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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Social Concerns Notes – November 2013

Youths arrested for stopping logging on conservation area

Post Courier 22 November 2013

Twelve youths from Bairaman in the Ralopal Concession area under the Sigete/Mukus Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) Project Site in East New Britain have been arrested and charged for allegedly threatening logging company workers. 
Police in Kokopo said the men were arrested and charged for threatening workers at a conservation land area in Pomio. The men had stopped the company from logging their conservation area and typical of village boys, they were carrying their bush knives during that time but did not harm anyone. 
According to village leader Jacob Samo, an open forum was held at the Palmalmal District Office to discuss the demarcation of a conservation area within the Ralopal and Pomata Concession areas. 
The meeting was attended by district and lands officers. The landowners at the meeting asked for another forum to be held at the village level to further discuss the issue and settle outstanding land disputes over the said land. 
However, Mr Samo alleged that before the village forum was conducted, the company entered the conservation area and the group of young men heard about it and went to check if the company was carrying out a survey only to find they had started logging operations at the conservation area. 
He said the landowners had formed ILGs and had come up with different land use plans in the conservation site which included sites for gardening, production/sawmill and conservation.

Temotu police ordered to Vanikoro to bring back loggers

Solomon Star, 29 October, 2013

A team comprising of the Temotu provincial police, the provincial government and forestry officers left Lata yesterday for Vanikoro in an attempt to get the loggers out of Vanikoro.

The action came following threats by the landowning groups to damage all the logging machineries owned by Malaysian logging company Jaya Berjaya which have landed in Vanikoro to kick off logging operations there.

Speaking to this paper from Lata yesterday, premier Beu said, “Since we haven’t yet received any directives from the Attorney General’s office yet, and Vanikoro locals are threatening to burn all logging machineries, I have given directive for the police and government officials to travel over there and bring back the Malaysian loggers to Lata. 

“My fear is that their presence and actions will continue to provoke local landowning tribes to cause dispute between each other.

“My office is well aware that the machineries are now on the ground and lots of damages have been done to the landing site, especially the marine eco-system and the mangrove areas”.

Premier Beu cannot hold his furious and further described the Malaysian as being deaf.
“I’m really disappointed with these Malaysians. They really are deaf, as if they have no ears to listen to the laws of this country that they have violated. 
“They are really stubborn! 
“They must be taken back here (Lata) so that we can settle the issue and have them sent back to Honiara and face the full force of justice for the defying our orders.”

A week ago, unlicensed Malaysian logging company Jaya Berjaya company landed in Lata, Temotu province with a barge loaded with logging machineries.

It was detained there and was turned back to Honiara. 
Instead of coming back to Honiara the loggers further defied the order and went over to Vanikoro, their proposed logging site.

Cop: Do not lure girls

The National, October 30th, 2013

POLICE have warned guest houses, lodges and clubs in Mt Hagen that lure females as “comfort girls” for their clients to stop the practice.
Provincial police commander Supt Martin Lakari said some of the owners had been luring young girls and divorced women into their premises for illicit activities.
He said such activities would boost the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.
Lakari said the females were mostly employed and allowed to stay around the premises to attract clients.
He said using these “comfort girls” to attract customers was wrong and was one way of spreading HIV/AIDS.
Police officers have been instructed to keep a lookout on these small guest houses, lodges and clubs during the busy festive season.
“If we see girls doing nothing inside, we will take the owners to the station for questioning,” he said.
Lakari said these business premises were being turned into brothels where men could easily get rooms, buy alcohol and have sex with the “comfort girls”.
He warned the women to avoid being used as “comfort girls” and return to their families.
“If police officers see the same old faces hanging around, we will arrest and charge them with loitering,” he said.

Rise in sorcery offences concern police

The National, October 30th, 2013

POLICE have charged a man in Northern with sorcery, saying the offence is on the rise in the province.
Amos Bidana, 60, of Gevoiya village, in the Afore local level government, was charged with one count of sorcery following the death of a man on Sept 21. His relatives had lodged a complaint  with police.
Provincial police commander, Chief Insp Jacob Singura said police had sufficient evidence to charge him.
“He will appear for mention in court this week,” Singura said.
“Sorcery-related deaths have increased in the province and I appeal to people to respect one another.”
Singura said the Afore LLG and Tamata LLG, in Sohe district, had a high number of sorcery-related deaths. “My police officers and I will go in person to Tamata LLG and do awareness on sorcery and general law and order problems,” Singura said.
He said people should be educated about changes in the law and penalties.

