18 Aug 2003

Vanuatu customs officers shocked by medal award to dismissed colleague

10:25 am on 18 August 2003

Authorities in Vanuatu's customs department have questioned the cultural value of the country's independence medal after the head of state presented one of their officers with the medal for refusing a bribe and then went on to present the same medal to a former customs officer who was dismissed for bribery.

Customs authorities say the presentation of the second medal by President John Bani was a slap in the face for their department.

They say the young man concerned was related to the president.

A spokesperson from the State Office confirmed that the man's name was not on the list of candidates who received awards.