Thursday, February 3, 2011

ABC Radio Australia Local News Update

03 February 2011

Solomon MPs 'misleading' over shooting say police

Solomon Islands police say two former government ministers, who alleged they were the target of a shooting they say was politically motivated, may have mislead detectives.

Douglas Ete and Bobo Dettke say they were targeted last weekend after resigning as MP's, which sparked the current political turmoil.

Now police have released a media statement saying the two men were not present at the shooting incident and that their information was grossly "incorrect and misleading."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Danny Philip has decided not to recall Parliament early because of the political deadlock.

The government and the opposition remain locked in a battle for power, and a push to persuade MPs to switch their allegiances.

The Special Secretary to the PM, Andrew Muaki, has told the Solomon Star the Prime Minister is happy to wait till March, because he believes the government is still functioning and not in crisis.

Floods cause damage across Solomon Islands

In Solomon Islands, continuous heavy rain in Guadalcanal Plain and Honiara has caused damaging floods.

A number of main roads, including parts of the Tenaru Highway are closed because of flood water.

The floods have also forced some villagers from their homes and destroyed vegetable and root crops.

The Solomon Star reports, the rising water has isolated some communities on the eastern side of Guadalcanal.

A resident beside the Foxwood and Tenaru rivers has told The Star, that if this heavy rain continues, they will need urgent emergency assistance from the government to evacuate hundreds of people to safer ground.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SIBC News Headlines...

SIBC News,
3rd January 2011


The Bar Association which is responsible for the affairs of lawyers says it will welcome a judicial review over the issues that have arisen from the early release of North Malaita member of Parliament, Jimmy Lusibaea.

The President of the Association, Rodney Kingmele, during the opening of 2011 legal year this week raised the issues surrounding the early release of Mr Lusibaea .

Mr Kingmele said the presiding judge Mr Cameron had covered a wide range of mitigating factors in favour of Mr Lusibaea and had given credit to him.

He said that the mitigating factors were considered before the judge handed down the sentence of two years nine months imprisonment.

The Bar Association President questioned what other factor have not been considered that the parole board had taken up to recommend Mr Lusibaea's release.

Mr Kingmele also noted that Mr Lusibaea's earlier application for bail was refused by the High Court.

He said the recent public statement by Mr Lusibaea's solicitor that they are going to appeal the MP's sentencing only show that the legal process available to the Parliamentarian is yet to be exhausted.

Mr Kingmele said it seems the parole board has taken over the function of the Court of Appeal.

The Bar Association president says the association will welcome a judicial review over the case so that issues regarding it will be put to rest.

Attempts to have the Attorney General's comment over this has been unsuccessful.
Solomon Star News
3rd January 2011

PM happy to continue as is

PRIME Minister Danny Philip has decided to hold the country in suspense until the March sitting of Parliament.

This was despite the Government and Opposition having locked at 24/24 in their numerical strength.

Two of the 50 members of Parliament, Toswell Kaua of Baegu Asifola and Steve Laore of Shortlands were not counted after they died last year.

Special Secretary to Prime Minister, Andrew Muaki said Prime Minister Danny Philip decided to call Parliament in March because it was his constitutional right.

"The PM does not want to call Parliament early because the Government is still functioning and not in a political or constitutional crisis," he said.

"The four vacant ministries have already been filled up by acting ministers.

"Minister for Environment John Moffat Fugui is acting minister for fisheries, Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga is acting minister for Provincial Government, Prime Minister Danny Philip is acting minister for public service and Minister for Tourism Samuel Manetoali is acting minister for police," Mr Muaki said.

"The acting ministers have the same powers as the ministers.

"All their names have been gazetted already," he said.

The four acting ministers were appointed after Douglas Ete resigned as minister for public service, Bodo Dettke for minister for fisheries, Stanley Sofu for minister for public service and James Tora for minister for police.

Former Minister for Provincial Government, Bradley Tovosia replaced Ete as Minister for Forestry.

Mr Muaki explained that in cases of motions of no confidence if the Government and Opposition was tied, the motion was defeated.

"This is what happened in the past when Paul Tovua was the speaker of parliament," he said.

When asked for further clarification, Mr Muaki did not elaborate on it.

Solomon Star understands the Government wants to table the budget and three other bills.

The bills include an amendment to the Customs and Excise Act, an amendment to the Land and Titles Act as well as a Bill to establish the National Bureau for Social and Economic Reform.

The National Bureau for Social and Economic Reform is a policy delivery vehicle for the National Coalition for Reform and Advancement Government.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

SIBC News Headlines...

