IN one of the most significant strategic assessments to emerge from the Pentagon for decades, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has identified Russia and China as greater threats to US national security than Islamic terrorism.

Australia, as Defence Minister Marise Payne told The Weekend Australian, shares the same concerns as those being expressed in Washington. Mr Mattis’s 2018 National Defence Strategy sets out in detail what has become increasingly clear — Russia and China, as “revisionist powers’’, are intent on shaping the world to advance their interests, often at the expense of US and Western influence. The pattern has become clear in Russia’s alliance with Iran, its support for the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war, its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its interventions in Ukraine. Beyond its aggression in the South China and East China Seas, China is exercising “soft power’’ and economic muscle in Africa, the South Pacific, Pakistan, the Philippines, and through the Belt and Road initiative. It has declared itself a “Near-Arctic State” with a view to shipping, scientific research, fishing and resource development at the pole and has even made headway with the Vatican.

As Anthony Klan reports today from Vanuatu, several island states have experienced building booms founded on discounted or “concessional’’ loans provided by China, on the proviso that borrowers use Chinese construction companies. But as payback time arrives, governments are struggling to service and repay the loans, with Vanuatu forced to lift its GST-style consumption tax from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent from January 1.

After the preoccupation with Islamic terrorism, however justified, and the “strategic patience’’ of the Obama era in relation to North Korea and other hot spots, the new US National Defence Strategy has provided a dose of long-overdue realism.

From Australia’s perspective, the reconvening of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Australia, Japan, the US and India — based on shared democratic values and strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region — makes eminent sense. So does the accord forged by Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that will see Australian and Japanese fighter aircraft conducting joint military exercises for the first time and co-operating in relation to defence equipment and capacity-building.

Such developments are not about “ganging up’’ against China. It is vital, as former army chief Peter Leahy wrote on Saturday, to maintain a strong working relationship with China. It is also important, however, to respond to regional opportunities and cultivate a range of strong relationships. As former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade head Peter Varghese points out, China and Japan currently account for 40 per cent of Australian exports. We need greater diversity, as Mr Varghese’s forthcoming paper on a new economic strategy towards India, to be handed to the government soon, will demonstrate. The Australian and Indian economies are complementary. Australia has wide scope, as Greg Sheridan wrote from New Delhi on Saturday, to provide professional and technical expertise, resources and food that India will need as its economy gathers pace and its people are increasingly urbanised.

The challenges facing the US and its allies, especially in this region, are momentous. The shifting landscape, however, offers vital opportunities Australia is well positioned to grasp.

Seven survivors found week after Kiribati ferry went missing
A handout photo supplied by the New Zealand Defence Force shows survivors from a ferry that sunk floating in a boat in the sea near the South Pacific nation of Kiribati, January 27, 2018. Picture taken January 27, 2018. New Zealand Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
A handout photo supplied by the New Zealand Defence Force shows survivors from a ferry that sunk floating in a boat in the sea near the South Pacific nation of Kiribati, January 27, 2018. Picture taken January 27, 2018. New Zealand Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Seven survivors from a ferry that went missing in the Pacific Ocean a week ago were found adrift in a dinghy by a search plane on Sunday, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said.

The 17-metre (56 foot) ferry with 50 people on board was reported missing on Jan. 20 two days after it departed Nonouti Island on a 250 km (155 mile) trip to Betio in Kiribati.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft spotted the dinghy within two hours of reaching the search area on Sunday morning, the (NZDF) said in a statement.

“The crew has dropped them aid supplies containing water, food and a radio and are currently trying to establish communication with them,” Air Commodore Darryn Webb said.A fishing vessel was on its way and was expected to reach the survivors later on Sunday, he said.”The Orion will continue to search the area, making every effort to locate any more survivors, while awaiting the rendezvous with the fishing vessel,”

he said.

New Zealand has been coordinating the search since Saturday.

The search continues for the missing ferry, a wooden catamaran which ran aground and underwent repairs to its propeller shaft before it left Nonouti Island.

(Reporting by Stephen Coates; Editing by Keith Weir)
Copyright 2018 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

Source: http://www.emtv.com.pg/

Bila Merdeka dari PNG, Bougainville Perlu Dana Rp3,3 Triliun
Profesor Satish Chand (kedua dari kiri) (Foto: EMTV.com.pg)
Profesor Satish Chand (kedua dari kiri) (Foto: EMTV.com.pg)

BOUGAINVILLE, SATUHARAPAN.COM – Bila Bougainville meraih kemerdekaannya dari Papua Nugini (PNG) pasca referendum tahun depan, negara itu diperkirakan akan membutuhkan anggaran per tahun sebesar 800 juta Kina atau setara dengan sedikitnya Rp3,31 Triliun. (1 Kina = Rp4.145,22). Itu berarti tiga kali dari anggaran tahun 2016 yang mencapai 286 juta Kina.

