Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1077 ( Sunday 24 July 2016 )
1) Economist proposes an open New Guinea
5:41 pm on 23 July 2016
A Papua New Guinean economist has put forward a proposal to open up the whole island of New Guinea for trade purposes.
Charles Yala is the director of the National Research Institute, a PNG government funded think tank, based in Boroko.
His opinion piece argues that both Indonesia and Papua New Guinea would benefit from opening up their land borders for trade purposes.
The proposal suggests an East-West highway or rail link from Timika in Indonesia’s Papua Region to Lae on PNG’s northern coast. It also suggests a north-south link along the border from Jayapura and Vanimo to Merauke in the south.
Dr Yala says geographically the island of New Guinea is ideally situated to provide a North/South trade link between Australia, New Zealand and the fast growing economies of South East Asia.
“Knowing very well that there are social, political, cultural, environmental, topographic engineering challenges and the funding to do that I just decided that look, let me put up this idea and see what the public thinks about it and see if there is a way to promote this idea and see if that is possible and we can raise a discussion,” said Dr Yala.
Charles Yala said his proposal would tie in neatly with Australia’s ‘Our North, Our Future’ policy as well as China’s ‘Maritime Silk Road’ policy.
- Air Vanuatu’s plan to terminate a number of local pilots has been halted by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, whose office is one of four Government shareholders of the national airline. The Air Vanuatu Board is being instructed by the PM to finance the upgrading of the pilots’ qualifications, to the highest licence available, the Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence. The PM views developing the airline’s human resources as an investment made in the national interest. (Daily Post)
- Former Air Vanuatu pilot Ron Sumsum has been terminated as CEO of Solomon Airlines, according to a report from Solomon Islands national broadcaster SIBC. The airline gave no reason for the termination, however the owner of the airline, the Solomon Islands Government, was reportedly unhappy with Sumsum’s action last June to suspend flight operations due to the non-payment of millions of dollars owed to the airline by the Government.
- A stay order being sought by the 14 former politicians imprisoned for bribery last year has been refused. The Appeal Court issued its decision late yesterday. The 14 convicted men had been seeking to stay proceedings against them while other related cases in the matter are before the courts. More details will be given later, says Thompson Marango in Daily Post today, when the full decision is available.
- The Malvatumauri kastom governance project is proceeding on four islands – Malo, Ambae, Efate and Tanna. The Malvatumauri’s Jean-Pierre Tom said many resolutions had been decided by the national body representing and comprising custom chiefs. There are resolutions concerning land and the authority of kastom. Issues such as the delimitation of custom boundaries are involved. A national road map for the Malvatumauri has been created. All islands are being involved ultimately, the four mentioned being part of a pilot project. (Radio Vanuatu)
- The contractor on the Port Vila Urban Development Project says certain roads at night will be completely closed to enable works to proceed. Signage indicates what alternative routes drivers should take. The work proceeds at night for safety and efficiency. (Radio Vanuatu)
- The Fisheries Department is to create a national fisheries policy and has held a two-day consultation with Efate communities and stakeholders for this purpose. Industrial fishery development, seafood safety, value adding, and illegal and un-reported fishing activity have been on the agenda. The policy should reach finality after consultation with all provinces, in the near future. (Radio Vanuatu)
3a) Vanuatu tops Asia-Pacific region, ranks 4th globally in 2016 Happy Planet Index
Posted: July 22, 2016
- Vanuatu is now back in the Happiest Country Index after topping the list in 2006 when it began. We come back in at fourth position, behind Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia, a whole lot better than being right out of the list as we were for ten years. The information the HPI is based on was collected by National Statistics Office (VNSO) personnel in partnership with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and Malvatumauri following various pilot studies. The HPI is significant in that it is one of the only global indices that does not consider GDP or income as a factor of well-being. Jamie Tanguay of VNSO explained the ranking considers measures of life expectancy, subjective well-being, inequality of incomes and ecological footprint in order to show how efficiently residents of different countries are using environmental resources to lead long, happy lives. The Happy Planet Index is produced by UK-based New Economics Foundation (slogan: “Economics as if people and the planet mattered”), and can be viewed online at http://happyplanetindex.org.
- Daily Post today leads with the soaring of the price for green kava. It is continually going up, in the capital, especially at times of inter-island shipping schedule delays. Long-time Port Vila kava bar owner John Tarilama is planning to hold a meeting of kava bar owners to discuss increasing the bar price – doubling the price of a shell of green kava at bars, from Vt50 to Vt100 and from Vt100 to Vt200. The production of kava, especially in the islands in which it is most treasured, has been greatly affected by Cyclone Pam and the El Niño event that followed.
Tomorrow, in advance of Independence Day, we have the annual Round Island Relay around Efate.
This is to be followed by National Children’s Day on Sunday, for which the public holiday is Monday.
