To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Mens Tennis team adds a Bronze to Solomons medal tally at the Samoa SPG

Solomon Islands men's tennis team has added a Bronze medal to the Solomons tally at the South Pacific Games in Samoa after defeating Vanuatu this morning in the team event.

This came after Solomon Islands team scraped past a stringent Vanuatu team by 2 sets to 1. Michael Leong defeated Cyril Jacobe of Vanuatu 6-2, 6-1; Johnson Taliki overcoming Vanuatuan Jerome Rovo 6-4, 6-4 in the singles matches of the team event; whilst Solomons Junior Kari and Johnson Taliki lost 4-6, 4-6 to Vanuatuan Cyril Jacobe and Cyrille Mainguy in the doubles.

The battle for Gold and Silver was won by New Caledonia after defeating hosts Samoa by 2 sets to 1.

Michael Leong continued to spearhead Solomon Islands hopes in the individual event after remaining unbeaten in the singles games of the team event. He is shaping up a definite contender for a singles medal when the individual competition begins this afternoon.

Australian Immigration Minister fears uncontrolled illegal arrivals if short-term Pacific workers let in

The Australian Federal Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, says allowing unskilled workers into Australia would prompt a flood of Pacific Islanders arriving by boat.

The Australian opposition Labour Party is reportedly considering a guest worker scheme under which Pacific islanders could come to Australia temporarily to help ease critical labour shortages in the agricultural sector.

They would likely work as seasonal fruit-pickers or in similar occupations and could send their wages back to their struggling home countries.

The National Farmers Federation has been lobbying the government for 18 months to provide short-term visas for guest workers.

The World Bank also has urged Canberra to adopt a guest worker scheme to help out Pacific nations that are struggling with high unemployment rates.

But Mr Andrews says allowing in unskilled Pacific Islanders would not alleviate labour shortages.

He says instead it would undercut wages and conditions.

Mr Andrews calls it an irresponsible policy would inevitably result in a flood of illegal boat arrivals heading to Australia.

However, earlier this month Foreign Minister Alexander Downer suggested Canberra was keeping its options open about allowing in unskilled workers from the Pacific.

He says the Government is assessing the effectiveness of the new New Zealand programme to allow in workers on short-term visas.

Source: RNZI

Solomon Islands attend Pacific conference to discuss protection for men having sex with men

Solomon Islands is among seven Pacific countries holding a conference in Samoa this week to discuss how all men having sex with other men can get safe sex messages.

The conference is funded by the UNAIDS foundation and AUSAID.

The president of Samoa’s AIDS Foundation, Ken Moala, says the conference is not for those who are open about their sexual lives but for married men on how to protect themselves and their families.

“That particular target group will have access to information, have access to treatment, have access to a lot of areas of the issue of men having sex with men, and how they should protect themselves. And especially in this very vulnerable stage in our lives when we are confronted with disease and a lot of human rights abuses.”

The other countries involved are the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu.

Source: RNZI

North American woman intending to visit the Solomons cancelled her trip after killing in Bougainville village

A 51 year old expatriate woman, from North America, backpacking in Sirovai Village on the east coast of Bougainville has fled the island after being caught up in a dispute that ended in the bashing death of a deranged man falsely claiming to be her husband on Tuesday as she was ready to take a boat to the Solomon Islands when the incident happened.

She had met village resident Robert Isaiah while travelling down from Buka. Mr Isaiah, in his fifties and married to a Sirovai woman, followed the woman and entered into a heated argument with the villagers, insisting that the visitor should not leave.

He shouted out that the woman was his second wife and he used a fishing spear to stab and wound the boat’s skipper, who was his nephew. In retaliation, villagers bashed Isaiah and he died on the spot.

After flying in Port Moresby yesterday, the expatriate woman said she was shocked by the killing. She received bruises on her back after being hit when “everything was out of control” and said her attempt to move Isaiah to safety failed.

She was escorted from the village by police who interviewed her and then escorted her to Buka.

The expatriate woman said she had taken time off from work to travel the world but now would not go to the Solomon Islands, opting instead to return to her country.

Source: The National

PNG government gets ready to deport barred Solomon Islander

The Solomon Islander declared barred from entering Papua New Guinea was allowed to board a plane from Honiara to return to Port Moresby because he had approval papers from Foreign Affairs executives, Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs officials said yesterday.

The banned man presented documents showing his ban was lifted including approval papers from the Solomon Islands and PNG Government.

Foreign Affairs in PNG yesterday could not comment further on the issue however said that deportation papers were now being prepared to get the person out of Papua New Guinea.

The Solomon Islands Immigration (airport officials) yesterday confirmed they were issued an order not to uplift a certain person (named). They however said yesterday that the person concerned turned up at the check-in counter with papers from the PNG Foreign Affairs, especially the Immigration and the PNG and Solomon Islands Government.

The papers the person presented also included one that stated the ban on his travel to PNG had been lifted.

“We only acted because he had with him papers from the PNG and Solomon Islands Government, one of which included his ban being lifted,” the immigration officials said.

Foreign Affairs officials in Port Moresby however said preparations for the deportation were underway.

Source: Post Courier

Thursday, August 30, 2007

RAMSI does not withhold information on weapons in the community: Tim George

by Jeremy Miller

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, today said claims that RAMSI was withholding information on the presence of weapons in the community were simply not true.

Speaking in response to comments made by the Prime Minister in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr George said that neither he nor his two predecessors as Special Coordinator had ever said that all weapons had been recovered.

“RAMSI has been and always will be completely open about the security situation in Solomon Islands,” Mr George. “We have no reason to withhold such information. In fact it would be counterproductive to do so.”

Solomon Islands and RAMSI have a very good story to tell on disarmament as almost 4000 weapons have been surrendered Mr George said.

“However, no one in RAMSI is interested in luring Solomon Islanders ‘into a false sense of security,’ as the Prime Minister appeared to suggest to Parliament on Tuesday.”

While the incidence of gun-related crimes is now quite rare in Solomon Islands, Mr George said RAMSI was acutely aware of the risks that still remain.

“A tragic reminder of just how real these risks are came in 2004 when shots were fired at two of our Pacific Island contingent members and a short time later, a young Australian police officer, Adam Dunning, was shot dead.”

To this day, these members of the Regional Assistance Mission remain the only victims of serious gun-related crimes to have occurred since RAMSI’s arrival four years ago.

Mr George also expressed surprise at the Prime Minister’s assertion that RAMSI was the primary enforcer of law and order in Solomon Islands.

“The focus of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force (PPF) has changed since RAMSI’s arrival and for several years now the PPF’s efforts have concentrated on working in partnership to strengthen and rebuild the Solomon Islands Police Force. Again, good progress has been made in this area, but the Government and RAMSI still have a lot more work to do to ensure the Solomon Islands remains a peaceful nation,” he said.

Any information that RAMSI receives on the possible presence of firearms in the community is automatically shared with the Solomon Islands Police Force as part of this partnership Mr George said.

“Like all other areas of the mission, RAMSI continues to work in partnership with the Solomon Islands government and people on the issue of disarmament.”

Mr George urged anyone who had information about the possible presence of weapons in the community to come forward and provide that information to the police.

“It is only by working together that we can hope to make Solomon Islands a safer place for everyone.”

Source: RAMSI

SIG to lodge complaint to Vanuatu government asking them to deal with Court Registrar over Moti claims


Solomon Islands government will be lodging a complaint to the Vanuatu government over its Supreme Court Acting Registrar’s concocted claim on Julian Moti to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Board of Inquiry.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told Parliament on Tuesday that the Acting Registrar of the Vanuatu Supreme Court had committed a serious crime by making a false claim to the Chairman of the PNG Defence Force Board of Inquiry that Mr Moti was still not cleared by the Vanuatu courts for the sex allegations against him (Moti).

“For the information of this house, government is taking up this issue of criminality with Vanuatu to ensure the administration of justice in Melanesia remains pure and uncorrupted by alien influences.”

The PNG Defence Force Inquiry was launched last year to probe into what was described as the ‘clandestine escape’ of Mr Moti from Port Moresby to Solomon Islands after being illegally arrested and detained in the Papua New Guinea capital at the advise of Canberra over the sex allegations.

Mr Sogavare said the chairman of the PNG Defence Force Board of Inquiry had publicly announced that Mr Moti was not cleared by the Vanuatu courts based on legal documents he (chairman) claimed to have obtained.

However the Prime Minister said when Mr Moti’s lawyer in PNG challenged the Chairman to the Defence Force Board of Inquiry over his statement, he (chairman) quickly wrote a facsimile to the court registrar requesting copies of the records of the Moti case for his (chairman) perusal.

He said the Vanuatu Supreme Court registrar replied to the Chairman of the PNG Defence Force Board of Inquiry saying that the court proceedings against Mr Moti were still pending because Mr Moti had not returned to the Vanuatu jurisdiction but refused to avail copies of the court records.

“Since when have records which are by their very nature –public documents, become inaccessible to the public? How can a mere application for judicial review give rise to a pending proceeding when leave was not sought from nor granted by the court for that application to proceed?

“ How can the Acting Registrar assert that our AG had not returned to the Vanuatu Jurisdiction when he was physically present there in the Supreme Court for the entire duration of the civil phase of the concocted case against him and so many times since then up until March last year.

