Around the world: media focuses on Pacific strongmen and other international stories


World 01Pacific leaders in the media spotlight this week, while the business benefits of Manus Island are debated and Australia issues an apology.

The Age assesses what the Australia–PNG asylum seeker deal means for PNG’s ‘new strongman’ Peter O’Neill, while Islands Business has published a fascinating paper (via by New Zealand academic Jon Fraenkel on why foreign policy has become so important to Fiji’s military ruler Frank Bainimarama:

‘Bainimarama’s success at courting international allies also stands in sharp contrast to his poor ability to sustain coalitions on the domestic front … While Bainimarama grandstands on the international stage—where many diplomats take at face value his claims about reform, anti-corruption and tackling long-run ethnic frictions—he shows little sign of having the acumen to deal with the protracted constitutional crisis he has inflicted upon Fiji.’

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Joining the dots, Lowy Institute’s Jenny Hayward-Jones identifies a ‘quiet tussle’ going on for Pacific leadership between PNG and Fiji in an interview with Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat:

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Comments by the CEO of the Manufacturers Council of PNG that PNG-based businesses are being overlooked for major contracts on Manus Island seemed to strike a nerve. They were picked up by local, international and social media.

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Finally, The Solomon Star reports that the Australian Government has been forced to apologise to the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands after he was subject to a random explosive security test at Brisbane Airport last weekend.

The article goes on to suggest that the misundserstanding may have stemmed from recent media claims by some of his Kolombangara constituents that Gordon Darcy Lilo had broken his word: unfortunately this translated as ‘PM man fo bom ia’ in the local pidgin dialect.