To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

[P.O Box 13, Honiara, Solomon Islands/ Email: Tel:+677 7424025]

Welcome to the TARD Homepage...{Sore lea tale oe uri fula lamu mai la biu ne'e TARD}...TARD is To'abaita's rural voice on the web

Friday, September 28, 2007

Three TARD members part of USP Laucala Campus graduation today

The University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji is currently undertaking its graduation ceremony (from 2pm Fiji Time) for students who have completed their programs of study by the end of semester one 2007.

Among the Solomon Islanders who are graduating are three TARD active members, Mr Peter Fairamoa (current TARD Chairman), Mrs Joyce Konofilia-Maetoloa and Mr Wildred Atomea who flew over from Solomon Islands to participate in the graduation ceremony in Suva today.

It is understood Mr Fairamoa will be admitted to a Diploma of Geography and Information Systems (GIS); Mrs Maetoloa a Bachelor of Arts in Tourism and Hospitality whilst Mr Atomea will attain a Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs and Management.

The graduation ceremony is expected to end after 4pm Fiji Time. The next graduation ceremony at Laucala Campus will be held in April 2008.

World Bank survey on "Good places to do Business" ranks Solomon Islands at 79th spot in the world

A latest survey of 178 countries by the World Bank on the "Ease of Doing Business" has ranked Solomon Islands at 79th position in overall, lagging behind Pacific neighbours New Zeland, Australia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

The survey showed that the best place to do business among Pacific Island Countries is Fiji, followed by Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Marshall Islands.

In the overall ranking of best places to do business, Singapore, New Zealand and the USA topped the list whilst Australia settled at 9th position. Fiji ranked in overall at 36; Tonga 47; Samoa 61; Vanuatu 62; Kiribati 73; Solomon Islands 79; Palau 82; PNG 84 and Marshall Islands 89.

It is understood economies are ranked on their ease of doing business, from 1–178, with first place being the best. A high ranking on the ease of doing business index means the regulatory environment is conducive to the operation of business. This index averages the country's percentile rankings on 10 topics, made up of a variety of indicators, giving equal weight to each topic.

The World Bank survey tracks 10 indicators of business regulation that among other things measure the time and cost of meeting government requirements in setting up businesses.

Solomon Islands signs MOU with University of Queensland

The University of Queensland has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Solomon Islands Government.

Mr Sam Alasia, special envoy of the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, met with The University of Queensland Vice Chancellor Professor John Hay to complete the signing.

Associate Professor Clive Moore of UQ's School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics said the new five-year MOU replaced a more limited MOU signed in 2003.

"The MOU focuses on aiding the restoration and maintenance of peace, harmony and well-being through development and resource sustainability and community resilience throughout Solomon Islands," he said.

"The MOU will strengthen the relationship already existing through several academic disciplines and co-ordinate future research by University of Queensland academic staff in the Solomon Islands.

"The Solomon Islands Government will facilitate the issue of research approvals from The University of Queensland."

The Solomon Islands contact points will be the Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the Institute of Solomon Islands Studies. At The University of Queensland, Professor Kevin Clements, Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, will co-ordinate the development of future research projects in the Solomon Islands.

The MOU supports and facilitates the UQ Consortium, CONCORD-UQ (Community Building and Responsible Resource Development) which is seeking involvement with consultancy, training and capacity building activities in the Solomon Islands. The University of Queensland has also made available two Masters scholarships over the period of the MOU.

Prime Minister Sogavare, through a letter to Professor Hay, said that the MOU was a valuable strengthening of the connection between his nation and an important regional university. Professor Hay welcomed the renewal of the MOU.

"I look forward to deepening our relationship with the Solomon Islands," Professor Hay said.

Source: GCU

Solomon Islands foreign Minister held bilataral talks with Israel in New York

Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Patteson Oti, yesterday held bilateral discussions with Israel’s Ambassador to Solomon Islands in New York.

Amongst other issues discussed, the two leaders talked about the extension of Israel’s health assistance to Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands Mission office in New York says the two countries committed their two health authorities to work on the details of the cooperation.

It says Minister Oti also witness the handing over of a cheque of US$8,000 by the Government of Israel to support International Red Cross Society relief activities to the people affected by the April tsunami in the western region of Solomon Islands.

Source: SIBC

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

MSG Prime Ministers' proposed meeting in Vanuatu postponed for next year

The gathering of Melanesian Spearhead Group Prime Ministers set for next month has been delayed until early next year.

Solomon Islands Deputy Foreign Affairs Secretary, Senda Fifi’i says the meeting was delayed because the host nation, Vanuatu, was slow to confirm the date for the meeting.

Mr Fifi’i says this has resulted in Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare already committing himself to other engagements locally and abroad.

Radio New Zealand International reports that another major reason for the postponement is the non completion of the MSG Secretariat complex funded by mainland China which is to be handed over during the leader’s meeting.

He adds that the postponement of the summit is a blow for all MSG member countries as the momentum to set up a Melanesian Regional Security Force gains pace.

Source: RNZI

Solomons Central Bank says World Bank funds to SI rural development plans will boost economy

The Solomon Islands Central Bank says the World Bank’s financial injection into the rural economy will boost the national economy.

The government has just signed a deal with the World Bank for US$21.5 million dollars for a five-year Rural Development Programme.

The Central Bank’s deputy governor Denton Rarawa says it's welcome news for those in the rural sector as the funding supports the government’s ongoing efforts to improve services.

He says this will promote growth, more jobs and increased incomes as well as improve infrastructure and services to rural communities, which will have a flow-on effect.

“The rural economy is very important. 85 per cent of the population live in the rural sector. So what happens in the rural sector has an impact on the overall economy. The bulk of our production of commodities like copra, cocoa, logs are in the rural areas and so this support from the World Bank will only assist all these activities and hopefully generate new areas of activities and employment,” said Mr Rarawa.

The pilot rural development programme will start in four provinces, before being rolled out nationwide.

Source: RNZI

Sogavare dismisses survey findings endorsing RAMSI to stay in Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has dismissed the findings of a survey which found an overwhelming majority of Solomon Islanders in support of the Regional Assistance Mission deployed since 2003.

The survey was conducted by the Australian National University and it found 90 percent of those interviewed want RAMSI to remain in the country.

But Mr Sogavare says the findings of the survey holds no substance because it was carried out only by the ANU and not jointly with the National Statistics Office.

He says the report was also compiled from Australia.

RAMSI’s Special Coordinator, Tim George, said the results of the survey were very encouraging for all members of the RAMSI mission.

Source: RNZI

Solomon Students at UNITECH Lae study in the dark after power cut due to unpaid bills by the university

By Peter Korugl

Solomon Islands students at the University of Technology (UNITECH) in Lae are believed to be also affected after PNG Power Limited has cut the power supply to the Papua New Guinea University of Technology due to unpaid electricity bills, preventing students from having access to vital facilities for their studies.

According to the National Newspaper website, the power supplier opted to take the drastic action after the university failed to settle outstanding bills totalling K600,000 incurred this year.

The power disconnection only came to light yesterday when frustrated students, claiming they were unable to study properly, called a forum and demanded the administration to explain why the bills were not settled and when the problem would be rectified.

According to staff and students on the Taraka campus in Lae, Morobe province, the power disconnection affected the library, lecture rooms and other academic facilities as well as communication between the university and the outside world.

“Students cannot study because the library, laboratories and classrooms are without power,” a senior electrical engineering student said, adding that the main server was out. We are unable to communicate with the outside world because our telephones and internet service are out as well due to the power situation.”

One of the academic facilities affected was the Mining Engineering Department’s laboratory. Staff at the laboratory said they could not carry out tests and analyse rock samples sent in from the Hidden Valley and Wafi gold projects because the laboratory was without power.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Wilson Tovirika told the students that the university was unable to settle the electricity bills because it had no money.

“If we settle the debt, we would not have enough money to run the university for the rest of the academic year,” he said.

Mr Tovirika said over K2 million the university had to pay for the electricity was used to rehabilitate staff houses and academic infrastructure this year.

Registrar Allan Sako told the students that some money was paid to PNG Power already and power should have been reconnected yesterday. Mr Sako and Mr Tovirika said the university paid K230,000 two weeks ago to PNG Power and another K253,000 was paid yesterday and PNG Power gave its assurance that it would reconnect the power supply.

Source: The National

Solomon Islands Soccer FIFA ranking reaches record high despite Samoa SPG embarassment

The Solomon Islands men's soccer side has taken a major leap of about 40 spots in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola world ranking released last week to sit on a record position of 121 in the world, greatly surpassing OFC neighbours New Zealand, despite an embarrassing show at the recent Samoa SPG.

In July 2007, Solomon Islands was sitting on 168th position while in August it moved up 7 spots to 161. However, the latest world ranking at 121 is understood to be one of the best for the country in history despite not being able to get confirmation on this from the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF).

The highest OFC leaper in the September 2007 FIFA rankings is the Carlos Buzzetti coached Fiji side who have jumped a significant 151 spots to move from 170th position in August to 119th position in the latest ranking, just two spots ahead of Solomon Islands.

