Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1148 ( Monday 21 December 2015 )

MELANESIA

1) Novanto scandal not new, says Papuan church leader

21 December 2015

A West Papuan church leader says Indonesian lawmakers enriching themselves at the cost of Papua resources is not new.

The comment from the chairman of the Kingmi Church, Benny Giay follows the resignation of Indonesia’s parliamentary speaker for allegedly seeking to extort a stake in lucrative mining operations in Papua.

Setya Novanto quit after exposure of a recording of secret talks related to onging negotiations between the government and miner Freeport McMoran over extension of its current contract.

Reverend Giay says despite being customary owners of the resource, Papuans are rarely considered in negotiations over the mine contract.

He says the Novanto scandal merely echoes what President Suharto used to do.

“Jakarta has not changed much: the officials, their mentality, their culture, their orientations. It’s very sad that we Papuans will go through our history, in the future, with these kinds of authorities in power.”RNZI

POLYNESIA

2) Former TBC board members launch action vs Tonga govt

21 December 2015

The chairperson and a director who refused to resign from the board of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission are seeking a judicial review of their early terminations.

Matangi Tonga reports that Lady ‘Eseta Fusitu’a and Lady Tuna Fielakepa have started civil action in the Supreme Court against the Minister of Public Enterprises Poasi Tei.

The court action follows a cabinet decision calling on directors of the government’s 15 public enterprises to voluntarily relinquish their appointments.

In June the government had decided to reorganise and consolidate the public enterprises.

Between May and July the Ministry of Public Enterprises held meetings to explain the plan and directors were invited to resign and accept financial compensation.

All the directors resigned except for the two ladies.

Lady Fusitu’a was reappointed as chairperson of the TBC Board in May 2014 for three years, while Lady Fielakepa was reappointed a director in late 2013 for three years.

The court has already ruled that both board members couldn’t remain in their positions while the case was being heard.RNZI

3) Confirmation Tonga MP has lost seat

21 December 2015

Tonga’s parliament has confirmed in a letter to Mateni Tapueluelu that he has lost his seat as a people’s representative in Parliament.

The clerk of the house, Gloria Pole’o, says the letter from the Speaker, Lord Tu’ivakano, states that the Tongatapu constituency No 4 seat is now vacant and a by-election is pending.

Radio Tonga says this comes after a court ruling that Mr Tapueluelu, because of an outstanding debt, was not eligible to stand in the poll last year.

It was Mr Tapueluelu’s first election and he became a part of the country’s first popularly elected government.

He is understood to be planning an appeal.RNZI

4) Mahana Beach on Tahiti on track for 2022

21 December 2015

An agreement has been signed in French Polynesia to go ahead with the huge Mahana Beach apartment and hotel project on Tahiti.

The resort complex in the Punaauia area is expected to cost 2.4 billion US dollars and be completed by 2022.

The deal has been reached between the territory’s government and a Chinese consortium made up of Recas Global Limited, China Railway International and R&F Properties.

A final contract for a 70-year arrangement is scheduled to be signed by the end of June as some additional preliminary work needs to be completed.

The plan is for the consortium to rely on local workers to build the resort complex and to hire 4,500 people to help run it.

Projections are that the Mahana Beach project will indirectly create 10,000 jobs.

The territory is yet to complete the expropriation process to control all the land needed for the resort.RNZI

5) Two Samoas agree to chip away at trade barriers

21 December 2015

Two days of talks between the two Samoas have ended on a positive note, with both sides agreeing to come up with solutions to ease trade barriers.

A government and business delegation from Samoa travelled to American Samoa last week for annual economic cooperation talks.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, says the talks appear to have gained more than most, with a pledge made to work on a trade and economic agreement to be signed at the next meeting.

She says they aim to overcome significant hurdles for businesses.

“Businesses from Samoa that come here, they’ve found that the licencing laws as well as getting permits for land use and that sort of thing can be quite strenuous here. Other things they’ve talked about is perhaps bringing down duty for certain items – the duty is so high.”

She says the Samoan delegation expressed frustration at federal regulations it says makes it difficult to export food and affects labour mobility.

“They have been hoping that the local government would try and get an exemption for trading with Samoa because of the closeness and because of the cultural links. It still seems that the stumbling block is on this side [American Samoa] because the territory has to abide by US regulations.”RNZI

6) American Samoans call for new hospital funding from Obama

21 December 2015

A petition in American Samoa is trying to rally United States President Barack Obama to fund a new hospital for the territory.

The petition, which was started by local businesswoman Kathy Pilimai, has more than 7,000 signatures.

Ms Pilimai says the LBJ Hospital is about 40 years old and looks like “a rambling one level school building.”

She says the hospital cannot sustain 65,000 people and the physicians and nurses are worn thin.

Ms Pilimai says the hospital needs to be brought into the 21st century, and that would require US$200 million of federal funding.RNZI

7) Possibility of more frequent flights to American Samoa

21 December 2015

Smaller, but more fuel efficient aircraft may operate between Hawai’i and American Samoa in a few years, bringing the possibility of more flights to Pago Pago.

The Chief Commerical Officer of Hawaiian Airlines, Peter Ingram, says its 767 fleet, which currently operates the Pago Pago-Honolulu route, is being phased out to be replaced with the A321Neo from 2017.

Mr Ingram says this aircraft has the most fuel efficient technology and the airline is looking at using the smaller aircraft on the Pago Pago route.

