Archive - April 1998

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Apr
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SOLOMON ISLANDS GOVERNMENT DEFENDS DECISION TO CLOSE DOWN CASINOS

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---The Solomon Islands government has defended its decision to close down all commercial casino-related operations in the country effective April 7, 1999.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Joses Sanga says although the closure will cost the government $SI 600,000 ($US 128,000) annually in revenue, the social cost of gambling in the Solomon Islands is heavier on some families, particularly in the capital, Honiara.

Sanga says there are broken families and families without food because the breadwinner empties his pay package at the casinos.

Some children, he says, go to school in the mornings without breakfast as a result of their fathers' addiction to the casinos.

"$SI 600,000 is nothing when you compare it with the social cost," he adds

Sanga says the government anticipates that state lotteries and games of chances for charitable purposes, which will be unaffected by the...

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Apr
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MORE INVESTIGATION OF SAMOA PM TOFILAU'S THEFT CHARGES

APIA, Samoa (April 22, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tohi)---Samoa's cabinet has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to look into why the file containing Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana's conviction on two counts of theft in 1966, was missing from the Police, Prisons and Fire Department.

The file resurfaced in the Department last month..

Government spokesman Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says, in announcing the appointment of the commission, that the fact that the file was lost temporarily was illegal. Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, is Chairperson of the four-member commission.

Opposition leader Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi told Parliament he had a copy of the Prime Minister's file, which he tabled in Parliament as evidence of his allegation that the Prime Minister was a convicted thief.

Amidst repeated denials by Tofilau, Commissioner of Police Asi Blakelock and the Justice Department early this year were ordered to search their files for such a record, but both reported...

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FRANCE SET TO BE PACIFIC COLONIAL POWER INTO NEW MILLENNIUM

By Michael J. Field

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (April 26, 1998 - Agence France-Presse)---France, which first arrived in the South Pacific in the 18th Century, is poised, thanks to a new agreement with New Caledonia, to remain the region's dominant colonial power well into the new millennium.

France, with its colonies in New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia, has resisted the world wars and the winds of change which saw, over a century, Spain, Germany, Japan and Britain come, and go.

Today the only South Pacific colonial territories not under the Tricolour that are significant: Tokelau under New Zealand, the U.S.'s American Samoa and Britain's lonely Pitcairn Island.

The only surrender by France came in 1980 when it gave up the New Hebrides, the Anglo-French condominium which became Vanuatu.

The pro- and anti-independence forces of New Caledonia last Tuesday struck a deal with Paris on providing for a vote on autonomy later this year....

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FIJI SUGAR INDUSTRY AGREES TO HELP FARMERS

SUVA, Fiji (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---The Fiji sugar industry has agreed to a crop rehabilitation program to assist farmers seriously affected by the prolonged drought.

Sugar Commission Chairman Gerald Barrack said the implementation and timing of the program will be critical, as it is expected that the current dry conditions will continue throughout Fiji for some time.

Barrack said he has informed the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests that sugar crop rehabilitation information will be available for discussion at a May 1 meeting of the Parliament's Select Committee on Sugar.

At that meeting, he said, the sugar industry will present a detailed crop rehabilitation program proposal for the government's consideration.

Barrack said the question of project funding also will be discussed, as will a special Fiji Sugar Corporation survey, which is just being completed.

Preliminary reports indicate the survey has found that a...

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Stability, Protocol and Tradition

April 26, 1998

OUR TURN

By Hon. Sir Geoffrey Henry, KBE Prime Minister, Cook Islands

Recently, I received the following written request from a local journalist: "Should not our own queens/paramount chiefs come before the Queen of England [in matters of protocol]?" Apparently, there has been some talk back radio discussion on the subject, which I view as a healthy interest in both our own traditions and in our relationship to the Commonwealth and to Queen Elizabeth II in particular. Let me respond with three points: historical, legal and personal.

In the late 1880's, France had annexed what is now French Polynesia, a move in keeping with the colonial posture of the times. There was armed resistance by our brothers to the east, but they were outgunned and lost. A French warship approached Rarotonga, apparently with the intent of annexing it, too, but is said to have turned back when a hastily sewn Union Jack was raised on a flagstaff.

Well aware of...

