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Vol. 40, No. 4
34 Westpac woos women to top ranks Goal is equal representation
35 Theatre creates magic for students, community Russian play was a big hit
36 Storm surges rendered Majuro residents homeless US Government offers $100,000
Viewpoint Tukuitonga at the helm: New Director General of SPC outlines his vision for the Pacific’s largest inter-governmental body. Cover report—pages 16-20. Cover photo: SPC
38 PINA shreds charity status for limited company Fijian media
dominates Pacific body
16 Tukuitonga at the helm
New boss of SPC sets out to fine-tune the Pacific’s largest organisation
21 New constitution is the key, says Fiji’s new military chief Bainimarama makes way for career soldier Mosese Tikoitoga
39 April, a time to learn more about Asbestos
Regular Features 6 Views from Auckland
22 Mosese Tikoitoga Leadership change in Fiji’s military
7 We Say 12 Whispers
24 UN sends mission to New Caledonia
14 Pacific Update
Debates over electoral rolls and alliances
26 French Navy seized Chinese fishing boat
37 UN report calls for action to address existing inequalites
40 Business Intelligence
Maritime border dispute flares up again
27 Judicial shake-up in Nauru Opposition MP’s decry deportations
28 Closing down loopholes, G20 tarrgets tax havens Cook islands, Vanuatu under scrutiny 29 BSP posts US$147m profit ‘Banks capital base is sound’ 30 Total Oil joins Oil Search for PNG’s LNG # 2 A new Asia Pacific hub dawns
31 The legacy of Tuikilakila Waqairatu
Feature - SPC
32 South Pacific Albacore Tuna crisis: collective action of the Pacific Islands is the way forward Islands Business, April 2014 3
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Marshall Islands Giff Johnson New Zealand Dev Nadkarni Jale Moala Ruci Salato-Farrell Duncan Wilson Niue Stafford Guest Papua New Guinea Baeau Tai P Sam Vulum Patrick Matbob P Peter Niesi
Solomon Islands Evan Wasuka Alfred Sasako T Tonga Taina Kami-Enoka V Vanuatu Tony Wilson T
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Views from Auckland BY DEV NADKARNI
‘The end is nigh,’ says rocket science T hat grim , much - derided prediction of impending apocalypse that has provided satirical grist to many a cartoonist’s mill – so often depicting an unkempt, placard-carrying vagrant picketing the street – was last month elevated to the status of rocket science. Literally. Research funded by no less hallowed an institution as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has predicted that our civilisation is in terminal decline. Not many of us will be around to welcome the dawn of the next century, apparently. The way we have been destroying our environment over the past couple of centuries and the way climate change – man made or not – is ravaging us, we don’t need a rocket scientist to tell us that we’re all heading for trouble. Big trouble. But when an organisation like NASA, full of rocket scientists besides other nerdy, brainy sorts, gets associated with what claims to be a serious study proposing that we’re all doomed, the world does take notice. The study draws parallels between several past civilisations that declined and disappeared, some of them mysteriously, many of them for good reasons – and compares them with the challenges that our civilisation finds itself confronting. Again, most of the findings are more common sense than rocket science: too many people chasing dwindling resources, the widening gap between the haves and have-nots upsetting the social status quo leading to war, disease, chaos and ultimately, decimation. Instances of past civilisations going down the tube are legion. From the highly progressive Nabta Playa people who disappeared in about 6000 BCE around what is now Egypt, through the great Indus Valley civilisation (India/Pakistan/ Afghanistan) that is believed to have gone to seed around 1900 BCE to the Khmers (in today’s Cambodia) and the Incas (in modern Peru) well into the Christian era, history is littered with vanished civilisations. The list is endless: Romans, Guptas, Mesopotamians, Mauryas, Han…. Nearer home in the Pacific, we have the lost Nan Madol civilisation in Pohnpei, Micronesia, the vanished people who built the giant Pulemelei stone structure on the island of Savai’i in Samoa and of course the much written about disappearance of the great stone statue erectors of Rapa Nui or Easter Island. These sites and stories have been the subject of countless books, novels, films and television shows and have inspired dozens of Hollywood blockbusters – all feeding the insatiable human appetite for conspiracy theories 6 Islands Business, April 2014
the rich and the poor. Despite all our so-called economic progress, income gaps have continually widened in much of the world and we have been living well beyond our means as far as resources go for several decades now. Even more crucially, in the pursuit of “better” living standards, we have not only dug deep into the earth and plumbed the depths of the oceans for natural resources but have also polluted our ecosystems unsustainably. Many ranging from alien abductions to simply mysteriscientists believe we have already reached the ous disappearances. point of no return as far as environmental degAccording to the NASA funded study, many radation goes. civilisations declined and disappeared because Exponential population growth, dwindling they became unsustainable – ecologically, resources and the simultaneous drive to improve economically and socially. As resources became living standards fuelling consumption is the very scarcer, the top echelons of society cornered cocktail of circumstances that killed civilisations and hoarded them because of their wealth and in the past. It has nothing to do with the size and power over the lower rungs of the masses. It was extent of civilisations. It is all about sustainability only a question of time when the deprived hoi – learning to live within polloi became restive and one’s means. violently militant upsetUnfortunately, our dieting societal equilibrium. hard capitalistic civilisaThat inevitably resulted in tion’s yardstick measures warfare, undermining of success the other way: it’s the law and order system, more about growth, greater breakdown of the social production and greater code, eventually spiraling consumption leading, of out of control into comcourse, to greater profits. plete chaos. The realisation that all this However, there is one comes at an unsustainable big difference between all these civilisations of “Maybe there’s a conspiracy theory here cost – dwindling, irreplaceable resources that ultithe past that declined and somewhere.” Photo: bring.com mately tip natural systems disappeared and our own out of kilter – is willfully modern one. While these glossed over. As long as the only yardstick of past societies were separated by vast swathes of capitalistic success remains pure and simple both eras and geographical distances, our present “growth” of statistical things like GDP and stock civilisation has grown to become a global one and market indices, the relentless plunder of natural seemingly seamless, encompassing the entire resources and the pollution of the environment planet. Thanks to communications technology, will continue unabated. the world today is more connected than at any And the non-inclusiveness that is ever so subtime before in the history of mankind. Besides, tly built into the capitalistic system will ensure every other field of technology has progressed that the rich will get richer and the poor poorer. in the past 100 years enough to make our world Small wonder, then, that the total food wasted at look as if it is completely integrated. the consumption stage in developed countries is So is this one important difference between equal to the total food production of the poorest our own civilisation and the ones that disappeared countries in Africa: one billion go to bed hungry before our times enough for us to assume that we each night. will not follow them into the abyss of forgotten As the study points out, the signs that we too histories and survive forever? Is our civilisation will join the vanished civilisations are all there: safe because it is so widespread and appears so overweening greed and excessive exploitation and well integrated globally? Will our mastery over consumption on the one hand, and exploding technology and the fabulous promise of new populations, social exclusion and environmental discoveries being made in so many critical fields degradation on the other. affecting us all over the next few decades insulate Maybe there’s a conspiracy theory here someus from terminal decline? where. The rocket scientists at NASA perhaps While it is tempting to argue that our civilisafunded this study to strengthen their case for their tion is indeed different from those before us métier – interplanetary travel: set up colonies because of its wide spread and all these scientific on the moon, Mars or further afield now that and technological achievements, we must note civilisation on Planet Earth seems doomed. What that we have failed to address the three main an opportunity to begin civilisation all over again reasons that the researchers say why civilisations on a clean slate on a new planet…. disappear – over population, the decline of susNever underestimate rocket scientists! tainable practices and the widening gap between
WESAY “Many lessons are there to be learned from the unfortunate, as yet unexplained disappearance of MH 370. And it is imperative that all parties concerned need to be transparent – not least the concerned airline and the country’s Government”
he tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ wide with the families of the passengers tended to portray a picture of a bodied Boeing 777 en route from Kuala Lumpur to less than open, authoritarian brand of democracy. That the Chinese Beijing last month seems destined to remain one of authorities uncharacteristically allowed widespread protests by the aviation history’s most intriguing mysteries. Not in passengers’ families in Beijing underscores the strong negative feelrecent memory has an aviation incident dominated ings that Malaysia’s handling of the crisis evoked. the global media headlines in the manner that the ill fated flight MH Malaysia confirmed the loss of the airplane and all aboard on it 370 has. Its disappearance has been a top story in bulletin after news even before any evidence of its remnants were physically retrieved bulletin for more than twenty straight days and nights. – though there were several suspected satellite images of debris, Three weeks after its most mysterious disappearance, investigators never really confirmed – and chose to convey the grim news by are no closer to deciphering the actual cause of the vanishing aircraft than they were when it was first reported missing. Unfortunately for all concerned, particularly for the loved ones of the 239 passengers onboard, the agonising wait for answers is likely to continue for months, if not years. And then there is the possibility that the mystery may never be completely solved. The story of flight MH 370, when it is finally written, is bound to be the envy of even the most inventive of bestselling thriller writers, amply illustrating the old adage that truth is often stranger than fiction. As well as the mystery of the highly unlikely disappearance of what has proven to be one of the safest aircraft ever built, the intrigue that surrounds the many swirling unproven theories on the cause ensures that the lore of this vanished flight will long be Faces tell the story... Some family members of passengers in the ill-fated MH370 of Malaysia Airlines show their anguish to the world’s media. Photo: bring.com remembered. Adding to the escalating mystery and text, something which was widely perceived as a callous attitude. tension and further confounding the situation was the airline and Malaysia defended this action saying it wanted people to know first, the Malaysian Government’s extraordinarily poor handling of the before they heard it from the media. crisis, especially on the communications front. Delayed reporting, conflicting details, contradicting information, backtracking, insenWhile almost all of the questions relating sitive dealings with the passengers’ loved ones snowballed into a Impact on to the aircraft’s disappearance remain unangigantic public relations disaster for both the airline and the country. Brand swered and are likely to remain so for some As live footage of bumbling officials replying to media queries, Malaysia time, there is strong and growing suspicion violently protesting passengers’ relatives and their handling by among not just the passengers’ families but Malaysian authorities flashed instantaneously across the globe, both also among the general public, the media and other countries’ airline and the Government seemed clueless about how to face up Governments that the Malaysian authorities know more than what credibly to the international community. The incident exposed they are letting on. Malaysia’s ill preparedness to deal with such an emergency. Used Whether this is true or not, the Malaysian Government has itself to a pliable, unquestioning media, the spokespersons were all at sea to blame for this perception because of its clumsily inept handling attempting to answer the global media’s justifiably prying questions. of the communication flow post the incident. The quality of Malaysia’s polity also stood exposed: the economy This unfortunate bungling is bound to severely affect both the with which the authorities parted with information, the frequent reputation of the airline and Brand Malaysia, which aspires to be a flip-flops and the blunt manner in which the official machinery dealt Islands Business, April 2014 7
WESAY developed country by 2020. Among the things that will affect the airline’s otherwise unsullied reputation for safety and quality over several decades are stories that made the rounds that the airline had chosen not to invest relatively small amounts in communication services that relay the position of its aircraft at all times. There were also stories of dangerous cargo like lithium ion batteries, which was then strenuously denied and explained to be in conformation with international aviation standards. It is in the interest of not just Malaysia Airlines and the country’s Government but also that of the entire aviation industry to get to the bottom of this mystery and narrow down the possible causes of the disappearance of the plane as early as possible. If allowed to dither without resolution, it will spur all sorts of rumours, conspiracy theories and only end up undermining the confidence of the travelling public, to say nothing about offering some sort of closure to the families of the missing passengers. The industry is already considering a slew of changes on the communication technology front in the face of justifiably derisive criticism from the public that in an age when even a lost smartphone can be located using the internet, it is unbelievable that one of the largest and most sophisticated aircraft ever built cannot be. There already are indications that continuous traceability and
continuous voice and data communications between aircraft and the ground will be implemented on all passenger aircraft. Additional security measures and crew strategies to deal with deliberate mala fide action in the flight deck are also being debated. It’s, however, early days yet. This incident has also exposed many other chinks in the armour of the aviation industry. Security and pilot wellbeing are just two of the more important ones. Investigators are still not ruling out hijacking, terrorism, sabotage and pilot suicide, in the absence of any wreckage or flight data recorders. While airframe fracture, mechanical and electrical failure are also in the reckoning, speculation tends to be swirling over human factors. Contradicting stories earlier on in this unfortunate saga gave plenty of suspicion for terrorism and sabotage. Later theories have been pointing to pilot suicide and crew mental health. Many lessons are there to be learned from the unfortunate, as yet unexplained disappearance of MH 370. And it is imperative that all parties concerned need to be transparent – not least the concerned airline and the country’s Government – and work together to find out exactly what went wrong if any remedies are to be contemplated and implemented to make air travel safer for all. In the meantime the number of queasy passengers can only grow.
“While this outcome may look winsome for Australia, there is little by way of public discourse about what deleterious long-term effect housing asylum seekers will have on the socio economic, political and demographic realities of Nauru and PNG in particular and the Pacific Islands region in general. For there is little likelihood that Australia will limit their quest for processing centres with Nauru and PNG”
he Pacific Solution – Australia’s strategic policy to deal with the increasing hordes of asylum seekers arriving by boat on its shores first thought up at the turn of the century – continues to be a major headache for the country almost a decade and a half later. It continues to fester like a sore that won’t heal and the efforts of successive Australian Governments to make course corrections in the policy has only resulted in more anguish for all parties concerned. Thousands of people continually turning up on your shores from distant countries in rickety boats risking everything to seek refuge in your country is no easy situation to deal with at any rate. Coming up with a solution that balances multiple contentious aspects of the reality of refugee migration – humanitarian, political, legal, sovereign, law and order and socio economic among several others – is a mountain of a task to say the least. It can never be perfect and never ever hope to get all parties to support it. Australia’s broad game plan has been to exclude thousands of
8 Islands Business, April 2014
uninhabited islands from Australian territory so people or refugees landing on these islands after successfully avoiding Australia’s vigilant defence forces are not automatically landing on Australian territory. Refugees in boats that are intercepted are sent to offshore detention centres while awaiting assessment about whether they qualify as genuine refugees. Detention centres have been built and expanded in Pacific Island nations like Nauru and Papua New Guinea, while unsuccessful attempts have been made to open another one in Timor Leste. Running a detention centre has been manna from heaven for Nauru’s moribund economy after it so gullibly mismanaged its incredible riches from guano – phosphate deposits – making the transition from being one of the wealthiest nations on a per capita basis to the bottom of the pile in the matter of a mere decade. So much has Nauru come to depend on income from managing the detention centre that when there was a brief hiatus in the programme in 2007, it raised great concern for its economic well being.
WESAY The other major detention centre on Manus Island, which is Papua New Guinea territory, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently. Overcrowding (there are some 1300 asylum seekers awaiting their fate there), frequent outbreaks of violence including a major riot on 17 February that killed an Iranian asylum seeker as has been widely reported in the international media, allegations of maltreatment including physical abuse by authorities and even suicides have been reported over the past few months. What’s more, Australian authorities have been severely castigated for obstructing their own media from reporting on the goings on in the detention centres. For a country that criticises other nations for clamping down on their media, this is a blatant display of double standards. Such controlled access has alluded to the suspicion that the Australian administration has something to hide from the media and the general public. However, a court order as part of an inquiry into the treatment of asylum seekers in the detention centre on Manus Island afforded rare access last month to a group of media outlets. This visit, as reported in Australian media, seems to amply confirm those suspicions. Post visit media reports said the reporters encountered filthy toilets, asylum seekers – housed four or five to a shipping container in some of the compounds – loudly complaining about the treatment they were receiving because the visiting reporters were not allowed to interview the detainees. They complained of fear, lack of sleep, poor and failing health and a feeling of uncertainty as many of them have been holed up in the centre for close to a year. Could it be that this controlled, calibrated outflow of information about the conditions and uncertainties of living in detention centres is part of a larger Machiavellian plan on the part of Australian officialdom? In its eagerness to deter the boat people from even contemplating their perilous journeys across the treacherous seas at the risk of life, limb and a lot of money, is this a part of the plan to make the exercise seem utterly useless? Such reports are perhaps designed to give the impression that embarking on such journeys is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire?
Display of double standards
The country’s other recent initiatives especially since the middle of last year are pretty much in the same vein of mass discouragement: In July 2013, then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill signed the Regional Resettlement Arrangement between the two countries. According to this arrangement, asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat would have no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees. Asylum seekers taken to the Christmas Island detention centre would be sent to Manus and elsewhere in Papua New Guinea for assessment of their refugee status. The joint statement went to say, “If they [the asylum seekers] are found to be genuine refugees they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea. If they are found not to be genuine refugees they may be repatriated to their country of origin or be sent to a safe third country other than Australia. These arrangements are contained within the Regional Resettlement Arrangement signed by myself and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea just now.” The bottom line here is that asylum seekers have an extremely thin chance of staying put in Australia if their boats end up on the country’s shores. That policy, combined with new Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s high level, multi agency initiative Operation Sovereign Borders, aimed at countering people smuggling with radical components like a boat buy back scheme, strengthening local administrations with more powers and resources and sharing information with neighbouring countries’ border security forces especially Indonesia seem to be working. Unlawful boat arrivals have plummeted from 355 last December to one each in February and March this year. This is because as many as six boatloads have reportedly been turned back under this policy in this period. While this outcome may look winsome for Australia, there is little by way of public discourse about what deleterious long-term effect housing asylum seekers will have on the socio economic, political and demographic realities of Nauru and PNG in particular and the Pacific Islands region in general. For there is little likelihood that Australia will limit their quest for processing centres with Nauru and PNG. There is no doubt that other countries are well within their crosshairs. It will be up to the leaders of Pacific Islands to stand up to these geopolitical machinations.
“Without a healthy population, a nation cannot progress. Good health, fitness and physical wellbeing have always been and will always be the cornerstones of a successful, productive civilisation”
oing by statistics churned out by global and regional development organisations repeatedly across the past several years, it is no exaggeration to say that the health and wellbeing of Pacific peoples is almost in a terminal nosedive. Polynesian populations happen to be among the world’s most obese people, with some countries estimated to have as much as 90 per cent of their populations classified as overweight or obese.
