Thank you to Adorina Massing for writing up our interview with the assistance of Kizzy Kalsakau in Issue 6070 on 29 July 2020. I wish make some corrections and clarifications.
Paragraphs 3 and 4: I became President on 17 August 2004 when Mr. Serge Vohor was Prime Minister. He was followed by Mr. Ham Lini, who was followed in 2008 after general elections by the late Mr. Edward Natapei.
Para 5: Late Mr. Jimmy Stevens did not speak to me alone but to us New Hebridean students at USP, Suva in 1969, namely: Late Dr. George Bule, Mrs Daisy Quelevu, Mrs. Emma Willie, Late Ms. Kathleen Rarua and myself.
Para 7: “Get out of our land” was a general threat to New Hebrideans by plantation owners and plantation workers to New Hebrideans. I was never personally told to get out of a plantation land by its owner or anyone, but as a child I was very afraid of plantations.
Para 10: I have never examined a Fijian or New Caledonian passport so do not know what is written on it. My point was that Fijians were British subjects and New Caledonians are French subjects before their Independence and therefore had or have passports as subjects of Britain or France. New Hebrideans were stateless and therefore travelled overseas with a Certificate of Identity only.
Paras 13, 14 and 15: The Nagriamel was founded in the 1960’s as the first political movement and party. The New Hebrides National Party (NHNP) was started in 1971 as the New Hebrides Cultural Association. I joined NHNP at the end of 1971 after returning from USP for Christmas holidays. I am not aware of the reasons why the Nagriamel petition to the United Nations in 1971 was not successful.
Paras 16 and 17: In 1972 I was employed in the legal firm of Wilshire Webb Son & Doyle in Vila doing odd jobs.
At the time I was ad hoc secretary of the Vila subcommittee of the NHNP in 1972 under Chairmanship of Fr. John Bani (4th President of Vanuatu). Awareness programme of NHNP Vila Subcommittee was done after working hours and on weekends.
Para 21: I was Assistant Secretary General for part of 1975 only to run the NHNP office. The first Port Vila Municipal elections was held in June or July of 1975.
The Luganville Municipal elections was held I think in August 1975. First general election for the Representative Assembly was held in November 1975.
Paras 32 and 33: What I did say in the interview was that “Vanua’aku” can mean ‘our land’ or ‘our islands’ or ‘our country’. In 1979 the Chairman of Vanua’aku Pati was Mr. Ati George Sokomanu (1st President of Vanuatu) by virtue of he being Vice President of VP. In 1979 I was appointed by the NHNP Executive Committee to be Chairman of the VP Constitution Committee to lead VP discussions in the national Constitution Committee.
Fr. Walter Lini as Deputy Chief Minister in 1979 was Vice-Chairman of the national Constitution Committee. Fr. Gerard Leymang, Chief Minister, was Chairman of the Constitution Committee
Paras 43, 44 and 48: The Ombudsman produced a Preliminary Report only and not a final report concerning the Bribery case of 2015.
Late Mr. Allain Molgos, a senior officer of the Ombudsman office, was the officer responsible for writing the report. As Ombudsman I served during the terms of (in order) Prime Ministers Sato Kilman, Moana Carcasses, Joe Natuman, Sato Kilman again and Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas after the 2016 general elections.
Under law the Prime Minister is the spokesman for the Ombudsman.
Paras 49, 50, 57 and 58: I support the strengthening of custom governance within the framework of our constitutional framework and governance.
I know that marrying the two systems is not easy but possible in some but not all areas of society, governance and law.
Para 62: I did express celebration wishes to the Prime Minister and Ministers. I apologise that I did not express celebration wishes to the Speaker of Parliament, Leader of Opposition and Members of Parliament, but no doubt everyone celebrated ‘yumi 40’ very happily.