Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1096a ( Tuesday 05 May 2017 )


1) MELANESIACurfew issued in Vanuatu as cyclone Donna batters Torba

Disaster authorities in Vanuatu have issued a curfew for people in Torba province as the severe Category 3 Cyclone Donna batters the country’s north.

The latest cyclone warning issued by the Vanuatu Meteorological Service at 5:00am this morning says Donna is generating sustained wind speeds of 130 kilometres an hour at its centre with gusts reaching up to 190 kilometres an hour.

Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Donna at 1600 UTC Photo: Supplied/Vanuatu Meteorology & Geo-Hazards Dept

The system was moving in a westerly direction at about 16km/hr and threatening to make landfall in the Torres Island group.

The director of the Vanuatu Disaster Management Office, Shadrack Welegtabit, said he was concerned with the moderate speed at which Donna was travelling because it would cause more damage the longer it lingered in the province.

“The most at risk island currently is the northenmost island of the Torres group. We are currently putting a red alert for them meaning they should remain indoors until we give the all clear for them to do other activities outside their safe areas,” said Shadrack Welegtabit.

The current location of the cyclone is also near Vanuatu’s maritime border with the Solomon Islands which means people on the southernmost island of Vanikoro in Solomon Islands’ Temotu province will also be feeling the effects of Cyclone Donna.

Meanwhile, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii, global forecast data suggests the system was likely to undergo a period of rapid intensification.

“The cyclone could reach a severe category 4 system with very destructive wind gusts as high as 260km/hour,” the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre warned.

Advice from officials in Vanuatu

The authorities are warning people there to prepare by securing their homes and valuables, cutting down dangerous trees, organising food and water, and having torches, charged phones and an evacuation kit ready.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office advises people that Red Alert was now current for Torba province, Yellow Alert was now current for Sanma province.

Vanuatu Meteorological Services’s new cyclone tracking map with Beaufort scale. At 5:00am this morning Cyclone Donna was a category 3 system located in square F-2 on the Vanuatu Solomon Islands border moving in a westerly direction at 16 km/hr. Photo: Vanuatu Daily Digest

People are being advised to take extra precautions for possible flash flooding; especially areas close to river banks and in low lying areas, and to remain indoors where thunderstorm activities are happening.

Coastal flooding was also expected.

Torba and Sanma and Penama, Malampa and Shefa should listen to all Radio Outlets to get the latest information on this severe system.

RNZI’s AM service is now on for listeners in Vanuatu – tune in to 5995 kHz in the 49-metre band for updates on Cyclone Donna. At 1858 UTC, RNZI will change to 9700 khz in the 31 metre band.


3) New Caledonia referendum roll released

3:28 pm GMT+12, 04/05/2017, New Caledonia

The preliminary electoral rolls for next year’s independence referendum in New Caledonia have been released.

Voting is restricted to long-term residents in line with provisions of the French constitution accommodating the 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy.

The lists are on display at the town halls for prospective voters to inspect.

Those who have been omitted have until the end of next week to challenge it as the final roll is expected to be released at the end of the month.

The rolls have been vetted by commissions after a prolonged period of concern over their make-up.

No date has been set for the vote but the French state has said it is committed to holding it by November next year.


4) Kanak youth inequality threat to New Caledonia independence vote

10:39 pm GMT+12, 03/05/2017, New Caledonia

French political leaders admit they have “failed” so far to ensure equality when it comes to Kanak education and prison rates, despite putting millions of euros into improving conditions.

The Kanaks, a minority in their own lands, suffer social and economic disadvantage and feel less than equal to their fellow French citizens.

“Yes, yes, there’s a two-tiered system,” said beatboxer and singer Andre Fatoumaou, who travels into the capital every Wednesday to Place des Cocotiers with other youth.

A weekly hip hop ritual in the heart of Noumea, young indigenous Kanaks beatbox and breakdance to release frustrations.

Tension lies just below the surface with security fears over so-called ‘delinquents’, a term used to describe young, socially disaffected Kanaks.

“The prison population is majority Kanak because there’s a double exclusion that’s happening: high school drop out, which is followed by the delinquency phenomenon and then prison,” Kanak Liberation Party (Palika) spokesman Charles Washetine said.

Kanaks were once confined to reserves and today they are over-represented in the prison population.

“Our country has failed on this subject and it’s true, today we are now paying the price for it,” New Caledonia French MP Phillippe Gomes said.

The pledge of an independence referendum came from France 30 years ago in the Matignon Accord after dozens mainly Kanaks died in political violence over independence.

The Accord also aims to level out the inequalities resulting from what has now been 160 years of colonisation.

French migrants and long-term settlers are in the majority on this Pacific island, living a European life-style.

Young Kanaks still struggle to find jobs and then, they are often low-skilled.

“It’s about appearance, ‘Oh you’re a Kanak, we don’t want you’, because it’s always the cliches,” Fatoumaou said.

“Everybody has to be in the same boat or otherwise we won’t get independence.”

The French government has heavily invested in education but results are well below national standards.

“We have progressed because if we look at the high school completion we are have almost 50 per cent of the age group that achieves this, not at the time of the Matignon Accord, when we only had 15 per cent,” Gomes said.

In France the high school completion rate in 2016 was 88.5 per cent.

“A journey has been achieved but you can’t complete a journey like this in only one generation,” Gomes said.

While many have fallen through the cracks in the system, Kanak activists said there have been improvements.

“We don’t have to stigmatise all young kanaks because others that have achieved something with their lives, but we have to carry on fighting,”  Washetine said.

During the recent French presidential election campaign, candidates promised to increase security in New Caledonia.

