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.

ABC Radio Australia Asia Pacific News, 23 June 2011

Vanuatu parliamentary elections delayed

Parliamentary elections in Vanuatu have been postponed till Sunday, after members of the Edward Natapei camp boycotted the polls.

Parliament was due sit Thursday but members of the Edward Natapei camp were absent, saying their opponents under Sato Kilman have been accepting bribes from foreign businessmen, and bribing ministers to switch camps.

Sato Kilman says the allegations are unfounded.

"I am not aware of businesses that are paying our bills," Mr Kilman said.

In return, the Kilman camp is accusing the Natapei group of trying orchestrate the arrest of members of parliament to try to tip the vote on Sunday.

Edward Natapei also denies the accusations.

"We are not going to do any arrests of the members of parliament," Mr Natapei said.

"What we are trying to investigate are foreign nationals here giving out money to the MPs."

Questions raised over PNG government reshuffle

There has been a major reshuffle of Papua New Guinea's government after two senior ministers were sacked a fortnight ago.

Ano Pala is now in charge of foreign affairs and immigration after his predecessor, Don Polye, was sacked.

Francis Potape replaces William Duma as the petroleum and energy minister.

Two other new ministers, Charles Abel and Philip Kikala, were sworn in by the Governor-General on Wednesday afternoon.

But there are concerns about the reappointment of Patrick Pruaitch, who is now the treasurer and finance minister.

PNG's Ombudsman Commission has referred Mr Pruaitch to prosecutors over several allegations of misconduct including the improper use of electoral allowances.

Dr Ray Anere, from the National Research Institute, says the appointment sends a message of "double standards".

"It also sends out the message that certain leaders in the community do not really care much about principles of good governance and the integrity of parliament," he said.

The reshuffle is also seen as a move by the National Alliance party to strengthen its grip on key ministerial portfolios ahead of next year's national election.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The government will make sure Russell Islands redevelopment is done in a model best suited for the rest of the country to copy cut.

Prime Minister Danny Philip confirms that the infrastructure planned for the development will be such that people can only dream of.

He says the government is developing the Russell on two fronts, one is to organise the indigenous people of Russells, and make sure the commercial aspect of Yandina springs to life again.

Mr Philip says the government is trying to revive Russell into a national asset that is beneficial to the Central Province, the indigenous people, investors and the people of Solomon Islands.

He anticipates that the employment number in Russell will increase significantly in management, technical and other disciplines while investment sprout from the area.


Prime Minister Danny Philip has backed Kolombangara landholders at the Kolombangara Festival last week, as he pledged to support the island’s conservation area.

In the first visit by a Prime Minister to Kolombangara Island, Danny Philip joined the fourth day of the Kolombangara Island Biodiversity and Conservation Festival on Thursday last week.

A special ceremony was held at Ringgi to mark the occasion.

Prime Minister spoke before a crowd of about one thousand people and officially dedicated the 20-thousand hectares conservation area, the largest in Solomon Islands.

Prime Minister Philip said, it is a wonderful idea to put aside a special area for conservation adding that in the midst of logging and environmental destruction the people have the courage to have a conservation area.

At Imbu Rano Lodge the Prime Minister heard from international and local scientists, including local ecologist Patrick Pikacha and botanist Myknee Sirikolo, about the important biodiversity found in the conservation area.


New Zealand is ready to employ about 200 Solomon Islanders this year under the Seasonal Workers Scheme.

New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully revealed this in his recent visit to the Solomon Islands.

He says, New Zealand and Solomon Islands governments are working on how to expand this scheme to the benefit of both countries.

Mr McCully adds that opportunities to focus on key development areas such as tourism, agriculture and horticulture, fisheries will be looked at during the coming Pacific Islands Forum later this year.


The Minister of Finance and Treasury says despite recognition by regional forums and bodies on the government's good progress with state owned enterprise, S-O-E, reform, the government is not yet satisfied.

Speaking this morning to the members of the Economic Association of Solomon Islands, Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo said that there is still room for improvement both in general and specific reforms for the country's S-O-Es.

He said that the country must continue to explore innovative ways to engage with the private sector both through S-O-Es and alongside them.

Mr Lilo explained that there is a need to recognise the impacts of S-O-Es in the country, be honest about unsatisfactory performance and face it because improving S-O-E performance is a challenge.

The Finance Minister reiterated that its time to speed up State Owned Enterprises reform in Solomon Islands.


Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has acknowledged that the past year or so has been a turning point for key governance provision of the S-O-E act.

Speaking to members of the Economic Association of Solomon Islands this morning, Mr Lilo stated that a major step in implementing the 2007 S-O-E act was the passing of the S-O-E regulations 2010 which detailed how S-O-E board appointments must be done.