Samoa SPG gold medalist New Caledonia also leaped 44 spots and is now at 124th position lagging three positions behind Solomon Islands whilst Vanuatu is at 133rd position after a leap of 34 spots. Even minnows Samoa leaped 44 spots to sit at 147th position surpassing strong OFC neighbour New Zealand who are at 156th position after dropping 7 spots. Papua New Guinea is the only Melanesia country that sits at 182nd position after a drop of 2 spots.

According to the Oceania Football Federation website, the ranking fluctuates according to the competition and tournaments held and since the Pacific Games was a world cup qualifying event, this was taken into consideration as well.

It is understood most of the OFC nations are ahead of New Zealand because the Kiwis are yet to start their World Cup Qualifying campaign.

Meanwhile, a 2-1 victory over Ukraine in the race to qualify for EURO 2008 sees World Cup holders Italy (1st, up 2) climb ahead of Argentina (2nd, unchanged) and Brazil (3rd, down 2) in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 24 October 2007.

Ten year old boy of Guadalcanal caught in fire on a coconut tree

Henderson Police are investigating circumstances surrounding the death of a 10 year old boy from Kaimomosa village in the Tenaru area, of Central Guadalcanal.

The Police media office says the deceased and four other boys were out bush walking when the deceased climbed to get coconuts for them.

Police were told that the others allegedly lit a fire near the palm tree which later set dead leaves hanging from the palm tree on fire.

The deceased was reportedly caught in the fire.

It was reported that the deceased was later taken to the National Referral Hospital.

He was pronounced dead by a Doctor in the early hours of last Saturday morning.

Medical authorities confirmed that the deceased died from severe burns to nearly 95 percent of his body.

Thirty seven Small Island States including Solomon Islands bothered by sinking under rising ocean

Delegates from 37 small island states warned on Monday that small islands, home to five percent of the world's population, could disappear under rising oceans as the earth warms.

Reuters reports Solomon Islands foreign minister Patteson Oti as having told a news conference small Island states have repeatedly raised the alarm bells of global warming over the last 15 years.

He said the Solomon Islands and members of the Alliance of Small Island States faced a future of more violent storms, depleted fish stocks, bleached coral reefs and even total destruction if the world fails to deal with climate change.

Mr Oti said climate change is only the symptom, but the disease is the world's unsustainable means of production, worsened by unsustainable patterns of consumption.

The alliance comprises 37 UN members and six observers from all the oceans and major seas.

The group is meeting on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on climate change to raise awareness and funds for island states' plight.

Source: SIBC

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Survey reveals that majority of respondents want RAMSI to remain in Solomon Islands

An independent nationwide survey of Solomon Islanders’ opinions has revealed strong support for RAMSI’s continued presence in the country.

Key findings of the People Survey 2007, to be released on Thursday, found that 90 per cent of Solomon Islanders want RAMSI to stay and 80 per cent feared a return of violence if RAMSI was to leave soon.

Conducted by the Australian National University and assisted by the National Statistics Office, the People’s Survey is now an annual part of the Solomon Island Government and RAMSI’s review process.

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George said the results of the survey were very encouraging for all members of the RAMSI mission.

“People from 15 countries have come with a commitment to working together with Solomon Islanders to help them build a better future. It is good to have such strong feedback from the community saying, yes, please continue to help us rebuild Solomon Islands.” Mr George said.

Of the 5154 Solomon Islanders questioned:
• 90 per cent said they support the presence in RAMSI.
• 53 per cent said that violence ‘would’ return to Solomon Islands if RAMSI left soon
• 27 per cent said ‘maybe’ violence would return if RAMSI left soon.

The People’s Survey is a way for RAMSI, the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI contributing countries to measure how RAMSI is performing against its objectives.

Mr George said RAMSI placed a high priority on making sure Solomon Islands, RAMSI and the mission’s contributing countries had access to reliable information on how Solomon Islanders viewed its work.

“We will now be able to use the information from this independent survey to help us in our ongoing review of RAMSI’s operation and effectiveness in Solomon Islands,” Mr George said.

Mr George said that RAMSI was keen to sit down with the government and other key stakeholders to explore how the survey information could be used to ensure maximum benefit of RAMSI’s work to Solomon Islands.

The survey is based on a set of questions that form a questionnaire. The questions cover key development and social issues such as access to services, law and order, corruption and accountability that come under RAMSI’s mandate.

More than 80 Solomon Islanders were trained to ask these questions and record the answers of their fellow countrymen.

More than 5000 people in eight provinces volunteered to answer these questions. This represents a significant portion of the population.

Source: RAMSI

Solomons AG Moti fears assassination amid Australian 'vilification'

Solomon Islands Attorney-General Julian Moti says he fears a vilification campaign against him by Australia will lead to his assassination, reports Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Julian Moti, a Fiji-born and Australian citizen who is wanted in Australia on child sex charges, says Canberra sees him as a threat to the "regime" established in the Solomons under laws governing the Australian-led law and order mission in the Pacific nation.

The Solomons government has previously accused Canberra of using the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) as a tool to achieve its political objectives.

Last year, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare fought unsuccessfully at a Pacific regional forum to water down Australia's role in RAMSI, but has since pursued a review of the laws that set its parameters.

Mr Moti said he must start writing his epitaph and feared he did not have long to live.

"I thank God for each day I remain alive. You only have to read what has happened elsewhere to people with my mentality to know that I won't live long," he said in a statement.

"The typical pattern of the elimination plan is to discredit morally, then attack professionally before arranging an assassination. We've just entered the next phase of Australia's vilification campaign against me and I must start writing my epitaph."

Moti, an Australian lawyer, was sworn in as the Solomons attorney-general in July, despite the serious nature of the Australian charges.

Moti and Sogavare, his close personal friend, have repeatedly accused Canberra of engaging in a political witchhunt.

Mr Sogavare has rejected Australia's request to extradite Moti, who police allege raped a 13-year-old girl in Vanuatu in 1997. Moti denies the charges and maintains they were dismissed by a Vanuatu court.

The Australian Government denied it was running a vilification campaign against Moti, but said it wanted him to face justice.

''There is an application to have him extradited in accordance with Australia's laws,'' a spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

''The allegations that have been made against him are very serious and all the Australian government wants is for those allegations to be fully tested in a court of law.''

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

SIG signs Rural Development Aid program with World Bank

Solomon Islands Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo yesterday signed with the World Bank a SI$150-million dollar five-year Rural Development programme.

The program aims to strengthen the rural economy to promote growth, create jobs and to increase incomes.

It also covers the improvement of rural-based infrastructure and agriculture services which have been prioritised by villagers through consultation and participation.

The programme will also support small business development in partnership with Commercial banks.

The programme will initially start in four provinces and on to all the provinces.

Government will soon put in place a team to oversea the implementation of the programme and will work closely with provincial governments.

World Bank's Director for Sustainable Development for the Pacific says under the leadership of the government, they've been able to partner with the European Commission and RAMSI to jointly support the government's efforts to bring development to rural areas.

RAMSI's Rural development Adviser Doctor Paul Green says the joint efforts is a demonstration of a partnership between the government of Solomon islands and its development partners.

Source: SIBC

Rise in human population affects soil fertility in North Malaita

By Moffat Mamu

Parts of Malaita are now experiencing intensified land use due to increase population - a concern that needs to be addressed.

Searim Niu Plant Blo Gaden project manager Tikai Pitakia revealed this after last week’s Diversity Fair in Takwa, North Malaita.

Mr Pitakia said the extensive use of land could result in unfertile soil which resulted in low crop yields.

“This is now becoming a major problem in some locations such as North Malaita and many small islands,” he said.

He said in order for the growing population to have food high yielding variety of crops or crop diversification must be introduced.

Mr Pitakia said subsistence food production subsidized the economy and made vital contributions to the welfare of the nation, especially those dwelling in rural areas.
He said most food consumed by rural villagers are grown by themselves in their food gardens.

Other important sources of food are coconuts, fish, marine produces, shellfish, mangroves, fruits and nuts.

Mr Pitakia said sweet potato is by far the most important source of food energy in Solomon Islands which contributed an estimated 65 percent of locally grown staple food.

Other important food crops are cassava, banana, kongkong taro, island taro, coconut, pana and yam.

Mr Pitakia said the production of these staple food crops is estimated to be about 430,000 tonne per year, which is conservatively valued at $411million per year.

Source: Solomon Star

Monday, September 24, 2007

Solomon Government backbenchers reconcile personal grudges with Finance Minister

Solomons' Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, and government backbenchers, Charles Dausabea and Francis Zama, have resolved personal differences at a special reconciliation ceremony on Wednesday last week.

In a statement, Mr Lilo said that the disagreement was mainly on personal grounds saying that in life, people have to have disagreements in order to strengthen peoples' understanding and build stronger relations in the future.

"We had a very lovely reconciliation," he said. "This is a healthy thing in democracy, in a family you had a little quarrel and then it motivates you to build strong relations and move forward."

The Minister dismissed media speculations that suggested disunity in the Grand Coalition for Change Government (GCCG) - which threatened the loyalty of some government MPs'.

"In any government, members have their own ups and downs but we have been able to resolve ourselves and move forward in a very strong and renewed commitment," he said.

"The issue was blown out of proportion in the media and I have seen this as a case of simple misunderstanding and therefore it was easily resolved in the reconciliation," he said. "No money was involved and it came out of our hearts to reconcile."

