Mar 26, 2017 Last Updated 12:15 AM, Mar 15, 2017

Whispers

Ego clash

FOR how long will Fiji stay away from the region’s biggest tourism event in the manner of the school yard bully? The whole region will gather for the SPTE 2017 in Sydney later this year but much of the Fijian delegation is under pressure to stay at home. That’s because Fijian tourism bosses want the region to attend the Fiji event planned for the resort island of Denarau. But the SPTE – which coincides with Australia’s Tourism Expo – attracts a large number of European and American industry buyers who may not travel as far as Fiji. That means it’s better for them to meet the buyers in Australia as they have in the past two years at events in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast. Yet Fiji continues to bang away at a single event rather than a regional fest.

Randy priest

A CATHOLIC priest in Samoa has left the village in the wake of an alleged sex scandal there where he was caught sleeping with a Year 13 student. The incident was confirmed by the village who said residents were in a state of shock. The community leader said a more senior church leader immediately removed the priest from Vailoa before the matter could be discussed by the Village Council. So what is the main office in Apia doing about the incident? 

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Whispers

Tietjens faces the heat

THE sevens coach everyone loves to hate - Sir Gordon Tietjens - has come under fire in Samoa after less than four months in the job. After dismal performances on the HSBC World Sevens Series beginning late last year, the knives are already out and more are being sharpened. The Samoan rugby public, it appears, is as unforgiving as their Pacific cousins in Fiji. All every Samoan fan wants is a win. Is Tietjens a spent force? Has he run out of tricks? Is his coaching cupboard bare?That’s what the Samoans want to know. Letters to the editor in the Samoan newspapers have gone as far as to suggest that selection should be restricted to big players - as big and as fast as their Fijian counterparts. What next? A new coach?

Ghost town

WITH much fanfare some 10 years ago a Malaysian company was feted and welcomed to build a metropolis near Fiji’s second international airport, Nausori. Waila City was one of the first big deals signed by the interim government. Today the development site is littered with rusting earth-moving equipment and there has been no progress on excavation or subdivision of lots for the last three years. It’s unclear whether work will eventually resume.

 

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Whispers

Telecom expansion

TAKING over the ocean of the Pacific seems to be the goal of Fiji’s mega telecommunication company with reports that it has got Vanuatu under the radar, after taking over telecom business in Kiribati, with American Samoa, Cook Islands and Samoa in the bag, almost, in addition to home base Fiji of course. ATH currently owns Telecom Fiji, provider of land line services in Fiji, as well as its very successful mobile company, Vodafone. It has also bought the Cable and Wireless of UK’s shares in Fiji’s international telecom company, FINTEL. While its offers to buy out mobile operations in PNG and Solomons were rebuffed, ATH is reportedly getting some support to buy Telecom of Vanuatu’s mobile operations. ATH is a Fiji Government-owned company with majority shareholding by the country’s superannuation fund, FNPF.

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Whispers

Chinese Whispers

HOW far does China meddle in regional politics? That’s the question after another vote of no confidence in a Vanuatu government. Observers have started to draw links between unrest in Vanuatu to corrupt politicians to China which wants to influence Pacific democracies on the new Silk Route. It’s the second time in just over a year that legislators have been urged to unseat a ruling Prime Minister. Chinese influence has also been seen in recent political wrangling in the Solomons and attempts to destabilise Mannaseh Sogavare’s coalition government.

Police wrecks

NEW vehicles and boats for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force with the regional assistance mission on its way out. Already there are concerns that the vehicles handed over by departing officers are being abused by the locals to the extent that some are already written off. Two high speed water craft have also been badly damaged even before the assistance mission has ended. Local and foreign officers alike are extremely unhappy about the situation and the top brass at the RSIPF will be looking to make significant changes soon.

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Whispers

Hospital moves

WORD on the streets of Fiji’s capital is that a new private hospital is about to open its doors. This time a group of doctors at the current private treatment place close to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital are said to be unhappy with their current remuneration will move to the new facility. Apparently the necessary licences have been approved, premises rented and the equipment is being shipped into the country. The new hospital will create a number of job opportunities which doctors, nurses and technicians are eagerly awaiting. It’s quite possible the private premises will open well before a facility planned for Denarau on the western side of Fiji. 

Police guns

SOLOMON Islands police officers are quietly preparing to carry guns - a key milestone before they take back full responsibility for law and order in their country from Australia. The move has been signed off by the government with the support of several regional governments. Officers have been training to use firearms for the first time since an Australian-led intervention to stop armed conflict in the country in 2003. Australian police will leave the islands next year.

Climate change

WHAT’S this about the island which refuses to accept climate change? With world leaders finally endorsing the outcomes of COP21 in France last year, at least one country in the region is adamant that divine assistance will guarantee the safety of its people. Even their church partners across the world have had no luck changing attitudes of the local clergy.

 

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