Social Concerns Notes – September 2014

First PNG Children Website In The Making

By Sr Mary Claude Gadd – Madang

The Catholic Children’s Ministry PNG was created by the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands at their Annual General Meeting of April 2013 in Madang. That was the time when they asked Sr Mary Claude Gadd  to further develop the children’s ministry in the Church. Soon it will have its own website: www.CatholicChildren’

Sr. Mary Claude, you are not young anymore, but you are taking the children’s ministry to the internet. Where did that idea come from?

From the Holy Spirit!  And it’s true, I’m not 21 anymore, but I am young at heart!  And also if we want to evangelize the world, then we have to go where it is and most of it is on the internet! I think it was Pope Francis who said we must go where the sheep are and we know that many sheep spend a lot of time on the internet.  The new website shall feature and showcase to the world Catholic activities being carried out in PNG on behalf of our most vulnerable children.

Apparently there is not much being done for children in Papua New Guinea outside the traditional schools our Church has always provided.

It’s not true! Thus far I have identified close to twenty (20) special Programs being carried out across PNG by Catholic individuals or organizations on behalf of disadvantaged and needy children. We plan to update the website regularly with opportunities for everyone to send in new stories and photos of recent activities.  Once this website is up and running all of us can make reference to it, where people can see what we are doing to help build a child-safe Papua New Guinea.  And by the way, we also hope to eventually link the website with Facebook and Twitter so many more can see what God is doing in PNG!

Are the current Catholic activities for children’s welfare well distributed around Papua New Guinea?

Yes, I would say so. They’re mostly present in the bigger cities though I am confident we will eventually find some meaningful programs in many smaller places as well. In Port Moresby, for example, we have Fr. John Glynn’s We care! Foundation (for Women and Children at Risk) and the Sacred Heart Brothers’Program, Save our Children and Youth (SOCAY). In Lae, Fr. Arnold Schmitt runs a Program for Street Children; in Mt. Hagen Mercy Works has the “Taxi Boys” Program. In Kundiawa Dr Fr Jan Jaworski, MD, has St. Bernadette’s Hospital School for school age patients. The ambulatory young patients attend classes every day; the bedridden one have the teachers come to their bedside.  Callan Services operates in several dioceses caring for children who are differently abled.  All over PNG through our Health Centres and VCTS, Sr. Tarcisia Hunhoff, ssps, directs the Mother to Child HIV/AIDS Transmission Prevention Program as well care for children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS; Fr. Valentine Gryk, SVD, from Goroka,  directs the Missionary Childhood Program and the Missionaries of Charity in different parts of PNG are running a new Catechesis Program for Early Childhood aged children.  Many of our parishes have Junior Legion of Mary Programs as well as Sunday School Programs for young children.  One of our Catholic Secondary Schools has a Peer Education Program against HIV/AIDS called Warriors of Hope.  Fifteen (15) of our dioceses have two or more Diocesan Child Protection Officers (DCPOs) who work tirelessly to educate the public on Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, on Child Abuse and the Rights of Children. In the near future we shall be training some 600 Parish Child Protection Volunteers.  They will help the DCPOs to educate the public and create in the local communities a protective environment for our children. On the drawing board for the Archdiocese of Mt Hagen is a new family home for abandoned and neglected children. What emerges from all this is a portrait of the “integrated human development” of the most vulnerable members of our society. There is a lot going on, but there is a lot more to be done yet.  For example, there is the alarmingly high number of abandoned babies in our hospitals and other health care facilities, the displaced victims of sorcery especially children, children with disabilities or mental health problems needing skilled caregivers, the Disaster Risk Reduction in high risk areas such as mining and primary industries and finally how to salvage from further harm the young children already engaged in the sex industry of Night Clubs in Port Moresby.

TB a huge burden for children

Post Courier, September 02,2014

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is a huge burden for children, says Dr William Lagani, the Health Department’s manger for family health services. He told the symposium that in 10 provincial hospitals last year there were a total of 2455 children admitted with tuberculosis, with 268 known deaths, and a case fatality rate of 10.9 percent. Dr Lagani said childhood TB reflected the high transmission rate of TB in the community, the impact of HIV epidemic on TB cases and urban poverty. Pulmonary TB and TB meningitis contribute substantially to high rates of child mortality, malnutrition and impaired neurological and cognitive development.

Progress in child TB will require better links between the National TB program and child health.

He said suggested some measures for that were needed to address TB burden. He said there was a need for a Health Department policy of keeping patients in hospital for the full duration of their intensive phase treatment whenever feasible. Anther measure was to have TB Outreach nurses follow patients from hospital wards to home and supervise their care, and ensuring TB drug was available in all health centres.

Dr Lagani called for the training of health workers on child TB management, through the hospital care for children course, ensuring the availability of tuberculin solution in hospitals, and introduction of GeneX-pert testing in more provincial hospitals.

Symposium reveals cancer burden in PNG

Post Courier, September 01, 2014

THE medical symposium in Goroka has heard that the country’s cancer burden has reached unacceptable levels and needs addressing at the primary level and not only at the secondary and tertiary levels. “By the time we refer a patient to the tertiary level most of the time it is only for palliative treatment. They usually will not survive, “says CEO of Kimbe General Hospital Dr Victor Golpak. “Our cancer mortality rates are not accurate because the majority of our cancer patients are discharged to die at home.” Furthermore, the majority of these patients present at the point of definitive treatment too late, for various reasons such as lack of access to a health institution, failure of a primary health worker to recognize the disease, failure of a hospital worker to recognize the disease, failure of the system to allow prompt referral to an appropriate specialist, failure of the system to provide necessary resources to properly investigate and treat affected patients, failure of the patient to recognize his or her own problem, especially if there is no pain.

Dr Golpak said primary health includes awareness and risk communication to all levels of the community. It also includes properly managed programs like active screening for risk factors and detection of early lesions, and also prevention programs as in immunization against causative agents.

“In PNG we do not have a formal cancer screening service to pick up early lesions of common cancers that are treatable if detected early,”

Officers to stand trial

The National, Tuesday September 2nd, 2014

 SIX police officers have been committed to stand trial in the National Court over their alleged involvement in the brutal treatment of a group of men in Port Moresby last year. 
Waigani Committal Court magistrate Cosmas Bidar ruled that there was enough evidence to commit them to stand trial in the higher court. 
Bidar extended the police officers’ bail and ordered them to appear in the National Court on October 6 for listings. 
The officers were charged with 44 counts of armed robbery and 31 counts of unlawful wounding. 
It related to an incident that occurred at 8-Mile on May 26 last year involving 75 men from Morobe who were returning from a peace mediation ceremony when they were allegedly assaulted by the officers.
Bidar said there were no evidence that the Morobe men were armed and approaching another group of men for a fight.
Bidar said the Public Prosecutor could make an independent decision as per his powers under the Criminal Code whether to present an indictment in court or not. 
Justice David Cannings had earlier invoked Section 57 of the Constitution and commenced proceedings by way of an inquiry to make findings on the details of the allegations and determine how serious and genuine they were.
Cannings then declared that the allegations arising from the incident were extremely serious and genuine.

For a lengthy article on violence against women, see the url below

PNG jacks up & Australia backs off sending refugees to Manus 02 September 2014

AUSTRALIA has decided not to send any more asylum seekers to Manus Island in what appears to be a response to the Papua New Guinea government’s reluctance to resettle refugees on its soil.

Three months ago Australian prime minister Tony Abbott announced that asylum seekers would be resettled in PNG, but – showing characteristic ‘drift’ – the O’Neill government did not respond to the decision. The PNG government has remained mute on their resettlement. Now controversial Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison (pictured) has ordered that asylum seekers be sent to Nauru. The ‘PNG Solution’ has turned out to be a particularly nasty piece of Australian public policy and a source of great shame for many Australians. Originally nutted out between Kevin Rudd and Peter O’Neill, the policy resulted in the death of an asylum seeker, the injuring of scores more  and psychological and physical damage to many others.Despite this lamentable track record, Mr Morrison claims success for his policy. There are presently 1,084 asylum seekers on Manus.

Asylum seekers on Manus Island sent to isolation units

Post Courier, September 04,2014

Leaked security reports from Manus Island describe frequent self-harm, suicide attempts and the use of isolated confinement at the Australian-run detention facility for asylum seekers.

They report that “major incidents” are happening almost every day at the centre, including fights between detainees, attacks against guards, self-harm and suicide attempts.  The leaked documents are daily security and intelligence reports from July obtained by refugee advocates Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP) and shared with media. In the most serious case of self-harm reported, a man cut himself with a razor, requiring 20 stitches to his chest and refusing treatment for two long cuts to his head. The report said the asylum seeker had recently been told he could not voluntarily return to his home country because he was a witness to the killing of Reza Barati in February and had to stay on Manus Island until the investigation was complete.

“Due to this, [he] has been on whisky watch since 26 July,” said the report. Whisky watch is the term used at the centre for monitoring asylum seekers showing mental health problems, and can be every three hours, every 30 minutes or constant observation. HRP said an average of 14 asylum seekers were placed on whisky watch each day.

The reports show that at the end of July there were 18 asylum seekers staying in Australia and six staying in Port Moresby out of the total 1,145 men considered part of the Manus Island detainees.

Several asylum seekers have been transferred to Australia for serious medical treatment, but it is not clear why so many others have been moved off Manus Island.

Morrison: Refugee resettlement program faces Problem

Post Courier, September 11, 2014

Story Courtesy of Radio Australia Australia Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says there are still major problems with the refugee resettlement arrangements in Papua New Guinea. PNG authorities have begun assessing the asylum seekers on Manus Island to determine their refugee status but so far, no one has been resettled into the community. Mr Morrison said the former Labor government ignored the political and practical difficulties of resettling refugees in PNG when it reopened the centre in November 2012. “Offshore processing and resettlement has been implemented. However, this has not been without challenges,” he said in a National Press Club address on Wednesday. “There remain difficult and frustrating problems with Papua New Guinea in relation to the resettlement program there. “Kevin Rudd and Tony Burke signed over $430 million in taxpayers’ funds in additional aid and infrastructure to the PNG government as part of what I described as a panicked announcement before the last election. “And in return, there was a blank sheet of paper.”

School Fights: A Wound left unattended Festers and Kills

By Scott Waide, PNG Blogs, Thursday, September 4, 2014

Last Sunday, another  teenager, a student at Bumayong Secondary school died at Lae’s Angau hospital from severe knife wounds he sustained in another unnecessary clash between students.

The foolishness of students who succumb to peer pressure is inexcusable. But the ignorance of parents and education authorities of the  root causes behind the ongoing school fights is unforgivable.

Three months ago, education authorities  along with stakeholders in the Lae community met to discuss possible solutions  to the school fights.  I attended  as an observer of the proceedings.

I could not take the jeers  and  sarcasm  displayed by older  members in the meeting who downplayed the organizational structures of the school based group responsible for the violence.

I felt the need to stand up in the crowd, uninvited, and vent on the unsuspecting senior members attending the meeting. Why do you  joke about student  organizational structures that have become more powerful than school administrations?  Why do you find it funny that  key members of the groups carry titles like “Right Hit man” and “Left Hit man” or “the President?”

Is it amusing that  three teenagers have died  so far since 2012 from school fights?

School  authorities in Lae remain tightlipped this week  over measures they’re taking as a result of ongoing school fights. Bumayong secondary School has been closed since  Monday. Meanwhile, formal classes at Bugandi – another school  that witnessed the death of a student – are not being conducted. Students at Bugandi  Secondary are currently taking school work home as a means to discourage organized school fights. School authorities  and those who have done studies on the problem say “it’s a sensitive issue and information can’t released.” I say: “a wound that is covered and left unattended  festers and  kills”

More than an education: How Marlene’s vision became a reality 04 September 2014. Marlene Dee Gray Potoura

I STARTED Sylbeez Hive Learning Centre, four years ago. I began with 15 students and, as I write, there are over 160 students enrolled. My son Martin was born with a medical condition known as Hypospadias. As he grew, I started to worry when I realised there were no schools here in Lae set up comfortably with clean toilets to cater for young children aged 3 to 10 year old. Of course there are expatriate private learning centres, but the fees are something like K10,000 a year – far too high for working class Papua New Guineans. With a vision that seemed impossible, I took the challenge and resigned from my position as deputy principal of the Lae Salvation Army Primary School. It was a heart-tearing when, unexpectedly, half of my finishing pay was deducted for tax. I was down-hearted and worried. But the vision was fresh and growing in my mind and I enquired about the vacant Lions Hall and wrote a letter to the President asking to let me use it to run a learning centre for Papua New Guinean children. I asked him to give me a grace period of two months to collect fees and pay the rent. Thankfully he agreed. That’s how I started this school, believing in myself with a determination to create a comfortable learning environment so my son and other children could attend a school that was conducive to their needs. Since then, I have turned this school into a Progressive and Reading School, monitoring the progress of each child every day from classroom learning to playing outside, toilet use, eating lunches, just about everything they do. I teach Alpha Phonics in Preparatory and Grade 1 plus enrichment classes three times a day for children who need to catch up with their letter sounds, word blending and reading. At the end of Grade 1, the children read well and go on to Grade 2. It is a tiring, busy and demanding job, but I find it fulfilling and rewarding at the end of the year when we successfully commend and award outstanding students. Some parents have even asked me how I can handle being the school bus driver, teacher, principal etc and I say it is a commitment and I truly enjoy what I do. In addition I have 16 staff including teachers, a housekeeping matron, a canteen manager, a driver and a cook. My son Martin is in Grade 4 now and during that time Professor Paddy Dewan, a urologist, has repaired the congenital problem he was born with and he is now ready to attend another school next year to do Grade 5.

‘Ill-minded’ people cause health centre to close

The National, Friday September 5th, 2014

A MAN who forced himself onto a woman who had just delivered her baby and another man who suckled at the breast of a breast-feeding mother were among offences that led to the closure of the Bogia Health Centre two weeks ago. 
Director for Madang Provincial Health Markus Kachau revealed these at a press conference yesterday, saying that Bogia people’s ill-minded behaviour had forced the temporary closure of the centre.
He said intruders from nearby villages at Bogia Station entered the health centre and sexually harassed female health workers, patients and their guardians.
Kachau said a sick-minded man entered the health centre some weeks back and forced himself onto a woman who just delivered her baby.
“Another female guardian was fast asleep when a man suckled at her breast and finished her baby’s feed.” 
Kachau said another man went into all the wards and rooms inside the health centre and helped himself to medicines that were kept in cupboards. He filled his bag with them and took off.
He said patients and health workers had been threatened with knives.
“Just weeks ago, a man yelled at a female health worker to go out so he could have sex with her. 
“There is no security at the centre and the Health Department could be sued for the assaults and other offences there,” Kachau said.

Negative Growth Forecasted for Solomon Islands

Solomon Times, Tuesday, 2 September 2014 1:20 PM

The ANZ’s latest Pacific Economic Quarterly has reduced growth expectations from 2.8 per cent to negative 1.5 per cent. It is the first time Solomon Islands has experienced negative economic growth since the global financial crisis in 2009. ANZ’s Economist Dan Wilson says the suspension of mining at Gold Ridge is partly to blame for the revised forecast. Minister of Finance Rick Hou acknowledged that the impact of the recent flooding has had a negative impact on government’s budget and growth forecasts. “The impact of the floods not only affected the government’s budget, it also caused huge damages to the Guadalcanal Plains Plantation and Gold Ridge, two key revenue earners for the government,” the Minister of Finance said in Parliament. Local economists say that the government needs to recognize that with our narrow economic base the impact of such disasters will always be severe.

While tourism is certainly an area worth pursuing, the government still lacks proper policies in relation to other sectors such as agriculture. “In all developing economies the trajectory begins with its agriculture, if we have a proper policy in place – based on sound research and planning – we could grow this sector and diversify our export base.”

Advantages and disadvantages of privatisation in PNG and the PNG Power controversy

PNG Blogs, Monday, September 15, 2014

Privatisation first reared its head in PNG with the demise of the government owned Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation.  Its landmark Port Moresby headquarters still shows the PNG traditional art forms and icons that around the time of independence we proudly displayed as evidence of our unique culture, but nowdays allow elected fools such as Theo Zureonuc and Loujaya Kousa label as satanic. PNGBC was the bank of the people with the goal of service, not profit. We now have BSP in its place. BSP is majority owned by private shareholders and its profit since 2012 has grown at rates of 10-25% each year, leading to the 2013 result of nearly K437 million.   That’s not income, it is profit and a hell of a lot of money by PNG standards. Divided up amongst every single person living in PNG, from baby up to papa na mama, each one would have received K62 for 2013.

I personally support the strike actions of PNG Power employees.  We must not let foreign investors take another essential government service and turn it into a profit generating machine, of which most profits will transfer overseas. If we have to suffer power shortages as a result of strike actions, don’t blame the power workers.  Instead blame the government for its callous disregard for the general welfare and its fixation on making money for the privileged few. The provision of electricity should never be based on profit.  Throughout the world, electricity has become almost as essential as health care, education, and water. Economical electricity is the only way to encourage more people to remain in rural areas and develop the land. The traditional role of government is never to make business. The purpose of government is to protect the people and provide basic services to all by equitably sharing the revenue it generates.  Government is obligated to serve villagers as much as it serves those living in towns and cities.  Everyone should benefit from government services simply because they are citizens. Under no circumstances should poorer people be penalised.  It is morally wrong. In PNG, government businesses have been the gateway to widespread looting of revenues and increasing corruption. Privatising a State Owned Enterprise to get away from this problem only creates new ones.  Once a government service provider is privatised, moral obligations to serve all citizens, even the most disadvantaged, tend to disappear. Private companies in PNG have no legal obligation to maintain service. They are free to make as much profit as they can, no matter how it affects the poor.

Lack of info on women’s cancer ‘big tragedy’

The National, 24th of September, 2014

CANCER is affecting an increasing number of women in PNG due to a lack of information, awareness and treatment, consultant obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Mathias Sapuri says.
Speaking at a press conference in Port Moresby yesterday, Sapuri said limited number of checkups and Pap smear tests for cervical cancer and lack of proper equipment for screening, testing, monitoring and detecting symptoms had contributed to the increase.
Statistics show that more than 1800 Papua New Guinea women died from cancer every year due to late diagnosis and unawareness.
“About 5000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Women must screen and have access to services that are available,” Sapuri said.
He said common and prominent cancer of the mouth, breast and cervical cancer were treatable diseases once they were identified and treated quickly.
Early diagnosis was the best solution to prevent the spread of cancer, he said

Domestic violence ‘a concern’

The National, 24th of September, 2014

DOMESTIC violence has become a major concern in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a magistrate says.
Magistrate Bruce Tasikul said a lot of women had been seeking protection orders from the Buka district court.
He said domestic violence in Bougainville was no different to any other part of the country.
“It is a pressing issue here and most of the cases are related to partners,” he said. 
“We have had a lot of victims seeking protection orders from the court against their spouses.”
Tasikul said there were some men seeking protection orders against their wives although not too many. 
He said there were some cases involving sexual violence against children which were referred to police. 
“Let me be honest to say that there is an increase both in sexual violence and domestic violence cases in the region but many of these cases are not reported,” Tasikul said.
According to records at the Buka district court, 31 cases came through the court on women seeking protections orders last year and 17 so far this year.
He said some cases had to be withdrawn when the complainants failed to appear in court. 
“On a weekly basis, we have around two to three cases. The most valuable age group is between 25 and 40. But there are some below that age group.” 
He said with the new Family Protection Act in operation, victims have the option to lay criminal charges against their spouse and at the same time seek protection orders from the court.

John Momis shirtfronts Jubilee Australia over “biased report”

BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis has strongly rebuked the Jubilee Australia organisation for claiming that opposition to re-opening the Panguna copper and gold mine is “near universal”.

On its website, Jubilee Australia says its mission is to “promote accountability for the causes of poverty and injustice in the Asia Pacific” and “elevate the voice of affected communities”.

Earlier this year it conducted a survey of 65 people in the Panguna area and has just published a report entitled Voices of Bougainville.

In a letter, Dr Momis calls the report “factually inaccurate, biased, methodologically unsound and dishonest in claiming that interviews with 65 individuals selected by its authors allows it to represent the voices of 300,000 Bougainvilleans.”

Dr Momis added that these failures “have been compounded by even more inaccurate public statements about the Report and its findings made by Jubilee Chief Executive, Brynnie Goodwill.”

He said that many of the “grave errors in the report could have been avoided had those involved in the work simply consulted the elected and representative Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).”

“The most fundamental and also dishonest aspect of the Jubilee research,” Dr Momis said, “is to claim, as it does in the title, to represent Voices of Bougainville.

Initiative to tackle youth cults

The National, Monday September 15th, 2014

LAE Secondary School students took a new approach called Connect group involving parents and professionals to address school fights and cult activities.
Enoch Joseph and his family invited 60 male students to Fernridge Estate at 10-Mile and discussed a series of positive steps, including self-discipline topics, led by deputy principal Albert Sabok.
The Connect group was set up to rehabilitate students involved in inter-school fights and cult activities. 
It has four components in its rehabilitation programme:
Connecting students with God’s word which pastors and Christian professionals in various private and government sectors were invited to preach to them;
mentoring from professional Christians;
teaching students academic skills and,
Involving students in projects, mainly awareness.
The ‘God’s Love Project’ initiated requires parents of the students and families to invite other students to their home to share foods and drinks with them.
In the process, the host family shows love and care for other students to change them so that they can become friends with “enemies”.

Corruption sullies emergence of PNG to mature nationhood   15 September 2014 Keith Jackson

TOMORROW Papua New Guinea celebrates 39 years of nationhood. The report card indicates that, particularly in terms of the quality of governance, those have been very mixed years.

On the plus side, PNG remains a robust democracy with regular hard fought elections and a press, perhaps not as vibrant as it once was, still capable of holding government to account when it wants to.

And PNG has been spectacularly fortunate with its resources – ‘an island of gold, floating in a sea of oil, surrounded by gas’ as it is often expressed. But it has been spectacularly unfortunate in not having the politicians and public officials to ensure the ensuing benefits are spread equitably amongst the people. Corruption and inefficiency dog PNG and, while the private wealth of a select few soars, most social indicators show diminishing outcomes for almost everyone else. Recently sacked Attorney-General Kerenga Kua is considered one of the small group of PNG politicians who are either not corrupt or who do not tolerate corruption.

In an interview last week he both hit out at corruption in government and accused prime minister Peter O’Neill and his cohorts of actively suppressing efforts to fight corruption. Mr Kua, who represents the Simbu electorate of Sinasina-Yongomugl, was a lawyer for 25 years and president of the PNG Law Society before entering parliament. He was speaking to Radio New Zealand International about the government severing the pay of Sam Koim, head of anti-corruption unit Investigative Taskforce Sweep. Mr Koim was sacked (only to be reinstated by the courts) after investigating alleged massive illegal state payments to a law firm and, in connection with this, had successfully sought an arrest warrant against Mr O’Neill. “Look, if we are serious, if we want the country and the Pacific region – if we want the international community who are all our development partners – to believe our political rhetoric, we must allow the Sweep team to do its job and nobody must interfere.” …But there was no explanation of why this had happened despite an order from the National Court preventing the disbandment of Task Force Sweep and reinstating its funding.

And what malevolent venality and cynical abuse of the people of PNG for a self-seeking few to take advantage of the unsophistication of the majority of their countrymen, who then pay the price – in deteriorating education, health and infrastructure – for monstrous exploitation by their government.

WeCare fair a success

Post Courier, September 17,2014

PEOPLE turned up in droves to attend a fair recently in support of a non-profit organisation involved in supporting vulnerable people in Port Moresby.

WeCARe had a day-long fair to raise funds to buy a building or land on which an office can be built. The fair, hailed a success, was held at Hohola Youth Development Centre at Oak Street, Hohola. Organisers said this is the first fundraising for this cause. There will be others later. “This is just the start and we hope more people and corporate houses will join us in the near future.’’

WeCARe was started in Port Moresby and currently operates at the Lasalle Hohola Youth Development Centre which is too small for its staff with no storage room or space for large donations that WeCARe receives in containers to distribute to vulnerable people that it supports in settlements and suburbs in Port Moresby. WeCARE stands for The Foundation for Women and Children At Risk and relies on donations to operate.

Measles cases surpass 800, number could be higher

Solomon Star, 10 September 2014

It is hard to know the pain and discomfort three month-old Peter*(real name not given) is going through. But just looking at the rash all over his body gives you an idea. Peter is among many children infected with measles and admitted at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara, Solomon Islands. A special measles ward has been set up to deal with a terrible outbreak. But it is not big enough and dozens of children have to be placed somewhere else along the emergency unit, either on a bed in the corridor or on the floor. Others have to be taken back home since there is simply no space for them.

 Since the outbreak began in July, two children under 3 months old have died due to measles related complications. Almost 800 cases of measles have been reported to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Surveillance Unit and with measles being a very infectious disease,and not all cases being reported, the Ministry reckons the real number could be in the thousands.

Measles cases have been reported in Malaita, Guadalcanal, Isabel, Western, Temotu and Renbel Province. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is conducting a special mass vaccination campaign, to include everyone from 6 months to 30 years of age across the country.

In addition to the hardworking nurses, doctors and other health care workers who are doing their best to both prevent and treat cases, others are working behind the scenes.

Papua New Guineans in Philippines are rowdy, drunkards, and backward thinking

PNG Blogs. Tuesday, September 23, 2014 By Frank Malilong. Sun Star Newspaper, Cebu.

ONE early morning in the first week of June, last year, TV reporter Jinky Bargio chanced upon a group of rowdy foreigners near the old Rustan’s in Gen. Maxilom Avenue. When she saw the men throw bottles onto the street, stop passing vehicles and harass the drivers, Jinky knew she had a good story and got out of their vehicle. Soon they were recording the commotion. When they saw what Jinky and her crew were doing, the men took umbrage and attempted to confiscate the camera. Fortunately, the police arrived just in time to avert a confrontation between the TV crew and the foreigners who were later identified as Papua New Guineans. They were drunk. And apparently it was not their first brush with the law because when they arrived at the Fuente Police station, one of the policemen blurted, “it’s you again?”

In fact, there have been so many cases of Papua New Guineans, most of whom are enrolled in Cebu schools, being arrested for breach of the peace. In all these cases, they had one drink too many.

The first recorded case was that of Benedict Penini who struck a taxi driver with a stone outside the gate of the Maria Luisa Estate Park on Sept. 9, 2012. The drunken Penini had just had a fight with another Papua New Guinean when he spotted the driver and vented his ire on the poor guy. It took a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to subdue Penini, who later complained that the cops used excessive force on him. In 2013, two weeks after the Bargio incident, another drunken Papua New Guinean was arrested by the police for causing trouble inside a bar on A.S. Fortuna St., Bakilid in Mandaue. Jason Lokani was bloodied when the police arrived, courtesy of two unidentified men who resented the former’s breaking the bottles and hit him on the head with a stone.

Just as 2013 was ending, another group of Papua New Guineans were arrested after they brawled outside the National Bookstore in Gen. Maxilom Avenue. Jason Kerepa, Emmanuel Nagopi Naemon, Israel Wanqana Warraqo and Nigel Gwingin Dondo were booked for drunkenness and were released from jail only after paying a fine.

In April, this year, Elizah Norman, Pilol Kuman, Andi Takon and Mulea Opa Homs were arrested, again for causing trouble inside a bar where they had been drinking since 3 a.m. One of them allegedly showed his genitals to a female customer, who left the bar obviously in shock along with a male companion. Still not contented, Homs allegedly threw a bottle at another customer, causing an ugly gash on his forehead. A companion of the customer retaliated by stabbing Homs. When the police arrived, the Papua New Guineans ran away but were caught near the gate of the Sto. Niño Village while arguing with the village security guard.

Then last Saturday, Gary Nigel Chrich was arrested after he allegedly punched a bar employee in (again!) Gen. Maxilom Avenue. When the police arrived and tried to subdue him, the fellow resisted and punched the neck of one of them. As you must have guessed, Chrich is from Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby) and tested positively for alcohol.

I am not trying to stereotype Papua New Guineans but I cannot help but notice that while they’re relatively few, they seem to have the most cases of brushes with the law, compared with other foreigners. The Papua New Guineans in Cebu are fun-seeking and are otherwise well-behaved when they are sober. When they get drunk, however, the behavior changes dramatically.

Government funding to churches is wrong & can compromise   24 September 2014.   Paulus Ripa

THE recent announcement that prime minister Peter O’Neill donated several millions of kina – public money – towards the construction of the Catholic Cathedral in Mt Hagen leaves me with many misgivings. Whilst it may be a relief for thousands of Catholics in Western Highlands and Jiwaka provinces, it is wrong for the Church to accept donations from the government.

Firstly, over the last couple of hundred years the development of liberal democracy has seen the definition of roles of church and state to be separate. History has shown that when church and state are intertwined there develops intolerance, ecclesiastical corruption and oppression of minorities who do not profess the faith of the ruling religion. This is making a comeback in fundamentalist Muslim states now.

Second, government funds are clearly for designated secular purposes, and building churches or making donations to church groups are not right and proper. It can be rightfully construed as misuse of public funds.

Third, and most importantly, the church has always been an independent conscience and bulwark for what is right and what is wrong. In many developing nations, e.g. in South America, the church has consistently been the only opposition to dictatorial and oppressive regimes which have often been backed by powerful nations of the West as well as the communist bloc. In PNG, where there is no effective political opposition, the churches should be more vocal in issues where a powerful government is railroading policies and actions through parliament which are ill thought through and of great detriment to the nation. In such circumstances the churches are compromised by government funding for projects which really should be funded by the churchgoers themselves. The bishops have been bought and they dare not utter anything against the government of the day.

I confine my arguments to the Catholic Church because I am a Catholic and I will, of course, personally contribute to the Mt Hagen Cathedral construction. I imagine that other churches, particularly those which are not mainstream, may have fewer scruples about taking a stand against the presence of what one writer called “structural evil” (Ronald Sider in Rich Christians in a Hungry World). What can be funded by government are social services provided by the churches such as schools, clinics and hospitals, services for the disabled and the poor and so on. But such contributions must follow rules of proper accountability. The Catholic Church has a distinguished role in providing these services and, due to its outstanding performance in accountability, has been the major recipient of funding from sources such as the Incentive Fund. Funding support for these activities in the public good needs to be continued and expanded as, in many instances such as health services, the church is the only reliable provider in rural and remote areas. However the church should not lose sight of its primary role of evangelisation, part of which includes the role of defender of the poor, the dispossessed and the oppressed.

Dr Paulus Ripa is a paediatrician and teaches at the University of PNG School of Medicine

 Church must always be free to influence the public sphere 27 September 2014. Archbishop Douglas Young SVD

I appreciate Dr Paulus Ripa’s comment in PNG Attitude and as a product, even something of a victim, of a western secular ‘liberal’, democracy with a fairly strict division between church and state, I agree with him entirely. I say a victim because, for most of my childhood, the State did not assist my education because I was in a Catholic school and the burden was carried by my parents with considerable stress on our family income.

The Papua New Guinea Catholic Bishops Conference has consistently maintained that the State should adequately budget for and fund the areas for which it is responsible: roads, communication, civil infrastructure, education, health, security, law and order. If the State adequately supported the economic infrastructure, and generated employment, our people could earn their own money and freely contribute for religious and other purposes. We know from history that the Church is at its strongest when it is entirely supported by the generosity of its members. Whenever it is dependent on the State it is at risk.

However we have to admit that this is not the popular view of our constituents. If they could articulate their position in these terms they might say that the Western liberal approach is dualist whereas the Melanesian Way avoids unnecessary and non-traditional distinctions between the secular and the religious. Thus, in the view of the majority of Papua New Guineans, politicians and public servants can and should be explicitly motivated by their faith and the churches should receive public funding. Our people tell us “the money is ours”.

We would also not argue for a strict division as in the USA or Australia because, as Dr Ripa, says, we must always be free to influence the public sphere. At the same time we have to be accountable to the wider community, not only financially but morally also.

The argument of our fund raising committee has been that the State has failed to contribute adequately to the services that Dr Ripa has mentioned: health and education, and related social services.

For 80 years the Catholic Church has been providing these services. They see the Kina for Kina contribution of the State as “catching up “with what is owed.

I admit that I for one was surprised and possibly a little embarrassed by the size of the prime minister’s pledge. This may have been influenced by the fact that the project is not simply a cathedral but also a home for Triniti FM radio station, the beginnings of a conference centre and a venue for large scale public events of a religious or civic nature, all integrated with long-term plans for the development of Rebiamul Field, including parking. Some of the funding will certainly go to aspects that are normally taken care of by public authorities such as road, power, and communication connections, water supply and drainage.

Sometimes I hear politicians talk about “tithing”, i.e., giving 10% of public funds to the churches. I am one who is opposed to this. For one, I think tithing is an Old Testament idea and the New Testament idea is to give according to ability. Also if the churches have 40% of education and health care surely they should be getting 40% of the funding for these sectors! This is not the case. If the State merely followed its statutory obligations to those churches providing services, and withdrew some of the onerous taxation burden, we would be able to take care of our spiritual and pastoral services quite adequately. Currently much of our limited income and resources goes towards providing services which are the obligation of the State.

The danger of being bought is very real. We will have to see whether this happens in Mt Hagen! On the other hand, some people maintain that the only way to bring about change is to be part of the process and not standing outside it with a holier than thou attitude.

Generally people seem to appreciate the stand of the Catholic Church on social issues especially corruption and the care for rural areas. I doubt if this will stop. If it does, then please let us know.

We are currently attempting to respond to another area where the State is failing badly: the care for vulnerable children especially orphans. This requires both a sharp public criticism of this failure and a willingness to work along with those who are in a position to do something.

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Social Concerns Notes – August 2014

Abandoned kid learns to survive on city streets
Post Courier, July 28, 2014
ANGU Mathew is about seven or eight years old. The Tari lad has a very striking smile that he has developed over the appreciation of very little things like an empty plastic bottle of coke on the streets or drains of Mt Hagen during his short, difficult and parasitic life which only Angu takes as a normal life. The streets of Mt Hagen became his garden at a tender toddler’s age when his father died some five years ago. Sadly, the Mathews had four more babies when the father died, leaving the mother to raise five kids. Sensing the difficult times ahead, Angu’s mother abandoned all the kids and remarried a Tari man. The father’s relatives took in the four younger kids to raise. However, Angu was abandoned on the streets of Mt Hagen, orphaned by both man and nature when he was barely four years old. He learnt the very essential skills of survival on the streets at a very young age.
Over the last four years, the strong looking Huli boy roamed the streets, garbage bins and drains of Mt Hagen in search of empty Coca-Cola plastic bottles to survive. Random visits to the city’s restaurant in the hope of left overs or a good Samaritan’s notice was a norm.
“Mi save givim 50t nabaut long ol sampela boys mi save na go slip lo haus blo ol sampela taim. Taim mi nogat moni, mi save slip ausait lo Hagen Kofi.” (I pay 50t to some boys I know to sleep in their houses. When there’s no money, I live outdoors at Hagen Coffee,” Angu said on Saturday.
He has a single meal of K1 worth of flour balls every evening before looking for friends to pay the nightly rental of 50t. In good times, Angu collects enough bottles for K10.
In bad days when he makes no money, he goes to sleep outdoors on an empty stomach.
Though healthy looking, the lack of proper diet and clean water, hygiene, living outdoors and long hours of working on the bustling streets of Mt Hagen has taken its toll – Angu has a shrunken face with deep black eyes that do not glitter a fraction. He gives his best smile with a happy yes when asked if his mother visits him and his siblings who live with relatives nearby. Angu said he was one of the many kids that live a similar hard life in Mt Hagen. The Huli lad said sharing and caring among his peers was vital and they have survived all these years because of their deep bond and support for each other. Angu is only one story of a growing problem of orphaned or rejected children who are being left to fend for their survival.

The problem of children’s rights: Enough of the toktok
Fr John Glynn | We Care Foundation
WE have good laws, and there is plenty of awareness of the problem of children’s rights, but sadly the protocols, or the machinery, for making the laws work is just not there. One Fr Jude’s AIDS orphans who I have been helping is a young girl called G. She has been living with her extended family and they allowed her to continue her schooling after Fr Jude left. I have been paying her school fees, buying her uniforms, shoes and similar things. This year G was in Grade 8 at Eki Vaki Primary school and I promised to get her into my school, Jubilee Secondary, next year if she did well in her exams. When I returned from overseas recently I found that G was no longer in school. She had been taken out and is being kept at home to care for a sick relative. Her education is finished. The family is no longer in Hohola – I don’t know where they have moved to.
When a child stops coming to school like this there is no follow-up. There may be a half-hearted attempt to contact the family, but if there is no success then the child is forgotten. There should be a report made to Social Services, and if necessary to the Police.
The family should be found and made to answer for the child’s removal from school. But this simply does not happen. It is as if nobody cares! As if it is thought that talking about the problem is enough – publishing pamphlets, articles in the paper, workshops, ‘awareness’ programs, and so on.
I am supporting four other children like G in three different schools. The one boy has a corner in a hut in a settlement where he sleeps. There is no running water, no electricity, no toilet, he has no family and must find a few kina every fortnight to pay for his bed. Fortunately, he is in Grade 12 and has the promise of a job as soon as his exams are finished.
Two of the girls have no families either and I am supporting them in a hostel for young women run by Sisters. The third girl is in a private school and lives with her mother who is a very sick woman and desperately poor with no other family support.
Two of the girls suffer from very poor eyesight – and one also is partially deaf. They never complained as they knew there was no help for them, and the teachers in the schools they attended never discovered their disabilities because our schools do not concern themselves with such matters.
The schools these young people attend make no allowances for them. They are compelled to pay ‘project fees’ and to take part in fund-raising for the school, and to somehow acquire textbooks and other school materials, sports clothes and the like. And they are sometimes threatened with punishment – even suspension – if they don’t comply.
I feel very cynical about all the talk about children’s rights. Children who do not belong to a strong, supportive, loving family are severely penalised by our schools and by everybody else too.
The awareness programs we run should be aimed, not at families, but at our schools, Government Departments, Church Communities, and at anybody who has to deal with children. These are the areas in which the worst discrimination against vulnerable children takes place.

Archbishop to take in neglected children
The National, Tuesday August 5th, 2014
THE Catholic Archdiocese of Mt Hagen is setting up family homes for neglected children in the city. Archbishop Douglas Young had a meeting with staff from family life ministry and health services after identifying some deteriorating situations that caused children to be homeless. 
Young said parents dying of HIV/AIDS, marriage break-ups, urban drift, unemployment and inter-cultural marriages were some key factors that caused children to be homeless and displaced.
 “Society rejection of orphans is quite alarming. Though there is awareness for orphans, yet there is no acceptance,” he said.
Abp Young has recommended to
Provide family life support and counselling;
provide housing and promote nutrition programmes;
work with the Justice Department and Child Welfare;
establish a drop-in centre and have clear guidelines for the centre; and,
Consider age limitations to avoid conflict and involve pastors in the team to put emphasis on spiritual guidance.
Abp Young said he would work with the Government and non government organisations that promoted child rights and welfare.