“It may give us the opportunity to increase our frequency if we bring that airplane in here. So fly more than the twice a week we do throughout the year, and the three times a week at the peak periods. That’s something we’re going to explore as we get into 2018-2019.”RNZI

8) Samoa govt opens tender for fiber optic cable

19 December 2015

Samoa’s government has opened bidding for the contract to lay an undersea fiber optic cable to connect to the Southern Cross broadband network.

The cable will connect Savai’i to Fiji, where it will link with the main cable between Hawai’i and Sydney, Australia.

The government says it hopes to have a contractor signed by May next year, and the nearby French territory of Wallis and Futuna has also expressed an interest in connecting.

This would be the second fiber optic cable to Samoa, with telecommunications company Blue Sky’s creating the Moana cable between New Zealand and Hawai’i, via Samoa.RNZI

9) Hawaii health officials deal with dengue outbreak

19 December 2015

Health authorities in Hawaii are scrambling to contain what is being described as the US Pacific state’s worst dengue outbreak in 60 years.

More than 150 people on the island of Hawaii have so far contracted the mosquito borne virus and more cases are expected.

Hawaii’s disease outbreak control centre says it is still safe to travel to the Big Island.

Out of 615 reported cases, only 157 have been diagnosed with the virus and only seven of these cases remain potentially infectious.RNZI

MICRONESIA

10) Marshall Islands fights back in nuclear lawsuit

21 December 2015

The Marshall Islands has pulled up the US government over its interpretation of treaty law in a continuing David and Goliath legal battle over nuclear disarmament.

The two sides have been submitting their briefs for the appeal by the Marshall Islands against a US federal judge’s decision to throw out the case.

The Marshall Islands says the US government lawyers have broadly misstated the law surrounding treaty disputes as it pushes ahead with its so-called Nuclear Zero lawsuit.

The country, which was used as a testing ground for the US’ nuclear programme in the forties and fifties, launched action last year to get the world’s nuclear powers to honour their promise to disarm under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

But the case against the US was thrown out in February on constitutional grounds.

In its appeal brief the Marshall Islands says the US courts do have the power to oversee disputes over international treaties saying no law elevates the president’s authority to make a treaty above the judiciary’s power to decide disputes.

It also argued it can bring the suit because the US has violated its treaty negotiations and because of the measurable increased danger it faces.

The government contends even if a foreign state was able to sue in US courts, it can’t challenge the president’s foreign affairs responsibilities.

The Marshalls’ Foreign Minister Tony de Brum earlier said the Marshall Islands would use every legal avenue to make sure the lawsuit is won in his lifetime.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will now appoint a three-judge panel to consider the briefs.RNZI

11) CNMI renews emergency declaration for utility

18 December 2015

The acting governor in the Northern Marianas, Ralph Torres, has renewed the declaration of a state of significant emergency for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

He said he renewed the directive due to the threat of the inability to provide critical power generation, water, and wastewater.

Mr Torres says a financial crisis continues at the company, as it is owed more than US$20 million by the Public School System and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp as well as millions of dollars owed by private consumers.

CUC also faces a manpower crisis as CNMI law prohibits CUC from hiring more non-US technical workers.RNZI

TOK PISIN

12) PNG Domestik Vailans imas go daon long 2016

Updated 18 December 2015, 11:25 AEDT
Caroline Tiriman

Igat askim olsem 2016 imas kamap olsem wanpla yiar we ol pipal blong Papua New Guinea imas daonim pasin blong domestik violence

2016 imas stap olsem wanpla yiar we ol pipal blong Papua New Guinea imas daonim pasin blong paitim na bagarapim nating ol meri.

Despla em askim blong Helen Hakena, Chairmeri blong Human Rights long North Bougainville na tu emi direkta blong Leitana Nehan Divelopman agensi long Buka.

Mrs Hakena i mekim despla toktok bihaenim wanpla ripot emi soim olsem planti meri tru long kantri isave bungim domestik violence.

Sampla iwok long askim olsem blong wonem na ol man isave paitim ol meri olgeta taem long PNG.

Long 2013 National gavman ibin oraetim Family Protection Loa blong daoinim domestik violence, tasol despla loa ino wok gut.ABC

13) Vanuatu Iauko Grup bai resis long ileksan

Updated 18 December 2015, 11:40 AEDT
John Papik

Ileksan bai kamap long namba 22 January bihaenim heve blong ol wok politik

Ol pipol blong Vanuatu bai igo long general Eleksen long makim nupela gavaman long mun January long 2016.

Long stat blong dispela mun President blong Vanuatu Bouldwin Lonsdale ibin pasim  Vanuatu Palimen long wanem sampela memba blong gavaman ibin go long kalabus bihaenim ol pasin korapsan na bribery.

Na long general Eleksen long mun  bihain bai lukim  wanpela lain oli kolim ol yet Iouko grup bai resis long dispela eleksen olsem wanpela politikel  pati na oli tingting pinis long  sanapim 9-pela candidates long despla eleksen.ABC

FRENCH

14a) Brèves du Pacifique – lundi 21 décembre 2015

Mis à jour 21 December 2015, 15:40 AEDT

Élodie Largenton

Un ministre de Nauru est impliqué dans un accident mortel.

