13 Jan 2023

Pacific news in brief for January 13

3:05 pm on 13 January 2023
Police blockade the protest in Jayapura.

Photo: Whens Tebay

Riots break out following Papua governor's arrest

The West Papua police has confirmed that at least 19 people were detained in riots following the arrest of Governor Lukas Enembe on Tuesday.

Police Chief Mathius Fakhiri said the arrest of the governor prompted riots in two locations - Papua Mobile Brigade HQ in Mako Brimob, and Sentani Airport, Jayapura.

"There were small incidents due to the [incident] arrest. But we managed to quell the riot," he said.

He said two people were detained in the riot in Mako Brimob, and the rest were secured at Sentani Airport.

"They are being questioned by the police," he added.

One of the protestors, he said, died from a gunshot wound.

Retired teachers filling in gaps in Samoa

Samoa's Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture is bringing back retired teachers as it deals with a teacher shortage.

New CEO A'e'au Chris Hazelman told the Samoa Observer there are schools, especially in rural areas, with limited numbers of students and staff, and there are other schools nearby which have more staff.

"We're combining those schools to combat this problem," he said.

The CEO admitted teachers' salaries remain an ongoing issue for the education sector which is leading to many of them abandoning teaching.

Papuans warned to expect food crisis

The West Papua Provincial Government has asked the entire community to anticipate a food crisis in 2023.

This has been warned by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and the Minister of Home Affairs.

Acting Governor of West Papua, Paulus Waterpauw, said the world crisis, especially on food, could be faced by optimising land and yards to grow food crops.

He said people in West Papua must be alert to face all possible crises, especially food, due to the war between Ukraine and Russia.

He said if the crisis continues, there is a possibility that food exports can no longer be carried out, so people need to prepare land planted with crops that can be consumed and harvested in a short time.

The West Papua Provincial Government is preparing regulations to encourage people to utilise idle land.

Air Vanuatu head issues ultimatum

An ultimatum has been issued by the acting chief executive of Vanuatu's national airline, Air Vanuatu, over outstanding debts from the previous management.

The CEO, Joseph Laloyer, has given the former chairman of the board, Sam Firi, and the former CEO, Atu Finau, until next Monday to clear debts of over $US70,000.

Both men allegedly chartered company aircraft for their own use during their tenures and also have computers that belong to the company.

Laloyer has told them that it is best if the matter is resolved as soon as possible.

The Vanuatu government considers the airline to be in a mess and this week brought in Australian aviation experts to develop a plan to turn it around.

First female president of Marianas' Senate

The Northern Mariana Islands' Senate has made history by electing the country's first ever female President.

Senator Edith Deleon Guerrero, who is also the first Democrat to hold the position, was unanimously voted to the post at the 23rd Legislature's Senate on Monday.

Guerro said its a fresh start for the Mariana Islands, and as the first female President she wants to bring more harmony and balance to the legislative halls.

Like the new governors, Guerrero said she wants accountability when it comes to finances.

Torres' lawyers wants his trial to be delayed

The lawyers of former Northern Marianas governor, Ralph Torres, in an ongoing criminal case, want the Superior Court to postpone his trial until August.

The lawyers have asked the court for continuance in the February 13 trial due to a scheduling conflict.

But the Office of the Attorney General has opposed another delay, citing that conflict of schedule is not enough reason for a continuance since Torres has four lawyers handling the case.

Last April, the AG's office filed a criminal case against Torres, alleging 12 counts of misconduct in public office and one count of theft relating to the issuing of airline tickets for business class, first class, or other premium class travel for himself and/or his wife.

Teacher's anger over homebrew

A Solomon Islands school teacher says access to illegal homebrew, known as kwaso, is a silent threat to education and learning.

Boniface Aririmae, who is also an elder, says weak law enforcement is to blame for the ongoing threat from the homebrew.

He told the Solomon Star that most people who secretly brew kwaso have nothing to fear because the authorities rarely act.

Aririmae said while communities have raised the same concerns about the liquor many times, it's never addressed.

He said the cheap price and accessibility is now having an impact on concentration and learning in schools.

Cyber team to investigate growing numbers of scams

An Investigation Cyber Team has been established in Samoa to deal with the increasing number of cyber crimes.

In a statement, the Ministry welcomed Feterika Enoka, a Cyber Security Specialist from the New Zealand Police and the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police Secretariat.

He will work collaboratively with the new unit in delivering cyber crime training.

Tahiti makes bright start to football cup

Tahiti has defeated Vanuatu 2-1 in the Oceania Football Confederation Under-17 Championship.

Chief of the delegation of the Tahiti team, Pare Salmon, said the players took a while to get into their rhythm.

"There was an anxiousness in the boys because we just didn't know the opposition, and then as the match went on they started picking up confidence and there was a victory that was strongly appreciated."

Both teams will now play the Cooks Islands.

Meanwhile, New Zealand won 3-2 against New Caledonia, and Fiji beat Samoa 3-0.