Indonesia plans to ramp up lobbying for UN Security Council seat

By Dian Septiari in Jakarta, Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi ... prioritising contributions to peace, including in peace-keeping operations, and realising the Sustainable Development Goals. Image: P.J.LEO/Jakarta Post
Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi … prioritising contributions to peace, including in peace-keeping operations, and realising the Sustainable Development Goals. Image: P.J.LEO/Jakarta Post

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is set to lobby more countries to vote for her country in its campaign for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council ahead of the vote that will take place next week.

Retno said she would head for New York again on Sunday, a few days before voting day on June 8.

“On the 4th [Monday] there will a diplomatic reception at the United Nations headquarters, while on the 5th, 6th and the 7th I still have the chance for more lobbying before voting day,” she told reporters on the sidelines of an iftar (breaking-of-the-fast) event at the Foreign Ministry on Monday.

In the last two weeks, Retno has visited New York, Guyana, Argentina and Peru and attended forums, where she also talked about Indonesia’s campaign for the seat.

Retno expressed her optimism, counting on Indonesia’s track record and contributions to world’s peace.

“Hopefully with all the contributions well-documented, it will become the reason why the countries vote for Indonesia,” she said.

She said if Indonesia gained the seat, it would prioritise contributions to peace, including in peace-keeping operations, realising the Sustainable Development Goals and pushing for more cooperation to solve transnational organised crime.

  • Dian Septiari is a Jakarta Post journalist.

More Indonesia stories

IOM Supporting MSG in operationalizing the MSG-Free Trade Agreement
IOM supports MSG4
Mr Henry Tamashiro- ACP-EU Regional Coordinator for the Pacific, Mr Ross Norton – Consultant and MSG DG, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli

30 May 2018

In its on-going efforts to prepare for the ratification and implementation of the MSG-Free Trade Agreement, the MSG Secretariat have received support from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) under the 2015 ACP-EU Migration Actions in the form of two Technical Assistance (TA).

The first TA is for the formulation of an MSG Remittances Policy that will commence as soon as necessary preparations are completed.

The second TA is on the development of a harmonized MSG Labour Mobility Policy for the Implementation of the Labour Mobility Regime (Chapter 7) under the MSG Free Trade Agreement. This particular intervention will assist MSG Member Countries in the development of a harmonized MSG Labour Mobility Policy to implement and operationalize Chapter 7 of the MSGFTA. As such, it will ensure that MSG Member Countries are in a better position to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the MSGFTA.

Today, the MSG DG, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, met with Mr Henry Tamashiro- ACP-EU Regional Coordinator for the Pacific based in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and Mr Ross Norton- Consultant- who has been appointed to progress this particular intervention going forward.

With the facilitations by the MSG Secretariat, Mr Norton will travel and consult with MSG Member Countries in the next two to three months to develop this important policy for our members.

“On behalf of our Member Countries, I am thankful to IOM for responding positively to our request for technical assistance on these two important policy developments- remittances and labour mobility. These policies once completed and approved aims at ensuring that our Member Countries are able to realize the many benefits of the MSGFTA once it becomes operational”, says Ambassador Yauvoli.

Further follow up consultations with Members who have yet to sign the MSGFTA will also be undertaken soon

For more information, please email the Secretariat on msg.secretariat@msg.int

Source: MSG Secretariat

The Indonesian Government is grappling with a measles outbreak in the Papuan district of Asmat, where at least 65 children have died since the epidemic began in October. Almost 600 people, including adults, have been treated for the disease in the remote highland district, with hundreds hospitalised in the district’s capital, Agats. Many are also reportedly suffering from malaria and severe malnutrition.

Criticism levelled at the government has not been taken well. Papua has always been a sensitive issue, primarily due to region’s separatist movement, but criticism has now extended to the efforts of the Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo administration to develop the region. The local immigration office detained a BBC Indonesia journalist, Australian Rebecca Henschke, after she tweeted photographs from Asmat. Henschke was ordered to leave the province, and her passport was confiscated, after allegedly offending the feelings of soldiers assisting the Asmat relief program.

Unfortunately, the aid is probably too little, too late. After news of measles-related deaths broke into the mainstream media in mid-January, the military, Ministry of Health, and Coordinating Ministry of Human Development and Culture quickly dispatched medical teams and food supplies to Asmat. Humanitarian workers say health problems have long been evident, and that the government simply choses to look elsewhere, focusing on quick-win solutions to gain political favour rather than on long-term development.

Children search for crabs in a river in Asmat (Photo: Supplied)

The political sensitives make those responding to the crisis reluctant to speak out. “The measles outbreak in Asmat is caused by a drop in the quality of basic healthcare,” said a Papua-based development worker who visits Asmat frequently. “Health services at community health centres are provided on a needs-only basis, and the quality is getting worse, so there is little knowledge of what really lies behind problems like these.”

Measles vaccinations are freely available to all children at community health centres across Indonesia, but coverage is low in Asmat. This is not only due to the region’s geography, with many facilities accessible to villagers only via long and expensive speedboat trips, but also to a lack of qualified health workers. Mobile health facilities and village-based vaccination clinics are rare, and locals complain that health workers rarely show up to work. Many are not provided with adequate housing and are forced to travel up to two hours each way to and from work. Others refuse to live nearby because of a lack of security; inter-family and inter-tribal conflict is common across the province. Even when staff do make it to the health centres, opening hours are short and medicines are limited.

