Repeka Nasiko, Thursday, June 29, 2017, Fiji Times Online

PRIME Minister and iTaukei Affairs Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has hit out against former and current politicians who politicised native land ownership.

While speaking to landowners in Sigatoka and Lautoka yesterday, he said landowners had not been able to fully utilise their potential because of politics.

“Of course in the midst of such protection and achievements, we’ve seen time and again the usual suspects and the Opposition go through the same tired charade of spreading fear and spinning lies all in the attempt to deceive the iTaukei people to further their own political and personal ambitions,” he claimed.

Mr Bainimarama claimed iTaukei rights had never been strongly protected by any other administration.

“My Government assists all iTaukei people equally.

“We don’t make the distinction between chief and commoner. All iTaukei people are entitled to the rights my Government has always fought to uphold for all Fijians.

“We didn’t only want to protect the ownership of iTaukei land and the rights of the iTaukei, we wanted to do one better by providing a solid foundation for growth that would empower iTaukei people and that is what this project is all about.

“iTaukei people in Fiji have long faced the issue of being asset rich, but cash poor of course one of the reasons was because of the politicians of the past and some even today politicise land ownership rather than assisting iTaukei people to benefit economically and financially from the landownership, they simply did nothing about it.

“Rather than tell landowners that if they develop the land themselves and they will not only become cash rich, but also create more wealth for the country, they sought to look after themselves.”

Mr Bainimarama claimed the politicisation of native land had contributed to the iTaukei not being able to develop and gain financially from their land which the Government had been driven to change.

Mr Bainimarama said with the upcoming election many politicians would be speaking about native land and he urged the landowners not to be easily swayed.

Applicants For President’s Post Include Women

Vanuatu Daily Post – By Godwin Ligo

At 3.45pm yesterday when the Daily Post called at the Electoral Office, male applicants, including two females, were queuing up filling their applications for the position of the new President for the Republic of Vanuatu, just 1 hour 15 minutes before closing time.

The staff assisting the applicants looked at the clock on the wall and remarked: ”We have one hour 15 minutes more to go, at closing time,” as five to seven more candidates push for time to get their applications before 5pm.

While the staff of the Electoral Office, were busy handling application documents, the Daily Post could not get any response of the actual figure of applicants or names at that point of time, in the afternoon.

According to a table of names that appeared to be that of the candidates that were posted on social media with the heading “Presidential Candidates for Screening List 2017”, it listed 37 names.

Whether or not this included the last minute applications yesterday afternoon, the Daily Post could not ascertain this, however, it was further confirmed to the Daily Post by the Electoral Office staff that the Electoral College will meet on Monday next week, July 3rd, 2017 to elect the new President for the Republic of Vanuatu.

The Daily Post understands that in accordance with the relevant laws governing the election of a President for the Republic of Vanuatu, names of all candidates must first be screened and endorsed by the Electoral Commission, then submitted to the Speaker of Parliament for the Electoral College, to meet and elect a new President for the Republic of Vanuatu.

In the meantime, candidates are already in the political corridors lobbying political parties, Members of Parliament (MPs) and Electoral College to support their candidatures.

It remains to be seen on Monday as to which candidate will emerge out of so many others to become the next President of the Republic of Vanuatu, after the position was left vacant by the late President Baldwin Lonsdale, who died while in office.

Meanwhile, a member of the Electoral College, Ralph Regenvanu, has written to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission and the Principal Electoral Officer for the provision of background information on all the candidates for the position of President to the members of the Electoral College by Friday (June 30), to give them sufficient time to consider the merits of the different applicants before they vote on Monday.

Regenvanu says in the last vote for the President in 2014, one of the factors that contributed to the Electoral College taking so long to elect a candidate was that there was no information on the candidates provided to Electoral College members.

He said without such background information, there is little chance of members of the Electoral College making an informed decision about which candidates to vote for.

Vanatu Daily Post – By Richard M. Nanua

A Paama chief has called for tougher penalty to be imposed on killers in Vanuatu to deter future offenders.

Paramount chief Rizen Galep Avockman of Voravor Village on Paama, where late Robson Mariki came from said that the offence of killing in Vanuatu is now increasing and authorities need to start looking to tighten the law again.

Chief Avockman expressed heartfelt concern over one of his community member who was allegedly beaten to death last weekend.

The cause of death is yet to be confirmed as authorities are still tracking evidence as to whether he was beaten up by staff at Warhorse Saloon or by the police officers who were on call that night.

Mr Avockman condemned the killing of late Maraki and described the action as cowardly, while urging the authorities concerned to make sure whoever is behind the alleged attack should be dealt with accordingly.

He said that Vanuatu was founded on custom and Christian principles but the past actions did not reflect any of those values with three brutal killings (Port Vila and Tanna) reported to the police just this month.

He said that usually, people working in the bars and nightclubs were supposed to look after their clients and control issue rising within their premises but not taking the law into their own hands by assaulting them and treat them like animals.

He also called on the people of Voravor living in Port Vila to respect the custom values they have been taught back on Paama.