He said that future board members are to be chosen for the contribution they can make to ensuring the commercial success of the S-O-E and not for personal or political gains.

He said the country must apply standard international good practices to the process of making S-O-E board appointments.

He cited an Asian Development Bank report which stated that Solomon Islands is leading the way in this part of S-O-E governance resulting in other pacific countries planning to follow.

The finance minister stated that over the past 10 months, Solomon Islands has for the first time no politicians serving in S-O-E boards.

He reiterated that this is a big change, so much from mistakes that were made in the early stages.

The finance minister explained that weather these mistakes were made by previous government, they have now been identified and fixed.


A 35 year old seaweed farmer is recovering in the Cookson Village clinic on Wagina Island, Choiseul Province, following a crocodile attack on Monday this week.

Manioru Laufilu reports from Wagina that the man went out diving for trouchus when the incident happened.

He says the crocodile bit the man's right hand and started to pull him into the sea, but the man thrashed his left hand into the mouth of the crocodile, forcing sea to go into the mouth of the crocodile and drowning the reptile.

Laufilu says this is the first crocodile attack since the people settle on Wagina Islands many years ago.


The new Acting City Clerk Paul Coffey says construction of toilet blocks, completion of the Kukum market project and providing rubbish collections on a weekly basis are some of the main issues he will be addressing while in office.

Mr Coffey was appointed Monday by the Honiara City Council following the untimely death of the previous clerk John Leigh last month.

He told SIBC News that the upcoming Pacific Arts Festival will put a number of demands on the council at this time but they are ready to assist.

Mr Coffey said he is very honored to take up the appointment.


North Guadalcanal Plains schools have missed out on the Republic of China solar projects intended for schools channeled through their constituency MP earlier this year.

Nguvia Community High School chairman, Batholomew Vavanga says this is depriving their children of their education facilities.

Mr Vavanga says, while most of the schools around the country are enjoying such services, Nguvia, Gaobata and Kaotave school students are under privileged because they cannot do extra classes in the evenings.

Chairmen from Gaobata Nguvia and Kaotave schools are very concerned because major exams for grade six and forms three and five are coming up later this year.

The school chairmen therefore call on the North Guadalcanal MP, Martin Sopage to explain why he has not distributed the solar sets to schools on Guadalcanal Plains.

He says parents and guardians demands that their MP explain.

Mr Vavanga however, appreciates Goldridge's assistance in providing a new generator set for Nguvia school.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Radio New Zealand International Pacific News, 22 June 2011

Solomons lagoon’s world heritage listing looking fragile

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

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.
“Pre-logging 15 years ago was one of the most intact places on the planet and there’s still despite the logging activities, there’s still strong interest from UNESCO but as the years tick by and the resources become more and more depleted and events like this occur obviously the chances of that world heritage listing are slipping away.”
Simon Albert says there’s concern about the diets and incomes of those who rely on the lagoon’s sea life.

Solomon Islands dollar revaluing promising sign to business community

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce is welcoming the revaluing of the currency as a sign of the government’s willingness to make regulatory changes.

A five percent rise in the value of the Solomon Islands dollar took effect last week.

The finance minister says the appreciation was a result of discussions with the International Monetary Fund and the country’s Central Bank about how to combat inflationary pressures.

The chamber’s chief executive, Calvin Ziru, says five percent is probably not enough to make a real difference to people struggling with the cost of living but the chamber is viewing the move positively.
“This is an indication of government and the Central Bank making decisions to make some changes regulation wise to sort of improve not only the way that we do business but also primarily to buffer the effects of external influences on the cost of living in the Solomon Islands.”
Calvin Ziru says what the chamber wants to see next are measures to sustain economic growth.

Audit finds mismanagement at Vanuatu’s China embassy

The Vanuatu auditor general’s office has found serious irregularities and mismanagement at the country’s Embassy in China.

It says grave allegations of mismanagement over the period of several years prompted it to send a team to the Chinese capital in late 2009.

Don Wiseman has more:
“Vanuatu opened an Embassy in Beijing just over five years ago, installing naturalised citizen Lo Chi Wai as the first ambassador, a post now held by former cabinet minister, Willie Jimmy. The audit team says the accusations of mismanagement are verified and that the Embassy’s internal control system is weak and needs to be substantially strengthened. The auditors found fault with the processing of visas, the issuing of diplomatic passports and the appointing of foreign nationals to staff the Embassy, the consular office in Shanghai and a travel office in Shubai . It says the Shubai office was set up illegally and directed it be shut down. It says this office and Shanghai have issued visas worth more than two million US dollars but this money hasn’t been accounted for. The auditors put much of the blame on the ministry of foreign affairs and call for it to lay out clear parameters for diplomatic staff. But they also say there’re similar failings within the ministry itself and say additional investigation is needed into possible fraud and corruption there.”