“Sixty per cent of petty crimes are committed by minors, it’s triple the level in France,” Gomes said.

“Part of the youth, mainly Kanak youth, create today disorder in our country.

“You have to keep things in context, it’s petty crime, it’s exasperating, it creates anger, but it’s only petty crime.”.


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7) Niue gears up for weekend election

Niue’s Electoral Commission is expecting a high turnout in this year’s election.

Voters can cast their votes between 9am and 6pm at stations located in each of the island’s 14 villages on Saturday.

There are six common roll seats and 14 village constituencies seats to fill for the 20-member parliament.

The Chief Electoral Officer Hubert Kalauni said a provisional result would be announced by 9pm that day.

“The election over here, you know, the people are very active on that. I’ll say about from the last election about 85-90 percent. But 90 new electors [now], but the total roll is about 1100,” he said.

Meanwhile a record number of candidates are vying for a seat in Niue’s common roll.

Twenty-three candidates are standing for the 6 common roll seats, the highest number the island had ever seen according to Mr Kalauni.RNZI 5/5/17

8) Regional forum focuses on crime throughout Micronesia

4:25 pm GMT+12, 02/05/2017, Guam

Drug abuse and crime are issues affecting every corner of Micronesia.

The issue was one of the main topics of discussion during the 22nd Micronesian Islands Forum Tuesday.

With drug busts and violent crime making headlines, the Guam Police Department is ramping up efforts to keep the community safe.

Police Chief JI Cruz said, “On the island of Guam and in our jurisdiction, community policing, the Mandana Community Policing Initiative is very near and dear and is paying a lot of dividends back to the Guam Police Department.”  He said while efforts by GPD have led to a downward trend in violent crime, recent statistics show that more needs to be done.

“Just in Fiscal Year 2017, we’ve had to deal with 3 homicides, 43 rapes, 16 robberies, and 64 aggravated assaults,” he stated. Cruz noted that most crimes in Guam are related to substance abuse – particularly alcohol – adding the Mandana Drug Task Force has been aggressively targeting methamphetamine and opiate abuse as well.

Guam governor Eddie Calvo said, “I would say 99 percent of our crime has been on controlled substances, crystal meth, opiates, other types of drugs, and legal drugs, alcohol.”

Calvo said the issue has led him to discuss the need for major investment with his fiscal team in order to provide better treatment and rehabilitation services.

Palau President Tommy Remengesau said, “I’m asking us to take this up a notch because the drug situation is a problem not a problem here in Guam but for us, and throughout the Pacific for that matter. I myself has written to the united states government requesting for federal assistance in this area.”

Remengesau said he’s written to the United States for assistance with the drug problem facing PalaU, and also hopes for more collaboration within the region. He noted, “Really put our resources and heads together on how we can stop this dreadful challenge to our society.”

The 22nd Micronesia Island Forum addressed this issue among a slew of other topics that leaders throughout Micronesia are hoping to collaborate on and address through a regional approach.



9) Nauru men jailed over protest released from custody

Three Nauru men, jailed earlier this week on convictions resulting from an anti-government protest, have been released.

This follows their lawyers lodging an appeal to the High Court of Australia over extended sentences handed down on Tuesday.

The three, John Jeremiah, Job Cecil and Josh Kepae had pleaded guilty last year to offences such as rioting, disturbing the peace and assault during the protest at parliament nearly two years ago.

Their original sentences of terms of 3 to 6 months had been extended up to 22 months.

The men’s team of Australian lawyers lodged the appeal and an effect of that is the placement of a stay on the sentences.

The court hearing in Australia could be some months away.

Meanwhile the push for a temporary stay on the trial of another 18 men charged over the protest has been adjourned until July.

The defence is seeking a stay claiming the men face difficulty in getting a fair trial.

They are also seeking a judicial review in the Supreme Court of the refusal of magistrate, Penijamini Lomaloma, to enforce subpoenas against key government officials, including the justice minister, the secretary of justice and the son of the president.

The men had refused to testify saying they had immunity conveyed by President Baron Waqa.5/5/17 RNZI


10a) Saiklon woning igo aut long Vanuatu

Updated 4 May 2017, 13:32 AEST
Sam Seke

Ol otoriti long Vanuatu i stat pinis long givim aut ol cyclone woning taem Tropical Cyclone Donna hem stat fo go long ol aelan long northern hap blong kantri.

Forecaster long  Meteorology na Geo-Hazards Department, Ellen Luke hem se ol aelan long Torba Province i stat filim finis ol strong win, raf si an big ren.

Ms Luke hem se i luk olsem Cyclone Donna bae hitim ol aelan long medel long Vanuatu insaet long 12 hours, an bae hem folom go daon ol aelan long kantri Friday or Sarere moning.

Hem se saeklon ia hem kamap aotsaet long nomol taem blong saeklon wea hem Novemba kasem April, bat hem se saelon ia ibin stat finis fo form long end blong April.ABC

10b) PNG Human rights piksa long Australia

Updated 4 May 2017, 13:06 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Ol pipal blong Australia imas save long ol heve em ol kampani blong despla kantri isave kamapim long Papua New Guinea long name blong development.

Joe Moses husat i wanpla Human Rights defender na man husat iwok long helpim ol pipal blong Paga Hill long Port Moresby wantem ol court case agensim wanpla Australian kampani em i laik bildim wanpla Hotel long Paga Hill.

Stori blong Mr Moses i stap long wanpla documentary piksa em oli kolim “The Opposition” bai oli soim long 10th Human Rights Arts & Film Festival em bai stat tede nait hia long Melbourne.

Despla stori ibin stat sampla yia igo pinis taem ol polis ibin go long Paga Hill na iusim ol bulldozer na rausim olgeta haus blong samting olsem 3,000 pipal long despla hap.