INA: Local ‘power plays’ behind rise in sorcery-related violence
Post Courier, August 02, 2014
Young men in Papua New Guinea are using sorcery-related violence to gain status and power in their local communities, according to the head of PNG’s Institute of National Affairs. Paul Barker has told Pacific Beat the attacks are often the result of complex “power plays” among men at the village level, with women the majority of victims. “It’s led by groups of young men who seeking status in society, partly by (joining) gangs and terrorizing potential victims,” he said. “They’re also demonstrating their power versus that of the traditional leadership, including the more modern leadership, the local village court magistrates and other leaders. Earlier this year, Amnesty International said it had received reports of girls as young as eight being attacked and accused of sorcery and children being orphaned as a result of one or both their parents being killed after accusations of witchcraft. Paul Barker says there are “very courageous efforts” by local groups such as the Kup Women for Peace and Simbu Defenders who attempt to rescue people who have been threatened and who receive little protection from police. “These women go in at great risk to themselves to rescue the victims or the potential victims,” he said. “But we’ve seen photographs of police standing on one side watching events. Maybe they’re too outnumbered. Maybe they’re too much part of the community.”
Mr Barker says the current climate leaves women terrified of being accused of sorcery or witchcraft.
“If you attend the funeral or if you’re not showing sufficient remorse or sufficient upset following someone’s death then the finger risks getting pointed at you as maybe having collaborated in the whole thing,” he said.

Dame Taylor dedicates her appointment to the women of PNG and the region
THE incoming Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor of Papua New Guinea has dedicated her appointment to the women of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region. “It’s a big step for women in my country and for women in the region and I acknowledge our mothers, sisters and our daughters at this time,” she told reporters on Friday.

“The broader message is that my two deputy secretaries are women as well. I know that some will say let’s see what these women can deliver. Men in the Pacific know that in all traditional obligations women are partners. 

“However, what is new in this case is that three women are at the helm of the eminent regional architecture, Dame Taylor told journalists here in Koror.
“The decision making process in the Forum is predominantly male. That’s fine with us and we will we will work with that. The most important thing is to deliver on the decisions of Leaders.

Save our mums
The National, Tuesday August 5th, 2014
MOTHERS in Papua New Guinea face a higher risk of dying during childbirth compared to other Pacific island countries because of the lack of proper supervision and care, it has been revealed. In fact, the maternal and neo-natal mortality rate in PNG is second only to Afghanistan in the Asia-Pacific region with 733 deaths for every 100,000 live births, according to Dr Gairo Onagi, the University of Goroka Vice-Chancellor. This compares to nine deaths in every 100,000 live births in Australia. He said the solution lay in having more trained midwives in the country, a problem the UOG was doing something about. He revealed this during the opening of a new building for midwifery training plus four staff quarters at the university last Friday. He said 80% of PNG people lived in rural areas where most of these maternal deaths occurred. Onagi said with the alarming statistics, the University of Goroka introduced the Bachelor of Midwifery course in 2010 to help reduce maternal deaths. “It has been proven globally that the best way to reduce maternal mortality is through the training of more midwives and this is what UOG is aiming to do through its programmes,” he said.

Censor: Censorship begins at home
The National, Friday August 8th, 2014
CENSORSHIP begins at home with parents and children, Chief Censor Steven Mala says. Mala said because of a boost in technology in PNG, people were able to watch any kind of movies online. Therefore the censorship board is setting up legislation to classify and control the movies.“We have seen and experienced both positive and negative effects of technology on us and our children,” he said. “Our youths are abusing the social media like Facebook to upload and download explicit images and comments. “We have an access to internet in the village level and most teens are abusing the internet services to view pornographic images and videos. “Thus, we have set up legislation through the government to promote decency in the communities and protect women and children.” Mala said it was not to suppress freedom of information and speech, but to bring a bit of restriction to the types of movies and images viewed by the people.

New Act outlaws marriages under 18
The National, Monday August 11th, 2014
IT will be illegal for minors to be married under a new Civil Registry Act, Constitutional Law Reform Commission Secretary Dr Eric Kwa says. Kwa said any child under 18 would not be allowed to be married. He said many parents have been allowing their children, especially girls, to get married for the sake of money, fame and status. “They (the girls) are not given opportunity to go to school and study. “Therefore, they are getting married at age of 15, 16 and 17 straight after their puberty stage,” Kwa said. “This bad idea of marrying below the age 18 will no longer be tolerated by the PNG government under the new act.” He said the new law would also prevent polygamous marriages. “The act will strongly put more emphasis on monogamy marriage, which means a man can only marry one woman,” Kwa said. “No polygamy marriage practices will be registered in PNG under the new act. ”He said the government hoped to transform the country with the new law.

The Pacific Solution and PNG’s sovereignty & security 14 August, 2014
THE Pacific Solution emerged as a policy of the Australian government under prime minister John Howard’s regime. The policy aims at transporting asylum seekers to detention centres in small independent states within the Pacific region rather than allowing them to settle in mainland Australia.
When the policy was first introduced in 2001, it had bipartisan support from both the Liberal-National government and Labor opposition of the time.
Offshore processing is to the advantage of the Australian government because on Australian soil asylum seekers have certain legal rights which make it difficult to send them back to their country of origin. With the offshore camps in Manus and Nauru, the Australian government can easily process and settle them in a place other than Australia. Australia, as a developed country in the Pacific region, is exercising its influence over the vulnerable developing Pacific island states including Papua New Guinea, which features greatly on Australia’s foreign policy radar. …
Australia facilitates its interests in the Pacific to protect its own sovereignty and security without the realising that it may undermine the sovereignty and security of small Pacific Island countries.

Living with crime and violence in Papua New GuineaL
Laura Keenan.
Last month I was interviewing participants in the World Bank’s Urban Youth Employment Project in Port Moresby, talking about the challenges that PNG’s young people face in finding work.
One issue that came up repeatedly was mobility – or the lack of it: the basic ability to travel to and from the workplace. It is no secret that parts of Port Moresby are dangerous and crime is high. There are regular stories of carjacking but public transport is also a huge risk – an issue which disproportionately affects workers coming from poorer parts of the city. …As with most workplaces, there is a staff-bus that ferries staff to and from work, but even this bus has “no-go areas” – parts of the city where the risks are seen to be too high for it to enter. Staff who live in these settlements will have to make their own way and they face considerable risk, especially if it’s after hours.
A new World Bank report series attempts to quantify some of the costs Papua New Guinea faces from violent crime. According to official figures, crime rates have stabilized over the last decade, but there are significant regional disparities: crime is seemingly on the rise in ‘hotspots’ like Lae, the Western Highlands and the National Capital District, and it is also increasingly violent. Use of firearms is escalating.
The reports look at direct costs faced by local firms – finding for example that the average business loses K90,000 (US $33,000) in stolen property every year; and close to the same amount as a result of closing early due to threats of violence. But it also details many indirect costs that are more difficult (though perhaps not impossible) to quantify. Issues like staff absenteeism or lost productivity. Businesses being unwilling to expand into new areas or sectors, resulting in significant foregone investment, or small firms unable to get going because of high security costs. The burden on the healthcare system as a result of rising violence in urban areas, or employers not wanting to employ people from certain areas – thus escalating exclusion and inequality. Or the issue of Gender-Based Violence, which is a known, though too often silent reality across Papua New Guinea. It is a human tragedy but its impacts are wider – incurring costs from disability, illness and accident, on productivity and motivation. Globally, World Bank research suggests that gender-based violence can cost a country between 1.2 and 3.7 percent of GDP.
PNG is a wonderful country that I have been privileged to work in, and I have always been made to feel welcome there. Too often, crime and violence are outsiders’ first associations with the country and it doesn’t capture the reality or the people on the ground – and all the beauty and wonder that the country has to offer. But it is true that crime is a reality of everyday life for many people, especially in the cities – for locals more than foreigners. There are no simple answers. The causes of violent crime are largely structural – linked to poverty and inequality: a context where economic growth hasn’t yet benefitted the majority of the people. As a consequence security costs are a spiraling expense. Private security accounts for an average of 5% of annual operating costs for a business in PNG, with nearly a third of firms reporting that for them it’s more than 10%.
To my mind, the only real answer, the true conversation, is about addressing the root causes of crime and violence – poverty, inequality, unemployment and marginalization of some groups, especially youth. These reports aim to inspire this conversation – but what do you think? What are the impacts of crime and violence on the economy? How does it affect you and what are the solutions? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

PNG strives to achieve UN goals
Post Courier, August 18, 2014
Monday August 18 marks 500 days of action for PNG to continue its efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are set to conclude at the end of 2015.
Established in 2000, the eight MDGs were developed to form a blueprint for change, which were agreed to by all countries and leading development institutions. “
“Important progress has been made in areas pivotal to Papua New Guinea’s development, in particular recent reforms in primary education, but the MDGs remind us that continued efforts are needed – especially in child and maternal mortality and combating HIV AIDS, malaria and other diseases.”
The United Nations is working with governments, community groups and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry on with an ambitious post-2015 development agenda, a program which Trivedy says Papua New Guinea is heavily involved with.
“Papua New Guinea has taken on a leadership role in shaping the future global development agenda by holding post-2015 consultations and working in partnership with Denmark in the lead-up to the post-2015 summit being held next year,” he said. The post-2015 national consultation has seen the United Nations partner with PNG government to give citizens from all walks of life an opportunity to raise their concerns, aspirations and issues in response to the question “What is the future you want for Papua New Guinea?”
The short survey, which is available at, asks participants to list the top six issues which most affect them.

Manus doesn’t want to deal with refugees
Post Courier, August 15,2014, Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand
The governor of Manus Island Charlie Benjamin says the province will not allow any refugees to settle there. A small number of asylum seekers have had their refugee claims recognised at Australia’s detention camp on Manus Island. Papua New Guinea has said it will resettle asylum seekers who are found to be refugees but the government is yet to identify locations for settlement. The governor for Manus Province Charlie Benjamin says it won’t be on Manus. “Being a small province we do not intend to have any permanent asylum seekers or those that have been granted status to be on this island, we would only be helping in processing.” Charlie Benjamin believes refugees will be accepted into the wider PNG community especially if they have the skills that the country needs.

Crime rate dips
The National, Monday August 18th, 2014
CRIME rate in the country has significantly dropped in the past three years, with the prison population reduced by more than 50% over the same period, it has been revealed “There has been a significant decline in major crime over the past three years due to strong government policy on law and order that is supported through increased funding,” O’Neill said: “This has seen the number of inmates at several prisons decrease by over half – such as in Bomana (in Port Moresby) where the inmates have been reduced from more than 1000 to around 450.

Jails under stress
The National, Friday 29th of August, 2014
PRISON authorities are concerned about the escalating number of remand prisoners, who this year alone will cost the ministry more than K13 million to feed and care for.
Correctional Services Minister Jim Simatab said as of last Friday (August 22), the total prison population in the country stood at 4280. And out of this, 1434 (or 34%) are on remand.
He said it was a huge burden on the ministry and prison authorities.
“On average, an inmate on remand can wait for up to two to three years before they can complete their trial and are either released from prison, or convicted by the courts,” he said.
Simatab said: “Some have waited for as long as five years before their fates were determined. It costs just over K9000 per year to feed and care for an inmate. Hence, our detainee population will cost the Correctional Service over K13 million this year.”
He said some prisons were over-crowded and holding numbers twice their capacity. 
“Such a situation is inhuman, as living conditions can deteriorate very rapidly. Overcrowding is a recipe for prison escapes,” he said. 

School puts student’s health first, hires doctor
The National, Tuesday August 19th, 2014
WEST Goroka Primary School, in Eastern Highlands, is the first to engage a professional medical doctor to provide health care for children and teachers. Dr Susanna Andrias, a former lecturer at the Taurama Medical School, has been providing health care for the past three weeks after she was engaged by head teacher Tony Koyangko. Koyangko said healthy children would have good concentration in the classroom, leading to good academic results. “We want to have healthy children to help them remain focused as healthy minds will absorb skills and knowledge well,” he said. “Children miss out on classes when they are sick and when they go to the public hospitals, they will wait in long queues,” Andrias said. “But with medical service available in the school, they are getting first class treatment. “We know that a healthy mind will allow them to concentrate well in class. “I give motivational talks to the school children, which helps them to remain focused on what they want to become later in life.” West Goroka Primary School is one of the largest schools in the country and provides counselling services through the non-government organisation the Family Voice.

Suspects arrested over asylum seeker’s death
Post Courier, August 20,2014, 03:29 am
TWO suspects have been arrested so far by police over the murder of Iranian Razza Barati who was violently beaten to death inside the asylum seekers processing centre earlier this year in Manus.
The second suspect was arrested in Kimbe, West New Britain Province.
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner and Chief of Operations Jim Andrews said the suspect is Joshua Kaluvia, in his 20s, of mixed Manus and West New Britain parentage.
Berati, 23, of Iran, was brutally beaten to death allegedly by a group of guards at the height of a riot inside the asylum seeker’s camp in February this year.
The police chief said a man identified as Louie Efi, 28, from Manus Province, was also arrested in July for his part in the same killing.
“These two suspects will shed more light on the violence and killing and hopefully assist in the arrest of more suspects involved in the February violence and death,” Mr Andrews said.

Tetanus campaign fails in PNG
Post Courier, August 20,2014, 03:22 am
A mass campaign to rid off tetanus in the country last year has failed miserably.
In 2012, the mass campaign targeting 1.8 million women and girls and 750,000 children in 22 provinces failed a second and third attempt as a result it places PNG in a list of countries that have not eliminated a very fatal disease. Tetanus is a disease passed by tetanus bacteria and is contracted through dirt and soil though wounds. Maternal and neo natal disease remains a threat to women and children.
UNICEF shared its disappointment with the health ministry over the ineffectiveness and uncoordinated efforts by provinces to achieve targets on Monday, which was the beginning of the health week. Tetanus accounts to a significant proportion of maternal deaths predominately in poor settings where women have no access to safe deliveries therefore many of them are forced to give birth at home in unhygienic environments.

21st century so very far away: PNG’s tragedy of remoteness 20 August, 2014. George Kuias
SO here I was at Mirsey health sub-centre in the Ambunti area of the upper Sepik. There was no oxygen, the hydrocortisone and salbutamol had run out nil and even the manual foot pump for nebulising the patient was malfunctioning. Martin, my patient, was developing severe shortness of breath and was cyanosed due to lack of oxygen. Even the antibiotics had not helped. He was restless and gasping for air. I tried to resuscitate him but failed. He needed anti-asthma drugs to revive him. The only option was to refer him to Boram hospital in Wewak – 14 hours by dinghy along the main Sepik River and then by ambulance to Wewak. After sorting out the fuel and the boat operator we trundled off following a tributary of the Sepik. Due to low water levels and submarine tree stumps, we could not travel at speed. At seven o’clock in the night my patient Martin told me to stop and turn back to the health centre. I hesitated. My aim was to save his life. On our way, he had made several attempts to jump overboard but was held back by his guardian. Martins’ voice had become very weak and then he slipped into unconsciousness. His eyes turned upwards, saliva and mucus drained from his nose and mouth and he died in our arms inside the dinghy. Unfortunately I had lost my patient.
As I lowered my head, I thought to myself that Martin should not have died if only the medical kits had arrived on time and all the necessary drugs were in stock. People could argue that it’s the responsibility of the officer in charge to make sure the kits are there and the stocks are maintained and the life-saving equipment is in place. But this is all sweet talk from people in comfortable chairs. It’s tough managing complex cases in remote settings where there are poor or no roads or long water journeys. This is a continuing tragedy happening in many parts of remote Papua New Guinea.

Dwindling tuna stock alarms scientists
The National, Thursday August 21st, 2014
SCIENTISTS have released new assessments on the tuna populations in the Western and central Pacific Ocean.
They show several troubling developments for the world’s largest tuna fishing grounds.
Last month’s figures released by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission scientific committee showed that the total tuna catch last year was more than 2.6 million metric tonnes. 
The number of some tuna species left to reproduce is dwindling, dropping to dangerously low levels in some cases.
The region’s most recent assessment of the bigeye tuna confirms that less than 20% of the population remains. 
Scientist John Hampton told the Pacific News Centre that this was a significant development because fishing nations had agreed that a population size this low “represents an unacceptable risk” to the stock.
“And while the long-line catch of bigeye dropped to its lowest rate since 1996, the purse seine catch increased to its highest rate,” he said.

Friends of Nano quietly go about supporting communities Society Of Presentation Sisters. 22 August, 2014
THE Ningil Friends of Nano are an enthusiastic and committed group of women, men and youths in the picturesque highlands of the Sandaun Province of Papua New Guinea. The group, supported by Sr Bernadine Telami, meets regularly to pray, share and reflect on the Gospel and life and work of Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters. The growing awareness of human rights and justice encourages the Friends of Nano to seek ways of acting to make a difference within their community. The prevailing cultural practices and attitudes of the Papua New Guinea society can either hinder or support an expression of human rights.
Within this context the Friends of Nano are challenged to raise issues and reflect on how they can help support those in the local communities or challenge unjust practices. The Friends of Nano visit the sick and support the youth of the surrounding villages. Joseph is one such person assisted by the Friends of Nano. Since his wife died and his daughter married and lives in another village, Joseph has struggled with failing health to care for himself in his own home. There are no shops, nursing home facilities, no electricity or running water. It would be impossible for ‘Joseph’ to fetch water from the river or gather food from the bush. He needs the support of a stick to get from his indoor dwelling to the outside fire of his garden house where he sits all day and can see others in the village as they pass by. The Friends of Nano assist with personal care, take food and water and sit and chat with him. Joseph is mentally alert and thoroughly enjoys the companionship they bring. Friends of Nano – quiet achievers for Papua New Guinea.

Gender based violence in Papua New Guinea: the case of the missing medical report
By Inez Mikkelsen-Lopez on August 11, 2014
Sarah ran away from her village claiming that her husband was abusing her. The village court found Sarah guilty of “not respecting her marriage vows”, issued her with a AUD300 fine and demanded she return home. Sarah appealed this decision with the district court magistrate, however, the (female) judge dismissed the case based on the grounds that Sarah could not produce a medical report to prove abuse. She ordered Sarah to return to her village and pay the fine, and urged her to honour her marriage vows. Sadly, as unbelievable as this story is, it happened recently in Papua New Guinea.
Stories similar to Sarah’s concerning Gender Based Violence (GBV) appear all too frequently in the local news in PNG, usually involving a case of rape, often by husbands or family members. The multifaceted nature of GBV, involving the legal, social, education and health sectors, makes it extremely complex to address.
At the national level, GBV is addressed in by the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC), which has provincial representation: supporting both the ‘Family and Sexual Violence Units’ annexed to police stations and the ‘Family Support Centres’, often found at provincial hospitals. Primarily, the Family and Sexual Violence Unit deals with the law: the allocation of protection orders or criminal investigations relating to the breach of legislation, such as assaults. The onus to coordinate the entire investigation is therefore placed on the police and not on the victim, where the victim is their witness in their prosecution.
The Family Support Centres recognise the significance of the psychological implications of GBV and provide integrated counselling with medical treatment to women, men and children affected by GBV. There are currently only a handful of Family Support Centres across PNG. What role can the health sector play in combatting GBV? Unfortunately, gender issues are not regarded as a priority under the National Health Plan 2011–20. However, this was recently amended with the release of the National Health Sector Gender Policy (2014), which aims to integrate a gender perspective across the entire health sector (legislation, policies and programs) and throughout the various levels. Although it recognises GBV as a cross-cutting issue, it confirms that it is not a GBV control policy.
Are there changes that can be made within the health system to better respond to GBV? ….

Mobile phone charging clicks
The National, Monday August 25th, 2014
USING a 240KVA portable generator to charge mobile phones, an enterprising man could earn up to K2000 a month. But David Solomon, 30, from Bukawa, Morobe, said only through honest-to-goodness saving from the proceeds that one can earn that much. He confirmed raising K1500 just recently when speaking at Nadzab market over the weekend. Solomon, who migrated from Bukawa to be with his wife in Nadzab, said he collected K2 per mobile phone charge. He said he was charging more than 50 mobile phones a day and charges boom boxes (music). He makes about K100 per day, but on busy days such as Fridays and Saturdays, he could earn more. “In a week, I make K500 to K600, which means I earn K1000 to K1200 in a fortnight. “I support my family with the money I earn and pay school fees for my 10-year old-son,” Solomon said. He had five other competitors in the market who use portable generators.

Educating people by degree – Sam Koim’s ‘anti-corruption capsules’ 25 August, 2014
The head of PNG’s corruption-busting Task Force Sweep, Sam Koim, still with a job after intervention by the courts, uses Facebook to publish his ‘anti-corruption capsules’. They’re always well-read, much favoured and we offer one here as an example….
AS a nation progresses, so do its people. Many people get educated. Many find a decent job that sustains and propels them to prosper in life. Crime also grows in the absence of strong mechanisms to curtail its growth. Those who want to engage in crimes such as stealing and fraud are often too educated to employ primitive gang looting methods with the use of arms. Thus the crime rate on that front may decline. They however take up pen and paper. With the former primitive method, the risks are higher and the rewards are at times relatively small. With the latter, the rewards have proven to be higher and the physical risks are almost nil. I should say criminals have just changed the weapons used to commit a crime.

MP: Malaria, HIV down
The National, Friday 29th of August, 2014
THE prevalence of malaria and HIV in the country has declined in recent years, according to Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Michael Malabag.
He attributed that to the success of the public-private partnership approach.
Malabag yesterday tabled in Parliament the Department of Health 2013 annual management report.
“Malaria generally between 2009 and 2012 saw a 39% reduction in the number of reported cases, a 60% reduction in malaria admissions and a 50% reduction in reported malaria deaths,” he said.
“The prevalence of HIV is below 1% – meaning that we do not have a generalised epidemic as previously thought.
“This reinforces the fact that improved funding and staffing are required to see improvements in our indicators.”
He said the lessons must be translated to other diseases such as Tuberculosis by providing adequate funding and human resources to have an impact. 
Public Service Minister Sir Puka Temu praised the Rotary Against Malaria for distributing mosquito nets to families.
Malabag said five provincial health authority boards had been set up in Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Milne Bay, West New Britain and Enga.
East Sepik and Southern Highlands will have their boards established in the coming months. 
“We have been overwhelmed with request from other provinces that are keen to implement the PHA as a vehicle to improving health outcomes for their population,” he said.

10 years after the eruption
PNG Blogs, Monday August 25, 2014
It has been 10 years since the Manam volcanic eruption abruptly forced more than 15000 islanders to move to the mainland of the Madang province. Many of the families, still living in care centers, have been left destitute with very little fertile land to grow food and little means of generating an income. For 10 years, both the National and Provincial governments have ignored the plight of islanders making no firm decision on their resettlement.
Gabriel Kabarapun is a displaced Manam Islander who has been living in the Asarumba care center. He built this house in 2004 when they were evacuated during the volcanic eruption and since then, he has changed the sago palm thatch on his roof only once. Asarumba, like the other Manam care centers, is located on old mission plantations. Building materials are scarce and the islanders are not always allowed to get sago thatch and wood from the traditional land that belongs to the Bogia people. “I can’t get materials to build a new house,” he says. “The posts are slowly rotting, the walls are falling apart. The owners of the land don’t allow us to use their land to get wood or roofing.” Because of the scarcity of land and limited resources, it has become increasingly common to find two families sharing one house. Gabriel shares this house with his nephew. Both men have large families. The house cannot fit them all. This means some family members have use the verandah as sleeping quarters after the evening meals.
“We are a forgotten people,” says former Local level government councilor, Charles Yanda. “It the government can look at foreign asylum seekers, what not pay attention to our needs. We’re Papua New Guineans and we’ve been here for 10 years” While there has been much talk about a permanent solution for the displaced Manam Islanders, much of it has been political talk with no action on the ground.
The Manam population on the care centers has more than doubled since the evacuation. There are now an estimated 30 thousand people scattered along the Bogia coast with remnants of village communities on the sheltered part of the Island.

Wisdom is in nature
By Abp Steve Reichert OFM Cap – Madang
During the past year I’ve travelled by plane from Madang to Wewak and back many times. It is an enjoyable trip. What a beautiful country we live in. Following the coastline one sees the high mountains inland, the vast forests, the rivers and the small villages here and there in the bush.
Then suddenly the mighty Sepik River appears, confidently strolling out of the hills onto the plain, meandering toward the sea. But just before it accomplishes its mission of depositing its contents into the ocean, it turns back on itself, as if it has lost courage at the last minute. It twists and turns in indecision before finally making its way through the sandy beach to the sea. And I said to myself, I’m like that sometimes. Many of us are like that sometimes and often our fear and indecision is a cause for doing wrong and hurting others.
Ramu River – It is bold, dirty and undisciplined. It is selfish and greedy. It eats away at the banks and the foundations of the village houses. It builds up sand and silt like so many excuses until its only escape is to slink off in another unplanned direction. We all know people like that. But sometimes we also see him or her when we look in the mirror. How many of us fail to meet the challenges of life with honesty? It’s easier to run away from responsibility and accountability. We need wisdom and strength.
Manam Volcano – white smoke and black smoke – arrogant, moody, sometimes angry and dangerous. It is not reliable. Karkar Island – Elderly, quiet, stable, settled and generous. It’s like everyone’s grandmother.
And then comes the broken coastline of Madang – the little islands and lagoons, the coral reefs – inviting, peaceful and compassionate. We humans are created in the image and likeness of God, but sin makes us less beautiful than we are meant to be. But there is hope for us. Wisdom that comes from loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, will restore God beauty in us. And loving our neighbour as ourselves no matter what, strengthens the gift of wisdom within us.
As you circle to land on the sea side of the airport you might catch a glimpse of Long Island in the distance to the Southeast – across an angry sea to this volcanic island which erupted 300 years ago and made its mark on the world, causing a time of darkness. It is too far away to see it in detail. But with the help of modern technology, Google Earth, one can see the great beauty of this volcanic island.
Long Island features a beautiful blue lake in its spent crater – and as you scroll closer and closer to it, the name of the lake pops up on your computer – Lake Wisdom. Wouldn’t it be great if we could drink thewater of that lake and gain wisdom? (DWU Foundation Day Mass – 22 August 2014)

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Social Concerns Notes – July 2014

Whose children are malnourished and dying? By Fr John Glynn WeCARe! Foundation. 21 July 2014 THE headline on the front page of the Post-Courier last Wednesday, Malnutrition Kills, was accompanied by Unicef statistics which are terrifying in their implications. One revealed that 45% of Papua New Guinea’s children have stunted growth. This means that, because they are malnourished from birth, almost half of PNG’s young people do not grow to reach their proper size and strength. It also means that their brains are undernourished and so do not reach their full level of mental ability. A report published last year by Australian and PNG researchers showed that about 80% of Papua New Guineans are functionally illiterate and uneducated. Now we are told that almost half of our children are growing up physically and mentally retarded. Of course, the children who are suffering from malnutrition are not “our” children. They are not the children of the blessed 20% or so of the population who are educated, employed, and able to take care of themselves and share in the increasing wealth of this lucky country. The one child in 13 who dies before the age of five; the 14 in every hundred who suffer “wasting” diseases and die by the age of six or seven, and the rest who grow up mentally and physically retarded are the children of the 80% of the population who are illiterate, uneducated, and in many cases suffer from extreme poverty. This situation should be completely intolerable and unacceptable to every thinking citizen of PNG. There should be an outcry from every corner of the country for a war on poverty and ignorance. But, of course, it won’t happen. The poor have no voice. This 80% of the population have little or no access to radio or television, and cannot read the papers – which are not written for them in any case. And you will not meet any of them on Facebook or Twitter. It is so easy to ignore them, and to live our lives as if they didn’t exist.

Em i no Wanpis

Post Courier July 22, 2014. By Gary T Bustin HE APPEARED from nowhere when I opened the Land Cruiser door to unload our suitcases at Jackson’s International Airport. He reached in quickly and said in perfect English, “May I help you with these bags?” I looked him over and saw a frail boy with tattered clothes, dirty skin, and a big, bright smile. He was eager to do his job and seemed unaware that he was dirty and that his body was not well. My foreign guests, including an executive from a top children’s hospital, and I followed as he pushed our bags down the ramp and I remember thinking to myself that he looked to be about my own son’s age. When we went through security I asked his name in Tok Pisin and his reply, “Wanpis”, which means “all alone”, took me so off guard that I got choked up and had to turn away momentarily. He took pride in his work and talked with international travellers in line as if he too was off on some big adventure. The more I watched him the more my heart ached for this little boy who obviously had the courage of a lion but with no one to care for him. When I inquired he told me that his parents were both gone and that he lived on the streets with his friends. … PNG has a growing problem with street children as urbanization increases and family units continue to fall apart. The Tribal Foundation has been working in this area and has provided funding to Life PNG Care, a home that provides love and opportunity to as many children as their budget allows. Colin Pake has been the champion of this cause and as soon as I had access to email I sent the picture of Wanpis and asked Colin to find him and look after him. It was a few weeks later when I received an email from Colin that Wanpis had been found and that he was living in a drain with several other children. Colin enrolled Wanpis in fifth grade at Erima Primary School, looked after his needs, and took him to the doctor to get his health checked. Things went well for a while but Wanpis grew weaker and was unable to attend school. On July 15, 2014 Wanpis lost his battle with tuberculosis and his young life ended before it really ever began.

Anthropologist: Expose street kids problem

Post Courier, July 25, 2014 (Nancy Sullivan) Over the last ten years, “street children” have become commonplace to towns, truck stops, mining camps and settlements. Across the country, children of broken homes and those sent from the village to town to live with relatives become frighteningly vulnerable to the street life: when parents and wantoks face hardship, these children are sent to work on the streets selling everything from smokes to sex, often straddling the realms of crime along with the informal economy. We produced the 2010 report Working Street Children of Papua New Guinea: A Public Policy Challenge. But “street kids” is not the best term for them in PNG, because they bear little resemblance to the classic image of pickpockets and child gangs found in capital cities elsewhere. For the most part, they are not orphans (even if they have lost immediate parents, they often live with wantoks) and they work very hard for daily food and shelter. They make a living on the streets, and more often than not are providing for siblings, wantoks and even parents with whom they live. These are the youngest members of that population that has become collateral damage of rapid social change. They have fled their village homes from domestic violence, tribal fighting, overpopulation, and a million other symptoms of an economy moving at warp speed from subsistence agriculture to a working wage, and from traditional marriages to love matches and unwanted pregnancies and new forms of polygamy. Migration across provinces, a spike in sorcery accusations against women, education without employment opportunities, have all put enormous pressure on what was once a healthy extended family life in the village. Our research confirmed what many of us suspected already, that orphanages are not the best option for these kids, because they tend to generate landless kids with no ancestral identity. Our report recommended more support and acknowledgement of the many NGOs working for and with woman and children at risk, as they have proliferated, offering more personalises, less institutional responses to the problem. The “problem” is also different by gender, age, and location. What our team found was that, almost to a child, this wave of kids working on the streets is much like the kids in villages across PNG: they are bright, self-reliant, tasked with impossible jobs that they perform with aplomb, and desperate for a better family and home life than what the cities can offer. These are not thieves, for the most part, and many of them go home to parents with their earnings. But they need more food stations, refuges, and counselling or “big brothering” and “big sistering” than they can get right now…. The author is an anthropologist by profession and more information about her work can be found on her website

Report: Child abuse rife

Post Courier July 25,2014 CHILDREN of tender age have been forced into sex and street work, an ILO report has found that: • 175 child sex workers were interviewed. It is noted that an additional 12 child sex workers refused to be interviewed at a brothel where they operated • The175 child sex workers interviewed were mainly girls. 14 male sex workers and 2 transgender sex workers were also interviewed, indicating the existence of both male and female clients who demanded the services of these young children. • The survey found that most of the child sex workers interviewed lived with their families. The youngest child interviewed was 12 years old. Some children indicated that they had started getting involved in the trade from as young as 10 years of age. • The survey also found incidences of child trafficking involving guardians and parents who sold their children to either clients or a husband. • The children were engaged in commercial sex work (prostitution) through different avenues: brothels, guest houses, night clubs, along the streets, in settlements, and through pimps. The children were paid an average of 50 kina per client. All of the children in the study involved in commercial sex work consumed alcohol although they were under age. • Children who participated in the survey of ‘street children’ were children working on the street (either staying at home with their families or staying on the street) and were involved mainly in activities such as street vending, trafficking controllers and in illicit activities and hazardous work. • Children below the age of 18 years engaged in illicit activities and hazardous work were categorised as children in the worst forms of child labour. These are excerpts from the report “Child Labour in Papua New Guinea” released in 2011 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and sanctioned by the PNG Government.

Welfare officer: Street children deserve better

Post Courier July 25,2014 CHILDREN in Papua New Guinea are an important part of any society but they are not treated with high regard in some places. In urban centres such as Port Moresby, there are a growing number of them eating and sleeping on the streets, thus referred as “street kids”. Yesterday this newspaper queried the Community Development’s director of Lukautim (Child Welfare) Pikinini, Simon Yanis, about the issue and he agreed that these children whom he refuses to call “street children” are on the increase. “Generally, you see a lot of children loitering, loitering everywhere. It’s a public knowledge,” he said. He says as director of Lukautim Pikinini he feels ashamed when he is approached by these kids for money or food because the office he is in charge of does not have the means to help them. Mr Yanis has taken charge of the office since last year during a political impasse as well as a tussle over the leadership within the Department of Community Development, under which is the Child Welfare Office. But when asked whether he has any powers to do something, he says he is helpless, unless the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, which is being reviewed, is passed by the National Parliament. He hopes this will be done soon as the legislation has provisions that will pave the way for issues facing children to be tackled better. The LPA 2007, which replaced the Child Welfare Act 1961, was revised in 2009 and is now under review again to include important provisions, including issues relating to children in court and repealing of the laws on deserted wives and children….

Questions in the minds of people

Post Courier, 8 July, 2014 PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has put questions in the minds of people when he did not adhere to the set procedures in law. Head of the Anglican Church Arcbishop Clyde Igara said this when commenting on the current political turmoil in the country. He said many people in the churches have been silent as they expected the Prime Minister and others involved in the current political saga to come out and openly tell the truth rather than keeping people in suspense, guessing and wondering what will happen next. “They cannot be hiding at the back of their lawyers who at the tax-payers expense are battling it out to protect their selfish interests,’’ he said. He said PNG being a Christian country has its silent majority who are waiting for the Prime Minister and other political leaders involved to come out openly and declare the truths regarding the current political events. “And in doing so – the truths revealed to us will ‘set them free’ to continue to lead our nation with confidence and trust,’’ Archbishop Igara said. When highlighting the cause of the current turmoil, he said the rule of law is same for everyone, including political leaders. “If the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill had submitted to the rule of law, his innocence would have been proven three weeks ago. But instead he had engaged his lawyers – to stay the warrant of arrest,’’ he said. “The staying of the warrant of arrest did not prove the Prime Minister’s innocence but induced many questions in the minds of the people…. Archbishop Igara said there are questions in the minds of Papua New Guineans that need to be answered. These include why disband one investigating body and create another? “Why sack the police officers and appoint new ones? Why sack the ministers and replace them with new ones? “And the latest being the Prime Minister to withdraw from the legal battle and refer his case to the new Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki to handle. And the question now is how independent is the new commissioner to execute this task – in unveiling the truth which the general public are looking forward to hear.’’

Tired of poor governance, people yearn for a new dawn 01 July 2014 Fr Giorgio Lucini | Catholic Reporter PNG WE leave it to the courts to determine if presumed legal services by Paul Paraka Lawyers were really met with illegal payments by prime minister Peter O’Neill and others. We also stay out of the political wrangling that inevitably accompanies inquiries into government officials and politicians. Nor do we care much about political careers that may end or blossom according to court rulings. We just note that the soul searching the country is undergoing these days reveals a deep yearning for a new beginning. Since independence Papua New Guinea has been marred by poor governance and corruption. Now people had enough. They had enough of dubious payments, uncompleted projects, political consent, and votes captured every five years with unfulfilled promises. Mr O’Neill and colleagues always repeat the same refrain: judge us at the election in 2017. But what if, by then, the country is financially, socially and morally bankrupt. Outgoing ministers and members of parliament are not going to pay a price for it, but the common people will suffer. There is something missing in a democracy when constitutional changes become too easy and parliamentary opposition is almost nil. Thank God the judiciary appears to be vibrant and independent in Papua New Guinea. But government and politicians should not blame the media when they prove to be the last bulwark of democracy. Who else is going to expose bad or wrong decisions when parliament is an accomplice and the judiciary cannot acquire necessary proof? The dream for a clean and honest running of the public affairs is palpable among young people. There is a third post-independence generation of Papua New Guineans emerging after the Somares and the O’Neills. They want a more mature democratic process and a totally transparent management of public wealth and funds. They are preparing for it. Please, don’t stand in their way.

Bishops call for peaceful solution

Post Courier, July 02,2014 The Catholic Bishop’s Conference in PNG and Solomon Islands has called on the PNG leaders to find a peaceful and truthful resolution of the current political turmoil. President for the conference, Bishop Arnold Orowae, said honesty and commitment for the common good are essential ingredients of worthy politics. “Moreover in a true democratic system political authority is accountable to the people it represents. It seems to us that at this time worthy politics and democracy are at risk in Papua New Guinea,” Bishop Orowae said. “No person, including members of parliament, is above the law. There is the one law for everyone in Papua New Guinea. Yet recent events, with accusations, dismissals and political manoeuvrings appear to disrespect the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said. “Our people continue to search for security and prosperity in a socio-political scene that seems even more confusing and complex,” the bishop said. Bishop Orowae said instability and oppressive law enforcement reflecting the interest of a few is hurting our entire society. If this continues it will be detrimental for the nation. Investors confidence and the nations good image will be lost. Referring to the Bible’s John 8:3, on truth, “As Church leaders we call for a peaceful and truthful resolution of the current political turmoil. The values we refer to are found not only in the Holy Bible, but are expressed in civil law, yet have their origin in God. In God’s name we call on the elected leaders of this nation to give priority to the respect for law, and for the common good and future of our nation,” he said.

Kina value dips

The National, 27th of June, 2014 THE recent revaluation of the kina adversely affects farmers and producers who would rather see a weaker currency, according to an economic expert. Paul Barker, the Institute of National Affairs executive director, was commenting on the recent downward trend of the value of kina after its upward spike two weeks ago following its revaluation by the Central Bank. He said there were forecasts of more inflow with better foreign exchange earnings (from the liquefied natural gas) although “that’s still down the track”. He said the lower kina “is, of course, preferable to for producers and exporters of agricultural products, denoted in US dollars, and for tourist operators that sell their packages in US dollars, which then converts into a higher kina value”. “The recent revaluation caused a major drop in commodity prices to PNG farmers and exporters,” he said. He said investors were depending on a healthy stable economy to do their businesses.
He said they depended on political stability. He said the current political situation “is serious and needs to be resolved openly, transparently and in accordance with the law, in a manner which restores public confidence in the system and the leadership”.

