Vanuatu daily news digest | 5 February 2013

Anh Quan Saken company director working for Youth Against Corruption in Vanuatu, claims outraged Government PRO. Government Public Relations Officer Jeff Joel Patunvanu questions why Radio New Zealand International and Radio Australia raise many allegations about the yacht Phocea yet do not speak of Pascal Anh Quan Saken’s business in Australia, he said on Radio Vanuatu and in a emailed media release yesterday. Patunvanu brought this up together with Anh Quan Saken’s bogus curriculum vitae, which highlights the Vietnamese renegade’s claimed “academic achievements and business calibre.” In the CV, Anh Quan claims to have studied at a university named after his brother in Pango, Charles Henry University, which does not exist. Patunvanu says Pascal Anh Quan Saken is a wealthy businessman with businesses in many countries including Vanuatu and Australia. But the issue of the yacht Phocea is a foreign issue, he says, without explaining his logic. Patunvanu reiterates the claim that Anh Quan Saken did not fund Prime Minister Sato Kilman or his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) A the last election. The PRO also claimed an expatriate working in Vanuatu in the NGO Youth Against Corruption is the director of a Saken-owned company in Australia. This was denied by Youth Against Corruption personnel yesterday. The lies, deceptions and falsehoods surrounding the Phocea saga continue, whether from Pascal Anh Quan Saken or the Vanuatu Government spokesman. PM Kilman has said nothing about the vessel, even though he attempted to have it released from its Vila Harbour detention.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Livestock and Bio-Security Kalfau Moli says the separation of Livestock and Quarantine into two separate departments will improve their work and is in the best interests of the country. Quarantine will now be called Bio-Security Vanuatu and become a Government entity, the Minister said. Most readers of this blog have always understood it to be a public entity all along. Minister Kalfau Moli spoke of the financial difficulties Government faces while officially announcing the new arrangement. “While the development is good”, he told Radio Vanuatu News, without explaining how it would be good, “all civil servants must bear in mind the financial constraints government faces. They must work to increase government revenue.” He blamed previous governments for their failure to give priority to the needs of agriculture, but assured his audience that this will change with him.

31 students will benefit from Graon mo Jastis Pati Malakula MP Danou Nalet’s Malakula scholarship scheme. As with other Graon mo Jastis Pati MPs, Nalet is funding scholarships from his parliamentary allocation. His contribution amounts to over Vt 1 million. Over 200 students applied. The selection panel for scholarships comprises leading educationalists in Malampa along with members of selected business houses. Graon mo Jastis expects each MP to contribute 25% of their allocation to the party’s education scheme for their constituency.

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 18 January 2013

The Director of the Environment Unit, Albert Williams, approves the use of Parliament Park for the proposed convention centre. Meetings on the subject have taken place as far back as 2010, he told Daily Post, and it was agreed another space (other than the park close to Parliament) should be used for festivals and events such as Independence. The mayor of Port Vila has also given his approval to the project and questions MP Ralph Regenvanu’s failure to support it. Those against the new project, including Regenvanu, don’t support it because the project has already been built—It was built at the Le Lagon resort for the ACP/EU Ministerial Summit last year. Those against the proposal question the Vanuatu Government’s ability to maintain a new convention centre, given the Government’s failure to maintain ndependence Park and Korman Stadium. Even Parliament House itself, another ‘gift’ from China, looks like it is not being properly maintained at present.

committee has met to re-count the votes cast in Santo during last year’s election. This is expected to be completed this week, and the result communicated to the court on 25 January. Lawyers, the principal electoral officer and the Electoral Commission comprise the committee, Radio Vanuatu News says. The news did not make it clear whether this was for Santo Rural or Luganville constituency, both of which are reported to have disputes.

A ministerial-level Chinese police delegation visit is taking place. The unannounced mission has included talks at VANSEC House and a guard-of-honour, VBTC News says today.

