Feb 19, 2019 Last Updated 12:53 AM, Feb 19, 2019


FAMILY connection ... So a senior member of Fiji’s media fraternity found himself aged 55 and recommended for retirement under Civil Service regulations. Hoping for special consideration due to his high-level political connections, the Information Officer waited eagerly for an extension to his contract. But his supervisor – and nephew by marriage – had apparently signed off on the officer’s retirement and had the recommendation approved by none other than the Permanent Secretary. Incensed, the officer complained to higher authorities – the highest in the land – and the PS was soon on his way. The officer now runs a solar power shop in the nation’s capital.

ANGRY consul ... From Honiara comes the news that a certain honorary diplomat is furious with revelations dissension within the ranks of his compatriots. After raising money to help with rehabilitation efforts post Tropical Cyclone Winston, the Fijian part-time diplomat wanted to control the cash and send it to the government in Suva. But those who raised the money wanted half to go to the Red Cross and the rest to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. The matter was put to the vote and the money was subsequently split as per the wishes of the majority. Now the consul wants to sue the community and Islands Business.

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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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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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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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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.

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