“Even the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund Board can refute that claim if called to testify because he (Moti) accompanied them there (Vanuatu) to secure the release of MV Ramos two years ago.

“The Acting Registrar has a lot of explaining to do and so does anyone who places so much reliance on the letter that was written to help the Chairman of the Defence Force of Inquiry.

“One would have expected any competent Court Registrar operating a computerized case data retrieval system to type in the AG’s name and hey presto, the most recent case bearing his name would flash instantly to reveal that there was the affidavit filed by former Public Prosecutor confirming that the criminal case against our AG was closed on August 23 1999 when it was dismissed by the magistrate,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.

The Prime Minister said if the Vanuatu case remained open as the Vanuatu Supreme Court Acting Registrar and the PNG Defence Force Board of Inquiry had claimed then the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty was in trouble.

He said Mr Keelty had told the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on oath that the Vanuatu case against Moti was finally closed between February 2nd and March 16th 2005.

PM Sogavare says appointment of Castles was dubious


Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the appointment of the former Commissioner of Police, Shane Castles of Australia was dubious.

Mr Sogavare told Parliament that the Australian Federal Agent was appointed at the insistence of Canberra despite the fact the nominating committee selected somebody else for the Commissioner of Police post.

The Prime Minister made the revelation in response to the media campaign the Civil Society Group and other non-governmental organizations have launched against the government’s appointment of the new police commissioner, Indo Fijian, Mohammed Jahir Khan.

The government complied with the right procedures in the recruitment of Mr Khan after terminating Mr Castles from the top police post for loyalty reasons.

Mr Sogavare said he could not understand the ‘nonsense’ the Civil Society Group, the Transparency Solomon Islands, the National Council of Women and the Trade Union were going on about the appointment of Mr Khan despite being lawful but were silent on the ‘dubious’ recruitment of Mr Castles.

“There was no consultation between the Prime Minister then and the Police and Prison Services Commission. In fact the correspondence in the file clearly suggests that the Police and Prison Services Commission was directed to make the appointment (of Mr Castles) under threat.

“What do you call that or because it involves an Australian so to hell with procedures? Does that make sense? I want the house to see the hypocrisy in all these.

“Isn’t that cronyism? Or is it because he is an Australian coming under the RAMSI arrangement and so we must bow down to them,” Mr Sogavare asked.

Surfaced reports in PNG link huge debts to Solomon Islander on the loose in Port Moresby

Reports of a foreigner moving around Papua New Guinea with huge debts trailing him poured was uncovered by the Post Courier Newspaper this week.

The reports, from businesspeople and a government taxation officer, allegedly link the foreigner to the newspaper’s reports about a Solomon Islands man who is reported to be an illegal resident in PNG.

The Solomon Islander has not been detained by police because they do not have proper documents to act on complaints about his activities. Police yesterday said they could not carry out any arrests on the person because they did not have any papers from complainants or the Government authorities regarding the matter.

But several people from all over Papua New Guinea this week called the Post-Courier claiming they were looking for the same person because, they say, he owes them thousands of kina from businesses he has been involved in.

A mother in Lae said she was still waiting for K33,000, allegedly borrowed by the sought-after man and his wife during a business deal.

A Highlander operating a taxi service in Port Moresby also said he was owed more than K180,000 from a business deal that went wrong between the two of them. He said he reported to the police but nothing had been done as far as he could tell.

Internal Revenue Commission boss in Popondetta, George Gumaba, said yesterday the same man had been involved in a contract in Popondetta and owed the parties more than K300,000.

Mr Gumaba said the man had an agent buying gold in the province, that this person got one kilogram of gold worth more than K10,000 from the people and still had not repaid them.

“This person has created a mess in Popondetta, buys gold and doesn’t pay the people. He signed an agreement with a group to run his PMV service and without letting them know, changed the operators and agents – still owing them a lot of money,” Mr Gumaba said.

Meanwhile Foreign Affairs is still tight-lipped about the whole issue and would not comment yesterday when contacted.

Source: Post Courier

Pacific Island Countries stand to loose from too much overseas travel for meetings: Fiji Academic

Pacific Island countries have become weakened in their ability to make independent decisions, brain storm and strategies because their best bureaucrats are travelling most of the time, says University of Fiji Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra.

Professor Chandra said Pacific island countries suffer from "meetingitis".

Speaking at a two-day workshop in Beijing, China, on the growing relationship between China and the Pacific, Professor Chandra said there were simply too many meetings that did not allow officials to remain home, think strategically, and follow-up on their commitments.

He said many officials were afraid to speak their mind on major issues because it could mean a falling out with the major donors and organisations and therefore, missing out on future meetings.

Professor Chandra said "meetingitis" also meant that even when officials were in their home countries, they were being asked by international agencies to attend to requests for data and reports.

"If they are not doing this, they are reporting on their aid projects or having to meet consultants who have been brought in because the officials do not have the time in the first place to do these things but the consultants end up taking the time of the officials anyway.

"By not having the time and opportunity to brainstorm, these officials are often not asking the right questions so busy are they in finding answers to questions from other people," he said.

Professor Chandra said the inability of national officials to brainstorm, or to brainstorm without the representatives of donors or international agencies, was a serious problem because unless the Pacific Islands officials and leaders could devote time to these brainstorming sessions and believe more in their own competencies and solutions, there would not be organic solutions to Pacific island problems.

He said without these organic solutions "owned" by Pacific islanders themselves, there would always be disappointment by others at the performance of Pacific Island countries.

Source: Fiji Times

Education Minister assures SIG students at USP Laucala of final allowance payments in two weeks

By Moffat Mamu

The Solomon Islands national government will be paying the remaining balance of allowance for government sponsored students at the University of South Pacific in a fortnight.

Minister of Education Dr Derek Sikua made this assurance this week when speaking at the sine die motion.

Continuing students at USP last week questioned why the government only made part payments to them while new students received their full payment.

Dr Sikua said he was aware of the situation.
“I want to assure them that they will be receiving the remaining balance of their allowances in the next fortnight or so,” Dr Sikua said.

Government sponsored students at USP have only received their allowance last week - three weeks after classes at the university started.

Dr Sikua said the delay in payment was due to administrative hiccups rather than economic reasons.
“It has nothing to do with the government’s ability in paying these allowances,” Dr Sikua said.

“The delay at the beginning of this year was caused by the late passage of this year’s budget by parliament. Also you will recall that at the beginning of this year, the USP no longer pays students’ allowances in advance as was the practise in the past. This is due to the prevailing situation in Fiji which, according to the USP administration, has created uncertainty in the university’s finances as Fiji being the host nation is a major contributor to the university,” he said.

He said National Training Unit (NTU) within the Ministry of Education has to raise payments for students’ allowances in a timely manner on semester one and semester two this year.

“As there are multiple players in this process and not just the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Finance, long delays have been experienced,” the minister said.

“I know for a fact that my officials started the process of payment of USP Student allowances at the beginning of June this year. We were hoping at that time the required funds could be ready by the end of June so that we could pay the students their living, accommodation and book allowances as soon as semester two this year begins about three weeks ago,” he said.

However, this was not so. The delay in payment had left many students without books, school stationaries and even money to meet bills. Today all that is now settled.

Source: Solomon Star

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sogavare declares his government's BUA development policy as "most significant"


Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has declared the Grand Coalition for Change Government’s (GCCG) Bottom-up Approach development policy to be the ‘most significant aspect of the prevailing political climate.’

Mr Sogavare told parliament yesterday when winding up the sine die motion that an important feature of the development direction the government was taking was the active participation of people and hence the current political climate indicated a growing public support for that approach.

He said the government’s delay in implementing the development policy was intentional so as to critically analyse the weaknesses and failures of past development plans since nationhood.

The Prime Minister said previous development strategies failed because they were heavily donor-focused and also neglected the active participation of the people.

Mr Sogavare said an important requisite for the successful implementation of the Bottom-Up Approach development policy was the preparation of Solomon Islands to partake in development process.

“It is our view that development plans can only work if the people who will participate in their implementation are also in the right frame of mind to implement them.

“This is the missing link in every development plans that were developed for the country since independence- the fact that our people were removed from the workings of any development plans,” Mr Sogavare emphasised.

The Prime Minister said the government adopted the holistic development programme designed by ‘Papa Sam of the Entrepreneurial Development Training Centre in Papua New Guinea and it (government) would be working in partnership with the European Union to train Solomon Islanders under this programme.

“Ideally it is the intention of the government to get all Solomon Islanders to go through this programme. We are working on incorporating this programme in the development plan and also working on a legislative framework to implement it,” he said.

Sir Alan Kemakeza should be reprimanded for misleading parliament: Sogavare


Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has refuted claims that the government has offered the Governor General post to the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Edmund Andresen.

The MP for Savo/Russells, Sir Alan Kemakeza alleged in parliament last week that Mr Andresen had told him in a personal conversation of being offered the post of Governor General.

However Mr Andresen denied the claim by Sir Alan in the ‘Letter to the Editor’ column of the Solomon Star Newspaper.

Mr Sogavare told Parliament yesterday that he was disgusted by the claims as Mr Andresen would be the last person the government would think of for the ‘high office.’

“How can we possibly do that when his conduct is the subject of a tribunal hearing which will certainly see his removal along with members of the commission (Public Service Commission) from office,” he said.