RH has become the Government of PNG. By Andrew Lattas. I have just arrived back from Pomio, where the clear felling of the bush and subsequent oil palm planting are in full swing despite the fact that the vast majority of villagers oppose both. Villagers are powerless to stop these activities which continue even though SABLs have recently supposedly been revoked. This looks likely to have the same status as the police commissioners public order (Dec 2011) that police be pulled out of logging camp sites. The police never were removed, and it is only their continued presence, violence and intimidation that prevents villagers from setting up road blocks to protect their land, gardens and environment. What is clear to me is that for most local villagers in Pomio the state has shifted away from them and is largely in the pockets of large Malaysian logging companies. These companies control important governments departments and officials in crucial departments such as Lands, Forestry and the police force. The same applies to other officials in District administration, Local Level Government, Provincial Administration and national government departments. Nearly all sectors of the state have been co-opted into coercive pro-development policies that seek to privatise land and resources without villagers consent. … Police and company directors often tell complaining villagers that the land is no longer theirs but belongs to the state which has leased it from them so as to lease it again to the Malaysian companies. The state has become the crucial intermediary in the forced process through which villagers lose control of their resources and especially their land. Much of this depends upon the production of dubious reports by the Lands Department that collects and produces lists of signatures that are highly selective in that they are not the signatures of major clan leaders and of those who represent the majority of villagers….. Through the SABLs and the Private, Public Partnerships, the Somare government created two interlocking policies that have institutionalised corruption in PNG to a point where villagers find it almost impossible to achieve forms of justice concerning the fraudulent nature of state processes that have been effectively dispossessed them of huge areas of land. …. (For full article see blog address above)

Call to stop the sale of voter ID cards

Solomon Star News. 03 July 2014 A CHIEF in Gela Constituency has called on constituents to refrain from selling their voter’s identification cards to supporters of intending candidates. Chief Michael Lalaoma of Kobe village made the call in light of the increasing incidences of the sale of ID cards in the constituency.

He said: “It is a great concern for the community to see supporters of the intending candidates going around paying and collecting ID cards, particularly around Kobe and Salesapa villages.”

He said people within these communities must be cautioned against this illegal practice.

“I called on those involved to refrain from this illegal practice.”

New school syllabus to be introduced next year

The National, F4th of July, 2014 THE Department of Education will implement the standard-based curriculum next year. Steven Tandale, the Curriculum and Assessment Division director, said the new curriculum was a “body of knowledge and set of competencies that form the basis of a quality education”. The curriculum defines what students should know and includes the accompanying teaching contents. “It is a continuous process that provides the pupils’ performance data to teachers and students regarding their progress to achieving education standards,” he said. The four elementary syllabuses have been developed for English, Mathematics, Culture and Communities, and Home Language. This was the result of a teachers’ assessment last month during a workshop. He said using home language enhanced early childhood learners. “For instance, Engans speak one language. The same language can be taught in elementary school because it links and enhances their knowledge,” he said. Tandale said Education Minister Nick Kuman had already considered the standard-based curriculum to be used as the outcome-based syllabus was phased out.

Corruption in Bougainville is letting down all that we fought for 4 July 2014 Leonard Fong Roka AS a student without any connection with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) or Bougainville Administration, I have no influence over the decisions my necktie-wearing, long sleeved and polished booted bureaucrats do in their fine Buka offices and elsewhere in Bougainville. But I can talk as a Bougainvillean who endured the pain of the 10-year crisis after 1988 and who has a desire to see my Solomon Island of Bougainville move forward into the nationhood that is our goal and which we paid for with our tears and blood. Corruption is an ailment affecting Bougainville, public and private Bougainville institutions and the Bougainvillean people. … I am sad that my brothers and sisters and I are swimming in an ocean of corruption. Many foreign eyes are watching Bougainville and its politics. As Bougainvilleans we are tending to ignore the significant spot we have attained in the polity of the Pacific. In an alarming article in The National newspaper of 2 September 2013 (Auditor finds ‘massive corruption’ in Bougainville bureaucracy) Malum Nalu reported: Massive corruption among the bureaucracy on Bougainville is the order of the day as it pushes for full autonomy and possible independence, according to deputy auditor-general, Peter Siparau. President John Momis, concurred with Siparau, saying the audacity and arrogance of some public servants there defied imagination. It is true that Bougainvilleans are ‘a law unto themselves’ and this is a safe haven for corruption. Bougainville has a climate conducive to germinating and protecting corruption. Yet this contradicts our identity as long time fighters against exploitation, which is no different from corruption. ….

Students lack interest in Cultural Courses

PNG Loop, 6 July. The interest of students enrolling at cultural courses at the University of Papua New Guinea’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences is lacking. School Dean Professor Betty Lovai revealed this at the Regional Cultural Education Strategy forum yesterday. She said less and less students are taking up courses like Anthropology, Linguistics and Literature. “It’s come to a point where I sometimes question whether we should keep offering those courses.” “Sometimes we have just one or two students putting first choice for these courses while the rest are second and third choices,” says Lovai. Linguistics lecturer Dr Kilala Devete-Chee says students signing up for her courses have dropped to as low as 15 from 80 five years ago. – See more at:

Findings on Family, Sexual Violence.

The National, July 1st, 2014 Family and sexual violence has been a problem in the country for ages but only recently has it been addressed, it has been revealed. Medecins Sans Frontieres has released its findings on how family and sexual violence had been tackled in the country and suggested ways to combat it. The non-government organisation has been treating people affected by family and sexual violence since December 2007. It has treated more than 18,000 individuals with emergency medical and psychological care in Lae, Tari and Port Moresby. These include women, children and men who had been raped, beaten and physically or sexually violated by family members, spouses, partners and parents. The report said: “Since MSF and partners began working with family and sexual violence in PNG, there has been a real progress. According to a report, its experience of providing medical care for survivors of family sexual violence in Lae, Tari and now Port Moresby has brought to light a range of challenges that health providers faced in responding to family and sexual violence. “But to overcome those challenges, a quality medical response with effective community awareness could deliver strong benefits for survivors by providing them with essential curative and preventive care. “At the same time services in collecting valuable data that make a key contribution to longer terms efforts to tackle the family sexual violence emergency in the country.”

Concerns over dynamite fishing 03 July 2014 CALLS have been made to the responsible authorities to apprehend people involved in dynamite fishing in Gela, Central Province. Dynamite fishing have been increasingly prevalent on Gela, particularly in Belaga district, according to Daniel Manedika of Kobe village.

He said residents of Tavulea and Kobe villages have been practicing this method of fishing on a daily basis and this raises a lot of concern to the villagers.
Dynamite fishing is the practice of using explosives to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection.

He said dynamite fishing can be extremely destructive to the surrounding ecosystem, as the explosion often destroys the underlying habitat such as coral reefs that supports the fish.

“We therefore call on Tulagi police and the responsible authorities to make regular visits to the area and to apprehend those responsible,” Mr Manedika said.

More rural doctors needed

Post Courier July 08,2014, 02:00 pm Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand A group representing doctors in the country said critical shortage of doctors in rural areas is putting people’s lives at risk. The president of the Society of Rural and Remote Health, David Mills, said there is no hard data on the distribution of doctors but most of its districts do not have a resident doctor. He further mentioned that “the reality for the vast majority of rural areas in the country is that if you get sick or you break a leg or you have an obstructive labour or something terribly serious, the reality is that you are just going to either get better or you are going to die from that and nobody may be there to make a difference one way or another.” However David Mills said he remains optimistic about the situation as there are some very committed young Papua New Guinean doctors beginning to work in rural areas. Dr Mills also says he hopes to see the Government get behind rural doctor training schemes to encourage more doctors to work in remote areas.

Fish stock depleting at an alarming rate Hetri 0 Comment Jul 9, 2014 Despite aggressively dialogue between the department of fisheries, the National government and other relevant stakeholders as well as their overseas counterpart, the fish stock in Papua New Guinea is being depleted at an alarming rate. It is a known and oft quoted widely in PNG and overseas media and discussed fact that overfishing in the high seas and coastal areas in recent decades has resulted in fish stocks depleting precipitously, though there is rarely any agreement between various concerned parties of how much the decline has been in real terms. “But there is no doubt that fish stock continues to be depleted despite measures and treaties that have been put in place. While such measures have helped raise awareness of the issue, success in curbing overfishing has been limited” reports Island Business. The fact remains clear that the current situation in PNG, like anywhere else in the world is driven by demand and supply. “As the world’s population increases and economic growth boosts affordability of more and more people to raise their living standards, the demand for protein based food increases. Island Business, however warns that the demand is expected to grow even faster in the next few decades and the race to supply that demand will undoubtedly deplete resources further before the balance that is sought from sustainable farming practices begins to make any difference – See more at:

Experts: TB to be named public health emergency

Post Courier July 09, 2014 Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia Health experts are calling for tuberculosis to be declared as a public health emergency in the country after a seven-month study into TB infection rates found that many people in rural areas are dying from the disease without ever being diagnosed. The PNG Institute of Medical Research study said rural areas of the population have some of the highest incidences of TB in the world. Researcher Dr Suparat Phuanukoonnon said that TB is poorly understood in the country, and many people die from TB without it ever being diagnosed. She further claimed “[TB] has been neglected and the health system is also not functioning very well so a lot of TB [patients are] basically just sitting there in a rural area, in the village and have never been diagnosed, never been treated, so when we actually conducted our study, you see that we probably have a world-class TB rate,” she told Pacific Beat. Dr Phauanukoonnon is calling on the government to treat TB as seriously as it does HIV/AIDS, and declare the situation a national emergency.

Abe’s Wife Encourages Girls

The National, Friday July 11th, 2014 YOUNG women of Caritas Technical Secondary School in Port Moresby have been encouraged to excel in their studies to become successful. The students were fortunate to have the wife of Japanese Prime Minister, Akie Abe, drop by their school for a brief visit yesterday after arriving from Australia for a two-day state visit. She told the students to utilise and showcase the technical skills that they have been taught at such an institution. She was pleased that education was one of the priority areas that the Japanese Government was assisting Papua New Guinea in. Abe was given a traditional welcome by the students upon her arrival on campus and was met by the wife of PNG Prime Minister Linda Babao O’Neill and were both escorted into the chapel. Abe presented gifts to school principal Sr Florentina Chao and Babao.

School demands students pay K250,000 reparation for sports death 14 July 2014 THE Rosary Secondary School at Kondiu in Simbu Province began its third term on a dramatic note when students were told to show up with K100 before normal classes would resume. The students were asked to jointly contribute a sum of K250,000 in compensation for the death last month of a Grade 11 student during a schoolboys rugby league match between Kondiu and Kerowagi Secondary. The relatives of the victim demanded that his school, Kondiu, pay the K250,000. The amount was divided among all students, teachers, and ancillary staff. Students were told to return to school after the second term holiday with nothing less than K100. When students returned to school they found that the payment had to be made before they could attend classes. From last Monday, the principal persistently demanded the students to provide K100 each. Classes did not commence and students were told to go home and return with the K100 compensation. During the week, many students were seen on the streets of Kundiawa with small yellow envelopes looking for district administrators, members of parliament and business houses to sponsor them. Angry and anxious parents convened to question the principal’s integrity and his authority for harshly penalising every student in this way. Parents demanded a better explanation and said that the school should meet the claim instead of demanding that students pay.

Govt plans to expand pension program

Post Courier, July 15,2014, 03:12 am PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has highlighted the government’s intention to extend the national pension program to all Papua New Guineans once they turn 65 years of age. Speaking at Taurama Barracks, the Prime Minister said it was the right of all men and women to be taken care of in their old age. “Due to the strength of the economy, I can tell you that our country can afford to look after our people when they retire,” the Prime Minister said. “After working hard through their years, people need to know that they can relax after they retire and that the government will take care of them.” The Prime Minister said the pension scheme will be delivered as the next step of the current program underway to roll out a national identification program. “We have already started working on the pension plan for people over the age of 65. “Right now we are introducing a national ID program for the entire country that will register each and every one of us. “Once we have this in place we will have the statistics on how many people will retire each year, and then we can plan our budget accordingly.”

Asylum seekers ‘removed’ from PNG

Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand Refugee advocates say witnesses to a fatal attack on an asylum seeker at Australia’s Manus Island detention centre in Manus are in extreme danger. Australia’s Refugee Action Coalition says asylum seekers raised the alarm on Monday after Wilson Security guards allegedly removed two of their representatives and another asylum seeker, who has since been returned. The group’s spokesperson, Ian Rintoul, says Wilson Security seemed to be responding to routine complaints about the use of the internet and phone. But Mr Rintoul says the three people were witnesses to an attack on February 17, when asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed and are extremely vulnerable. “There is no doubt that they have been in danger since the 17th of February and remain in danger. There are very powerful forces in Manus Island that do not want them to give evidence in any court of law about what they have seen.” Ian Rintoul says Australia’s Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, has a duty of care to guarantee asylum seekers’ safety.

Health workers receive praise

The National, Wednesday July 16th, 2014 The St John Ambulance workers did a tremendous job in the recently ended 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture in Port Moresby, health officer Rosemary Munaga said.
She said she had only 20 first aid staff but they provided the best health service at the two week-long festival.
Munaga said they treated 100 patients a week for sickness such as stomach aches, fever, malaria and diarrhoea.
“Out of these 100 patients, 10 or 12 were from the other Melanesian countries but most were Papua New Guineans,” she said. 
She said some cuts and wounds were treated at the festival sites but the severe ones were referred to the Gerehu St John clinic.
“This was our first time to go out to events and provide medication and do referrals and we successfully completed our task,” she said.
“We will be fully prepared in fuure events like the upcoming 2015 Pacific Games.”

2172 new HIV cases

The National, July 17th, 2014 OF 31,945 people living with HIV in the country, 2172 of them are new infections.
This was revealed during the National Economic Fiscal Commission conference in Kimbe, West New Britain last week.
Deputy director ofthe PNG National AIDS Council Secretariat Dr Moale Kariko said prevalence was highest in the National Capital District and the Highlands region where 90% of all reported cases came from.
He said the key population more associated with the prevalence included female sex workers, men who had sex with men and transgender individuals.
He said a great challenge was that key populations were more difficult to reach due to stigma and legal barriers.
Kariko said new infections, regarded as those infected from last year, were still difficult to establish except through modelling, adding there were 1000 new diagnoses or new reported cases in 2012. 
However, actual infections could have occurred years before but just been found. 
Kariko’s presentation during the conference highlighted that an estimated 26% of people needing Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) were still not accessing it.
In 2012, 11,764 of the HIV population were on ART which was 74 %.
Kariko said rates of HIV testing in sexual transmitted infections and Tuberculosis servicesalso remained low despite known high infection rates in STI and TB clients.

Revivalist churches dangerous campaign for ‘faith-healing’ AIDS 23 July 2014 Australia Network News | Extract REVIVALIST churches in Papua New Guinea are promoting prayer as a substitute for medication to those with HIV, according to human rights groups. PNG is a deeply Christian society, and most mainstream churches are trying to improve attitudes to those living with HIV. But with poor medical facilities and a widespread belief in sorcery, belief in faith healing is growing. “The original thinking in PNG, given the facts and figures around sexually transmitted infections and unwanted teen pregnancies – behavioural information – certainly gave us the idea that we were heading towards a sub-Saharan African style epidemic,” UNAIDS country co-ordinator Stuart Watson said. But that generalised epidemic has not happened. Instead, the virus has been localised to the Highlands, Morobe Province and the National Capital District. Pastor Godfrey Wippon heads PNG’s Revival Centres and says his is the fastest growing religious movement in the country. “It is growing because of healings, miracles, wonders, science happening in this ministry. The Lord heals,” he said. On a beach in Port Moresby, revivalists gather to sing and watch as new recruits are baptised and speak in tongues. Pastor Wippon believes baptism and prayer can cure AIDS and even bring the dead back to life. Health workers have told the ABC revivalists visit hospitals and clinics telling HIV patients to throw away their medication. In a case that shocked many, one of PNG’s first openly HIV-positive women, Helen Samilo, fell prey to the revivalist message. Even though she was working as an advocate for anti-retroviral treatment, Ms Samilo joined a revivalist church, stopped taking medication, and died in August last year.

Financing health facilities and the free health policy in PNG: challenges and risks By Colin Wiltshire and Andrew Anton Mako on July 14, 2014 Providing free primary health care is a key policy priority of the current Papua New Guinea Government. The Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has made reference to his government’s aspirations of ‘saving mothers the one and two kina’ that it can cost them and their children to visit health facilities across the country. The introduction of a free health care policy can be perplexing in the PNG context, considering primary health services should already be provided free of charge. Rather than enforcing existing laws and policies, the central premise of the new policy is to subsidise health facilities with direct payments in place of fees they would have collected from patients. While such an arrangement may seem sound in theory, the PNG Government has long struggled to find practical solutions for funding health facilities to deliver services. The free health policy came into effect on 24 February, 2014 but has been met with apprehension from those tasked with its implementation. Health service providers and officials have expressed deep concerns about the implementation of the policy. Hospital managers have said that it could ‘cost people their lives’ calling it a ‘politicians’ policy’, while one prominent public official (who will remain nameless) has publically stated that health services are already weak in PNG and this free health policy could collapse the system. … Survey findings from the Promoting Effective Public Expenditure (PEPE) Project suggest that health officials have good reason to suspect that the immediate implementation of the policy could well impact the ability of health facilities to deliver services. In September 2013, the PEPE project presented the preliminary findings of health survey data labelled ‘PNG’s lost decade’, which compared our results to a similar study from 2002 to show that health services had generally declined over the last 10 years. Significant weaknesses across the health system were revealed, such as deteriorated infrastructure, health workers not at their posts and shortages of available drugs despite large increases in funding to the sector over the same period. One key finding was the reliance on user fees for health facilities to deliver front-line services, as a common, reliable funding source was not evident from the survey data. Most health facilities do not submit budgets or plans in anticipation of receiving funding. Of those that do submit budgets, less than half receive any funding as a result and the average value of funding received is generally much lower than has been budgeted. (for the full article see the blog address above).

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Social Concerns Notes – June 2014

These notes begin with some references to the ongoing political turmoil in Papua New Guinea. They are longer than the usual summaries, but are included here in full, in the hope that they will shed light on the situation.


Ribat: PM must clear his name

Post Courier 26 June 2014

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill and other leaders implicated in the political turmoil have been urged to respect the law and let justice prevail. The call comes from chairman of the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV/AIDS John Ribat, who is also the Archbishop of Catholic Port Moresby diocese and Deputy chairman of PNG Council of Churches. He said at a press conference yesterday that Mr O’Neill and his government have done well for which the people are happy, but if he does not have his name cleared it will be tarnished despite all the good things he has done.

His call was supported by other church leaders present – Anglican priest and chairman of the PNG Council of Churches Fr Denny Guka; Pr Kaima Sumai from Soul Harvest Fellowship; Pr Daniel Hewali, Deputy chair PNGCCA and Senior Pastor with Agape Interdenomination Ministry; and United Church representative Deacon Charlie Vaieke.

Archbishop Ribat described the current situation as a repeat of the impasse that occurred two years ago. “Our stand is mutual. The highest of the law of the land – the Constitution – must be respected. What is happening is a repetition of the impasse. It is hurting our people.’’ He urged that leaders whether they are in government or churches must be honest because when things are covered up it is “not getting us anywhere, but causing us problems’’. He also questioned the Government’s acquisition of the USB loan and the millions paid to Paraka lawyers which he said must be explained and cleared. He said the people deserve a good government which was starting to come in this government and urged the PM to have his name cleared so that the country will progress further from the achievements made so far. Furthermore, he said, the people had enough and wanted an end to this turmoil. “This is a replay of what happened. We have enough of this. We are also leaders in the church. We try to get our people together in our journey. This is a Christian nation – we’d like to do this in a peaceful journey.’’

In endorsing the statement, Fr Guka said PNG people have the democratic right to express themselves about what is happening but urged that as Christians they must do this in a peaceful manner and follow the means and processes available. “Let’s be truthful, and the truth will get everyone free. PM has to go through the right process and get things right,’’ said Fr Guka. “We want the truth to prevail. We don’t want any dishonesty. We want truth to prevail; the PM and all other MPs implicated must tell the truth.’’ He also urged that all other MPs who are quiet but know what is going on must speak out. Pr Sumai said in support of Archbiship Ribat. “Our voice is straight forward. We stand for the truth,’’ he said, adding the church was the custodian of the Christian values and its prayers are “for the leaders in all levels to respect the Word of God and the values we treasure in our communities’’.

He said sin as in corruption brings a nation down and join the call on the leaders to respect the laws of the country, saying “If you break the law, you must also face it’’.


Its time for Papua New Guineans to call an ace an ace and a spade a spade! 19 June 2014 by Vergil Narakobi

The call for the resignation by the Prime Minister is a political question, not so much a legal question. The Prime Minister, like any body who goes through the criminal justice system is innocent until proven guilty. Here are some matters the Prime Minister should consider when making that decision.

            Kua was Somare’s lawyer in the misconduct allegations against Somare. They went through the judicial process to challenge the Ombudsman Commission. They failed. But they fronted up at the Leadership Tribunal, went through the process, found guilty by the Tribunal, paid the fine and life goes on. Skate resigned as Prime Minister paving the way for Sir Mekere to come in an atmosphere of serious allegations leveled against him. Julius Chan resigned when public opinion against him was overwhelming in the Sandline Affair. We hold public office as custodians for the people. If they are wrong in their convictions, they stand to suffer. That is the nature of our democracy. We have nothing to lose. Its their office.

            There are important national matters that the Prime Minister must attend to. There are roads to be built, hospitals to maintain, doctors to be trained, borders to be protected, investors to meet and the list goes on. If one is busy fighting a criminal matter, looking over one’s shoulder when the next counter move will be made, attending a Commission of Inquiry, sacking “disobedient” ministers and servants of the state, how can one give their 100% level best to serve the interest of the country? One’s time and attention is divided. One cannot serve two masters. “To be or not to be, that is the question”.

            Whilst one serve office, they enjoy the confidence of the people. If that confidence is no longer apparent in one’s leadership, and we are a democracy, it is an irreconcilable position to be in and one must do the honourable thing and resign. A leaf should be taken out of the dissenting opinion of the member of Leadership Tribunal Sir Robin Auld in the Somare Leadership Tribunal who thought that Somare should be dismissed from office. He said, “what would the reasonable person at Gordon’s market think about it?” What would the ordinary Papua New Guinean think the Prime Minister should do under the present circumstances?

            When the Prime Minister relies on his privilege as a Member of Parliament to avoid a warrant of arrest, it raises the question whether one is using his office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office under s 27 of the Constitution. Does an ordinary Papua New Guinean have that privilege when they are called into question by the police? When a Commission of Inquiry is set up to exonerate one from a criminal allegation, when the same question can be raised in one’s defence before a court of law, it raises the question of whether the Prime Minister is using his office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office. How many ordinary Papua New Guineans can set up a Commission of Inquiry when they are called into question by the police. When a Minister of State is decommissioned for dubious reasons, which a reasonable person can infer for not giving concurring advice to avert investigation and arrest, that raises the question of whether one is using one’s office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office. When a career serving police officer is sidelined for purportedly ordering the arrest of a Police Commissioner whose decisions have been in one’s interest, that raises the question of possible misconduct in office. Again the same can be said for Task Force Sweep.

            Task Force is an administrative arrangement. It is not a statutory body. When the Opposition called for its disbanding, it was ignored. There would have been good legal grounds to disband it. Now that the subject of the investigation is the Prime Minister, it is dismantled. Is that a case of using public office for personal gain? Paul Tienstein obviously would say yes despite his desperate plea that it was “politically motivated”.

            How many inmates in Bomana would also like to have a Commission of Inquiry into their conviction on the basis of that they were wrongfully convicted. A life is a life, no matter who you are. It is a wrong signal to the people of Papua New Guinea that there are two sets of laws.

            There are national security issues at stake here. The longer the matter pro-longs the potential for widespread discontent arises. Stand-off between and among the disciplined officers is a serious threat. Investor confidence will be impaired and the gains from LNG will be lost over night. Its time to make the hard decision for the national interest.

            There appears to be another potential stand-off between the executive and the judiciary. The same question on the legality of the payments to Paraka Lawyers is being determined by the court in his criminal matter. The same question will confront the Prime Minister if he is charged. By setting up a Commission of Inquiry, a quasi-judicial body will deal with the same question. It is questioning the independence of the judiciary. This is not in the national interest.

            If the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has no faith in the police and the judiciary to determine the truth of the allegations against him, his own people, but choosing instead to rely on a Commission of Inquiry headed by an Australian, are we than a failed state? As the Opposition Leader said, “Prime Minister you are the first man in Papua New Guinea”. If you don’t believe in me, who else will?

            The reason I have made this decision to make this call, is that Sam Koim an ordinary Papua New Guinean has put his hand up for Papua New Guinea, and I would be ashamed to call myself a Papua New Guinean if I did not honour his courage by having something to say. His involvement in the investigation suggests to me that there is no “political motivation”. After all he was appointed by the Prime Minister and has nothing to gain or lose except his reputation.


Strong anti-corruption task force vital

Open letter to PM and MPs

Task Force Sweep has been performing a vital anti-corruption role and must not be disbanded or removed. We all know corruption is a curse that has been costing us billions of kina and depriving the government of funds to pay for vital health and education services and national infrastructure.

Numerous Commission of Inquiry and other official investigations have exposed widespread corruption in the Department of Finance, the Department of Lands, the Department of National Planning and many other government institutions. But without an independent, multi-agency body to follow up on these investigations and bring the people responsible before the courts the corruption and the stealing will not only continue, it will get even worse.

While legislation for an Independent Commission Against Corruption has been passed by Parliament, the ICAC has not been given any funding in the budget and is not yet operational. Until the ICAC is fully established it is vital we have an interimbody to investigate corruption cases and prosecute those responsible. Since it was established in 2012, Task Force Sweep has done an excellent job in investigating senior lawyers, public officials and politicians and it has demonstrated to all Papua New Guineans that no one is above the law. If Papua New Guinea is to have any future and any international credibility it is vital Task Force Sweep is NOT disbanded and that Sam Koim and his team are allowed to continue their work.


Independence of the ITFS and Some Thoughts on the Way Forward

Vergil Narakobi

The disbanding of the Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITFS) and the subsequent call by the Prime Minister to investigate the conduct of its Chairman Sam Koim (and Hon. Sam Basil), presents the reality of any investigative body and the precarious position it is in when conducting investigations, especially against leaders holding positions of power. It is for this reason that when one looks at investigation bodies like the Ombudsman Commission, one appreciates the independence conferred on it and draw lessons for the future life of the ITFS. Here I try to point out what kind of independence mechanisms an investigative body should have using the example of the Ombudsman Commission. I raise the question whether ITFS should have been thought out a little bit more carefully and put in place more protective arrangement to secure the results of its investigations when it was first set up. This is because so much time, energy and resources were put into it. Furthermore, it is hoped that this piece may enlighten the readership to meaningfully contribute to debate on what kind of anti-corruption bodies should be put in place as a result of our on-going experience so far.

            Firstly ITFS is set up by administrative arrangement. It is not established by law. Three types of laws in PNG are ordinary legislation, an organic law or the Constitution (laws). The difference between these laws are that any changes to them can only be done by Parliament requiring specific majorities. An ordinary legislation requires simple majority whilst for the Constitution and an organic law, a little more. The strongest protection is if it is established under the Constitution. It can only be amended by specific majorities over a specific period of time. If it is an administrative arrangement such as ITFS, it exists at the good pleasure (or whim) of the government of the day. If it was established by law, then it can only be repealed by Parliament, and not by the executive government. Furthermore, even if its is repealed by Parliament, it can be challenged on the basis of its constitutionality in the Supreme Court.This is important. For example Parliament tried to amend the powers of the Ombudsman Commission under the so called Maladina amendments but the Supreme Court refused stating that the amendments were unconstitutional.

            Secondly, once it is established by legislation, what kind of mechanisms should the legislation have in place to protect its independence? Taking the example of the Ombudsman Commission, the Constitution states that in the performance of its functions, it should not be subject to the direction and control of any person. The government of the day cannot dictate to it, what matters it should and should not investigate. It appears that this may be the same protection that is available to the Police. In the Philip Bouraga case the court said clearly that the Police Commissioner is not subject to the direction and control of the executive (NEC) in terms of its functions. No such protection is extended to the ITFS because it is an administrative arrangement. What sort of organisation is ITFS and what are the terms of its operations? It is not clear what is the chain of command in the ITFS?This should be made clear right from the start.

            Thirdly, the protection offered to the head of the organisation. Again using the example of the Ombudsman Commission, an Ombudsman cannot be removed from office, unless a very specific process is followed. The Ombudsman must be given opportunity to present his/her case, which has to be considered carefully, and if the explanation is not sufficient, referred to the appropriate authority to consider prosecuting before a constitutional office holders tribunal. The referred Ombudsman will only be dismissed after the tribunal finds the Ombudsman guilty and recommends dismissal. It is a lengthy process clearly designed to avoid frivolous and vexatious claims against an Ombudsman as a result of reprisal from its investigations. It is a difficulty that any head of an administrative arrangement faces when they don’t have such protection. It is easy for a person whom it is investigating to lay a complaint and investigate the investigator!

            Fourthly, the immunity/privilege conferred on the persons occupying the position. Under the Organic Law on the Ombudsman Commission, an Ombudsman or an officer of the OC is not liable for anything that it does in good faith. It prevents vexatious lawsuits brought against an Ombudsman or an officer for anything it does in the course of duties. Again, since ITFS was an administrative arrangement, it places all those working in that set up in very difficult position. They would have to rely on the general law for the protection of their reputation and investigations.

Fifth, the dismantling of the ITFS pending an investigation. The Constitution prevents Parliament from abolishing the Ombudsman Commission when an investigation is pending. Again this is a special protection offered to the Ombudsman Commission, which is not extended to ITFS as it is not established by the Constitution.

            These are important questions that those who had established the ITFS should have thought out carefully before setting it up. It is an administrative arrangement between various bodies such as the Ombudsman Commissions, the Police and the Attorney-General’s Department. Its demise does not mean that its investigations have ended, because it is a body that facilitates other investigative bodies such as the Police and the Ombudsman. But one important function it seems to have played in this scenario, is to suggest that cooperation among investigative bodies is important, but what kind of legislative protective measures should we offer to such bodies like ITFS if we believe that it is doing an important job in stopping corruption? Obviously having some level of independence is important.

Just to clarify before I conclude. The Ombudsman Commission has no power to charge a person subject to its power for a criminal matter. But it is important to bear in mind that the same facts constituting the alleged criminal matter can be considered as misconduct in office under the Leadership Code. The penalties for breach of the Leadership Code is different to breach of the Criminal Code and does not involve imprisonment. Both process can be run at the same time, but the Leadership Code process ends once a person stops being a leader (ie Member of Parliament).


MRDC chief: K240m in oil dividends wasted

Post Courier, 26 May 2014

MORE than K240 million paid as dividends since the first export of oil from Kutubu oil fields has been wasted. Mineral Resource Development Company (MRDC) managing director Augustine Mano revealed this at the opening up of the Petroleum Resource Kutubu(PRK) funded K10 million banking, postal facilities, power facilities in Kikori, Gulf Province on Saturday.

Mr Mano said the first oil export started in 1992 and the first dividends was paid out from 2002 to shareholders. He said a total of K245 million has been paid landowner groups and provincial governments since then with nothing to show on the ground.


Paga Hill settlers receive home lots at 6-Mile

The National, 27 May 2014

A PORTION of land at 6-Mile for displaced Paga Hill settlers is ready for use. Dame Carol Kidu, Paga Hill Development Company and displaced settlers yesterday showed media the 14ha  block of land and developments at 6-Mile, which  cost more than K2.5 million.
Company spokesman Gudmundur Fridrikson said the opening of the 6-Mile site marked an important milestone as it demonstrated that the company was serious about its commitment to provide a relocation solution for the Paga Hill settlement community.
“Over the past 12 months, the land purchased by the company in early 2012 had undergone a transformation and now provides a good foundation for a new village,” he said.
“We have undertaken earthworks, carried out civil works and also established reliable connections to water and power supply.
“We have built an ablution block on the site.
“We have also constructed a 55sqm community centre on the site as a result of further consultations with the settlement community.
“We are pleased that we were able to offer employment opportunities for local and Paga Hill settlers at 6-Mile.”
Fridrikson acknowledged the enormous contribution from Dame Carol, which would see about 1,000 settlers move to 6-Mile.
Dame Carol said
“I have a particular interest in this because we need a model for relocation that can work for the long-term benefit of settlers and landowners”.


Reforms to end polygamy marriage

The National, 27 May 2014

THE Civil Registry Act amendment tabled in Parliament recently will only allow one-wife and one-husband marriage in 2015, according to the National Civil Registry office.
Registrar-General Dickson Kiragi said the amendment would include other changes to the existing legislation.
Kiragi said it would allow every marriage to be documented. 
“Under the amendment, every customary marriage will be a registered marriage,” Kiragi said.
“By law every marriage must be established within law. So every child that is born within the family is accounted for and issued a birth certificate.”
The birth certificate will identify a person, which includes where the birth occurred and the date of birth.
Kiragi said the amendment would mean the decentralisation of civil registry offices in provinces.
“For instance, Central will have its own civil registry and will be administered by a provincial registrar. I will be delegating certain statutory powers to these registrars.”


PNG records 800,000 malaria cases in 2012

The National, 27 May 2014

 MORE than 800,000 malaria cases were confirmed in 2012 in PNG while 94% of the population live in high-transmission areas, an official says.
British MP and global malaria promoter Stephen O’Brien said the country carried “one of the highest burdens in the Pacific region”.
He is the leader of a United Nations delegation on “roll-back malaria partnership” which arrived in the country on Sunday. 
UN official Herve Verhoosel said: “As we enter these last days of UN’s Millennium Development Goals of 2015, and in the face of financial and biological challenges. Verhoosel said there had been an increase in malaria interventions under the Government’s national malaria strategic plan. It has helped achieve a 95% nationwide coverage rate of long-lasting insecticide treated nets and a 35% increase in anti-malaria treatment between 2009 to 2012.


Fighting the school fights

(Giorgio Licini

How do we stop school fights in cities like Port Moresby and Lae? The Tokarara suburb in the National Capital District has found its own way. On Tuesday 27 May the first batch of Grade 8 students from the four Primary schools in the area held their joint day of formation on “Building a Culture of Peace, Harmony and Care for our Mother Earth”. They gathered at the convenient venue of Saint John the Apostle Catholic parish, which is also home to one of the four schools. In the next three weeks all the Grade 8 students will go through the program and conclude with a grand ‘Grade 8 Sports Day’ on 26 June. “This is the second year we hold this activity – said Josephine Taiabu Baupua – Principal of Tokarara Primary School. It was first suggested by the local parish priest, Fr Silvestre Saladaga, when school fights erupted in 2012. The community, the four schools and the District Education Board endorsed the activity which we now plan to hold every year.” “The boys come to realize that they are brothers and in recent times we never had any school fight. The Grade 8 students go back to their schools and share their experience and the message of peace with the younger students”, further commented the senior teacher


Security upgrade fail on Manus

The National, Wednesday May 28th, 2014

 THE Australian immigration minister has admitted that the Government failed to implement urgent security measures to the Manus island detention camp before the February riots.
Scott Morrision said security firm G4S and his ministry’s liaison officer had warned the Government that the fences needed to be strengthened, CCTV installed and lighting improved. 
“It is my great regret that some of those actions weren’t able to be implemented in time,” he said when releasing an official report into the riots in which an Iranian detainee died and more than 60 other persons were injured.
He said he did authorise the security upgrades in late November but that they were not in place when the riots started on Feb 16.


PNG irked by Canberra’s Manus report

Post Courier, 29 May 2014

Papua New Guinea has dismissed the Australian report into the February violence at Canberra’s asylum seeker detention centre on the PNG island of Manus, during which an Iranian man was killed and more than 60 others were injured. The Police Chief of Operations, Deputy Commissioner Simon Kauba, has labeled the findings as a private report that cannot be depended on to prosecute the case, adding it may be a cover-up, if his team cannot verify some of the claims made in the media.

Deputy Commissioner Kauba has also expressed concern at the manner in which PNG police were not able to interview any of the injured asylum seekers. He says police only learnt from media reports that some asylum seekers were secretly flown into Port Moresby and put up at a hotel where doctors visited and treated them. He says PNG police believe that it was the injuries inflicted by four detention workers, two Papua New Guineans and two expatriates, which directly led to the Iranian man’s death.


Farm Out Of Poverty: Minister

The National, 26 May 2014

Papua New Guineans must get involved in the agriculture sector to beat poverty and daily struggles, Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll says. Tomscoll said that during a ground breaking ceremony of an electricity project funded by the Coffee Industry Cooperation (CIC) to help Panga villagers,He said people could not earn enough money through employment alone, but could succeed if they used agriculture as a key to a better living. Tomscoll said it was disappointing to see people leaving their villages, adapting to new systems and forgetting about agriculture. “Money is in your land, you have to work hard and that is where you will confirm what I’m saying here. “Nowadays, our young people are leaving their villages and going to towns and cities to look for money,” Tomscoll said. He said the people at Panga were lucky because they had a strong tie with the cooperation in terms of coffee farming.


Dozens killed in Wabag fights

The National, 6 June 2014

 FORTY-FOUR people were killed and properties worth hundreds of thousands of kina were torched and destroyed in five separate tribal clashes in Wabag district over the last six months, Enga police has reported. 
This was bad for the government trying to deliver service to the people, provincial police commander Enga, Acting Supt George Kakas said yesterday.
He said all other districts of Enga remained “quiet and peaceful” except Wabag, adding that luckily there were no public assets such as schools and aid posts in the high risk areas.
The fights in Wabag were centred at Nandi (election related, 15 deaths), Sopas (21) ,Aipus (where a policeman was killed and related fighting, 3), Kamas and Teremanda (relating to killing of Kopen Secondary school principal, 3), and Yakananda (2), a total of 44 deaths in the last six months. Kakas praised people involved in bringing two people involved in the Aipus conflict to surrender to police.
He said the two men charged and appeared before the Wabag district court yesterday.


Man On A Mission To Warn Locals On Effects Of Industry |

The National, 28 May 2014

An awareness campaign has been carried out on the environment and what can be done to sustain it for future generations, considering the effects of mining, petroleum, oil and gas exploration in Papua New Guinea. To ensure the message gets to the people in the rural areas, Southern Highlands man Matthew Karu has started his campaign targeting schools, women’s groups and churches. After living for 20 years in Western, Karu has seen the plight of the people along the rivers affected by the activities of the Ok Tedi Mine in Star Mountains. He has realised that there is little done to educate people about the environment and how beneficial it is to them. Karu has formed an organisation called the Mawa Land and Resource Organisation to create awareness about sustaining the environment. The group started its awareness campaigns in Hela, Madang and Central because of the current mining, petroleum, oil and gas exploration activities happening in those provinces. He said it was an “eye opener” to see people in rural villages suffering from the effects of the mine because they knew little and nothing about the consequences they would have on their environment and lives. “For them, it was about getting cash handouts. But it opened my eyes to see what was happening and it motivated me to make an effort to save the environment,” he said. “The world is centred around wisdom. You see Moses did not go to school but he had wisdom and God used him to drive his people out of Egypt to the land of Canaan (the Promise Land),” Karu said. “If we have wisdom, it will help to save the environment for the future generation. If you cut one tree down, plant five new ones … out of  five, maybe three will grow and two will die or two will grow and three will die.”


