FIJI – Hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and “ice” are available on Fiji’s streets, according to Minister for Defence and National Security, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola. He made this confirmation in parliament in response to a question raised by an opposition member about what the government were doing to control the drug problem. Ratu Inoke said Fijian Police were doing its best to bring in sellers and those involved in selling drugs on the street. The Minister also responded to a question by another oppostion MP whether he would recommend that marijuana cultivation be legalised on a commercial level for a source of income for farmers in the country. “I don’t think I’d like to recommend the legalisation of marijuana farming in Fiji,” Ratu Inoke said.
tougher jail terms handed down
NAURU – Three Nauru men who had pleaded guilty to offences in relation to an anti-government protest nearly two years ago have had their jail terms increased dramatically – the court apparently sending a message to those who pleaded not guilty to the same charges. As a team of five Australian lawyers confronts the court on behalf of the 18 people who have entered not guilty pleas, they had also appealed for a cut in the penalties imposed on those who pleaded guilty late last year. The state correspondingly pushed for tougher jail terms and got them. One man jailed for rioting, disturbing the peace and assault had been jailed for 6 months but his sentence was extended to 22 months. A second man jailed for three months was given 18 and the third went from three months to 14.
PM FORCES BROADCASTING RESIGNATION
TONGA – The chair of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) has effectively been sacked by the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva after saying the Commission didn’t support his government. Last month, Pohiva labelled the state broadcaster an “enemy of government”, saying he was not happy with its operations and something else might better serve its role. TBC chairman Tapu Panuve has now resigned thanking the government for the opportunity he was given, but adding that if a stakeholder is not happy, it is time to leave. Pohiva said he forced Panuve to resign and he is working to replace the general manager Nanise Fifita as well. Local media report sports administrator ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi has been appointed the new chair. This week the Pacific Islands Media Association said the government needed to step back and take a hands-off approach to news media.
FIJI HAS RECORD NUMBER OF VISITORS
FIJI – Fiji’s tourism industry has continued to grow and it last year received more than 790,000 visitors. This marked another record for Fiji and an increase of 35,000 visitors over 2015. The South Pacific Tourism Organisation said Fiji would get a further boost once the new Nadi International Airport terminal is opened later this year. The SPTO said last year French Polynesia had just under 200,000 tourists which is about the same as 20 years ago. Papua New Guinea had just under 180,000 visitors, the Cook Islands 146,000 and Samoa just slightly fewer.