“Only some of the 16 community health centres in Asmat have doctors,” the development worker explained. “It is difficult to reach many of the centres – you have to travel by boat … But the decrease in health services is caused by many factors, including low health worker competencies, lack of budgetary transparency, and [lack of] data.” She also commented that the Asmat District Health Office works slowly and inefficiently, with many of its staff uninterested in their work.

Papua and West Papua continually place last in Indonesia when it comes to human development, despite large local budgets resulting from the regions’ special autonomy. Major infrastructural improvements are underway, such as the Trans-Papua Road and multiple new seaports and airports. But public services, such as health and education, remain of poor quality. Asmat has a Human Development Index (HDI) ranking of only 47.31, placing the district below Afghanistan (47.9) and just above the Democratic Republic of the Congo (43.5).

Source: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/

Islanders who worship Duke of Edinburgh celebrate royal wedding by eating ‘many, many pigs’

He’s not the granddad of the groom, he’s the son of god

It was like a royal wedding street party with a difference.

One difference being that there was no street, just a gaggle of huts on a South Pacific island.

The other being that those partying regarded the groom’s granddad the Duke of Edinburgh, not as a cantankerous, gaffe-prone senior royal, but as the son of god.

In the village of Yaohnanen, on the island of Tanna in the archipelago republic of Vanuatu, Prince Philip is worshipped as a sort of Messiah, the son of their ancestral mountain god.

Which meant that while there were some signs of indifference in Britain, 10,000 miles away in the South Pacific Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding was celebrated with dancing, Union Flags and feasting on “many, many pigs”.

That is, once the message had got through to the villagers – who tend not to bother with modern electronic communications systems – that the wedding was happening.

“We had a custom dance and we put the flag up,” Jack Malia, the village chief, told a reporter from The Times. “We had a celebration for the prince. There were many, many pigs. We had many, many people come who wanted to celebrate.”

Strange island: Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain
Strange island: Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain

With the atmosphere further lifted by kava, a drink made from a plant root said to have sedative and mood-enhancing qualities, the celebration seems to have been even more joyous than those for the duke’s 89th birthday on June 10 2010.

That was when it had been prophesied that Prince Philip would come to Tanna to be with his people, living in a hut and hunting wild pigs with them

The slight disappointment that the duke/Messiah was a no-show on that occasion was mitigated by the fact that British gap year student Marc Rayner, 18, was on hand to act as a stand-in.

As a stickler for protocol, the duke would doubtless have been glad to hear that Mr Rayner adopted formal dress by wearing a nambas, a slightly more extensive version of the penis sheaths that Tanna men wear in everyday life.

“They are a wonderful people and I didn’t want them to feel let down,” said Mr Rayner.  “I stepped in to explain that the prince’s many responsibilities prevented him from visiting in person – but that he would one day rest in spirit on the island.”

As it is, however, although Tanna is the home of the so-called “cargo cult” known as the Prince Philip Movement, the duke – in bodily, if not spirit form – has never set foot on the island, one of 82 in the Vanuatu archipelago.

The closest he came was in 1974, when he visited the Vanuatu capital Port Vila on the royal yacht Britannia with the Queen.

Chief Jack Naiva, one of the paddlers of a traditional war canoe which greeted the royal yacht, was quoted as saying: “I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform. I knew then that he was the true messiah.”

Tanna elders later sent Prince Philip a “nal nal” hunting club.  He sent them back a picture of himself holding the club.  The photo has become a cherished religious icon on Tanna.

In the village of Yaohnanen there is a sort of shrine to the duke, with a Union Flag draped over framed photographs of the Queen’s consort.

Last year’s announcement that he would be retiring from public life did nothing to dampen the people of Tanna’s devotion to him.

Jimmy Joseph Nakou told reporters from the Associated Press that it was still the custom for villagers in Yaohnanen and Yakel to gather every evening, drink kava, and pray to Prince Philip.

“We ask him to increase the production of our crops in the garden, or to give us the sun, or rain,” he said.  “And it happens.

“Here in Tanna, we believe that Prince Philip is the son of our god, our ancestral god, who lives up in the mountain.”

As The Independent reported at the time, even the fact that Prince Philip’s May 2017 retirement announcement coincided with the impending arrival of a cyclone did nothing to put them off the duke, whose remarks have been known to offend others.

Author and journalist Matthew Baylis suggested the cyclone might instead have been taken as a sign that the duke had attained a higher “sacred status”.

Mr Baylis, who has spent time living on Tanna, explained: “They told me that they see Philip’s living in a palace, surrounded by guards, and travelling in a car with darkened windows, as evidence of his taboo status.

“So they may well see his withdrawal from public duties as connected to that – having attained some higher rung of taboo, sacred status.”

And while Prince Philip has never come to the people of Tanna, the people of Tanna have come to him.