3b) Vanuatu wins award from FAO for its fight against illegal fishing; Chamber of Commerce calls for higher VAT rate
Posted: July 21, 2016
- Daily Post today leads with a detailed report of the Chamber of Commerce concerning the Chamber’s recommendation that suggestions of introducing a new income tax should be put aside in favour of raising the rate of VAT to 15%. The present rate of VAT is 12.5% and well below the global average of 15.2%, the Chamber adds. They have further added that a change in the tax haven status might have dire effects on foreign direct investment. Tony Sewen, director of the Treasury was doubtful that the Chamber’s prognostications would fulfill the objectives sought by the Revenue Revue Committee which he also chairs. In a matter of days the Government will be deciding on a revenue reform process. (Daily Post)
- Deputy PM Joe Natuman has warned all participants in MSG activities to be careful in meetings as regards what they say. He said too that they must be well-prepared before they go. This is because of the issue of West Papua failing to go through at the recent Honiara meeting. (Radio Vanuatu)
- Public Service Commission Chairman Martin Mahe has requested the Police to assist in their task of securing Government vehicles after work hours. All Government transport, except cars of ministers, DGs, and essential health and security personnel, is to be locked up at the workplace every afternoon at close of business until the next day in the morning. He is also getting tough about official work hours being properly observed to avoid unnecessary costs. (Radio Vanuatu)
4) CDC awards American Samoa $150,000 to help battle Zika
Funding is stopgap measure to help states respond to emerging threat, protect pregnant women
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will award $150,000 to the American Samoa to fight the Zika virus. The award is American Samoa’s share of about $60 million CDC is awarding to states, cities, and territories to support efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus disease and adverse health outcomes that can result from Zika infection, including the serious birth defect microcephaly.
– See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/category/article-category/local-news#sthash.S2hMbp25.dpuf
5) USDOT grants Talofa Airlines’ request to operate between 2Samoas and Tonga
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has granted the application by Samoa-based Talofa Airways Limited for an exemption to operate flights between the two Samoas as well as Tonga, and USDOT has tentatively approved issuing a foreigner carrier permit for the start-up airline, which has already secured two aircraft for the proposed air service.
In March this year, Talofa Airways filed an application with USDOT for exemption authority and a foreign carrier permit, pursuant to federal law. The airline plans to use small 9-seat planes for its service.
– See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/category/article-category/local-news#sthash.S2hMbp25.dpuf
6) Former Cook Islands Minister Found Guilty Of Corruption
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 16:12
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‘Visibly shocked’ Bishop yet to know what his sentence will be
By Losirene Lacanivalu
RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, July 21, 2016) – There was silence at the Cook Islands High Court yesterday afternoon when the jury reached a guilty verdict against Aitutaki MP and former Minister for Marine Resources Teina Bishop.
The high profile and often intense case came close to a temporary halt as the 11 jurors found him guilty on a charge of corruption by a Minister of the Crown before High Court Judge Justice Colin Doherty.
A visibly shocked Bishop was remanded on bail until nine this morning, where he will once again appear in the High Court to hear a decision on his sentencing date.
The High Court was crowded with prominent figures there to give their support to the One Cook Islands movement leader.
Earlier in the day, Judge Justice Doherty summed up the facts of the case and went over them with the jury, reminding them that they all needed to make one decision, as the law required them to reach a unanimous verdict.
“Sometimes it is possible to bring in a majority verdict, but that can only happen when certain circumstances exist and I will advise on this and if it gets to that point, at least nine from the jury will need to agree one way or the other.”
Judge Justice Doherty said in the two and half weeks the case had taken, most of the evidence had not been assessed and the jury needed to re-examine this if they needed and it would be entirely up to the jury to decide whether it was relevant.
“You don’t have to accept everything that a witness says. You may think it’s truthful but it may not be, so this is a case where you need to apply robust, old-fashioned common sense.
“You need to think about and ask yourselves if you can rely on what the prosecution witness and evidence have shown, to make an important decision,” Judge Justice Doherty advised the jury.
Before jury members retired to make a decision Judge Justice Doherty reminded them of their roles and responsibilities towards the country, the evidence and facts being produced and the witness that had been presented in court.
Following the jury’s decision, Bishop’s lawyer, Rodney Harrison, said he was unsure whether the court needed a probation report. However, Judge Justice Doherty’s decision to confirm the sentencing date today would enable him to seek instructions from Bishop.
Judge Justice Doherty told Harrison and prosecution lawyers Michael Thomas and Nick Williams that there was no need to rush into the sentencing date decision and this morning would be the best time to decide on this.
There was no need for a statutory request for a probation report on Bishop.
He acknowledged the members of the jury for their service and for having to sit in on the longest trial ever to be held in the Cook Islands.
The jurors have been excused from jury service for the next two years.
Bishop entered a not guilty plea on his charge of corruption on the first day of the trial. The court heard that between October 14, 2011 and July 10, 2013 Bishop and his business partner Thomas Koteka received a loan from Leun Thai subsidiary Century Finance. Of this, $250k of this was invested by Koteka so he and Bishop could buy Samade Resort in Aitutaki for $1 million, and much of the evidence centred around the circumstances of the loan.
Bishops trial took almost three weeks, and the jury took more than four hours to reach a verdict.
The guilty verdict will again alter the ever-changing political landscape in the Cook Islands. Bishop, whose true political allegiances have at times appeared uncertain, was leader of the parliamentary opposition until recently, when he resigned under a pre-arranged agreement and handed over the position to Ngatangiia MP Tamaiva Tuavera.
Cook Islands News
7) More Than Two Thirds Of Nauru MPs Offered Ministerial, Deputy Ministerial Posts
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 15:30
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Waqa enjoys near unanimous support from all 19 Parliamentarians
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 21, 2016) – More than two thirds of the MPs in the newly elected Nauru parliament are to hold minister or assistant minister posts.
The Waqa/Adeang government has announced the appointment of seven assistant ministers after legislation was passed in parliament allowing the move.
They join the six person cabinet sworn in last week.
There are 19 MPs in the Nauru parliament and almost all are supporting the government.
Radio New Zealand International
8) Marshall Islands Rejects U.S. State Department Report On Human Trafficking
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 16:04
RMI insists it be removed from Tier 3 status; the lowest ranking
By Giff Johnson
MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, July 22, 2016) – The Marshall Islands sharply criticized the latest U.S. State Department trafficking in persons report that lists this western Pacific nation as a “Tier 3” trafficking destination, the worst ranking in the global annual report. The government demanded that the State Department remove it from Tier 3.