Source: Solomon Times

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lilo criticised for awarding contract to an individual without proper tender process

The Solomon Islands Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo is being asked what powers he has to award an infrastructure contract, bypassing the Infrastructure Ministry and the Central Tender Board.

MP for West New Georgia/VonaVona Peter Boyers claims Mr Lilo had informally awarded the contract to an individual who has started work in reconstructing roads in Gizo.

He says the road reconstruction in Gizo were to be carried out in three different phases and that all three phases were to be put on tender.

Mr Boyers says the informal system he knows of in the country, besides the formal system is corruption.

He calls on Mr Lilo to explain what laws, financial instructions and general orders he'd adhered to when he awarded an infrastructure contract to an individual.

Mr Boyers also calls on the Infrastructure Minister to explain why his ministry is no longer in charge of the process which is now in the hands of the Finance Minister.

Meanwhile, the finance minister says the award of a contract to do clearance in Gizo was based on the urgency to carry out the work without further delays.

Mr Lilo says the Minister for Finance has the powers under the Financial Instructions to waive the tender process in awarding contracts.

He says the award was based on health risks faced by the population and infrastructures and the urgent need to rehabilitate the tourism hub of the country.

Mr Lilo says Gizo town needs proper and urgent cleaning up because of the devastation caused by the tsunami resulting in the increase of rat and dog population and the bad air from blocked drainage and sewage systems.

He says the situation in Gizo is desparate that to wait for another month or two, will worsen the situation which may result in Gizo being declared an unsafe town to live in.

Mr Lilo says the waiver only applies for the civic clearance phase. Other phases will be put out on tender.

Source: SIBC

Australian parliamentary report calls for more incentives for the Pacific Islands

An Australian parliamentary report on the South Pacific has called for incentives for business investment in the islands and a scheme for Pacific workers to do seasonal jobs in Australia.

Radio Australia reporter, Graeme Dobell, says an inquiry conducted by parliament's Joint Foreign Affairs Committee has examined Australia's aid program for the South Pacific, which is worth around $US750 million this financial year.

The parliamentarians and senators report evidence show that people-to-people contacts with the South Pacific are falling, and calls for concessions to encourage Australian companies to invest in the Islands.

The recommendation is that an Australian business could get a full tax deduction for funds invested in the South Pacific.

The parliamentary inquiry also calls for an active and serious evaluation of a scheme for islanders to do Australian seasonal work such as fruit picking.

Source: Fiji Times

PNG Civil Society Groups urge PM Somare to face Moti case

Non-Government Organisations in Papua New Guinea have called on the Ombudsman Commission, Transparency International, Police Fraud Squad and leaders of PNG to work together to express their views concerning the Moti issue.

The Presidents of the Eda Hanua Moresby Inc Philip Kepan, Millennium Good Governance Organisation Victor Tongop, Noel Koloa from the PNG National Awareness Front and Benjamin Pokawin from the Informal Youths Sector Association said this in a joint statement yesterday.

The Presidents of the four NGO groups said they represented the civil society and pointed out that the Moti case was a big crime the government committed knowing full well that the directions that were being followed were illegal.

They said they wanted to make it clear to every Papua New Guinean that any future representation of the country by the Prime Minister at an international forum will not have the complete trust of the people.

“He must no longer be seen as a true ambassador of this beautiful country,” the NGO groups said.

Mr Kepan said the adjournment of the parliament to October to allow the Prime Minister to attend G8 meeting in the United States on the issue of climatic change was not a good enough excuse.

“The Chief has a big problem on the home front yet to be solved, but he still had the time to attend to other matters,” Mr Kepan said.

He said this attitude was uncalled for and as the Chief of the nation he could have attended to the Moti affair in which he was implicated.

The groups said the simple fact of the matter was that Sir Michael broke the laws of PNG by not following the correct procedures to remove Julian Moti who was wanted in another country.

Meanwhile, a PNG Good Governance expert says the Moti Inquiry report has uncovered deep-seated accountability and corruption problems within the Papua New Guinea bureaucracy.

Anthony Regan, a former legal adviser for the PNG government now based at the Australian National University, described the findings of the Justice Gibbs Salika-chaired army inquiry as “amazingly frank” and said it was now up to PNG institutions such as the Ombudsman Commission to look at its findings.

Mr Regan said those who were implicated would have hoped the matter died a natural death but that will not happen quickly.

“It’s an amazingly frank and open examination of deep seated accountability and corruption problems within the bureaucracy in Papua New Guinea. Well presumably, the Government will appeal the decision and they’ll seek to get the injunction back in place while it’s dealt with and some who would predict that the aim will be to slow things down, wait until the public lose interest and hope that no investigations take place because of things being blocked.

But there is going to be huge public pressure probably for that not to happen,” he said.

Mr Regan – a constitutional lawyer and currently a fellow at the ANU’s state, society and governance in Melanesia program – added the Ombudsman Commission did not need to wait for a formal copy of the report.

Source: Post Courier

RAMSI voices concern over basis of proposed review of Facilitation of International Assistance Act

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, has raised four key concerns surrounding a proposed review of the Facilitation of International Assistance Act which provides the legal framework for RAMSI’s presence in Solomon Islands

Speaking at a press conference in Honiara yesterday, Mr George said he had hoped to raise these concerns directly with the Prime Minister but had not been able to get an appointment to see Mr Sogavare.

He had also hoped to have the opportunity this week to raise the matters behind closed doors during the now postponed Enhanced Consultative Mechanism meeting between the Solomon Islands Government, the Pacific Islands Forum and RAMSI.

Mr George said he welcomed the recent parliamentary debate on RAMSI and the interest taken by the Members of Parliament in the mission’s work.

“We in RAMSI are very happy to talk and work through issues to do with RAMSI at any stage with Membersof Parliament, or anyone else,” Mr George said

However RAMSI had four key concerns.

Firstly RAMSI is concerned that the proposed FIA Act review as outlined by the Attorney General, Mr Moti, in Parliament was not really based on matters of legal substance.

“The Attorney General’s Memorandum of Advice is a very flawed and muddled document which in a number of cases strays into areas of policy,” Mr George said.

The Memorandum contained a number of misconceptions about RAMSI, about the FIA Act, and also about the nature of the partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, Mr George said.

“It also raises a number of matters that are not relevant to the Act and identifies a number of policy issues that have already been worked through very well and received close scrutiny during the Forum review process.

“The memorandum reveals a negative mindset towards RAMSI,” he said.

“What does concern me, is the fact, and the prime minister made this clear, that the forthcoming review of the FIA Act will be based on this memorandum.”

Secondly Mr George said that in recent months there had been a serious lack of transparency surrounding the government’s intentions with the FIA Act which ran counter to the spirit of the Solomon Islands Government-RAMSI partnership.

“In July we were told that the Attorney General was planning to challenge the FIA Act in the Court of Appeal and that he would brief us; that has never happened. We still do not know the status of this initiative.

“Then without any prior notice or consultation with RAMSI, the Attorney General’s dubious memorandum was presented to parliament as the basis for a review of the act.

“Last week we learnt through the media that the Government was intending to hold a workshop for MPs on the proposed review of the act even before the Forum RAMSI Review processes were complete,” Mr George said.

The Forum processes provide a very constructive way forward for RAMSI and Solomon Islands and indeed covers the range of issues that have been raised by members of Parliament, Mr George said.

“We had been very encouraged by the Government’s commitment to the Forum process. It is therefore deeply disappointing that this week’s ECM (Enhanced Consultative Mechanism) meeting could not go ahead as planned,” he said.

Thirdly, Mr George said he was concerned the proposed review of the FIA Act runs the risk of cutting across the Pacific Islands Forum Taskforce Review process.

The just completed Forum Review was a process initiated at the request of the Solomon Islands Government, following closely the terms of reference proposed by the Solomon Islands Government he said.

“The issues that the Solomon Islands Government wished to raise such as an exit strategy, the question of immunities, sovereignty and RAMSI’s accountability have been dealt with quite comprehensively and in full consultation with the Solomon Islands Government in the review,” he said.

It is a report that maps out a very good way forward for the RAMSI Solomon Islands Government partnership Mr George said.

“It include some very positive proposals for improved oversight by the Forum of RAMSI and also some very good proposals to strengthen the partnership between RAMSI and the Solomon Islands Government.

“This would seem the obvious starting point for any examination of RAMSI by MPs or others,” he said.

RAMSI contributing countries also had a strong and very legitimate interest in any moves to change the FIA Act, they should not just be informed of any such plans but engaged in a genuine and through process of consultation he said.

Fourthly, Mr George said he was concerned that there were also mixed messages coming from the Government about RAMSI and its role.

“On one hand we do have a very good working relationship with senior government officials in the areas such as law and justice, economic governance and machinery of government that RAMSI programs are involved in.

“We have also been working very well with the Government’s Special Envoy, Michael Maina and the Forum’s representative to the Solomon Islands, Lesi Korovavala,” he said.

The Prime Minister and other Ministers and Members of Parliament have also made some very positive acknowledgement of RAMSI’s efforts during last month’s parliamentary session.