Bai oli soim despla piksa tu long Sydney na long Canberra.

Wanpla meri blong Australia iet, Hollie Fifer  ibin redi-im na mekim despla piksa.

10c) Solomon Islands Guadalcanal Revenue

Updated 4 May 2017, 13:26 AEST

Sam Seke

Olsem gavman blong tufala big provins blong Malaita and an Western Province, gavman blong Guadalcanal Province tu hem faedem had long saet long selen fo provedem olketa seves and duim olketa development projek.

An olsem Premier Peter Channel Ramohia blong Malaita, Premier Anthony Veke blong Guadalcanal hem faet had fo meksua provins blong hem hem gohet fo qualifae fo disfala Provincial Capacity Development Fund grant blong nasinol gavman.

Tufala big provins ia i save misaut bifoa long disfala grant fo enikaen development ia from tufala ibin feil long olketa requirement an konsisin fo aksesim disfala grant.

Premier Ramohia hem bin duit fo stretem evri samting an qualifae for PCDF grant ia afta hem kam long ofis long 2015, and Premier Veke hem getem Guadalcanal Province tu fo qualifae fo 8 million dollar long 2016 an unofficially iet, long 2017 tu.

Bat Premier Veke hem se, saet long revenue fo karem aot olketa sevis hem had semsem olsem nasinol gavman tu hem faedem had.

10d) Long Papua New Guinea, fopla meri blong Autonomous rijan blong Bougainville bai joinim ol narapla meri long kantri long resis long 2017 National ileksan.

Ol meri lida blong Bougainville wantem Australian lida meri Natasha Stott Despoja

Tupla meri bai resis long ol open seats long North Bougainville, wanpla long Central Bougainville na narapla long South Bougainville.

Sampla pipal i ting olsem planti meri i laik resis long ileksan long halvim long kamapim ol gutpla senis na tu long daonim bikpla wari blong korapsan long kantri.

Igat ol ripot ikam long PNG itok tu olsem planti long ol meri candidate igat bikpla save olsem ol dokta, ol bisnismeri, ol tisa, ol nurse na tu ol mama.

Helen Hakena, direkta blong Leitana Nehan development agensi long Bougainville itokim Radio Australia  olsem emi hamamas long fopla Bougainville meri i resis long ileksan. Het-tok:

10e) Solomon Islands midia bai gat Ombudsman

Updated 3 May 2017, 14:47 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Tede emi  World Press Freedom Day, we planti kantri long wold i mekim ol samting na awenes long importans blong midia freedom long ol wan wan kantri.

Long sampla kantri tede emi bikpla dei tu blong mekim na soim ol lida olsem wok blong midia  emi blong sapotim wok blong demokrasi na tu blong mekim ol wok agensim korapsan.

Long Pacific rijan, planti taem sampla lida ino save laikim midia long wonem oli save sutim tok long midia olsem ol  isave raitim na autim ol stori we ino tru, na despla isave kamapim wari.

Blong makim despla day, Prime Minista blong Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare ibin tokaut long statim wanpla Media Ombudsman long strongim midia freedom long kantri.

Vice president blong  Media Association long  Solomon Islands Josephine Teakeni itok emi hamamas wantem tingting blong Praim Minista Manasseh Sogavare.ABC




12) Fiji creates history, first Pacific country to host ADB annual meeting

3:34 pm GMT+12, 04/05/2017, Japan

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Yokohama, Japan

Fiji will become the first Pacific developing member country (DMC) of the Asian Development Bank to host its 52nd annual meeting in 2019.

While the final decision will be finalised by ADB Governors on Saturday, the President of the multilateral lending agency, Takehiko Nakao announced to Pacific DMC leaders here in Yokohama Wednesday that Fiji will host the ADB meeting in two years, after Manila in 2018.

“The annual meeting in Fiji will truly be a historic occasion as it will be the very first ADB Annual Meeting hosted by a Pacific developing member country. The Annual Meeting in Nadi will be an opportunity to emphasise that development needs in the Pacific are unique, said the President Nakao ahead of the Saturday meeting.

“As we begin our journey to Nadi together, our longstanding partnership will continue to be a source of strength, inspiration, and support for the Pacific, and for its people.”

Speaking to Pacific journalists in Yokohama, the head of ADB’s Pacific Department, Xianbin Yao confirmed Fiji’s successful bid saying the decision is ‘unprecedented’ representing the growing importance of the Pacific in the overall operation of the ADB.

“Fiji hosting the annual ADB meeting is the first ever even among other multilateral development banks (MDBs).Never been done by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This is unprecedented and a historical moment for the ADB.

“Although Pacific countries are very small in terms of population, they form a very significant part of the development priorities of the ADB. The ADB charter has special provision for supporting Small Island Developing Countries. We are following the charter’s provision and working with Pacific countries to address their priorities, focusing on climate change, connectivity, human development and more importantly public financial management.”

Currently, the ADB has a portfolio of US$2.6 billion committed for the Pacific region covering 14 Pacific DMCs and Timor Leste.

“The speed of growth has been rather fast. For the past 10 years our financing has doubled every five years. Over the next 3-4 years we expect it to double again addressing the specific priorities of climate change and disaster risk management, said DG Yao.

The 2019 conference in Fiji is expected to attract between 3,000-5,000 delegates from member governments, civil society groups, private sector and the media.  More than 5,000 delegates and 440 international media have registered for this year’s summit in Yokohama conference, which is celebrating the bank’s 50th anniversary as a multilateral lending agency in the Asia Pacific region.

In addition, Fiji’s Presidency of the global climate change talks dubbed COP23 in 2017 highlights the linkages between climate change and development.