2nd January 2011

Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer has said that a number of proposed reforms were drawn up in a paper last year aimed at modernizing the judiciary and change the way it does business.

Sir Albert said that this is to ensure the judiciary becomes more responsive to the current demands, needs and challenges of the 21st Century.

Speaking to officially open the 2011 Legal Year, Chief Justice Sir Albert says this reform, among others, come under the fifth "State of the Judicature Report" with the aim to improve the National judiciary's performance in the delivery of judicial services to the people of Solomon Islands.

He says a number of new initiatives are proposed under the reforms which include having a separate 'administrative and financial autonomy' to make the country's Judiciary similar to PNG's Judiciary set up and experience.

Sir Albert Palmer says the proposals will enable the Judiciary to manage its own budget and expenditures based on its' own plans and priorities.

The Chief Justice says experiences in other countries show that by having its' own budget, the Court will be able to function more efficiently, effectively and independently in the delivery of judicial services and the general administration of justice as envisaged in the National Constitution.

Meanwhile Sir Albert says it is important to appreciate that this is not about a Government Department or Ministry seeking financial and administrative autonomy but a third arm of Government as an institution becoming fully independent from other two arms of government - the Executive and Legislature so that the risks of interference such as being demonstrated in recent events are minimized.

The status of an Opposition petition asking the Governor General to intervene in the political game and to call parliament to sit is still not clear.

The Petition was lodged by the parliamentary Opposition more than a week a go, signed by 25 M-P's.

One of the signatories to the petition, North Guadalcanal M-P and Minister for Lands and Housing Martin Sopaghe has since re-joined the government, and sworn in again to the same ministerial portfolio, only four days with the Opposition after resigning from the government.

When asked if the Government House has any comments relating to the petition, the Private Secretary said the Governor General has not indicated if he is going to comment on the issue to the media.

In the meantime, it seemed that both the government and the opposition group are still locked at 24-24.

But despite the number being equal at 24, the opposition still has confidence and today lodged a No Confidence Motion notice on the Prime Minister, at the Parliament Speaker's office, according to the Opposition Press Secretary Deli Oso.

SIBC News has not been able to confirm with the Speaker if the notice reached his office today.

Chairman of the Correctional Service's Parole Board, Philip Tegevota has resigned from the post less than three weeks after the board's controversial recommendation to release jailed North Malaita M-P Jimmy Lusibaea on license and a 95 per cent remission of his sentence.

Lusibaea was recommended for release on license with a 95 per cent remission of his two year nine month sentence just after New Year of this year.

The 95 per cent remission had effectively reduced his sentence to one month and one day allowing him to retain his parliamentary seat.

In his resignation letter addressed to the Police Minister, Mr Tegevota says reliable sources have told him that his life and safety is under serious threat.

He told the Police Minister that he cannot afford to live under threats for the next three years as Chairman of the Parole Board.

Mr Tegevota's resignation letter also says he is prepared to appear before the courts and assist to testify the basis of the Parole Board's recommendations to the Minister should the matter end up in court.

In a later interview with SIBC News, the Parole Board Chairman refused to name the source of the threats but said that he had decided to resign from the post because the government and the police cannot protect his life.

He said his resignation may meet public criticism but his life is under threat.

He also said the former Police Minister should have remained in office to explain to the nation why the Parole Board had to recommend Lusibaea's early release and the 95% remission to his sentence.

SIBC News understands that Prime Minister Danny Phillip has not appointed a Police Minister since the Ulawa-Ugi MP James Tora resigned from the portfolio.

The Government has approved a 25-million dollar rescue package to provide some 200 additional scholarships for Solomon Islands students this year.

The Office of the Prime Minister announced today that the additional scholarships were approved by Cabinet approved at its meeting on Thursday.

In a statement today, the Prime Minister’s Office said the Government funding will provide additional places for students who have had good GPAs, but could not be selected because there was no funding this year.

Only 34 scholarships were awarded initially this year.

This was due largely to failure by former Education minister to respond on time to a request by the Papua New Guinea Government that Solomon Islands indicate its requirement in terms of the number of tertiary places this year.

While the exact number for the scholarships is being worked out, the 25-million dollars rescue package will be available for both pre-service and in-service Scholarships overseas this year.

The funding will be administered by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development.

The acting chief executive officer of the National Referral Hospital has reiterated the importance of undisrupted electrical power flow to the Hospital.

This came following frequent power outages experienced by the referral hospital with the recent one last Saturday lasting for almost 15 minutes.

Speaking to S-I-B-C news this afternoon, the acting CEO Dr. James Auto explained that most of today's medical equipment are powered by electricity to monitor and treat patients.