The government “strongly rejects the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ grading in the report along with several of the world’s worst regimes,” Marshall Islands Foreign Minister John Silk said Wednesday in a statement.
“The Marshall Islands attaches great importance to combating trafficking in persons,” Silk’s statement said. “It is with regret that the findings of the report have displayed a total disregard of the ongoing efforts of the national taskforce on human trafficking and its partner law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organizations to tackle trafficking.”
The Marshall Islands and Papua New Guinea are the only two Pacific island nations to receive the worst ranking in the annual Trafficking in Persons report, released June 30. Twenty-seven countries received the Tier 3 ranking, an increase from 23 in the 2015 State Department trafficking evaluation. It is the second year in a row on Tier 3 for the Marshall Islands.
“The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a source and destination country for RMI women and children and women from East Asia subjected to sex trafficking,” said the State Department report. “RMI girls are recruited by foreign business owners to engage in prostitution with crew members of foreign fishing and transshipping vessels that dock in Majuro. Some of these foreign fishermen may themselves be subject to conditions indicative of forced labor on ships in Marshallese waters.”
The Marshall Islands “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so,” said the report.
But the Marshall Islands disputed U.S. trafficking charges. The Marshall Islands “does not accept that (it) is a destination, transit and source of women and children subjected to sex trafficking,” said the Foreign Ministry statement. The U.S. report offers “no verifiable data or information as to the basis of their assessment —whether it is based on verifiable hard evidence, or simply on rumors and hearsay is a question that remains to be answered — but the report incorporates these as though they are based on real evidence.”
The U.S. report “understates existing mechanisms and legislation in the books that criminalize trafficking in persons which are adequate as prosecutable activities,” the statement said. “The legislative framework is already there.”
Silk’s statement said the State Department failed to work within the framework of the Compact of Free Association, the treaty governing relations between the two countries, in terms of reporting human trafficking violations in the RMI or the United States.
“Instead of working with the RMI to actually address these issues, the Department of State has chosen to unilaterally publish an unsubstantiated report on human trafficking accusing the RMI of doing nothing to address the issues without having any actual knowledge of RMI efforts,” the Marshall Islands said. “The RMI government at the highest levels acknowledges that trafficking in persons is an unjust act and violation of human rights and that it is illegal in the RMI.”
The U.S. report acknowledged efforts by the government’s National Task Force on Human Trafficking to conduct outreach education about trafficking. But the report also said that a national action plan submitted by the task force to the government’s cabinet last year had yet to gain endorsement. The Marshall Islands acknowledged that the national action plan has not yet been approved by Cabinet, but said it would be submitted soon for approval.
The National Task Force on Human Trafficking, whose work is funded by the U.S. government, “has brought together government, non-governmental and civil society organizations to address the issue of trafficking in persons in the RMI,” said Silk in the statement. “Capacity building and training have been held for law enforcement and service providers for victims of human trafficking.”
Silk’s statement said the Marshall Islands “remains committed to enhancing various measures to combat this crime.”
The Marshall Islands is a close ally of the United States, relying on Washington for about 60 percent of its annual national budget.
Silk’s statement expressed concerns about the “transparent political motivations of this year’s rankings which brings into question the integrity and impartiality of the report. It is against this backdrop that the RMI government stands in strong opposition of the report’s speculations and conclusion and demands that the U.S. Department of State removes the RMI from the Tier 3 list of nations, where it clearly doesn’t belong.”
9) Peter O’Neill i winim vout blong no-konfidans
Postim 22 July 2016, 15:15 AEST
Peter O’Neill i stap yet olsem Praim Minista blong Papua New Guinea bihain long ol memba blong palamen long kolisan gavman blongen – i winim vout blong no-konfidans longen.
Taim palamen i vout long mosan ia tede, sait long gavman ibin gat 85 vout na sait long oposisan igat 21 vout.
Palamen i dibetim mosan ia bihain long fopela taim Oposisan ibin nonap muvim wanpela mosan blong nogat konfidans long Praim Minista Peter O’Neill.
Deputi Oposisan Lida na Memba blong Bulolo, Sam Basil nau i muvim mosan na em i tokaut long ol as long wai em i laik long palamen i rausim praim minista.
Sam Basil ibin putim notis long dispela mosan long wik igo pinis bihainim wanpela oda blong Supreme Court – long palamen imas bung na toktok long mosan blong no-konfidans long Praim Minista Peter O’Neill.
Long toktok blongen, Mr Basil i sutim tok long praim minista i wok long stopim sampela wok blong palamen.
Em i tok ol sutim tok long Mr O’Neill ibin brukim planti criminal loa, na lidaship loa – na ol protest i wok long gohet long kantri long wanem praim minista i wok long blokim wok blong ol polis na ol kot.
Sam Basil i gohet long sutim tok long Praim Minista O’Neill olsem em i as blong olgeta heve we i gohet long kantri nau ia – na em i tritim ol pipol olsem ol kriminal.
Taim em i toktok long mosan blong nogat bilip, Gavana blong Morobe Provins Kelly Naru i tok olgeta toktok ol i sutim long praim minista O’Neill i stap pinis long han blong kot na – na wok blong justice bai mas gohet – maski em i gohet long longpela taim.
Gavana Naru i tok tu olsem planti lain long Papua New Guinea i wok long protest long rausim praim minista ia, ol i abrisim ol rait long fridom blong ol.