PNG’s Abal names replacements for Polye and Duma

Replacements have been named for the two ministers sacked by Papua New Guinea’s acting prime minister Sam Abal two weeks ago.

The appointments have been made as part of a major cabinet reshuffle.

The former Foreign Minister Don Polye has been replaced by Ano Pala, while Francis Potape has replaced William Duma as Petroleum and Energy Minister.

The new cabinet line-up also includes Patrick Pruaitch as Finance Minister, Peter O’Neil as Minister of Works, Philip Kikala as Agriculture Minister, and Charles Abel as Minister assisting the Prime Minister.

Post Courier reporter Peter Korugl says Mr Pruaitch’s appointment comes despite his suspension as finance minister last year after he was referred to a leadership tribunal over allegations of double-dipping, improper receipts and misappropriation of grants.
“The surprise appointment is Patrick Pruaitch. Patrick has made his intention known that he wants to come back into government as Minister for Finance and Treasury. Now who doesn’t want to be the Minister for Finance and Treasury when we are getting into an election year.”
Peter Korugl says the Supreme Court has since overruled Mr Pruaitch’s suspension, and Mr Abal is trying to shore up support by reappointing him.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

SIBC News, 21 June 2011


A Professor from the University of the South Pacific, School of Economics, warns that Solomon Islands could be harmed by the 5% appreciation if not handled properly.

Speaking to S-I-B-C news from Suva, Fiji, this afternoon, Professor Sunil Kumar says while the decision to appreciate the Solomon Islands currency reflects the confidence of the government and Central Bank of Solomon Islands in the country's international reserves, mineral and agricultural sector, such a move could be harmful.

He explains, apart from negative export if not guided properly, the capital inflow into the country could decline which is a serious problem as the country needs more capital inflow to improve its infrastructure, which may then diminish investor confidence in the country.

In an earlier media conference, Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo said that the appreciation will also maintain consumer spending keeping it firm and robust.

But Professor Kumar argued that if consumption increases significantly because of the appreciation, import bills could further increase.

The head of U-S-P school of economics said that in such situations the government needs to assist the supply side of the economy and boost production.

He adds that monitoring prices of imported goods must be strengthened so as to ensure that the benefits of low prices imported overseas are trickled down to the rural populace and not translated by importers to make huge profits.


Prime Minister Danny Phillip says he believes the disabled Russell Islands Plantations will be up and running again before the end of this year.

Speaking to local media in a press conference yesterday, Mr Phillip said that it is always good to set higher aims and work hard towards it.

He said the government will ensure that genuine investors for Russell islands will be taken on board and relevant incentives for these investors will be provided.

He explained that the most difficult part of the issue was getting all the stakeholders together to agree on an exit package.

He said a resolution has already been achieved and therefore work from here on would not be difficult.

Prime Minister Danny Phillip also said that he wants Russell Islands to be an example of what can be done in other provinces throughout the country.


Premier of Central Islands Province Patterson Mae has acknowledge the progress made by the Danny Phillip led government to address the RIPEL issue.

Last week, all major stakeholders of the Russell Islands Plantation Estate limited successfully agreed on a resolution and an exit package for the former investor.

Speaking yesterday at a joint press conference with the prime minister and heads of the R-I-P-E-L management and stakeholders, Premier Mae said his people had suffered much over the past eight years.

He however says that with the recent positive developments, his people are now hopeful for a better future.

Meanwhile the Mr. Mae conveyed gratitude of the people of central islands province who also had shares in RIPEL towards the management of RIPEL for their efforts in assisting the government and people in resolving the problem to where it is now.

He also thanked the three man negotiating team appointed by the prime minister to negotiate with the mortgagee for their efforts and hard work.

Premier Patterson Mae stated that without them the work to resolve the dispute would not be where it is today.

He assured the prime minister that the central islands provincial government and people will work closely with the national government to rebuild the Yandina plantation.


Voting in by-elections for three wards in the Western and Isabel Provinces are set to take place tomorrow.

Two wards in the western province, South Kolombangara and Mbuini Tusu and Isabel Province's Kokota ward are going to the polls tomorrow to choose their new provincial assembly members.

Preparations for each ward have gone smoothly with final briefings for presiding officers, polling assistants and police officers done yesterday and this morning for the three wards.

Returning Officer for Isabel Province's Kokota ward, John Mark Lokumana says briefing for polling officials was carried out this morning before officials were deployed to the five polling stations.

