Momentous Stories From 36 Year Ago

ON THIS DAY 36 years ago Vanuatu, known then as the New Hebrides, was gearing up for its freedom from colonial rule on the 30th of July 1980. On this same day the then stateless people of the islands of the New Hebrides were counting down the hours as they looked forward to be adorned with their new Ni-Vanuatu Citizenship.

The social atmosphere then was a blend of excitement, patriotism, eagerness and happiness. The people were more than ready to embrace independence and to rejoice in their new world of freedom.

It is there important that all citizens of the Republic of Vanuatu take the time this weekend to remind ourselves of the reasons why we struggled for independence. To name a few, our independence granted us the access to freedom, including the right to enjoy life, the right to move around, to express our thoughts, and the right to own land.

For those of us that were not there in the 80’s to witness those historical events that accumulated up to the 30th of July 1980 we have parents and older relatives who were there. Ask them to tell you about their experience, do not let this weekend go by without learning a part of Vanuatu’s history.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) had had the opportunity to talk with some of the nation’s founding leaders and record their experiences. Some of their stories were published in a series of articles titled From Statelessness To Freedom’ in 2015 through to early 2016.

The following below are interesting extracts from the mentioned series that TIV would like to share with you;

The symbols that confirms Vanuatu is an independent and sovereign nation are the National Flag, the National Motto, the National Anthem, and the National Constitution.

Mr. Ati George Sokomanu was one of those that actively took part in struggle for independence. He said this about the National Constitution when TIV spoke with him.

“When God send Moses to Mount Sinai and He gave him two stone tablets with the Ten SokomanuCommandments written on them. The National Constitution is like Vanuatu’s Ten Commandments…to guide us”.

“Between 1979 and 1980 the group (founding leaders) formed the constitution and legislations to prove to the colonial powers that Vanuatu is capable of looking after itself” explained Mr. Sokomanu, “1979 and 1980 were two very important and formal years because we tried to form legislatures on how to move forward independently… (we) wanted to protect our values, beliefs, cultures, faith and be free”.

“We had nothing to protect us. If we did something wrong, whether it be in the French or English Court, you had to face it,” Mr. Sokomanu explained. “My house in Mele was codenamed the ‘Blue House’. By orders of the British administrator my letters in my mail box, which was P.O Box 478, were being opened and checked at the Post Office. Once I was informed of this through my sources within the British government I revised my plan and began writing and receiving my letters in Fijian…I am fluent in the Fijian language” he said.

It is hard to imagine now that over 36 years ago the people of Vanuatu were considered as a ‘stateless people’ – which meant that the people had no country of their own therefore their rights were very limited. Even though colonized by two very powerful nations the people were not citizens of either one of them.

“Being stateless did not empower us to claim our land, and even claim ownership of our own indigenous lands, when we wanted to travel abroad, the British or the French resident commissioner will issue travel identity documents” added Sokomanu.

The current Ombudsman of Vanuatu Mr. Kalkot Mataskelekele was an energetic young man at that time and he also participated in the events leading up to 1980.

He smiled while reflecting back on that period of Vanuatu’s history, and he let out a fewKalkot laughs when mentioning some of the activities that they did back then; composing a protest song for the Queen, and then singing that song in front of the Queen.

Mr. Sokomanu confirmed that there were those within the independence movement that were tough, they did all sorts of activities to promote independence and freedom in their own ways. He continued to say, with humor, that “(Kalkot) Mataskelekele and (Barak) Sope were the two of the tough ones within our group.”

When 1980 came Mr. Mataskelekele was overseas, “I was in PNG during that time” he said. “I was finishing my studies. I used to work then with the Vanua’aku Party between my studies, I received a plane ticket from the government of Vanuatu to attend the independence celebrations”.

Mr. Mataskelekele added, “I took part in the independence march in 1980, I had a camera and I was filming. I was sitting with the crowd. My tears fell when the new national flag went up. I was filming on my camera but my hands were shaking. I was proud and very emotional”.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu Hon. Joe Natuman was a member of the National Constitution Committee that was formed in the late 70’s.

