24 Jul 2023

Pacific news in brief for July 24

2:02 pm on 24 July 2023
Solomon Islands passport

Solomon Islands passport Photo: sihc.org.nz/

Solomon Islands - citizenship

The Solomon Islands Parliament has amended the country's law governing dual citizenship.

The amendments to the Citizenship Act 2018 aim to ensure that the constitutional rights of children born to parents who are birth citizens are protected.

With the latest changes, such children are automatically entitled to Solomon Islands citizenship without having to apply to the Citizenship Commission.

The amendments also provide a helpful list of evidence that an applicant (for citizenship) can bring forward to support their "intention to reside in Solomon Islands or to maintain a close and continuing relationship with Solomon Islands".

The include evidence of economic stability, capital properties and details of recent financial contributions to the economy of Solomon Islands.

Fiji - trial

Former Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama and suspended police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho's corruption trial has adjourned to August 2.

This after the Suva Magistrates Court heard from six State witnesses over the week.

The former Prime Minister faces one count of attempting to pervert justice, while suspended police commissioner Qiliho is charged with abuse of office.

The allegations stem from a complaint filed by the University of the South Pacific in July 2019 over mismanagement of funds by former staff.

In July 2020, Bainimarama allegedly instructed Qiliho to halt the investigation.

Palau - China

Palau has rejected China's pressure to denounce Taiwan, choosing values of freedom and democracy with the United States over economic prosperities dangled by Beijing.

China has recently proposed attractive offers to Palau, calling on the Pacific Nation to flip its diplomatic recognition.

Palau, a close partner of the US, remains one of the few countries that recognise Taiwan.

President Surangel Whipps Jr. told American media (Voice of America) that China promised economic benefits to Palau, which the country experienced through hikes in tourism from mainland China.

However, since Palau choses to remain with its allies valuing its shared virtues of freedom and democracy - these promises were short-lived.

Whipps said he welcomed an increased US military presence to deter illegal Chinese entry into Palau's waters.

West Papua - jail

Three Papuan university students who participated in a protest in Jayapura last November have been jailed for 18 months on treason charges.

Jubi news reported the students had raised Morning Star flags and had voiced their opposition to the Papua peace dialogue plan initiated by Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights.

Following the protest, the police dispersed the gathering and arrested several participants, leading to treason charges against the three students.

Vanuatu - renewable

Vanuatu's renewable energy power grid is being extended to Port Orly, north-east Santo.

Energy Minister Ralph Regenvanu said this means that by 2026, the two largest islands in Vanuatu, Melekula and Santo, will have 100 percent renewable energy.

A ceremony has been held marking the start of construction of around 45.5km of transmission lines in Espiritu Santo.

The project involves the construction of 79km of new transmission and distribution lines and aims at connecting an additional 1,050 new households to the grid with the objective to increase grid access in Espiritu Santo from 22 percent to 29 percent and in Malekula from 8 percent to 14 percent.

Samoa - election

Samoa's FAST Party government has scrapped funding for community-based programmes to prioritise an election promise.

The government had promised to give each district $1 million tala.

According to the Samoa Observer, the budget estimates for the new financial year has seen the annual allocation of $150,000 tālā for the National Beautification Activities and Awards scrapped.

The government has also reduced the annual allocation to support the Komiti Tumama or women's committees, and funding for the annual exhibition of i.e. Samoa or fine mats.

American Samoa - facility

American Samoa plans to use its share of the federal Capital Projects Fund to build a multi-purpose community facility.

In a summary fact-sheet, the US Treasury Department said the federal agency has approved "American Samoa's plan to invest $14.3 million of CPF funding in a multi-purpose community facility, to improve resources for communities that enable work, education, and health monitoring".

The summary description of the project said the American Samoa Innovation & Technology Campus would provide residents with access to computers with high-speed internet as well as programming and services for workforce development and entrepreneurialism.

It will also offer access to improved health and wellness services.

The project is expected to move forward later this year as the territorial government looks to become the IT sub-centre in the South Pacific.