Wednesday, November 16, 2011

News Source: SIBC, Honiara.

18:19hrs 16 November 2011

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has been sworn in.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has been sworn in.

Governor General Sir Frank Kabui officiated the swearing in of the new prime minister this evening, hours after it was initially scheduled.

The ceremony was delayed due to disagreements by some groups of people who demanded the prime minister step down by 4.30 this afternoon.

The group gathered outside the Government House earlier in the afternoon and demanded the Governor General to ask the new prime minister to step down.

Commenting on the events of the day during the swearing in, Governor General Sir Frank Kabui said the gathering outside the Government House premises was illegal and at the same time threatening.

The Prime Minister Mr Lilo is expected to announce his cabinet soon.

18:18hrs 16 November 2011

Newly elected Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, has assured Solomon Islanders, that his government will be an open and transparent and one that wish to see good governance beyond the democratic and bureaucratic processes.

Newly elected Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, has assured Solomon Islanders, that his government will be an open and transparent and one that wish to see good governance beyond the democratic and bureaucratic processes.

In his maiden speech following his election, Mr Lilo said his government will ensure men and women, children, the old, the crippled and the disadvantaged are looked after.

Mr Lilo said this morning the country's elected representatives have made their choice in electing him as the new Prime Minister.

He thanked the MPs for the confidence they entrusted him to carry on the task before them.

Mr Lilo also paid tribute to his predecessor, the member of Parliament for South New George, Rendova and Tetepare, Danny Philip, who has held the Prime Minister's post for more than 14 months, adding that the country owe him admiration for his humility and respect for democracy.

He said the election was a resounding victory for Solomon Islands young and growing democracy after a week of intense political intensity and uncertainty.

Mr Lilo said it goes to show when there is uncertainty, the Constitution and democracy will prevail above the political, social and economic impasse.

He said the people deserve a stable government to govern their affairs and continue the awesome task of delivering the services to them.

18:15hrs 16 November 2011

The Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, expresses his gratitude and appreciation to the People of Solomon Islands who, through their respective members of Parliament, elected him as the next Prime Minister of Solomon Islands.

The Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, expresses his gratitude and appreciation to the People of Solomon Islands who, through their respective members of Parliament, elected him as the next Prime Minister of Solomon Islands.

Mr Lilo said he was moved by the support given to him by M-Ps on the floor of Parliament.

He said the people of Solomon Islands, through their MPs, have spoken.

He appealed to every citizen to respect Parliament’s wish and allow the government to govern Solomon Islands on their behalf.

The Prime Minister, Mr Lilo said his priority now is to ensure the 2012 national budget is passed so that services to the rural people are not affected.

In his brief remarks to MPs at the Cabinet Conference Room today, Mr. Lilo assured Caucus that he would undertake major decision through dialogue and consultation with his Cabinet and Caucus when need be.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Lilo appeals to the Opposition Leader and his group to work with the government to address national issues and to leave aside petty politics for the good of Solomon Islands.

18:13hrs 16 November 2011

The presence of police in the streets of Honiara today played a big part in avoiding a protest situation getting out of hand in the capital.

The presence of police in the streets of Honiara today played a big part in avoiding a protest situation getting out of hand in the capital.

Following the election of Gizo/Kolombangara M-P Gordon Darcy Lilo as new prime minister, pockets of unhappy Honiara residents regrouped and marched towards the Prime Minister's Office and then to the Government House.

But Acting Police Commissioner Walter Kola said the crowds were disbursed by police.

Mr Kola said the number of police officers on the ground for this security operation has been increased after what happened today.

Mr Kola also confirmed that police has made a number of arrests for unlawful behaviour, few police officers have received medical attention for minor injuries from stone-throwing and that a number of police vehicles have been damaged.

There's been no reports of further destruction to properties in the capital from the street protests today.

The protestors were unhappy with the result of this morning's parliamentary elections of a new prime minister.

With two candidates withdrawing their candidacies in the race earlier, Former Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo was unanimously elected by 29 M-Ps in the first round of ballots, ahead of the other three candidates.

The Honiara Central Market remained close today and a liquor ban remains in force, and police continue their security operations overnight.

18:12hrs 16 November 2011

Police have increased the number of officers in its Operation National Parliament and will be on a 24-hour alert says Acting Police Commissioner, Walter Kola.

Police have increased the number of officers in its Operation National Parliament and will be on a 24-hour alert says Acting Police Commissioner, Walter Kola.

The Police Operation increased its manpower this afternoon and changed its operational status after a large crowd of hostile people began protesting against the win of Gizo-Kolombangara MP Gordon Darcy Lilo this morning.

The crowd made up of mainly young men and boys occupied the main street at Point Cruz and marched towards the Prime Ministers Office before changing their course to the Government House at East Kola'a Ridge.

A smaller group of young men and boys had broken away from the main group of protestors at the Government House to Chinatown where they were stopped by police officers armed with riot gear, including tear gas guns.

In an interview with SIBC News this afternoon, Acting Police Commissioner Kola says Chinatown has been sealed off and police moved the faction to the West Kola'a Ridge road.

Mr Kola also confirms he has increased deployment numbers and police officers will be on a 24-hour alert.

Social Unrest brewing in Honiara

Unconfirmed reports stated that a social unrest is brewing in Honiara. Latest reports that are coming in as we speak stated that some protesters are starting to take the law into their own hands. It was reported some groups of people are seen throwing rocks and attempted to break-in to shops in China town. Also, unconfirmed reports stated that the police have used small amount of tear gas to try and disperse the crowd. There is heavy presence of local police and RAMSI PPF within the vicinity of China town while police presence can be felt in other parts of Honiara city.

During the April riots majority of the shops at China town have been burned to the ground.

