Friday, March 24, 2017

Photos of West Papuan supporters at "March in March" rally

Photos of West Papuan supporters at "March in March" rally

Protesters came out in Sydney today (25 March)  to send Malcolm Turnbull the people's message on all the issues of concern they have.
West Papuan supporters also joined in to fly the Morning Star flag and to raise awareness of the issue.

Video footage of march at Free Papua movement Australia Facebook page

Thursday, March 23, 2017

1) Man fined $500 for West Papua protest at Indonesian consulate

2) Indonesia urged to settle dispute amid Freeport workers’ outcry
3) Indonesia Wants Control of Freeport’s Grasberg Within Two Years
4) Freeport-McMoRan: New Twist At Grasberg

1) Man fined $500 for West Papua protest at Indonesian consulate
Jane Lee MARCH 23 2017 - 3:18PM
A man is refusing to pay a $500 fine for trespassing at an Indonesian consulate to protest against its presence in West Papua, saying Australia has sold him out.
Tyrone Gibb, 42, climbed the fence at the Indonesian consulate in Melbourne, and up to the building's first-floor balcony on January 6. He waved a separatist "Morning Star" flag for the Indonesian province of West Papua, which is banned in Indonesia.
Gibb pleaded guilty to trespassing on a protected property at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday.
He was arrested and charged after the Indonesian government criticised Australian authorities for not doing so, almost a month after the protest was filmed and distributed on Facebook.
2) Indonesia urged to settle dispute amid Freeport workers’ outcry
Jakarta | Thu, March 23, 2017 | 03:05 pm

Viriya P. Singgih The Jakarta Post

The demobilization process of workers of gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of the United States-based mining giant Freeport McMoRan, that operates the Grasberg mine in Papua, the world's biggest gold mine and second-largest copper mine. (Courtesy of/The All Indonesia Labor Union’s (SPSI) local unit for PT Freeport Indonesia)

Gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) employees have urged the government once again to immediately settle its dispute with the company as the number of laid-off workers has kept increasing from one day to another.
As of March 14, the company had laid off 2,102 contract workers, while giving long leave and offering voluntary resignation to 291 permanent staffers, according to the All Indonesia Labor Union’s (SPSI) local unit for PTFI, which represents around 12,000 PTFI workers.
The union also claims PTFI aims to dismiss 782 permanent staffers in the first phase of its efficiency measures.
“The company should discuss its efficiency measures together with the union so that both parties can reach a win-win solution,” Tri Puspital, an advocacy division member at the SPSI for PTFI, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Hence, he called on PTFI to stop such measures, while urging the government to immediately settle the dispute with the company.
PTFI was banned from exporting its copper concentrates on Jan. 12, when the government fully imposed the mineral export ban, as initially mandated in the 2009 Mining Law.
Under the new policy, PTFI can only process its export permit if it shows a commitment to converting its contract of work (CoW) into a special mining license (IUPK), divests 51 percent of its shares to local entities and build a new smelter alone or together with other companies. (bbn)

3) Indonesia Wants Control of Freeport’s Grasberg Within Two Years
by Yoga Rusmana  and Eko Listiyorini

The dispute engulfing the world’s second-biggest copper mine deepened as Indonesia’s government said it planned to take a majority stake in the local unit of owner Freeport-McMoRan Inc. within two years while workers at the pit threatened to go on strike.
The state enterprises ministry has cleared a government-run company to buy a majority stake in PT Freeport Indonesia, the local unit that runs the massive Grasberg mine in Papua province, according to Fajar Harry Sampurno, the deputy minister for mining, media and strategic industries. Freeport-McMoran would have to divest its share to a state-owned entity under a new contract that the Phoenix-based miner is yet to sign.
“We’re ready,” Sampurno said at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday. A local aluminum producer, PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, will be turned into a holding company to purchase the stake, he said. “Once the holding company is formed, they will immediately work on it.”
The preparations for state-ownership suggest Jakarta is refusing to budge in a dispute that’s curtailed mining at Grasberg and prompted Freeport to lay off thousands of workers. Under new rules announced in January, the government said companies that want to export semi-processed metals including copper concentrate must convert their contract of work to a special mining license, build smelters and add local investors. Freeport has refused to do so until it gets guarantees protecting its investment.

