AUCKLAND, 30 JANUARY 2017 (RNZI) — An academic specialising in Pacific issues is urging the Kiribati government not to rush it’s decision regarding a businessman’s attempt to buy three uninhabited islands.
Russian businessman and politician, Anton Bakov, is looking to use the islands to create what he calls an “alternative Russia”.
He said he planned to invest about US$350 million in Kiribati, to build a resort and create jobs for local people.
But Sitiveni Halapua, who is a former Tongan politician, was sceptical, and said Bakov’s attempt to revive the Russian empire in the Pacific was a very weird idea.
Dr Halapua said the Kiribati government should do its homework on Bakov.
“I can understand the Government of Kiribati trying to do its best to raise as much resources as they can to deal with their own problems including climate change but one has to remember that sometimes you think ‘this is the solution to your problems’ and it turns out to make the problems worse.”
Pala Molisa, from Wellington’s Victoria University, said the Pacific was becoming the new hunting ground for predatory countries wanting to invest.
He said the Kiribati government had a fine balancing act between trying to attract investors and ensuring sovereignty and good development.
He said consultation with local communities was key.
“If you look closely at a lot of these experiments too, they’ve often been ways of practising a kind of cultural imperialism that actually runs roughshod off the voices and concerns of communities especially at the lower grassroots level, said Molisa…. PACNEWS [/restrict]