7.0 earthquake hits off Malekula; West Papua supporters march on MSG Secretariat

Supporters of West Papua full membership of MSG were out iin force in Port Vila this morning. Photo: AWPA

Supporters of West Papua full membership of MSG were out in force in Port Vila this morning. Photo: AWPA

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West Papua’s Morning Star flags were on prominent dislay this morning in Port Vila. Photo: Makereta Komai

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A new generation of activists for West Papua marching this morning. Photo: AWPA

A 7.0 earthquake hit 1km off Norsup, Malekula at 6:33am this morning. The quake was shallow, only 27km deep, and sparked a local tsunami warning which was cancelled shortly after. It was felt throughout the country, and was strong enough to knock down shelves from Luganville to Vila; nothing more serious has been reported from areas closer to the quake’s epicentre.

 

Today’s 7.0 earthquake just off Norsup was big news, but not big enough to be eclipsed by the peaceful march on the MSG Headquarters today. Already there has been action as regards the MSG unifying body as the Special Leaders’ Summit has been postponed. Fiji’s PM Voreqe Bainimarama has said he would not attend owing to his attendance at Windsor Castle in the UK for the Queen’s Birthday celebrations. (Daily Post) It is his nomination for the MSG DG position which has caused the requirement for a summit on the matter. The new date remains unclear.

A meeting of investors with Lands Minister Regenvanu this week was given over to aspects of subdivision planning and creating, and the existing guidelines were seen by the meeting to be woolly enough to need much more input from the private sector and others. The imprecise nature of subdivision policy has proved perplexing to anyone with any interest in land matters, especially at the time of the last government, which announced readiness to abandon the reform legislation, so comparatively recently introduced. Previously subdivision requirements were only able to be established from a subdivision policy planning committee unable to detail requirements saying that it was planned there should be subdivision committees in all provinces. The perosn doing the subdivision would need to provide “security, access and water.” But the width and quality of roads, it seems, were to be left to the provincial level, along with many other matters. A new committee was proposed by this week’s VCCI meeting to look at not only the finer points of subdivision, but also many remaining questions from the investment community. (Daily Post yesterday)

Lands Minister Regenvanu has handed over a cash donation to the Media Association of Vanuatu to assist in commemorating World Press Freedom Day next Tuesday as he will not be in the country at the time. He told MAV President Evelyne Toa that he was pleased to see the power of media in Vanuatu. Toa responded that his was the first such ministerial donation for the work of MAV and she expressed the gratitude of the membership for the donation. (Radio Vanuatu)

Unfortunately today’s Daily Post on its Transparency page carries news of Transparency International scaling down its operations in Vanuatu due to lack of funding. Staff are being reduced in all Melanesian member countries – Solomons, Fiji, PNG and Vanuatu – and some of the projects are being closed. ALAC, the legal advice section in Port Vila, had to close in March. And the making available of free Bislama versions of the Constitution will see remaining stocks distributed amongst schools. The cost saving is sad news on the eve of World Press Freedom Day.

Japan has funded risk management equipment for the Geohazards Department. It is worth nearly three hundred million vatu. Minister for Climate Change Ham Lini expressed his departments’ appreciation of the gift, given by the Japanese counsellor based at the Japanese Embassy in Fiji. (Daily Post) One might hope the gift will assist Vanuatu to escape from the “world’s riskiest country” status in terms of natural disasters.