Chief Avockman also stated that there is also need for the police to make more ‘beat patrol’ to re-claim the trust of the citizens wherever they go.

The deceased’s uncle, Mansen Saul, said that it is a record month of intentional assault that led to deaths in the nation and he is asking the Justice Minister and other relevant authorities to ponder the legislation introduced in section 106 (1)(b) of the Penal Code Act CAP 135 some years ago to be applied in all killings, which is life imprisonment.

Mr Saul said that a similar incident happened to another relative who was bashed to death some years ago.

He said that the existing laws put his two killers behind bars for three years but got their freedom back after serving half of the sentence.

He said that current penalties are too lenient on killers, and not a deterrence to armed violence.

He said that after years of body count from such actions, it is time to act.

He said that it is not just the number of killings, but the cold, callous way in which many of them are committed – with total disregard for the value of human life.

Late Maraki, the latest victim, was 23 years old when he was allegedly killed and his body was supposed to go through autopsy yesterday afternoon.

THE One-Day Polling For The National Capital District Was In Total Chaos Yesterday, When Electoral Commission Officials Refused To Work Until They Were Paid Their Allowance.

THE one-day polling for the National Capital District was in total chaos yesterday, when Electoral Commission officials refused to work until they were paid their allowance.

Thousands of voters who turned up early at various polling booths waited for about three hours until told that polling has been deferred to Friday, June 30.

Amid this chaos came news that four Electoral Commission officers had been arrested with two candidates and questioned at Boroko police station after police found suspicious documents, ballot boxes and K184,300 cash in their possession.

The four have since been released without charges after it was proven that the money was for camping allowance for polling officials and the ballot boxes were from polling booths that had opened at 8am before polling was abruptly halted and deferred.

Candidates vying for the regional and open seats have expressed frustration and disappointment, demanding an explanation.

Sitting MPs Michael Malabag, Justin Tkatchenko and Governor Powes Parkop has slammed the delay.

Other leaders elsewhere called for Electoral Commission to be held responsible for the Port Moresby fiasco and Electoral Roll discrepancies.

The delay in polling has also been costly with police losing more than K350,000 on car hire for one day to provide security.

Metropolitan commander Chief Superintendent Ben Turi said it was a waste of resource for the police who were looking forward to provide security for a safe, fair and free election.

Business houses that gave a day off to their workforce to express their constitutional rights to vote also expressed disappointment.

Bank South Pacific’s chief executive officer Robin Fleming was diplomatic, saying that the important thing is that issues affecting polling should be rectified and staff will be given time off to vote later in the week.

David Conn of PNG Business Council said businesses gave staff time off work and/or closed for the day. One business claimed that closing for the day cost it more than K200,000 in sales.

PNC Post Courier – INCUMBENT Governor For NCD Powes Parkop Has Instructed Lawyers To File Civil And Criminal Proceedings Against NCD Regional Candidate Rob Agen For Defamation. June 29, 2017 BY MATTHEW VARI

INCUMBENT Governor for NCD Powes Parkop has instructed lawyers to file civil and criminal proceedings against NCD regional candidate Rob Agen for defamation.

The defamation proceedings are for what he said was a defaming public Facebook post made by Mr Agen on his personal page, during the height of Tuesday voting impasse in NCD, that Mr Parkop was involved.

Part of the post from Mr Agen updated at 11:56am on Tuesday stated that, “Powes Parkop must be banned from contesting this election – Mr Parkop’s plan to hijack the democratic process of election was unraveled and stopped by a very well drilled police unit in NCD.” It read.

Mr Parkop expressed his utter disappointment at the turn of events being accused of involvement in any illegal ballot papers or boxes to rig the election.

“It is ironical for me who has been complaining about illegal ballot box plus on Monday I made this complaint, last week I made the call on the electoral commission to take serious step on this rumour that has been going around,” Mr Parkop said.

“To be accused of this same allegation is just unacceptable. For me I want to categorically state that am not involved of have never been involved in that type of behavior or practice.”

Mr Parkop has also involved the police in the case he has initiated against Mr Agen.

“I am totally amazed that this type of allegation will remain. Today what I want to say is that I have given instructions to Albatross Lawyers to commence both civil and criminal proceedings.”

“I have given instructions to lawyers to commence civil proceedings against Rob Agen because he is the one who posted on social media that I had conspired to mark illegal ballot papers and they were held at Boroko police station stating that I was related to somebody that got arrested yesterday,” Mr Parkop said.

Parkop also named another individual (named) who shared Mr Agen’s post on the same day at 12:55pm as the other he is filing proceedings against as well.

“This is taking political campaign to a very low level to manufacture lies and repeat lies and spread lies.”

“Of course everyone says it is a dirty game but we must maintain some certain standards. I do not go around spreading certain lies about other candidates.”

“As a result of yesterday (Tuesday) people are under the impression that I am part of a conspiracy to undermine the election in the capital city and around the country,” Parkop added.

When contacted by the Post Courier yesterday Mr Agen, said he stood by his post on Facebook saying that he had evidence to support his statement.