The causes are not far to seek. The easy availability of cheap, imported processed food laden with stratospheric amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fat and their skyrocketing consumption coupled with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle is one of the major factors responsible for this perilous state of affairs in Pacific islanders’ health and is the number one cause of the spread of non communicable diseases (NCD), which has attained epidemic proportions in the region. Islands Business, April 2014 9
WESAY Three of four deaths are said to be the result of NCDs in the a fully understanding of the problems and bring about the posPacific Islands region today. Just a few decades back, NCDs were sibility of finding more holistic solutions, involving the combined almost totally an unknown quantity in the region. Globalisation individual strengths of several organisations and governments. This and the free movement of goods combined with the lack of finanis a step in the right direction, rather than working differently in cial and human resources in developing world markets like the silos, as it were. Pacific Islands to evaluate the nutritive value of cheap, poor quality Incidentally, SPC has had an independent review on its workimported foods from unregulated markets as well as dumping of ing and delivery of services recently and many of the wide ranging unhealthy meat cuts from certain developed nations in the vicinity recommendations are in the process of being implemented. A new are among the main reasons responsible for Pacific peoples’ falling man at the helm will likely see these changes with a fresh pair of health indices. eyes and hopefully ring in The islands region is at a some changes that will make severe disadvantage in terms a positive difference. He has of medical infrastructure and gone on record, though, that trained human capacity to funding for tackling these istackle this tsunami of NCDs, sues realistically will have to be which has been ravaging it stepped up. He has also corfor some time now. This not rectly noted that programme only results in an increase based funding, which is based in the number of sick and on usually a tenure of three infirm people, but also puts a years, needs to change on a great strain on the productive more long term basis. economy, not to mention the The issue of funding and its medium to long term effect on efficient deployment is a conthe country’s future. tentious one, not least because This cocktail of factors is of the multiplicity of organisaresulting in shorter productive tions in the region with too lives and shortened life spans many look alike projects that for Pacific islanders. Without are often tailored around the a healthy population, a nation funder’s target requirements. cannot progress. Good health, For instance, ever since fitness and physical wellbeing funders and donor governhave always been and will ments from the first world Without a healthy population, a nation cannot progress. Photo: bring.com always be the cornerstones adopted the economic deof a successful, productive velopment mantra over its civilisation. former social development Governments have been seized of the problem for some time one, regional development organisations seem to be increasingly dunow but they severely lack the funds, the human capacity and the plicating efforts while chasing the same donor dollar. This naturally infrastructure not only to effectively treat the rising instances of results in less than desirable results and therefore disappointment NCDs but also to prevent future occurrences by educating the in the donor community. younger generation in adopting a healthy lifestyle. Governments One example of this is the number of organisations that are in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and even some Melanesian countries have involved in almost the same or similar projects in activities like been running media campaigns and some have even incorporated renewable energy, climate change, export promotion and other areas these ideas in school curriculums, but statistics indicate that all these of economic development. efforts seem too little too late. A dispassionate observer from outside the region could be forgiven if they were to assume that several organisations are doing It is just as well that the new head of the the same or overlapping activities, while chasing the same donor Pacific region’s premier scientific research and develdollar. Unfortunately, this has been the bane of the many regional health opment organisation, the sixty seven year old organisations in the Pacific and has been pointed out quite emphatia priority Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), cally in recent reviews. comes from the medical fraternity. The highly The new SPC Director has said that he would put the emphasis experienced Dr Colin Tukuitonga, who recently took over the helm on better coordination between the CROP (Council for Regional of SPC is a medical doctor, much like his predecessor Dr Jimmie Organisations of the Pacific) in complementing one another to Rogers, and would be better placed to understand this extremely strengthen their collective offering rather than duplicating efforts, important issue of Pacific Islanders’ health and wellbeing. It is as has been far too often the case. indeed heartening to note that he has placed this issue at the top of As the biggest of the regional organisations and undoubtedly the his priorities in his leadership role in the region. most resourced both in terms of funding and human capacity, the In an interview elsewhere in this issue, Dr Tukuitonga speaks SPC is eminently positioned to assert this coordinating role for about the strategies that SPC is adopting to tackle these issues more complementing individual efforts into a collective target that truly proactively. For instance, the organisation’s health experts will be benefits the people of the Pacific and increases the confidence of working closely with the finance and health ministries of regional the all important funders in the abilities of the plethora of regional governments around the region. This will undoubtedly ensure organisations. Islands Business, April 2014
ANZ wishes to congratulate the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) on its 67th Anniversary. ANZ is proud to be associated with an international organisation
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Pacific media practitioners, academics and managers at the Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Business Media Summit in Sydney last month. Photo: ADB PLCO
“We are therefore very happy to host to such an experienced group and are pleased to facilitate the exchange of knowledge that will occur.” The summit was for two days and it brought to the same room media executives like the President of the Pacific Islands News Association Limited Moses Steven of Vanuatu, his PINA Ltd Manager based in Suva Makereta Komai of Fiji, ABC’s veteran Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney and his Pacific Business Correspondent colleague Jemima Garrett, both Australians.
Mini media summit: Following close in the heels of the biennial Pacific Media Summit in Noumea in February, the inaugural Asian Development Bank Pacific Business Media Summit was held late last month in Sydney. In attendance were senior media practitioners, academics and managers from eight Pacific island nations. “We recognise the crucial role the media play in the region’s economic development,” said the ADB’s Pacific Liason and Coordination Office Regional Director Andrea Iffland.
deDrum for SG? With the annual summit of Pacific leaders a few months away, the whisper is that the campaign for the top job of SecretaryGeneral of the Pacific Islands Forum is well and truly underway. Samoan jurist and diplomat Neroni Tuiloma Slade will be completing his second and final term at the end of 2014 and Pacific leaders are expected to discuss his successor when they meet in Palau on 29 July to 1 August. It will be their 45th summit, and until now, the Melanesian Spearhead Group bloc of PNG, Solomons, Vanuatu and Fiji has announced its candidature for the top job; accomplished diplomat and former foreign affairs minister of Fiji, Ambassador Kaliopate Tavola. Now another name has surfaced, this time from the northern Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands: Tony Debrum. His nomination has not been made official. For now, its being pushed by the republic’s only newspaper the Marshall Islands Journal. “It is the Micronesian region’s turn to get the post, assuming a qualified candidate can be presented,” the newspaper argued. “From what we understand, great weight will be accorded to the north because the last Micronesian to hold 12 Islands Business, April 2014
the post was Kiribati’s former president Ieremia Tabai in the early 1990s.” So who is Tony Debrum? The MIJ says: “He’s a senior government leader of the stature of previous SGs; a first class speaker, knows the issues and would bring energy to the Forum Secretariat.” Ghost busters wanted: A newly appointed cabinet minister in the Government of Prime Minister Moana Carcasses in Vanuatu was happy with the appointment until he discovered there was an un-invited ‘guest’ in his ministerial office. The Minister said one of his staff fainted when he went to close the minister’s office one day. Nearing the office door, his body felt ‘different,’ the staffer reported after he had regained consciousness. Another politician said you could hear doors opening and shutting, a toilet flushing and music coming from the ceiling of the same ministerial office. The two politicians and their staff said all of these strange activities indicated the presence of a ghost, devil or a ‘naikamas.’ It is not known
though if there are ‘Ghost Busters’ in Vanuatu. Aussie job loss... Some Pacific employees of its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are seriously weighing their future there. All local employees of what used to be AusAID, now dismantled and absorbed back into DFAT under the Tony Abbott Government have been offered voluntary redundancy packages. The whisper is that the offer is not lucrative enough, it lacks the lollies and other artificial ‘sweetners.’ If there’s not a lot of takers – and it seems likely that there won’t be, DFAT – the whisper goes – may have to take the next option which includes forced redundancies, or ‘right-sizing’ as some would like to call it. Minister unpopular: So who is the most unpopular government minister in Samoa at the moment? Some within the government caucus will point at only one candidate: Faumuina Tiatia
Whispers Liuga, currently the government’s money chief or Finance Minister. There have been at least three attempts to have him removed. They all came to nought. The most recent attempt was at a village of a serving cabinet minister; villagers reported seeing government and private vehicles at the village, but the minister refuted the gathering when confronted by the local media. In one instant, a former minister now government backbencher threatened to stage a walk out from the ruling Human Rights Protection Party in protest at the Finance Minister’s performance, to form his own political party. When questioned though by his party leader, Prime Minister Tuila’epa, the party member said he was only joking! Not knowing: So Australia’s big man made a flying visit across the Coral Sea to meet his PNG counterpart over his controversial asylum processing centres last month and his host could not even remember the exact number of asylum seekers his country is currently housing? It’s hard to speculate on the number because some of them have gone or will be going back to their home, said PNG’s big man. Seems like Peter O’Neill was also not too keen on providing a permanent home for many of these visitors. Tony Abbott was very keen on it however, but at their joint media briefing in Moresby, PNG’s big man remained non-committal, if not ‘lukewarm’ at best. Delayed reaction on pinkeye: Talk about acting after the horse has bolted is what many parents in Samoa were thinking about over the Ministries of Health and Education decision to close all government schools for one entire week! Its all to do with the pinkeye disease, also known as conjunctivitis that had inflicted a large number of the population in Samoa including school children over recent weeks. Initially the Health authorities said some 80 recorded cases of the eye ailment have been recorded across the country, a number which quadrupled to 200 plus in no time. While the one-week school relief was welcomed, many parents felt it came way too late, well after the outbreak has subsided! Ilegal fishers caught: Over 60 boarding of foreign fishing vessels in the high seas, confiscation and torching of fishing tenders and gear and citations for six other boats, last month’s annual maritime surveillance sweep in the Northern Pacific waters has been declared a success. Leader of this first of four regional monitoring campaigns planned for the year, the Honiara-
based Forum Island Fisheries is saying it received the full support and cooperation of all participating countries including the navy resources of the US, France, New Zealand and Australia navies. This must have come as huge relief to regional fishery authorities given last year’s incidence when PNG decided to send its patrol boats to participate in a celebratory event in Australia, instead of taking part in the annual maritime patrols! Fiji to host SPC HQ? ... Is Fiji really putting up a renewed bid to host the main headquarters of SPC which is currently housed in a beautiful piece of real estate in Noumea, New Caledonia? Whispers began to be heard around the Fijian capital following a visit of the new boss of the regional body. The man from The Rock, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, was apparently driven around by eager Fijian Foreign Affairs officials to potential SPC sites. The man himself would not be drawn into such ‘speculations.’ He said instead that SPC is interested in one site for all its Suva-based offices, and they have been eyeing a piece of land in Narere, between the capital and the next town of Nausori! Permanency in Europe: Looks like Samoa wants to be in the Belgium capital of Brussels for a long while, now that it is buying a three-storey property in the European city. Local media reports in Apia are saying that the purchase has been approved by the Tuila’epa Cabinet with financing from the Samoa National Provident Fund. A key tenant of the new property of course will be the Samoa Embassy. Samoa NPF has 10,000 plus members. Yatule for sale While Samoa’s superannuation fund is buying property, its counterpart in Fiji seems to be going in the opposite direction, at least this seems to be true for one of its properties. The whisper is that Yatule Beach Resort, smack-dab in one of Fiji’s most beautiful beachfront has been sold for an undisclosed sum. It sits on Natadola Beach, next door to the 5-star exclusive Inter-Continental Fiji Resort & Spa, both of which are owned by Fiji’s National Provident Fund. The Fund would not comment publicly on the reported sale. Yatule was built to house engineers and supervisors at the time of the construction of InterContinental, and has been running successfully catering for the family and youth market. • Whispers is compiled by the Editor. If you have any Whispers, please contact us on email@example.com
Advertising & Marketing Manager Sharron Stretton Advertising Executive Abigail Covert-Sokia Islands Business International Ltd. Level III, 46 Gordon Street PO Box 12718, Suva, Fiji Islands. Tel: +679 330 3108. Fax: +679 330 1423. E-mail: Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org Circulation & Distribution Litiana Tokona email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sandiya Dass email@example.com Regional magazine sales agents Pacific Cosmos – 89 Brisbane Street, Oxley Park, NSW, Australia Pacific Supplies – Rarotonga, Cook Islands Yap Cooperative Association – Colonia, YAP, Federated States of Micronesia Motibhai & Co. Ltd – Nadi Airport, Fiji Paper Power Bookshop – Town Council Bldg, Main Street, Nadi, Fiji Suva Bookshop – Greig Street, Suva, Fiji Chapter One Bookshop – Downtown Boulevard, Suva, Fiji Kays Kona Shop – Dolphin Plaza, Suva, Fiji USP Bookcentre – USP, Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji Garden City Bookshop – Garden City, Raiwai, Suva, Fiji Bulaccino – Garden City, Raiwai, Suva, Fiji Samabula Drugstore – Samabula, Suva, Fiji Kundan Singh Supermarket – Tamavua, Suva, Fiji MH Superfresh – Tamavua, Suva, Fiji Methodist Bookstore – Stewart Street, Suva, Fiji Textbook Wholesalers – BSP Centre Suva, Fiji MHCC – Suva, Fiji Hachette Pacifique – Papeete, French Polynesia Kiribati Newstar – Bairiki, Kiribati One Stop Stores – Bairiki, Kiribati Robert Reimers Enterprises – Majuro, Marshall Islands Pacific & Occidental – Yaren, Nauru South Seas Traders – Alofi, Niue Nouvelle Messageries Caledoniennes de Presse – Noumea, New Caledonia Wewak Christian Bookshop – Wewak, PNG Boroko Foodworld – Boroko, PNG UPNG Bookshop – Waigani, PNG Lucky Foodtown – Apia, Samoa Wesley Bookshop – Apia, Samoa Panatina Chemist Ltd – Honiara, Solomon Islands Officeworks Ltd – Honiara, Solomon Islands National Stationery Supplies – Honiara, Solomon Islands Friendly Islands Bookshop – Nuku’alofa, Tonga Tuvalu Air Travel, Shipping – Funafuti, Tuvalu Trade and Consultancies – Funafuti, Tuvalu Stop Press – Port Vila, Vanuatu A year’s subscription to 12 issues of Islands Business within Fiji costs $50 and includes a complimentary copy of Fiji Islands Business.
Islands Business, April 2014 13
Deadly Lusi claims 11 lives in Vanuatu By Tony Wilson
flood measuring a monstrous 17 metres high. The chief explained the village’s night of terror to Prime Minister Moana Carcasses and the Acting Director General Albert William who visited the village by helicopter days after the cyclone. He said that some days earlier following persistent heavy rain, an entire hill side had collapsed into the river three kilometres behind the village in the mountains. He said a huge body of water collected behind the makeshift wall and he had sent his son repeatedly to Puarante village to warn the villagers to
anuatu is still reeling from monster cyclone Lusi that took at least eleven lives and caused millions of dollars in damage to gardens and properties early March. Yet in this rare instance, the cyclonic winds were not the central villain in the plot. Cyclone Lusi was first noticed as a ‘tropical disturbance’ near Vanuatu’s largest island of Espiritu Santo on 7 March and the system moved north-northeast, becoming a tropical depression on 9 March. Late on the same day, it had developed into a category one tropical cyclone called Lusi. Prior to that announcement, Vanuatu had been blessed with a cyclone free summer /wet season. After going throughout the entire 2012/2013 season narrowly missing a couple but officially being without any sign of that deadly circular pattern on our weather maps, residents were beginning to feel confident that 2013/2014 would follow suit. How wrong we all were. Ahead of Lusi being born, the Vanuatu Meteorology and GeoHazards Department issued tropical cyclone warnings to four of the six provinces - Torba, Sanma, Penama and Malampa. For those of us living in Efate, the island that is home to the nation’s capital of Port Vila, Cyclone Lusi was not a major event. Winds gusts around 80-90kmh and lots of rain marked this cyclone, with little damage evident, although some flooding. But sadly, other islands did not fare so well. And it was the large volume of rain that accompanied Lusi that has marked her as the most deadly in Vanuatu’s recent history. In fact it was the most deadly in Vanuatu since Cyclone Uma all but destroyed Port Vila in February 1987 with its category four intensity claiming 50 lives throughout Vanuatu and causing US$150 million in damage. Lusi gave the northern islands a real pounding and drenching, claiming its first life in North Pentecost. An Anglican priest, Father Austin Cyclone Lusi on the weather map on March 12, 2014. Hinge, was killed instantly when hit by a branch of a tree blown down as he was returning to his village of Lavusi on 10 March. move to higher ground, but they refused to budge. Details of the next two fatalities remain sketchy Finally all hell broke loose and a flash flood weeks later as communications on many of these equivalent to a five storey building roared through outer islands is primitive at best, but one was an as the villagers slept, killing at least eight people, the elderly man killed by another falling tree branch distraught chief told the Prime Minister. and the third was an infant swept away in flood Two of the bodies have not been found, another waters. But the biggest drama unfolded in south Estwo male villagers suffered serious injuries and all piritu Santo at the small village of Puarante. Initial witnesses to the scene said it was amazing that there reports were that a landslide had destroyed all 60 were survivors as there is no sign that a village ever houses in the village and cost several lives. existed where it stood. Then a senior Santo chief explained it was not There are always ‘amazing escape’ stories in any a landslide that wiped out his village but a flash
14 Islands Business, April 2014
disaster and in this case, it belongs to Marae village on the island of Emae. Here, a three metre deep torrent bisected the village, literally cutting it down the middle, but there were no fatalities although more than 50 homes were destroyed. Weather experts told Islands Business that the slow movement of Lusi coupled with the sheer volume of rain led to the sobering list of fatalities. “You look at Port Vila and the infrastructure is terrible and in many areas of the capital there is no drainage at all,’’ said an expert, who declined to be named as he is working on a major government project. “Flooded, damaged, pot holed roads in Port Vila would vanish immediately if there was proper drainage,’’ he said. “So imagine what hope do you have in a village where there is no thought of drainage at all.’’ Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Director Shadrack Welegtabit said that a search and rescue team was sent to Santo as soon as possible to search for those still missing. He said disaster officials conducted aerial surveillance in remote parts of the country to assess the damage and establish where aid was needed as a priority. Apart from the loss of lives, 120 people were left homeless and about 12,000 households were affected. Welegtabit said there were widespread crop losses throughout the country and aid would be needed to feed many people until new crops were available. UNESCO, the Australian High Commission, World Vision, provincial councils, the police and local communities and businesses provided aid and assistance to the victims and it is still ongoing in some areas. The general consensus was the National Disaster Management team and their plan worked well in the aftermath of Lusi. The one clear negative involved the government run Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC) which faces regular criticism for the poor quality of their radio transmissions in certain parts of the country - which they counter by claiming lack of funding. In the days leading up to the formation of Cyclone Lusi, the island of Futuna, which is the easternmost island in the country, had no radio transmission from the government radio. Fortunately, word about Lusi was received via an antiquated radio telephone which is often not working as well and members of the local disaster management committee were able to go to each village and warn people to prepare for Lusi. Futuna was not badly affected in the cyclone, but questions have been asked about the leadership and standards in the VBTC.