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Un couple qui circulait à moto a été percuté par l’arrière, vraisemblablement par un véhicule utilitaire conduit par le ministre de la Santé, Valdon Dowiyogo. L’homme est décédé et sa femme est à l’hôpital, en soins intensifs. Selon des témoins, l’ambulance envoyée sur place est tombée en panne, ce qui a entraîné un retard de 45 minutes. Le ministre nauruan de la Justice a été immédiatement emmené au poste de police, rapporte la radio nationale néo-zélandaise.
L’île de Tasmanie veut devenir l’État australien le plus sain d’ici 2025. Pour y arriver, les autorités vont concentrer leurs efforts sur deux points : l’obésité et le tabagisme. Le gouvernement de Tasmanie envisage d’interdire la vente de cigarettes aux moins de 21 ans, voire aux moins de 25 ans. La limite est aujourd’hui fixée à 18 ans. Environ 20% des habitants de l’île fument, mais ce pourcentage est plus élevé chez les jeunes : les 18 à 24 ans sont 32% à fumer régulièrement, selon les autorités locales.
Par ailleurs, l’Australie vient de remporter une victoire juridique face à Philip Morris : le cigarettier n’a pas réussi à obtenir la peau du paquet neutre, c’est-à-dire sans marque ni logo. Un tribunal arbitral de Singapour s’est dit incompétent. L’Australie est le premier pays au monde à avoir imposé ce type de paquet, fin 2012, pour réduire l’attrait des cigarettes.
  • Les victimes australiennes des attentats de Paris vont pouvoir obtenir une aide fédérale. Le Premier ministre, Malcolm Turnbull, vient de déclarer officiellement que les attaques perpétrées dans la capitale française le mois dernier étaient de nature terroriste ; cela permet notamment à Emma Grace Parkinson, jeune Australienne de 19 ans blessée lors de l’attaque du Bataclan, de demander jusqu’à 75 000 dollars d’aide. D’autres citoyens australiens étaient présents sur les lieux des attentats et peuvent aussi demander un appui financier, précise le gouvernement.
  • Le compte à rebours est lancé au Vanuatu : les candidats aux élections du 22 janvier prochain avaient jusqu’à vendredi soir pour se manifester. Pour se présenter, les candidats doivent payer une taxe de 1 250 dollars. Ces élections anticipées font suite à la dissolution du Parlement par le président vanuatais, Baldwin Lonsdale. En octobre dernier, 14 des 52 députés du Parlement ont été condamnés à de la prison pour corruption.
  • Barack Obama est de retour à Hawaï. Depuis son élection à la Maison blanche, le président américain passe les fêtes de fin d’année dans son île natale avec sa femme et ses deux filles. La famille loue une villa à Kailua, à une demi-heure d’Honolulu.ABC

14b) Papouasie: la mine de Grasberg, fabuleuse machine à cash

Mis à jour 18 December 2015, 17:07 AEDT

Caroline Lafargue

Freeport Mc Moran négocie actuellement avec le gouvernement indonésien le renouvellement de sa licence d’exploitation de cette gigantesque mine d’or et de cuivre après 2021. Selon Lukas Enembe, le gouverneur provincial, la mine de Grasberg rapporte gros à Freeport et à l’état indonésien, mais rien aux Papous.

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Il a été trop gourmand. Le Speaker du Parlement indonésien a du démissionner mercredi soir. Setya Novanto a proposé ses services à la compagnie minière américaine Freeport Mc Moran pour négocier le renouvellement de sa licence d’exploitation de la mine de Grasberg, en Papouasie, après 2021.
L’ex-Speaker du Parlement a offert à Freeport Mc Moran d’user de son influence auprès d’un ministre et du Président, Joko Widodo, dont il est un proche. Objectif: obtenir un contrat avantageux pour l’exploitant minier. En échange, Setya Novanto demandait des dessous de table pharaoniques à Freeport Mc Moran, 20% des revenus de la mine, soit 4 milliards de dollars. La conversation a été enregistrée. Mais malgré les preuves accablantes, Setya Novanto assure qu’il ne faisait que plaisanter.
Le scandale prouve à quel point cette mine de Grasberg est vitale pour le pouvoir indonésien. Il s’agit de la plus grande mine d’or du monde, et la troisième plus grande de cuivre. Située en plein coeur de la Papouasie, cette mine est une véritable machine à cash pour le gouvernement indonésie. D’ailleurs, PT Freeport Indonesia (la filiale de Freeport Mc Moran en Indonésie) est tout simplement le plus gros contribuable du pays.
Mais les propriétaires traditionnels mélanésiens de la mine se sentent exclus de cette prospérité. Une situation dénoncée par Lukas Enembe, le gouverneur de la province de Papouasie, au micro de Johnny Blade, sur la radio néo-zélandaise internationale :
« Nous voulons devenir actionnaires de cette mine, et deuxièmement, Freeport doit céder une partie du terrain de la mine au gouvernement provincial, tout cela pour que nous  puissions avoir notre mot à dire sur l’exploitation. Et troisièmement, Freeport doit s’engager à financer le développement de la Papouasie. Si Freeport n’apporte rien à la Papouasie, elle n’a rien à faire ici. Depuis qu’ils exploitent la mine, ils n’ont jamais rien versé aux Papous, pas de royalties, pas de de projets de développement, et ils ont juste détruit la montagne. » 
Pour les experts d’Indonesia Resources Studies, un laboratoire d’idées spécialisé dans l’énergie et les matières premières, la mine de Grasberg ne bénéficie pas suffisamment, non pas aux Papous, mais à tous les Indonésiens.
Ils ont adressé une pétition au gouvernement, lui demandant de rejeter la demande de renouvellement de licence de Freeport et de transférer la mine de Grasberg à un consortium d’entreprises publiques indonésiennes. Indonesia Resources Studies recommande aussi au gouvernement de faire payer des compensations à Freeport Mc Moran pour les dégâts causés par la mine sur l’environnement. ABC

AUSTRALIA

15) Raging bushfire

Aap
Monday, December 21, 2015

SYDNEY – Victorian firefighters are bracing for another intense day of extreme temperatures and strengthening winds across the state.

