Solomon Star reporter ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN looks back at the events that made the headlines this year:
TOVUA GETS KNIGHTHOOD
FORMER politician, national parliament speaker, and community leader Paul Tovua has been bestowed a knighthood.
Governor General Sir Frank Kabui announced this in his New Year messages to the nation.
Sir Paul, as he will now be known, was one of the early political leaders of the nation, who is still actively serving in various government-established bodies today.
A MAN with a heart for the handicapped and founder of a handicapped and rural training centre, has been attacked and manhandled by rogues.
Brother George, as he is known to all persons with disability and members of the society for what he is giving and sacrifices to the community through founding of care centres, was attacked at his home around 2.30am.
According to Fr. Dominic Kachira, Brother George was awakened by stones thrown on the roof of his house.
“He got up thinking that some of the deaf and dumb students of the San Isidro care centre must be sick and wanted to get his attention,” Fr Kachira revealed.
He was attacked when he came out.
GROUP ATTACKS LOGGING CAMP
LATA police are after an Anglican priest who allegedly led a group of landowners on Vanikoro Island in Temotu to damage logging machineries on Boxing Day.
Fr Patterson Nibeo reportedly led five other men to attack the logging camp, which police say resulted in damages worth $1.1 million.
Temotu Provincial Police Commander Alfred Uiga told the Solomon Star one person was already arrested, while others are still at large.
SHOW TURNS UGLY
POLICE and security guards clashed with youths trying to break into the Panatina showground to watch Julian Marley in a minor riot.
Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley, continue performing despite the disturbances, which saw the exchange of stone throwing between thugs and security guards.
Thugs, mostly youths started knocking wooden perimeters of the showground from the eastern side near the Solomon Islands Football Federation Academy.
FLOODING HITS GIZO
GIZO went under water as heavy rain pounded Western, Choiseul and Isabel provinces.
This came as the Weather office issued “Heavy Rain” warnings for the three provinces.
Gizo resident Adrian Sina told the Sunday Star a flash flood hit the township after two hours of non-stop rain from 12-midday.
GOV’T GETS TOUGH ON STUDENTS
FOUR hundred and ninety-five government-sponsored students will not be able to continue after they were removed from the scholarship list.
Of this total, 177 were terminated, 149 suspended and 169 under-load.
Education minister Dick Ha’amori revealed this to the media.
Mr Ha’amori said these 495 scholarships will instead be given out to high-performing students who have missed out on government sponsorship before.
KERE TAKE UP POSTING
THE country’s first high commissioner to New Zealand, Joy Kere, took her oath of office at Government, as she prepares to take on her new role.
Ms Kere was permanent secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade prior to her appointment as High Commissioner to New Zealand.
She is a career civil servant who served the government in various ministries over the years.
JANE GETS TOP AWARD
FEMALE provincial member Jane Tozaka has been awarded the 2014 Secretary of States, International women of courage award.
The award was for her courage and leadership in advocating for good governance and women’s empowerment in the country.
Mrs Tozaka is currently the provincial member for a ward in North Vella La Vella. She was voted in last September being the first female to lead the ward.
NEW CALEDONIANS FINED $32K
TWO New Caledonian nationals who have confessed to failing to declare more than $80,000 upon entering the country have been fined a total of $32,000
Jacques Raymond Marie Joseph Benebig and his wife Rose Marie Benita Kabarep Benebig were charged with failing to declare foreign currencies to the Customs & Immigration and false declaration.
Both have pleaded guilty to the charges before Principal Magistrate Shepherd Lapo.
The couple has entered the country on February 18, from Vanuatu as tourists.
NEW VOTER SYSTEM LAUNCHED
PRIME Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo launched the Biometric Voter Registration System (BVRS) ahead of the actual registration process which begins on Monday 10th March.
The BVRS is a highly advanced biometric information system that allows enrolling and identifying of voters quickly and accurately.
By using biometric identifiers, the possibility of election fraud is minimized and at the same time accelerates the voter identification process.
PM OPENS NZ MISSION
PRIME Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo officially opened our High Commission office in Wellington, New Zealand.
Speaking during the opening, Mr Lilo said the establishment of the country’s permanent diplomatic mission in New Zealand has been long overdue and as Prime Minister, he was delighted to see that his Government’s decision to pursue a diplomatic mission in New Zealand has been achieved.
Mr Lilo said the High Commission office in Wellington brings the total overseas missions of the country abroad to 10.
PNA MEETS HERE
THE 33rd annual meeting of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) is currently underway in Honiara following its official opening
Acting Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Rick Hou, who opened the meeting, said it marks an important era in PNA’s efforts in the sustainable management and conservation of its tuna resources
Established way back in 1982 following the then leaders’ concerns over the long term sustainability of tuna stocks and benefits in PNA waters, it has survived and now seen as the flagship organisation in the world in tuna management and conservation.
STUDENTS SUE SINU
MORE than 50 students who were kicked out of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) have been readmitted after they took the university to court.
They have been advised to return to SINU with their official admission letters to their respective course coordinators before attending lecture.
The students enrolled with SINU early this year and have received admission letters to study in various disciplines.
But later, they found out their names were not on the courses they enrolled for and were dismissed from attending lectures.
The students’ team up and engaged private law firm DNS Lawyers, which filed a case against SINU in the High Court.
HEFTY UNPAID BILL
OUR Telekom Company limited has been reported to have owed the government millions in unpaid sales tax from its prepaid Me Top Up services throughout the country.