Sell Shares

The rules stipulate foreign miners must begin selling shares to local entities five years after starting production and must reach 51 percent local ownership by the 10th year. Freeport must immediately divest its stake after converting its contract, because the firm has been mining in the country for more than a decade, Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar said in January. At present, Indonesia holds 9.36 percent of Freeport Indonesia.
The government last month issued a special mining license, or IUPK, to Freeport, but the company vowed to hold out for investment safeguards that provide the same level of fiscal and legal certainty as its current contract of work. The miner served a notice to Indonesia’s energy ministry in February over the areas of dispute, and said it has the right to begin arbitration if they aren’t settled within 120 days.

Company Talks

Freeport Indonesia continues talks with the Indonesian government, spokesman Riza Pratama said by text message on Wednesday. A senior government official said in early March that the administration wanted to resolve the standoff in two weeks.
Last month, Freeport Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson outlined the company’s concerns, decrying both the process for converting the contract to a license as well as the divestment requirement. “These forms of regulations are in effect a form of expropriation of our assets, and we are resisting it aggressively,” he said at a conference.
Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, known as Inalum, will be turned into a mining holding company to purchase the stake in Freeport’s unit, according to a presentation by the state enterprises ministry on Wednesday. Local miners PT Aneka Tambang, PT Bukit Asam and PT Timah will become units of Inalum.
Aneka Tambang, the state-owned nickel miner known as Antam, is ready to participate in the Freeport purchase, according to President Director Tedy Badrujaman.
“Antam, because of its expertise, will probably be assigned to monitor mining operations at Grasberg, especially during the transition period, if the stake purchase went through,” Badrujaman told reporters in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Union Demands

The Grasberg labor union is adding pressure on both sides to resolve the dispute and resume mining that’s been reduced to about 10 percent of capacity and resulted in about 2,100 workers to be laid off.
Workers will protest in seven days if the government and Freeport fail to respond positively to demands outlined in a March 21 notice, Tri Puspital, the industrial relations officer at Freeport Indonesia’s labor union, said by phone.
The union wants the government to form a tripartite body to protect workers’ rights and find a resolution that ensures future operations at the mine, he said. Freeport should stop laying off workers, according to Puspital.
“Workers will protest with a rally, and won’t rule out the possibility of a strike if there’s still no response,” he said.

4) Freeport-McMoRan: New Twist At Grasberg
Mar.23.17 | About: Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX)

Vladimir Zernov  Long/short equity


The Indonesian government wants to take a majority stake in Freeport Indonesia in 2 years.
Papua administration also wants its piece of the pie.
Freeport-McMoRan should find a way to completely exit Indonesia with minimal damage.
The flow of news from Indonesia, where Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) fights for its contractual rights with the local government, intensifies. This is typically a sign that we may hear some concrete information soon. Volatility in Freeport-McMoRan's shares may increase, providing opportunities for both longer-term investing and trading.
I previously covered this story, so in case you did not see it, you may find it useful to read previous articles (here and here) to learn more about the context. Without further ado, let's evaluate the recent news from Indonesia and what they might mean for the company and for the stock.
Bloomberg reported that the Indonesian government wanted to take a majority stake in Freeport Indonesia in two years. Preparations for this action have already begun by turning aluminium producer PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium into a holding company.
At the same time, the administration of Papua, where Grasberg is situated, expressed its desire to get a 10% share of divested shares of Freeport Indonesia. Papua officials commented that Indonesian president "completely agreed with our stance on Freeport" and that Papua and Jakarta were fighting for the same thing.
As I previously commented, this time Indonesia is serious about getting its hands on Grasberg. In this light, all that Freeport-McMoRan can do is to maximize the value of its exit from Indonesia.
When the new part of the Indonesia story began, I was thinking that Freeport-McMoRan should find a way to minimize the damage and to continue operations at Grasberg. Now, it looks like the exit from Grasberg is almost inevitable and the only question is the price.
The reason for this is that Freeport-McMoRan cannot stay with a minority stake in the project as this will be a strategic suicide. The Indonesian government has already shown its inclination to change rules on the fly.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Petition seeks NZ govt stand on abuses in West Papua

Petition seeks NZ govt stand on abuses in West Papua

18 minutes ago 

New Zealand’s parliament has been presented with a public petition urging government action on the human rights situation in West Papua.