Mr Andresen will face a tribunal for working against the government’s appointment of the Attorney General, Julian Moti.

The Prime Minister said if Sir Alan thinks he could convince parliament with the ‘garbage’ claim he must think again.

Mr Sogavare said Mr Andresen’s denial of Sir Alan’s claim was a slap to the MP for Savo/Russells.

The Prime Minister said Sir Alan should be reprimanded for misleading parliament.

Solomons PM urges opposition members to work together with his gov't to deliver


Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has challenged the MPs of the National Parliamentary Opposition to work together with the government to serve the nation rather than promoting themselves as the better alternative government.

Mr Sogavare made the challenge yesterday when he wound up the sine die motion in parliament.

“Instead of promoting yourselves as a better alternative government, I challenge the Opposition members to demonstrate their ability as leaders of this country by working with us to identify and address national priorities instead of continuously bringing motions (of no-confidence) to this house.”

He said it stood out clearly that the motions were driven by the desire of the Australian government for a regime change in Solomon Islands.

The Prime Minister said political instability had already cost Solomon Islands a great deal of pain and suffering and as responsible leaders serious about national development and interest, all parliamentarians should work together to achieve their priority objectives.

He said he was hurt to see national leaders openly supported Australia’s military and political agenda under the camouflage of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

“People (MPs) like that are very dangerous to the long-term development of this country and should resign their seats.

“Although we may not be a military power in the pacific, we have a right to protect our sovereign interest,” Mr Sogavare said.
Mr Sogavare said as the political head of Solomon Islands he was obliged to warn members of parliament against being used as puppets for the military and political agenda of Australia.

He meanwhile thanked his ministers and backbenchers for standing firm on the Grand Coalition for Change government beliefs in the face of condemnation and rebuke and their unquestionable support for its policies without fear or favour.

The Prime Minister said his government was held together by the commitment of its members to preserve the sovereignty and dignity of Solomon Islands.

He said all decisions made by the Grand Coalition for Change Government were formalised legitimately and transparently to demonstrate its commitment towards good governance and accountability.

SI High Commissioner to PNG writes letter to PNG Government about illegal entrant fugitive

The Solomon Islands Government has taken the issue about a banned Solomon Islander who is on the run from PNG police and immigration officials seriously by writing a diplomatic note to the PNG Government through the Foreign Affairs Department.

In a letter to the PNG Government and Foreign Affairs, the Solomon Islands High Commissioner Bernard Ba’atanisia said the travel had been on the man’s own accord and they acknowledged that he was now living in the country illegally.

“As far as the Solomon Islands Government was concerned, the fugitive islander was still a prohibited person and cannot travel until his ban was lifted by the Papua New Guinea Government authorities and be allowed to travel to Papua New Guinea,” the letter from the Solomon Islands High Commission stated.

The matter had been discussed several times by officials of both countries. “Now that he is in the country illegally he will have to be subjected to the PNG immigration laws.”

Meanwhile, security officers in PNG say they have done their part to deport the Solomon Islander who is allegedly an illegal entrant to Papua New Guinea – but that others in Government have failed to take action.

Documents authorising deportation of the Solomons man are still sitting in the Waigani office of the National Security Advisory Council, a month since they were prepared for the expulsion operation, a National Security Agency officer involved in the issue said yesterday.

The officer said the papers to deport the named man had been prepared and were “collecting dust” at Waigani awaiting officials from the Foreign Affairs Department and the police to collect and carry out the operation.

NSAC told the Post-Courier yesterday the officers in charge of the operation at Foreign Affairs were notified and advised to pick up the papers so they could carry out the deportation operation but they had failed and still had not called into the office to pick up the papers.

Police said they could only act on Foreign Affairs “orders” or papers to deport the foreigner, but to this stage they had not received any more documents.

Source: Postcourier

Menapi's goals take SI soccer team past Tonga to assure a semi-final berth

Solomon Islands soccer team yesterday triumphed 4-0 over Tonga in their second match at the current Samoa South Pacific Games, thanks to two-goal hero Commins Menapi.

The veteran striker was in deadly form in front of goal despite the heroics of Tonga goalkeeper Kavakava Manumua who had a strong match. Another fine performer was Henry Fa’arodo, the dreadlocked wide midfielder at the centre of Solomon Islands devastating attacks. Fa’arodo added the third for Solomon Islands on 51 minutes. Another New Zealand-based midfield man Alick Maemae capped off a satisfying afternoon for his team with a neat shot inside the penalty area on 66 minutes.

Solomon Islands were never threatened at the back but were made to work hard as Kamaliele Papani showed some deft touches in an otherwise busy midfield. Papani, though, was no match for a dynamic midfield run by Alick Maemae and George Lui with the pair at the heart of all Solomon Islands creative moves.

Tonga rarely threated Fred Hale's goal with the back four of Samson Takayama, David Taro, George Suri and Marlon Houkarawa proving a more convincing combination than in Solomon Islands preparation matches. Tonga, for their part, showed impressive strength, work-rate and endeavour but rarely any creative moves that possessed a rapier thrust though coach Kilifi Uele was happy enough with the player's collective efforts.

Solomon Islands now sit on top of Pool B with a 100% record and their place in the semi-finals looks all but assured with matches against Vanuatu (Saturday 1st September) and Samoa (Monday 3rd September).

Source: OFC

PNG's attraction as a tourism destination caught visit of World's 13th richest person

Papua New Guinea’s attraction as a tourism destination has caught the eye of the world’s 13th richest person.

Billionaire entrepreneur and a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (pictured), told Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare during a brief 90-minute meeting in Port Moresby on Saturday evening that PNG was a top tourist destination.

Prince Al-Waleed, whom Forbes magazine has ranked as the world’s 13th richest person, flew into Port Moresby at 6:35pm and was received by Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Paul Tiensten when he and wife Princess Ameerah disembarked from their private Boeing 747-400 executive jet at Jacksons International Airport.

They were taken up to the airport’s VIP lounge where they met Sir Michael for a brief chat and were given a number of gifts from PNG. At the royal couple’s request, Mr. Tiensten took them on a 15-minute drive of Port Moresby.

Speaking to reporters after the couple flew out of Port Moresby; Sir Michael said PNG’s appeal as a tourist destination struck the prince.

"They (Prince Al-Waleed and his wife Princess Ameerah) arrived here on a stopover and they decided they want to have a quick look around Port Moresby. They wanted to know what the country was like, he’s heard about it, read about it a lot and he’s very impressed with our place. I think the important thing he highlighted was ‘you (PNG) are a good tourist destination but you have to do something about it’. And I think he says if Saudi (Arabia) can help you in any way, let us know," the Grand Chief said.

Sir Michael said PNG did not have diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia but his government was seriously looking at establishing ties and opening an embassy in the oil-producing state as well as in South Africa.

Source: Postcourier

RAMSI PPF disappointed by Jahir Khan allegations

by Jeremy Miller

The Commander of the RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF), Denis McDermott, has strongly rejected misleading allegations that RAMSI is deploying extra troops and police without consulting with the relevant Solomon Island authorities.

The allegations, contained in a letter signed by the new Solomon Islands Police Commissioner Mohammed Jahir Khan and addressed to the Prime Minister, were published in the local media yesterday.

Mr McDermott expressed surprise at the allegations, saying not only were they not true but he was disappointed that the Commissioner had not raised any of these issues with him directly.

“I have always been very open with the Commissioner and have made it very clear that I am very keen to have a transparent, efficient and positive working relationship from the top to the bottom between the PPF and the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF),” Mr McDermott said.

“I am a part of the Solomon Islands Police Executive and I attend senior officer group meeting most Wednesdays and Fridays.”

Mr McDermott said it was simply not true that additional troops had been brought into the country ahead of the expected motion of no-confidence as alleged in the letter signed by the Commissioner.

“The troops that arrived were part of the normal rotation of military personnel that has been occurring since the deployment of the mission in 2003.”

Mr McDermott said the policing plan for Operation Parliament had been developed as a joint PPF-SIPF exercise which had been signed off by Commissioner Khan two days before Parliament commenced.

“On the same day Commissioner Kahn also wrote to me formally requesting the assistance of the PPF and RAMSI’s military contingent,” Mr McDermott said.

“It is therefore very puzzling to me, that the Commissioner should have signed a letter suggesting the opposite,” Mr McDermott said.

He said contrary to the claims in the letter, the Commissioner had as early as June 21 been provided with a detailed written and oral briefing from the then head of the PPF, Commander Will Jamieson.

Commissioner Khan and Commander Jamieson then signed a detailed Service Agreement between the Solomon Islands Police Force and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands’ Participating Police Force regarding the call out of Participating Police Force and Combined Task Force (military) to assist the Solomon Islands Police Force.

Mr McDermott said that since his arrival he had also prepared a briefing both for the Commissioner and for the Cabinet if they so required.

“Unfortunately Mr Khan has chosen to leave the country for 17 days so the briefing will now have to take place on his return,” Mr McDermott said.

Another assertion in the Commissioner’s letter that 30 AFP officers from Queensland were being dispatched to review ‘riot cases which had failed in court’ was also completely untrue Mr McDermott said.

“There are no officers due to come from Queensland into the mission at this time and we have no plans to review the riot cases.