Meanwhile, Prejudiced understands that a crowd is sitting outside the Government House. It is believed the crowd is demanding Lilo’s resignation before 4.00pm today.

Tense atmosphere in Honiara after PMs Result

There are reports of people marching along the streets of Honiara demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister elect Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo as we speak. Reports reaching Prejudiced stated that a group known as the Malaita Ma'asina Forum is leading the protest calling on Hon. Lilo to step down by 4:00pm today. This morning Parliament elected Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo as the new Prime Minister replacing Hon. Danny Philip following the resignation of the former Prime Minister last week.

Some people spoken to Prejudiced earlier today said that they do not wish to have Darcy Lilo as the next Prime Minister. It is believed that the group who is leading the protest prefer Manasseh Sogavare for the top job.

Lilo is expected to take his oath today. But it is understood a large crowd is gathering outside the Prime Minister's Office and some at the Government House attempting to prevent the swearing-in ceremony not to take place. In 2006 similar developments led to the April riots and the burning down of a number of buildings in Honiara.

Meanwhile, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force together with the support of RAMSI PPF and military are understood to be on high alert.

Gordon Darcy Lilo is new Solomon Islands Prime Minister

Solomon Islands has a new Prime Minister. he is Gordon Darcy Lilo, the Member of Parliament for Gizo and Kolombangara. Mr. Lilo defeated three other candidates in a very tense voting atmosphere inside Parliament House today. Lilo polled 29 votes, Sogavare polled 9 votes, Milner Tozaka 9 votes and Manetoali 2 votes. Moffat Fuigui withdraw before the election begins and Douglas Ete withdrew late yesterday.

Lilo was able to take out the victory when Steve Abana's Solomon Islands Democratic Party and Job Duddley Tausinga make a last minute switch on Lilo's side.

The situation in town is quite normal with pockets of gatherings around town, mainly to discuss the outcome of the votes. But local police are very alert and can be seen patrolling Honiara on foot and in vehicle.

In his victory Speech Lilo said that the result is a resounding victory for the young democracy of Solomon Islands after weeks of intense political lobbying and uncertainty, and that it goes to show that when there’s uncertainty the Constitution will prevail over the socio-economic and political impasse.

Friday, November 11, 2011

General Viewpoint on the Unfolding Events

Today, Friday 11th November, 2011 is a very special day- a one in a lifetime. This is because today is 11/11/11 and this triple 11 date has never occurred in history and will never come again in the future of humanity. That is in fact a matter of certainty as we are sure that this will never happen again.

In Solomon Islands, however, today is a day that has been filled with much uncertainty- not because of the 11/11/11 number coincidence but due to the political situation. Just after 10am this morning the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, voted into power on 24th August, 2010, had gracefully tendered his resignation at the dawn of a no confidence motion on the floor of Parliament.

In tendering his resignation, Prime Minister Philip said that his decision to resign was not a decision he made by himself but a collective decision of the NCRA coalition. He said the decision is for the best interest and benefit of the nation of Solomon Islands and its people, but claimed that the Sikua-led Opposition and the media collaborating to discredit him was a major cause of his fall. He however warned that despite the efforts of the media and the “perpetrators” of the no confidence motion to destroy him, they will never destroy the National Coalition for Rural Advancement (NCRA).

Prime Minister Philip then appealed to all Members of Parliament to form a good and sound government in the next few days and to continue on with the work and policies of NCRA.

Public reaction

Hours before the Parliamentary session commenced the gates of Parliament were already crowded with people wanting to go and listen to the deliberations. Prejudiced sources who were present at the locations discovered that a majority of the people were in favour of a change of government, citing their disagreement of the Prime Minister’s use of the Discretionary Fund as the main reason for wanting the Prime Minister out of Office. However, interestingly, while the majority agrees that the Prime Minister should step aside, not many people agreed on a choice for the new Prime Minister. One person that was spoken to said: “Iumi no savve too. Oketa everyone ia sem sem noma” (We don’t know who is the best candidate because they are all just the same).

Obviously there was an uncertainty, confusion and anxiety amongst the sizeable crowd that gathered to witness the deliberations.

Small gathering of people along the streets of Honiara were quickly dispersed by the local police who were very alert to ensure no opportunists took advantage of the situation.

Generally people were generally relieved that the Prime Minister had decided to resign, but were unsure whether a new government would be of any much difference.

Political maneuvering

In the chamber the arrival of Gordon Darcy Lilo to Parliament before the deliberations caused quite a stir among the Members and the public alike. Hon. Darcy Lilo, the former Finance Minister who was sacked on the eleventh hour came into parliament and found himself standing at the centre of the two groups: his former colleagues in the government at his left, and the Opposition Group who were reluctant to have him upon his sacking yesterday at his right. He came into the chamber and stood right in the middle of the two groups before asking loudly: “Where should I go”? He sounded almost like a confused person.

But is Hon. Lilo really confused of where he should go? Many people were quite suspicious of Hon. Lilo’s eleventh hour sacking that it was the last move of desperation by NCRA to try and regain the support for numbers. It is known that Hon. Lilo and Hon. Bodo cannot work together, and it is believed that one of the main reasons why Hon. Bodo and his group of “grasshoppers” (re)deflected to the Opposition was because of Hon. Lilo’s presence in NCRA. The move to sack Hon. Lilo obviously didn’t work out and it was no surprise that just an hour after the Prime Minister’s resignation, and only a day after Hon. Lilo’s sacking, he (Hon. Lilo) was seen parading the corridors of the Office of the Prime Minister again. He had a meeting with the Prime Minister which lasted for almost 3 hours. Is that how a sacked Member of Parliament reacts? Well, obviously not- hence it is almost certain that the move was collaborative between Lilo and NCRA and obviously was miscalculated, perhaps because of the limitation of time or because the Opposition were already content with their numbers and characters.