“Before we achieved Independence in 1980, Chiefs had no say in the decision makings ofJoe Natuman the country, they only had a say in their nakamal’s,” Hon. Natuman explained when he met with TIV.

While they were formulating ideas on what should be included in the new Vanuatu Constitution they made sure that customary governance was not excluded. “We decided that another institution should be created to recognize the traditional government system in Vanuatu, that is why we created the National Council of chief or Malvatumauri (in Chapter five),” Hon. Natuman told TIV, “this is to ensure that the Parliament can work together with the National Council of Chiefs”.

“This national umbrella brings chiefs together to discuss and promote their chiefly roles and responsibilities as well as work to protect our traditions and cultures,” Hon. Natuman said.

Mr. Robert Jovi, who performs the role of the Chiefs Messenger at Matanvat Community, North West Malekula, also participated in the events that led up to Independence.

“We were given the flag prior to the flag raising ceremony in 1980. We were supposed toRobert celebrate at Tondar (North West Malekula), but at that time a conflict arose here between the different political factions. People from Vao came here to attack us but we also stood our ground. There were people that held guns, military types, they blocked the roads”.

When they came we told them not to enter the gates, they must stand outside. Because if they came inside there will be a problem.

Mr. Robert was operating a tele-radio inside the dispensary at that time, and was in contact with Father Walter Lini.

“So I talked with Olfala (he used the term Olfala, meaning ‘elder’ in Bislama language, when referring to Father Walter Lini) in Vila, and he said ‘Chief, do not let the shedding of blood happen. Leave the flag, if you want to give it to them then give it’. So we took the flag, prayed over it, and gave to them. I then took the tele-radio and came to my house and contacted Olfala and he asked me if I had done everything that he had asked me to do and I said ‘I have done everything that you asked me to do’.”

Still the situation on North West Malekula was tense, so Mr. Robert contacted Fr Walter Lini again to ask so security personals, “I then asked for a chartered flight to come to secure us during the time of independence but Olfala said ‘no that will not be possible. But we will just pray that God will stay with you, because as long as the (Vanuatu) flag reaches all the islands, then we are independent”.

Those are a few of the many accounts that talks about the workings of different individual’s, who at different places and times, participated to make sure that the transition from colonial rule to freedom was possible.

Sadly, as time went by, year after year, the yearly Independence Anniversary Celebrations has moved away from reminding citizens of the struggles and the values that forged the nation’s independence, especially people that were born in the last 36 years.

Dr. Willie Tokon, the Chairperson of Transparency International Vanuatu, says that “it is good to take this time now to show respect to the people that fought for our independence. Young people need to show respect to their seniors and likewise.”

“The integrity of Vanuatu must also be uplifted and maintained. Teach our values to our younger generation so that they can continue to practice and promote the values that we fought for”.

TIV believes that the courage, commitment, and the bravery shown by our founding leaders should be used as motivational resources for good and honest development in our nation and in the communities.

Happy 36th Independence Anniversary to people of Vanuatu.










30 Photo’s: Vanuatu Victory Parade 2016

THE 2016 VANUATU VICTORY PARADE that took place on the July 28th briefly decorated Port Vila City in red, green, and yellow colors.

The Victory Parade marked the official opening of the 36th Independence Anniversary Celebrations in Vanuatu.

Below are 30 Victory Parade Photo’s that we would like to share. Happy Independence Celebrations!

  1. Lift your flag high whatever its size.


2. The Vanuatu Flag, in differences sizes, decorated the Victory Parade.


3. The Victory March has happened every year since the 80’s.


4. The Prime Minister looking on at the Guard of Honor at the Independence Park.


5. At Ease; Members of the Vanuatu Police Force.


6. Officers from the Vanuatu National Youth Council.


7. Soldiers from the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) who led the Victory Parade.


8. Members of the public with their bright Vanuatu colors at the Independence Park.


9. Mayor of Port Vila (in green) and the Minister of Foreign Affairs (in red).


10. The letter ‘Y’ on the Vanuatu flag represents the geographical position of the islands of Vanuatu from the north to the south.


