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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Media urged to report accurately

CHIEF Electoral Officer Jane Waetara urges media to report with facts and responsibility...
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    SINU council refers VC visa rejection to court

    Dr Ganesh Chand

    By EDDIE OSIFELO

    SOLOMON Islands National University (SINU) Council through its legal counsel has lodged an application to the High Court for a judicial review over the visa issues involving Vice Chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand and four other expatriates.

    This was after the Minister of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, Clezy Rore upheld the decision of Commissioner of Labour Josiah Manehia to reject the work permit of VC Chand and four other expats.

    Minister of Education and Human Resources, Lannelle Tanangada confirmed to Parliament earlier this week when asked by Leader of Opposition Matthew Wale on the issue.

    Tanangada said the case is before the court and may take sometimes before the outcome is expected.

    Furthermore, she said the Council meeting dated July 29 on basis on audit committee findings and council working committee, they resolved that the allegations against the incumbent Vice Chancellor were unsubstantiated and does not warrant dismissal of his employment contract with SINU.

    “The decision of the council was conveyed to the two associations through their lawyer.

    “SINU Council also recognised the staff unions when submitted their constitutions in 2015. Thereafter their existence as a union have been questioned,” she said.

    “However, in my view it may not be proper for me to comment on the legality of the two SINU staff unions to represent the members as the trade union issue since it is a matter before the High Court and will be on Friday 27th November,” she added.

    Lecturers Association of SINU (LASINU) and SINU General Staff Association (SINUGSA) are representing the staffs in the SINU saga.

    However, Tanangada said the VC and the four expatriate staff have taken their leave on 19th November and have returned to Fiji on a repatriation flight.

    The Acting VC is looking after the office until the visa issue of the VC is resolved.

    The semester two will end in early 2021 due to the impact of the covid-19 that affected the start of classes.

    It’s time to move forward: PM

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    Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare

    By EDDIE OSIFELO

    PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare says it is time for the country to move forward and forget the past like the ethnic conflict years.

    Speaking on the motion of sine die yesterday, Sogavare said the tension has tested the unity of this country and hopes this is now water under the bridge.

    He said as a country, we must accept the reality and move on with the agenda to develop our country with support of our development partners.

    “If we cannot accept the reality and move on, then something is really wrong with us.

    “The only sensible explanation would be other people’s agenda are behind the stubborn attitudes manifested,” he said.

    Sogavare blamed two former Prime Ministers, Gordon Darcy Lilo and Dr Derek Sikua, who lost in the recent by election, campaigned on a platform of pulling down the government to reverse the decision.

    He was referring the switch from Peoples Republic of China (Taiwan) to Peoples Republic of China (PRC).

    He said they did not campaign to become Members of Parliament but to become Prime Ministers.

    “We brought down the Prime Minister two times. We will go in and down him for the third time.

    “If you look at the reasons to down the government, I don’t want to go through it are fake. It is water under the bridge and we are moving on,” he said.

    Sogavare said it does not speak well on people who are supposed to be statesmen.

    He said it also reflects their true colours of drivers behind the political instability during their time in Parliament.

    “People speak correctly. The country does not need people like that.

    “We climb too high too soon or counting the eggs before hatch. Or the higher you go, the lower you fall. This is very painful,” he said.

    Furthermore, Sogavare thanked former Prime Ministers who are alive that normally called him on phone to discuss issues.

    He said it is a small club and not all will have the privilege of securing the trust of colleague MPs to become Prime Ministers.

    Moreover, Sogavare said those MPs that aspire to be the Prime Minister one day, your turn will come.

    He said the secret is to allow the system to choose you and not to go around and tell anybody to become the leader of the country.

    However, Sogavare said there is need to amend the Political Parties system to promote parties and not independent candidates.

    Safe-boat resumes second week Dec

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    Point Cruz main wharf where passengers board ferries back to their islands.(ABC News: Evan Wasuka)

    BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

    POLICE Commissioner Mostyn Mangau says as the festive season is approaching police will be supporting the Maritime in the safe-boat operation.

    He said the operation is to make sure that vessels and boat owners abide by the Marine regulations to avoid over-loading and risking the passenger’s lives.

    Mangau said boat and vessel owners must comply as the safety of passengers is very important.

    “For banana boats always watch the weather before travelling, always listen out for weather warning as during festive season through the New year we always have unstable weather patterns,” Mangau said.