Reports revealed since 2009, the company has not been paying any sales tax to the Inland Revenue Division within the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
Chief Executive Officer of Telekom Company Loyley Ngira when contacted said unless this paper revealed its source, he will not make any comments.
It was reported that an estimated value of $70 million in sales tax has not been paid to the government.
GIRL FINDS GOLD BAR
A GUADALCANAL father is over the moon after his daughter reportedly found a gold bar at the Metapona river mouth.
Wilson Tila told the Solomon Star geologists from the Ministry of Mines and Energy have checked his daughter’s find and confirmed it to be pure gold.
News of the find has been the talk of villagers in Guadalcanal plains over the past days.
HONIARA HIT BY FLASHFLOOD
MUCH of Honiara city was inundated as flash floods swept in as a result of heavy downpour which persisted over the past consecutive days.
China Town was hard hit when Mataniko River bursts its banks, weeding out anything that stands in her way.
At around 3pm on April 3, the river rose to incredible heights and pushed outward, sweeping homes from Tuvaruhu, Vara Creek Koa Hill, Number 3, and Mamanawata.
The Lunga River on the other hand spilled into the low lying areas inundating homes and food gardens.
Other parts of the city including Rove and White River were also inundated.
FLOODING AFFECTS TRAFFIC
HEAVY rain and flooding brought Honiara’s traffic to a standstill as vehicles were turn back at Bahai when Mataniko River bursts its banks.
Some drivers have to make a sudden turn way up to Naha-kola road.
At the two-lane Mataniko Bridge vehicles only used one lane to drive through.
The Solomon star was at the scene and witness that vehicles went underwater at flooded areas like Bahai and chinatown.
The heavy rain prompted police officers to intervene and control the traffic at the main Mataniko bridge to ensure safety of pedestrian, passengers and drivers.
All public transport stopped their service, forcing most people to walk home.
AS the flooding Mataniko River bursts its banks, many people predicted the old one-lane bridge will be washed away.
It happened right in front of their eyes.
As people watch, the bridge suddenly collapsed and quickly washed away down the river.
Solomon Star was at the scene when this happened.
As the bridge disappeared downstream, people rushed to the two-lane new Mataniko Bridge.
They believe it would be the next as the rushing water unleashed its energy.
Police quickly moved to the bridge and monitor the situation, controlling traffic and making sure there is order on the bridge.
AIRLINE CANCELS FLIGHTS
SOLOMON Airlines cancelled all international and domestic flights in and out of Honiara as the bad weather persists.
This was due to extensive flooding and associated debris on the run way and surrounding airport areas.
All domestic and international flights have been suspended until further notice, a spokesman said.
The spokesman added the decision was made in the interest and safety of passengers as well as airline workers.
DAMAGE BILL MOUNTS
DAMAGE caused by flooding in Honiara is estimated to run into millions
A spokesperson from the National Disaster Management Office said the office will assess the damage to map out the cost but said it will be costly.
Homes were swept away by flash floods, lives were lost, and properties damaged but the real extent of the damage is still sketchy the spokesman said.
He said reports filtered in yesterday but it was still early to verify them.
Matanikau River caused significant damage and there are other reports from other parts of Guadalcanal that were hard hit.
He said the Guadalcanal plains were also affected.
PRISON FLOODED, INMATES EVACUATED
INMATES at Rove Correctional centre were evacuated to Rover police club after their cells were flooded.
Commissioner of Correctional Service Francis Haesoma confirmed that more than 200 inmates have to be evacuated as water rising from the nearby stream flooded the prison compound.
“We were surprised at the situation since this is the first of its kind to happen,” Mr Haisoma said.
“This has prompted us to evacuate the inmates to Rove police club for their safety,” he added.
HEAVY RAIN, NO WORK
GOVERNMENT and private sector offices in Honiara closed as torrential rain continues to hit the city.
Shops at Point Cruz and Chinatown were also closed.
This came after the worst flooding to hit the country devastated Chinatown shopping and several settlements around Honiara.
Residents residing along the Mataniko River saw their homes and properties swept away when the river bursts its banks after two days of heavy rain.
Streams at White River and Rove in west Honiara also over-flowed, inundating homes in the areas.
Some residents living along the Mataniko river were left with the only the clothes they wear at that time.
RELATIVES BURY VICTIMS
RELATIVES began burying their dead as more bodies were discovered on Honiara’s coastline.
Two mothers killed when the flood swept them away from their Koa Hill settlement were buried at Kola Ridge cemetery.
Kola Ridge cemetery was full but relatives scrambled and located two spaces to dig the graves.
One of the mothers also lost her two children, whose bodies are yet to be recovered.
Scores of people are still reported missing, as the death toll rose.
Authorities say the death toll will continue to increase.
FOOD SHORTAGE AT TINA
ABOUT 10 communities in the Tina river Basin of South Guadalcanal experienced acute food shortage after heavy flooding swept away gardens of root crops.
According to chiefs Apollos Piri and Jack Gege, the food shortage is much more severe than the one experienced during cyclone Namu of 1986.
All our food crops are gone and we have nothing to feed our people, the chiefs said.
The chiefs added that most of their gardens are tilled on the plain land and the enormous flash flooding that came after the heavy rain took away everything.
GOLD MINE IN DOUBT
AUSTRALIA dispatched a team of 33 police officers to help secure Gold Ridge mine site as operators St Barbara reportedly abandoned the mine in the wake of the flood disaster.