The major concern remains the 4000-hectare Scotsburn fire near Ballarat, where homes were lost on Saturday.

The exact number is unknown with crews unable to enter the area safely yet, the CFA said.

Watch and act alerts are in place for residents of Scotsburn and nearby Grenville — which could be in the path of the fire — as well as Wandin North, at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne,.

Increasing winds, scorching temperatures and very dry conditions are predicted ahead of a cool change expected to come through from around midday, with fears of dramatic wind shifts that could change the direction of the fires.

PACIFIC

16) Global outsourcers looking to Pacific

21 December 2015

Global call centre providers are starting to look at the Pacific as an alternative to countries like India and the Philippines for outsourcing.

A World Bank study suggests the region has the potential to create thousands of jobs in the offshoring, online outsourcing and other IT-related industries.

Optimistic scenarios in the report found that as many as 27,000 jobs could be created across Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Fiji already has operations in place: Mindpearl, a global contact centre business opened a centre in Suva in 2009.

The Commercial Director of Asia Pacific, Mark Mahoney, says internet speed is one of the advantages the Pacific offers.

“We’ve got customers today or clients today in Suva that were formerly in the Philippines, and they certainly speak of better connectivity in Suva, more reliable internet and clearer voice. Technology wise I think due to the Southern Cross Cable we’ve had really good feedback on the technology solution as well as really glowing endorsement on the capability of the people.”

Mark Mahoney says they were also attracted to Fiji because of the high level of English proficiency among the local population.RNZI

ASIA

17) Philippine Airlines launches PNG service

21 December 2015

Philippine Airlines has launched flights to Papua New Guinea as it looks to expand in the Oceania region.

In a statement, PAL said it will fly to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, three times a week – every Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The flag carrier will use an Airbus 320 for the flights.

The introduction of the service comes after PAL recently launched flights to Cairns, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand.

The new Manila to Moresby service will cater mostly to Filipino overseas workers, with an estimated 30,000 Filipinos based in PNG.RNZI

WORLD

18) New coalition helped turn tide

Reuters
Monday, December 21, 2015

WASHINGTON – When the Paris climate talks opened earlier this month, many observers assumed the terrible costs of failure meant some kind of deal was assured.

Todd Stern, the chief US climate change negotiator, was not one of them.

“When seeking legislation or agreement, there are people that are more interested in preventing things from happening,” Mr Stern told Reuters in an interview upon his return to Washington this week.

“Blocking is easier than getting things through.”

When the Paris talks started on November 30, Mr Stern sensed some countries were ready to settle on a “minimalist” agreement that would leave key issues to be resolved in the future.

He saw an opportunity to break through that reluctance by aligning the US with a loose assembly of rich and poor nations that shared the long-term goal of getting the earth’s average temperature to settle at 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

In 2011, the European Union formed a loose alliance with small island states, a few Latin American countries and the 48 least-developed countries that would push for more ambitious goals in a 2015 climate agreement and challenge the north-south divide that has for decades hampered negotiations.

The US decision to join the alliance added “rocket fuel” to the group, Mr Stern said, breaking through the solidarity of a bloc of developing countries that clung to old positions that would make a new climate agreement hard to reach.

19) ‘Pay for climate impacts’

Pacnews
Monday, December 21, 2015

PARIS – After Paris, a call for fossil fuel industries to pay for their climate damage.

In the wake of the Paris Agreement on climate change, representatives from more than 60 organisations across the world called for a levy on fossil fuel extraction to help pay for climate impacts in the most vulnerable countries.

The declaration says even keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as more than 190 governments have agreed to, will not stave off some climate impacts already being felt by the most vulnerable nations. It has been signed by a list of more than 60 individuals and organisations, including the Seychelles Ambassador to the UN, Ronny Jumeau, scientists such as Naomi Oreskes, leaders of environmental organisations such as Kumi Naidoo (Greenpeace), Bill McKibben (350.org), Samantha Smith (WWF), Mithika Mwenda (Pan African Climate Justice Alliance), author Naomi Klein, Yeb Sano of the Philippines, Saleemul Huq of International Centre for Climate Change & Development, Bangladesh.

“Vulnerable communities on the frontline of climate change are already suffering worse droughts, more intense storms, and their homes are already being encroached upon by rising sea levels. They are already suffering loss and damage from climate change,” said the declaration.

20) Islamic State vows war against Saudi Arabia

Reuters
Monday, December 21, 2015

DOHA – Islamic State threatened to attack Saudi Arabia for “colluding with crusaders” after the oil-rich kingdom said it had established a 34-state Islamic military coalition to target the militants.

In a weekly publication documenting its military activities, the jihadist group described as “morons and fools” the 34 members of the coalition which Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said would be headquartered in Riyadh to co-ordinate mutual anti-terrorism assistance across the Islamic world.

“With permission from Allah, this alliance will be the beginning of the collapse of the governments of the oppressive tyrants in the lands of Islam,” said an article entitled “Mohammed bin Salman’s alliance of surprised allies”.

Confusion over the coalition’s role, even among its own members, has cast doubt on an initiative widely seen as an effort by Saudi Arabia to solidify its claim to leadership of the Sunni world against Shi’ite Iran.

Another article criticised the participation of several Syrian rebel groups in a recent meeting in Riyadh which it said proved they were “disbelievers”.

Saudi Arabia has been hit by a spate of deadly shootings and bomb attacks this year, many of them laid at the door of the Islamic State.

The group is bitterly opposed to Gulf Arab rulers and is seen as trying to stir up sectarian confrontation on the Arabian peninsula to bring about the overthrow of the ruling dynasties.

