21 August 2019
Personal observations on the key-note addresses made at the National Security Summit in Honiara.
A National Security Summit has just commenced in Honiara and I was interested to learn what the Hon Prime Minister and the Hon Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services had to say in their opening key-note addresses about the government’s national security strategy (NSS).
The Prime Minister spoke about border security and the threat imposed by cyber crime and Mr Sogavare was right to mention the need for closer attention to be paid to the cyber crime threat.
What do we understand to be the nature of cyber crime in this day and age? By definition it means this:
“Cybercrime, or computer-oriented crime, is a crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target.
“Cybercrimes can be defined as: "Offences that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet (networks including chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups) and mobile phones .
“Cybercrime may threaten a person or a nation's security and financial health. Issues surrounding these types of crimes have become high-profile, particularly those involving hacking, copyright infringement, unwarranted mass surveillance, child pornography, and child grooming.”
Computer crime encompasses a broad range of activities and a common one concerns financial fraud, defined as:
“Computer fraud is any dishonest misrepresentation of fact intended to let another to do or refrain from doing something which causes loss. In this context, the fraud will result in obtaining a benefit by:
- Altering in an unauthorized way. This requires little technical expertise and is a common form of theft by employees altering the data before entry or entering false data, or by entering unauthorized instructions or using unauthorized processes;
- Altering, destroying, suppressing, or stealing output, usually to conceal unauthorized transactions. This is difficult to detect;
- Altering or deleting stored data;
Other forms of fraud may be facilitated using computer systems, including bank fraud, extortion and theft of classified information.”
During my early police career computer crime was largely unknown but today law enforcement officials need to have a channel to communicate and share information about cyber crimes as the offences are transnational.
Not all computer crimes can be thwarted by one country acting alone as it has no power to deal with offenders overseas, he said.
Although every country has its own measures to catch these offenders, there are still legal differences between the countries, which help criminals, get away with it.
Based on this, it is necessary to build a channel where law enforcement agencies in the Solomon Islands can exchange information about cyber crimes, ranging from basic offences to complex transgressions.
Cyber crimes are committed by those who have technical knowledge at various levels and Solomon Island’s own communication channel could help plug loopholes exploited by those committing cyber crimes and assist countries in amending laws to stem the transgressions.
The world has realised that cyber crimes are a new trend. Even the United Nations pays attention to the issue and considers that countries should not wait until the situation becomes critical and then find ways to deal with the problem. It is therefore fitting that the Solomon Islands is taking the necessary measures.
I doubt the Solomon Islands has a Computer Crimes Act, and to be able to effectively deal with offenders in terms of cyber crime acts, it would be necessary, I believe, to introduce such a statute.
In her opening speech, the Hon. Mrs Tanangada said:
“The NSS also seeks to provide the people of Solomon Islands with a first resort option to respond to any simmering threat.
“Speaking of threats we will be talking more about these at the Summit proper but perhaps it suffices for me to highlight the fact that our beloved country is relatively secure,” she added.
“She further stated that Solomon Islands shouldn’t worry too much about possibilities of terrorism or invasion by another State.
“But our real security concern is climate change followed by the onset of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“The lack of economic opportunities too is a threat because of the distress caused on our citizens
“Distress if not managed adequately can lead to tensions which we know can be destructive,” Mrs Tanangada said.
She added that none of these require investment in military arsenal.
“What we need is sensible and well-targeted policies to improve our resilience against climate change, deal with NCDs and foremost and a robust economy that is capable of creating opportunities for our people,” she added.”
I fully endorse Mrs Tanangada’s concerns over the threats imposed by climate change and the growing incidences at home of NCD’s, and readers will know I have regularly expressed my own concerns on such matters.
In respect of NCD’s and particularly in regard to obesity and the manner in which being overweight leads to diabetes, heart conditions, stroke, high blood pressure and even cancer, I would like to say that there is a very great need in the Solomon Islands to consider imposing a sugar tax and some form of import controls over the importation of packaged and tin food products that are high in fat, sugar and salt.
Cutting down on sugary drinks will help to reduce obesity and the same if junk food is curtailed in shops.
In line with the thoughts of Mrs Tanangada, one would hope that as the health and social consequences of obesity are very apparent in the Solomon Islands, the DCGA will do something about the NCD’s threat.