Em i tok em ol dispela lain ol i lokal terroris na ol i mas kotim ol.ABC
10) Ol mama na People’s Power ino hamamas long Peter O’Neill
Updated 22 July 2016, 15:48 AEST
Sampla lida blong ol Non gavman grup, itok win blong Praim Minista Peter O’Neill ino nap stopim laik blong ol long rausim em long wok blong en.
Ol ripot ikam long PNG itok olsem taem grup blong Mr O’Neill ibin bung long Alotau long Milne Bay provins, Praim Minista ibin givim aut ol moni blong District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) igo long 85 ol palaman memba husat ibin sapotim em tede long Palaman.
Tasol tede wanpla NGO lida Noel Anjo, President blong People’s Power Movement itokim Radio Australia olsem maski ol despla 85 palaman memba i sapotim Praim Minista bai oli no nap stopim wok agensim Mr O’Neill inap emi lusim wok.
Na stap iet long despla stori na ol polis ibin stopim na odarim ol meri husat ibin laik go lukim despla vote of no konfidans long Palaman haus long go bek long ol haus blong ol bihaenim wari blong securiti.
Planti handrat ol mama blong National Capital Districk ibin go long ol trak, na oli bin putim ol bilakpla kolos na putim ol graon malmalum oa mud long fes blong ol blong soim bikpla bel sore blong ol long ol heve blong wok politik emi wok long go hed nau long kantri.
President blong National Capital District Council of Women, Maria Andrew i tok, pasin em ol polis ibin mekim long rausim ol long palaman i bagarapim right blong ol long mekim protest we emi stap insaet long mama loa blong PNG.ABC
11a) PNG: Peter O’Neill est désormais intouchable
11b) Brèves du Pacifique – vendredi 22 juillet 2016
- En Australie, après Nice, Malcolm Turnbull ordonne la révision des lois antiterroristes.Le Premier ministre envisage d’autoriser les enquêteurs à accéder aux dossiers psychiatriques des individus soupçonnés d’être en lien avec des organisations terroristes. Objectif: mieux prévenir des attaques comme celui de Nice, où le massacreur était aussi atteint d’une maladie psychiatrique. L’Australie va aussi réviser son dispositif de sécurité pour les grands rassemblements publics, pour prendre en compte d’autres armes potentielles, comme par exemple les véhicules.
- États Fédérés de Micronésie: la Venise du Pacifique, inscrite au Patrimoine mondial de l’Unesco. Il s’agit du site de Nan Madol qui a été ajouté à la liste la semaine dernière. Nan Madol, situé sur l’île de Pohnpei, est un réseau de 99 îlots artificiels construits sur des rochers de basalte et de corail. Sur ces îlots, l’ancienne dynastie Saudeleur a érigé sa capitale, entre 1200 et 1500 après J-C, et aujourd’hui encore on y trouve les ruines de ses palais, ses temples, ses tombes, entre autres. ABC
11c) Brèves du Pacifique – jeudi 21 juillet 2016
- À Bougainville, le Parlement provincial a condamné le retrait de Rio Tinto. Il a ouvert une session extraordinaire mardi pour discuter de l’avenir de la mine d’or et de cuivre de Panguna. Fin juin, le géant minier a distribué gratuitement ses parts de la mine (53.8%), aux gouvernement papou, et bougainvillais, de telle sorte qu’ils se retrouvent à égalité, avec 36.4% chacun. Mais John Momis, le Président de Bougainville, est furieux que sa province ne récupère pas toutes les actions de Rio Tinto. Cette décision de la compagnie minière ravive les plaies de la guerre civile bougainvillaise. L’une des raisons du conflit était justement que beaucoup de Bougainvillais considéraient que l’état papou prenait une trop grande part des profits miniers de Panguna. John Momis exige que Rio Tinto et le gouvernement papou co-financent la réhabilitation de la mine et les opérations de dépollution autour de la mine. Il veut associer les églises et les propriétaires coutumiers de la mine dans une campagne internationale pour faire pression sur Rio Tinto. La mine abandonnée de Panguna recèle encore de larges réserves d’or et de cuivre, d’une valeur estimée à 51 milliards de dollars.
- En Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, la voie est libre pour Exxon Mobil. Le géant américain des hydrocarbures veut racheter une partie des parts d’InterOil dans le deuxième projet gazier du pays, Papua LNG, qui exploitera à terme les gisements d’Elk et Antelope. Oil Search, et son partenaire français, Total, s’est finalement retiré de la bataille, et n’a pas surenchéri sur l’offre d’Exxon Mobil.
- L’Australie, complice du massacre des communistes indonésiens. C’est le verdict du Tribunal Populaire International de La Haye pour les crimes contre l’Humanité en Indonésie. Une conclusion qui n’est en rien juridiquement contraignante pour l’Australie. En septembre 1965, des officiers de la garde personnelle du Président Sukarno tentent un putsch, et assassinent 6 généraux anti-communistes. Le Président ne les soutient pas. Mais c’est un autre général, le conservateur Mohammed Suharto, futur Président du pays, qui organise la répression. En 6 mois, au moins 500 000 Indonésiens soupçonnés d’être des sympathisants communistes sont torturés et massacrés, et les femmes victimes de violences sexuelles systématiques. On est en pleine guerre froide, les États-Unis et leurs alliés, la Grande-Bretagne et l’Australie voient donc d’un bon oeil la répression des communistes indonésiens. Selon le rapport du Tribunal Populaire International, le gouvernement australien de l’époque était au courant des massacres, mais il a continué à faire de la propagande pour manipuler l’opinion internationale en faveur de l’armée indonésienne. L’actuel Président indonésien, Joko Widodo, a refusé de présenter des excuses aux familles des victimes au nom de l’état indonésien.
