To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Prime Minister Sogavare questions independence of judiciary

By Alfred Maesulia

The Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare today described the courts proceedings on the Commission of Inquiry Terms of Reference, a “Judicial Farce”.

Describing the manner in which the case was handled, the Prime Minister said: “It is a clear case of an orchestrated scheme by a Judicial system that has succumbed to the dictates of foreign influence and therefore no longer independent.

“It is ironic that independence of judiciary was at the core of the issued contended by the Attorney General and the Court when it granted leave for the matter to be fully contested and yet the very same Court is prepared to sacrifice that important principle when it denied the elected government of its fundamental right to be represented in the hearing.”

The Prime Minister said that quite contrary to the reasoning tendered by the expatriate Solicitor General, ‘public Interest’ demands that all contending parties be given the opportunity to tender alternative arguments.

Mr. Sogavare said that what had transpired was a clear case of collusion to pervert the course of justice.

Commenting on the peace process, the Prime Minister said the fact that the country’s judicial system is systematically falling into the control of foreign governments must be a matter of serious concern to all peace loving Solomon Islanders.

“Locking Solomon Islanders upon allegations that are based on shaky evidence is akin to pursuing a strategy of legalized slavery and clearly not in the best interest of peace and national unity,” the Prime Minister said.

He continued: “It is the Judiciary that needs to come to terms with the national peace strategy, and to stop acting like a foreign entity in Solomon Islands.

“Contrary to what was reported in Solomon Star, the Government will not accept any ruling against it on the two terms of reference, and will appeal any decision to that effect.”

He said achieving lasting peace is a corporate responsibility, and the Judicial system is no exception.

Source: Government Communications Unit

PM's terms 'outrageous", suggests Solicitor General

High Court judges could be called before the Commission of Inquiry into the April riots under its present terms of reference, the High Court heard yesterday.

“This shows how outrageous these terms of reference are,” the Solicitor General, Nathan Moshinsky QC said. “It would amount to interference with existing and future process,” he said.

Mr Moshinsky said that two of the 11 terms of reference Prime Minister Manessah Sogavare set for the inquiry could lead to serious interference with court work. He was appearing for the Attorney General, Primo Afeau.

Mr Moshinsky asked the judge, Justice John Brown, to quash the two clauses. He cited several legal grounds and precedents dating back to 1865. The judge said he would give his decision as soon as he could.

Mr Moshinsky said the clauses to which he objected were so unreasonable that no reasonable Prime Minister, acting in accordance with the law, could have set them. He argued too, that Mr Sogavare had exceeded his powers, in setting them. Mr Moshinsky also said Marcus Einfeld, the man chosen to head the inquiry, had been seriously mistaken, when he promised that he would not allow the risk of contempt of court to arise. As things stood, Mr Einfeld, would have no choice but to report on the two objectionable clauses. His appointment was executive, not judicial.

Mr Sogavare was not represented at the hearing. However, he sent a letter to the court, saying he would accept whatever decision the judge made. Mr Moshinsky said this is the traditional practice, in such cases.

The first of the two clauses the Attorney General is seeking to have quashed sought information on the role any MPs might have had in the April riots. The commission was ordered to:
(1) “Investigate, examine and determine the role of any member of parliament (including the Honourable Charles Dausabea PM and the Honourable Nelson Ne’eMP)(“the accused persons”) in the organization and execution of the April civil unrest.
(2) "Review the circumstances relating to the arrest, charge and detention of the accused persons, as well as investigate and evaluate the basis on which their continued detention in custody was reasonably justified and not politically motivated, so as to deprive them and their constituents of their constitutional rights and responsibilities.”

Both MPs have been arrested, charged and detained on allegations arising from the riots. Both have repeatedly been refused bail. Mr Moshinsky had an early victory in the case, when the judge ruled that the Attorney General does have the necessary standing to make such an application to the court. Mr Moshinsky said the Attorney General had brought the case, not as an executive officer, but as a friend of the court.

Proceedings against the two MPs are already under way, in the Magistrates’ Court. Both have pleaded not guilty. Mr Moshinsky said the proposed Commission of Inquiry would be given just six months to report. So magistrates, as well as High Court judges, could be called before the commission, to explain what weight they put on the strength of the prosecution case. Mr Moshinsky said the rules of evidence, which apply in court, would not apply before the commission. He said the Attorney General’s application had been made to protect the proper functioning of the Solomon Islands courts.

Source: Solomon Star

Cabinet approved new Credit Guarantee Scheme

A new credit guarantee scheme to cover all sectors of the economy including rural enterprise development was announced by the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare yesterday.

“The scheme is one component of a strategy for financial market development,” said the Prime Minister.

“It is an important part of our Rural Development Framework which also includes plans to improve infrastructure (roads and shipping services), agriculture and provincial capacity to improve rural livelihoods.”

The Prime Minister said that commercial banks and other financial institutions based in Solomon Islands are well resourced and the money available to support rural business development. However, they often require a borrower to offer their property to help secure a loan. This means that people without the title to property may find it hard to access finance.

In the absence of property or other valuable items, a credit guarantee scheme can help to secure a loan.

“It is important that we work in partnership with the commercial financial institutions on Solomon Islands to share the risks involved in supporting enterprise development and growth,” the Prime Minister said.

“This is particularly important in new areas of business development such as shipping and civil engineering that require large investments in equipment and machinery.”

The credit guarantee scheme could also be used to help financial institutions extend services into rural areas,” said the Prime Minister.

“The scheme could be used to guarantee lending by commercial banks to institutions that provide loan for business development in rural areas.”

The Prime Minister, however, cautioned that the credit guarantee scheme should not be too generous.

“The concept is about risk sharing,” he said.

“The government will take on some of the risk but not all of it. The commercial banks will need to play their part too.”

The scheme will be designed in consultation with the commercial banks and other financial institutions and launched as soon as possible thereafter.

Source: Government Communications Unit

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

To'abaita youth attends JICA Training on Sustainable Development of Mining in Kosaka, Japan

Another To'abaita youth and future leader is currently attending a 3 months JICA training course on "Sustainable Development of Mining" in Kosaka, Japan.
Mr. Wilson Billy Rafiau who hails from Malu'u in the North Malaita region was nominated by the Department of Mines and Energy to attend this 3 months course at the Mining Institute of Technology (MINETEC) in Kosaka Perfecture, Japan beginning from 6th August to 19th November 2006.

According to Mr Rafiau, the objectives of the course include:
- To understand the role of the mining industry in Japan;
- To understand what mining has done to Japan economically, socially, and environmentally (both advantages and disadvantages);
- To understand the mining policy and laws (environmental, mineral etc.) that governs the mining sector in Japan;
- To analyse case studies of environmental issues from the participants' countries;
- To study the technology used in the mining and the methods used in treating and solving environmental issues in Japan and promote potential technology transfer; and
- To have abroad idea of the Japanese government approaches towards mining and the environment, and how to apply the knowledge in the participants' countries.

"The most important message from the training is that if we want to pursue development, we must ensure that there is a balance between development and the preservation of nature and the environment", said Mr Rafiau.

The training course has attracted a total of 18 participants from different countries and continents ranging from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Oceania region (Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Vanuatu).

The most unique thing about Mr Rafiau's trip is that he is the first Solomon Islands participant and the Department of Mines and Energy nominee under JICA training to go to Kosaka. As a result, the Kosaka International Society (KIS) has organised a Flag Painting Ceremony this coming Saturday (02/09/06) where participants will paint their national flags for future public display in Kosaka.

Other field activities relating to the course include visits to abandoned mines, rehabilitated mines, recycling plants, smelting plants, and electronic recycling plants which are located in different places all over Japan.

Solomon Islands Attorney General vs Prime Minister in court today: is this a good start?

The case of the Attorney General challenging the Prime Minister over two terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry into the April riots will be heard in the next one and a half hours at 1.30pm (SI time) today at the High Court.

Solicitor General Nathan Moshinsky is representing the office of the Attorney General.

It is still not clear at this stage who will be representing the Prime Minister.

The Office of the Attorney General wants the court to squash the two terms of reference which require the Commission to investigate the involvement of two Honiara MPs in the April riots.

The two, East Honiara MP Charles Dausabea and Central Honiara MP Nelson Ne'e are facing charges relating to the rioting, looting and burning of April 18th.

The Attorney General is asserting a possible contempt of court and interference with due process of court, should the Commission is allowed to pursue the two terms of reference.

In another court appearance, businessman Alex Bartlett appears for mention at the Honiara Magistrates Court on one count of conspiracy to commit felony.

The charge relates to a meeting he was alleged to have had with three others where they conspired to kill certain MPs in the former government and to destroy certain businesses in Honiara following the election of a Prime Minister on April 18th.