It has urged young Saudi Sunnis to attack targets including Shi’ites.

HEALTH

21) Bougainville hospital gets a CT scanner

21 December 2015

A newly installed CT scanner at Bougainville’s Buka Hospital will save the autonomous Papua New Guinea region tens of thousands of dollars.

The scanner, which was funded by the Bougainville regional MP in the national government, Joe Lera, has been installed by an Australian company.

Buka General Hospital has admitted 8,000 patients in the past year, with 71 referred to Port Moresby or other hospitals, often for CT scans.

The chief executive, Dr Cyril Imako, says the referrals cost the hospital US$65,000 dollars and doing the scans in Buka will save money.

New Dawn FM reports the hospital will need to employ specialist staff to operate the machine and assess the scan results.RNZI

22) Heed warnings says Spinal Injuries Association of Fiji
– The Spinal Injuries Association of Fiji is concerned about the high number of people in Fiji who have had their limbs amputated because of diabetes. Association President Josko Wakaniyasi says despite numerous attempts to educate people on Non Communicable Diseases, people are not heeding warnings.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/35910/heed-warnings-says-spinal-injuries-association-of-fiji#sthash.4Y6WwMSz.dpuf

 23) New nursing station for Ra – A new nursing station was opened at the Nayavu-i-Ra Village in Ra by the Minister of Health and Medical Services Jone Usamate. The nursing station brings much delight to the people of the hard to reach Nayavu-i-Ra as the village is inaccessible by roads and the only means of transport is by boat. The new nursing station will provide basic health services, and patients with major complications will be referred to Rakiraki Sub-divisional Hospital under the supervision of a station nurse.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/35920/new-nursing-station-for-ra#sthash.zkMl

EDUCATION

24 )  120 graduate from USP’s Vanuatu campus

NASIK SWAMI
Monday, December 21, 2015

Update: 12:02PM A TOTAL of 120 students received their certificates, diplomas and degrees during the graduation ceremony at the University of the South Pacific’s Emalus Campus in Vanuatu last Friday.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, deputy vive-chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Services, Professor Richard Coll described the graduation as the most significant and meaningful occasion in the university’s calendar for graduates.

Fifty per cent of the graduates were females.Fijitimes

25) Confusion surrounds exam results in Fiji

21 December 2015

Fiji’s opposition says the education minister needs to be clearer about the country’s education reforms, saying dramatic improvements in exam results are extraordinary and unexplained.

The minister, Mahendra Reddy, last week announced that every single student passed their year 13 exams, a significant increase from a 75.2 percent pass rate two years ago.

However, results for maths and sciences remains poor, with pass rates for these subjects well below 50 percent.

In a statement, Mr Reddy says the improvement is down to a number of reforms carried out in the past year to improve what has been consistently poor performance.

But the leader of the National Federation Party, Biman Prasad, says recent statements by Mr Reddy about the results have many students and teachers confused.

“It’s amazing and ridiculous that the minister for education would not be able to give a very clear assessment of what the result is. His claim that the reforms are paying dividends is rubbish because what is he measuring that against?”

Biman Prasad says there needs to be an independent review of the education system.RNZI

POLITIC

26) PNG electoral commission urged to step up candidate scrutiny

21 December 2015

An opposition MP in Papua New Guinea has urged the electoral commission to vet candidates contesting the 2017 election.

The MP for Kikori, Mark Maipakai, says many MPs in the current parliament have criminal records or a history of corruption.

Mr Maipakai says these kinds of people should not be in power and says they should be thoroughly screened by the electoral commission to stop them from running for office.RNZI

27) PNG govt accused of sitting on whistleblower legislation

21 December 2015

Papua New Guinea’s opposition leader, Don Polye, has accused the prime minister, Peter O’Neill, of sitting on legislation that would protect whistleblowers.

Mr Polye’s statement comes after the alleged assault of a NAQIA employee who Mr Polye alleges was beaten for exposing corruption in the agency.

He says corruption in the country is rife and whistleblowers are not legally protected for exposing corruption within organisations.

Mr Polye says the government continues to delay enacting a proposed Whistleblower Act, which would offer protection.RNZI

28) Candidate registration closes for Vanuatu election

19 December 2015

The last day for intending candidates to register for Vanuatu’s snap election in January was Friday afternoon.

Registrations closed at 4:30pm local time, and prospective candidates had to pay a fee of more than 900 US dollars.

The January 22nd election was called by the president, Baldwin Lonsdale, after weeks of political uncertainty and the failure of MPs to agree on a solution.

In October 14 MPs, who had been members of the government, were jailed on corruption charges.RNZI

MEDIA

29) Vanuatu media pioneer warns about social media

21 December 2015

A retiring Vanuatu media pioneer says he believes there will always be a need for mainstream media in the country.

As publisher and editor of Vanuatu’s Daily Post newspaper for more than 20 years, Marc Neil-Jones has frequently been in the firing line – at various points deported, assaulted and jailed over stories he’s published.

However he says media freedom has greatly improved in Vanuatu since the 1990s when he started his newspaper.

But he says the growing influence of social media, opening the way for much misinformed comment and analysis, is now a concern.

“There needs to be some element of control over people who administer these social sites, social pages through Facebook. I mean, the people are based here in Vanuatu and they should be administering it and making sure that there’s no highly defamatory and libellous comments coming out on it.”

Marc Neil-Jones says there is a tendency by Pacific Island governments, in response to the impact of social media, to take sweeping action against all media in a bid to control information flow.

.However he warns against wholesale crackdowns on the media, as hinted at by Vanuatu prime minister Sato Kilman earlier this year.