In 2007 the makers of the Channel 4 documentary Meet the Natives arranged for a delegation of five islanders – of whom Jimmy Jospeh was one – to meet Prince Philip in Windsor Castle, the location of last weekend’s wedding.

Before the meeting, there was some trepidation in anthropological circles, with The Independent reporting: “In one slip of his tongue, he would after all be capable of shaking their entire religion to its foundations – and the Duke is not, let’s face it, a man renowned for tact.”

One Tanna elder has suggested that the Prince Philip Movement will not die with him but be passed on to his children, and his children's children (Getty Images / WPA Pool / Pool)
One Tanna elder has suggested that the Prince Philip Movement will not die with him but be passed on to his children, and his children’s children (Getty Images / WPA Pool / Pool)

As it happened, however, the meeting passed off without any damage to the Prince Philip Movement, with Mr Joseph saying later: “Because we believe that he is the son of our god, meeting him is just wonderful.”

The Independent also watched as, ahead of their visit to Windsor, the men from Tanna grew wildly excited at the sight of another of the duke’s homes: Buckingham Palace, “the big house”.

At Madame Taussauds, the men ignored all the Hollywood stars and spent an hour admiring Prince Philip’s statue, hugging it and holding its hand.

The documentary, however, also showed how at times the men of Tanna viewed the natives of Britain as both comical and uncivilised.

They were reduced to fits of giggles by the sight of a woman taking her pet to a dog grooming salon.

“This is one of the strangest sights we have seen,” said one member of the Tanna delegation.  “Two women bathing dogs and giving them haircuts as if they were human.”

The men, however, were appalled and bewildered by the sight of homeless rough sleepers.

“We don’t really see how it is possible that a city with so much money and so many buildings can have people sleeping on the streets,” said one of the men.  “Why is it there are many buildings not used and people are still homeless?

“On Tanna no one is homeless.  Everybody is equal in wealth.  If you need a house, everyone will help you build one.”

On a more positive note, their familiarity with ritual dancing on Tanna meant they were unfazed by a nightclub in Britain, and when they were taken to a typical pub, they proved to be brilliant at darts.

Although the idea of worshipping Prince Philip might seem bizarre to his British subjects, some anthropologists have described cargo cults generally as fairly logical attempts to make sense of a world challenged first by the arrival of white colonialists and then by the chaos of global war.

In a 1959 Scientific American article, the British social anthropologist Peter Worsley wrote: “Observers have not hesitated to use such words as ‘madness,’ ‘mania,’ and ‘irrationality’ to characterize the cults. But the cults reflect quite logical and rational attempts to make sense out of a social order that appears senseless and chaotic.”

He outlined how South Pacific populations with “highly developed cultures” had been subjected to “enormous social stress and strain” by the arrival of Europeans with “cargo” – Pidgin English for trade goods – and frightening technological power.

With the 19th Century traders came missionaries, who thought it would be clever to try to make Christian ideas like the Second Coming more palatable by tacking them on to existing South Pacific beliefs.

The result, however, seems to have been that instead of Christinaity, beliefs grew up that a local hero or god would come to initiate paradise on Earth and bless the people of the South Pacific with the riches of the white man’s cargo.

Worsley explained that the seizure of islanders for work on the plantations of Australia and Fiji left them disinclined to swallow whole the missionaries’s teachings: “The splendid vision of the equality of all Christians began to seem a pious deception in face of the realities of the colour bar, the multiplicity of rival Christian missions and the open irreligion of many Whites.

“They found that acceptance of Christianity did not bring the cargo any nearer. They grew disillusioned.”

Then the Second World War came to the Pacific.

“Troops on both sides,” wrote Worsley, “Found their arrival [was] heralded as a sign of the Apocalypse.  The G.I.s who landed in the New Hebrides [later renamed Vanuatu], moving up for the bloody fighting on Guadalcanal, found the natives furiously at work preparing airfields, roads and docks for the magic ships and planes that they believed were coming from “Rusefel” (Roosevelt), the friendly king of America.”

On some Pacific islands, Worsley added: “Mock wireless antennae of bamboo and rope had been erected to receive in advance the news of the [Second Coming].”

On Vanuatu the appearance of so many troops and so much US military hardware seems to have boosted the “John Frum Movement” that had begun in the 1930s, and was still going strong in 1960 when David Attenborough visited to be told about a Messiah figure: “’E look like you. ‘E got white face. ‘E tall man. ‘E live ‘long South America.”

On Tanna, the John Frum Movement seems to have morphed into the Prince Philip Movement some time in the 1950s or 1960s.

One theory is that people on Tanna noticed the respect with which British colonial officials spoke of the Queen, and aligned Prince Philip with their traditional belief that the son of the mountain god would travel over the sea, marry a powerful woman and eventually return to his people.

And at the time the duke’s retirement, it was also suggested that the Prince Philip Movement would not die with him.

Tanna elder Chief Tom Numake was quoted as saying: “Just because he has retired, it doesn’t just stop.

“It will be passed on to his children, and if they have children then it will continue on through them. The followers don’t just see it as Prince Philip but that it will continue going on through the bloodline.”

