Posts Tagged ‘anti-corruption’

 . . . . because they didn’t have any to begin with!

True Leadership is built on integrityBefore proceeding any further with this commentary, we should all be clear on one thing: in Vanuatu’s political arena, public service, police force, judiciary and government-controlled institutions, there ARE men and women who are true to their station – men and women who are diligent, hard-working, honest and honourable but who face huge obstacles every day in the guise of “leaders” who are bent, crooked, corrupt. In the not-too-distant future, I intend to write an “expose” of some of those GOOD CITIZENS who deserve recognition for their positive contribution to this country but for now, onto the subject at hand – INTEGRITY (or lack thereof on the part of our current leaders).

As a long-standing member of the Vanuatu community, it pains me to see the continual abasement of Melanesian values and common human decency by those in positions of power. These parasites revel in the fact they are very likely to be able to carry out their self-serving, corrupt ways without the fear of being held accountable for their actions.

In keeping with the above statement, if you haven’t read it already, I recommend that you grab a copy of this weekend’s Vanuatu Independent newspaper as there are three articles/comments in it worthy of noting.

The first is an article headed “MoE warns schools to effectively manage water”. Sure, it does contain some good advice on the subject. However, what really galls me is the statement attributed to the MoE (Ministry of Education) – “The ministry wants schools to continue with their operations and students to continue to attend school”. Assuming this comment to be true reporting –  WHAT A LOAD OF CLAPTRAP this is!

Schools are being closed; students are being denied the right to attend school because the present government has failed them, betrayed the present generation of youths whose parents wish them to have an education. The government has been mandated to pay the school fees for those students whose parents haven’t been able to meet the fees due to the effects of Cyclone Pam on their income. Here on Efate, this especially applies to the Northern region of the island where the majority of parents rely on subsistence farming, to grow crops that can be sold to provide food, water and other life essentials mandatory for their survival. They now have the added impost of the El Nino weather pattern disrupting their efforts even further.

Anti-Corruption - EducationIt is also true to say that the present government has proven its incompetence and corruption in its handling of aid and assistance to the Vanuatu community since the March cyclone. What has this government done to assist the schools hardest hit by the cyclone? As far as I can determine – ABSOLUTELY BLOODY NOTHING! It has taken the likes of the ex-pat community and their friends and compratriots, as highlighted by the Editor of The Vanuatu Independent, Tony Wilson in his column, “Wilson’s Word” to get behind the re-building of those schools affected. You only have to look at the awe-inspiring work undertaken over these past few months by the Ratua Foundation, the SHaRM Pikinin Ecole Foundation, Volunteer Vanuatu, Bluescope, Mele Beach Bar plus many, many caring individuals from Vanuatu and overseas (too many to cite here) to see evidence of their contribution to the restitution of our education facilities.

In the same paper, Evelyne Toa’s article – “Abuse of position goes on and on” makes for excellent reading as she analyses the actions of today’s leaders, in particular their corruption and abuse of power, a situation that we, the people of Vanuatu, have been tolerating for way too long.

One of the major and righteous questions being asked in the media is “What has happened to all the Aid money given to the government?” We know that some of it has been used to buy new cars for Ministers, fund overseas junkets and the like but where has this money been used for the benefit of the people of Vanuatu? Hello . . .is there anyone out there in government who can or will tell us?

Dear reader, you are no doubt familiar with the adage of “when a fish stinks, it does so from the head down”

A fish stinks from the head first

Well so it is with the present Vanuatu government leaders.

PM Sato Kilman has surrounded himself with experts, experts in the art of graft, corruption, fraud, bribery and self-serving dishonesty. Fifteen, yes FIFTEEN of his MP’s are currently facing charges of bribery and breaches of the Leadership Code. They face judgement this coming Friday, 9th October when the presiding judge, Justice Mary Sey hands down her verdict.

Notwithstanding the eventual determination of the Supreme Court in this instance, there is no denying the fact that many of these same MP’s are a blight on our community and chief contributors to Vanuatu becoming a laughing stock on the international stage. A few prime examples . . . .