Soldiers rescue women

Post Courier, 3 June 2014

Two women were tortured and nearly killed after being accused of sorcery in Porgera last week but were rescued by Defence Force soldiers. The women from Paiala village were accused of practising sorcery by relatives of a young girl who suddenly became mentally ill at Aumbi village next to the mine. Relatives rounded-up the two women and tortured them inside a house. Soldiers from Moem Barracks Delta Company were informed by relatives of the two women. The soldiers reacted quickly and went into the area and prevented what could have turned out to be mob killing of the two women. The young girl, who is a student attending Paiam High School, felt unconscious and went into a coma earlier that day. She recovered from her coma but became mentally affected. In her unstable state of mind the girl mentioned that two women from Paiala village killed her spiritually by removing her heart and sharing it. This prompted her angry relatives to apprehend the two women. The two women were tortured with hot metal rods in order to obtain a confession. The young girl was brought to a creek next to her house and prayed upon but she was not cured.


Sorcery related violence meeting

Post Courier, 13 June 2014

PAPUA New Guinea has a lot of work to do in addressing sorcery related violence. A two day meeting is currently taking place in Port Moresby to work towards strategies or approaches for implementing what is called a national draft action plan on sorcery and witchcraft accusation related violence. The plan is the end result of two past meetings on the issue.

Yesterday, the Deputy Secretary for Department of Justice and Attorney-General Jack Kariko addressed participants saying that solutions need to be found to address sorcery related violence.

Mr Kariko said: “The end result of the meeting should form the basis of policy and legislative reform that we hope will alleviate the pressures of the issue of sorcery. “The Department of Justice and Attorney-General and certainly the government stands ready to receive whatever recommendations to consider and endorse so that the issue is addressed to a manageable level and our communities and the larger society are appreciative to the negative effects and have a positive change in attitude,” Mr Kariko said. Ume Wainetti of the Consultative Implementation Monitoring Council pointed out some challenges that need to be recognised when putting together the action plan. These are professional training for service providers, cost effect strategies to address these issues that include cultural issues and dealing with one’s beliefs as advocators. Church representatives also raised serious questions.


El Nino effect to be seen by August

The National, 6 June 2014

El Nino is more than likely to be established in August, changing the rainfall patterns and resulting in severe dry weather conditions in the country, says the National Weather Service.
Assistant director of the service Kasis Inape warned “Be kindly reminded that we are still in the El Nino alert phase and you all should take necessary precautions appropriate for your respective settings,” Inape said.
“For PNG, El Nino is often associated with below-average rainfall over the southern and eastern coast of the country, West Sepik and parts of the Highlands region.” “New Guinea Islands tend to have mixed weather with the exception of West New Britain, which experiences wetter conditions during El Nino.”
General warnings have come from the power and water authorities in Port Moresby, with water level at the Sirinimu Dam well below average for this time of the year following low rainfall. 


Female victim raped again by ‘rescuers’

The National, 6 June 2014

A GIRL being raped by some thugs thought that a group of men who turned up would save her.
Instead, when the group of rapists fled, her “rescuers” also assaulted her.
The incident occurred at Papuan Compound in Lae on Monday.
The traumatised girl, aged between 16 and 18, was sent to hospital for treatment.
She was at her home when a group of men armed with knives, broke in at about 4pm, The men took her to a spot and took turns to rape the girl. When a second group turned up, her attackers ran off but she was repeatedly raped again.
Meanwhile, a police sergeant has been charged with raping a 16-year-old while two police personnel are accused of violence against women.
The sergeant, who is from Manus, is alleged to have raped the girl from Naparpar II village in Kokopo.
His appeal for bail was rejected by the court on Friday.
Supt Lakatani said a constable was charged with beating a woman who was either his wife or fiancée.
He was released on K100 bail.
“Earlier (on Monday), the court convicted another officer for violence against his wife,” he said and added that disciplinary action would also be taken against the offender.
Lakatani said the words “disciplinary force” indicated the obligations, responsibilities and code of conduct expected of police personnel.
He said there would be “zero tolerance” of officers who could not maintain discipline.
This also applies to public. Police will arrest men who commit violence against women.”


Refugee homes sought

The National, 10 June 2014

THE resettlement arrangements of asylum seekers at Manus are underway, Australia Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison said.
“The fact that we now have had over 40 refugee status determination recommendations made is a great credit to the work of those who are doing the processing. A much greater number who have had their interviews – over 800 initial interviews – have been undertaken.”
Speaking during an Australia-PNG ministerial conference in Port Moresby last Friday, Morrison said: 
“This is an arrangement that has been put in place by Papua New Guinea, with the support of Australia, and so I have got nothing other than to give high praise to the work of Papua New Guinea in the way they have worked together with us on this.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister RimbinkPato said it was PNG’s choice to assist in the global issue of transnational crimes to have the centre established on Manus. “This is not about Australia but Papua New Guinea exercising regional leadership on a global issue and a regional issue in relation to transnational crimes as they arise from human trafficking, people smuggling, which is a concern of the world. 


Repatriation saves lives

The National, 10 June 2014

OXFAM says it has saved two lives a week on average since it began repatriation of victims in Oct last year as part of its project to address violence relating to sorcery killing.
Oxfam associate country director Philippe Allen said it costs on average K600 to rescue and repatriate a victim of violence to a safe location and a further K750 for the victims of violence to start a new life.
Oxfam and its partner organisations are piloting a project to address violence relating to sorcery killing as sorcery-related killing is seen as a challenging form of violence, Allen said.
They were carrying out research to find the best way to address violence related to sorcery to provide hope for victims whose lives were in danger.
He said for the past nine months, Oxfam and its partners had been evacuating people from the highlands who faced life threatening danger.
“Many of these cases involve women and children who have suffered years of sexual abuse and other forms of physical violence,” he said. 
“For these people, the only hope of new life is to return to their home province or find refuge in a safe place. 
The risks are extreme for people accused of sorcery. In these cases, if the people accused are not evacuated immediately, they could be murdered within days.” 


PNG yellow carded by Europe over fish

Post Courier, 11 June 2014

Papua New Guinea is a step closer to a ban on its fish exports to Europe. The European Commission has given Papua New Guinea and the Philippines a “yellow card” or stern warning because they cannot guarantee their catch has been caught legally. The Euopean Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Maria Damanaki, has urged PNG and the Philippines to take action so the second step of an outirght ban is not necessary. “We have been talking to the Philippines and Papua New Guinea for almost two years. We are convinced that these two countries exercise no real control on what goes on in their waters and also on their ships. So they cannot guarantee their fish is caught respecting local and international rules.” The commission says most of those countries are making progress but Guinea, Belize and Cambodia were banned from trading fish into the EU in March this year.


Govt okays minimum wages

Post Courier, 19 June 2014

THE Government has endorsed an increase of K3.20 per hour in minimum wages for workers throughout the country. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced the National Executive Council decision yesterday, that cabinet has approved Minimum Wage Board Determination of K3.20 from the previous K2.29 per hour. The news was welcomed by the PNG Trade Union Congress (PNGTUC) on behalf of more than 70 000 minimum wage workers throughout the country. “In terms of wages in PNG , this has to be one of the sweetest achievement of my entire career in the union movement as I’m sure it is for minimum wage earners and workers,” PNGTUC General Secretary John Paska said yesterday.


Govt cancels SABLs

Post Courier, 19 June 2014

THE Government has cancelled all Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs) obtained illegally, and will abolish provisions of the Land Act which allows for SABLs to be granted.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced the National Executive Decision yesterday, said that about 77 SABL’s in total as recommended in the Commission of Inquiry report are to be revoked. He said the government move is not to block genuine investments in the country but forge right partnerships between the investors, government and landowners. “We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders,”

The canceling of SABLs and repealing of the Land Act are part of a number of decisive steps which Cabinet approved this week to be taken to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the SABLs. “As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people,” the Prime Minister said.


Villagers dying from diseases

The National, 20 June 2014

A FEMALE community health worker is serving 28,000 people of Ambunti district, East Sepik.
Bridget Hapiau is the only health worker left in Ambunti Health Centre after her male colleague Benny Makuai, a nurse, left for medical reasons last year.
Akamba Yantaka, one of the few elites from the Tongunjamb village in the Ambunti local level government, told The National yesterday after returning from his village that people were dying each week from preventable diseases like malaria and typhoid and snake bites.
“Hapiau is the only health worker from my village working in Ambunti station with assistance from three volunteers who are not trained in any medical school to but handle medical drugs,” he said.
He said that thousands of people living in the Tunap local level government near Fredda gold mine turned to bush and herbal medicines because it took them seven hours by boat to reach Ambunti or 10 hours to reach Pagwi waterfront and another three hours by PMV to the Wewak General Hospital to seek medication.
He said they paid K400 for one way from Ambunti station to Wewak by plane.
There is no road connection to Ambunti, it’s only accessible by river and air transport, Yantaka said.
Drekikier sub-district has its own health centre and aid posts and serves its people.
He said that in the past, the Ambunticentre had at least 10 health workers but they left one by one until last year.


Number of doctors in villages declines

The National, 23 June 2014

There has been a dramatic drop in the number of doctors serving in rural areasand with it services, Dr David Mills said.
Mills, the president of the PNG Society of Rural and Remote Health, said many doctors were now working in urban settings, either in government hospitals or private practice.
He said the church health sector had traditionally provided services to more rural populations but working with churches was less preferred by many doctors.
“The majority of the districts has no fulltime medical staff, andcurative health services are provided by the community health worker, nursing officers and some clinical health extension officers where they are present,” Mills said.


Heart surgery project saves 800 lives

The National, 23 June 2014

THE Operation Open Heart programme has saved more than 800 lives since it began 21 years ago, according to Kathy Johnston, deputy chairperson of the Port Moresby General Hospital board.
Johnston, who is responsible for organising and raising funds for the programme, said it operated on about 50 patients each year over a five-day period. The operations performed are close-open heart surgery, valve replacement, hole in the heart and insertion of pace-makers.
The surgeries are performed at the Port Moresby General Hospital.
Johnston thanked donors for funding the programme, enabling the purchasing of equipment and the training of doctors and nurses.
Johnston said the programme worked with the Sir Buri Kidu Heart Institute. The programme has been hailed as one of the most successful in the Pacific.

Film project documents role of women as leaders

The National, 23 June 2014

A FILM project aimed at promoting women in leadership roles in the country will be launching six documentary films.
The Pawa Meri project is co-funded by the Australian and PNG governments. It will be launched at the University of Goroka on June 23 and in Port Moresby three days later.
The films feature important events in the lives of successful women leaders in the country.
A director of the documentaries, Joy Eggins, said the women featured in the films include Susil Nelson, Gina Baidam, Sister Lorraine Garrasu, Rita Kare, Mirriam Potopi and Jenniffer Baing Waiko.
“The six in the films are very strong women who have stood against the odds to contribute effectively and positively in their communities and areas of influence,” Eggins said. 
“They have unique and encouraging stories and young people can look to them as role models.”


Catholic Procession On Water Draws Attention To Climate Change

EMTV on Monday, 23 June 2014. Posted in News

More than 300 Catholics from Madang’s Riwo Parish celebrated the feast of the Corpus Christi, by drawing attention to challenges they face with climate change with 3 hour procession in the sea. 

Boats and canoes of various sizes made the trip from the Riwo Catholic Church to three altars set up on the reefs. In the last five years, the Riwo community and those on surrounding islands, have become acutely aware of the effects of climate change. The parishioners departed from the edge of a sea wall built to keep the sea from washing away their church. On the altars, they offered thanks for the sea’s bounty, and asked for blessings on the land and sea. In Madang, the sea has been both friend and foe. Generations have been nourished by an element of nature that is now cutting islands in half, leaving people with little option but to move elsewhere. As prayers were offered, new challenges have come to the fore. Land shortages and pressures on food security are realities the communities will have to face in future, as the sea continues its onslaught.

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2014


Labour ward overcrowded

Post Courier, 5 May 2014

Sixty-five babies were delivered on Thursday night at the Port Moresby General Hospital, the second highest so far this year. By 2pm on Friday, when this reporter was taken through the labour ward and post natal ward, many of the women and their babies were still being cleared, either to go home or be given a bed. Sister in-charge of the labour ward Alice Baira said in previous years, the hospital was delivering 40 to 45 babies in one day, but there were about 55 babies being born now, and Thursday’s 65 is the second time the ward delivered this number so far. Sr Baira said the ratio of mums to one nurse was 1:8, while the World Health Organisation requirement was 1:3.


Maternity ward in need

The National, 20 May 2014

THE maternity ward at the Port Moresby General Hospital has declared a state of emergency because of pressure on its resources, an official says.
Head of obstetrics and gynaecology at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Prof Glen Mola said the ward had been under a lot of pressure after the Government introduced the free health care policy. 
It has recorded a rise in the number of women in labour coming to the ward.
“When the policy was introduced last year, about 15,000 women came to deliver their babies and the number is still growing.  In fact the service was out-stretched at that time,” Mola said.
“There were not enough beds, and many had to wait for 10 to 20 minutes for a bed to be made available. Some women delivered on the floor because the beds were not available when they were ready to deliver their babies.”
Mola said about 10% of women delivered unassisted because there were not enough nurses around.
The report made by the nursing director last year stated that staffing levels were only 52% of what should have been provided to meet 
PNG nursing standards for care of women in labour.
“The increasing number of women coming has put a strain on medical supplies. Last week, we ran out of oxytocin, the medicine that all women receive after giving birth to prevent excessive bleeding,” Mola said.
“The week before we ran out of injection which we use to reduce the blood pressure in women with dangerous high blood pressure in labour.
“Lack of these vital medicines will undoubtedly lead to unnecessary maternal deaths in our national referral hospital. At the same time rates of babies dying during pregnancy and labour has increased.”
 “Free service is one thing, but available quality service is quite another thing. If there is no available service or available service is low quality then free service does not benefit any one,” he said.


Nurses drained by govt policy

Post Courier, 9 May 2014

The increase in demand for health services is being seen in all areas of health, including the children’s outpatient department at the Port Moresby General Hospital. Bonnie Hurai, senior paediatric nurse at the hospital, said her team was previously seeing only referred cases, but this time it seems patients were coming straight from home. As a result, she said, health workers were seeing 200 to 300 patients a day while in the past, there were about 100. “We can’t turn the children away because they are sick,’’ said Sr Hurai, who was speaking at a press conference on the International Nurses Day, organised by the PNG Nurses Association. “It’s just too much for us. We don’t go for breaks and go home at about five o’clock.’’


Philippine nurses to help out at PMGH

Post Courier 16 May, 2014

THIRTY-one nurses from the Philippines who are being recruited by Port Moresby General Hospital to help alleviate the pressure on hospital staff arrived in the country yesterday. They are part of the first batch of 50 nurses that the hospital plans to bring into the country. “It is an exciting time for health care, as these nurses arrive to compliment the hard working and competent PNG nurses working at the hospital. These ‘extra hands’ will assist in taking some of the burden off the nurses they are currently experiencing due to a national nurse shortage,” said Mr Muddle.

He said the nurses were to work in all areas of the hospital and have a range of specialised skills to enable them to work in the operating threatre, intensive care unit, critical care unit, in obstetrics, gynaecology and midwifery. Meanwhile, Mr Grant said five more nurses will arrive from abroad on Saturday and a further 14 in the coming weeks. This will make it up to a total of 50 in the first batch.


Westpac finances company accused of land grabs, says Oxfam

LEADING Australian banks are financing companies accused of land grabbing, child labour and illegal logging, according to an Oxfam report released today. The report, Banking on Shaky Ground, identifies four cases in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Brazil where Australia’s biggest banks have funded – directly or indirectly – companies accused of improperly or illegally acquiring land from local people.

Oxfam’s chief executive Helen Szoke said, “There is a gap between what the big four banks say they do and what they actually do,” she said. “We think there is a real problem around due diligence – around them actually focusing on their investment practices and making sure they put their money where their mouth is, in terms of ethical and sustainable investment practices in these agricultural businesses overseas.”


Locals claim logging polluting waterways

Post Courier, 28 April 2014

MORE than 1000 people in New Ireland Province might be affected as their only water source is being polluted by logging operations in the area, they claim. It is understood that the New Ireland Provincial Government has ordered a team to investi-gate the environmental damages. Several locals who have written to the Post-Courier stated that the other sources of water they use for their daily needs have already been affected and the last one, at Rubio plantation, is their only means for their daily use.

One of the signed letters by seven clan representatives read: “Currently this is the last water source in the community since the logging company has damaged the rest. This was the only water source that served ward 14 and neighbouring villages during the 1997 drought.” According to American Shane Clark, who has been vocal on the logging company’s operations into the area, “When the people in the area complained to the logging company and the landowner company (Basoma Ltd), no one cared,” Mr Clark said. “When they complained to the police who are based with the loggers, no one listened. When they burned one of the bulldozers, they got arrested. When they tried to put up a gorgor, they were threatened with arrest. This seems to be a common scenario that is being repeated. Only the logging companies seem to have rights. Where are our rights as citizens?”


Porgera in strife

Post Courier, 29 April, 2014

The Government has declared a state of emergency in Porgera, Enga Province.

Over a hundred policemen and soldiers from Port Moresby and Mt Hagen are already on the ground in the mining township, Highlands Divisional Commander Teddy Tei said yesterday. The rapid increase in uncontrollable illegal mining activities within the mine lease area and other law and order issues in the valley has prompted the state of emergency. Killings on the streets of Porgera town have become common, resulting in tribal fights and the closure of the Highlands Highway leading into the valley.

Business houses and government departments also had to shut down as a result.

But as during the 2009 operation, sources on the ground say all illegal miners have already fled Porgera and will wait out the three-month period and return after the operation has finished.

In 2009, all illegal miners fled to their home provinces across the highlands region while the operation took place. But as things cooled down the miners gradually returned and  the number has increased since.


Bougainville combatants want to put respect in weapons disposal

29 April 2014.

SIGNED in Arawa on 30 August 2001, the Bougainville Peace Agreement formally ended the 10-year Bougainville civil war. The Agreement includes three major pillars for Bougainville to uphold until referendum on independence is held at some point between 2015 and 2020. The three pillars are autonomy, the referendum and weapons disposal. Those few former combatants who see the Third Pillar negatively believe that only the gun gave Bougainville the kind of respect it now has from Papua New Guinea and Bougainville Copper Limited. “Our land would have being for the PNG government and people if we did not take weapons and chase them out,” Chris Bitunau, a 1988-97 BRA fighter told me from Panguna. “So I do not and I will not destroy my stock of weapons since I value them as the means that halted the sedimentation from the Panguna mine and the colonisation by illegal PNG squatter settlers. “We cannot throw away our Bougainville history; the future generations have to see and feel these guns, they have to know the owners of these guns in pictures and in stories.”

“The UN and ABG should fund and built museums in each of north, central and south Bougainville,” Chris Bitunau told me, “and then get writers like you to collect our stories of the war. “They should ask questions like why we joined the BRA or BRF, what we did and how did we get our weapons and so on, and preserve the stories with our guns and photos in these museums for people to come and see and know what happened.


Hundreds at centre

The National, 29 April, 2014

THE Manus Island asylum processing centre now has 1,281 people for refugee processing, according to Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison.
The figure was updated last Saturday, with 1,177 people in Nauru and 1,405 in the Christmas Island facilities – Australia’s other two refugee sites.
“This statement provides an update on Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) activities related to the off-water reception and processing of illegal maritime arrivals,” Morrison said. 


A whopping 48 000 Grade 12 students

A whopping 48 000 Grade 12 students are estimated to pass out in the next two years.
 This was revealed by Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Minister Delilah Gore, during the opening of the St Peter Channel College for Secondary Teacher Education in Kokopo, East New Britain Province.
 Gore said that the number of Grade 12 school leavers would increase in the coming years and pathways into further education and training for productive employment needed to be established.
 Currently, only 4,500 students out of 18, 000 Grade 12 students every year are taken up by higher institutions every year while the rest looked elsewhere.
Gore said the ministry is looking at expanding the higher education sector to cater for this increased output from the lower education sector.
 She said that the establishment of the St Peter Channel College for Secondary Teacher Education paves the way for an increased number of teachers going into secondary and national high schools against the backdrop of increases in enrolments at the lower education sector.


Malaria threatens 90 percent of PNG

Post Courier, 1 May 2014

NINETY percent of Papua New Guinea’s seven million people are at risk of malaria infection.

Minster for Health and HIV AIDS revealed this frightening news, saying malaria is the leading cause for hospital admissions in PNG. “The figures are even higher than what is on record, and the burden falls on rural majority and urban poor,” said Mr Malabag. MrMalabag was speaking at a recent world malaria day celebration. He said everyday malaria affects all people, including the country’s economic productivity. It also causes premature deaths. The malaria control program supported by Global Fund against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria through round three grants and round eight grants from 2009-2013 has helped PNG gain some of the milestones. A recent study by the PNG Institute of Medical Research has found that approximately 65 percent of households surveyed owned a long lasting insecticide net and a little more than 90 percent of health centres studied were having the first line anti-malarial drugs in stock.


Churches Cautious on Salaries

Post Courier 1st May, 2014

CHURCHES are cautious of the Government’s offer to put the church health workers on its payroll, says Christian Health Services board chairman Wallace Kintak. But at the same time he says they welcome the Government’s decision to put church health workers on the same salary structure as its own health workers. “We welcome the Government decision to pay the salaries of our staff, but we don’t want to lose our autonomy of fire and recruitment of the staff and disciplinary issues,’’ says Mr Kintak. Unlike the government, churches are known for ensuring services are provided even if the conditions are not always good for the workers. Currently, Mr Kintak says 45 to 48 per cent of the total health services in the country is run by the churches and 80 per cent of the rural health services is run by the churches.


AusAID HIV Education and Prevention in Papua New Guinea: A Case of Too Much Pessimism?

By Cheryl Che, Ruth Tay and Stephen Howes on March 21, 2014

The Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE) released an evaluation of AusAID’s HIV program in Papua New Guinea in 2012. The report assesses the program between 2006 and 2010. As mentioned in our previous blog post, it paints a rather gloomy picture. What is particularly worrying is the finding that HIV education and prevention activities were largely ineffective. After taking a closer look at the evidence in the report, we find ODE’s evaluation to be inadequately based and perhaps overly pessimistic. The evaluation lacks sufficient evidence and explanation to substantiate such a strong claim. Perhaps AusAID deserves a little more credit than is implied by the ODE team. [For full article see the reference above]


Nothing to fear about 666 rumours

The National, 2 May 2014

 POLICE and the Education Department have hit out at people spreading false information about a Government-sponsored survey that forced the closure of some schools in Port Moresby this week.
Education secretary Dr Michael Tapo yesterday assured students, parents and teachers that there was nothing sinister at all in the survey by department officials to collect data on teachers and students.
He said the officials were using a smart technology machine called the “Access Management Control System” during the survey. The system was developed by the education department to monitor the enrollment of students and the attendance of teachers in schools daily.

Tapo condemned the actions of the parents who acted on rumours to assault the officials and subsequently disrupt classes.
Acting National Capital District metropolitan commander Supt Perou N’dranou warned people to stop spreading rumors that the students would have satanic marks on their bodies if they took part in the 


Power cuts force delay in surgeries

The National, 5 May 2014

POWER outages in Madang have led to the delay of major surgeries at the Modilon Hospital operating theatre.
A source from the hospital’s theatre said the standby generator could not power all the equipment needed to conduct major operations.
The labour ward reported that it was operating but nurses used torches to help with deliveries when power supply was delayed.
There were reports of detainees at Jomba prison escaping during the blackout last week.
PNG Power staff said they could not do much but switch off one part of the town to serve others because they had to be fair to customers.
 In the New Town area, power was off from 5am to 10pm for three days last week and caused frustration.
Lehu Tangal, a New Town resident, said she was forced to look for other means to cook her meals.
“I had to buy biscuits and cooked food from kai bars to feed my children and by the time power came on at 10pm, they were asleep and we have our cold meal in the morning,” Tangal said.


Stolen Logs 12 May

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has failed to shut down illegal logging operations in thirteen SABL areas despite receiving advice ten months ago that the leases are illegal. The Prime Minister was told the leases are illegal and received the recommendation they should be revoked in the report of the SABL Commission of Inquiry set up by O’Neill’s predecessor as Prime Minister, Sam Abal. The Commission findings were given to O’Neill in June 2013. By refusing to act on the Commission of Inquiry recommendations Peter O’Neill has become an accessory to the blatant theft of forest resources. O’Neill’s illegal logging is currently* taking place in thirteen SABL areas across six Provinces and involves 12 foreign owned logging companies.

Here is the latest data on who, where and how much is being stolen:**

West Sepik: Bewani Forest Products Limited. Bewani Portion 160C, FCA 10-03, amount stolen in 12 months K23,968,848

Vanimo Jaya Limited, Aitape West Portion 248C, FCA 10-02, amount stolen in 12 months K4,921,479

Westenders Limited, Madedua Ext Mengen, FCA 10-03, amount stolen in 12 months K1,024,585

Jambo Trak Limited, Schotiuhu Cocoa Estate, FCA 10-04, amount stolen in 12 months K14,701,076

East Sepik: Brilliant Investment Limited (Star Avenue), Marienberg (Anogram), FCA 11-02, amount stolen in 12 months K12,554,368

Summit Agriculture Limited, Wewak Turubu, FCA 11-01, amount stolen in 12 months K25,016,573

East New Britain

Cakara Alam Limited (Tzen Niugini), Illi Waswas FCA, 15-02, amount stolen in 12 months K11,630,578

Kerawara Limited (KK Connections) Toria Head Waters, FCA 15-04, amount stolen in 12 months K1,148,365

Rimbunan Hijau Limited (Gilford) Sigite Mukus, FCA 15-07, amount stolen in 12 months K28,429,919

Tian Suyn Limited, Suikol-Makolkol FCA, 15-05, amount stolen in 12 months K10,993,849

New Ireland: Joinland, Umbukal, FCA 16-02 / 16-62 / 16-63, amount stolen in 12 months K18,318,037

Oro: Matufi Limited, Tufi Wanigela, amount stolen in 12 months K1,536,000

West New Britain: Westenders Limited, Lolobao, FCA 14-01, amount stolen in 12 months K13,971,019

* September 2013

** Declared export value of the raw logs


Pato: We decide who stays

The National, 12 May 2014

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato says he will choose which refugees resettle in the country, according to an Australian media report.
Pato’s statement contradicted Australia’s assertion that all genuine refugees detained on Manus Island would be resettled within PNG.
He told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he could take advice from an expert panel and choose refugees based on their professional skills. “The National Government will determine who will or will not be settled in PNG as refugees,” he said.
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said last Friday “everyone who’s found to be a refugee at Manus Island, they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea”. 
But Pato said the final say would be made by the PNG Cabinet.
“I have said there’s an expert panel which is going to formulate the policy framework within which we will act and depending on what the recommendations are – if they for example impose a quota, if they for example require a particular type of skilled persons for resettlement – those are matters for the cabinet,” he said.
Pato said he expected refugees to begin resettling in PNG in July with immigration officials processing about 10 asylum claims each week.


Vegetable supply falls

The National, 12 May 2014

THE volume of fresh produce supplied from the Highlands is decreasing, according to Clifton Gwabu from the National Agricultural Research Institute.
He said 5,600 tonnes of fresh produce was supplied, which was well below the demand of 80,000 tonnes.
Gwabu, a participant in the Central and National Capital District vegetable forum in Port Moresby recently, said the country paid K10 million on vegetable import – eight times higher than the world average price
“The four-year project, which was carried out at Tapini and Sogeri, saw that K1.4 million could be obtained from 20ha of cabbage under the current price while 20ha of broccoli stand at K3.2 million,” Gwabu said.
He said Tapini and Sogeri were chosen as project sites because they had higher altitudes similar to altitudes in the Highlands.


A story of the rural road – deterioration, danger, spades & thieves

3 May 2014

IT has been raining in the last few days which has brought both blessings and curses with it.

Commuters along the Okuk Highway are negotiating potholes, overflows and landslips and relying on the skills and expertise of the driver to deliver them safely to their destinations. PMV commuters don’t care whether the Okuk Highway deteriorates or not because no matter how bad the highway it is nothing compared to their own roads. People are used to landslips and mudslides that tear away half the road. They travel on open-backed four wheel drives on the steep, slippery and muddy roads.

They almost peel the paint off the vehicles with their fingers attempting to gain a firm grip to avoid falling off the tray in those savage road conditions. Regular road users grow blisters on their palms travelling regularly on such bad roads. It all boils down to the rural populace not knowing who is responsible to fix their roads. Some MPs have bought machines to construct and maintain existing roads in districts. However, we have not heard any success stories. The electors don’t know where the machines have gone since the elections, in particular in electorates where MPs lost their seats.


Mine tailings threaten bay

The National, 13 May, 2014

JUST two years of operation of the Ramu nickel-cobalt mine has seen tailings smother organisms and sediment in the Basamuk Bay, a research says. 
Such has been the impact on the biodiversity that organisms have disappeared, it said.
Marine researcher and biology lecturer from the University of Papua New Guinea Ralf Mana said: “The tailings of the mine disposed into the bay have overridden the organisms and the sea and the sea floor.
“The shellfish, star-fish, worms, sea cucumbers and other invertebrates that live on the ocean sediments are affected.”
Mana and two French researchers from the National Museum of National History in Paris, carried out a study over 30 days on the research vessel Alis and reported on the impact of the tailings. Mana said they had not seen the organisms that lived on the sediment.
“All the organisms have disappeared,” he claimed.
“We might lose the different biodiversity in the sea because of the tailings


ʻSorceryʼ leads to killing

The National, 14 May 2014

 A MAN accused of practising sorcery was tortured until he died, while 13 homes in his village were razed to the ground in Bana district, Central Bougainville.
Central Bougainville regional police commander Januarius Vosival said Albert Bute from Nokaia village was accused of causing the death of a woman three weeks ago.
Vosival said the woman’s relatives assaulted Bute at Nokaia village last Wednesday and took him hostage with three other villagers after burning the 13 homes.
Bute was taken to another village and tortured until he died. Vosival said Bute was buried the same day by his captors.
One of the three hostages managed to run away while police negotiated with the captors to release the other two. One of the two was admitted to the Arawa health centre with severe wounds.
He urged people in Bana to respect human life and stop the primitive practice of pay back killings.
“You cannot solve any problems through payback killings. When you kill someone you will only make things difficult. Killing is not the answer,” he said.
“We have seen what killing has done to our region and it is not something to be proud of.”

A quick look at some of the impacts of Australia’s budget on PNG

14 May 2014.

First, there’s a reduction of $7.6 billion over the next five years in the total overseas aid budget, which takes Australia well below the target originally agreed for helping countries meet the millenium development goals. In a sneaky move, Australia will now tie its aid budget to the consumer price index, not gross domestic product. What this means in layman’s terms is a net reduction – and a big one – in its overall aid program. “We are going to be looking at a 10% reduction in our aid by the time we get to 2015-16,” says Professor Stephen Howes from the Australian National University

The good news is that this does not appear to affect aid to Papua New Guinea, which has seen an increase in Australian money in return for hosting the Manus Island asylum seekers processing centre.

Reward, bribe, blood money, call it what you will.


Extra $6.4M needed for flood relief

Solomn Star 17 May.

THE National Disaster Management Office is seeking an extra $6.4 million from the national government to continue with its relief efforts outside of Honiara and other provinces.

This was after the initial $6 million the government had allocated for relief efforts in Honiara had been used up. 

The need for additional funds had put more pressure on NDMO as much is yet to be done outside of Honiara and the provinces, which required urgent attention and response from the government. 

In response to questions raised by the Solomon Star, the NDMO office said the Government had already spent a total of $6 million in response to the disaster emergency situation and the ongoing rehabilitation process following the April 3 floods which killed at least 22 people. 

However, NDMO said it is seeking extra funds from the Government to continue with relief efforts in other provinces which were also affected during the recent heavy rains. As of 13th May, a total of 4358 displaced peoples are still staying in the camps which are operational. 
It was reported that initially there were about 10,092 Internally Displaced Persons living in 27 Evacuation Centres on both Honiara and Guadalcanal. 

While pressure is now on the government and NDMO to repatriate people out from the current evacuation centres, NDMO said these people’s occupation depends on the ongoing repatriation process and how fast people are repatriated back to their communities.


PNG’s elections: the most expensive in the world, and getting worse

By Stephen Howes on May 12, 2014

An interesting evaluation has just been released by DFAT of Australia’s assistance to PNG to help it hold elections over the last decade. The evaluation estimates that the PNG Government spent $US207 million on the 2012 elections, and the Australian Government spent another $US35 million. This takes the total cost per voter to $US63, the highest in the world. The typical cost of an election is apparently US$5 per voter.

What’s more, elections are getting more expensive in PNG. The report estimates that the 2007 election cost 68% more than the 2002 election and the 2012 election cost 54% more than the 2007 election, so that the 2012 election was 2.6 times as expensive as the 2002 one – and all those numbers are after inflation. Costs might be increasing, but that doesn’t mean that quality is improving. The evaluation finds that the 2007 election was better than the 2002 election (the “worst elections ever” and “a debacle”), but that the 2012 election was worse than 2007. For example, the 2007 election rolls are estimated to have had half a million “excess voters” (more names than there should have been). This was an improvement from the 1.4 million excess voters on the electoral rolls in 2002, but the number increased again to 900,0000 in 2012.


Absence of God in schools cause of problems

The absence of God in schools is the key factor behind the continuous disciplinary problems such as school fights and cult activities among students. And a new program called Dream makers, coordinated by the Prison Fellowship PNG Inc. will be rolled out again for the second year after it received funding from the Restorative Justice and Crime Prevention branch of the Law and Justice Sector. Trialed out last year in the national Capital District, Dream makers program involves getting eligible Christian parolees to go out and share their experiences with students in schools and divert them from getting involved in school fights and cult activities. Prison Fellowship PNG coordinator Moale Vagi says from the five schools trialed last year, Wardstrip Primary school headmistress Emily Ricky saw improvement amongst their student’s behavior who underwent counselling under the program. “The absence of God in schools is the main factor behind school fights and students getting involved in cult activities,” He adds the program will also reconcile schools which are enemies so peace prevails.


Wife bashing on the rise

The National, 16 May 16th, 2014

 WIFE bashing is on the rise in Western Highlands and Mt Hagen police expect to receive more than a thousand reports by the years end.
Last month, they received 87 formal complaints.
Gang rape was on the rise, Mt Hagen police told a one-day male forum on human rights on Tuesday.
The forum was organised by the local branch of Family Health International 360 (FHI360) and attracted more than 50 participants from the police, city authority, councils, private companies and various organisations.
The head of a police family sexual violence unit, Las Punta, said many women were now coming forward to report mistreatment by their husband.
He said they were however in a dilemma.
“Because of the bride price payment and since many of their husbands are breadwinners in the family, they don’t want to take them to court,” he said.
He said in most cases, the police would take the victims to the family support centre at the Hagen referral hospital to seek medical treatment and help them get protection orders from the court.
FHI360 programme officer Felix Umba said gender-based violence in the province was a big concern and urged stakeholders to work together to reduce it. 
He said that during the forum they collected views from the men on how best to educate people in the workplace or different communities to minimise gender-based violence.
He said his organisation was working with the Mt Hagen hospital, Anglicare Stop Aids, Baptist Union of PNG, police, city authority and community-based organisations to reduce all forms of violence.


Solomons APTC Celebrates One Year

Solomon Times. 13 May 2014

One year ago, Solomon Islands’ first Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) campus was launched at Don Bosco Technical Institute, boosting training and skills development opportunities for Solomon Islanders. Since then more than 93 students have enrolled in Certificate II courses in carpentry and automotive services which are accredited to Australian standards. In line with Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development standards, 44 students are completing 1360 hours of on the job training. Since 2007 when the APTC was established, more than 600 Solomon Islanders have graduated from APTV courses with the skills, training and confidence to take advantage of job opportunities, either in Solomon Islands or in the region.


Govt moves to register population

The National, 19 May 2014

ABOUT 80% of the population remains unregistered and moves are underway to address that, Parliament was told last week.
National Planning and Monitoring Minister Charles Abel said accurate and reliable population information was the basis for development in many countries. Abel made the remarks when tabling the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 in Parliament on Thursday.
He said last year the Government recognised the need to record and account for every citizen.
He said a decision was made to introduce the national identification programme. 
“The Government subsequently directed the formulation of the policy and legislative development of the national register to capture a citizen’s identity, civil status and produce reliable and up to date population information and trustworthy registration and identification system,” he said.
“A formal registration and identity system was introduced in 1963 through the enactment of the Civil Registration Act to cater for births, deaths and marriages.”
Abel said 50 years later, 80% of the total population of PNG remained unregistered. 

Woman dies while waiting for help

Post Courier, 21 May 2014

Two weeks ago, three children lost their mum to childbirth related problems because they live in an area where government services have come to a standstill. Madang leaders, including those from the provincial government, are now being questioned about their priorities. The National Health Plan 2011 to 2020 advocates for safe motherhood, antenatal care and supervised deliveries by proposing community health posts replace aidposts in every ward throughout the country. According to the plan, the community health posts should have three health workers one of which should be a midwife. But these services still remain a dream for the majority of Papua New Guineans, and Mrs Gideon was no exception. Her hope for antenatal care was dashed because the nearest health facility where she could get care was closed, and others were too far away. Mrs Gideon was from Mungumat in Middle Ramu District. She died on May 5, hours after a call was made by two elementary teachers in her village to the Madang Health Office for her and another patient to be medivaced. The call came through at 11pm. Mrs Gidano had been sick for the last four weeks of her pregnancy. She could hardly walk to the health centre which was hours away; there were no drugs in any of the health facilities at all levels. The airstrip was closed and there is no road connection from Bogia to Josephstaal. In addition, there were no health workers in all newly built aidposts and there was a shortage of staff at Josephstaal. Throughout her antenatal period, she could not receive care because the nearest health facility, Temandapor Health Centre, had been closed because there was no health worker. The health worker had been in town for more than six months because of the unavailability of medical supplies. Mrs Gideon’s next alternative was to seek antenatal care at Josephstaal, a six hours walk away. And to get to another health centre at Daigul, she would have to walk for six hours from Mungumat to Yoro and then get on a vehicle to get to the health centre. While dealing with these tough situations, she died at Ariangon Junction at 1:30am, and was taken back to Guam for the relatives to take the body home.


More teens giving birth

The National, 21 May 2014

Reports from Port Moresby General Hospital’s labour ward show an increase in the number of teenagers giving birth, a health official says.
 With the free fee health policy, the number of mothers who came for delivery had increased from 40 to 60 per day generally. 
She said out of the total, nearly a third of the mothers admitted at the labour ward were teenagers. 
“In a month we deliver more than 1000 new born babies and 18% (about 200) are from teenagers,” Sister Annette said.
She said with the current problem of nurses shortage and the hospital being the only centre with a labour ward, midwives were not able to attend to each mother through birth.
PNG Mid-Wifery Society presidetn Dr Nancy Buasi said the government should provide more training institutions for nurses and  upgrade facilities as well as to provide labour and delivery facilities in other urban clinics to avoid overcrowding at the hospital.
“We can provide the care, especially for mothers, but we want the government to provide the training and facilities in other urban centres so that the workload can be distributed,” Buasi said.

The Structure to Confront Corruption

PNG Blogs Wednesday, 21 May, 2014

By SAM KOIM Speech at the 30th Australia PNG Business Council Forum held in Cairns


Corruption is a global phenomenon and we can take a whole year discussing about corruption, its causes, trends, effects and the strategies to minimise it. The scale of corruption differs from country to country. Sometimes, it’s the way the society tolerates it.

