Sunday, 13 September 2020

The Pacific Islands and Covid


As of September 12, the WHO reported the following Covid-19 figures for the South Pacific:



Total Cases

New Cases







New Zealand










French Polynesia









Northern Marianas










New Caledonia






Note: The WHO treats Easter Island (Polynesia)  as part of Chile and provides no separate figures but Wikipedia records 4 cases in March and April but none since.

No cases have been reported from the other Pacific Islands, viz.,

Micronesia - Palau, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru.

Melanesia - Solomon Islands, Vanuatu.

Polynesia - American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna. 


-- ACW

Monday, 7 September 2020

Green Party Leader's Face Turns Puce

Some GreenSchool buildings
                                 James Shaw

Last week Green Party Leader and Associate Finance Minister in the Labour-led Government made a massive blunder. He approved spending $11.7 million on an privately-owned elite school in Taranaki, coincidentally called Green School (the fees are up to $43,000)  on the basis that the "shovel ready" project would create jobs. With the Greens hovering around the critical 5% minimum vote margin, his action will do his party no favours in the forthcoming election.  His apology is published below. 

James Shaw On Green School

Malaita Referendum Update: Illegal, and Consequences

Malaita flag and Daniel Siudani
 The Solomon Island Government has warned Malaita Premier Suidani that his proposed referendum on independence for Malaita is illegal, and its pursuit could have "consequences." The Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening has warned that any "province engaging in illegal activities will be dealt with in accordance with the Provincial Government Act 1997.” He urged Premier Suidani "to seek proper informed advice from professionals before making any statements, and not be gullible to ill-informed and half-cooked advice that is tainted with ulterior motives. Listening to such advice does not only belittles one’s status but also demeans the integrity of the Office of the Premier and will result in consequences that may not be favourable to any party.”

The Life And Contribution Of Dr Joe Williams

National Hauora Coalition* Commemorates The Life And Contribution Of Dr Joe Williams
Tributes flow in for former Cook Islands PM Dr Joseph Williams after his  death from Covid-19 | 1 NEWS | TVNZ

Ngā mihi aroha ki tenei o ngā Rangatira a Tākuta Joe Williams me tana Whānau i runga i tana matenga i te rā nei.

Hoki atu e te Rangatira, ki Hawaiki nui, Hawaiki roa, Hawaiki pamamao. Ki te kainga tuturu mō tātou katoa ki tō tātou Matua nui i te rangi.

It is with great sadness to learn of Dr Joe Williams' passing. A much-respected GP, an innovative pioneer, and influential leader not only within the Cook Islands community but also within the wider Pacific Islands communities of Tāmaki Makaurau.
His lifetime of service, passion and purpose will be greatly missed by the many people and communities he has served in the Cook Islands and Aotearoa.

The thoughts and deepest condolences of all the National Hauora Coalition whānau go out to his beloved wife and whānau at this time of loss and grief.
Moe mai rā e te Rangatira, hoki ki ngā mātua tūpuna kua wehe, haere, haere, hoki atu.

Friday, 4 September 2020

NZ Vote Compass 2020: See how your views match with the parties

Where I'm supposed to stand.
TVNZ has launched Vote Compass – the interactive survey tool which allows voters to see how their views match up with party policies.  Users can rate the issues most important to them, identify where they stand on the big policy discussions, and rate how they feel about the parties and their leaders.

They are then presented with a grid which shows where they sit in relation to each party. (I was most surprised with my own results, and how close Labour and National are. See illustration.)

There’s also the option for users to weight responses according to the subjects which are most important to them.

Australia as an Asian power leaves no room for economic fantasy

By Peter Drysdale, Emeritus Professor and Head and Dr Shiro Armstrong, Director of the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research, in the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific.

  For Australia to join the great decoupling from China that some Americans and Australian security officials demand would bring devastating costs to Australia and to economic and political security across Northeast Asia. It fails to appreciate that exorcising our trade with China would also decouple trade from

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Referendum on Maliata Independence from Solomon Islands


The Premier of Malaita Daniel Suidani, today announced that his government will soon conduct
 a provincial wide referendum on the topic of Malaita Independence. 
As we know Malaita Independence or self-determination has been an issue of discussion since 
the Maásina Ruru movement days. Therefore the province would like to get a clear picture on 
how Malaitans feel about this issue today. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Listening in on US–China relations

