Memories of the Pacific for October 27

Prasad arrested in Fiji; concerns of firefighters in American Samoa; and Malaita rejects communication towers

Fijian opposition party leader arrested

The leader of the Fiji National Federation Party, Professor Biman Prasad, has been charged with two counts of insulting or indecently annoying a person.

The fiji times police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho reports that Prasad was questioned by police on Wednesday at the CID headquarters in Toorak and chose to remain silent.

Qiliho said he was later charged.

Prasad was released on bail to appear in court in three weeks.

Fiji Deputy Opposition Leader and NFP Chairman Biman Prasad.
Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koroi Hawkins

The uninhabited island re-elects its representative

In American Samoa, Swains Island voters have chosen Su’a Alexander Jennings to be their representative in the House for the next two years.

Jennings said the proposed constitutional amendment that would give Swains’ representative voting power in the House is a progressive step.

He told the election meeting of about 50 people that Swains was passed over because he didn’t have a vote in Fono de Pago Pago.

He said that if all Swains Islanders united, the amendment giving Swains the vote would be approved.

During the call for nominations, the only name proposed was that of Mr. Jennings.

There are no permanent inhabitants on the island and all descendants now live elsewhere in American Samoa.

Concern over lack of fire hydrants in American Samoa

Firefighters in American Samoa are concerned about the lack of fire hydrants in residential areas.

The warning comes after a fire demolished a family home in Fogagogo on Tuesday morning.

Samoa News reports that it was the second fire in two days.

Fire department director Sinauli Faamasino Upuese Galoia said that although they are not in charge of the fire hydrants, they will deal with them with the competent authority.

He said that during the Fogagogo fire, two fire trucks responded, but they had to refuel and they struggled as the fire hydrant was not nearby.

No one was injured in this or any other fire in Tafuna.

The province does not like the new communication towers

Malaita Province has rejected an offer from the Solomon Islands government to build 27 communication towers in the province.

The government secured a $65 million loan from China to build 161 towers across the country to improve communications.

Huawei will build the towers.

The Permanent Secretary for Communications and Aviation told SBM Online that all the provinces have agreed to the erection of towers in their provinces except Malaita.

SBM Online reported that Malaita’s decision was based on the fact that it will not accept any project funded by China or to be built by a Chinese company in the province.

PNG may not meet its sustainability targets

Papua New Guinea is at risk of missing out on its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda as statistics predict a drop in global food production.

The Post mail reports the national representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Bir Mandal, saying that global effects and local conflicts are holding the nation back.

These are called F5 crises – which combine food, feed, fuel, fertilizer and financial crises.

These, along with the effects of climate change and conflict, have resulted in structural weaknesses and low levels of resilience in the country’s agrifood system.

Government officials say PNG is not exempt from F5 crises.

As the country grapples with rising food prices, the cost of livestock feed, fuel and fertilizer costs, and the opportunity cost of financing development programs, investments may be limited.

But Mandal said the fight was not lost and PNG was putting measures in place where possible.

Lalie goes to Paris of her own free will

The only pro-independence politician from New Caledonia to attend a convention in Paris said he would not represent the Union Calédonienne or the FLNKS party.

Kanak politician Jacques Lalié insists instead that he will be present as president of the Loyalty Islands in the French Assembly.

Lalie said he had given his promise to young Overseas Minister Jean Francois Carenco to go to Paris.

“I have 45 years of activism so it is not today that I will betray the independence cause. I have been clear with the vice-president and the general secretary of the Caledonian Union and the other people involved that I ‘ll go as president of an institution, not as a FLNKS spokesperson.”

He will attend the Partners’ Convention, an event led by the French Prime Minister, which includes representatives from sectors of society beyond the political leaders who made up the signatories of the Noumea Accords.

Solomon Islands fights invasive pests through biosecurity surveillance and training

Biosecurity surveillance and trainings have recently been organized in the Solomon Islands with the aim of protecting the country against invasive pests and diseases.

Carried out by a biosecurity team from the Scientific Organization of the Pacific Community, the training and monitoring covered both pest and disease threats.

Biosecurity officer Riten Gosai said the Solomon Islands is a major hub of activity, with heavy traffic from foreign travelers and tourists.

He said it was important to prepare ahead of the 2023 Pacific Games.

The training included border inspection, emerging threats, surveillance and sample collection in the field.

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