Source: SIBC

Malaitans must be self-reliant and have vision to achieve development: deputy premier

Malaita Province lacks development because money donors give for development activities becomes “dead” due to lack of vision or planning by locals over the future of their aid funded projects. Malaita Provincial deputy premier Wilfred Maeluma made this statement during a public forum held in Auki, Malaita Province on Friday last week.

Mr Maeluma said between SI$25million and SI$40million were injected in Malaita by donors in the form of community projects last year. “This money didn’t come into the provincial government. It went directly into the community. So the people in the community should know where the money has gone, what projects have been funded and why they have not resulted in employment for Malaitans,” the deputy premier said.

He said had this money utilised properly there would be development, creation of jobs and investment opportunities. Unfortunately, he said none of these happened because of lack of vision or plan of what to achieve from the projects that were funded.

“The provincial government is very concerned about the lack of development in the province. There is no reason why we should not have a lively economy with enough jobs to satisfy our population. The provincial government cannot create the jobs or businesses. That is not the job of the government,” Mr Maeluma said.

However, having seen the lack of development activities in the province, Mr Maeluma said the provincial executive had taken the step to facilitate and coordinate people in Malaita to achieve their own development and create their own opportunities. “The provincial government itself has no resources, but it could still do a number of things.”

And three of the things Mr Maeluma highlighted were:
First, the provincial government had to ensure that the donor money that comes into Malaita is well spent. “That it doesn’t become dead money but is used to put life into our economy. To do this we must be able to speak to the national government, donors and international agencies on what to do to achieve development in Malaita. We must also ensure that development activities are coordinated, that projects are well set up to succeed and are able to get technical assistance when they need it,” the deputy premier said.

Secondly, he said his government had to ensure economic development will not result in disharmony and conflict within communities. “We have had enough conflicts,” the deputy premier said. “Conflict arises when people are unhappy about the way they are living their lives - and economic development does not necessarily mean happiness.”

Finally, he said Malaita people must learn to be self-reliant. “Dependency devalues takes away our options and our choices.” He said Malaitans must move away from the expectation that someone else is responsible for delivering the things they want. “They must be encouraged to see that they themselves can take control of their own lives, their own development, their own future. “We couldn’t go on waiting for someone else to bring us development, we need to do something for ourselves”, said Mr Maeluma.

Source: Solomon Star

SI Prime Minister receives third quarterly payment of the RCDF

By Alfred Maesulia

Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare has formally received the third quarterly payment of the Rural Communities Development Fund (RCDF) of SI$5,000,000.00 on Wednesday.

His Excellency Antonio Chen, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Solomon Islands handed over the payment during his meeting with Sogavare.

The payment improved the timely release of payments to the current up to date position.

Mr. Chen said the delay was due to the national election and change of government.

“But we have managed to catch up. We hope Solomon Islands politician will help us deliver the assistance to the rural areas to where the assistance needed most in a timely manner,” Ambassador Chen said.

Ambassador Chen also expressed his delight to see measures to strengthen the accountability on the RCDF implementation being adopted by the Solomon Islands government.

He said: “I am pleased to see the RCDF guidelines being incorporated in the Parliament Entitlements Regulations, 2006.

“I am sure it is a big step toward improvement in the accountability structure. I believe Solomon Islands politicians and people as well as other donors will also be happy to see that.”

He is happy that the Department of Provincial Government had requested all Members of Parliament to retire previously released quarterly fund before next year’s fund is released.

He said this would improve further the accountability and there would facilitate the release of the next payment.

When receiving the payment, Prime Minister Sogavare thanked Ambassador Chen and the Taiwan Government for the assistance.

Hon. Sogavare said: “This continued cash injection from the RCDF has gone a long way to help alleviate poverty in every corner of Solomon Islands and makes life easier, particularly to those who live in the rural areas.”

Each quarter the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) injects SI$5 million into the RCDF.

Source: Government Communications Unit

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Malaita chief welcomes Government help

A Malaita chief has welcomed the announcement by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare about a million dollar package to each constituency a year.

Chief George Suri Kwanae of North Malaita says this is a great achievement in the best interest of rural dwellers of Solomon Islands.

While congratulating the Prime Minister and his Government for the achievement Chief Kwanae says the help will go a long way in the development Solomon Islands.

Chief Kwanae however warns both the leaders and their people to use the money wisely.

He appeals to the rural people to ensure they use the funds on viable and sustainable development projects which brings economic benefits to the people and the nation.

Chief Kwanae warns against the use of funds by leaders and their close associates for political gains.

He cites Malaita province alone having 14 million dollars a year allocated to the 14 constituencies.

Chief Kwanae says in a Parliament's four years term, the Province gets about 56 million dollars, enough to built a high-way around Malaita province if the money is used wisely.

Chief Suri warns that people will be still beggars in their own land if they fail to use the funding assistance wisely.

Source: SIBC

A plan to kill former Prime Minister revealed in court yesterday

A plot to kill the former Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza and three members of his government was revealed in court yesterday.

The three include Peter Boyers, Laurie Chan and Snyder Rini, who was elected Prime Minister on April 18th.

The plot was revealed in court when one of the alleged conspirators, former politician Alex Bartlett was yesterday charged with a count of conspiracy to commit felony. He was refused bail.

The other alleged conspirators include Central Honiara M-P Nelson Ne'e, East Honiara M-P Charles Dausabea and former Honiara City Mayor David Dausabea.

The court was told that the group had met five days prior to the April 18th riots.

The court was told the men conspired to kill members of the former government, wipe out Chinese businesses because they supported the former government and to destroy the Pacific casino hotel.

The prosecution told the court it expects to charge the two Honiara M-Ps with a count each of conspiracy to commit felony before tomorrow, whilst David Dausabea was held in custody overnight before appearing in court today where he is being formally charged.

The prosecution is relying on statements from a Willie Titia who claims he was present at the meeting.

Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza has also made a statement to the prosecution because the witness had told him about the plot.

Source: SIBC

One of Solomon Islands pioneer artists has died

by Moffat Mamu

One of the country's best-known artists died in Honiara on Sunday while doing the job he loves. Charles Manata collapsed and died while painting murals at a home in Panatina.

The Solomon Islands Artists Association yesterday mourned the death of Mr Manata. "We've lost one of our pioneers. It was a great loss to us," the Association's vice president Peter Kennedy Bubulu said yesterday.

He described Mr Manata as a person of great compassion who wanted to see the development of art in Solomon Islands. Mr Bubulu, who has known Mr Manata since 1988, said his decision to become an artist was influenced by Mr Manata's work.

"I first saw his work in primary school text books. Later on when I moved to Honiara, I saw some of his works in various buildings around town. All I can say about Mr Manata is that he was an unselfish person who is always willing to share his skills and talents to young artists," Mr Bubulu said.

Mr Manata is a former curator of the National Art Gallery in Honiara. He was also a former president of the Artist Association. Records have also shown that he was one of the founders of the Solomon Star newspaper, although he left the paper some years down the track.

In November last year, he got a job as an interpreter with the Case Support Unit. As an interpreter, he was required to interpret court proceedings from English to pidgin and vice versa. A statement from the Case Support Unit said Mr Manata was a man of great experience.

"Charles will be greatly missed by his colleagues for his extremely high standard of interpreting both at the High Court and Magistrate Court. He is always smiling and ready to greet you whenever he is met. He always ensures that his interpreting duties are never questioned and that he does his job in an extremely high standard. His sudden passing is indeed a great loss to us and has left a vacuum that will take some time to be filled," the statement said.

The Solomon Star was unable to establish the cause of his death.

Source: Solomon Star

Monday, August 28, 2006

To'abaita leader awarded Technical Assistance Scholarship to attend Seminar in Japan

A prominent To'abaita leader is currently attending a two weeks unique development seminar in Japan on a Technical Assistance Scholarship under the Japanese Government's Support.

Mr Leliana Daowana Firisua is in Japan to attend a seminar on the "One Village, One Product" for LDCs, which is known in Japanese as "Isson Ippin".

The "One village, One product" (OVOP) model is a stategic movement for local people to identify local products of which they are proud of and develop into competitive products which will be accepted in the domestic market as well as global markets. It has the potential to greatly contribute to reinvigoration of local economies. This movement, which is known as Isson Ippin in Japanese, was advocated by Mr. Hiramatsu, the then Governor of Oita prefecture, in 1979 where he faced a declining of community power due to depopulation of the region. He promoted this movement in every part of the prefecture. The success of this movement was relayed to parts of Asia and Africa, including Thailand which saw a great success. In Thailand the movement is known as "One Tambon (one district), One Product".

The Technical Scholarship which is awarded to Mr Firisua is part of the Japanese Government's support under Doha round (Doha Development Agenda, DDA)-World Trade Organization (WTO) commitment for trade liberalization. Japanese Government will assist developing OVOP movement in LDCs and others from a more medium and longer perspective. Specifically, LDCs will be assisted to improve their capability in developing and exporting their products. An example of this assistance is that experts will be dispatched to help explore and improve the potential promising products. In addition trainees will be enhancing human resources development and being provided with useful information. Both the Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship (AOTS) and the Ministry of Economy, trade and Industry (METI) will implement this programme on behalf of the Japanese Government.