• In one country, using one’s relatives (in PNG we call wantoks) for favours is illegal and unethical, whilst in another country, they may not have a wantok system owing to the fact that their society may not be communally structured hence they call it “network”.  

• In one country, when a simple public official is receiving a bribe to supplement his salary to meet the necessities of living is called “bribery” whilst in other countries, the economic rents their multinational conglomerates pay to top government officials for government favours are readily classified as success fees or facilitations fees.  

• In one country, giving cash or other gifts to potential voters during election as bribery, an attribute of election corruption. But one wonders whether in other countries where all those big business magnates who back political parties with millions of dollars do it for the love of their country, without any expectation in return such as a favourable policy when the party they supported gets into power.

For instance:   ‘[For full speech, see the reference above.] -


Villagers secure victory over Malaysian land grabbers in Papua New Guinea

May 21, 2014

The people of Collingwood Bay in Papua New Guinea have won back their land from Malaysian loggers and oil palm companies after a hard fought battle in which that received support from many groups and individuals both in PNG and overseas, including Oro Governor, Gary Juffa.

The National Court in Port Moresby has declared that two Special Agriculture and Business Leases covering 38,350 hectares of land are null and void and ordered the Sate to cancel the title deeds..

The leases were originally issued in July 2012 to two PNG registered companies, Sibu Management Limited and Wanigela Agro Industrial Limited. But in October 2012 Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) a Malaysian oil palm company announced that, together with Malaysian investment company Batu Kawan, it had acquired the rights to the land  – via a third company, Collingwood Bay Plantations. The two leases were issued by the Department if Lands despite a government moratorium on new SABLs and a Commission of Inquiry which was on-going at the time, as we revealed in 2012. The Commission of Inquiry found more than 5 million hectares of land in PNG has been fraudulently leased using the SABL mechanism, but the government has failed to implement the Commission recommendations and revoke the unlawful leases. Lester Seri says “while our people are celebrating they are mindful of the innocent families and other communities struggling thought the country with the same problem, particularly in Turubu, Pomio and elsewhere and in East Sepik, East New Britain and Oro Provinces. We are urging the government to take a firm and descisive decision in dealing with the CoI recommendations by cancelling all the illegal leases. Court cases are expensive and beyond the means of most village people”.


Pay-back: Priest and catechist murdered in the Goilala mountains

Fr Brian Cahill MSC

IT took a week to confirm the death of Fr Gerry Inao and several other victims of a pay-back killing spree in the Goilala mountains of Papua New Guinea’s Central Province last week.

I received a report by telephone on Wednesday 7 May at around 10 in the morning from our Guarimeipa primary school head teacher, John Hoviai, that Fr Gerry Inao and the communion minister, Benedict, were shot dead at Kamulai on the preceding Sunday.

John had walked down from Guarimeipa to Zania, where there is a hotspot for Digicel mobile reception. The report was brief and sketchy: Fr Gerry’s body was still on the ground at Kamulai where they shot him as was Benedict’s, whom they had cut to pieces. Fr Gerry, a native of the area and a member of the Kunimeipa tribe, was in his early forties and ordained a priest only in August 2013. He had been shot through the heart at close range. This cycle of pay-back killings has been going on in the Kunimeipa area for more than four years. Reports coming into the main Goilala government station of Tapini since Fr Gerry’s death say that seven other people have been killed since Sunday. …

Two helicopters arrived at Bereina around 8 am and  Fr Paul and I travelled to Olivi on the first flight with the police photographer. We eventually found Olivi, nestled behind Mt Yule and landed. We were greeted by the villagers who told us Fr Gerry’s body had been buried the day before inside the Olivi church. They had carried the body from Kamulai where it had been left on the ground and waited with it at Olivi until they couldn’t wait any longer as it needed to be buried. They had lovingly buried him inside the church where he had celebrated Easter with them.

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2014

Thousands remain in evacuation centres

ABC News Fri, 11 April, 2014

Authorities in Solomon Islands say 23 people have died and 9,000 are homeless following disastrous flash floods, landslides and strong winds.
The Solomon’s National Disaster Council says the victims who lost their homes are occupying 24 evacuation centres around Honiara.
The director of the National Disaster Management Office, Loti Yates, has raised concerns over sanitation at the evacuation centres, which are lacking proper water supply.
”There is a very real risk of an outbreak of disease – including dyentry, malaria, dengue fever and other diseases related to poor sanitation,” Mr Yates said.
The Solmon Islands government has allocated $5million in emergency funds for the relief effort.
Australia and New Zealand have sent aircraft, equipment and specialist teams, as well as money, to assist in the clean up.
Cherise Chadwick from Solomon Islands Red Cross has told Asia Pacific thousands are still in evacuation centres in the capital, Honiara.
”Many of those people are not sure what they’re returning back to,” she said.
”They left their houses as the flooding was in process, and they haven’t gone back yet, so it’s very hard to know if they’re going back to a damaged house, or a completely destroyed house at this stage.”
Honiara has been effectively split in two, after the Old China Town bridge completely collapsed on Thursday, and the Mataniko bridge was reduced to one lane.
Major infrastructure including the sewerage system and water supplies have been badly damaged or destroyed.

Displaced victims welcomed at Don Bosco

Letter from Fr Ambrose Pereira, 9 April, 2014

A group of Guadalcanal displaced victims, from the Foxwood area were welcomed and have now been given a place at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Henderson.  The gymnasium, normally used for

school assemblies, games and other functions has now become the home for 194 displaced persons.  40% of them are young children below 5 years of age. They arrived late in the evening and were given a little food before they went to bed. “It is marvelous how people are ready to help those in need”, said Fr. Ambrose Pereira sdb.  Donations came in to help the victims. Island Clothing sent in bales of clothing for those at Don Bosco, Henderson and Christ the King parish, Tetere.  Rima Limited sent in a variety of food supplies – rice, tayio and noodles and Caritas Australia came along with mosquito nets and food to ensure that the people had a good meal in the evening.

“Little children need to play”, said Fr. Srimal Priyanga sdb, Principal of the Institute, and he got the boys and the carpentry students to  put together a swing, basketball rings, a sand pit and

other items to keep the little ones cheerful and happy. As the day drew to a close, the women got together the group in praise and worship to thank the Lord for the day and ask His grace and protection for a peaceful and quiet night.


Abandoned mine puts 8,000 at risk in Solomon Islands

A three-person United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has arrived in the Solomon Islands to assess a gold mine tailings storage facility following flash floods and heavy rains in the region. There are concerns rising water levels in the dam, located about 30 kilometres from the capital Honiara, may have weakened, potentially placing around 8,000 people in nearby villages at risk. In addition, the site contains chemicals common to gold mining facilities.

Following the request, the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit and the European Union Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) assembled a team of independent experts to assess the potential dangers of the tailings dam weakening, potentially resulting in a toxic spill of hazardous chemicals from the gold extraction processes, such as cyanide and arsenic.

Earthquakes in Bougainville

From Bishop Bernard Unabali, 24 April

I send a brief report on the situation of earthquake in Bougainville in the last few days

The quake first struck Friday evening 4th April quite late past 10pm. That initial quake was reported from Buin, Piano area with a house collapse killing a child. Otherwise, there were unreported  collapse  of houses, land  slides and cracks of some churches but one other one was a Ward in the Buka Hospital in the Northern part.

The third and  biggest scary one struck close to 11-12 midnight on Saturday 19th of April ; Easter Vigil hours. In the North it was felt like 7-8 on the R scale. So in the South West it was felt really more? The places where mass/services started early got caught on their return and the ones who had late starts or second mass (shortages of priests)  were caught in the churches. So imagine what happened. Some left only the priests and a few inside at elevation! Others had homilies cut short. One place was at blessing of the baptismal water and the shaking of the water had the priest ‘baptized ‘ rather than the babies! Lucky no priests ran away from the people.

Reports so far show another dead and churches in the south cracked, statues, tabernacles, cross, walls and floor foundations. And more people’s houses and gardens destroyed by landslides. In Torokina , West Coast Bougainville there was sea rise that went into two to three coastline villages who had to move Inland in a scramble. Some rivers are dirty as land slides damned them up.

We do not have a diocese level Caritas properly set up. It is the same In parishes but we are already making plans to do that some months down the line this year. And for what these quakes have damaged we are organizing to collect data through informants from remote areas and site visits where possible ‘ … Thanks to all

Bp Bernard Unabali, Bougainville

Judge not happy with police effort

Post Courier, 31 March, 2014

The National Court inquiry into allegations of human rights violations committed by members of the police force against 74 men in Port Moresby has expressed dissatisfaction on the responses of the police hierarchy and the Public Solicitor over the issue. It was alleged that a group of 74 men, mainly from Morobe Province, were intercepted by the police, directed to lie face down on the ground, and after those men did as they were told, members of the police force assaulted them by kicking and hitting them with weapons such as gun butts and tree branches. Some of the officers used bush knives to cut the men, mainly on the lower parts of their legs; the ankles and the Achilles tendons. He said he had named seven members of the police force as being implicated and declared that steps taken by the police Force were woefully inadequate.

“I am unimpressed by the evidence of all three office-holders. “The commissioner’s evidence was vague and did not demonstrate any detailed knowledge of this case,” said Justice Cannings. “Supt Bawa’s evidence was less unconvincing but he was unable to explain why, 10 months after this very serious incident, only two members of the force have been charged under the Criminal Code.  “There continues to be tough talk about clamping down on police brutality but where is the evidence of the charges and the claim that two members of the force have been committed for trial? “Where is the documentary evidence that members have been charged for serious disciplinary offences under the Police Act? “There is evidence before the Court that very senior members of the force, including the Gordon police station commander, Snr Insp John Tarur, was present at the incident.

“Why does it take 10 months to investigate serious human rights violations committed on a mass scale in an open public place next to the country’s biggest airport?” the judge said.

Students’ claims of ‘666’ signs stirs attack

The National, 25th April, 2014

A TEAM from the Education Department was attacked at a school in Port Moresby after its members were accused of putting satanic marks on the students.
The incident happened at the Holy Rosary Elementary School and Primary School in Port Moresby. 
Parents and students attacked the officials after accusing them of marking students with the “666” sign under the pretext of collecting data. 
A department official said the team was assigned by the department to roll-out its National Capital District Smart (i) Technology Programme. It is to update and transmit data from schools in the city to the department via internet.
Some Christians link the 666 sign to satanic and anti-Christ beliefs.
Elementary school head teacher Maro Alau said a man and woman were badly beaten at the school after students informed their parents about what the team members were allegedly doing to them.
“By-standers attacked the other members of the team and took four laptops and other data collecting equipment,” he said.
He said a teacher was also attacked and had her phone stolen.
Alau said the team first came to the school on Wednesday.

UN Women responds to girl’s death

Solomon Star 31 March.

There are several things essential to address violence against women at the village and community level. UN Women Pacific said this in response to the death of a girl in Isabel, allegedly in the hands of her father. The UN Women says to address this terrible problem at the village and community levels there are crucial things to make. “These include questions all forms of violence against women and challenge the idea that it is not a serious issue or crime, change the shaming and blaming that many survivivors of violence against women face and treat violence against women seriously with proper punishment of perpetrators and fair justice for survivors, from the perspective of the survivor.” “People change their attitudes beliefs and actions everyday based on new information, technology and knowledge. This is also true about how women and girls are valued, and the roles that men and boys have.” The organisation added that through the ‘Protecting Women’s Human Rights through CEDAW implementation project” UN Women and EU aim to strengthen women’s access to justice in Solomon Islands.

Sorcery cases hard

The National, 31 March 2014

THE increase in sorcery-related killings in Madang is a major concern but one that cannot be handled by police alone, an officer says.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the police officer said: “It is very hard to control these killings. If you talk to a sorcerer you will understand this.
“To arrest people involved in this is hard as you must have evidence.”
“All deaths have their story of how and what happened but when we take the body to the morgue it becomes another post mortem case for the hospital with a medical reason for the death,” he said.
“Where does that leave us? We cannot explain the unexplained in our reports.”
In Naho Rawa local level government in Rai Coast, 30 cases of sorcery-related killings were reported in the past few months.
A death in Ariangon, Bogia, was reported last week where a suspected sorcerer was ambushed and killed by villagers.
He was accused of causing the death of a young medical worker whose body was found after three days in a bag of garden produce.
Another sorcerer in Sogeram, Transgogol, was killed by villagers.
Provincial police commander Sylvester Kalaut could not be reached for comment.

Duo kill step brother over sorcery-related case

The National 3 April, 2014

A MAN was hacked to death by his step brothers during sorcery-related arguments at Gumine, in Chimbu, earlier this week.
Chimbu police commander Supt Augustine Wampe said the 39-year-old man from Gumine had his neck cut off after he was confronted by his two step brothers at Nondri Primary School.
Wampe said the two brothers had accused the deceased of accusing their mother and other villagers of using sorcery to kill the deceased’s wife.
He said the two suspects confronted the deceased at the school after he had surrendered himself to them to explain the reasons for investigating his wife’s death.
Wampe said the two brothers, without hesitation and despite pleas from the deceased, started slashing him from the back, eventually slicing his neck off.
“The deceased was pleading with his step brothers, saying he was not accusing anybody, he was just investigating to get to the bottom of the cause of his wife’s death. But this did not deter his brothers from inflicting the fatal blow that ended his life in a brutal manner,” Wampe said.
Wampe said a police patrol received reports of the killing but could not arrest the suspects as they had escaped into the mountain range behind Gumine.

Christian Churches must step up

Editorial, The National, 24 April, 2014

About 200 men and juveniles appeared in court in Madang this week to answer to charges of murder, arson and unlawful wounding. Police believe the 129 men and 69 juveniles including a 10-year old boy, are members of a cult group and have raided a neighbouring village, killing at least eight people and destroying houses. The men from Niniko, Gomunmu and Ranara villages in the mountains of Rai Coast district, reportedly raided the village because they suspeced its inhabitants of killing people with sorcery. The sad reality of sorcery-related killings and the country’s apparent inability to deal with such violence, which is fed by fear and suspicion, is again brought into the spotlight….

The Christian faith itself does not deny the existence of sorcery. But neither do churches emphasise or demonstrate enough that faith in God and love for fellowman, the basic tenets of the Christian faith, will drive back the fear of sorcery and render it impotent or unnecessary. When the real message of the gospel penetrates the heart with such a power only some professing Christians fully understand, that alone will make a lasting difference. Dogmatic preaching from the pulpit alone has so far failed to achieve what must be possible if we hold true to the teachings of the founder of the faith and experience life-changing force. There are still far too many professing Christians attending church regularly yet keeping appointments with the glasman or keeping a special cabinet at home for a talisman or potion for protection should God fail to answer their prayers. If, we concede that the law cannot deal with spiritual matters then it is time now for our Christian churches to step up, and away from the pulpit, and tackle this pertinent issue head on.

Kids save father: Judge heeds children’s plea, suspends five-year jail term.

The National 24 April, 2014

A man who broke his wife’s leg with a hammer had his five-year jail term suspended yesterday – thanks to his children. Martin Salala’s four children told the Waigani National Court that they understood his action was wrong but they did not want to grow up without a father. If he was sent to prison, they would miss him they said, and asked the court to instead order him to pay compensation. In suspending Salaha’s prison sentence, Justice George Manuhu said he was doing so in the interest of his children and his wife. “You will be placed under good behaviour bond for five years and you are to refrain from drinking for five years”, the judge said. Salala was ordered to pay compensation of K5,000 to his wife and her family within 60 days.

State agrees to refugee visa for Manus centre detainees

The National, 4th April, 2014

THE Government has approved a refugee visa for detainees at the Manus processing centre who are determined to be refugees.
The visa will provide for work rights and freedom of movement, a statement released after Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison met in their first monthly joint ministerial forum in Port Moresby on Wednesday said.
The first refugees could be resettled in June.
Pato and Morrison agreed that all persons transferred to Papua New Guinea found to be refugees “will be resettled in PNG. No-one will be resettled in Australia”.
The statement said Australia “reaffirmed its commitment to meet costs relating to the settlement of refugees in PNG”.
They noted the process of refugee status determination was well advanced, with two-thirds of transferees having had initial interviews at the centre.
The statement said persons found “not to be refugees would be held in detention in PNG pending removal to their home country or another country where they have a right of entry”.

Panel works on refugee policy

The National, 9 April, 2014

THE Government has convened a panel of six social policy experts to give guidance on how best to settle refugees in the country.
The panel is led by former politician Dame Carol Kidu, lawyer Ester Monty, Catholic Archbishop John Ribat, former ambassador Peter Eafeare and senior public servants Dominica Mai and Chris Kati. 
At its inaugural meeting yesterday the panel was briefed on its roles and responsibilities by Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura.
“The panel will focus on settling refugees in a Melanesian way,” Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato said in a statement.
“It will address all refugees, including West Papuans, people transferred from Australia and refugees who have come here independently.”
Pato said one of the key principles of refugee settlement must be that refugees should have access to a similar level of services, accommodation and support as ordinary Papua New Guineans.
He said they should not be perceived as being privileged or receiving special treatment and the Government must ensure that access to essential services or jobs for Papua New Guineans was not degraded by giving access to refugees.
“If this requires additional development of infrastructure or services, it is envisaged that there will be a broader benefit for communities in which refugees are settled.”
“Refugees have much to contribute to PNG. Many have useful skills and qualifications that can help us to build our nation and our economy.”
He said refugees had demonstrated resilience and determination to escape from situations of persecution.
He said the panel would provide practical advice on how to enable refugees to use their strengths to rebuild their lives as quickly as possible in safe and secure environments within PNG.
The panel will submit its report to the Chief Migration Officer in 30 days. This will form the basis of a National Refugee Settlement Policy that will be considered and endorsed by Government. …

Please clarify family status of Manus asylum seekers.

Yu Tok, Post Courier 14 April, 2014

Can someone in the know give some clarification on this aspect of the asylum seekers situation on Manus Islands? As a family man, I am trying to come to terms with this specific aspect of these human beings on our soil; a foreign land to them and far away from their loved ones, if they have any at all. We hear now that some of the asylum seekers on Manus will be granted refugee visas to enable them to settle here in Papua New Guinea. Freeing the so-called “detainees” from detention seems a step in the right direction. Many of these asylum seekers are married with children. We do not know if their families are back where they came from, or perhaps detained with other women and children on Nauru? Will the freed detainees here in PNG be permitted to apply for refugee visas also for their wives and children so they can be reunited as families? If not, will their wives be granted visiting rights? Or does it mean that refugee visa and the chance to settle here in PNG – but with no chance of being reunited with their families — mean that these men will marry our daughters and start new families? We must know. Basil Peutalo, NCD

Vendors go ‘mobile’

The National, 1st of April, 2014

Market vendors in Port Moresby will now be able to pay their daily fees, make deposits and check balances on their mobile phones.
The Safe Cities Programme, a UN Women’s initiative in partnership with the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) and funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has partnered Nationwide Microbank to provide Gerehu market vendors with bank accounts that were accessible by a mobile phone. 
UN Women’s project officer for the Safe Cities Programme Samson Yaki said that a survey last year demonstrated that about 80% of Gerehu market vendors were women.
He said they were working to create safer, secure and convenient ways for women to do their marketing.
“Many women vendors told us that on their way home from the market they had been robbed previously, and many were violently assaulted as part of the robbery. 
“Our mobile banking scheme aims to empower women and protect them from violence.  By banking their earnings prior to leaving the market, the women begin  saving and the risk of being robbed and attacked is lessened,” Yaki said.
Nationwide Microbank trained members of the Gerehu Market Vendors’ Association as banking agents, helping vendors open MiCash accounts, make deposits and pay the NCDC daily market fee of K2 through mobile banking. To register for a bank account, vendors require an NCDC vendor registration identification card, a Digicel mobile telephone (cannot be shared with another vendor) and a K10 deposit.

Prisoners to earn money

The National, 2 April, 2014

PRISONERS should be allowed to make some money while in jail by learning new skills as part of their rehabilitation process, West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel said.
“They should be engaged in productive activities where they learn new skills which should condition them to face life after they complete their terms,” Muthuvel said
He made the comment at Lakemata Prison, outside Kimbe town. He said as a pilot project, he would be ordering the production of 1,000 desks by the inmates.
He asked the prison officials to supervise the work. All materials would be provided by the Government, he said.
Muthvel said by doing this, inmates would be identified and put on the project.
He said a certain amount of money should be kept in a trust account for each prisoner assigned to the project.

Crime rates drop

Post Courier, 3 April 2014

Serious crimes have dropped sharply since 2012, with police expressing confidence that the trend is likely to continue because of the many changes taking place in the force. Chief of Police Operations and Deputy Commissioner, Simon Kauba, revealed this on Monday when providing an overview of police operations and crime statistics to the newly appointed police minister Robert Atiyafa.

The results, according to Mr Kauba, may be attributed to the success of the modernisation program. The program has seen community policing activities such as organising community consultative meetings to discuss law and order issues affecting the community. They focus on how the community can get involved in minimising crime in their respective communities. The low figures have also been attributed to the recent assistance of the Australian Federal Police. There has also been a steady improvement in in-house police discipline and a commitment at the work place. Mr Kauba also revealed that robbery is by far the highest and most prevalent crime in major towns and cities.

Three quarters of these robberies are committed by people who have access to firearms, factory made or otherwise, stolen motor vehicles and who are often under the influence of alcohol.

Hold up: Saira villagers apprehend log ship for intrusion.

Solomon Star 1 April 2014

IT was not piracy, although it looked like one. People of Zaira village in Marovo Lagoon were merely protecting their resources and environment when they held a log boat a fortnight ago. Secretary of Dokoso tribal land resources management conservation Jino Here Hanz said it took a whole day of negotiations before villagers could release the boat filled with round logs. “The huge boat intruded in our customary owned area which is a conserved site,” Mr Hanz said.

He said the area was far from the logging operation site and why loading was carried out miles away from the site was interesting.

“But we have no interest in such fishy loading activity because the logging operation is not happening on our land.

“It became our business when the huge boat entered our protected area and conducted loading of logs there.

“What surprised us villagers when we overtook the boat was, there were no government officials onboard during the loading.”

Mr Hanz said on March 17, village elders, rangers and other community leaders were all onboard, demanding that the loggers pay compensation for intruding into a Marine Protected Area (MPA) which prohibits activities such as loading of logs. “Why were there no government officers present? We allow our resources to be easily tapped and removed.

“The actions of the Zaira rangers and leaders may be seen as illegal by Western Laws but according to our customary rights laws which the state miserably fails to uphold, we are protecting our protected territory.”

The logging boat Yong Ping 5 departed that evening after paying $30,000 to the community.

Churches continue to provide services in rural areas.

Post Courier, 31st March, 2014

Churches continue to be at the forefront of service delivery in most rural areas of the country. The Australian Government has acknowledged their efforts and has, since 2004, been allocating funds to support some of the programs run by seven mainline churches which are Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist and United Church. Representatives from these churches attended a forum in Port Moresby this week with their counterparts in Australia. John Kaewa, General Director of the Baptist Union of PNG, one of the churches under the Churches Partnership Program, says he was thankful for the support. “I think the program has a tremendous impact on communities. We’d like the national government under the state-church partnership to seriously look at how best to deliver services through the churches network to the communities throughout PNG,’’ says Mr Kaewa. The Australian Government -funded program is now in its second phase which will end in 2016.

PNG Economy continues to grow

BPNG Press Release, 1 April, 2014

The Papua New Guinea economy has maintained a 13-year continued growth curve in 2013, performing above National Budget expectations of 5.1 percent, with inflation rates remaining at a low of 4.7 percent, says Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) Governor Loi Bakani. He says the growth curve would be bettered in 2014 with economic growth expected to perform over National Budget expectations of 6.2 percent by landing at a low of 4.4 percent, again beating projected budget expectations. “The bank projects a growth of 4.4 percent in 2014, lower than the budget forecast of 6.2 percent. This growth is expected to be supported by the production and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and Government fiscal stimulus,” says Bakani. He says inflation would continue with its upward trend from 4.7 percent in 2013 to 6.5 percent this year, as a direct result of imported inflation and depreciation of the kina which fell by 12.6 percent against the US dollar between March 2013 and March 2014.

Achieve MDGs with resource boom: Clark

The National, 7th April 2014

UNITED Nations (UN) programme administrator and chairperson of the UN Development Group Helen Clark is encouraging the Government to maximise progress to achieve Millennium Development Goals in health and education by using revenue from the petroleum sector. 
“When I came four years ago, I could see that PNG was in the early stages of a resource boom with a lot of construction going on and a lot of potential,” she said at a media conference in Port Moresby, last Friday.
“Coming back now, I see a Government with the confidence to make very big investments in health and education and in basic services and infrastructure knowing that there will be a revenue flow coming in through the LNG extraction.”
She said the Government was faced with challenges in capacity.
Clark said as revenues from extractive industries flowed into the country, there was a huge opportunity to take major steps in human development.

Monitoring social media

The National, 9th April, 2014

A STATE agency will closely monitor the use of social media once relevant legislation is passed in Parliament, an official says.
National Information and Communication Technology Authority chief executive officer Charles Punaha said a cyber crime policy was before the National Executive Council. It is expected to be tabled in Parliament to be passed as law once the NEC endorses it.
Punaha said it would spell out the penalties for those who misused and abused social media.
He said the intention was to address cyber crime and security. 
“The cyber security policy is to safeguard the storage of data – for government to have access to the data, in the event that we have reason to believe that certain offences have been committed,” he said. 
“The law enforcement agencies must have access to the data in the event that offences have been committed.
“For cyber crime, we are going to make it an offence for people to use pen-names, not using their real names and abusing the social 
media and making defamatory statement – you have to be answerable for it
“You have to be accountable for you actions.” 
For example, he said law enforcement agencies would be given powers “to access laptops should there be reasons to believe that your laptops have been used to commit the offence”.

Church appeals for funds promised for health services

The National, 9th April, 2014

THE Archbishop of the Madang Catholic archdiocese Stephen Reichert has called on Governor Jim Kas to release promised funding to the church’s health services.
Reichert sent an “urgent” email to Kas last week on behalf of the 20,000 people in remote Josephstaal, in Middle Ramu electorate.
He said the stretched-out church health workers were unable to cope with demand for health services.
He said the provincial government promised to pay the salaries of the church’s health workers and provide additional funding in 2009 but this had not been done.
“The health of the people in the Josephstaal area, all 20,000 of them, is in your hands,” he said in his message to Kas.
“The Catholic Health Services (Archdiocese of Madang) runs the Josephstaal Health Centre, Katiati Health Sub-centre, Misivindi Community Health Post and eight rural aid posts in the surrounding area.  
“All these facilities were renovated, maintained or rebuilt through a PNG Incentive Fund project which was completed in late 2013.  “Aside from a skeleton staff at Josephstaal and Katiati, there are no health care officers at any of the other sites. 
“Salaried positions for nurses and community health workers – about 26 of them – promised in 2009 have not been transferred to Catholic Health Services as of this time.  Funding promised in 2009 has not been given either. 
“People in the Josephstaal area are dying for no good reason.  Others are suffering from curable illnesses that are not treated

Silencing comments and views made by researchers and academics condemned

Post Courier, April 17, 2014

National Research Institute (NRI) Director Mr. Thomas Webster expressed grave concern over the views expressed by Politicians regarding the comments and views made by researchers and academics, with a view to silencing them. Mr. Websters stated that in some countries where democracy is not supported and valued, those with critical views based on sound analysis are exterminated or deported if they are foreigners. This would be bad for the development prospects of Papua New Guinea (PNG) if we want to develop into a wealthy, wise and prosperous nation. The current comments made by politicians in regard to contributions to discussions attributed to Paul Barker, the Executive Director of Institute of National Affairs (INA)at a National Research Institute (NRI) hosted Budget Forum last week is uncalled for. The Budget Forum was looking at the implications of the PNG Government Budget for the sound development of our country. The forum is a venue where the public was invited to hear the views of experts who carried out sound analysis of the 2014 budget. It seeks to inform the public and decision makers such as Politicians to understand some of the dynamics and the possible outcomes of the budgets that are passed by Parliament. he said that the point made by Paul Barker as I understood was about the “Opportunity Costs of Capital”, where if you do one thing with the money you have, you cannot do other things. So the question is, on what basis were decisions made on building of some new infrastructure in the National Capital District such as the Paga Ring road project when the maintenance of other roads and services in the city and the country were in dire need of maintenance. “Who would benefit from that road and who is missing out?”

He concluded by issuing a warning to our politicians and leaders on a growing culture of surrounding themselves with “Yes, Yes” people as advisers and appointment of bureaucratic leaders. “There are also many carpet beggars who praise and continue to praise our leaders for every decision they make, whether it is good or not. I am reminded of the fairy tales about the “King with No Clothes”. If you do not hear and appreciate dissenting views, you will not see the fallacy of some of the ideas and decisions that you make, ,” he said. Silencing critics is not the answer. Engage in the debate of the ideas – shoot the message, not the messenger.

Prisoners find relief in Good Friday march

Post Courier 22 April, 2014

Six inmates from Bomana prison in the National Capital District walked with the thousands of Catholics and other Christians on Good Friday. Four males and two female prisoners took part in Way of Cross procession from East Boroko to Gordon then to Wagani, Tokorara, Hohola and finally to Murray Barracks. The prisoners expressed gratitude and sense of relief to be united with many pilgrims in a completely fulfilling experience – spiritually, mentally and physically. Leo Aiya, serving two-life sentence for serious crimes committed since 1991, said it was his first walk for many years and he would treasure that moment. He said though physically locked up in cell, his spirit was free.

“In prison we have devotions every day of the week and my coming here and taking part in the walk which I never had for so long is breathtaking and the fact to know Christ suffered and died on the cross for me a sinner is something special I will keep close to my heart,” Aiya said. Other prisoners, including Tedi Mausau, Sam Tom, Andrew Koya, Mary Kovei from Goilala and Anna Kakame from Gulf Province expressed the same sentiments. The two women took the opportunity to wish their family a peaceful Easter. As they physically cannot hold their children in their arms, their thoughts and hearts are with them, they said.  Kakame committed a serious crime and over the years, the nightmare has haunted her so she filled her life with church activities while in prison. She now sees things differently, she said. There was overwhelming relieve for these Catholic prisoners as, watched over by their wardens, they waited patiently for their transport to pick them up and take them back to jail.

Dangers of climate

The National, 3rd April 2014

CLIMATE change is here to stay and it is important to have vulnerable communities adjust to its effects, an official said.
Jacob Ekinye, acting director of the adaptation division of the Office of Climate Change and Development, said communities which implemented adaptation skills and practices would be in a better position to face the effect of climate change.
“Communities should acquire new skills and adapt to different technologies or approaches,” he said.
“For instance, protection of food security and livelihood, growth of coastal communities to maintain healthy coral reefs and agriculture communities to adapt new farming techniques and hybrid food crops.
 “We want to see climate adaptation action increased in communities. 
He said the impacts of climate change were obvious around the country which people must adapt to.
Ekinye said the highlands communities were experiencing more intense rainfall causing landslides.
He said the coastal communities faced  challenges such as coastal flooding, salt-water intrusion, coral bleaching and climate change-induced migration.

El Ninoa alert for PNG

The National, 22 April, 2014

THE country is likely to experience a devastating weather situation it last faced in 1997 with another “extreme” El Nino forecast to hit the Pacific region this year, according to the National Weather Service office.
Assistant director for Climate and Special Services Kasis Inape said: “The tropical Pacific Ocean is currently in a state of rapid transition. The waters have warmed considerably in recent weeks.”
Inape said international climate models surveyed indicated continued warming of the central Pacific Ocean in the coming months.
El Nino is a prolonged warm climate which results in prolonged droughts. 
The last time PNG experienced that extreme weather pattern was in 1997 which resulted in a severe drought across the country. 
Port Moresby and major centres were severely hit by water shortages and extreme hot weather conditions.
Inape said most models predicted that from April to June or during the southern hemisphere winter season in June to August, the sea surface temperature would reach the El Nino threshold.

Human trafficking evident in PNG

Post Courier, 23, 2014

Domestic servitude, forced labour and sexual slavery or forced prostitution are most common and serious forms of exploitation of human trafficking in Papua New Guinea. These forms of human trafficking may not be seen as serious because they are  also entwined in PNG’s cultures, for instance; forced marriages and domestic servitude. Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both of the parties are married without his or her consent or against his or her will. In PNG this may happen because of bride price. Domestic servitude refers to performing personal tasks for a dominant partner, also as part of a submissive role, if there is a relationship such as a sexual one. Joe Saferius from the International Office of Migration (IOM) says human trafficking is quite new in terms of information and awareness but it is here and is happening.

Anti-Corruption Capsules: Address Policing to curtail corruption.

PNG, April 23, 2014


It is no doubt that law and order are the foundation for economic growth and prosperity for our country. One of the major institutions that maintain law and order is the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC). Holding the police accountable will in turn hold the criminals accountable.

It is increasingly becoming a major concern around the country that police accountability is dissipating faster than the speed of a jet.. In a democratic society such as ours, the Government must seek to keep the police accountable and that they reflect the “will of the people” as given to them through the Constitution. In turn, holding police accountable is important for maintaining the public’s “faith in the system”.

Papua New Guineans are no longer feeling safe to resort to police for law and order issues they face. Every day, the local media is filled with stories of police misbehaviour.

A number of chronic problems with the RPNGC are highlighted in the Police Review Report which includes:

• drunken behaviour, particularly on afternoon and night shifts

• extortion and theft from motorists by way of illegal on-the-spot fines

• extortion from suspects of crime including corrupt persons

• emotional retaliation against the public when a police officer is attacked by civilian

• bailing prisoners without issuing a bail receipt

• excessive and unprovoked violence when arresting suspects

• disregard of the law by, for example, conducting raids and seizing property without a search warrant

• rape or sexual assault, in some cases in Police stations or cells

• misuse of Police vehicles

• absence without leave

• destruction and theft of the property of citizens

• destruction and theft of Police property

The situation is getting far worse each year despite the genuine attempts of the Government.

The Police Review Report identified numerous problems and recommended corresponding solutions. In this paper, only two main causes are considered pivotal to this issue:

• Lack of Proper Training

• Lack of Discipline


Easter Message, 2014

Archbishop Douglas Young, Archbishop of Mount Hagen

This year my thoughts turn to a passage from the New Testament that forms part of every Easter Vigil, St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, chapter 6, verses 3-11.

In the liturgy of the Eater Vigil, several readings from the Old Testament take us through the history of our salvation, from the creation, through the election of the Jewish people, and their hopes for a Messiah who would free them from all bondage. At the end of the Old Testament readings we sing the ancient hymn, the Gloria for practically the first time since Lent began. Then we have this reading from Romans followed by the joyful Alleluia, also marking the end of Lenten penance and restraint, and we listen to the gospel story of Jesus’ resurrection. In the passage from Romans, St Paul reminds us that through our baptism we die with Christ in order to rise with him to an entirely new life. Our old sinful self is ended and we are truly born again, entirely new people. We are to think of ourselves as dead as far as sin is concerned, but living in a new community with God through our risen brother Jesus. Paul goes on to explain that this new life and new relationship is a pure gift, not something we could ever earn by our own efforts.

This message means a lot to me as we face the reality of the situation in our country. Although we have many signs of new life in active church life and many acts of kindness and generosity, we also have many very serious signs of death and dying. The most serious of these must be the creeping corruption that we now begin to face almost daily. Where there is corruption there is bribery. Apart from those who pay bribes to get something they have no right to, we increasingly have to pay bribes to get what we are actually entitled to. Bribery flies in the face of the authentic Christian attitude of generosity which St Paul is speaking about. Bribery must have no place in a Christian country which celebrates the fact that the greatest gift of all is given freely to those who ask for it in faith.

A few years ago Pope Benedict wrote a letter to all people of good will, called “Charity in Truth”. In that letter he argued that economic and political life needs the attitude of free gift, not just the laws of the market and rights and duties. Without an attitude of gratuitousness, giving for the sake of giving, there cannot be a fair economy or a stable political life. That is why bribery and corruption are the enemy of the common good of all, the incrreased well-being of the whole of society, and of trust in human relations.

I have only one prayer this Easter, that all who call themselves Christians, born again in the waters of baptism, would truly turn from sin daily more and more, especially the sin of bribery, asking for bribes or “incentives” and giving them. May we all begin to live truly the life of someone who is born again to a new life, who not only carries out their duties and responsibilities honestly but has space left for the same kind of generous loving kindness towards others that has been shown to them in the free offer of new life in Christ. Easter celebrates the fact that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and sin and death have no more power. Why would a disciple of Jesus want to return to the path of death characterized by bribery and corruption? Happy Easter!

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2014

UN to analyse Human Rights, Humanitarian Law

Post-Courier, 28 February 2014

The United Nations in Papua New Guinea announced yesterday that there will be a mandated analysis on the international human rights and humanitarian law standards related to the right life issues in the country.

From Preliminary Observations on the official visit to Papua New Guinea by Mr. Christof Heyns, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, 3-14 March 2014    Released in Port Moresby, 14 March 2014 (For full 19pp report, see

8. I found during my visit that Papua New Guinea is faced with serious levels of violence, which often also has lethal consequences. In my statement I will mention the main patterns of killings I identified, as well as the obstacles in the law and order system and socio-cultural context that hamper effective prevention, justice and redress in such cases.

9. I do believe, however, that Papua New Guinea at the current moment has an historical opportunity to make significant strides in its protection of human rights, including the right to life. While the challenges should be recognized, the convergence of a number of factors point towards the present moment as a unique opportunity to take a new course, in some respects, and to consolidate some of the many positive elements that are already present.

33. The reality of the terror, pain and suffering and social disruption caused by sorcery and witchcraft is only fully understood when one is confronted with the family of victims and with the survivors who carry the scars of attacks. By its very nature, the identification of specific people as witches or sorcerers will be arbitrary and based on subjective whims, and according to many interviewed it is motivated by considerations such as jealousy; greed (e.g. wanting the property of the soon-to-be deceased); aimed against those who do not fully fit in (even at the level of not showing enough grief when someone has died) or getting rid of outsiders, the old and marginalized, often focusing on women. It is a vicious practice.

Conclusions: 2. A national campaign should be developed to combat witchcraft and sorcery accusation related violence. This campaign should be aimed at sending out a clear and concerted message that there is no room anymore for violence that is based on such allegations, and should amongst others involve the high-level representatives of the Government, the churches, the education system, the prosecutors and public solicitors, members of the village courts, and the media. The possibility of calling a convention of interested parties where this campaign is launched should be considered.

Catholic Church: Close Manus detention centre

Post Courier, 3 March 2014

THE Catholic Bishops Conference has appealed to the Australian government to close the Manus Island regional processing centre. The church’s peak leadership body said it was appalled to hear of the recent disturbance at the centre, resulting in death and injury and was concerned at the Australian government’s “rhetoric of righteous campaign” against people smuggling at the expense of PNG’s reputation.

“We were concerned that the rhetoric of a righteous campaign against people smugglers actually seemed to be more a question of political convenience. “We were offended that settlement in PNG was presented in such a negative light so as to act as a deterrent to asylum seekers,” the church assembly said.

“We noted that ‘according to a report from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’, arrangements for the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre do not meet international protection standards, and the present situation on Manus is likely to lead to increased levels of psychosocial harm. “This unheeded warning now seems to be proven all too true,” the church said in a statement. “And so we repeat again our respectful encouragement to Australia to find a more humane solution to people seeking asylum in their country. Asylum seekers are human beings who deserve respect and recognition of their dignity.