Is Opposition stable?

The Opposition is obviously not stable. It is fragmented and with the presence of Bodo and his “ping pong” boys anything can still happen. The presence of “ping pong” politicians with the likes of Mark Kemakeza, Marting Sophage, James Tora, Stanley Sofu, Douglas Ete, and their ring leader Dodo Dettke will always be a source for instability. These guys are Rambos who are always willing to tender personal service for gain in cash or kind. Their way of doing politics is almost to the way prostitutes do their trade- gaining monetary returns in exchange for their personal presence and service.

While they may have gained thousands of dollars doing this cunny practice there is no doubt about how grave they have sacrificed their integrity and dignity as national leaders without sound principles.

So what the “stable” Members should do is to regroup and isolate the “shaky” and form a new government. Currently there are 49 Members of Parliament and my count shows that even if the unstable Members, or the political prostitutes if you like, are isolated and pushed aside, the stable serious can still form a workable government. Because Bodo cannot work with many Members of Parliament, his group- together with the likes of Namson Tran, Gordon Darcy Lilo, and Matthew Wale-should be isolated and be forced to form the Opposition to allow those MPs that are serious to serve the country (rather than themselves and their vested interests) to form the government.

Solomon Island belongs to every single child, woman and man of this nation- not just the Members of Parliament. So if you (MPs) are to represent us the small people in Parliament then do it with the Grace of God- not the grace of dogs.

Lobbying intensifies for New PM

Parliament was suspended for an hour to allow the Prime Minister to officially tender his resignation to the Governor General. At the same time, lobbying is said to be intensifying in Parliament as we speak as the Members of both the current government and the Opposition attempt to gain Member support on their side for the post of a new Prime Minister. This follows after the resignation of the former Prime Minister Danny Philip on the floor of Parliament this morning.

Names of likely candidates for the Prime Minister is still unclear at this stage. Besides that, Prejudiced understands that the two sacked Ministers Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo and Hon. Rick Hou are sitting on the Opposition side when Parliament meets this morning.

The former Prime Minister earlier asked Members of Parliament not to "destroy" NCRA, a statement that had a lot of meaning into it. Will there be a change of leadership or a new government, that remains a question. However, when Prejudiced asked the views of a number of ordinary citizens the respond is heavily sided for a new government.

Meanwhile, the Governor General is yet to convene a date as according to Parliament Standing Orders for the election of a new Prime Minister.

PM Resigns

Prime Minister Danny Philip has resigned on the floor of Parliament this morning. He tendered his resignation after Opposition Leader Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua asked him to do following the Speaker of Parliaments ruling for the Prime Minister to consider relevant section of the constitution and Standing Orders. The scheduled motion of No Confidence was never moved.

In a statement former Prime Minister Danny Philip blamed the media for his fall. He however said that he has no regrets for the decision and appeals for the formation of a good government. In what is a last attempt to maintain the current government he was instrumental to establish, Mr. Philip pleaded to Members of Parliament not to destroy the NCRA government.

Meanwhile, the likely scenario of a formation of a new government is still looming. Whether there will be a new government or a change in leadership is still the question. Prejudiced however understands that the Opposition commands the majority support when Parliament sits this morning.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

PM Faces Motion of No Confidence

The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Hon. Danny Philip will face another motion of no confidence come Friday 11th of November 2011 when Parliament resume its Meeting. Prejudiced understands the political tug of war over who has the majority support still continues.

This week the Prime Minister loses grip on three of his Ministers after they resigned and joined the Opposition. The trio former Agriculture Minister, Hon. Connelly Sandakabatu, former Police Minister, Hon. Clay Forau and former Mines and Energy Minister Hon. Moses Garu stated in their resignation submission that they no longer hold confidence on the leadership of the Prime Minister. The resignation follows revelation of the Prime Ministers alleged misuse of the Prime Minister's discretionary funds on family relatives, friends and cronies. The government numbers was further trimmed today following the sacking of two prominent Cabinet Ministers the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Service.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister is still confident the motion of no confidence will be defeated on the floor of Parliament come Friday.

PM sacked two prominent Ministers

The Solomon Islands government is again on the cross road. This follows the latest sacking of two prominent Ministers by the Prime Minister today. The Solomon Islands Broadcasting cooperation (SIBC) this afternoon stated that the Minister of Finance, Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo and the Minister of Public Service, Hon. Rick Hou are victims of what might be an eleventh hour move by the Prime Minister to gain political favor from other sympathetic MPs.

Few weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition alleges that the Prime Minister Hon. Danny Philip had used the Prime Minister's discretionary Fund on her family and other cronies. This led to a week long of political mud slinging between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition. Last week the Opposition Leader filed a Motion of No Confidence on the PM. The proposed motion will be moved tomorrow.

Prejudiced understand there is a tense situation in Honiara amid the motion of no confidence as last minute lobbying intensifies.

Friday, June 24, 2011

SIBC News, 24th June 2011

The Government has set up a Constituency Scholarship Fund, effective immediately.

Minister for Education and Human Resources Development, Dick Haamori, confirmed this following Cabinet’s endorsement of the Fund last week.

Announcing this today, Mr Haamori said Cabinet’s decision meant that each year the Government would make available five million to the Constituency Scholarship Fund.

He said details of how the Scholarship Fund would be administered are being worked out.

Mr Haamori said that funding will be restricted to students studying in in-country tertiary education institutions meaning only students undertaking studies in tertiary education institutions based in Solomon Islands are eligible for scholarship award

He said Constituency students attending foreign institutions operating out of Solomon Islands are also eligible.

