Posts Tagged ‘Vanuatu’

 . . . . 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 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 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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yesterday, 12th July, 2015 marked a special occasion – the official re-opening of the Melemaat Kindergarten which, had been destroyed by Cyclone Pam four months previously.

The rebuild of the kindergarten with its new upgraded facilities was made possible through the generosity of the wonderful people who contributed to the SHaRM Foundation‘s fundraising efforts via their GoFundMe campaign.

This financial generosity was supported by a combination of committed, hard-working Ni-Vanuatu and ex-patriates alike – all devoted to the task of ensuring that the children of Melemaat village in Vanuatu would be able to start their education in happy, cheerful and healthy surroundings.

A video of the pikininis singing at the ceremony can be seen at – ENJOY!

SHaRM Foundation – “Building a brighter future for Vanuatu’s Children”

ShaRM Foundation - Building a brighter future for Vanuatu's children

…..and still it grows!

Mele Wall Development - 1 July 2015

Mele Wall Development – 1 July 2015

In case you are unaware of the concerning aspects surrounding this development, you can read the original article (Part One) here.

The bottom line is that (a) This development should never have been approved in the first instance, by neither the Mele landowner nor by Shefa Provincial Council and (b) There can be one reason only why this has been allowed to happen and continues to grow in apparent contravention of the so-called “agreement” between Shefa Provincial Council and Mr. Wong – MONEY which, = CORRUPTION!

Once again, I urge you to lodge your protest with the Shefa Provincial Council (click on the link to be taken to their Facebook page) as well as with your MP.

Please – ACT NOW!…before it’s too late.


….. if they are following the example of these LEADERS – men who quite obviously believe in and practice the principles of transparency and accountability!GJP Release 2014 MP Spending Reports

If YOUR MP isn’t following their example then you must ask yourself – WHAT ARE THEY HIDING FROM YOU?


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?

Where is your civic pride, Mele?

Gone with the wind?

You have just been given a wonderful gift in the form of a new school building and yet, you seem to think it’s okay to throw your rubbish anywhere but where it should be. Instead, you’re disposing of it right where the children like to play and where it confronts everyone as they drive past or into your village!

Although I have been watching the constant dumping of rubbish at the side of the road at Mele Village for years, I can’t hold back my personal disgust at your apparent lack of communal concern and pride in your habitat. Along with the piles of rubbish shown in these pictures is a HUGE pile of rubbish immediately adjacent to the primary school toilet block, one which appears to be steadily growing daily.

Those who maintain that Vanuatu is a beautiful country apparently haven’t seen your latest contribution to tourism development (that’s sarcasm, by the way!)……..

Mele Tourism Attraction

Mele Tourism Attraction

Mele Tourist Attraction

Mele Tourist Attraction

Now would be a good time to start showing some respect for the environment and for the health of the Mele Village residents, especially the children. Instead of giving the impression that you prefer to be living like the pigs who scavenge the rubbish dumps, a lot of able-bodied men in Mele aren’t employed so maybe one solution would be for the chiefs to organize a working bee to clean and tidy up these disgraceful blots on the landscape.

Your pigs might enjoy your rubbish lying around but people don’t!

Corruption - Follow the Money Trail!

It has been said many times that to get to the bottom of corruption, follow the money trail!

That said, it’s high time someone did exactly that in relation to the Great Wall of Mele.

Originally, due to an onslaught of media pressure, the Shefa Provincial Government Council (SPGC) announced that a fine of 500,000 vatu had been imposed upon the builder of this popular tourism spot-destroying development – a proposal for a two-storey hotel/store.

A little while later, the SPGC was found to have reduced the fine from the half a million vatu to a paltry 100,000 vatu. They have stated since that in so doing, they had received a commitment from the developer to (a) demolish the ugly wall that confronts passersby every day and (b) only erect a single-storey building.

What a crock of BS that’s turned out to be! Here are some photos taken a week ago…..

The Great Wall of Mele June 2015 Mele Wall Development - 8 June 2015B Mele Wall Development - 8 June 2015C

The wall is STILL there! Not only that that, it has been extended using piles of solidified, bagged concrete – an absolute eyesore that has killed off one of Port Vila’s most popular tourism stopping points – a place where tourists could admire and take photos of Hideaway Island.

Single-storey? I’m no builder but even Blind Freddie could see that this is turning into a dual or multi-storey development. It’s also quite feasible that it will end up looking as ghastly as this same developer’s Airport Business Hotel eyesore at Tagabe roundabout.

The sand that’s being used for building also appears to be coming from the beach on which it is being built despite recent legislation that forbids the mining of this beach sand for commercial purposes.

Has an EIA been done by a reputable person/entity and made public? If not, why not?

The question is – “WHO has allowed this to happen and just as importantly, WHY?”

The feedback that I have had from a couple of reliable sources is that one or more senior SPGC were in debt to the developer and have quite possibly “done a deal” that favours all parties concerned in allowing this development to continue unimpeded.

Who has the power and/or willingness to investigate this issue?

Being an anti-corruption advocate isn’t always an existence of dealing with negative issues, thankfully.

Many of you will gather by now that I am a youth at heart and firmly believe in the capacity of Vanuatu’s youth to change this wonderful country – for the better. Sometimes, all it takes to change things is to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself and then – DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

This brief story is about one man who did exactly that and in so doing, unified his whole village.