“At the same time the Prime Minister has accused RAMSI of being a ‘tool’ of Australian efforts to re-colonise Solomon Islands,” Mr George said. “This is simply not true.”

More recently the Prime Minister has stated that RAMSI has ‘grossly undermined’ the laws and systems of Solomon Islands.

“I take strong exception to that comment. RAMSI was asked to help Solomon Islands regain the ability to once again enforce its own laws and systems and that is exactly what we have done.”

Source: RAMSI

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pacific Islanders in RAMSI insulted by "Camouflaged" comment from PM Sogavare: Lomaloma

Pacific Islanders serving in RAMSI had been deeply distressed by Prime Minister’s recent comments that they were simply ‘camouflage’, RAMSI’s Assistant Special Coordinator, Mataiasi Lomaloma said today.

The most senior Pacific Island representative to the Regional Assistance Mission, Mr Lomaloma said that the hundreds of Pacific Islanders who had served in the mission were proud to be part of RAMSI and could not understand why the Prime Minister would want to dismiss their contributions as ‘camouflage’ for Australian foreign policy initiatives.

“While RAMSI is led and mostly funded by Australia, it is also one of the most successful initiatives ever undertaken by the Pacific Islands Forum and this just would not be possible without the contributions of all the member countries,” Mr Lomaloma said.

“We are honoured and we are proud to come and serve in RAMSI,” Mr Lomaloma, a senior Fijian public servant, said.

Pacific Island nations are sovereign states just like Solomon Islands with leaders capable of making their own foreign policy decisions he said.

“We do not just go along with Australia as the prime minister appears to be suggesting.”

“All our nations are signatories to the Bikatawa Agreement, all of our governments made their own independent decision to enter RAMSI. Some of us joined in the beginning other Pacific Island nations have come on aboard at a later date,” Mr Lomaloma said.

Speaking in last month’s adjournment debate, Mr Sogavare accused Australia of having a ‘recolonisation’ agenda in Solomon Islands and went on to say that: I don’t see any genuineness in the intervention in Solomon Islands and the neat thing is, they drag the other Pacific Island countries (in) to camouflage this agenda.”

Mr Lomloma said for the men and women of RAMSI who had left behind their island homes and family to serve in the mission deserved better than this.

“A number of women serving here in the Solomon Islands actually have very young babies you know, some as young as two years old. These ladies have come forward to serve their nation and to come to the Solomon Islands to genuinely try to assist the Solomon Islands.

“To suggest to these people, these nation’s who reached out to a neighbour in their time of need, that we are somehow dancing to a foreign government’s tune is very demeaning, very insulting; I think we deserved a better comment than what the Hon Prime Minister has said.” Mr Lomaloma said.

Source: RAMSI

SIG apologises for consultative meeting postponement but wants future papers in advance

by Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

The Solomon Islands Government has apologised for the postponement of its third Enhanced Consultation Mechanism meeting with the Pacific Islands Forum and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands but at the same time requested the Pacific Islands Forum to provide it with all relevant documents well in advance for future meetings.

The topics proposed for third meeting supposed to be held on Tuesday were the Solomon Islands Government/RAMSI partnership, RAMSI’s draft medium term strategy and the Facilitation of the International Assistance Act which legalises the operation of RAMSI in Solomon Islands.

In a letter to the Chairman of the Enhanced Consultation Mechanism (ECM) meetings, Peter Efeare, Solomon Islands Secretary to the Prime Minister, Rence Sore said as leader of the Solomon Islands delegation to the consultation he wished to apologise for the late postponement of the meeting.

“I am writing to you as leader of the Solomon Islands delegation to the third Enhancement Consultation Mechanism to sincerely apologise for the late postponement of the consultations on Tuesday 18th September 2007.

“Your Excellency, I will very much appreciate your esteemed understanding and acceptance of my apology on behalf of the Solomon Islands Government.

“However, Your Excellency, based on the sensitive nature of the issues to be discussed in the third ECM it would be imperative for substantive information to be made available well in advance in order for Solomon Islands delegation to articulate a position that could be presented during the meeting, “ Mr Sore said in the letter.

The Secretary to the Prime Minister said the fact that necessary details were not made available to the Solomon Islands government to prepare its position on the agendas of the meeting was now under its scrutiny and the matter would be addressed accordingly to prevent such inconveniences from reoccurring in the future.

Minister Oti says Preferential Market Access will not solve trade imbalance

Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Patteson Oti told the Asian Development Bank-sponsored conference yesterday that preferential market treatment does not significantly address the trade imbalance.

Mr Oti was speaking on the importance of 'Aid for Trade', the international assistance to promote export industries in Small Island States and Least Developed Countries such as Solomon Islands.

The Minister said the difficulties created by Solomon Islands' are compounded by its distance from main trading partners, the high costs of telecommunications and domestic transport, and the smallness of domestic market.

The Minister noted that Solomon Islands has received preferential access to foreign markets such as the European Union since the mid-seventies, but has been unable to capitalise on this privilege to build export industries that add significant value to its commodities. He said that market access alone is not enough to enable the necessary development of Solomon Islands' economy.

Mr Oti expressed the hope that his ministry could play a central role in attracting international funding and coordinating its effective delivery to those areas in both the public and private sector in which it will be most effective - a task that the ministry's ambitious project to analyse the country's current needs and capacity gaps, called the 'Integrated Framework', was designed to address.

Source: Solomon Times

Silentworld sponsors ten Solomon Triathlethes to compete in Australia

Solomon Islands top ten triathletes will travel to Australia in November to compete in one of the biggest triathlon events in Australia.

Silentworld is sponsoring all costs to get ten triathletes to Australia, including new equipment to match the standard of the international athletes they will be racing against.

An excited Triathlon Solomon Islands Vice-President, Maxon Ala, thanked Silentworld on behalf of all the athletes. He said that international competition was the best way to improve the performance of Solomon Islands' newest sport.

"At the Samoa Games we found that all the other countries sent their triathletes overseas to train and compete. This helps them to do well when it comes to big events like the South Pacific Games", Ala said.

The team of ten was selected based on their race results, attending training and how much work they had put into developing the sport in Solomon Islands.

Silentworld General Manager, Meyric Slimming, said that Silentworld was delighted to give young Solomon Islanders the chance to compete with the best and bring back new ideas to develop the sport in Solomon Islands.

"Silentworld has been impressed by the management and development of triathlon. We are especially pleased to support young men and women who are training almost every day. They are proving that sport and hard work can have a positive impact on their lives and their community. We want to encourage that and support the continued growth and development of triathlon in Solomon Islands", he said.

Triathlon Solomon Islands President, Ross Andrewartha, said that it was a difficult job to select the final ten athletes.

"Triathlon is a sport that demands a lot of hard work and there are currently a lot of new promising athletes, and also many that have been training from the beginning in 2003."

"What we hope to see from going to Australia is that meeting and racing with triathletes from around the world will help people grow in confidence and learn how to improve themselves and the sport."

Source: Solomon Times

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Solomon Islander awarded Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue Youth Development studies at SICHE

The Commonwealth Secretariat through the Commonwealth Fund For Technical Cooperation C-F-T-C Programme has offered a scholarship Award to a Solomon Islander.

Francis William Rea won the award to undertake a two year Diploma Course in Youth Development at the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education in Honiara between 2007 and 2008.

Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alfred Mane Lovanitila, who also acts as the C-F-T-C Point of Contact congratulated Mr. Rea for having won the C-F-T-C Award.

He urged Mr Rea to capitalise on the opportunity provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat to successfully complete the program and be an agent of change by helping other youths to acquire necessary skills and become active participants in the development of the country.

Mr. Rea said he will do his best to complete the program successfully

Source: SIBC

New Minister for Rural Development and Indigenous Affairs vows to achieve goals

by Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

The new Minister for Rural Development and Indigenous Affairs, Clement Kengava has vowed to achieve the goals of the newly created ministry.

The parliamentary wing leader of the People’s Alliance Party was speaking yesterday afternoon after being sworn into office by the Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena at the Government House.

Mr Kengava said having taken charge of a newly created ministry the task ahead would be challenging especially when the people have a lot of expectation on the government’s Bottom-up Approach Development Policy.

“I myself know there is a big expectation on the new ministry to tackle this very important task and I will try my best to achieve my ministerial goals.”

He said he had decided to join the Sogavare-led Grand Coalition for Change Government because he believed in its rural development policy and decided to offer his service to the government for a worthy cause.

The Minister said development of the rural sector was one of the areas he was concerned about and his acceptance of the Rural Development and Indigenous Affairs ministerial portfolio was a proof.

Mr Kengava said he believed that the key to strengthening the future of Solomon Islands lied in the strengthening of the rural sector.

He said one of the other important areas his new ministry would also look into was the active involvement of indigenous people in commercial development.

The Minister said sometimes local people tend to be left out in commercial development activities and this matter must be seriously looked into.

SIG postpones consultative meeting with PIF and RAMSI delegations

by Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

The Solomon Islands government has postponed a consultative meeting with a delegation of the Pacific Islands Forum and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands yesterday morning due to the short notice it was given for the talk.

Secretary to Prime Minister, Rence Sore said the government was only notified of the Pacific Islands Forum arranged meeting last weekend and had to put it off for a later date to allow government ministries to prepare the government position on the various agendas for the tripartite consultative meeting.

