Jul 16, 2019 Last Updated 3:30 AM, Jul 15, 2019


  • Jul 16, 2019
  • Published in June
  • No Escaping Grace

  • Airline under scrutiny

  • SPC leadership speculation


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No to Sundancer movie

The length to which authorities can go to make life miserable for political foes is, well breath-taking to say the least. This is so true for the former head of the republic of Kiribati Anote Tong who after completing his 10 year term in office last year has been replaced by a new administration which sees no reason why the former leader should be travelling with a diplomatic passport and stripped of all the protocols accorded to national leaders. Even at the premiere of a documentary on Tong’s work on climate change at the international Sundancer film festival in January, the new administration through its newly appointed ambassador at the UN (who also happens to be a former president), wrote to the festival organisers to have the film removed from the silver screen.

Kiribati is overly camera ‘shy’

Still on the northern Pacific atoll, the world didn’t know of the detention in Kiribati of Canadian film maker Matthieu Rytz early this year and the way he sneaked out of the country. He’s the producer of ‘Anote’s Ark,’ a documentary on former president Anote Tong’s fight to champion the plight of his people who are at the frontline of global warming and rising sea level. Rtyz was apparently filming with his crew at an outer island in Kiribati when authorities detained him. The outside world heard nothing of the detention because it took place right about the time the tragic ferry disaster took place in the atoll nation.

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Climate Not Ready

From climate ready to climate not so ready is what has happened with the whisper that the American Government’s US$24 million climate change related programme in the region being told to close shop not even one year after it opened. Marching orders came reportedly from none other than the Trump Administration, perpetuating his belief that climate change is a hoax. Headquartered in Suva, Climate Ready was being managed by a global engineering management conglomerate with funding from USAID to assist ten island countries achieve their climate adaptation goals, by helping draft policies and climate funding applications.

More judges please

A booming mining and construction sector is causing a sharp rise in finance related cases in Papua New Guinea. That’s the word from the country’s chief justice Sir Salamo Injia who wants to boost the number of judges on the bench from the current 44 to 80. That’s a jump of about 80 per cent more judges. Sir Salamo if he has his way would also like to split the country’s judiciary into national court, court of appeal and supreme court.

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Rich and famous

IS Majuro in the northern Pacific the new playground for the world’s rich and famous? This was the scene at the international airport of the capital of the Marshall Islands one morning in December captured by the island’s veteran photojournalist Giff Johnson. Apart from the regular United Airlines plane that does the island hopping service from Hawaii to Guam, there was also a Japan Airlines aircraft, a 767 private plane as well as a Lear jet. If that was not enough, the early morning display also came with a private seaplane, a helicopter and of course, not to be outdone Air Marshalls’ very own Dornier. The word in town was that the flurry of air machines in Majuro was to do with the presence of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

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Melanesia blues

IS the big boss of the secretariat of the Melanesian Spearhead Group in trouble over his decision to be seconded again to his former employer in Fiji after taking up the Port Vila-based position? Rumours are rife both in Vila and neighbouring Honiara, where the current chair of the MSG sits, that Amena Yauvoli’s work with the COP23 Secretariat in Fiji is tantamount to secondary employment, something that his contract as DG forbids. His boss, the PM of Solomon Islands, supposedly sent him a letter basically stating that he could not hold two jobs and that he needed to give up one.

Bad blood

Still on the MSG … It appears the host of the MSG secretariat is still fuming about the disqualification of its candidate for the top job, so much so that a senior Fijian national’s application for a work permit submitted to Vanuatu immigration by the MSG has been knocked back without any explanation. Looks like the secretariat may have to issue fresh calls of interest for the manager legal position. Vanuatu had put up its long time envoy in Europe as candidate for DG MSG but his application was declared void as it was sent way past the deadline.

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