 East Asia Forum, ANU      -      1 Sep 20

By Kai He, Griffith University

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, claims that US President Donald Trump has put together a ‘war council’ to take down the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There have been a series of rhetorical attacks directed at the CCP from high-ranking US officials since late June. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been dubbed the ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse’ tasked by Trump to overthrow the CCP. The Trump administration has taken concrete actions to decouple bilateral relations by closing the Chinese Consulate General in Houston, sending Health Secretary Alex Azar to Taiwan and attempting to ban Chinese social-media giants TikTok and WeChat in the United States.
China’s reactions have been surprisingly conciliatory given its reputation for ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy and tit-for-tat actions against the United States. In an interview with Xinhua on 5 August, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi firmly rejected the idea of a new Cold War and proposed easing current tensions through dialogue ‘at any level, in any area and at any time’.
Two days later Yang Jiechi, Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the CCP, published an article titled ‘Respect History, Look to the Future and Firmly Safeguard and Stabilise China–US Relations’. Yang praised the legacy of US engagement with China — pioneered by the Nixon administration — and called for more ‘mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields’.
China’s goodwill diplomacy seems too little too late because no one in the Trump administration is taking it seriously. Beijing’s call for dialogue is falling on deaf ears in Washington in part because any such communication is seen as ‘diplomatic kowtowing’ by the United States.
But this interpretation of Chinese diplomacy seems overly simplistic. Chinese culture and history offer a better way to understand the three messages China intends to convey to salvage relations with the United States.
First, China does not want a Cold War with the United States. Wang Yi remarked that ‘China was not the former Soviet Union and it had no intention of becoming another United States’. This might be wishful thinking from the CCP, but it takes two to tango, and China has informed the United States that it will avoid the ‘Cold War trap’ that ensnared the Soviet Union and the United States.
Wang and Yang highlighted the good old days of US–China relations after Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to remind their US counterparts that the two countries co-existed by transcending their ideological differences. This is a Tai-Chi-like response to the punches thrown by the ‘four horsemen’.
The second message is that the United States is unable to wage this Cold War alone. China wants to make it clear to US allies — including ‘five-eyes’ countries Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada — that it has no intention to fight a new Cold War with the United States. By striking a conciliatory tone, China aims to reduce the likelihood of the United States building a coalition against it. China’s ‘anti-Cold War’ effort can also be seen in Wang Yi’s recent visits to five European countries.
Other interested countries — especially US allies — will need to choose whether to turn the Cold War into a reality or treat it as an illusion of the four horsemen. While the Trump administration is trying to ‘checkmate’ China through short-term confrontation, Chinese leaders are playing a game of ‘Go’ insofar as they are seeking to position themselves for future advantages. This avoids direct confrontation in a game of high stakes, even if it forsakes short-term gains.
The third and final message is a warning to the international community about the danger of a potential conflict between the United States and China. There are worries about the ‘guns of August’ in the Asia Pacific — any strategic miscalculation or military accident might trigger a hot and potentially nuclear conflict in the South China Sea, East China Sea or over the Taiwan Strait.
China’s top diplomats have made it clear that China’s red line is CCP rule. The recent visit by US Health Secretary Azar to Taiwan may have led to Chinese military exercises around the Taiwan Strait as well as the ‘carrier killer’ missile test in the South China Sea. In Confucian culture, a country is expected to lose in battle if it lacks high standards of morality. An early and sincere call for international cooperation during the pandemic is potentially China’s way of taking the moral high ground in preparation for something more heated with the United States.
Will China’s messages cut through to the United States? Will China behave according to the gentle signals it is trying to convey? The coming months before the US election will be critical for US–China relations. It is time for the United States and China to work together to avoid a real, even if accidental, apocalypse.

Kai He is Professor of International Relations at the Griffith Asia Institute and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

U.S. sanctions on Venezuala oil in bid to topple left-leaning government

If this is not interference in the affairs of another nation, what is?

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Fiji PM's New Year Message

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says right now, his total focus is on the Fijians who through no fault of their own are recovering from yet another bout of severe weather.
In his New Year’s message, Bainimarama says they will get the services back online, continue to invest in more resilient infrastructure, construct sea walls, plant mangroves,  and implement  other adaptive measures.
He says while these projects take time and vast resources, they are worth every dollar and ounce of effort we can give them.
He says if the global community does not act decisively to cut emissions, these storms will only become more severe in the years ahead.
Bainimarama adds in 2020 Fiji will celebrate its 50th year of Independence.
He says the past 50 years of our history has proven that we are resilient people. He adds together we will prove ourselves to be stronger than Sarai.

Listen to what he said in full by highlighting, copying and pasting this link on your URL line.