According to Mr Firisua, he has been selected by the Solomon Islands Government (Department of Commerce, Industries and Employment) since May this year and accepted by the Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship (AOTS) Japan in representing Solomon islands.

One Village, One Product (OVOP) campaign began february this year (2006), which supports initiating OVOP movement in LDC's and others through exhibitions.

The USP All-rounder Sports Scholarships open for applications from the Pacific

The University of the South Pacific's newly developed all-rounder sports scholarship program is now open for applications from potential sportsmen and sportswomen around the Pacific Islands.

The All-rounder Scholarship Program was launched in July 2005 in recognition of the University’s primary focus on its students. The All-rounder Scholarship Program is implemented to achieve the following aims:
* To provide talented and bright sportsmen and sportswomen from around the USP region with the unique opportunity to realize both their academic and sporting potential
* To enhance the knowledge of the University within the region and to open up avenues whereby the best sports people can be kept here and encouraged to develop their vocation or career through higher education in conjunction with advancing their sporting careers
* To develop and mould well educated, well rounded citizens, leaders in sports and good role models in the region!
* To recruit ALL-ROUNDER students – those who through sport and academic achievement, have demonstrated their capacity through both discipline and aspiration to strive for excellence.

So far a total of 50 sports scholarships with a dollar value of FJD$21,000 each was awarded this year in 2006. Current scholars hail from Fiji (32), Solomon Islands (6), Tonga (1), and Vanuatu (4). The benefits of the sports scholarship program include:
i) Academic support,
ii) Sports services eg. Physiotherapy, sport psychology, sport nutrition, injury prevention, recovery and rehabilitation programs, USP Sports Clubs, Fitness Centre, swimming pool, gymnasium, sport playing fields
iii) qualified trainers and coaches,
iv) medical centre and medical staff,
v) dining and residential halls,
vi) monthly allowance,
vii) elite sporting allowance,
viii) and most other facilities

To be considered for an All-rounder Scholarship, applicants should possess good academic records coupled with high performance levels in the sport of Athletics, Basketball, Netball, Rugby, Soccer, Swimming or Weight-lifting. The ability to satisfy entry requirements for your chosen program of study at the University is also a pre-requisite

Applications for 2007 is available from 1 September, 2006 through to 30 November, 2006. It is expected that another similar number of scholarships offered this year 2006 will be available for study in 2007. More details on how to apply can be found on the All-rounder Scholarship Page.

Access to human rights information vital

By Moffat Mamu

Access to information related to human rights is very important so that people can work together and address issues affecting them. Speaking at the conclusion of a one week human rights advocacy training in Honiara on Friday Edward Anisitolo from the Youth Division at the Department of Home Affairs told the 88 participants that knowing their rights in relation to their land and development is very important.

“It is important so that parties who are involved can deal with issues properly,” Mr Anisitolo said.

He said one way of ensuring individuals had access to human rights information was to attend training workshops. He said such training enable participants to learn about some of the legislation of human rights in the government.

“Many people are not aware about their rights when it comes to development, land and how to address things with other parties and the government as such the training is a bonus,” Mr Anisitolo said. He said the kind of rights, which people should know about include human rights, child right and women’s right.

A civil society spokesperson Tony Wale told the workshop participants of how fortunate they were in attending such a course. “You are very fortunate to have such knowledge. To be aware of the above topics will carry you a long way. You are now able to understand some of these issues that often challenged this nation. Human rights is often regarded by a lot of our people as a foreign trend or concept. To be part of international agreement, treaties and conventions is being part of the international community.”

Moses Ramo a National Paralegal human rights trainer conducted the weeklong workshop on human rights advocacy and issues related to human rights, law, good governance, democracy and the government system.

The training which started on Monday at the Art Gallery ended on Friday with about 88 participants attending the training at their own expense and interest. It is the fourth time for such a training to be held in the country and last week’s training was an open invitation to interested people who can afford $50.

According to Mr Ramo, the training seeks to raise awareness to the locals about their rights when it comes to such things as development. Some of the issues that were highlighted during the workshop included the introduction to human rights and the laws of the country such as the legislation and constitution.

The workshop allows participants to deal with issues related to development that comes into their land and other issues, he said. “Using their knowledge landowners and resource owners can negotiate, consult and discuss issues.”

Following these three steps a consensus agreement must be reached between both parties to allow any developments, he explained. Participants who attended the workshop thanked the organisers of the workshop saying they will share what they have learnt at the workshop to others in their communities. Certificates of appreciation were presented at the closing of the workshop on Friday.

Source of news and picture: Solomon Star

Sports: Solomon Islands and PNG U20 men's to open National Soccer League in Lae

PNGFA technical director, Mr. Marcos Gusmao is training a president selected 16 men PNG U20 squad for an International friendly match with Solomon Islands. The match will be played to kick open the countries Semi-Professional League - 'NATIONAL SOCCER LEAGUE' on the 3rd September 2006 at the LFA Park in Lae. PNG U20 men's president selected 16 men squad is under an intensive training at the PNGFA Academy for the friendly international match.

The PNG squad is going through a month long training with PNG's Brazilian Technical Director, Mr. Marcos Gusmao. "I have never seen Solomon Island U20 Boys play but I heard that they are very strong. However, I am confident that we will beat them. Solomon Islands need to play strong or else we defeat them with a big margin", he said. Gusmao said, this is because his boys are well prepared and are ready to take on the Solomon Islands team .

He said that at the first stage of the training period, he has noticed that all the boys don't have experience in high level training, but later they caught up very quickly because of their personal intelligence in the game. "Now we are ready and have a strong mentality to win this match with our two creative and very strong midfielders, Michael Foster and David Muta and our powerful striker Ans", he said.

The coaching team of this squad is Marcos Gusmao, Max Foster Light from LFA and Robert Popat of GSA. Robert is spending too much time with the teams two goal keepers, training them the goal keeping techniques while Max Foster Light is with Gusmao training the other boys.

Source: PNG Football Association

Government Introduces new funding scheme to improve livelihood

People in Solomon Islands will have the chance of improving their livelihood with a new funding scheme Government had newly introduced.

Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare says the new scheme is called Poverty Alleviation Fund.

The Prime Minister says this additional funding of 400 thousand dollars would be made available to each of the 50 constituencies in the country .

He says this is in addition to the two existing schemes, the Constituency Development Fund of 400 thousand dollars and the Micro projects fund of 200 thousand dollars..

The Prime Minister says people of each constituency should benefit from part of the one million dollars through their respective members of parliament.

Source: SIBC

Friday, August 25, 2006

Central Government plans to assist small and medium enterprises in Solomon Islands

The Government will help set up small businesses, as part of its plan to support the private sector drive Solomon Islands economy forward.

Permanent Secretary Department of Commerce, Industries and Employment Jeffrey Wickham says the department is looking at export support for beginners in small businesses.

Mr Wickham says his department is working at facilitating bank guarantees for local business.

He says this would target small and medium enterprises in small scale manufacturing and processing business.

Mr Wickham says the government is also looking at the setting up of economic zones, adding that a draft bill on how best to do this has been completed.

Source: SIBC

Complications for Chairman of Commission of Inquiry (Marcus Einfeld) as top lawyer quits

By Tim Dick

Marcus Einfeld, who has been recently handpicked by Solomon Islands Prime Minister as the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into the "black tuesday" April riots in Honaiara, is facing another complication after his favoured solicitor quited yesterday to avoid a prostitute inflicting more damage on the former Federal Court judge.

Joseph Michael Ryan withdrew after a prostitute he knew found confidential notes during a night-time raid on his wheelie bin.

Mr Einfeld remains represented by the leading criminal barrister Winston Terracini, SC, and has engaged a public relations company to help him through the deepening imbroglio.

Detectives are looking into allegations he has twice before avoided fines by saying women living in the US were driving.

The allegations - made by a Sydney newspaper but denied by Mr Einfeld - date from his time as a judge. His court-supplied car was caught disobeying a Turramurra traffic signal in 1999, and speeding in the ACT the next year.

He allegedly submitted statutory declarations saying an Australian woman based in the US was driving at the time.

If correctly reported, the explanations bear an uncanny similarity to that used to avoid a $77 speed camera fine from January.

Mr Einfeld told a magistrate while on oath earlier this month that the fine was incurred by a Florida academic, Teresa Brennan. It later emerged that she died three years ago.

The Federal Court declined to comment on the new allegations yesterday, although the unnamed woman the Daily Telegraph claimed was involved said she had "no idea what you're talking about" when asked about them.

In a statement read outside the offices of his public relations firm, CPR, Mr Einfeld said: "I can only say that I reject any inference of wrongdoing." He said police were given a "comprehensive dossier" yesterday morning that would prove his innocence.