Hal ini dikatakan oleh Profesor Satish Chand dalam presentasinya belum lama ini, sebagai bagian dari studi yang dilakukan oleh National Research Institute, terkait dengan otonomi fiskal wilayah Bougainville pasca referendum.

Ahli ekonomi itu mengatakan bahwa perkiraan kebutuhan dana yang dikemukakannya mempertimbangkan angka-angka yang diperoleh dari pemerintah wilayah otonomi Bougaiville, berupa anggaran belanja tahun 2016, jumlah penduduk serta perbandingan dengan anggaran  negara-negara  Melanesia tetangga.

“Fokus saya hanya pada anggaran rutin. Ingat Bougainville yang merdeka secara politik akan memiliki lebih banyak fleksibilitas mengenai pilihan kebijakan,” kata Prof Chand, dikutip dari media Papua Nugini, Papua New Guinea Post Courier.

“Ia bisa menetapkan tarif pajak sendiri, bisa meminjam dari pasar internasional, dan bisa menetapkan prioritas pengeluarannya sendiri. Ia akan memiliki semua ruang ini untuk bermanuver meskipun tingkat pajak dan tingkat pengeluaran tidak dapat menyimpang terlalu jauh dari Papua Nugini bahkan jika Bougainville merdeka,” kata Prof Chand.

“Tapi di sisi pengeluaran jika Anda menghitung semuanya, Bougainville memerlukan antara dua sampai tiga kali dari pendapatan yang diharuskan bagi sebuah wilayah otonomi Bougainville.”

Daerah otonomi Bougainville adalah salah satu dari provinsi Papua Nugini yang sejak tahun 1975 mengalami konflik menuntut kemerdekaan dari Papua Nugini. Wilayahnya terdiri dari sejumlah pulau tetapi pulau terbesarnya adalah Pulau Bougainville.

Daerah otonomi ini memiliki luas daratan mencapai 9.300 km persegi dengan penduduk  249,358  jiwa menurut sensus tahun 2011. Pulau ini kaya akan tembaga dan emas. Salah satu perusahaan yang paling awal menggarapnya adalah Rio Tinto dari Australia, yang belakangan meninggalkan wilayah itu karena adanya konflik dengan masyarakat.

Pada tahun 1988 Tentara Revolusioner Bougainville atau Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) meningkatkan aktivitasnya menuntut kemerdekaan. Sejak itu konflik antara Tentara Papua Nugini dengan kelompok pro-kemerdekaan berlangsung dan diperkirakan telah menelan 15.000-20.000 korban jiwa. Pada tahun 1990 tentara Papua Nugini menarik diri dari pulau ini tetapi operasi militer mereka masih terus berlanjut.

Konflik mereda pada tahun 1997 setelah perundingan yang dimediasi oleh Selandia Baru. Kesepakatan damai dicapai pada tahun 2000 dengan menetapkan wilayah Bougainville sebagai wilayah otonomi, lengkap dengan pemerintahan sendiri. Kedua pihak juga sepakat untuk untuk melaksanakan referendum di masa depan namun waktunya belum ditentukan.

Pada tahun 2016, Presiden Papua Nugini, John Momis memastikan bahwa referendum kemerdekaan Bougainville akan dilaksanakan pada suatu waktu sebelum tahun 2020, dengan syarat sejumlah persoalan sudah bisa diatasi. Pada perkembangannya, pemerintah Papua Nugini dan pemeritah provinsi Bougainville menetapkan waktu tentatif referendum pada 15 Juni 2019, yang merupakan tahap akhir dari proses Perjanjian Damai Bougainville (Bougainville Peace Agreement) yang dibuat pada tahun 2016.

Isu-isu yang jadi prasyarat tersebut, sejauh ini belum keseluruhannya dapat diselesaikan dan PM Papua Nugini, Peter O Neill, sempat meragukan apakah referendum dapat dilaksanakan pada Juni 2019. Sementara itu berbagai pihak meyakini, bila referendum dilaksanakan hasilnya kemungkinan besar adalah mayoritas rakyat Bougainville akan memilih merdeka.

Dalam memperkirakan anggaran yang dibutuhkan Bougainville, Prof Chand membuat perbandingan dengan negara-negara berukuran serupa di kawasan negara tetangga dan dampak operasinya bagi pemerintahan yang lebih kecl itu, apabila melepaskan diri dari pemerintah pusat dan sistem pendukungnya.

