealed that 30 per cent of the players at the World Cup are of Pacific islander descent. Yet, none of the three Pacific island countries competing in the tournament — Fiji, Samoa and Tonga — reached the quarter-finals.

South Pacific rugby super powers Australia and New Zealand have been accused of “trawling” the islands for talent.

Almost one-third of Australia’s original 31-man World Cup squad were born in the Pacific islands or are of Polynesian descent, including Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu, Scott Sio, Will Skelton, Wycliff Palu, Matt Toomua, Israel Folau, Henry Speight, Joe Tomane and Tevita Kuridrani.

The All Blacks are also well represented by Pacific island players with Charlie Faumuina, Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu, Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Malakai Fekitoa, Sonny Bill Williams, Waisake Naholo and Victor Vito.

Can you imagine what Fiji might have achieved in this tournament with the likes of Speight, Kuridrani and Naholo in their backline?

But even northern hemisphere teams are starting to populate their teams with Pacific islanders such as Toby Fale of Wales and England’s Vunipola brothers and Manu Tuilagi (although he is not in their World Cup squad). As well Samuela Vunisa plays for Italy, while Romania has Paula Kinikinilan.

And the Japanese No 8, Amanaki Mafi, who delivered the pass for the Brave Blossoms’ match-winning try in their upset win against South Africa, was born in Tonga.

To be sure, there is much inter-country player traffic in internat­ional rugby these days, but the poaching of Pacific islanders is ­systematic. It has increased dram­atically since rugby went professional in 1995 and this has been reflected in the island nations’ World Cup records.

A Pacific island country reached the quarter-finals of the first three World Cups in 1987 (Fiji), 1991 (Western Samoa) and 1995 (Western Samoa), but only once (Fiji in 2007) since the game went professional.

When explosive Tongan flanker Willie Ofahengaue burst on the Australian scene in 1991 commentators struggled to pronounce his name and he was simply referred to as “Willie O” but now 36 per cent of Australian Super Rugby players are of Pacific island descent. It is not just a case of major countries poaching Pacific islander talent. There are economic push factors that lead to young islanders moving to places like Australia and New Zealand for educational and work opportunities.

In the 2013 census 7.4 per cent of the New Zealand population identified themselves as of Pacific island descent.

Once they are living in another country it only takes three years of residency to become eligible to play for their adopted nation.

Many players of Pacific island descent such as Sio were born in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the sons, nephews and cousins of former islander Test players.

This means the best rugby genes are being taken away from countries with small gene pools in the first place, which will no doubt have long-term consequences.

So what is to be done? Perhaps World Rugby should consider introducing Country of Origin style eligibility rules for the Pacific island nations at the World Cup?

Of course in a global rugby economy it would be unfair to prohibit Pacific islanders from enjoying the same freedom of movement and financial opportunities as other nationalities.

So some kind of compromise solution is needed. Given there is no professional rugby in the Pac­ific islands, if a player plays rugby at high school in an island country, he should play for that nation at the World Cup.

But World Rugby should financially compensate those Pacific islander players to ensure they are paid as well as top tier players in the tournament.

SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS

38) Japan exits memorable Rugby World Cup a winner

Reuters
Monday, October 12, 2015

Update: 11:52AM Having begun in the most dramatic and encapsulating fashion, Japan’s Rugby World Cup campaign has ended with a 28-18 victory over the United States, making them the first team to win three pool stage games and go out.

Tries from Kotaro Matsushima, Yoshikazu Fujita and Amanaki Mafi helped earn a another well-deserved victory, but the occasion in Gloucester on Sunday (Fiji time Monday) was the ultimate anti-climax, coming three weeks after they shocked the tournament by beating South Africa.

Despite falling to their fourth defeat, the US were no pushover and ended their own campaign with a spirited performance as tries from Takudzwa Ngwenya and Chris Wyles kept them in the contest throughout.

“It’s disappointing but we had a great World Cup. We played as well as we can today,” Japan coach Eddie Jones said.

Following the advent of five-team groups in 2003, no team had won three of their four pool stage encounters and not progressed to the next round.

Yet Japan’s failure to pick up bonus points in any of their matches and their tired defeat to Scotland four days after their shock win over the Springboks proved to be their undoing and ensured there was nothing but pride to play for at the Kingsholm Stadium in Gloucester.

39) Venus Williams targets WTA finals berth

Ap
Monday, October 12, 2015

HONG KONG – Venus Williams has headed to Hong Kong hoping she can get a ticket to Singapore.

Williams enters the Hong Kong Open knowing that a strong showing there can put her name back where it used to be a mainstay – the season-ending WTA finals for the world’s elite.

“This is it,” Williams said on Saturday.

“This is my last tournament before the season-ending championship and my last chance to do well. Hopefully I can enter the top seven or eight (in the world). It is not going to be easy as there is a strong field in Hong Kong.”

The WTA finals feature the top eight players in the Race to Singapore rankings based on this year’s results, a list on which 35-year-old Williams is currently 11th. And since sister Serena is sitting out the remainder of the year, she only has to make up two places to qualify.

Williams hasn’t played in the WTA finals since 2009, when it was held in Doha. She qualified for the 2010 event, but withdrew with a knee injury.

Williams missed out on valuable points when she was eliminated in the second round of the China Open by Ana Ivanovic last week, but won the Wuhan Open the week before that for her 47th WTA singles title.

The Hong Kong field includes two other players expecting to be in Singapore in Angelique Kerber of Germany and Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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