The officers came at the request of Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, who was at the airport to meet them on arrival.
“I was disappointed with St Barbara,” Mr Lilo said.
“In the wake of the flooding disaster, they quickly moved to enforce the force majour situation in the clause of the lease agreement to simply walk off,” he said
St Barbara announced Monday it has suspended its operation at Gold Ridge.
All their expatriate staff, including Fijian security guards who have been working at the mine site, have already left the country.
GUADALCANAL ASSEMBLY DISSOLVED
THE national government has dissolved the Guadalcanal Provincial Assembly in response to the prevailing row between members.
Provincial government minister Silas Tausinga signed the orders to dissolve the assembly.
Guadalcanal assembly speaker Abel Arambola confirmed receiving the orders.
DIARRHEA HITS CITY
THE National Referral Hospital (NRH) is reportedly flooded with diarrhea patients.
A doctor at the outpatient department said the hospital is jam-packed with patients suffering from diarrhea.
“Health workers at the outpatient are struggling to cope at the moment with the increasing number.
“A lot of children and adults are affected,” the doctor said.
DEATH TOLL STANDS AT 21
THE death toll from the April 3 devastating floods that hit Honiara and Guadalcanal remained at 21.
Two people who were reported missing are yet to be found.
Red Cross said approximately 9400 people are in 21 welfare centres in Honiara.
Approximately 52,000 people have been affected 12,000 in Honiara and 40,000 in Guadalcanal
GOV’T GETS TOUGH ON MINER
THE Government has taken an unprecedented action against St Barbara, operators of Gold Ridge mine, by banning its expatriate workers from returning to the country.
The workers left in the wake of the April 3 floods after the company suspended its Gold Ridge operations in central Guadalcanal.
St Barbara’s action was understood to have infuriated Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, who immediately dispatched police to guard the mine site, and later invited Australian police officers to assist.
The banning of the 44 expatriate workers, mostly managers and executive officers, was made on April 18.
A government statement issued said the restriction is enforced to allow joint agencies investigation by the Labour Division, Immigration, Police, Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment into the safety and security at the mine site with regards to chemical wastes, cyanides, explosive hazards and other threats to the environment and human security.
COUNCIL PASSES NEW LAW
THE Honiara City Council has passed a new city ordinance called the, ‘City River Flood Risks Mitigation and Management ordinance 2014’ during its full council meeting.
This new ordinance, when gazetted, will restrict and prohibit any development along the river banks within the city boundary that are marked as danger zones.
The new ordinance covers five to 100 metres from the banks of Burns Creek, Matanikau river and white River measured from high water mark on both sides.
City Clerk Charles Kelly said now that full council has passed this new regulation, the document will be processed through its mother ministry(ministry of home affairs) before it goes to the Attorney General’s Office to be gazetted.
The city mayor Andrew Mua said the new ordinance came as a result of the need and urgency to protect public lives and properties.
“The disaster we went through recently has taught us a good lesson and we need to act promptly to avoid similar incidences in the future,” Mr Mua said.
NEW POLICE CHIEF FOR MALAITA
MALAIT has a new provincial police commander.
He is Alfred Uiga, who replaced outgoing commander John Walenenea.
Mr Uiga moved to Malaita from Temotu where he was provincial police commander for the last three years.
Mr Walenenea has been posted back to Honiara to become Assistant Commissioner of Police, Administration.
JICA CHIEF VISITS
VISITING Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) president Akihiko Tanaka paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo.
During the occasion, Prime Minister Lilo welcomed the president to the Solomon Islands.
Mr Lilo said the JICA president is the first head of any donor agency to visit the country and it is an honour.
LANDMARK PLAZA OPENS
THE controversial business complex at Town Ground, West Honiara, which is now called Landmark Plaza has finally got its occupancy permit.
The permit was issued by the Honiara city council environmental health division following the Town and Country Planning board’s resolution.
Documents have confirmed approvals from the division of planning and the environmental health division regarding inspections that qualify the occupancy over the years.
RIOT BREAK OUT IN HONIARA
DISGRUNTLED flash flood victims in Honiara raided a shop and later burned it down in an incident that led to an overnight riot in the King George Sixth area of east Honiara.
A crowd of more than 400 people started looting the Uncle Alick building. They were joined by others more before police arrived to disburse the crowd and led to a confrontation in which police used tear gas.
The crowd went on to chop down trees along the driveways close to King George Sixth School as well as the Solomon Islands National University and that resulted in the deployment of the police riot squad to curb the unrest.
This went on until two or three o'clock in the morning until police finally managed to take control and have the rioters driven back to the area where they are mostly residing.
Most rioters were from the Lunga River and Burns Creek area.
LANDOWNERS EMBRACE MINERS
RENNELL Island is a step closer to hosting its first ever mining project after four tribal landowning groups signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an Indonesian mining company Bintang Borneo.
The historic ceremony took place at Tingoa between landowners from East and West Rennell with the mining firm.
A nine-member delegation from the mining firm visited the province to hold talks with the landowners.
Renbel premier Lence Tango led the delegation to conduct talks with the landowners before signing the deal.
BAILEY BRIDGE OPENS
PRIME Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo opened the new Mataniko bailey bridge, and thanked New Zealand for the facility.
The New Zealand-funded bailey bridge was opened for traffic, restoring a vital Honiara transport link.
“The opening of the bridge will once again fully reconnect the city and ease the traffic jam in Honiara,” Lilo said.
