Massive state-sponsored corruption revealed in corrupt Santo land deal

The Daily Post headline today is “Santo Corruption”. 40 urban leases have been approved for Lands officers in Luganville. We can see now why Lands personnel are rushing to help their Minister alienate state and customary land. Much of Santo Bellevue has been given to them. Senior Lands officers Peter Pata and Joe Ligo (husband of “anti-corruption activist” Jenny Ligo) are on the list. The approvals were carried out by the Land Management and Planning Committee, which makes it sound regular. However, they were done “as per Ministerial instruction.” And the instruction was to allocate state land to staff of the Lands Department.

Wouldn’t we all like a piece of cheap land? Is this offer available to the general public? Of course not. The Minister and the Lands officers in question seem to believe that they are in some way entitled to public land because they have been doing their job. But they are paid a salary to perform their job. They are not entitled to help themselves to state land, regardless of what the Minister of Lands says. Don’t just take our word for it: here’s what clause 33 (1) of Vanuatu’s Public Service Act [Cap 246] says: “in the performance of any service on behalf of the Government no fee, reward, or remuneration of any kind whatsoever, beyond the remuneration and approved allowances, of a person employed in the Public Service may be received by that person or other person for that person’s own use or benefit.” Employees of the Vanuatu public service are obliged to “behave with honesty and integrity” and “use resources and public money in a lawful and proper manner”, says Clause 34 (1) of the Act.

Speaking of Steven Kalsakau, the Caretaker Minister of Lands is to face his various fraud charges, which he has so far evaded by leaving the country, in court on 30 October (!), voting day.

And then we come to the State owing caretaker PM Kilman VT 1.4 billion, claims the PM’s political advisor Richard Kaltongga. This is for “property and land at Lakatoro”, it is reported in Daily Post. At least it is what Kilman invoiced Government for prior to heading off to the United Nations. DG Joe Ligo says there is no record of the transaction within his department or the Finance Department, so what has become of the invoice? Quite clearly caretaker PM Kilman needs to buy space in Daily Post to have his invoice printed in black and white for the public to see, especially the people of Lakatoro, or his election campaign risks coming unstuck. Both Kilman and Richard Kaltongga are in defensive mode, continuing to attack the media in an attempt to deflect the glare of public scrutiny. Kilman claims his indebtedness (or non-indebtedness) to Government was not properly reported. All the more reason for him to have his Vt 1.4 billion invoice to the nation to come out clearly for us all to see.

A question not asked by the Daily Post story: land in Vanuatu is owned by tribes or groups of people, not individuals. How can one individual, Sato Kilman, lay claim to land that is owned by a group of people? What do the other people of Lakatoro have to say about this?

The Magistrate’s Court is not giving any more time to the two Ministers to make their pleas in the Phocea case. Caretaker Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alfred Carlot, and caretaker Minister of Education, Marcellino Pipite, must appear on Tuesday next week to give their pleas concerning the charges against them.

The Appeals Court is sitting. It is considering appeals before it, including that of former Police Commissioner Joshua Bong, appealing his suspension some months ago.

The Malvatumauri has launched a Kastom Governance book which examines the use of kastom as a means of governance in recent years. The University of Queensland and AusAID assisted the project with financing. We sure need a whole lot more kastom governance in the Council of Ministers. Ordinary western governance has enabled and encouraged them to stuff up just about everything.


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