Marcellino Pipite. One of the self-determined “big men”, this MP keeps showing his true colours in his contempt for the system. Not a stranger to upholding his belief in his own self-importance (see a previous article – “The Minister of Chickens”), his contemptuous attitude is well-evidenced in his recent spending on a junket to the U.S. – eight million vatu from the public purse – 8,000,000 vatu of YOUR MONEY! Imagine how far that money would have gone to alleviating the pain of those whose children can’t attend school because the government won’t meet its obligations in this regard.

Paul Telukluk. Another MP who is well-practised in the art of rorting the system and practising fraud and deception, especially when it comes to his largesse to his family and cronies whilst at the helm of the Lands Department in his capacity as Minister of Lands. This is the same person who was once cited by a previous Ombudsman and quoted in www.paclii.org as having . . . BREACHED EACH AND EVERY SECTION OF THE LEADERSHIP CODE IN THE CONSTITUTION: CONFLICT OF INTEREST, UNFAIR EXERCISE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES, DEMEANING POSITION, LACK OF INTEGRITY, USE OF OFFICE FOR PERSONAL GAIN.” 

Steven Kalsakau. This particular person, also one of Sato Kilman’s close cronies, also has a long history of rorting the system for his own personal benefit whilst holding the much-sought-after-by-crooks position of Minister of Lands. (By the way, in support of this notion, it’s worth noting that PM Kilman has re-appointed Paul Telukluk to this very same position in spite of his crooked and shameful history in a similar capacity and in spite of MP Ralph Regenvanu’s honest attempts at restoring faith in the Department of Lands). Back to MP Kalsakau . . . his questionable actions have been reported extensively in the Vanuatu Daily Post and other media, including internationally. I have also previously touched on this aspect of his not-so-illustrious career in my article – “Public Enemy #1 – The Truth”. To gain an even better insight into his rorts and the like, it’s also worth havinga look at some of the articles in the Vanuatu Daily Digest. But once again, PM Kilman has looked after his mate Kalsakau by appointing him to the position of Parliamentary Secretary with all its extra power and financial benefits and without advertising the position or consulting anyone. It’s called “jobs for the boys”!

The bottom line? 

The fetid stink of corruption that pervades the Vanuatu Parliament halls of power must be eliminated. Fortunately, there are ways that this can be achieved.

First up, it is up to YOU, the people of Vanuatu, to support the honest, honourable and decent men and women in our community in their quest for change for a better society, one that doesn’t just favour the crook and thieves who would call themselves “leaders” but rather those who, by their actions, have proven themselves to be people of INTEGRITY and who genuinely care about the welfare and the economic and social well-being of Vanuatu.

UNODC - National_Anti-Corruption_Strategies_-_A_Practical_Guide_for_Development_and_ImplementationSecondly, have your own close-to-home community contact and question the Member of Parliament who is meant to represent YOUR interests in running the country. Find out their level of commitment, or otherwise, to having the government institute the necessary legislation and processes to conform to its UNCAC (United Nations Convention Against Corruption) obligations in establishing an independent, government-funded Anti-Corruption Agency that has full investigative and prosecution powers – similar to that of the Fiji and Hong Kong ICAC’s (Independent Commission Against Corruption).

Finally, at the next elections, VOTE WITH YOUR HEAD. Vote for those men and women of ACTION instead of those who would continue to attempt to dazzle you with words of false promises.

The FOUNDATION OF LEADERSHIP IS INTEGRITY!

 

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Dear Prime Minister, whoever you are.

anonymousAt the time of writing this, I have no idea who in fact will be holding the reins of office as Prime Minister next week.

However, whoever it turns out to be, you will have the opportunity to be the very first SUCCESFUL PM we have had in Vanuatu this decade. EVERY Prime Minister over the past five years has FAILED this nation’s people. HOW? By simply allowing corruption to thrive instead of taking the most important step possible to stop it – establishing an independent but government-funded anti-corruption agency, preferably an ICAC-style agency similar to those established in Fiji, Hong Kong and Australia for instance.