An artist’s impression of the proposed Kookaburra Flyover Street in Port Moresby.
Pacific’s first flyover roadway By Sam Vulum
he metropolis landscape of Port Moresby is set to transform significantly with the construction of the multi million dollar Kookaburra Flyover Street, the biggest project yet ever to be undertaken this decade in Papua New Guinea and the first in any South Pacific country once completed. The flyover will become an iconic feature of Port Moresby’s landscape on leaving Jackson’s Airport, symbolising a fast growing economy and progressive country. The construction of the flyover from Jackson’s International Airport to Sir John Guise Stadium in Waigani will start soon following the groundbreaking ceremony on 25 February. Project contractor Hawkins Group completed planning the four-lane flyover over the last six months and is now ready to begin construction. Hawkins was awarded the contract in July 2013, with site investigation, topographical and geotechnical survey work commencing immediately. Hawkins also worked closely with the client National Capital District Commission (NCDC) and client representative Cardno to achieve expected milestones and progress with the help of design partner Opus International Consultants. The flyover street is expected to improve traffic congestion, reduce travelling times (by providing direct route), improve productivity for business, stimulates economic benefits and increase employment. The project value is just over K160 million (US$58.090m), expected to take around 109 weeks with site investigation and design being carried out in the first three to four months and followed by construction. The launching has allowed initial site clearance; service relocation and earthworks to commence on site, along with establishment of a purpose built precast facility to manufacture the
precast panels. While promising to complete the flyover before the Pacific Games next year, Hawkins’ Chief Executive Officer Geoff Hunt said the project proves another significant milestone in Papua New Guinea’s infrastructure development. “The construction of the flyover and associated roading will significantly improve traffic congestion during the Pacific Games,” he said. “It is going to be of huge benefit to officials and the general public during the Games and beyond. It is anticipated that this new roadway will also reduce congestion in a number of other surrounding suburbs, with reduced travelling time therefore improving productivity for businesses.” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony said the road has been long coming and he applauded the commitment of the National Executive Council, NCD Governor Powes Parkop and members of NCDC in making sure that some of these major projects in the city get off the ground. “The 2015 Games has put an extra burden on us to complete all these projects on time but we thank the Minister for Sports and Pacific Games for making sure all projects get underway so that we deliver the best Pacific Games ever. “The government’s commitment is there, we want to see the projects completed on time and delivered to our country,” he said. NCD Governor Powes Parkop said the project would change the face of the city and the nation once it is completed. “It will ease traffic congestion and help all the athletes that will come for the 2015 Pacific Games. “More importantly, it will show that we can build this type of infrastructure in PNG that can facilitate the development of our country and our people,” he said. Mr Parkop said all credit should go to the Prime Minister, with his vision and commitment towards all the infrastructure developments in the city and all over PNG.
Tuila’epa in NZ for treatment By Merita Huch
ays after being airlifted by the New Zealand Government for medical treatment in Auckland, aides of Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuila’epa Lupesoli’ai Sa’ilele Malielegaoi (pictured) were still playing down the extent of his illness. Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister Leilua Tavis Leota says the Prime Minister’s condition “wasn’t serious” but his evacuation to New Zealand was “necessary for further treatment.” In Parliament, Leader of Opposition, Palusalue Fa’apo II accused Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo for being too secretive about Tuilae’pa’s evacuation to New Zealand. “Why hasn’t there been any word about the Prime Minister’s condition,” Palusalue asked. Acting CEO in the Ministry of the PM provided the same answer. He said the PM was not in a serious condition but his treatment in New Zealand was necessary. Tuilae’pa himself had told the local media however that he had stood on a nail but didn’t think much of it. He gave an interview on government radio 2AP before he departed for Auckland as part of his weekly radio programme. He described the wound as a mere bruise. Other media reports however say the ‘mere bruise’ on the PM’s leg got infected and by ignoring the infection, the wound had gone septic. This explained the very high fever Tuilae’pa developed while attending Parliament. He was seen leaving Parliament House later wrapped in a blanket, headed straight to the main hospital and was admitted in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Why the Ministry of Health, or the Office of the Prime Minister is not revealing much about the true state of Tuila’epa’s medical condition is anyone’s guess. The PM did tell the media last month however that he was told by the doctors during a general medical check that his heart was strong and was given an excellent bill of health. His wife Gillian, his CEO Vaosa Epa and Head of Foreign Affairs Division Aiono Mose Sua are with him in Auckland. Islands Business, April 2014 15
Secretariat of the Pacific Community ... 2013 Conference of Regional Government Administrators in Suva. Photo: SPC
New boss of SPC sets out to fi
By Samisoni Pareti
ith three out of four deaths in the Pacific today caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the islandsâ€™ most immediate concern is NCDs and not so much HIVAIDS. That is the view of the new chief of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
16 Islands Business, April 2014
Dr Colin Tukuitonga and it reflects the kind of vigour and drive he intends to bring into the job. â€œThere is no doubt in my mind that the money that is allocated to tackle NCDs is way short of what is needed both at the regional level and at the national level. I do acknowledge that some island countries have increased their budgets on NCDs but overall my view is that it is way short than what is needed. Part of the problem is that the influence of global events distorts what happens in this region. For example, there is a global fund to fight Tuberculosis,
g a at the helm
o fine-tune the Pacific’s largest organisation Malaria and HIV-AIDS and it is fantastic and our region has had some benefits from that and the SPC is the principal recipient for this part of the world. 3 out of 4 die of NCDs “But you know overall despite all these dire predictions 10 years ago, the Pacific remains a low prevalent area for HIV-AIDS. Efforts to combat HIV-AIDS need to continue, no question. Conversely, 3 out of 4 people who die in the Pacific die one way or the other from
NCDs but there is no global or regional fund to help countries and regional organisations to tackle this problem. So there is a distortion and we end up not having the resources we need to tackle the real problem. So it is something we have to address.” Proud graduate of FSM Dr Tukuitonga is from Niue. He was the Director of the Public Health Division of the SPC when the organisation’s governing council – the Conference of Regional Government Administrators Islands Business, April 2014 17
Impact of climate change...in atolls like this in Majuro, Marshall Islands will be a key issue to mainstream in the global arena, says Dr Tukuitonga. Photo: Suzanne Chutaro
(CRGA) in 2013 -- appointed him the new Director General to replace Solomon Islands’ Dr Jimmy Rodgers. Both men are trained medical doctors and both are graduates of the then Fiji School of Medicine (FSM) in Suva. Dr Tukuitonga came to Fiji from Alofi in 1973 and after completing his education, worked for a year in Suva and Lautoka Hospitals before returning to Niue in 1981. In 1987, he returned with his family to Suva to teach at the FSM before moving on to work and settle in New Zealand.With two trained medical doctors appointed to lead the SPC one after the other, Dr Tukuitonga told Islands Business in a comprehensive interview he gave the regional magazine recently at his second office at the SPC regional office in Suva that he believes his appointment was a reflection of the caliber of training at the FSM and not so much of the state of health of either the SPC or the Pacific Islands. “I am a very proud graduate of FSM. Sure the medical training prepares you to treat people, to care for people but for those of us who branched out of clinical medicine into the area of public health in a sense is a natural progression. Because we have led people to believe that doctors and nurses in hospitals give you good health. But over time, that is only a very small contribution. It is about all of the other things; the food, the housing, education, they have a much greater impact on people’s health. You see medicine is basically a diagnosis, what is the problem and then what is the solution.” Diagnosis of SPC His diagnosis then of the SPC? “Pretty good health overall. Pretty good strong relationships with members with some areas for improvement of course. Internally, our recruitment and retention capability needs a significant lift. We are falling behind our CROP (Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific) counterparts in terms of attracting and keeping people. Our salaries and conditions are not as competitive as other CROP agencies and other international organisations. But having said that, I am also very acutely aware that SPC conditions and packages are better than their national counterparts. 18 Islands Business, April 2014
“Externally, we have survived 67 years but looking at the future, I think it is going to be very difficult and more challenging. We have a lot more players in the region, there is less money overall and there are greater expectations. So we have to stay ahead of the game and position ourselves to make sure that we deliver to the island members the services that they expect. “Then we have what I called project funding. SPC receives most of its funding through projects. So a funder gives us money for Project X, it starts at a certain year and ends after three years. This is not really good. What we want to do is to move away, or rely less on project funding and rely more on longer term funding. When we do that we will give staff more security, give countries more certainties and countries know what to expect from us.” SPC salary review Work on the review of salary and work conditions of SPC staff has already begun. A working committee was formed at its CRGA in Suva last year to lead this review. In addition, Dr Tukuitonga said more work will be done in the area of human resource development, including the provision of a training budget for SPC’s professional staff. “Believe it or not, SPC has not had a training budget. I think the belief was that our professional staff were already trained, and because of the six year rule whereby people had to leave after six years, they felt there was no need for training. But everybody journalists, doctors, everybody needs on-going training and education.” There has been some changes too in the area of public health, the new boss of SPC said. Following a major review of the SPC in 2012 of which he was a member, the public health division of the SPC has had a refocus and gained some grounds in making things happen in the region especially in resource allocation in fighting NCDs. “We have started making those changes when I was Director of Public Health (of SPC) and they are continuing with these. We have established an annual heads of Health in the Pacific meeting to discuss these issues. We also managed to secure a joint meeting of finance ministers and health ministers in the region and a roadmap
for the prevention and control of NCDs was discussed. This was a major achievement because often the health sector tends to talk among themselves and do not really have any impact whereas if you engage with ministries of finance, trade and so on then at least there is a more holistic approach to combatting NCDs in the Pacific.” NCDs killing the most productive “You know NCD is the biggest issue for the region not just in public health because obviously of its negative impact on individuals and their families but it is a huge cost to the health system. Without being dramatic, these diseases are going to overwhelm our health systems and most island states won’t be able to afford to treat people with diabetes, kidney failure and other NCDs. “But even beyond that, for us it is a development issue. If your most productive people are dying early, we have people who are being affected by heart diseases in their 30s, 40s, 50s, when they are actually at the peak of their most productive years. So it is a huge development issue. If you do not have a healthy workforce, it is difficult to talk about national economic development. So that is why I said it is just not a health issue now, it is an economic issue, it is a social and development issue.” For a medical doctor who taught at FSM and later at the University of Auckland as an Associate Professor of Public Health and Pacific and International Health, Dr Tukuitonga believes education and collective action hold the key in fighting NCDs. These ought to be driven at both national and regional levels. “Most of our islands are eating imported, highly processed, what is called ‘energy dense but nutrition poor.’ There is no doubt whatsoever that the consumption of imported, highly processed, deep-fried food items is a major cause of diabetes. Lots of people have moved away from a diet of fresh fish, dalo (taro) and local greens.” SPC knowledge gives the edge Dr Tukuitonga makes no bone about the fact that his long term involvement with the SPC right from the time he was head of New
Zealand’s Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs gave him the edge for the Director General job. He gained a deeper knowledge of the inner workings of the organisation when he was appointed to join the independent review team of the SPC that was headed by Dr Jim Adams of the World Bank. Following the completion of the review, Dr Tukuitonga joined the SPC as Head of its Public Health Division. “I had what some people would say the inside working knowledge because I was part of this big review team and we talked to funders, to staff, to country member states and I got a pretty good feeling of what people were thinking about SPC. Fortunately most people thought SPC was doing a good job. Some people asked about all these things we do in 20 something different sectors and whether that is too many things but others thought that it is actually a strength of the SPC. Working in ‘silos’ “But the issue is that we tended to work in ‘silos.’ Not in an integrated way. You know the fisheries people, the agriculture people, so rather than just looking at fisheries, public health, agriculture separately, from the countries’ point of view you really need to package things a bit better. There is now a new role, one of our new positions is called the Deputy Director General Programmes, and the idea is to try and bring these different sectors to work together. So for example you may be talking about food security, so you will have to bring together fisheries, agriculture and crops, public health and education, so that is something we will need to do more often.” Does he buys into the argument that the review has produced a mega-bureaucracy in the form of a colossal SPC? Bigger is better “Sure it is big by Pacific standards but it is still pretty small overall and I do think there is a problem in the region of too many agencies, individual sectors and the transaction costs are huge. You know each entity has a governing body, the management and the bureaucracy and all of that adds up. When you consolidate, you reduce the Islands Business, April 2014 19
Cover Report individual transaction costs. Size is not the problem. I am a great believer in bigger is better. But sometimes a consolidated approach particularly one that is funded by the members and by the donors is much better in my view to consolidate rather than to have a little one here and a little one there. I do not buy that. I am very mindful though that when bureaucracy gets big they can get clumsy, fat and lazy and that is what we have to avoid.”
ladies from other parts of the Pacific. So SPC was always part of my awareness, and it was a real pleasure to come back and head the organisation.” No inkling he would head SPC one day: “I have always been interested mainly in the public health area and of course recently having been chief executive of a small government department in Wellington the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, I then started to think about the SPC. But it was not something I was always thinking about.”
Mainstreaming Pacific issues This year is SPC’s 67th anniversary and Dr Tukuitonga said climate change and sustainable development would be the key Pacific issues SPC would like to mainstream in the global agenda. “The problem Being part of the SPC independent review with Pacific island states is that our voice always get lost in the big, team prompted him to apply for the DG position: global discussions. So we have agreed that SPC and other CROP “We did a thorough review of the SPC and we have a report agencies should proand that is pretty vide more support much what we are because that is the way following up at the we would influence moment. I was a the big international member of that, and agenda. Within that at that time I guess there are some very I got to see a lot specific issues like of SPC’s progress disaster reduction, and strengths but NCDs like diabetes, I was also aware of heart diseases, climate potential areas that change. That is what needed improvewe mean by trying to ments and I was get the global compretty convinced munity to hear and act that I had the exon the voice of small perience and the island states. I mean SPC was always part of my awareness...Dr Tukuitonga’s late mother is at extreme right. determination to you all have heard make a contribuof Kiribati, Marshall tion.” Islands, Tuvalu repeatedly express concerns about the impact of climate change but there is some sort of ambivalence from the global Message for SPC’s 22 member community about the plight of some of our small island states, so countries in the Pacific: we really need to step up to the global community and say, ‘hey its “At the end of the day, if we do not deliver those things that island real, stop mucking around questioning whether it exists or not.’” members expect then they will say ‘well, we will go somewhere else.’ Excerpts from Dr Tukuitonga’s interview: I think overall people are happy with what we are doing, it is about continuing to do a good job and being responsive to their needs.” New site for Fiji office of SPC: “It is not so much about running out of space. We operate out of Message for people of the Pacific Islands: seven different sites in Suva; there is SOPAC up the hill, there is “SPC is your organisation. You pay for, you govern and you shape us here, there is Lotus House across the road, then there is Vanua what we do. If we do not do a good enough job, I will be happy to House in town, RRRT is somewhere else, there are seven sites hear about it. But equally if our staff do a good job, say thank you altogether and it is such a costly exercise for the Fijian Government to them and look after them when they visit as you have always as you can imagine as they are paying for most of these sites. So it done. SPC is truly a Pacific organisation. It focusses only on the is really looking at consolidation.” interests and the needs of Pacific communities. We are not distracted by global demands. We focus solely on the needs of people in our As a medical student in Fiji: islands. We have some big challenges, but we can lift the living “I graduated in 1979, so I would have come from Niue to the standards in our islands.” University of the South Pacific in 1973. That was the first time I left home. I was born and raised on The Rock so my first big experience Message for the 600 member staff of SPC: with the big smoke was Suva. You might find that hard to believe “SPC is in a good position because of their work, and some of but for a few of us in those days who have come off the islands, we them are working in very difficult environment. There is this young were real kaicolo (star-struck).” man who recently went to assist with cyclone rehabilitation work in Tonga. He was sick, he had dengue but he still went. So obviously Early recollections about SPC: SPC is strong because of their work and commitment. We recognise “My (late) mother was an untrained teacher on the island so that we need to do more to recruit, retain, support and develop our her first formal training was at the SPC, the Community Educateam and personally I am a great believer that for service knowledge tion Training Centre (CETC in Suva) during the early 1960s and organisations like SPC, it is the people that make them effective. It is consequently she came and had more formal education at Nasinu not as if there is a product that we manufacture to sell. We basically Teachers’ College (Suva, Fiji). She had this photo in the house rely on our staff as our ambassadors and technical people as they are when I was a kid, of her and her friends at the CETC at that time, the ones who do the work in member countries.” 20 Islands Business, April 2014
New constitution is the key, says Fiji’s new military chief
Bainimarama makes way for career soldier Mosese Tikoitoga reer soldier having joined as a private in 1981. He earned his commission as an officer seven years later and has attended staff colleges in Australia and India and holds double degrees in masters in management in defence studies and a master of philosophy in defence and strategic studies. Bainimarama had announced late last year he would retire from the military to pursue a new career in politics. He has since announced his new political party name and would reveal his manifesto before the country’s general elections scheduled on 17 September, 2014. Asked by Islands Business on whether he shared the political ambitions of his predeces-
and do any job compared to high tech armies that can’t go everywhere because they are specialised and highly reliant on technology.” he new head of Fiji’s military Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said a case in point were Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga Fijian soldiers currently serving with the United says the country’s new constitution Nations Disengagement Observer Force between should stay if there is to be no more the Syrian and Israeli borders in the Golan coups in Fiji. Heights. In an exclusive face-to-face interview with “We have never tried skiing but now we have Islands Business magazine at the office of the videos of our soldiers in proper skiing gear skiing Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military down the hills doing patrols in the Golan Heights. Forces inside the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in “That’s the adaptability of the Fijian soldiers Suva, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said the 2013 Constiput them anywhere in any situation with the right tution the Government of Prime Minister Frank equipment and training, they learn quick and they Bainimarama passed in September 2013 holds the can do the job and do key to breaking the it well.” country’s coup cycle. He said however the “Our job is to problem in Fiji was our protect the constitutroops were not appretion - coups or no ciated enough at home coups these issues compared to other are enshrined in the parts of the world. constitution,” said His message to his Tikoitoga. troops as they em“If people throw barked on a new era out the current conunder his command stitution as some was to continue the political leaders are good work they were suggesting then they doing. have thrown out the “Soldiers adept to chance of avoiding whatever leadership coups. they are given and have “That will be the gone through that over answer to the security the years. questions people tend Changing of the guards...Commander Frank Bainimarama is farewelled as his successor Brigadier General Mosese “They work under to ask.” Tikoitoga (extreme left) is welcomed. Photo: Ministry of Information, Fiji. a different command According to the in Fiji then go to the new RFMF ComMiddle East and work mander, the military sor and that of two other military commanders under someone else so they need to adept accordunder his leadership will respect the result of the before that, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga remained noning to the wishes of the commander. upcoming general elections. committal. “Hence the soldiers make the changes accordHe said this the RFMF would do because that “The focus for me is to me to remain in the ing to the commander.” is what is demanded of them under the 2013 cocoon of the commander so I cannot have any On his thoughts about the legacy of his preConstitution. other thoughts but that. decessor, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said the welfare of “Our job is to defend the constitution and our “I can’t focus elsewhere - it’s a huge task so soldiers was of utmost important to Rear Admiral role is provided for in the constitution. I cannot be double minded - so my main focus (retired) Bainimarama. “Whatever the result (of the elections), our role which is the requirement of my appointment is “He knew that unless and until their family will be to support the government of the day and to do the work of a commander.” is financially secure you can’t expect them to whatever government the people choose. The Muani villager from the island of Kadavu perform to the best of their abilities because lives “It’s not our choice, and we base our choice said Fiji’s light infantry army is amongst ‘the most are at stake especially when they are in areas of on the will of the people. low tech but high skilled’ in the world and were operations. “If the people have willed in a new governable to adapt to any situation they were thrown in. “Better armies get better pay - for instance the ment, it’s our responsibility as a law abiding “You can opt for high technology to equip Australian Army is one of the highest paid armies institution to abide by the will of the people under your troops but for that you will need specialised in the world and they appreciate the work their this constitution.” people and your focus becomes very limited. people do.” Brig-Gen Tikoitoga was appointed com“But a low tech one is more realistic for Fiji “So we are no different and Bainimarama mander at the recommendation of his predecesparticularly in the work we are dong. believed that soldiers need to get their rightful sor, Commodore now promoted Rear Admiral “That’s been one of the success stores of the dues for the type of work they do. (retired) Bainimarama. Until his appointment, Republic of Fiji Military Forces. “We do subject our soldiers to a lot of operaTikoitoga was a colonel and held the position of “We can go anywhere and adapt to any situation tion risk and they need to be compensated.” Land Force Commander of the RFMF. He is a ca-
By Robert Matau
Islands Business, April 2014 21
Mosese Tikoitoga Leadership change in Fiji’s Military
By Robert Matau
young Fijian man who marched in as a private in the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces more than 30 years ago is now head of Fiji’s 4,000-strong force. Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga is from the southern island province of Kadavu, from Muani Village in the district of Ravitaki. Where he comes from, the people are traditionally referred to as Waikatakata, Fijian term for boiling water. In a career that has now span 33-years, Brigadier General Tikoitoga has served in dangerous and troublesome spots around the world like Lebanon, Sinai, East Timor (now Timor Leste) and Iraq, first as a private and later as an officer. He succeeded Commodore (now promoted to Rear Admiral) Frank Bainimarama as head of the RFMF on 5 March 2014. The Brigadier General is married to dietician Mrs Jiutajia Saukuru and they have two girls and a boy. Congratulations on your appointment Brigadier General, could you talk briefly about your career? I had two stints in Australia. First I went across in mid 1998 on attachment to the Australian Defence Force as an instructor at the Land Warfare Centre and I came back in December 2000 then returned to the Staff College later on. That was a good experience for me having travelled abroad extensively on a number of operations on various duties. It was the first time I was going with my family in a different culture and country living amongst totally different people. We learnt to live in a different society and then acknowledged the different backgrounds of people we lived amongst. I have never shied away from any responsibility. I have come through the ranks. I joined the then Royal Fiji Military Forces in 1981 as a private and stayed a private until I attended officer training in 1988. So I served a couple of years as a private. I made three tours to the 22 Islands Business, April 2014
Middle East as a private - two to Sinai and one to Lebanon and being promoted to the rank of corporal so that gave me all the experiences of a soldier’s life. I came back and I was recommended for officer training by my Commanding Officer in Lebanon in 1986 at the time Major General George Konrote. In 1989 I got my promotion as an officer and I did my necessary training and posting. I have served in the Third Fiji Infantry Regiment (3FIR) and in overseas battalions from the position of platoon commander, adjutant OC, Operations Officer and as a staff officer at the RFMF headquarters. I also served as Chief of Staff Operations before I became Land Force Commander. Through these phases of my career, the lesson is that if we are consistent in our performance, we are bound to get recognised by our superiors. How phenomenal was your predecessor in raising pay and work conditions of soldiers?