“ADB will actively support Fiji to prepare for COP 23. As I noted earlier, ADB will make much greater efforts to mobilise financing for climate resilient development in the Pacific, said President Nakao.

Fiji joined the ADB in 1970 receiving $509 million in loans, $35 million in grants and $32 million in technical assistance. ADB’s work has been largely directed to improving transport infrastructure and extending the supply of clean water and modern sanitation.

ADB’s most recent investment loan project with Fiji is a multi-tranche financing facility of $153.2 million to improve the supply of reliable and safe water to the greater Suva area and increase waste water treatment and management capacity. The total cost of the project of $405 million will be shared between the ADB, the European Investment Bank, the Government of Fiji and the Green Climate Fund.


13) More Pacific countries keen to set up disaster contingency funds
3:33 pm GMT+12, 04/05/2017, Japan

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Yokohama, Japan

Five more Pacific Island Countries have expressed their interest to apply for disaster contingent financing from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) following Cook Islands US$10 million loan last year to set up its disaster resilience programme.

Director General of the ADB’s Pacific Department, Xianbin Yao told PACNEWS in Yokohama that discussions are underway with Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to set up similar precautionary financing arrangement in anticipation of unplanned natural disasters.

“Because of the Cook Islands support from the ADB, more countries in the Pacific have requested ADB to help them. We are working with a number of Pacific Island Countries to do country by country precautionary financing.

“We are in contact with countries initially to structure the funding. Countries need to set up this precautionary financing mechanism and to anticipate and prepare for the worst. Last year ADB provided contingent credit of $10 million to Cook Islands with a population of 20,000. The financing facility is available before-hand anticipating that if a disaster happens and government declares an emergency, this fund is available immediately. This means that the government does not have to go through any normal processing.

To draw from this fund, governments need to mobilise their communities on disaster preparedness using regular development financing to get communities to be ready and prepared. This includes putting in place policies that direct people not to build houses in disaster prone areas etc., explained Yao.

Last year, the ADB provided around US$10 million policy-based loan from its Ordinary Capital Resources to fund the Cook Islands Disaster Resilience Programme which will rapidly make available financing in the event of a disaster.

The Disaster Resilience Programme is the first time ADB has provided disaster contingent financing through innovative use of policy-based lending. The programme supports implementation of the government’s National Sustainable Development Plan, through policy strengthening and institutional arrangements for disaster risk management, building resilient infrastructure, and expanding disaster risk financing.

Government efforts over the past year have included integration of disaster resilience into infrastructure priorities, advance preparation of the private sector for post-disaster recovery activities, preparation of local disaster plans, and improved public sector coordination on disaster risk management. Completion of the set of 12 priority actions means the government is now eligible to access the contingent credit provided through the policy-based loan to meet short-term post-disaster financing needs.

The loan funds will be available for a three-year period (until December 2019) and drawn upon as needed if a state of disaster is declared by the government. The funds can be used flexibly to support short-term post-disaster activities the government deems necessary.

The ADB financing complements government’s own disaster trust fund which is its first line of response, and insurance through the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative which would be activated in the event of an infrequent but highly destructive disaster….










15) 40 to benefit from heart surgeries

Vishaal Kumar
Friday, May 05, 2017-Fijitimes

ABOUT 40 patients will undergo heart valve surgeries next month with Open Heart International doctors.

This was revealed by Dr Susan Wright, who is part of a six-member team from Sydney, Australia, screening patients at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva yesterday.

Dr Wright said they screened patients referred to them by local doctors in the country.

“We have screened nearly 80 patients so far. We screen patients looking for heart valve problems in them. In Fiji, there are mostly rheumatic heart valve problems in patients. We have two sets of teams. One screens children and the other screens adults,” she said.

Dr Wright said the team selected patients who would benefit fully from the heart valve surgery.

“Once we get all our screenings done here then we will go back to Australia and present our findings to our surgical team. Then a decision would be made on which patients would be offered this treatment,” Dr Wright said.

According to Dr Wright, heart valve problems are caused when children and adults have recurrent sore throats which were not treated with proper antibiotics.

A 30-member surgical team from Open Heart International will be in the country next month to conduct operations on patients.


16) 49 scholarships

Litia Cava
Friday, May 05, 2017-Fijitimes

FORTY-NINE tertiary students in the Rewa Province are recipients of the Rewa Provincial Council Education Scholarship this year.

Rewa Provincial Council Education Committee chairperson Pita Tagicakiverata revealed this to the provincial council yesterday.

“This is the highest number we have recorded so far since the establishment of this scholarship scheme 11 years ago,” Mr Tagicakiverata said.

“I can assure the council that we now have a lot of our children from our province who have reached and have attained their desired jobs through this scholarship and we will continue to pursue more in this area because we have reaped a lot of benefits from it.”

Mr Tagicakiverata said to fund this, the committee aimed to keep aside $100,000 from levies collected from villages, provincial bodies, donation and assistance received during the Rewa Day.

“We work according to the funds that we have and we assist students through their tuition but for those who have managed to secure scholarship from Government, we offer meal and bus fare allowances for them too.”


17) 10,600 officers to provide security during PNG election

10:35 pm GMT+12, 03/05/2017, Papua New Guinea

Around 10,600 officers drawn from the three disciplined forces in Papua New Guinea will be providing security during the general election.

Police Commissioner Gari Baki said 9600 were from the police force, 500 from the defence force and 500 from the Correctional Service.

He said the official deployment was to have begun last Monday, May 1 but it was deferred due to uncompleted administration work.

Some officers however are already on the ground in the high-risk areas.