Which does now rather suggest that in the unlikely form of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has just got herself hitched to a husband who might one day, just possibly, come to be seen, as the Messiah, not a very naughty boy.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle plan to visit Fiji

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle [Photo:People]
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle [Photo:People]
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle plan to launch themselves on the international stage with a major tour to Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Tonga later this year.

The NZ Herald has also reported that Prince Harry has also wanted to visit both Fiji and Tonga.

He met with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during March’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London where an invitation was extended to him Prince Harry and Markle – now the Duchess of Sussex.

The Daily Mail reports that the high‑profile trip to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Tonga in October is being discussed at the highest level and aides are promising that the second half of this year will be “incredibly busy” with official visits.

The couple have already announced that they are delaying their honeymoon to return to work the week after their nuptials.

The royals will also undertake a couple of short overseas visits before the start of the summer, including a two‑day visit to Dublin.

33-year-old Prince Harry is yet to visit Ireland but 36-year-old Markle spent time in the country as an ambassador for the One Young World Summit in 2014.

But the couple plan to really showcase their work as a new royal “power couple” later in the year, starting with a visit to Australia, where Harry’s inspirational Invictus Games for injured servicemen and women is being held in Sydney this October.

They will then travel onto New Zealand ‑ a country the prince loves and where Markle has travelled before as a backpacker ‑ followed by Fiji and Tonga.

The Mail also understands that in recent months Markle has been schooled in royal etiquette and traditions by royal household and diplomatic staff.

This includes how to greet dignitaries – and expect to be greeted – once she becomes a member of the royal family, how to behave on royal engagements and the intricacies of palace life.

Source: http://fijivillage.com/

Islanders who worship Duke of Edinburgh celebrate royal wedding by eating ‘many, many pigs’

He’s not the granddad of the groom, he’s the son of god

It was like a royal wedding street party with a difference.

One difference being that there was no street, just a gaggle of huts on a South Pacific island.

The other being that those partying regarded the groom’s granddad the Duke of Edinburgh, not as a cantankerous, gaffe-prone senior royal, but as the son of god.

In the village of Yaohnanen, on the island of Tanna in the archipelago republic of Vanuatu, Prince Philip is worshipped as a sort of Messiah, the son of their ancestral mountain god.

Which meant that while there were some signs of indifference in Britain, 10,000 miles away in the South Pacific Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding was celebrated with dancing, Union Flags and feasting on “many, many pigs”.

That is, once the message had got through to the villagers – who tend not to bother with modern electronic communications systems – that the wedding was happening.

“We had a custom dance and we put the flag up,” Jack Malia, the village chief, told a reporter from The Times. “We had a celebration for the prince. There were many, many pigs. We had many, many people come who wanted to celebrate.”

Strange island: Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain
Strange island: Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain

With the atmosphere further lifted by kava, a drink made from a plant root said to have sedative and mood-enhancing qualities, the celebration seems to have been even more joyous than those for the duke’s 89th birthday on June 10 2010.

That was when it had been prophesied that Prince Philip would come to Tanna to be with his people, living in a hut and hunting wild pigs with them

The slight disappointment that the duke/Messiah was a no-show on that occasion was mitigated by the fact that British gap year student Marc Rayner, 18, was on hand to act as a stand-in.

As a stickler for protocol, the duke would doubtless have been glad to hear that Mr Rayner adopted formal dress by wearing a nambas, a slightly more extensive version of the penis sheaths that Tanna men wear in everyday life.

“They are a wonderful people and I didn’t want them to feel let down,” said Mr Rayner.  “I stepped in to explain that the prince’s many responsibilities prevented him from visiting in person – but that he would one day rest in spirit on the island.”

As it is, however, although Tanna is the home of the so-called “cargo cult” known as the Prince Philip Movement, the duke – in bodily, if not spirit form – has never set foot on the island, one of 82 in the Vanuatu archipelago.

The closest he came was in 1974, when he visited the Vanuatu capital Port Vila on the royal yacht Britannia with the Queen.

Chief Jack Naiva, one of the paddlers of a traditional war canoe which greeted the royal yacht, was quoted as saying: “I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform. I knew then that he was the true messiah.”

Tanna elders later sent Prince Philip a “nal nal” hunting club.  He sent them back a picture of himself holding the club.  The photo has become a cherished religious icon on Tanna.

In the village of Yaohnanen there is a sort of shrine to the duke, with a Union Flag draped over framed photographs of the Queen’s consort.

Last year’s announcement that he would be retiring from public life did nothing to dampen the people of Tanna’s devotion to him.

Jimmy Joseph Nakou told reporters from the Associated Press that it was still the custom for villagers in Yaohnanen and Yakel to gather every evening, drink kava, and pray to Prince Philip.

“We ask him to increase the production of our crops in the garden, or to give us the sun, or rain,” he said.  “And it happens.

“Here in Tanna, we believe that Prince Philip is the son of our god, our ancestral god, who lives up in the mountain.”

As The Independent reported at the time, even the fact that Prince Philip’s May 2017 retirement announcement coincided with the impending arrival of a cyclone did nothing to put them off the duke, whose remarks have been known to offend others.

Author and journalist Matthew Baylis suggested the cyclone might instead have been taken as a sign that the duke had attained a higher “sacred status”.