Mr Neil-Jones says in many instances the public is growing tired of the rubbish that infiltrates social media and will therefore look to mainstream media for more balanced coverage.

He indicates that the Daily Post stable will keep building its digital platform which includes a strong social media presence.Vanuatu C/_ Daily Post

LAND

30) Lease money

Repeka Nasiko
Monday, December 21, 2015

A GROUP of landowners from Sorokoba Village in Ba are disappointed with the new lease distribution system implemented by the iTaukei Land Trust Board.

They claim there are discrepancies in the payment system which came into effect in May this year.

Spokesman Sairusi Naliva said lease money had been unevenly distributed.

“Since the inception of this new system, some members have received their lease money five times while others only once,” he said

“The names of members in the respective recently printed Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) has many mistakes.

“Some names are wrongly spelt, some names are missing, some names appear twice, some are wrongly registered into the other land owning units, and some who are living are listed dead.”

He said the landowners preferred the old payment method.

“This should be done either through the trustee account or the receiving of money six monthly — June and December.

“The reason being that all these lease money comes in a lump sum into the clan or sub clan’s account, where a statement is received and transparency shown, members of clans or sub clans are able to gather and meet as a family and a fraction of the money to be put aside for family functions within the clan or sub clan.”

TLTB spokesman Samuela Loanakadavu said the landowners should take their grievances to their nearest TLTB office for discussion.Fijitimes

BUSINESS

31) New Caledonia’s Belep eyed as new cruise ship destination

21 December 2015

Talks have been held on Belep in the very north of New Caledonia about the island’s possible inclusion of the region’s cruise ship itineraries.

The territory’s newspaper says exploratory talks took place between the company Kenua and traditional chiefs to gauge how the island would cope with an influx of tourists.

The report says there is concern that locals aren’t used to seeing large numbers of tourists disembark.

It also says the plan is to ensure that the island can maintain its authenticity.RNZI

32) Mobile charges to drop

Monika Singh
Saturday, December 19, 2015

COME next year, Digicel customers can expect a 6 per cent drop in their calls, texts and data charges.

A statement from Digicel Fiji yesterday said the reduction in rates and call charges was to comply with the new VAT implementation requirement from January 1.

Digicel Fiji CEO Darren McLean said all customers would benefit from the VAT reduction.

“Digicel supports the Fiji Government’s initiative in reducing VAT from 15 per cent to 9 per cent and we will fully comply with the regulations. Customers will benefit from the 6 per cent saving on VAT from January 1.

“We are always looking at ways to deliver the best service and affordable rates for customers. The new VAT reduction means that our customers will now save even more on their communications costs,” said Mr McLean.FIJITIMES

INFRASTRUCTURE

33) Prime Fiji to improve street lights – Prime (Fiji) Limited is working closely with the Fiji Roads Authority to install and maintain Fiji’s street lights and traffic signals. Prime Fiji Operations General Manager Lesley Johnston says new installations and project works on street lights and traffic signals is now underway. Johnston says they are working with local supply partners on providing quality equipment and lighting standards for Fiji, and improving the life cycles of equipment.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/35908/prime-fiji-to-improve-street-lights#sthash.9CN1U7Gg.dpuf

LAW&ORDER

34) Nine men from Bougainville plead guilty in Solomons case

21 December 2015

Nine men from Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville area have pleaded guilty to unlawfully being in Solomon Islands.

The Post Courier reports a man from the Shortland Islands, in Solomon Islands’ Western Province, also pleaded guilty to a charge after hiring the men for security reasons.

John Nauva told the court he hired the men as guards after three other boats from Bougainville landed on his property, carrying men with guns.

However the men then worked for a logging camp in the Shortland Islands for most of the month of September.

Honiara magistrate’s court is expected to deliver its sentence this week.RNZI

35) PNG police change training to instil discipline

21 December 2015

The Papua New Guinea police constabulary is revamping its training programme in an effort to address discipline problems.

Police Commissioner Gary Baki says the maximum recruitment age has been lifted to 35 in an effort to allow more mature people into the force.

Mr Baki says the length of time spent training will also be raised from six to 18 months.

The commissioner has asked local universities to assist in teaching recruits a new approach.

“So there are various aspects of sociology and all these kinds of things that needs to be built into so we can understand the behaviour of the people that we are serving. At the moment six months is too short in the sense of what we teach our recruits, basically its all on elements of law and not so much on the society that they are expected to serve.”

Gary Baki says the extended training time will also give recruits a chance to spend time at the local military school.RNZI

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION,ENVIROMENT

36) EI Nino impact in PNG

Pacnews
Monday, December 21, 2015

PORT MORESBY – A major review of strategies and operational plans has been undertaken by the National Disaster Office and its tactical partners on their capabilities to effectively combat the effects of El Nino.

Acting director Martin Mose told the Post-Courier that the aim of the workshop was to better strengthen networks to address the national disaster issue of El Nino and other natural disasters that may be faced by the country in the future.

“The process of strategic response planning will be conducted to ensure better connections between assessments, needs analysis, resource mobilisation, implementation, monitoring and evaluations of 2015 EI Nino response operations,” Mr Mose said.

He said this was done in order to validate the current strategy that the government was using to respond to the most affected communities.

It is hoped that this planning process will ensure better allocation of resource, inform focus on most critical sectors and geographical locations as well as strengthen existing co-ordination arrangements.

The main aim is to reach a common definition of the 2015 EI Nino impact in PNG using the findings of the rapid assessment team as the baseline and input from partners and PDCs to determine how the impacts have evolved to be conducted through a joint analysis process.