Mr Lilo said even though the bridge was just temporary installation, it will allow goods to be freely moved in and out of Chinatown given that it is the shopping hub of our city.
MINER WORKERS ALLOWED BACK
GOVERNMENT lifted the immigration ban it imposed on Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML) expatriate workers, allowing the first 10 to return.
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo imposed the ban after GRML closed its Gold Ridge operation in central Guadalcanal in the wake of the April 3 flash flood and sent all its expat workers home.
The decision infuriated Mr Lilo, who accused the company of failing to inform the government of its sudden departure.
WANTED MAN ARRESTED
A MAN who evaded police on several occasions after he fraudulently obtained money from several foreigners has been arrested at his home village.
Michael Bosa from Luluga village on Central Guadalcanal allegedly involved in the local gold buying business where several foreigners were involved.
He reportedly took large sums of money from foreign gold dealers on the promise he will buy from villagers and bring them the gold later.
FRAUDSTER A ‘TOY BOY’
A MAN jailed for defrauding the state of more than $1.5 million was just a “toy boy” used by others in a grand scheme that saw more than $10 million stolen from the Ministry of Health.
Wesley Poloso,47, a taxi driver from Choiseul was jailed for two and a half years by Magistrate Jim Seuika after pleading guilty to two counts of false pretence.
The more than $1.5 million Poloso was accused of stealing was part of a $10 million scandal uncovered in the Ministry of Health and Medical Service early last year.
The stolen funds were monies the Australian government injected into the ministry as part of its support to strengthening the country’s health system.
A number of officials from both the ministry of Health and Finance have been suspended after the scandal was uncovered.
A RARE disease reportedly claimed four lives in a village in East Makira.
Reports reaching this paper said Ghoge village has been struck by the disease which caused panic to other nearby communities in the province as news of the death begun trickling in.
Speaking in an interview with the supervising provincial health director and the medical officer in charge of Kirakira hospital Dr Arnold Ngudumae, he said so far four lives have been claimed by the disease.
He said the disease features of meningococcal disease which can be fatal to young children if no immediate attention and treatment is taken.
OUSTED AG SUES GOV’T
SACKED Auditor General (AG) Edward Ronia is challenging his termination from the office by filing a case in the High Court.
The case is to challenge his removal from office last year by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Michael Pitakaka Law Chamber filed the case on behalf of Mr Ronia.
Mr Ronia has decided to sue the commission because he believes that the decision to terminate him as Auditor-General of Solomon Islands is a matter of public interest that should be re-viewed by the courts.
ROW HALTS FLIGHTS
ALL flights between Nadi, Fiji, and Honiara operated by Fiji Airways and Solomon Airlines have been suspended indefinitely.
This followed a stand-off between the civil aviation authorities of the two Melanesian countries.
As a result Fijian authorities have denied Solomon Airlines from landing into Nadi.
Reacting to the action the Civil Aviation Authorities of Solomon Islands (CAASI) also issued a flight ban to Fiji Airways.
STATE-OWNED King George Sixth (KGVI) school has been punished for its hefty unpaid bills with the disconnection of water and electricity to the school.
And this is likely to result in the slow start of its second semester classes.
Solomon Water was the first to cut off the school’s water supply followed by Solomon Islands Electricity Authority (SIEA).
Reports reaching the paper said the reason being for the disconnection is due to unpaid bills which has accumulated over the months.
This was the second time for the school to have experienced such disconnections from these two essential service providers.
NEW POLICE CHIEF
THE government announced that Frank Prendergast of Australia is the new Commissioner of Police of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo advised Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui of the appointment of Mr Prendergast in pursuant to section 43 (2) of the constitution after having consultation with the Police and Correctional Service Commission (PCSC).
Mr Prendergast’s appointment is for two years effective from the date that the Governor General will formally appoint him to take up his responsibility.
He was AFP’s Assistant Commissioner and has been a member of the Australian Federal Police for 25 years, in a variety of geographical and operational areas within the AFP including Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.
BURGLARS STEAL ATM
POLICE have retrieved the stolen ANZ Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) and are onto suspects.
The ATM machine at Kwaimani building, Kukum was uprooted and stolen by an unknown gang, who allegedly used high powered guns during the robbery.
Assistant Police Commander Gabriel Manelusi said police discovered the machine near the Aligator Creek area.
He said about $262,000 which was placed on the top tray in the machine was removed.
He said the robbers however could not remove the $136,000 that was placed in the lower tray.
PM IN PALAU
PRIME Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has joined Pacific Islands Forum leaders at the retreat on Peleliu island, Palau, during which they have also chosen a new Secretary-General.
Solomon Islands’ Dr Jimmy Rodgers, who was tipped as one of the leading contenders, lost out to his Papua New Guinea competitor.
The appointment of the new Secretary-General was one of the key agendas of the 45th Forum Leaders Meeting.
Meanwhile during the margins of the PIF, Mr Lilo had also made several bilateral meetings
In his meeting with United State Assistant Secretary of State, Dennise Mathiew she expressed her country’s sympathy to the victims of the April flash floods.
BOAT SINKS, FIVE MISSING
SEARCH is underway for five people who have gone missing after their boat sank in the Western province.
Reports reaching the paper said a ray boat believed to be powered by a 60 horse-powered outboard motor (OBM) carrying seven males sank between the open waters of Vella La Vella and Choiseul.