Minister Haamori said the Government felt the use of Grade Point Average, as the main measurement or in many instances the only criteria to determine who receive scholarship awards does not provide an acceptable distribution of scholarships to all Solomon Islanders.

He said by creating the Constituency Scholarship Scheme tertiary education development opportunity is facilitated to be available to all Constituencies of the country, instead of only a privileged few.

Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has endorsed a National Provident Fund request to make a major loan to Solomon Airlines to purchase an aircraft to consolidate and expand the Airline's domestic air services.

Speaking this week during a seminar on State Owned Enterprise, S-O-E, Mr Lilo said Solomon Airlines had received major support from the Government and from donors in recent years.

He said NPF is in a transition period to accessing normal commercial lending, and is in a position to explore options for private equity involvement as well.

Mr Lilo challenged the staff of S-O-Es to rise up to the opportunities and behave like a commercial business in a competitive market.

The Solomon Airlines is seeking an alternative aircraft to serve it's international routes to Australia.

A statement from the airlines says because of the ash cloud disruptions in Australia and additional work by the current operators, Our Airlines, Strategic Airlines and Alliance.

Strategic Airlines has sent one of its planes for maintenance whilst Our Airlines has taken on many ad-hoc charters thus preventing their aircraft use this weekend and Alliance has no aircraft available in Brisbane.

Despite the set back, Solomon Airlines says the company has secured an aircraft for Sunday evening which will only cater for today's flight disruption.

The Sunday flight will now be operated on Monday evening.

The company also anticipates to operate from Our Airlines aircraft on Wednesday and Friday next week, when the company completes it's charter work.

Solomon Airlines has also contacted various airlines all of whom have indicated nothing available whilst they recover the Ashes flight disruptions in Australia.

Meanwhile, the company is trying to find a timely solution of operating its own Airbus A320.

A United States delegation will arrive in Honiara for a short visit next Wednesday.

The Assistant Secretary of State to South East Asia and Pacific Kurt Campbell will lead the delegation for brief talks with the Prime Minister Danny Philip and senior government officials.

This will be the first time that a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State has visited the Solomon Islands.

Mr Campbell will be accompanied by the Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Patrick Walsh, Brigadier General Richard Simcock and U.S. Agency for International Development Senior Administrator Nisha Biswal.

The U-S Consul office in Honiara says the schedule for the high-level delegation in Honiara will be tight.

The General Secretary of the Solomon Islands National Union of workers says the 63 workers allegedly terminated by Soltai company are still on the job while waiting for the Commissioner of Labour to deal with the situation.

A front page article in the Solomon Star newspaper today said the workers had been terminated by Soltai Company because they refused to renew their personal contracts with the company.

The paper also stated that the Trade Disputes Panel has refused to handle the case because they did not have the legal rights.

However, Tony Kangovai says the 63 workers are still working with the rest of the employees and are waiting for the Labour Commissioner to arrive to sort out the matter.

Mr Kangovai says Josiah Manehia is expected to arrive in Noro on Sunday.

He also confirms that the Trade Disputes Panel has refused to take up the case because they did not have the legal jurisdiction.

The first part of the Malaita Development Program under the Israel assistance to the province will start next month.

Honorary Consul of Israel to Solomon Islands says the Jewish Agency, TAG International Development, is preparing logistics arrangements for its work with the Malaita Chazon Authority.

Both the Director and Deputy Director of the Authority, Patrick Taloboe and David Toifai, have been undertaking training in Israel over the past few weeks for the setting up of the Authority in Auki next month.

Save the Children Solomon Islands commends the local media for helping it disseminate children's rights and issues when all other means seem difficult.

Child Advocacy program manager, Emmanuel Maesua says, Save the Children will seek to improve its relationship with the local media.

He says without the influence of the media, the 2011advocacy program which ends today would not have been successful. 

A research into the lives and daily experiences of people living with disability in the Solomon Islands will soon be carried out in communities on Guadalcanal.

The project is titled 'The Social and Cultural Context of Disability in the Solomon Islands' and will identify culturally appropriate solutions to disadvantage.

The research will jointly be carried out by the Monash University, People With Disability Solomon Islands and will be supported by the Australian Government and the Australian Research Council.

Brooke Winterburn an Assistant Researcher with the Monash University who is in the country to carry out the pilot stages of the research told SIBC News in an interview that the research will be carried out over a period of three months in communities in east and west Guadalcanal.

Ms Winterburn says key questions will include the social cultural beliefs and the attitude and behaviour towards disability, among others.

People of North Malaita support the efforts of Transparency Solomon Islands, TSI, in the country.

SIBC's correspondent, John Kiri, reports that people of North Malaita say the work of TSI in trying to ensure Solomon Islanders in all walks of life are transparent, accountable and fair to assist develop the country.

He says since the country became independent more than 30 years ago, corruption through nepotism, bribery and self-service had taken root especially among leaders and government officials in decision making positions, slowing down development in the country.

Mr Kiri says the practice is continuing today and if nothing is done to stop it, millions of dollars allocated to the people through the various funding such as the Rural Support Constituency Development, Millennium Development, the Micro Project, Livelihood Fund and Fishery Funds will not reach the people.

He says leaders must be transparent in how they distribute the aid money and the services they are obliged to provide to the people.

Narasirato pan pipers are playing at various musical festivals in Europe starting tonight.

The 10-member band will at the Glastonbury Festival in England tonight and tomorrow night.

Narasirato will perform at the Roots Festival in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on Monday and in Norway on July the 1st.

In addition to the live performances, Narasirato will lead cultural workshops for Greenpeace and workshops in Europe.

The traditional pan pipers group left Solomon Islands last Friday and will return after spending one month touring Europe.