“What has been agreed in consultation with the commissioner is that some of the police due in from the Victorian Police Force will concentrate on reviewing unresolved cases from the ethnic tensions and other matter such as sexual exploitation of Solomon Island children.

“Again, as on all of the above matters, I have consulted the Commissioner in detail,” Mr McDermott said.

Source: RAMSI

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Solomon Islander on the run in Port Moresby from police and immigration authorities

An un-named Solomon Islander who was banned from entering Papua New Guinea and alleged involvement in illegal activities is “on the run” after returning last month without proper papers.

Police could not indicate yesterday where he was but pointed fingers at the Foreign Affairs office for his allegedly improper return to the country.

The Post-Courier tracked down the foreigner, who is living in a Port Moresby suburb and running a rental business with his PNG wife.

The Foreign Affairs office in Solomon Islands yesterday confirmed the man had been banned from travelling to PNG.

They were still seeking clarification on the matter with the PNG Foreign Affairs Department when they learned the man was already in Port Moresby.

“We do not know how he was allowed to get through to Port Moresby,” the officer said.

The Post Courier Newspaper tried to get clarification from the PNG Foreign Affairs on the case because he had been banned earlier and its reporter was told that they will look into the case, but that there was nothing in writing.

“ . . . . went on his own will and whatever courses of action that will be taken are his own to deal with.”

The officer said they were still in the dark about how he was allowed to travel to Port Moresby because as far as they understood all airlines had been notified after the previous banning not to uplift the man to go to PNG.

Port Moresby police and immigration officials confirmed with the Post-Courier that the foreigner had arrived on July 7 and was detained at the Port Moresby international Jackson’s airport for six hours.

Later he was taken to the Boroko cell block to be locked up but was released on medical grounds because he fainted. He was taken to a private clinic and later Port Moresby General Hospital’s intensive care unit where he was placed under security surveillance. After a week, when he was supposed to be taken to Bomana prison, security officials and immigration found him missing. Since then he has been on the run from authorities.

The Solomon Islander is also alleged to have been involved in questionable activities in Lae, Madang, Goroka and Kerema.

In 2005, a magistrate in Lae fined the man K1500 in defaulty six weeks in jail for having lived illegally in Papua New Guinea for the previous 10 years. The court ordered that he remain in police custody until he had paid his court fine. The islander reportedly asked that he be allowed to travel to Port Moresby to apply for proper documentation.

Source: Post Courier

Solomon Islands Parliament passes Bill to review RAMSI

The National Parliament of Solomon Islands yesterday passed a motion for a review of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

The motion was tabled by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

In moving it, Prime minister Sogavare said the motion is in line with the Act, and aims to strengthen the partnership between Solomon Islands government and RAMSI.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Fred Fono has suggested that the government consult the ordinary people of Solomon Islands before making amendments to the Act governing RAMSI.

He said members of Parliament should be given the time to go through the Act to suggest changes where applicable to make the presence and work of RAMSI complementary to that of the national government.

All members who spoke on the motion have praised the many assistance RAMSI had given through the restoration of law and order, the judicial sector, provincial development involvement, education and other sectors.

Source: SIBC

Malaita Premier asks Solomon Islanders to be cautious about state government

The Malaita Provincial government has cautioned the people and government of Solomon Islands to thread carefully on the issue of State Government.

Malaita Premier Richard Na'amo Irosaea said recent problems faced by the country stemmed from discontentment over the weakness of the Central Government system and highlights the need for greater reconciliation among people and provinces.

He said the process of national reconciliation must first and foremost involve all provinces in Solomon Islands.

He said that for any meaningful reconciliation within the country to happen, it must be based and founded on truth and honesty.

The Government Communications Unit says the premier further emphasized that as a country, it is important that Solomon Islands study and take into account the cost of the proposed systems of government and assess its capacity to absorb the cost for now and into the future.

He stressed that Malaita Province is not against the State Government System but that any government system to be adopted must ensure that it leads to the improvement of livelihoods of the common majority of the people of Solomon Islands.

Source: SIBC

Monday, August 27, 2007

Solomon Islands Bilikiki boys to face Brazil in Beach Soccer draws

Solomon Islands Soccer coach Airton Andrioli and his Bilikiki boys have been set a dream date with world champions Brazil at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup - Rio de Janeiro 2007 after the official draw at the Palm Beach Hotel in Marseilles.

Russia will face off against Mexico in the official opening match of the third edition of this FIFA competition on the famous Copacabana beach on 2 November. An impressive array of mouth-watering matches were revealed for the ten-day tournament, not least in the opening match Group A where holders Brazil will play Russia as well as Mexico and the Solomon Islands.

“The draw has revealed the true shape of the competition and the real drama can now begin with the preparations of the 16 teams who will be competing in the final tournament in Rio de Janeiro. This year’s qualifiers include four teams who have not featured before such as Mexico, Russia, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates, and they will be hungry for success.

The 16 teams have been divided into the following four groups:
Group A: Brazil, Solomon Islands, Russia, Mexico
Group B: USA, Spain, Portugal, Iran,
Group C: Japan, Senegal, Uruguay, Italy
Group D: UAE, France, Nigeria, Argentina

Source: OFC

Solomon Police Commissioner Khan intervenes in arrest of Minister Shanel

By Ralph Sao

The Solomon Islands Police Commissioner, Jahir Khan, is claimed to have intervened in an attempt by Honiara Police to arrest and charge Commerce and Employment Minister, Peter Shanel.

Mr. Shanel was reported to have allegedly attacked a young man, who comes from the Lord Howe settlement, outside the National Referral Hospital after an argument.
National Express reports that Minister Shanel was arrested late last week by Honiara Police with intentions of laying charges against him. However, the Police Commissioner Khan allegedly intervened and ordered police to release the Minister with no charges against him.

An agitated Mr. Khan, when contacted by telephone, demanded National Express to reveal their source, but later confirmed that Honiara Police "took in the Minister for questioning but released him without laying any charges against him". Commissioner Khan told the National Express that people who admitted to the media having done something does not mean they are guilty, adding police had to provide its own evidence before charging anybody in relation to any incident.

Minister Shanel, in an interview with the local newspaper Solomon Star, admitted to have attacked a man outside the National Referral Hospital to protect his wife, who was reportedly kicked on the legs by the man following an argument.
However, the man in a separate interview also with the Solomon Star claimed the argument with Mrs. Shanel started after she was involved in some loud exchange with hospital security guards.

Mrs. Shanel in a later issue of the Solomon Star however dispute claims of having been involved in arguments with hospital security guards, instead stating she was talking with another woman outside the National Referral Hospital car park when two men came and started to use abusive language against her.

Sources close to the police investigations stated that if Mr. Shanel had made the same admission given to Solomon Star when interviewed by police, "that provides clear grounds to arrest and charge the Minister".

The source went on to say that while the Minister can claim the right to defend himself, it is a serious matter when it comes to the use of a weapon that can cause serious harm to other people.

Source: Solomon Times

SPG Soccer: Solomon Islands thrash hapless American Samoa 12-1

Solomon Islands romped home to victory in their opening match at the XIII South Pacific Games - Samoa 2007 smacking twelve goals past the hapless American Samoa at J.S.Blatter Playing Field in Apia yesterday.

Solomon Islands Benjamin Totori, Commins Menapi and Stanley Waita went on a goal-scoring frenzy against an American Samoa team caught in the headlights of an oncoming football juggernaut.

American Samoa coach David Brand was disappointed "that the result got to double figures" but insisted that scoring a goal through a penalty from Ramin Ott was a platform from which to build future improvement.

"Naturally we're disappointed to lose but at least it wasn't 31-0," Brand said," we've scored a goal which is a positive and I'm sure we will build from there."

Solomon Islands coach Airton Andrioli said the result didn't matter but looked to the players to build confidence ahead of their next match against Tonga tomorrow.

"I dislike these types of games because people always ask 'How many goals will you score' and there is a tendancy for the players to lose focus because the opposition is not so good," Andrioli said.

When asked if he thought he possessed a team capable of repeating the performance of Allan Gillet's side of 2004, Andrioli was typically honest.

"I think so, yes. In the Solomon Islands people are very passionate about football and their expectations are high. They want us to win the gold medal, they expect it, so if I said I expected anything any different I would be lying to you," Andrioli said.

In another match Fiji beat Tuvalu 16-0, New Caledonia trash Tahiti 1-0 and Vanuatu beat the host 4-0.

Source: OFC

Friday, August 24, 2007

Plans underway to boost Bina habour project in Malaita

Plans are now underway to further boost the development of Bina Harbor National Project in West Kwaio on Malaita Province.

A delegation from the Solomon Islands Ports Authority led by the General Manager Ngenomea Kabui, Director Engineering William Barile and Bina Harbour Project Officer Stephen Oru visited the proposed Bina Harbour project site last week.

During the visit they also had the opportunity to meet with local leaders of the three Landowners Association and the Malaita Provincial Government in a meeting held in Auki, Malaita's Provincial Capital.

Government Communication Unit says Government wants the Bina Harbor National Project to recommence and has mandated the Ministry of Commerce and Industries and the Solomon Islands Ports Authority as the executing agencies.

Sourc: SIBC

Mishaps in tertiary scholarship evident within the Minstry of education: Seth Gukuna.

