Vanuatu daily news digest | 16 September 2014

Radio Vanuatu spends a lot of time and money advertising for a new General Manager for VBTC. The half page Daily Post ads on Saturdays cannot be cheap and the several times daily readings of the ad on Radio Vanuatu take many minutes of airtime, and if all of this is going ahead until 31 October when applications close, it is certain we will all know they want a new GM.

Anyway, they are often being pipped at the news post by that Daily Post, as they are today with news of the suspension of the Commissioner of Police, albeit on full pay. The news is truly surprising and there will be an inquiry. Meanwhile the acting commissioner is Aru Maralau. Arthur Caulton said there was no valid reason for his suspension.

Radio Vanuatu Lunchtime News today, however, also pointed out the suspension by the Vanuatu National Cultural Council of the Cultural Centre (VKS) Director, Marcelin Abong. Grounds for the suspension have not been given. The talented and extremely capable former VBTC Programme Director Ambong Thompson, who has been managing the VKS audio-visual section for many years, takes over the acting directorship.

Taking its news from all daily media, this vanuatudaily news digest is always beaten by everyone (and regrets for no Vanuatu Daily News Digest bulletin yesterday), but news which has not made it to these pages so far concerns that which was on page 1 in Saturday’s Daily Post: Vanuatu Financial Services Commission – VFSC position used to promote online raffle. Property at Santo is offered as prizes in a lottery in which the deputy commissioner of the VFSC is said to be Vanuatu Registry Services (VRS), operating the new product of the VFSC – the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP). VRS is said to be sponsoring the lottery, or raffle they call it, through EDC Vanuatu Limited, a Port Vila based company. What other uses will be found for tax havens? And by whom? This one is now well-known in Vanuatu. So much for land going back to the custom owners.

Saturday’s Post also carried news of the revocation of the citizenship of Yao Ruhia who acquired his citizenship after being resident for only seven years, insufficient to legally take Vanuatu nationality. He is the owner of Yao Investments building opposite Au Bon Marché at Nambatu and has held certain posts in Vanuatu’s embassy in Beijing. He calls on everyone to obey the laws of Vanuatu.

Today is Penama Day – happy Penama Day. The eighth President of the Republic will be elected tomorrow. Chief Daniel Molisa of Santo calls on the Electoral College to appoint a man Santo to the top post. Shefa has held the post for 19 years, Tafea for 10 years, Penama 5 years and Malampa for just 2 months (prior to a disqualification). Sanma and Torba have not yet had the chance to hold the presidency, Molisa and VBTC point out. Daily Post yesterday pointed out the prominence of Ex-MPs in the presidential stakes.

Saturday’s Post had the PM launching the biggest traditionally built canoe since Independence. The Tamarei Aneityum took a month to build and is nearly 12 metres long, 60 cm wide. The sail is hoisted to 8 metres and Post carried an excellent photo. Its launch is in keeping with the "back to our roots" philosophy of the present government, especially PM Natuman and the VP.

Today’s Daily Post has Canberra-based Rex Rumakiek the Acting Chairman of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL). He was here for the funeral of the late Dr John Ondawame, and told Godwin Ligo "We appreciate the Vanuatu stand in support of the West Papuan struggle for for political freedom displayed by Vanuatu." And he will soon return to this country in which he is well-known.

Last weekend also marked the 50th anniversary of the New Hebrides Airways’ first Milk Run to Santo via the Shepherds (Tongoa), Pentecost and Ambae, and Daily Post carried the story and a photo of those on the first flight which, unfortunately, had to be abandoned at Tongoa after something of a crash landing on the first usage of the grass strip. Joe Mulders’ complete account of the first ill-fated flight on which he was a passenger will appear in this Digest soon.


Vanuatu daily news digest | 13 September 2014

Radio Vanuatu this morning reports Bishop John Bosco Barames, leader of the Vanuatu Catholic Church, saying there must be good, clear and strong understanding of the spirit of the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC). This follows the particularly strident Seventh Day Adventist criticisms being made through the SDA rally taking place presently at Freswota. Bishop Barames said a healthy relationship between the churches of Vanuatu has been established now for many years and must continue.

Radio Vanuatu News yesterday carried news that Gilles Daniel, who lost his citizenship this week, claims the government made a big mistake owing to "political instability". The Independent today has him saying the Citizenship Commission "didn’t even call him to get his side of the story." The Commission cancelled Daniel’s citizenship saying it was obtained by fraud. Daniel is seeking legal advice.

VBTC News reported new methods being used by the Agriculture College and interesting many people of Santo. It concerns livestock production in small areas, and gives rise to "model farms." Facilities have been improved. An important aspect of this form of production is making animal feed available first of all.