Maire Leadbeater presents her petition asking urging the government to address the ongoing human rights situation in West Papua.  Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox

Activist Maire Leadbeater and Murray Short, who was representing the Religious Society of Friends (or Quakers), presented their petition, with 729 signatures on it, to the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee.
This petition focuses on continued abuses of the right to freedom of expression and assembly in Indonesian-ruled Papua, citing thousands of arrests of people taking part in peaceful demonstrations last year.
Earlier this month in Geneva, seven Pacific nations called on the UN Human Rights Council to request that the High Commissioner for Human Rights produce a consolidated report on "the actual situation in West Papua".
Ms Leadbeater said their petition simply asked government to recognise the abuses and to take a strong stand on them.
“And we've suggested specific things, like calling for the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression to go to West Papua, and we've suggested that they take this up at the Pacific Islands Forum, and get them to support this, and also at the United Nations."

Maire Leadbeater (right) and Murray Short (left) present a petition to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee urging the government to address human rights issues in West Papua.  Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox
"We obviously put this petition forward in the context of serious concerns about grave and ongoing rights abuses," Ms Leadbetter explained.
"But we have to go step by step. An important first step would be to make it possible for there to be much freer access to West Papua, and for the Indonesians to have to take note of the fact that the rest of the world won't accept that they just go on arresting people who do nothing more than peacefully protest."
The committee thanked Ms Leadbetter for her presentation, with several MPs expressing appreciation at gaining a slightly better understanding of the situation in Papua, which remained a blindspot for many New Zealanders.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee Todd Muller hears from petitioners asking the government to address human rights issues in West Papua.  Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox
Indonesia's Joko Widodo-led government has made tentative moves towards opening up West Papua to outside access by foreign journalists.
But extensive restrictions remain for media in Papua, as well as international humanitiarian groups and NGOs, which are almost totally barred.
Jakarta is sensitive to what it sees as interference in its own domestic affairs.
Indonesia's Defence Minister recently urged Australia to tell Pacific Island governments not to talk about West Papua.

A Papuan pro-independence demonstrator is arrested by police in Jakarta, December 2015.  Photo: ROMEO GACAD / AFP
However Ms Leadbetter said Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua should not override legitimate concerns about protecting an indigenous people systematically under threat.
She cited the research of Jim Elmslie, an Australian scholar who has studied the marginalisation of West Papuan people, amid demographic patterns in Indonesia's eastern region.
Dr Elmslie's research into the situation in Papua uncovered a marginalisation so serious that it meets the stringent criteria under the Genocide Convention.
"That's a strong thing to say but his academic research backs that up carefully," Ms Leadbetter explained.
"So he says this is genocide and as far as he is concerned nothing trumps genocide, not even territorial integrity. And I think we have to make that loud and clear. It’s all very well saying sovereignty and territorial integrity, but not in the face of genocide - that's absurd."

Indonesian security forces detain hundreds of West Papuans at the Brigade Mobile headquarters in Kotaraja, 2 May 2016. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

1) Papua asks for 10 percent in Freeport divestment

2) Caledonian Sky destroyed more than 18,000 m2 of pristine Raja Ampat reefs, survey concludes
3) Environmental Damage, Social Conflicts Overshadow Future of Indonesia’s Palm Oil Sector

1) Papua asks for 10 percent in Freeport divestment
Fedina S. Sundaryani The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Wed, March 22, 2017 | 06:09 pm
The Papua administration has requested a 10 percent share of divested shares of copper and gold miner PT Freeport Indonesia if the company abides by a requirement to sell 51 percent of its shares to national entities.
Papua Governor Lukas Enembe met President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Wednesday to discuss the standoff between Freeport Indonesia and the government and how it would affect the province.
A similar request has also been made by Mimika Regent Eltinus Omaleng.
"This is our country and we must maintain our sovereignty. This is why 51 percent of its shares must be divested to us and we [in Papua] want 10 percent of them," Lukas said.
"The President completely agreed with our stance on Freeport. Papua and Jakarta are fighting for the same thing."
Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based Freeport McMoRan, has refused to accept a government demand that it convert its contract of work (CoW) into a special mining license (IUPK). The company argues that an IUPK would effectively annul its CoW, signed in 1991.
Freeport says it does not want to give up the rights listed in its present CoW, including protection of its long-term investment. It has threatened to take the case to international arbitration if a mutual agreement is not met in the next few months.
Freeport is required to divest 51 percent of its shares to national entities and, as stipulated in a new regulation, develop smelters alone or with other companies. (bbn)