11. The Minister of Health (far right in red) and the President of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs (center in black) among fellow marchers.


12. The RED color on the Vanuatu flag represents the blood of the people.


13.The GREEN color on the Vanuatu flag represents the natural vegetation of the islands and its richness.


14. The PIGS TUSK represents values of the islands traditions, custom and culture.


15. A citizen with his flag.


16. This child  participated in the Victory Parade with his father. It is important to keep reminding those of us that were born in the last 36 years of the struggles and the values that forged the nation’s independence from, not just one, but two colonial powers.


17. The VMF Band leading the Victory Parade through the CBD of Port Vila.


18. The YELLOW color on the Vanuatu flag represents the color of the Gospel through the islands of Vanuatu.


19. Police Officer waving the Vanuatu flag.


20. The Vanuatu Mobile Force Soldiers holding-up arms during the parade through the CBD of Port Vila.


21. Marchers moving up to Independence Park to witness the official speeches.


22. The Independence Park is where the Vanuatu flag was raised for the first time on the 30th of July 1980.


23. VMF at the Victory Parade.


24. The Minister of Justice (Centre in blue) in front of the parade through town.


25. Hundreds of people took part in the Victory Parade, in this photo the paraders are at the base of the hill going up towards Independence Park.


26. A closer shot of the masses of Victory paraders.


27. The ‘Namele’ leaves (located inside the pigs tusk) on the Vanuatu flag represents peace and unity for the islands of Vanuatu.


28. The Prime Minister inspecting the Guard of Honor.


29. The BLACK color on the Vanuatu flag represents the Melanesian people who inhabit the islands of Vanuatu.


30. VMF and the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) leading the parade while backed by a sea of national colors.



10 Photo’s : Children’s Day Celebration In Port Vila

Some photos from the Vanuatu National Children’s Day 2016 that took place in Port Vila on the 24th of July. The theme of the event ; ‘Year 6 – Class 1’.

According to  messages that were delivered during the day, when children reach the age of six (6) they must move out from Pre-School Education and begin attending Primary Education so that early childhood education can be effectively promoted in Vanuatu.


Transparency International Vanuatu To Keep Only ‘Skeleton’ Staff

THE TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU Board of Directors will, unfortunately, have to let go of the few staff that have remained ever since the organisation begun facing funding cuts early this year 2016, only staff members that work to disburse information and establish external relations will remain in the office for a few more months.

As of Wednesday the 27th of July 2016 Transparency International Vanuatu will have limited staff in the office after almost fifteen years of extensive networking, advocacy, lobbying, researching and reporting on corruption.

This means that as of Wednesday next week the widely implemented Civic Education Program will cease to be conducted in the outer islands except the island of Efate.


Regrettably, the distribution program of Free Bislama Vanuatu Constitution Books will have to stop on Tuesday the 26th of July, 2016.

Fortunately, all radio shows that broadcast opinions and discussions by Transparency International Vanuatu will continue including the weekly articles on the Transparency Page that is published every Friday in the Vanuatu Daily Post. This also includes the blogsite www.tivnews.wordpress and facebook, YouTube and twitter accounts that has gained over four thousand followers.

In light of this, the Chairperson of Transparency International Vanuatu Dr. Willie Tokon, on behalf of the Board of Directors as well as the staff, would like to offer a grateful and heartfelt acknowledgment to the Vanuatu Daily Post for continuing to be a very supportive media partner.

Further acknowledgement goes to Radio Vanuatu, to Capitol FM 107 and 96 Buzz FM and the Media Association of Vanuatu. Transparency International Vanuatu has always utilized the media in its efforts to advocate against corruption and to deliver to the people the necessary information that they need in order that they can make the right decisions.

Also, acknowledgements also go to VANGO, the NGO, and the Civil Society community and also to the Government of Vanuatu and the numerous people that have interacted with TIV. Transparency International Vanuatu also appreciates the work that former the Board of Directors including the former staff have invested in the organisation.