Radio New Zealand International Pacific News, 24 June 2011

Tonga rejects Fiji bid to extradite former officer Mara

The Tongan government has advised Fiji that a former Fiji senior officer, Lieutenant Col Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, won’t be extradited.

Fiji requested his extradition last month after Col Mara escaped Fiji while being on bail on a sedition charge.

A government statement issued in Nuku’alofa says a diplomatic note sent to Fiji states that due to Tongan laws, the government is unable to extradite him.

Col Mara has been issued with a Tongan passport and he has visited Australia.

As a former coup co-conspirator, he has denounced the human rights abuses by the interim regime and called for a return to democracy.

Fiji has said it will lodge an extradition request with every country which Col Mara may visit.

PNG’s Somare intends to stand down this year

The president of the ruling Papua New Guinea National Alliance Party says it’s in the interests of the party that a new leader emerges this year to take the party into the 2012 elections.

Papua New Guinea prime minister Sir Michael Somare, who’s been in the top job since 2002, is in Singapore recovering from heart surgery.

The party president Simon Kaiwi has confirmed that the 75-year-old intends to step down later this year.
“According to the constitution it is an issue that can only be discussed at the party caucus meeting and that caucus meeting is scheduled to be held in August this year but the Prime Minister in his own mind, he made his intention known, that he’d like to leave the leadership available for a younger or for somebody else to take over some time this year.”
In Sir Michael Somare’s absence, the acting prime minister Sam Abal has sacked Don Polye, who has had leadership asperations, prompting the Highlands executive to ask for Mr Abal to be dismissed from the party.

Vanuatu top politicians faulted in China embassy audit

A report by Vanuatu’s auditor general office into mismanagement and irregularities within the diplomatic mission in China has faulted a number of prominent political figures.

The report details shoddy practices and makes allegations of corruption, following the opening of the Embassy in Beijing five years ago and its later offshoots, the consulate in Shanghai and travel office in Shuhai.

Don Wiseman reports:
“The auditors say former cabinet ministers, Sato Kilman, George Wells and Bakoa Kaltonga, had released diplomatic passports without proper documentation and to people in questionable positions. They say, Moana Carcasses, when he was internal affairs minister, had failed to revoke visas despite being informed that they shouldn’t have been issued. The report says another MP Patrick Crowby, who returned to cabinet this week, had established the Shuhai office without having any right to do so. The audit report accuses leading government official, Jean Sese, of gross negligence for failing to take action despite being aware of the illegal activities undertaken by the China mission. And it says current ambassador and former cabinet minister, Willie Jimmy, appointed staff without authority, hasn’t filed his annual returns form and has failed to remit revenue to Port Vila. It also accuses Mr Jimmy of corruption.”

US to consult Pacific amid unease over Fiji

The United States says most Pacific Islands governments have quietly expressed growing unease about the situation in Fiji.

The Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell says he will consult further during next week’s tour which will take him to Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Island.

Fiji’s leader, who is accused of human rights abuses, has said he will stay in power until at least 2014 despite calls since the last coup to return the country to democratic rule.

Mr Campbell says the US is looking to New Zealand and Australia to take the lead in dealing with Fiji.
“We are concerned by what we’ve seen. We’ve maintained sanctions on Fiji and we would like very much a civilian government return to power in a transparent, inclusive and open process.”

Vanuatu TI says corruption worsening

The president of Transparency International in Vanuatu says corruption at the political level in the country is getting worse.

Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson says the current instability, which has seen five changes of leadership in just over six months with another possible this Sunday, is fomenting the corrupt behaviour.

She says the politicians want power to have access to funds and because they’re not sure how long they’ll retain power they rush into obvious and terrible things to make as much money as possible.

Mrs Ferrieux Patterson says in Vanuatu this often involves the controversial granting of land leases.
“What happens is that the ministers basically grant leases to friends or to people who might be paying them money. And that has happened. We have seen examples, especially when Minister Iauko was there, but I think successive ministers have done similar things.”
Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson.

Samoa PM dismissive of Fiji 2014 election pledge

Samoa’s prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, says a promise by Fiji’s leader to hold elections in 2014 is not taken seriously by Pacific Islands Forum leaders.

Tuileapa says this is because Commodore Frank Bainimarama has been consistently dishonest in his dealings with the leaders and therefore cannot be trusted.

He says Commodore Bainimarama’s latest election promise is also not consistent with his actions as he continues to fill up the top public service ranks with his cronies in the military and elsewhere.

Tuilaepa has invited him to Apia and says should his visit coincide with that of the former Fiji military officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara, the three of them can enjoy cold Vailima beers under the swaying coconut trees.

He says perhaps what the situation in Fiji requires, is a cold Vailima solution.

Alluding to Fiji’s military coups, Tuilaepa says Samoa doesn’t have coups, unless, as he puts it, it’s a chicken coop.

Pacific’s first private hospital in Samoa goes broke

The first ever private hospital in the Pacific Islands has gone broke and its fate is now being decided by stakeholders.

The MedCen Hospital in Vailima, Samoa, was set up in 1998 and provides emergency care and essential health services by local professionals and visiting specialists.

Last month, the Chief Executive Officer of the Development Bank of Samoa, Tuiasau Saumani WongSing, said the government might have to take over MedCen’s assets and equipment.

The Development Bank made an initial 850,000 US dollar investment in the hospital and Saumani says he’s trying to recoup the funds.

The hospital received international certification status in 2003.

The hospital’s director Dr Emosi Puni says a committee has been set up to decide how the hosptial will continue to be financed.

The government is in negotiations with the Development Bank and Dr Puni is hopeful the hospital’s future is secure.

A decision is expected next week before the financial year ends.