The secretary general of the Torba provincial council, Ketty Napuat, has backed the teaching which takes place in kindergarten years. She did so as a kindy teachers’ training programme continued at Sola.


Vanuatu daily news digest | 12 September 2014

All daily media have covered the funeral of the late Dr John Otto Ondawame yesterday in Port Vila which was attended by many leaders. Sincere tributes were paid to the West Papuan freedom fighter, resident for a number of years in Port Vila, for his attempts to secure self-determination for his countrymen. The Vanuatu capital is to be the location of an up-coming forum of all the freedom movements for West Papua in the near future. Ondawame’s role in that event would have been of great importance. He will be sadly missed by his wantoks.

The Transparency page in Daily Post today reports the review of Vanuatu’s adherence to the UN Convention Against Corruption and the 2-day workshop which has followed the Vanuatu review. Mark Bebe of the Ministry of Justice pointed out Vanuatu’s failures in areas of accountability enabling corrupt leaders to get voted back in to Parliament. We can all think of many. Transparency Vanuatu also hoped to strengthen accountability in this regard. John Ezra of the PM’s Office noted how corruption continually transforms itself in Vanuatu. It was said the government must draft an anti-corruption policy and legislation and strengthen the Ombudsman’s Act. The Transparency page also reminded readers of the politicization of the Electoral Office as spelled out in the Vanuatu National Integrity System (NIS).

Registration of commercial seagoing vessels of 10 metres in length is now required under amendments to the Shipping Act, now in force following the gazetting of amendments to that Act this month. The Daily Post article points out that vessels now required to register must also report any damage caused to or suffered by that vessel.

VBTC News this morning has the government ready to start work on Olal airport in Ambrym next year. Decisions over land ownership remain with the chiefs, and otherwise government’s plans in the matter will soon be finalised by the Development Committee of Officials (DCO) and Council of Ministers (CoM).

Waste management is being taken up in new and imaginative ways by Luganville eco-tourism businesses. A TVET workshop was held for personnel concerned and went to destinations as far away from the Canal as Port Olry, Daily Post said, where serious composting was studied.

Australia, Kiwanis, Air Vanuatu and Au Bon Marché have united to assist wheelchair access for the disabled in Vanuatu, Post reports.


Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 September 2014

Running late … today is two days in one …

Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma pointed out to Prime Minister Natuman in Apia (at the UN Small Island Developing States forum) that for Vanuatu to host CHOGM in 2017 there are likely to be some 50 heads of government or state present in this country. A task force is being appointed, the PM told Radio Vanuatu News. PM Natuman was also reported by Daily Post to have commended the Vanuatu delegation to the UN SIDS Forum for "acknowledging the many challenges relating to financing sustainable development initiatives." Vanuatu is said to be on a path towards accreditation as a National Implementing Entity (NIE) as regards climate change finance.

Daily Post broke the news this morning (taken up by VBTC at noon) that former prime ministerial political appointee Gilles Daniel has had his citizenship revoked. The Citizenship Commission said Daniel’s citizenship was granted in a fraudulent manner. When there is one there are likely to be others.

Post also found extensive forgery and misappropriation in the Vanuatu National Training Council (VNTC). A middle-aged woman is in court entering pleas in relation to an amazing 169 charges before the Chief Justice. The charges relate to some 7 million vatu mis-used. Could this be why in our last bulletin (Tuesday) we reported that the Vanuatu Qualifications Authority (VQA) will replace the VNTC? The VNTC bankrupt?? Is this why there was such difficulty finding the total required for scholarships for this year???

Government announced yesterday in Daily Post that the Council of Ministers (CoM) has endorsed the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the loss of four lives with the landing craft MGY disaster off Lelepa.

Post also said 23 applications had been received for the Head of State position to be decided next Wednesday. And that paper pointed out that three political advisers in the Health Ministry were terminated for their action in representing an Opposition MP in the discussions for the motion of no confidence against the present government.


Vanuatu daily news digest | Foreign involvement in motion

The PM has warned business people from overseas, who are using Vanuatu to increase their wealth, against their becoming involved in the politics of Vanuatu. This comes after the deportation of an Australian lawyer involved in real estate, Robert Herd, alleged to be using his wealth to sponsor the last motion of no confidence which was adjudicated in the Supreme Court yesterday. The Government said it has adequate proof of the foreigner’s involvement in this matter and will not hesitate to deport non-nationals interfering in politics. PM Natuman spoke as the Government celebrated its win in the case brought by former PM Carcasses. Natuman said the Government is tired of seeing continual changes of administration. MPs have a right to change their government, he said, but it must be over a matter of national concern rather than for selfish or personal interests, Radio Vanuatu News reported.