35,000 living with HIV

The National, October 30th, 2013

PNG has more than 35,000 HIV-AIDS cases of which half are aged between 15 and 19 years, National Care and Support Deputy Director Dr Moale Kariko says.
Moale was speaking at the Central provincial administration meeting with the National AIDS Council Secretariat on Monday. 
He said there was a need for an increase in political, community and youth engagement in the HIV/AIDS response. 
He said: “Politicians and community leaders have the mandate and public trust to act in the interest of humanity in communities. 
“Leaders bear a special responsibility as role models who will encourage others into action. 
“HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects children and young people as we see from the infection rates, killing their parents and damaging economic and development prospects. 
“The HIV/AIDS epidemic has worsened poverty, led to human rights abuses, threatens development gains and weakens national security and political stability. 
“We have seen from other countries the actions of politicians and leaders have had a positive impact on HIV/AIDS epidemic. We can do this by using facts and data to convince our communities, especially our young population that HIV is real, it’s present and is a danger to us.

Print Media controlled by those who Pay

PNG Blogs. Thursday, October 31, 2013  By Govr Gary Juffa MP

The two dailies are owned by foreign interest, foreign corporate interest to be specific. Papua New Guinea does not own a daily, one that is at least controlled by a Papua New Guinean, one that reports issues of interest to Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guineans. What is reported instead is merely what sells, what suits the interests of those who control these entities and that which does not in anyway conflict with the interests of the stakeholders that influence the output of these entities. Certainly the journalists are Papua New Guineans, but they are subject to the parameters defined by the powers that be that maintain control over what is allowed to run for print and public consumption. Many credible journalists leave after frustrating efforts to be true to their vocation. This is of no concern to the papers as there are many more where they came from.

I assert this because several examples of news of much significance to Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guineans are simply not being reported. Instead what we see is political drivel that is paid for about how well the economy is doing and the great things so called leaders are doing to advance this nation and the many corporate propaganda that is paid for perception development of consumers and political satisfaction. Reality is far from the truth. Decaying infrastructure in all stations and districts, rising levels of horrific and violent crimes, rampant corruption and rising cost of living are the every day realities for the average Papua New Guinean. Social indicators are at their worst and life is simply daily bitter debt-ridden struggle where bitterness abounds and the exploding population of Papua New Guinea constantly competes for increasingly fewer opportunities. The false perception that this economy recently ranked 6th fastest growing economy in the world, is benefitting Papua New Guinea is covertly being promoted by the print media who have become mere tools of foreign corporate (and sometimes foreign government) interest.

What needs to be reported is not these fast food crime news items that shocks and alarms people momentarily but in depth news items on issues that Papua New Guineans need to know about, issues that have the potential to have significant bearing on the future of Papua New Guineans. Issues such as the outflow of substantial capital because of our weak banking laws, the rampant corruption and how it is affecting development, the foreign owned cartels that control the various sectors such as communication, transport and commerce and how these powerful cartels are manipulating Government systems and even the Government and its politicians whether or not covertly or overtly, directly or indirectly, with or without their knowledge for their own gains and benefits, what sinister trade agreements can do to the economy and its people and the numerous threats to national security whereby the security forces of this nation have been seriously compromised and are now being controlled by foreign governments, where all sectors such as health, education, law and order, agriculture and commerce are increasingly controlled by foreign corporate and foreign government interest.

Such issues which are nothing short of a slow rape of a nation and its peoples’ mindset, a re-colonization effort of sorts that threatens the very future of the people of Papua New Guinea should be reported but is instead shelved and even suppressed

Doctors predict looming health crisis

Post Courier, 1 November, 2013.