"This information establishes that I was not driving my car which was photographed by a speed camera on the day in question," he said. "I am very confident that the police investigation will clear my name."

His statement did not address the question of why he had given the name of a dead woman as the driver, but said he could say no more while police investigated.

"Rest assured, there are many things I would like to say, but I simply cannot do so at this point in time," he said.

"I thank my family and my many friends and colleagues who have shown enormous support during this very difficult time."

Detectives issued a statement of their own yesterday, saying: "All allegations are [the] subject of continuing extensive inquiries by detectives attached to Strike Force Chanter."

Police first said they would interview Mr Einfeld last week, which then changed to this week, leaving the Opposition furious there has been no interview so far.

"Three weeks later, zero has happened," said the shadow attorney-general, Chris Hartcher. "They should've interviewed him weeks ago. They shouldn't be waiting to see what the media finds out about him."

He forecast it would take police until 2012 to finish the inquiry.

Earlier on during the initial stages of the allegation, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says he has confidence in the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, Marcus Einfeld regardless of overseas reports alleging Mr Einfeld had evaded a 77 dollar fine by a Sydney court for over speeding, which the former Australian federal Judge Einfeld has denied involvement.

Prime Minister Sogavare said despite the allegations, he maintains confidence in Mr Einfeld to fulfill his task as Chairman of last April's Chinatown riots.

Edited from Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Solomon Islands USP Campus on the pipeline

By George Tausiria

Education Minister Hon. Derek Sikua today revealed that consultations a possible in-country campus for the University of the South Pacific wiould take place at the end of this month.

Details about the plan are still sketchy but Mr Sikua said Solomon Islands Government had already identified a plot for the campus.

He made the revelations today when asked about the pressing issues his department was working on.

Mr Sikua said the land identified for the USP Campus in Solomon Islands is the plot between the Telekom Recreation Facility and the Football Academy at Ranadi, east of the capital Honiara.

The Education Minister said that aside from the USP Campus issue, one of the pressing issues being handled at the moment pertains to the contents of the Teachers’ Handbook.

Source: Government Communications Unit

Vatican Diplomat presents credentials to SI Governor General

By George Herming

The new Vatican diplomat to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Reverend Archbishop Monsignor Francis Montecillo Padilla, presented his credentials to the Governor General, Sir Nathaniel in Honiara today.

Both leaders have commonly valued human life in relation to the world economy.

Head of the Vatican His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Padilla to be the next diplomatic representative to Solomon Islands.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, both leaders expressed high regard for the value of the existence of human beings in relation to the economies of the world.

Sir Nathaniel said a secure economic system is crucial for human life in man’s desire for development.

He told Archbishop Padilla that Solomon Islands is at a cross road in national reconstruction following five years of armed conflict.

“Our geographical distribution of islands and the apparent isolation provide us with very complex setbacks for our developing nation.

“Heedful of the fact that we are part of a mutually interdependent global community, we face enormous challenges relating to the world economy,” Sir Nathaniel said.

In light of this issue, Sir Nathaniel said Solomon Islands has come across countless compromises to be able to make available its economic demands.

In his remarks, Archbishop Padilla said human life is also related with economy.

“The economic order should be based on justice.

“All economic activities should be socially responsible and carried out using ethical standards.

“It is this that makes the economy really efficient, that is, beneficial to the people.

“A life lived only for financial profit is barren and poor,” he said.

The Archbishop encouraged those involved in the work of the economy of the nation to be open and responsible towards the civil society.

“It is therefore imperative that all governments be responsible stewards of the resources of the planet and should be used for the benefit of everyone.

“All nations have the right to use their resources, sharing them with others, as well as to develop technologies for their effective use,” the Archbishop said.

Sir Nathaniel assured the Vatican that the Solomon Islands Government places greater commitment to ensure its economy development tolerates sustainable use of its resources.

“The government of Solomon Islands is committed to building an economic system which is robust to meet the desire and aspirations of the nation and not burden the sustainability of our resources,” he said.

Archbishop Padilla is convinced that the already existing warm relations between Solomon Islands and the Vatican will lead to ever closer understanding and cooperation in matters of common concern with the sincere cooperation of the Catholic Church in Solomon Islands.

The ceremony was held in the presence of Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Patterson Oti and other top officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Source: Government Communications Unit

Peace must be maintained in SI: student speech contestants

By Moffat Mamu

Peace is an essence to allow development and prosperity in Solomon Islands and it must be maintained.

Eleven contestants at the National Speech Contest yesterday at the King George Sixth School made this remark on the topic “Peace Process and how to maintain it”. Most of the 11 contestants said Solomon Islands has gone through its bad patches and therefore should learn from such bad experiences.

They told the packed King George Sixth assembly hall that Solomon Islands needs peace in order to develop economically and socially. “Without peace there won’t be development in the country because investors would not want to come to the country and there would be job losses and in the end economy would be affected,” a contestant said. The contestant added that peace must be maintained in the country to allow people to live in peace and harmony with each other.

All 11 cited the ethnic tension and the April riots as two of the saddest events that happened in the history of Solomon Islands. One student echoed that Solomon Islanders should start learning from such mistakes and learn to respect each other in whatever things we do and where we live. “Peace must start at the home to allow children to learn how to respect and be kind to others,” the student said.

Students from Bishop Epalle, Betikama, Florence Young, Panatina, St Nicholas, Selwyn College, King George and Tenakoga were represented at the contest.

The other topic discussed by the contestants was Women in leadership. Marijanka Joshua came first in the senior category and a student from Tenakoga was first in the junior category. The prizes were sponsored by RAMSI. A representative from RAMSI who attended the occasion spoke highly of the students and the issues they raised during the three hours session.

Source: Solomon Star

Solomon Islands to engage Taiwanese Volunteers

Solomon Islands expects to engage volunteers from the Republic of China or Taiwan after Cabinet signs an agreement for the scheme.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says the scheme is an advancement of the cordial relationship between Taiwan and Solomon Islands.

Mr Sogavare says this was one of two major agreements established with the Taiwanese Government during his recent visit to the Republic.

The Prime Minister says the second agreement involves expansion of trade and investment between the two nations.

He says the enforcement of the amended Foreign Investment Act is a step in the right direction.

Mr Sogavare says the new changes are intended to make it easier and simple for investors to start businesses in Solomon Islands.

He says the initiative should encourage Taiwanese businessmen to invest in Solomon Islands.

Source: SIBC

SI applauds the Agreement on Development cooperation with Papua New Guinea

Solomon Islands has applauded the Agreement on Development Cooperation with Papua New Guinea as providing valuable assistance in enabling Solomon Islands to meet its development needs.

Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, HE Mr Bernard Bata’anisia, made the comments at a media briefing in Port Moresby last week, with the visiting Solomon Islands Ombudsman and the Chairman of the Leadership Code Commission.

Their visit to Papua New Guinea was made possible by the Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission Office.

The Agreement on Development Cooperation was signed in March last year between the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Rt Hon Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare and his Solomon Islands counterpart, Hon Sir Allan Kemakeza.

“The Agreement contains a combination of practical activities and programmes designed to contribute to development, self-reliance and capacity building between the two countries,” High Commissioner Bata’anisia said.

“The Agreement is wide ranging and covers many different fields, including exchange of advisors, consultants, provision of judges, magistrates and judicial officers as well as providing training opportunities for academics and researchers.”

High Commissioner Bata’anisia commended both the Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission and the Solomon Islands Ombudsman Offices for undertaking the visit as a clear manifestation of both Governments determination to putting into practice their Cooperative Arrangement efforts.

“Solomon Islands judiciary is also another example where the Papua New Guinea Government is providing assistance in a form of magistrate working in Solomon Islands under this arrangement.

“I am looking forward to seeing closer working relationship between Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission Offices,” High Commission Bata’anisia said.

The Ombudsman, Mr John Smith Pitabelama and the Chairman of the Leadership Code Commission, Mr Emmanuel Kohouta, were in Port Moresby last week, holding discussions with the Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission Office.

Source: Government Communications Unit

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Government Minister to sign turtle conservation Agreement

Deputy Prime Minister, Job Duddley Tausinga will leave the country tomorrow to sign an agreement for the conservation and management of the Western Pacific leatherback turtles in Bali, Indonesia.

The Forestry, Environment and Conservation minister will co-sign the agreement with counterparts from the governments of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

A statement from the department says this is to conserve marine bio-diversity across the Bismarck Solomon Seas Ecoregion.

The statement says the signing of the agreement between the governments of Solomon Islands, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea is a commitment to work with each government to conserve the Leatherback turtle.

The region stretches from the Vogelkop Peninsula of Papua across the Bismarck archipelagos from Papua New Guinea to Makira in Solomon Islands.

Meanwhile, Mr Tausinga says scientific reports and researches have confirmed that the Western Pacific Leatherback Turtles are amongst the most endangered marine species in the world.