Editor : Eben E. Siadari

Indonesian Government under fire for slow response to measles outbreak in Papua
Sick children wait for treatment at a hospital in Agats, Asmat District. (Credit: Reuters)
Sick children wait for treatment at a hospital in Agats, Asmat District. (Credit: Reuters)

Indonesia is under fire for its slow response to a severe measles outbreak in the province of Papua that has claimed the lives of dozens of children.

Indonesia’s Government has come under fire for its slow response to a severe measles outbreak in the province of Papua that has claimed the lives of dozens of children.

The disease was first reported in September last year and since then at least 59 children living in the remote Asmat region have died, leading to suggestions the Papuan people are being neglected by the Government.

“It is neglected in terms of health care, that’s why problems keep on coming up, and there’s crisis after crisis,” said Human Rights Watch in Indonesia’s Andreas Harsano.

Malnutrition among Papuan children is common and combined with low rates of vaccination, containing the outbreak is proving challenging.

Mr Harsano said Papua was not being afforded proper health services.

“I have seen this myself, there are no doctors or nurses, I have seen this for more than a decade,” he said.

“They should open up Papua to international assistance.”

With health services crowded by families of sick children, local church leaders warned many more lives were on the line.

Jakarta defends response to outbreak

The alarming number of deaths in Asmat has also led to outrage in local Indonesian media.

A strong editorial in the Jakarta Post newspaper accused the Government of caring more about the province’s rich natural resources than the Papuan people themselves.

But Jakarta defended its response and said the remote area was difficult to access quickly.

“Yes we have very limited means and staff but this doesn’t mean we aren’t trying very hard,” Agats health department spokesman Steven Langi told Al Jazeera.

“What we need is not just to be criticised, but real help. Those who criticise us I want to invite to work here.”

Indonesia’s Government announced it was setting up a taskforce in Papua to help contain the outbreak and the Indonesian military said it was also sending more medicine and doctors to the province.

Mr Harsano said authorities need to learn from the crisis in Asmat.

“I wish the Indonesian Government could use this opportunity to listen, we’ve been talking about this for years, more than a decade in fact,” he said.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

Vanuatu To Join INTERPOL
INTERPOL
INTERPOL Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in its 192 member countries to share critical crime-related information. Notices are published by INTERPOL’s General Secretariat at the request of National Central Bureaus (NCBs) and authorized entities, and can be published in any of the Organization’s official languages. Source: INTERPOL HQ

Vanuatu has applied to join the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Ralph Regenvanu, revealed the application was made this week.

“The principle reason is “probity checks” being carried out by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) were proving to be deficient, particularly as concerns people applying to buy Vanuatu citizenship under the Development Support Program (DSP) and people applying to be nominated as Honorary Consuls,” Minister Regenvanu told Daily Post.

“The FIU was able to pick up financial irregularities but not non-financial irregularities, including past or potential criminal behaviour and associations.

“By joining INTERPOL, the FIU and our police will be able to access the international INTERPOL database as part of the probity check process, and for other purposes, which will provide much better information to vet persons concerned.”

In a letter to the INTERPOL Secretariat, Minister Regenvanu stated that the Vanuatu Government is strongly committed to protecting the security of its people and the sovereignty of its borders from the impacts of transnational crime.

The Minister advised that the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) is already a proud member of the Pacific Transnational Crime Network (PTCN), whose aim is to detect, investigate and disrupt transnational crime in the region.

“The Republic of Vanuatu’s acceptance as an INTERPOL member will further strengthen the VPF’s ability to cooperate with international law enforcement agencies in the combined effort to dismantle transnational and organised crime syndicates on a global scale,” Minister Regenvanu stated in the letter, on behalf of the Vanuatu Government to the INTERPOL Secretariat.

He said the Government of Vanuatu willingly assumes all obligations and responsibilities expected from the INTERPOL membership, and formally endorses the VPF to be the responsible body to perform all functions of an Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) within Vanuatu.

“I would therefore greatly appreciate of this application could be supported for consideration by the INTERPOL General Assembly at its earliest convenience,” he concluded.

The NCB would be accommodated within the National Intelligence Unit (NIU) under the Transnational Crime Unit (TCU) and will be responsible for all international cooperation, country-level coordination and liaison with other government departments within Vanuatu to fulfill all requirements of a NCB.

“Very briefly, it means that Vanuatu is plugged into a global policing network, which brings benefits and obligations mainly around exchange of information,” said Dr Tess Newton Cain, principal of TNC Pacific Consulting when she was contacted yesterday for her views on the implications, in particular what Vanuatu stands to gain and lose if it becomes a member.