THE Papua New Guinea Medical Society predicts a massive health crisis is at our doorsteps with most hospitals and health centres to be forced to close in the next few years due to no staff available. 
This will be so if the government does not inject huge money and resources in health worker training. 
The society points out that bringing in Filipino nurses or Cuban doctors will not solve the problem.
A letter to Post-Courier by the society’s president, Professor Nakapi Tefuarani, treasurer Professor Glen Mola and secretary Linda Tamsen, states serious implications that put the country’s health services in danger of closing.
The society pointed out that there is a serious shortage of health workers of all cadres, and the average age of nurses, midwives and community health workers is 45-50 years. This means that most of our nurses and CHWs will retire in the next few years leaving our health services with no staff. 
A 2008 human resource forum and 2011 World Bank report on human resources in PNG health sector described the situation as a health manpower emergency.
 “With all these reports and hype about the critical emergency of health worker manpower shortages, one would think that the government is putting extra money into health worker training. Not so,” the letter reads.
In the 2013 budgetary allocation for CHW, training went down from an insufficient K3.383 million to K2.148 million, a drop of 37 per cent. In PNG, CHW training is carried out by 13 church agency institutions. 
The society point out that the government is demanding that the school of medicine and health sciences train more doctors and health professionals, but is only prepared to contribute 10 per cent of the operational funds required. 
For more than 20 years the school has been left scrounging and begging donor partners for the other 90 per cent of the operational funds necessary to do the job of training doctors and health professionals for the country.

PNG Tops Cancer Chart

The National, 28 October, 2013

Papua New Guinea has one of the highest number of mouth and throat cases in the Pacific region, Health Minister Michael Malabag said. He said “Betel nut chewing has association with cancer of the mouth. Papua New Guinea has the highest incidence of mouth cancer in the world. And I am sure this is attributed to the wide and rampant use of betel nuts in all corners of PNG by young and old. Cancers, including cancer of the mouth, can be prevented if the practice of betel nut chewing is stopped.” The warning comes as Port Moresby prepares to totally ban betel nut sale and chewing. Malabag said men had the highest risk of developing mouth cancer. But women are quickly picking up on it because of the increase in the number of women chewing betel nuts and smoking. He warned that the health system did not have enough cancer treatment specialists and equipment. And practising suicidal habits such as betel nut chewing was avoidable. He said: “More than 90% of mouth cancer patients seen at the Port Moresby General Hospital oral surgery clinic are associated with betel nut chewing. Environmental hygiene is equally important as unhygienic conditions can stimulate disease outbreaks such as malaria. When drainages are blocked with betel nut skins, it creates stagnant water where mosquitoes breed easily.” Malabag said everyone can promote a healthy environment because PNG had adopted the healthy island concept. “People must be seen to be promoting healthy settings in their communities. It is of good health and hygiene that, from this day on, we all should consider making the right choice – stop chewing betel nut,” Malabag said.

Men need attention

The National, November 4th, 2013

 GREATER effort into addressing challenges men face to counter family violence in communities is required, an advocate says. 
Director of Aila Consulting Ltd (ACL) and behavioural change specialist Eddie Aila told a counselling seminar for men and boys yesterday that while the government and its partners were addressing women’s issues to combat family violence, greater efforts should be directed to men’s issues, including challenges they faced that were directly related to family violence. 
“ACL came up with this initiative because it noticed that a lot of investment and programmes were catering for women and women’s challenges on family violence. A lot of investment is put into programmes for women. But you can see that men are not being empowered. So from ACL’s point of view in terms of family violence, most times the men cause it, help is given to women and nothing is done for the men in terms of empowering and recognition,” he said. 
ACL  has been running seminars for men and boys in Port Moresby, with the objective of releasing inhibitions and understanding the inner self, learn how to influence and learn skills of patience, understanding and communication. 
He said ACL believed that the goal of ending family violence starts with empowering and recognising men.

Warning on false birth certificates

The National, November 6th, 2013

REGISTRAR-general Augustus Wagambio has warned members of the public against buying false birth certificates from unauthorised people.
“People are producing false birth certificates and selling it to the public,” Wagambio said.
“My signature has been falsified on those birth certificates and sold on the street which makes them illegal.”
Wagambio urged the people to follow proper procedures in getting genuine birth certificates from the registry.
Birth certificates can be obtained on request at Vulupindi Haus, Waigani, for K15 each. 
“Children below 18 and people living with disability will be given birth certificates without paying any fees,” Wagambio said.
“After buying the certificates, people can bring it down to the civil registry department office at Boroko for me to sign.”
 Wagambio has called on members of parliament to support the civil registry department in the registering of people in their electorates.
He said the department lacked manpower and funding.
“We have programmed everything and are waiting to carry out work but we are still waiting for government funding,” Wagambio said.
He said it was important to know the population of PNG because right now it was an estimated figure.

