Cuba’s late leader Fidel Castro remembered fondly in Vanuatu for his support at UN for independence for New Hebrides

Fidel Castro, President of Cuba addressing the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York in 1979. Photo: UN/Yutaka Nagata

Fidel Castro, President of Cuba addressing the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York in 1979. Photo: UN/Yutaka Nagata

Cuba and Vanuatu have been engaged seriously in more ways than just the training of ni-Vanuatu doctors to keep ni-Vanuatu healthy. The death of the Cuba’s premier statesman, Fidel Castro, and his assistance during the independence struggles of Vanuatu have been acknowledged by Vanuatu’s former PM Barak Sope as the news of the Cuban leader’s passing is heard around the world. Sope and Castro were indeed friends back in the 1970s, and Cuba’s support for Vanuatu at the UN Decolonisation Committee was greatly appreciated here. Anyone going to the Vila Central Hospital is these days still impressed at Read the rest of this entry »

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Govt denies breach of contract over citizenship scheme, asks ‘where is our money’?

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 27 January 2013

Prime Minister Sato Kilman has not made any statement concerning Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot or Pascal Anh Quan Saken through the mainstream media in Vanuatu yet. This comes about when their partnership is the most discussed topic in the media and nakamals of the capital. Opposition Leader Edward Natapei, in the Daily Post on Friday, insisted the PM terminate Carlot. Natapei sees Carlot’s involvement with Saken as detrimental to Vanuatu’s international credibility.

VBTC News this weekend carried a complaint by Immigration officers over the establishment of a new company, Pacific Migration Consultants, by the DG of Internal Affairs, George Bogiri. The Principal Immigration Officer, François Batick said the new company will be able to earn over Vt 200 million annually.

The President of the Vanuatu Vietnamese Association, Dinh Van Than, says Pascal Anh Quan Saken was born in Vietnam and lived there until he was 11 years old. He then moved to France for 15 years and became a French citizen, he says in this weekend’s Daily Post. “It was a lie that Pascal Saken went to school in Port Vila as I would have known him. Instead Pascal Saken went on to live in Bangkok to this day”, Than told Daily Post. Dinh Van Than was born in Vanuatu in 1944 and has lived here ever since. Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot had told freelance journalist Hilaire Bule, when the Phocea was boarded in July last year, how he came to know Pascal Anh Quan. The Minister replied “While you were still playing in your jungle [on Pentecost], I was going to school with him in town.” Than says Saken did not attend any school, in town, and it is a lie to say he did.

Pascal Anh Quan Saken sees himself as the deputy head of the Vanuatu European Union embassy in Brussels. He claims he still holds a valid Vanuatu diplomatic passport, even though the Prime Minister’s Office cancelled it and advised the Commissioner of Police that the passport was cancelled last year. Radio Vanuatu News yesterday morning carried a report based on an interview Pascal Anh Quan gave Radio New Zealand International on Friday. Saken claims to have been the victim of bad publicity while in Papua New Guinea and says that reports are all untrue and just aimed at damaging his reputation. He is still working hard for Vanuatu, he says. He is hoping to work more with Europe and the United States to build the structure of his country, Vanuatu. Saken says he cannot come to Vanuatu because his sailing boat Phocea is still being held by the Government on suspicion of carrying arms or drugs. He says he has heard all the allegations against him. While in PNG, he could not meet the US Ambassador as planned, but hopes to go back to PNG next month. He has also heard his passport was revoked by PM Kilman last September, but he believes the passport he holds is still valid.

The Citizenship Commission has announced that adult “adoption” does not entitle the adoptee to Vanuatu citizenship. The Citizenship Commission will continue to expect new citizen applicants to have resided in Vanuatu for more than ten years. Read the rest of this entry »


Vanuatu daily news digest | 17 January 2013

Vu Anh Quan Saken does not own the Phocea, maybe. French dotcom entrepreneur Steve Rosenblum, founder of Europe’s largest ecommerce website, Pixmania, was the owner as recently as 2011. So says maritime sleuth BJ Skane in today’s Daily Post, who has not been able to find any reference to the vessel being sold since then, despite Rosenblum, his wife and the Phocea having previously been regulars in the social columns of publications like Vogue. The papers the vessel presented in Panama en route to the Pacific showing Vanuatu registration were not in order, and the Vanuatu registration papers seized aboard the Phocea by suspended police investigator Andrew Kalman are forgeries.

