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LETTERS: ‘A guessing game which I for one can do without’

Wednesday 9 February 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTERS: ‘A guessing game which I for one can do without’

Dear Editor, I am the owner of a small business established in Rarotonga.

In December 2020, through a flawed process overseen by Mr Tamatoa Jonassen, Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, my company and dozens of other companies were deregistered.

The unwitting de-registrations occurred because most company owners didn’t know about re-registration instructions.

They didn’t know because the registrar published those instructions only on Facebook.

I did not see them as I don’t use Facebook, along with the dozens of other company owners, now de-registered.

The Facebook debacle mirrored that regarding Land Court hearings which Mr Tamatoa Jonassen  had the Ministry publish schedules on Facebook, not the approved legal way in the newspaper.

The reality is that while an amending act was passed in October 2021 intended to fix the problem, the Secretary is still unable to renew those registrations lost through his own incompetence.

Though Mr Jonassen now says that even with the correcting legislation, the Ministry’s electronic system can’t deal with the deregistered companies.

In other words, they plead they cannot correct the problem they caused, affecting dozens of business owners.

They have not come up with a method to deal with their problem.

The result - I have lost overseas clients who require a certificate of incorporation for contacting purposes, which I obviously cannot provide.

The similar problem exists with two possible buyers of my company.

How long will this incompetence stand in the way of ordinary business is a guessing game which I for one can do without.

(Name and address supplied)

‘They themselves unwittingly became the very lawbreakers of the Act’

Dear Editor,

Do you know what the Democratic Party did when they wrote the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Act in 2004?

In their zeal to stigmatise cannabis, these fanatical Demo lawmakers wrote the laws so stringently, that if you even so much as looked sideways at any THC cannabis product, they would “persecute” you to the full extent of the law.

The Demos went to a considerable extent, and in excruciating detail in writing the Act, to make sure you were tied up in knots, whatever way you turned, you had no way out.

But in the interim of 2004 and now, the world changed its views favourably towards cannabis.

With large scale usage and universal medical research, cannabis was more and more found out for what a beneficial plant it is for mankind. The laws drastically and inexorably changed in its favour.

While the world was passing them by, what happened next in the Cook Islands was something the authorities never saw coming.

They themselves unwittingly became the very lawbreakers of the Act.

Quickly, Mr Editor, biosecurity against the Act allowed THC laced CBD products to be imported and sold in the Cook Islands, and the police and Crown prosecutors failure to enforce the Act makes them complicit.

I will write with the utmost certainty that police and Crown prosecutors swear an oath to uphold the constitutional laws of the Cook Islands.

If that is the case, no longer can they stand up in court and deliver a pompous and dogmatic diatribe on cannabis laws, that would make them the very symbol of hypocrisy. Their constant and bitter attacks on cannabis must be taken with a grain of salt. In their own fantastical minds, they can no longer claim any moral high ground.

What I want to know now is what the Democratic Party leader Tina Brown is doing to right the wrong of the Act.

The terrible and cruel way the Demos wrote the Act is coming back to bite them.

Tina’s striking absence of opposition is disturbing, we need for her to get out there and do something.

Steve Boggs

(Editor: Cook Islands News reached out to Tina Browne, the Opposition Democratic Party leader for comment.)

BTIB undergoes functional review

Kia Orana Sir,

I make reference to the main news article in Tuesday’s Cook Islands News inferring that the functional review of Business Trade Investment Board (BTIB) was triggered as a result of the resignations of senior staff at BTIB.

The purpose of this letter is to confirm that Cook Islands News’ assumption in this instance could not be further from the truth. 

That said, I hope this letter will set the record straight.

 As background information, the functional review of BTIB was in fact an initiative emanating from the BTIB Minister, Mr Patrick Arioka, who was keen to see BTIB’s mandate clarified and improved for the benefit of our people, economy and country, mindful of the high priority placed by government on the need to increase greater diversification in the economy.

