Vanuatu Daily News Digest | Ban Ki-moon on the Forum & Climate Change

Ban Ki-moon says the Pacific Islands Forum Declaration on Climate Change Action rightly emphasized the need for global responsibility

Remarks at Pacific Islands Forum

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 01 October 2015

Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato of Papua New Guinea, for your able leadership as the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The PIF is crucial to realizing our global vision for a sustainable future.

This year we have agreed on key global policies – on disaster risk reduction, on financing for development, and now on the Sustainable Development Goals. All of these will boost our work on the SAMOA Pathway for small island developing States.

Now we need action on climate change, which has a severe impact on the Pacific region. You speak for the most vulnerable. That is why I am counting on you to raise your voices to build political momentum to resolve outstanding issues.

The PIF Declaration on Climate Change Action rightly emphasized the need for global responsibility. Now we must do even more. I will continue to call on major economies to raise their level of ambition. And I will press for priority attention to the needs of small island developing States and least developed countries.

I vividly remember my visit to Samoa last year. I went to Lepa to witness the damage from the 2009 tsunami. It was a powerful reminder of how badly small islands are hit by extreme weather events. And it was a sober lesson on how urgently we need to invest in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The dangers continue. This year, El Nino has caused strong droughts and cyclones in the Pacific.

Your countries need finance. I have been doing everything possible to ensure that the Green Climate Fund is capitalized and operationalized. It must be up and running before the Paris Conference – with projects and funding ready to go, especially for the most vulnerable. The UN is also ready to support your region in achieving sustainable development and climate resilience.

The Paris Conference will represent an important turning point – not an end point – for global climate action. I am hopeful that countries will finalize a new universal and meaningful climate change agreement. This is possible – but it will take clear guidance and firm leadership from heads of State and government.
The global goals will help promote peaceful and inclusive societies.

That will improve justice, accountability and security while protecting people and ecosystems.

We all welcomed the strong SDG on gender equality. This year also marks the 15 year review of Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

I have been doing everything possible to champion women’s equality and to empower women across the United Nations.

I thank those of you who are with me in this fight. I was heartened by last week’s meeting on gender equality and women’s empowerment, where leaders agreed to close the gender gap.

There has been progress across the Pacific – but we still have to help women who are threatened by violence. We have to do more to involve women in politics. And we have to make women’s rights a reality everywhere.

The United Nations stands together with the countries and all peoples of the Pacific.

Your region is known for being on the frontlines of climate change – and I thank you for being at the forefront of positive change for our world.
Thank you.

UN News Centre, 6 October, 2015

Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 5 October 2015

The Head of State urged people to respect the Constitution at the official 36th anniversary celebration at Constitution Place this morning. President Baldwin Lonsdale listed the signatories who had passed on and those still with us and upheld the importance of following the laws of the nation. "The Constitution laid a foundation on which the country could build," he said, and "a united and free Republic was thus guaranteed on 5 October 1979," for Independence which was finally obtained on 30 July the following year. President Lonsdale upheld the values of the makers of the Constitution, which values are enshrined in the document.

It is alarming to learn from today’s Daily Post that we have not yet legislated to ensure adequate protective abortion laws. 36 years after the signing of our National Constitution giving everyone security of the person, "unsafe abortion is not fully illegal." Security of the person follows immediately after life and liberty as our third fundamental right. The Director of the Vanuatu Family Health Association, Arnold Bani, this week launched a booklet containing the results of a survey on health issues such as the rise in sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. The survey found that unsafe abortion is becoming a big problem in Vanuatu. "Contraceptive services and care must increase," said Bani. "Unsafe abortion is not fully illegal and we need to re-look at the laws associated with abortion."

Today’s Daily Post also carries news of the Chamber of Commerce assisting the Ministry of Lands through an Economic Land Reform Policy Initiative Committee. This Committee wants to see the Customary Land Management Act of 2013 and its Amendment of 2014 repealed. These are both legally enacted laws of the Parliament of Vanuatu. The Committee says that most of the 19 resolutions of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs on the subject are not adequately addressed by this legislation. And amendment is also needed to the Malvatumauri Act.

Land issues are also discussed by the young VKS lands desk officer Anymio David in Daily Post. Governments see land as money, he says, as do parents in need of funds for school fees or a truck. "We are actually giving away our power for our right to a lease title number," says Anymio David.

And a judgement concerning Ifira Trustees and the legality of their meeting at Le Lagon on December 13 2014 is reported as "entirely reasonable, sensible." Aspects of the meeting are considered contentious and it is thought an appeal may be intended.

Happy National Constitution Day.

Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 3 October 2015

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is unable to function owing to the Government side delaying in the appointment of its officials, reports today’s Daily Post. For the Opposition on the PAC, MP Ralph Regenvanu says the Opposition side is aware of the massive haemorrhaging of public funds that is occurring now as various boards are unlawfully terminated and replaced and then staff members unlawfully terminated and replaced (e.g., Vanuatu National Cultural Council and now Airports Vanuatu Limited, NISCOL and VNPF); as numerous new vehicles are being bought by various ministries, departments and SOEs; and as the Speaker of Parliament treats his office like a personal enjoyment fund," the Opposition spokesman said. He added that the Prime Minister was effectively muzzling any investigation by failing to appoint his representatives to the PAC.

In the same paper the PMO says it is appalled at the Opposition’s tactics to divide the Government and stressed that the PM needed to be in New York to address the UN General Assembly on Climate Change, sea level rise and the impacts of El Nino. (Daily Post)

An Agri-Services Promotion and Regulation Authority will replace the Vanuatu Commodities Marketing Board. The VCMB Act was repealed in 2009. The only Vanuatu prescribed commodities are coconuts, cocoa and kava and the Chamber of Commerce (VCCI) is wanting better consultation and control of these and other sectors which have so far been dealt with on a piece-meal basis. A consultation was arranged at the VCCI this week and another will be held at Santo. (Daily Post)

The Forestry Minister and Mayor of Port Vila are spear-heading a campaign to have sandalwood planted in public green spaces. The project was started last year with the late MP Edward Nipake Natapei. This week has seen the area near the netball court so planted. (Radio Vanuatu)

Large families from Whitesands, Tanna, are hoping to have some of their children evacuated to the capital and even live here for some time as a move to combat the drought conditions. (Independent)

Minister Tony Nari allegedly explains the termination of the CEO to Airports Vanuatu in the Independent as "whenever the government changes, there are new share-holders," and the former CEO did not recognise the new Board.

Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 2 October 2015

The drought leads the bulletins today: livestock dying in the Shepherds and people traveling great distances on Efate for drinking water and water for their produce.

The President of the Malvatumauri, Chief Senimau Tirsupe, says that the country is still using the Customary Land Management Act to deal with land matters even though the Customary Land Management Office has not been working effectively owing to staff and financial shortages. Changes to the law are now foreseen by the government. And these should reflect the Malvatumauri’s requirement to ensure custom is properly followed with custom land leasing, he told Radio Vanuatu News.

Daily Post today has the Chairman of the newly formed Commission on Economic Land Law Reform insisting that "land must not be controlled by foreigners." Vincent Boulekone was informing a briefing of the Lands and Justice Ministers this week. Last evening he addressed the members of this committee, as did Levi Tarosa, land agent.

The deputy head of the Police Force, John Taleo, faces charges of reckless and careless driving. (Daily Post)

Kiwi Ned Lowe, the suspect in the death of Roger Kamisak on Tanna will appear in court next week. He is charged with intentional homicide. (Daily Post)

Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 1 October 2015

Daily Post today reports the Opposition appalled by the Government’s leadership stance, with PM Kilman and Speaker Marcellino Pipite having continued or continuing ongoing overseas travel. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Ham Lini, observes that two thirds of Kilman’s backers "have a huge cloud of uncertainty hanging over them" in the ongoing Bribery Case. As well as running away from the "burning issues left unattended," Lini says, Kilman "hands over the reins of responsibility to a leader like Moana Carcasses whose fate is now in the hands of the courts." Ham Lini also drew attention to Kilman collecting the UN award to Vanuatu concerning information and communications technology (ICT) when he has said his government intends to control social media in Vanuatu.

37,000 voters in Port Vila will be going to the polls on 15 October for the by-election as a result of the death of the much admired Edward Nipake Natapei. Ex-FOL voters will this time leave their ballot papers at the VIT Hospitality Training Centre, ex-FOL having greatly suffered with cyclone Pam. (Radio Vanuatu)

Suspensions continue as the gap to the Port Vila election narrows … Finance Minister Willie Jimmy has suspended the VNPF Board led by Simil Johnson over "irregularities in investment decisions." No reasons were able to be given in the report this morning. (Daily Post) Ours but to wonder why.

The Northern Islands Stevedoring Company (NISCOL) has a new chairman, the Port Via businessman Jay Ngwele (of the Iauko Group). He was appointed by Internal Affairs Minister Nevu, replacing Alfred Maliu of Santo, to head the wharf management company owned by the northern provinces in the northern city. (Radio Vanuatu)

Daily Post reports 264 sewing machines have been destroyed owing to their infringement of VIPO regulations. Again, ours but to wonder why – why a happier conclusion to their illegality could not have been arranged.