Tuesday, 31 December 2019

NFP New Year Message

December 31, 2019

NFP Leader’s New Year Message

We begin 2020 recovering from a cyclone. Perhaps it is a timely reminder that hard economic times are ahead – and we have little confidence in our current government to solve our problems.

We ask Fiji’s people to stay optimistic and positive. These times, too, will pass. But it is important that we learn from history. We cannot afford to repeat our mistakes.

In the next year or so, NFP will roll out its policies and vision for the future – how we must change our economy, our education system, our social services, and how we must prepare for the next 20 years.

But most importantly, we must change the way we are governed. Because it is on this that our national unity and common purpose depend. We will ask the people what they think – and what needs to change. This is the consultative, people-led way forward for Fiji.

We are now in our fiftieth year of Independence. We will celebrate that anniversary in October. In our first 50 years our different governments have built many things – roads, schools, hospitals and water supplies. They pay the salaries of our public servants. And all of these are important and necessary. But these things do not build a country. That is what people do.

Our real quality of life depends on our attitudes to our neighbours and our willingness to share what we have with others.

Fiji has been built on generosity and sharing. The indigenous people of our country have been generous with their land and resources. Over many decades they made room for other communities to build their lives and raise their families here.

And those migrant communities have, in their turn, given back, contributing significantly to our economy, to education and the development of the skills we all now possess and which enable us to live and work together as an independent country.

And this process goes on. Every day people share their food, their time and their views with each other. They help each other in times of need. They build bonds that last lifetimes.

Most of our people are young. For them, Independence is history. But there are still many of us who remember the towering figures in our past. Ratu Sukuna and Mr A D Patel had left us by 1970. But leaders like Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Ratu Edward Cakobau, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau and Mr S M Koya were there.

These leaders had a clear vision and a determination to look past our differences. Because of course we had our differences then, just as we do today. They were politicians who depended on votes, just as we do today. They attacked and criticized each other, just as we do today.

But these leaders were generous with each other. They respected each other and in that way, they respected the people for whom they spoke. They resolved many issues through direct dialogue. And they shared a unified vision for Fiji – for building consensus and a sense of security, for education and social services, for the economy, for dialogue between employers and unions. It was on this wisdom and generosity that the success of Fiji’s first years was built.
If we are honest with each other we must accept that the vision of our founding leaders has not always been honoured. Since those optimistic times after Independence, we have endured dark periods of intolerance, suffering, dictatorship and fear.

And yet, the people of Fiji have always returned to the work of building. After the fear and insecurity of 1987, our political leaders created a new reservoir of goodwill. We remember NFP leader Mr Jai Ram Reddy, now in retirement, another far-thinking leader who went on to become an international judge. He painstakingly and carefully negotiated a new national consensus with then Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. This gave us the 1997 Constitution, a democratic document with a new shared vision.

In 2006 this new vision was again destroyed by a military coup. Once again, government by dialogue and consensus was exchanged for rule by fear and intimidation. But nothing lasts forever. And we are more confident than ever that in a few years’ time, a new period of rebuilding and rejuvenation will begin.

Of those vibrant political parties that were there at Independence, only NFP remains. Our party, too, has suffered hardship. But we are still here. We remain optimistic, positive and full of hope for our country. We want to return Fiji to good leadership, to a government that is generous and tolerant, which listens to the people and to its opponents and has a long-term vision for our future, not one that is focused on the next election.

NFP’s founder, Mr A D Patel, led a party that was strongly Indo-Fijian. But he was a man dedicated to multiracialism and unity. I think he would be pleased and gratified now to see how our party has changed and how diverse it has become.

But he would also be pleased to see what has not changed. We still stand for the things he valued –working together, promoting generosity and national unity and ensuring that everyone has a voice and a right to participate in the life of our country.
Most of life is not about politics. We all cherish our families, enjoy the company of our friends, and advance in our careers. Many of us dedicate time for reflecting at our places of worship, meeting our cultural obligations or pursuing sports, as fans or players.

And many of us, too, give up our time for others. In my work as a politician I meet hundreds of people every year whose generosity and goodwill fills my heart. They work to improve the lives of the poor. They build facilities for their local school. They work to keep language and culture alive. They care for their elderly relatives or for others’ children. They give time and counsel to others whose lives have gone off track. They work for better community health or are activists for the rights of women and minorities. Most of these people work quietly and without fanfare.

These are the people who continue to build our country. These are the people who represent our future.

We at NFP wish all of Fiji’s people a blessed and happy New Year.

Professor Biman Prasad