Posts Tagged ‘Phil Manhire’

The Great Wall of Mele

The day before yesterday, Friday the 17th, I was set upon by about fifteen construction workers from the Wong development (pictured above, on 1st July). I was assaulted, verbally abused, threatened with violence, agressively pushed against “The Wall”, had my camera stolen by one of my cowardly, bullying attackers and had one of these so-called “men” attempt to take the keys out of the ignition in an effort to stop me from drivng away after the assault. That summarizes what happened to me while I was on the roadside (public property) attempting to take a photo of the Building Permit sign and the building progress. For the background to this, please read on (it’s a long but essential story that needs telling).

The general media, most notably in the form of the Vanuatu Daily Post and The Independent, has published various articles decrying this particularly distasteful development ever since work started on it a couple of years back. It is no wonder that they did so. The area in question used to be one of the most popular tourist stopping-off points on the island providing a magical view of Hideaway Island , the bay in general and through to the city of Port Vila.

It was also an extremely popular place for local villagers to go for beach picnics and other social occasions or just to swim and cool off on a hot day. Just as importantly, especially from a cultural and traditional perspective, this ugly edifice and the imposing and ratty wall that surrounds it, is being built immediately adjacent to the Mele Cemetery, a place meant to honour the deceased and where the deceased’s loved ones could go to visit their relatives’ resting places in serene surroundings.

In my view, the Shefa Provincial Government Council has been at fault from the very beginning in even allowing this development to commence. It’s bad enough that the Mele chiefs and the custom landowner were prepared to sell out their people and take from them something that was valuable, just for the sake of a few dollars (oh, look – I’ve got a brand new truck!) but for the Shefa Council to sit back and do nothing when the building of a THREE-STOREY edifice was underway, without approval, was to say the least, weak-kneed on their part.

After much publicity, the Shefa Council fined the developer, a Mr. Wong – owner of Wong’s Garage and South Pacific Hardware amongst others, 500,000 vatu (about AUD6,000.00) for building without a permit. Work then stopped at the site for awhile then lo and behold, Shefa Council announced that the fine had been reduced to a paltry 100,000 vatu (about AUD1,200.00) in return for a commitment from Wong to build a SINGLE-STOREY building only. That means a building consisting of a GROUND FLOOR only (more on that in an earlier Watcher article – “Who’s Pulling Whose Leg?”).

Following the abovementioned article, I had a meeting with the Shefa Council’s Head of their Development Committee. It was suggested by the Councillor that I attend a round-table conference of the relevant Shefa Council people, the Mele chief, the landowner and Mr. Wong. Following some persuasion on the Councillor’s part, I agreed to attend such a meeting provided that I would first be supplied with a copy of some documents pertinent to the development in question. Accordingly, on Monday, 6th July (two weeks ago), I wrote to the Head of Shefa Physical Planning Unit and Property Tax Office, Owen Sisi. Here is what I wrote……

Hello Owen.

In a conversation I had with Bob Homu on Saturday, we agreed to the holding of a meeting regarding the Wong development, one which would be attended by ALL parties involved. This would include:

  • Yourself
  • Bob Homu
  • Wong
  • The Mele Chiefs
  • The landowner of the site under discussion
  • A representative from the Department of Environment
  • Any other relevant member of the SPGC

I am open to any suggestions/recommendations regarding attendance by persons you feel could positively contribute to the discussion.

We also agreed that, prior to this meeting, a condition applicable to my attendance at same is that I would first be provided with the following documents (scanned copies of the originals, unaltered and in their entirety):

  1. Original Development Application, including Department of Lands Survey Plan
  2. Original SPGC Development Approval/Building Permit
  3. Renewal Development Application
  4. Renewal SPGC Development Approval/Building Permit
  5. Environment Impact Assessment Report.

It was also agreed that said documents would be provided to me in sufficient time for me to analyse them prior to the meeting.

My wish is to have the meeting recorded for future reference by all meeting attendees. This could be done by an experienced stenographer or in digital format, whichever is able to be arranged in a timely manner.

I look forward to your response accordingly in due course.

Respectfully yours,

Personal Signaturec




As I write this, I haven’t yet received any response from Owen Sisi or indeed anyone else from the Shefa Council, not even an acknowledgment of my letter.

