This debate is a timely look, from a Pacific lens, at the global asylum seeker situation, where according to United Nations there are forty five million refugees worldwide. Many of then living in tents and make shift shelter, some of them are desperate enough to get into an unseaworthy boat, and try their luck landing on Pacific shores in places like Australia. Although Australia’s so called ‘Pacific Solution’ involving Papua New Guinea and Nauru has grabbed the headlines, this debate is not about debating the merits of that particular deal, but looking at the broader issues, of how Pacific nations should deal with refugees, both internal and external. It’s about developing long-term policy and not short term political fixes. Finding a balance between deterrence and humanitarian acceptance. Ultimately it’s about finding the Pacific Way on this this contentious issue, and making sure that a pacific perspective is heard. Pacific Nations are not strangers to refugee issues. Many have dealt with both internally displaced people in times of conflict in places like the Solomon Islands and Bougainville. While others like Palau have opened their doors to persecuted minorities, like the Uighurs from China. Already some of us are dealing with climate refugees, and this is likely to escalate in coming years.
The 2013 Pacific Debate brings a panel of great minds together to help us think through this important and challenging subject, debating the motion: ‘That as global citizens it is only right that Pacific nations accept their share of global refugees’. Speaking for the motion is the former President of Palau, the Mr Johnson Toribiong joined by Papua New Guinea’s High Commissioner to Fiji, His Excellency Peter Eafeare. Arguing against the motion is Mr Deni TuKunai, a young PNG based political commentator who blogs under the name Tavurvur, and Professor Biman Prasad who until recently was the Dean of the School of Economics at the University of the South Pacific. The debate is presented by Tania Nugent, the region’s highly acclaimed TV presenter and producer, and the moderator for the discussions is Kalafi Moala,publisher and managing director of the Taimi Media Network in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
The 2013 Pacific Debate was held at the Holiday Inn, Suva and produced in association with Fiji TV and the Oceania Development Network.