Vanuatu chief says court system is foreign

The chairman of a council of chiefs in Vanuatu says more cases such as divorce proceedings and land disputes should be resolved through custom not through the court.

Chief Claude Tabi, who is the head of the Pentecost Council of Chiefs in Port Vila, says the court system is difficult to understand because it’s foreign, whereas people are familiar with customary systems.

He says in court there’s always a losing party but when a chief presides over a dispute there’s more room for compromise.
“If you go to the courthouse 100 percent one will win, and hundred percent the other one is loser. You need to go to the customary court to make sure that you check the case according to customary law, you’ve got some sort of understanding about culture, tradition and custom.”
Claude Tabi says if cases were dealt with through a customary process it would save time and money.

Food shortage in Bougainville atolls

More than 12,000 people living on atoll islands in Bougainville are in urgent need of help to overcome food shortages, a Papua New Guinea MP has told parliament.

North Bougainville MP Lauta Atoi says rising sea levels and a prolonged drought have made growing food increasingly difficult.

Affected atolls include Nissan, Mortlock, Tasman and the Carteret islands.

The PNG government has authorised extra money and transport to get supplies to the atolls.

But Mr Atoi says the islanders need access to mainland plantations to grow staple crops.

"I don't like the atolls to be seen as beggars," he said.

"That's why the way forward for the government is to look at purchasing plantations from the mainland so that we can cultivate this land and grow our own foodstuff."

$100m fine for logging company in PNG
Malaysian logging company Concord Pacific has been fined $US100 million after being found guilty of illegal logging and causing environmental damage in Papua New Guinea.

Four tribal communities in Papua New Guinea's Western Province stand to benefit from the National Court decision.

The Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights, which represented the tribal groups in court, has called the decision a major victory.

Leading lawyer Damien Ase says it will serve as a powerful warning to other logging companies in PNG.

Fiji health 'at crisis point'

Eighty per cent of deaths in Fiji are the result of non-communicable and often easily preventable diseases, the World Health Organisation says.

The WHO's head of pacific support, Dr Dong-il Ahn, says half the Fijian population is overweight, and 40 per cent are smokers.

Dr Ahn told a meeting in Suva that tobacco use is on the rise, and that just 16 per cent of Fijians survive past the age of 55.

He says the situation is at crisis point and that Fiji's poorly developed national health system means the situation will get worse.

Concerns remain for missing Northern Marianas girls

America's Federal Bureau of investigation is scaling down the search for two young sisters who disappeared in the Northern Marianas four weeks ago.

Ten-year-old Faloma Luhk and her nine-year-old sister Maleina have not been seen since May 25, when they were waiting for a school bus on Saipan.

FBI Special Agent Tom Simon has returned to Honolulu and told Pacific Beat 15 agents will continue the investigation with the Saipan police.

The 15 to 20 agents that went to Saipan from Hawaii at the height of the search have returned.

Special agent Simon says the leads are drying up.

"The girls were clearly abducted, it's clear that they didn't run away, but what became of them following the abduction is really anybody's guess at this point," he said.

"Yeah the locals are very shaken up - they're all keeping a very close eye on their children because they just don't know what happened.

"It's a real mystery there and folks are worried."

Canoe fleet lands in Hawaii after long haul

A fleet of seven traditional Polynesian double-hulled canoes has reached Hawaii after sailing from New Zealand.

The vaka are crewed by people from a range of Pacific nations who set sail in April, to recapture traditional sailing skills and also raise awareness about the state of the Pacific Ocean.

The President of the Fiji Island Voyaging Society, Colin Philp, went with them and has told Pacific Beat it was a tough sail.

"What was really hard was just the constant rough weather after leaving New Zealand," he said.

"A lot of storms along the way and there never seemed to be a break for at least the first three weeks of the voyage and a lot of headwinds.

"I think the best they did on a given day was about 230 nautical miles, usually averaging 120 to 140 miles a day."

Australian mint a hit with Pacific nations

The Crown Prince of Tonga says his country will join Samoa by having its coins made at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra.

Samoan representatives attended the official launch of the production of Samoa's new coins on Thursday.

Tonga's Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka says the new government will also be updating the country's national currency.

"I wanted to come and see how the processes work and of course this is the new refurbished Royal Australian Mint," he said.

"We, like Samoa, have our own coins. And we are looking in about two years' time to look at renewing our currency. That's already in the pipeline now."

Mint magic
At the mint's Canberra factory, Samoan Government representatives struck their brand new coins, which will enter into circulation later this year.

Since the mint was upgraded in 2009, it has been able to accept contracts from other countries.

The Samoan deal is one of the mint's first large-scale international jobs.

Chief executive of the Royal Australian Mint, Ross MacDiarmid, has told Pacific Beat the mint could provide similar services to other Pacific nations.

"The geographical proximity [of Samoa] provides us with an opportunity to provide these sort of coins, hopefully to other Pacific island countries as well," he said.

"We can clearly provide the service - we have got the capacity - and we are just next door. So hopefully this will be the start of other opportunities for us in the Pacific."

PNG PM to leave intensive care

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is expected leave intensive care next week.

It has been more than two months since Sir Michael, 75, went to Singapore to have surgery to replace a valve in his heart.

Few details have been released but on Thursday his son Arthur Somare spoke publicly about his father's condition for the first time.

He confirmed Sir Michael twice required corrective surgery and has suffered from other issues including lung and kidney problems.

"There is great uncertainty as to the period of time for his recovery," he said. "We anticipate by Tuesday next week that he will be out of ICU."

He says it is too soon to say if Sir Michael will return to work but there may be more news next week.

PNG concerned about return of mining giant

Papua New Guinea's mining minister says he is concerned at the return of mining giant BHP Billiton to the country.