581 voters have been registered to cast their ballots tomorrow for the two candidates who are vying for the Kokota ward seat.

In the Western Province, Returning Officer for Mbuini Tusu Ward Goldie Ringi says polling officials have been deployed to the four polling stations where 1998 voters have been registered. Six candidates are contesting the ward.

And Returning Officer for South Kolombangara Ward Jonathan Bana says briefing for his polling officials were done last week and they have been deployed to the four polling stations to prepare for polling day tomorrow.

South Kolombangara Provincial ward has more than 3400 registered voters and 7 candidates are contesting the seat.

Results for all three wards are expected to be declared on Thursday after counting which will be held in Buala, Gizo and Seghe respectively.


Shortland Islands constituents were the latest beneficiaries of the government's rural livelihood program.

Constituency development officer for the constituency Michael Kalanuma says, he has taken delivery of more than four-hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of Solar equipment from the livelihood program for the people of shortlands.

Mr Kalanuma says this will bring the biggest improvement in the livelihood of the people of shortlands as families will now be able to use electrical appliances for lighting, among others.

He says, the 300 solar sets will be transported to the constituency at the end of this month and distributed to the first recipients.

Mr Kalanuma says that by the end of this year, all households in the Shortlands constituency will have a solar set each.

ABC Radio Australia Asia Pacific News, 21 June 2011

Banker predicts Pacific commercial boom

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

Jemima Garrett reports that 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.

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

Fiji tourist numbers up

Fiji's Tourism Minister says there has been another increase in the number of tourists visiting his country.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji welcomed 4,500 more visitors in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period last year.

He says most of the visitors were from Australia, the United States, China and Canada.

The increase comes despite economic sanctions imposed by Australia and New Zealand in the wake of the military coup in Fiji.

Fiji Live says there has been a reduction in arrivals from Korea, Japan, New Zealand and India.

MandarinThe news comes with a call for Fiji to boost Mandarin language instruction, to boost the country's attractiveness to Chinese tourists.

Dixon Seeto, president of the Fiji Hotel Association, says the tourism market from Australia and New Zealand is strong and stable, but China and India are likely to provide the greatest possibility for growth in visitor numbers.

He told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat Chinese tourists are looking for the same things other visitors are: such as diving, snorkelling and cultural experiences.

But they usually do not speak English and that can be a challenge for tourism operators who want to make them feel comfortable.

Previously there was a campaign to teach Japanese, he said, "and that was quite successful. And I think that we should be heading that way with the Mandarin, because you need to make them, the Chinese visitors, very comfortable."

Delays expected in Guam military switch

American officials say Japan and the United States will delay their planned military build-up on Guam.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates will meet Japan's Defence Minister, Toshimi Kitazawa.

They are expected to discuss a delay to the planned relocation of the military base in Okinawa.

Before leaving Tokyo, Mr Kitazawa told The New York Times there was no point in dragging out something that cannot be done just because of a previous agreement.

The American officials say it is difficult to complete the base plan by the 2014 goal.

The realignment plan from 2006 calls for the closing of the Futenma air base - which lies in a crowded urban area of subtropical Okinawa island - and the transfer of 8,000 marines to the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Last week, a US Senate Committee agreed to cut off funding for the 2014 shift until the Marine Corps comes up with a new study on Guam.

Australian 'spy' welcome in Vanuatu

Vanuatu's interim government says an Australian lawyer expelled last month for alleged espionage will be welcome back if the government comprehensively changes hands.

Ari Jenshel was given 24 hours to leave Vanuatu or else face arrest under charges of espionage.

Mr Jenshel had been working in Vanutu as an adviser for the Australian aid agency, Ausaid, when he was expelled by the government of former prime minister Sato Kilman.

The incident raised diplomatic tensions between Vanuatu and Australia.

Joe Natuman, interim foreign minister under under the Edward Natape interim government, says there was no basis to the accusations of espionage.

"We would welcome him back. We don't see any evidence of whatever those charges were."

Mr Jenshel would give no further details on his expulsion but said he is open to returning to Vanuatu if he is invited by the government.

Kokoda trekkers warned of violence

Fighting in a remote Papua New Guinea town has prompted the Australian Government to reissue travel advice.

The murder of a young man in Popondetta last Friday sparked the fighting that left another man dead.

Local reports say schools and businesses are closed and the situation remains tense.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Department says there is potential for more violence and traveling on the road between Popondetta and Kokoda may be dangerous.

A small number of Australian tourists who come to PNG to walk the Kokoda Track visit Popondetta.

The Kokoda Track Authority says there are no trekking groups in the area at present.

A spokesman for the authority says most trekkers avoid Popondetta altogether and fly in and out of the village of Kokoda.

