FIJI – A Fijian politics scholar says a former government minister’s defection is a major gain for the opposition. Pio Tikoduadua has joined the National Federation Party, hoping to run against Frank Bainimarama’s Fiji First party in next year’s election. A professor at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs at the University of the South Pacific, Vijay Naidu, said Tikoduadua’s work in the military and government meant he had knowledge that most did not. “Those kinds of insights may help his new political party in terms of strategising about how to engage with Fiji First as we move to the election campaign period.” Professor Naidu said gaining another prominent indigenous Fijian was important for the NFP whose president Tupou Draunidalo, had moved to the proposed HOPE party.
CANNERY REJECTS GREENPEACE RATINGS
AMERICAN SAMOA – American Samoa’s StarKist Samoa cannery has hit back at the results of the Greenpeace USA survey, which ranked the company’s canned tuna product at the bottom of the 2017 Tuna Guide. The survey was critical of the nation’s three largest US brands – Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee Seafood, and StarKist. StarKist corporate spokesperson Michelle Faist said the company declined to participate in the survey. She said StarKist found, after a detailed review, that the methodology used was arbitrary, unscientific, and did not meet basic standards for a credible research instrument. She said StarKist and its employees were committed to leading the global seafood category by providing great-tasting and healthy products that meet the needs of today’s consumers and customers, while remaining committed to responsible practices.
jailed politicians out on parole
VANUATU – Two senior Vanuatu politicians will be let out of jail on parole tomorrow after serving half of their terms for corruption. The two to be freed are a former prime minister, Serge Vohor and a former MP for Efate, Steven Kalsakau. They were imprisoned in 2015 with 12 other former MPs after being convicted of bribery. The director of correctional service, Johnny Marango, said the parole board found the two had shown good behaviour and cooperation during their term in jail, which halved their three-year prison term. He said the board has also received parole applications from 11 other inmates after the appeal court quashed their conviction of conspiracy to defeat the course of justice None has been lodged by another former Prime Minister Moana Carcasses.
BLUE BOAT CREW MEMBERS FINED $99
SOLOMON ISLANDS – The Solomon Islands Magistrate’s Court in Honiara has fined 40 crew members of Vietnamese blue boats US$99 dollars each for illegally entering the country. The crew and the boats were detained last month after they were caught fishing illegally in Rennel and Bellona. The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation reported that the 40 pleaded guilty to entering the country illegally, but they told the chief Magistrate John Numapo, they did not realise they were breaking the law. Last week, the boats’ owners were fined US$1.59 million each. The fisheries minister, John Maneniaru, said if the owners did not pay the boats would be destroyed.