On 14th March, 2010, the Vanuatu Government ratified the UN Convention to do exactly this. Five years on, nothing has been done by any government to honour this obligation.

It is not just the constant changes of government that has led to this as some have been in power long enough to at least initiate the formation of such an agency. Of course, it’s not just the previous PM’s who have been at fault. There has also been a distinct lack of interest in this matter by past Ministers of Justice, Ministers of Internal Affairs and their respective DG’s. Nevertheless, the buck stops with the PM.

So, Mr. Prime Minister of Vanuatu, whoever you may be, the question is whether or not you will continue the time-honoured tradition established by past PM’s by doing nothing or will you become the FIRST EVER Prime Minister to show that you are a man committed to the people of Vanuatu by doing what you are mandated to do – STOP CORRUPTION?

SEVIS BULETIN

Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu

Wenisdei nekis wik, lo Namba 18 Disemba, “Ol Yangfala Agensem Korapsen” (YACV) i kat wan AGM (Annual General Meeting) long Anambru long Hill Antap.

Evriwan i welkam lo kam…olfala, yangfala, man o woman…welkam.

Hemi bigfala janis blo yu lo maekem kontribujin long kantri blo yu.

Sapos yu o sam narafala man o woman yu save wea yu ting ting i gud blo jonem YACV Boad, plis kam lo Wenisdei lo nominaetem nem blo yu or narafala.

Sapos you wanem mo ditael, lukluk long YACV website – www.facebook.com/groups/youthagainstcorruptions.

Tankyu tumas

OPEN LETTER TO HON. PRIME MINISTER SATO KILMAN

Dear Sir,

I have been defamed in the media by and at the instigation of the Vanuatu Government’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Jeff Joel Patunvanu. This is an act for which I hold both Mr. Patunvanu and the Vanuatu Government responsible and therefore – accountable.

THE FACTS:

On 1st February, 2013, the web site www.vanuatu2u.com had as its lead story one entitled “This Smells of Conspiracy against Vanuatu”. Note: A transcript of Mr. Patunvanu’s article was also published in the “Daily Post”, Issue No. 3774, on Wednesday, 6th February, 2013.

Since the initial publishing on the www.vanuatu2u.com web site, the Government’s PRO’s false allegations have been repeated many times over in the media. Note: This particular web site has ALL news items directed to the Vanuatu Government’s PRO for vetting/administration.

The very first posting of the article by the Government’s PRO also contained a photograph of the members of the newly-appointed Steering Committee for the “Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu” NGO, one of whom was myself. It was quite clear who the allegations were directed at, namely, me. The following is a copy of the www.vanuatu2u.com article (the italics are mine), as it was then (it’s been changed on a number of occasions over the past few days since by the Government’s PRO):

  1. 3.            “An Expat working for an NGO in Vanuatu – Youth against Corruption is the former Wealth Manager of Mr. Saken Company in Vanuatu – Agari (as reported by The Independent Newspaper) I am currently getting this confirmed by VIPA and other agencies.”

The Government’s PRO, Jeff Patunvanu, further repeated these same allegations on radio on Sunday evening 3rd February, 2013 and again on Monday morning, 4th February, 2013.

The Government’s PRO, Jeff Patunvanu, when requested by me, on two separate occasions by email, to supply me with the relevant documents in accord with his directions and I quote –

Because this issue is now officially entering the official investigation stage all attachments now require password to view please contact me on jjpatunvanu@gmail.com and jjpatunvanu@vanuatu.gov.vu   if you are a member of the Media or Public who has a special concern to read this further and I will consider granting you password to read. “, he has chosen to ignore my requests completely.

In view of the foregoing, I wish to draw your attention to the following Vanuatu Law, one to which everyone in Vanuatu is bound:

CAP135:                                “Offences against Reputation

120. Criminal defamation

No person shall by spoken or written words, gestures or any other method maliciously expose any other person alive or dead to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or otherwise harm the reputation of that other person.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 3 years.”