    He said boat drivers must not get alcohol before travelling to avoid accidents, because there were experiences in the past that when skippers were drunk safety of passengers were at risk.

    Mangau said any breach of the marine regulation by the vessel or boat owners, responsible authority will be there to deal with them.

    Therefore, Mangau call on the general public who are intending to travel home during the festive season to always abide by the marine regulations in placed, as safety always in one’s hand.

    “Vessels only allowed to carry allowed number of passengers and should not be overloaded,” Mangau said.

    Border crosser case pending

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    In-court

    BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

    POLICE Commissioner Mostyn Mangau says the case against two Shortland men accused of assisting a Bougainvillean cross the western border is yet to be finalised as some statements are yet to be obtained.

    Mangau speaking at the weekly media conference yesterday said people who saw them crossing the border are reluctant to come forward and give their statements to the police, that is why the case has been delayed.

    He said after the men were quarantined, they were released back to their community awaiting police investigation.

    This is the case of two men caught for assisting in transporting a Bougainvillean to the custom Island inside the PNG territory on July 7, 2020.

    Police said earlier that the Bougainvillean was taken to the custom Island in the PNG territory on June 30 by his relatives in Bougainville, and then from that Island some people from Komaliae went and pick him to Komaliae where he spent seven days there.

    However, on July 7 he received information that his father passed on in Bougainville and he intended to go back, in which he was transported back to the custom Island which his relatives from Bougainville picked him up later.

    Unfortunately, the men who assisted in transporting the Bougainvillean got arrested by Police Officers at the Border, Police said.

    Facebook ban is an attack on human rights: DSE

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    CIVIL society organisations (CSO) in the Solomon Islands are utterly disappointed with the Cabinet’s decision to suspend Facebook in the country.

    A statement from the Development Services Exchange (DSE) yesterday said at a time when the Solomons has confirmed cases of covid-19 and updates are shared through the facebook platform, the government’s move to shut it down is clearly an attack on human rights – the rights of people to express their concerns on issues affecting citizens of this country.

    “It is indeed a sad time for the people of Solomon Islands,” says DSE, the central body for CSOs of the country.

    DSE understands Government is putting a temporary ban on the social media platform after Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Communication and Civil Aviation Minister Peter Shanel Agovaka told Cabinet the forum had been grossly abused by the people, claiming that character assassination, defamation of character are issues of concerns.

    However, DSE also understands the government itself also uses Facebook widely to disseminate information on public health during the covid-19 pandemic.

    DSE has recognised facebook to be a people’s go-to platform to gather information, updates and share knowledge on national crisis.

    As the national CSO/NGO umbrella body in the Solomon Islands with a constituency of 65 members, the platform is used to amplify DSE’s and member CSOs’ work on the ground and for sharing information.

    Solomon Islands will now join China, Iran, and North Korea as outlawing Facebook. Other countries have temporarily blocked it, including the island nation of Nauru which prohibited Facebook in 2015 but unblocked access in 2018.

    DSE expresses concerns that this move will have a huge impact on the work of civil society organisations who continue to inform and update the populace given the different sectors they represent which include health, environment and conservation, climate change, advocacy on development issues, youth and women, faith based organisations, media, human rights advocates, child protection, social welfare, etc.

    “Facebook has been an advocacy and lobbying platform for our members.

    “Community visitations, monitoring and feedbacks from the people on the grounds especially our provincial NGOs/CBOS, before, during and after any natural disasters, will no longer be shared on Facebook if the ban is going to eventuate.

    “The Solomon Islands is home to about 685,000 people. While the archipelago stretches across a vast area of ocean, Facebook has played a bigger role during Covid-19.

    “DSE on behalf of its members is reiterating calls by the private sector, Transparency SI, young people and the public for the government to reconsider its decision to temporarily ban face-book.

    Banning facebook is not the solution, penalising the law breakers for defamation of characters and character assassination as claimed by the government should be the immediate action and the law enforcers should be put to work to ensure such bad practices are dealt with accordingly.”

    DSE also calls on the government to be responsible in putting resources for a mass awareness on how to use social media responsibly if it is serious about the impacts social media platforms like facebook is or will be having on the country.

    –DSE PRESS

    Olympics blessing bestowed

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    Founding Olympic father Christian Suaga presenting the medals to NOCSI President Martin Rara

    BY PETER ZOLEVEKE II

    THE founding father that brought Solomon Islands to be recognized as an International Olympic Committee (IOC), Christian Suaga has handed down his Olympic legacy through a form of gifts to the current National Olympic of Solomon Islands (NOCSI) President Mr. Martin Rara.