He says thee critical Western Pacific Leatherback Turtles nesting sites and feeding areas remaining in the Western Pacific are located in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Mr Tausinga says at least four major Western Pacific Leatherback Turtles nesting sites were identified as global priorities for conservation and sustainable management.

He says Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands share the inshore and offshore marine areas of the globally significant Bismark Solomon Seas Ecoregion.

Source: SIBC

Solomon Islands loses opportunity to host Pan Pipe music festival

Solomon Islands has lost an opportunity to host a multi-million dollar Festival of Pan Pipe music festival proposed for 2008.

Advocate of the festival working as a volunteer Peter Keelan says the lost opportunity comes from the lack of a written letter of support from the Solomon Islands government.

"A decision was made some months ago that before I leave Solomon Islands, I would need to leave here with a number of support letters, the most important of which in fact crucial to which was the letter from Solomon Islands government saying that they accepted the offer to host the inaugural festival."

Mr Keelan says he's had several high level meetings with government officials to have the letter written and was told this would be available after a cabinet meeting last Thursday.

But Mr Keelan says there was no meeting on Thursday and Friday.

He says the festival would have projected a positive image of Solomon Islands after all the negative stories the world has been hearing about the country.

Mr Keelan says Bolivia in South America will be given the chance to host this inaugural festival in 2009.

He left Solomon Islands yesterday.

Source: SIBC

PM says Leader of Opposition's statement not justified

By Deli Oso (PM Press Secretary)

The media statement by the Leader of the National Parliamentary Opposition, Hon. Fred Fono, describing Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare’s national address on the controversial Terms of Reference for the Commission of Inquiry into the Honiara April riot appears to be an attempt to stir further public controversy.

Mr Sogavare’s national address has been his only explanation relating to the action taken by the Attorney General which was unnecessarily launched into the public arena during his absence. Without proper clarification by the Prime Minister, the matter would be left open to speculation. Having publicly clarified his position, he will now leave it to the courts to decide.

What was described as a rhetorical speech by the Opposition Leader was precisely intended to be so, as a sincere measure to rectify the misinformation that has been presented in the media. If Hon. Fono took note of the rhetoric in Prime Minister Sogavare’s address, he would not query what has already been widely circulated in recent media reports relating to advice tendered by the Attorney General.

It is a common practice for any leader to appoint individuals who have the necessary qualifications to perform mandated tasks pertaining to specific areas of responsibility. Further, it is important that whoever is chosen will represent the policies and sentiment of the ruling government. This is why our democratic system of government caters for political appointments to ensure no disparity from within the government machinery. The simple question is: if we cannot work together, how are we going to properly develop our true potential?

Everyone, however, is entitled to their own opinion and as the Opposition Leader, we can appreciate his objective point of view. For the public's information the Prime Minister will go all the way to prove he is a leader committed to an honest cause and will act in accordance to set legal processes and procedures in representing public interest and the people of Solomon Islands.

Source: Government Communications Unit

Communities want Winds of Change to keep blowing

Communities in Honiara have asked the Winds of Change to continue their work for a change of heart amongst Solomon Islanders after today’s Town Council elections.

The group which is taking a new approach to their Clean Election Campaign for today’s Town Council poll said they had been touched by the number of people who asked the group to come back and work with their communities after the election.

Martin Moali, one of the campaign’s coordinator said yesterday that people, young and old were very interested in the Heart of Transformation presentation that the group had used this time. “Winds of Change believe it is within every person’s power to choose how they live their lives and so they can make a choice about how and what they do if they really want to. We call this process The Heart of transformation,” he said.

The Heart of Transformation uses a process of daily reflection, connection and correction that a person can make with God’s help,” Mr Moali said yesterday. “The aim of this process is to gradually on a daily basis turn your life to the goals of absolute honestly, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness and absolute love.”

A volunteer network of people from different, ethnic groups, background, culture and churches, Winds of Change ran a high profile national Clean Election Campaign in the lead up to the general elections earlier this year. But for the past few week the Winds of Change awareness teams have been visiting communities mostly in Honiara’s settlements to encourage people to think carefully about who to vote for in these elections but also to work with anyone in the community who would like to change their own hearts and approach to how they live their lives.

The communities visited include White River, Lord Howe Settlement, Koa Hill, Gilbert Camp and White River–Namurika community. The group has also been broadcasting nightly radio programs on SIBC. Winds of Change is not a new religion nor a political party, but a group of people volunteering their time because they believe to change the nation we need to change ourselves first, Mr Moali said.

Source: Solomon Star

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Government to allocate 50million dollars for rural development

Finance Minister Bartholomew Ulufa’alu says that the government's bottom-up approach to development will change the next budget process.

And he envisages the creation by Parliament of a Millennium Development Fund to meet the government’s rural development focus.

The Government Communications Unit quotes Mr Ulufa’alu as saying that under the millennium funding there would be three sectors covering the legal, productive sector and infrastructure and social services.

He says the legal sector would involve the establishment, capacity building, institutional strengthening and good governance.

Mr Ulufa'alu says the productive or the private sector will operate on the principle of diversity in unity for nation building and infrastructure and social services would be based on the principle of interdependence.

He says the Millennium Funding proposal already had two components in place namely the Republic of China Micro-Project targeting the productive sector and the Rural Constituency Development Fund targeting infrastructure and social services.

Mr Ulufa'alu says that the allocation for this package is 50 million dollars.

He says financing of the productive sector will be on credit basis through credit unions, savings and loans.

Mr Ulufa'alu says bigger projects will be funded through the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands as trustee of the 50 constituencies.

Source: SIBC

Prime Minister to replace Attorney General

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says he intends replacing his Attorney General with a controversial Australian lawyer in a move critics fear is aimed at releasing the two MPs charged over the destructive riots in April.

Mr Sogavare told a news paper in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald that he had lost trust in the Attorney General, Primo Afeau after a dispute between the two spilled into the local media in recent days.

The Prime Minister said he will be moving Attorney General Primo Afeau on to the bench, and replace him.

He said he had grounds on which he was going to sack Mr Afeau.

However, Mr Sogavare said he will not be taking that path, but to move Mr Afeau on.

He said he was seriously considering replacing Mr Afeau, who held the job under four governments with an Australian lawyer Julian Moti.

Mr Moti who is listed as an adjunct professor of law at Bond University on the Gold Coast is a Queens Counsel in the Solomon Islands Bar Association.

The Bar Association has warned against Mr Moti's appointment citing a court case in Vanuatu in which Mr Moti was a defendant.

Mr Sogavare said Mr Moti was cleared of the case and dismissed concerns that a foreigner would be party to all government secrets as attorney-general.

Sydney Morning Herald says the move threatens to cause new tensions in Honiara and will further complicate relations with the Australian-led regional assistance mission.

Source: SIBC

RAMSI Development Coordinator and Speaker of Parliament praises women

The RAMSI deputy development coordinator Stuart Schaefer told the participants, that the workshop is the centre piece of a study that RAMSI has commissioned to look at the barriers to women participation in government.He said the workshop would consider mechanisms to strengthen women participation in government.

Mr Schaefer said the study could lead to the development of a program of activities over the next four to five years to assist women to contest and win political office at all levels of government. "The women of Solomon Islands played an important part in trying to bring peace to Solomon Islands. And you yourself have played an important part in the government of this country by standing for election. Your experience is immensely important in understanding the barriers to the election of women, and in identifying the measures that may help to succeed in leadership", said Mr Schaefer.

In another speech while openning the three day workshop, Speaker of Parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea urges women to find ways to help Solomon Islands forward to remove the barriers that block women from effectively taking part in the most senior levels of government.

"As you talk about the issues and obstacles facing women, and ways that can be corrected, addressed, please bear in mind the urgency of it all. You need to be frank, but most importantly you must listen to each other and reach consensus and ways, we as a nation should move forward to dismantle the barriers blocking women to effectively participating in the most senior levels of government."

Speaking yesterday morning during the opening of the workshop which is reviewing how women fared in the last national elections, Sir Peter said he, like many leaders in the country are saddened that there are no women members of Parliament.

Sir Peter said may be Solomon Islands should look at a more direct and rapid resolution to this problem, through change in the Constitution combined with the change in the electoral system.

He said the introduction of a quota system would allocate seats for women in Parliament which would provide a guaranteed solution to the problem as early as 2010. But Sir Peter said it's not that simple and it needs political motivation to introduce such a reform and in Solomon Islands it means relying on attaining the support of the majority of members of Parliament all of whom are men.

Source: SIBC

Monday, August 21, 2006

TARD holds its 3rd meeting in a unique way

The To'abaita Authority for Research and Development (TARD) has successfully held its 3rd meeting of the year in a unique way yesterday evening at the University of the South Pacific, Suva.

The recent TARD meeting was unique because all family members including spouses and children of the North Malaita students are invited to participate in the meeting and a fellowship meal after the meeting. This was made possible through cooperation and support of all TARD members which resulted in families bringing cooked food while single students brought juice.

