13 Nov 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

3:51 pm on 13 November 2021

Village in Samoa takes hardline against unvaccinated residents

A village in Samoa has told its residents to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or risk getting fined $500 tālā by the village council.

The Samoa Observer reports the mayor of Tuana'i village on Upolu island, Fa'alaeo Opeta, confirmed the hardline against unvaccinated residents to support government efforts to protect against coronavirus.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa announced on Friday that a second nationwide lockdown will be enforced next Friday to boost the vaccination campaign numbers.

Meanwhile the latest data released by the Ministry of Health, show more than 115,000 people or 95 percent of eligible people have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as of 11 November.

A total of 86,243 Samoans have been fully vaccinated which represents 70.5 per cent of the eligible population above 18 years-old.

The Pfizer vaccination which started two weeks ago targeting children 12-17 years-old has vaccinated 21,402 with their first doses.

PNG outlines how it will support Bougainville post-referendum consultations

The Papua New Guinea Government has outlined how it will support the Bougainville post-referendum consultations.

It said it would also looking at how to accelerate the drawdown of powers to the autonomous government.

Prime Minister, James Marape, said cabinet had agreed to a summit of national public service heads to speed up this process.

He said they also hope to repurpose the National Co-ordination Office on Bougainville Affairs, so it is able to assist discussions on the political settlement for Bougainville.

Mr Marape said the office needs new institutional arrangements so it can undertake such a facilitation and support role in the post-referendum consultations.

He said this is why Cabinet wants a new institutional model, which would act independently of the two governments, and support work to aid the finalisation and implementation of a long-term political settlement.

He said the repurposing would be a joint decision involving both governments, and he will propose it to Bougainville President Toroama and his ABG team at the next JSB meeting.

Samonn man given wrong jail sentence

A five-month jail term handed down by a Samoa court for the use of insulting language has been labelled "unlawful, unreasonable, unconstitutional and abuse of process."

The sentence, which had been given in the Ethnic Court, Faamasino Fesoasoani, had exceeded the maximum jail time prescribed under the law.

District Court Judge, Alalatoa Rosella Papali'i, who was sentencing Savelio Mareko on another insulting words conviction, found the man had been wrongly sentenced to a five months term previously, a sentence he was four months and 10 days into completing.

The maximum term on an insulting words charge is three months, or a fine of up to $200.

She said the man had already been detained illegally and he should be released immediately.

Judge Alalatoa also advised Mareko that he was within his rights to take legal action against the court.

PNG may have to "rethink" efforts to cut logging and coal mining

Papua New Guinea's environment minister says because of a lack of financial aid, his country may have to "rethink" efforts to cut logging and coal mining.

Speaking in Glasgow at COP26, Wera Mori also suggests PNG may have to re-think coming to such meetings as the global climate talks if the international community keeps stalling.

The Associated Press reports the minister saying his country has cut back on logging, plans to ban round log exports by 2025, and hasn't issued new coal mining permits.

But he said without a meaningful agreement in Glasgow, PNG may roll back these measures.

Mr Mori said developed nations like the US, the UK, China, Japan and European countries must pay up.

But he said if financing was not forthcoming then "we cannot be swimming around in the wilderness", as PNG has a massive forestry resource, as well as thousands of square kilometres of coal seam which could be mined and used to produce cheap energy for its industries.

Commonwealth urged to revisit Langkawi

Commonwealth member states are being urged to re-read their Langkawi Declaration signed in Malaysia in 1989.

Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland said scientists and leaders at Langkawi had agreed that if the climate crisis was not addressed, small island states would face an existential threat.

Ms Scotland told the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow that if anyone looked at the document now, they would 'weep' like she did.

She said everything that has happened in the last 30 years was outlined in the Langkawi report.

"When the Commonwealth came together in November in Malta in 2015 and said we needed 1.5 degrees Celsius to stay alive, we didn't do it because it was our hope and aspiration.

"We did it because the empirical data demonstrated beyond peradventure that if we did not secure 1.5, many of our islands would not stay alive," Scotland said.

There are 11 Pacific island countries in the Commonwealth: Samoa, Nauru, Tonga, PNG, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Fiji. Australia and New Zealand were founding members of the Commonwealth in 1931.

Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland, left, and members of the Pacific delegation during the COP26 in Scotland.

Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland, left, and members of the Pacific delegation during the COP26 in Scotland. Photo: Commonwealth Secretariat

Fiji's Attorney-General and Climate Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Ocean Pathway - after long days and nights of negotiations - was charting its course from aspiration to action.

He said the Pacific's next big leap should begin by "spelling out a clear, bold and blue vision of where the Ocean Pathway must lead.

"As some of the world's largest ocean states and as nations on the front-line of climate change, the Pacific hopes that its vision of a sustainable regional Blue economy can become that of the world's," Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Nauru eyes 737 aircraft

Nauru Airlines has set its sights on the next generation of 737 aircraft.

The company said it has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the plane.

Chief executive Geoffrey Bowmaker said the airline operates five Boeing 737-300s, three of which are passenger aircraft and two are dedicated freighters.

He told Smart Aviation APAC the airline has issued a RFP to buy either the Boeing 737-700s or Boeing 737-800s.