 Dr. Cain, who is an expert in Criminal Law added: “I imagine it would make Vanuatu look better from a Counter Terrorism Financing and Anti Money Laundering point of view. There could be a concern that our police resources get side tracked into dealing with INTERPOL requests”.

She noted that INTERPOL has a training and capacity building arm so Vanuatu may be able to benefit from that.

The INTERPOL Membership Application provides information on the country becoming an Independent State, its Territory and Population, the Government and its capacity to enter International Relations – Vanuatu is a member of 39 International Forums and Intergovernmental organisations.

It affirms that Vanuatu has closely studied and understands the INTERPOL Constitution, regulations and membership requirements under Article 2-7 and 31-33 and it pledges to uphold and respect all provisions of the INTERPOL Constitution, Regulations and Rules, including not limited to INTERPOL Rules on the Processing of Data, in order to effectively contribute to the INTERPOL law enforcement community in combating ordinary law crime.

INTERPOL enables police in its 192 member countries to work together to fight international crime, providing a range of policing expertise and capabilities.

It supports three main crime programmes: Counter-terrorism, Cybercrime, and Organized and emerging crime.

According to the INTERPOL website, Fiji and Nauru have been members since 1971, Papua New Guinea since 1976, Tonga since 1979, Samoa since 2009 and Solomon Islands since 2017.

The Government is on shaky ground with the recent cabinet reshuffling, and talks of more reshuffling.

It is an indicator of political instability and diverts the focus on issues of national interest and development.

Leader of the Opposition MP Ishmael Kalsakau made the statement when he commented on the recent move by four Opposition MPs to defect to the Government side.

“I can confirm that four MPs who were on the Opposition side, decided to make a move to join the Government side,” the Leader of Opposition told Daily Post.

“They are MPs Sato Kilman, Don Ken, Samson Samsen, and Norris Jack. It is their constitutional right.”

MP Kalsakau said the Opposition is not concern about numbers, and it rather focuses on issues about people and development for the economic and social wellbeing of the people.

For this reason, and although the Opposition now has only eight or nine MPs in Parliament, it will focus on issues of national interest.

“If there is dissatisfaction within the Government ranks or coalition partners, then that is an issue for the government to sort itself out, but as far as the Opposition is concern, our focus is on the people and the development and wellbeing of our nation,” said Leader of Opposition, MP Kalsakau.

“Despite being small in numbers, we still maintain the role of the Opposition to ensure that we address national issues for and on behalf of the people, who cannot speak for themselves, and as well as point these out to the government.

“One of the important roles we will step up on, is the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, in which the Opposition holds the position as Chairman. We want to assure the public that the Opposition will tighten up on Parliamentary Accounts and spending.

“The tendency of motions of no confidence is rife from both sides of the House, not just the Opposition.

“I will not be surprise if there is another motion, it will not come from the Opposition but from within the Government itself, and again, maybe because of dissatisfaction within the government ranks and coalition partners, but the Opposition’s current focus is not on numbers.”

Papua New Guinea begins finalizing preparations to host the 21st MSG Leaders’ Summit
Acting Secretary, Ms. Agelavu (4th from right) and DG Amena Yauvoli (3rd from right) with delegation from the MSG Secretariat & officials from the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs
Acting Secretary, Ms. Agelavu (4th from right) and DG Amena Yauvoli (3rd from right) with delegation from the MSG Secretariat & officials from the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs

The Director General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli is in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea from 17-19 January to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Rimbink Pato, Acting Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Barbara Age, Commissioner of Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) and other senior Government Officials.

The purpose of the visit is to begin finalizing preparations for the upcoming 21st MSG Leaders’ Summit that will take place from 10-15 February 2018 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

The Director General reaffirms the MSG Secretariat’s full commitment to provide the necessary support to assist PNG host a successful Leaders Summit. He also emphasized the significance of the Leaders’ Summit as Papua New Guinea will assume the chairmanship of the MSG and its Constituent Bodies. The Director General informed PNG that the Secretariat is working round the clock to ensure all meeting papers are ready.

The Acting Secretary Ms. Age also emphasized that the priority for PNG at this Leaders’ Summit is focusing on Sustainable Development goals as outlined in the MSG 2038 Prosperity for all Plan. The theme for the Summit will therefore relate to peace and prosperity in the MSG. The PNG Government is undertaking necessary preparations to ensure the Leaders Summit is a success.

