Pipite threatens media with defamation over Phocea reports – despite being photographed aboard megayacht

Minister Marcellino Pipite is complaining that reports concerning his and Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot’s illegal visits to the Phocea were politically motivated. He counselled against people believing what the media says in the matter. He says he is taking Daily Post and Television Blong Vanuatu to court for defamation. Daily Post‘s Editor Royson Willie pointed out that only the facts of the matter have been reported by his paper — Pipite cannot sue for defamation if it was a fact that he was on board the vessel, which as we have already seen, has been documented in photos. Anyway, Pipite will be holding another press conference tomorrow, at which he expects the presence of the Commissioner of Police and investigating officials as well as the media, “to clarify the issue relating to the yacht Phocea.” The Minister’s stand in the matter could similarly be labelled “politically motivated” in view of the proximity of the elections.

Much more important news was the vindication of the stand bythe CEO of Air Vanuatu, Joseph Laloyer, against the purchase of the hugely overpriced Britten Norman Islander aircraft. All charges against Laloyer were dropped. The case proceeded to the Supreme Court following pressure from the owners of the aircraft, former Air Vanuatu CEO Terry Kerr and his partner, who were overcharging Air Vanuatu almost three times the actual value of the plane. Laloyer had cancelled the contract.

ANZ Vanuatu has outlined its plans for investment in Vanuatu. The group’s new Vanuatu CEO Steve Rogers said “We are committed to continued investment in our business in Vanuatu and part of this includes the introduction of low-cost mobile banking that will improve the way people can manage their money remotely.”

Maxime Carlot Korman MP has been allowed to return to Parliament by his peers in a vote of 44 for and 1 against. MP Joe Natuman questioned the wording of the motion to enable Korman to resume his seat which implied he was punished for doing his job. Natuman pointed out that MPs have a responsibility to ensure the normal democratic processes are carried out and suggested a review of parliamentary Standing Orders.

The Vanuatu Government wants to create a national tourism council and provincial tourism council  following the demands of the tourism industry, VBTC Radio News reported. This will be in addition to the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO), which is designed to promote Vanuatu as a tourism destination overseas. The council would encourage more local and foreign investors in the industry. Parliament is continuing to debate a Bill on the matter.

NISCOL Chairman Sandie Kalven is unhappy with the use made of money from NISCOL in support of attendance of athletes at the Torba Provincial Games. The chairman, on VBTC, suggested persons other than qualified athletes were using the travel grants which would mean that the Niscol support of the northern provinces would be wasted.

A judicial review has found the Police Commissioner’s suspension legal. There was nothing illegal or unlawful in the President’s decision on 17 June, the court found. The Commissioner’s complaint that he was being dismissed rather than suspended has delayed the Public Service Commission investigation into the matters to be investigated until dangerously near the existing end of the commissioner’s contract, anyway.

UMPC — the UMP for Change — must register under a different name following the Supreme Court judgement which determined that the name is too close to that of the original UMP, reports Daily Post.