Every commander has put in a special legacy for the Force and for this everyone is thankful. Time continues to move and I continue to tell soldiers today when I was a soldier we lived with a salary of F$69 (US$36.87) a fortnight and you could perhaps still buy the same things with the $69 in the 1980s with $500 (US$267.20) today. Although we did not buy a lot of things, a lot was spent in the bar and other things but we could live with that money from one fortnight to the other. We had married people amongst our ranks who lived with that money in those days and there was not a lot of complaints. I suppose the value of money with the cost of living is bound to change. So over the years as cost of living changes so should the pay. In Bainimarama’s term, he recognised the need to ensure the financial securities of the soldiers. Unless and until their family is financially secure you cannot expect them to perform to the best of their abilities because lives are at stake especially when they are in operations. Better armies get better pay - the Australian Army is one of the highest paid armies in the world so we are no different and Bainimarama thinks the same. Soldiers need to get their rightful dues and this is dependant on the work they do. We do subject our soldiers to a lot of operation risk and they need to be compensated. We send our soldiers everywhere and ensure they perform their best. What kind of fresh ideas and vision do you have for the army? My biggest priority is to ensure the sustainment of the current force. By sustainment I mean we have to look at all the resources we have and provide the best for our soldiers. That is our priority and we need to maintain that focus. The
army I suppose is like a large ship you can’t turn it at any single point. You have to plan changes well in advance because it takes a long time to evolve. We need to ensure that we sustain current operations and maintain the regulatory policies that govern our work and we will focus on what is right ahead of us - which is the elections Would you want your soldiers to be equipped with the latest technological equipment? Any army commander would like to have a high tech military force but we have to be realistic with the resources the government can afford. With technology comes a lot of finances, which is something we will continue to struggle with. We are being realistic - we know what resources government has and we know what kind of equipment we can have but it’s more important for us to have the basic instincts of soldiers. If the equipment comes and when it comes it will be welcomed. The higher the technology, the higher the specialisation of the soldiers and the difficulty it is for them to adapt to all situations. Our soldiers are light infantry and all they need is light infantry weapons and they can adapt to any situations. That’s the difficulty Commanders face. You can choose high tech equipment but then you need specialised people and with specialised people the focus becomes very limited. But low tech and being realistic about our resources, you have soldiers who can adapt anywhere in the world. That’s been one of the success stories of the Fiji Military Forces. We are very low tech but still we can go anywhere and do any job compared to high tech armies who can’t go everywhere because they are specialised and too reliant on technology. Is this why Fijian troops are in demand in the United Nations?
We’ve Got it!
Demand does not come only with how we do our job as a low-tech army. Fijians don’t appreciate our army as other countries do. The old saying is true - a prophet is not liked in his own land. Our soldiers are highly recognised in every county they have visited and are recognised by the bigger armies around us as being good soldiers because we do our jobs well with the minimum of resources. Last month we got images of our troops wearing skis patrolling the snow in Mount Hermon in Syria. We have never tried skiing but now we have videos of our soldiers in proper skiing gear doing patrols in the Golan Heights. That’s the adaptability of the Fijian soldiers; put them anywhere with the right equipment, they learn quick and do a great job. That’s something we don’t want to lose. Coming closer to the 2014 elections, what will be the RFMF’s role? Our role is clearly defined in the new constitution. And we will abide by it and defend and protect it. So we don’t intend to deviate from that. Our constitution states we should remain neutral and to protect the safety of all Fijians. What if a new government is elected this year under this constitution, will you support it? Yes like I said, our job now is to defend the constitution and our role is defined in the constitution so despite the results of the election, our role is to support the government of the day and whatever government the people choose, we will support it. It’s not our choice whether we want to support a government or not. We base our choice on the will of the people. If the people have willed in a new government, it’s our responsibility as part of society, as a law-abiding institution to abide by the will of the people. Can you give an assurance that there will be no
further coups under this constitution? Our job is to protect the constitution - coups or no coups - it is all enshrined in the constitution. It’s not the military’s wish to conduct a coup but it’s about ensuring we all abide by the same constitution. If people throw out the current constitution as current political parties are talking about - then they have thrown out the chance of avoiding coups. Everything that has been planned in the last seven years by the current government is to ensure we avoid any coups and this is enshrined in the constitution. That will be the answer to all the security questions people tend to ask. What has been your message to your troops? I have already spoken to the soldiers and continue to work with them. My message is simple - continue to do what you have been doing. Soldiers are a funny bunch of people. They adept to whatever leadership they face and have gone through that over the years. They work under a different command in Fiji then go to the Middle East and work under a different Commanding Officer, so they need to adept according to the wishes of the commander. They have said their goodbyes to Bainimarama, and they have welcomed me. The last three commanders pursued careers in politics - do you see yourself following the same path? I have a contract for five years. I need to remain in the cocoon of the commander so I don’t want to be distracted and have any other thoughts but that. I can’t focus elsewhere - it’s a huge task and I cannot be double minded - my main focus is to be the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
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Islands Business, April 2014
UN sends mission to New Caledonia Debates over electoral rolls and alliances By Nic Maclellan
of the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, joined by representatives from Ecuador, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, together with UN decolonisation experts and officials. The two Pacific nations are both members of the UN decolonisation committee. Papua New Guinea’s UN ambassador Robert Aisi, chair of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) group, was joined in New Caledonia by Esala Nayasi, political director at the Fijian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While the visit was approved by the French Government, local anti-independence parties soon made it clear that they did not support the UN involvement in New Caledonian affairs. The Union pour une Calédonie dans la France, which
The United Nations has sent a delegation to New Caledonia in the lead up to crucial municipal and provincial elections as supporters and opponents of independence joust over who should have the right to vote. The UN delegation arrived in New Caledonia in March in the midst of the electoral campaign for local town councils. The visit also coincided with the arrival of French judges charged with updating the electoral rolls for national elections to be held on 11 May. According to a UN statement, the objective of the visit is to monitor “New Caledonia’s provincial electoral process, especially the technical issues related to the electoral lists for the provincial elections in May, as well as to uphold the spirit and letter of the 1998 Noumea Accord in this process.” New Caledonia was relisted with the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation in 1986, and since that time the UN has maintained a watching brief over progress towards a referendum on self-determination in the French Pacific dependency. As Islands Business magazine goes to press, voters in New Caledonia are awaiting the results of two rounds of voting in municipal elections held on 23 and 30 March. The final results will Pro Independence leader Roch Wamytan. Photo: Nic Maclellan give an indication of the balance of forces within and between political camps. A unites some parties loyal to France, stated: “We good result in the municipal elections will also state that the Union for New Caledonia within provide momentum for political parties as they France does not support this visit… This visit campaign for elections in May for New Calebrings with it tension and confusion, at a time donia’s three provincial assemblies and national we have need of clarity and serenity.” Congress. Philippe Gomes, leader of the anti-indepenThis year’s election is the culmination of a dence Calédonie Ensemble (CE), attacked the long transition under the Noumea Accord - if presence of a Fijian representative in the UN the incoming Congress agrees by 3/5 majordelegation. In a similar gesture to the one he made ity, the country can proceed to a vote on New before the 2013 Melanesian Spearhead Group Caledonia’s final political status. After 15 years of summit in New Caledonia, Gomes wrote to collegial government, relations between leading French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticispolitical figures have begun to fray in the lead up ing Fiji as a “military dictatorship” that should not to the crucial vote. “interfere in the affairs of a democratic country.” The UN mission met with political and comUnited Nations scrutiny munity leaders, the Kanak Customary Senate and The United Nations delegation was led by provincial authorities. It will present its report to Amadu Koroma of Sierra Leone, vice president 24 Islands Business, April 2014
a regional seminar of the UN Special Committee, to be held in Fiji in May, and the next formal meeting of the committee in New York. Municipal elections The municipal elections have brought new faces to local politics. Long-serving Mayor of Noumea Jean Leques announced last year that he would not re-contest his position on the capital city’s town council. Leques, an 82-yearold veteran of anti-independence politics, was first elected mayor in 1986 at the height of armed conflict between supporters and opponents of independence. From 1999, he also served as the President of New Caledonia for two years, following the first elections held after the signing of the Noumea Accord. In a city where the majority of voters are of European heritage and oppose independence from France, there is a fierce competition for the top job between three anti-independence parties: Calédonie Ensemble (CE) led by Philippe Gomes; Rassemblement UMP (RUMP) led by Pierre Frogier, and the breakaway party Mouvement Populaire Calédonien (MPC) led by Gael Yanno. Yanno, a former deputy mayor in Noumea, left the largest conservative party RUMP last year and established his own group after falling out with RUMP leader Pierre Frogier. Yanno is seeking to rally conservative French voters, criticising RUMP’s policies and Frogier’s attempts to build links with Union Calédonienne (UC), the largest pro-independence party in the country. RUMP has lost some support from European voters after it backed independence leader Roch Wamytan to be Speaker of New Caledonia’s Congress and endorsed the policy of flying two flags - the French tricolour and the flag of Kanaky - outside public buildings. In a pre-election coup, Yanno persuaded the conservative UMP party in France to formally endorse his breakaway group rather than the larger RUMP, to the annoyance of RUMP mayoral candidate JeanClaude Briault. Another leading RUMP politician, Pierre Bretegnier, also defected to the MPC in the middle of the municipal election campaign. The other leading candidate for Mayor of Noumea is Sonia Lagarde of the Calédonie Ensemble party. As well as serving in New Caledonia’s Congress, Lagarde is also deputy in France’s National Assembly in Paris, after defeating the long-standing RUMP representative in 2012 elections. For the municipal vote in the southern province, much of the independence movement has launched the Mouvement Nationaliste Unitaire (MNU) led by Jean-Raymond Postic. This is a united list that includes activists from a range of pro-independence forces: FLNKS members (UC, UPM and RDO) together with parties that
NEW CALEDONIA support independence but are not formal members of the independence coalition: Libération Kanak Socialiste (LKS); Dynamik Unitaire Sud (DUS) and Parti Travailliste (PT). This effort at unity has been undercut by a separate initiative led by Marie Claude Tjibaou, the widow of assassinated Kanak leader JeanMarie Tjibaou. Her Ouverture Citoyenne (OC) has been widely criticised in the independence movement, with PT President Louis Kotra Uregei suggesting it is a deliberate attempt by the French state to disrupt efforts to build a common pro-independence platform: “Instead of having united pro-independence lists in the South, as it is necessary to prepare for the provincial elections in May, we see once again an Ouverture Citoyenne ticket, as happened in 2009. This list includes the League for Human Rights and the French Socialist Party, which does not support independence for this country - so we ask what are they doing there?” This effort by the MNU to unite independence supporters in Noumea has been replicated in nine other municipalities across the country such as the northern town of Hienghene where UC President Daniel Goa is leading a united FLNKS ticket. But in other areas in the Northern Province and the outlying Loyalty Islands where Kanaks are the overwhelming majority of the population, each different independence party is running its own list. On the island of Mare there are seven different tickets, while in other municipal battles, the Union Caledonienne (UC), the Party of Kanak Liberation (Palika) and the Parti Travailliste (PT) are all running their own tickets, seeking
a majority on municipal councils. An FLNKS Congress in January called for competing parties to unite if there is a second round run-off against anti-independence forces. While the municipal elections were focussed on urban issues, the social gulf between Kanaks and Europeans in Noumea raised broader tensions. CE’s Sonia Lagarde is mobilising support amongst French voters in the city by highlighting issues of security and youth delinquency, focussing attention on the many young, unemployed Kanaks who have moved to the capital looking for education, employment or enjoyment. In contrast, the MNU electoral statement said: “There are great disparities between the northern and southern suburbs in Noumea. It is vital that we overcome the gap in public infrastructure in the northern suburbs, as well as improving the quality of life of all inhabitants so they can be proud of belonging to the same city.” For the pro-independence MNU, town councils must work directly with the young: “This population is too often neglected. We must put together the equivalent of a Marshall Plan to help them avoid idleness and living on the edge. This plan would involve a policy of popular education, developing places to support them to provide activities for their spare time, artistic and cultural expression and professional training.” Different voting rolls Beyond the basics of housing, public transport, social services and jobs, the campaign for the municipal elections was intensely political, with competing parties seeing the town halls as a springboard for the vote next May to elect
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provincial assemblies and the national Congress. Because voting is not compulsory in New Caledonia, it is vital to mobilise uncommitted voters. But the electorate for the municipal vote in March is not exactly the same as the national poll on 11 May. New Caledonia’s voting system is different for local, provincial, national and European elections. All French nationals of voting age who register at the local town hall are eligible to vote in the March municipal elections, as well as elections for the National Assembly and Senate in France and European parliament. However under the 1998 Noumea Accord, voting for May’s crucial elections for the three provincial assemblies and the Congress is restricted to a limited electoral roll of New Caledonian citizens, rather than all French nationals. This special electoral roll for the local institutions is restricted to those who meet residency criteria set out in the Noumea Accord, a policy confirmed by a joint sitting of the French parliament in 2007. At the last Congressional elections in 2009, some 18,230 people resident in New Caledonia —11.8 per cent of the normal electoral roll — could not vote in that year’s elections for the local institutions. These were mainly French public servants, soldiers and short term contract workers who have travelled from Europe to the Pacific, but do not see New Caledonia as their home. In contrast, the independence movement has recognised since 1983 that the so-called “victims of history” - the descendants of the convicts, soldiers and farmers who arrived in New Caledonia in colonial days - were welcome in the country “to build a common destiny.”
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Tied up at the Port of Noumea is the Hu Yu 911. Photo: Robert Matau.
French Navy seized Chinese fishing boat Maritime border dispute flares up again By Robert Matau sea border dispuTe beTween Vanuatu and New Caledonia has resulted in the arrest and conviction of a Chinese boat captain and members of his crew. New Caledonian maritime surveillance authorities claimed the long line vessel was fishing inside its territorial waters and slapped it with a US$5.5m fine. Hugues Gossvin of Navimon Fishing Company said the Hu Yu 911 ship was seized by the French Navy in December last year. He told reporters who attended an European Union funded Tuna workshop in Noumea that although the longliner was licensed to fish in Vanuatu waters, it was found fishing however within New Caledonian waters, a claim denied by the boat captain and the Government of Vanuatu.
