Deaths top the news stories today …
Heather Lini-Leo Matas died at the weekend. She was Vanuatu’s first indigenous female lawyer. Wife of Ombudsman Kalkot Mataskelekele, Heather (sister of the first PM Walter Lini and eighth of ten Lini children from North Pentecost) was most recently serving as the principal legal officer in the National Provident Fund (VNPF). She had held a wide variety of senior legal positions in government. She studied law in PNG, Australia and the United Kingdom. A funeral service is planned for Wednesday morning at 7 at the Anglican Church, Tagabe, and the body will be flown to Pentecost for burial.
Vanuatu’s first professional boxer, Philip Kating, passed away midday Sunday after an injury caused by another person. Kating, now believed to be in his sixties, held a number of Pacific titles and turned professional in Fiji in 1980. He won the only gold medal for the New Hebrides — as we still were — in the Guam South Pacific Games in 1975, earning himself the title of Golden Boy.
Anglican missionary teacher Mavis Salt passed away earlier this month in the United Kingdom. She was the last of a long line of such professionals from the times when the mission was based on Norfolk Island. Mavis Salt’s last position was as principal of the Torgil Training Centre for girls at Lolowai, Ambae, from 1955 to 1976. Indeed her house at Lolowai had originally been used by the Mission on Norfolk Island and later accompanied the Mission to Mota before coming to rest on Ambae. A number of women in Port Vila still remember Mavis as “my teacher”, the dedicated trainer ensuring those who could benefit from more extensive training in education continued at the Kawenu Teachers’ Training College in Vila. Mavis Salt will be cremated at Yeovil in the UK on 22 January. A memorial service has already been held.
All electoral campaigns for the 2016 snap election close tomorrow. Voting is on Friday.
The new Vanuatu Ombudsman, Kalkot Mataskelekele, has promised to investigate why his predecessor’s many reports were never acted on. As the Anti-Corruption Day event on 9 December learned, there has not yet been a successful prosecution of a leader named in any report from the Ombudsman’s Office. The new Ombudsman is an experienced lawyer and highly-respected leader who will be expected to deliver results. Mataskelekele will concern himself first with the Ombudsman Act, Radio Vanuatu News reported last night.
The seventeen unsuccessful candidates in Luganville constituency will have their electoral petition heard when the Supreme Court moves to Luganville to hear the matter, in coming days. Donald Restitune, speaking for all Luganville petitioners, expressed his confidence in the upcoming hearing. The result may affect the appointments of Speaker George Wells and Agriculture Minister Kalfau Moli. The Luganville petition is in addition to the Santo Rural electoral petition which will see a recount of the vote in that constituency.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Ham Lini has instructed the Vanuatu Commodities Marketing Board (VCMB) to subsidise the copra price by vt8,000 per ton until the end of January 2013. The present world price for copra is the lowest it has been for a decade. The copra price is now vt28,000 per ton for the limited period. Minister Lini has also ordered payment of all outstanding grower subsidies by the end of this week.
Speaker of Parliament George Wells has thrown out the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Sato Kilman. He said that three who had signed the motion had written to withdraw their signatures, but then two of the three later indicated they wanted their signatures to remain. It gets more complicated: one didn’t say anything at all, so Wells considered he had withdrawn his name from the Motion. Speaker Wells told Radio Vanuatu News that the request for a special sitting of Parliament did not comply with Standing Orders. The withdrawal of the one signature meant he could not accept the Motion as it only had the support of 27 MPs. The Opposition has filed a Constitutional application against the Speaker as the withdrawal of signatures is only allowed inside Parliament. Daily Post names the floor-crossing backbenchers as: David Tosul and Johnny Amos (PPP), Jonas James (Natatok) and Tony Nari (Iauko Group).
Should the Motion against the Prime Minister succeed, a new Government may sever ties with Indonesia over West Papua, Daily Post reports. Politicians Kalkot Mataskelekele, Barak Sope, Ralph Regenvanu, Joe Natuman and Sae Esmon, plus members of the Vete Association met with West Papua freedom leaders Dr John Ondawame and Andy Ayamiseba on Saturday and their message was that the “colonisation by the Indonesians of West Papua is a sin.”
The Supreme Court is upholding employee entitlement of one month of severance pay per year worked from the date of employment. The Attorney General’s test case goes against both the ANZ Bank Vanuatu Limited and Wilco Hardware and a number of other employers who have tried to pay considerably less than the award rate, or nothing at all, and who owe large amounts of severance pay to their former employees. Justice Daniel Fatiaki rejected the argument that the updated rate of severance pay should only apply from the date it was officially gazetted.
The Supreme Court has struck out the mutiny case against the former chairman of the Police Service Commission and three senior police officers. It sat on 6 October to hear the bail conditions of police officer Ron Tamtam, and following this application, struck out the mutiny case. The case was between the Public Prosecutor and defendants, the former Chairman of the Commission (Tony Arthur), the Acting Police Commissioner (Arthur Caulton), Commander Southern Region (Pierre Carlot), Police Commander Maritime (John Taleo) and two other officers.
The court reconsidered certain counts under the penal code, and based on information the court had already Read the rest of this entry »