The 3rd TARD meeting was chaired by TARD Vice Chairman, Mr Peter Fairamoa and minutes were recorded by TARD Secretary, Mr Steven Filiomea. The meeting was opened with a word of prayer by Paul Ramson, who is a To'abaita student at the Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT). After that there was a word of welcome from the TARD Vice Chairman to all members, families and visiting guests.

During the meeting proper, the TARD Chairman (Mr Exsley Taloiburi) gave updates on the latest achievements and current community development projects that TARD is currently pursuing with potential donors and international volunteer organizations throughout the Pacific. The Chairman also briefed new participants and visiting guests about the background of TARD and its goals and vision.

Next in the agenda was the financial reporting of the current status of TARD finances which was presented to members by the Treasurer, Mr Hubert Baselo. After that Peter Fairamoa and Luke Mani raised an agenda regarding other alternative fundraising sources such as a potential cultural performance in several resorts throughout Fiji. However the idea is still pending as TARD member and USP student representative to the Fiji Council of Tourism, Mrs Joyce Maetoloa, is assigned to determine if there is a demand for such initiative.

Later in the meeting, members were priviledged to hear from the Acting Commissioner of Solomon Islands Forestry and To'abaita leader, Mr Gordon Konairamo who spoke on the background, challenges and future outlooks of the nation's forest resources.

In his presentation, Mr Konairamo stated that the difference between log extraction in the past and currently is that in the past they use the "selective felling" method where as nowadays they fell trees anyhow. He also revealed that forestry covers about 78% of the total land mass in Solomon Islands.

It was also stated that from figures last year, the country has exported a record of more than 1million cubic meters of commercial logs, which is alarming and if not controlled now will have a huge impact on the future of forestry in the Solomon Islands within the next five years.

Mr Konairamo also elaborated on the functions, importance, and major challenges that currently face the Forestry Department in Solomon Islands. He concluded by saying that there is a great need for the introduction of a new Act to address the issues as the current Act which was enacted in 1969 is very old. He also alluded that community awareness and vigorous replanting of forests is vital if we are to maintain our forests in the near future.

Finally, the meeting was ended with a physical fellowship dinner whereby members and their families were allowed to share together with each other. Encouragements and suggestions were given by individuals, whilst others were pleased with the involvement of families and children in the meeting.

Therefore, the TARD Executive would like to sincerely thank all TARD families and single students from USP, FIT and FSM who participated in the 3rd meeting yesterday. Appreciation is also extended to our guest of honour, Mr Gordon Konairamo, and his working colleague Mr Terrence Titiulu.

Pictures were taken by Mr Lenny Konamauri

SI Bar Association supports the action of Attorney General

The Solomon Islands Bar Association (SIBA) says it supports the action of Attorney General Primo Afeau in challenging two of the 11 terms of reference of the riot inquiry. That is if the circumstances of what has been reported in the press are correct, the association added.

SIBA held a special general meeting last Friday to discuss the Government’s intention to terminate Mr Afeau and the proposed appointment of a new Attorney General. “We support the actions of Mr Afeau if the circumstances of what has been reported are correct. In view of the above, we regret the proposed removal of the Attorney General for taking action in the public interest. It is regrettable if the proposed termination is seen as a means to frustrate or terminate the court action,” SIBA said in a statement issued yesterday.

The association also insists that only locals should be given the position of Attorney General. “In light of the special constitutional position of the Attorney General, including his or her right to participate in the proceedings of Parliament and Cabinet, qualified Solomon Islanders should be appointed. Non-citizens are to be considered only where no other Solomon Islands citizen is so suitably qualified,” the association said.

Last Friday’s meeting took place without the association’s president and secretary.
President Ranjit Hewagama, the country’s legal draftsman and Secretary Ronald Bei Talasasa, the Director of Public Prosecution, played no part in the discussions and resolutions. The two government officers decided to stay away due to conflict of interest and potential of perception of bias.

SIBA says its stand on the current debate should not be seen as being bias to either of the party. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has earlier planned to address the nation at the weekend on his stand-off with the Attorney General. But the planned address did not take place.

Officials from the Prime Minister’s Office say they need time to prepare Mr Sogavare’s address. A press conference earlier scheduled for Friday was also postponed.

Source: Solomon Star

Freddy Ota'au thank the Ombudsman and Chairman of LCC on behalf of students at UPNG

Solomon Islands Ombudsman John Smith Pitabelama and the Chairman of the Leadership Code Commission Emmanuel Kohouta, accompanied by the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea His Excellency Bernard Bata’anisia, met with the Solomon Islands students and staff at the Waigani Campus of the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on Saturday.

The meeting was facilitated and organised by the Solomon Islands High Commission Office. Mr Pitabelama and Mr Kohouta are in Papua New Guinea for a week long familiarization visit to see the set up and operations of the Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission Office and the various legal institutions. Their visit was hosted by the Ombudsman Commission Office of Papua New Guinea.

In their meeting with the students, the Ombudsman and the Chairman of the Leadership Code Commission briefed the students on the developments in Solomon Islands and the functions and activities of their respective offices. In his presentation, Mr Pitabelama, stated that it is important for the students to know the functions and role of the Ombudsman and what it could do and what it could not do.

Mr Kohouta, informed the students of the importance of upholding the law in the country and how his office deals with cases of corruption and leadership issues in the country.

The President of the Solomon Islands students Association at the University of Papua New Guinea Freddy Ota’au who hails from To'abaita, expressed his gratitude for the visit of the Ombudsman and the Chairman of the Leadership Code Commission. Mr Ota’au said this was the first time that the students have been visited by the Ombudsman and the Chairman of the Leadership Code Commission and thanked them for the visit. He also commended the two institutions for the important work they do such as promoting good governance and leadership issues in the country.

Source: Solomon Star

SI Prime Minister explains why he sought outside legal advice

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says Government had reason to source legal advice and assistance from outside government's legal team.

The Prime Minister was referring to recent public criticisms against his involvement of an outside lawyer for legal advice on the stand-off between the Prime Minister and the Attorney General over the terms of reference to the Commission of Inquiry into the April riots in Honiara.

The Prime Minister says his action in engaging legal advice outside Government machinery was consistent with Cabinet practice.

Mr Sogavare says Government has the benefit of obtaining legal advice from the Solicitor General, Legal Draftsman and other lawyers to deal with the matter.

"We have reasons, on this particular occasion to source legal advise and assistance, not from any ghost lawyers, but from experienced legal counsel abroad whose qualification as a former Solicitor General of Australia is held in the highest regard. Next based on the quality of legal advise available to me, it was apparent that the Attorney General's reasoning to justify this proposal for the modification of the terms of reference was disputable."

Source: SIBC

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Parliamentarians resign from Solomon Islands National Party

Six of the seven parliament members of the National Party in the Grand Coalition of Change Government have resigned from their political party as of today.

They are Joses Sanga, Patteson Oti, Isaac Tosika, Nollen Leni, Reverend Leslie Boseto and Martin Maga.

This is contained in a letter sent to the Party President and signed by the MPs.

They say they resigned from the party because the party machinery, especially the party executive had unsatisfactorily handled the stand off between the ruling government and the interim parliamentary wing leader of the party, Francis Billy Hilly.

They say the members are also dissatisfied with the manner in which the party had dealt with the selection of the Parliamentary Party Wing leader.

They say only two MPs were present contrary to what the party constitution says that all elected MPs of the National Party must decide on the leadership.

The MPs also say that the position advocated by the party on its position on the One-China Policy defeats the collective stance adopted by the coalition and undermines the policies of the government.

Source: SIBC

Friday, August 18, 2006

TARD Members to attend free 6-weeks Leadership Training at USP

Several members of the To'abaita Authority for Research and Development (TARD) at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva will attend a free 6 weeks training in leadership concepts and skills, which will begin today afternoon.

This unique free leadership course is coordinated by the University's Pacific Institute of Advanced Studies in Development and Governance (PIAS-DG) Leadership Program in conjunction with the USP Students' Association, Westpac Bank and Vodafone Fiji Ltd.

The leadership training program is over a six (6) week period, offering six basic concepts and skills in leadership. The first of the six - forty minutes session begins today 18 August from 3-4pm at the Faculty of Business Economics Building at USP. Repeat sessions on each of the six topics will be held every Saturday preceding Friday.

The program aims to help students in self development and personal growth, increased career opportunities, develop greater cooperation and communication skills among the diverse student, staff and working community as well become more reflective, critical and questioning when dealing with various issues - be it study, work or life related. All students, irrespective of their study program and year, including undergraduate and postgraduate levels will have a chance to train and challenge leadership concepts and skills. The program is expected to be completed in mid October.

