Vanuatu daily news digest | 1 July 2014

Today the best news is near the end

A variety of reasons, none of them being the World Cup, have interfered with the Vanuatu Daily News Digest coming out Friday, Saturday and yesterday. Primarily there is the resignation of the Board of Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) and the appointment of a new Board on which I am reluctantly a member, and only there because TIV is such a valuable asset and must be maintained – and because media professionals are its principal partners.

There has been a sense of national loss with the passing of Dr Frank Spooner whose history of service starts in the mid-‘Sixties and covers even the latter years of Port Vila’s Paton Memorial Hospital on Iririki. He was the first Vanuatu Director of Medical Services. Dr Spooner undertook further studies during his working life (after graduating from FSM) and was awarded the MBE and entered into private practice. Today’s Daily Post news of his death covers all aspects of his career and service. His political role is not ignored and at this stage must indeed be regarded as further service to the community.

Having mentioned the World Cup, the amazing scenes of delirious Brazilian happiness with which we are are entertained must surely bump Vanuatu from its "happiest place in the world" status, if we are still on it. One would have thought we might still be at the performance of "Laef i Swit" on Sunday evening to open Wan Smol Bag’s International Theatre Festival to celebrate its 25th anniversary. At this we were treated to samples of what is to come from other groups from as far away as South Africa. But this morning there was an alarming radio announcement that projection equipment needed and some controlling iPads were stolen from the van of WSB. Anyone able to give any information should quickly contact WSB.

Saturday’s paper carried an excellent and detailed report on the new Waste Management Act.

The Acting PM Bob Loughman opened an advocacy workshop for leaders and targeting senior government officials and NGO personnel to assess the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development "programme of action" in Vanuatu. The Acting PM stressed the need for a return to the basic core principles of Vanuatu, as being called upon to lead the search for sustainable development priorities. These will help leaders understand development and its challenges, he said.

MPs have improperly approached the new chairman of the Citizenship Commission, he has advised The Independent, in seeking citizenship for those not entitled to it.

Prime Minister Natuman has this morning held a press conference following his greatly successful trip for the MSG to PNG. Representatives of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) were present at this morning’s address by PM Natuman and it was for the purpose of deciding the MSG position on West Papua that the Port Moresby meeting was held. In view of the fact that bodies other than WPNCL claim to represent the interests of the Melanesian people of West Papua, it was decided that there is a need to invite all groups within West Papua to form an inclusive and united umbrella group that will work with Indonesia to submit a fresh application for MSG membership." WPNCL may be very favourably placed in Vanuatu and near the MSG Secretariat to assist in the formation of the umbrella group. The Prime MInister pointed out how FLNKS had taken on this function after groups such as Palika had accepted FLNKS as the primary force for Kanak desires for independence.

Full details of the PM’s press conference are already being aired and will be read in tomorrow’s and weekend papers, but there will also be information on PNG assistance to Vanuatu ranging from budgetary assistance from 10 million kina to 100 scholarships, and prospects for exports of beef and coffee, amongst other things.

Prime Minister Natuman also expressed grave concern as to whether the ICAO will be able to permit Bauerfield to continue to operate in the very near future. This is because the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the Greenfield build/operate airport has not completed its work of reporting to Parliament on the steps taken for repair of Bauerfield which remains in a frightful state. The Committee’s report is needed within a few days.