He said while records show no loss of lives due to power outages at the national referral Hospital in Honiara, this must not leave room for complacency on the importance of constant flow of electricity to the hospital.

The hospital's CEO Dr Auto confirmed that the hospital's administration is working closely with the SIEA and the Hospitals maintenance staff on how to enable the standby generator to respond quickly to power outages.

The Parliamentary Opposition has lodged a notice for a motion of no confidence against the government at the Parliament House.

Opposition Press Secretary Deli Oso confirms that the notice was lodged today.

Meanwhile, attempts by SIBC News to confirm whether the notice has reached parliament were unsuccessful as the speaker of parliament Sir Allan Kemakeza was not in his office this afternoon.

Effects of Tropical Cyclone Yasi on Rennell Island in the Rennell and Bellona Province are reportedly minor, despite the cyclone being upgraded to category 3 this morning.

Rennel Bellona's Provincial Disaster Officer based at the National Disaster Management Office's National Emergency Operation Centre, Maqueen Sahonu confirmed to SIBC of getting reports from Lavangu in West Rennell through HF radio.

Mr Sahonua told SIBC that heavy showers and strong winds situation have improved since last night when the Cyclone was located south of the Island.

He says reports received so far are of minor damages such as destruction of banana and pawpaw trees and local thatched kitchens.

Meanwhile Guadalcanal's Disaster Officer Herick Savusi who visited parts of Guadalcanal Plains today confirmed that the western end of Barande Bridge sustained damage, cutting off access to communities located after the bridge which include Tasiboko, Reko and Ruavatu.

Mr Savusi says Ngalimbiu river's water levels have also risen, reaching houses situated on the eastern end of the bridge.

Similar reports of heavy rain and strong winds have also been reported for other provinces under threat which include Malaita, Temotu, and Makira.

The National Disaster Management Office has activated it's National Emergency Operation Centre on standby due to Tropical Cyclone Yasi which is affecting most of the islands in the country.

NDMO's Operation Manager George Baragamu told SIBC News that the centre was activated since Sunday to closely monitor the situation and to continue to give out warnings to provinces under threat from the tropical cyclone Yasi which was this morning upgraded to a category three cyclone.

Provinces under threat include Rennell and Bellona, Makira, Temotu , Guadalcanal and Malaita.

Mr Baragamu says they are in contact with NDMO officers in all the provinces and have so far received reports from Temotu, adding that reports from other provinces are slowly coming in.

The Operations Manager says a situation report covering all provinces under threat should be ready by this afternoon.

Mr Baragamu says although they have not received reports of any damage or destruction, they are not ruling out the possibility of damages and destruction and related disasters with the category three cyclone Yasi.

The Solomon Islands Meteorological Service is currently reviewing the current weather situation with the intention of canceling the cyclone warnings over the national broadcaster SIBC later tonight.

The Meteorological Director David Hiriasia told SIBC News that tropical cyclone Yasi is continuing to move west, south-west of the country at a speed of 18 knots and this is good for Solomon Islands.

Meanwhile, people in Reef Islands and Santa Cruz in Temotu Province have been affected by King Tides as a result of the Cyclone Yasi.

Speaking to SIBC News this afternoon, Radio Temotu's Andrew Nalua says Cyclone Yasi has brought very heavy rains, strong winds, and King Tides bringing sea-level marks above normal in the Reef Islands, Pileni, Matema and Malo in Santa Cruz over the last 24 hours.

Mr Nalua says the weather has caused small trees to fall and coastal flooding in these areas but there were no serious injuries and reports of damages to properties.

He says there were no strong winds and heavy rainfall since this morning as weather is expected to get back to normal.

Member of Parliament for North Malaita, Jimmy Lusibaea, expects to spend more than 200-thousand dollars to help pay part of students school fees from his constituency this year.

Mr Lusibaea told SIBC news the money is from the left-over Livelihood Funds allocated for North Malaita last year.

The MP says he started delivering cheques to Honiara schools today adding that by the end of this week 103-thousand dollars would have been given benefiting about 180 students in 27 schools.

This morning Mr Lusibaea and members of his Constituency Advisory Committee presented cheques to various schools in Honiara including the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education which received 38-thousand-250 dollars to support fees of 22 students.

Mr Lusibaea says the the North Malaita Constituency Development Officer is in Malu'u collecting student lists and he expects about 200 students with a similar funding of another 100-thousand dollars.

The MP says he decided to help pay half of students' school fees in forms one to seven, the College of Higher Education, vocational schools, Bible schools, and USP Solomon Islands Campus, but does not cover overseas tertiary institutions or primary education.