“Despite this unfortunate turn of events we have not lost hope yet, we believe that we will continue to fully operate again, maybe soon, maybe later, only God knows,” Dr. Tokon

IMG_6978 (2)

Dr. Willie Tokon

says. “We have witnessed our hard work throughout the islands of Vanuatu take foothold in many lives” explained Dr. Tokon. He further added that “we have seen how much citizens appreciate the free services that we provided them, it is therefore sad that we will have to stop those services.”

“However, the organisation will continue to operate for a few more months but it will be very limited to project based activities. But until then, we would like to let all our partners and the public know that the office will function in a very limited capacity until a further notice is made to announce future operations,” concluded Dr. Tokon.

Transparency International Vanuatu’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC), a TIV project that provides free legal service, had already closed down in March 2016.








Serving For 35 years With No Salary, This Citizen Deserves Recognition.

IT IS STORIES like this that make you realize the true meaning of independence, and why we should have already delivered vital resources to the most remotest parts of Vanuatu;

“This is the first time for me to see the Constitution of Vanuatu” expressed an elder from Tseriviu community who has continued to run his Aid Post at Tseriviu in the Big Bay area of Santo since the early 80’s.

He not only saw the Vanuatu Constitution, but Transparency IMr. Thomas Palonternational Vanuatu (TIV) made sure that he went home with one. His name is Thomas Palo, and he is well over seventy years old but has continued to practice and put his medical skills into good use.

For the isolated communities of Big Bay on the island of Santo Thomas is more than just an ordinary villager, he is a live saver. Though he is clearly well over the retired age Thomas is still strong and continues to address his people’s medical needs.

“When I was still young I studied nursing at the PMH (Paton Memorial Hospital) at Iririki from 1955 to 1957” he recalled. “In 1957 I finished my studies and returned to Big Bay and served under the Presbyterian Church Mission here before I was transferred to go and work under the British Government” he says.

This Citizen Deserves A Medal

He served as a medical provider under the British Government for a good number of years up until the late seventies, “I finished working with British Government in 1977. And in 1981, a year after we achieved independence I started the Aid Post here at Big Bay. Since then, I have served now for 35 years at the Aid Post” he said with an accomplished look on his face.

“I started the Aid Post and I have worked from it until today” he explained. “I have no salary. If I vaccinate you now, you pay me a hundred vatu, and that is all I need. I get my medical supplies from the pharmacy at the Northern District Hospital in Luganville.”

At that point in the conversation another villager came in to confirm that Thomas does not receive any official wages, only the villagers supply him with necessary necessities, “to try and make up for his unpaid years of hard work” he added, “ and yet he continues to help all the people in the area of Big Bay.”


Transparency International Vanuatu officers met with Thomas after a Right To Information awareness session that was held at his community in late June 2016. His story is remarkable and shows true independency and a commitment to serve the nation against challenging odds.


As we move closer towards celebrating Vanuatu’s 36th Independence Anniversary we must also keep in mind that there are hundreds, or if not thousands, of citizens out there who have, and still are, serving the country in their own special ways like Mr. Thomas





Corruption in Sports: The Global Report

EARLY THIS YEAR Transparency International published the report – Global Corruption Report: Sport. The report focused on corruption issues in the handling of major sporting events, and comprehensively analyzing sports corruption in organisations, government, sponsors, athletes and several more. The report looked at a dozen topics surrounding sports and how corruption is a risk to sports governance, major events, and the business of sport.

In May 2015 nine FIFA officials and affiliated corporate executives were arrested for racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies. For those of us that are not familiar with the first corrupt act mentioned above, racketeering happens when a company, or any individual, secretly causes a problem and then gets paid to solve it. It is a form of extortion. The arrest of those FIFA officials brought to light the existence of corruption within a major sporting body, and its ripple effect has continued to shake sports organisations all over the world

Sports is a multi-billion dollar business industry. And because sports involves huge funds Transparency_International_Global_Corruption_Reportsome people with corrupt minds use sports to their advantage thereby imposing a risk to the use of sports as a way to live healthy, to showcase talent, and to financially give back to society.