Mr Baylis, who has spent time living on Tanna, explained: “They told me that they see Philip’s living in a palace, surrounded by guards, and travelling in a car with darkened windows, as evidence of his taboo status.

“So they may well see his withdrawal from public duties as connected to that – having attained some higher rung of taboo, sacred status.”

And while Prince Philip has never come to the people of Tanna, the people of Tanna have come to him.

In 2007 the makers of the Channel 4 documentary Meet the Natives arranged for a delegation of five islanders – of whom Jimmy Jospeh was one – to meet Prince Philip in Windsor Castle, the location of last weekend’s wedding.

Before the meeting, there was some trepidation in anthropological circles, with The Independent reporting: “In one slip of his tongue, he would after all be capable of shaking their entire religion to its foundations – and the Duke is not, let’s face it, a man renowned for tact.”

One Tanna elder has suggested that the Prince Philip Movement will not die with him but be passed on to his children, and his children's children (Getty Images / WPA Pool / Pool)
One Tanna elder has suggested that the Prince Philip Movement will not die with him but be passed on to his children, and his children’s children (Getty Images / WPA Pool / Pool)

As it happened, however, the meeting passed off without any damage to the Prince Philip Movement, with Mr Joseph saying later: “Because we believe that he is the son of our god, meeting him is just wonderful.”

The Independent also watched as, ahead of their visit to Windsor, the men from Tanna grew wildly excited at the sight of another of the duke’s homes: Buckingham Palace, “the big house”.

At Madame Taussauds, the men ignored all the Hollywood stars and spent an hour admiring Prince Philip’s statue, hugging it and holding its hand.

The documentary, however, also showed how at times the men of Tanna viewed the natives of Britain as both comical and uncivilised.

They were reduced to fits of giggles by the sight of a woman taking her pet to a dog grooming salon.

“This is one of the strangest sights we have seen,” said one member of the Tanna delegation.  “Two women bathing dogs and giving them haircuts as if they were human.”

The men, however, were appalled and bewildered by the sight of homeless rough sleepers.

“We don’t really see how it is possible that a city with so much money and so many buildings can have people sleeping on the streets,” said one of the men.  “Why is it there are many buildings not used and people are still homeless?

“On Tanna no one is homeless.  Everybody is equal in wealth.  If you need a house, everyone will help you build one.”

On a more positive note, their familiarity with ritual dancing on Tanna meant they were unfazed by a nightclub in Britain, and when they were taken to a typical pub, they proved to be brilliant at darts.

Although the idea of worshipping Prince Philip might seem bizarre to his British subjects, some anthropologists have described cargo cults generally as fairly logical attempts to make sense of a world challenged first by the arrival of white colonialists and then by the chaos of global war.

In a 1959 Scientific American article, the British social anthropologist Peter Worsley wrote: “Observers have not hesitated to use such words as ‘madness,’ ‘mania,’ and ‘irrationality’ to characterize the cults. But the cults reflect quite logical and rational attempts to make sense out of a social order that appears senseless and chaotic.”

He outlined how South Pacific populations with “highly developed cultures” had been subjected to “enormous social stress and strain” by the arrival of Europeans with “cargo” – Pidgin English for trade goods – and frightening technological power.

With the 19th Century traders came missionaries, who thought it would be clever to try to make Christian ideas like the Second Coming more palatable by tacking them on to existing South Pacific beliefs.

The result, however, seems to have been that instead of Christinaity, beliefs grew up that a local hero or god would come to initiate paradise on Earth and bless the people of the South Pacific with the riches of the white man’s cargo.

Worsley explained that the seizure of islanders for work on the plantations of Australia and Fiji left them disinclined to swallow whole the missionaries’s teachings: “The splendid vision of the equality of all Christians began to seem a pious deception in face of the realities of the colour bar, the multiplicity of rival Christian missions and the open irreligion of many Whites.

“They found that acceptance of Christianity did not bring the cargo any nearer. They grew disillusioned.”

Then the Second World War came to the Pacific.

“Troops on both sides,” wrote Worsley, “Found their arrival [was] heralded as a sign of the Apocalypse.  The G.I.s who landed in the New Hebrides [later renamed Vanuatu], moving up for the bloody fighting on Guadalcanal, found the natives furiously at work preparing airfields, roads and docks for the magic ships and planes that they believed were coming from “Rusefel” (Roosevelt), the friendly king of America.”

On some Pacific islands, Worsley added: “Mock wireless antennae of bamboo and rope had been erected to receive in advance the news of the [Second Coming].”

On Vanuatu the appearance of so many troops and so much US military hardware seems to have boosted the “John Frum Movement” that had begun in the 1930s, and was still going strong in 1960 when David Attenborough visited to be told about a Messiah figure: “’E look like you. ‘E got white face. ‘E tall man. ‘E live ‘long South America.”

On Tanna, the John Frum Movement seems to have morphed into the Prince Philip Movement some time in the 1950s or 1960s.

One theory is that people on Tanna noticed the respect with which British colonial officials spoke of the Queen, and aligned Prince Philip with their traditional belief that the son of the mountain god would travel over the sea, marry a powerful woman and eventually return to his people.