- Aux Îles Cook, le chef de l’opposition est reconnu coupable de corruption. C’est ce qu’annonce la radio néo-zélandaise internationale. Quand il était ministre des Ressources marines, Teina Bishop a accordé 18 permis de pêche à Huanan Fishery, une filiale de Luen Thai, un grand groupe de pêche hong-kongais. En échange, il a touché un prêt d’une autre filiale de Luen Thai, Century Finance. Teina Bishop risque jusqu’à 14 ans de prison mais il va probablement faire appel de la décision de justice. ABC
13) Late Hawai‘i Congressman Lauded As ‘Fierce Advocate’ For Pacific Islands
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 15:36
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Takai, who pushed for greater Compact impact funding, passes away from pancreatic cancer
By Shawn Raymundo
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 22, 2016) – A Hawaii congressman who lived briefly in Guam and also sponsored legislation that would help the territory and his home state receive more federal funding for costs associated with migrants died Wednesday.
Freshman Rep. Mark Takai, 49, of Hawaii had been battling pancreatic cancer for the last nine months, according to news reports.
Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo in a statement said her colleague and friend was an advocate for the Pacific islands.
She noted that Takai briefly lived in Guam, “which helped inform his perspectives on the challenges affecting the territories.”
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my good friend,” Bordallo said in a press release. “Mark was a fierce advocate for the people of Hawaii and championed issues important to the (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community.”
Although their time working together in the U.S. House of Representatives was short, Bordallo and Takai cosponsored legislation meant to provide more federal subsidies for states and territories impacted by the Compacts of Free Association.
Bordallo backed the congressman’s bill, H.R. 854, the Compact Impact Aid Act of 2015, which would provide $185 million a year to the states and territories that take in COFA migrants instead of the $30 million those places currently get annually.
The measure was last referred to the House subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs in March 2015.
Most recently, Takai also cosponsored Bordallo’s measure that proposed to give U.S. citizens and nationals priority for Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority programs.
“Further, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I worked with him closely on several issues, and I appreciated his insights and views, especially his experiences as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawaii Army National Guard,” she said. “I will miss him, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of Hawaii during this difficult time.”
Before being elected to congressional office in 2014, Takai, served in the Hawaii House of Representatives for 20 years, including two as vice speaker. He represented Aiea/Pearl City, an area near Pearl Harbor, USA Today reported.
After only 10 months of holding office, Takai announced last October, that he had been diagnosed with a small tumor on his pancreas. The first-term congressman went through surgery to have the tumor removed last November.
Although Takai had expressed optimism about his recovery, he announced in May that he would not seek re-election as the cancer had spread, according to national news reports. His current term would have ended in January 2017.
Born and raised in Oahu, Takai graduated from Pearl City High School and later the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he swam for the college. He leaves behind his wife, Sami Takai, and two children, Matthew and Kaila.
Several House representatives, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have taken to Twitter to express their condolences to the Takai family and praise their colleague for his battle against cancer.
Pelosi tweeted that she was heartbroken by Takai’s death, adding, “even in the face of cancer, (Takai) was courageous.”
Pacific Daily News
16) Solomon Islands To Review Mental Health Legislation For First Time Since Independence
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 16:06
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Country inherited Mental Treatment Act from the British
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, July 21, 2016) – The Mental Health Services of the Solomon Islands under the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has started conducting a wider consultation with its stakeholders to review and amend the current Mental Treatment Act 1972.
Head of the Mental Health Services of Solomon Islands, Dr Paul Orotaloa expounds on the aim of the consultation.
“At the moment there is this undertaking for the revision of the Mental Treatment Act of Solomon Islands. That piece of legislation was adopted from the British well before independence so we are revising it at the moment and hopefully at the end of the whole process we will repeal the old one and have a replacement with an updated version of that legislation.”
Dr. Orotaloa adds he is happy that finally, the outdated Mental Health Act is finally under review.
“I am happy that this working progress is happening because we have been trying to address the mental health needs of our population in the Solomon Islands with a law that was very outdated and what we only adopted. So now, at the end of this whole thing, we will have our own, which is what I am happy about.”
It aims to engage stakeholders from the non-government organisations, community groups, church leaders, women’s groups and youth representatives.
The consultations will also be carried out to the provinces.
Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation
17) USP launches accelerator program
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Update: 3:17PM THE University of the South Pacific’s School of Computing, Information and Mathematical Sciences has launched the ‘Microsoft’s Student Accelerator Program’.
According to a USP statement, the program will facilitate various on-campus events for students like certifications, application development workshops, coding competitions, online courses and web seminars.
The program is aimed at empowering students with additional skills that the industry expects from graduates and to give them the edge to compete among job seekers.Fijitimes
18) Sikua concern over PM’s proposal with China
Published: 22 July 2016
The Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament, Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua has raised concern over Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s proposals with mainland China.
Last week PM had met the visiting PNG-based Chinese Envoy to Honiara.
Dr Sikua in the statement said, PM had told the visiting envoy that United Democratic Party (UDP) may establish ties with the Communist Party and that Solomon Islands may seek Chinese help to build sports infrastructure in preparation for the 2023 Pacific Games.
Reacting to the report, Dr Sikua described it is an affront and an insult to the good and cordial bilateral relations between Solomon Islands and the Republic of China/Taiwan (ROC/Taiwan) which has been nurtured for more than 30 years.
