Pacific news in brief for May 31

Papua New Guinea – gold

The controversial plan for the Papua New Guinea government to set up a gold refinery has been shelved for the current parliamentary sitting.

The government plans, the National Gold Corporation Project and the associated Shareholders Agreement, have been shrouded in secrecy, drawing the ire of Transparency International and the Institute of National Affairs.

The Mining Minister, Muguwa Dilu, is reported in The National newspaper saying he has “advised the Government and has written to the Speaker and Clerk to remove it from the order paper”.

The proposed legislation’s strongest advocate is Rainbo Paita, who had been in cabinet, but is now the opposition candidate for prime minister, if a vote of no confidence in the James Marape administration goes through.

Five people have been killed in a crash on State Highway 3 / Ōhaupō Road near Te Awamutu on 28 May, 2024.

New Zealand – crash

Two people of Tongan heritage were among the five people killed in a car crash in New Zealand’s Waikato region on Tuesday.

Police have not yet formally identified the victims but they have been named in various news reports.

An elderly couple who died in one car have been identified as Paul and Lois Grimmer.

RNZ Pacific’s Tonga correspondent Kalafi Moala said the three people in the other vehicle were Piata Ofufangavalu, Cheyene Love-Mitchell and Suliasi Lefai.

“Suliasi and Piata were of Tongan heritage,” Moala said.

The crash happened at 4.44pm on Tuesday on State Highway 3 in Ōhaupō, about halfway between Hamilton and Te Awamutu.

Piata Otufangavalu was farewelled at Te Awamutu College on Thursday.

She was being taken to the high school’s O-Tāwhao Marae, according to an outline of her tangi, which will end with a burial in Ngunguru, in Northland on Sunday.

Kaniva Tonga reported it is understood her father is Tongan.

Marshall Islands/Taiwan – meeting

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine has met with outgoing president Tsai Ing-wen on a visit to Taiwan.

President Heine expressed her thanks for outgoing president Tsai’s support to the Marshall Islands through her eight-year tenure as president of Taiwan.

The Marshall Islands Journal reports she also congratulated new Taiwan president Lai Ching-te.

President Heine said the Marshall Islands remains committed to further strengthening the strong bond of friendship between the two countries, and in the promotion of peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

Marshall Islands/Japan – handover

Japan’s Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Kazunari Tanaka has handed over heavy machinery as part of a program for social and economic development.

Tanaka handed over two excavators, two wheeloaders, one dump truck, and one high-pressure cleaning truck, the Marshall Islands Journal reported.

These went to the Ministry of Public Works, Utilities and Infrastructure, and the Wotje, and Jaluit local governments.

Minister of Public Works Thomas Heine said the donations are necessary due to the lack of resources on the outer islands to respond to natural disasters.

Pacific – climate

Congressmen are seeking to open the Philippines to refugees from climate-stricken nations.

Business World reported a house bill filed this week seeks to amend the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 – by allowing the Philippine President to admit environmental refugees from residents of developing island states in the Pacific Ocean for humanitarian reasons.

Party-list representative Samuel Versoza Jr said the bill not only addresses the immediate needs of climate refugees, but also sets a precedent for global responses to similar crises.

Pacific – tribunal

The Pacific Islands Forum chair has welcomed the recent advisory opinion from the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

The tribunal found “anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere” do count as pollution of the marine environment.

It also found state parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea “have the specific obligations to take all necessary measures to prevent, reduce and control marine pollution from anthropogenic GHG emissions”.

Mark Brown said this advisory opinion “will serve as a guiding landmark for our collective efforts to combat marine pollution and climate change, and to protect and preserve the marine environment”.

Fiji – water

Thousands of cases of Fiji Water sold through Amazon have been recalled, after testing found manganese in addition to three bacterial genera.

In an enforcement report, the US Food and Drug Administration said this was found in cases of the water sold between 1 February and 3 March.

The FDA classified the recall of the roughly 1.9 million bottles on Thursday as the lowest level of seriousness, in which a product “is not likely to cause adverse health consequences”.

Natural Waters of Viti Limited, which produces Fiji Water, told USA Today customers who bought the water were identified and contacted, and 99 percent of affected bottles reclaimed from warehouses, with the remainder in warehouses to be returned.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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