Vt 21 million missing from EU-funded energy project on Ambae

European Union flag. Photo: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Post‘s page 1 headline today: “Investigation Demanded… Ambae EU aid project scandal gets attention of Euro-MPs”. Vt 21 million of the funds for the the EU-ACP Copra Oil Energy Generation Project on Ambae have allegedly been embezzled or mis-spent. Read the rest of this entry »


European Union and New Zealand give Vt2.5B assistance for agriculture and cyclone recovery

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, PM Salwai and EU Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development Neven Mimica signing the joint declaration on sustainable agriculture yesterday. Photo: @EUPasifika/Twitter

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, PM Salwai and EU Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development Neven Mimica signing the joint declaration on sustainable agriculture yesterday. Photo: @EUPasifika/Twitter

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 4 February 2013

An investigative report in last weekend’s Independent newspaper alleges renegade mega-yacht claimant Pascal Anh Quan Saken gave USD200,000 to PM Sato Kilman for his 2012 election campaign. Prime Ministerial spokesmen have repeatedly denied this, but the Independent’s “close source from Government” said Saken was “trapped” by Vanuatu politicians, and the Vanuatu Government was implicated at the highest level in Anh Quan’s forged documentation and diplomatic passports.

The weekend’s Vanuatu Times says former Epi MP Ioane Simon is confident of a by-election on Epi because Robert Bohn Jr. has not been adopted by an Epi family, as is required by the Representation of the People Act. Ioane Simon is expecting judgement this week.

Vanuatu Times also has Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the European Union, Roy Mickey Joy, claiming that he was just doing his diplomatic duty for a fellow citizen in requesting passage for Vu Anh Quan Saken to Port Moresby, PNG, as Anh Quan had “legitimate and validated documentation.” There is no reference to Anh Quan’s use of allegedly forged papers in other matters such as the Phocea yacht registration. He makes no mention of the tremendous engineering help Saken claims to have provided for the Brussels-based embassy.

Vanuatu daily news digest | 30 January 2013

The Minister for Internal Affairs, Toara Daniel, responsible for Immigration, has said the Ministry responsible is not aware of the formation of Pacific Migration Consultants and that the Director General of Internal Affairs George Bogiri must resign because of the conflict of interest presented by his setting up of this company in his own name. Daniel did this following a press conference by DG Bogiri and Principal Immigration Officer François Batick yesterday morning. The Minister’s remarks were reported by Radio Vanuatu News. Bogiri and Batick were giving their explanation why ‘Government’ hired Bogiri’s company to handle all of Vanuatu’s visa applications. DG Bogiri rejected media reports regarding the creation of the business, saying they are “baseless and unfounded,” and explaining the business was formed because of the numerous public complaints about the bad work of the Immigration Department. Batick backed him up and added there would be other agents in future. Straight after the Bogiri press conference, his Minister met members of the media and questioned the self-interest of the DG in making such a move. Minister Toara Daniel said Bogiri must resign and the PM and Council of Ministers must closely examine the matter. The Minister responsible was never informed of the move to set up such a business and observed that policy is only a matter for Government.

Daily Post today begins detailing by the TVL network failure which yesterday affected many of the telecommunications in Vanuatu. The failure interrupted fixed phones, mobiles and internet communications for periods of many hours, and not all services were restored by the end of the working day. More explanation is expected soon. This blog apologises for not delivering a new post yesterday.

Roch Wamytan of FLNKS promised MSG leaders and pioneers at the Symposium last Saturday that FLNKS (Front de libération nationale kanak et socialiste> would help the regional organisation in many ways during the next two years of its (FLNKS’s) presidency. However, his address, as covered by Daily Post, makes it quite clear that for FLNKS, Independence in New Caledonia is Kanak Independence, not France entering into the MSG inside a New Caledonian Trojan horse. Wamytan reiterates Fr. Walter Lini’s vision that Vanuatu cannot be free and independent until the whole of Melanesia is free and independent. France is not Melanesia: Kanaky is.

The Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Ham Lini, performed a custom “face cleaning” ceremony of national apology last Sunday towards the Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Leo Dion, following recent events in Port Moresby with the unexpected visit of the Vanuatu Foreign Minister, Alfred Carlot, to PNG. The apology was accepted, said Radio Vanuatu News, in conformation with the spirit of unity which has prevailed during the MSG anniversary celebrations. It was considered important because the Prime Minister Sato Kilman was not aware of Carlot’s visit to PNG, necessitating PNG PM Peter O’Neill’s statement that Carlot had lied in what he told the press.