2) Caledonian Sky destroyed more than 18,000 m2 of pristine Raja Ampat reefs, survey concludes
Jakarta | Wed, March 22, 2017 | 07:10 am
Survey teams from the government and the insurance company for the British-owned MV Caledonian Sky, which ran aground on coral reefs in West Papua’s famous Raja Ampat, have reached a conclusion regarding the area damaged by the cruise ship.
“The two teams have agreed that the ship damaged 18,882 square meters and both teams have signed an official letter together,” the deputy for maritime sovereignty at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, Arif Havas Oegroseno, said in press statement on Tuesday.
The damaged area has been divided into two categories. Some 13,270 square meters were heavily damaged while 5,612 square meters suffered medium damage. Still, the reefs damaged to a medium extent had only a 50 percent chance of survival, Havas said.
“If the medium-damaged coral reefs die then the area will be counted as total damage,” he said, adding that it would impact the valuation of the losses in parallel with the compensation claim.
Furthermore, the two survey teams had agreed to conduct a follow-up analysis, Havas said. The teams will meet in Jakarta to discuss the final survey results in the first week of April. 
The follow-up will include the economic calculation of the total losses by a valuation team lead by the Environment and Forestry Ministry.
The 90-meter British-flagged vessel owned by cruise tour operator Noble Caledonia smashed into and destroyed coral reefs in the Dampier Strait off Raja Ampat on March 4. (rin)

3) Environmental Damage, Social Conflicts Overshadow Future of Indonesia’s Palm Oil Sector
By : Ratri M. Siniwi & Muhamad Al Azhari | on 4:35 PM March 21, 2017

Jakarta. Palm oil is an important commodity for Indonesia's economy, contributing $17.8 billion, or about 12 percent, to its export revenue.
While this year the production of crude palm oil is likely to increase 16 percent, to up to 33 million tons, with expected conducive weather conditions, environmental issues and social conflicts continue to overshadow the sector's future in the world's biggest palm-oil producing country.
Just earlier this month, the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) approved a set of recommendations to the European Commission, which will phase out the use of palm oil as a component of biodiesel by 2020 and require exporters to prove responsible cultivation practices on their plantations.
A report prepared by the European Commission says that as the demand for palm oil is estimated to double by 2050, it poses severe environmental damages to oil-producing countries such Indonesia, Malaysia and others in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Palm oil industry has been accused of causing deforestation, environmental degradation, and human rights violations ranging from land disputes to child labor.
The report is due for a vote in the European Parliament on April 3-6.
In response to the report, Indonesian experts, executives of an organization seeking to promote sustainable development, and a former government official, have started to defend the industry that employs millions.
"This is a real black campaign, involving conflicts of interests, and deriving from trade competitors," said Bayu Krisnamurthi, former deputy minister of trade and agriculture in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's cabinet.
Bayu is now the chairman of the Indonesian Society of Agricultural Economics, which provides expertise to the agricultural sector.
In November 2013, the EU set duties of 8.8 percent to 20.5 percent for Indonesian palm oil producers to apply for five years. It argued that by imposing duty on the raw products, an advantage will be given to domestic producers.
The Indonesian government's is going to file a complaint to the World Trade Organization against the duties.
Petrus Gunarso, a member of the Indonesian Forestry Scholars Association (Persaki), rebutted the claim that Indonesia's palm oil industry is the main contributor to the country's deforestation, claiming that most of the palm oil plantations, which currently cover about 11 million hectares, were previously rubber plantations.
Petrus said that many farmers had converted their plantations as the price of rubber has been declining and palm oil cultivation is more profitable.
"That's why the sizes of our rubber plantations have shrunk," he said, adding that plantations are also established on degraded forests, which the government classifies as non-forest estates.
"By Indonesian law, that's not deforestation," Petrus said.
While palm oil producers may need to work more on convincing Europeans to buy their products, at home they have to deal with social conflicts, especially regarding land disputes.
The Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development, IBCSD, has commissioned a team to study the costs of these conflicts.
Using 2016 data from five plantations in Kalimantan and Sumatra, the team concluded, in a report titled "The Cost of Conflict in Oil Palm in Indonesia," that the tangible costs of social conflicts ranged from $70,000 to $2.5 million. The biggest direct costs were income losses due to disrupted operations.
The intangible costs, according to the report, ranged from $600,000 to $9 million, and were due to reputational losses, casualties and property damage.
The reputational losses, according to the study, affect the companies' ability to obtain loans, decrease the demand for their products and their stock market value.
"Conflicts are going to exist in all industries, it's our homework now to find the most feasible solutions for the companies and communities," said Aisyah Sileuw, president director of consulting firm Daemeter, which published the report.
As the infamous commodity makes the industry the most favorite one to bash on, Aisyah believes it is "impossible to get rid of it," not only because of the huge export revenue it generates, but also since 40 percent of the country's smallholders depend on palm oil.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