Students who participate in the free leadership training program will have a chance to win great incentive prizes including a $500 Westpac Bank account and Vodafone valued at $200 as well as receive a Certificate of Attendance and Completion from the University's Pacific Institute of Advanced Studies in Development and Governance (PIAS-DG). The focal organizors of the training program are Ms Hamidan Bibi (Manager, Leadership Program) and Mr John Tuhaika (President, USP Students' Association).

ROC Financial assistance could be tapped for Development

The last discussion to end the state visit by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and his Delegation was heartening and encouraging for the future of Solomon Islands.

The Delegation had a long discussion with the Secretary-General of the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

ICDF has set up many projects in other parts of the world; some in partnership with other International organisations since its establishment in 1996.

The Fund is active in sharing Taiwan’s advantages and core strengths through a wide range of international development and cooperation projects that cover the globe in areas of Banking and Finance Operations, Technical Cooperation, International Human Resource Development and International Humanitarian Assistance.

Describing it as a brain-storming discussion, the Secretary-General of ICDF said there were many avenues available in which ICDF could provide assistance to Solomon Islands.

He said projects were designed, developed and implemented.

“We are to make sure that our projects have been 100 per cent complete,” the Secretary-General told the Delegation.

He said one example of these many projects is a Mobil Medical Mission to Solomon Islands which would start in September this year.

He said the intake of students from Solomon Islands would be increased and he would make sure that this would happen.

Hon. Manasseh Sogavare said that the Republic of China had done its part in providing technical assistance in Solomon Islands through its Agricultural Technical Mission.

“Solomon Islands has lands to develop. The ball is now on our court,” Mr. Sogavare said.

The Secretary-General said request for short-term involvement in certain projects are welcome. He said they have a volunteer service in which technical experts in certain fields would be requested.

Solomon Islands Delegation, led by the Mr. Sogavare, had been extensively visiting and meeting leaders of the Republic of China (Taiwan) at the invitation of President Chen Shui-bian, including the president himself.

The visit has strengthened the relationship between Solomon Islands and the Republic of China (Taiwan) amidst reports in past weeks that Solomon Islands would switch diplomatic relation in favour of mainland China.

Hon. Manasseh Sogavare assured Taiwan’s leaders repeatedly that his government would never switch side.

The Delegation arrived in Honiara yesterday.

Source: Government Communications Unit

Custom Queen contest fascinates Malaita mini trade show

Miss Malaita 2006...Winner of the Custom Queen Contest at the Malaita Mini Trade Show Ms Tracy Donato Okai of Maoro CHS (Pic by Solomon Star).

The inclusion of a “Custom Queen Contest” at this year’s Malaita Mini-Trade Show in Auki has been dubbed as the greatest achievement for women in Malaita province.

The weeklong show drew thousands of people around Auki including business houses, shell money makers, food producers and agricultural organizations to showcase their activities and products.

In a society where women status are least important, the inclusion of the queen contest draws a lot of attention and could be one of the province’s major tourism attractions in future.

Contestants were dressed in various Malaita costumes including the popular shell money decorations and were given chances to show their public speaking ability in front of thousands of people.

This year’s winner, a Form I Maoro Community High School student, Ms Tracy Donato Okai who competed as Miss Gwata’a of Langa Langa was crowned Miss Malaita 2006.

Tracy won a cash prize of $400.

The second runner up was Lucia Kwalea who contested as Miss Solomon Airlines, Tourism and Environment ($300) and the third Susan Lamani who contested as Miss Aligegeo ($200).

“These young girls are very talented and shows that women must be recognized for their role in our society,” said a show official George Eric.

Mr Eric said the Queen Contest was successful and there a plans to make it an annual event for the province.

“There is a huge potential for further improvement and this could be a big attraction for the province’s tourism industry,” he said.

The event also included a music challenge and sports activities including soccer, rugby, netball, canoe racing and tug-of-war.

Minister for Mines and Energy, Hon Toswell Kaua who officiates at the Malaita Second Appointed Day officially closed the show on Tuesday.

Source: Government Communications Unit

New Zealand says Taiwan should stop its "cheque book diplomacy" in Solomon Islands

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Winston Peters says Taiwan should stop interfering in Solomon Islands politics.

Radio New Zealand International reports that Mr Peters told a meeting of Commonwealth parliamentarians in Wellington that Taiwan played a key role in the troubles in Solomon Islands.

He said Taiwan’s involvement in the recent blow-up in the Solomon Islands is irrefutable and he thinks they were engaged in cheque book diplomacy and the outcome was disastrous.

Mr Peters said he thinks New Zealand is entitled to say that since they are involved alongside Australia trying to repair the situation.

He said New Zealand will actively seek to discourage ‘cheque book diplomacy.'

Mr Peter also said this includes off-budget aid and aid with poor accountability structures, gifts, and other practices that encourage corruption and poor governance.

He said those who seek to manage their relations with the region in this way not only do great harm, but also run significant risks to their own international reputation.

Source: SIBC

Minister of Mines and Energy urges people of Malaita to work hard

People of Malaita have been urged to maintain their “hard work” status left behind by their previous ancestors who helped built the economic foundation of Solomon Islands.

Speaking on the province’s Second Appointed Day Tuesday this week, Minister of Mines and Energy Toswell Kaua said development on Malaita rests on hard work and cooperation.

Mr Kaua led a six man delegation national Government to the province’s Second Appointed Day, which coincided with the closing of the successful week-long Malaita Mini-Trade Show in Auki.

The Government Communications Unit quotes Mr Kaua as saying the involvement and contribution of Malaitans to Solomon Islands may not be appreciated but that does not mean that they should give.

He said it is all Malaitans' duty to their families, Malaita, Solomon Islands and to God that they continue to work hard.

Mr Kaua said from the cane-fields in Australia and Fiji to coconut plantations in Samoa, Vanuatu and other parts of the country, Malaitans have toiled and worked hard to earn a living.

He says in doing this, they have contributed to the economic development of those nations and of Solomon Islands.

Source: SIBC

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Prime Minister to address Nation tomorrow on stand-off between him and Attorney General

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will address the nation tomorrow on the stand-off between him and the Attorney General.

Mr Sogavare and his delegation will arrive this afternoon from Taiwan. Yesterday, he described the situation as a “storm in a teacup” and accused Attorney General, Primo Afeau of “instigation a public campaign to discredit the Grand Coalition Government”.

“Both before and after initiating judicial review proceedings against the PM, Mr Afeau denounced Cabinet’s decision to set up the Commission of Inquiry into the April riots in Honiara through the publication of several statements and allegations in the Solomon Star newspaper,” a statement issued by his office yesterday, said.

He expressed his displeasure with the Attorney General’s “defiant attitude and will take decisive action to ensure that the people of Solomon Islands are not misled by attempts to distort the truth and propagate myths and mysteries”.

He said he was astounded to learn about the lengths that opponents of truth are prepared to go in derailing the Commission of Inquiry in its tracks before fulfilling its mandate. “We should not allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who have reason to be worried about what we might eventually find out. I am encouraged by the Leader of Opposition’s proposals for the expansion of the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry and will count on his support in this endeavour.”

Meanwhile, the Solomon Star has reported that Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare wants to recruit a foreign lawyer to be the country’s next Attorney General, replacing Mr Afeau. Reports has it that he had already issued a directive to the chairman of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission for the termination of Attorney General Primo Afeau’s contract.

Sources have named Julian Moti, an Australian citizen of Indian origin, as Mr Sogavare’s choice to replace Mr Afeau. Mr Moti is a lawyer admitted to practice in Solomon Islands. He is understood to be a partner in Honiara-based Pacific Lawyers law firm. In May, he flew in to represent MPs Charles Dausabea and Nelson Ne’e, who are facing riot related charges. Bail applications he lodged on behalf of the two MPs were however, repeatedly refused by both the Magistrate and High Court.

Sources also believe he may be the anonymous lawyer Attorney General Mr Afeau was referring to in his correspondence with the prime minister. But any move to formally appoint him is likely to raise eyebrows from the legal fraternity, as he is not a Solomon Islands citizen. Prominent Honiara lawyer Andrew Radclyffe said Mr Moti is not the right man for the job.

According to the country's Constitution, the Attorney General is the legal adviser to the Government and the Cabinet. He is therefore privy to state secrets. In certain circumstances he can take part in the proceedings of the National Parliament. It would surely be very strange indeed that a foreigner could participate in another country’s parliamentary debates, Mr Radclyffe stated.

Attorney General Mr Afeau had earlier challenged the prime minister to ensure the recruitment of his successor is done in a transparent manner.
He said if the prime minister wants to sack him, national lawyers must be given the opportunity to apply for the position. “I hope you have not already handpicked the person who may have been advising you since you became prime minister as the next Attorney General,” Mr Afeau told Mr Sogavare.

Source: Solomon Star

Malaita students at KGVI School told to be honest and accountable

By Moffat Mamu

Malaita students studying at King George Sixth School in Honiara on Tuesday were challenged to be ambassadors of truth. Speaking as the guest of honour at the celebration marking the Malaita Second Appointed Day on Tuesday Finance Minister and Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga Bartholomew Ulufa’alu reminded the students to maintain their spirit of truthfulness.

