Vanuatu daily news digest | 3 February 2013

The Supreme Court will give its ruling early next week on Willie Jimmy’s petition contesting PM Sato Kilman’s eligibility to stand in last year’s election. Political maneuvering is going ahead full swing ahead of the court ruling. RNZI reports that some Government MPs have already been lured to the Opposition in advance of the ruling.

Daily Post carries a story that quotes a former registered migration agent from Australia now residing here who says the fees for Australian migration agents’ services quoted by George Bogiri are misleading. Former agent Robert Rokvic also points out that the any move to outsource Government services could lead to the “opening up of the flood gates” for other ministries to use private agents to collect other government fees and taxes. In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, which provides regulation of their activities. Says their website: “Registered Migration Agents are bound by a Code of Conduct and are required to have an in-depth knowledge of Australian migration law and procedure and meet high professional and ethical standards.”

Bogiri has had a lot of media attention but has completely side-stepped the issue of his personal conflict of interest in Pacific Migration Consultants. Both the Constitution and the Leadership Code Act are crystal clear on this; leaders are obliged not to use their office for personal gain, and they must disclose any business interests in any matters where they may have a conflict of interest.

Radio New Zealand International reports: “Pascal Anh Quan Saken has not returned to Vanuatu since leaving last July before he could be questioned in relation to the 75 metre yacht. It was raided and seized by police, immigration and customs officers on suspicion of passport fraud and drugs trading. All criminal matters relating to the Phocea have been dropped but the Ports Authority [sic] says the vessel is unable to leave the country after it was confirmed that it does not have Maltese registration. Mr Saken says his boat is being confiscated so that officials can charge high berthing fees. He also accuses Vanuatu police of piracy when raiding the Phocea, including wearing shoes on the yacht’s Persian rug interior.”

The suspended Director of Ports and Harbours, Morris Kaloran, points out once again that the issues over which he is once again suspended were already dealt with in December. However, Government has decided to suspend him all over again for the same issues. All allegations against Kaloran were cleared by the Public Service Commission. Kaloran challenges the Public Service Commission to make the reasons for his suspension public on the national broadcasting service, Radio Vanuatu. The suspension of Kaloran followed his refusal to allow the allegedly fraudulently registered Phocea out of the country as the Prime Minister required. Richard Kaltongga, political adviser to PM Kilman, complains in the Daily Post about “junior government officials” interfering with decisions made by Ministers.

Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek reminded Vanuatu’s law practitioners of the need for continual revision of their professional practice in order to serve society’s need for justice. Justice Lunabek was addressing the legal profession at the official start of the court year on Friday. He stressed the need for the legal profession to learn from mistakes and to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of Vanuatu’s legal system. Radio Vanuatu News broadcast parts of his address. The Chief Justice’s annual speech has in the past given details the management shortcomings of the administration which have an effect on the delivery of justice.

The Vanuatu Free West Papua Association says West Papua has officially applied for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group under the West Papua National Coalition Body.