“We have just received K10m and will start deploying security personnel soon,” he said.

He could not confirm the new date for the deployment.

“We had planned on deploying security personnel on May 1 (last Monday) but were delayed by administrative details,” he said.

The Government had allocated K121 million (US$37.7 million) for security during the general election.

K10 million (US$3.1 million) has been released.

The other K111 million (US$34.6 million) is yet to be released by the Finance and Treasury departments.

Baki said they would be concentrating on districts in the Highlands region regarded as “high-risk zones”.
It includes Hela which was the subject of a Government-sanctioned call-out operation in February to curb the circulation of illegal guns and to stop tribal fights.

Baki urged the people to assist the security forces.

“Security for the elections is the business of not only the police, defence and Correctional Services, but everyone’s,” he said.

“People have to take ownership of the elections and ensure that they run peacefully and trouble-free.”

Baki said the people were the ones who would determine the success or failure of the general election.

He called on candidates to be responsible for their supporters and ensure they did not cause any trouble.

“The candidates are contesting to become leaders and must start leading their supporters now,” Baki said.

“They must advise their supporters to campaign in a peaceful manner.”

The eight-week campaign period began after the close of nominations last Thursday.

A total of 3332 candidates are contesting the 111 seats available in Parliament.

The return of writs is expected on July 24.


18) Former PM confident of positive 2018 election outcome

Mere Naleba
Friday, May 05, 2017-Fijitimes

SOCIAL Democratic Liberal Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka is confident the party will win the upcoming general election.

He said judging from the response the party is receiving from Fijians “on the ground”, the party was doing remarkably well.

Mr Rabuka also commented on the leak of the party’s list of possible candidates for the 2018 poll, saying it is not the SODELPA list.

He said the publication of the possible candidates list was an opportunity for SODELPA to review its document handling procedures, adding the process had been completed.

“SODELPA continues its community awareness visits and programs and is confident of winning the 2018 election from the response on the ground.”

In an earlier interview with this newspaper, Mr Rabuka said the candidate selection process was very much confidential.

The party’s management has endorsed only four members who are Mr Rabuka, vice-presidents Ro Kini Kiliraki, Anare Jale and Viliame Gavoka.

He had said all other sitting members of Opposition’s applications have been confirmed.

Mr Rabuka had said the SODELPA candidate list was much longer than the 110 names that were leaked and the leak of the possible candidates list was a mischievous attempt to sow dissension within the party.


19) Sense of iTaukei identity

Mere Naleba
Friday, May 05, 2017-Fijitimes

TODAY marks a historical event for descendants of indentured labourers across the country as they will be bestowed an iTaukei identity or icavuti at a scheduled vakatoka yaca ceremony to be held this morning.

The event will be held at the Ratu Sauvoli School in Nabudrau in the district of Noco in Rewa. A plaque has been erected to mark the auspicious event.

Turaga na tui Noco Ratu Isoa Damudamu said the vakatoka yaca ceremony meant descendants of indentured labourers now had a sense of iTaukei identity.

“Giving of an identity or icavuti to the newest member of the Noco and Rewa family is essential in sustaining the narrative of the roots, the foundation and sacred protection of this relationship for current and future generations,” Ratu Isoa said.

“We believe this has sustained our nondiscriminatory linkages as iTaukei, binding us as one people, providing the basis of peaceful relationships and we are extending the same privileges to our new family members.”

Last year, the province of Rewa during the Rewa Day celebrations had officially adopted the descendants of indentured labourers by accepting their gifts presented to Rewa’s paramount chief Ro Teimumu Kepa during the celebrations.

Today’s event is yet another milestone achievement of bridging the race gap by bestowing them with an iTaukei identity.

Ro Teimumu will be unveiling the plaque.


20) VBTC chairman advises staff to reconsider strike decision
8:13 pm GMT+12, 02/05/2017, Vanuatu

Chairman of the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC), Jonety Jerety, has advised staff of VBTC that are members of the Vanuatu National Workers Union (VNWU) to reconsider their strike decision or face delay in second phase of redundancy payout.

Last Monday, the Secretary General of Union, Member of Parliament for Port Vila, Ephraim Kalsakau issued a strike notice on behalf of the VBTC Union members to the Commissioner of Labour following delay in redundancy payment for VBTC staff.

The 30 days ultimatum from the VNWU calls for negotiation with the VBTC and Commissioner of Labour or face a strike action from its members at the VBTC.

Jerety said the Board met last Thursday and the staff were asked to reconsider their strike agreement as it may delay the second phase of their redundancy payment which is expected to roll out this month.

The Chairman added that while the staff’s grievance were around the delay of receiving their redundancy packages in compliance to a Council of Minister’s (CoM) decision, he argued that the CoM decision does not provide a specific time frame for the board to act upon.

“The redundancy programme could be implemented next year.

“The board has already agreed to implement the CoM’s decision.

“Therefore, the staff must re-think their decision.

“The staff must also know that they have their rights to disengage themselves with the Union in this strike decision.”

Last Friday six staff of VBTC received their redundancy packages as part of the first phase of the redundancy programme.

Meanwile, Vanuamadia, the digital TV service provider which was launched last year in August to highlight the commemoration of the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC) 50th Anniversary has been found to have allegedly breached its Memorandum of Understanding (MoA) with VBTC and is also seen as a liability to the company.

Jeretty made the allegation to the Minister of Finance, Gaetan Pikioune last Friday.

Vanuamadia Digital TV signed a Memorandum of Agreement with VBTC in 2015.

Jeretty alleged this Digital TV service provider did not serve its purpose to salvage the operations of VBTC; instead it has become a liability to the company.