The boat was on its way to Vurulata in South Choiseul.
TUBI EXPORT SAGA
The 50 controversial containers of round log tubi held by customs in the past weeks has finally made its way overseas over the weekend
Comptroller of customs Nathan Kama told this paper, Customs has finally cleared the containers and allowed them for exports following a seizure notice issued for the containers by the Commissioner of Forest Reeves Moveni.
The 50 containers belong to Southern Pacific Wood Trading company who were said to have bought the logs from landowners in Isabel province.
Mr Kama said customs allowed the containers for export after receiving the directive from the Ministry of Forests since the commissioner use his powers to issue the seizer notice in accordance to the advice from the Attorney General Chambers.
SCAM LAND OFFERS
THE public is warned to be wary of con land dealers who go around with fake land documents with the intention to defraud people of their money.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands Stanley Waleanisia said there are a few con men out there going around conning people with false Fixed Term Land Titles.
Mr Waleanisia said these con men normally target Asian businessmen and locals.
“These con middle men normally act as though they are genuinely processing their client’s land applications,” he said.
“They will produce false documents, compile them with false Fixed Term Estate Titles and give them back to their clients.
“But only for the clients to realise that when they follow up to check with lands about their said FTE title, they found out that those were false documents,” Mr Waleanisia said.
RENBEL POLITICAL SAGA
IN a new twist, Renbel Assembly elected a new premier in a meeting embattled premier Lence Tangosia boycotted.
Timothy Johnston was elected during the meeting held at the Pacific Casino Hotel.
Renbel Provincial Speaker Norman Sao confirmed the election, saying Mr Johnston took his oath immediately after he was elected to power.
Earlier, Mr Tangosia wrote to the Minister of Provincial Government Silas Tausinga, asking him to suspend the assembly.
MISSING DUO FOUND
A BOAT that was recorded missing in the Western Province earlier was found by a search and rescue team from Gizo.
Initial reports said the boat left Gizo for Choiseul with two people and a load of cargoes.
The reports said the boat failed to reach its destination.
Senior police officer Jerry Menina told the Solomon Star from Gizo the two men on board the missing boat were found and safely recued to their home in Sasamunga, Choiseul.
He said the outboard motor powered boat drifted after the engine developed mechanical faults.
NINE people have been arrested and detained in police custody over an attack at St John School which disrupted classes.
According to the School Principal Felistus Houkura, the school management cancelled classes after the attack for safety of students.
“The incidents has angered students and left fear amongst many which is not favorable to their learning,” Mrs Houkura said.
Reports reaching the Solomon Star stated that angry relatives of a female student of the school were responsible for the attack.
“A form five male student was said to have used a sort of disrespectful language on the female student who reported that to her relatives.
“The group then entered the school during the morning class sessions and attacked the male student.”
TEMOTU PELE MP DIES
MEMBER of Parliament for Temotu Pele Martin Magga has died.
Mr Maga had been battling a long illness that confined him to a wheel chair since 2009.
He was born in the Reef Islands on 11 November 1953.
Mr Maga entered Parliament in 2006 and served as Minister of Lands, Housing and Survey in Prime Minister Derek Sikua's Cabinet until May 2009, when he was transferred to the position of Minister for Health and Medical Services.
MEASLES CASES ON THE RISE
MEASLES cases are on the rise with more than 500 cases recorded in Honiara, Guadalcanal, Malaita and other provinces, health authorities confirmed.
TWO children lost their lives as a result of the outbreak.
As part of curbing the spread, the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) are providing vaccination to both young and adults around the age of 30.
Dr Titus Nasi, head of paediatrics, said health authorities want to speed up the vaccination exercise in the country.
Dr Nasi said only infants ages below six months and pregnant mothers are not allowed to vaccinate.
“The vaccine contains chemicals that are dangerous for babies,” he said.
PENSION FOR PMs
TAX payers will take care of the welfare and living expenses of the nation’s prime ministers when they retire.
This was stipulated in the Prime Minister’s (Pensions and Benefits) Bill 2014, which parliament passed.
MPs from both sides of the house who spoke during the debate gave their overwhelming support to the bill, which proposes to provide pensions and other benefits for former prime ministers.
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo re-tabled the bill after he withdrew it from the floor of parliament in April last year.
Finance minister Rick Hou said there would be cost implications to the nation’s tax payers.
NPF $15M LOAN NOW IN COURT
SOLOMON Islands National Provident Fund (NPF) has filed a case in the High Court to recover the $15 million loan it lent to Tavanipupu Island Resort.
This was after owners of the resort failed to repay the loan.
NPF’s deputy manager Mike Wate told the Solomon Star they are currently pursuing the recovery actions under the loan agreement to recover the $15 million loan through the sale of the resort.
“We had filed our application to the High Court for default on the repayment of interest that triggers us to call up the loan now rather than wait for two and half more years when the loan matures,” Mr Wate said.
POLICE seized 38 bags of beche-de-mer when they raided a Lio Ridge home in east Honiara.
The products were believed to be those illegally removed from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marines Resources compound in October last year.
The missing beche-de-mer have become a subject of wide public debate after police failed to arrest those responsible or recover the beche-de-mers.
In the last parliament session, Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and his responsible ministers were grilled on the subject by the Opposition.
The mystery was finally resolved when police raided the home of Dr Reginald Aipia’s sister and recovered the missing beche-de-mer.
Members of the Serious Crime Squad (NCID) and the Police Response Team (PRT) took part in the raid.