1) Freeport Continues To Negotiate, Arbitration Not An Option

2) Pacific Regionalism - Making an Impact in 2017
3) Indonesia not yet ready to handle cruise ships: Official
4) Jose Ramos Horta lashes out at Australia over East Timor ‘failed state’ fears

TUESDAY, 21 MARCH, 2017 | 17:24 WIB
1) Freeport Continues To Negotiate, Arbitration Not An Option
TEMPO.COJakarta - PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) decided not to rest too much hope with international arbitration because the company asserted that it will only lead to a no-win situation. Freeport will continue to negotiate with the Indonesian Government in order to seek a win-win solution.
Senior Vice President of PT Freeport Indonesia's Geo Engineering Wahyu Sunyoto, said that the American based mining company persistently refuses to alter their Contract of Work into a Special Mining Business Permit (IUPK).
"Don't let the arbitration happen. As for the Government's six month deadline, we will use it well," said Wahyu on Monday, March 20, 2017.
Wahyu revealed the ongoing dispute between Freeport and the government had forced the company to stockpile their mineral concentrate and cut down production capacity. In addition, allowing the dispute to continue, according to Wahyu, will endanger the company's operation and production capacity of its Grasberg Mine.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Government remain unhinged and continues to be persistent with their initial offer that Freeport Indonesia should switch their CoW to an IUPK in order to increase the country's income.
Director General of Mineral and Coal at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Bambang Gatot, said that Freeport's contribution for Indonesia's state revenue is considered too small.