“Detaining people against their will in PNG, even if it ‘works’ as a deterrent, is not a just solution worthy of a great nation otherwise proud of its human rights record,” the statement said. “It clearly places an intolerable strain on the capacity of PNG to manage, and might lead to even more deaths, injury and trauma. Close the centre and manage the problem in Australia.”

The world’s best refugee camp?

By Ashlee Betteridge on February 21, 2014

Sometimes in times of despair, such as hearing of the horror that took place on Manus Island this week, it’s nice to look at how other countries in the world make efforts to try to treat refugees humanely. New York Times Magazine just released a fascinating feature titled ‘How to Build a Perfect Refugee Camp‘. It documents the Turkish government’s efforts to provide orderly, humane and safe accommodation for the growing numbers of Syrians flooding over the border to seek refuge from the ongoing conflict in their country. There are some interesting takeaways from the story.

One is the pilot system being used in the camp for food distribution. Instead of sharing WFP handouts, the camp uses an electronic food card that refugees can use to make purchases in three supermarkets, run by different companies to prevent price gouging. (You can find more details on the food card system here [pdf]). The second is that even though the camps are good quality, the Syrians interviewed in the story still want to go home. It bucks the narrative about camps taking care of people “too well” so they don’t want to leave. The fear of creating long-term camps is an issue in Lebanon, which has opened its borders to more than one million refugees. There, the government tries to avoid building permanent structures in camps and only recently acquiesced to a trial of Ikea’s Refugee Housing Units. The third is the way in which the Turkish government seems to view the provision of decent camps as a form of public diplomacy. When asked by the journalist why Turkey had made such efforts to provide quality camps for the displaced Syrians, a Turkish official responded: “You have a refugee problem, what do you do?” “It’s a normal response”.

Foreign logging companies still firmly in control in PNG  March 3, 2014

Peter O’Neill’s handling of the illegal SABL land grab shows he is impotent in the face of Malaysian logging company control of PNG politicians and officials.

Twenty-five years ago the Barnett Commission of Inquiry blew the whistle on widespread corruption and fraud in the forest industry in Papua New Guinea. Today, our politicians still  remain under the control of foreign, mainly Malaysian, logging companies.

The 1989 Inquiry, headed by Australian judge Justice Barnett, famously described the logging companies as acting like robber barons: “It would be fair to say… they are now roaming the countryside with the self-assurance of robber barons; bribing politicians and leaders, creating social disharmony and ignoring laws in order to gain access to, rip out and export the last remnants of the province’s valuable timber.

Almost twenty-five years later, the recent 2013 SABL Commission of Inquiry into fraudulent agriculture leases has found nothing has changed: With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders… Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’. The Special Agriculture and Business Leases are the latest mechanism used by the loggers to get access to valuable timber resources. They have been used to take control of over 5 million hectares of forest – more than 10% of Papua New Guinea’s total landmass.

The SABL Commission of Inquiry recommended 66 of 72 leases be revoked as they are illegal. But six months after receiving the Commissions reports the government of Peter O’Neill has done nothing to implement those recommendations. As a result million of dollars worth of illegally felled logs are leaving the country every week, mostly destined for China.

Over 200 vacancies at hospital

The National, 3 March 2014

THE Port Moresby General Hospital has a staggering 251 positions vacant – many are in its clinical nursing division.
It is now on a recruitment drive seeking graduates and non-graduates who are passionate about care.
The hospital’s human resources manager Rita Geno revealed this grim situation to more than 100 job seekers at a career fair seminar in Port Moresby last Friday.
Geno was blunt, stating that staff shortage impeded efficient response time to clinical diagnosis and treatment.
“The current workforce cannot meet the demand,” Geno admitted, adding the hospital had a staff patient ratio of 1:10 and an ageing workforce at 40%.
 She said the hospital was opened in 1957 to cater for residents in Port Moresby alone. 
It can cater for a maximum of 861 staff but only 610 positions are occupied.
The hospital treats more than 400,000 patients from NCD, Central and referrals from other provinces in  a year.
It has 800 beds

State: Say no to drugs

The National, 4th March 2014

THE Government plans to introduce legislation that will see drug cultivators, traffickers and consumers face up to 50 years imprisonment, an official says.
It also proposes to increase the sentence for home-brew producers and consumers to 25 years, according to National Narcotics Bureau education and awareness officer Lawrence Tau.
He told people in Abau district, Central, that the abuse of illegal drugs and home-brew had contributed in a big way to criminal activities and social problems.
He urged community leaders to work with youths in eliminating the problems. He said rape, thuggery, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and cult activities were related to drug and alcohol abuse.
“Substance abuse creates nuisance in society thus peace, prosperity and progress in our communities and country are hindered,” he said.

Highlands Highway woes

Post Courier 27 February, 2014.

Highlands Highway Potholes needs to be patched and bushes along the main road need to be cleared for local’s walkway due to frequent road accidents. Concerned parent and local Wilson Kos from Walpi Tribe in Anglimp South Waghi, Jiwaka Province said that he has been witnessing seven road accidents at Kiam corner road where there is a big pothole and has requested the Anglimp South Waghi MP Komun Joe Koim to do something about it. “It is very dangerous for our children when walking half a meter near the main road when going to schools and back,” Mr Kos said. He said the pothole has been there for more than six years and no leaders have taken initiative to do something. “We have elected leaders to have big eyes for basic needs like this, not to pay more attention to big things, I am fed up of seeing accidents right before his village and have asked for the road to be sealed,” Magistrate Lus said.

24,000 TB cases in NCD  8 March 2014

The National Capital District has the highest number of tuberculosis cases in the country, with more than 24,000 recorded as of December 2013.
Poverty and overpopulation has been identified as the main factors behind the continuing increase of tuberculosis in Port Moresby.
Last year saw 581 new cases recorded in health facilities with a cure rate of 51%.
This means only 51% of those 581 patients diagnosed will be cured if they stay faithful to the six months TB dosage.
 Dr Gary Ou’u says the World Health Organisation’s TB success rate stands at 85. “Defaulters are a big problem. The dose is very effective. Once a patient takes the medication, they feel better after a month and often don’t complete the six months treatment,”
He says the Direct Observation Treatment shortcourse (DOTS) program was created to ensure relatives of those with TB remind them in taking their dose.

Minimum wage gets close to decision 8 March 2014

The Department of Labour and Industrial Relations principal executive officer of the Minimum Wages Board (MWB) secretariat Wala Iga announced on Friday that the current board will immediately conduct deliberations after receiving all remaining submissions from the government and private sector in two weeks’ time.
 This announcement comes in light of the concerns raised in the local media and via social networking sites on the lax attitude displayed by the Government and private sector in handing over their submission to the MWB.
 Mr Iga said the two objectives of Minimum Wages were  to safeguard low skilled workers against exploitation and poverty and to share the proceeds of the country’s economic growth and in turn motivate workers to contribute to the economy by their labour.
 He said the decision of the Board is important because it cushions the impacts of inflation and secondly it is through this mechanism that the wages and other terms and conditions of employment for low income earners are improved.
According to Iga, the last MWB was convened in 2008 and handed down a determination of a minimum wage rate at K2.29 per hour but it was to have been implemented in phases over a two year period with recommendations for review in the first and second years

Unemployment, a Time Bomb  6 March 2014

LUIO| Acting National Youth Commissioner, Norit Luio, has called on the Government and stakeholders to look for ways to address the issue and reduce the unemployment rate in the country. Luio said that there were no more urgent tasks to do than to work out a strategy to defuse  the ‘time bomb’ we are sitting on as most refer to our youths. “Like other developing nations, PNG is confronted by enormous challenges.  Among the critical challenges we face are those affecting our youths and more in particular the increase in youth employment. Yet more challenging is our struggle in search of a way forward to effectively addressing it,” Luio said. He said the implementation of the National Government’s universal education policy would pave the way for the commission to achieve its goals.

Judge issues eight orders on Manus inspection

The National, 7 March 2014

JUSTICE David Cannings made orders yesterday for official government inspection of the Manus detention centre and the living conditions of asylum seekers.
Cannings made eight orders for Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary William Dihm to file and serve a supplementary affidavit on matters in relation to recent incident in at the detention centre.
He ruled out an application by Opposition leader Belden Nama who had sought leave to intervene in the proceeding.
Cannings said the current matter was a different proceeding and Namah should be an assisting party and not a hindrance.
He gave direction for Public Solicitor Frazer Pitpit and his lawyers and officers to be afforded by relevant authorities to have reasonable access to the asylum seekers in Manus.
“Access shall not be denied except for valid security reasons or with the leave of the court; and for the avoidance of doubt: this order is sufficient authority for the public solicitor and his lawyers and officers to be granted access to any transferee (any asylum seeker) and it is not necessary for the Chief Migration Officer or any other official to grant permission for such access.


Churches urged to speak up for West Papua people

Solomon Star  8 March 2014

CHURCHES must stand and speak for the rights of the voiceless in the community.

And they should speak in a united voice on the atrocities conducted by Indonesian security forces on the people of West Papua. 
Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary, Reverend Francois Pihaatae said the church had remained silent for too long and therefore played a part in the victimization of Papuans. 
“Here we have in our own backyard, in Melanesia, a people who are being oppressed because of their wish to discuss self-determination and they are being silenced by their colonizers,” Rev Pihaatae said. “The church must speak for the oppressed. It must be the voice of the voiceless to bring justice to those who suffer.” He was speaking at the launch of the single Rise Morning Star – Freedom for West Papua by Fijian artist Seru Serevi in Suva on Thursday. Reflecting on the Bible story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, Rev Pihaatae said while the West Papuan people continued to struggle, their hope for freedom was truly alive. 
 He said that while the people of West Papua had no avenue to voice their frustrations, hurt and anger, it fell to others – including the church – to take up the cause.

Nine go free in sorcery-related death case

The National, 12th March 2014

THE National Court in Kokopo has dismissed a wilful murder case against nine men from Pomio district after the State prosecutors failed to provide enough evidence against them.
They were charged after the death of Mathias Tevamili on Dec 6, 2011, at Sampun village, in East Pomio.
The court heard that they had accused Tevamili of killing one of their relatives through sorcery. 
They took him to Teimtop village and commanded him to bring back to life their dead relative. 
When he failed to do that, they allegedly assaulted him, causing his death. 
They denied the charge.
The prosecution sought further adjournment because the principal witnesses could not attend court because they were held up in Pomio due to the bad weather.
But the defence lawyer objected to further adjournments after three trial dates had to be vacated for the absence of witnesses.
Justice Salatiel Lenalia said the nine men were presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court.
Lenalia said since State Prosecutor Lukara Rangan had failed to provide evidence, the court had no other option but to exercise its discretional power to terminate the case.
He ruled that the matter be dismissed for want of prosecution and the men be discharged.


Govt eduction policy backfires

The National, 12th March 2014

SCHOOLS are facing a major problem – high enrolment and not enough space, an official says.
It is a legacy of the free education policy.
Education head Moses Sariki during a presentation last week claimed that the current ratio of student-teacher exceeded the maximum stipulated under the education policy.
He said at Aiome Anglican, Holy Spirit Memorial High, Transgogol and Good Sheperd Lutheran high schools, students in Grades 9 and 10 stacked up 40 to 50 per class.
In secondary schools such as Raikos, Karkar, Tusbab, Malala and Brahman there was as many as 60 in some classes.
“There is a major need for four new high schools to be built within the next three to four years. Overcrowding has become a major issue now in schools and with it comes the lack of quality learning when teachers are under duress,” Sariki said.

Disability a rights issue

The National, 12th March, 2014

PEOPLE should treat disability as a development and human rights issue rather than a medical one, the Brown Kapi Foundation says.
The foundation and the Papua New Guinea Rehabilitation Centre have started an awareness drive to educate people about that.
Chairman Brown Kapi recently visited the Cheshire disAbility Services in Port Moresby to donate two wheelchairs – a manual one and one powered by a rechargeable battery.


Violence an ‘emergency’

The National, 12th March, 2014

FAMILY and sexual violence is a medical and humanitarian emergency in the country, according to a United Nations official.
The rate in Papua New Guinea is among the highest in the world, according to a recent UN Partners for Prevention study.
The study revealed that the sexual experience of one in five women was rape.
It noted that one third of men had been sexually abused during childhood.
EU funds are being channelled through the European Commission’s Humanitarian and Civil Protection department to Médecins Sans Frontières which is providing comprehensive medical treatment and psychosocial care to the victims. 
The funds are meant to increase the services provision in the different locations where MSF is working, starting with Port Moresby, Tari and Maprik.
“In addition, we want to raise the awareness among local institutions and partners of the urgent need to address this scourge,” Dhim said.

More midwives graduate in PNG as major training effort pays off  12 March

XAVIER MAYES | Medical Xpress

THE $10 million maternal and child health initiative in Papua New Guinea funded by the Australian government is beginning a new phase this year. While proving highly successful in raising the quality of midwifery education in PNG, it still faces many challenges in helping lower the high rates of maternal and child death. In a crowded Port Moresby hospital ward, a midwife attends to a young woman giving birth. As any caring professional would, she prays for no complications. However, troubled birth or not, the midwife knows she won’t have time to stay until the end of the procedure. With only rudimentary supplies and equipment on hand, she will see over 20 mothers-to-be that day, many of them lined up in the corridor outside.

When Adjunct Professor Pat Brodie first visited PNG 15 years ago, she was shocked to say the least. “It was very confronting. Essential supplies such as water, gloves, electricity – as well as any degree of privacy – were all extremely deficient. It was the equivalent of many third-world situations.” Returning in 2010 as an advisor for the World Health Organization, Brodie realised many of the same problems she encountered 15 years earlier had not changed.

“PNG is often compared to the rest of the world as only second to Afghanistan in terms of maternal health care and child mortality. It’s on par with many African countries.” Maternal health services in PNG continue to be hard to access. Nearly 90% of the population lives in rural or remote areas. According to a 2011 report by the United Nations Population Fund, half of all births in PNG are not attended by any skilled health personnel, and there’s just one midwife for every 1,000 births. Poverty, illiteracy and a lack of women’s autonomy compound the problem. The facts seem overwhelming, yet more midwives and higher quality midwifery education are a simple and very effective part of the solution. They are the focus of the UTS-led Maternal Child Health Initiative, closely partnered with PNG’s National Department of Health and funded by the Australian Government.

New guards for Manus

The National, 14th March, 2014

AN AUSTRALIAN company, Transfield Services, has won a 20-month contract worth $1.22 billion (K2.89m) to provide security at the Manus refugee detention centre.
Transfield Services is a multi-national company operating in 11 countries providing a range of services and will be expanding on its operations in Nauru.
The appointment of the company follows recent violence at the Manus centre that claimed the life of a detainee, resulting in Australian and PNG authorities questioning G4S’s ability to keep order at the centre.
G4S is to be investigated by the authorities in both countries over its role in the violence.
Transfield will be subcontracting Australian-based security company Wilson Security as it already does in Nauru.

PNG Cabinet backs ID Project

The National, 14 March 2014

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Cabinet are fully supportive of the national identity project and want it rolled out in the country immediately. The National Executive Council last year approved the project. The project will address the lack of a “secured, simple, and trustworthy” method for citizen identification in the country. It will provide an identification card for those above 18 years. Koloma said the national database would be an invaluable tool for the Government. He said it would have a national data bank. Huawei said the project would also cater for an holistic approach in national registration of births, marriages and divorce and deaths. It said other benefits included secure banking and commerce, travel and security.

Statistics: Mental illness connected to drug abuse

Post Courier 19 March 2014

STATISTICS show an increase in the number of mentally retarded people affected by illicit drug abuse at in Port Moresby General Hospital and Laloki Psychiatric Hospital, says the National Narcotics Bureau (NNB) office. NNB’s coordinator of education and awareness division, Bobby Bone and officer Lawrence Tau said young people should be refrained from taking illicit drugs and home-brew as this would not help them but destroy their lives. “Port Moresby General Hospital’s ward six is where mentally affected patients are housed and it has only 16 beds,” Mr Bone said. “But everyday numbers of new patients in that ward are increasing as a result of drug abuse, especially from excessive marijuana consumption, and now you will notice that more patients are sleeping on the floor.” “Laloki has 200 beds designed to accommodate 200 patients. But we have seen that numbers of psychiatrically ill patients, especially the ones resulting from marijuana consumption is increasing. This is a very dangerous trend,” Mr Bone said. The office anticipates that numbers of mental cases resulting from marijuana consumption in other urban centers and rural villages in PNG are also increasing as it is evident that illicit marijuana abuse has become one of the common social problems affecting the young generation today.

Digicel responds to data issue

PNG  19 March 2014

Digicel PNG’s smart phone customers have been advised to update their application settings to avoid using credits without their knowledge.
Chief Operating Officer Darren McLean says that many people don’t realise that all the apps they download may look idle but in fact they can update from time to time and consume a lot of data allowance, or drive out of bundle charges that cost 39 toea per megabyte.
 McLean also suggests that customers who don’t want this need to adjust their settings on their phones to not allow background data as well as automatic updates.
Some applications on android devices as long as the app is being used, such as online games with some even automatically searching the internet for updated files to download.

Peace award to be named after slain student

Post Courier, 19th March 2014

A Divine Word University student who makes a significant contribution to “peace and order” in the community will be given an award named after Nigel Laki, the student who was murdered on the street of Madang’s Nabasa suburb last Friday night. DWU President Fr Jan Czuba announced the award during the funeral mass for the late student at the St Joseph Freinademetz Chapel yesterday (Wednesday). Fr Czuba said the Nigel Laki Award for peace and order is a small step towards liberating the streets and neighbourhoods of Madang and PNG from mindless crime perpetrated by a minority. The award is among measures the DWU is taking to assist in addressing crime and disorder in the tourist town since the killing of Nigel, who was a third year communication arts student.

Vote Buying in SI?

Solomon Star 19 March 2014

DESPITE advice from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) early this week warning the public to refrain from providing their voters’ ID cards to other people, reports have emerged over an alleged ID card buying system taking place by an intending candidate in Malaita.

It was claimed that the businessman based in Auki, Mr Zheng Ding Wheng has been buying of voters’ identification ID cards from West Kwara’ae constituents since the start of registration. One of the concerned voters Leonard Sasai alleged that the intending candidate was actually buying the cards. “Mr Zeng was actually buying the voters’ ID cards so that during the polling day, the voters will get their ballots cast in his box as well as to get the final payments afterwards. “Mr Zheng continues this week to pay ID cards from registered voters in West Kwara’ae for the sum of $50.00 per ID card.” Mr Sasai described the alleged action as a corrupt dealing. The man claimed that his father-in-law and son-in-law also sold their ID cards as well. “He (Mr Zheng) actually bought my father-in-law and the son’s ID card. But we accused the son about his action and he later gets back his ID card.” Mr Sasai said that the intending candidate was actually using the elderly and the venerable women to get their ID cards.

“So far more than 200 cards have been supplied to him after registration kicked off last week,” Mr Sasai further claimed.The concern voter warned intending candidates and current MP to stop bribing people’s right with money.

When the Solomon Star visited the businessman’s hardware shop opposite the Auki market, a lot of people have been going in and out of his shop with most of them just to sell their ID cards. The Solomon Star team caught up with few individuals who freshly sold their ID cards coming out right from the hardware shop. One woman said, “I don’t have any bus fare to get back home so when I heard about this rumour, I come here to sell my ID card for $50.00.” Another woman said: “We just sold our voter’s ID cards. He says he gives us $50 for our bus fare as he is going to keep it and will be returning it during polling day with $1,000.” A young man at his twenties who also sold his ID card said, “I have my card given for $50 and he promised to pay me $1000 when he returns it during the polling day.”

But when Mr Zheng was contacted, he denied the allegation saying he was only helping people who needs bus fare.

Rights watchdog to join asylum inquiries

Post Courier 21 March, 2014

THE National Court inquiry into the treatment of transferees on Manus has been told that the transferees are being held captive without any formal charges. Section 42 of the PNG Constitution clearly states that a person cannot be detained and locked up without being charged. Also yesterday, the court granted leave for Amnesty International to join as a party to the proceedings.

Public Solicitor Frazer Pitpit yesterday during cross examination repeatedly asked the transferees if they have been charged for illegally entering Australia, or when they were transferred to Manus.

All three transferees who appeared yesterday denied being charged with any offence, including their illegal entry into Australia by boat.

Foot patrols help reduce city crimes

The National, 20th March, 2014

CRIME and illegal vending in Mt Hagen city have been significantly reduced since foot patrols started, provincial police commander Supt Martin Lakari said. 
The main targets by the patrols were places like bus stops, shopping centres and streets.
A joint operation by the Mt Hagen city authority  and police from all units have been engaged in big clean-up campaigns. The patrols mean police are seen while they walk around talking to the public and advising them.
Lakari said petty crimes and illegal activities such pick pocketing, bag-snatching, mugging and selling of betel nuts and cigarettes on streets were the downfall of the city.
“These gave the city a poor image.But these all have gone while my men are on the street,’’he said.

School for special kids

The National, 25th March 2014

THE Kundiawa General Hospital is offering special education to sick, deaf and mute children.
The school which has been in operation for four years attracts children from Bougainville, New Ireland, West New Britain, East New Britain, Morobe, Madang and the seven highlands provinces.
Hospital chief executive officer Mathew Kaluvia said school children admitted at the hospital continued their education while being treated there.
“When we discharge them, they return to their respective schools and continue their education,” he said. He said teachers visited students who were confined to their beds and were unable to attend classes in the ward.
Kaluvia said the school has four teachers who graduated from the teachers college. The head teacher is Elizabeth Kaupa.
He said a deaf teacher has been recruited from Callan Service.  
He said the school had 45 students attending class, while 23 students who can’t walk, the teachers visited them in the ward. The number of students fluctuated depending on the number of sick children admitted at the hospital.
Kaluvia said deaf and mute children living around Kundiawa town and from other provinces were catered for.
He said the school had its own kitchen with its own cooks who provided lunch for the students.
The school is supported by the Rotary Club of Queensland in Australia.

Court orders seizure of logs.

Solomon Star 20 March 2014

A TAIWANESE who admitted trying to export millions of dollar worth of endangered tubi logs in 2009 was fined $7,000 yesterday. Principal Magistrate Shepherd Lapo also ordered the seizure of the seven containers of tubi logs that Teng Cheng Liu was trying to illegally export.

Liu has until Friday this week to pay up the fine. Failure would result in a seven-month jail term.

 Magistrate Lapo found that Liu had dishonestly filled out the Export Entry form of Custom.

“Clearly the defendant has been doing this without complying with the instruction content from the declaration form and that he intended to export prohibited goods, evasion of prohibited on export goods and made false declaration.”

“What appear to be the issue here is that all the logs that have been discovered in the seven containers were all round logs but when the defendant made declaration that the goods in the containers were sawn timber.”

Office to address beggars

The National, 20 March 2014

Too many children beg on the streets of Port Moresby, the director of the Office of Lukautim Pikinini Simon Yanis said. “Many children get lost in the city trying to fend for themselves by loitering around shopping centres, street sides, trying to find money,” Yanis said when presenting a paper during the National Disability policy review yesterday. “With PNG’s economy set to boom in the coming years, we are finding a lot of children running away from homes and living on the streets. “This issue needs to be addressed and solutions found before the problem escalates.”

‘Criminals in uniform’: Jiwaka police terror as Simbu villages raided

Asopa 24 March14  (abridged) By Fr Christian Sieland

ON Saturday 8 March, we picked up eight women from the shabby cells of Minj police station in the central highlands province of Jiwaka. It was another case of police brutality. The women had been detained three days earlier together with 21 men during a raid conducted between Koronigle and Waingar in Simbu, along the Highlands Highway. They were randomly picked up and detained by Jiwaka police in Minj.

Most of those arrested were mourning the death of one of their local leaders who was assaulted at Molka Lodge in Minj and died some weeks later due to the injuries he had sustained.The slow response of the police in relation to the attack and death of that man and the escape of the main culprit led some of the frustrated relatives and mourners to attack some police vehicles and officers who were on the way back to Minj after a post mortem conducted on the victim in Goroka. It was a stupid act by some stupid men with terrible consequences for the whole village.

The next day police from Jiwaka drove in a long convoy of police vehicles towards Koronigle and Waingar and jumped out of their vehicles fully armed with guns, machetes and sticks. In their rage, they ran amok, shooting teargas, threatening people at gunpoint, stopping travelling cars at gunpoint, pointing guns at women and old people, beating up people at random, destroying food gardens, burning houses, killing pigs, looting stores, confiscating alcohol and arresting people at will. During this operation they might have arrested some of those responsible for the attack on the police vehicles but most of the people arrested were mourners. Some of them were from other parts of Simbu who happened to be at the hauskrai on that fateful day.

These people were innocent and had nothing to do with the attack on the police; they were just at that place at the wrong time. They received unimaginable treatment at the hands of the Jiwaka police. From a so-called disciplined force one would expect a more diplomatic, intelligent and peaceful way of confronting such an issue. But instead their rampage and destruction did not reflect any sign of discipline. They behaved more like chaotic hooligans and criminals in uniform.

I was shocked to tears when I heard the story of the women and saw the evidence of the treatment they received at the hands of the male and female officers in the Minj cells. Two of the women arrested were still breast feeding. They had to fill up bottles with their milk to be taken to their babies back home. Another woman was three months pregnant. She showed me a black spot from a police boot at her back. All the women had cuts and bruises all over their faces and bodies. What really shocked me was to see cigarette burns on the arms and faces of the women. They were beaten up several times inside the prison and even outside in front of crowds, sprayed with cold water and told to sing ‘This is the day’ or the National Anthem. Doctors and medical treatment to treat the wounds were not allowed by the police.

Abbott praises Caritas

The National, 25th March, 2014

STUDENTS attending Caritas Technical Secondary School will soon enjoy the benefits of boarding life – courtesy of the Australian Aid Incentive Fund.
A new 100 bed dormitory was part of the K4.9 million building project opened by the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott last Friday.
The all-girls church-run school has always been a day school since its establishment in 1995. There are currently 1,004 students.
Abbott commended the Caritas Sisters for valuing the importance of educating women in PNG.
“Education of young women is the most important thing, our work is contributing to your work to make it fruitful,” Abbott said.
Minister for Finance James Marape, who accompanied Abbott to Caritas, said churches delivered services to places where the Government could not.
He said the churches were the backbone of high quality education services and acknowledged Caritas for its work.

Churches must work together, pastor says

The National, 28th March 2014

A CHURCH leader is condemning the violent treatment of people accused of sorcery and witchcraft.
Pastor Jack Urame, the director of the Melanesian Institute, in Eastern Highlands, said it had become so common in the country and was much more than a spiritual issue.
He was speaking at Church Partnership Programme forum in Port Moresby.
“The church realises that problems related to sorcery and witchcraft practices are both spiritual and social issue,” he said.
“Personal health, deaths and other misfortunes that have logical explanations are commonly used as excuses to take innocent lives.
“This issue is widespread and closely connected to our belief system.
“The churches role is to bring hope, healing and promote peace, social justice and preach against any form of violence that can dehumanise people.”
He said the churches had not done enough in this area.
He urged the churches to take pro-active measures in reducing fear, eliminate these traditional beliefs which often lead to witchcraft and sorcery-related violence.
“Our divided approach towards sorcery and witchcraft is the problem,” he said.
“Churches have to work together to deal with violence related to sorcery and witchcraft.”
He encouraged the churches to change the mindset of people through education and Christian teachings.
“This may take time but the churches have a prophetic role to do,” he said.

The background & implications of that Oil Search loan deal 29 March 2014

PAUL BARKER | Business Advantage PNG         THE proposed Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) is somewhat jokingly referred to by some as the Sovereign Wealth Vacuum, as we await the government to release its revised legislation setting up the fund. The original idea was to put income from resource projects into the fund (held largely in safe offshore securities) and use those investments to stabilise the currency and provide some core development expenditure, whilst providing confidence for investors etc in PNG’s economic management. But the government’s plan to borrow K1.7 billion for a stake in Oil Search, and by extension invest in PNG’s potential second LNG project, means it is effectively pre-borrowing from the fund. There are invariably some risks associated with a sovereign fund, including those associated with foreign exchange, investments and also the temptation a pot of money provides. But, in borrowing, the government is taking on the extra burden of interest payments too.

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Social Concerns Notes – February 2014

Kepari remembered

The National, February 7th, 2014

A CAMPAIGN to outlaw sorcery and eradicate it in traditional communities is gathering momentum on the first anniversary of the torture in public of a mother-of-three in Mt Hagen.Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the torture and burning alive in the capital of Western Highlands of Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother who was burnt to death after being suspected of sorcery. Philma Kelegai, the founder of the Leniata Legacy, said her death could have been avoided and the fear associated with sanguma (sorcery) as apart of PNG culture must be removed. “Kepari Leniata was a victim of a fear that has been indoctrinated culturally,” Kelegai said. “This systematic form of abuse is not a force that can be controlled or regulated. It has been manipulated to suit individual and group agendas. “It has resulted in countless unnecessary injuries, exiles and deaths. The culprits of these heinous crimes have received next to no punishment and instead are celebrated for their part in the maiming and killing of others.”

PNG: No justice for woman burned alive in “sorcery” attack

Post Courier, 6 February, 2014

The failure of the Papua New Guinea authorities to bring the killers of a woman who was burned alive to justice, underlines their complete failure to address “sorcery” attacks, Amnesty International said on the first anniversary of her death. Twenty-year-old Kepari Leniata was stripped, tied up, doused in petrol and burned alive by relatives of a boy who had died following an illness in the city of Mount Hagen. The attackers claimed Kepari had caused the boy’s death through sorcery. “One year since Kepari’s murder made international headlines, it is shocking that those responsible for her torture and killing have yet to be brought to justice,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher. “Given the high number of reported sorcery-related attacks, particularly against women, it’s clear the authorities need to do much more to deal with these abhorrent crimes. This type of violence is destroying families and communities in Papua New Guinea.” Amnesty International has received reports of girls as young as eight years old being attacked and accused of sorcery, and children being orphaned as a result of one or both their parents being killed after accusations of witchcraft.

Tortured elder dies

The National, February 7th, 2014

AN elderly man accused of sorcery died after he was tortured by a group of villagers in Taguru, Pangia, Southern Highlands, according to police. Provincial police commander Chief Insp Sibron Papoto said the seven villagers tortured the man after accusing him of killing a clansman through sorcery. He said two of the men had been arrested and charged with murder while five others were on the run. Papoto said the old man went through great pain and eventually died of burns and wounds on his body. He said the old man was buried on Monday at his village. “I will send more policemen into the area to arrest five others still at large,” he said. Papoto warned people against taking the law into their hands and that they should stop these sorcery-related killings. “The Government has changed the law and imposed the death penalty on sorcery-related killings,” he said.

Asylum deal setback

Post Courier 30 January 2014

ASYLUM seekers detained at the Australian-funded Manus processing centre have equal rights like any citizen to challenge their detention. That was the view of the Supreme Court yesterday after it queried whether asylum seekers flown in from Australia know that they have a right under the PNG Constitution to apply to the courts for alleged human rights abuses. A five-man bench said this when deliberating on an application by Opposition Leader Belden Namah, which found that he had standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Manus processing centre.

MP: Refugee processing has started

The National, February 13th, 2014

A POLICY framework will be developed to determine whether asylum seekers in Manus will resettle in the country or elsewhere, Parliament has been told. Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato said the process to determine the refugee status of asylum seekers in Manus had started. But as to whether any of them will or will not resettle in PNG has to be worked out in accordance with a policy framework. “Because Papua New Guinea has come into this sort of activity for the first time trying to exercise leadership on a regional issue, we have not yet had the opportunity to have the relevant policy put in place,” he said. He was responding to a question from Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin on the matter in Parliament yesterday.  “Cabinet has recently decided to appoint a group of eminent Papua New Guineans who will be assisted by expertise from the United Nations (UN), Australian government and other relevant stakeholders to come up with a responsible policy framework,” Pato said. “There is a process under the UN framework under the convention relating to refugees that will come into play. “As a consequence of that, should these people not be able to settle in PNG because they do not meet our policy or requirements, then they can be settled elsewhere.”

Manus asylum seekers call on Aust for answers

The National, February 20th, 2014

THE asylum seekers detained at the Manus Island refugee processing centre have sent the Australian government a list of questions they want answered on their welfare and future. The questions are:

-Is there a process (on our refugee status)? What is it?

-How long are we going to be here?

-When will we have our freedom?

-Will transferees who have been deemed refugees in another country be given priority in processing?

-Why is there no PNG partnership?

-Some of the transferees have been interviewed some time ago.

-What is happening with our process?

-What is the hold up?

-Who is responsible for us here in Manus – PNG or Australia?

-And refugees that arrived from Darwin, why won’t Immigration allow the media to come and interview us?

-Will the Australian Government take responsibility for our mental health problems?

-The Play Fair lawyer said there was a third country option.

-Why can’t we be sent to this other country?

-Why are our human rights not respected?

‘PNG solution’ turns to nightmare on Manus Island

Victoria Stead of Research Fellow at the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation The Age (Melbourne) 20 February 2014

The “PNG solution” is unfolding with sickening predictability. When Kevin Rudd announced the bilateral resettlement arrangement with Papua New Guinea in July last year, many of us forecast that the policy would be disastrous. It paid no attention to the cultural and political environment of PNG. It seemed bound to fuel resentment among locals who would witness the huge influx of funds needed to finance the punitive incarceration of asylum seekers while their own access to basic government services remained minimal, if it existed at all. It relied upon depictions of PNG as a poverty-stricken, malaria-ridden hellhole that were deeply insulting to Papua New Guineans. For asylum seekers, meanwhile, it promised punishment in contravention of international law, denial of access to Australian legal processes, and indefinite detention in a country that was far from a hellhole but which also lacked the capacity or infrastructure to successfully process and resettle asylum seekers. Dame Carol Kidu, an Australian-born Papua New Guinean who was a prominent politician for many years and remains an important public figure in PNG, commented at the time that the Regional Resettlement Arrangement was not a “PNG solution”, it was an “Australian solution”. Seven months on, and what a cost is being paid for it.

It’s difficult to know exactly what has happened at the Manus Island facility over the last few days. There have been widespread reports of protest by asylum seekers following a meeting with PNG government representatives. What we do know is that one person is dead, and at least 77 others injured. Whatever has happened, the situation is rapidly becoming a nightmare. If hostility does exist between asylum seekers and Papua New Guineans, this is equal parts heartbreaking and maddening. The reality is that this spectacularly ill-thought-out policy has put both groups in an impossible position. As the Australian government refuses to provide clear, transparent information about the operations of its asylum seeker policies, as the PNG government fails to move on processing the claims of any of those detained on Manus Island, and as it remains in doubt whether resettlement in PNG will even take place – and if so in what form – both asylum seekers and PNG locals are being hung out to dry. Neither knows how they will be affected. The promises made to locals about benefits and jobs have not materialised, while asylum seekers are threatened with detention without end. When the PNG solution was first announced last year, the response to the policy on Papua New Guinea social media and blogs was overwhelmingly one of anger. People perceived the policy as an expression of Australian neo-colonialist attitudes, and indicative of the bullying behaviour for which our country holds a reputation in the Pacific Islands region. …Australia is throwing its weight around in the region, flouting international law, implementing cruel and punitive detention regimes, spouting bigoted vitriol about asylum seekers and encouraging derogatory depictions of our nearest neighbour. Both asylum seekers and Papua New Guineans are the victims of this disastrous policy, and both have been made into the targets of each other’s frustrations. A very Australian solution indeed.

We created the Manus Island Danger

Sydney Morning Herald 21 February 2014

… We created the Manus Island danger. We absolutely know that when a different cultural group encroaches on the space of a people, which defines itself by location, religion or visible similarities such as language, dress and attitude, tension is an inevitable result. We cannot pretend we did not notice. Nor can we be apologists for the ‘necessary’ peril we created with these concentration camps, as Shadow Minister for Immigration Richard Marles did on the ABC on Wednesday. We created this risk, intending it to ‘deter’ both boat people and people smugglers. As a consequence, we have created racial conflict in PNG, and the collapse of the rule of law in Nauru. Now we know, it is surely a duty to re-evaluate a policy that leads to mental illness, destruction of property, hope, imagination and civil society, and death. I think we have a duty to refugees, because we are descended from refugees and may be refugees ourselves, one day. This is a moral responsibility of thinking persons. Spiritual leaders have a duty to act.

Reconsider Death Penalty Plan, UN says

Radio Australia,

The United Nations is calling on the Government to refrain from implementing the death penalty, saying that once it is imposed, it will be irreversible. United Nations resident coordinator in Papua New Guinea, Hemansu-Roy Trivedy said the world body was deeply concerned with reports that the country was considering implementing the death penalty. Trivedy said: “Resuming the death penalty would be a major setback for human rights in Papua New Guinea. Evidence globally shows that the death penalty has not proven to be a more effective deterrent than other forms of punishment. Miscarriages of justice have occurred in even the most robust justice systems. The imposition of a death sentence is particularly troubling in the context of reports of weakness in law enforcement and the judicial system in PNG. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. It lies at the very heart of international human rights law.” “Since 2007, the UN General Assembly has adopted four resolutions which call on States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view of abolishing it.”

Editorial: The tide is turning on the death penalty

NCR Editorial Staff   12 February 2014

The number of prisoners condemned to die [in USA] steadily increased during the 20 years following the death penalty’s reinstatement in 1976. From the peak in 1996, when 315 prisoners were sentenced to death, the decline has been precipitous — only 77 and 80 new death sentences in the last two years. The number of executions per year is also on a downward trend: from a high of 98 in 1999 to 43 in 2012 to 39 last year. Maryland abolished the death penalty last year, the sixth state in six years to do so. Delaware and Colorado, both of which came close last year, may pass similar legislation soon. Thirty-two states now allow the death penalty, but last year death sentences were handed down in just 15 states. Only nine states carried out executions last year; nearly 60 percent of those were in Texas (16) or Florida (7).

Public support for capital punishment is also diminishing. In its annual survey at the end of last year, the Gallup organization found 60 percent of Americans say they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, the lowest level of support Gallup has measured since November 1972, when 57 percent were in favor. Given a choice between execution and life in prison, less than 50 percent of respondents favor the death penalty, Gallup found. A similar survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found most Catholics opposed the death penalty and those who attended church at least once a week were even more opposed (57 percent to 37 percent favoring life without parole). A survey conducted last summer by Barna Group found that only 32 percent of Christian millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) agree that “the government should have the option to execute the worst criminals.” Support drops to 23 percent among “practicing Christian millennials.” The bishops of Louisiana explain the moral foundation for Christian opposition to state-sanctioned death: “This position is based on consistent Church teaching which is rooted in affirming life. … [Capital punishment] will neither enact justice … nor will it provide true healing, reconciliation, or peace to those involved.”

Social scientists, however, point to a more prosaic interpretation of the changing public opinion: People recognize the system doesn’t work. Two-thirds of Gallup respondents say the death penalty isn’t a deterrent to serious crime, and Gallup found that respondents worry that innocents might be executed. (One hundred and forty-three death row inmates have been exonerated since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Another 30, though not exonerated completely, have been cleared of their capital offense and moved off death row, the center adds.)

