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Pacific News Briefs

Compiled by Samoa News staff

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A wave of burglaries targeting businesses in Moto'otua has been attributed to a gang specializing in thefts and break-ins.

The businesses are concerned over the surge in burglaries and appealing to the public to assist police in apprehending the culprits and curb the rising tide of crime in the area.

Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo said they have a special team assigned to locating the culprits.

 "Police have identified the individuals behind these break-ins. They are linked to previous incidents investigated by the police on theft and burglary,” he said.

“They are believed to be a gang of young boys and men from Leonē and Leufisa."

He said the police would provide updates on this case next week. He also expressed concerns about the wave of burglaries in the past weeks.

Prominent businessman Joe Lam, owner and manager of Scalini's Restaurant and the Pickled Lam Delicatessen, recounted a recent break-in at his restaurant during an interview with the Sunday Samoan.

Lam detailed the incident on Monday, the Mother’s Day public holiday.

The break-in was discovered early Tuesday morning when staff arrived. Lam immediately reviewed the CCTV footage and provided it to the police.

The footage revealed the thief loitered outside for 20 minutes before breaking in and spent only three to four minutes inside. Interestingly, the suspect appeared in different attire outside and inside the premises, and notably, left his shoes outside before entering.

(Samoa Observer)


Palau is seeking a US$15 million loan from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

The Island Times reported this is according to a proposed resolution submitted by President Surangel Whipps Jr to the legislature.

The loan would be sub-loaned to the National Development Bank of Palau to fund infrastructure development projects.

The resolution, if approved, would authorize the president to finalize the loan agreement.

Under the agreement, Saudi Fund employees traveling to Palau would be granted diplomatic immunity.

(RNZ Pacific)


Tonga's Speaker of Parliament Lord Fakafanua has suspended an employee amid a police drug investigation.

A statement said the employee was suspended last Wednesday, but specific details of any allegation were not given.

Kaniva Tonga reported this follows the King's speech at the opening of parliament — delivered by the Crown Prince — expressing concern about drug use.

The statement said the actions of the employee "are not representative of the values of the Legislative Assembly and this Office".

(RNZ Pacific)


More than 100 companies and individuals in Samoa, using the Starlink satellite services, face fines of up to 50,000 tālā, or nearly US$18,000 dollars, if they do not register by the end of this month.

That was the warning from the Office of the Regulator during a meeting with Starlink users on Thursday.

The Samoa Observer reported most subscribers didn't bother attending.

The regulator Lematua Gisa Fuatai Purcell said they had already discussed the matter with users last month, but have given them an extension until the end of May.

The regulator said those found not to be complying will be handed over to the Office of the Attorney-General for legal action.

(RNZ Pacific)


The PNG forest sector has asked the government to address lawlessness in remote areas.

In a statement, the Forest Association said a criminal gang of more than 20 armed men arrived at Camp 56 earlier this month and threatened company employees.

Another group torched down houses in a village in the Kawalasi region.

The National newspaper reported forest works are largely remote.

A Forest Association spokesperson said without the situation being addressed promptly, people would lose their jobs.

Northern Mariana Islands - tax warning

The Northern Marianas' Department of Finance and the Division of Revenue and Taxation have issued a warning for tax evaders.

They said tax collection and enforcement are top priorities of the CNMI government.

To this end, both are working closely with the Office of the Attorney General to identify and pursue tax crimes, including tax evasion and tax fraud.

Last week, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation said it is looking into complaints made by its employees who claim their tax refunds are being held for nonpayment of Chapter 2 taxes.

(RNZ Pacific)


The Australian High Commission in Solomon Islands says the country's domestic shipping sector will hugely benefit from improved vessel maintenance services at the Sasape Shipyard in Tulagi.

The upgrade is happening through aid of US$5.8 million dollars from the Australian Government.

Australian High Commissioner, Rod Hilton, said as a maritime nation, Solomon Islands needs safe maritime transport and shipping for the movement of people and goods around the country.

(RNZ Pacific)


Two million acres of land throughout Hawai'i is eligible for millions of dollars in conservation funds, after getting the Department of Defense (DOD)'s Sentinel Landscape designation.

The Pacific Island Times reported the DOD saying the Hawaii Sentinel Landscape includes conservation, agricultural and DOD mission lands on the islands of Kauai, Oahu and Hawai'i, that have come under threats posed by rapid urban development and climate change.  

The Sentinel Landscape program creates partnerships between federal agencies, state and local governments, private landowners, land managers and non-profits, to preserve sensitive lands and resources near military bases.

The program also supports landscapes that are resilient to the impacts of increased severe weather events.

(RNZ Pacific)