Water resources under pressure
AMERICAN SAMOA – There are concerns in American Samoa that the main island’s current water resources will struggle to cope with growing demand. The executive director of the American Samoa Power Authority, Utu Abe Malae, says sometimes the StarKist Samoa cannery’s demand for water exceeds the authority’s capacity. He says Starkist’s demand for water has increased but the Authority is faced with old ldaking infrastructure. Utu Abe Malae says with the Tri Marine cannery opening up next year there are concerns as to whether there will be enough water for both canneries and the rest of the island. He says the canneries will need to have storage tanks in place as the supply will not be always available.
Clause was not in draft of decree
FIJI – The Coalition for Human Rights in Fiji says a controversial section of the Electoral Decree was not in the draft copy submitted to the Electoral Commission. Section 115 says any group receiving foreign funding cannot campaign on election issues, which includes organising debates, panel discussions or publishing information. Violating the Decree can result in a US$27,000 or 10 years in jail. The coalition’s chair, Shamima Ali, says because the attorney general has not responded to a request the provision be clarified, her group approached the Electoral Commission for help. “We have appealed to the Electoral Commission who themselves have said they were in the dark about that particular clause in the Electoral Decree. It was apparently missing when they first saw it. So they were going to get an independent legal opinion on that.”
Call to quash chaudhry verdict
FIJI – Reports from Fiji say the lawyer for Mahendra Chaudhry has applied to have charges against the former prime minister quashed just days before he is due in court for sentencing. Chaudhry who is the leader of the Labour Party has been found guilty of three counts of breaching the Exchange Control Act. The Fiji Village website reports Anand Singh has made a submission to Justice Paul Madigan that amended information given by the Director of Public Prosecutions is wrong and he has called for a new trial. He says the information filed against Chaudhry for breaching the act requires the approval of the Minister of Finance. Chaudhry’s mitigation and sentencing is due to take place this Thursday.
No comment on links to land grabbing
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Westpac Bank says it can’t comment on alleged links with a Malaysian company accused of land grabbing in Papua New Guinea. Oxfam Australia says the bank is among Australia’s big four banks not living up to their image as leaders in sustainable banking. In a new report Oxfam alleges Westpac has had a long term financing relationship with the logging company WTK Group, which was found by a PNG Commission of Inquiry to hold an invalid land lease. Westpac says it welcomes Oxfam’s report and it regards land grabbing as a serious issue which it addresses through responsible lending and banking practices. But the bank says customer confidentiality means it can’t comment on particular allegations made by Oxfam – including the acknowledgement of specific customer relationships.
Tarawa as crowded as Hong Kong
KIRIBATI – The President of Kiribati says the country has never faced the problem of land security like it is presently. Anote Tong hosted the New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully, as well as representatives from the European Union, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Renewable Energy Agency last week, who all had the chance to see the dilapidated state of roads and housing, due to rising sea levels. An official from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community says in some places on Tarawa Atoll, the density can be compared with Hong Kong, but there is scarce food and water supply. Tong says he is grateful for the support of donors, but the country is still finding its way in dealing with climate change problems.