Prime Minister Kilman threatens Transparency International with defamationPosted: August 18, 2012
It’s a bit buried on page 2 of Daily Post, but PM Sato Kilman is threatening to sue Transparency International Vanuatu for defamation. Above all else he seems vexed that the media here and abroad is asking questions about the sailing boat Phocea. He offers no answers to the questions about what his Ministers were doing on board illegally, or the ship deliberately avoiding the quarantine area for several days. He gives no assurance that he is going to even try to find out.
PM Kilman also offers no reassurance to the members of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund who are greatly concerned about mismanagement of the VNPF and what has been allowed to happen to their savings during his term. Highly speculative land and hotel deals have been undertaken by the savings fund, managed by persons of no proven experience in such fund management, and on colossal salaries. Kilman’s Minister must have approved or known of such undertakings.
Transparency Vanuatu on Friday was concerned that people of proven ability were being dismissed from Lands and the Fraud Squad — people who might have been able to assist the public get answers to their many questions. The PM is displeased.
Possibly some answers to the public’s many questions surrounding Phocea and the VNPF debacle will emerge in a Face-to-Face at Parliament on Tuesday. Possibly. The Pacific Institute of Public Policy has arranged at Parliament forums for the public to question the PM and the Leader of the Opposition before the imminent sitting of Parliament, with the Prime Minister from 11 to 12 and Leader of the Opposition from 12:30 to 1:30. The public is urged to obtain their free tickets early at the Parliament gate, as seating is limited. The two leaders will be face-to-face with the public, not each other.
Probably the only good news for the day is the minimum wage increase to Vt 30,000 a month. It also comes with a highly desirable hourly rate of Vt 170 an hour. This will enable employers and employees to better establish what any particular job will cost or bring. The Labour Tripartite Council (which involves employers and employees) recommendation was accepted by the government. The minimum wage was previously Vt 26,000 a month.
A move back into area councils was reported again in VBTC Radio News this morning, 81 being proposed. Some are said to be running already. The topic has been insufficiently discussed in the media so far.
The new acting Ombudsman wants powers to prosecute. He draws attention in Daily Post to the many failures of the prosecutions department. He highlights the many observable failures in his own area of expertise, the Leadership Code.
The latest news on Phocea is that someone paid all thirteen of the crew members’ Vt 100,000 fines yesterday morning to the Government cashier, although it is not revealed who. They were therefore able to have their passports (mostly European Union ones) released to them. They are likely to leave Vanuatu soon.
Phocea crew member, and supermodel (suggests this website), Faviola Irmgard Brugger Dadis is an American and threatened to report ni-Vanuatu officers to the US Embassy, according to her charge sheet. Brugger Dadis was in court for most of Friday on the additional charges she faces beyond illegal entry. Many were the court delays occasioned by the matter of returning passports to crew and whether the correct number was being returned. Brugger Dadis is now additionally charged with hindering the Vanuatu duty officers and will be in court on Monday.
Crew of the Phocea have reported their passports always being with the “owner” of the ship, from Italy, and as they came and went to Paradise Cove and through Pango village during the days before their illegal presence was acted upon. At least the Vanuatu authorities have got their passports back to them as the renegade so-called owner of the vessel, Pascal Anh Quan Saken, abandoned his team and shot off to the airport. As pointed out here yesterday, the crew could have been fined Vt 2,000,000 each, and the prosecuting officials were seeking this amount.