7 Feb 2023

Pacific news in brief for February 6

9:27 am on 7 February 2023


The Fiji government is planning to phase out the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).

The announcement has been made by Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, coinciding with the recently published Corruption's Perceptions Index by anti-corruption global agency Transparency International.

In the Index, Fiji scored 53 points and was ranked 49th-equal out of 180 countries.

Chairperson of Integrity Fiji, Jofiliti Veikoso said it would be difficult to remove the Commission due to the Constitution.

"We would like to really re-emphasise that having anti-corruption agencies are key to the fight against corruption, I think it's key that they need to be kept but maybe just really look into their roles," he said.

Integrity Fiji is the locally-based NGO focused on addressing corruption.

French Polynesia

The French Polynesian president has defended a cap on annual tourist arrivals of 300,000 amid calls by the opposition to aim for double the number.

The Tavini Huiraatira party has suggested a goal to attract 600,000 tourists a year by 2030.

President Edouard Fritch said he cannot announce such a figure because the number of hotels would have to be more than doubled to accommodate the visitors.

Last year, the government adopted a strategy of trying to limit visitor numbers so that they won't exceed the number of inhabitants.

Fritch said with the current number of 200,000 visitors French Polynesia earns almost as much as Fiji with its 800,000 tourists.

French Polynesia

The criminal court in French Polynesia has given three foreigners prison sentences of up to seven years for smuggling cocaine.

The catamaran of two Dutchmen and a Pole was intercepted in Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas in 2017 with 500kg of the drug on board.

The three, who had sailed from Central America, said they were unaware of the cargo.

After being in detention for two years, they were allowed to leave Tahiti pending their trial.

They were convicted in their absence.

The court issued no order for them to be arrested and serve their sentence in Tahiti.

It is not immediately clear if the prosecution will appeal.

Cook Islands

The hosts of this year's Pacific Islands Forum meeting, the Cook Islands, has welcomed Kiribati's move back into the fold.

Prime Minister Mark Brown said it would make for a more unified Forum.

It follows the Micronesian nation pulling out of the Forum in Fiji last year, in protest of the appointment of former Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna as secretary-general of the Forum.

Cook Islands News reports Brown is to assume the role of chairman.

Cook Islands

A Cook Islands government official has been convicted of drink driving in Rarotonga's Criminal Court.

The head of the Ministry of Cultural Development, Anthony Turua, was recorded twice over the legal blood alcohol limit in September last year.

Cook Islands News reported Turua was also originally charged with careless driving but this was withdrawn by the Crown.

He was fined $NZ450 and disqualified from driving for 12 months.

New Caledonia

Only a handful of beaches are open in Noumea, New Caledonia, following another shark attack last Saturday evening.

A man was not injured in the attack at the capital's southern beach of Anse Vata when he was on his foil board.

The Noumea City Council closed most of its beaches on its southern coast until further notice.

In a statement on Monday, the council announced there would be more sporadic killings of sharks to reduce numbers.


Niue's Public Service Commission and Department of Education have been trying to address a shortage of qualified teachers.

TV Niue reports high teacher turnover is a concerning issue in other countries including New Zealand, but its impact is felt worse in Niue where the salaries offered are much lower compared to their New Zealand counterparts.

Director of Education Birtha Togahai said the situation is being managed as they start the school term.

She said they have managed to do the interviews and fill all the vacancies.

TV Niue reports that, together with the Public Service Commission, the Education department does regular recruitment from overseas, mainly from the Philippines and Fiji.

But there are always risks when the teachers are offered better-paid teaching positions in New Zealand, after working in Niue for several years.


A bill to introduce caning as a form of punishment is stirring public debate on Guam.

Formally introduced to Guam's Senate on January 27, the bill proposes judicial caning as punishment for inmates convicted of violent crimes.

Senator Dwayne San Nicolas said caning will curb Guam's growing crime rate.

San Nicolas said it's a stronger deterrent to criminals than longer prison sentences.

"We constantly give them time; we give them longer prison sentences....to a loved one," he said.

New Caledonia

The French Meteorological Service said there is a moderate chance of a tropical depression forming in the middle of the week near New Caledonia.

The territory is set to receive rain throughout the rest of the week.

Weather warnings have been placed for almost all the territory except for Pine island on the south-eastern tip.

Pacific Oceania tennis

The Pacific Oceania tennis team lost a dramatic Davis Cup tie in Barbados by 3-2.

Barbados secured the Group 2 tie in the deciding rubber when Kaipo Marshall came from a set down to defeat Vanuatu's Clement Mainguy 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

It was an agonising defeat for the Pacific-Oceania team after Colin Sinclair and Brett Baudinet earlier won their doubles tie to establish a 2-1 lead.

However, Sinclair subsequently lost his singles match against Barbados No.1 Darian King in straight sets, forcing the decider.


Josie Nicolas of Papua New Guinea has been crowned as the new Miss Pacific Islands.

She wins Papua New Guinea's 3rd Miss Pacific Islands Crown.

The event took place in Apia, Samoa.

Reigning Miss Pacific Islands, Fonoifafo McFarland-Seumanu congratulated the contestants.