    Mr. Rara received the gift on NOCSI behalf during a launch to officially recognize Olympians in the country’s ninth Olympiad participation.

    “Former Presidents and Secretaries since then SINOC and now NOCSI and the hard-working Executive Boards that continue to serve within, I thank you all for your great effort in keeping Solomon Islands afloat until now,” says Mr. Rara

    “I can recall the hard times that face the organizations in the past but this ship continues to set sail under the auspices of various captains that continue to guide the ship during these fierce storms.

    An emotional Mr. Suaga when presenting the medals briefly says that it’s an honor serving the national through the sporting administration and by presenting the medal signifies the blessings for both athletes and federation to carry on the hopes in preparation for the 2023 Pacific Games here.

    The medals receive were from the following Games and events.

    1. Signature of the IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch – SISNOC inauguration to IOC.

    2. First Olympic Games Chef De Mission Medal for the 1984 Olympic Games in Soul Korea

    3. Gold Medal from the 1984 Olympic Games – Sample

    The historic event was made possible through the efforts put forward by the Solomon Islands Athletes Commission.

    “The initiative comes about during one of my official trips to IOC home in Lausanne, Switzerland. We were invited to visit the Olympic Museum and by seeing what they displayed it prompts me to create the idea for this initiative,” SIAC Chairman Francis Manioru said.

    And then, the rest is history for the country as a whole.

    Meanwhile, 20 Olympians were recognized and inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    Football unity

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    SIFF President William Lai giving his remarks during the opening of the 2020 Solomon Cup Challenge yesterday. Matches for the Solomon Cup will kick off tomorrow at the Lawson Tama Stadium. Pictures Peter Zoleveke II

    Solomon Cup 2020 officially Open

    BY PETER ZOLEVEKE II

    IT was a fitting colorful array to welcome the ten teams who will be representing the provinces for the next two weeks of football actions in the National Solomon Cup 2020 – with the theme ‘IUMI TUGEDA THRU FOOTBALL.”

    The opening ceremony yesterday gathered over hundreds from the general public, provincial representatives, players and prominent guests at the national level to witness the country’s major football event.

    Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) President William Lai in his remarks saluted the Solomon Cup Organizing Committee and SIFF stakeholders in bringing together the different races embraced under the banner of football.

    “On behalf of the country’s football governing body I stand here to see what the game played to gather us all here today (yesterday),” Lai expresses.

    “This year’s challenge is open for everyone, not only the best can win but everyone can win!

    President Lai also assured that this year’s competition will be the final competition to be played on the current turf before it transitions giving way to a world standard complex for the 2023 Pacific Games.

    Representing the national government, Ministry of Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, Mr. Jeffery Sade Deve said that the formal open of the competition signifies one of the main events the government and its stakeholders who are working tirelessly to prepare the country for the Pacific Games here.

    “We are ensuring that the preparation for the regional competition is still on target. And I am pretty sure that some of you will be selected to be part of the National football team who will represent our country in the year 2023,” says Mr. Deve.

    He continued emphasized on unity and equality through the sport.

    “Athletes, when you step out on that field everyone are equal. Talent and skills, it means nothing. They may be more talented than you, but if you show more HEART if you show FOCUS,” he stressed.

    “So, go there do your best, all you have is 90 minutes and I know everyone wants to win, but one thing is for sure. When you’re walking down from the changing room, and you step on the field – you know in your heart only there will only be a winner. And the best team wins.

    Yesterday only eight teams were part of the opening ovation, Temotu Arrows are yet traveling to the capital via ship due to the distance and Makira Ulawa were engaged in a friendly match against a Telekom S League side.

    Meanwhile, matches will kick off on Saturday 28.

    Western Tomoko vs Guadalcanal Hornets – 1PM

    Malaita Eagle vs Lauru Kukuvojo – 4PM

    Reigning Champions Malaita Eagles team with their cultural dancers pose for a photo after the opening ceremony yesterday at the Lawson Tama stadium. Photo Peter Zoleveke II

    ‘Prison, no place to be’

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    Inmate Mr Ben Tofola

    Inmate shares powerful reminder to nation

    BY SAMIE WAIKORI

    Auki

    PRISON is not a good place to spend one’s life, a serving inmate reminds citizens.

