‘Prioritise recruitment of skilled Melanesians’: Vanuatu PM


Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, who is also chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat has stressed any future employment within the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat must be sourced from MSG member countries.

“We must first look with in our region, if we have people with required skills,” he said.

“If the Melanesian region does not have those skills sets for any upcoming job then we can look beyond our region.”

PM Kalsakau made it clear to MSG Director General, Leonard Louma that the MSG needs to be more vocal on issues affecting our region.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that we are a strategic bloc to be reckoned with,” PM Kalsakau said.

“We have a huge land mass, population and natural resources. Therefore, we need to be more vocal and energise towards ensuring that the region gets as much attention as it can.”

This comes after DG Louma had responded to a Daily Post article on 11 January, 2023 titled, “VFWPA eyes protest Against Indonesian recruitment at MSG”, in which the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association (VFWPA) threatened to stage a peaceful demonstration if the MSG Secretariat pursues its plan to recruit Indonesians.

He stated that saying only Melanesians should work at the MSG Secretariat is like saying that only Pacific Islanders should work at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, adding it is disingenuous to suggest such a notion.

The DG said the MSG Secretariat has engaged non-Melanesians in the past to work on specific projects to implement decisions made by Leaders.

He confirmed two non-Melanesians are assisting them on two specific projects and said the MSG Secretariat’s Staff Regulations, which were endorsed by the Governing Bodies, provide for recruitment of persons outside the MSG region.

Meanwhile, PM Kalsakau noted Fiji now has a new Prime Minister and there is a need to start talking.

Kalsakau said there are also issues with Kiribati that made him started thinking Vanuatu should be speaking out more as Melanesians so that no one feels isolated and vulnerable.

“As Chair of the MSG, my best interest would be to have a meeting with my colleagues just so we hold ourselves true to the aspirations of our founding fathers,” the PM said.

“I will be meeting with the Australian Prime Minister, so it is crucial that we meet for a shell of kava at the MSG Secretariat or virtually with other leaders. I want to feel that Melanesian spirit of brotherhood before meeting with the Australian PM now that Australia is a member of MSG under the Pacific Islands Forum. The more we continue talking with each other with an open mind, the more the MSG bloc will grow stronger.”

The Chair was also informed that the MSG is running five programmes on Youth, Climate change, Environment, Culture and Research and Education and Human Rights.
On the issue of West Papua, the new chairman was told that the position of each member states differs from the other countries and there is no joint position and as a result the MSG Secretariat has left the West Papuan issue to national governments.

“This is different from human rights abuse which the MSG leaders have agreed for the United Nations (UN) to send a team to West Papua,” said DG Louma.

PM Kalsakau questioned DG Louma on why West Papua should be treated differently.

According the new chairman, if they are given full membership, it will enable them to properly address their concerns to the group.

He also said that FLNKS in New Calédonie who is a member of the MSG will soon take up an office space at the Secretariat office in Port Vila.

Kalsakau called DG Louma into to his office recently, following his election as Prime minister.