Sunday, 3 June 2012

Contradictions with made promises

A lot of events have been happening in Vanuatu over the past few weeks and many more are likely to occur.
The remainding four prisoners are still on the run, the arrival of the first delegates to the ACP/EU meet flew in over the weekend and the usual disgruntling over the politics in the country is forever ongoing.
The latest accusations that are being thrown agains the government concerns the arrests that the Vanuatu Police Force made on  a number of youths who started a peaceful demonstration at the Bauerfield Airport when a Hercules plane arrived with officials from Indonesia.
The Vanuatu government is now seeking relations with the Indonesian government in terms of providing military aid and assistance to the country now that the AFP has been kicked out.
The irony in all this is that Vanuatu and its government has been one of the strong supporters for freedom of West Papua who have been oppressed by Indonesia eversince.
The Vanuatu government has clearly stabbed West Papua in the back with its ties with Indonesia.
Maire Leadbeater representative of the Indonesia Human Rights Committee wrote an official letter to the governement saying how sorry they were to see Vanuatu go back on its word and help.
The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is very concerned to learn that Vanuatu may sign a cooperation agreement with Indonesia which would include Indonesian police and paramilitary training.  There have been demonstrations against this aid and many Vanuatu people have spoken out strongly, expressing their fears that this aid from Indonesia comes with unacceptable strings attached concerning Vanuatu’s West Papua policy.  We share their concerns and express our strong hope that there will be no weakening of Vanuatu’s brave and principled support for their Melanesian neighbours in West Papua.
Vanuatu stands as the only country in the Pacific that supports the freedom of countries such as West Papua, French Polynesia and New Caledonia because it has gone through similar struggles in its fight for independence.
Yet what the founding fathers of Vanuatu's indepence have put in place is now soiled by clouded decisions of people who only hold power for greed and money.
Like many other decisions that it has taken, the Vanuatu government has only proved itself immature in its thinking and more importantly in its objectives towards running the country.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

High Risk Environment

The latest development of the criminal activities in Port Vila Vanuatu have escalated to the point where loaded guns are now permitted by the country's Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Justice.
The recent murders and thefts that have occured around the capital have left the ministers responsible for the two stated ministries no choice but to remove the Vanuatu Correctional Services from the high risk prison and put police officers on guard with loaded guns.
The Internal Affairs minister, George Wells, made the order for the removal of the correctional officers yet their work will carry on as normal at the low risk prison compound.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed between the authorities comes at a right time with the date of the ACP/EU meeting drawing near.
Minister Wells is keen on tightening security to its utmost level for the purposes of a productive meet in a safe environment.
In similar developments Wells has stated in national news that the ongoing criminal activities are in no doubt organised.
It’s sad to say but what we are dealing with today is organized crime. The system has been infiltrated so it has to be dismantled before it gets out of hand,” said the Internal Affairs Minister.We have received reports that these escapees are going around with a lot of cash even when no one reports cash being stolen and they also have access to guns which have to be supplied from some where. Some business houses are also suspected of being heavily involved in this.
The minister stated that security in the country is now way out of control and he strongly believed that these malicious activities have the involovement of people in private and public sectors, authoritative organisations and even church organisations.
In the past week there had been a killing of a couple from Holland and the beating of a long time education pioneer in the country who is origanally from Australia.
Numerous thefts have also occured and the lives of people in the community is threatened.
It has also been common practise in the past where ordinary people in the community use unfortunate opportunities such as these prison break outs to commit criminal acts too.
In recent reports it showed that a young boy was taken and arrested and taken in for questioning for a burglary at a home.
Witnesses have also stated that 11 people were arrested in relation to harboring of prisoners and it was reported that they recieved heavy beatings from the police.
Vanuatu is only one of the few countries of the Pacific region that ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and implemented the correctional system which has now been dubbed as "ineffective" by the Internal Affairs minister.
The current environment is risky for locals to walk around and enjoy what is usually a peaceful and calm Port Vila environment.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Australia vs Melanesia

The steps taken by the Vanuatu Prime Minister to expel the Australian Federal Police have continued to raise comments from critics in both the country and Australia.
The latest comment posted in the Daily Post (Vanuatu newspaper) issue of last Friday was from Dr Tim Anderson from Australia whose current research studeis relate to rights to development and Melanesian land and economic integration.
Australia has been descirbed basically as a bully with little respect for the Melanesian countries cultural aspects.
Of course Australia has Western operational system of society with its tied cultural attitudes and ideas like the American society therefore it can easily go off track and lack understanding of the significant values that Melanesians cherish.
Dr Anderson clearly states that Pacific Island countries are often bling to the racial attitudes that Australia has towards other countries not sharing its culture.
Melanesians are hardly unaware of Australian racialism. Anyone of them who even travels through Australia has to pass through a visa-linked bureaucratic nightmare, something Australians never face when visiting the islands.In 2005 PNG’s PM Michael Somare was required to remove his shoes for security guards at Brisbane airport. He complained bitterly about this humiliation. The then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer responded by claiming that it had been a “standard operation that applied to everybody”.
Australia's involvement in the Fijian media situation too can be seen in a similar light.
Maybe they just want what is best for Fiji when they say that the media should be of a "social responsibility" model, the kind that is practised in Australia.
Yet is the media in Australia not censored in some ways as shown by media savvy people.
 Not all information, especially political information that the government wants a tight lid on, is free to the media in Australia.
Moreover they cannot simply come in and claim that Fiji must have a free media because that change cannot happen now as it will draw chaotic response from the people themselves.
Developmental journalism is slow and does not promote investigative reporting yet for now it suits the population.
The developmental model, for the moment, suits Fiji and many of the other Melanesian countries.
These countries do not have a strong working force proportion of their population and the majority of the population are the grassroots.
Their knowledge in important issues like democracy and democratic principles, a Western system which their countries have adopted thanks to the British colonisers, is very, very small.
Having the right to vote and participate in elections may be the closest thing that the grassroots have knowledge of what democracy really is.
Thus this developmental model will in more ways than the other, benefit greatly the local people themselves.
It promotes the development of the working class who become more equipped with the knowledge that they can implement towards the development of the country as a whole but moreover of the marginalised population of the country.
Then from then on maybe a social responsibility model or a libertarian model, if you will, may come in place and help the societies of these countries become more free as the Western countries want it to be.