Robson Rangiman of Melemaat Village, Efate, Vanuatu

In early January this year, local Melemaat villager, Robson Rangiman met the famous Melbourne-based artist, Rone (, on the road near the Mele cemetery and struck up a conversation with him. During that same conversation, Rone told Robson that he was looking for a building on which to paint a nice picture and in particular, one that featured the face of a local girl or woman.

Robson then seized the opportunity to show the artist the building that is used as a meeting hall by the people in his village and this is how it looked at the time…

Melemaat Meeting Hall - December 2014

Robson then organized a swathe of photos from his fellow villagers for Rone to select a “model” from. What happened next was the creation of an extraordinarily beautiful piece of “street art” featuring the face of a young woman villager – Joanne.

Mele Maat Village Hall Painting (Joanne)

Joanne closeup2Look at those eyes! Aren’t they something else?

Since this painting was done, the whole village has ‘adopted’ this artwork, claiming it as their own very special Ni-Vanuatu legacy, to the point where some of the folk have been seen to openly weep with joy at sighting the beauty of it all. There now stands in this village something that everyone is proud of and united in their joy at having.

So there you have it. One person CAN make a difference. Hats off to Robson Rangiman for his initiative.

The moral of this story is – “What can YOU do to make a difference within your community?”


(Seize the day!)





Vanuatu Spy Tells All

The transcript of a secret recording of a recent meeting held behind closed doors within the halls of power has come into our possession.

We cannot reveal the details of our source but we have absolutely no doubt as to its authenticity. The recording has been vetted and analysed in high-security laboratories using the latest spy-ware technology including V.O.I.C.E technology (Vocal Origin Identification Cryptology Enhancement). Accordingly, the meeting’s members have been clearly identified and subsequently exposed here and now for their duplicity in a plot to crash the economy of a sovereign nation – Vanuatu. You will be shocked no doubt at the sheer audacity of these people as they scheme and plan what could prove to be the downfall of this small nation’s aspirations in becoming an economically self-sufficient entity on the world stage, free from the “big brothers” who would otherwise have them enslaved for all time. Here is the transcript of that meeting:

IAMA MORON: “Gentlemen, this meeting has been called to address a very serious situation within our local economy. Our research shows that too many businesses and individuals in Vanuatu are profitable or on the verge of being so and subsequently reducing the dependence of the nation on hand-outs from this country’s Aid Donors”.

HEESA MORON: “Hear, hear!”

IAMA MORON: “What is most disturbing about this development is that it stands to limit our own capacity to dip into this free pot of gold which means all of us here today stand to lose opportunities to increase our own personal wealth!”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!”

WOTTA MORON: “That’s outrageous! I’m planning to buy each of my kids a brand new Hilux in the New Year and what about my trip to Switzerland to meet with my bankers? We have to put a stop to this – now!”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!”

EMPEE MORON: “Gentlemen, gentlemen. Don’t worry. I think I have the perfect solution to this vexing issue that faces us. After all, remember why you rigged the ballots in the first place – so that I could help look after you, my friends. By the way, a big “Thank you” to you all for making sure that I got the land I desperately needed for my holiday home on Santo even though at four hectares it’s a bit smaller than what I wanted”

EESA MORON: “You’re welcome, Empee”

IAMA MORON: “So what’s this cunning plan you’ve come up with, Empee?”

WOTTA MORON: “Yeah, what’s the plan, Big Man?”

EMPEE MORON: “Well, as you all know, my brother’s cousin, Al Waysa Moron, is the Minister for Industry. Oh yes, he also sends his regards to you all for crossing the floor with him so that he could get this particular portfolio when it looked like it would go to Agud Bloak”.

HEESA MORON: “He’s welcome!”

EMPEE MORON: “Thank you. Anyway, I have already spoken with Al Waysa and he agrees that we should do something to stop this situation before it gets out of hand. So, here’s what we do. We create a situation whereby as many businesses as possible have to get a Permit to operate. We then make the application process as difficult as possible – I’m thinking of an Application that will take a couple of days to prepare and run to say 14 pages or so. Each business is then obliged to collect their form from Al Waysa’s Department. What we’ll do is tell the businesses of our plans on the Monday before Christmas and require them to have everything in place by the day after New Year’s Day”.

WOTTA MORON: “Yes! So far so good but I feel that something’s missing here, like – how do we benefit from this?”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!

EMPEE MORON: “Wait small – there’s more. We focus on the export companies and individuals by requiring them to pay Export Levies and we give my brother’s cousin the authority to charge these guys up to 40% – at his discretion. If they don’t like it, then too bad for them. If they don’t comply, we’ll fine them anything up to a million vatu and put them in jail for up to 12 months. See how they go trying to operate a business then! You can then lodge your own claims for a share of the levies via a Consultancy Fee from one of your family members’ Permit-exempt companies”.

HEESA MORON: “Hear, hear!”

IAMA MORON: “Not bad at all, Empee but I still think there’s something else we can do, don’t you?”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!”

EMPEE MORON: “Here’s the cruncher. We set the rules for these businesses every year which is when they must renew their Permits. If they don’t comply, again – too bad as we’ll make sure that they have no right of appeal and if they make too much noise or trouble, we’ll fine their asses, put ’em in jail and close up their businesses. So my friends, what do you say?”

HEESA MORON: “I agree!”

IAMA MORON: “Me too”

WOTTA MORON: “Me as well”

EMPEE MORON: “One final thing. We need a good, positive-sounding name for this process. I suggest we call it the “Industry Development Act“.

This is followed by hoots of laughter and a chorus of “I agree”, “Me too”, “Bravo”, “Well done” and finally – “Who’s up for a shell?”