By association, it concerns me greatly that the organizations and people with whom I actively work, including the Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu NGO, have also been adversely affected by these scurrilous and defamatory allegations that serve no other purpose other than to harm my reputation and hence – the reputation of those I serve, work with, socialize and live with. This is untenable.

In view of the foregoing, I hereby request that your Office, Mr. Prime Minister, respond to this letter as follows:

(1)    The Vanuatu Government makes a full and total retraction of these allegations in the form of a full-page public apology to me and to the “Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu” NGO members with such apology to be published in all three of Vanuatu’s newspapers as follows – the “Daily Post”, the “The Independent” and the “Vanuatu Times”. Additionally, this letter is to be published in its entirety on the home page of the www.vanuatu2u.com web site for a minimum period of one week. This apology is to be received by the herein-named media organizations by no later than 3.00 p.m., Friday, 9th February, 2013.

(2)    The Vanuatu Government publicly commits to the formation of an independent Anti-Corruption Agency. Note: The previous Government, under your leadership, Mr. Prime Minister, was presented with a petition for the formation of an anti-corruption body, in accord with the provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), an action that had been ratified by the Parliament of Vanuatu on 14th March, 2010 but as yet un-acted upon by your Government. Consequently,

  1. This public commitment is to first take the form of a public announcement from the Prime Minister’s office via all Vanuatu’s recognized media organizations that it WILL legislate the formation of an Anti-Corruption Agency with similar operating principles and powers to those of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) but naturally modified to suit Vanuatu’s own particular culture and circumstances and that the Government will list this action as a top priority upon its return to Parliament In March, 2013 – or earlier by way of an Extraordinary Sitting of Parliament;
  2. Secondly, the public announcement is to include a commitment, on behalf of the Vanuatu Government, to allocate sufficient operational funds for the Commission’s establishment and thereafter, its annual operations. The initial budget considered appropriate is to be no less than twenty five million vatu and is to be included in the 2013 Budget to be handed down by the Government in March, 2013;
  3. Finally, the announcement is to also attest to the fact that, subsequent to the legislated formation of said Commission, a qualified independent Chairman having the appropriate and relevant legal qualifications is to be appointed by the Vanuatu Government as soon as possible;
  4. This commitment is to be announced within seven (7) days of the publication of this letter in the media.

I call upon you, Mr. Prime Minister, to take up this challenge for the advancement of the Vanuatu Government’s stated commitment to the elimination of corruption at all levels in Vanuatu.

In closing, should a satisfactory response to this letter not occur in a timely fashion as qualified herein, I shall initiate civil and/or criminal action against the Vanuatu Government’s PRO, Jeff Joel Patunvanu and the Vanuatu Government itself.

I await your response accordingly.

Respectfully yours,

PHIL MANHIRE

7th February, 2013

Phil Manhire

Phil ManhireHello. My name is Phil Manhire.

I was brought up by intelligent, caring and honest parents. They taught me about moral and ethical “values”. They did this through “leading by example” and I am truly grateful to them for that.

My father lived by the adage – “A man’s word is his bond”.

Mark Twain once said – “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything”

Ayn Rand – “Integrity does not consist of loyalty to one’s subjective whims, but of loyalty to rational principles.”

I do my utmost to live the creed acknowledged by the above persons.

It’s my belief that a person’s integrity level is the very essence of “soul”, if you will.

The current attack on my personal integrity is, in effect, also an attack on any people or groups or businesses associated with me. This, to me, is a highly offensive attack, however, for the moment at least…… that is not the “meat” of this message.

The defining issue is the fact this Government is dedicated to hanging onto power, no matter the cost (to Vanuatu and its citizenry) or means taken to achieve that end. One of its chosen communication means is to lie, deny or ignore and throughout the process, act as if they consider themselves to be untouchable, per se.

The Vanuatu Government, including it’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) – Jeff Patunvanu have chosen to use their normal tactics of attention-diversion from their mis-deeds via the PRO’s Press Release on 1st February 2013.

It is my intention to hold both the Vanuatu Government and the PRO accountable for their actions. As the title says….

“You have picked on the wrong bloke this time, mate!”