BHP Billiton left PNG in 2002 after divesting its stake in the Ok Tedi mine, which caused widespread environmental damage in the 1990s.

In response to a question, Mining Minister John Pundari told Parliament the company has lodged applications for exploration tenements.

"I personally find it very difficult to allow the return of BHP into this country again, given its past legacy," he said.

The revelation prompted angry howls from MPs, especially those from areas near the Ok Tedi mine.

Mr Pundari says he will take the matter to cabinet for consideration.

BHP Billiton declined to comment.

The local police head has appealed to members of the public to support them locate their most wanted man after operation targeting him over the weekend was unsuccessful.

Escaped prisoner Stanley Gitoa, from Tetere, who has been on the run since February 2007 and is wanted by the police for murder, armed robbery and escaping lawful custody in 2008.

He escaped from Tetere Prison while on a welfare visit to his family.

Mr Gitoa was allegedly responsible for firing a semi-automatic rifle and murdering a woman in November 2001.

He is also believed to have committed other firearm, rape, attempted rape, and theft offences.

Acting Police Commissioner Walter Kola says a joint operation with PPF targeting Mr Gitoa's seven associates was unsuccessful after he was last seen with them at the Guadalcanal Plains area last Saturday.


Results for the three provincial wards who held bye elections yesterday have been declared.

Kokota Ward in Isabel Province and South Kolombangara and Mbuini Tusu ward in Western Province have declared the winners of yesterday's polling.

Returning Officer for Kokota Ward 3 in Isabel Province John Mark Lokumana confirms to SIBC News that James Habu was this morning declared as the new provincial ward member.

Mr Lokumana says yesterday's voter turn out was 73 percent and that polling had gone smoothly.

For Western Province's South Kolombangara ward 12, Sina Adrian from SIBC Gizo confirmed that John Hopa has been declared the winner at the end of counting this morning in Gizo.

John Hopa polled 287 votes while runner-up Duncan Aurther got 182 votes.

For Mbuini Tusu ward Evans Ralu was declared the new provincial member after counting was completed this morning at Seghe, Marovo.

Returning Officer for Mbuini Tusu ward Goldie Ringi confirmed to SIBC News that Mr Ralu won the seat after polling a total of 362 votes while his runner-up Vincent Vanguni polled 309 votes.

Mr Ringi says out of the 1998 registered voters, one-thousand-333 people turned up to cast their ballots yesterday.


A group representing the North Malaita constituency has called for a review case filed by member of Parliament Mathew Wale against their M-P Jimmy Lusibaea and others to cease.

The North Malaita Demonstration Council, NMDC, says it is concerned on the conduct and the delay of the review towards their member.

The group says the case had been filed for hearing with a sense of urgency and seriousness for the Parliament session on April 30th.

The outcome was to decide Mr Lusibaea's freedom to speak and represent his constituency in the House.

The group says since then, the case has lost its seriousness and has been prolonged.

The North Malaita Demonstration Council is calling for their M-P to be cleared as soon as possible so that he can represent his people and the Government freely.

Meanwhile, the High Court Registry Office says the case will appear again for a hearing on the 28th of this month.

The last time it went before the Court, Justice Chetwynd ruled that Mr Wale has a right to take up the case.

The judgement also dismissed the Police Minister and the Parole Board as defendants in the case and ordered an amendment to the claim.

Mr Wale filed the case against Police Minister James Tora, the parole board, Speaker of Parliament Sir Allan Kemakeza and Mr Lusibaea.

He questioned the decision by the Police Minister and the parole board on the validity of the release of Mr Lusibaea after his two year nine month sentence imposed last year by the High Court was reduced to one month one day.


The Minister for Culture and Tourism Samuel Manetoali is visiting Temotu Province as part of a planned series of provincial visits by the Minister this year.

The aim of the visit is to meet and talk with provincial leaders and local tourism operators as well as visiting potential areas for tourism development in the Province.

Temotu, although remote and inaccessible to many Solomon Islanders has huge potential for tourism development due to its undisturbed natural environment, rich history and some of the last unique arts and cultures in the world.

During a meeting with the Temotu Provincial executive on Wednesday, Minister Manetoali said his visit is to discuss and listen to the views of Provincial Leaders and Tourism Operators on how best tourism can be developed in the Province.

Members of the Provincial executive hailed the Minister’s visit and noted that Mr Manetoali is the first Tourism Minister to visit the Province after many years of government inattention.

The meeting also discussed a proposed special arrangement between Temotu Province and the Republic of Vanuatu to explore future partnership in the tourism industry.

Vanuatu is a leading Melanesian country in terms of tourism development in the region.

Minister Manetoali said there are plans to send Provincial Tourism Officials around the country to visit Vanuatu and to learn from its experience in tourism development.


The National Council of Women applauds Prime Minister Danny Phillip through the Ministry of Home Affairs, for enabling the appointment of one of its members to the Honiara City Council's highest decision making body.

Serah Dyer is the Coordinator of the Women in Shared Decision Making a project of the National Council of Women, N-C-W, that aims to increase the participation of women in all forms of decision making especially at the provincial and the national levels.

In a statement the Vice President of N-CW, Ella Kauhue, says for a woman to be appointed to this highest decision making body of the Honiara City Council reflects the Prime Minister's support to advance women's leadership alongside their male counterparts.

Ms Kauhue says Ms Dyer's appointment provides the opportunity for women in Honiara to raise their concerns with her so she in turn can raise these in the Honiara City Council decision making process.


Transparency Solomon Islands - TSI has held one of its best Annual General Meeting with a big turn-out of young people.

Chairman of TSI Bob Pollard told SIBC News the eight AGM meeting yesterday was the best so far since the establishment of TSI in 2003.