And at the time the duke’s retirement, it was also suggested that the Prince Philip Movement would not die with him.

Tanna elder Chief Tom Numake was quoted as saying: “Just because he has retired, it doesn’t just stop.

“It will be passed on to his children, and if they have children then it will continue on through them. The followers don’t just see it as Prince Philip but that it will continue going on through the bloodline.”

Which does now rather suggest that in the unlikely form of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has just got herself hitched to a husband who might one day, just possibly, come to be seen, as the Messiah, not a very naughty boy.

MSG was Invited to Attend the ACP-EU Dialogue in Zambia 22-24 May 2018

22 May 2018 - MSG Invited to attend the ACP-EU ialogue -Zambia 2

23 May 2018

Director General, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, is currently attending the ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration and Development on peer to peer (P2P) exchange meeting on Visas in Lusaka, Zambia this week starting on Tuesday 22 May.

Following the launching of the ACP-EU Migration Action (the Action) in 2015 and the May 2017 ACP-EU Seminar on Visas towards supporting activities promoting the ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration and Development, the overall objective of the P2P exchange meeting is to provide opportunities for communication, exchange information and best practices on visas and free movement.

MSG Leaders have agreed to deepen economic integration within Melanesia through the MSG Skills Mobility Scheme (SMS) forming the basis of the legal framework to promote labour mobility within Melanesia. The MSG Secretariat has thus been mandated by Trade Ministers and Leaders to explore the option of having an MSG Business Travel Card. With the impending ratification of the MSG Free Trade Agreement (MFTA), that includes a Chapter on Labour Mobility, it seeks to promote a fast, effective and efficient travel of nationals of MSG Member Countries in pursuit of business and employment opportunities.

“For MSG, our continuous engagements in this global process is vital as we work with ACP regional partners and development partners such as the European Union (EU), and International Organisation of Migration (IOM) to identify best practices that could work for MSG members, in terms of visas and free movements”, says Ambassador Yauvoli. This is noting that nationals of MSG member countries have already been moving across borders to work in other MSG countries through contracts either by private sector or government sponsored schemes. There is also already movement of capital and goods which gave rise to the establishment of business entities in the Melanesian countries.

The MSG Secretariat wishes to thank the IOM for supporting the Secretariat’s commitment to put in place systems and processes that would allow MSG nationals easy access to other MSG countries. This is critical given the imminent ratification and subsequent implementation of the MFTA, which shall in turn be beneficial to the intra-MSG flows of trade, investment and people. Such movement of people will facilitate the flows of remittances that will reach even those at grassroots level. IOM is also supporting the MSG Secretariat’s proposal for the formulation of an MSG Remittances Policy. These developments synchronize with the various mandates of MSG Leaders, including the MFTA. Importantly too, they are in line with the MSG 2038 Prosperity For All Plan and consistent with the policy aspirations of MSG Members under their respective National Development Strategies. The meeting also attended by three MSG members and Tuvalu from the Pacific will conclude on Thursday 24 May.

Source: MSG Secretariat

Inside the grim prisons of Vanuatu

PAULA PENFOLD Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/

On the side of the road heading into Port Vila town centre a woman brandishes a newspaper, hawking it to passing traffic.

“JUSTICE FOR ALICE” is the arresting headline.

“Who’s Alice?” I ask our colleague, Lagi Toribau, who we’re working with in Vanuatu.

“She was murdered by her partner last year”, he says, quietly. It’s an infrequent crime here.

* SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Caught

We buy the Vanuatu Daily Post, and read of how the Vanuatu Supreme Court has sentenced Philip Jimmy – who was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Alice Karis – to 26 years in prison. The paper describes the medical evidence showing she’d died following a vicious, prolonged and deliberate attack.

Half an hour later I find myself sitting next to Alice’s killer in Vanuatu’s maximum security prison. They’re grim, the prisons in Port Vila. The men’s remand and maximum security jail was built by the British in 1942 and it appears little has changed since then. It’s concrete, small, dirty, dismal. There are currently 46 men locked up, down from 54, an inmate says, a few weeks ago.

Does that reduction in numbers make a difference to what it’s like to be here?

“So much. When the muster is high the number per cell can rise to eight.”

Right now, there are six men in each of those cells, which measure maybe three metres by six. They sleep on squabs flattened to possibly three centimetres, on the concrete floor. We’re interviewing in one of these caged spaces. There are five of us present, and even at that number – three lower than max – the heat is suffocating.

Outside, much of the compact, walled courtyard is slimy wet with pooled water, the result of the men washing their laundry. You’d think the water might help bring down the temperature. Instead, the air is sodden with humidity.

We’d filmed in New Zealand prisons before and jumped through bureaucratic hoops to do so, escorted every second by multiple guards. But here, we’re let in by friendly corrections officers and then left to do our work. They’re present, in the guardhouse, or somewhere nearby, but for all intents and purposes we’re on our own, without even security cameras evident.

So when a fight breaks out between two inmates – they’re madly throwing punches at each other’s faces – I wonder if this will be the moment when it all turns bad, escalates to something; remembering that we are, after all, in a maximum security prison, and we don’t even know what most of these men are in here for.