The current Board says it has carried out decisions and made efforts to negotiate with Vanuamedia regarding this matter.

Jeretty said the Board requested an independent company to conduct the commissioning of the roll out of Vanuamadia and findings from the report have revealed that this service provider has allegedly breached the MoA.

Following the findings, the Board wrote to the Prime Minster to seek advice from the Attorney General on the legality of the findings.

The Board will take further actions pending the advice from the Attorney General.

An agreement under the MoA was for VBTC, through the Digital TV and Radio Vanuatu, to provide full coverage of the South Pacific Mini Games that Vanuatu will be hosting in December 2017.

The digital service is a joint-venture business initiative between VBTC and a Chinese private Company which is specialised in Digital TV, the Guilin CEKE Communication Equipment Co Ltd.


21) Press freedom day event criticised for sidelining Papua issue
8:17 pm GMT+12, 02/05/2017, Indonesia

Human rights activists have invited journalists and participants of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) conference in Jakarta to attend a side event highlighting the lack of press freedom in restive Papua, which is not discussed in the four-day conference.

The WPFD event, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Senayan from May 1 to May 4, is sponsored by the Indonesian government, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Indonesian Press Council (PWI).

“Human rights abuses in Papua are related to press restrictions [in Papua]. We are trying to raise awareness [about press freedom in Papua] by inviting journalists and participants of World Press Freedom Day to the side event,” Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer and organiser of the side event, told the Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The side event, which Veronica said was being held as a criticism against the conference, will be held on Tuesday night at Century Park Hotel, also in Senayan.

Senior Papuan journalist Victor Mambor, Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid and David Robie of New-Zealand based organisation Pacific Media Watch are listed as speakers in the event held by human rights groups.

Press Council chairman Yosep “Stanley” Adi Prasetyo confirmed that the Papua issue was not included in the WPFD meeting, calling it “domestic affair.” “This is an international forum. What we are discussing are the relations between Indonesian and international issues,” he said.


22) Sogavare encourages media to reflect on key role in commemoration of World Press Freedom day

10:56 pm GMT+12, 02/05/2017, Solomon Islands

Patron of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI), Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has encouraged members to reflect on the key role they play in the society in the collection and dissemination of information.

The encouragement comes as MASI and its member media organisations in the country join media practitioners across the globe to mark the 2017 World Press Freedom Day today(03 May).

MASI will be hosting the 2017 Press Freedom Day and Awards Night in Honiara on May 13 in commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day.

“The key role the media plays in collecting and disseminating information cannot be underestimated. It has the potential of influencing or shaping public opinion and decisions on issues affecting the society.

“As such as media practitioners the world-over mark the World Press Freedom Day, I encourage the Media Association of Solomon Islands and its member organisations to reflect on the key role they play in our society.

“Media practitioners in Solomon Islands must be conscious at all times that this key role, comes with the key responsibility of ensuring independence of any personal, commercial and political interests that could jeopardise their objectivity when reporting on issues impinging on these interests,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.

As the Patron of MASI, Prime Minister Sogavare said he was pleased that MASI with the guidance of its Australian Media Consultant has revised the MASI Media Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethic is crucial to ensure the practice of ethical journalism in Solomon Islands.

“Responsible reporting requires that journalists comply with their professional code of ethics.”

Sogavare also welcome the intention of MASI to establish, in collaboration with the Government, a Media Ombudsman – a first ever for the Pacific Region.

He said as a commitment to ensuring that the Media conform to higher standard, the Government will continue to work with MASI to establish such a body which will be able address issues that concern the Media and journalists.


23) Critical journalism ‘important in coverage of national affairs’
7:53 pm GMT+12, 03/05/2017, Fiji

Veteran Fiji journalists Netani Rika believes critical journalism doesn’t necessarily infer criticism.

He made the comments while speaking during a panel discussion on World Press Freedom Day with the theme “Critical Minds During a Critical Time”, held at the University of the South Pacific last night.

He said critical journalism spoke the need and the importance of the discerning mind on the coverage of national affairs.

“For the sake of accountability and transparency, it is imperative that journalists have the ability to think beyond the measures that are churned out by those in positions of Government,” he said.

“That means they must have support systems in place at work and in national legislation to ask the hard questions for those who are elected into Government.

“We can draw hope from a student who dared to ask in a public forum how much Government ministers are paid.”

He said because we lived in a critical time, he claimed attempts were being made to have control to access in our villages.

Meanwhile, the Fijian Media Association (FMA) is expected to meet today and part of the agenda is to discuss the Parliamentary Power and Privileges Bill.

FMA chairman Nemani Delaibatiki made the comments when posed a question by former journalist Sarika Chand on what were the thoughts of the FMA on Clause 24 of the Bill.

Clause 24 of the Bill which states that anyone found to have defamed, demean or undermine the sanctity of Parliament, the Speaker or a committee commits an offence is liable for conviction.

The Clause further states that a person may be fined not exceeding $30,000 (US$15,000) or face imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.

And in the case of corporate bodies, the company may be fined not exceeding $100,000 (US$50,000) or an imprisonment for each director and manager for a term not exceeding five years or both.


24) US Envoy: Media freedom crucial to democracy

7:55 pm GMT+12, 03/05/2017, Fiji

United States of America ambassador to Fiji Judith Cefkin hailed media freedom as an important pillar of democracy during a panel discussion, as Fiji celebrated World Press Freedom Day Wednesday.

Speaking during a USP panel discussion on World Press Freedom Day, Cefkin said the media’s role was to advance peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

She said World Press Freedom Day was a day to celebrate the life of journalists who died in the line of duty and defending the media when its independence was attacked.