Mr Sore said it was the duty of the Government’s Special Envoy to RAMSI, Michael Maina to notify the government of such important meeting in good time to allow relevant government officials to prepare the position paper.

“The government’s position to the consultation must be endorsed by the cabinet before public officers can proceed into dialogue with the Pacific Islands Forum and RAMSI. At the moment that position is yet to be endorsed.”

“So what will happen is that we the government officers will meet to look at relevant papers on the issues for discussion at the meeting to put together the government position paper before it will be submitted to cabinet for endorsement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would soon be mobilizing the responsible government officers to work on the document. The Minister for Foreign Affairs would be presenting this document to cabinet for approval upon its completion,” he said.

The Secretary to the Prime Minister said issues to be discussed at the tripartite consultation included RAMSI’s medium term strategy.

He said the RAMSI document was submitted to the government for comments.

Three SI Police Officers leave for Australia to lead the way in cultural training for PPF

by Qila Tuhanuku

Three Solomon Islands police officers are heading to Australia to help train new members of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force (PPF).

Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF) officers, Inspector Juanita Matanga, Constable MacArthur Pania and Constable Oliver Buira left for Australia yesterday after being invited by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to work with Australian police trainers at the International Deployment Group (IDG).

The IDG is the arm of the AFP which prepares Australian and Pacific Island police for deployments to countries all around the world, including the Solomon Islands.

PPF Commander Denis McDermott said on Monday that the importance of properly training police deploying to Solomon Islands in local culture, customs and practice was well recognised.

“One of the smartest ways to this is to utilise the wealth of knowledge and expertise within the SIPF,” Mr McDermott said.

SIPF officers have been assisting with the training of IDG deployments for the past two years he said.

“Our training in culture, custom and practice has taken a direction where the theory is reinforced by good practical exercises which are supervised by Solomon Islands Police.”

“We have found it very effective way of giving our people a good grounding in Solomon Islands culture before they arrive here,” Mr McDermott said.

The SIPF members who departed today are very experienced officers. Inspector Matanga currently works in Strategic Planning and Policy, Constable Pania in the Criminal Investigation Division and Constable Buira in National Investigations.

They will be assisting the IDG trainers with all activities related to the pre-deployment course but their main focus will be on formal and informal presentations on Solomon Islands culture.

These presentations will range from pidgin language training through to explaining such issues as the importance of the wantok system and its impact on policing practices in Solomon Islands.

All three officers will be staying at the AFP’s International Training Complex which was built in 2005 to cater specifically for the training needs of officers deploying overseas. The Training Complex was designed to look similar to a village in the Solomon Islands. This helps to train the officers in an environment similar to what they might encounter once they join the PPF.

In the past SIPF officers have also acted as Solomon Islanders during role-playing scenario based activities. These activities are designed to give Australian police a chance to practice their pidgin and social skills with Solomon Islanders.

Many of the Australian trainees in the past have said that this was one of the best experiences during the course.

“Conducting the training in the purpose built Solomon islands ‘village’ adds realism to the scenarios faced by the trainees.” Mr McDermott said.

The SIPF officers also get a chance to participate in a number of training activities such as four wheel drive courses, first aid training, navigational skills and a number of team building exercises. This course is the tenth to be held this year.

Mr McDermott said negotiations were ongoing to allow this initiative to continue.

The three officers who departed yesterday said they were very much looking forward to the chance to work with their Australian counterparts at the IDG. They will be in Canberra for four and a half weeks until October 20.

Source: RAMSI

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Malaita's Kilu'ufi Hospital closes door to the sick in protest of disrespectful attitude

Kilu'ufi Hospital on Malaita has closed its doors from yesterday for an indefinite period.

Acting Director- Malaita Provincial Health Doctor Rex Maukera says the action follows the disrespectful attitude towards hospital vehicle and staff on duty.

The doctor says last Friday, one of the hospital vehicles was attacked by a drunkard on the way to Auki town, and over the weekend, the hospital Vehicle was again stoned at Farau village, south road while rushing an emergency case to Kiluufi hospital.

He said in the truck were two doctors, a driver, a sick baby and a mother.

Dr Maukera says while police is carrying out investigation into the incidents, the hospital will be closed to make the community aware that such behaviour should not go unchecked.

He says communities must assist the Police.

Source: SIBC

Monday, September 17, 2007

SI Law Students at USP Emalus Campus awarded first prize in Open Day Float Parade in Vila

Report and photo by "Kafolangi" @Emalus

The Solomon Islands Law Student Association (SILSA) at Emalus Campus in Vanuatu has been awarded the first prize of 40,000 Vatu cash in a Float Parade in Port Vila, that marks the 2007 University of the South Pacific Open Day program last Friday which was celebrated in all the university campuses throughout the Pacific.

President of the Solomon Islands Law Student Association, James Kaboke, said he was happy with the prize and thanked the Solomon Islands Law students for their effective preparation and participation.

"Without your positve response and participation, we would have not earn it at the end of the day" the president said.

According to the president, the prize will be transferred into the student association's bank acount to assist with the association's activities and plans.

The Float Parade which attracted the public and tourists in Port Vila was said to be one of the most successful, compared to the past open day celebrations.

Students from the Pacific region also put on their traditional attires to mark Vanuatu's Year of Custom Economy. It was a colourful parade where students from the region displayed their different traditional decorations.

Meanwhile, it is also understood that Emalus Campus will host this year's tertiary Pan Pacific Moot. The Moot competition will start on Wednesday this week. Universities that will be participating in the Pan Pacific Moot are Waikato University, Queensland University of Technology, University of PNG and the Host, USP Emalus Campus.

A "Moot" competition is a hypothetical case that law students argue through the form of oral presentation on a legal issue or problem. It is perhaps the closest experience that a student can have whilst at university to appearing in court with little or no practical value, meaning, or consequence.

Source: SolomonGele

Solomon government donates vehicles and boats to Rennell and Bellona Province

The Solomon Islands National Government on Friday donated vehicles and boats to Rennell and Bellona province after the first-ever annual premiers’ conference in East Rennell.

Minister of Provincial Government and Rural Development, Japhet Waipora officially handed over the donations to the province when closing the annual premier’s summit.

The actual cost of the vehicles and boats are not made available but the Minister indicated a cost of over half a million dollars.

“My Ministry is very pleased with Rennell and Bellona for successfully hosting this conference.

“Although this province is remote and small, their commitment is a show of their contribution towards national development,” Mr Waipora said.

The donation included three vehicles and two boats and OBM accessories.

Rennell and Bellona became a province of its own after being officially separated from the Central Islands Province in 1993.

Premier Solly Tengemoana said the province faced many development challenges over the last 14 years.

He said its remote location and transportation difficulties added a lot of obstacles making life difficult for its people.

But he said the province has huge tourism potential if both the national and provincial government’s work together to develop the industry.

He said the UNESCO listed World Heritage Lake Tegano in East Rennell can generate a lot of money both for indigenous landowners, the province and the national government.

Premier Tengemoana said the government donations will assist his administration to carry out its function more effectively in years ahead.

Source: GCU

Solomon women give their RAMSI folks good feedback

by Qila Tuhanuku

A RAMSI policy advisor has thanked Solomon Islands women for their personal comments about the work of the Regional Assistance Mission.

Advisor to RAMSI’s Special Coordinator, Ms Estelle Parker made the comments while speaking to 30 women from different religious and ethnic backgrounds who had gathered at Holy Cross last Wednesday for a special two-hour outreach organised by the local women’s group, Women for Peace.

“It is important that RAMSI hears directly from the community about the real impact the Regional Assistance Mission is having on the lives of Solomon Islanders.”, Ms Parker said.

“Hearing the views of ordinary Solomon Islanders on RAMSI is a very important part of RAMSI’s Community Outreach program,” Ms Parker said. “It is one of the ways we can monitor and review RAMSI’s work in Solomon Islands.”

Ms Parker, who was leading a special all-of-RAMSI outreach team of mostly women from RAMSI’s Participating Police Force, military, law and justice, machinery of government, and economic governance programs, said it was also good for members of the mission to have this personal connection with Solomon Islanders.

“It makes those of us who have come to work with Solomon Islanders to help them build a better future for their children feel good, knowing that what RAMSI is doing is working and appreciated by the community and also to hear about ways in which we might do our job better.”

Ms Parker said despite all the progress since 2003 there was still a lot for the Solomon Islands –RAMSI partnership still to do if a better future for all Solomon Islanders was to be secured.

“We’ve still got a big challenge ahead, and we - that’s Solomon Islands and RAMSI - need to make sure that the things we have achieved together are sustainable in the long term.”

For instance, reconciliation needed to come from the hearts of all Solomon Islanders, Ms Parker said.

“Women’s groups, church groups, chiefs, community leaders and the government need to work together while RAMSI’s here, to get the most from RAMSI and ensure there is a lasting peace in Solomon Islands.”

Many women who spoke during the meeting expressed their support for the work of RAMSI, saying that since the mission’s arrival in the country, life for women and children is once again safe and free.

The women told the RAMSI Community Outreach team that they wanted RAMSI to remain in Solomon Islands to complete its work; especially they want to see RAMSI continue to work with and help strengthen the local police.