Now that Vanuatu is currently organising itself towards hosting the 2017 South Pacific Mini Games preventing corruption in the planning processes is a requirement that must be emphasized. The South Pacific Mini Games is a major sporting event that will involve millions of vatu and tonnes of resources, therefore it is important to stay on track with good governance.

With regards to major sporting events, a universal analysis is that successful bidders often serve the interests of a few; and they could be athletes, real-estate owners, construction firms, and politicians. Furthermore, political and secret interests could harm the lives of many and definitely do not serve the majority of the population.

As mentioned, a general critique is that the interest of a few could harm the lives of many;

“These critiques are often linked with accusations of corrupt behaviour, for example against political officials who are accused of being misled by influential individuals and making decisions against the ‘real will’ of the majority. Such critiques regularly hinder the efficient planning and organising of these events. Furthermore, such, critiques undermine the positive image of sports organisations. The violent protests in Brazil in 2013 were a clear signal that successful sporting mega-events need to have the support of a broad majority of the population and need to be planned and managed in an accountable manner.” (Global Corruption Report: Sport, Pg. 170)  

The Global Corruption Report on Sport further talks about several aspects of corruption in sports involving human resources, finances, planning decisions, and the management of sports events. The report is, according to David Conn who writes predominantly on football for British newspaper -The Guardian, “another contribution that sports must be true to the love people have for them.”

Transparency International aims to mobilise wider audiences in the fight against corruption through connecting the sports community to the wider movement against corruption. This ‘Corruption in Sport Initiative’ includes partnerships with experts, supporters and sponsors through new research, analysis, dialogue and key recommendations.

Transparency International’s focus areas are:

  • Improving the governance of sport organisations
  • Strengthening the integrity of the bidding, awarding and hosting of major sporting events
  • Preventing and combatting match-fixing

CLICK HERE to download the Global Corruption Report on Sports.



Constituency Representation in the Parliament of Vanuatu

IN THE LAST FIVE MONTHS Vanuatu has had three Parliamentary Sessions – the Budget Session, the Special Parliamentary Session, and the First Ordinary Parliamentary Session. In this report we look, and measure, the participation of our Members of Parliament (MP) in those three sittings.

On the 1st of July Transparency International Vanuatu put out a report on the roles and responsibilities of a Member of Parliament. The responsibilities of a Member of Parliament includes looking at issues, from government policies to new laws and wider areas like human rights.

MP responsibilities also involve working in their constituencies so that they can provide a direct link between their constituents and the Parliament. “In their constituency, MPs often visit their people, where local people can come along to discuss any matters that concern them,” this is according to a statement on the Vanuatu Parliament website.

Finally, of all the MP’s responsibilities one of the most important one is having the privilege to participate in debates and discussionsduring session. In the Parliament MP’s can raise issues that affect their constituents, join in debates and vote on new laws.

MP Participation Score

Below is the MP Parliament Participation Score compiled by Transparency International Vanuatu. The performance score was measured according to the number of times the MP asks a question, gives a supplementary, or provides a comment on a particular topic.

Parliament Budget Session

The 2016 Parliament Budget Session took place on the 21st of March, 2016. This Budget Sitting had already been a- long-overdue task, and it was important to roll it out once a new government was formed after the Snap Election in January, 2016.Untitled_infographic

The Budget Session recorded a fifty percent (50%) participatory rate by the Members of Parliament. This means that of the 52 Members of Parliament of Vanuatu half of them, which is 26, participated – they asked questions, provided supplementary on opinions, and commented or voiced concerns on matters affecting their constituencies and including national matters.

The amount of comments, supplementary, and comments on record totalled up to 113. Evidently, the most vocal MP during the Budget Session was the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau who scored twenty one percent (21%) of the total 113.

Furthermore, among the newe14st Members of Parliament, apart from the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Ephraim Kalsakau was the most vocal taking twelve percent (12%) from the total number of questions, comments, and supportive opinions raised.

