Vanuatu daily news digest | 3 February 2013

The Supreme Court will give its ruling early next week on Willie Jimmy’s petition contesting PM Sato Kilman’s eligibility to stand in last year’s election. Political maneuvering is going ahead full swing ahead of the court ruling. RNZI reports that some Government MPs have already been lured to the Opposition in advance of the ruling.

Daily Post carries a story that quotes a former registered migration agent from Australia now residing here who says the fees for Australian migration agents’ services quoted by George Bogiri are misleading. Former agent Robert Rokvic also points out that the any move to outsource Government services could lead to the “opening up of the flood gates” for other ministries to use private agents to collect other government fees and taxes. In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, which provides regulation of their activities. Says their website: “Registered Migration Agents are bound by a Code of Conduct and are required to have an in-depth knowledge of Australian migration law and procedure and meet high professional and ethical standards.”

Bogiri has had a lot of media attention but has completely side-stepped the issue of his personal conflict of interest in Pacific Migration Consultants. Both the Constitution and the Leadership Code Act are crystal clear on this; leaders are obliged not to use their office for personal gain, and they must disclose any business interests in any matters where they may have a conflict of interest.

Radio New Zealand International reports: “Pascal Anh Quan Saken has not returned to Vanuatu since leaving last July before he could be questioned in relation to the 75 metre yacht. It was raided and seized by police, immigration and customs officers on suspicion of passport fraud and drugs trading. All criminal matters relating to the Phocea have been dropped but the Ports Authority [sic] says the vessel is unable to leave the country after it was confirmed that it does not have Maltese registration. Mr Saken says his boat is being confiscated so that officials can charge high berthing fees. He also accuses Vanuatu police of piracy when raiding the Phocea, including wearing shoes on the yacht’s Persian rug interior.”

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 28 January 2013

Friday’s press conference by the First Political Adviser, Prime Minister’s Office, Richard Kaltongga, still features prominently in the media. Radio Vanuatu continues to emphasize the perceived need for the Government to regain lease titles to land which were not properly alienated. Government, together with the Department of Lands and Public Service Commission, is investigating. The Kilman Government of 2013 appears to be investigating the Kilman Government of 2010 to 2012, as only Ministers of the earlier Kilman Government could have authorised such transactions, and it is the Council of Ministers in 2010 which issued the ban on the sale of leases to Government lands. The example already been given was restated: some 90 hectares of Vanuatu Livestock Development land was transferred to a private individual for an unstated lease premium. Similar land at Narpow Point is said by Kaltongga to be selling for 30 or 40 million vatu per hectare. The same sort of thing, says Kaltongga, goes on at Luganille. Kaltongga says if it is not careful, Government will lose all its land if this corruption continues.

Use of government vehicles is also being investigated, says Kaltongga, in other VBTC reporting. Only the Minister or his driver are entitled to drive ministerial vehicles. Once again there is denial by Kaltongga, of PPP or Prime Minister Sato Kilman receiving funds from Pascal Anh Quan Saken.

Daily Post concentrates today on Kaltongga, pointing out that both Australia and Vanuatu want security boosted, and that is why the Australian Federal Police should “come back with their aid money but [also] with specific instructions of what is expected of them.” It is hard to imagine that there were not previously “specific instructions” in place. Radio Vanuatu said the AFP will help to bring back discipline to the Police.
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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 | 28 November 2012

Following the Electoral Office denying yesterday that it had received any electoral disputes or complaints, many candidates and parties have gone public on Radio Vanuatu to say the opposite. A Pentecost candidate has already filed his petition with the court. François Tabisalsal of the Vanua’aku Pati said through his lawyer his petition was filed because of improper practices by the Electoral Commission. The Shepherds Outer Island Anti-Corruption Committee (SOIACC) and the chiefs of Emae, Makira, Mataso and Buninga say they have also filed a petition with the court. The SOIACC lawyer says there have been many questions concerning their stand following misleading information from the Electoral Office. They are voicing their concern due to poor supervision of ballot boxes and proxy votes. Proxy voting came in for particular complaint. This blog has been delayed in the hope of being able to include other petitions, such as that of MP Willie Jimmy against the candidacy of the Prime Minister. Other electoral complaints will now be covered with tomorrow as news comes to hand.

Prime Minister Sato Kilman will reveal the names of the new Directors General this week, it was announced on Radio Vanuatu today. The First Political Advisor to the Prime Minister, Richard Kaltongga, said there is still some paperwork to prepare before the Government makes the official appointments. These have all now become political rather than Vanuatu Public Service posts. Radio Vanuatu News enquiries found that almost every DG is being retained under the new contracts, with just three new DGs entering the service at this time.

