Call for PIF to assist beleaguered Nauru
Nauru government should get help with governance and management issues from the Pacific Forum or other bodies.
A Pacific political scientist says the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat or Micronesian agencies should step in and help Nauru.
It is a year since the bulk of Nauru's opposition was suspended from Parliament; the government has shut out foreign media scrutiny; it has made controversial decisions to restrict protests and most recently it has banned access to social media sites like Facebook.
The government claims this latest action is to end access to child pornography but the suspended opposition MPs say it is all about shutting down dissent over its controversial actions.
The head of the Pacifika Centre at Massey University in New Zealand, Malakai Koloamatangi, told Don Wiseman says Nauru is under pressure and needs help.
MALAKAI KOLOAMATANGI: I know from a government perspective that it's tried with the help of the Australian government to reform its constitution and to reform the way that government is conducted but obviously with not much success.
DON WISEMAN: I think in fact this current government at least according to the previous president tossed out a whole lot of things that were all set in place, anti corruption controls and this sort of thing. So the reformist agenda has been put on the back burner.
MK: That is right. So it is obviously going backward and I think a lot of it is not only political, I think it is also economic in addition to the asylum problem detention camps and so on and the controversies around that. But I think Nauru is under a great deal of pressure as a country to try and survive and that's a huge burden I think that the government is trying to face and I think it's not doing a very good job from the reports we've been getting.
DW: Although of course it has been making heaps through this camp. So much money for instance the airline is flying five planes where not that long ago it was struggling with one.
MK: I don't think it should have revived the airline in that way because obviously we don't want it to head in the direction the old Nauruan airline went down so I think more prudent management of its finances is very important. That's not happening yet. Also I think Nauru, in terms of governance, has never had a good governance agenda imposed on it properly I don't think. Certainly the aid donors have been quite lenient in terms of what it can do with its money. To be fair it's a whole lot of issues that unfortunately the Nauruan government is not in a good place to try and resolve and this is where we are heading.
DW: Why is there such a hands off approach? You can understand the Australian approach but New Zealand is contributing to the judiciary but there is no comment, no criticism from the New Zealand government.
MK: Nauru has always been seen as Australia's domain for obvious colonial reasons and so forth. Whilst New Zealand and others of course, for example the tuna fishing nations, regard Nauru as an important entity New Zealand probably feels that it's none of its business to put it bluntly and leaving it to the Australians. Australia, its hands are tied somewhat because of the detention camp and so on. In a way it has kind of left a vacuum in which Nauru could basically do what it wants to do which is not a good place for it to be.
DW: If you are an avid fan of Facebook, if you are an opposition MP or any of the other people not benefiting from what's happening in Nauru at the moment, if you're a refugee there, what's the solution?
MK: Well I mean. Knowledge of course is very, very important. What needs to happen in Nauru is perhaps not a solution that is posed from the outside as it were but perhaps it's time for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to look at Nauru and maybe also some of the Micronesian bodies that are quite close in proximity to try and find a way forward. Because what's going to happen is if New Zealand and Australia are seen to be imposing solutions on Nauru it is going to backfire with the likes of Fiji and so on calling for less involvement by New Zealand and Australia in the Pacific so perhaps the way forward is to try and rope in the Forum Secretariat in Suva to help the Nauruans find their way forward. The technology thing, the Facebook, the social media. I'm thinking it's just the tip of the iceberg.
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