I needn’t stress. Almost immediately the inmates are laughing, as one of the fighters runs away, around the laundry block to the other side of the courtyard. A guard has appeared and he’s laughing too. He says, simply, by way of explanation: “There are a lot of people with mental problems in here.”

If they don’t arrive with mental health issues, it’s hard to imagine they’d leave without them; it seems so bleak here, with so little to do. But what we see speaks to the resourcefulness and indefatigability of human beings, wherever they may be.

In one cell an inmate sits on the floor, pencilling a series of precise architectural drawings. Another talks of how he does push-ups and laps of the courtyard to keep fit. Looking at this boxed-in space, you figure a lap might take 30 seconds – a minute, tops. Repeat circuits must be dizzying.

An inmate motions to our cameraman, his hand circling by his head in the international sign for “movie”. It turns out he’s asking if we would film them singing.

The men asked if we could film them. It was a surprise when they began singing in beautiful harmony.
The men asked if we could film them. It was a surprise when they began singing in beautiful harmony.

We have no idea what to expect but we roll, as 20 inmates begin to fill the air of the prison – and beyond – with their song; a song written by the man who’d asked us if we could film. It’s a song about Jesus, a song about being in prison. We are taken aback at its beauty: not only the quality of the voices and the intricate harmonies, but at the evident pride in their performance. We guess there’s not often an opportunity to perform for an audience. If this were one of those television talent shows, the judges would be in tears.

And then from the corner of the courtyard near the exit, clapping and cheering erupts – though it’s nothing to do with the song.

“One of our friends is being released today,” an inmate says, his face all smile. He appears genuinely rapt, looking forward, you imagine, to the day it’s his turn.

 

Amos is locked up in Port Vila's minimum/medium security prison, with more than 50 other inmates.
Amos is locked up in Port Vila’s minimum/medium security prison, with more than 50 other inmates.

Only a few of the prisoners speak English and this man’s is good; he’s a natural conversationalist. I have no idea whether what he says is true, of course, and the sentencing notes I check later don’t refer to his background or personal circumstances. But he’s engaging as he explains he’s a civil engineer, that he trained in New Caledonia, worked at the largest mining company there, did a stint working in Paris. He says he has three children back in New Caledonia, the eldest of whom is 22. When I remark that he doesn’t look old enough to be the father of a 22-year-old, he smiles, and tells me he is 33.

Yes, those maths are quite something.

And then this prisoner in the denim shorts and the red singlet with the missing front tooth introduces himself as Philip Jimmy, the man in today’s paper.

And he says he has a message he wants to get out.

All of this is fascinating to us, but peripheral. Stuff Circuit is here to meet and interview six Indonesian fishermen who murdered their captain while fishing on the high seas, between the Easter Islands and Fiji, in 2016.

We were told of the case by Tim McKinnel, with whom we’d worked closely on the Teina Pora miscarriage of justice case. McKinnel was the private investigator whose work took Teina’s case all the way to the Privy Council, where his convictions for the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett, were quashed.

We were intrigued with McKinnel’s current research, for Greenpeace, about modern-day slavery in the distant-water fishing fleet: human rights abuses on tuna long-liners which can be at sea for months, sometimes even years.

He was looking into this case of the six young men imprisoned for murder; a case which seemed to epitomise concerns over slave labour but which no authorities had investigated. What were conditions like on that boat, the Tunago number 61? Why did these young men murder their captain? Did anything drive their mutiny?

 

Riva says conditions on the tuna boat were hellish.
Riva says conditions on the tuna boat were hellish.

So we meet Riva, a shy, quiet, 21-year-old from Batam, Indonesia.

We sit on the concrete floor of the cell he shares with five other men and he speaks of how he was recruited as a fisherman on the promise of a salary of US$300 (about NZ$430) a month – good money, to him, since he was unemployed. But he never saw a cent of it.

Riva describes how his job was to roll in the lines and hooks on that tuna long-liner, but because he’d never before been a fisherman and didn’t get any training on the boat, he made mistakes. And when he did, he says, the captain would slap and kick him. Riva tells of the hellish conditions on that boat: sleeping just three or four hours a night, working 18 or 20 hour days, through the night. Forced to eat pork – he’s Muslim – and fish bait.

They were at sea for four months until the night they killed their captain, bursting into his cabin in the night, armed with whatever weapons they could find. They considered throwing his body overboard, but decided his family deserved to see him – so they built a coffin and put him in the freezer.

Five minutes up the road the other five Indonesian prisoners are locked up in minimum/medium security.

Baby-faced Andi, who’s 24, frequently giggles, when he gets embarrassed because he thinks his English isn’t good enough. But actually, he conveys perfectly what he wants to say, especially when he describes how after he was convicted of murder he rang his mother to apologise for the shame he had brought upon his family, and to offer an explanation: “My emotions took over my thoughts.”

Andi is the eldest of three; he has two younger sisters, and as we sit on his bed in his cell, he tells me his heart is broken.

In the minimum/medium security prison, there are sarongs tied along the rims of the bunks, a small attempt at giving ...