Prime Minister Sato Kilman opened the Shefa Community Transformation and Healing of the Land Conference of the Efate Presbytery by extolling the importance of “genuine” business investment and development to improve the lives of the people. Furthermore, close and regular dialogue with genuine development partners is important in face of the many challenges which confront the whole world. Government has a duty to understand and meet the needs of its people, together with supplying the development needs of the country, economical and social, with due regard to custom and the Christian faith of Vanuatu, VBTC News reported Kilman as saying. Land can become a blessing if we manage it well, he said, but it can also become a curse if we neglect or damage it.

Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the European Union, Roy Mickey Joy, has declared that the work of the Embassy is to provide consular assistance to citizens following Vanuatu law and the countries in which he works. Vanuatu’s EU Embassy was mentioned in media reports last week following Ambassador Joy’s request for clearance for the private jet carrying the two so-called Sakens to land in Port Moresby to meet Vanuatu Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot. It will be recalled that cancellation of Vu Anh Quan Saken’s passport was ordered by the Prime Minister last year. The ambassadorial “clarification” was covered by Radio Vanuatu News.

The two Bulgarians who allegedly broke into the ATM of a Port Vila bank recently
have been remanded until next week
when their case will be heard after court sittings resume.

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 | 18 December 2012

A man from Tongoa, hospitalised following a serious road accident in the Agathis area at the weekend, has died, Acting Deputy Police Commissioner John Taleo has announced to the media. The story is both sad and serious and has led to clashes between young men of several communitie, and Taleo is anxious to prevent the violence from spreading. The incident began as a road accident, but the media have reported that the bus was stoned by island-based gangs taking matters into their own hands. Homes have been damaged too. However, Taleo is quite right to insist on dealing with the matter as a traffic accident. The driver is being held by the police, according to VBTC midday news. He is certainly safer with them. However, look at how readily the South Tanna versus West Tanna dispute has enlarged.

The administrator of the South Pacific Fishing Company Claims Association, Mr Remy Kuaunuan, has told Daily Post that 1,000 fishermen are still awaiting their wage claims which date back to August 1989. The amount involved is huge, and many of the fishermen who spent years at sea with the SPFC company have not received any of the wages for which they worked hard for during their long and uncomfortable years at sea. Many have already died. The Council of Ministers has this year approved a commission of inquiry to look into the matter of the claims of each individual claimant. Mr Kuaunuan and his members question whether the commission has actually been formed. There has been no feedback from CoM at all about this matter.

Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the European Union Roy Mickey Joy has expressed his displeasure with the Pacific leaders in the ACP Group (the Asian, Caribbean and Pacific collaboration of developing countries) for not sending a Pacific leader to the current meeting of ACP heads of state in Equatorial Guinea. The ACP Group is due to expire with the Cotonou Agreement in 2020 and, Mr Joy is castigating his Pacific colleagues for not sending a president or prime minister. Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot has been attending a meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People in Marrakech, Morocco.

Vanuatu daily news digest | 16 December 2012

Opposition leader Edward Natapei answers MP Robert Bohn Jr.’s accusations in Daily Post that the Opposition is the cause of instability by pointing out that Bohn signed an MOU with the Sato Kilman bloc, then held discussions with the Opposition, then formed a bloc (‘Cloud Zero’) with Independent MP Richard Namel “so that whoever got into government, the ‘Cloud Zero’ bloc would be in government.” Bohn at least admits the Opposition “captured the moral high ground”, even if he chose not to meet it there.

Bohn also apologises to his Epi constituency for his inability to provide an upgrade to the Burumba clinic there because expenses related to the motion of no confidence cost the country vt500,000, he said. Natapei points out that most of this sum of money has not been paid, anyway. The Opposition Leader also reminds us of the appalling state of the country’s finances, as detailed in the Motion. With some teachers still unpaid, the 2012 budget remains in disarray and there is no Parliament-approved budget for 2013. The situation is not unusual in Vanuatu. When Parliament does not sit for a Budget before the end of the year, the law provides for what is called a “supply bill”. This allows for three months of appropriation (January to March). The appropriation is based on the previous year’s budget, and does not need the approval of Parliament. This was quite common in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Vanuatu had political uncertainty. So, basic Government services should continue — to the extent they are currently actually being delivered. Whether or not this brings joy to the people of Burumba depends on what might have been decided for them by the Kilman Government. Both Radio Vanuatu News and Daily Post this weekend carry the Opposition Leader’s comments on Robert Bohn’s opinion piece.

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