Given that the Shefa Council had chosen to ignore both the suggestion of Mr. Homu to have the meeting in the first instance and my acceptance of same (Mr. Homu, I must say, appeared to be genuinely concerned about the adverse publicity), it was then that I decided to stop and take a photo of the Building Permit sign along with a couple of photos of the ever-rising SECOND STOREY (on Friday). And that’s when I was assaulted and had my camera forcibly taken from me by the aforementioned workmen. According to the site’s security personnel, my camera was handed to Wong by the aggressors shortly after the assault.

A formal complaint has been lodged with the Police.

You, dear reader, will no doubt form your own opinion and conclusions about what has really taken place for the Shefa Council to allow the continuation of this unsightly and grossly inappropriate development (my opinion!). However, I ask you this question – “Why was this development allowed in the first instance and why is it that the parties involved appear to be running away from revealing the truth?”

To me, it is a question that must be addressed and to this end, investigations are already underway which hopefully will lead to some factual answers, with or without the co-operation of the parties involved.

Finally, I humbly ask that if you too wish to stop this unsightly development, please REGISTER YOUR PROTEST on the Shefa Provincial Council’s Facebook page and/or by phoning their Environment Unit Department on (+678)25302 and/or via their main switchboard number – (+678)22752.

Please – ACT NOW, before it’s too late!


On a nice day like this, what better ‘office desk’ could one wish for?

Essential Office Furniture in Place. Ready for Work!

Essential Office Furniture in Place. Check! Ready for Work…..

Another tough day at the office desk....

Another tough day at the office desk….

Parliament of Vanuatu

A little while ago, the Minister of Internal Affairs, MP Patrick Crowby, issued a decree regarding the use or should I say, mis-use of the Vanuatu Flag.

In light of some prevailing circumstances at the time, I had no disagreement with the Minister – on most counts…..especially those wherein the flag was being ‘abused’ for commercial purposes on the backs of buses and the like.

Well, Minister, perhaps you should also focus on the abuse of our official emblems within your own government operations, for instance – the graphic displayed on the Vanuatu Parliament live stream site.

The amateurish graphics used on the site are reminiscent of a cut-out kindergarten drawing of the official emblem of the Vanuatu Government which SHOULD look like this….

Vanuatu Government




…..and just for the record – should I choose to fly the Vanuatu flag at any time on my car or outside my home due to my pride for this country, I shall do so, regardless of what some jumped-up politician says!


Vanuatu GovernmentpatunvanuNeither the Vanuatu Government nor its Public Relations Officer, Jeff Joel Patunvanu, have made any effort whatsoever to address the PRO’s defamatory article of 1st February, 2013 other than to take the offending posting off the Vanuatu Government’s Internet site – “vanuatu2u”.

Not only do I take this as a personal affront but also as a true indication of the lack of integrity on the part of those mentioned above.

The Government and its “servants of the people” have shown their true colours, as anticipated – they have failed to display even the slightest shred of common decency in the matter, let alone R-E-S-P-E-C-T or H-O-N-O-U-R.

Ah well, looks like a busy “legal” week ahead…….



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.


On 1st February, 2013, the web site 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 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 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 and   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 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,


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!”

"Don't Worry - Be Happy!"

The past two weeks have seen the global markets gyrate wildly….for two reasons:

(a) The frenzied anticipation of a possible announcement from the Federal Reserve about more economic ‘stimulus’ – in the form of more Monopoly paper money printing and

(b) The frenzied reaction of the markets to the ECB’s own (OMT) money printing declaration.

BOTTOM LINE: KEEP YOUR FAITH IN GOLD – It’s one of the very few genuine “stores of wealth” on this planet. Forget about the play money and go prospecting…or buy bullion…or a suitable gold ETF…or anything else that will put gold in your hands.


PPO "strikes again"!

It is unfortunate that Judge Daniel Fatiaki felt the initial need to apologize for his “The PPO is completely and utterly incompetent” remark and it’s good to see his change of heart. Fact is – he’s right!……and the PPO’s latest non-efforts in the Kalkasau’s case only confirms it! INAF!



“The War Begins….and It’s Coming Your Way (Part Two)”


“Every man builds his world in his own image… He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.”