MINING BATTLE ENDS
THE High Court has rejected a bid Japanese mining giant Sumitomo Ltd brought against Australian firm Axiom Ltd, the national government, and some Isabel landowners.
This was over nickel prospecting rights in Isabel Province.
Sumitomo filed the case after the then Minister of Mines and Energy cancelled its preliminary Letter of Intent for nickel prospecting in Isabel Province in 2010 and instead awarded it to Axiom.
It argued the processes Axiom took to obtain its licence and register in Solomon Islands was improper, and wanted the court to review it.
But in his ruling, Commissioner John Brown said the proceedings Sumitomo brought “have been shown to be an abuse of the court’s process”.
“Sumitomo does not come with a clean hand to justify exercise of the court’s discretion in its favour,” Commission Brown said.
“Its claim to judicial review is therefore refused.”
Commissioner Brown also ruled that Axiom’s lease over the Kolosori land, site of the Isabel nickel prospect, and its prospecting licence over the same area, are valid.
LOGGER DEFIES ORDER
SAMLIMSAN logging company trading as Macranka Timber Enterprise has allegedly shrugged off a seizure order and escaped with machines.
Bishop Tuhenua, a local who operates Isles Tropical Timber Limited in Rennell Island, said the logging machineries were ‘silently’ loaded onto two barges and shipped from Rennell Island last week.
“The first barge with the first shipment of the logging machineries left Rennell on Wednesday last week. The second one left last Thursday afternoon,” Mr Tuhenua said.
This was in defiance of a notice of seizure issued by the commissioner of forestry two weeks ago.
OUR VERY OWN FIRST CHOCOLATE
The country’s first ever single origin premium chocolate is now out in the market after the first batch was produced in Australia last month.
The breakthrough, which was made by C-Corp Solomon Islands Limited, has also seen local cocoa beans being recognised by chocolate producers.
C-Corp Limited has been working on this project for the past six years.
C-Corp managing director Clive Carroll said it’s a breakthrough for Solomon Islands cocoa beans, the company and the country as a whole to have a single origin premium chocolate.
He said it has been the dream of the company to see Solomon Islands cocoa being used to produce a single premium chocolate.
SUMITOMO FIGHTS BACK
SUMITOMO Ltd obtained a restraining order from the Court of Appeal that prohibits Axiom KB and others from entering San Jorge and Takata areas in Isabel Province.
This comes less than a week after a judge dismissed a case Sumitomo brought against Axiom KB and others in the High Court.
In last Wednesday’s ruling, Justice John Brown also discharged Sumitomo’s previous injunction preventing Axiom’s exploration or mining activities in Isabel.
Axiom had early announced it will resume exploration activities in Isabel this week.
But Sumitomo went to the Court of Appeal to prevent Axiom from entering San Jorge and Takata.
Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer, sitting as a single judge of the Court of Appeal, granted interim orders against Axiom KB and others from entering areas.
$7.3M FRAUD CASE IN COURT
A SECOND man is now facing court for the $10 million scandal within the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS).
John Biliki, 45, of Choiseul province is facing 15 counts of false pretence and 15 counts of money laundering.
The first accused, a taxi driver who was described as a toy boy in the scandal was already sentenced after pleading guilty to two counts of false pretence.
He was sentenced to two and a half year imprisonment for defrauding the government of $1.5 million.
NORMINATION for the upcoming national general election opens following the announcement of 19th November as the polling day.
Chief electoral officer Polycarp Haununu said now that the election date has been announced by the Governor General, it also begins the one week nomination period which starts October 8.
Mr Haununu said election notices will also be put out in various constituencies and the public is asked to look out for these notices to know where their Returning Officers (RO) are to receive their nominations.
GOVT GETS TOUGH ON FUNDS
GOVERNMENT through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) is taking a tough stand on how it dishes out the tourism funds as of next year.
Director of Tourism within the Ministry Barney Sivoro in an exclusive interview with the Solomon Star said as of 2015 tourism operators who wish to apply for the tourism funds would be monitored before the funds are released to them.
The move comes following reports of abuse of funds by some of the local tourism operators.
Mr Sivoro explained in the past the Ministry would give out funds to tourism operators to assist them without a monitoring them as to how the funds are being used.
TELEKOM NOW A LOCAL COMPANY
SOLOMON Telekom Company Limited is now a 100-percent locally owned company.
This came following the signing ceremony to mark the transfer of 32.58 percent shares held by Cable and Wireless Company (CWC) to Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) yesterday in Honiara.
SINPF paid off the shares from CWC for a total of SBD$100 million (US16.5m).
SINPF board chairmen Baoro Koraua said the fund will now own 97.32 percent in Solomon Telekom with the remaining 2.68 percent shares held by the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands (ICSI).
Mr Koraua said the purchase was made after CWC shifted its business interest from the Pacific to the Caribbean region therefore decide to sell its shares.
TASIU KILLED ON THE ROAD
MEMBERS of the Melanesian Brotherhood at Tambalia, north west Guadalcanal, are in a state of mourning after one of their members was allegedly killed.
The slain brother, Jackson Lodo, from Masi village, east Guadalcanal, joined the Anglican religious order, commonly known locally as “Tasiu” four years ago.
He was reportedly attacked by a group of men while walking home with a third-year Novice Abraham Kelly, at Vura road, west Guadalcanal.
The incident occurred between late Wednesday night and 2am yesterday.