Flooding hits Philippines

At least 11 people have died and two people are missing in floods in the southern and northern Philippines.

Two southern provinces - North Cotabato and Maguindanao - remain flooded due to rains brought by a tropical depression that has affected the southern Philippines since last week.

Four areas in the south have been placed under a state of calamity and more than 500,000 people have been affected by the floods.

Cotabato city has received the brunt of the tropical depression - 160,000 residents have been displaced and are packed in evacuation centers.

Soldiers and engineers, using heavy equipment, have been working double time to dredge and clear the Rio Grande de Mindanao - the longest river in the south - of lilies that have blocked the waterway and caused it to overflow.

In the north, floods and landslides have occurred in three provinces.

Radio New Zealand International Pacific News, 21 June 2011

PNG Supreme Court to hear challenge to Abal and Amet appointment

The Supreme Court challenge mounted over the validity of the appointment of Papua New Guinea’s Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal, the Justice Minister and Attorney General, Sir Arnold Amet, and Paul Tiensten as Acting Governor-General will go to trial.

The Post Courier says this follows after a former acting judge and lawyer Nemo Yalo won the first hurdle in his challenging of their appointments in December last year.

Mr Yalo claimed it was unconstitutional for the Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane to have made these appointments in Kokopo or his village in East New Britain Province while he was effectively on leave of absence or otherwise whilst on leave from duty.

The first, second and third defendants in the matter, Mr Abal, Sir Arnold the National Executive Council, instructed their lawyer not to take any position on the issue while the Speaker, Jeffery Nape, opposed the application.

NZ government seeks legal advice on Fiji’s Mara extradition request

The New Zealand government is seeking legal advice on Fiji’s request for the extradition of former Fiji military officer Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara.

Colonel Mara is now in Australia after fleeing from Fiji where he is accused of sedition and he is also planning a New Zealand trip.

The Manager of the International Criminal Law team at New Zealand’s Ministry of Justice, Bill Peoples, has confirmed the Ministry’s received the extradition request.

He says it’s now checking with government lawyers on whether there is enough evidence in the request and whether it complies with legal process.

New Zealand does not have an extradition treaty with Fiji, but a spokesman for the Ministry says the lack of a treaty is not necessarily an obstacle.

Under New Zealand law extradition can only be considered if a person is committed an offence punishable by 12 months or more in prison but a range of other considerations must also be met.

Penalty for Solomons businesses which don’t pass on effects of currency upgrade

The Solomon Islands finance minister says businesses which fail to pass on the effects of the recent revaluing of the currency will be penalised.

Gordon Darcy Lilo says the five percent rise in the value of the country’s dollar was the result of discussions with the International Monetary Fund and the country’s Central Bank about how to combat inflationary pressures.

Mr Lilo says inflation was forecast to hit five percent by the end of the year but by the end of April it had already reached four precent.

He says people in rural parts of the country have suffered most from the rise in commodity prices and so they stand to benefit most from the dollar’s appreciation.
“Authorities of the government can effectively enforce tools like price control to ensure that business houses must pass on the effects of the price reduction to the people. So we have already tasked the price control office to must do that.”
Gordon Darcy Lilo says the weakness of the US dollar makes it timely to appreciate the Solomon Islands currency.

Vanuatu’s caretaker PM confirms he won’t stand in election

The caretaker leader of Vanuatu’s government has confirmed he won’t be standing for prime minister when parliament sits on Thursday to elect a new administration.

Edward Natapei was installed as caretaker prime minister last week after the chief justice Vincent Lunabek ruled that Sato Kilman’s appointment last December was null and void.

Our correspondent in Vanuatu says the contest for prime minister is now between Serge Vohor and Mr Kilman, who’s due in court later this week on perjury charges initiated by Mr Natapei.

Last month Mr Kilman succeeded in a court action which removed Mr Vohor from office and that suit prompted Mr Natapei to seek legal redress over his earlier loss of the prime ministership.

Col Mara expected to visit Samoa

The former Fiji army colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara is expected to visit Samoa after the prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, issued a statement welcoming him.

In a release, Tuilaepa has congratulated Col Mara for admitting his guilt over his involvement in the 2006 coup and has called for the interim Fiji leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to do the same.

Col Mara escaped to Tonga and has visited Australia at the start of an international campaign against the Fiji regime and for a return to democracy.

Meawhile, it is not known if he will visit Solomon Islands whose prime minister Danny Philip has denied media reports last week that he declared Col Mara unwelcome.
“No I didn’t say that; I didn’t say he is not allowed to come to Solomon Islands.”
Danny Philip says his government’s policy is to be all-embracing to Fiji.