Islands Business, April 2014
“The catch and the ship has been confiscated and the crew are still negotiating their fate with the authorities,” said Gossvin. Crew members of Hu Yu 911 were still on the boat in Noumea when Islands Business toured the Navimon operation last February. Gossvin said New Caledonian authorities had considered selling the vessel. However the state of the vessel might not meet the high phytosanitary standards that the French demands of New Caledonian vessels. The fishing industry in this French territory only had long line fishing vessels and all are locally owned. “We do not have any distant water fishing nations’ boats fishing in our waters,” he said. It is understood the captain of the fishing boat was prosecuted in a Noumea court, found guilty of fishing illegally and fined. The Vanuatu Government on the other hand
insists that the Chinese boat was fishing in Vanuatu waters when the French Navy arrested it. It has taken up the issue with the French ambassador in Port Vila. Vanuatu Foreign Affairs’ Director General Johnny Koanapo told Islands Business they had expressed their strongest disappointment at the way the incident was handled by the French authorities in New Caledonia. “Unfortunately by the time we did get to discuss the issue, the French authorities in New Caledonian had already presented the case in court and unilaterally prosecuted the captain and his ship,” said Koanapo. “We have registered our concerns with the French and the Forum Fisheries Agency. “It was an issue of the precise coordinates of our EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zone) or maritime boundaries as they have a different calculation of coordinates from ours.” Koanapo said they had made an attempt to resolve the issue in a diplomatic manner and hoped that proper consultations and dialogue could be held before any unilateral action is taken in future cases. At dispute has been France’s claim of 350 miles over its territories instead of the standard 200 miles as is provided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In 2004 a Taiwanese fishing boat was also seized by the French for fishing in these disputed waters. The vessel was only released after considerable diplomatic pressure from Vanuatu. In the past indigenous Kanaky leaders in New Caledonia have tended to agree with Vanuatu’s customary claim to the boundary under dispute and had offered to take the issue up with French authorities. Navimon is the largest fishing company in New Caledonia with a fleet of 8 vessels employing 40 local sailors. They are also the biggest in terms of volume by accounting for nearly half of the total local supply of tuna. Their tuna is sold exclusively to Pacific Tuna, which is located in Noumea’s fishing port. Most of their tuna is produced for either the local market or for exports to Japan.
The new Nauru...Regional Processing Centre under construction. Photo Nauru Government Information Office
Judicial shake-up in Nauru Opposition MPs decry deportations By Robert Matau Nauru’s Opposition has described the treatment of two of its highest judicial officers in the land as contempt for the rule of law. Opposition leader Mathew Batsiua alleged that the actions of Justice Minister David Adeang in refusing to abide by a court injunction against the deportation of Resident Magistrate Peter Law were an affront to the powers of the court. “The actions of this Government are a clear defiance and blatant disregard for the Supreme Court and it is a clear case of contempt of court,” said Batsiua. “It involves the blatant disregard for Chief Justice Eames’ orders stopping Magistrate Law’s deportation from Nauru.” His comments come in the wake of the resignation of Nauru’s Chief Justice, Geoffrey Eames. He stepped down after being denied a visa to return to work in Nauru. Justice Eames said the Nauruan Government had refused to publicly acknowledge that the removal of Mr Law from the island “constituted an abuse of the rule of law and a denial of the independence of the judiciary.” “Given the government’s failure to concede that its actions against the Resident Magistrate and myself constituted breaches of the rule of law, it is clear that my relationship with the Government is such that I could not perform the duties of Chief Justice, even if my visa was restored.” The court drama began when Magistrate Law
had granted an injunction to stop authorities from deporting two expatriates from Nauru. This order triggered his own deportation from the island republic in January. The Nauru Government however said they had lost confidence in Magistrate Law’s ability to hear matters in a “fair and equal manner.” They also went on to criticise him for his personal conduct as justification for their action. But Opposition Leader Batsiua said the resignations had plunged the Pacific island into a judicial abyss, which seriously restricts anyone seeking a fair hearing in the courts. Former senior minister and long-serving member of parliament, Roland Kun, said Nauru’s status of having one of the most effective and prestigious judicial benches in the Pacific has been eroded in a matter of months by a government that has become a law unto itself, with no respect whatsoever for the rule or law – especially in decisions not favorable to the government. “We place the blame for this unforgivable situation squarely at the feet of the present Minister for Justice, David Adeang, who has ridden roughshod over legal conventions and even the Constitution, to create a dictatorship for himself, where even the president is at his beck and call.” Kun said the Australian and New Zealand Governments should stop “pussy-footing around this whole debacle” and start insisting that Nauru get its judicial act together, or face the consequences. “In Australia’s case, Nauru’s judicial credibility should be first and foremost in their concerns
over the future of cases involving asylum seekers, whether they be as a result of rioting charges, or simply appeals against the asylum seeking process. “New Zealand must surely be wondering if its million-dollar annual funding of Nauru’s law and justice sector, including the judicature, is a legitimate use of taxpayers’ dollars while Law Societies, Bar Associations and even the influential Pacific Chief Justices’ Group throughout the region are expressing serious concerns about our inability to practice basic rule of law and provide natural justice to those who come before the courts.” Kun said even his wife, an Australian national and mother to his three children, had her resident’s visa cancelled by the Justice Minister. He said Justice Minister Adeang showed his real colours when he welcomed the resignation of the Chief Justice. “This just shows the sheer contempt in which he holds the judiciary. It is not only insulting to a highly respected judge, it’s also gravely embarrassing to Nauru as a country and to every fair thinking Nauruan.” In welcoming the resignation of Chief Justice Eames, Justice Mnister Adeang also announced a series of reforms that would create a “more effective and transparent judiciary.” Adeang explained the Government was already in the process of appointing new judges and would now look for a new Chief Justice. He said that despite continued comments within the Australian and New Zealand media about Nauru neglecting the rule of law, the country was in fact supporting and advancing the rule of law with the new reforms. “In the past Nauru has operated with only one Chief Justice and one resident magistrate, who was also the Registrar of the Courts. There was no limit on the time a member of the judiciary could serve.” Since the judicial resignations, Nauru has appointed Fijian lawyers Ropate Cabealawa and Graham Leung as Resident Magistrate and Registrar of the Courts respectively. In one of his first sittings, Magistrate Cabealawa set hearing dates for several asylum seekers who were charged over last years’ riot in July at the Nauru Regional Processing Centre (RPC). In court the defendants were individually asked to enter a plea to charges of riot and unlawful assembly. All 39 defendants who were present in court pleaded not guilty to the two charges of riot and unlawful assembly on the 19th of July 2013. Three of the defendants who also faced additional charges of common assault pleaded not guilty to the offence. Magistrate Cabealawa told the defendants that he understood the frustrations they faced which were caused by the delay in processing their cases in court. However the magistrate said the defendants must allow due process to take its course and the defendants could present their cases in full during trial. Islands Business, April 2014 27
Closing down loopholes, G20 targets tax havens Cook Islands, Vanuatu under scrutiny By Davendra Sharma
amounts to be around US$7 trillion. That figure is a huge contrast to a 2012 report by the respected Tax Justice Network (TJN), which as reported in ISLANDS BUSINESS last year claimed that between US$21 trillion and US$32 trillion was stashed away from countries the money was earned in. If the TJN estimate is anything to go by, it would mean global tax revenue foregone to tax havens to be around US$190 billion to US$255 billion. The finance ministers meeting in Sydney were told that only a “comprehensive reporting
in Australia and avoiding tax compliance. The OECD will examine the related issues of whether governments should publicly disclose tax paid by such large companies like Apple and Google. “You have a number of companies which have relocated their profits in what we call tax havens – jurisdiction where there is no tax,” said Saint-Amans. “This is a highly sensitive topic. The G20 have asked the OECD to enhance its work on profit shifting.” It was reported in the Australian media in March that the US tech giant Apple shifted around AU$8.9 billion in untaxed profits from its Australian operations to a tax haven structure in Ireland through Singapore, where Apple negotiated a secret tax deal. The G20 meeting gave tech giants Google, Microsoft and Apple a deadline to reform their tax adherence systems or face the brunt of G20 legislation by their next meeting in Queensland. Apple Sales International reported more than US4100 billion in profits in the last five years. Its records show that the Australian arm of Apple Pty Ltd has been paying less than 50 cents per $1000 in tax. “What multinationals are doing is legal, and if it’s legal but you don’t like the outcome what you need to do is change the rules,” cautions Saint-Amans. “If they want to protect their tax base they will have model legislation that will work.”
Pacific island countries with legitimate tax-haven status like the Cook Islands and Vanuatu risk being isolated and dealt with under new radical plan to force governments and their agencies to reveal details of non-residents hiding stashes of cash in their countries. For years American, Australian and European governments have demanded details from tax haven governments protecting investments made by foreign nationals in what has been estimated to be around US$32 trillion – but with little success as resident governments like Port Vila and Rarotonga have used their long-standing privacy laws to fend off moves to investigate their clients. A recent meeting in Sydney of G20 finance ministers – a powerful lobby group representing world’s largest economies - resolved to adopt a proposal by the OrganisaSouth Pacific’s answer tion for Economic Cooperation to the Caribbean: and Development (OECD) for all If such new sweeping laws are governments to divulge information adopted at the G20 at its September on investments by foreigners to the deliberations, countries like the account holder’s home country. Cook Islands and Vanuatu would “The political message is we are come under immediate. closing down all the loopholes,” The New York Times reported warned Pascal Saint-Amans, OECD late last year that Cook Islands was director of tax. “What we propose quite possibly hiding millions if not here is to level the playing field to billions in monies moved there by make sure that all countries do this Cooks Islands...G20 tightens noose on tax haven status. Photo Cook Islands Tourism foreign trusts. An investment lawyer and that all financial centres around was quoted in the popular news the world will exchange this type of daily as saying that Rarotonga had information on an automatic basis.” become a global pioneer in offshore Under an international single model, to be regime” that covers different types of investasset protection trusts. “The Cook Islands offers debated and finalised by a second G20 meeting in ment income including interest and dividends a different form of secrecy,” claimed Howard Cairns in September this year, all government tax should be adopted universally. Governments Rosen, an American legal expert who has set up offices will automatically be required to divulge from around the globe should report on “situatrusts in the islands over the last 20 years. information on foreign nationals to the countries tions where a taxpayer seeks to hide capital that Such claims of monies being fraudulently held concerned. It is expected that sanctions will be itself represents income or assets on which tax in the Cook Islands were being questioned by the imposed on countries like the Cook Islands and has been evaded.” Cook Islands Finance Minister, Mark Brown in Vanuatu if they do not oblige. Australia has largely benefitted from such muan interview with ISLANDS BUSINESS last The new measures will mean all countries tual agreement laws it has with 44 countries like year. Brown suggested that as the world moved obtain information from their financial entities Switzerland with which it exchanges tax informatowards dealing with issues of tax avoidance, his and exchange details with governments of investion. Australia recouped AU$500 million in 2012government would undertake regulatory complitor origin. “There will only be one single global 13 from such treaties with other governments. ance measures. standard,” said Saint-Amans. The monies Australia claimed were primarily Investors being lured to the Cook Islands The OECD move will enforce governments based on penalties and taxes on companies and are being told that the group of 15 small islands to access information held by banks and other individuals who had shifted monies to countries, halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand is investment agencies – like insurance companies, which have agreements with Canberra. the South Pacific’s answer to the Caribbean tax brokers and certain collective investment vehicles havens with zero tax on personal income tax. about “non-residents” including income, gains Tech giants, Apple, The Cook Islands is also named in research by and assets such as property held by shrewd indiGoogle avoiding tax the Washington-based International Consortium viduals, some corporation or questionable trusts. The OECD and G20 also focussed on tax for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) which has Thus far no international authority has ever evasion by such tech and digital multinationals fetched two million emails and other confidential accurately depicted how much is held in taxlike Google and Apple, which came into the documents to sketch a picture of dubious shadow haven countries like the Cook Islands, Vanuatu, limelight in Sydney when reports emerged last world. The ICIJ alleges that 130,000 individuals British Virgin Islands, Ireland and the Cayman month that the US giant was siphoning profits to from 170 countries have secreted their monies to Islands. The OECD in 2007 estimated offshore Ireland from its AU$2 billion annual operations tax havens like the Cook Islands. 28 Islands Business, April 2014
BSP posts US$147m profit
(NIHL) acquired the 87% shareholding held by National Australia Bank. On 25 October 1993, 100% ownership of the Bank was achieved by NIHL, which later changed its name to BSP Holdings Limited. In December 1995, BSP Holdings Limited completed a successful capital raising of K2.7 million by way of a Convertible Note Issue. The holding company took up an additional 2,700,000 fully paid shares of K1 in Bank of South Pacific Limited, increasing the issued capital to K5,000,000. At that time Motor Vehicles Insurance (PNG) Trust (now incorporated as “Motor Vehicles Inbanking facilities mainly through the network By Sam Vulum surance Limited”) acquired 2,130,000 shares or of EFTPOS merchants, agents and devices and a 22.42% shareholding in BSP Holdings Limited Bank South Pacific, the largest bank in increased mobile phone banking transactions, are to become the second largest shareholder behind Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific has compelling features of BSP’s customer engageCredit Corporation (PNG) Ltd with 24.89%. announced more than K400 million (USD147m) ment activities in 2013. In October 1998 BSP Holdings Limited raised in net profit for the 2013 financial year. In terms of expenses, increases have been K12.9 million through a Rights Issue of shares at The BSP Group achieved a consolidated opexperienced mainly in the areas of depreciation K3.00. During December 1998 BSP Holdings erating profit before tax of US$223.5m for the and amortisation, and in premises and equipment Limited went into voluntary liquidation and its 2013 financial year an 11.3% increase on the conexpenses. Management reviewed asset start dates shareholders now hold shares in Bank of South solidated 2012 operating profit of US$200.858m. and estimated useful lives of capitalised projects Pacific Limited. The group result after tax is $160.893m. Total which resulted in additional depreciation, amIn 2001 the Privatisation Commission, on assets of the Group increased by approximately ortisation and impairment losses being taken behalf of the Government of Papua New Guinea, $912m to $5.823 billion. in 2013. These increased charges have been the offered for sale a 51% interest in the Papua New BSP Group and Board of Directors Chairman, main contributors to a cost to income ratio for the Guinea Banking Corporation (PNGBC) through Kostas Constantinou, who released the results for Group of 55%, up from 53% in 2012. a competitive trade sale process. The company the full-year to December 31, 2013 in Port MoConstantinou congratulated staff and manageparticipated in this process by lodging a bid resby in March, said despite a slowdown in the ment in all of BSP’s operations across Papua New whereby it proposed to effect the acquisition PNG economy during the year, the BSP Group Guinea, Fiji and Solomon Islands on the results of PNGBC by way of an amalgamation under achieved sound results in 2013, highlighted by achieved in 2013. He expressed confidence in the Companies Act rather than the following: through a sale and purchase. •The Group achieved a conFollowing an appraisal of all solidated operating profit before bids lodged in relation to the tax of $214.26m for the 2013 acquisition of PNGBC, the financial year, an 11.3% increase commission agreed to accept the on the consolidated 2012 opercompany’s bid. The company, ating profit of $192.48 million. the commission and the PNGThe Group result after tax is BC executed the amalgamation $154.18 million. Total assets deed in December 2001 which of the Group increased by approvided for the implementaproximately $873.980 million tion of the amalgamation. The to $5.580 billion. amalgamation was completed on •The bank’s achievements 9 April 2002. are similarly strong with preThe company’s shares were tax profits growing 10.7% to listed on the Port Moresby Stock $209.282 million, from $188.633 Exchange on 27 August 2003. million in 2012. Total assets of In 2004, the company returned the bank at the end of 2013 are just over $5.409 billion. The “Customer deposits continued to grow strongly”... A BSP community outreach team in Papua a profit after tax of K86.65 million up from the K39.98 million result customer loan and receivables New Guinea. Photo: BSP PNG in 2003. As at 31 December 2004, portfolio has seen net growth shareholders’ equity reached of $174.161 million to $1.8566 K255.63 million. During 2004, the bank acquired billion. Customer deposits continue to grow BSP’s capabilities to meet expectations of sharethe Niue Branch operations of Westpac Banking strongly, especially in the corporate segment in holders in 2014. Corporation. Fiji, and in the retail and government segments BSP is one of the foremost PNG and Pacific In November 2005, Standard & Poors (S&P) in PNG. brands recognised for its youth, vitality and Melaissued an inaugural credit rating for BSP. The •BSP’s capital base remains sound. Total nesian uniqueness. rating was B+ Stable, consistent with the S&P capital adequacy at the end of 2013 is 19.4% notThe Bank commenced operations in Port Mosovereign rating for Papua New Guinea. withstanding the impact of continued growth in resby on 1 May 1957, as a branch of the National 2005 saw continued strong financial perforbalance sheet assets as well as total dividend payBank of Australasia Limited. mance and balance sheet growth. Profit after tax ments of $96.2667million. The capital adequacy Operations were later expanded to the major increased to K99.22 million. Total assets increased ratio exceeds the minimum Bank of Papua New centres and on 1 October 1974 it was incorpoto K2.95 billion and shareholders’ equity grew to Guinea prudential requirement of 12.00%. rated as Bank of South Pacific Limited, a wholly K308.30 million. Market capitalisation reached •Group revenues have increased 19% during owned subsidiary of the Australian parent, with K1.40 billion. During this year, Capital Stockthe year. Most of the revenue growth has come a paid-up capital of K2 million. brokers Limited was acquired and renamed BSP from non-interest income streams, in particular In April 1980 and August 1981, a total of Capital Limited. foreign exchange earnings in PNG. Extremely 300,000 ordinary fully paid shares of K1 were Strong balance sheet growth with total assets aggressive competition in the corporate lendissued to the public in Papua New Guinea, thus reaching K4.33 billion and a 12.50% increase ing markets in PNG and Fiji have impacted net increasing the paid-up capital to 2,300,000 fully in after tax profit to K111.62 million continued interest income. paid K1 shares. the strong growth and financial performance •Growth has also been achieved with customer On 24 August 1993, the nationally owned during 2006. transaction volumes. The expansion of electronic company, National Investment Holdings Limited
‘Bank’s capital base is sound’
Islands Business, April 2014 29
Total Oil joins Oil Search for PNG’s LNG # 2