    Ben Tofola was brought out of the Auki Correctional Centre, where he is serving life, to share his experience during the 16 Days Activism programme on Wednesday in Auki.

    “Prison is not a place to be,” he said.

    Mr Tofola was jailed in 1990 for murder and to date has served 30 years, and still does not know when he will be released.

    In his speech during the programme he said as an inmate who spent almost his entire life in prison, it’s a harsh place no one should spend their life in.

     “During my 30 years behind bars I stayed at Rove, Tetere, Kirakira and now Auki correctional centre,” Tofola said.

    “There were men who committed crime against women and children like murder, rape and others who joined me in prison,” he added

    “It was very stressful and hard to accept that there were men who think they are men during their time outside, come into the prison and cried like kids.

    “Some men even they’re not sick they asked medication everyday like they’re sick. Stress and worry are the main diseases in prison.”

    Tofola said in prison his freedom and rights are limited because he is blocked by the four walls of his cell day and night.

    “It takes only a few seconds to commit a crime, but spend years paying for it behind bars in a lonely cell.

    “It is just not worth it,” he adds.

    He said a lot of men are in prison for committing crimes under the Family Protection Act (FPA), and the law is still there to punish perpetrators.

    Tofola appeals to men to refrain from any form of violence against women and children and respect them for they are an equal gender within the society.

    Solomon Cup opening today

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    Lawson Tama

    By Taromane Martin

    THE opening ceremony for the 2020 Solomon Cup Challenge will take place today at the Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara.

    The opening ceremony will kick off at 5pm today and will finish at 8pm, the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) confirmed.

    SIFF in a statement said this will be the first time the country’s biggest football competition to stage an opening ceremony which is open to the public and fans.

    The federation said the 10 participating Provincial Football Association (PFA) teams will be present and it is mandatory for all the teams to attend as they will be in their official dress codes and led by traditional dancers into the pitch.

    A theme song for the tournament will also be performed during the ceremony and will be performed live by Alex Waimora, Junior Houkarawa and Micah Lea’alafa.

    “The opening will be live stream on this page for fans in the provinces and abroad,” SIFF stated.

    The teams representing 10 Provincial Football Associations (PFAs) across the country were divided into two groups of five teams each for the group stage of the 2020 Solomon Cup.

    Group A: Malaita Eagles, Western Tomoko, Temotu Arrows, Lauru Kuvojo, Guadalcanal Hornets

    Group B: Central Shield, Makira Ulawa Kakamora, Honiara Warriors, Renbel Chiefs, Isabel Frigates

    Matches for the 2020 Solomon Cup will kick off this Saturday with two matches and will continue on Sunday at the Lawson Tama.

    Matches for Saturday will see Temotu Arrows taking on Lauru Kuvojo at 2pm followed by Western Tomoko taking on defending champions Malaita Eagles at 4pm.

    Sunday’s actions will see Renbel Chiefs taking on Makira Ulawa Kakamora at 2pm while Honiara Warriors squares off with Isabel Frigates at 4pm.

    Pool matches will continue on throughout next week and will complete on Monday December 7. Knockout stages for the tournament will kick off Wednesday December 9 with the semifinals before the grand final match schedule for Saturday December 12.

    Schedule for the 2020 Solomon Cup Challenge meanwhile are as follows

    High risk repa-flights scheduled for January 2021

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    Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare

    BY MAVIS Nishimura PODOKOLO

    ALL repatriation flights for high-risk countries have been planned for January 2021, says Dr Jimmie Rodgers, Secretary to Prime Minister.

    Rodgers uttered this during a recent covid-19 radio talkback show.

    “We are planning to repatriate students that in the high-risk countries in January 2021to bring them home in December is difficult.

    “The planning for December scheduling is for Fiji and PNG and Manila.

    “But in January we will be definitely looking at planning the flights and is already progressing we will not wait for January to plan,” he said,

    Rodgers said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) is already looking at possible links to bring them home.

    “Those are not the only flights but we are looking at planning some more,” he said.

    Rodgers said, “currently the emphasis is on low risk countries. This is to bring those in low risk countries and also those in high risk countries but who we have been quarantined is to be reasonably low risk by the time when they come over, for instance those in Philippines.”

    Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his national address said the Oversight Committee is scheduling other repatriation flights with a focus on low risk countries over the December and January 2021 period.

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