Leading scientists shocked at state of world oceans

Leading ocean scientists have expressed shock at the state of the world’s seas and fear another significant extinction event could be around the corner.

27 experts from different disciplines have been meeting in the United Kingdom to collate data and discuss changes in the world’s oceans.

One of the experts, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, says many of the measurement stations which are reporting rapidly dropping ocean oxygen levels are in the Pacific.

He says worrying large scale changes are happening which have the hallmarks of some of the previous periods on earth when ecosystems have collapsed.
“If we are on that road, then we need to get off it as soon as possible because that type of scenario is something that once you’ve triggered it there’s no turning back.”
Professor Hoegh-Guldberg says the scientists’ report will be presented to the United Nations.

Monday, June 20, 2011

SIBC News, 20 June 2011


Prime Minister Danny Philip announces, his government is a step closer to resolving the 8 year old Russell Islands Plantation Estate Limited which was forcefully shut down as a result of a dispute in 2004.

In a media conference today, Mr Philip said government took up the initiative to address the RIPEL dispute following his visit to Yandina earlier this year.

Mr Philip expressed the government's gratitude to stakeholders, Lavukal, Central Islands Provincial government the Solomon Islands National Union of Workers for supporting NCRA's proposal.

He said, the outcome so far has been positive.

He said, the government formed a three member committee which led a process of consultations and negotiations with all stakeholders resulting in a settlement proposal with RIPEL mortgagees that will essentially enable the company clear outstanding debts.

The Prime Minister said that because the proposal is still subject to the signing of a formal legal agreement between the government and RIPEL, he would not elaborate on the details.


The best way to resolve issues resulting from Solomon Fish and Processing company worker's sit-in protest last week is best left to the Trade Disputes Panel.

Workers of the company in Noro, Western province went on strike on Friday as a result of various issues relating to their alleged unfair treatment by the company management.

Speaking to SIBC News the National Union of Workers' General Secretary, Tony Kangovai, says these issues relate to unfair working conditions provided by the company management.

The Union's General Secretary sayss that the best way forward is to let workers resume work while the matter is before the Trade Disputes Panel.

SIBC News understands that the more than 600 workers affected are expected to resume normal duties tomorrow.


The N-C-R-A government is planning to pour in a sizable amount of money for the redevelopment of the Yandina Plantation in Russel Islands.

Speaking to local media this afternoon, Prime Minister Danny Phillip said that N-C-R-A is planning to redevelop the disabled plantation to be the flagship area for many more developments yet to come in other provinces as well.

He said that funds for the redevelopment will come from private-public partnership arrangements while stating that talks have already been made with European Union and other donor partners.

Prime Minister Danny Phillip said that his government plans to increase the number of investors in Russell unlike before where there is only one investor and sub divide Yandina into commercial blocks.

He said with these blocks the government will try to improve necessary services from health, education and communication as well as other commercial services such as gold coast.


The Solomon Islands Government encourages the Melanesian Spearhead Group to be ready to cooperate.

Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional service, Clay Forau says the the group must engage in exchange programmes and for every members to voice their concerns in a more comfortable forum that is apolitical, unbiased and not easily influenced by external players in the Melanesian way.

He says the Melanesian region must take ownership of any process to resolve its own problems and do not let external forces to drive what is unique in Melanesia.

Speaking this morning during the opening of the Melanesian Spearhead group Police Commissioners forum in Honiara, Mr Forau called on the Melanesian block to join hands to prevent future security threats.

He said, the strength of the MSG success are the unique cultures, traditions, natural resources and the common ancestral heritage.

Reciprocating the welcome extended by the Police Minister, PNG Police Commissioner, Anthony Wagambie reiterated that Melanesian problems are best left for Melanesians themselves to solve.


If urbanisation reaches 50 percent by 2050, at least half-a-million people will be residing in Honiara which almost equals the current total population of the country.

Speaking to SIBC news New Zealand based researcher Professor David Craig says 50 years ago during the first census in Solomon Islands, the total population stood at 125-thousand.

He says that this is equivalent to the current population in Honiara which means that urbanisation has grown to 125 thousand approximately the total population 50 years ago.

Meanwhile, Professor Craig who has long term interests in cities, migration and opportunities in the Pacific says that urbanisation does not come free but also with a huge cost to the country's environment, economy and even people's lifestyles.

He says many countries around the world have dealt with urbanisation successfully while others are struggling to cope with its negative impacts.

Professor Craig says to avoid the negative effects of urbanisation politicians need to come up with good and effective policies.

He says whilst the economic growth centres proposed by the government will help in alleviating the rate of urbanisation it takes more than the growth centres to influence the rate of urbanisation.


Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo will be delivering a speech to the members of the Economics Association of Solomon Islands this Wednesday.