Sixteen Government MPs Declare Support for Solomon Islands-Taiwan Relations
Quoting the Solomon Times on Line – 21 August 2019
After months of heated public debate over the Taiwan - China issue, sixteen government MPs have come out openly, expressing their strong support for the Solomon Islands to remain with Taiwan.
Copyright @ 2019, Solomon Times on Line.
20 August 2019
Offensive words strain relations with Pacific islands countries facing the centrality of the threat from climate change.
Last November one of Australia’s opposition leaders, Penny Wong, spoke at the APEC Study Conference about making sure Australia could be the ‘partner of choice’ for Pacific island countries.
During the Conference, Ms Wong is understood to have acknowledged the centrality of the threat from climate change to the Pacific island countries and said the Australian government should have a climate change policy, seeking to align Australian policy with the policies of Pacific island countries.
Ms Wong has again been speaking out on the radio in Australia following the outcome of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tuvalu last week.
The basis of what she has been saying is that the reported comments of Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack who was caught on tape saying island nations affected by climate change would continue to survive by picking Australian fruit was damaging to Australia’s image when seeking to be a partner of choice for its Pacific neighbours.
The Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has also accused the Australian government of taking a "big step backwards" in its relations with the Pacific, after Mr McCormack’s remarks.
The Australian shadow Minister for the Pacific, Pat Conroy, said Mr McCormack's comments had rubbed salt into fresh wounds.
"They're incredibly offensive, they're ill-informed, are counter-productive and will further undermine Australia's position in the Pacific," he said.
Mr Conroy said he was concerned the remarks would have diplomatic consequences in a region where China was gaining an increasing foothold.
Today, Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, downplayed tension between Australia and other Pacific nations during last week's Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu.
He said, quoting Radio New Zealand.
“The tension was to be expected.
“The Samoa Observer reported Tuila'epa saying the leaders' retreat at the forum summit was a place where leaders were encouraged to have frank exchanges of ideas to resolve difficult issues confronting the region.
“Part of the tension in Tuvalu was the way Australia drove its perspectives home by reminding leaders of the aid Canberra had provided the region, he said.
“But Australia should pay attention to climate change for its own benefit, Tuilaepa said.
“Australia's prolonged drought, forest fires, cyclones, flash flooding, bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and the consequential threat to marine resources are well known effects of the climate crisis, Tuila'epa said.”
New satellite dishes for University of the South Pacific
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 20 August 2019
“More than 400 students studying at the University of the South Pacific in Tuvalu now have faster internet after a new satellite dish was commissioned at the Funafuti campus last week.
“Campus director Rosiana Lagi said the dish was part of university improvements to information and communications technology services at its regional campuses.
“Nine other campuses will also receive new satellite dishes in Niue, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tokelau, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands, she said.
"Most of the courses are taught online from the main campus at Laucala (Fiji) where majority of the lecturers are. So having the satellite (dish) will improve our students' access with the lecturers," Dr Lagi said.
“The dish was commissioned by New Zealand's Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, who was in the Tuvalu capital last week for the Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit.
“It is one of two dishes funded by New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Tuvalu campus, Dr Lagi said.
“It would also benefit members of the community and NGOs in Tuvalu, who are allowed to use the campus library for research, she said.”
Copyright @ 2019, Radio New Zealand.
NZ funds human rights monitoring in Pacific
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 20 August 2019
“New Zealand is supporting a new rollout of human rights monitoring in the Pacific.
“$US400,000 in funding will allow the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) to expand its programmes in the region.
“The NGO, which is holding workshops in Auckland this week, will use the money to build data sets on economic and social rights in the Pacific.
“Its development lead, Anne-Marie Brook, said it was the first time they had accepted money from a government and a clause had to be inserted into its contract with New Zealand's Foreign Ministry to safeguard HRMI's independence.
"Because human rights are so politically sensitive, it's really clear that human rights needs to be measured independently of government because governments often face conflicts of interest," she said.
“HRMI's data on the Pacific is porous and often anecdotal, according to its economic and social rights lead, Susan Randolph.”
“The funding will allow more comprehensive data to be collected to help Pacific governments and civil society groups tackle human rights abuses, she said.”
Copyright @ 2019, Radio New Zealand.