Reacting to the Barna data, Heather Beaudoin of Equal Justice USA, a national organization working to reform the criminal justice system, told Religion News Service that it confirms what she sees: a growing desire among younger Christians to abolish the death penalty. “The question for them is no longer ‘Is it right or wrong?’ ” Beaudoin said. “They are seeing how it is actually functioning in our country — the race issues, the risk of executing the innocent, the fact that if you can afford an attorney you’ll probably not end up on death row — and they are changing their minds.” As a nation, we’ve reached the point where the barbarity of the death penalty can no longer be denied.

Vele: Focus on Service, not funds.

The National, 11 February, 2014

The focus of all levels of government should be on providing services and not on the lack of funding, acting Secretary for Treasury Dairi Vele says. Vele said: “Money is not our problem. It is our ability to efficiently spend the money which is our problem. Having more money is not going to fix our problem. We have to focus on implementation issues.” He encouraged the leaders to focus on their shortcomings on implementation and if revenue was unavailable, they should find ways to cut costs. Vele was responding to comments by some department heads last week that they were unable to implement their three key priority projects because of lack of funding.

Bad Drugs Rife in PNG

Post Courier, 31 January 2014

An investigation led by the National Department of Health and the Institute of Medical Research has discovered poor quality anti-malarial and antibiotic drugs at all levels of the supply chain in Papua New Guinea. The investigation concluded that the largest number of failed samples collected by the inquiring team came from PNG hospitals (37.8 per cent) and health centres (27.0 per cent). Area medical stores, which are run by the Department of Health, also had a proportion of high failed samples (22.7 per cent).

A copy of the report titled “Quality of Antimalarial and Antibiotic Medicines in the Public Sector in Papua New Guinea – Report of an Investigation of the Health Facility Supply Chain in 2011″ was obtained by the Post-Courier and puts the spotlight back on the quality of drugs that are sold and served over the counter in the country. The 2011 investigation was the country’s most comprehensive drugs survey to date, according to medical experts, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and should compel the Government to revisit the issue following the controversial awarding of a multi-million kina contract recently to a PNG-based pharmaceuticals company to supply health kits nationwide.

State to probe high bank fees

The National, 14th of February, 2014

THE Government will closely monitor and manage fees charges by commercial banks to ensure they are affordable to the people, Treasurer Don Polye says.
“There are too many taxes charged by the banks,” Polye told Parliament yesterday.
“Every time you want to make a transaction, a fee is always charged and this is ridiculous.
“Not long, the banks will charge the air we breathe inside the banks because they seem to charge every service they are providing.”
The matter was brought up in parliament yesterday by National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop, who strongly criticised the way commercial banks were taxing people on almost all transactions and services provided.
Polye said a Financial Services Review Committee had been set up to look into the foreign exchange rates and fees imposed by banks on customers. “After the review, the committee will make a submission to Cabinet based on their findings and recommendations,” he said. 
“By the end of the year, all fees charged by the commercial banks will be manageable, affordable and justifiable.” He suggested that Polye should seriously look into the matter and ask the banks to consider a fee-free savings arrangement for people earning less than K10,000 annually.
“Where will our people go if the banks continue to tax them on all their transactions?” Parkop said
New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan supported Parkop’s statements and suggested that since the commercial banks were making “super” profits, the Government should charge them “super” taxes.

Village Court Bill passed, officials praised

The National, 14th of February, 2014

VILLAGE court officials have been commended for being at the front line in maintaining law and order at community level.
Members of Parliament praised these public servants in the rural areas after Justice Minister and Attorney-General Kerenga Kua tabled the Village Court (Amendment) Bill 2013. It was unanimously passed.
It will give village court magistrates, councillors, peace and land mediators greater roles to play in their communities.
There are 1,490 village courts operating in the country, with 16,194 officials who sit as magistrates, peace officers and clerks to maintain law and order at their local levels.
Kua told the House that the National Executive Council decided last year to include these officials on the public service payroll from this year.
“It is therefore timely that we redefine the jurisdiction of the village courts and increase their roles so that while they get their salary on a fortnightly basis, we get more value for the money that we pay them.
“Village courts are the most accessible and cost effective means of justice administration.”

SABL land to be returned: Maru, 16 February

The people of Yangorru-Saussia have been promised that any land taken under the guise of the Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) will be returned.
Yangorru-Saussia MP and Minister for Trade Commerce and Industry, Richard Maru, said this in a media statement recently.
Maru who is a member of the Ministerial Committee reviewing the report of the SABL Inquiry, said landowner groups in his electorate are claiming ownership of land issued under the SABL.
“How can anyone even claim taking over the land under SABL. Many SABL deals are outright, scams and fraudulent land grabs which will be reversed by the Government,” said Maru.
He said the people are crying foul everywhere for land being stolen from them under the SABL including the vast stretch of land in the Sepik Plains of the Yangoru-Saussia District.
Maru has assured the people that the land will be returned to the rightful landowners.

Country susceptible to fraudsters

Radio New Zealand International, February 17, 2014

Papua New Guinea’s resources boom could leave the country more susceptible to fraudsters and ponzi schemes, according to new research by the Australian National University.
John Cox has been studying the effect of fast money schemes like the U-Vistract scheme a decade ago, and why PNG’s educated middle class has paid over US$208 million to such schemes since 1998.
He says the resource boom is creating high expectations of wealth that could create a sense of mistrust that people will prey on.
“So what I’m hearing from the people that I speak to is ‘PNG’s a rich country, we shouldn’t need to have aid programmes, we shouldn’t have poor people here, there’s something wrong with our system’ and they often blame it on corruption, but more often it become what we call a negative nationalist account. They say ‘we’re under-developed, it’s because our politicians are corrupt’.”
John Cox says the system and government corruption is often used by ponzi operators in PNG as an excuse for why money has not shown up.

Govt urged to be clear on orphans

Post Courier, February 13 2014

NCD Governor Powes Parkop has called on the national Government to come out clear on its policy on homeless and orphaned children. Mr Parkop said during Question Time in Parliament that NCD and other provinces would like to know as there are requests for funding of these organisations to look after homeless children and orphans. “In the city NGO and churches are setting up orphanages. What is the government policy and do we have to support orphanage or not. In the Lukautim Pikinini Act, there is no law that covers this area,” Mr Parkop said. Community Development Minister Loujaya Kouza in response said the Lukautim Pikinini Act does not specify orphans but that issue can be taken up by relatives and cultural social security networks should be encouraged and not the setting up of institutions like orphanages. “But the reality on the ground is that there is no legal framework yet of orphanages but churches and private individuals are setting up safe-haven for abused children and not necessarily orphanages,” she said, adding this is evident in Port Moresby and Lae.

Parliament passes Juvenile Justice Bill

Post Courier, February 14 2014

Parliament has passed the Juvenile Justice Bill that is aimed at giving alternative punishment to children outside of imprisonment. Attorney General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua, who introduced the Bill to the House, got an overwhelming 75-0 votes to pass the legislation.

Mr Kua said the purpose of the Bill is to address the special needs of the children coming into conflict with the law thus addressing law and order and maintaining a peaceful society.

“It is aimed at minimising the use of formal court proceedings,” Mr Kua said.

“It encourages the involvement of parents, the victims and the community in holding juveniles accountable for their actions and requiring them to do something to repair any harm that they may have caused.”

He said the Juvenile Justice Bill promotes;

-Diversions and mediation, drawn from traditional Melanesian and restorative justice values as an alternative to imprisonment;


-Fast tracked police processing of juveniles cases and the reduction of unnecessary pre-trial detention;

-The prevention of abuse of juveniles within the criminal justice system;

-Increased monitoring of juvenile conditions within Police lock-ups and CIS facilities through regular inspections by Juvenile Court magistrates; and,

-Training juvenile police officers and voluntary juvenile court officers.

He said the emphasis of the Bill is centred upon a community based and restorative approach to juvenile offending.

Why Private Sector Minimum Wage-Earners are Missing Out on Resource Boom

By Dr. Odongo F Odhuno NRI Commentary

PAPUA New Guinea (PNG) is one of the fastest growing economies in the Pacific region. And in terms of the country’s current and future economic growth, PNG workers too expect to have a fair share of the benefits associated with the accelerating pattern of growth.

Ever since the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project was conceived more than five years ago, Papua New Guinea (PNG) has changed, from economic stagnation in the 1990s and early 2000 to above 5 per cent (%) rapid Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth on average. Although this growth is expected to slow down as the PNG LNG project construction phase winds down. Civil servants got their 7.5% per year pay rise agreement signed in December 2013 and is being implemented as reported since January 2014.

But low paid workers miss out The low-paid semi and un-skilled workers in the private sector, are, however, still missing out on the country’s resource boom, thanks to the delay in the 2013 minimum wage determination. A recent article in The National newspaper dated 22 January 2014, indicated the GoPNG is yet to present its submission to the 2013 Minimum Wages Board (MWB), which consists of representatives from the GoPNG, employers, employees, the community and church.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommends that the minimum wage rate should be reviewed regularly, preferably annually to keep pace with inflation or with average wages in the economy. This recommendation was followed in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1992, following neo-liberal advice from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the MWB stopped indexing the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which indicates the cost of a basket of goods purchased by a typical Papua New Guinean household.

Let us remind them that the plight of the “working poor” in PNG is an important issue that the MWB ought to be addressing when setting or adjusting the minimum wage rate in 2014. Let us also remind them that businesses in PNG, like businesses in America during the time of President Franklin D Roosevelt, have the moral obligation to increase workers’ wages just as they are intent on maximizing profits.

One of the most important changes to the country’s economy expected in 2014 therefore, is a decision of the Board to boost the minimum wage which has remained stagnant (at K2.29 per hour) since 2010. Ideally the minimum wage rate should be raised in consideration of the high and rising food prices and their effects on poor low-wage workers.

Text message boost reading  7 February

A daily mobile phone text message to Papua New Guinean elementary school teachers has boosted children’s reading ability. Papua New Guinea and Australia have trialed sending text messages to elementary teachers in two provinces to improve the skills of students. Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) conducted the SMS Story trial in partnership with the Department of Education. A group of teachers received 200 text messages over 20 weeks containing stories they wrote on the blackboard and lesson plans designed to help them introduce children to reading English. At the end of the trial, the reading ability of more than 1000 children in Simbu and Madang provinces was significantly higher than other elementary school children. Minister (Development Cooperation) at the Australian High Commission, Stuart Schaefer, said the trial provided strong evidence to help Papua New Guinea to tackle illiteracy. “Poor literacy ruins lives and leads to poverty.

Ipatas’ mobile warning

The National, 19th of February, 2014

ENGA Governor Peter Ipatas has been urged to ban the use of mobile phones by students in the province.
Waipu villager Larsen Kekae Poporau in Wabag said by phone that many students in primary and secondary schools had easy access to mobile phones, which contributed to their poor academic performance.
He said students spent most of their time on Facebook and other social media sites instead of studying.
“Young girls are lured by money for sex,” he said.
“Students are using Facebook to have relationships that eventually lead to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancies.
“The use of alcohol, home-brew and marijuana has increased because the Facebook users in the  name of fame and glory would pose with these illicit substances to show off to their peers.
“The use of phones in schools has badly affected education.”
Village youth Yapokon Timothy Lus said he had seen children from a nearby primary and secondary school viewing pornographic videos and pictures on mobile phones.
“I see some students from my village viewing pornographic videos and pictures.

Violence rise prompt awareness

Post Courier 18 February 2014

THE increase in cases of family and sexual violence in Papua New Guinea have prompted more awareness to be conducted within communities beginning at the family unit. One of this organisations is the family and sexual violence action committee (FSVAC), which spearheaded a campaign starting last Friday to address these issues on family and sexual violence. The theme of the campaign was one billion rising for justice. It was launched in a small but significant ceremony held at the Jack Pidik Park at Five Mile in the nation’s capital with a slow turn up of people even though important issues were addressed.

A strong advocate of women’s rights, Susan Setae, said the campaign’s objective is for men, women and young people to rise up and fight for justice, seek for justice and for justice to prevail in all the family and sexual cases. Mrs Setae said PNG men are amongst the violent and aggressive in the world and she urged men to change their behavior. “One billion rising is changing the mindset of how we think and do things to stop violence in our society and communities,” she said. “PNG men are intelligent people, well built and handsome, and why should you be considered to be as people who are violent, who always fight women and abuse them as well.”

New law to ban guns

The National, February 17th, 2014

CABINET will propose a new legislation to ban guns in the country except for use by officers involved with security.
It is one of the recommendations in a report instituted by former police minister and current Goroka MP Bire Kimisopa which was tabled in Parliament in 2011.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told Parliament last Friday that it was  recommended that there should be control over the issuing of gun licenses in the country.
“My aim is that nobody should own guns in this country,” he said.
“We are not at war with anybody. 
“Why should we be allowing individuals to carry firearms around the country?
“We need to have confidence in ourselves that we are able to maintain peace and good order in our communities.”
O’Neill said the legislation would ban police officers from carrying high-powered guns in public as it was unnecessary. 
He said it would restrict guns to senior police officers only.

PNG class warfare: the predatory elite & its ‘willing’ prey

Martyn Namorong

I USED to have the opinion that Papua New Guinea’s middle class offered a solution to the growing gulf between the haves and have nots in PNG. Lately that view has been changing. Despite the activism of some, and many Facebook conversations, only a handful of people meet together and take action on issues. Are we seeing the rise of the predatory elite and people/prey who do not seem to mind being exploited? … One sees these workers in Port Moresby for instance, looking dusty, worn out and exploited yet turning up to work only because it gives them status in their community. A lot of these poor workers are also poorly educated or illiterate. There are many workers in PNG who do not earn a living wage and, as such, cannot be said to be working to sustain livelihoods so much as maintaining egos. For them, getting a job has more to do with status than survival because their pay alone couldn’t possibly sustain them. Contrasted with this exploited class of people are PNG’s predatory elite and their equally predatory offspring, growing obese on the fat of other people’s natural resources. Papua New Guinea’s predatory elite does not have a social conscience. But, to be fair, neither do a lot of other ordinary Papua New Guineans. For many people, social conscience does not extend beyond one’s own social circle.

Concern over illegal mining in Pogera

Post Courier February 21 2014

A member of Parliament has called on Barrick Gold, the miner of world class gold mine in the Enga province to stop illegal mining and associated deaths and injuries. Laigam Porgera MP Nixon Mangape said many lives have been lost and the injuries sustained by illegal miners are a result of ignorance and lack of action by the developer to take appropriate action like the resettlement process. He said illegal mining is a concern for all stakeholders including the state and the developer while many lives have been lost as they fell into mine pits or have been hit by rolling stones but nothing much has been done to address it. Mangape said the best solution to addressing illegal mining is for the company to implement the URS consultant permanent resettlement report. He said as per the 1989 agreement, any landowners living within the special mining lease areas were to be permanently resettled elsewhere but to date no attempt has been made by Barrick to resettle the landowners from the SML areas. He said the URS report is a comprehensive report done after consultative with 24 landowner agents and was presented to Barrick. He said Barrick should immediately implement the report by carrying out a permanent resettlement exercise and recommended other options. He said the other solution to minimise the illegal activity is for the developer to make accommodation available for local employees like all national and expatriates employees. He said illegal miners are relatives of employees side living with them within the SML areas and the surrounding areas. ”Every employees, from the cleaner to the General Manager should be housed at the camp site by the company as they are employees of a world class gold mine and not plantation working as labours. If employees are accommodated on site then no relatives around the SML areas that would resort to illegal mining,” he said. Mr Mangape further called on Barrick to set up entry and exit points mend by security guards.

40,000 homes for POM

The National, February 21st, 2014

THE National Housing Corporation will build 40,000 new homes in Port Moresby to address the massive housing problem in the city, managing director John Dege says.
Dege told reporters.
“(The National) Housing Corporation, through its own internal survey, has confirmed that there is a huge shortage of housing, not only in Port Moresby but elsewhere in the country. The findings of the 2013 BHC and Hay Group Paynet Remuneration Survey on the housing shortage were presented to members of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry this week by Concept Group managing director Brendan Coombs.
Coombs said the survey found that more than 50% of the 70 organisations questioned provided a housing allowance to their employees, 28% rented or provided accommodation, 14% provided nothing and 7% (including Government) offered home ownership.
Dege said yesterday the Government had been able to secure two urban development leases at Durand Farm, outside Port Moresby, and at the back of the National Research Institute in Waigani.

Where are the millions?

Solomon Star 18 February 2014

Dear Editor – I was brought up as child in the 70’s in the rural area. There are three things which I first sensed during those childhood days which serviced me and is still servicing the people today. They are a clinic, water supply and a school. These are very important infrastructure I don’t know who actually built and installed in the village. For sure during those times our members of the legislative Assembly or council were not educated and do not have funds like our current MP’s. For sure, NPF was an idea initiated by a very less educated member, so as Solomon Taiyo, CDC now known as GPPOL plus the roads and other infrastructures we are enjoying today. Those though not educated, they had the passion for this country. They wanted to see people having access to better services.

Today, it is rare to said that this mini hospital, wharf community high school or air strip is built by the MP for the constituency with the millions of dollars in his pocket. Funds have flatted the MPs that they don’t know what to do in their constituencies and so start buying rice, noodles, sugar etc for the people with public funds. No wonder, MPs houses always filled with their supporters as this is their source for free hand outs. Our past leaders though not educated, they have the wisdom. With the very little money they got in the budget, they always ensure that the people benefited. Today, we don’t know, may be after they lost the election and start building their palaces we will then see the usage of the millions – our money.

John Aonima 

Let’s Fight Corruption in Solomon Islands

Solomon Star 11 February 2014

FORMER Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Monday said its time to fight corruption in the country.

It’s a problem which is causing a lot of problem in the country and slows down development from taking place. It was also described as a cancer to the development of the society, eating away the resources of the country through dirty dealings and bad decisions. …This nation had suffered enough from the hands of some of our leaders who failed to see the need to serve the country but rather their own pocket. Some of their decisions and actions have resulted in development failing to happen. …The country has received so much funds which should have developed this country, but the actions of some of our leaders have remained an obstacle…. The fight against corruption should be the responsible of each and everyone of us today for the good of our nation in the years ahead.

Red Cross promotes proper policing methods for riot police

Post Courier, February 25 2014

The International Committee of the Red Cross is conducting a three day workshop for members of the Police Mobile squads aimed at promoting proper policing methods in Papua New Guinea. Selected NCOs from McGregor Police Barracks are attending the seminar which will primarily focus on proper methods of policing in the areas of arrest, detention, search and seizures. At the officially opening today at Police Commissioner Toami Kulunga said the public were afraid of the police because some members of the Constabulary abused their powers by violating the rights of citizens. Commissioner Kulunga said PNG was poorly rated by international observers because of such incidences and therefore police personnel should participate in such workshops to enable them to change their behaviours. The Commissioner said the initiative by the ICRC was a step in the right direction and will hopefully pave the way for police to readopt and practice correct methodologies of policing when arresting a suspect, detaining a person, searching a person or seizing firearms or contraband from people who come in conflict with the law.

Sellers clean streets

The National, February 25th, 2014

YOUTHS doing their sales at the Mt Hagen City main market bus stop turned out in numbers last Friday to clean up the area and patch potholes there.
They used their own money to hire a dump truck to collect rubbish that has been piling up for more than three weeks.
The youths bought gravel to patch potholes at the  main bus stops.
They said they had been doing their sales regularly at the main bus stop and decided to clean the place. 
Spokesperson Honi Mafo said because they normally did their sales at the main bus stop they decide to clean it up because no one was going to do it for them.
“We have contributed from our own pockets to clean this place here. On many occasions our sales have been destroyed by police and city authorities but we are doing this to show the authorities that we are playing our part to keep the city clean and safe,” he said.
“We have decided to educate the public on how to keep the place clean and look after their rubbish.”

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2014

Leniata laid to rest

The National, January 13th, 2014

KEPARI Leniata’s remains were finally put to rest last Thursday after almost a year since she was accused of witchcraft and burnt alive. Hagen youths from the Warakum AOG Church dug Leniata’s grave last week and buried Leniata’s remains in a donated plot by the Rabiamul Parish Catholic Cemetary. Youth With A Mission members from Kalina Base prepared what was left of the young mother in a coffin they bought with their own money before her final burial on Thursday evening. Eleven months ago Leniata’s brutal murder caused alarm across the nation and internationally and a series of movements, all targeted towards violence against women, were formed.  Founder of the “Remember Kepari Leniata Campaign” Philimona Kelegai said all the publicity, marching, and crying out for justice would have been in vain if Kepari was not given the dignity of a proper send-off. On Feb 6 last year, Leniata, a 20-year-old, was stripped naked, tortured and mutilated before being doused in kerosene and burnt alive. Leniata left behind a husband, a son and a daughter. They were at her funeral.

Forum to address witchcraft killings

The National, January 6th, 2014

A WORKSHOP to address witchcraft and sorcery-related violence held recently in Goroka has suggested ways to address the problem. Sorcerers and survivors of sorcery and witchcraft were among stakeholders who discussed how to develop a national multi-sectoral response to the high rate of sorcery and witchcraft-related accusations and killings. The workshop was organised by the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council. Participants focused on mapping the cultural landscape and how sorcery was embedded in cultural beliefs and practices. They discussed the legal landscape, especially laws which could deal with sorcery and witchcraft-related killings plus local intervention on the violence spectrum in society. Government officials looked at how the law and justice sector and health agencies dealt with perpetrators, victims of sorcery and witchcraft. A council spokesman said the workshop wanted to address sorcery and witchcraft-violence which were embedded in traditional belief and indigenous to parts of Papua New Guinea.
But he said the violence seen today was a modern phenomenon.

Inappropriateness of the Death Penalty

PNG Blogs, Tuesday, January 7, 2014, by Komai Apulin

Judging by some of his more recent comments it is certain the AG wants to implement the death penalty. He wants to execute the prisoners currently on death row. Of course the death penalty is legal so he is free to do that but no amount of justification will hide the fact that the 2012 amendments stand out as ill advised options to government for managing violent crimes and the social agenda in PNG. The government was forced to legislate hastily, knee jerk reaction style, to calls for action on violent crimes, especially against women and vulnerable persons.

The truth is that the calls for something to be done about violent crimes in PNG underscores the State’s inability and impotency to deal with law and order issues. These calls continue to be the clarion call for proactive initiative on the root causes of crime. Instead of crafting viable strategies to address the underlying causes for lawlessness the government was advised to extend the application of the death penalty. DJAG advised the government on the soft option without considering alternatives. Scoping alternatives is DJAG’s responsibility. DJAG is the State’s overall oversight entity and it has the duty to give the government quality advice on best practices; including compliance guidelines, way forward options on crime management, preventing theft of public money and eradicating endemic corruption. It truly is a shame that DJAG is not putting any better alternatives on the table. Like many right minded people in PNG I disapprove of the death penalty for any type of crime. I am not going to take the high moral ground here, that’s for saints. Like most reasonably informed people I have a good take on what is and what is not effective deterrence. I am not convinced that the death penalty is better deterrence than a life sentence without parole or remission. …

Death row 13 face execution

The National,  January 27th, 2014

THE executions of the 13 people on death row are to begin this year, an official says. Constitutional Law Reform Commission secretary Dr Eric Kwa said the Government had decided the death penalty would be implemented this year. The two things left now are: What method of execution to be used, and, An appropriate facility to be built where the executions are to take place. Kwa said eight of the 13 people on death row were sentenced for piracy-related crimes and five for wilful murder. He said Cabinet had received recommendations last October from a team, including him, that visited some countries where the death penalty was carried out to see how they went about it. “Parliament agreed that Cabinet will decide from the five recommended: Electrocution, lethal injection with the deprivation of oxygen, lethal injection with anaesthetic, firing squad and hanging,” he said.

Death penalty coming like a thief

The National, January 29th, 2014

CATHOLIC Church representatives are concerned with the ensuing executions of those on death row, saying the death penalty will come like a thief in the night. Fr Giorgio Licini said the front page of The National on Monday reminded the public of the fact that the death penalty was coming and criminals on death row could start counting their last days.“They are unlikely to see another Christmas or New Year celebration,” he said. “Their mothers, wives and children better forget about them.” Licini referred to informal debates held last year that suggested the executioners would have to be hired from outside the country. “Executioners will have to be hired (hopefully at a reasonable price) from outside the country to avoid ensuing retaliation and possible tribal fights among PNG citizens,” he said. “It’s like years ago hiring foreign mercenaries to kill people in Bougainville. A lesson apparently not learned. “Will, in fact, relatives and wantoks of the criminals not hold the highest officials of the Department of Justice responsible for the execution of their relatives? Is it going to be Sepiks against Simbus once again?”

Baby milk runs out

The National, December 31st, 2013

WORKING mothers in Port Moresby who rely on formula milk for their babies are frustrated because it is out of stock in shops. 
City Pharmacy Ltd, one of the major distributors of the S26 formula milk, said it was awaiting the next shipment. The original S26 milk formula is recommended by doctors for babies whose mothers cannot breast-feed or are working. They allow their babies to have it during the day while they are at work. A CPL spokesman said the increase in the number of working mothers means the demand for the milk has risen. Even though CPL had a lot of outlets in the city, they were the first ones to run out of stock because the price was more affordable there, the spokesman said. He hoped that supply would be restored next month.

Some Churches back Zurenuoc

The National, December 31st, 2013

CHURCHES have rallied their support behind Speaker Theo Zurenuoc and his decision to remove traditional carvings from Parliament.  Church leaders met on Sunday at the Sione Kami Memorial Church in Port Moresby facilitated by the Papua New Guinea Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship graduate network. Reverend Joseph Walters of the Assemblies of God Church said it was a critical moment for Christians in the country and they should all support Zurenuoc in prayer. “We are on the brink of a national transformation and we should pray and fast to see this through,” Walters said. An officer from National Parliamentary Services explained that the decision to remove the totem pole was made by a House committee led by the Speaker. “The public is concerned that not enough consultation was made and public opinion sought,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Laigap-Porgera MP Mark Ipuia is opposed to the move. He claimed that he was the one who approved and awarded the designs. “The designs were made by architecture professors from the University of Technology in 1980,” he said. “I approved the designs and the K7 million payment for the designs.” He said the designs and artworks were his idea and not that of former leaders like Sir Michael Somare and Sir Julius Chan. “PNG has 700 languages and cultures and the designs and art works represent these,” he said. “They are not satanic. They are the pride of our people. “I’m appealing to the Speaker not to remove the designs and artworks. “Every country has its own culture and traditions – same as us and the artworks mean a lot to us,” Ipuia said.

Principal likens speaker to Bible character

The National, January 8th, 2014

A SCHOOL principal is supporting the decision by Speaker Theo Zurenuoc to remove traditional artefacts from parliament, likening him to the Biblical character Gideon. Joseph Geparo is the principal of Maximise Well Christian School whose students amended the Papua New Guinea national pledge by replacing the words “cultural heritage” with “Christian heritage”. He said the Christian faith in the country was at risk because some people who had embraced Christianity still clung to old beliefs and practices. He said Zurenuoc possessed the spirit of Gideon, who (in the Book of Judges) destroyed the altar of Baal when Israel was under siege. God raised young Gideon to deliver the people of Israel. Geparo said cleansing processes had been done by leaders in every nation and Zurenuoc had destroyed the curse on the nation. “The reason why PNG is rich but its people live in poverty is because its leaders are not sensitive to the powers and forces that are at work trying to destroy and rob this country of its riches.”

PNG ranked 5th highest smoking nation in 2012

Post Courier January 10, 2014

PAPUA New Guinea was ranked as having one of the highest rates of smoking in 2012.

The country ranks fifth with 51.4 per cent of the population classed as smokers. The highest is East Timor with 61.1 per cent, Indonesia with 57 per cent, Kiribati with 54.4 per cent, and Armenia with 51.7 per cent, according to American research.

The study measured data from 187 countries. “Where countries take strong action, tobacco use can be dramatically reduced,” said the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matthew Myers.

Centre helps street children

The National, January 2nd, 2014

STREET children are a common yet unnoticed group in Papua New Guinea, a priest says. “Do they depict a trend of poverty in the country and is the government seriously addressing poverty if there are risks or does the situation already exists,” Father Arnold Schmitt asked. The Lae City Street Daycare Centre is a Catholic-run institute that has fed, clothed and provided medication for street children  for eight years…. “More than 90% of children visiting the daycare centre come from non-functional or broken families. That is from families which either parent is dead or has eloped or divorced or either parent has just left, unable to contain the un-supporting living conditions, forsaking the children to a single parent. “The children are forced to live on the streets to contribute to the survival of his or her siblings, supporting the single parent.”

Mum quits brewing alcohol

The National, January 3rd, 2013

A 42-YEAR-old woman who has been brewing steam (homebrew) for the past three years surrendered to authorities on Tuesday along with a number of youths. Chimbu woman Thresa Tobias, a mother of four children, covered her face with charcoal as a sign of mourning and remorse for her actions and took a large home-brewing cylinder to the police. Police were at Mendari settlement at the request of the youths who wanted to surrender firearms, marijuana and homebrew-making equipment. “I apologise for my actions and wanted to do away with it),” Tobias said in Tok Pisin. “I am a mother who brews steam and gather children in my house.” She said she started producing steam because her husband was not working at that time and she was doing it to support her family. She said all her children were in school so she needed money to pay for their school fees, feed them and clothe them. “Mi save mekim K140 lo wan day taim mi salim steam (I make K140 a day when I sell steam),” she said. Tobias said a 500ml bottle of steam was sold for K10.

More women now drinking homebrew, smoking drugs

The National, Monday January 6th, 2014

MARIJUANA use and homebrew drinking by females are on the rise in Chimbu’s Kerowagi district, Highlands Women in Politics president Dere Cecilia Kimagl says. Kimagl said many people were turning to drugs and homebrew because police were slack. “From what I see, people are no longer afraid of the law like in the past,” she said. Kimagl, who is from Kerowagi, said people producing homebrew sold the pretty strong substance beside the road and the local market like any other produce from the garden. “Since New Year, I see many young girls and single mothers taking the illegal substance because they’ve seen the law-enforcing agent has done nothing to arrest people taking illegal substances,” she said. Kimagl said that was leading to many unwanted pregnancies, the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS and violence in the family.

Community leader criticises betel nut ban

The National, January 7th, 2014

UNEMPLOYED residents in Port Moresby will be the biggest losers from the betel nuts ban by the National Capital District Commission. James Ivarature, a community leader from Tokarara, Moresby North West, warned there was risk of starvation because the unemployed were deprived of earning money to sustain their livelihood. “The government will have 
its hands full with escalating law and order problems if these people are forced to abandon their trade and look for other alternatives,” he said.

Group attack logging camp

Solomon Star News, 08 January 2014

LATA police are after an Anglican priest who allegedly led a group of landowners on Vanikoro Island in Temotu to damage logging machineries on Boxing Day. Fr Patterson Nibeo reportedly led five other men to attack the logging camp 26 December 2013, which police say resulted in damages worth $1.1 million. Temotu Provincial Police Commander Alfred Uiga told the Solomon Star one person was already arrested, while others are still at large. “We will return to day to get the other suspects from the island,” Mr Uiga said. Temotu premier Fr Brown Beu said the alleged action of the landowners was unfortunate. He said Late police dispatched its officers to the island after they received reports of damages done to logging machineries. “On arrival at Vanikoro, the officers confirmed the report to be true and have identified an Anglican priest to be behind the attack. It’s understood the machineries were owned by an Asian logging company, Jaya Berjaya Ltd, engaged by the local licence holder Galigo Resource Company Ltd. The company landed with its machineries on the island in October last year, but was met with stiff opposition from other landowning groups. Although it set up camp, it was unable to do any logging because it has not met other requirements under the Forestry Act. The Commissioner of Forest has since suspended the company’s licence because of its failure to meet the requirements.

Service providers in Manus owed K2m

Post Courier 9 January

SERVICE providers rendering services for the asylum centre in Manus have not been paid by the Government for the past four months. A total of K2 million is yet to be paid to hoteliers and other small business operators for their services.They are now calling on the Government for an explanation for the long delay. The local businesses said the Police Department, Foreign Affairs and Immigration and other government agencies dealing directly with the issue of asylum were the ones that have not paid their bills dating back to October last year. They said nonpayment of bills over a long period of time was likely to force the business houses to apply for additional loans to alleviate the financial strain in providing accommodation, transport and meals for their clients. Though the much promised funding by both the Australian and PNG governments have promised financial benefits for local business houses in Manus, a very worrying trend has started to surface with non- payments of bills.

Inter-Solomon trade flourishes – & can be very profitable  9 January

ACROSS Bougainville retail outlets have many goods originating from a wholesaler in Choiseul Province of the Solomon Islands. Every day alcoholic beverages, food items and traditional cultural items are loaded on to Bougainvillean outboard motor boats crossing the short distance of the Solomon Sea to Bougainville. Bougainvilleans are also now increasingly heading for Gizo and Taro towns in the Northern Solomons for recreation and shopping on weekends and during the festive seasons. Boats used by the Pidia villagers to make their journey to Taro are mostly driven by 30-40 horsepower outboards. And, for Bougainvillean travellers, a PNG passport is not needed to cross the border since they have a history that originated from the islands now called Solomon. The Pidia boat skippers take some three to four hours to traverse between Kieta and Choiseul and they enjoy it, often remembering the days PNG was blockading Bougainville as a measure to punish and eradicate what it saw as militancy.

Where is Alois Jerewai’s SABL land grab report?

PNG exposed.  January 10, 2014

In September 2013 Prime Minister Peter O’Neill presented to Parliament the reports from two of the three Commissioners appointed to investigated the SABL land grab. The reports revealed a web of deceit, mismanagement and corruption surrounding the allocation of SABL leases to foreign companies which, in many cases, the companies are using as cover for illegal logging operations. But the reports presented to Parliament cover only 42 of the 75 leases referred to the Commission of Inquiry. The findings on the other 33 leases are contained in the report of Alois Jerewai which, 4 months later, has still not been released. Many of the leases investigated by Jerewai are in East and West New Britain, a stronghold of Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau. The Prime Minister, the Commission of Inquiry and Mr Jerewai are all failing the people of the PNG if they do not release the report.

Australian-led research to uncover voices of children

Post Courier January 14, 2014

Australian-led research to uncover voices of vulnerable children with disability in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. A team of Australian and Papua New Guinean researchers are embarking on an innovative study of children with disabilities in the Pacific, finding out what they think about the world, their daily experiences and what they would like to change. The project team, led by Deakin University and Save the Children, will develop and test a number of ‘tools’ like picture and sound libraries, which better enable children with disabilities to give their views. The tools will then be used to assist government agencies, NGOs and community based organisations in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and activities for children with disabilities and their families. The project is being undertaken in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, and is based on collaboration between the PNG Assembly of Disabled Persons, the Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association Vanuatu, Save the Children and Deakin University. Guna Yogomul, acting Country Director of Save the Children, said, “The project is innovative and provides the opportunity to interact directly with children with disabilities and their families to enable them to communicate and identify their own priorities and concerns.

To arrange an interview with Save the Children and Deakin University spokespeople, please call Olivia Zinzan on +61 (0) 416 355 851

PNG student reaches out to homeless children

Post Courier, January 15, 2014

IN a world where hungry children scour rubbish heaps for foods and orphans are cast out on to the streets, a PNG student in the Philippines is making a change. Hazel Navuru, a student at Fashion Institute of Design and Arts (FIDA) in Cebu City, expressed the essence of sharing and loving on New Year’s Day through giving out food and juice drinks to the street children around the city. “It is very sad to see homeless kids along the streets begging for food especially on a season when the whole world is happily celebrating,” Ms Navuru said. Hazel is one of 200 PNG students pursuing their university degrees in the Philippines through Paradise International Education Consultancy (PIEC), a Filipino-based education placement agency. Instead of spending on party celebrations, Hazel decided to celebrate the 1st day of the new year along the city roads giving out hamburgers and drinks to street kids. “It’s really priceless seeing the kids smile,” Ms Navuru said. Ms Navuru came to the Philippines to pursue fashion designing in May last year. She is now looking forward to finishing her course this April and to build her own fashion brand in PNG.

Numbers for victims

The National, January 15th, 2014

A DIRECTORY of emergency services available to those affected by family and sexual violence across PNG will be available for the first time this year, thanks to a group of determined students. Youth-led non-profit initiative Meri Toksave is aiming to address gender-based violence in PNG by overcoming the inaccessibility of emergency services contact information for those affected by family and sexual violence. Founder and director of Meri Toksave Ayesha Lutschini, 23, said the group had originated from a rights based campaign when they realised there was a massive gap in information when it came to emergency services. “We immediately adapted to the need when we realised nobody else had done this and it’s so critical, we decided we were going do it ourselves,” Lutschini said. “The directory is such a basic tool, it lists police numbers and it lists hospital numbers, their location and what services they provide. “It lists counselling, mental health services, sexual health services and legal support – all things someone suffering from family or sexual violence would need to know right then and there.”

The directory is also available online at

Rimbunan Hijau, the SABL puppeteer

PNG January 16, 2014

You wont be reading this in The National (The Daily Log), here is one of the key findings of the COI into SABL: ‘The most shocking instance abuse we have discovered is in relation to the practice of extracting logs under the pretext of genuine SABL activities.. We are convinced that some SABL project proponents are not genuine developers of agro-forestry projects. They appear not to be here for the long haul but only for as long as it takes to log out their subleases. They appear to use fancy agriculture development plans and project development agreements as red herring to obtain permits to log out huge tracts of forest lands. They mislead and deceive landowners with the assistance of corrupt government officials. They literally pay off assertive clan leaders and then use divide and rule tactics to obtain subleases. Genuinely motivated landowners desperate for development and basic services are easy prey for these people. Some landowners are deceived by promises of instant wealth. Still other landowners, those who are particularly incapable of working their SABLs themselves, are forced to opt for unacceptable and risky lease arrangements. With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders’… Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’.

UN attacks abuse

The National, January 20th, 2014

THE United Nations Children’s Fund has condemned the use of two girls as part of a compensation payment in Jiwaka. It has called on the Government to honour its obligations to children under the UN convention and relevant laws. UNICEF representative in PNG Baba Danbappa said it was one of the worst forms of violence against children, an outrageous violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children which was totally unacceptable. “We urge the Government to take action immediately,” Danbappa said. “All children have a right to grow up in an environment that ensures their protection.” PNG signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Children in 1993 and also ratified the international treaty. UNICEF said PNG made “this bold and public commitment in the eyes of the global community to ensure each of the 54 articles in the convention becomes a reality for children in PNG”. “A cornerstone of the CRC principles highlights the best interest of children and any practices that harm or deny children their right to protection, survival and development is a violation of this international commitment.”

Health centre closed after too many threats

The National, January 21st, 2014

A HEALTH centre run by the Catholic Church in East Sepik has been forced to close after its workers were threatened by nearby villagers. The Dagua Health Centre is one of the two church-run health facilities in the province. The workers were threatened by the warring villagers from Magopin and Smain. Sister-in-charge Magdalene Tremani said the health centre was ordered shut by the Catholic Health Service Secretary Sr Celine Yakasere early this month. It was after most of the staff had left the hospital in fear of their lives, leaving only a skeleton staff to look after emergency cases only. “Most staff left because people from both villages often stop our ambulance looking for their rivals and ordered us not to treat the injured and sick,” she said. “We are here to serve everyone. There should be no interference and restrictions imposed by aggrieved members of either village. “If someone from Smain is injured in the prolonged conflict, we will attend to him and it is the same for Magopin. We are service providers and will be fair to both sides.”