And, oh, by the way … Eilon Mass got a gaol term of 5 years and 3 months.

Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 30 September 2015

There is just one big news item today – the ongoing sales of Vanuatu honorary citizenship by the Pacific Resources Group (PRG) in Hong Kong. Daily Post says PRG was "set up by the former Government under the same Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, to generate much needed revenue in collaboration with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, to help the Vanuatu Government fund its development projects." VT 1.6 billion was raised under the Capital Investment Immigration Programme (CIIP) until this was stopped by the Natuman Government. The programme is now the Vanuatu Economic Rehabilitation Programme (VERP) for which a Real Estate Option was signed into effect on 7 August by PM Kilman. The Secretary General of the Citizenship Commission says PRG acts as as the designated agent of the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission. Officials of PRG travel from Hong Kong to Vanuatu almost every month to provide over ten applications and on their most recent visit last week, they arrived with 14 applications for the Citizenship Commission," the Citizenship Secretary General told Daily Post in an exclusive interview. "The Prime Minister makes the recommendations to the Head of State who conveys honorary citizenship to the applicants," he added.

Yesterday, however, in Daily Post, we had history being made with the first major moves towards re-unification by the Vanua’aku Pati (VP), National United Party (NUP), Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP), a slab of RMC, Nagriamel, MPP, and the Hope Party. They are together endorsing the candidacy of Kenneth Natapei, son of the late and much respected Edward Nipake Natapei, for his father’s Port Vila seat in the by-election in a fortnight. Pastor Alan Nafuki pointed out to the large Sunday gathering at the Saralana stage that the Presbyterian Church had played an important role in Independence and was mandated to take such a stand again at the very recent PCV General Assembly at Erakor. Pastors and elders must help to ensure unity is a key issue by the national elections in 2016. A motion of the Erakor General Assembly re-inforces this, said Nafuki. Cautions against money coming in from Hong Kong were given by former PM Joe Natuman and former Lands Minister Regenvanu, both of whom are known to be opposed to the Real Estate Option for Citizenship. Regenvanu spoke of many MPs being anxious only for money for their own pockets, as in the alleged bribery cases, and of this being a crucial time for Vanuatu because of money recently received from Hong Kong. "Independence gave us our land back and achieved a unity which we must cherish," said Natuman. "And we must not let money coming in from Hong Kong change that."

Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 29 September 2015

There has not been a lot of news around … and with VBTC allegedly having internal problems, their bulletins concentrate on government doing the things it has to do. We are in an El Nino southern oscillation period, as we are every decade or so, and after a devastating cyclone (Pam) and with Climate Change being on everyone’s lips, well the messages about productivity need to keep going out, and VBTC makes sure of this. The Independent sees it as "Famine". And then we have to be told of the main exams for schools being in October or November. Yes.

Then we have the campaigns beginning for the Parliamentary seat vacancy caused by the death of Edward Nipake Natapei. The candidates on the campaign trail are Geogio Calo (UMP), Nadia Kanegai (PPP), Altaoi Ishmael Kalsakau and Jocelyn Mete (Independents), along with Kenneth Natapei in an historical coming together of seven parties about which I will tell you more tomorrow. Kenneth is the 25 year old son of the former VP leader.

The Pacifica Medical Association conference has brought some 300 doctors to Port Vila. Amongst interesting matters to be discussed after the official opening tomorrow – traditional medical practices here in Vanuatu. The cyclone Pam experience will also be relevant to discussions Daily Post reports.

Post yesterday had the plantation of frustrated British millionaire investor Ronan Harvey being looked after by local cattle man Kuvu Noel. He said Harvey’s problems stemmed from a mis-understanding with a group of Kole villagers.

Post today has two coconut plantations on Tutuba badly damaged by fire – arson suspected.

The really good news today is the launching of the Vanuatu Rural Electrification Project of New Zealand and the World Bank. Places where there is no electricity available on the national grid will be able to have access to solar power under a ‘plug and play system’. The advantages to students, aid posts and community centres will be colossal. NZ High Commissioner Georgina Roberts spoke of the increased economic opportunities, employment and improved livelihoods the system will provide, when VREP was launched this week. (Daily Post)

There is only progress news on this week’s big one in advance of the bribery judgements. The lawyers for the MPs charged with bribery have a Constitutional case before the courts, with Justice Fatiaki required to make a pronouncement on whether the Bribery Case is an abuse of process. Justice Fatiaki’s hearing sat yesterday. Await further information. (Daily Post)

Also await further information on yesterday’s sentencing in the Israeli Eilon Mass’s rape case.


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