He says it was exciting because with the attendance of young people, he could see a very strong interest in the work against corruption.

Reports of the last financial year were presented to members at the meeting and a new board was elected.

Bob Pollard was retained as Chairman and Calvin Ziru was elected as Vice-Chair.

Joseph Walenesia was elected as secretary and Lester Soakia as Treasurer.

Nine other old and new office bearers completed the board.


Scientists say the chances of Marovo lagoon in the Western Province achieving World Heritage status are diminishing because of events such as the recent widespread fish deaths.

Radio New Zealand International reports, scientists say natural factors are the main cause of the deaths but that logging is likely to have contributed.

Marovo Lagoon, which surrounds Vangunu Island in Western Province, is the largest double barrier reef in the world and has been considered for UNESCO world heritage status.

But Simon Albert, from the University of Queensland, who was part of a team sent to investigate the fish deaths says that listing is looking fragile.

Mr Albert says there’s concern about the diets and incomes of those who rely on the lagoon’s sea life.


A framework for working with local groups for peace and order in the Solomon Islands was launched in Honiara yesterday.

The framework was developed as part of a research project - 'Working with local strengths: supporting states to build capacity to protect.'

It was conducted by researchers form the University of Queensland based on fieldwork in the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu.

The team had been working with the Solomon Development Trust, S-I-D-T, since 2010 and conducted interviews and group discussions with local chiefs, church leaders, women and youth representatives, local police, RAMSI and community officers.

Speaking to SIBC News, SIDT's Project Officer Catherine Sanga says the field research focused on communities hard hit by the recent ethnic tension including Malu'u in North Malaita, Savo in Central Province, Avu Avu and Kakabona on Guadalcanal, and Sigana in Isabel province.


The outcome of the recent Melanesian Spearhead Group Police cooperation meeting chaired by Solomon Islands, highly recommends training, exchange of information and staff amongst the MSG block.

Deputy Police Commissioner operations, Edmond Sikua says this is exciting because for a long time, such meetings were merely on talks about cooperation without much practical recommendations.

Mr Sikua says, security will be a major challenge for the MSG to tackle but it is the police officers within the MSG forces who will move things forward to ensure equal contribution, and that benefits are derived from such cooperation.

He adds, like other MSG member countries, Solomon Islands stands to benefit under this new arrangement.

But Simon Albert, from the University of Queensland, who was part of a team sent to investigate the fish deaths says that listing is looking fragile.

Mr Albert says there’s concern about the diets and incomes of those who rely on the lagoon’s sea life.


Save the Children Solomon Islands is hosting a child advocacy program for children from Honiara and Western province this week.

Child Advocacy program manager, Emmanuel Maesua says, the three days program sums up a gathering of children, stakeholders and decision makers to promote children's rights.

He explains, the program which started yesterday, will run until tomorrow.

Mr Maesua says, the aim of the event is to ensure children's rights are upheld, realised and respected by Solomon Islanders.


New Zealand is starting to gradually withdraw police and soldiers in the Solomon Islands who are here as part of RAMSI.

The Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI, was bought in eight years ago to restore stability following civil conflict.

Made up of Australian, New Zealand and Pacific personnel, RAMSI has been in the Solomon islands to help restore law and order.

Special coordinator for RAMSI Nicholas Coppel said the team, which has more than 70 New Zealand members, is here to support local law enforcement, "but the Royal Solomon Police Force takes the lead".

Television New Zealand reports that over the next two years, 40 per cent of New Zealand police in the Solomon Islands will pull out.

They have already stepped away from the frontline and are training their local counterparts to take over.


A framework for working with local groups for peace and order in the Solomon Islands was launched in Honiara yesterday.

The framework was developed as part of a research project - 'Working with local strengths: supporting states to build capacity to protect.'

It was conducted by researchers form the University of Queensland based on fieldwork in the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu.

The team had been working with the Solomon Development Trust, S-I-D-T, since 2010 and conducted interviews and group discussions with local chiefs, church leaders, women and youth representatives, local police, RAMSI and community officers.

Speaking to SIBC News, SIDT's Project Officer Catherine Sanga says the field research focused on communities hard hit by the recent ethnic tension including Malu'u in North Malaita, Savo in Central Province, Avu Avu and Kakabona on Guadalcanal, and Sigana in Isabel province.


A large Australian bank says the services sector has significant potential as a source of economic growth in the Pacific islands.

ANZ Bank's Pacific managing director, Michael Rowland says services could become the Pacific's second engine of growth.

He told a business conference in Nadi, Fiji, this would go beyond the existing surge in natural resources and commodities.

He identified financial services, tourism, back-office processing, telecommunications and labour hire as the top prospects.

But he said the Pacific needs to be more investor friendly if it is to attract investment.

Rowland said investors need consistent and transparent legal systems, certainty on government policy, particularly taxation and profit remittance, and constructive dialogue with government.


The closure of the Burnett Heads United Soccer Club in Australia was a tough decision for members to make, but students in the Solomon Islands will soon benefit from the club’s demise.

Australia's News Mail Online reports due to lack of players, the 18-year-old club was forced to hang up its boots, but members would not let their sporting equipment go to waste.

They have donated 27 brand-new soccer balls and two sets of team shirts to 14 students at Shalom College, who are embarking tomorrow on a trip to the Solomon Islands to build a hospital.

Burnett Heads United Soccer Club life member Femia Eizema said the soccer equipment will be given to Solomon Islands children so they can get the same enjoyment out of the sport.

Ms Eizema said an Under-14 team from the Solomon Islands went to Australia last year, and they didn't have much to play in.

There are enough uniforms for a junior and senior soccer team and Ms Eizema said she was excited to see the equipment go to the students.

She said even with the club closing, something good has come out of it.