On the Government side the newest MP’s with the high participation rates were Hon. Albert William, Hon. Francois Chani, and the Hon. Isaac Daniel. All of them secured a 2.6% participation score.

Special Parliamentary Session

The Special Parliamentary Session was conducted on the 16th of June, the Special Session aimed to amend parts of the Constitution of Vanuatu that concerns the registration of political parties, provision for reserved seats for women, legal extension to the life of parliament, numbers and manners of no confidence votes and many other things.

The Special Session was supposed to be held for two days, however following legal factors and timing constraints the Sitting went for not more than two hours.

The Special Session recorded a thirteen percent (13%) participatory by the Members of Parliament. This means that of the fifty two (52) Members of Parliament seven (7) of them participated – they asked questions, provided supplementary on opinions, and commented or voiced concerns on matters that affected national interests.

The Hon. Ishmael Kalsakau was again the most vocal MP during this session with a twenty five percent (25%) on participation while the other six MP’s shared 12.5% each.

The Hon. Andrew Napuat is one of those six MP’s, though a newcomer to Parliament he was vocal during this Special Session.

First Ordinary Session of Parliament

The First Ordinary Session of Parliament was supposed to run for three days, unfortunately owing to legal matters and the lack of time the Session covered less than 10 hours.

It is notable that the lack of time, and almost a week of legal matters contributed to low participation. Thus, the Participation Rate for MP’s during the First Ordinary Session is twenty nine percent (29%), this means that 15 MP’s asked questions, provided supplementary on opinions, and commented or voiced concerns on matters that affected national interests.

The Hon. Albert William, Hon. Ephraim Kalsakau, and Hon. Ishmael Kalsakau had fourteen percent (14%) participation rate each. Also, during this Session several new MP’s raised, for the first time, their opinions and concerns to the Parliament.

Overall MP Participation

Accordingly, the overall parliamentary participation of the Members of Parliament for the last five months settles at fifty eight percent (58%). This shows that 30 MP’s out of the 52 MP’s raised were vocal on issues that affect their constituencies and including matters of national interest.

As for the 35 newest MP’s, 18 of them asked questions and raised concerns during the first three parliamentary sessions of this year, 2016.

Constituency Participation in Parliament

There are 18 Constituencies in Vanuatu, some of them have more MP’s than others. This is, of course, in accordance with regards to population and geographical reasons.

This is how the constituency representation is calculated in this report;

If only one MP, from a constituency that has two MP’s, raises concerns about his constituency then that means that that constituency has had a 50% parliamentary representation. However, if both MP’s speak during a Parliament Session then the representation rating would be 100%.

Thus, according to the principle explained above, the constituencies that have had 100% representation in Parliament are – Torres, Pentecost, Epi, and Tanna. Those that have had 50% to over 50% representation are – Santo, Luganville, Ambae, Malekula, Ambrym, and Efate. And those with less representation are – Banks, Maewo, Paama, Shepherd Islands, Tongoa, and Tafea Outer Islands.

Bar ChartThe constituency of Malo/Aore had not parliamentary representation during this period due to the passing away of the late former MP Havo Moli.

Constituency Representation


This parliamentary participatory scores does not reflect at all the work accomplished by MP’s outside of the parliament and in their constituencies.

It must also be noted that this scores apply only to the MP’s participation during a parliamentary session, and it specifically records, in percentage, how many times an MP asked a question, provided a supplementary, or commented on matters that surrounds the welfare of his constituency and topics of national interest.

The scores do not take into account the time ministers, leader of government business or the prime minister presented a bill in parliament. It also excludes the speaker of parliament.

Evidently, the Parliament Opposition has achieved a higher score, and this is good, because normally they are expected to ask the most questions. It is also notable that several members from the Government side had raised questions and concerns on Government Bills

There are, as mentioned, several factors that may have contributed to less, or no participation, by some MPs in the 3 session of parliament, and that includes the lack of allocated time, and legal matters.

More analysis of parliamentary participatory performance, including each constituency’s participation scores, can be found online at the Transparency International Vanuatu Infogram website.

CLICK HERE to download the report.