has opened new scope for the Australian explorer. Total’s acquisition represented a window of opportunity for the company to enter upstream search and recovery processes in the resourceabundant country of 7.7 million population with readily available cheap labour. “We are convinced that our partnership with Oil Search, a well-established oil and gas player in this country, is a very positive foundation for our future success in this venture,” said Total’s senior vice president of exploration and production in the Asia-Pacific, Jean-Marie Guillermou. O’Neill’s Government, which has made it clear it wants the two projects to run on commercially-viable basis, also will buy 149.3 million Oil Search shares at $7.40. The PNG government transferred an existing 14.7 per cent of Oil Search shareholding to the Abu Dhabi Government as a payback for earlier funding scheme between the two governments involving a loan of $819 million by Port Moresby. With the arrival and impending investment by Total Oil, there is hope among Oil Search directors that “the good marAgogo 6 well in Southern Highlands Province, PNG. Photo: Oil Search riage” will de-risk the project, while Total now gets access to an exciting new frontier in PNG. Total is one of six major oil companies in the to Asia from July this year. world and is considered a super-major corporaPNG is known to have rich deposits of oil tion with huge financial strength in Europe, and natural gas, with mineral and oil exports Middle East, the Asian region and now the Pacific contributing a sizeable chunk of the country’s islands – where it has recently acquired oil and Gross Domestic Product. One estimate released gas retail businesses. Total is following the steps in 2013 by the United States Energy Information of Texas-based Exxon, the world’s largest oil Administration forecast that PNG holds as much company, which started the PNG LNG venture. as 22.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. The projects will more than double PNG’s Natural gas was detected while drilling in shallow gross domestic product, with the oil and gas waters off the coast by Oil Search. output fetching guaranteed markets through Being the largest ever business undertaking in China Petroleum & Chemical Corp and Tokyo PNG and the Oceania region as a whole, the cost Electric Power Co. of starting the project swelled by $4.5 billion since the original forecasts. But on a positive note, the World demand and prices soar project promises increased capacity as well as the Global demand for LNG is forecast to grow prospect of attracting higher commodity prices by as much as five times to 500 million tonnes a when exports begin. year in 2025, according to Royal Dutch Shell Plc, A five per cent improvement in project capacEurope’s largest oil company. ity from 6.6 million tonnes per annum to 6.9 “It’s a very attractive asset and there aren’t MTPA has been tipped for the project. “While many LNG assets in the world with the kind of the increase in costs is disappointing and, unforeconomics that PNG LNG has, with the scope tunately, a feature of the current LNG project for further expansion,” notes Mark Samter, a construction environment, PNG LNG project Sydney-based analyst. economics remain attractive,” said Oil Search Another analyst said with Oil Search’s local chairman Brian Horwood. knowledge and that of geology and project deThe PNG-LNG project is now 95 per cent velopment, Total Oil will be well-placed to see complete in the Highlands region and industry its investments in PNG pay good dividends. A analysts forecast that with current commissioning string of benefits will pour on the steps of PNG’s trials on the way, the first shipment would poseconomy but more so during the construction sibly commence in the second half of the year. stage when the bulk of the jobs would be created. Oil Search said its purchase into the Elk/ “I would think that they (Oil Search and Total Antelope fields, being sought by the rich CanaOil) would be able to work well together,” said dian-based InterOil, was complimentary to its industry analyst, Paul Barker. existing assets. “Oil Search is clearly a very experienced company in PNG in oil and gas but it hasn’t Total’s entry in PNG actually developed a gas project itself or done the While Oil Search has operated and profited marketing of gas, it has been active in the field of from PNG reserves for more than 80 years, the marketing oil, of course. Really it should provide gradual entry of the French conglomerate into a constructive partnership,” Barker said. exploration both onshore and offshore of PNG
A new Asia Pacific hub dawns By Davendra Sharma With less than three months of wait left before Papua New Guinea rolls out exports from its US419.12 billion (Kina 52.16 billion) LNG project, Peter O’Neill’s Government has given thumps up for a second such plant involving Australian and French interests. Australia’s Oil Search and Paris-based Total Oil sealed a deal in what is dubbed as PNG’s biggest undeveloped gas resource, to be tapped alongside New York-listed InterOil investments this year. As the French consortium injected $3.64 billion last month in PNG’s second gas project, Oil Search director Peter Botten declared that PNG is on a threshold of a generational change, with potential to yield billions of kina unprecedented in the country’s history. Total Oil enthusiastically raised their prospects of developing the gas finds and declaring that PNG could become a hub for the Asia-Pacific region with gas production, opening markets such as China, Japan, Korea and India – considered the four economic giants of Asia. “Our acquisition of those significant discovered resources is an opportunity to develop a new gas production and liquefaction hub in the Asia-Pacific region, where gas demand is very dynamic,” a spokesman for Total Oil told the media in Australia last month. Total Oil, which already has other investments with Oil Search in PNG, agreed with their new venture in PNG’s lucrative Elk and Antelope gas fields as “the strategic partner we were looking for.” It follows Oil Search’s smart move in February this year when it pipped American InterOil in buying out minority stakeholders in the Elk and Antelope gas resource for a mega $0.91billion. With Oil Search’s entry in the gas project, it grabbed a 23 per cent stake and with it has earned a huge bargaining power at the company’s board level. “Oil Search is the strategic partner we were looking for,” the Total Oil spokesman noted. “We know them well and have other partnerships with them in PNG.” Working with PNG LNG Total Oil plans to negotiate further details with owners of the Mobil-Exxon PNG LNG project, which is 300 km away from the Elk and Antelope gas fields. It hopes that the development of the new gas fields will be accelerated and be more economical if they sorted out a deal with the PNG LNG venture as it would substantially cut the required infrastructure outlays. Oil Search is a partner in the Mobil-Exxon LNG project, owning 29% of the $19.12 billion venture – which is nearing completion and on track for first shipments of liquefied natural gas 30 Islands Business, April 2014
The legacy of Tuikilakila Waqairatu By Netani Rika* When the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma reflects 50 years from now on its achievements, the name Tuikilakila Waqairatu will surely appear. Called from his flock before his term as President ended, this son of Moala Island sought to make radical - even revolutionary – changes to an institution which has been part of Fiji’s history since 1835. Waqairatu sought to return the church to its former position as a voice of reason, an instrument of tolerance and reconciliation, a vehicle for unity. For many observers this was a necessary change after the church became embroiled in ethnonationalist politics after the 1987 coup, dug itself into further trouble in the upheaval of 2000 and clashed openly with the state in 2006. From the day of his induction as Methodist President, Waqairatu stressed three areas on which he wanted the church to focus: Reading the Bible, institutional change, and moderation - especially in yaqona (kava) consumption and eating. Former medical doctor turned cleric Reverend Dr Mosese Salusalu says he was inspired by
Waqairatu’s vision. “Yaqona drinking was a major part of my life – I enjoyed the whole experience,” Rev Dr Salusalu said. “But the late president told me that to be a better Christian it was important to read and reflect on God’s word (the Bible) more regularly. “He said yaqona drinking should be done in moderation, that as italatala (ministers) we should be more disciplined with time and for me that was a major change in my lifestyle but it was the right thing to do.” Yaqona drinking is a central theme in Methodist functions either as a cultural or social tool. And in this most conservative of institutions Waqairatu dared suggest that it was time to scale back the time spent on consumption to allow for more theology and social justice activities. The backlash was immediate with ministers challenging the theological basis of the yaqona ban and some suggesting that such a rule impinged on their human rights. But Waqairatu was not to be swayed. He even dared to challenge iTaukei Methodist norms on the role of women and children in society, calling on men to recognise equality God gave all people in creation – regardless of gender.
Lay members of the church were challenged to embark on a daily Bible reading exercise – five chapters a day – which would ensure the volume would be completed in a year. “I think the point was we have to make time to know what God wants by reading His word daily and to do that our lives must change and move away from yaqona drinking and towards deeper spirituality,” says Akuila Tuiraviravi. “Change in our lives can only come about if we let God speak to us and that won’t happen if we try to read the Bible at 6am after finishing grog at 3am.” Now that Waqairatu is no longer in charge, the question on many minds is who will see that this vision comes to fruition? General Secretary, Reverend Tevita Banivanua: “This is no longer the (late) President’s vision. It is the vision of (the Methodist) conference which has the mandate to move forward and implement these programmes.” All eyes are now on the 2014 conference later this year. But one thing is certain. Few will forget this President who dared to bring about change to an institution vilified and condemned, praised and respected at different times in 179 years of existence. In the final analysis, Waqairatu will be remembered as a unique Man of God who challenged the church to turn from its old ways and dare to be different. • NETANI Rika is a Pacific Media Freedom Award winner and former Editor-in-Chief of The Fiji Times. He is a convert to Catholicism but a product of a strong Methodist family.
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South Pacific Albacore Tuna crisis: collective action of the Pacific Islands is the way forward By James Movick, Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency
here has been a lot of press coverage in the past few months about the crisis in the southern albacore tuna longline fishery. Long liners laid off left, right and centre; world albacore prices are low; and many of the small, locally based fishing businesses that have been so carefully cultivated over the last two decades are going to the wall. Too often the standard reaction in the region is to blame foreigners and external factors for all of our woes. The recent reactions to the current downturn in the southern albacore long line crisis are no exception. Certainly, subsidies of one foreign fleet in particular does not help our current dire situation and neither does the increase in catch of albacore in other oceans and on the South Pacific high seas. However, to resolve a problem we must start with an objective analysis of the facts and the fact here is that the cures for the current ills of this particular fishery lie largely within our own hands. Why do I say this? Because we, Pacific Island Countries, control the waters where the majority of South Pacific albacore is caught. According to the available catch statistics, two thirds of the
32 Islands Business, April 2014
The three Pacific’s T’s - Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu at WCPFC Cairns in 2013. WCPFC Samoa this December will provide the big challenge for a regional measure to address the current albacore crisis. Photo: FFAmedia.
catch of this tuna (66%) comes from the Exclusive Economic Zones of South Pacific Island nations and territories. And the rest of the catch is taken on the high seas adjacent to our EEZs, where the International Law of the Sea and the WCPFC Convention require particular attention to be paid to potential impacts on small island countries. We need to exercise this control, and we need to exercise it collectively, if we are to have any effect on a fishery that spans a quarter of the southern hemisphere. We know it can be done. The Pacific island countries that are parties to the Nauru Agreement have already effectively controlled the skipjack purse-seine fishery where 60% of the fishery is in their EEZs. There is plenty of world press about global purse-seine tuna fishery overcapacity, and the problems likely to be caused by new vessels under construction, and I’ll talk about these next month, but they are difficulties that can be controlled by the agreements already in place between the PNA countries in association with Tokelau. PNA has the fishery well in hand. By comparison, southern long lining is a wild frontier. There is, as yet, no definite regional agreement on how the fishery should be managed and catches limited. Frankly, we aren’t even sure we have an accurate idea of what is happening in the
fishery, especially in the high seas areas. In terms of ensuring that sufficient scientific data is reliably collected and the operations of boats are in accordance with fishing regulations, we are unable to verify this because fewer than 2% of long line vessels trips have independent Pacific island observers on board the boats, particularly on the high seas. Sound scientific assessment requires a minimum of 20% coverage on long liners. Purseseiners fishing in other parts of the region have 100% observer coverage. South Pacific governments have proven their capability to band together effectively to change international fishing pressure on the albacore stocks in their waters. The 1989 Wellington Convention that banned the use of long driftnets effectively cut out most fishing on small albacore and secured the overall biological sustainability of the south Pacific albacore stock. But now Pacific island governments need to follow up and limit longline fishing on the adult component of the stock, and limit it to economically sustainable levels. The fisheries scientists tell us that south Pacific albacore stocks are still sound; they are not being fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) and are therefore not in danger of over-exploitation. That is correct. The problem though is that albacore long line fishing focuses on only a small portion of the overall albacore stock, the larger albacore. Long liners target this particular size class. With increasing numbers of boats permitted in this fishery, the average catch (or catch per unit of effort) is dropping to a point where the boats are no longer able to engage in financially viable fishing operations. The exception is those boats that are subsidised or are brand new and super-efficient, which excludes virtually all Pacific Island owned and based long line boats. We need to look at limiting total catch even further and transferring access rights over as much of that catch as possible for Pacific Island boats and generally for locally based fleets that supply the bulk of their catch to Pacific processing operations. Right now, many Pacific Island governments are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want to encourage locally based fishing through the private sector but at the same time generate
SPC helping the Pacific for 67 years revenue from licencing foreign long liners. Although it is possible to do both, the balance has to be carefully managed. This is no longer a developing fishery. It is a mature fishery, and the opportunities that it offers must be managed within limits that make it possible for unsubsidised locally based operators to make a living – if that is the national policy – and to expand into the opportunities currently used by foreign boats. Even if there is no domestic long line fleet, Pacific Island governments are encouraged to ensure that fish from vessels fishing in their zones are processed locally or at least somewhere within the Pacific Island region. Right now, we are offering too many albacore fishing opportunities overall, and offering too many of these opportunities to long liners whose profits and economic spin-offs end up outside the region. In short: We need to reduce the number of fishing vessels engaged in this fishery, then we need to ensure that those that are permitted to fish also process their catch in the Pacific islands region. The way forward is in sight. The principles of Rights Based Management (and the example provided by the PNA) indicate the path that can and should be James Movick...Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General. taken by the South Pacific nations that share the albacore resource: Photo: FFAmedia Individual national governments would decide whether they want to maintain an enabling environment for locally beneficial albacore fishing, or to rent out their waters. Both are legitimate strategies, and some islands don’t have the infrastructure for locally-based commercial fisheries. But both approaches have to be carefully managed within the bio-economic limits of the albacore tuna resource. Each PIC would need to set a limit to the catches that they will allow in their EEZ. This may be based on historical catch or could include a reasonable limit that takes account of their realistic aspirations. Collectively, South Pacific governments would agree on the overall regional limit to be set on albacore catch or longline fishing effort in their combined fisheries waters. Although albacore can be locally overfished in the short term, over the long term this is a regional stock, and for limits to work they have to apply over the majority of the range of the fishery. As PNA has demonstrated, the process of limiting fishing opportunities adds value to the fishery – often dramatically – and also provides a mechanism to make sure those opportunities end up in the right hands; Once we have agreed and enforce this collective limit management regime for the EEZs that are under our control (remember that currently 66% of the catch is taken in national waters that we control) then the WCPFC would need to agree on compatible limits to be enacted on the high seas of the South Pacific. Traditionally, tuna RFMOs, driven by distant-water fishing interests, tend to take decisive action only when stocks approach or exceed their biological limits. Thanks largely to the 1989 ban on long driftnets, South Pacific albacore is the only major albacore stock in the world which is still considered biologically healthy, and thus WCPFC distant-water interests have always resisted consensus action to effectively limit longline fishing on this stock in this region. However, the WCPFC convention has enshrined the principle of compatibility – that management measures on the high seas and in EEZs should not undermine each other. By establishing a collective albacore management limitation arrangement based on our rights as coastal states and taking account of our small developing states status, we can effectively expect the WCPFC to adopt a compatible measure that recognises our national rights and collective management regime, and adopts compatible measures in the adjacent high seas. However, I would not expect Pacific Island nations to have to wait for the WCPFC to agree on an effective management measure for this southern albacore. We can and should act for ourselves first, being mindful of our rights, development interests and our global responsibilities. FFA stands ready to assist its member countries in achieving all of these. However, the most fundamental step at this stage is to agree on the regional limit under a PIC coastal state collective arrangement. Another meeting of the FFC Subcommittee on South Pacific Tuna and Billfish Fisheries will be held in May in Apia, and will provide an opportunity. Agreement was nearly achieved last October, but there were some governments not quite ready to take the plunge. This year the agreement will need to go ahead. If one or two of the countries on the margins of the range of the southern albacore stock are not yet in a position to commit we can design a measure to allow them to enter when they are ready. However, we cannot delay any longer.
Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Strengthening national capacity and regional solidarity for sustainable tuna fisheries
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, FFA commends The Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SPC on the occasion of its 67th anniversary celebrations. and looks forward to continued collaboration for strengthening national capacity and regional solidarity for sustainable tuna fisheries in the Pacific.
supported by the European Union
The Development of Tuna Fisheries in the Pacific ACP Countries Project (DEVFISH) is a European Union funded regional project aimed at giving the Pacific Islands a fairer slice of economic benefits from tuna fishing. DEVFISH II is jointly administered by FFA and SPC, and ends in 2016. Contact email@example.com or visit www.ffa.int
Islands Business, April 2014
Westpac woos women to top ranks Goal is equal representation By Davendra Sharma A new benchmark claiming a world first for women is being touted in the South Pacific by Australia and the region’s oldest and 200-year-old company – Westpac. Embracing a need for greater gender diversity at senior management and board levels, Westpac has left no stone unturned in the last four years under its influential Chief Executive, Gail Kelly. With her push for women in top hierarchy of the bank’s echelons, she has not compromised on profits as Westpac seeks another stellar year of results in 2014. Kelly is considered one of the most powerful Australian women in modern day business world in Asia/Pacific – sitting at the helm of an entity that now spans across various continents and around Oceania. Her popularity primarily stems from her push for being proactive about promoting women in the bank. “We set a goal to have 40 per cent of our senior executives as women by 2014,” Kelly disclosed to the media in Sydney at her annual lunch with senior women executives of Westpac. “But we achieved that by 2012. Now we have a new goal of having equal representation of women and men in our senior management ranks by 2017,” she declared at the lunch which Kelly started in 2010 to coincide with International Women’s Day. Kelly’s women concept She said that multi-billion profit-making Westpac – now with full-fledged branches in six South Pacific countries; the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Western Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu – has a broader vision for women in the bank’s future. When it comes to women on top, Westpac had “become a magnet” and a benchmark for other leading organisations in Australia and around the business world in Asia/Pacific. Emulating on Westpac’s success recorded since Kelly took over the reign in 2008 organisations around the region – be it business, government or not for profit - began hiring women because of the depths of its ranks. If her credentials are anything to go by, Kelly has turned the bank’s fortunes around. Under her leadership, the bank has become an envy of the business world – overcoming the long-running global financial crisis which began in 2009 and buying out competitors in Australia like the fifthranking St George Bank. Under her guidance, Westpac profit soared to its highest level in history. Kelly said the latest six months of Westpac’s profits is reflections of solid management throughout the ebbs and flows of the global financial crisis which the South Pacific region and the bank endured in the last six years. 34 Islands Business, April 2014
number of total women directors of such companies rose from 8.3 per cent in January, 2010 to 17.6 per cent last month. “More needs to be done, but the progress made so far is very heartening,” said Australian Institute of Company Directors chief executive, John Colvin. At Westpac, 42 per cent of leadership roles were held by women – placing the bank in a strong position to achieve its aspirational target of 50 per cent women in leadership roles by 2017.