10:43 pm GMT+12, 19/03/2017, Fiji

By Dame Meg Taylor
This will be an important year for the Pacific, with many opportunities to progress the priorities decided by Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum when they met in the Federated States of Micronesia in September last year. These priorities include climate change and resilient development, management of our fisheries and our ocean, international and intra-regional trade and investment, disability and gender equality. These priorities recognise and respond to the concerns and ambitions that the people of the Pacific have raised through new avenues for consultation and dialogue within the Forum, initiated under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
Forum Leaders called for an inclusive and game changing approach to development when they adopted the Framework for Pacific Regionalism in 2014. Leaders recognise that Pacific Regionalism now, and into the future, must be adaptable, innovative, inclusive, and most importantly, it must positively impact the lives of our people.
At the heart of Pacific Regionalism is collaboration and partnerships. Last year we welcomed French Polynesia and New Caledonia as full Forum members, and Germany as a Forum Dialogue Partner. Each of these relationships offer new and valuable prospects. This year we must continue to develop genuine and enduring partnerships across all our stakeholders so that we can implement the transformative policy initiatives that Pacific Regionalism reaches for.   
I see many opportunities to advance our regional priorities in 2017.
Our region is 98% ocean. The Pacific Ocean is at the heart of our cultures and we depend on it for food, income, employment, transport, and economic development. How we manage this resource is critically important. The Forum has undertaken to increase the economic, social and environmental benefits accrued from our oceanic and coastal fisheries through improved management and monitoring. With regard to our oceanic fisheries we are currently focussed on four key areas of work: reform of longline fishery management; increasing the value of employment and ensuring effective labour standards; facilitating greater investment and trade; and scaling up value chain participation. Coastal fisheries are important for food security and the health of our people and this year will see a greater emphasis placed on resourcing for management in this sector.
Of course, the ocean itself knows no national borders and therefore the region has great interest this year in the international negotiations relating to the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) and protecting Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). We are committed to unpolluted and sustainably managed eco-systems, and we wish to ensure that the appropriately high levels of conservation that we apply to our own countries is replicated in the international waters that surround us.
Progressing these and other related issues at the global level is an opportunity the Pacific will take to the UN Ocean Conference, which Fiji is co-hosting, in New York, 5 – 9 June.
Many in our region have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of climate change and disasters. Guided by the values of Pacific Regionalism, the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP) represents a risk-informed approach to development that factors the effects of climate change and disasters into the planning of both national and regional strategies. This is the first time in the world that a regional response that complements national level strategies has been attempted. In endorsing the FRDP, Pacific Leaders recognised the need for a Pacific Resilience Partnership – comprising Forum member countries, regional agencies, civil society, private sector, and multilateral banks and agencies - to coordinate its implementation. The first meeting of that Partnership took place at the Forum Secretariat in Suva recently and it was a positive first step which saw a vibrant exchange of ideas and experiences. Further investment in, and development of this Partnership in the coming months will lead to increased opportunities for our most vulnerable into the future.    
With Fiji, a Forum member, as President of this year’s 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) there is a great opportunity for highly visible collective diplomacy that calls on developed countries to increase their ambition to reduce carbon emissions. Together we can advocate for accelerated implementation of the Paris Agreement, which captures many of the core climate related priorities of our most vulnerable countries, including addressing loss and damage, simplified access to climate finance, and limiting global temperature increases to 1.5C above pre-industrialised levels.
The promotion of human rights is a core value of Pacific regionalism. Forum Leaders are committed to open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia around allegations of human rights abuses in West Papua (Papua).  Forum Leaders are also committed to the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in their quest to obtain just and fair compensation from the United States of America for the ongoing consequences of nuclear testing conducted in their country in the 1940s and 50s. Work in both these areas is ongoing and will continue this year.    
Much work has been done in recent years to develop National Trade Policy Frameworks across the Forum and this year, in line with Leaders commitment to streamlining business processes and harmonising business practices, we can look to those documents as the foundation for developing an implementable plan to achieve this. With the reputation of Pacific exporters and importers continuing to grow internationally, this initiative, along with work being done by our Pacific Trade and Invest network, represents further areas of potential and growth.
Forum Leaders are committed to inclusivity, equity and equality. In the last two years Leaders have endorsed the Pacific Framework for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration. In doing so, the region has pledged to work together to uphold these values and following through is a responsibility we share and must actively get behind.
As you can see, there is much being done and much still to do. The implementation of these initiatives is our primary focus. In February of the last two years we have run a public process that enables the people of the Pacific to contribute regional policy ideas that the Forum should consider. This year we will defer that process until after the Forum Leaders Meeting in Samoa in September. This is to ensure that the Forum Secretariat, the Council of Regional Agencies in the Pacific (CROP), and our development partners can maintain that focus on supporting implementation of our existing regional priorities in the short term.
Pacific Regionalism in 2017 must improve the lives of Pacific people. It needs to be at the vanguard of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in the region. It needs to drive economic growth and it needs to ensure safe and secure societies.
Pacific people must continue to speak about what issues are important, what issues Leaders should be paying attention to, and what the solutions might be. They also need to be included in the implementation of those solutions.
Most importantly, we need to work together at different political and technical levels. It is through committed and inclusive collective action that the region will have the best chance of achieving development impact in 2017.
I remain committed to the vision of Pacific Regionalism and firmly believe that by working together we can achieve meaningful and sustainable development for our people.
Dame Meg Taylor is the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

3) Indonesia not yet ready to handle cruise ships: Official
Jakarta | Tue, March 21, 2017 | 05:58 pm
Regardless of who will be blamed for the recent kerfuffle surrounding UK cruise ship the MV Caledonian Sky, which ran aground in Raja Ampat, West Papua, damaging coral reef in the area, the deputy minister for maritime sovereignty at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, Arif Havas Oegroseno, said it must be admitted that Indonesia was not yet accustomed to handling a large number of cruise ships.
Speaking to journalists during a recent interview, Arif Havas said it was only recently that cruise ship companies across the world included Indonesia as one of their destinations because of a string of regulations imposed by the government.
“They were previously somewhat reluctant to visit Indonesia. They just wanted to stop in Singapore. They didn’t want to enter Indonesia because of its [flawed] bureaucracy, its ‘red tape’ [illegal levies] and poor infrastructure,” he said as quoted by on Tuesday.
With a growing number of cruise ship visits, Arif Havas said infrastructure in Indonesia was not yet ready to handle the challenge.
“Our effort to draw in more ‘cruise visits’ to boost our tourist sector will certainly result in challenges,” he added.
One of the measures the government will take is to tighten regulations for cruise ships that pass through conservation areas such as Raja Ampat.
Arif Havas said in other conservation areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, cruise ships were allowed to pass through but were subject to tightened regulations.
“It’s not a strange thing to have a cruise ship enter waters with coral reefs.”
Arif Havas said with the current availability of tourist infrastructure in the country, the government was still calculating how many cruise ships could safely enter Indonesian waters. (hol/ebf)
4) Jose Ramos Horta lashes out at Australia over East Timor ‘failed state’ fears
10:47 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2017, Timor-leste