A press statement from the Economics Association says that Mr Lilo had recently attended an Asian Development Bank Pacific Leaders Conference on S-O-E reforms in which he invited Richard Prebble, a lead speaker in the conference to come to Solomon Islands and address chairman and General managers of SOEs in the country.

It is expected that in his speech the finance minister will draw on the Solomon Islands experience, the lessons learnt from other pacific islands state owned enterprise reforms and the lessons from other leaders.

During the presentation, the Minister Lilo will also be inducted as a honorary life member of the association.

Mr Lilo has been a very strong advocate of discussion of major economic issues and a strong supporter of the economic association since he entered politics in 2002.

With the induction on Wednesday, Finance Minister Lilo will be the second national economist to be conferred honorary life membership.


Transparency Solomon Islands, TSI, says citizens of the country have the right to the information of how aid money is being used and on what it is being used for.

It says the people need to know and see whether aid money is used to improve their livelihood because that is the main reason of it being given to the people.

TSI says recent media reports that the Taiwanese government the Rural Community Development Fund 2011 funding support is good.

But it says the report said that only 46 Constituencies have returned their 2010 acquittal reports with four still to be received.

Transparency Solomon Islands it will be very interested in see these reports.

TSI says it believes that the Republic of China and the Ministry of Rural Development are transparent with these reports.

It says this is the only way people can be able to hold their leaders accountable and make sure that the money is used for the right reasons.

TSI says receiving money is a good thing but putting it to use in the best interest of everyone is a big problem for the country.

It says people want to see the funding bring genuine benefits to the majority of Solomon Islands in rural areas and enhance their welfare.


The Central Honiara Constituency Office has embarked on a series of awareness meetings to communities in the constituency.

A worker from the Central Honiara Constituency Office, Isaac Kiriau, told SIBC News that the awareness programme is to tell the people in the constituency about the work of the office and what the member of Parliament wants to do for the constituency.

Mr Kiriau also says the visits to communities is to explain to the people how they can access the various fundings that the government has allocated for the Central Honiara Constituency.

They are the Rural Support Constituency Development, Millennium Development, the Micro Project, Livelihood Fund and Fishery Funds.

He says people in Central Honiara who want to apply for help under the various funding must process their applications through established committees in their respective zones.

Mr Kiriau says officers from the Constituency Office have already held awareness talks in four out of the five zones in Central Honiara.

Radio New Zealand International Pacific News, 20 June 2011

Solomons govt allocates money for 2012 Pacific Arts Festival preparation

The Solomon Islands government has allocated five million US dollars this year for preparations toward hosting the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts next year.

The Solomon Times reports that a third of the money has been given by Taiwan.

The funding will reportedly be used for preparatory work on performance and accommodation facilities, as well as public amenities, for the July 2012 event in Honiara.

More than 3,000 artists and cultural practitioners from 27 Pacific Countries are expected to converge on Honiara to showcase their work.

The national organising committee is hoping to obtain extra direct funding for 2011 from the government in the upcoming supplementary budget.

Scientists have theory for marine deaths in Solomons’ lagoon

Scientists believe low oxygen levels are the most likely cause of the large number of deaths among marine animals in Marovo lagoon in Solomon Islands.

From early this month locals reported seeing dead creatures including fish and crocodiles in the lagoon.

The co-ordinator of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community office, Mia Rimon, says scientists are still on the ground but have a good idea what caused the deaths.

She says they think there’s been a process of algal blooms dying-off, resulting in oxygen depletion.

She says her office and the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme have offered assistance.
“Scientific technical assistance, for some resources with immediate relief, things of that nature, putting in fads to help to secure food security for the people who have lost their fishing grounds.”
Mia Rimon says recent mangrove culling could have contributed to the algal bloom crash.

Vanuatu annuls recognition of Abkhazia - report

Reports from Georgia say Vanuatu’s new government has annulled last month’s decision of the former government to recognize Abkhazia’s independence.

A Georgian foreign ministry official Zurab Aleksidze has told media in Tbilisi that the administration of Edward Natapei has reversed the decision by his predecessor, Sato Kilman, to recognise the Russian-backed breakaway region of Georgia.

Mr Aleksidze says this means that Vanuatu supports the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.

Apart from Russia, only three other countries, including Nauru, recognise Abkhazia’s sovereignty.

Bougainville rebel group lays out demands before mining will be given go-ahead

The leader of a Bougainvillean group that claims the backing of most people in the Papua New Guinea province, says there’s no chance of the huge Panguna mine re-opening until demands for reparation first made more than 20 years ago, are met.