Others included prioritising needs, sectors of response and government agencies responsible in the province based on the agreed needs.

Meanwhile, Western Province has been hit hard by the effects of the El Nino, with most of the rivers and lakes drying up.

While services such as education, businesses and the Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) operations have been affected in this major dry spell, quality health services are still being delivered to the areas that have been hit hard.

The Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) Middle and South Fly Health Programme (CMSFHP) and the North Fly Health Services Development Programme (NFHSDP) are still in full operation, delivering vital health services to the people.

The NFHSDP is funded by OTML and the CMSFHP funded through Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF). Both are managed by OTDF and implemented by Abt JTA. The programs partner with health service providers in the province such as Evangelical Church of PNG, Catholic Health Services and government health services.

In co-ordination with partners, the programs are sending health patrol teams to villages in North Fly and to CMCA villages in the Middle and South Fly Districts to carry out clinical attachments, immunisation and family planning clinics.

Most program staff out in the field say water shortage in communities is the biggest problem as majority of water wells and supplied water have dried up.

“The lakes and rivers have dried up and what used to be a two-hour boat trip is now a six to eight hours trip. In some areas we have to walk for hours to reach the health facilities,” explains CMSFHP health promotion officer, Cyril Yama.

“Safe drinking water is the biggest issue at the moment. The well water is dry or really muddy and we are continuously supplying tablets for purifying water and teaching people how to make water drinkable,” says CMSFHP primary health care team leader, Freda Pake.

Timothy Martin, a community health worker with the NFHSDP, has been working at Membok Health Centre on clinical attachment.

“People are doing it tough down there, water has run out and it will get tougher as the dry spell continues into the new year.

“We are doing all we can as health professionals to deliver essential and much needed health care to these people,” Mr Martin said.

The risks of dehydration and disease outbreaks are high during such environmental disasters.

37) Minister Ken launches initiative to fight climate change

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By Anita Roberts

Minister Ken launch initiative to fight climate change

Climate change is a threat to the survival of coastal communities in Vanuatu. This photo demonstrates the impact of the rising sea level Worlep, a coastal village in northeast Malekula

Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2015 12:00 am |Updated: 9:27 am, Tue Dec 15, 2015.

By Anita Roberts | 0 comments

The caretaker Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Don Ken, has launched an initiative to protect the communities of northeast Malekula and their coastlines from the threats posed by climate change and sea level rise.

This includes the small group of islands as Rano, Wala and Vao.

Climate Change is a threat to the survival of these coastal communities that depend on the ocean for their livelihoods. For example, gaining an income from fishing on their reefs or through marine conservation areas.

The continuous sea level rise is stirring up fear in rural communities over diminishing resources. A chief representative, Jimmy Simbola, has stressed that the impact of rising sea levels felt by communities around northeast is huge.

He said devastation increases following cyclone Pam. He gave an example that the fierce storm eroded the main beach in Worlep village and uprooted trees, exposing their roots.

Concerns were also raised by the Acting President of the Malampa Provincial Government Council (MPGC), Cesar Raphael, that the impact could be worse due to the drought brought by the current El Niño event.

Raphael pointed out that the small islands such as Rano and Wala are at risk including other communities around the island. His call for immediate action was heard by all communities during the launching event.

The event noted that communities need partnership to battle climate change.

The caretaker Minister declared that the project will cover rivers and streams that are also affected by climate change.

The Daily Post understands that part of this project will see the formation of climate change committee members who will be engaging in activities and strategies to address climate change matters at the community level.VANUAT DAILY POST

WOMAN,YOUTH,CHILD

38) Booklet details experiences Fiji women have in politics

21 December 2015

The Fiji Women’s Forum has launched its first publication detailing the experiences of women in politics at all levels.

Coordinator Kelerayani Gavidi says the booklet documents political particpation of women, including the current Speaker of the House Jiko Luveni.

Ms Gavidi says the book is part of an effort to increase the participation of women in decision-making.

“Not only highlighting what has been done in the past and experiences that women have had but increasing awareness, encouraging young women, or any women who has an interest in that area in particular. Urging them to move ahead, come forward. Also to highlight that you can’t progress as a nation if you don’t consider the aspects and experiences of your women.”RNZI

SPORT

39) PNG-based rugby league team forms in support of West Papua

21 Decmber 2015

A rugby league team has formed in Papua New Guinea to raise awareness about the on-going human rights abuses in West Papua.

West Papua Warriors is made up of players from PNG’s Digicel Cup domestic competition and also features two players from West Papua the Indonesian province.

Team captain Tala Kami says they first came together in August to compete in a nine-a-side tournament in Port Moresby, where they finished eighth out of 64 teams.

In February they will take their message to the world stage, when they face the Philippines development side, in the curtain raiser to a test match between the Philippines and Serbia in Sydney.

“There’s been a group of us that have always been supporters of West Papua and it just came to us that maybe we should put in a team that would sort of represent West Papua – but more to raise awareness about the cause. So once we did that we went and approached the West Papuan community here in Port Moresby, the leaders, and spoke with them about it and they were really really amped about it so it just kind of grew from there”.

Tala Kami says they’re also in negotiations with two more players in West Papua and some former PNG Kumuls internationals.RNZI

40) Football stars hope to inspire future New Caledonian footballers

19 December 2015

The former Real Madrid and France football star Christian Karembeu hopes that tonight’s All Star match in Noumea will help to inspire the next generation of New Caledonian’s to take up the sport.

A number of European greats, including former Juventus striker David Trezeguet and Real Madrid midfielder Claude Makelele, will roll back the years at the Stade Numa Daly, to help mark the 50th anniversary of the Gaitcha football club.