East Timorese leader Jose Ramos Horta has lashed out at what he calls “outrageous” claims before an Australian parliamentary committee that his country could be heading towards becoming a failed state.
“What fly-in-fly out so-called instant experts on East Timor claim is outrageous…it's just nonsense,” Dr Ramos Horta, a Nobel laureate and East Timor's former president and prime minister, told Fairfax Media.
It is the first presidential election since the departure of United Nations peacekeepers in 2012.
“It's either ignorance or malice,” he said, adding “I'm sorry. I don't pay much attention to these so-called academics.”
Rebecca Strating, a lecturer at Victoria's Latrobe University, told parliament's treaties committee on 14 March it could "very well be" that East Timor is the "architect of its own demise" and there are indications that like a number of fragile resource-wealthy post-conflict states" the country is “resource cursed.”
She said a window on developing the US$40 billion Greater Sunrise oil and gas field in the Timor Sea has “partially” closed because of lower gas prices and a long-running dispute with Australia over how to develop it.
“There are elections this year…a change of government or a change in personalities might produce a government that is willing to think a little more laterally or flexibly around the interests in the Timor Sea,” Dr Strating said.
“But since 2012 it seems to me that this pursuit of independence may actually create a failed state in Timor-Leste (East Timor),” she said.
In response, Hansard records the chair of the committee chair telling Dr Strating “tremendous…most enlightening.” The architect of their own demise' is my favourite statement of the day.”
Speaking after East Timorese voted at presidential elections on Monday, Dr Ramos Horta said his country's sovereign wealth fund has US$16 to US$17 billion invested in US bonds and 1000 portfolios around the world and is spending some of it to develop badly needed infrastructure, such as roads.
He said the government in Dili is talking with a consortium led by ConocoPhillips to resurrect shelved plans to develop Greater Sunrise before negotiations with Australia on sea borders are completed by a September deadline.
“I would say there is a very good chance that Greater Sunrise will be developed,” he said.
“How I don't know. I am not involved,” he said.
East Timor's independence hero and political power-broker Xanana Gusmao has demanded gas from the field be piped to a proposed US$1.4 billion industrial complex on the country's remote southern coast.
The ConocoPhillips consortium wanted the gas to be extracted from a floating platform or to an existing refinery in Darwin.
Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres, a former anti-Indonesian guerrilla fighter, who in vote counting on Tuesday was set to become East Timor's next president, has also told Fairfax Media there are now “better prospects” for developing Greater Sunrise, which would deliver billions of dollars in revenue to his country.
But Clive Schofield, director of research at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Research and Security, told the parliamentary committee that at current gas prices it is "not entirely likely" that a commercial decision would be made to develop Greater Sunrise.
“We have low oil and gas prices. I suspect the asset, as it were, will be put on the shelf until such a time as gas prices in particular rise sufficiently to make it viable,” he said.
Asked about Dr Ramos Horta's comments, Dr Strating said she wanted to clarify that she does not think East Timor is "necessarily" heading towards becoming a failed state – only that this is possible if an agreement is not reached before oil revenues from an existing oil and gas field and the sovereign wealth fund run out.
“This is why it is so vital for Australia and Timor-Leste to find a hasty compromise (on Greater Sunrise),” Dr Strating said
“Timor-Leste only has five years until the oil revenues are gone. The revenues provide over 90 per cent of the state budget,” she said.
“If Timor-Leste does not have a source of income to provide for state budgets it is very possible that it will become dependent on aid.”
Dr Strating said multiple reports had predicted sovereign fund could be depleted within a decade.
She said her comments were not made out of malice but for concern about what happens if East Timor and Australia are unable to reach an "expedient" agreement on Greater Sunrise.