The women also said that they did not want to see guns in the community and wanted all remaining guns to be collected.

Women from Guadalcanal and Malaita both shared personal stories with the meeting about the big changes in their lives since RAMSI’s arrival in 2003.

One woman whose brother had been shot and killed during the tensions said that to be able to take part in the surrender and destruction of weapons which occurred in the year after RAMSI had helped her a lot.

“I actually helped cut up a gun with a RAMSI officer,” she said.

The Women for Peace Coordinator, Mrs. Georgina Sogote’e, said that the purpose of the meeting with the RAMSI Community Outreach team was to get first hand information about the work of RAMSI, and to find out what RAMSI is doing about promoting the status of women as equal partners in development.

“We also want to be able to provide feedback about the work of RAMSI, raise important issues that are of importance to women and have an opportunity to have face to face talks with the women of RAMSI,” she said.

This was the first time for these women to meet with RAMSI officers and she said all the women appreciated this since it provided details of important things RAMSI is doing in its work with the governments and people of Solomon Islands.

Apart from providing a safe and secure environment for women to go about their lives without fear, RAMSI is also prioritising the development of women to take on key roles in the development of Solomon Islands.

“Just two weeks ago, RAMSI supported Solomon Islands women to attend a ‘Women leading change’ conference in Australia. These opportunities encourage women to develop and lead change in their workplace”, Ms Parker said.

RAMSI is also supporting a group for women lawyers, Women in Law in Solomon Islands to help them promote and protect women’s interests, and working towards the advancement of women studying and practicing law.

The RAMSI team also briefed the women about the regional nature of RAMSI and how RAMSI is also a partnership between Solomon Islands and its 15 Pacific neighbours who all contribute personnel to the mission.

Ms Parker highlighted the big commitment that pacific island country’s had made to their brothers and sisters in Solomon Islands.

“Niue for instance only has 1800 people, and 16 police officers but they have elected to send two of them here to work in RAMSI. That’s a big commitment by a small country,” she said.

Source: RAMSI

Top Solomon Islands' Provincial leaders sign "The Lake Tegano Communique"

By George Herming

The country’s top provincial leaders on Saturday have signed a communiqué that represented the common views and interests of the nine province’s including the Honiara City Council on issues affecting the provinces.

Eight provincial premiers including the Honiara City Mayor were signatories to the three page document while the premiers’ of Temotu and Rennell and Bellona province’s are yet to sign.

Temotu Premier Johnson Levela and Rennell and Bellona Premier Solly Tengemoana were unable to present at the signing ceremony at Kia Koe Lake Resort on Saturday due to other pressing commitments.

The signing ceremony was conducted in the presence of the Minister for Provincial Government and Rural Development Japhet Waipora.

Top government legal advisor and constitutional lawyer, Reginald Teutao said the document will be made public as soon as the two premiers are signatories to the communiqué.

“At this stage we will not disclose the details of the communiqué until the two premiers signed the document,” Mr Teutao said.

But the he indicated that the weeklong Premier’s Conference was a successful gathering for the provincial leaders – who frankly shared their views on both individual and common issues affecting their provinces.

“The recent conference is one of the best meetings ever held since it brings together our leaders to share and understand each other’s views in issues affecting them,” he said.

He said the conference has united all the top ten leaders in their efforts to effectively administer their provincial governments in partnership with the national government.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare officially opened the premier’s conference Tuesday last week which was held at Kia Koe Lake Resort in Rennell and Bellona province’s proposed World Heritage Lake Tegano in East Rennell Island.

Some of the top issues on the agenda that were openly discussed were the Federal State Government System and Provincial Government Strengthening Program – currently undertaken by the Ministry of Provincial Government and Rural Development.

The Premiers’ have also indicated strong support to the government of Prime Minister Sogavare for the current policy on rural development.

The leaders felt that the government’s “Bottom up Approach Policy” is a right move towards adopting the federal government system by preparing nations in the transition towards state government.

It was agreed that premiers’ conference will become an annual event and Temotu province will host the next meeting in June 2008.

Source: PMC

Malaita Premier expressed apology for the event of 2000 in the Solomon Islands

Malaita Premier, Richard Na’amo Irosaea has apologized to the nation for the actions of Malaitans involved in the events of year 2000 in which frustrated Malaitans took up arms and remove the democratic government of the late Bartholomew Ulufa’alu.

Mr Irosaea made the open apology when addressing the 1st Annual Premiers’ Conference at Lake Tegano in the Rennell Bellona Province on Friday.

He said the behaviors of the Malaitans who participated in the armed insurrection of 2000 were obnoxious and thus Malaita Province has asked for forgiveness.

“On behalf of my government and people of Malaita Province I would like to sincerely apologize for the events of the year 2000 and their negative impacts on the country’s struggling economy,” he said.

He said as the province with the biggest population, Malaita Province understands that the behaviors of some of its citizens could be obnoxious and therefore asks for forgiveness from the national government, the provincial governments and the people of this nation,” Mr Irosaea said.

The Premier said it was important that his Province normalize its relationship with other provinces and the national government after the events of the year 2000 so they could all work together harmoniously towards achieving economic success.

He said contrary to the resolution of the 2004 Malaita Leaders Summit to pursue independence for Malaita Province, his present administration stood for a united Solomon Islands.

Mr Na’amo Irosaea said if Solomon Islands is to achieve economic prosperity, all the provinces ought to be united and support the national government in its development endeavors.

He said the Malaita Provincial government was pursuing a major reconciliation program to iron out all the ill feelings the nation had against Malaita over the actions of some of its citizens in the year 2000.

Source: PMC

Friday, September 14, 2007

RAMSI head dismayed by statement from PM's Office about lost opportunity at Premier's Conference in Rennel

by Qila Tuhanuku

RAMSI Special Coordinator Tim George today expressed his strong disappointment that RAMSI’s presentations to this week’s Premiers Conference in Rennel could not go ahead as planned.

Mr George, who took a party of six to the conference on Wednesday, said he was also equally dismayed that a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister appeared to be misleading the general public as to the reasons for this.

Mr George said it had not been possible to go ahead with the RAMSI presentations as planned because the relevant morning session of the conference had been cancelled at the last minute.

“My office had worked for a number of weeks with the Ministry of Provincial Government to make sure that a good number of senior RAMSI personnel could attend the conference and spend a substantial amount of time in discussion with the premiers.

“I had personally prepared a presentation with time for questions and discussion as did RAMSI’s Development Coordinator and the acting head of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force”, Mr George said.

“We were keen to engage in discussion with the premiers for as long as they wished, “Mr George added.

“Instead when we arrived, we found that the section of the program allocated to RAMSI that morning had been cancelled to enable the Premiers to attend a local trade show.

“Rather surprisingly no one had informed us of this change,” Mr George said.

“While we were disappointed at the loss of time with premiers, we did not take offence but instead joined the tour of the trade show.”

“We also offered to at least give the premiers a shortened version of our presentations, this we did as best we could in the time allocated to us. In fact we delayed our departure for long as we could to do this.” Mr George said.

RAMSI places a lot of importance on its relationship with the government and people in each of the country’s provinces Mr George said.

“I had been looking forward to visiting Rennell for the first time and spending a considerable amount of time with the Premiers.”

“To suggest that somehow we flew in and out without much time on the ground is quite misleading,” he said.

“We actually came early and left late, spending six hours on Rennell for what we had been told should be a very short presentation.”

Mr George said it was very disappointing to see such dis-information posted in the form of an official government press release on the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website.

“This would not seem to be in the spirit of the SIG-RAMSI partnership,” he said.

Source: RAMSI

Sogavare apologise for not turning up to officiate on Literacy Day

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has apologised to the Literacy Association of Solomon Islands ((LASI) for not attending the International Literacy Day celebrations this week.

Mr Sogavare was criticised for not attending the International Literacy Day celebrations, monday this week.

The Non Government organisation said the country's high illiteracy rate must be accepted as the most fundamental issue to address Prime Minister Sogavare's bottom up approach policy.

But in his message to the Literacy Network, Prime Minister Sogavare says the letter of invitation for him to be the guest speaker at this occasion had not been brought to his attention until he returned from the Premier's Conference on Rennell-Bellona province.

The Government's Communication Unit quoted Mr Sogavare as saying, he is mindful of the significant role of the Literacy Network in the country, especially the important task of breaking the chains of illiteracy in Solomon Islands.

Source: SIBC

Solomon Islands proposed live dolphin trade faced with tuna and tourism boycott calls

A major Pacific tuna fishing forum has been told the Solomon Islands tuna industry will face international boycotts if the government goes ahead with plans to resume live dolphin exports.

Mark Berman of the San Fransisco-based Earth Island Institute has told the Pacific Tuna Forum in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea that boycotts could also extend to the Solomons tourist industry.

The Solomons Fisheries Minister Nollen Leni has been talking up a resumption of lucrative live dolphin exports in recent weeks despite an export ban imposed in 2005.

The ban imposed by the previous government followed international condemnation of the export of 28 Solomons dolphins to an aquatic park in Mexico in 2004.