“And for PM Sogavare to be telling the Chinese Envoy such things on the eve of his departure to Taipei to meet the new President of the ROC/Taiwan speaks volumes of a tactless, undiplomatic and insensitive leader.
“In fact, this is not the first time PM Sogavare has done this to a diplomatic-ally whom he loves to refer to publicly on many occasions as: “A Friend Indeed During Our Country’s Darkest Hour”.
“In my view, this slur by PM Sogavare on our relations with ROC/Taiwan therefore, renders his trip with a very big delegation to Taipei meaningless.
“Because of this diplomatic blunder by PM Sogavare, the rest of his delegation should return from Brisbane and he should proceed to Taipei with his usual entourage to apologise to President Tsai Ing-Wen first.
“The kind invitation by the Taiwanese Government to PM Sogavare and to Members of his Cabinet and Caucus was made before his diplomatic insult and outrage.
“Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect that a formal apology would be in order before any normal bilateral relations at the official, business and cultural level can be restored and continued.
“What I cannot comprehend is how PM Sogavare can downplay this diplomatic slight and indignity and still decide to go to Taipei or has there been a change in Solomon Islands Foreign Policy?
“If so, then many of us are still not aware of this change in Solomon Islands Foreign Policy towards ROC/Taiwan.
“As it stand, PM Sogavare is ‘biting the hand that feeds him’ and this is a very precarious move which I am told has already eroded the cordial and friendly relations between Solomon Islands and ROC/Taiwan.
“Such betrayal of SI/ROC relations can end up in Solomon Islands gaining nothing and nobody will trust us in the long term.”
Dr Sikua said, in the end, PM Sogavare might argue that Solomon Islands is a sovereign nation and can do whatever it wants.
“But as a responsible global citizen, this is not how you treat your good friend. The courteous and respectable thing PM Sogavare should do first is to inform ROC/Taiwan through their Ambassador in Honiara what his DCC Government wants to do in this regard.
“The Government of the ROC/Taiwan might understand albeit with some reservation but at least some courtesy and respect is being shown towards A True Friend Indeed.”Solomon Star
19) Two diplomat to be announced
Published: 21 July 2016
THE GOVERNMENT through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expected to announce the two diplomats to head the mission in Taiwan and the United Nations in New York, United States next month.
This came after the Ministry had received the agreement from Taiwan to allow its diplomat to take up the post there.
While for New York, the Ministry will appoint a diplomat to replace Collin Beck, who had spent 12 years there and decided to return home.
Acting permanent secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Maahanua confirmed that appointments for the two Head of Missions are progressing.
Mr Maahanua said they will announce the names of the two diplomats when all the formalities are completed.
He said appointments for the other two Heads of Missions in Canberra (Australia) and Geneva (Switzerland) will be done later.
The Solomon Star understands the agreement the ministry received from Taiwan is in compliance with the Article 4 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961).
Then after, the Ambassadors designate will travel to the receiving country and present the copies of the Letters of Credence and Recall.
Currently, Acting High Commissioner, Fiona Indu is looking after the Canberra mission.
While a Chargd De Affairs, Gladys Luahiti looks after the Taiwan embassy.
Moses Mose used to look after the office in Geneva before he left for Brussels in Belgium.
Barrat Saleto is currently looking after the office in Geneva.
By EDDIE OSIFELO/Solomon Star
20) PNG Government Confident It Will Defeat No-Confidence Motion
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 16:08
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O’Neill team claims support of 80 MPs; Poyle, Somare, Chan push for defections
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 22, 2016) – Papua New Guinea will know by today, whether the country will have a new Prime Minister or not as the vote of no confidence is moved against incumbent Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill remains confident and with numbers to boast to defend his post while Opposition Leader and challenger Don Polye is banking on members crossing over to install him as new PM.
Mr O’Neill and team who have been camping in Alotau returned yesterday afternoon on an Air Niugini flight and were whisked away to Airways Hotel to spend the night.
The camp in Alotau is claiming 83 members while Opposition numbers have been steady at more than 20 members.
[PIR editor’s note: On July 22, 2016 RNZI reportedthat ‘A Papua New Guinea Treasury source has revealed that the government has ordered a payment of US$900,000 to each government MP at the so-called ‘Alotau retreat’. … The national broadcaster NBC reported the source, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the Finance Department was instructed to make payments ahead of tomorrow’s vote of no-confidence in prime minister Peter O’Neill.’]
Mr Polye has the backing of former prime ministers Sir Michael Somare, Sir Julius Chan and Sir Mekere Morauta. Sir Mekere is not a sitting MP.
Leader of Government business, Finance Minister James Marape confirmed last night that the government is intact and will go into Parliament as a team.
“We have more than 80 Members of Parliament who are taking the opportunity this week to plan for the final year of this Parliament, and stand strong in their support for Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister.
“The O’Neill-Dion Government team is united, and we all look forward to demonstrating our number in the Chamber today.” Mr Marape said.
“The Government is confident we will outright defeat the court ordered vote of no confidence.” When parliament resumes today, the vote of no-confidence is the only business for the day.
The Government MPs, who are now at Airways Hote,l will leave for Parliament as a team in a convoy of buses. They will enter Parliament through the golf club gate and straight into the chamber.
The Opposition MPs, who have been camping at the Laguna Hotel, will also be convoying as a group.
Like last week, thousands of people are expected to turn up in parliament to witness the vote and thousands of others throughout the country will tune in on their radio and televisions to witness the vote of no-confidence.
21) Matavola is newspaper’s sales agent of the month
Sunday, July 24, 2016
FOR 32 years, Sakiusa Matavola has sold The Fiji Times newspaper around Suva.