A report now before Parliament underlines very serious mishaps in the allocation of scholarships. This was done to the extent of awarding students, previously terminated, scholarships.

The Chairman of Public Accounts Committee Seth Gukuna said he wanted to table the report in Parliament to bring to the attention of leaders the growing abuse of public funds.

He said often reports are produced then left to gather dust in the shelves. “I want MPs to look at the reports and debate them to avoid abuse in the future,” he said.

PAC’s report on the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development Tertiary Scholarship Programme now before Parliament is among four reports that will be tabled next week.

Like many other audits, the education report on tertiary scholarship contains serious breakdown in financial management and poor record keeping.

It found that poor monitoring of students’ activities resulted in the continuation of awards to those previously terminated from a prior award. It also found that students are overstaying, swapping programmes without prior approval and ineffective prioritisation of scholarships.

Other areas the report exposed are: ineffective scholarship selection, approval and monitoring owing to the lack of written guidelines, poor record keeping practices and lack of documentation to support decisions made, poor financial management resulting in overpayments to students and tertiary institutions, inconsistent awards of allowance paid, payments for inappropriate expenditure and inadequate documentation to support.

It also found preferential treatment and subjectivity in awarding some scholarships limited monitoring of poor performance students.

PAC demands that the ministry provides them with a copy of the National Skills Training Plan as soon as it is received.

It also wants the ministry to work on a National Education Plan that equitably benefits provincial or technical needs of the country.
PAC also wants a bond system for students who have completed their training introduced.

Source: Solomon star.

Chinese influx report tabled in Solomon Islands' parliament.

Up to 80 percent of successful applicants for new Solomon Islands passports come from just one province in China, a report to Parliament reveals.

It also reveals that 65 percent of citizenship applications are being granted despite some cases not meeting residency requirements.

The shock revelation of the inflow of people from the People’s Republic of China is contained in the Public Accounts Committee Report on the Immigration Division.

The committee also reported critical breakdowns in passport management, with lost or stolen documentation.

The report further highlights inadequate follow-up and action over illegal immigrants and deportees; and false visas not being followed up.

The committee noted with concern the significant issues over naturalization certificates and passports for people predominantly in ethnic groups not meeting the 10-year residency requirements.

The report also alleged other shortcomings in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, External Trade and Immigration.

Source: SIBC

Thursday, August 23, 2007

North Malaita MP's secret letter to North Malaita former MEF militants presented publicly in parliament

A letter believed to be written by an Opposition member who is also the MP for North Malaita Constituency urges two North Malaita inmates to give information to the MP on information they know about Prime Minister Sogavare’s involvement in the June 2000 Coup.

The letter distributed to Parliament yesterday was written by MP for North Malaita Daniel Enele Kwanairara and addressed to inmates only known as Patty (Patterson Saeni) and Jim (Jimmy Rasta Lusibaea), both former commanders of the Malaita Eagle Force militant group and are currently serving their terms at the Rove Prison.

Mr Kwanairara said in the letter that he wanted the two men to help him with some information about the raid of the armoury in 2000.

Though the letter did not mention Mr Sogavare’s name the part in To'abaita vernacular makes particular reference to the Prime Minister. In that vernacular part, Mr Kwanairara urged the two to provide information they saw and heard about the PM’s involvement in the raid of the armoury.

Besides the PM, the letter also made reference to a person who once stayed in prison (Charles Dausabea).

The letter was produced in parliament following an order from Speaker Sir Peter Kenilorea on Monday. Sir Peter made the ruling following statements made in Parliament by the MP for East Honiara, Charles Dausabea who claimed that the Opposition was teaming with ex-militants to open cases against him and the PM.

He showed the letter in parliament. The letter was dated January 19, 2007.

In another letter produced to Members of Parliament, believed to be written to Mr. Dausabea by the inmate named Jim (Jimmy Rasta Lusibaea), Jim had requested Mr. Dausabea to find a To'obaita man to interpret the earlier letter. Jim had alleged that Mr. Kwanairara made three visits to him in prison this year. He said he told the North Malaita MP that both Mr. Dausabea and the Prime Minister were innocent.

The letter alleged that in his last visit, Mr. Kwanairara had asked Honiara lawyer Lesly Kwaiga help him convince Jim into making fabricated stories about Mr. Dausabea and the Prime Minister. Jim in the letter warned the East Honiara MP not to listen to Mr. Kwaiga, saying he is a threat to the government.

Mr Dausabea said he was unable to produce the letter on the same day in parliament because he needed to seek the legal opinion of the Attorney General.

Meanwhile, another opposition member and West New Georgia Vona Vona MP Peter Boyers has come out to defend his colleague by saying that there is nothing wrong with the letter distributed by East Honiara M-P in Parliament.

MP Boyers was speaking in response to accusations that the Opposition is using ex-militants as attempts to topple the Sogavare-Government.

According to SIBC News, Mr Boyers told Parliament that the letter only shows that an MP was seeking knowledge on events surrounding the 2000 coup from ex-militants.

He said he doesn't find anything wrong with the letter's intent as this is the question of all Solomon Islanders.

Mr Boyers said it is common knowledge that former militants talk to both the government and the opposition because of discontentment and feelings that they had been used. The West New Georgia Vona Vona MP also said that the Opposition had advised former militants not to use the Opposition and vice versa.

He said while former militants are guilty of rough crimes committed during the ethnic unrest, they have a right to voice their concerns.

Sources: Solomon Star, SIBC & Solomon Times

Former Solomons PM says Sogavare's attack on foreigners 'shameful' as his advisor Moti is also a foreigner

Former Solomons Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza yesterday described as shameful Prime Minister Sogavare’s accusation of foreign elements.

Sir Allan said Mr Sogavare hated foreigners but yet he has been advised by a foreigner - Julian Moti.

Speaking at the Motion of Sine Die yesterday, Sir Allan said he could not understand why Mr Sogavare hates foreigners but was advised by a foreigner.

“Look on your right...who is there?” Sir Allan asked when making reference to Mr Moti who sat next to the PM in Parliament. Shame to have a foreigner sitting next to you,” Sir Allan said.

Mr Sogavare was bitterly disappointed with what he described as continued interference by foreigners into domestic politics.

At the same time, Sir Allan claimed in Parliament that the Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena is on his way out. Sir Allan shockingly revealed that he had heard from the “horse’s mouth” that Sir Nathaniel will be removed.

When the Minister of Finance Gordon Darcy Lilo made a point of order and requested Sir Allan to reveal his source, Sir Allan said: “The one told to replace him.”

He revealed that chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC) Edmund Andersen was the person who told him. Mr Andersen has been at odds with the Government over the Julian Moti issue. He even wrote to the Opposition at the beginning of the current session that the Public Service Commission does not recognise Mr Moti’s appointment as Attorney General.

Meanwhile, Sir Allan said it was also a shameful thing for any parliamentarian to try and get rid of the Speaker Sir Peter Kenilorea - the father of the nation.

“You are the founding father,” Sir Allan said.

The former PM made the statement in relation to Sogavare’s comment on the Speaker during the heat of the debate on the Motion of No Confidence on August 10. Mr Sogavare told Sir Peter to excuse himself or he would be forced out in a vote.

But the Prime Minister yesterday said: “I have appropriately apologised and it’s been laid to rest.”

Source: Solomon Star

Policy Planning Unit to be established in Prime Minister and Cabinet's Office to spearhead its BUA policy

By Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

The Solomon Islands Cabinet has approved the establishment of a Policy Planning Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to process and closely monitor the implementation of a National Integrated Development Plan of the government, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced yesterday.

Mr Sogavare said the creation of the new unit emphasized the government’s unwavering commitment to achieve its development objectives through the ‘Bottom-Up Approach’.

He said the National Integrated Development Plan would be supported by the work programme of the Constituency Development Offices and harmonised with activities and tasks of Constituency Development officers.

Mr Sogavare said Dr John Roughan who has been the Secretary to the Prime Minister has taken up a new position as Rural Development Advisor in the Policy Planning Unit.

He said Dr Roughan stood out as having the required level of knowledge, skills and experiences to make a difference with the implementation of the government’s rural development policies.

“The Grand Coalition for Change Government policy on Rural Development under the auspices of our Bottom-Up Approach has received widespread support in the country.

“The expectation of everyone in the country is enormous and the onus is on the government to deliver as expected. At the end of our four year term, our success will by deliverables of rural development.”

The Prime Minister said he and his cabinet have every trust and confidence that Dr Roughan’s relevant knowledge, skills and experiences with the Solomon Islands Development Trust would be valuable in his new assignment.

The Secretary to the Prime Minister’s post is taken up by Rence Sore. Mr Sore has been the Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister since the Grand Coalition for Change Government came into power last year.

The postings were endorsed by the Public Service Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

PM Sogavare calls on parliamentarians to be nationalistic rather than serving foreign interests

By GCCG Press Office

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has called for all parliamentarians to serve national interests and not the agendas of foreign regimes.

Mr Sogavare made the call in parliament yesterday following the opposition group’s failed attempt to topple his government through a series of motions of no-confidence.

He said the Opposition’s claim that the motions of no-confidence were in the best interest of the nation was ridiculous.