KGVI Malaita students performing a "Tage ai" dance during Malaita’s Second Appointed Day at the school on Tuesday night (picture by Solomon Star)

“By being honest, accountable and transparent you can be a better leader in the future,” Mr Ulufa’alu told the students. About 600 students from the school attended the ceremony hosted by the Malaita Students Association.

Mr Ulufa’alu said the country had gone through its darkest moments over the last few years and Solomon Islands need young leaders to take the country forward with “a mind that is open and constructive”. “To be a good leader one must think, talk and be active,” he told the students. “We need leaders who can think, discuss and very active to carry out the actions that he or she is talking about.”

Respect for others is one of the areas that the Finance Minister had highlighted adding that it is an essence of unity in the country in order to move the country move. “If we do not have respect for others then there won’t be any peace and harmony in the communities, which would disallow development in the country,” he said.

Malaita student representative speaking at the occasion also highlighted that as Malaita students they have a role to play for their province in terms of the human resource to develop their province in the years to come. “You have a responsibility in developing your province using the knowledge you gain from this institution. As emerging leaders you take heart of that as you strive to complete your education,” the Malaita student representative Nelson Dhita said.

The school administration also acknowledged the Malaita students for initiating the idea to host the day at the school. Tuesday night’s program featured speeches, entertainment, cutting of the Second Appointed Day cake and feasting. The highlight of the night was the cultural performances, which put the students on their feet. A number of the parents, guardians, and invited guests were also invited to the ceremony. Because of the program the entire school had the night off from study to enjoy the night with feasting and entertainment. Malaita Second Appointed Day was on Tuesday and in Malaita mass celebrations were also held to mark the day.

Source: Solomon Star

Catholic students attend media seminar in Honiara

Twenty four students from four schools in Honiara have been told that media is for everybody.

The Assistant Coordinator of the Solomon Islands Development Trust's community media, Walter Turasi, made the statement during a media education seminar organised by the Catholic Communications Solomons.

Director Father Ambrose Pereira says the 24 students took part in the media education seminar early this month.

He says issues covered during the training included punctuality, peer pressure, teenage pregnancy, family values, environment and others.

Fr Pereira says the students also learned about basic script writing skills for radio and recorded programmes on the theme Family, the source of unity and peace.

The students also watched a video production by the SIDT media unit and how to shoot images using a video camera.

The Catholic students come from various high schools and institutions in and around Honiara.

Source: SIBC

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

SI students and teachers may learn Taiwan's success story

Students/teachers exchange arrangement between Solomon Islands and the Republic of China (Taiwan) looks possible in the near future.

This assurance was made yesterday by the ROC Minister of Education Tu, Cheng-sheng during a meeting with Prime Minister Sogavare and his Delegation in Taipei, Taiwan.

Minister Tu, Cheng-sheng said: “An advanced nation must seek to encourage students from around the world to study.”

He said the number of students from abroad as well as their quality was the only measure of how well that nation could encourage and retain human resources.

He continued: “International students on Taiwan campuses are the bridge to build friendly relations with other nations and to improve Taiwan’s understanding of the outside world.

“Cultivating such relationships is a form of diplomacy; it is also a means to establish closer relationships.”

Because of the strong relationship between the two countries, Tu, Cheng-sheng told the Delegation that his country would be too willing to consider the exchange of students.

Solomon Islands Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Dr. Derek Sikua, who is in the Solomon Islands Delegation said his Ministry would draw up a project proposal to explore any opportunity that may open the way for exchange of students/teachers and also curriculum officers.

Prime Minister Sogavare told Tu, Cheng-sheng that his government policy was working towards education for all by the year 2015. But he said his government would require assistance from outside to fulfill this goal.

Education system in Taiwan is well advance so that students are well prepared even in the elementary level. Students were introduced to computing much earlier that when they left the formal education system, they would be useful in the different sectors.

Mr. Tu, said this was how his country developed the education system over the past 40 years. He said today Taiwan is advance in technology because of the well established education system.

Education is so important in Taiwan that city streets are always empty during the day because students are in schools.

Taiwan offers scholarships to an average of 600 students annually. Currently, about 16 students are studying in Taiwan.

Source: Government Communications Unit

Former prisoners form Association to raise community awareness

Some former Solomon Islands prisoners have formed an association to raise awareness about life in prison for communities in the country.

Founder of the Prison Fellowship of Solomon Islands Nicholas Rodi of Isabel Province says they have already elected a board of trustees in June this year.

They are Pastor Martin Losi of the Seventh Day Adventists Church, Pastor Philip Manuao of the South Seas Evangelical Church, Eileen Tekulu of the United Church and Connie Tehe of Kingdom Harvest International.

Mr Rodi says he formed the Fellowship to enable ex-prisoners to talk to young people of various communities about life in prison and how to avoid ending up there.

"The idea to form such an awareness organisation came to his mind while he was in prison. I decided that when I leave the prison, I'll start the group. I am not an educated person, only a farmer, so I slowly work on it until I launch it, so that they can recommend it fro me to ran in schools and in the provinces."

The Prison Awareness Fellowship of Solomon Islands was launched by Bishop Zephaniah Legumana of the Episcopal church in a live broadcast on national broadcaster SIBC yesterday afternoon.

Source: SIBC

Maasina Forum to pressurize government in progressing major development projects in Malaita

Malaita Maasina Forum says it will pressurize Government to do more in progressing forward the Bina Harbour and the Auluta Basin projects in the province.

General Secretary of the Forum William Gua says the Forum made this undertaking after having heard progress report on the Bina Harbour project from the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.

He says while the Forum expects to call for a briefing on the proposed Auluta Basin Palm Oil project, the organisation wants to see physical evidence of real development progress on the two major projects.

Mr Gua says Government wants to develop Bina Harbour into a free marketing Port area while Auluta Basin into an oil palm industry.

He says the two projects will be major developments creating employment opportunities for hundreds of people in Malaita province.

Meanwhile, Mr Gua says Malaita Maasina Forum appeals to land owning groups on Malaita to

Source: SIBC

Opposition Leader calls on Commission to ignore PM's order to sack Attorney General

Solomon Islands Opposition leader Fred Fono is calling on the Judicial and Legal Services Commission not to bow down to directives by the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to sack the Attorney General.

Mr Fono says the Prime Minister made the directive following the Attorney General's action in taking the Prime Minister to court over two terms of reference in a Commission of Inquiry he established to look into the April 18 and 19 riots in Honiara.

But Mr Fono says such order is a direct interference into other functions of the government the Prime Minister had no power over and should be condemned in the strongest term.

"I deplore in the strongest term and I call on the Judicial and Legal Services Commission not to heed the suggestion or dictatorial attitude of the Prime Minister to sack the Attorney General. It's not proper."

Mr Fono says the Prime Minister should blame himself for the legal mess he's in because he failed to seek legal advice from the Attorney General and instead engage an anonymous lawyer.

He says sacking of the Attorney General will result in the Prime Minister picking the person he likes to take the post and ignore public service regulations and procedures.

Source: SIBC

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Solomon Woman attains Doctoral Degree: the second for women in Solomon Islands

A Solomon Islands woman, Alice Aruhe’eta Pollard, who hails from Are’Are in the Malaita Province has successfully completed her doctor of philosophy degree from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

Dr. Kabini Sanga reported from New Zealand that Alice Pollard did her research on women leaders at three levels of Solomon Islands society including ‘Are’ Are community setting, South Sea Evangelical Church setting and the setting of the National Parliament.

“She explored the presence and absence of women leaders within these three levels of society,” Dr. Sanga said.

“The findings of her research are insightful, and will contribute towards understanding and strengthening leadership by women at all levels of Solomon Islands society.

“Moreover, Dr Pollard’s research on women leadership is a significant contribution to the academic literature on gender in the Pacific.

“Often the academic literature polarizes women against men, whereas Dr Pollard’s study shows a balanced and complementary leadership by women.”

Dr Sanga said Alice Pollard, herself an established leader, completed her studies under a New Zealand government scholarship.

She had previously obtained her Master and Bachelor degrees from Melbourne and earlier, a teaching diploma from the University of the South Pacific.

She did her secondary education at Su’u Secondary School on Malaita.

Dr Sanga said that her recent achievement was an inspiration to young Solomon Islanders, particularly girls.

Dr Alice Pollard is understood to be the second Solomon Islands woman to have earned a doctoral degree. Another woman, Dr. Joanna Daiwo, from Temotu province was the first female in Solomon Islands to be awarded a doctoral degree.

Dr. Sanga who is a lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, said the University was proud to note that both women doctoral degree holders (Dr Alice Pollard and Dr Joanna Daiwo) had completed their achievements in New Zealand, under NZAID scholarships.

Source: Government Communications Unit

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