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Pacific News Briefs

Fiji’s new patrol boat
FIJI’S NEW PATROL BOAT
Source: Pacific RNZ

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Fiji's brand new patrol boat has finally been pulled off the reef at Fulaga where it ran aground three weeks ago.

The Guardian Class Patrol Boat RFNS Puamau, gifted to Fiji by Australia in March, had only just arrived in the country in May and was on its maiden patrol when it ran aground.

According to the Royal Fiji Navy (RFN), the vessel has been towed to the nearby island of Ogea where a thorough damage assessment will be conducted.

Meanwhile, a board of inquiry continues with its investigation into the grounding incident after which it will make recommendations based on its findings.

SAMOA WAGES

The Samoa First Union has commended the government for raising the minimum wage from $3 tālā to $4 tālā per hour as of July 1.

Chief executive Seveaoga Saina Tomi-Setu told Samoa Observer although they advocated for an increase of $5 tālā per hour, the Union was optimistic about the new biennial review cycle.

There will be an additional increase to $4.84 tālā per hour on July 1, 2025.

Seveaoga expressed confidence that economic growth in Samoa, especially post-COVID recovery, would lead to larger future wage increases as the current increase was based on data from 2018.

SAMOA FLOOD PROTECTION

A project aiming to increase flood protection, supply sustainable water, and provide renewable energy in Samoa has been agreed upon between government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The development of a US$100 million multipurpose dam intends to enhance climate resilience and adaptation in the face of natural disasters.

Finance Minister Lautimuia Afoa Uelese Vaai said the project will significantly improve the livelihoods of Samoan people, especially those that are vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters.

NUCLEAR WASTEWATER

Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Baron Waqa says the Fukushima nuclear wastewater discharge will be discussed at the next Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM).

Waqa has taken over the secretary general position from Henry Puna.

He said if leaders have direct concerns about the treated nuclear wastewater release, they will raise them at the meeting, which is later this month.

Japan maintains that the process, also being monitored by the UN's nuclear watchdog, is safe.

MARIANAS GOT TALENT

Four singers from the Northern Marianas are preparing to audition in 'American Idol' and 'The Voice' later this year.

The Saipan Tribune reported the four were the winners of the inaugural Marianas Got Talent competition last year.

MGT's Arlene Reyes said the team have been practicing hard for their auditions.

She said "music brings people together" and she hopes the teams' aspirations will inspire young people of the Marianas.

Meanwhile, a second season of MGT begins later this month, with auditions covering all three islands (Saipan, Tinian and Rota), beginning in Rota on the 27th.

VANUATU PM

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai is visiting China this week at the invitation of premier Li Qiang.

Salwai and his delegation started the visit with an official welcome ceremony in Guangzhou on Sunday afternoon.

According to the prime minister's office, he is being accompanied by internal affairs minister Johnny Koanapo and lands minister Tchemaco Mahe.

On Monday, Salwai will be meeting with the vice governor of Guangdong province Wang Xi.

VANUATU SUSPENDS DIRECTORS

There are five government directors currently suspended in Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reports the most recent suspensions are those of the Customs and Inland Revenue director, and the Civil Aviation Authority director.

The Public Service Commission said these two directors are suspended pending investigation into "serious allegations" — one faces 47, the other two.

They will be given time to respond to the allegations against them, according to the Commission disciplinary process.

The Environment, Protection and Conservation director was suspended in December last year, while the Forestry director was suspended early this year, as well as the Director of Education Services.

IFOGA ABUSE

Samoa's Supreme Court has issued a warning for those who abuse custom and tradition, especially the ifoga, to get reduced jail time.

It follows the recent sentencing of a man for manslaughter.

The Samoa Observer reported Judge Justice Vui Clarence Nelson told the man the so-called ifoga he did was an attempt to lessen the court's punishment; and this is not acceptable.

The judge warned that “our customs and traditions are not to be abused in this fashion".

He said there would be no reduction of the sentence.

COOK ISLANDS DRUGS

Cook Islands Ports Authority wants to remind the public it's keeping a careful watch on illegal drug importation.

Cook Islands News reported despite the country having a relatively low number of drug importation cases compared to other countries in the Pacific, there is no guarantee that it's not coming through.

Cook Islands Port Authority chief executive Okesene Moananu said ports are risky areas.

The most recent incident is the discovery of heroin concealed in a shipment of cargo.

Moananu said they did not find it by accident but through ongoing work by police.

He said drug monitoring is not mandatory but staff do keep a close eye on any illegal activities.

CNMI TAKES PRECAUTIONS

Healthcare authorities in the Northern Marianas are advising residents to take necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease.

The Marianas has seen an uptick on the number of children with the disease.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation says hand, foot and mouth is caused by a virus that can easily spread from one person to another, and is most common in babies and children younger than 5.

It has informed and provided guidance to daycare and childcare facilities on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

Symptoms can include a fever, sore throat, painful mouth sores that blister, and rash on the hands and feet.

NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS ECONOMY

The senate president of the Northern Mariana Islands says the economy faces a complete economic collapse, and is calling for flights from mainland China to resume.

The Marianas Variety reported that prior to the pandemic, China was the second largest tourism market in the country.

Edith Guerrero said many businesses have shut down, with more to follow if Chinese tourist numbers do not increase.

However, the governor Arnold Palacios has said a 'China or bust' position is not the answer.

KIRIBATI LANGUAGE WEEK

Kiribati Language Week, or Wikin te Taetae ni Kiribati, is underway in New Zealand.

The theme is: Thriving and flourishing our Kiribati language, culture, and knowledge build I-Kiribati resilience and prosperity.

Pacific Peoples secretary Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone said many i-Kiribati have settled in their chosen host country of New Zealand, as a result of the effects of climate change on their islands.

She said this week is an opportunity for those in New Zealand to support the community's efforts to retain their language and culture, particularly their younger generations.