Dominique Dinh tells Daily Post today of the extensive planning he has carried out for a new 747 airport for South East Efate. He challenges Government to pick up the project, or he will himself find the investors to carry out the work. Even though the 747 is on its way out. He has enlisted the assistance of Vaturisu President Chief Andrew Kalpoilep and the Secretary General of  of Shefa Province, Michel Kalworai. In the past, the Dinh family has been closely allied to Trade Minister Ham Lini of NUP who, last week, directed Shefa and the Vaturisu and land owners to find a site for such an airport following promises he had received from Korean investors. Efate land owners seeking to keep control of the remaining few unleased pieces of their birthright have not been consulted.


Vanuatu daily news digest | 21 December 2012

Total chaos rules at the Ministry of Health. Minister of Health Don Ken has suspended his new Director General of Health Howard Aru, replacing him with Dr Graham Patas, who was terminated last Tuesday for incompetence and is also likely to face criminal charges over death threats he made to Health Department staff, including to former Vila Central Hospital administrator Dr Willie Tokon. These moves follow the dubious recruitment practices of former DG Maturine Carlot Tary and her gift of a VT 3 million ‘Workforce Development Consultancy’ contract to former political adviser, Joemelson Arnambath. Insiders say the Minister wanted Aru out for a number of reasons, however Minister Ken’s actions are in total breach of Public Service laws, irrespective of directors-general contracts having recently become political appointments.

The situation is truly alarming when there are significant health problems in Vanuatu. For example, diarrhoea has become widespread amongst children. The public demands better health care, without political interference and cronyism. Our health is far more important than your petty politics. The full story is covered in today’s Daily Post. Radio Vanuatu was yesterday told by the First PA in the Ministry, Ishmael Williams, that only the Minister could explain Aru’s suspension, yet the Minister failed to oblige at all yesterday. The Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Holi Simon, for his part, said he had not been officially informed of Aru’s suspension, and that under the new DG contracts, only the Prime Minister has the right to recruit and deal with any DG employment matters.

While on health matters, we note that Port Vila Municipal Council has not collected rubbish in a number of weeks. The central business district stinks of rotting waste, especially at the Central Market, where most Vila residents purchase their produce. With the current warm, humid weather and a more than usual numbers of people in the area for Christmas shopping, all of the ingredients for a serious disease outbreak. This appalling lack of public sanitation may already be responsible for the outbreak of diarhoea in children. This is of course entirely preventable, if the PVMC and Shefa Province market management could just manage to get off their backsides and do their job.

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Dept of Justice to act against non-attendance, bungling by Public Prosector’s Office

Justice vows to clamp down on Prosecutions is the front page story in today’s Daily Post. Director General of the Ministry of Justice Mark Bebe says the Ministry takes very seriously complaints made by the police and public concerning the handling of a number of major court cases. The Ministry will be looking to see if public servants have failed to carry out their duties. Cases have been abandoned because the Prosecution has failed to appear. Chief Detective George Twomey echoes these complaints, and highlighted the NISCOL and Phocea cases. Members of the judiciary have also been greatly inconvenienced by the Prosecution on numerous occasions in the last few weeks alone.

Daily Post refers to the incredibly low literacy rate for Shefa Province of just 27.6%, which also suggests an even lower literacy rate for other provinces. The survey was conducted by the Vanuatu Education Policy Advocacy and explained by Anne Pakoa at the ‘Free Education’ forum at Erakor last Wednesday. Pakoa asked everyone listening to the broadcast of the forum to ask themselves why there had been so little advantage taken of school places available. Indeed, there is less competition for class places in the rural areas than in the two towns.

Perhaps it is time to speak more bluntly. The Ministry of Education, and the nation’s educators, have failed the nation. The two most important foundations of any nation are health and education. If the majority of Vanuatu’s students are not functionally literate in any language by the time they leave school, then what hope is there for the future of our nation? It is time for a radical change in how we educate our children if there is to be any hope at all.

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