Mr Sogavare said however the opposition might want to argue in support of the motions of no-confidence the fact remained clear that there were foreign forces who simply hated his government.

The Prime Minister said his Grand Coalition for Change Government (GCCG) was the first government in the history of Solomon Islands that was seriously concerned about addressing the issues that resulted in the ethnic tension and yet the opposition group saw it fit to attempt to oust the government.

Mr Sogavare said the group also contradicted itself when it attempted to topple the government and at the same time supported the 2007 budget.

“In fact by passing of the 2007 budget, the parliament which comprises the opposition and the government benches was effectively saying it agreed with the direction which the GCCG is taking our country in terms of development.”

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the amount of money involved in the latest attempt to topple his government was unimaginable.

He said all Solomon Islanders taking sides with foreign forces to oppose the government were undermining the sovereignty and laws of Solomon Islands.

“That is outright irresponsible. Such people are a danger to national security, peace and stability of the country. They are better off migrated from this country,” he said.

Mr Sogavare meanwhile warned former militants to stay clear from the opposition’s ‘evil agenda’ to use them to lie under oath to tarnish the character of the Prime Minister and the MP for East Honiara.

He said former militants should not fall for quick money promises but rather learn from the sad fate of the other former militants in the Rove prison.

“These people who were onetime supporters of the former regime. They are virtually abandoned.”

Solomon government intends to legislate for accountability in NGOs and civil society groups

By Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

The Solomon Islands government proposes to introduce a legislative framework requiring all non-government organizations (NGOs) and members of the civil society to be accountable.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced the government's intention in parliament yesterday when tabling the motion to end the current parliament session.

He said he wondered why the group demanded transparency on government actions and decisions when their accountability status was questionable.

The Prime Minister described the attempt by the civil society group to petition the government to reverse the appointment of the Attorney General, Julian Moti QC and the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Jahir Khan as ridiculous.

He said claim by the group that it represented the nation was a total joke.

“These people are simply out of their mind or are simply trying to play tough when they really have no support whatsoever from the grassroots and the ordinary people of Solomon Islands.

“The fact of the matter is that they only represent themselves.”

Mr Sogavare said if the civil society group was concerned about the appointment of the attorney general then the best it could do was to assist in answering the 666 questions directed to the Australian Director of Public Prosecution.

He said there was no secret about the appointment of the attorney general and the commissioner of police and hence the government welcomed the group for a ‘one-to-one’ discussion if it really wanted to know the truth.

Taiwanese Ambassador releases $10 million educational grant for tertiary studies

By Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

The ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), his Excellency George Chan in a meeting with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare this morning released a SBD$10-million grant for educational awards for Solomon Islands.

Ambassador Chan also released SBD$1-million for the Guadalcanal Provincial Government Office's Project, SBD$750,000 for the Choiseul Bay Township Project-Preliminary Component and SBD$317,000 for the Kaonasugu Copra Buying Centre Rehabilitation Programme in Makira/Ulawa Province.

He said the educational grant would cater for 500 students to pursue further studies in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

“Education is the momentum of economic growth for a nation and a nation will prosper with it.

“I believe that more students in Solomon Islands will benefit from the award project and return to serve the country and people after completing their degrees.”

The ambassador said the other three projects were rural-based and thus were consistent with the Solomon Islands government’s bottom-up approach development policy aimed at enhancing development throughout the country.

“Kaonasugu Copra Buying Center is a pilot project aiming to revitalize and ensure sustainability of the copra and cocoa industries in Makira Province and community farmers will make profits for selling agricultural goods.

“The other two funding will help the two provinces for relocating headquarters and building new townships,” he said.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in response expressed deep appreciation for the funds. He said the Republic of China’s continued assistance to Solomon Islands was a manifestation of its commitment to the development of its ally countries.

Mr Sogavare said Taiwan had stood by Solomon Islands in both good and bad times and hence deserved the praise and respect of all Solomon Islanders.

Pacific states urged to adopt Information Communication Technology policy to keep up with globalisation

The Chairman of the Pacific Islands Internet Society, PICISOC, Rajnesh Singh, has urged Pacific islands countries to put in place an Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy.

He says and ICT policy is important for every Pacific island nation if they are to keep up with the world in new technology.

Mr Singh says it's important that ICT users ensure that governments and ICT service providers cooperate to draw up practical policies for their countries and people.

"The primary objective of every island nation, every government should be to have a practical national ICT policy in place. As you would have known, the theme of this conference is "Building National ICT strategies". If you don't have a ICT strategy in place, you will be left far, far behind, The world is going ahead in leaps and bounds. You cannot just sit and say, next time, tomorrow, next week, next month. It's gonna happen today, now."

Meanwhile, the Cook Islands will host the Pacific regional Internet, Pac-I-Net, Conference in 2008.

Chairman of the Pacific Islands Internet Society, Rajnesh Singh, says Cook Islands won the bid to host next year's Pac-I-Net in September next year.

Cook Islands was selected ahead of its only rival bidder, Papua New Guinea at the Society's Annual General meeting on Monday.

This year's PacINet conference which started Tuesday last week will end this afternoon.

Source: SIBC

Anga says Solomons Education Ministry will respond accordingly to USP SIG-students petition

The Solomon Islands Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development will respond to a petition submitted by government-sponsored students at USP in Suva, Fiji.

But Permanent Secretary Barnabas Anga says he is still to see the petition.

The petition relates to the continuous delay by the government to pay the students' book and living allowances.

They demand that the Ministry respond by the end of this month on a number of issues raised in relations to the allowance issue.

Permanent Secretary Mr Anga says the ministry will respond to the petition accordingly.

Meanwhile, it is understood that funds have already reached the student association's bank account in Suva, and will be distributed to students by this week.

Source: SIBC

Solomon Islands Grade Six students sit for secondary entrance exams today

By Moffat Mamu

More than 8000 grade six students throughout the Solomon Islands will be sitting their national exams this morning.

The one-day exam will see students doing three exam papers - Maths, English and General Studies.

Only grade six pupils in Temotu Province will not be sitting their exam today due to transport difficulty. It is understood that they will sit their exam when the papers arrived in the province on a later date.

The grade six exams are moved to today’s date following the earthquake and tsunami disaster as well as the teachers’ strike action this semester.

Close to a thousand grades six students in the Western and Choiseul provinces have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami disaster. Some of the schools were washed away while others were destroyed. Some schools have resumed normal classes and did not have their mid year break as part of catching up.

After grade six, form five students will have their two weeks exam next month followed by form three in October and form six in November.

Most of the exam results will be released towards the end of the year or early next year.

Source: Solomon Star

SIG students at USP finally receive their allowance entitlements

By Moffat Mamu

Solomon Islands students studying at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji have finally received their much-awaited allowance.

Secretary to the Solomon Islands Students Association Matilda Dani told Solomon Star yesterday that the money has arrived on Monday into the association’s account.

Ms Dani said the association would be distributing it into the students’ accounts this week.

The students have been without their allowance for the last three weeks following the delay in processing the money. The frustrated students have also gone to the extreme of signing a petition demanding the payment of allowances be made before August 31.

The petition signed by most of the 300 government sponsored students was sent to Minister of Education Dr Derek Sikua.

The students in their petition said: “The practice of paying our allowances late whether intended or otherwise in the last semesters up to semester 2, 2007 has adversely affected our studies.”

“Hence, there is a direct correlation between late allowances and poor academic performance. This is because the late payment off allowance affects every part of our lives from buying textbooks and stationary to renting accommodation and spending for basic necessities.”

The students said textbooks are normally sold out in the first week of classes and often they have to wait to buy the second batch of orders from the bookshop. This further prolongs our time to catch up on readings,” the students said in their petition letter.

“Two weeks without textbooks and other study implements is difficult enough to catch up apart from the psychological trauma our students have to endure.”

On the housing rental market two weeks without allowance could mean facing the threat of eviction, the students said.

A concerned mother and student told Solomon Star from Suva over the weekend that the situation would get worse if there is continuous delay. Already some students are resorting to eating breadfruit and mangrove pods because of lack of money.

“Imagine students who have families, they are really affected,” she said.

However, it is believed that with the allowances now paid students would now be able to smile again and concentrate on their studies.

Source: Solomon Star

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Solomons Constitutional Congress and Elder's Advisory Induction currently underway

By Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has thanked the nationals who have accepted their appointments to the constitutional congress and the elders’ advisory group.

Mr Sogavare thanked the congress and advisory group last night at the launch of their induction programme.

The congress and advisory consist of 34 and 20 members respectively.

The Prime Minister described the induction launch as a momentous occasion having being the largest gathering of Solomon Islanders called upon for a national duty.

He said the pathway to achieving a solid conclusion to the constitutional reform programme was to place the reformation responsibility on the shoulders of Solomon Islanders.

“I now therefore take this opportunity to welcome wholeheartedly all of you who have accepted to take part in the constitutional reform programme.

“On behalf of our country Solomon Islands I thank each and every one of you for accepting this huge if not daunting responsibility.”

Mr Sogavare assured the congress and advisory group of his Grand Coalition for Change Government’s support to ensure they achieve their mandated goal.

“The government has allocated SBD$2.4-million this year and will ensure that the 2008 appropriation is sufficient to ensure this important reform is completed.”