He is a familiar face at the Suva bus stand every morning, greeting early risers with the day’s paper.
He has worked the hard yards and pretty much grew up selling The Fiji Times (he started when he was 18 years old).
Today he is one of the biggest sellers for the company — averaging 1000 to 2000 newspaper sales a day.
For this he has been recognised as The Fiji Times agent for the month. The award is part of an initiative to reward agents for their tireless efforts.
“I first started selling The Fiji Times, by holding it in my arms and walking around Suva to clients,” the 50-year-old said.
“I walked the breadth of this city, even right up to Walu Bay, just so loyal clients can have their newspaper. It was hard then, but I persevered.”
The man with ni-Vanuatu roots, who has maternal links in Rewa, said he wouldn’t change his job for anything else.
“I have seen the rewards of hard work. Despite the low pay at the time, I refused to give up.”
Mr Matavola said he used to sell the papers at 10c each during the 1980s and got paid $3 a day.
“Today I get way more than that. TheFiji Times has looked after me and my family well for the past 30 years. I wouldn’t change this job for anything else.”Fijitimes
22) Solomon Airlines CEO Fired; Reportedly Responds By Trying To Stop Flights
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 15:51
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Sumsum likely to remain on the job until end of the year
By Eddie Osifelo
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 22, 2016) – The controversial Solomon Airlines chief executive Ron Sumsum has been fired Wednesday this week.
Mr Sumsum from Vanuatu has been in the post for nearly ten years.
Solomon Airlines Limited Board Chairman Austin Holmes while announcing the termination to the executive management team at the airline’s Henderson Airport head offices said general manager operations and commercial, Gus Kraus had been appointed to the role of acting chief executive in the interim period and the carrier will seek to appoint a new full time chief executive.
Holmes advised this process will require approval by the Solomon Islands Civil Aviation, Authority (CAASI) following a thorough review of nominated persons to the “substantive position involved.”
“The implications will have far reaching effects,” added Holmes.
“And this is being worked through by the airline’s executive team with notifications and change processes already underway to ensure the airline complies with all relevant regulations and authorities within the country and with countries that we have approvals to operate to.”
Meanwhile the outgoing Solomon Airlines chief had reportedly attemped to stop aircrafts from taking off at Honiara International airport yesterday.
His action had attracted a lot of criticism from the public on social media after the incident happened.
One member of the public claimed Sumsum was under the influence of alcohol when he committed the alleged incident.
Another member of the public said Sumsum reacted on the situation after he received his official termination letter on Wednesday.
His latest action came after he had shut down all operations in June, resulting in cancellation of all domestic and international flights.
The Solomon Star tried to contact employees of Solomon Airlines and Ministry of Communication and Aviation, but they were tight lipped over the incident.
The airline’s general manager operations &commercial, Gas Kraus told Solomon Star through his senior officer that a press release would be released to the media.
Sumsum was expected to leave the airline by the end of the year, after 10 years on the job.
It’s understood the airline board had extended Captain Sumsum’s contract from last September because they were unable to find a suitable person to replace him.
Captain Sumsum’s current extended contract expires at the end of September, but he is expected to remain with the airline for three months until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition to his successor.
The current board, under the chairmanship of Mr Holmes, is understood to have conducted interviews already for the CEO job.
But they are yet to pick a candidate.
Captain Sumsum has not reapplied.
Attempts to get Sumsum for comments was unsuccessful.
23) Australia, NZ Need More Equal Approach To Military Engagement With Fiji
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 15:54
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Fiji looked towards Russian, China, India in recent years; not interested in returning to old order
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 22, 2016) – A new report says Australia and New Zealand need to adopt a more equal approach to re-engaging with Fiji militarily.
The report, by New Zealand academics Anna Powles and Jose Sousa-Santos, said since ties were severed after the 2006 coup, Fiji had sought closer links with countries like Russia, China and India.
But despite rapprochement with Wellington and Canberra, especially after Cyclone Winston, Fiji still shows no real desire to return to previous arrangements, highlighted by a recent deal for military equipment from Russia.
Dr Powles said driven by Fiji, Pacific countries have created a new confidence that Australia and New Zealand have to adapt into their policies.
“Developing relationships truly based on equal partnerships, cooperation and mutual respect, and that goes both ways.”
“But it’s incredibly important that that be recognised in a way that Wellington and Canberra engages with the Pacific, and that’s not necessarily the way that these relationships are currently playing out or have done so in the last few years,” she said.
Anna Powles said that in terms of re-engaging with Fiji militarily, Australia and New Zealand should recognise it as more an equal, but not at the expense of human rights and good governance.
Radio New Zealand International
24 ) Fijian MPs in Australia for workshop
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Update: 11:49AM FIJIAN parliamentarians, Balmindar Singh and Ratu Sela Nanovo will participate in a parliamentary workshop in Brisbane, Australia to discuss cyber crime and cyber security.
Mr Singh said parliamentarians had a responsibility to ensure that national security was hardwired into all aspects of the legislative process.
“We have an integral role in legislation, budget approval and scrutiny, and so we are uniquely positioned to influence the shape and content of national cybersecurity and cybercrime strategies,” he said.
The Asia-Pacific regional workshop from July 25-28, organised by the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in partnership with the Queensland Parliament, forms part of a major international parliamentary project on cyber crime.
The workshop will bring together examples of good practice and case studies in order to build a comprehensive resource to aid parliamentarians in their implementation and oversight of cyber security laws.Fijitimes
25) ExxonMobil to buy PNG-focussed InterOil for $2.5bn
5:46 pm on 23 July 2016
The global energy giant Exxon Mobil has agreed to buy InterOil, a driller focused on projects in Papua New Guinea, for at least US$2.5 billion.