Toby Longbottom

In the minimum/medium security prison, there are sarongs tied along the rims of the bunks, a small attempt at giving the men some privacy.

It’s marginally more comfortable here than in the maximum security prison. There are still six men to a room, but at least their thin mattresses are on wooden-slatted beds (which the prisoners make themselves), rather than concrete. There are sarongs tied along the rims of the bunks, curtain-like; some stab at privacy.

But again, it’s grim. We go to film in the ablutions block but don’t get far because of the smell. An inmate washes his clothes on the floor, with the help of a big wooden stick. Another inmate says the place is ridden with bedbugs.

Penfold with tuna fisherman Andi, who rang his mother to apologise for the shame he brought on the family after his ...

Toby Longbottom

Penfold with tuna fisherman Andi, who rang his mother to apologise for the shame he brought on the family after his conviction.

It’s telling, then, that Andi thinks life here is better than it was on the Tunago number 61.

On the walls of the main office of the Vanuatu Department of Correctional Services is a series of posters explaining the law. One, in English, says simply: “RAPE IS A CRIME.” Another, in Bislama, is about “domestik vaelens”.

And it turns out that from within those prison walls at maximum security, is someone who also now wants to champion that cause.

Philip Jimmy’s crime was horrendous. He was drunk after a night out in town, when he assaulted his girlfriend Alice Karis. She suffered massive head injuries after his repeated vicious blows. Alice was in her 30s and had three children.

Local media reported that Jimmy’s 26-year sentence was the “harshest ever handed out by a court in Vanuatu for a spouse-killer”, in a country where domestic violence is a growing issue.

And now it appears that spouse – Alice’s killer Philip Jimmy – has had some time to think about what he did. He explains that the message he wants us to take from him, from here, is for the Vanuatu Daily Post and the Vanuatu National Council of Women. He has a relevant voice, he says, because he wants to help educate men: to urge them not to do what he did.

“I know what I did was wrong. The judge told me I was a jealous man and I was very angry. I would not justify myself. I didn’t control myself.

“I should have my self-control before taking actions. I stand up today to tell my story. I want to admit publicly that I was wrong.”

He tells us he will never forget what he did that night, and he says, repeatedly: “I want to help you, I want to help you respect your wife, your girlfriend, your mum, your grandmother.”

The prisoners here in Port Vila have been friendly. Welcoming, even.

And Philip Jimmy seems genuine in his remorse and desire for others to learn from the consequences of his deadly anger. It seems the least we can do is to pass his message on.

It is telling that the men say prison life is better than being on the Tunago number 61.
Toby Longbottom

It is telling that the men say prison life is better than being on the Tunago number 61.

‘Stop vote bank politics’
Minister for Employment, Productivity & Industrial Relations Jone Usamate (left) speaking with Opposition MP Mikaele Leawere and Government MP Mataiasi Nuimataiwalu at the parliament complex yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA
Minister for Employment, Productivity & Industrial Relations Jone Usamate (left) speaking with Opposition MP Mikaele Leawere and Government MP Mataiasi Nuimataiwalu at the parliament complex yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

OPPOSITION MP Mikaele Leawere has pleaded with the Government to stop vote bank politics, which he says is a well-known trait of left-wing dictatorships. Mr Leawere made these comments while responding to the Minister for Employment Jone Usamate’s ministerial statement in Parliament on the vulnerabilities of young workers yesterday.

“We cannot afford to have a weak and injured workforce. It is them who will carry the heavy debt burden and other problems that have been created in the last decade, into the future and resolve the same,” he said.

Oppostion MP Parmod Chand said youths were the future leaders of Fiji and needed support from the Government. “We need to encourage them, help them and build them up,” he said.

Mr Usamate, in his statement, said the ministry was working with the support of the tripartite partners and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to collectively help create a safe and healthy environment for young workers.

Chand accuses State of trying to win UN human rights seat
Governmengt MP Netani Rika (left) in discussion with Opposition MP Biman Prasad, Government MP Samuela Vunivalu and Opposition MP Ratu Suliano Matanitobua during a break in Parliament sitting yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA
Governmengt MP Netani Rika (left) in discussion with Opposition MP Biman Prasad, Government MP Samuela Vunivalu and Opposition MP Ratu Suliano Matanitobua during a break in Parliament sitting yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

OPPOSITION member of Parliament Parmod Chand has accused Government of trying to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council by rushing to ratify two UN Conventions. He made the claim while speaking on a motion to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in Parliament yesterday.

“Madam Speaker, we hope also that this rushed ratification is not only Fiji’s campaign to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council this year. We have raised this time and time again,” Mr Chand said.

In his response, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said it was unpatriotic for Mr Chand and the National Federation Party to make such comments.

“We are not doing this to satisfy some seat on the UN Human Rights Council. We gave an undertaking, we are fulfilling it,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“The comments by Honourable Chand and NFP are very unpatriotic. If they were truly concerned about furthering the culture of human rights in our country, they would actually push for us to have a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. We need to be patriotic about that,” he said.

He also pleaded with the Opposition to leave the director of human rights alone because he was doing his job. Parliament last night agreed to ratify the two conventions.