Vanuatu daily news digest | 9 September 2014

Justice is prevailing and the motion is not going anywhere. Daily Post reports the Speaker of Parliament denying in Court that MPs John Tesei, Simeon Kaltaliu and Richard Mera ever signed the notice. Speaker Boedoro also understood that on or about 11 August these MPs signed a loan agreement with MP Tony Nari representing the Leader of the Opposition Moana Carcasses. The Speaker contended that the use of the signatures for a loan agreement did not constitute demand for an extra-ordinary sitting of Parliament, which, of course, it doesn’t. Two other denials of signing were also accepted by the Court. Daily Post headlines the story "Opposition looking at lodging an appeal." It is hard to see how that could win them anything. No real cause for a motion has ever been publicised and with Parliament meeting next week, Wednesday 17 September, for the presidential election anyway, and with all real MPs in attendance, insistence on a motion appears at best mischievous. No, the motion is surely not going anywhere and the game of motions for loans must be considered over.

Daily Post speculates on numbers for the Presidential election, suggesting it will be necessary for a Nationalist / Modérés compromise. The Electoral College consists of the MPs (52) and 6 Presidents of the Provinces. We can only hope that for the top post in the land this collegiate membership will make a decision based on good character and wisdom. The "core values" apparent in customary and community leadership stand us in good stead here, if only the electors will observe them. A letter to the editor today calls on these electors to ask themselves what they have done for their people lately.

The Vanuatu Qualifications Authority (VQA) is to replace the Vanuatu National Training Council (VNTC). It will be legally responsible for the development and maintenance of standards and qualifications in post-school education and training. It will replace the trade testing authority which used to reside at the corner below the Public Works Ministry. The Education Ministry is being helped by Australia and New Zealand in the VQA, and it is expected employment opportunities will result, both here and overseas. The VQA is chaired by long-time educational professional Jesse Dick.

The Lands Ministry has appointed new members to the National Housing Corporation.

Post has cooperatives likely to earn over a billion vatu this year. The Acting Director Ridley Joseph said their profits increased by 6.2% last year to 926 million vatu. The Savings and Loans scheme also did well and the number of cooperatives has increased substantially.


Vanuatu daily news digest | 8 September 2014

The Supreme Court as directed by Justice Harrop has thrown out the court application of the Opposition to revive their motion of no confidence. Opposition simply did not have the numbers.

Vanuatu helped considerably in setting up the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Conference PM Natuman said on his return from the big international UN Conference on SIDS in Apia. Natuman told the media of the history of Vanuatu’s involvement with the UN on the matter, starting with our first full time representative in the UN, Robert Van Lierop, and continuing through the 1992 Rio Environment Conference, VBTC News pointed out. Daily Post concentrated on efforts of the PM to have the Commonwealth Secretariat assist in political reform in Vanuatu. A Commonwealth representative is to be in Vanuatu next week to pursue the matter in government efforts to enable stability, Natuman said. Some 28 representatives from government, the private sector, NGOs, women and youth organisations, from Vanuatu, attended the conference in Samoa.

The amazing Ark Peace of China , the world’s second largest floating hospital, treated 7,512 people in Port Vila. The ship alone saw to the needs of 3,045 patients with a further 1,322 being seen at Mele and 1,935 at the Chinese Club and 1,210 at Vila Central Hospital. Prime Minister Natuman acknowledged the "tremendous job" of the Ark Peace which has now continued on its Pacific medical mercy tour to PNG, Post reports today.

Chinese enterprise continues to assist Vanuatu in many helpful ways. However, questions continue to be raised concerning the Convention Centre project which the former Vanuatu government decided to examine (in its so-called "100 day list") when it came into power in March 2013. This review was later revoked by the Council of Ministers. Government had contracted the China Jiangsu Provincial Construction Company to build the centre and Vanuatu was assisted by the Chinese Government to the extent of 16 million US dollars worth of funding. Dr Charles Kick asks whether there has been any public screening of the design of the building to ensure minimal future maintenance costs and whether there is any independent oversight of its construction. There have been reports of children at the nearby school suffering from applications of anti-rust treatment used on scaffolding.

Daily Post reported 52 workers being re-instated at Le Lagon Saturday after industrial action which saw them being laid off on Friday. The general manager flew in to Vanuatu Friday night. The Vanuatu National Workers Union National Secretary Ephraim Kalsakau pointed out that hotel staff had walked out of a Friday meeting and Police were called in. Unpaid wages and allowances led to the dispute at the hotel which had a convention centre constructed for it for the ACP-EU parliamentary meeting of 2013 here in Port Vila and for which the convention centre near Parliament is unlikely to be ready come the next such meeting.


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