He likened the current Solomon Islands constitution as a house without a solid foundation and therefore the constitutional congress is tasked with the crucial role of reconstructing the house and upon a firm foundation.

Mr Sogavare said he believed Solomon Islanders had a fair understanding that constitutional reform was necessary however the political system failed to implement the changes that people aspire.

The Prime Minister said the ethnic tension was an expensive and painful lesson for Solomon Islands .

However he said the signing of the Townsville Peace Agreement was the creation of a new dawn for Solomon Islands whereby an agenda was put in place to restore peace by acknowledging the urgent need to reform the constitution.

The Grand Coalition for Change Government is committed to implement the proposed federal state government system during its term in office.

The induction programme ends this Thursday.

Report shows that foreign investment and employment is growing after introduction of new Act

A Foreign Investment report shows that business investment and employment in Solomon Islands has continued to grow since the new Foreign Investment Act was introduced July last year.

The 2007 quarterly report of the Foreign Investment Division shows a further 30 new foreign companies and individuals invested in Solomon Islands in the second quarter of 2007.

This brings the total number of new foreign investors to a record level of 143 since the new Act came into force in July 2006.

The Government Communications Unit says the total value of planned investment since the commencement of the new Act to the end of second quarter of 2007 is SBD$2.3 billion.

It says the substantial rise in investments will create more jobs, and more revenue for the Government to spend on social services.

It says the government is satisfied with the new Act and will continue to pursue other reforms to improve the business environment, and remove constraints to doing business in Solomon Islands.

Source: SIBC

Fono denies Dausabea's letter claim that Opposition is encouraging former militants to press complaints against gov't MPs

Solomon Islands Opposition Leader Fred Fono has denied allegations that the Opposition group is encouraging former militants to press complaints to Police against the Prime Minister and East Honiara MP, Charles Dausabea.

Speaking in parliament this morning, Mr Fono also asked Mr Dausabea to distribute to members of Parliament copies of a letter he claimed as proof that the Opposition is using certain former militants for political gain.

Mr Dausabea yesterday showed that letter to parliament when he raised the issue which he said was of concern to him.

The Speaker ruled that the East Honiara make available to MPs, copies of that letter.

But Mr Fono said the letter was not made available to MPs, and urged the MP to honour the Speaker's ruling.

Mr Fono denied the allegation, saying it really tarnishes the Opposition group in Parliament.

"Although we may be categorised as evil, Mr Speaker Sir, let God judge us not man to judge us. And I call on the MP for East Honiara to distribute that letter. Whatever the content of that letter, it is the person who wrote that letter and not the whole Opposition group. Let that be the message for us in Parliament and the nation - that we have no part in whatever that strategy or what ever the content of that letter we have at no time discussed that."

Source: SIBC

PM Sogavare says Constitutional Reform in Solomon Islands is necessary

By Ralph Sao

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, in welcoming delegates of the Constitutional Congress and members of the Elders Advisory Group, stated that Constitutional reform is necessary if not compelling.

Mr. Sogavare, who spoke during a dinner function last night, said that the current political system has failed to deliver the necessary reformative changes that Solomon Islanders aspire.

"The delay has come at a price, the severity of the conflict came as a shock to everyone and was an expensive lesson to all of us" said Sogavare. "It will be a huge problem if we leave this matter unresolved".

Mr. Sogavare said that there is an urgent need to reform the Constitution to reflect the realities of the country, a diverse society. "We all know with honesty that our country Solomon Islands has a seething problem that exists deep within our Constitutional framework, a number of reviews and national consultations have demonstrated that to be the case" Sogavare said.

The Prime Minister said that the foundation of the new Solomon Islands is to be found at the very grass roots of our society. Sogavare said that it is important for Solomon Islanders to "repatriate our confidence and awake ourselves to the reality that no one but ourselves can solve our problems"

Source: Solomon Times

Monday, August 20, 2007

Young Solomons Print Journalist accepted for Sasakawa Fellowship in Japan

A young Solomon Islands print journalist, Mr Moffat Ghala Mamu has been chosen as one of the three incoming class of the 2007 Sasakawa Pacific Islands Journalism Fellowship.

The Fellowship gives regional journalists the opportunity to develop a series of stories focused on Japan while based in that country and working one-on-one with a senior professional.

Mr Mamu, a reporter with the Solomon Star in Honiara was chosen along with Suzanne Chutaro, a reporter with the Marshall Islands Journal in Majuro, Marshall Islands; and Agnes Donato, a reporter with the Saipan Tribune in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands.

Another Solomon Islander, Ian Aujare (Projects Officer with the Island Sun in Honiara) was also selected as one of the two alternates. The First Alternate is Jacqueline Hernandez, a photojournalist with the Saipan Tribune.

This year’s Sasakawa Pacific Islands Journalism Fellowship will take place in Japan in late October. Fellows will develop stories around the theme of “Japanese Tourism,” both outbound and domestic, and link those stories to their home markets. The Fellows will conduct interviews and write their stories in Japan, while working with Pacific Magazine Publisher Floyd K. Takeuchi, who has more than 30 years of regional journalism experience, including working in Tokyo.

The Sasakawa Pacific Islands Journalism Fellowship is a partnership between the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund of Tokyo, Japan, part of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and Pacific Magazine of Honolulu, Hawaii.

“Competition for this year’s incoming class was particularly rigorous,” said Takeuchi, who is the Fellowship’s organizer and trainer. Regional journalists from five Pacific Islands nations and territories applied for the program. All of this year’s applicants were senior journalists, and had to submit detailed story proposals, examples of their best professional work, a resume and recommendation from a senior manager in their news organization. The Sasakawa Pacific Islands Journalism Fellowship is one of the few Pacific Islands-focused professional development opportunities that require participants to apply for the program.

A Selection Committee comprised of senior journalists, a journalism educator and a senior executive and manager of the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund reviewed the applications and chose the Fellows.

Mamu who is a graduate from USP started working with the Solomon Star since 2004 and covers the health and education beats for the paper. He is also the newspaper's feature writer for TOK TAEM and the Weekend Magazine.

Malaita Police praise North Malaita people for good behaviour during Malu'u Trade Show

Malaita Provincial Police Commander John Lee Kanabaea says he is happy with the support and cooperation of the public of North Malaita Region during the recent trade show and second appointed day celebrations at Malu'u last week.

Superintendent Kanabaea says the event which ran for four days was a success as there was no major incident.

He says thirty police officers were deployed from Auki to Malu'u to strengthen the numbers already stationed there to ensure a peaceful and successful event.

The Superintendent says the more than five-thousand people who attended behaved well.

He says this indicates the good public relations between the community and the police.

Mr Kanabaea also acknowledges support from chiefs, village and church leaders.

Source: SIBC

PM Sogavare warns logging companies in Makira/Ulawa to stop sexual exploitation of underaged girls

By Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has called on the logging companies operating in the Makira/Ulawa Province to respect Solomon Islands laws and ensure their employees behave themselves.

Mr Sogavare made the call in response to a report by the Christian Care Centre of the Church of Melanesia which unveiled stories of commercial sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children in logging camps in the province.

Speaking at the province’s Second Appointed Day 24th anniversary celebrations in Kirakira last Friday, Mr Sogavare said he was ‘greatly’ disturbed by the reports.

He said disturbing revelations indicated a serious breakdown in family relationship whereby children no longer respect the authority of parents.

“This is a very sad situation and I would like to all parents, chiefs, church leaders and village elders to restore their discipline upon their children. It is a serious responsibility that must not be taken lightly.

“The responsibilities attached to parenthood are enormous. In fact it is where training for life begins and therefore parents have a duty of care to the province and ultimately the nation in the kind of children we produce.

“In this connection I must also call upon the logging companies concerned to respect our laws and ensure their employees behave themselves on pain of disciplinary actions,” Mr Sogavare said.

Central Honiara MP seeks gov't approval to revoke leases on undeveloped land by Chinese and reallocate to indigenous people

Central Honiara Member of Parliament Nelson Ne’e is demanding the Government take back land leased to Solomon Islands Chinese and not developed and instead reallocate to indigenous Solomon Islanders.

It is understood Ne'e's demand is included in a paper submitted to Cabinet last week.

Ne’e said his paper has received Cabinet’s approval and forwarded to the responsible department. However, Lands Minister Leslie Boseto said he is yet to receive the paper.

Ne’e said the decision to seek the land was based on the wishes of his people in Central Honiara.

He said his constituents have asked him to take action because they feel most of Honiara’s land is in the possession of Asians.

Ne’e said his paper asks the Government to approve the return to the state of undeveloped land held by Chinese. He said the land should then be re-allocated to indigenous Solomon Islanders.

Ne’e on Friday urged the Government to give the actual timing of the rebuilding of Chinatown. A large area of Chinatown, which sits in Ne’e’s constituency, was burnt down during the 2006 April Riots.

Redevelopment has not started because of differences over how Chinatown should be rebuilt. Where there were once busy shops there are now empty, often overgrown, spaces.

Source: Solomon Star

SIG sponsored students at USP Laucala petition Education Minister over allowance delay

Solomon Islands Government-sponsored students at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji have petitioned the Minister for Education, Dr Derek Sikua over government's continuous delay to pay their living and book allowances.

The petition is demanding a response from the Minister by the end of this month on a number of issues raised in relations to the allowance issue.