Mr Lusibaea says about 40 schools in Solomon Islands will benefit from the new initiative this year.

One of the country's top political commentators describes the recent political developments as not speaking well of the country's political stability.

Speaking to S-I-B-C news, Dr. John Roughan says it seems so immature how members of parliament can switch sides overnight.

He says if they claim that their moves are based on national interests or on behalf of their people, they have to prove it.

Dr Roughan also states that the recent personal attacks by the government and opposition on the media is unprofessional especially when they are individuals the people of the country call top leaders.

He describes them as more like children arguing before their parents on who is right and who is wrong.

Meanwhile Dr. Roughan explains that the people should not expect the government to implement all its policies within a six months period in office.

Members of Parliament should show leadership in politics than being hungry for power in politics.

Political Science lecturer at the University of the South Pacific Doctor Gordon Nanau says MPs must be seen to be portraying leadership and role model characters.

He says leaders must work towards achieving what is best for the nation instead of concentrating on the politics of power.

Mr Nanau says that the current politicking where leaders hop from one camp to another without real justification of what they believe to be good for the nation does not speak well of Solomon Islands as a nation.

He says after more than 30 years since independence, it is only logical that leaders be seen as mature and forward looking.

He says there's a lot of potential in the country but, these potential can only be exploited with determined leadership.

Meanwhile, a Martin from the Borderline area says the action of certain members of parliament is not making any sense.

He says despite the freedom they have in parliament, moving from one camp to another after every few days is an indication of a leader without principles.

He says it is obvious that MPs who move camps over the recent days were acting on a group decision and against their individual will.

The Borderline resident says what had transpired indicates cheap politics and leaders without principles.

An Australian aid adviser in Papua New Guinea has been seriously injured in a violent car-jacking in Port Moresby.

A spokesperson for the Australian High Commission confirmed the victim, a man in his 50s, worked for Australia's aid program.

The spokesman said the Australian man had his car stolen in a car-jacking on Thursday evening in Port Moresby, where sustained serious injuries during the assault.

The man was discharged from Port Moresby Hospital on Friday and flew to Brisbane for farther treatment.

The spokesman would not disclose any more details for privacy reasons but said PNG police were investigating.

AAP also understands that at the weekend another Australian official was involved in an unsuccessful car-jacking by a gang of youths.

The attacks occurred in the same time frame as a fierce tribal fight in Port Moresby that left five men dead with scores more admitted to hospital with knife wounds.

The fight erupted at a popular market on Thursday afternoon but retaliation attacks continued until Sunday.

Chief Superintendent Tondop called for calm in the wake of the “animalistic and barbaric” clashes that included a beheading and several dismembered bodies.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Solomon Star news update

Solomon Star News, 1st February 2011.

Lilo: Bodo must know this nation survives on loggers

Minister of finance and Member of Parliament for Gizo/Kolombangara Gordon Darcy Lilo said the revenue this country generates comes from logging.

Speaking to the Solomon Star Mr Lilo said statement made by Bodo Dettke about him and the Prime Minister saying they survive on logging companies is rooted from his own political interest to personally attack others who strive to serve the interest of this nation.

Mr Lilo said that he and the Prime Minister with the whole nation are surviving on logging industry for the time being while working on tourism and agriculture sectors to boost economy of this country.

“These revenue pay for social services provided for this country.

“These social services covers health, education, transport and so forth.

“Bodo must stop this kind of criticisms as it does not speak well of people and issues,” he said.

Lilo said all these issues must be debated properly and not personalizing matters to spoil reputation of others.

He said the shifting of these MPs are just for personal interests that led them to end up in an ambulance which is so ridiculous and embarrassing when heard and seen by the public and foreigners.

Mr Lilo said he supports former Prime Minister MP for east Choiseul to leave aside personal and self interest then focus on real issues of the country.    

He said he is not willing to comment in the media but because of these leaders personalizing issues in the media so he has to respond to them.

Bodo also accused Lilo of staying at Honiara Hotel for about ten years.

However Lilo said that his accommodation is just the same as the other housing entitlement taken by other MPs in the parliament including Bodo himself.

He said that it is sad that our national leaders are talking about personal things to spoil reputation of others which does not reflect someone with quality to lead this nation.

By John Atai

Ete condemn ambulance incident

Former Minister for Forestry and MP for east Honiara Douglas Ete refuted media reports that he was sighted sitting in the national referral hospital (NRH) ambulance on his way to see Martin Magga on Friday night.