Monday, 14 May 2012

ACP-EU meet will still go on

The ACP-EU meet that is scheduled for June 11 this year in Vanuatu will still go ahead as planned. This was the reassurance given by the national coordinator for the meet Mr Lenox Vuti.
This statement was made after questions on the expulsion of the AFP in Vanuatu and the security during the actual meet.
Mr Vuti said that the security during the event will now rest on the government and other authorities which in this case would be the police.
Australia had promised to donate 25 laptops and vehicles as part of the security preparations for the event alone. However Mr Vuti could not give more information on this because that would be the responsibility of the government to confirm.
The full AFP team that was working in the capital Port Vila left the country last Friday following orders from the Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman.
Mr Vuti went on to say that preparations were still under way and things have been quite busy for his team.
 Mr Vuti confirmed to Daily Post that 130 official delegates from the ACP-EU have already confirmed their attendance and that the national coordinating committee is expecting the rest of the expected 600 official delegates to register in the coming week.
Vuti said a deadline for official registration will be set next week so as to receive urgent registration responds from the rest of the ACP-EU officials to attend the Port Vila June conference. “We have time constraint on our hands for the registration and we are setting deadline to get immediate registrations for the rest of the expected delegates from the ACP-EU,” he said.
Asked if he thinks the expulsion of the AFP Police and the security could be a factor in the slowness of official registrations from the ACP-EU delegates, Mr Vuti replied that the national coordinating committee had already had the assurances of the national government and authorities responsible for the national security that every measures will be put into place to ensure security for the visiting dignitaries during the ACP-EU International conference which is only a few weeks away.
 In other developments the Vanuatu government's opposition leader, Edward Natapei has come out to say that he does not believe in the Prime Minister's explanation of the expulsion of the AFP.
Natapei said that the expulsion of the officers will on the other hand only hurt Vanuatu.
Radio Australia reporter Bruce Hill raised an important question during the interview on why the accused, private secretary to the Prime Minister, Clarence Marae was appointed in the first place when he had an arrest warrent on him.
Natapei said that he did not know why Marae was appointed in the first place with the background that he had.
This leads to the interesting fact on how the government is always trying to fight against corruption but they hire crooked people right throught the back door.
I personally know and believe that there are still many corrupt appointed government and public service personnel out there who do not deserve to be there at all because of their corrupt behavior.
However voicing your concerns on such acts is quiet difficult in the country especially when you know your safety can be put to risk.
Deputy Police Commissioner for the Vanuatu Police Force, Arthur Caulton Edmanley says that up to 80% of the current police operations will be affected because of this withdrawal as the AFP and the AUSAID fundings have boosted police operations in many ways.
Caulton says that the relationship between AFP and the Vanuatu Police Force has not been affected in any way by this decision and that they will just wait and see what this whole issue will turn out to be like.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Kidnapped? The past catches up with Marae

The headlines of Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper blare the headline, "Kidnap and Breach of Diplomatic protocol: Kilman" . This is the country's Prime Minister's opinion on the arrest of his private secretary, Clarence Marae in Australia late last month.

The Australian Federal Police made the arrested Marae following his connections with Australian accountant Ian Henke who was involved in a multi-million dollar tax avoidance and has now been arrested and jailed.

What is funny to note is the fact that PM Kilman can label this arrest as an act of "kidnap"! The dictionary definition of "kidnap" is "taking (someone) away illegally by force, typically to obtain ransom". Now I am definately sure that the AFP nor the Australian government want any ransom from Marae or from the Vanautu government because that would be when diplomatic relations would definately be breached.

As Karma quotes go, "What goes around, comes around" therefore I think the past has definitely caught up with Mr Marae.
Of the many articles published this week concerning the recent arrest of Clarence Marae, private secretary to Vanuatu’s Prime Minister at Sydney International Airport, only one goes any way to explain why the Australian Federal Police may have taken the action they did. Ilya Gridneff, writing on May 2 says: “The Herald understands that the arrest is connected to the joint operation Project Wickenby, run predominantly by the Australian Taxation Office. Mr Marae is an alleged associate of the Victorian accountant Ian Henke, who in March last year was jailed, along with two Queensland accountants, for their roles in a multimillion-dollar tax avoidance scheme.”If this is indeed the basis for Marae’s arrest it not only shows that the AFP have very long memories, but also that one can never really escape one’s past – whatever that past may be.
And so life goes on...