People want say in choice of teachers

The National,  January 21st, 2014

THE Western Highlands provincial education board and the Catholic education agency have been asked to seek the recommendation of  school boards and headmasters before teacher postings resume. That is because many teachers had character problems which affected teaching, a primary school board member from Dei electorate, in Western Highlands, said. He said many teachers from his school were addicted to drinking and gambling. “This is the type of teachers that we do not want in a school. “We want people who can perform and teach our children properly to become good citizens,” he said. He said in future all parties should have a say in teacher postings.

Manus people want forum with Aust govt

Post Courier, January 16, 2014

The Maus Manus Forum Development is urging Governor Charlie Benjamin to step aside and allow the people of Manus to raise their concerns directly with the Australian government. They are concerned about what will be discussed at the asylum seekers agreement meeting scheduled to take place in Manus today. The spokesman and secretary of the forum, Ben Pokarop, made the call yesterday. Mr Pokarop said there are pressing issues relating to the agreement that the Governor alone cannot be able to resolve with the Australian government. “As legitimate voters and the people of Manus Province, we have the right to freely express our democratic views in relation to the agreement,” Mr Pokarop said. “They want to petition the Governor and the Australian Government to amend the agreement to the terms and conditions of the people of Manus,” Mr Pokarop said.

21 PNG companies engaged in Manus

Post Courier,  January 22, 2014,

THE Australia Government says it has engaged 21 Papua New Guinea companies at the regional processing centre in Manus Province. According to its Immigration and Citizenship Department, the companies are earning in total K1 million per week. This information was provided in a fact sheet provided by the Australian Government and which stands correct as of January 10, 2014.

This information and business opportunities at the regional processing centre was relayed to the businessmen and women, and members of the Lae Chamber of Commerce by a team led by Ken Douglas, head of Offshore Detentions and Returns Task Group in the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Education standard tumbles

The National, January 22nd, 2014

THE education standard in East New Britain has dropped, according to an official. Deputy provincial administrator Edward Lamur said in Kerevat, Gazelle district, recently statistics showed that there was only one school in the province that scored above 70% during national examinations while the rest scored below that. Lamur said that indicated that stakeholders needed to do more to improve the standard of education in East New Britain. For Gazelle district, the focus last year was on raising standards in the education sector. This is likely to continue this year. District education officer Panuel Luana said English and Mathematics workshops were held in the district last year to raise the standard of education. He said the district decided that the best way for a child to understand English was through phonics and to learn basic fundamental mathematics.

Is changing the government a solution to corruption in PNG?


[An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism – worth reading the whole article – ed.]

IN the last couple of months, there have been deep sentiments for the change of government by political lobbyists and critics, especially in the social media. The underlying raison d’etre is discontent about some of the decisions made by the government. Among a number of decisions alleged to have involved corruption of some sort are the amendments to the Vote of No Confidence Act, the government takeover of the PNG Sustainable Development Program and Ok Tedi Mine, the asylum seekers deal with Australia and, more recently, the awarding of a medical kit supply contract to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals. …

Advocating for change in leadership is a typical Papua New Guinean way of reacting to unpopular policies and allegations of corruption by successive governments and there is nothing wrong with that. ….

Of course there are some good leaders but the system of governance is so flawed that it is like a cobweb that is firmly entrenched and will continue to snare and smear them no matter who becomes the prime minister. Reformation of the entire political culture from electioneering to the formation of government and subsequent active governance will need changes in attitudes to corruption. The biometric electioneering system, tightening of the loopholes in the political party integrity law and establishment of Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) are positive reforms. The full enforcement of these mechanisms and other like reforms will bring about tangible changes to corruption, not changing government.

State put on alert

The National,  January 24th, 2013

AN international organisation is calling on the Government to address police brutality and impunity, plus the continuing violence against women and children. Human Rights Watch highlighted in its annual report published on Tuesday the cases of police brutality in the country last year, including beatings, sexual assaults and fatal shootings, most of which had not been resolved satisfactorily. Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga had earlier said the cases would be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organisations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights and has existed for more than 30 years. It focuses international attention where human rights are violated and gives voice to the oppressed and holds oppressors accountable for their crimes.  The report noted that while some police officers had been arrested for the crimes, no one was convicted last year. “Physical and sexual abuse of detainees – including children – by police and parliamentary police units is widespread,” the report said. “Two years after the UN special rapporteur on torture issued a report on PNG, the government has failed to adequately respond to his recommendations addressing police abuse and impunity.”

The organisation’s director for Asia, Brad Adams said the Government must put a stop to police abuse and punish officers responsible. It highlighted an incident in the National Capital District last year in which police were reported to have slashed the ankles of 74 men with machetes after a street brawl in Port Moresby. The case is pending in court. The report focused on members of the Mobile Squad police units deployed to Manus to help with security issues at the detention centre. It said members of the squad allegedly beat a local man to death on the island. Five members of the squad were said to have been charged with murder but none were convicted last year.  The report said human rights conditions in PNG were poor. “PNG’s significant oil, gas, and gold reserves have continued to fuel strong economic growth, but improving living standards remains a challenge with consistently poor governance and endemic corruption,” it said.

Population at 7.8m

The National, January 24th, 2013

THE country’s population had increased to 7.3 million in 2011 from 5.2 million in 2000, the National Statistics Office says. But National Planning and Monitoring Minister Charles Abel said during the launching of the 2011 national population and housing census report in Port Moresby that the figure today could actually be higher – at 7.8 million.

Minister: Draft legislation on human trafficking

The National, January 24th, 2013

A CABINET minister says human trafficking will not be tolerated and has called on the Constitutional Law Reform Commission to consider drafting legislation against it. Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development, Loujaya Kouza said she would be taking up the issue of human and sex trafficking in order to eradicate it. Kouza, the Lae MP, said PNG did not have any legislation on human trafficking specifically and the Government should do something about it. “This is an opportune time to have the Constitutional Law Reform Commission look into sex trafficking laws in its most primitive form in our transitional societies and it’s most subtle.” She said it was happening at logging camps and in Lae and Port Moresby nightclubs.

Culture, faith can co-exist

The National,  January 24th, 2013

TRUE Papua New Guineans will deal fairly with matters of faith and culture, Dr Michael Mel says. Dr Mel is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Goroko and a member of the board of trustees and management of the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery. He was strongly against the removal of artistic representation of PNG’s cultural heritage in Parliament House. “To be true Papua New Guineans we must have both culture and faith,” Mel said. “We do not need to disintegrate one from the other.” Mel said the culture of PNG was its identity and should not be defeated by our Christian faith. “If you are from Hela or Madang, you feel there is a sense of belonging through your culture.” Mel said a PNG cultural art found in another country revealed PNG’s culture and not a particular ethnic group. He said people could not talk about being a Papua New Guinean without those cultural icons. “We need a space to show the identity of PNG.” The removal of the cultural artefacts in Parliament meant a space to show our identity and culture had been removed. He said facilities like the National Museum and Art Gallery should be replicated throughout the country to ensure a space for our culture which shows our identity.

Open Letter to the Minister For Education. Hon. James Marabe MP

PNG Blogs. Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[A few sentences included here.  The full text of several pages is worth reading. Ed.]

Dear Minister,

Since  the action taken by the Speaker to remove the work of Art that graced our Parliament, I have tried to rationalised his behaviour and that of a large number of our Population including members of parliament that support him and have come to the conclusion that his action is  grounded in the  real fear of the supernatural and it is a fear shared by a large part of our Populace and  reflects  the lack of a basic scientific understanding  of causes and effect that  influence the natural world we live in. It is the same fear that leads illiterate villagers to burn their womenfolk for belief in sorcery and leads to unnecessary tribal fights where sorcery is belief to be the cause of death.

I have listen to you articulate and speak in the past on major issues that confront our young Nation and would like to think that among the chaos that surround us today you will emerge as the rational voice of the future and that through your leadership PNG can address the rise of  religious bigotry and to uphold the secular nature of our constitution and more importantly for you to uphold the freedoms that today form a significant part of our constitution  including the Freedom of Religious worship.

I suspect that mainline mission agency schools in particular may be the weak link in a science based education for our children and implore you to request Bishops of mainline churches in particular to articulate a theology based on a coexistence of science and religion and to ensure that Children in their schools and Trainee teachers in particular in their teachers colleges are schooled in and  appreciate the coexistence of ethical Science on the one hand and matters religious based on faith on the other to avoid and put an end to religious bigotry in our country. Religious bigotry as you are aware is based on arrogance, dogma and ignorance built around  misguided absolute truth.

This view is held by many of our elected leaders today. It is not malicious and they mean well albeit misguided. History through the millennia has demonstrated again and again that the biggest destabilising force second only to the war on resources has been wars based on religious faith and dogma. Even today in villages around   PNG , Christian sects are fighting among themselves and dividing our communities on the issue on what day should be kept holy as Sabbath or the role of Mary in liturgy. Overseas the fight between the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland continues unabated while wars currently raging in Syria and Southern Sudan are religious in nature. More and more the role of secular leaders to negotiate peace and goodwill among disputing parties becomes the more easier if leaders are mindful of their roles and do not take sides is religious disputes over Dogma.

PNG must be look out for the religiously sly that have in recent time ingratiate themselves onto Politicians in the hope of enriching themselves by selling outdated dogmas to leaders such as the one that says leadership is divine and ordained by God and to expose them to this heresy . Many of these people have in recent times obtained land for religious purposes but are quick to convert  these track of land for personal gain.

Finally, there is another reason for the need to aggressive increase a science based education reform in our education system and that is the need to prime the country economically to drive the economy post the mineral and Oil and gas boom. I sincerely hope that as Minister for Finance and Education we can count on you to grab the horn of religious bigotry and put an end to this insidious cancer that if not addressed now will come back to haunt us.

Gabriel Ramoi

[Social concerns notes have been sent out for 3 years now.  The archive may be found at    Perhaps it is time now to develop further to other forms of education or advocacy at both national and “grass-roots” level?”  Ideas welcome.  Philip Gibbs SVD (ed) ]

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Social Concerns Notes – December 2013

Silence Sickness

PNG Blogs 26th Nov 2013

Recently on the Masalai Blog, former Prime Minister Mekere Morauta wrote a thought provoking article “No one is safe in PNG” (link:  Sir Mekere has noticed that nearly everyone in PNG has become afraid to speak out.  For example, a worker won’t speak out when they see the boss stealing because they’re afraid of losing their job or a promotion.  An LLG leader won’t say anything negative about the government because they fear they might be denied development funds to use in their electorate.  A wantok share their unhappiness about another wantok’s behaviour because they worry that their wantok will create problems for them. These fears and worries have created a Silence Sickness that has spread throughout PNG.  What’s going on?  Weren’t we taught in high school that speaking one’s opinion without fear or favour is a basic human right, guaranteed under the PNG constitution?   There should be praise and respect for those who exercise this right strongly and responsibly, not fear and payback.

Actually, the “afraid to speak out” tendency occurs world-wide.  It is strongest anywhere there is a small rural community composed of people living closely together with very few moving into or out of the community.  If you live in such a place, you learn early on that it’s better not to complain in public too strong or long about someone else’s behaviour.  They might take offence in a way that explodes into a dispute that disrupts the community.   Also let’s not forget that it’s usually against traditional law to disagree with the village leader once they make a final decision.   A few villagers won’t be intimidated by all this, but most will, including anyone who feels powerless. This doesn’t mean that village people don’t show dissent and disapproval.  They do.  But on an everyday basis, they make their thoughts known subtly.  Maybe they give disapproving looks, or they won’t turn up at village meetings called by those they disagree with.  If they do speak up, they’ll probably do it in a tok bokis way that gets the message across indirectly.

Many of PNG’s leaders and businessmen at all levels have grown to love the Silence Sickness.  They do what they can to keep Silence Sickness alive and well.  They support out of date defamation laws, threaten the media with lawsuits and threats of nationalisation, threaten internet service providers with censorship, and spread the word that there’s a heavy price to pay for anyone who speaks out too loudly or too effectively against what the corrupt are doing. …

In dictatorships, everyday people fear their leaders.  In a democracy, shouldn’t it be the other way around? [For the full article, see the reference to PNG blogs above]

Mission founder retires

The National, November 26th, 2013

MORE than 15,000 youths have passed through City Missions in Port Moresby and Lae over the past 20 years, mission founder Larry George says.
Speaking during a dinner in Lae last Saturday, George said as a bank manager in Sydney, Australia, 29 years ago, he had a call from the Lord in a church service to start a city mission in Papua New Guinea.
He said that call became a reality when he and few young men who used to follow him started its first operations in November 1993 in an old rented trade store on the site of the Koki headquarters. 
The centre grew from strength to strength and moved to Lae in 2004, where the name was changed from Port Moresby City Mission to City Mission PNG.
He said the centre had given hope to the underprivileged youths who persevered in the programmes run by the centre in literacy, gaining valuable life skills through vocational and agricultural training and finding permanent employment after going through the programmes.

Youths give time to clean disability home

The National, November 28th, 2013

YOUNG men from City Mission in Port Moresby offered their free time last weekend to clean the compound of Cheshire Homes in Hohola, National Capital District.
The mission looks after young men and provides them with skills and a better opportunity in life other than crime. It is run by the FourSquare Church and is supported by sponsors. 
The young men live at the Merigeda farm, outside Port Moresby.
They began the clean-up at Cheshire Homes at 8am last Saturday.
Teacher, Pastor Dennis Triche said the mission taught the boys how to become better persons after leaving the farm.
The mission caters for more than 200 boys who have been trained to be self-reliant and to forgo their bad habits.

The low mina, Dutch Disease and Agriculture as Antidote

PNG Blogs 2 December

As PNG stands poised in entering the exclusive club of Gas Exporting Nations in 2014 we are beginning to see early symptoms of the debilitating effect of Dutch Disease on the economy with farmers in Hela given  up on Producing local Food for daily consumption and opting instead to buy imported tinned  food in Trade stores  using the over K1 Billion of the so call seed capital made available to land owners to placate them into allowing the establishment of the  First LNG Project in PNG and now with the free fall of the Kina  directly linked  to the slowdown to the construction phase  of the LNG project as it nears completion compounded with an over anxious Treasurer keen on spending  ahead of the much anticipated receipt for the sale of its gas by running two deficit budget in a row.

The  antidote to the fall of the Kina and the Dutch disease  lies in revamping Agriculture for both the Export market and the domestic economy. Export of Agriculture products wins hard currency that helps push up the value of the Kina. There is a tendency to look at Agriculture export in terms of Oil palm and blaming Foreign Companies as dominating this sector and ruling out a role for ordinary  people  in participating in the Agriculture Export Trade and blaming the Government for the fall of the Kina and to look at artificial ways to prop up the Kina. This view is generated by educated Papua New Guineans working for a salary and who go through life trying to imitate and adopt Western and Australian Culture in particular without the hard work that goes with it. The most overt  of this imitated behaviour in the daily intake of alcohol at the Club after work.

Well the truth is that the ordinary majority of Paua New Guineans earn their lively hood through the sale of Agriculture products and they now make up the Bulk of people involved in the Agriculture Export trade. These are the people that win the hard currency for PNG through the sweat of their labour. There is however a growing  need for more to be done by the educated elite to get off their back side in supporting agriculture by  ensuring that all type of Agriculture commodities and food products in particular from PNG grown by ordinary Papua New Guineans living in villages are brought into towns and cities to feed the population in these centres and at the time same time to participate at  innovative ways of marketing these products to the world. …

House to undergo cleansing

Post Courier 5th December

The house committee of the National Parliament has embarked on a cleansing exercise in a bid to make a start on invoking God into the national transformation agenda. This came from the Speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenoc and during a dinner which was hosted by the Tertiary Student Christian Fellowship (TSCF) Graduates Network Incorporation. Mr Zurenoc said parliament must contribute its share to the realization of the PNG dream and it was his firm belief that this can only begin if the house is transformed. He said in light of this agenda that there is something of great concern which he has realized to be PNG’s greatest paradox. While PNG professed to be a Christian nation, its people continued to embrace its traditional beliefs and cultures also professing it to be the source of their origin and strength. “The question is who really are we? Our identity is brought into question and that is the first hurdle we must overcome.We must invoke God to intervene in our nation building project. “Parliament through its house committee has decided we must make a statement to denounce the contradictory confession, because as believers or Christians we know that only God is our Lord. The speaker said in this sense he has already ordered for parliament to be cleansed of ungodly images, it has been invested with. He said he had already had the lintels removed and more work to be in progress to pull down more all ungodly images and idols in parliament. Mr Zurenuoc added that he was already experiencing attacks and had urged all to also to pray. “This week we will continue, work is in progress to pull down more ungodly images and idols in parliament. There must be no traces of elements of cult and demonic worship in the national parliament of PNG. Mr Zurenoc said it was his firm belief that PNG as a nation and the government must acknowledge the Jewish people as God’s people adding he also to be encouraged by the government’s move to strengthen ties with Israel. He said once the nation turns to God and makes those fundamental adjustments, it must then harness the power of citizenry unity, united on one single faith, that being its Christian faith.

Church condemns Speaker’s moves

Post Courier 10th December

The clean up exercise by Parliament Speaker Theo Zurenuoc to remove “ungodly images and idols” from the House of Parliament has been condemned by religious leaders. The Catholic Bishops Con-ference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands is disappointed with the move by the Speaker that has already seen the removal of the traditionally-carved lintels above the public entrance into the Parliament’s public gallery. Conference General Secretary Fr Victor Roche is strongly against the opinion of the Speaker that the traditional carvings and decorations in Parliament are elements of cult and demonic practices and are unworthy of a Christian country.

“What’s happening to the Parliament building is really ridiculous if true that behind the move are fundamentalist Christians who cannot distinguish between the novelty of the Gospel and what of the past needs to be preserved and treasured at least for collective and historical memory,” said Fr Roche.

“These people seem to act regardless of the opinion of scholars and anthropologists.

Fr Roche is warning citizens to be aware of the rising religious fundamentalism which sprouts from a mix of arrogance, insecurity and ignorance. He emphasised that politicians should not court these movements but rather the mainstream churches. “Listen rather to traditional educated and well grounded pastors, priests and bishops of the mainstream churches. “They will criticise you from time to time. But they will do it for the good of the country. And your good!”

Free health starts Feb 24

The National, December 9th, 2013

PAPUA New Guineans will receive free healthcare when the Government’s new policy comes into effect on Feb 24.
Health Minister Michael Malabag officially declared the implementation of the Free Primary Health Care and Subsidised Specialist Services Policy in Port Moresby last Friday.
The implementation of the policy comes in two phases in the following areas; Phase one involves the implementation at levels 1, 2, 3 and 4, which are rural health facilities (aid post, sub health centre, health centre, community health post) run by churches and the Government, and,        Phase two involves the implementation of the policy at the public or provincial hospitals, which are level 5 to 7 health facilities, including provincial hospitals and referral hospitals.

“Hospitals will continue to charge user fees, however the level of fees charged have been either reduced or removed,” Malabag said.
“Fees for some services have been reduced by 50%, while fees for services that are complex and expensive in nature will marginally be reduced.”
Malabag said those amendments were additional to the exemption category under the Public Hospital Charges Regulation.
The government has allocated K20 million towards the implementation of the policy of which;     K6.1 million will go to the provinces for the government run health facilities, and, K13.9 million to the Health Department under Division 241, Hospital Management Services and is further broken down to K9 million for public hospitals and K4.9 million for Christian Health Services’ facilities.

Govt told to fund church institutions

The National, November 28th, 2013

THE Health Department will provide the 172 unregistered church-run health facilities in the country with funding assistance, Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said.  Kase said about 20% of the church-run institutions were not registered or recognised by the Government. 
Kase yesterday clarified with the Public Accounts Committee the number of church-run health facilities existing in the country. 
“A lot of the health infrastructures were put in by the churches themselves many years ago even before the government came into their aid.
“It is about time the government through the Treasury and National Planning departments support the church health services by putting provisions. 
“There are a number of facilities that need to be registered to be supported by the government.”
Christian Health Services director Joseph Sika said the 172 facilities were not recognised under government system but provided better services in rural communities. 
Sika said there were 713 facilities operating with 541 funded by the government and 172 yet to receive help.

Workshop helps men fight domestic violence

The National, December 9th, 2013

A GROUP has embarked on empowering men to become proactive agents of change and advocates against family violence.
It is the initiative of the AILA Consulting Ltd which holds a workshop once every month called “1,000 strong men against family violence”. 
Founder and facilitator of the workshop Eddie Aila said many workshops on violence were focused on women and not much on men.
The group is a behavioural change and organisational training constancy company which empowers men to fight family violence in PNG by assisting them to overcome their challenges.
The group held its third workshop at Gerehu stage one, National Capital District last weekend. Youth and men from the community shared their thoughts at the workshop.
He said men wanted to look after their families but environmental factors caused them to have negative thoughts which, left unattended, turned into violence. 
“That is why we need to help the men because if we don’t, then men would still be doing these same things,” he said. 
“I was once a person who was involved in family violence but I have changed because I learnt those tools and am using them to teach others.”
Participant Fidelis Koma said the workshop had instilled in him values and he would try to use them to oppose family violence.

Manam resettlement delay upsets locals

Post Courier 12 December

LOCALS in Madang have expressed grave disappointment over the actions of Bogia MP John Hickey who has stalled the progress of the government supported Manam resettlement project. Madang Provincial Administrator Bernard Lange said in an interview early this week that work in the district to progress the islanders’ resettlement has been delayed by the Bogia MP. Mr Lange said the instructions had been issued by Mr Hickey who had claimed he had been left in the dark by the Madang Provincial Government and administration on the progress of this project. When asked when work was likely to recommence, Mr Lange said he does not know but they were waiting on the MP and the Bogia district administration to tell them when to resume work. News of the project being stalled has not gone down well with several leaders from Andarum. Joe Viaken had yesterday after listening to reports had reportedly met with other community leaders and had decided to travel into town to express his concerns on behalf of his people whose land is to be used for this project. Mr Viaken said he understood tha the MP had stopped work because he was not being updated on the program but this was not a good excuse especially as this issue had been around for the last nine years and for the period the MP has been in office. He said this could be an indication of the MP resisting the program.

Mr Ururu said “There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Our people have overstayed their time in the care-centers. Its been nine years and the care-centers were to have been pulled down six months after the eruptions in 2004,” he said. “We have breeched all laws, treaties and declarations which PNG is a signatory to concerning human rights.”

Widow looks after 28 children

The National, December 13th, 2013

WIDOWED Lucy George is looking after 28 children – and they are not her own.
In fact for the past 15 years, she has been caring for numerous homeless children in Port Moresby by providing them shelter and food.
Most of the children had been displaced from their own families and through misfortune not of their own doing, are left to fend for themselves in the streets. Right now, she is caring for 28 children – the youngest is four and the oldest 18.
George took them on and looked after them as if they were her own. And she gets very little help from outside.
Friends and neighbours at Nine-Mile outside Port Moresby, where she lives, spoke of Lucy’s determination and willingness to provide the children with food, shelter and clothing. 
Thankfully this Christmas, Santa Claus has arrived in Port Moresby in the form of a group of corporate organisations who have donated food and goods to help George.
Newcrest Mining in Port Moresby first heard of George’s plight and alerted its friends, partners and local companies to join in the Christmas spirit of goodwill by donating what they could to provide Lucy and the children in her care something to enjoy in this special festive season.
Newcrest’s country manager Peter Aitsi said the response from local individuals and companies was overwhelming. 
 “We are pleased to lend our support to Lucy.  She is one of many silent heroes who have it in their hearts to give back to their communities without asking for anything in return,” he said.

Aussies deny Manus conditions akin to torture

The National, December 16th, 2013

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has denied allegations that conditions in an asylum-seeker camp in Papua New Guinea amounted to torture and insisted the off-shore processing regime would stay.
Amnesty International has described conditions at PNG’s Manus Island as “excessively cruel and prison-like”, with a report released last week saying some detainees were surviving in stifling heat on just half a litre of water a day. Morrison said the government would consider recommendations in good faith, but denied that conditions amounted to torture and said there was no restriction on the amount of water people received.
The Amnesty report said some aspects of detention on Manus, where some 1,000 people are being held, violated Australia’s obligation to treat all persons in detention humanely.
It said conditions in compounds were cramped and stifling hot, detainees were being denied sufficient water and medical help, and some had reported finding snakes in their room and flooding when it rained. The Amnesty report comes after the United Nations refugee agency last month reported that the Pacific island camps failed to meet international standards of treatment.
Morrison said while the government would seek improvements where they could be made, there would be no change to its policy of processing those arriving on unauthorised boats at the offshore camps.
“All I am saying is that the key recommendation from both the UNHCR and Amnesty report is that offshore processing should be abolished. 
“We are clearly not going to do that,” he said.
“This system of harsh conditions and humiliating treatment is a deliberate effort to pressure people to return to the desperate situations they have fled from,” said Amnesty International Australia’s Claire Mallinson.

What happens next in PNG’s land grab saga?

By Colin Filer on December 10, 2013

Five years have now passed since the alarm was first raised about the alienation of huge areas of customary land in Papua New Guinea through the grant of Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs). As if to commemorate this anniversary, the PNG government has finally released the reports of two of the three commissioners asked to investigate the SABL scandal in July 2011.

Unlike other reports tabled in parliament, copies were not made available to other MPs (or anyone else) until they appeared on the Commission of Inquiry website at the end of November, along with the brief statement that O’Neill had made when he did, or did not, table them. In that statement, O’Neill expressed his disappointment that the commissioners had ‘failed to work together as a team’, and then wondered how two of them could make the discovery that 38 out of 42 SABLs had been granted without genuine landowner consent and yet still recommend that ‘SABLs be continued’.

Numapo and Mirou did indeed recommend that most of the leases that they investigated should be revoked. Numapo’s additional recommendations outweighed those of his fellow commissioners by many pages, but they also contained a glaring contradiction. On page 4 of his report, Numapo makes the following statement:

‘We recommend that the current SABL setup be done away entirely. We have carefully considered the option of retaining the SABL setup as an optional method for availing customary land for national development. We have fully considered retaining the SABL setup with more stringent safety features. In the end our view is that the inherent risks associated with the option are unacceptable because we believe any reforms to the law or process may not satisfactorily remove the loop holes, inadequacies or permissive ambiguities that are being used to abuse the SABL process and hijack land use after SABLs are granted.’

But fast forward to page 255 and he seems to have changed his mind:

‘The SABL concept is good and we recommend that it be retained… [as] a national development and customary landowner empowerment mechanism.’

So the goose has laid a bunch of rotten eggs and should be killed, but no, it is essentially a good goose and will lay a better bunch of eggs if it is put through something that the Chief Commissioner eventually describes (on page 264) as a ‘Harmonization of Laws & Standardization of Practices exercise’.

There are essentially two points at issue here: What is to be done about the dodgy leases which have already been granted, and what is to be done to prevent the grant of more dodgy leases in future?

But what about the rotten eggs? While the Prime Minister seems to have castigated the commissioners for their timidity, there is no doubt about the strength of their recommendations on this score. At the same time, there is as yet no sign that the government is actually going to revoke all the dodgy leases. [See the url above for the full article]

See also film – See Trailer is at

TIPNG: Poor ranking reflects gravity of problem in public sector

The National, December 5th, 2013

THE country’s poor ranking in the world’s corruption perception index reflects the gravity of the problem in the public sector, Transparency International PNG says.
At the launching of the corruption perceptions index, TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens warned that the nation must seriously engage in “collective and intensive actions” to address corruption in the public sector.
He said it must involve citizens and parliamentarians. 
PNG is ranked 144th out of 177 countries – a score of 25 points out of 100. 
The corruption index shows that PNG has a highly corrupt public sector.  The most corruption-free countries are Denmark and New Zealand with scores of 91.
Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are the worst performers scoring just eight points each. 
 It said that public institutions needed to be more open about their work and officials must be more transparent in their decision-making because the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world. 
This is particularly in political parties, the police and the justice system.

Every cloud has a silver lining: Papua New Guinean understandings of corruption and anti-corruption

By Grant Walton on December 3, 2013

On Wednesday, 13 November, Transparency International PNG launched a report that outlines how Papua New Guineans understand corruption and anti-corruption efforts. The report, entitled Papua New Guinean Understandings of Corruption draws on findings from a household survey. Over 1,800 people participated in the study, with interviews conducted between 2010 and 2011 in nine out of the country’s 22 provincial divisions: Eastern Highlands, Milne Bay, Madang, National Capital District, New Ireland, Southern Highlands, West Sepik, East Sepik and Enga. The sample was representative of each of these provinces.

As one of the authors of the report, I presented the findings to a range of policy makers, including: The Australian High Commission, DFAT and the Australian Federal Police, as well as the PNG Ombudsman Commission, Taskforce Sweep, local NGOs, Churches and the private sector.

The findings of the study fill a gap in our knowledge about popular perceptions about corruption in PNG. While there has been much discussion about corruption in the country, little is known about what citizens think about it.

The report shows that most respondents defined corruption as a type of immoral behavior. Urban respondents were more likely to define corruption as ‘the abuse of public trust for private gain’ – a popular definition with anti-corruption organizations.

The questionnaire asked respondents to evaluate nine scenarios depicting different scales and types of corruption. For instance, one scenario involved a candidate bribing a voter with 50 Kina (about AU$ 20), another described a contractor bribing a public official. In turn, respondents were asked to rate the degree to which the scenarios were unacceptable, harmful and corrupt. Most rated the scenarios as unacceptable, but fewer believed they would cause harm or were corrupt.

This is despite almost half of all respondents reporting that they had personally found out about a case of corruption over the past two years. Of these respondents, 77% said that they were personally affected by corruption.

Those affected by corruption were unlikely to report it. Only one quarter said that they knew the process for reporting corruption. Reporting was also affected by community norms and prosecution rates. Three-quarters of respondents said that reporting corruption was affected by the inaction of others, and the fact that very few people are prosecuted for corruption in PNG.

All this sounds rather grim (and it is), but there is a silver lining. For a start, the survey finds that most people were concerned about corruption, and wanted it addressed. Almost 80% of respondents agreed that government corruption affects the provision of good schools, health facilities and roads. Three-quarters agreed that the government should prioritize the fight against corruption.

In addition, a high proportion (65%) of respondents agreed that PNG is completely democratic. And there was great trust expressed in the churches, with 70% agreeing that they are effective in keeping the government accountable. This finding suggests that the churches are well placed to play an increased role in helping to address corruption in PNG. In comparison, only 20 to 30% said the Parliament, Police or the Office of the Prime Minister effectively held government to account.

The report makes a number of recommendations for anti-corruption policy makers and activists. Recommendations are geared towards further engaging citizens in the fight against corruption. This includes encouraging citizens to hold government and political leaders to account. With 58% of respondents agreeing that politicians favor corruption, we think that such initiatives would be welcomed. [See url above for the full article]

See also:  Sometimes corruption makes sense: insights from research into Papua New Guinean understandings of corruption

By Grant Walton on December 4, 2013

Sir J bans logging in New Ireland

Post Courier 20th December

New Ireland governor Sir Julius Chan has banned all logging activities in his province in retaliation to the gross disregard for his people by logging companies operating in the province. An evidently disgruntled Sir J announced the outright ban on logging while speaking during the presentation of the K184 million 2014 provincial budget at the provincial assembly building on Wednesday. During his speech, the governor expressed disgust and frustration on behalf of his people towards the logging and mining companies that he alleged to have, in his own words “Been making billions of kina from the province through logging and mining activities and doing very little for the people who own and live around the work sites.”

Sir Julius brought to the assembly’s attention the fact that Newcrest alone had made a K2.7 billion profit from Lihir operations in 2011 and a K3 billion profit in 2012 and that off this sizable profit, very little was left to show for the people living around the province who still live a next to nomadic life.

“We are currently getting a lousy deal and I will not allow my people and the people of PNG as a whole to settle for less than what they deserve,” said governor Chan. He further stated that it was his government’s decision to disregard any new signings of MoAs until such a time that logging and mining companies come up with a fair method of sharing returns from these incredible profit making operations among the people of New Ireland. “All of this year, we have sat with the heads of these different companies renegotiating and all we are fed promises that eventually become lies,” said Sir J.

He said that as of his announcement on Wednesday, all logging operations are to stop and be disbanded and threatened that this would also happen to mining operations if this drastic measure is not heeded and a solution found with all haste.

Disabled children find voice

Post Courier 30th December

Papua New Guinean children with disability will be among the first from the Pacific to be given the opportunity for their voice to be heard. This will be under a project called Voices of Pacific Children with disability, of which Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have been chosen to be the two Pacific countries in focus for the research project.  Project leader and lecturer in Health Sciences at the Deakin University, Dr Kevin Murfitt told the Australian Broadcasting Commission in an interview that the project would target children with disability in the urban areas- Port Vila in Vanuatu and Port Moresby in PNG but would also have a rural aspect. He said in PNG, the research would start at Kainantu in Eastern Highlands Province enabling the researchers to do comparisons about the differences in terms of children with disability’s lives in rural, compared with urban locations.

Dr Murfitt said this project was quite important being the first of its kind in the Pacific and PNG and Vanuatu were chosen because of having very strong disabled persons organisations.

He said over 10 years, human rights for people living with disability in the world, and particularly in developing countries has been recognised. However, the voice of children with disability in the development of those human rights has been missing. This project will give the children a direct voice based around three key questions – What is important in your life and why? What are your hopes and dreams and why? And, what could be better in your life and why?

He said this could help tackle many issues that were closely linked with disability including lack of employment and poverty.

Australia withdraws $38m medical aid

Post Courier 30 December

AUSTRALIA’S attempts to stop Papua New Guinea from awarding a contract to a firm it does not trust in the distribution of the medicines to the health centres has taken a new twist. It has now been reported by media in Australia that Australia has withdrawn funding for a $38 million (about K92.7m) program that supplies medicine to PNG health centres, due to concerns about the way PNG has awarded contracts. Previously, Australia’s aid agency chose the supplier and distributor for the medicines, but this year that process was handled by PNG.

In June, the PNG government removed crucial quality-control criteria and later awarded the contract to local company linked to a Chinese supplier of sub-quality drugs. Doctors say the distribution of ineffective medicine in a country rife with TB, malaria, pneumonia and gastro will cost lives. Three years ago, a corruption scandal within Papua New Guinea’s health system left hospitals running out of drugs and prompted the PNG government to ask for Australia’s help in stocking health centres.

For two years, the International Dispensary Association (IDA) supplied medical kits to almost 3000 health facilities across the country. But Health Minister Michael Malabag when contacted yesterday said: “There is no funding to withdraw as the money and funding of this program will come from the Papua New Guinea Government and has been appropriated in the 2014 Budget.”

Dr Glen Mola, treasurer of the Medical Society of PNG, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the IDA did a good job getting the medicine to health clinics in remote parts of PNG. But the arrangement was always going to be temporary and this year the PNG government took responsibility for procuring the 2014 supply of medical kits. Australia agreed to keep funding the program, on the condition the tender process was transparent and the companies had certain accreditation, including an internationally-recognised standard ISO 9001. The accreditation ISO 9001 is an accreditation for Quality Management Systems which, in terms of a pharmaceutical’s, helps ensure the drugs are safe and effective. Six companies submitted tenders, but only two had the crucial ISO 9001 – International Dispensary Association and MissionPharma/City Pharmacy Limited. On June 6, an official at the Ministry for Health told a meeting of bidders that the ISO 9001 standard was no longer required. The company that won the tender – Borneo Pacific – does not have the ISO 9001 accreditation but they do have a history in Papua New Guinea. “Borneo Pacific are a company that have been in PNG for a couple of decades and they have a reputation. And many of us are very concerned because of past performance,” Dr Mola said. Borneo Pacific is the largest supplier of drugs from the North China Pharmaceutical Group. A survey of antibiotics in PNG in 2011, published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, found all four samples provided by North China Pharmaceutical Group were sub-standard, with one probably being a counterfeit drug. Borneo Pacific’s bid of $31 million (K71 million) was $9 million more than the bid from International Dispensary Association, which successfully delivered the kits for the past two years.

Archbishop Ribat Issues Xmas Message

Post Courier 27 December.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, Christmas is a time when we recall the Good News of Jesus and wish others joy and peace. While sharing those sentiments we recall with sadness that today in Bethlehem and for many people in the Middle East there is little joy or peace due to conflict and violence.  The conflict in the Middle East may seem distant from Papua New Guinea, but in fact Papua New Guinea is being drawn into disputes there through association with movements sometimes called “Christian Zionism.”

Christian Zionism promotes the belief that the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the capture of Jerusalem in 1967 were the miraculous fulfilment of God’s promises made to Abraham. The belief that Jews must occupy the whole of Palestine leads Christian Zionists to fund the return of Jews to Palestine, including the establishment of settlements in occupied territories by dispossessing Palestinians, some of whom are Christians. Their attempt to take over the whole of Palestine runs counter to those seeking Peace in the Middle East because the Christian Zionists are creating nearly impossible conditions for a two-state solution for the Middle East Peace Process. How God will honour his covenant with the Jews and how Christians and Jews will find a common destiny (Rom 11:25-27) remains a mystery. But it will not be achieved by denying the human rights of God’s other children.

Some Christian Zionists believe that the “in-gathering” of Jews in Israel is a precondition for the Second Coming of Jesus. Based on texts such as in Genesis 12:3, they hold that God promised to bless the man or nation that blesses the Chosen people (Israel). Christian Zionists have a good deal of influence in American politics today. There is also increasing influence in the Pacific and through some churches in PNG.

In 2007 Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister signed a document called “A New Covenant” The “New Covenant” is between the God of Israel, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and the People of Papua New Guinea. It is our understanding that when Grand Chief Somare signed the covenant he understood that he was restating what is already in the Preamble to the PNG Constitution, that PNG is a Christian country. However, since then some people have interpreted this covenant, not just with the God of Israel, but also with the State of Israel.  This is a misinterpretation.  It is fundamentally wrong to identify the contemporary State of Israel with the People of Israel of the Old Testament. Some groups go so far as to interpret the covenant signed by Chief Somare as opening the way for God’s blessings – understood with cargo-like overtones. It is also seen as a reason for the Covenant Day holiday, and for the “cleansing” of the House of Parliament.

There has been ambiguity in language and logic in recent discussion on Covenant and PNG. Few would have a problem with the recognition of the “God of Israel”.  But we cannot support the identification of Israel with the State of Israel, or the cargo-like implications from some quarters.  Surely we would all agree on the rejection of evil forces, but not all would agree on just how to recognise such forces or on the methods to reject them. Destruction of traditional images in Parliament has generated just the kind of conflict and division that Satan rejoices in!

In our view there are some very positive aspects to the current debate.  It provides an opportunity to restate the importance of religious and spiritual values in our country.  It also provides an opportunity to clarify the relationship between Christianity and Judaism, the relationship between Christianity and traditional religion – especially art that has a religious dimension.  It also gives us a chance to clarify the relationship between religion/church and state. …

There is no need of another covenant and no need of a public holiday to mark this. We already have Good Friday and Easter, the holidays of the new covenant. If the state wishes to recognize a religious holiday expressing the dedication of the people of PNG to God as revealed by Jesus Christ, then a two day holiday at Independence would be better: one for religious events and one for more secular events.

For full letter, see

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