The Director General also met with the Acting Police Commissioner Jim Andrews to discuss the proposed Police Commissioners Conference (PCC) and Police Minister Meeting (PMM). The Police Ministers Meeting is convening to consider implementation of mandates relating to security issues, in particular the MSG security Assistance to PNG during the APEC Meeting. It is anticipated that detail discussions are going to take place with recommendations for Leaders endorsement.

Following the consultations, MSG members will be informed of the details of the organization of the 21st Leaders Summit so as to engender full and effective preparations.

Considering the time constraints ahead of the summit, both DG Yauvoli and Acting Secretary Age recognizes the pivotal importance of continuing our collaborations to ensure that all preparations are finalized before the summit and its constituent body meeting kick start.

18 January 2018, Port Moresby, PNG

SourceL http://www.msgsec.info

O’Neill: We must work together, put people first
Prime Minister and Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill
Prime Minister and Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill

Prime Minister and Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill wants an end to individual interest undermining good governance in Southern Highlands and for leaders to work together for the people.
O’Neill said this yesterday after attending the first provincial executive council (PEC) meeting since last year’s elections.

Following the swearing-in of the council, O’Neill commended the new provincial administrator and police commander for maintaining peace and stability.

“After the election, we saw displays of reckless self-interest by some individuals and this undermined stability in the province,” he said.

“With the new provincial executive council, we will see positive changes and development once again in Southern Highlands.

“I call on all public servants to focus on the task of restoring service delivery and to step up efforts to deliver better education, health services and public infrastructure. “Individuals who continue to try to undermine good governance by acts of self-interest, with no regards for welfare of the province, will not be tolerated.

“The people of this province are more important than individual interest, and we will ensure the welfare of the people is taken care of through the new council.”

O’Neill said there were better ways to solve differences than destroying public property in which so much had been invested to improve the livelihoods of the people.

“All leaders must set aside their differences and put the people first, it is because of the people that they were elected,” he said.

“Leadership is not about winning, it is about demonstrating leadership through the right attitude and actions.
“Leadership is about humbleness and serving our people by delivering services that changes lives.”

Source: https://www.thenational.com.pg 

THE use of mercury in small-scale alluvial gold mining is now better understood because of a study in Morobe by the Mineral Resources Authority, Japan’s University of Kyoto and University of Technology’s mining engineering department.

The study involved assessing a machine for the recovery of mercury used in alluvial mining, said the authority in a statement.

It was done at the authority’s small-scale mining branch in Wau and involved the trial of an amalgam retorting machine brought in from Kyoto University.

“The objective was to test-run the Japanese mercury recovery kit, a prototype amalgam retorting machine for the recovery of mercury and critically assess the overall performance, its efficiency and ease of operation of the device,” the statement said.

“From the results obtained, the research team concluded, after careful assessment of the overall performance and efficiency of the mercury recovery kit, that it was an appropriate technology and should be used in Papua New Guinea’s artisanal and small-scale gold-mining industry for mercury and recycling recovery.”

Authority managing director Philip Samar said the study looked at ways to reduce and mitigate the increased use and disposal of mercury into the environment.

It also looked at how to increase alluvial gold production while ensuring the protection of the environment and the wellbeing of alluvial miners in the country.

Source: https://www.thenational.com.pg/

With less than 24 days remaining for The University of the South Pacific (USP) to begin classes, the University’s 2018 admissions have increased by seventeen per cent (17%) compared to last year.

A total of 7,517 prospective students have so far applied for admissions compared to 6,427 students last year.

This increase is reflected in all academic sections of the University, including, Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE), Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE), Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE), the Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE) and Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD).

 For FALE, new applications have gone up by twenty-one per cent (21%); FBE has an increase of eight per cent (8%); FSTE applications have stepped up by twenty-three per cent (23%), while Pacific TAFE applications have strengthened by twenty-six per cent (26%) compared to last year and PaCE-SD received twenty-one (21) new applications compared to nineteen (19) last year.

“The significant increase in admissions this year is a reflection of the increased reputation of the University, USP’s outstanding facilities and student experience, and excellent employability of our graduates,” said the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra.

Professor Chandra also said that admissions are similarly strong at regional campuses, where the University is offering increasing numbers of in-country programmes.

Professor Chandra further said that the twenty-six percent (26%) increase in admissions in Pacific TAFE reflects its remarkable progress in getting international accreditations of its programmes, its strong links with industry, and the strong employability of its graduates.

According to Professor Chandra, these statistics are provisional as the final situation will only become clear after registration—but the indications are that 2018 will see a higher increase in enrolment than last year’s increase.

The University will continue to enroll new students until 19 January and existing students until 26 January 2018.