Novice Lodo died at the scene of the attack, while his fellow brother Kelly survived with serious injuries.
THUGS INTRUDE, ATTACK STUDENTS
A GROUP of thugs believed to be from nearby villages entered Ruavatu Provincial Secondary School in North East Guadalcanal over the weekend, disrupted the school’s program and assaulted some of the female students.
It was reported the group entered the school premises and physically harmed students who were innocent and enjoying their last few days at school.
Later these thugs forcefully took a female student and allegedly raped her in the nearby bushes.
The incident has prompted Guadalcanal Provincial government to decide on the fate of in the coming days.
It was claimed the thugs were from the surrounding villages.
FOREST CHIEF REMOVED
CARETAKER Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo is again behind the highly controversial removal of Commissioner of Forest Reeves Moveni, the Solomon Star has established.
Mr Moveni received his marching orders in a letter dated 21 October 2014, advising him he is being transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as new deputy secretary to the PM.
No reason was given in the letter signed by the supervising permanent secretary of the Ministry of Public Service Nego Sisiolo.
Mr Sisiolo claimed in the letter the decision was made in consultation with the Public Service Commission.
But the Solomon Star has established from a text message it cited from the chairman of the Public Service Commission Eliam Tangirongo that this was not true.
Mr Tangirongo denied knowing anything about the transfer in the text message sent out a week after Mr Moveni received his transfer letter.
LOGGER IN CUSTODY
A LOGGING company executive is facing an attempted murder charge in relation to the brutal knife attack on a Rennell chief in Honiara.
Malaysian Pau Kiu Den, owner of the notorious Samlimsan logging company, appeared in court and was remanded until November 26.
He was accused of conspiring with three locals, who allegedly attacked Rennell chief Poly Tepai at the Kingsley Food Bar at Point Cruz.
The three locals who were arrested and charged with the same offence are Ben Alami, Buddley Fakani, and Frank Fakani.
Mr Tepai nearly lost his left hand when accused Ben Alami allegedly came from behind and hacked him with a 60 centimetre-long knife, while he was having a meal with another Asian and a local.
VOTERS LATE, MISS OUT
MORE than two hundred supporters and voters of Caretaker Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo have been denied their rights to vote after the boat carrying all his voters failed to arrive on time before 5pm yesterday.
MV Maetalau was chartered to bring voters of three candidates; Gordon Darcy Lilo, George Solingi Lilo and Charles Sigoto.
A voter and passenger onboard this paper had spoken to has revealed, the boat which was supposed to leave at 8pm on Tuesday night could not make it since it arrived late from Malaita at 1am in Honiara.
She said all those who were on board were really disappointed.
The voter said more than 300 voters were in the boat and more than 200 of them are Gordon Darcy Lilo’s voters.
LILO LOSES SEAT
CARETAKER Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo lost the Gizo-Kolombangara seat.
He was unseated by new comer Jimson Fiau Tanangada in what is by far the biggest upset in the 2014 national elections.
Returning Officer Patrick Toiraina announced the results for the Gizo/Kolombangara Constituency in Gizo after a marathon ballot count.
Mr Toiraina could not disclose the winning margin, saying this will have to be relayed to the Governor General first.
However, the Solomon Star understands Mr Tanangada, a member of the United Democratic Party), polled more than 2,000 votes, with a winning margin of over 200 ballots.
Mr Tanangada, a secondary school teacher who holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) in Papua New Guinea, strongly advocated for “change” during his campaign.
His final campaign on the eve of polling day at Gizo was believed to have swayed a lot of undecided voters to his side.
ONLY FEMALE MP
A WOMAN has been declared the new Member of Parliament for (MP) for VATUD constituency after counting concluded last night.
She is the only woman MP in the 10th Parliament after most of the women candidates lost their seats.
Freda Soriakomua ousted two-time MP for the constituency Clay Forau Soalaoi.
CLASSROOMS BURNT DOWN
FOUR4 semi-permanent classrooms were torched by an angry voter in Kwareá, West Kwaraáe.
Police reports claimed the burnt houses included three classrooms made of thatched (sago-palm) leaves used by primary and one used by secondary students.
The burning incident took place on Saturday evening following the release of results for the constituency where Sam Iduri was re-elected for a third term.
A source from West Kwaraáe claimed the person responsible for lighting the fire is a community member of Kwareá.
It was believed the incident was related to the election results.
PAP MEMBERS LEAVE PARTY
FOUR members of Peoples Alliance Party (PAP) have withdrawn from the party to remain with the Honiara Hotel camp.
Wing leader Milner Tozaka (North Vella La Vella), and newly elected MPs Willie Marau (Ulawa/Ugi), Freda Comua (Temotu Vatud) and Duddley Kopu (Temotu Pele), have signed up with United Democratic Party and Kadere (SI) party to form a coalition.
This came after their party president, Sir Nathaniel Waena signed with Democratic Alliance Party (DAP), Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement (SIPRA) and the Solomon Islands People’s First Party (SIPFP) at Mendana Hotel.
Sir Nathaniel and his PAP colleagues have been in talks with United Democratic Party (UDP) and others at the Honiara Hotel camp immediately after the November 19 elections.
But sources revealed that he pulled out last Friday to join the Mendana Hotel camp after he was offered the Speaker’s job.
BOAT USED BY MPs SHOT AT
AN attempt to disrupt the election of the prime minister yesterday failed.
