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

Fighting corruption

Asset declaration is the key

UNDERSTANDING the roots of corruption in society will help communities address the issue. And parliamentarians must understand their roles in stopping corruption through their oversight of public institutions as well as the need to remain transparent and accountable to the electorate. Bakhodir Burkhanov, new country director and head of regional policy and program at the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, said the role of parliaments was to reduce corruption, undue influence and abuse of authority by certain parts of the executive and other branches of power.

“We have recognised the role of parliament and legislature in terms of their law-making capacity but also their oversight capacity,” Burkhanov said. “In addition to representation and law-making they also have oversight of other branches of power and as such they can call into question a particular institution or sector to be more accountable to the people parliament serves.”

Asked to comment on the view that MPs were often accused of corruption, Burkhanov said members of the legislature must always uphold transparency and ultimate accountability to the people. “Because of any office this is the most important in terms of being fair and transparent in the conduct of their duties and they must not be influenced by any public or private sector institution,” he said. Burkhanov said asset declaration was an important part of any electoral system but also for all appointed officials.

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WITH the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruling that the Manus Island refugee processing centre is illegal, Australia may be forced to look to other Pacific islands to house 800-odd residents. Australia’s detention facility on Nauru has proven to be difficult at the best of times with claims of human rights abuse against security staff. Fiji – identified as early as 2001 as a possible processing centre – could find itself on the cards again as the region’s policeman looks for options to replace its Manus facility.

The Great Council of Chiefs which was scrapped by Fijian Prime Minister Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama’s after his 2006 coup stood in the way of Australia’s bid to use the former Makogai leper colony as a processing centre. But Fiji has at least 13 refugees after taking in an initial 17 asylum seekers. Immigration Department Director Major Nemani Vuniwaqa told local media the foreign nationals arrived in Fiji by legal means. Three of them have been relocated to New Zealand and a Congolese national has moved on to France.

Vuniwaqa said each asylum seeker who staked his claim at the border would undergo a Refugee Status Determination Process administered by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). If their claims of why they could not return to their native country were verified, they would be given refugee status and cared for by the UNHCR, he said...

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WITH the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruling that the Manus Island refugee processing centre is illegal, Australia may be forced to look to other Pacific islands to house 800-odd residents. Australia’s detention facility on Nauru has proven to be difficult at the best of times with claims of human rights abuse against security staff. Fiji – identified as early as 2001 as a possible processing centre – could find itself on the cards again as the region’s policeman looks for options to replace its Manus facility.

The Great Council of Chiefs which was scrapped by Fijian Prime Minister Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama’s after his 2006 coup stood in the way of Australia’s bid to use the former Makogai leper colony as a processing centre. But Fiji has at least 13 refugees after taking in an initial 17 asylum seekers. Immigration Department Director Major Nemani Vuniwaqa told local media the foreign nationals arrived in Fiji by legal means. Three of them have been relocated to New Zealand and a Congolese national has moved on to France.

Vuniwaqa said each asylum seeker who staked his claim at the border would undergo a Refugee Status Determination Process administered by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). If their claims of why they could not return to their native country were verified, they would be given refugee status and cared for by the UNHCR, he said...

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The power of names

NAMES have “mana.” They are powerful. We use names everyday to identify individuals, places and things. We therefore take for granted that they simply exist. We often forget that names were given, and the act of “giving” is an act of power – to name a person and place is to have power over them. Many times, we also overlook the fact that names embody stories, genealogies, histories, social instructions, and knowledge about life and the environment we are part of. In other words, names of people, landscapes and seascapes are not just identifiers of individuals and places.

They are repositories of knowledge, histories and cultures. Names embody epistemologies. Because of this, it is important to respect names, use them with care and take seriously the act of naming. PEOPLE’S NAMES The tradition of naming people after their father is relatively new in most Pacific Island places. In the past, every individual has his or her own name or were named after ancestors. People’s names tell stories about past events, the characters of ancestors, cultural norms, and instructions about acceptable social behaviors.

Think of the names of people around you and the meanings associated with them. In the absence of writing, we remember and tell the past as well as teach cultural norms and provide social instructions through the names of places and the living...

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Scars of Bougainville

WITH the looming referendum and the future of the Bougainville copper mine hanging in the loop, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s recent appointment of himself as Minister for Bougainville Affairs in a recent minor ministerial reshuffle raised grave concerns on the overall peace process and the future of Bougainville. The Bougainville copper mine, the centre for secessionist rebellion by Bougainville landowners that erupted into a fully blown 10-year civil war between the PNG Defence Force and the Bougainville rebels from 1989 to 1998 resulted in the closure of then the world’s second largest open pit mine and the death of many thousands of people. Peace was reached with the referendum constituting the core of the Bougainville Peace Agreement that provides Bougainvillians with an exclusive right to selfdetermination.

Critical to this has been the internal unification process being undertaken by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) since its inauguration on June 15, 2015 that includes many reconciliations; the 2011 ceasefire ending the five-year Konnou conflict; increasing engagement with Me’ekamui groups; and progress towards ending the Morgan Junction roadblock. Unification continues to be essential as the region prepares for the referendum. The other critical factor is limited ABG funds. ABG president Dr John Momis revealed in his inauguration speech that because of PNG’s fiscal crisis when negotiating the Peace Agreement, the main National Government grants cover only basic costs of delivering services. “We have little internal revenue. The Agreement does provide a Restoration and Development grant, with a formula intended to increase when National budget development expenditure rises.

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