Dec 18, 2017 Last Updated 3:10 AM, Dec 12, 2017

LATE last month Papua New Guinea returned the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to power – albeit with a much smaller majority. At the same time the people of the Pacific’s largest democracy removed three women Members of Parliament.

This despite the fact that a record 167 women stood for election. Now moves are afoot to impeach O’Neill who has been under pressure from political rivals, anti-corruption advocates and law enforcement agencies for several years.

In Tonga a legally elected government has been ordered by King Tupou VI to stand down and prepare for fresh elections after apparent discontent among the electorate. The Solomon Islands will soon go to the polls and campaigning in the Fiji elections schedules for next year has started in earnest with the Opposition and ruling parties courting voters.

In Fiji soldier-turned Prime Minister Rear-Admiral Frank Bainimarama addressed the Methodist Church Conference and told its leadership not to use the pulpit for political gains. Days later he addressed the New Methodist Church – a powerful new religious voice – in the same vein.

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Voice against injustice

IN August 1945 the United States destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki with an atomic bomb in an event which changed the world forever. More than 70 years later the race for nuclear supremacy continues unabated. Just last month North Korea defied the international community and tested a missile with nuclear capabilities. This act of defiance showed the world just how great a threat North Korea is to the world but also how little progress has been made in international detente.

It is not our wish to apportion blame to any single state, rather it is to point out that after 72 years the threat of nuclear war remains real. And therefore it is the duty of every responsible sovereign government to speak out against the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world.

The Pacific had great success at international climate change talks in Paris two years ago, leading to Fiji’s chairmanship of COP23 in Germany this year. World leaders stopped and listened to the collective regional message because it was spoken from the very hearts of the people of Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

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70 years strong

THE Pacific Community marks 70 years of service to the region this month in a quiet way in Noumea, New Caledonia. It is fitting that an organisation with humble beginnings should celebrate such a milestone in a subdued fashion, eyes firmly focussed on the work that remains to be done to develop people, health, agriculture, shipping and aviation.

Born as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in 1947, the organisation has stood alongside the nations of the region in their journey as colonies towards independence and later as sovereign nations. Of course there are Pacific territories which remain colonies, some of them by choice. Others, while independent, face various political challenges from benign dictatorships to failing economies, coastal degradation and Non-Communicable diseases.

Therefore it is fitting that the Pacific Community’s two main offices are in New Caledonia – a French overseas territory – and Fiji, one of the region’s longest independent nations. For Noumea and Suva represent in their own ways the best and worst of what the Pacific has to offer.

Each is a mixture of the best and the worst. Each offers an insight into the tremendous possibilities which exist for Pacific economies if there is a political will to seize opportunities and forge pathways towards a future which will benefit the people. Islands Business is proud to be associated with the Pacific Community through our coverage and support of key conferences on Non-Communicable Disease, climate change and sustainable fisheries.

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Top quality air

SO the Solomon Islands has the cleanest air in the world according to a World Health Organization report released last month. In fact the report states that the air in the Solomons has the least pollution or foreign particles per square inch.

Even New Zealand, long seen as the cleanest country in the region does not have air as clean as that in the Happy Isles. The declaration is a huge boost for the Solomons which wants to attract more visitors to its untouched beauty in the islands – inland and also along the coast.

One United Nations official from Indonesia was recently heard commenting at a regional event that he was pleasantly surprised by the breath-taking beauty of destinations outside the capital, Honiara. And that is the unfortunate truth. Honiara is a dirty town plagued by traffic congestion, rubbish, mosquitoes and the ubiquitous betel nut splotches on the roads and walls. But a flight to any of the islands is like stepping into a completely different world.

Luscious, dense, green forests and crystal clear waters lie just 30 minutes away from the main island. 

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Lead by example

IN April 1841 a French priest was murdered in the prime of his life on the island of Futuna. Pierre Louis Marie Chanel preached a message of lovå e, peace and obedience as he attempted to spread Christianity in a land half a world away from the place of his birth.

As Chanel preached his message and started to convert the native population, he became a threat to the ruling warlords and traditional priests. The biggest threat the cleric posed, however, was that he lives what he preached. Chanel was an example of walking the talk in a land where the rulers brooked no question of their sometimes violent authority and unreasonable demands.

So much was he respected in a land controlled at the time by warlords and traditional priests that the Frenchman became a threat to King Niuliki who demanded to know why his people chose to follow the new religion and its missionary. The response came from none other than Meitala, his son who said Chanel’s message was not only good but that the priest was true to what he preached.

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