Big questions remain. What was “Mr Saken, ℅ Phocea” planning in collusion with certain Vanuatu Government Ministers? If Vu Anh Quan does own Phocea, why did he bother with forging Vanuatu registration documents? Why has Rosenblum not demanded his boat back, or, if he has since sold it, why has he not distanced himself from Vu Anh Quan and his Vanuatu misadventure aboard the Phocea? Phocea was flying the Vanuatu flag on routes linking the illicit drug production centres of the Golden Triangle (Phocea’s stated destination and Vu Anh Quan’s home turf) and South America (where he was promised Vanuatu diplomatic status). Monsieur Rosenblum would surely not wish to be involved in such matters. Nor should Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Sato Kilman. It is time to ask the Australian Federal Police and Interpol to return.

Labour Commissioner Lionel Kaluat says his Department is taking a stronger stand in enforcing the provisions of the Labour (Work Permits) Act. All new applications by foreigners for work permits will be closely scrutinised. Kaluat admits to an “alarming” increase in the number of wholesale and retail shop workers in 2012. We have noted already on this blog the growing numbers of foreign workers employed as builder’s labourers, another occupation that is supposed to be reserved just for ni-Vanuatu. Kaluat also referred to illegal shortcuts to gaining citizenship. Of course, Kaluat needs the full assistance of the rest of the Vanuatu Government, which he calls on to be more accountable and transparent. As Chairman of the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority, he is in a strong position to permit only the kind of investment which will provide Vanuatu’s people with much-needed employment opportunities.

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 30 November 2012

The shock horror news of today is the former political adviser in the Ministry of Health being awarded a VT 3 million health consultant contract as qualified and experienced health practitioners are being retrenched. Daily Post reports his fee is higher than any ni-Vanuatu doctor’s salary. Joemelson Arnhambath Joseph formerly worked in Snoopy’s Stationery and as Chairman of the Citizenship Commission when that office became embroiled in controversy. From evidence before the various Phocea court cases, Arnhambath acted as middleman for the citizenship of the two ‘debt collectors’ in the employ of Vu Anh Quan Saken, obtaining their citizenships in contravention to the Citizenship Act and in (possibly) record time. The Government has not laid any charges in this matter. Arnhambath served under his brother-in-law, former Minister Willie Reuben, as political adviser, and his new 12-month contract was signed by the now removed DG of Health, Maturine Carlot Tary. Arnhambath will “ensure human resource workforce remunerations and grading per per the revised health structure are carried out  in timely manner and ample time”, whatever that means.

Daily Post also highlights the visit of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) DG, Pascal Lamy. He will have kava today with DPM and Minister for Trade Ham Lini, before departing tomorrow. Trade Director Sumbe Antas told Daily Post the brief visit is in relation to the almost deadlocked Doha Round of talks and the ministerial meeting of the WTO in Bali next month. The Vanuatu Council of Churches and other organisations are hoping a mission promised to assess the relevance of the WTO to the aspirations of the people of Vanuatu will still take place here, after a strong campaign against the WTO accession.

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683 Permanent Residence visas approved in Hong Kong

Voters want change, says the Vanuatu Times today. How right they are. Bus drivers all agree that we cannot get much worse administration than the current one.

Daily Post leads with the information that 683 Permanent Residence visas have been approved in Hong Kong for persons of “mainly Asian origin”. The government is to receive Vt 154 million for granting this status. George Bogiri, DG of Internal Affairs, and Principal Passport Officer Henry Tamashiro brush the matter aside as simply a case of providing a residential address to permit Asians to reside in Hong Kong’s Special Economic Zone. “Over 600 cases have been approved, but to date, not a single applicant Read the rest of this entry »


Father Walter Lini on Vanuatu citizenship

“It was important for Vanuatu to be very careful about the issue of citizenship, simply in order to prevent the country being over-run by those wanting it for its material benefits rather than from any true feeling for the country.”

Father Walter Lini, Vanuatu’s first Prime Minister and one of the founding fathers of an independent Vanuatu.
From Lini’s book
Vanuatu. He was speaking about the rationale for the citizenship provisions used by the drafters of Vanuatu’s Constitution.