The Australian and New Zealand governments protested against the live shipment organised by Canadian Chris Porter who operates a dolphin park at Gavutu Island in the Solomons.

Source: RNZI

PNG Opposition urges Chief Somare to step aside as Prime Minister after failed court application on Moti saga

The Papua New Guinea Opposition has appealed to Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to step aside following his failed attempt to quash the findings of a PNG Defence Force board of inquiry.

Referring to the 1997 Sandline crisis when New Ireland governor Sir Julius Chan stepped down as prime minister to allow for a commission of inquiry, Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta and his deputy Bart Philemon said it was time Sir Michael “practiced what he preached” at that time and stand down over the Motigate saga.

“There is a precedent over the Sandline issue and I was in the Opposition then and we and Sir Michael (who was Opposition leader) called for Sir Julius to stand down which eventually he did. And I think we’ve come to the same challenge now over this issue (Moti),” Mr Philemon said.

The two leaders said Sir Michael should step aside and allow relevant state agencies to look at the findings of the inquiry following the unsuccessful National Court battle.

“That he owes to the nation, to the people and to himself as the founding father of this nation,” they told reporters yesterday in a press conference.

They warned that Papua New Guinea was at a crossroad as the court decision showed the executive and judiciary arms of government had differing views on the Moti saga.
Sir Michael was part of court proceedings initiated by former chief secretary to government Joshua Kalinoe and senior PNGDF officers Colonel Vagi Oala and Captain Tom Ur.

They filed a judicial review application and wanted the court to nullify the entire proceedings of the army inquiry which investigated Julian Moti’s clandestine escape to the Solomon Islands in October last year.

But Justice Bernard Sakora on Wednesday upheld the submission by the board’s lawyers that the applicants’ case was an abuse of the court process.

A copy of the inquiry report obtained by the Post-Courier show that all applicants including Sir Michael were implicated as the report recommended various charges be laid against them under the criminal and Leadership codes.

Sir Mekere, who tried to release copies of the Moti report during the elections but was warned of contempt of court charges, launched a scathing attack on Sir Michael.

“Justice Sakora’s conclusions are hard-hitting and should be taken to heart by the Prime Minister. His behavior is a complete disgrace and he must step aside. Somare used the court proceedings basically to suppress the report in the lead-up to the election. The inquiry found Michael Somare ordered the clandestine flight to transport Moti. In doing so, the Prime Minister and those he involved in the operation broke many laws,” Sir Mekere said.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Sir Micahel Somare plans to appeal the National Court rejection of his application to have a Defence Force inquiry declared null and void.

Sir Michael’s lawyer, Kerenga Kua, says the Prime Minister feels agrieved over the ruling.

“That report will be provided. There was an honest and genuine reason provided as to why it was not produced but that was rejected by the court and that’s fair enough - that’s an exercise of its own discretion. But on the question of whether that discretion has been exercised judiciously will be a matter for the Appeal Court.”

Source: Post Courier

Thursday, September 13, 2007

PNG Court Judge likens the "Moti Report" to the USA "Watergate Scandal" before quashing Somare's application to nullify the PNGDF Inquiry

A Papua New Guinea National Court judge yesterday described the Julian Moti saga as Papua New Guinea’s version of the United States’ Watergate scandal.

Speaking before quashing Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and three others’ application to nullify the entire proceedings of the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) Moti Inquiry, Justice Bernard Sakora said their attempts to suppress the inquiry’s proceedings and final report conjured up images of the Watergate scandal.

He said the application was only aimed at protecting egos and not in the public interest.
“The reason (to suppress the report) has nothing to do with supporting or giving support to what I call in my judgment … I am trying to describe it with a word … I don’t think you can describe it in any other word except protecting huge egos … and I have it in my judgment … huge egos of olympic proportions,” Justice Sakora said.

Infuriated at the applicants’ failure to table a copy of the report since the start of the proceedings, the judge said the court went out of its way to get a copy to no avail.

The current Government’s practice in changing its views overnight on major policy decisions also came under fire, Justice Sakora describing it as a “dysfunctional system” that resulted in Sir Michael sacking Kavieng MP Martin Aini as Defence minister in the last government.

“With respect, the entire circumstances of the 10th of October 2006 flight to freedom or flight of fugitive from justice; the subsequent public uproar and the ineffective or absence of internal investigations by the PNGDF and the RPNGC (Royal PNG Constabulary); the NEC decision to have the public inquiry conducted under the Defence Act and the appointment of the board of inquiry and the proceedings of the inquiry all which found one easy victim – and that was the minister for defence who lost his job. The taking of the defence portfolio by the Prime Minister and the suppression of the report, all conjure up images reminiscent of the Watergate Affair in the United States – those of us who were alive in the 1970’s (are familiar with this). The Watergate Affair that led to the resignation of a president of the United States few steps ahead of impeachment. One can’t help but be reminded (that) the whole (Moti) saga is so reminiscent, for those of us who were around in the 1970’s,” he said.

Justice Sakora added that the Moti saga has evolved into a “blame game”, a topic which his favourite authors, Englishmen Frederick Forsyth and Jeffrey Archer, like to write about.

Picking out Sir Michael’s application, the judge was critcal of the Prime Minister “piggy backing” on the application for judicial review filed by senior PNGDF officers Captain Tom Ur, Colonel Vagi and former chief secretary to government Joshua Kalinoe. Sir Michael should have made a separate application to join the court proceedings initiated by Mr Kalinoe and the three soldiers; a process which Justice Sakora said was not followed.

The judge subsequently ruled that the application was an abuse of the court process and dismissed it with cost to the applicants.

Source: Post Courier

USP to hold its annual open day program at Laucala campus tomorrow

The University of the South Pacific will hold its Open Day at its campuses in Fiji and around the Pacific Island region tomorrow.

Over 10,000 visitors are expected to visit the University and take part in the various activities planned for the day. The USP Open Day is the University’s largest public relations event showcasing its faculties, programs of study, research, and its diverse community of staff, students, stakeholders and friends working together.

The theme for this year’s Open Day is Our Future, Your Future - Leading a Quality Region.

Over 8000 people are expected to visit the Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji. Students from over 60 secondary schools from around the country are expected to make up the bulk of visitors. Schools from as far as Yasawa and Ovalau will be visiting the University on the Day. This year's Open Day will include participation by the all campuses in Fiji - Laucala, Lautoka and Labasa, Nauru, Solomon island, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Tonga, Niue, Tokelau and Samoa.

USP Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr Esther Williams said that the idea of the Open Day where learners can come to view what the University has to offer in terms of their future, is an important part of adding value to the lives of our young people in education.

"The Open Day will highlight and profile the best of education, training and development resources and services across all our campuses in the region, and showcase the success of our graduates and the leadership roles that many hold throughout the region,'' said Dr Williams.

Highlights during the day include activities and displays planned by the various schools and departments under the four Faculties - Faculty of Arts and Law; Faculty of Business and Economics; Faculty of Islands and Oceans and Faculty of Science and Technology.

Other activities include:
- Chemistry Quiz Competition for all high school students from 9am to 1pm;

- A science ‘Magic Show’;

- Chemistry experiments by staff and students which will run in the chemistry labs throughout the day;

- A robotics competition organised by the Engineering Department;

- Marine specimen and marine gear displays by the School of Marine Studies at the Lower Campus;

- A display by the Institute of Marine Resources to commemorate the International Year of the Sea Turtle;

- Maths and computing competitions with great prizes.

Student cultural groups affiliated with the USP Students Association and performers from the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture will put up cultural and contemporary performances. For Solomon Islands students it is still uncertain whether students will partcipate in the cultural activities or not.

The major sponsor for this year’s Open Day is Westpac. Other sponsors are Air Pacific, Dee Cees Bus Services Limited, Western Union, Star Printery, Vodafone, USP Book Centre, Coca Cola, Clairty Technologies, Telecom Fiji Limited, Unwired, Bligh Water Shipping.

The Open Day will be on from 8am-4pm.

Source: USP

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sogavare's visit and opening of Premiers' conference create history in Renbel province


Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is the first Solomon Islands Prime Minister to visit Rennell Island in Rennell Bellona Province. Rennell Bellona Province premier Solly Muaki revealed this during the opening of the National Premiers’ Conference yesterday.

Mr Muaki said Mr Sogavare’s presence signified his commitment to rural people and concern for provinces. He said the visit would also allow Mr Sogavare to see for himself the rural life setting in the province and some of its needs.

Renbel Premier also congratulated the government for its Bottom Up Approach Policy.
He said Rennell Bellona Province would try its best to be part of the economic activities of the country.

The conference is currently underway at Kiako lodge, Lake Tengano and nine of the premiers with their provincial secretaries are attending the conference. The Premiers conference is now expected to be hosted annually.

Source: Solomon star.

Downer warn China over influence in the South Pacific

Australia has warned China to ensure that its increasing interest in the South Pacific does not undermine efforts to fight corruption and poor governance in the region.

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said although China was entitled to build relations with countries such as Papua New Guinea, any financial aid or assistance needed to complement Australia's existing $870 million-a-year aid program in the region.

Over the past few years, China has built its diplomatic ties with PNG, Solomon Islands and, before last year's coup, Fiji on the back of increasing trade and investment, particularly in the mining sector.

