Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 21 July 2015

Vila Times, out Mondays, had a heavy headline yesterday – Namele to prohibit Nari’s political instruction. The new Minister of Public Utilities, Tony Nari, is being prevented from ensuring all heavy duty works equipment be moved out of Central Pentecost and North Ambae to work on roads in his own North Pentecost area by namele leaf tabus in both places. Opposition to his plans would seem to be well organized and deeply felt. He could not be contacted in the matter.

Vila Times also has PM Political Adviser Richard Kaltongga backing the PM’s warning to the media that VBTC’s regulatory powers should be extended to print and the social media. In these coalition circumstances, the highly political VBTC, turned into a commercial corporation has no right to occupy any place in the media regulatory firmament. Furthermore, it needs the kind of supervision which can only be provided by a commission which has earned the trust of the general public like the Judicial Services Commission and Malvatumauri. The media will, to a man and woman, say No to any regulatory role of VBTC. And the media industry is likely to be extremely demanding of government as the next cyclone season is entered. The owner of the public property (the medium and short wave transmitters) and employer of those who are essentially civil servants in information provision, VBTC, with its Pam performance still fresh in everyone’s minds, had best look to what the State expects of it before becoming involved in regulatory rigmarole.

Daily Post has a suspect, related to the owner of Tanna Lodge, being held in connection with the recent Tanna murder. Six bungalows were burned down in a reprisal.

Post also announces the signing of an agreement between Wilco Hardware and a PNG hardware company (BNBM PNG Ltd) for the sale of Wilco in Vanuatu.

Of particular interest in today’s Post newspaper will be an interview with Marie-Noelle Ferrieux Patterson, Vanuatu’s first Ombudsman. In answer to a question regarding strengthening the Ombudsman’s powers to prosecute, Patterson is of the view that "If we had a combination of a strong and independent Police Commissioner, a strong and independent Public Prosecutor, a strong and independent Auditor General and a strong and independent Ombudsman – the regulatory and investigative authorities would start to work properly, and those guilty of corruption would face the consequences of their misconduct. Until that happens, we are not likely to see much change." Indeed.

We will soon be learning the strength and independence of the Public Prosecutor in the bribery cases due to begin today with the Preliminary Inquiry.