 Accordingly, with Minister Arioka’s support, my office assisted in this initiative by way of carrying out a functional review of BTIB that actually commenced in 2020.  

So again, I can state categorically that the functional review of BTIB was in no way triggered by personnel issues at BTIB. In saying that, I can confirm that the review will capture the entire spectrum of the business of BTIB from its budget, personnel, structure, to its governance, etc.

Public Service Commissioner

Carl Hunter


Appalling that Minister Patrick Arioka insults the many staff who have resigned from BTIB since Repeta Puna took over, saying that they couldn't handle the pressure or didn't have enough experience. Just nonsense.

One resignee had been with BTIB for nine years but just had enough of the chief executive’s management style.

Other highly skilled workers didn't get the financial rewards they deserved - but you can be sure Ms Puna awards herself a salary of over $100K - despite this not being warranted because it's a very small government agency.

The cover up is hideous. The corruption rife. Time for an independent and thorough investigation. 

(Enough is Enough)

Response to letter to the editor by Serena Hunter

We are writing as senior doctors working at Rarotonga Hospital in support of the community vaccination program. The data quoted by Mrs Hunter is not in dispute, what is in dispute is the interpretation of the data, as well as the data not presented in her letters.

The community vaccination program not only protects the individual, more importantly, it protects the community, the vulnerable individuals as well as the healthcare system itself.

Most of young healthy individuals are not at risk of severe illness, although we must point out the risk is not zero, and people who are healthy have died world-wide due to Covid-19. Mrs Hunter can confirm this with the data from WHO. Omicron being a new variant appears more benign than Delta so far, but the data is still evolving.  There also appears to be an emerging phenomenon of “long-Covid”, which appears to affect the young more, debilitating many around the world who had mild symptoms initially with their Covid-19 infections. Therefore, it is better for the individual not to get Covid-19 if possible, and vaccination is the only safe and effective way of achieving this.

Vaccinating all eligible protects those who are at risk, either through comorbidities or inability to be vaccinated (e.g. the Pa Metua, and children younger than five years of age). Although children often have mild symptoms, they can easily pass on the virus to the vulnerable. It’s also difficult if not impossible to mandate them, and physically distance themselves from their family and friends. Myocarditis post vaccination is a rare, but usually self-limiting (i.e., most get better on their own with supportive care only) complication. The rate of post vaccination myocarditis with Covid-19 vaccination is similar to other vaccines and actually lower than the complication rate with Covid-19 infection itself.

In addition, community vaccination cuts down the amount of virus circulating, which limits its ability to mutate. As we can see from overseas data, communities where there are high levels of infection, such as Africa, South America, Europe, are often where the new variants are originating from.

The public health care system itself in the Cook Islands is vulnerable, not only through the limitation of equipment and medication, as well as through the limitation of health care workers.

The latest numbers from the United States show 347 new infections per 100,000 population every week among the unvaccinated, compared with 25 among the boosted. 

These are very conservative numbers, because not everyone who has Covid-19 symptoms are getting a swab in the US.  Translating those numbers here (15,000 population for Cook Islands), that is 52 new infections every week vs 3.75. Adding into the equation that healthcare workers will also need to take time off to self-isolate or look after family members, even if only 1 per cent of these patients need hospital care, our hospital will become overwhelmed very quickly. This is already happening in Australia and beginning to happen in New Zealand. 

In conclusion, the community vaccination program protects the individual, but more importantly, it protects our community. We consider the Covid-19 vaccine safe and effective, and we fully support the community vaccination program. 

Individual freedoms must be balanced by individual responsibilities.  We are all responsible for protecting ourselves as well as those we love, and the island community that we call home. 

Dr Deacon Teapa, chief surgeon

Dr Yin Yin May, director of hospital services

Dr Donna Mokora, paediatrician

Dr Koko Lwin, medical doctor

Dr Zaw Aung, medical doctor

Dr Kevin Bisili, medical doctor

Dr Caroline Zhou, locum consultant anaesthetist