This was in the form of an attack on the fast craft (boat) carrying a group of MPs to Mbike Island resort on Ngella in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
According to the reports, several gunshots were fired and a petrol bomb was used to damage the boat in an attempt to prevent the MPs from returning to Honiara for the Prime Minister’s election.
The reports also claimed that a group of armed men came ashore in the early hours of yesterday on a black OBM (outboard motor) and then allegedly fired several shots on the fast craft and in the process threw petrol bomb at it before escaping.
The MPs who have camped the night out on Mbike Island resort did, however manage to come back to Honiara in time for the Prime Minister’s election.
SOGAVARE SWORN IN 10th PM
THE newly elected Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has been sworn in four hours after his election victory before the Governor General Sir Frank Kabui at the Government House.
Mr Sogavare was declared the country’s Prime Minister following a secret ballot in the parliament house after he won 31 votes to 19 against his contender Jeremiah Manele.
Mr Sogavare became the 10th PM, making him the first leader to hold the leadership role three times, although his past two previous times as the country’s PM were not served for the full term of the house.
MANELE IS OPPOSITION LEADER
THE Solomon Islands Peoples Democratic Coalition (SIPDC) has appointed Member of Parliament (MP) for Hograno-Kia-Havulei Jeremiah Manele as the leader of Opposition.
The coalition also appointed East Malaita MP Manasseh Maelanga as the Leader of the Independent Group.
Both appointments were done on consensus by members of the Coalition yesterday afternoon, after the Governor General announced the country’s new Prime Minister.
During a brief meeting held after the Prime Minister’s election, both Manele and Maelanga have congratulated newly elected Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) wishing them well as they take up the responsibility to lead Solomon Islands.
However, both leaders acknowledged that they would be playing their roles as watchdogs as they watch the new Government very closely.
BODO FACE PETITION
LOSING candidate, Albert Fono has filed a petition against elected member for North West Guadalcanal, Bodo Dettke in High Court y.
Mr Fono has engaged a local legal firm to challenge Nr Bodo over allegation of bribery and treating.
A spokesperson for Mr Fono’s camp said they have strong evidence with number of witnesses to testify against Mr Bodo in the court over this election related allegations.
The petition comes days after Mr Fono and Mr Bodo and their supporters took part in a traditional reconciliation ceremony over past issues.
ETE IS DEPUTY PM
MEMBER of Parliament (MP) for East Honiara, Douglas Ete is the new Deputy Prime Minister (DPM).
Mr Ete who is also the Minister for Home Affairs took his oath before Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui and other 20 Cabinet Ministers at Government House.
Political commentators described his appointment as a move to give Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langa-Langa, Mathew Wale the Ministry of Finance and Treasury portfolio.
Wale was initially nominated for the Deputy Prime Minister’s post during the nomination for Prime Minister’s candidate at Honiara Hotel, after he came second to Manasseh Sogavare.
TOVOSIA, VEKE FACE COURT
MEMBER of Parliament (MP) for East Guadalcanal Bradley Tovosia and former Premier for Guadalcanal Anthony Veke are facing court for charges of abuse of office and demanding with menaces.
Tovosia is facing one count of abuse of office and 13 counts of demanding with menaces, while Veke faces one count of abuse of office and one count of counts of demanding money with menaces.
These offences were allegedly committed in 2010 when Tovosia was working at the Guadalcanal Provincial Assembly and when Veke was Finance Minister for the Province.
Both have denied the allegations.
MINER UNDER FIRE
ST Barbara Mining Company has come under fire for putting out a paid advertisement warning people of the downstream Gold Ridge area of a possible spillage of the tailing dam.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Jeffery Kauha described the notice as overstated and a misleading threat.
St Barbara warned residents at the Gold Ridge downstream areas of the possibility of the tailing dam spilling out during this wet period.
It claimed the government did not allow them to dewater the tailing dam.
But Mr Kauha said St Barbara is trying to create fear to people, so that dewatering can take place.
BITTER LOGGING DISPUTE
ARMED Bougainvilleans living in Western Province are reportedly being used by an Asian logging company to terrorise villagers on Kolombangara.
This was over a logging dispute at Vila village, near Ringi Cove.
“My mother was harassed, threatened, and ridiculed by these armed Bougainvilleans with their Asian sponsors last Friday,” Earnest Ratu, who took up the fight against Poly Logging Company, told the Solomon Star.
“They also took away our 40-horse power engine and dumped it into the sea,” he added.
Mr Ratu and his tribes men took up the fight against the logging operation after one of their own, Lawson Pati and his sister Nosher, invited logging company YIMH Holding (SI) Ltd, to Vila.
The company arrived at Vila in September this year.
He said YIMH then sub-contracted Poly Logging Company to do the operation.
GUADALCANAL ELECTS NEW PREMIERS
GUADALCANAL’S newly-elected provincial members united in force to elect their new premier.
He is Bartholomew Vavanga, 59, of Ghaobata ward in northeast Guadalcanal.
All 21 members of the assembly, including his only opponent Peter Araonisaka, cast their ballots for Mr Vavanga, to earn him a 21-0 victory.
This was the first time in the history of Guadalcanal for all provincial members to stand together and united elect a premier.
RINI IS NEW FINANCE MINISTER
MEMBER of Parliament for Marovo, Snyder Rini is the new Minister for Finance and Treasury.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare also appointed MP for Central Guadalcanal, Peter Shanel as the new minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services.
Their appointments have completed the cabinet line-up of 24 ministries to date.