Vanuatu daily news digest | 14 January 2013

A wrap-up from the last few days’ news:

senior Minister in the Kilman Government is facing multiple allegations of rape, this blog has learned. More on this story as details come to hand.

Daily Post reports that a Chinese woman was seen running in Nambatu last week from two Chinese men who were pursuing her. The men were said to be the woman’s employers in the “hospitality” industry. The woman had been beaten. She was taken to the Police Station, and police also interviewed her attackers, Daily Post said. This attack raises the ugly possibility that Chinese nationals are engaged in human trafficking and sexual slavery within Vanuatu’s borders.

PM Sato Kilman has created a position for MP Moana Carcasses to work on political and technical co-operation, Radio Vanuatu News told us on Saturday. The post will have the same powers as a Minister, and all the perks, we would assume, but will it have any any of the oversight and accountability that a Ministerial role is supposed to have under the Leadership Code Act? Not that this has proved much of an impediment to illegal and unethical dealings by Ministers in the past, of course…

Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini wants an airport capable of handling 747s on Efate. He has been “meeting with a group of Koreans who obviously have the money and are willing to fund a new international airport to cater for 747 and 767 types of aircraft”, which raises the question of where the long-range 747s and 767s might be coming from, and for what purpose. Fully-laden 747s need 3,100m of runway and much more room than Bauerfield has currently for ground manoeuvring. Minister Lini as Minister for Trade has been heavily promoting Asian investment in Vanuatu. Airports require large amounts of flat land, and most the remaining level land on Efate is highly fertile agricultural land that supplies Port Vila with food. The area of the World War II airstrip at Takara, north Efate, is already earmarked for the KuTH geothermal energy project. Lini also rules out Luganville for such an airport: “The environment [there] is not ready to take on board such a project”, he says.

The Vanuatu Police Force and National Housing Corporation remain within the portfolio of the Prime Minister, where they were moved last year. Police were previously the responsibility of the Minister for Internal Affairs, while the National Housing Corporation was with the Finance Minister, said Radio Vanuatu News at the weekend. No reason was given for this clarification or its timing. A large number of Government houses around the Independence Park and Joint Court areas, many of them previously homes for serving police officers, have been left to rot, when all they need is renovation. Are Kilman cronies about to receive some gifts of Government land?

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