“We have evidence that Parkop is directly, indirectly involved in facilitating the impasse that took place yesterday,” Mr Agen said.

“We can provide that evidence if Mr Parkop wants to bring that to court, we will table that evidence and I welcome any court summons from Mr Parkop.”

Asked if he stood by his statement he made online, Agen said he stood by it, “absolutely 110 per cent”.

“I am happy to face Powes Parkop before or after the elections and the matter will be for the police to investigate,” Mr Agen said.

Prime Minister (PM) Manasseh Sogavare has thanked and spoken highly about the great achievements of Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) by highlighting their good work.

In his statement on Tuesday, when he declared that parliament be resolved into a committee of the Whole House to consider National Parliament Paper No.19 of 2017, PM boasted on the achievement RAMSI brought to restore peace in the country.

PM reiterated on the floor of parliament that since the inception of RAMSI, 14 years ago under the Biketawa Declaration, it took a trying journey with a lot of challenges that none of which deter the Australian-led mission to achieve its objectives.

“Law and order has been restored, the machinery of Government is functioning again, the economy has recovered and the judicial system has been strengthened; our Police Force has regained the confidence of our people and regarded as one of the best police force in the region,” PM stressed.

He also said that RAMSI’s involvement in the family violence program is highly commended for its focuses on instilling discipline in the basic unit of our society that must exercise tolerance, love and be able to live in peace with each other.

PM said result of their involvement in family violence programs led to the passing of the Family Violence Act, which is counted with other significant achievements of RAMSI in the country.

Sogavare added that these great achievements worthy of commendations and gratitude as they were designed to set the basics of this society on the part of peace, happiness and values that were sorely tested during the ethnic crisis.

He further revealed that the strategic path that RAMSI took under its mandates started with the intervention and later evolved of RAMSI on the spectrum of stabilisation to capacity building, before withdrawal.

“And this is provided in the report that RAMSI began intervention and stabilisation of Law and Order from year 2003 to 2004, then they moved into institutional strengthening from 2004 to 2005, capacity development in 2006 and 2008, transition from 2009 to 2013 and finally the police development and drawdown strategy from 2013 to 2017,” PM remarked.

He went on to acknowledge that RAMSI’s mission was here to rescue the country and provide an environment where it can once again be reunited to rebuild as a nation.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for East Choiseul highlighted that since the arrival of RAMSI, government services improved, public servants were paid, businesses operate normal again and strict financial management measures and economic reforms were put in place has enable the country to navigate on the right trend.

“Today the nation stands at the cross road as we are ready to take full responsibility for the affairs of the country and journey into nation building in the post RAMSI era.”

PM then thanked the RAMSI’s special coordinator both current and former ones and the officers.

He as well thanked the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the community of Solomon Islands, churches, men, women and youth.

He also paid tribute to the six fallen RAMSI officers who lost their lives during the course of their duty.

“And finally I want to thank all MPs and former MPs for their strong support towards RAMSI.”

In concluding his acknowledgment PM took the opportunity to say thank you RAMSI on behalf of his constituency and people of Solomon Islands.


Papua governor takes birds-of-paradise off the market

By Asrida Elisabeth and adapted by Basten Gokkon ,

A West Papuan bird-of-paradise -- known locally as cendrawasih. Image: TopK
A West Papuan bird-of-paradise — known locally as cendrawasih. Image: TopK

In an attempt to conserve the birds-of-paradise for which the region is famous, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe has banned the use of their body parts in anything other than traditional ceremonies.

Hunting has helped push some paradise birds — members of the family Paradisaeidae — to the brink of extinction.

Historically, indigenous groups on Indonesia’s half of New Guinea island — composed of the Papuan and West Papua provinces — have used the birds’ colourful feathers in their rituals and traditional dress.

Meanwhile, others turn their parts into souvenirs, sold to tourists or handed out by local officials at events.

Last November, a university student in Papua sparked an outcry after she posted pictures of herself holding a dead bird-of-paradise, known locally as cendrawasih, and a hunting rifle.

Governor Enembe enshrined the ban in a circular letter, a mechanism typically used to support existing laws.

The provincial administration plans to issue a regulation specifying the consequences for violating the ban, according to Papua Regional Secretary Hery Dosinaen.

Raids on stores
Until then, the government will use the circular to raid stores selling products made from real bird-of-paradise parts.

In addition to raising awareness about the animal’s protected status, the policy is expected to give Papua’s creative industries a nudge by turning craftspeople onto artificial bird parts.

Alex Waisimon, who runs birdwatching tours out of Jayapura, the provincial capital, welcomed the ban: “Cendrawasih is a bird from paradise that God created for us to protect together.”

But he recognised a greater threat than hunting — the destruction of the birds’ forest habitat.

Indonesia’s rapid deforestation has long been concentrated on Sumatra and Borneo islands in the archipelago country’s west. But forest loss in the Papua region is on the rise.

Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo is one firm expanding there. The oil palm planter was recently the subject of a NGO report that said it was responsible for 30,000 hectares of deforestation and nearly 900 fire hotspots since 2013.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has said it is investigating the company.

Republished from Mongabay with permission under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.