World’s most sustainable company At the World Eco“I think the hallmark n o m i c Fo r u m i n of this result is to talk Davos, Switzerland of the strength of our in January this year, balance sheet but, of Westpac won the accocourse this is a chapter lade of being the most in what’s been a fivesustainable company year story,” Kelly said. in the world. The dataWe s t p a c r e a p e d driven corporate susa US$1.36 billion tainability assessment (AU$1.5 billion) profit is published yearly affor the first quarter of ter research of Global the bank’s current fi100 companies from nancial year, the result across a wide sphere being comparable to of business sectors. years past. Last Septem“I am delighted that ber, the bank made a Westpac’s sustainabilcash profit of $6.46 bility performance has lion for the 12 months, been rated so highly which represented a on the global stage,” jump of eight per cent said Kelly. on the previous year. Westpac was the “I am thrilled with the only company from result and I’m particuthe region to get a top larly looking forward ten ranking with archto driving this momenrivals Australia and tum through to another At Westpac’s helm for five years as Chief Executive is Gail New Zealand BankKelly and enticing more women to senior roles is her goal. good result in 2014,” Photo: Westpac Bank ing, ANZ coming in Kelly said. at 19 and the Commonwealth Bank of Westpac profit soars Australia (formerly Colonial in the region) at 25 “We have been very clear in calling out that our among the top 100. priorities over the last years have been strength Westpac is leading the charge in Australia to return,” she noted. to create equality among employees broadly Kelly cautioned that there was pressure on amongst Australian-origin companies, said Kelly the bank to pick up a little more growth in 2014 who launched an “Inspire Change” pledge last despite Westpac being exposed to various fields of month. risks in its business ambit in Australia, the South “Achieving equality in Westpac is not just a Pacific region, Asia and Europe. matter of being fair or doing the right thing. It “We are very conscious of the risk standards also makes good business and economic sense. that we have and we are certainly not going to Increased workforce diversity, not only in gender, compromise that,” she said. “For us it’s not gobut across a range of areas, translates to direct ing up the risk spectrum to compete, it’s about economic benefits like increased productivity, showing that we can grow using the tools at our engagement and performance,” Kelly noted. disposal.” In a recent survey, it was established that 80 per cent of respondents argued that there was a Flexibility in workforce vacuum for women in companies, especially in Kelly claims that one of her hallmarks of suckey decision-making roles. But the concept of cess has been to retain a more diverse workforce, greater women involvement in key sectors of the with 62 per cent of Westpac’s workers now on economies of the South Pacific, gained a boost in some form of flexible working process. She 2012 when former Australian Prime Minister, understands that while promoting women and Julia Gillard and the United States Secretary of diversity at Westpac, Kelly will keep the moState, Hillary Clinton endorsed a campaign at mentum going. “You have to keep working on.” the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting, and “You have to keep focussed, or it will plateau,” committed special funds. Kelly declared. When Westpac turns 200 in 2017, Said Kelly: “We know as a society that women the company’s milestone will be noteworthy for face challenges when it comes to managing their more reasons than just profitability. work and family lives. Kelly’s results speak volumes for those around “We have a passion for building a work place her. Boards across Australian-owned entities in that enhances employees’ capacity to achieve and around Asia/Pacific have adopted initiatives balance. This is being welcomed by both female to promote more diversity at the top levels. The and male employees.”
Dazzling performance...Majuro students performing ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Photo: Hilary Hosia
Theatre creates magic for students, community Russian play was a big hit By Giff Johnson and Jack Niedenthal The erosion of tradition. The breakup of families. The destruction of an ancient, longstanding community. Passionate politics. Music that captures the soul. The struggle to make ends meet. Just another day in the Marshall Islands? No, this is the 1905 village of Anatevka in Tsarist Russia and the story that gripped Majuro audiences was the latest play directed by Professor Andrew Garrod of Dartmouth College and Youth Bridge Global, “Fiddler on the Roof.” The stage production involved over 40 actors mostly from Majuro high schools, playing to thousands over five nights in early March. The many obvious and subtle parallels with modern-day Marshall Islands gave Fiddler extra meaning to Marshall Islands audiences. With the exception of the songs, which were sung in their original English, all dialogue was in Marshallese language. This was the tenth play Garrod has directed in Majuro since 2004 — eight have been Shakespeare plays and last year’s and this year’s musicals — and possibly the last as Dartmouth College is ending its 15-year sponsorship of a very successful volunteer teaching programme in the Marshalls. Dartmouth, under Garrod’s leadership, began bringing a group of seven-to-ten Dartmouth students to Majuro for a ten-week teaching programme, allowing them to get real-world experience under the guidance of experienced local teachers. Enthusiasm for the undergraduate programme generated a spinoff program of
Dartmouth graduates being hired by the Ministry of Education to staff local elementary and high schools since the early 2000s. Garrod launched his first Shakespeare production in 2004 in an environment where just about no one had a clue what he was up to. “The students had never seen or been in a play,” he said. They didn’t have a clue what it took to make it happen and this meant Garrod was challenged to keep their attention at the daily practices. “I had to station a Dartmouth football player at the door to prevent the students from leaving the rehearsals.” That first year was an eye-opener for the performers as well as the audiences, building momentum for the plays that have become a much-anticipated community event in March. How times have changed from that first theater production. The last few years, often more than double the number of students than can be used audition for the plays. “This year, 70 turned out for the auditions,” he said. It was way more than could participate, but Garrod found ways to include a number of those who did not get selected for parts in the play to assist the play in other ways. What engages Garrod the most is the process of directing the rehearsals to reach the finished product of a stage show. “For me, it’s always the developmental aspect (of the plays),” he said. Involving students in a process of working as a group, building their self-confidence, developing their voice, and raising their aspirations about what is possible is what motivates Garrod. “It’s about personal development,” he said. “I encourage (the students) to take themselves seriously.” Garrod believes the work the students put
into preparing for the play has an impact on their learning in school. College student Wanda Bobo, who acted in two of Garrod’s plays, and assisted the Fiddler production, confirms this. “To make each scene run smoothly, I had to make sure I gave the right cues the other actors were expecting and they were to do the same for me,” she said. “I learned that there are times in the classroom that I have to be dependent on others for success. In other cases where people would start losing their lines, I would have to improvise. This taught me to become a critical thinker.” For Bobo and the hundreds of Marshallese students who acted in the ten stage productions since 2004 probably the single most important quality Garrod instilled was a desire to be high achievers. “Professor taught us to set higher standards for ourselves and to believe in ourselves, and most importantly, to believe that Marshallese can accomplish anything if they set their minds to it,” said Bobo. Although Dartmouth has decided to end the programme largely over concerns about liability issues with Dartmouth students working in the Marshall Islands, the Ministry of Education has requested an extension and the Minister of Education, Dr. Hilda Heine, lauded the programme earlier this year. Of all the plays put on by Garrod over the years, nothing has come as close to the Marshallese spirit as the story within “Fiddler on the Roof.” The parallels between the modern day Marshall Islands and this tiny Russian village are at times oh-so-obvious and at times subtle. The story centres on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. Watching the village of Anatevka get uprooted by the Tsarists at the end of the play, it was impossible not to think of the waves that engulfed parts of Majuro Atoll the day before the play opened. It is an eerie-yet-timely parallel: might we all one day be packing our pots and pans and heading for America and points beyond as the sea levels overtake us wiping out our traditions, splitting up our families and presenting us with drastic, uncertain futures? Islands Business, April 2014 35
Climate All told, over 900 Majuro residents sought shelter in churches and schools after their homes sustained moderate to serious damage. Most were only in shelters for several days, but some, whose homes were destroyed, had to find alternative housing until their homes can be rebuilt. Following a disaster declaration by the government, the U.S. government approved a request for US$100,000 in emergency aid. The International Red Cross, through its local organisation, quickly provided relief services. The 3 March high tides were “the worst that the Marshall Islands has experienced in over 30 years, and the third time the capital Majuro has flooded in the last year alone,” said Foreign Minister Phillip Muller. Flooding from FebruGrave problem...High tides have repeatedly inundated low lying parts of Majuro like this cemetery. Photo: Suzanne Chutaro ary and March king tides is not unusual: these tides are a predicted annual occurrence. But the danger sets in when any weather event exacerbates the high tide. In 2011, when high tides inundated multiple islands around the Marshalls, climate researcher Dr. Murray Ford commented: “As the sea level is temporarily higher as a result of La Niña and overlies long-term sea level rise, the impacts are magnified. While these events happen only a handful of times a year at present they will continue to increase in both frequency and magnitude.” Another casualty of these ongoing high tides is cemeteries. Many are located just a few feet and cost of taking action.” from the high water mark, and are falling into By Giff Johnson The ongoing flooding events in the Marshall the ocean. Two weeks after the 3 March flooding, Islands are putting the government on the spot graves next to a private school that had been bufHigh tide energised by storm surges flooded with increasing costs for emergency response. It feted over several years by high tides, were finally many parts of Majuro, the capital of the Marshall also underlines the need for — and current lack knocked over by waves, revealing skeletons. Islands, on 3 March — the latest in a series of of — zoning rules in atoll urban centers, where “While king tides are not new to the Marshall inundation events that have hit this north Palocal residents have built on marginal pieces of Islands, their frequency and ferocity are clearly cific atoll nation in recent years. Two flooding land within centimetres of the high water mark, intensifying,” said Muller. “For those of us in the incidents last year, including one that knocked placing themselves at risk. Pacific, silly discussions about the scientific truth down portions of the international airport proThe flooding on 3 March hit around 4am tective seawall, flooding the runway and closing of climate change are futile. We see with our own with no warning. Ocean surges churned up by a the airport for a day, and last month’s flooding eyes that the oceans are rising, and our tide gauges storm to the east of Japan coincided with the high have fortunately resulted in no serious injuries confirm it. We know there is only one explanation tide, flooding many of the lowest-lying areas on or deaths. But they have caused hundreds of for this unprecedented phenomenon — climate the eastern coast of Majuro. The high tide also thousands of dollars in damage and left hundreds change has arrived.” impacted several other outer atolls. Alson Kelen, homeless for short periods of time, forcing the The high tide hit Majuro less than a month who lives on Ejit, a small island in Majuro Atoll, government to intervene with emergency aid. before the capital hosts the next meeting of the said he was awoken at 4am by “people screamPacific climate researchers believe these high Cartagena Dialogue from 1-4 April. The meeting outside my house. They were freaking out tide floods will increase in “frequency and maging of about 60 ambassadors and international because this is the highest king tide we’ve ever nitude” in the coming years. “We consider it to climate experts was established in the wake of the experienced.” be our responsibility as professionals to ensure, 2009 Copenhagen climate summit to help bridge Another Majuro resident, Hetine Heine, to the best of our ability, that people understand traditional political divisions, and to accelerate efdescribed the early morning onslaught by ocean what we know,” said a climate report issued in forts to forge a new international treaty to reduce waves. “There were three surges,” Heine said of mid-March by the American Association for greenhouse gas emissions. The wave damage the waves. “The first one woke us up and brought the Advancement of Science. “Human-caused sustained by Majuro residents underscores the lots of debris, injuring my grandmother. We climate change is happening, we face risks of urgency of the discussions for climate action and rushed my grandmother to the hospital — only abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible particularly mitigation action that will take place to return to a torn-down home.” changes, and responding now will lower the risk in Majuro in early April.
Storm surges rendered Majuro residents homeless US Government offers $100,000
36 Islands Business, April 2014
UN report calls for action to address existing inequalities truly global review of progresses, gaps, challenges and emerging issues in relation to the landmark Cairo conference. For the Pacific island countries, the UNFPA Pacific Sub-Regional Office (PSRO) had provided support for a regional youth delegation to the Bali ICPD youth consultation. As well, a Pacific regional parliamentarian consultation was held in Suva in August 2013 to assess progress and formulate a regional priorities list. The outcome statement, the Moana Declaration was then submitted to the 6th Asia and the Pacific Population Conference (APPC) in Bangkok (Thailand) a month later. The outcome of the
towards a global post-2014 development agenda is concerned,” UNFPA PSRO Director and Representative Dr Laurent Zessler said. United Nations (UN) report launched “The UNFPA Pacific office will continue to February has warned that global develprovide technical support where needed and opment gains in the last 20 years will all upon request, as countries prepare for the global be in vain if governments do not seriously tackle negotiation in New York in April and then in the existing inequalities that entrench distressful situUN General Assembly in September.” ations that the poorest and marginalised among Progress in the last 20 years include the fact us are mired in. that one billion people have escaped extreme While data reflect a decrease of those in expoverty; there are more laws to protect and uptreme poverty living in developing countries from hold human rights; that there has been a 47 per 47 per cent in 1990 to 22 per cent in 2010, many of cent decline in maternal mortality; and that more those living in the 50 to 60 poorest countries will women can realistically aspire to complete their be left behind as the rest of the world gets richer. education, become professionals and/ Entitled the ICPD Global review or be politicians. Report, it is encouraging in terms of However, today, there is no coundevelopment gains but it is also a try in which women are equal to men clarion call for a collective, consisin political or economic power. Too tent and determined action against many people continue to live without the persistent inequalities and disaccess to sexual and reproductive crimination that threatens to derail health services, including family development. planning and laws designed to protect When growing inequality prewomen and girls are more often than cludes human well-being for vast not, unenforced. numbers of people, its ripple effect We still live in a world riddled touches all facets of society. An exwith atrocities like 800 women die ample is how economic resources on a daily basis, while giving life and/ inevitably determine political access or the fact that one in three women and influence: the global review does worldwide report experiencing physireflect progress achieved mainly in the cal and/or sexual abuse and/or where wealthier segments of nations. one in three girls in developing counRising inequality further threatens tries are married before the age of 18 the ability of the world to provide for although marriage under 18 is illegal all; natural resources are a prerequisite in 158 countries. to the creation of wealth and if the “The report’s findings point to why majority of these resources are in the governments must enact and enforce hands of a few, this limits the resource laws that eliminate inequalities and base for poverty reduction and the exthat protect human rights, why they tension of rights-based development must fulfill the commitments they to present and future generation. made in Cairo to ensure the dignity Critical to the development gains and human rights are the foundareported by countries was the vition of a more resilient, sustainable sionary leadership during the Interfuture,” Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, national Conference on Population UNFPA Executive Director said durand Development (ICPD) in Cairo ing the launch of the report. (Egypt) in 1994 that decided to place The good news is that 70 per human rights and personal dignity at cent of governments have said that the heart of development, emphasized equality and rights are priorities for the empowerment of women and development. girls for the well-being of families, What is necessary for inclusive nations and the world, and affirmed sexual and reproductive health as a A girl child helps her grandmother at the Suva market sell freshwater mussels; a UN economic growth is a broadly-edufundamental human right. report has urged nations to seriously address growing inequalities. Photo: UNFPA PSRO/ cated, healthy, secure and empowered population – that is indeed the goal of The report is a frank assessment by Ariela Zibiah development. Equal development can 179 governments of their own perforbe achieved but countries must build mance in the implementation of the people’s capabilities, promote political participaProgramme of Action (PoA). It was produced APPC will now be further discussed at a global tion, provide universal access to services and at the request of the General Assembly by the level this month, in New York. fight discrimination. The fundamental causes of ICPD+20 Secretariat, housed in the United NaA strong delegation will be at this negotiation inequalities are perhaps too abstract to be apprecitions Population Fund (UNFPA) headquarters. to ensure the Pacific voice will be heard in the ated but as long as we focus on its consequences Launched by the UN Secretary-General Ban milieu of interests that will be represented at rather than addressing the structures that allow its Ki-moon on February 12, the report which was that table. perpetuation, we deprive ourselves actual equal informed by data from 176 countries, expert “The Pacific delegates were united and spoke and universal progress. consultations, academic research, and a series of with one voice in Bangkok and preparation has regional and thematic consultations, is the first already begun for the region as far as processes • Ariela Zibiah is the Communications Officer for UNFPA.
By Ariela Zibiah*
Islands Business, April 2014 37
PINA shreds charity status for limited company Fijian media dominates Pacific body By Samisoni Pareti
to make PINA a professional body with greater autonomy and allows for a relatively simple governance process.” Being a company opens up a lot more opportunities for the media body, said its Vanuatu-based President. Seeking a big bank loan for instance should be possible now. “Previously as an incorporated society or charitable organisation, PINA isn’t able to borrow funds more than US$10,000 for major projects for the organisation because of its legal status. With this new registration, the organisation is able to secure more funds and seek
invitation from the highest office in the Republic of Palau, from President Tommy Remengesau to host the next the 4th PINA Pacific Media Summit in Koror in 2016. “This for us is a further demonstration of the recognition of the critical role that PINA plays in the overall political, economic, social development of the Pacific region. It fits in well with our vision to have our presence and membership in all the four corners of Oceania. This will be the first time that the PINA regional media family will travel up north to strengthen our presence and membership drive in the U.S Pacific Territories. “Another success for PINA is the commitment made by regional organisations like the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC), the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Fiji Media Industry and Development Authority (MIDA) to collaborate and work with PINA. These commitments will be followed up with signing of Memorandum of Understanding between PINA and these organisations. This is again recognition of PINA’s role as the leading regional organisation representing the interests of the media in the Pacific region.”
