Vanuatu daily news digest | 3 January 2013

Happy new year to all of our readers! We are back online after a brief intermission.

Today’s Daily Post  shows that the provisions of the Vanuatu Maritime Act may prove costly to new citizen Vu Anh Quan Saken, alleged owner of the yacht Phocea. The vessel has been detained for several months awaiting legal papers to prove its ownership. So far, investigators have only been presented with forged papers. Using false documentation is an international crime under the Port State Control (PSC) maritime agreement to which Vanuatu is a signatory, the Tokyo MoU. The Prime Minister has attempted to have the vessel released, as did the late Minister Harry Iauko. But Ports and Harbour Dept personnel are determined that the matter be dealt with legally,as their international reputations are on the line.

The Opposition is taking Prime Minister Sato Kilman to task over his intention to release the Phocea. Under the PSC MoU to which Vanuatu is a signatory, only the licensing officers of the Ports and Harbour Department are entitled to do this. The Opposition has issued a press release noting that the PM has stated that matters of law and order are to be dealt with by the appropriate authorities, but the Opposition accuses Kilman of hypocrisy, as he has taken the Phocea case out of the hands of the legal authorities. The Opposition asks in whose interests is the PM is acting, Daily Post reports.

Tony Nari is the new Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities. Nari, elected to Parliament in October last year under the banner of the Iauko Group, is also now the Iauko bloc’s leader following the death of Harry Iauko.

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Supreme Court strikes out police mutiny case

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 »


Performance review for former Police Commisioner set for 8 October

A review of the performance of Joshua Bong as Police Commissioner will take place on October 8. The role of the Police Service Commission, the PSC Deputy Chairman told us today, is to ensure independence and transparency in appointments to senior police posts. However, at the weekend Minister for Internal Affairs George Wells stepped in and reappointed Tony Arthur as Chairman of the PSC. Arthur is facing mutiny charges and is also an intending candidate in this month’s election. Further meetings of the PSC were banned by the Minister on Monday. It would seem that Minister Wells prefers political interference over independence and transparency.

The Director General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat, Peter Forau, told Daily Post that the the largest MSG partner, Papua New Guinea, has officially gazetted the MSG Trade Agreement. One can only add that it would, wouldn’t it? Whether WTO or MSGTA, it is the largest countries which benefit the most such agreements. It will only be a matter of time before Fiji joins in, too.

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Govt mismanages suspension of Police Commissioner

The Police Commissioner saga reaches new heights of mismanagement. Having done nothing about the suspension of Joshua Bong as Police Commissioner, and acting without a Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), the Council of Ministers (who should have nothing to do with it) decided on Sunday, as Bong’s contract was ending, that Bong ought to be returned to the position of Police Commissioner. They reappointed him for five years, “after a three year review.” Does that mean a total of eight years?

No mention has been made of the reason for which Bong was suspended. This is said to be due to a conflict of interest to Bong between Bong’s position and his running a private security business. He has “successfully sought legal redress”, reports Daily Post today. Do we assume from this he proved mutiny against those bringing his private security force to the attention of the PSC? Or just mismanagement on the part of everyone? The judgements of the two weekend court sittings have not yet been published. The PSC has declared itself happy with the re-appointment of Bong. Vanuatu seems to be without an effective administration at present.

Prime Minister of Vanuatu Sato Kilman addresses the United Nations General Assembly, New York, September 28, 2012.

Prime Minister Sato Kilman addresses the general debate of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, September 28, 2012. Photo credit: UN Photo/J Carrier.

Prime Minister Sato Kilman has been mentioning the Matthew and Hunter issue at the United Nations. Kilman has been telling the General Assembly: Read the rest of this entry »