Vanuatu daily news digest | 16 November 2012

Phocea still under detention is Daily Post’s cover headline this morning. The story highlights what was learned from the Retriever 1 story of just six years ago. Remember its connection with yet another conman, Peter Foster? At least this time, fines — albeit minimal — are being paid (we presume) for the offences of the crew and their captain. But there is no crew qualified to sail the vessel away as they all have only forged documents. And the ship itself has only forged papers. So we must force Pascal Vu Anh Quan Saken to return to Vanuatu to answer charges which the Fraud Squad (which handled the Retriever 1 case) can easily arrange, if the Government will only reinstate it again: no sign of that yet. Police in Vanuatu were told many lies by Retriever 1‘s Kell Walker and Peter Foster, and it needs the Fraud Squad to get to the truth, as they did with the heroin haul at Eton.

The solution to the Phocea issue remains the same today as yesterday. The incoming Government that forms next week must apologise to the Police Capacity Building Project for sending the AFP away — and ask for them to come back. But first, please get them to send their inspectors with appropriate tool kits to just check the hundreds of likely hiding places for any of the interesting things they might just find. It’s only two days since a yacht suspected of drug running, and of having a decomposing human body on board, was found off Vava’u in Tonga. Tonga was the Phocea’s last port of call before it came here. The connection to the drug smuggling route west from South America, where Vu Anh Quan has interests, through Tonga and Vanuatu is far too well-known to let continue. No government should be giving an official imprimatur to this illicit trade. Well done Police and Fraud Unit, Ports and Maritime and bring back the AFP please, new government on Monday.

Provincial elections are on their way, candidacy closing Tuesday November 27. We must ensure that the electoral roll is in order before this next vote. These elections will be a top priority for the new government which we hope to have on Monday. The shoddy state of the electoral roll is a smudge on Vanuatu’s otherwise good governance reputation. The Principal Electoral Officer and Transparency International Vanuatu also complain about the roll in today’s Daily Post, and Government’s VBTC News makes extensive comments concerning the meagre value of our votes. Everyone wants the Electoral Commission and electoral roll overhauled. Can we wait until after the Provincial Elections? No, we should not. We must not. These regional elections should be delayed, if only briefly, to make that happen.