“It’s also an opportunity to reiterate the emphasis of media really as an important pillar of democracy, really media is performing the bridge between the governing bodies and the public. By reporting on Government and what the leaders are doing, all branches of Government, it helps ensure transparency in Government,” Cefkin said.

“Media affords Government the means to communicate with constituency, so in other words, media is very essential to democracy, to any function of democracy.”

She said in the United States freedom of speech and expression were well protected by the first amendment to the US Constitution and by a number of State and Federal laws.

“Criticisms of Government, political advocacy and including ideas that may be unpopular or what some people may find distasteful or they may take an opposite position to public policies are almost always permitted. There are very few exceptions to speech that is protected by the first amendment of the Constitution,” she said.

“And those exceptions include obscenity, fraud, child pornography and speech that incites imminent flawless action, within this limited areas there are some other limitations on free speech like copyright protections, potential violence against particular persons and restrictions on use of untruths to harm persons.”

The Fiji Times deputy editor in chief Elenoa Baselala said while media freedom does exist in Fiji, journalists had to be mindful of the Media Decree because of the fines and jail terms. She said with great power came great responsibility, thus the need for journalists to write fair, accurate, honest and balanced reports.

Baselala said Fiji had come a long way from when media censorship was imposed.

“Reiterating what madam ambassador (Cefkin) had said, media freedom is the oxygen for democracy and media freedom is your freedom,” she said.

Fiji Sun managing editor training Nemani Delaibatiki said media freedom did exist because people would not have access to media reports and stories if there wasn’t any.


25) Culture of fear exists in Tonga media – publisher

7:58 pm GMT+12, 03/05/2017, Tonga

Journalists fear doing their jobs after Tongan Prime Minister sacked leaders of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission, according to prominent publisher Kalafi Moala.

‘Akilisi Pohiva has forced the state broadcaster’s chair Tapu Panuve to resign, is looking to replace the general manager Nanise Fifita and has not ruled out other changes.

“They’ve held her responsible for the kind of news information and attitude toward government that the journalists of the TBC have,” he said.

“Public broadcasting is basically a role to serve the people of Tonga, the nation of Tonga, and whatever government is in power at that particular time, that doesn’t mean that they end up controlling what goes out of Tonga broadcasting commission,” Moala told ABC

Moala said he had a special media panel organised to mark World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday but no one turned up.

“It’s affecting press freedom, its bringing a culture of fear upon other journalists and media organisations and it is really bad that here we are commemorating World Press Freedom day and we are having some huge problems here in Tonga.”

Moala said it is a very low point for journalists working in Tonga.

He said he was jailed back in 1996 with ‘Akilisi Pohiva for contempt of parliament for publishing something they weren’t supposed to.

But Moala said now Pōhiva’s perception seemed to be that media should always support him and his initiatives, rather than asking too many hard questions of his leadership





28) Bridges on schedule

Vishaal Kumar
Friday, May 05, 2017-Fijitimes

THE construction works on the Vatuwaqa and Stinson Pde bridges will finish on schedule, says the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA).

FRA program manager bridges and jetties Nixon Toremana said both bridges would be completed next year, weather permitting.

“Based on our latest discussions with China Railway Group 14, it was confirmed that progress is going well. Work is on schedule for both the bridges,” Mr Toremana said.

“The FRA believes the budget allocated is sufficient. The Government of China is funding these two projects fully through an aid grant. The FRA and Government of Fiji are making no financial contribution other than some services relocations and ancillary works.”

According to Mr Toremana, for Stinson Pde bridge, FRA was working closely with the the Fiji Police Force and the Suva City Council to stop fishermen from crossing underneath the bridge.

“The Stinson Pde bridge and the waterway beneath the bridge is strictly a no-go zone as demolition work to remove the existing structure is underway. The FRA wants to ensure that the construction works continue without any mishaps,” he said.


29) PWD six guilty of corruption

Aqela Susu
Friday, May 05, 2017-Fijitimes

SIX former employees of the then Public Works Department (PWD) will be sentenced next Wednesday after they were found guilty of corruption-related offences by the High Court in Suva yesterday.

Ana Laqere, Amelia Vunisea, Laisa Halafi, Vaciseva Lagai, Vasiti Tuitavuki and Kiniviliame Taviraki appeared before Justice Thushara Rajasinghe yesterday. The six, in abuse of their office, caused a loss to PWD of a sum of $362,944.37 in 2010.

Laqere was yesterday found guilty of one count of abuse of office and 35 counts of causing a loss while Vunisea was found guilty of one count of abuse of office and 34 counts of causing a loss.

Halafi was found guilty of one count of abuse of office, 13 counts of causing a loss and one count of obtaining a financial advantage.

Justice Rajasinghe found Lagai guilty of one count of abuse of office and one count of causing a loss while Tuitavuki was also found guilty of one count of abuse of office and five counts of causing a loss.

Taviraki was found guilty of one count of abuse of office and two counts of causing a loss.

The defence and prosecution have been given until next week Monday to file written sentencing submissions before Justice Rajasinghe will deliver his sentence on Wednesday.

Bail has been extended for all accused persons except for Halafi. Prosecution had objected to her bail hence she was remanded.

30) Currency smuggling

Kalesi Mele
Friday, May 05, 2017-Fijitimes

THE Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority has raised concerns on the continuous attempts by travellers to move large sums of money across Fiji without declaring it.

This after 11 Asian nationals disembarking from different flights were last week arrested for attempting to import more than $134,600 into the country without declaring it. Customs officers became suspicious about the passengers and selected them for further inspection.

“Over the past few months we have noted a drastic increase in currency smuggling cases and it is really a concern for us,” said FRCA chief executive officer Visvanath Das in a statement.