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AGRICULTURE HEADS TO MEET IN GUAM

SUVA, Fiji (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Pacific Community (SPC) agricultural officials will meet in Guam, April 27 - May 1, for the 13th Conference of Permanent Heads of Agriculture and Livestock Production Services (PHALPS).

The theme of this year's meeting is "Quality Management," an area which is becoming increasingly important to the region's emerging agricultural economies.

Sponsored by the Secretariat of the SPC and the government of Guam, this year's conference will provide an opportunity for island agricultural officials to meet with representatives of donor agencies and international and regional organizations.

PHALPS officials also will review the SPC Agriculture Program activities over the last two years and provide input for the direction the program should takes in the next three years. At present, the program is managing 20 regional projects.

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CNMI FOREIGN WORKERS MAKE A CUT ABOVE POVERTY

BACK HOME

By Benhur C. Saladores

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 23, 1998 - Saipan Tribune)---Amid the clutter of cement and steel, Ric Santos slowly thrusts his drilling equipment into a base as his arms, strengthened by years of working in a construction company, continue to pound harder.

The 38-year old stocky man pauses for a second to wipe sweat off his face, which has been covered by a piece of towel to protect it from the scorching sun.

His coworkers are oblivious to the jabbering sound of the drilling equipment as they flutter about at the construction site of the half-completed building that will house the American Hard Rock Cafe and an array of luxury boutiques.

Since July, Santos has been working six times a week at the Garapan site with nary a complaint. In fact, he longs for the few occasions when his boss gives him overtime work as it means extra income for his family back in his native Philippines.

"It's been...

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FIJI'S UNION MEMBERS SAY NATIONAL STRIKE WAS SUCCESSFUL

SUVA, Fiji (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Fiji's Trade Union Congress (FTUC) says last week's national strike was a successful show of strength.

More than 50,000 people stayed away from work, Radio Australia reports.

FTUC Leader Pratap Chand says the strike showed a new strength and resolve among Fiji's workers who, he says, are fed up with the actions of government and commercial employers.

While a large percentage of Fiji's workforce responded to the strike called, the unions did not succeed in their goal of disrupting essential services.

Although many businesses and government offices were closed, hospitals, the airports and power supplies continued to operate.

Two international flights were diverted from Fiji, leaving some passengers stranded for a day, but otherwise there was minimal convenience.

The strike was called to protest a government order limiting wage raises to three percent during 1998. The government withdrew the order, but...

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VANUATU'S VANAIR TO DECIDE ON NEW AIRCRAFT

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS)--The General Manager of Vanuatu's domestic airline, Marangkon Alilee, says Vanair will decide within the next few weeks whether or not to purchase a Dash 8-100 aircraft from Australia's Flight West Airlines.

One of the two planes on sale was in Vanuatu last week making demonstration flights before departing for Fiji, Vanuatu Weekly reports.

Alilee says Vanair is interested in acquiring one of the aircraft, but favors a lease arrangement.

He says Flight West Airlines has offered a $US 9 million purchase package for the two aircraft, including training and spare parts.

Vanair has been contemplating acquisition of the aircraft for both domestic and regional international service. He says the original proposal was for both Vanair and the national airline, Air Vanuatu, to jointly use the aircraft. After financial assessments were made, however, Air Vanuatu withdrew from the deal.

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TONGA TO RECEIVE ADDITIONAL AID FROM NEW ZEALAND

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (April 26, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tohi)---New Zealand's new fiscal year development assistance funding for Tonga totals $NZ 5.6 million ($US 3.14 million), about the same as during the current fiscal year.

A substantial $NZ 2.9 million ($U.S. 1.62 million) --over half-- has been allocated for human resource development, according to an agreement signed in Nuku'alofa last week by New Zealand and Tongan government officials, Radio Tonga reports.

The human resources allocations include $NZ 1.1 million ($US 616,000) for New Zealand study awards and $NZ 950,000 ($US 532,000) for Pacific regional awards.

Short-term training programs for public and private employees, as well as projects for schools, total $NZ 250,000 ($US 140,000) each.

Vocational training has been allocated $NZ 150,000 ($US 84,000), with several other projects to receive up to $NZ 100,000 ($US 55,000) each.

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