Speaking to the local Journalists during a press conference at the Heritage Park Hotel yesterday Mr Ete said that since he work for the National referral hospital in 2008 he never sit inside of the ambulance because he know it has a purpose and that is for emergency cases of sick people.

“For two years when I work for NRH up until the very moment they falsely claim that I sat in the ambulance is a total liar from the government press secretary and I condemn it,” he said.

He said that government and Alfred Sasako are lying to the nation about their made up stories to spoil his leadership status.

He said that in response to their false claim he condemn it and want such leaders to be honest in what they are telling to the public.

By John Atai

Sofu: I'm with the opposition

RESIGNED Minister for Public Service, Stanley Sofu has maintained his allegiance with the Opposition.

Speaking from his sick bed at the National Referral Hospital yesterday, Mr Sofu said he had already resigned.

"At the start of all this political wrangling, I was touring my constituency," he said.

"I did not finish my tour because I was sick and had to recall to seek further medical treatment in Honiara.

"I am not sure of all these articles written about me in the media," Mr Sofu said.

"I am a man of principle and leader of East Kwaio," he said.

Mr Sofu was taken into the Opposition camp after he arrived from Atoifi, Malaita Province on Sunday’s 6pm flight.

Supporters of the Opposition camp intercepted him after the Government side sent four vehicles to pick him up.

His decision to join the Opposition locked the number game with the Government at 24-24.

Two seats were left vacant in the 50 seat Parliament following the death of Baegu Asifola MP, Toswel Kaua and Shortlands MP, Steve Laore last year.

Initially, the Government wanted Sofu to take his oath at Government House yesterday.

According to the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Alfred Sasako Government House said Mr Sofu had never resigned.

"The Governor General requested him to take his oath again because he signed the petition."

However, with Mr Sofu maintaining his stand, it seems he will not take his oath.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Solomon Islands PM says opposition using desperate methods to topple government

Radio New Zealand International News, 31 January 2011

The office of the Prime Minister in Solomon Islands has accused the opposition of using extraordinary and desperate measures to topple the government.
Danny Philip’s coalition has been plagued by a series of defections over the last few weeks.
He’s now called on the police to investigate the actions of opposition MP Douglas Ete.
Press secretary, Alfred Sasako, says the member for East Honiara allegedly used an ambulance to try to smuggle the chairman of the government caucus, Martin Maga, from his home to the opposition camp on Friday night.
“When the police arrived at the scene and opened the ambulance door they saw the member for East Honiara sitting in there in the ambulance. There were no doctors in there. There were no other paramedics. The family members just told the police to get the ambulance moving or it would be stoned.”
Press secretary for the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister, Alfred Sasako.

Solomon Islands PM says it has two seat majority

The government in Solomon Islands says it has a two seat majority in Parliament despite defections to the opposition last week.
On Friday the opposition lodged a notice for parliament to be recalled for a vote of no-confidence after five ministers crossed the floor.
The opposition says the house is now evenly divided and up to four more MPs are expected to defect in the coming week.
But press secretary to the Prime Minister, Alfred Sasako, says the Danny Philip government still has 25 seats in parliament to the opposition’s 23.
“The Minister of Public Service has not resigned. He is still a cabinet minister. Because he was forced to sign the petition calling on the Governor-General to call parliament, he’s required to re-take his oath of allegiance.”
Alfred Sasako says the minister is expected to retake his oath in the next two days.

Opposition condemns gunshot

[Solomon Star News, MONDAY, 31 JANUARY 2011] - The Opposition has condemned a gun-firing incident against the North West Guadalcanal MP, Heinz Bodo Dettke and the East Honiara MP Douglas Ete on Saturday night.

A man was said to have fired a gun shot in the air from a vehicle between 9pm and 9:30pm outside the ITA workshop opposite Burns Creek where the two parliamentarians were standing.

Opposition Leader, Steve Abana said the unidentified man also swore at Mr Dettke and Mr Ete for switching to the Opposition before the vehicle he was travelling aboard sped off.

Mr Abana said the incident is appalling and bears a negative implication on the Danny Philip-led National Coalition for Reform and Advancement Government.

He said the least the people of Solomon Islands expect of the NCRA Government is to thrive on the ignorance of a few people of certain ethnic groups for political expediency.

Mr Abana said Mr Dettke and Mr Ete resigned from the NCRA Government and joined the Opposition because they have soundly judged that the Danny Philip-led regime is not serving the interest of the nation but rather that of its own and its cronies.

The Opposition Leader meanwhile calls on the police to investigate the incident and the relatives and constituents of the North West Guadalcanal MP and the East Honiara MP not to take the law into their own hands.
Police have been informed of the incident and are now investigating it.