“All those travelling in and out of the country are once again reminded to declare the correct amount of currency they are carrying to avoid fines, seizure and prosecution.

“The need to report currency is a common requirement internationally and there is no excuse for non-compliance”.

He added Customs officers at the airport were working hard to ensure illicit activities as such were curbed.

“These seizures should be a deterrent to those engaged in such activity.”

Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho said ignorance of the law would not be accepted.

“The appropriate awareness and advisories have been issued which is why ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse and members of the public must be mindful of their actions to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the law,” he said.

The 11 Asian nationals have been charged and produced in court.


31) PNG giant in tuna world: Kasu

4:33 pm GMT+12, 02/05/2017, Papua New Guinea

“PNG is a small country but mighty in the Tuna world,” according to  Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority managing director John Kasu.

Kasu while welcoming invited guests, participants, members of the diplomatic corp and public at the World Tuna Day celebrations in Sir John Guise Tuesday pointed out the involvement of PNG in making the tuna day a global event.

“The world tuna day is an important event to our region, today is a very special day for everyone to celebrate tuna.

“We acknowledge our parties to the Nauru agreement for this initiative and the vision in declaring May 2 the World Tuna Day, a day which has now gained world rectification as a global event as an annual celebration of tuna,” Kasu said.

He said parties to the Nauru agreement are PNG, Palau, Federate State of Micronesia, Tuvalu, Marshall Island, Nauru, Kiribati, and Solomon Islands are responsible for management and harvest of 50 percent of world’s earned tuna.

“So if you look at it we have a small country but mighty in the tuna world. PNG as a PNA member has since 2011 celebrated tuna day and this particular day was born in Alotau in 2007.”

“However today is extra special as for the first time we are celebrating with the world and this means a lot to us,” said Kasu.

“This day acknowledges that our tuna globally has great value and that we must work together to provoke a stronger awareness of greater global efforts in sustainable management in conservation of the tuna resource.”

PNG recognises the fisheries sector as an important asset that can grow the economy and tuna being the most important of all fisheries resources.

“It generates and contributes significantly to the revenue of the national economy of PNG.”

“The revenue generated from tuna NFA is able to carry out various developments that are taking place in the fisheries sector.”

“It provides food on the table, it provides jobs for people, generates income, and provides for the improvement of livelihood of PNG people,” Kasu said.

PNG celebrated World tuna Day  with the theme ‘Sus-tuna-bility’ emphasising on sustainable practices that address the importance of tuna management and conservation.

“Tuna itself is a strategic asset of our country and this is reflected in our binding documents Vision 2050 and the Mid Term Development Goal, where the government is determined to get the best results possible from our tuna industry,” Kasu said.

He acknowledged the support and gave recognition to the central agencies and government departments who worked together to continue to support the sustainable management and development of fisheries in PNG.

“Tuna is obviously not only NFA responsibility but a national responsibility for all of us, together we can make a difference, despite the challenges of IEU I’m optimistic that PNG will continue to sustainably manage and develop tuna fisheries to greater heights,” he said.

He acknowledged PNG’s domestic tuna investment partners RD Tuna, South Seas Tuna and also bilateral development partners Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan.

Kasu encouraged his staff that working as a lead agency in managing and developing the fisheries industry is a significant responsibility and thanked all for continuing in promoting sustainable tuna practices with commitment and dedication for the people of PNG.


32) Fiji to ban export of sea cucumber

Fisheries authorities in Fiji are seeking to impose a seasonal ban on beche-de-mer exports by the end of the month because the resource is on the verge of being wiped out.

Beche-de-mer or sea cucumber is considered a delicacy in China and top varieties can sell for more than $US2,000 dollars a kilo.

Fiji’s new minister of Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau said he had already banned the use of scuba-diving gear for harvesting beche-de-mer but it had done little to slow exports.

“So what we are going to do now is what we call seasonal ban. So there has to be a period of ban where we will carry out another survey and see the population of this stock and review our decision from there.”

“I am hoping that it will be banned by the end of this month,” he said.

Mr Koroilavesau said alternative fisheries ventures such as deep sea fishing would be promoted in communities who would be affected by the ban to counter any loss of income or negative impact on livelihoods.

He said his ministry was also promoting culturing of beche-de-mer in local communities for release into the wild to help speed up the recovery process.RNZI 5 May 2017


33) Tahiti through to semis at Beach Soccer World Cup

Tahiti are through to the Beach Soccer World Cup semi finals after beating Paraguay 6-4 in the Bahamas.

Goalkeeper Jonathan Torohia opened the scoring for Tahiti in the ninth minute with a volley from distance before captain Naea Bennett doubled their lead before the end of the first period.

Paraguay hit back with two goals early in the second period before the Tiki Toa retook the lead a minute later from a Heimanu Taiarui overhead kick.

However, Pedro Moran’s equalised for the second time in the match with a long-distance free-kick into the top corner.

Tearii Labaste put Tahiti back in front early in the third period with another overhead effort before Heiarii Tavanae and Patrick Tepa found the back of the net in the last 20 seconds to seal the result.

Paraguay added a consolation goal with the last kick of the game but it’s Tahiti who advance to a third consecutive World Cup semi-final appearance.

The Tiki Toa will play Switzerland or Iran for a place in the final.RNZI 5/5/17

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35) Best for the last

Josefa Makaba
Friday, May 05, 2017-Fijitimes

Vodafone Fiji 7s coach Gareth Baber has selected the best for the final two tournaments of the 2016/2017 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Paris and London.

Baber named his team yesterday which included four new players in Josua Vakurinabuli, Samu Bale, Paula Dranisinukula and Glen Cakautini.

The team leaves for Paris today.

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