Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ABC Radio Australia Asia Pacific News Update

25th January 2011

Solomons PM dismisses plans to reconvene parliament

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Danny Philip has dismissed plans by the opposition to petition the governor general to force a sitting of parliament.

The opposition claims it has a parliamentary majority but Danny Philip says he has the support of 24 MPs which is enough for him to lead the government.

The Solomon Star says four ministers who had reportedly joined the Opposition have pledged their allegiance to stick with the Prime Minister.

Danny Philip says the government is stable and intact.

"I appeal to you the people in the opposition if you truly have a heart for this country, come over and serve. We have a program," he said.

"If you want to take over the government, what are you going to do? Push another resolution, who will be your prime minister?"


Cyclone Wilma moves towards Fiji

A gale warning is in force for Fiji as tropical cyclone Wilma moves towards the Lau Islands.

The category three cyclone is now approximately 90 kilometres west of Nuku'alofa in Tonga.

Earlier on Tuesday, Cyclone Wilma passed over Tonga's Vava'u and Ha'apai Islands.

Disaster management officials are waiting on word from authorities in Ha'apai where it's believed the cyclone has caused some damage.

There is concern for people in low-lying areas because the cyclone hit during high-tide.


PNG orders investigation into attack at LNG site

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister has ordered an investigation into the attack on builders working on the country's multi-billion dollar Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project.

Sir Michael Somare has instructed Foreign Minister Don Polye to lead a government team to Hides in the PNG Highlands, where workmen for a gas conditioning plant site were attacked.

Four employees of Clough Curtain Joint Venture, a contractor to the PNG LNG gas project, were injured last Friday.

The attack was sparked by the death of a 4 year child who allegedly consumed powder like substances used at the construction site.

The developer, ExxonMobil says it has shut down construction work on the gas conditioning plant site at Hides until the safety of its employees is guaranteed.

The government has deployed additional security forces to prevent further trouble.


CNMI considers educational-tourism program with Taiwan

The governor of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Benigno Fitial, has returned from a trip to Taiwan where he met President Ma Ying-jeou to explore economic, trade and investment  opportunities.

The governor's office says he is particularly interested in pursuing an educational-tourism program to allow Taiwanese students to study English in the CNMI.

Marianas Variety reports Taiwan's president expressed his appreciation for the implementation of the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, which allows Taiwanese nationals to enter the CNMI and Guam, without a visa.

He said the program makes it more convenient for Taiwanese tourists to visit the Northern Marianas.


Fiji strengths ties with Kiribati

A delegation from Fiji's interim government has met representatives from Kiribati to strengthen bilateral relations.

Fiji's delegation visited Kiribati last week.

The two nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year, which includes working closer together on areas such as trade, education, labor mobility, immigration, health and fisheries.

Kiribati Foreign Affairs Secretary, Tessie Lambourne, says Kiribati has an important trade relationship with Fiji

"One thing that needs to be understood is the role of Fiji, the role that Fiji plays in region and especially for the smaller countries like Kiribati," she said.

"Fiji is one of our major trading partners and a lot of the goods that we get from abroad come through Fiji if not from Fiji itself."


Funeral held for Fijian soldier killed Afghanistan

A funeral service has been held in Suva for Fijian British Army soldier Private Joseva Vatubua.

Fijilive news reports family, friends and the British High Commissioner attended the service at the Commonwealth War Cemetery.

Major Cliff Whithead who accompanied Private Vatubua's body from the UK said he was brilliant and a strong man who had many good qualities.

The 24 year old was killed on New Year's Day when an improvised explosive device went off near his patrol in Helmand province.

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