According to SIBC reports, the petition was signed by close to 300 Solomon Islands students and sent to the minister by e-mail on Saturday. It was put together based on resolutions reached following their meeting last Wednesday.

Among points raised in the petition, the students are demanding that SIG-sponsored students recalled for poor performance in semester one of 2007 be reinstated for studies immediately. The students stated in their petition that their failure was related to the government's continuous delay in paying their book and living allowances. They also demand that the National Training Unit must not count any courses withdrawn or failed by students at the end of semester two this year, towards termination of scholarships. They stated that there is a direct correlation between allowances and poor academic performances.

SIBC News has not been able to get the minister to comment on the students' demands. However, it was understood that government has already made arrangements for payment of the allowances in question. The National Training Unit last week said the Central Bank was processing the transfer and students were expecting to their allowances by last Thursday.

Chairman: 'Should Solomon Islands own an international airline at all?'

By Solomon Star Newspaper, Honiara

Lawyers are now looking into the details of the Solomon Airlines-SkyAirWorld agreement following grounding of the airline’s leased Embraer 170 jet 11 days ago.
The grounded Embraer 170 jet at Nadi Airport during one of its trips in June

New Solomon Airlines Board Chairman Rick Hou – who is in charge of reviving the struggling airline -- said the airline’s finances continue to bleed.

Hou, the Central Bank of Solomon Islands Governor, told the Solomon Star: “People can put it in any way; the fact is Solomon Airlines does not have enough money to pay all those bills.

“SkyAirWorld was demanding a substantial amount of money, which the company does not have, so you really can’t squeeze blood out of stone.”

Meantime, Solomon Airlines is chartering a Boeing 737-200 from Australia’s OzJet and working with other airlines to maintain international services.

Hou said the airline’s finances are like somebody who tries to stop water from going out of their hand.

“I might use water, which you try to control in with your hands. You try and control it from coming on one side but it will still get out in many directions,” he said.

Hou said the new board is looking at options to address the problems.

He said it would put the options together and give them to the Government, the airline’s owner. The Government will then make the final decision.

Hou said one of the things that must be decided is whether “we should own an international airline at all.”

“That I don’t think is a matter for the airline board to decide on,” Hou said. “In my opinion, if we can’t manage why should we?

“Again, in my opinion, the international sector is an area where we can make money out of it without actually owning an airline.”

Source: Pacific Magazine

RAMSI's community outreach to Malu'u yields widespread support from North Malaita people

by Jeremy Miller

Thousands of people have taken time out during the Malu’u Mini Trade Show and Second Appointed Day celebrations to visit RAMSI’s Community Outreach stall.

The Regional Assistance Mission’s Outreach Coordinator, Chris Tarohimae, said the response from the people of North Malaita was very positive.

“The aim of our Outreach program is to go into rural areas and talk to people about what RAMSI and the Government are doing in partnership and to give people the chance to ask us any questions they have about the mission and how it affects their lives,” Mr Tarohimae said.

“Visiting North Malaita for the Second Appointed Day was the perfect chance for our Outreach team to have this direct contact with as many ordinary grass roots people as possible.”

There were many different and exciting activities at the RAMSI stall. People could take information papers about the work of RAMSI and the Government in Malaita and across Solomon Islands, provide feedback at the Talem RAMSI suggestion box, or watch the new RAMSI video – Changing Lives.

But Mr Tarohimae said what people liked most was the chance to talk face to face with one of the 17 RAMSI civilian, police and military personnel representing six of the 15 countries of RAMSI.

“While many people had seen RAMSI police advisors at the Malu’u Police Post and soldiers on patrol, they were surprised to find out about RAMSI's civilian program which works in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government in three areas: Law and Justice, Machinery of Government and Economic Governance and Growth”, Mr Tarohimae said.

“The second thing people are surprised to see and meet are the Solomon Islanders working with RAMSI in these areas”, he said.

The Talem RAMSI suggestion box received over 160 letters from people across North Malaita.

RAMSI Assistant Special Coordinator and Director of the Outreach Program, Masi Lomaloma, said the overwhelming majority of feedback was very positive about the work of the mission.

“People are telling us that they support the work we are currently doing – particularly in the area of law and order. However people still face many challenges and hardships. Issues like kwaso are having a negative impact on many people’s lives and they want something to be done about it”, Mr Lomaloma said.

Mr Lomaloma said the Outreach program was developing a schedule of visits to every province.

“While it takes time to visit rural communities, it is important for all stakeholders - RAMSI, Government staff working with RAMSI and grass root communities to meet each other and discuss important issues.”

Source: RAMSI

Friday, August 17, 2007

Malaitans must change attitude and values to achieve positive community development: North Malaita MP

By Brian Wanga, Auki

Malaitans must develop appropriate attitude and moral values if they want positive development in their communities.

This was the message of North Malaita MP Enele Kwanairara during the Malaita Second Appointed Day celebrations on Wednesday.

Mr Kwanairara said development and improvement begins with each individual.

“We cannot develop nor improve our lives if we continue to wait for others to do things for us or give us development,” he said.

Mr Kwanairara’s speech was delivered by his representative Francis Kairi, as he is currently recovering from a mild stroke.

He said people should stop waiting for others but must decide on what they should do to improve their lives and that of their family members and community.

“Malaita’s development and improvement can only come about genuinely if we take the initiative to do things first rather that wait for government or aid donors to give us development on a plate,” he said.

“Without sweat and tears there can be no progress and this is now more urgent for all Malaitans as our population grows at a very high rate each year.”

Mr Kwanairara said the national government’s Bottom Up Approach policy is not going to bring free goods or money.

“We are required to work and use our natural resources together with our human skills and talents in order to meet the needs of our families or start small rural based businesses and industries,” the MP said.

Therefore, he urged all Malaitans to come together with their leaders to discuss and plan ways for the use of their resources to improve their lives.

“Land disputes cannot help people to move away from poverty but will make people poorer and desperate even for meeting their basic needs,” Mr Kwanairara said.

Source: Solomon Star

Expert says introducing computers and internet access in rural areas can succeed in the Pacific

A consultant with the 2020 Communications Trust in New Zealand, Ian Thomson, says Introducing computers and Internet access in rural areas can succeed in the Pacific region.

Mr Thomson says providing Internet access in the region is possible because the cost of doing so is getting cheaper.

"The cost of getting access to the Internet now is coming down quite a lot, so I think it's very affordable and doable in the Pacific islands. There are a few things that we have to get through, few barriers and regulations and issues like that, but it's very affordable."

Mr Thomson says one of the key issues in getting access to the right information at the right time, adding that most people think computers and the Internet provide much information, which enable them to make better decisions.

He says the 2020 Communications Trust was set up 10 years ago to look at the digital divide or access to Internet and computers.

Mr Thomson says the Trust had introduced to the people, computers and the Internet through training and technical support.

He says in the last four years the Trust had extended its experience to the Pacific and is now working with a number of Pacific islands governments on the issue.

Mr Thomson was speaking yesterday at the regional Internet conference being held in Honiara.

Source: SIBC

Earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale hits Solomons capital causing alarm and panic

Yesterday evening's earthquake had caused alarm and panic among people living along the coast of Solomon Islands capital, Honiara.

Reports reaching SIBC News say some coastal dwellers in the capital left their homes for fear the earthquake might trigger a tsunami.

The earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, occurred just after 7.30pm (Solomon Time) last night.

It was centred about 73 kilometres Southwest of the capital Honiara.

There's been no reports as yet from the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal, where the Earthquake was closest.

Police were as of last night trying to establish contacts with villages in the area.

Meanwhile in the capital, there's been no reports of casualties and no visible damage. It was however expected that goods had fallen off their shelves in the shops.

Source: SIBC

Thursday, August 16, 2007

AG Moti withdraws no-confidence motion court case amidst disqualification of Haomae's motion

By the Attorney General's Office, Honiara

Solomon Islands Attorney General Julian Moti QC today informed Parliament that “in the light of the Speaker’s very carefully reasoned and impeccably stated ruling” on Honourable Haomae’s latest no confidence motion, he was “instructed to withdraw and discontinue the Prime Minister’s pending actions in the High Court.”

The Attorney General confirmed, however, that contrary to the statement of Honourable Haomae’s lawyers in yesterday’s Solomon Star, there was in fact no case listed for hearing before the High Court this Friday.

“Honourable Haomae’s lawyers filed their papers in the High Court just before lunch yesterday and did not serve them on my Chambers until the afternoon. According to the Notice of Motion, Justice Brown was prepared to hear their application at 9.30am next Monday, not this Friday.”

Attorney General Moti QC said: “Now that the questions have been conclusively settled by the Speaker in accordance with what we believed was established long ago in Danny Philip v. Speaker, we need not trouble the High Court with the further agitation of that matter. The High Court’s decision in Danny Philip’s case is final and binding until it is revisited and disturbed by the Court of Appeal. A consistent application of the doctrine of judicial precedent would have produced the same result which the Speaker pronounced today.”

“The Government’s proposal to enact laws prescribing the privileges, immunities and powers of Members of Parliament is a more constructive way of addressing those perennial problems which needlessly travel to Courts for their resolution. Courts must be places of last resort for solution of problems which the Legislature is better equipped to answer by the exercise of its long-dormant powers.”

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