The Me’ekamui Tribal Nation and its self styled president, Philip Miriori, says before any development will be allowed a monument to the island’s civil war dead must be built and outstanding human rights issues addressed.

He says, in addition, the longstanding demands for financial redress from the mining giant Rio Tinto for the destruction caused by the mine must be satisfied.
“Those demands were being put in place 20 years ago, and nobody made any response then on those demands. Ten billion kina, that was for environmental damage and the other issue is the compensation issue.”
The Me’ekamui Tribal Nation’s Philip Miriori.

Bishops in PNG want end to MPs abuse of slush funds

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea has called for an end to the current system of allocating constituency development funds for MPs to distribute.

The Conference has decided to take a stand against corruption among parliamentarians who the Bishops largely blame for the misuse of millions of kina of public funds.

It warns that there are increasing signs of the so-called slush funds being used by MPs for electioneering and personal profit.

The general secretary of the Conference, Father Victor Roche, says that leaving the distribution of the funds to an MP’s discretion has become a massive waste of public money.
“We not only do not support these slush funds, we also do not ask any of the parliamentarians to give us any of these handouts. And we will go for proper accounting, proper budgeted projects that will help the electorates, is transparent and accounted for.”
Father Victor Roche

Businesspeople told PACER Plus trade deal without Fiji has no validity

Fiji’s interim regime says any agreement which excludes Fiji will be ineffective for the region’s trade and development.

The interim minister for Trade and Industry was speaking to business people in Nadi who’d gathered to look at the regions’s Pacer Plus agreement currently being negotiated.

Sally Round reports.
“Fiji has been excluded from formal talks between Pacific Island Forum countries on the PACER Plus trade and economic treaty, but member countries have committed to keeping Fiji informed. Fiji’s interim Trade and Industry Minister Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum told the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council meeting that because Fiji hasn’t been involved in the negotiations it’s safe to assume it won’t serve the interests of Fijians. He says Fiji can’t accept it would be asked to join the talks at an advanced stage without having a a say on all aspects of the package. Mr Sayed Khaiyum says the focus should first be on implementing regional and sub-regional treaties like the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement instead of new agreements with what he called dubious benefits.”

Report finds Tonga government ill-advised in claims that city rebuild funds misused

A report has found that the prime minister and cabinet in Tonga have been ill-advised over the progress of the Nuku’alofa rebuild.

Economic development consultant Melino Maka and academic Dr Teena Brown Pulu were commissioned by the government to investigate the handling of the reconstruction.

Mr Maka says they found the rebuild itself is being well managed and remains on schedule.

But he says advisors to the prime minister and cabinet have made inaccurate claims against the previous government over missing funds and criticised the Project Management Unit, and construction company.
“All they had to do is to ask for information that was already there. There is a contractor who actually managed the project, they kept very good records of progress - you can’t go and make allegations without asking for information first.”
The report singled out the Nuku’alofa project director - Tukua Tonga, the Foreign Affairs advisor Noble Akau’ola, and prime minister’s communication advisor - Ahongalu Fusimalohi.

Prize-winning Pacific history book reframes traditional view

The author of a new account of the Pacific’s 19th century history says it deviates from the traditional approach by focusing on the lives of specific historical figures.

Islanders: the Pacific in the Age of Empire, which came out at the end of last year, was recently awarded the internationally prestigious Wolfson History Prize.

Nicholas Thomas says his book highlights how much more cosmopolitan the Pacific was at that time than historians generally acknowledge.

He says Pacific people took advantage of as well as suffered from the effects of European colonisation.
“This was an extraordinary process of interaction that had all sorts of consequences I think for the ways islanders imagined who they were, what they were engaged in, what their political projects were, what their possible futures might be.”
Nicholas Thomas says his book tries to give a sense of the complexity of movement within the Pacific.

Vanuatu interim leader appoints cabinet ministers ahead of prime ministerial vote Thursday

Vanuatu’s caretaker Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, has appointed six new ministers to his cabinet.

The changes come after Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek last week ruled that the election of Sato Kilman as prime minister in December last year was null and void and Mr Natapei was restored as interim prime minister.

The six ministers are Samson Samsen, the new agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, Patrick Crowby the minister for internal affairs, the new minister for youth and sports is Eta Rori, Dominique Morin becomes lands minister, Joshua Kalsakau is the new minister for infrastructure and public utilities and Paul Telukluk becomes minister for ni-Vanuatu business.

The VBTC reports that those retaining their posts from the previous Natapei government are foreign affairs minister Joe Natuman, finance minister Sela Molisa, Bakoa Kaltongga as minister of justice and education minister Charlot Salwai.

Mr Natapei says all ministers will remain in their caretaker role until Parliament meets on Thursday to elect a new prime minister.