At least three members of the board of directors of the new look Pacific Islands News Association Limited will have to be Fiji residents, the regional media body has confirmed. “The articles of association of the new PINA Ltd incorporates most of the provisions of the old PINA Constitution,” said PINA Limited’s President Moses Stevens of Vanuatu in his written response to Islands Business questions. “The only changes are in the structure of the executives of the new company and the compliance requirements under PINA Ltd’s the Fiji companies’ law. financial situation: “We now have a Board of “We are financially secure. We Directors, comprising seven pay our bills on time and right members, most of whom are now owe no money to anyone. now Fiji based PINA members. We presented our audited reThe seven include the President ports for 2011-2012 to the AGM and Vice President, Secretary, and the report was accepted by Treasurer and three members. members.” Currently those three members are Fiji based for the purposes Breakaway regional of compliance under the Commedia group: panies Act. The PINA Office “It was good to see a forManager becomes the Company mer PINA President pay up her Secretary. membership fee at the Summit. “On the advice of our lawyer, Another newspaper publisher Chan Law, the President and who was among a group of disVice President were to remain gruntled members who formed a for at least the first two years to new regional media body has paid oversee the smooth transition the membership fee of his print into the new company as they media outlet. There are positive have been part of the process in taking PINA to becoming a Doyen of Pacific journalists Sean Dorney of the ABC’s Australian Network talks to Radio Djiido’s indications from some former PINA members to rejoin PINA. company limited by guarantee. Magalie Maly Tingal at the PINA Ltd’s Pacific Media Summit in Noumea. We will take advantage of the The next level in the new comrenewed interest to bring them pany’s decision making process back to the PINA Media family.” is the Executive Committee made up of repredonor funding for operational and capital projects sentatives from PINA’s industry groups – radio, for the benefit of members. television, print and national media associations. Strengthening of national “We have had some challenges dealing with The four with the President and Vice President media associations a priority: the donor community because of the stringent make up the PINA Executive Committee.” “PINA believes that it can only become a stronrequirements on how the donor funds are used. Fiji-based media companies currently hold two ger regional body representing the interests of its We are hoping that with this new legal status, we positions in the new PINA Ltd’s executive commembers if the national bodies are strengthened are able to secure more funds to implement the mittee. In its new-look Board of Directors, Fiji and equipped to deal with media freedom issues, training wish-list of our members – especially occupies 4 out of the 7 available positions. The provide in-country training and professional the immediate training needs identified by our regional body’s new status was unveiled at their development programmes for media workers.” difference industry groups.” biennial conference which was held in Noumea, Noumea 2014 was successful for PINA Ltd in New Caledonia. Stevens told Islands BusiTraining is also a priority: many ways, its company President said. Lots of ness that changing PINA from a not-for-profit “We admit that we haven’t been able to conduct interest were received from the largely Francoorganisation to a company limited by guarantee training for our members because of differences phone media in the French territory, and there is (CLG) was a decision taken by the previous board that existed after the merger. Also, we needed to hope that more French language media compaof PINA some seven years ago. put our house in order first. Some members who nies will join PINA Ltd as members. “Since our merger with the Pacific Islands did not want the merger took their concerns to “Radio Djiido is our only member in New Broadcasting Association (PIBA) in 2004, our potential donors and development partners. As a Caledonia and we are hoping that the interest members mandated the Secretariat to pursue a result, donors distanced themselves from PINA. created from hosting the Summit there, we will legal status in Fiji despite the political events that Now that we have set our house in order with see more media outlets not only in New Caledocountry was going through,” said Stevens. “Our our legal status, the Secretariat will need to secure nia but French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna executives then endorsed a change in legal status donor funding to implement training activities.” rejoin PINA. Not only that, there is now an 38 Islands Business, April 2014
SPREP with David Sheppard
April, a time to learn more about Asbestos
his month we commemorate Global Asbestos Awareness Week to raise awareness of an insidious and slow killer – the substance known as “asbestos”. Asbestos, which occurs naturally as a silky white mineral, has been used widely in the past in building materials, insulation, brake linings, roofing products and a range of electrical material. Its affordability, coupled with its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, made it an ideal component in building and manufacturing material. Damage to material containing asbestos can result in the release of small asbestos fibres that become airborne and are readily inhaled. These fibres are not immediately toxic but can remain in the lungs for long periods and cause serious lung disease including asbestosis, lung cancer and various cancers of the protective lining of the lungs and other organs, in the long term. This means the actual disease may not appear until 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos fibres. While its profile in the Pacific is low compared to other more immediate threats, such as cyclones, tsunami and earthquakes, the impact of asbestos on our health cannot be ignored. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that during 1994 – 2008, almost 100,000 lives were lost globally from asbestos related cancers and, on average, this occurred 30 years after exposure. The WHO noted this was an increase from the previous reporting period due to more accurate reporting of the disease and its causes. In the Pacific islands, materials containing asbestos were widely used in the past for housing and building construction. The region is subject to periodic catastrophic weather and geological events such as tsunamis and cyclones, which are highly destructive to houses and buildings and, as a consequence, asbestos has become a significant waste and human health issue in many Pacific countries. The use of asbestos in building materials was essentially discontinued in the 1980’s. Several of our Pacific islands are grappling with the challenges of safeguarding the community through responsible disposal of waste material containing asbestos. The Cook Islands, for example, has had to remove asbestos contaminated soil from a Rarotonga primary school in February this year. While the school had removed roofs containing asbestos several years earlier, the soil around the classrooms had been contaminated through years of rain washing asbestos fibres into the adjacent soil. The clean-up involved digging a two metrewide trench around the affected buildings and carting away the contaminated soil. On the small island of Nauru, hundreds of roofs containing asbestos have been identified by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Plans are now underway in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environ-
SPREP is committed to working in partnership with our member countries and other regional organisations to ensure that the issue of asbestos is adequately addressed across the region. Photo: SPREP media
ment Programme (SPREP) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to find an environmentally acceptable disposal solution. Tonga is also seeking advice on managing its asbestos contaminated cyclone debris torn from damaged buildings, while Niue is working to identify options for disposing of asbestos in a secure local landfill. Now is just as important a time as ever to provide support to Pacific island nations in addressing the asbestos issue. One way we are doing this is through an important flagship project designed and implemented by SPREP and funded by the European Union that will target asbestos and other hazardous wastes. The Pacific Hazardous Waste Management project, also known as PacWaste, has recently been launched and will run from 2013 to 2017, with a budget of just under eight million Euros. The project is being carried out in 14 Pacific island countries including the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Timor Leste is also a participating country. PacWaste will conduct baseline surveys and prioritise interventions on asbestos, healthcare waste, electronic (E)-waste and also pilot best practice in integrated atoll waste management.
In recognition of the need to raise awareness and combat the negative impacts of asbestos, while identifying and promoting pragmatic approaches for asbestos management, SPREP and its partners launched the Regional Asbestos Strategy titled ‘An Asbestos-Free Pacific: A Regional Strategy and Action Plan 2011’ at the 22nd SPREP Meeting on 14 September 2011. With the launch of PacWaste, the strategies and actions identified for asbestos containing materials and waste in the Regional Strategy and Action Plan can be better implemented. This project will greatly contribute to improved management of regional asbestos waste and materials by prioritising intervention actions following the collection and collation of data on the quantity and quality of asbestos present in the Pacific; determining where it is; and what options are available to make it safe. Importantly, it should be noted that the hazards posed by asbestos materials can be sensibly managed by putting in place routine building maintenance systems, training and safeguards that take into account the risks and hazards of exposure. In the case of asbestos, this means responsible management of the current inventory of buildings and structures that contain such materials throughout their useful life, ongoing building maintenance and then ensuring suitable handling, treatment and disposal of the asbestos containing material when it becomes a waste. Islands Business, April 2014 39
PNG coffee has a c ra By Davendra Sharma
Cook Islands O3B antennae at Aroa. Photo: Telecom Cook Islands
Cooks opt for satellite telecom network By Robert Matau
ould the Cook Islands become the next Bangalore of the Pacific? They do have the right technology to begin with but comparative telecommunication prices could prove to be the difference between being a technological hub of the Pacific or simply investing in technology that would become a luxury item - for those who can afford it. Cooks texting or short message service is amongst the cheapest in the region, a survey on telecommunication services found last year. Their 3G network launched last month plus the O3b satellite networks arguably ranks the Cooks amongst the top in the region. Telecom Cook Islands Chief Executive Jules Maher told Islands Business their first four satellites were launched on a ‘Soyuz rocket’ from French Guyana last year. “A few weeks later we were able to successfully track these satellites as they circled in “Medium Earth Orbit” 8,000kms from the surface of the earth,” said Maher. Before that they relied on “GEO” satellite service, which stands for “Geostationary Earth Orbit” and has satellites placed 36,000kms from earth. O3b’s satellites are closer to earth and takes shorter time to send signals from the satellite to its destiny. “The time is reduced by 75 percent and the effect for us is that we now have internet service as fast as undersea fibre cable, at a fraction of the cost,” he said. How does it work? Maher said one antenna tracks one of the four O3b satellites as they fly across the sky at 8,000kms altitude. “When that satellite is just about to disappear over the horizon, the second antenna picks up the signal from the next satellite on the opposite horizon and starts tracking that.” O3b’s plan was to launch a second set of four satellites at the end of September 2013 but this was delayed because of a technical hitch. “These next four will be launched sometime in the first half of 2014 but in the meantime the Cook Islands is fortunate to be in a geographical position that can get full service from just 4 satellites,” added Maher. He said the beam from the O3b satellites is 700kms wide and enables them to cover five of their outer islands including Rarotonga itself. “This effectively delivers fast internet to 90 percent of the population. We do not have O3b service to the other outer islands yet but we expect to switch 40 Islands Business, April 2014
them on in a couple of months. In the outer islands we install pairs of 2.4 metre antennas to track the satellites and establish internet connectivity.” Maher said internet capacity increases at the fraction of the cost of the existing system. A study by Network Strategies in 2013 listed the Cooks Telecommunication Services as the cheapest using affordability monthly expenses as a percentage of the average monthly income. Maher explained the rationale behind the findings. “In order to compare ‘apples with apples’ across different countries you need to standardise the way you measure the telecommunications services. In this case Network Strategies compares 7 different types of services (examples are SMS, high, medium and low usage mobile as defined by OECD) and calculates what proportion of the average monthly income in each country it takes to buy each service.” He said if it required five percent of the average Cook Islands monthly income to buy low usage broadband but it took 10 percent of the average income in Samoa to buy the same level of broadband, then the Cook Island broadband service is deemed to be “more affordable.” “It may not necessarily be cheaper in terms of actual dollars you need to pay but the point is that people will only buy these services if they can afford them and a good comparison of affordability is calculating the proportion of the average income required to buy a service,” he said. The cost to Telecom Cooks Maher said the cost to Telecom Cook Islands of setting up O3b antennas was much less than 10 percent of the estimated cost of an undersea cable from Rarotonga to Tahiti (our nearest neighbour already connected by fibre). “The fibre was estimated to cost between US$25m and US$30m. Our capital costs are less than US$1.73m,” Maher revealed. “The cost of internet capacity is also a fraction of the price we are currently paying for GEO capacity. But we have decided to retain our GEO satellite service as backup in case the O3b link goes down for some reason. So the average price per MB is much less than what we are paying now.” Telecom Cook Islands is a statutory monopoly, and the company is 60 percent owned by Telecom New Zealand and 40 percent owned by the Cook Islands Government. These two shareholders secured the company monopoly rights in return for a Universal Service Obligation, which requires that it delivers telecommunications services to the whole country.
s exotic gourmet coffee from Papua New Guinea ticked all boxes in an international ranking last month, the World Bank began preparing a US$30 million rescue package to rejuvenate the country’s ailing coffee industry. Stiff competition, declining prices stemming from a world coffee glut and slow replanting in PNG’s main coffee-growing provinces have had a devastating effect on the country’s export revenue. Though PNG wields little influence on the world coffee scene, it has potential to capture a niche market and create a special and unique “PNG brand.” One of PNG’s growers bagged third place in a global taste competition recently, even though PNG is such a small player on the world coffee arena. “PNG’s coffee is achieving growing recognition internationally,” a World Bank report noted last month. It said international buyers and exporters see tremendous potential for PNG coffee and there is untapped scope for farmers to capture higher prices for their products and ultimately increase consumer recognition of a “PNG brand.” PNG coffee has potential to put itself on the world map, acknowledges Arlie Huli, co-founder of Highlands Arabica, which sells gourmet coffee to roasters worldwide. “You’ve heard of Jamaican Blue Mountain well, there is no reason why PNG coffee couldn’t achieve this same recognition,” she said.
Tonga gets $10m
he World Bank will give approximately US$10 million to support Tonga’s reconstruction and repair of houses for hundreds of families in Ha’apai whose homes were badly damaged or destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Ian in January this year. A World Bank team is already on the ground working with Tongan Government officials on the project. Under current proposals, this financing would provide up to 600 climate-and-disasterresilient houses that would ensure families can move out of temporary shelters as quickly as possible. “These funds will help to get cyclone affected families into permanent structures that can later be expanded,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the Pacific Islands for the World Bank. “The allocation of this emergency funding is the first step in the process. We plan to have an Emergency Housing Reconstruction Project designed and approved by the end of May.” “The Government is working with our partners, including the World Bank, to help affected communities to recover from the destruction caused by this natural disaster, ” said ‘Aisake Valu Eke, Tonga’s Minister of Finance and National Planning.—Contributed.
c rack at niche market with US$30m package Production in PNG started in 1926 with the introduction of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee but later growers diversified into other high-thriving product types. “It’s got great taste, great aroma. The fact that it’s rare isn’t an impediment, it’s an opportunity. Done well, I’m convinced could be the best coffee in the world,” forecasts Huli. As reported in Islands Business last February, oversupply of coffee by such world producers like Brazil and Vietnam over the last four years has hit demand for coffee from small Pacific island exporters like PNG and Vanuatu. Coffee once accounted for 38% of the PNG’s non-mineral production and was second best revenue earner only to palm oil but both production and exports have changed over the last 15 years. PNG’s washed mild Arabica highland coffee is its main strength for exports. It is estimated that 87,000 hectares is under coffee farming in the Highlands provinces, producing 1.18 million bags every year though exports have fallen immensely to just over 650,000 bags in recent years. The government is optimistic of lifting coffee production to 90,000 tonnes by 2016 as the industry is now raking in $140 million in export dollars, compared to $460 million earned from cocoa sales. PNG farmers can double their yield Under its Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project, PPAP - the World Bank promised PNG US430 million over five years in what is deemed as the country’s biggest handout for agriculture, an integral part of the economy with 85% of the popu-
lation sourcing their livelihood from the sector. “PPAP aims to work with smallholder farmers to double yield and improve the quality of their coffee and cocoa, and increase their incomes,” noted Laura Bailey, World Bank Country manager for PNG. “PPAP is a hugely important initiative, designed to help thousands of growers get higher earnings from their produce.” Farmers will get planting materials, extension services, access to extension schemes that bring higher prices and training and demonstration to help farmers manage the pest and hybrid plants. Pessimism in PNG Despite the World Bank’s expectations of a resurrection in the coffee industry in PNG, some locals are pessimistic about what new measures can achieve. Coffee Industry Corporation Chief Executive Officer Anton Benjamin said back in early 1970s PNG boasted 27% of world’s coffee and the industry was a mainstay for the island’s economy but many consider it “a dying beast.” There have been suggestions that for PNG to get an even keel with world producers it must stress on quality products and match demand expectations from large consumer countries like the European Union, United States, Japan and Australia. Calls have also been made for greater efficiency in planting and product delivery logistics by doing away with archaic methods of farming. Cocoa – clearing pests and engaging women farmers Under the PPAP’s agriculture initiative, benefits
will spin off to nearly 60,000 farmers engaged in coffee and cocoa production. “Over 85 per cent of the country’s population lives in rural areas and most depend on smallscale agriculture for their food and livelihoods,” the Bank noted. It added that coffee and cocoa are two major cash crops which provide critical income for more than half a million households in PNG. Cocoa production has suffered in PNG as a result of cocoa pod borer, CPB, a type of pest that spread across the country in 2008. Output of cocoa from farms in East New Britain, the principal cocoa thriving belt in PNG, saw a 80 per cent drop between 2008 and 2012. “In CPB-affected areas, partnerships are providing training and demonstrations to help farmers manage the pest and hybrid plants that are more CPB resistant. Such measures have been shown to eliminate as much as 98 per cent of infestation,” Bailey noted. Engaging CIC and the Cocoa Board of PNG, the World Bank hopes to improve coordination of the two industries with increase support to women farmers. “This year PPAP will also start rehabilitating and improving maintenance of up to 200 km rural roads to improve farmers’ access to markets in selected areas,” the Bank said in reference to extension of assistance to PNG’s six provinces – East New Britain, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, Jiwaka and Simbu provinces.
‘Rai Balang’ nets illegal fishers
almost 8.7million square kilometres of ocean covered by this exercise. Patrol boats from Palau, Marshall Islands and from two unlicensed fishing vessels and the holding n-Announced boarding’s of 69 fishing vessels, Federated States of Micronesia participated in of a crew abandoned by their vessel as it beat a hasty confiscation and torching of fishing tenders Rai Balang 2014, conducted in those nations’ exand gear and citings of 6 more boats were the highretreat from capture by authorities,” said the stateclusive economic zones plus the waters of Nauru, lights of the recently completed annual Rai Balang ment from FFA. “In FSM, one patrol boat issued and Papua New Guinea. Maritime surveillance maritime surveillance sweep in the North Pacific. citations to half of the ten boardings it conducted.” aircraft from Australia and the US supported the Rai Balang is one of four annual regional moni“The record year for Rai Balang did not just operation. toring control and surveillance operations aimed at come from its 39 sightings, 67 boardings, and 8 “Regional maritime surveillance operations such stopping illegal, unreported and unregas Rai Balang continue to deliver lesulated, or IUU fishing, in the Pacific. sons to us on the benefits achieved It gained its name from the stone when countries combine effort and money that used to be traded between resources for Pacific success,” says FFA Palau and the Federated States of MiDirector General James Movick. cronesian state of Yap and represents He commended the ongoing comthe strong bond between the two Mimitment from Australia, France, New cronesian nations. Zealand and the US in providing aeriLed by the Pacific Islands Forum al surveillance and naval support. The Fisheries Agency, FFA, the timing of Director General thanked the national all surveillance exercises is a closely fisheries and marine enforcement auguarded secret involving FFA’s Region- Fishing tenders and gear go up in flames in Rai Balang 2014. Photo: Division for Maritime thorities in the participating countries al Fisheries Surveillance Centre, Mari- Law Enforcement, Palau for safeguarding Pacific fisheries from time, Fisheries and Police officials in IUU fishing. Personnel from Palau participating member countries, and and Marshall Islands worked alongside support from the aerial and naval resources of the infringements. The use of automated data analysis compatriots from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, France, New Zealand and Australia. tools by the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance United States Coast Guard in the Joint CoordinaFFA says in a statement the latest Operation Rai Centre (which doubled as the Joint Coordination tion Centre at the FFA Secretariat. Balang sends a clear message to vessels in Pacific waCentre), detected dozens of cases of interaction beThe Director General also acknowledged input ters fishing in breach of their license agreements, or tween fishing, transhipment and bunker vessels.” from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric without a licence: ‘you will be caught.’ “In addition, 397 vessels were ‘sensed’ – detected Administration’s Guam centre, adding to the sub“Rai Balang 2014 saw a high number of infringevia radar contact or automatic identification sysregional exercise, and ensuring a broad level of supments, with Palau’s confiscation of fishing gear tems -- helping to focus surveillance efforts across port from FFA member nations.—Contributed.
Islands Business, April 2014 41
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