Feb 20, 2018 Last Updated 5:27 AM, Feb 19, 2018

Whispers

FIJI and Papua New Guinea destroyed Melanesian solidarity when they sided with Indonesia on the issue of West Papua. But now it appears that the FijiPNG alliance is on rocky ground after Fijian Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, announced that Fiji’s Amenatave Yauvoli would become Secretary General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Yauvoli’s apparent selection - announced last month by Kubuabola and later confirmed by the MSG chairman, Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare - was not welcomed by Vanuatu with its council of Ministers refusing to accept the choice. Now, PNG High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Fred Yakasa, confirms he has written to Sogavare, calling for a new selection process to be undertaken.

STIll on MSG and the DG blowout … daggers are now out as to who caused what … like the news that Fiji had threatened to withdraw its membership of MSG if the previous DG did not step down. And that the removal of the DG was the subject of a secret rendezvous in Honiara in the margins of the leaders summit between foreign ministers of two member countries. Reports of an attempt to change the wording of the leaders’ decision on the observer status of West Papua independence movement are also making the rounds. What about this one, that Fiji will just have to look at its own for answers as to why support for its candidature to SG of the Pacific Islands Forum evaporated among MSG members.

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Whispers

MIRACLE or mirage It’s making big news in Samoa with media reports about a young woman with stigmata, which in Christian tradition claims body marks on her body correspond to those left on Christ’s body when he died about 2000 years ago. Both the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Samoa as well as the Samoan PM has hailed the stigmata of Toaipuapuaga Opapo, a 23 year old daughter of a religious pastor a miracle with a special mass held in her honour at the Catholic Cathedral in downtown Apia. Critics however lament against the media and the church and now leading politicians for preying on the young woman who is ill and in need of professional medical care.

CHANGE or perish Restructure of ports business in Solomon Islands took on a whole new level when social media reported that the new look SIPA, acronym for Solomon Islands Ports Authority has diversified into rice and noodle retail business. A popular Facebook page says the Honiara City Council has demanded an explanation from Port boss Colin Yow. The Singaporean tenure has been nothing less than dramatic with accusations of biased and termination of local workers who later turned up at a residence of senior manager, demanding compensation. The manager reportedly called the local police for help repeatedly, but the public enforcer of law and order did a no show. Not so long ago, the boss took his board members including some cabinet ministers and senior officials in the office of the PM to a meeting in his home country, prompting a call for deportation from local port union leaders.

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Whispers

SO US$38.6 million (FJ$81.85m) in 90 days should be enough to fund cyclone rehabilitation for the 350,000 in Fiji that were badly affected by super hurricane Winston, of whom 250,000 are in need of water and sanitation assistance including 60,000 school children in 167 islands. The stats were released in Suva as all UN agencies based in Fiji launch a joint fundraiser targeting the international community to fund its Winston rehabilitation work in the island nation. According to some diplomatic whispers, if the standard UN criteria is used, 10 per cent of money (FJ$8.1m if target is reached) raised will cover administrative costs, money critics say could very well pay for the reconstruction of new homes for the thousands left homeless by Winston. Given the honour to launch the so called flash appeal is none other than Fiji’s PM, although it is not known whether he has been advised that none of that money will be given to his administration to administer.

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Whispers

FOR all they do and say about good governance and transparency among state players in our part of the ocean, non-governmental organisations or civil society agencies or non-state actors, however you want to call them, do need to do what they preach. A regional NGO quietly let off most of their employees late last year, only a few months after giving each of them three year contracts. Much to the surprise of the body’s board however, at least one of their juniors refused to go quietly, demanding instead to argue their case before the board, which happened to be meeting in their office when letters were distributed. When the board room was locked from the inside, this employee, it was whispered, broke down the door and demanded compensation from his former bosses. Alas, all could be said now is that the employee has happily left the NGO, together with a pay-out that discourages him from telling the world what actually happened.

SO what’s the real story about this vehicle which in a press statement an hour after it met with a freak accident, the office of Fiji’s first citizen announced that the official vehicle of the first lady went off the road just outside the official residence in the capital, requiring medical review of her ladyship as well as her minder and official driver. Nothing else has been said of the accident which happened in a road that is not known to be accident prone, except this photo taken inside the compound of Suva’s Central Police Station. “The vehicle is a white Cheverolet Trailblazer .. and the windscreen and rear window are smashed, the rear side window (right hand side is broken). There is major damage to the hood and front grille and the two front doors,” was the message posted on social media.

Whispers

HALF a loaf is better than none seem to be how Pacific Island Countries received news of a world agreement on climate change in Paris last December. Different islands responded differently to the pressure and intensity of global negotiations but Fiji’s participation was impressive, at least to the lead negotiator of the Pacific, Enele Sopoaga who’s Prime Minister of one of the world’s smallest countries and one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. He told the Fiji Sun newspaper that Fiji sent a good delegation to COP21, ensuring ministerial representation at all key negotiation groups. Apart from Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, there were six other ministers and assistant ministers that were in Paris.

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TERRORIST attacks in Paris, two weeks before COP21 forced many climate change negotiators to cancel their participation. One such country affected was Niue, the Pacific’s and arguably the world’s smallest nation. Left without a leader or a minister in Paris, Niue’s country statement before 30,000 delegates had to be delivered by a young woman from a climate NGO network in Australia. A senior official in Alofi said the message was the most important thing, not the person who delivered it.

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