Christian Karembeu says the idea for the match was initially thought up with the former President of Gaitcha, Dr Paul Qaeze, who died in October.

He says playing for Gaitcha growing up and says the game is a chance to celebrate the club and spread a positive message.

“Sport is tool of dedication and peace and we have Real Madrid players, we have Juventus players, we have Paris St Germain players, many many of La Liga [in Spain]. Football can unite the people and sport can change the world together so I think our country deserves that better. Hopefully I inspire new generations to be good at football but first of all to be good human beings because we need this kind of brilliance in our world today.”

Christian Karembeu previously hosted a similar star-studded match in New Caledonia in 2008 and says he hopes to make it a regular event.RNZI

41) Record growth for rugby playing numbers in Pacific

19 December 2015

The number of people playing rugby in the Pacific Islands has been a record growth this year.

Total playing numbers throughout Oceania in 2015, including New Zealand and Australia, reached one point one million.

The Get Into Rugby program was rolled out in the Pacific last year after being initially piloted in Tonga.

World Rugby’s Regional General Manager for Asia/Oceania, William Glenwright, says the program helped to get rugby into schools, boosting playing numbers by 77,000.

“That’s 77,000 kids who weren’t having a rugby experience this time last year, on the back of some fantastic work by our member unions through the delivery of Get Into Rugby throughout the region. It’s a combination of the development of a new curriculum and the up-skilling and restructuring in the development staff within the unions that’s allowed us to achieve the significant growth that we have this year.”RNZI

42) All Stars sets up NRL fantasy football

Aap
Monday, December 21, 2015

BRISBANE – Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith has lauded the new NRL All Stars selection rules, which will effectively allow him to play fantasy football alongside England’s Sam Burgess and New Zealand’s Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at February’s pre-season extravaganza.

Teams for both the Indigenous and the rebadged World All Stars sides were unveiled on Tuesday in Brisbane, with the returning Burgess and backline sensation Tuivasa-Sheck the headline attractions.

They will add punch and pizazz respectively to a World outfit captained by Smith and containing players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Wales, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.

But the February 13 clash at Suncorp Stadium is really all about the Indigenous All Stars, coached by Laurie Daley and featuring some of the game’s most exciting players – including NRL premiership captain Johnathan Thurston, Origin stars Greg Inglis and Blake Ferguson, and in-demand free agent James Roberts.

Smith said he was looking forward to lining up next to Burgess, who spent 2015 in rugby union and is poised to have his new contract with South Sydney ratified.

“The game has missed him over the last 12 months,” he said.

“When you get to play alongside a quality player such as Sam, it’s always a pleasure. He’s a world-class player in our sport.

“He’s not the only guy. There’s a fair few people in that team I haven’t experienced playing alongside and it would be nice to get that opportunity.

“Tuivasa-Sheck, he’s an excitement machine. It would be nice to watch his special skills in the same jersey, not the opposite jersey.”

Indigenous veteran Sam Thaiday also endorsed the tweak to the popular pre-season match, conceived by Preston Campbell and launched in 2010.

“There’s always a few key messages behind this game and the more we can open that up to a world market, the better,” he said.

World All Stars coach Wayne Bennett said he would have picked Broncos halfback Ben Hunt if he didn’t have a carryover suspension for his lifting tackle on Kane Linnett in this year’s NRL grand final.

Illustrating the convoluted nature of the new selection criteria, which forces Bennett to pick one player from each NRL club but no more than two, he said he had to change six players to accommodate withdrawing Hunt from his first-choice team.

Bennett also didn’t consider any players coming off injuries or surgery.

Indigenous All Stars: Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston, Will Chambers, Blake Ferguson, Dane Gagai, Ben Barba, Johnathan Thurston (c), Ryan James, Nathan Peats, Sam Thaiday, Greg Bird, Joel Thompson, Chris Grevsmuhl. Bench: Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham, Tyrone Peachey, James Roberts, Tyrone Roberts, Ray Thompson, Jack Wighton. Coach: Laurie Daley

World All Stars: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Semi Radradra, Jarrod Croker, Josh Morris, Antonio Winterstein, Gareth Widdop, Trent Hodkinson, James Graham, Cameron Smith (c), Paul Gallen, Tyson Frizell, Simon Mannering, Sam Burgess. Bench: Tom Burgess, Kane Evans, Robbie Farah, Lachlan Maranta, Nene McDonald, Trent Merrin, Martin Taupau. Coach: Wayne Bennett

43) European Tour Golfer of the Year

Bbc
Monday, December 21, 2015

Rory McIlroy has picked up the European Tour Golfer of the Year award for the third time in four years.

The 26-year-old from Northern Ireland enjoyed three tour victories in 2015 to win the Race to Dubai title ahead of Englishman Danny Willett.

McIlroy triumphed despite an ankle injury which ruled him out of action for five weeks.

“I feel very proud to have won for a third time – it’s always special to be recognised in this way,” said McIlroy.

The world number three secured his first tour victory of 2015 at the Dubai Desert Classic, followed by success in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco in May.

Victory in the season-ending World Tour Championship last month ensured McIlroy also won the Race to Dubai title for a third time in four years.

“After a good first half to the season, the injury was obviously a setback for me, so to finish the year strongly with my second victory in Dubai, plus picking up the Race to Dubai title again, was very satisfying,” added the four-times major winner.

“This was an objective I successfully fulfilled this season. To now also win the Golfer of the Year award is a great way to sign off the year.

“I am already looking forward to starting the new season and trying to achieve even more in 2016.”

w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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