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 9 November 2012

Like most of the population, elected Liberal Democratic Party leader Willie Jimmy Tapangararua is wanting proof that caretaker PM Sato Kilman paid his outstanding VT 13 million debt to government before the cut-off day. Jimmy, like Kilman, was required to pay outstanding government invoices in time to be accepted as a candidate. He is now seeking Supreme Court-attested proof of Kilman’s payment, he says in Daily Post today. This was an election issue in 2008, and Jimmy is determined to have proof of payment this time around.

Lands DG Joe Ligo attempted to deflect the issue by saying Kilman claims he was owed a substantial amount of money by government over an entirely different piece of land — Lakatoro customary land he claims as his own. This is doubted in many quarters, Kilman being of a Pentecost origin on the paternal side. It was also noted that when questioned on this subject at a Malakula campaign toktok he gave, he did not answer the question and promptly closed the meeting.

For the leader of the political party which won the most seats in the election, Edward Natapei of the Vanua’aku Pati, horse trading over portfolios is not standing in the way of better governance. The prime ministership, the speaker’s chair and other important posts are still available via the negotiating teams if it helps the ongoing fight against corruption. Political fraud has plumbed new depths in recent years, and if a fairer distribution of ministerial responsibilities can help to lift the economy, Natapei will promote it. The VP is ready to sacrifice. Natapei was amplifying the Solidarity Agreement signed by MPs on Wednesday — an agreement signed by many leaders of the main political parties. Mr Serge Vohor signed for UMP. Mr Willie Jimmy Tapangararua’s Liberal Democratic Party has also joined the grouping. MPP’s Nato Taiwia signed for the party of Barak Sope.

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Pipite tries to deflect Snoopys scandal by directing Education DG to deny that money has run out

Today, the caretaker Minister of Education Marcellino Pipite (in court next Tuesday on other matters relating to deception) asks DG of Education Jesse Dick to deny what he said yesterday. The DG of Education is now expected to say there is enough money to meet payroll expenses and those expenses required under the Vanuatu Education Road Map. Readers should be very wary of news stories and letters in the paper which do not give the writer’s name.

The letter in today’s Daily Post attacking Jesse Dick for daring to utter the truth bears the hallmarks of Richard Kaltongga’s attempt to deflect attention from the gross misconduct of the Minister of Education and the Council of Ministers in the Snoopys scandal.

Daily Post and Radio Vanuatu News have to provide more and more space to Government to “clarify” controversies which are already painfully clear. Yesterday, the DG of Education was quite transparent in his statement that the Ministry had “fully exhausted available funds in its operational budget” for this year. This means the Ministry has no more funds to run Education. There isn’t any money left.

In exactly the same way, we should be be suspicious of claims that “Kaluat clarifies Kilman and Abel’s electoral issues”. Acting Principal Electoral officer Lionel Kaluat is quite clear — Read the rest of this entry »


No school today as Ministry of Education runs out of funds following illegal payment to Snoopys

A sign says "No school today" at a school in Pango village, Efate, 17 October 2012, following a death in the village.

Ministers steal remaining education funds to pay illegal Snoopy’s claim. This is what today’s Daily Post headline should say. Instead, it states simply “Ministry runs out of funds”. Either way, this should never have happened. And it’s not as if there can be two sides to the story. The Government cannot justify paying Vt 17,000,000 to Snoopys when two separate Supreme Court decisions in February and April 2009 said NO monies should be paid. Both of these struck out the civil claim by the long-defunct Snoopys Stationery. However, the Council of Ministers in May decided it would settle anyway. So they stole all the funds left in the Education budget to pay this illegal bill.

Vanuatu’s parents and citizens should be very, very angry about this. And they should make their feelings known in the ballot box on October 30.

The photo above of a sign at a Pango school was quite clear yesterday. There was to be no school. It was, however, for a village death. It was not due to the absence of funding. But will the new government that forms following the election be able to find funds to cover this theft of state funds on behalf of Snoopys? Or will we see “No School Today” signs around the country? By letting this dirty money go to Snoopys, Prime Minister Sato Kilman, his Cabinet, Education Minister Marcellino Pipite and Finance Minister Moana Carcasses are all guilty of theft: all of the Ministers of the caretaker Government are guilty of theft. And no matter what Richard Kaltongga might say there simply aren’t two sides to this story. Responsible reporting can only say what this blog said yesterday and Daily Post says today.

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