Exxon beat out a competing bid by Oil Search Limited, a PNG oil exploration company part-owned by the country’s government, which had offered to pay about $2.2 billion.
InterOil’s holdings in PNG include the large-scale liquefied natural gas project, and the deal includes interests in six licences in PNG, including the large, undeveloped Elk-Antelope gas field.
The proposal from ExxonMobil comprises a fixed price of $US45 per InterOil share, paid in ExxonMobil shares, and a contingent resource payment.
In May, Oil Search announced it would buy out InterOil and also sell part of its exploration assets and interests acquired from a petroleum retention licence to the French energy giant Total.
In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Oil Search said it would not submit a revised takeover offer for InterOil.RNZI
26) Allegiance switch
Sunday, July 24, 2016
A NUMBER of Rakiraki canefarmers have said they changed allegiance from being Fiji Labour Party to FijiFirst supporters.
The farmers who were present at a public consultation forum between canefarmers and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at Rakiraki yesterday said they believed a majority of farmers shared their views.
Shalendra Kumar, whose family has been farming for the past three generations, said they had seen the difference.
“I am from Wailevu and many farmers there support Mr Bainimarama,” he said.
“It’s because we have seen what he has done. We as farmers are happy. He has given us his assurance and whatever he has promised us, he has delivered.”
Dharmendra Prasad from Nanuku shared similar sentiments, saying he and his family were thankful about how their plight was dealt with after Severe TC Winston.
“That was the turning point for me,” he said.
Rameshwar Prasad of Naiyalayala said he was thankful for the many things already done by the Government.
“All farmers were known to be supporters of the Fiji Labour Party, but that’s changing now,” he said. “It’s not just because of what they are doing for the sugar industry, but because of what they have done for everybody. There are a lot of incentives put in place that has made us all happy.”
Farmers who spoke to The Fiji Times said it took some time for them to change allegiance. However, they said they were finally being treated with respect and honesty.Fijitimes
27) Bougainville Calls For Intense International Pressure On Rio Tinto
Submitted by PIR Editor on Thu, 07/21/2016 – 15:28
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Company must accept responsibility for environmental impacts of Panguna
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 21, 2016) – A special meeting of the parliament on Bougainville has strongly condemned the way Rio Tinto walked away from its obligations to the province.
The multi-national mining company, which had had the controlling interest in Bougainville Copper Ltd, split its shares between Bougainville and the Papua New Guinea governments.
It also said it was no longer obliged to fix the environmental and other issues resulting from the shut down Panguna mine.
But Bougainville President John Momis said the region needed to unite to demand that all of the Rio Tinto shareholding be given to Bougainville.
And he wants an international campaign to pressure Rio Tinto to accept its responsibility for the mine legacy issues.
Mr Momis said Bougainville must also try and persuade the PNG Government to accept its responsibilities for those same legacy issues.
The Bougainville Mining Minister Robin Wilson is calling for the establishment of a Task Force to lead a campaign to look into possible legal action against Rio Tinto or have the company censured by international bodies.
He also wants the churches and landowners involved in a broad campaign to pressure Rio Tinto.
Radio New Zealand International
28) Bula Festival gets underway
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Update: 12:16PM THE President, Jioji Konrote launched the Digicel Bula Festival at Prince Charles Park in Nadi last night.
Mr Konrote commended the organising committee for maintaining the festival’s record for being the only festival to remain unbroken for the past 56 years.
The public also got to get their first glimpse of the 11 queen contestants who are vying for the Miss Bula 2016 title.
The festival will end with the crowning on Saturday night.Fijitimes
29) Brumbies coach blasts officials
Sunday, July 24, 2016
BRUMBIES head coach Stephen Larkham says his team should be in the Super Rugby semi-finals instead of the Highlanders and blamed the match officials and their decisions for his team’s exit.
Larkham says that “they deserved the win” and placed the blame on the match officials of referee Angus Gardner and TMO George Ayoub who are both Australian.
The Brumbies were beaten 9-15 by reigning Super Rugby champions the Highlanders and although they were outscored two tries to one in the match Larkham was unable to hide his frustration.
Larkham said in the Brumbies post match press conference that he felt his team “should be in the Semi-finals” as they had played better football than the Highlanders.
“The guys did everything right in that game, it’s hard for me not to comment on the refereeing,” said the Brumbies coach.
“I can’t see how Lausii (Taliauli) did not score that try —— there’s no other possible answer to what happened there.
“And then a couple of those scrums at the end —— we had a dominant scrum the whole game and I dont think that changed at the end —— it was really tough, I thought there should have been a penalty there at the end.
“Like I said, the boys did everything right, it was a see-sawing battle and we made a couple of mistakes but we got to the point where we deserved to win that game.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to know that we lost it that way,” said Larkham.
“It was clearly a try – for everyone who saw it,” added the frustrated Brumbies coach.
Larkham said that he felt Matt Toomua’s first half yellow card was fair but the frustration was there as they, “executed everything right to that 80th minute and they deserved the win.
“It’s really disappointing that a game comes down to that —— we should be in the semi-finals right now.
“I give credit where it’s due and I think the Highlanders played really good football but I thought we played better.
“I think we deserved that win.”
Brumbies staff gave out free pies and ponchos to the first 2000 fans who arrived at the ground and offered free parking to those who arrived early but the Canberra side were only able to draw in 8,559 fans despite the match being the only Australian representation in the finals.
The Highlanders victory was their first in Canberra for ten years.