Respected leaders express doubts about Vanuatu’s current direction

President Abbil yesterday called on the Presbyterian Church to help the Vanuatu Government serve the people.  He was opening the 64th Assembly of PCV. “Without the church,” he said, “the work undertaken would not be stret. As a founding church of Vanuatu, it is important the Church plays its role in helping Government to daonem ol rabis fasin presently taking place”, VBTC Radio News reported this morning.

President Iolu Abbil and Prime Minister Sato Kilman having both expressed doubts about Vanuatu’s future on Independence Day, and Radio Vanuatu News naturally felt compelled to follow this up. President Abbil was particularly worried about many weaknesses developing throughout the country. Our nation’s status has been weakened, he observed. Senior radio journalist Alain Simeon spoke to three Vanuatu leaders about Independence yesterday.

Former ombudsman Mr Hannington Alatoa, like President Iolu Abbil, feels Vanuatu has lost the true meaning of Independence, and did so around its 20th year. “We have lost focus”, he said. “Our problems have doubled and we don’t know where we are going. We won our Independence and especially our land rights. But then we lost the roadmap. We still have freedom, bur we are getting rid of our land at a great rate. We must refocus. We have stalls and entertainment and celebrations, but not what really reflects true Independence.”

Winner of a distinguished service medal, Dr Howard Van Trease, feels the Public Service Commission should make a better effort to absorb the university graduates of today. Many have returned from overseas but are unable to find employment. He was reflecting on the first Independence Day which saw a total of only eight graduates. “Now there are over 600, and there seems to be no system in place to absorb them. I know of at least four who are looking for jobs these last six months, but cannot find them. Government must properly correct this situation.”

Vanuatu’s only woman MP, Eta Rory, emphasized production. “Thirty-two years after Independence we do not have a productive side. It will only come if Government focuses on it. Yes, we are free as a nation, but we must look at productivity and promote what we produce.”

The weaknesses and faults in Vanuatu are all laid at the door of Government. It is extremely important we choose a future government that is educated, wise and trustworthy. Or the problem will continue to be of our own making.

However, potential women candidates are showing the way. The Department of Women’s Affairs is bringing them all together this week to discuss the many challenges, Radio Vanuatu News announced this morning. Director Dorosday Kenneth says they will be trying to identify all the issues and how they will deal with them should they become MPs. NGOs and the political parties have given their blessing. “How to make people understand what it is necessary you deliver as an MP”, says Kenneth, “at whatever level, is what we will be working on.”

Yesterday it was officially noted by VBTC Radio News that Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini had officially appointed Mr Kim Lee as Vanuatu Trade Commissioner to South Korea. This was made official at a function in Korea on Wednesday, hosted by Mr Lee, and apparently must officially be conducted on the home ground of the trade commissioner. Mr Lee is the owner of the Sky Garden Restaurant in Vila and has assisted the Vanuatu team to the World Mini Expo in South Korea.

An overseas announcement from Prime Minister Kilman last week about the Phocea diplomatic passports scandal, said he had removed ministers’ powers to appoint representatives overseas, but maybe the door was still open for Mr Lee. Have the scam Phocea diplomatic passports been locked up? And more to the point, has anyone been arrested following the March passports scam and constitutional infringements over citizenship?

Daily Post leads with national soccer star Seloni Iaruel beginning his trials today with UK football club Stoke City. Iaruel and a Vanuatu delegation were given a city welcome and Stoke City will be giving our keeper every encouragement during the ten-day trial at the club.