On Friday, PNG Prime Minister Michael Somare met Chinese President Hu Jintao in a bilateral discussion that followed similar meetings this year. It confirmed PNG's resurrected "look north" policy while its relationship with Australia has been souring.

Australia and PNG have not had formal diplomatic contact – neither ministers nor leaders at the APEC forum. Mr Downer told the Ten Network's Meet the Press program that Australia was comfortable with China's increasing aid in the South Pacific as long as it maintained its current focus on infrastructure programs.

"Our only request is that they reinforce the work we're doing there to try to assist with governance and don't in any way undermine it, and make sure that they run strong anti-corruption programs and good governance programs through their aid, not the contrary," Mr Downer said.

Sir Michael and Mr Hu discussed further aid to PNG in exchange for greater investment in PNG's mineral and gas sector.

Source: The Post-Courier

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Solomons opposition wants answers about cost of Moti campaign

The Solomon Islands opposition leader, Fred Fono, has asked the government who has paid for the team of legal advisors that has drawn up a list of questions put to the Australian legal authorities in relationship to the Solomons attorney general, Julian Moti.

A catalogue of 666 question was prepared as Australia has been demanding the extradition of Mr Moti to answer sex charges relating to his time in Vanuatu ten years ago.

Mr Moti is an Australian citizen, whose passport was withdrawn in Papua New Guinea last year just days before he fled to Solomon Islands on a clandestine PNG military flight.

Mr Fono says if it is true that a team has prepared the questions, then the treasury would have spent millions of dollars of public money on just one foreign individual.

He says the money could have been better spent on rural development.

Meanwhile Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, on return from the APEC meeting in Australia yesterday, barred the media from asking any questions relating to the Moti affair.

The Chief of staff Theo Yasause told reporters before the press conference began at the airport not to ask any questions relating to Mr Moti who escaped extradition to Australia by being flown out in a PNG military plane to Solomon Islands.

The Post Courier newspaper says it and other media organisations were keen to ask Sir Michael if the Moti issue surfaced during the APEC meeting.

The newspaper says the National Court is expected to hand down its decision today on whether to nullify the entire PNGDF inquiry into the Moti case.

Source: RNZI

Minister commended Malaita for initiating Leaders Peace and Reconciliation Summit

Solomon Islands National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace minister Sam Iduri last week commended leaders and the people of Malaita for pursuing reconciliation with Guadalcanal Province.

The two provinces were directly involved in the recent armed social unrest from 1998 to 2003.

Speaking at last week’s Malaita Leaders’ Peace and Reconciliation Summit, Mr Iduri said the positive response from Malaitans showed their commitment to the reconciliation and healing process between people of the two provinces.

“Throughout human history we witness that our human will to survive rises above all our struggles, challenges and brokenness. The choice and determination to reconcile and forgive one another is critically important to our continued co-existence as one united Solomon Islands,” he said.

Mr Iduri said the Malaita Peace and Reconciliation Committee, the Malaita Provincial Government and Community-based organisations have played an important leadership role.

He said this was through the implementation of the National Government’s policy on peace-building and reconciliation in Malaita and the country as a whole.

“The government recognises your magnificent work in reconciliation amongst our people and commends you for the initiatives taken and in owning the reconciliation processes.

“In a lot of cases you have taken proactive stance and not waiting for the national government to do everything all the time,” the Minister said.

He said building the reconciliation bridge to sustainable peace requires initiative, commitment, and ownership through sacrifice, time and resources.

“You have done this in the true spirit of partnership and commitment to peace-building and reconciliation,” Mr Iduri said.

It is understood the Government is committed to consolidating and advancing the on-going National and Inter-Provincial Reconciliation. Government reports said this commitment is also extended to the outcome of the 2004 Malaita Leaders summit on peace, and although the processes have been slow, the determination is still there.

Greater part of this effort will be based on the level of ground work achieved so far with the heightened understanding achieved through continued consultation and dialogue between the national government, respective provinces and other stakeholders.

Mr Iduri said while the law and order situation and social stability continues to show improvements in the country; peace building and reconciliation processes remain major challenges unless the outstanding issues, structural, root and symptomatic causes of the ethnic conflict are addressed.

The Malaita peace summit concluded last Friday.

Source: Solomon Star

Monday, September 10, 2007

Curtain falls on Samoa SPG as participating countries eye New Caledonia's 14th SPG in 2011

Flags were lowered and athletes were farewelled in style as the XIII South Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa ended at the Apia Park last night.

Unprecedented fireworks display closes 13th South Pacific Games. Its was standing room only as over 20,000 packed into Samoa’s Apia Park to witness the closing ceremony of the 13th South Pacific Games. The two week competition attracted around five and a half thousand athletes and officials.

Pacific music with that unique Samoa flavour as the sound of the drums and the voices from the choir echoed as athletes received a warm send off.

The highlight of the night was the "People of the Sea" song which saw dancers pay tribute to all the participating countries and positioned themselves in the form of the map of the Pacific.

The SPG flag was then lowered and officially handed over by SPG Organising Committee chairman Tapasu Leung Wai to the president of the Pacific Games Council Vidya Lakhan.

Lakhan then handed the flag to the president of New Caledonia 2011 Pacific Games, Pascale Bastien-Thiry.

"I entrust this ceremonial flag to your care until we gather for the Pacific Games in 2011 Games," Lakhan said while handing over the flag.

The final message to athletes was "May you display cheerfulness and harmony so that the spirit of our Pacific family of nations be carried on with ever greater eagerness, courage and honour."

Keeping the Samoan custom, the night ended with a final dance the "taualuga" which symbolises the completion of a house with the placement of the roof.

The next South Pacific Games involving all 22 members will be held in New Caledonia in four year's time (2011).

Meanwhile, the latest unofficial medal tally from the Samoa SPG website after the close of games listed Solomon Islands on the 15th position with 1 Gold, 12 Silver and 14 Bronze, a performance under par when compared to very smaller Island countries such as Samoa, Nauru, Palau, FSM, Cook Islands, Tonga, American Samoa, Tokelau and Wallis & Futuna who are all above the Solomons in medals attained.

In comparison of the rankings, Solomon Islands has fallen by two spots from the Fiji 2003 SPG after being ranked 13th in overall. However, the total number of medals won now is a slight improvement from the 2003 SPG when the country only attained 1 Gold, 5 Silver and 8 Bronze.

Solomon Islands PM delighted to meet top JICA officials

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday expressed delight on a proposed meeting with top officials from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) next week.

Mr Yoshihisa Ueda will visit Solomon Islands from the 15th to 18th including a special sympathy visit to the Western Province to the tsunami victims and observe a project site of the proposed Gizo Hospital reconstruction.

He will also meet with top government officials during his stay in the country.

The new JICA Resident Representative to Solomon Islands Tokuro Watanabe who arrived in the country on 3rd August also made courtesy call to Mr Sogavare on Friday.

Mr Watanabe formally introduced himself to the Solomon Islands Government and made briefing on the past and present activities of JICA in Solomon Islands.

He is the most experienced personnel in JICA’s bilateral cooperation with Solomon Islands.

He first served as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV) from 1983 to 1986 in Auki, the second time as JOCV Volunteer Coordinator from 1990 to 1993, and now the third time as the head of JICA country office.

Source: GCU

Solomons rural communities applaud Rural Banking offered by ANZ Bank

Rural banking Services provided by the ANZ bank has been highly commended by customers in the rural areas.

Soni Cheke of New Birao village on Guadalcanal plains says the services had enabled parents to save money for their children's school fees.

He says the bank's Micro-Finance Services is helping many parents in his area to send their children to better schools.

Another Chief, Joseph Billy Kulau, praised ANZ for bringing it's rural banking and lending scheme to the rural communities.

ANZ General Manager,Tait Jenkin confirms that the Rural Banking initiative has been warmly welcomed in the communities and to date, over 8-thousand people have used the Bank's services.

He adds that ANZ is extending its Rural Banking project to provincial centres such as Taro, Tulagi, Buala, Kirakira, Lata and Munda.

Mr Jenkin says this will enable more people in rural areas have access to formal banking services.

Source: SIBC

Friday, September 07, 2007

Solomon Islands register first GOLD Medal at SPG through the gifted hands of Michael Leong

Solomon Islands Gold Medal drought at the XIII South Pacific Games has came to an end after Tennis wonder-boy Michael Leong handled the home crowd support to overcome Samoa's Juan Langton in the grand-final of the Mens Singles which was completed a while ago to win Gold.

The match did not last long despite a strong home crowd support for Leong's Samoan opponent as he easily cruised to a two straight set victory by 6-1 and 6-1.

After the match Michael was quoted as saying: "Oh it's a lot, I mean our country, if I'm correct, hasn't got one yet. I mean there's events going on and to get gold for my country is something special and I hope it continues and for the rest of the country for the sports they play they do their best and try their best for their country."

At the same time Solomons tennis team coach Joel Benjamin said he hopes this win will mean the equal distribution of funds to all sports in the Solomon Islands, including tennis.

Meanwhile, another Silver medal has been updated to the overall Solomon Islands medal tally today for Ruth Riropo who won Silver in the Taekwondo Female Black Belt Fin/Fly Weight (00-49kg).

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