NRI: Corruption has taken root in society

Post Courier,  8 November, 2013

CORRUPTION has taken root in every society of the country and greater awareness about the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) bill is needed, a researcher says. 
Acting director of the National Research Institute Dr Charles Yala, speaking at a forum organised to raise awareness about the bill, described corruption as a termite.
“Termites are small creatures, but when they team up and concentrate on biting the same tree, they can make a giant tree eventually collapse,’’ he said.
He said the only way to treat termites was to prevent them from starting their nest at the first place.
“In other words, every little corruptive action counts in little things and this have become reality in PNG.
“Therefore, the ICAC bill should be focused on education first and foremost, before investigation, prosecution and imposing penalties,” Dr Yala said.
He said the ICAC should not be a witch-hunt organisation.
Under the leadership of the good governance program, the institute decided to organise the forum with the intent to keep public momentum and discussion on the draft ICAC bill.
Director of the Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker said there were number of limited capacity of resources in terms of human and financial resources in order for ICAC to be effective.
“We need the capacity to address this issue in PNG.
“In PNG, law and order is listed as the first and corruption the second that really needs be given more attention,” Mr Barker said.

Warning on loss of values

The National, November 8th, 2013

A CATHOLIC academic at Divine Word University, in Madang, has warned of the challenge the world will face with the loss of religious values.
Dr Catherine Nongkas, the faculty of education dean, told delegates at the Catholic Church General Assembly at DWU that people were developing a mentality in which God was effectively absent “wholly or partially from human life and awareness”.
She said secularisation was not only an external threat to believers but it had manifested for some time in the heart of the church herself.
“It profoundly distorts the Christian faith from within and consequently the lifestyle and daily behaviour of believers,” Nongkas said.
She said for Catholics, this year had been declared as the Year of Faith by Pope Benedict, and she encouraged the faithful to read and study the Catechism of the church to understand the teachings and to defend their faith. 
She called for a new evangelisation to help transport the faith in areas where it had diminished.
Nongkas encouraged participants in the general assembly to reflect, renew their faith, rediscover, deepen, intensify and revitalise their faith and put in into action.
“If we look at all individual parishes and dioceses, we are beginning to see that the number of people coming to church on a Sunday is decreasing. Have we started to do some research to find why this is happening,” she asked.
She said even at DWU when she first joined, the number of people coming to Sunday mass “so high that there were two masses”. She said however, this year the number of staff and students attending mass had declined.

Anglicare Litercy Working with UPNG and PAU Students

Anglicare 3&4 Quarter Newsletter, 07/10/2013

For the last 4 years, Social Works Strand students from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and Pacific Adventist University (PAU) students have come to do their practicum with Anglicare PNG Inc. From the adult literacy programs perspective, it has been an opportunity to have many of our young elite from both universities come to really understand the issue of illit-eracy among our youths and adults, and to realise how privileged they are to be educated. From the Pacific Adventist University, the Education Department offers a Survey Type Education Practicum (STEP) course for the Year Two Education and Year One Theology student’s which happens at the beginning of the Semester two each year. They attend a week long adult literacy teachers training and are then attached to Non-Governmental Organizations, Community and Church Based Organizations (CBOs) and government departments that provide literacy programs. This year Anglicare Literacy had the privilege of having seven students for STEP. The 7 students were really challenged at the number of illiterates and semi-illiterate students hunger to be educated and having both youths and adults within the same class.

City Mission fights against gender-based violence

The National, November 11th, 2013

BOYS at the City Mission Farm at Mirigeda, outside Port Moresby, are being taught to take the lead in the fight against gender-based violence.
City Mission chief executive Rev Ron Browne said gender-based violence could not be stopped with women after it happened.
“In light of what’s happening in this country with gender-based violence, our Haus Ruth deals with it but we realise that it’s not the answer,” he said.
“The answer is really out there on this rugby field (boys).
“The answer is teaching these boys what the Bible teaches in terms of a man and woman relationship, and how important a woman is to complete that young man.
“We teach these young men how to be men, how to be good husbands in the days ahead.
“That’s important to us and we’re doing it in a Biblical way, the way the Bible teaches us.
“I believe the long-term answer to gender-based violence in this country is not working with the women after it happens, it’s really working with the boys to get them to change so that they know better.
“That’s something we’re very passionate about.”

Official: Involve men

The National, November 12th, 2013

PAPUA New Guinea’s cultural barriers towards maternal and child care should be addressed to improve male involvement, a health official says. 
Maternity and raising children are seen as the sole responsibility of women, while husbands provide for food shelter and protection, Moses Bogandri from the health sector in East New Britain, said. This practice should be changed, he said.
Bogandri was speaking during the 2013 national conference hosted by the National Catholic Health and HIV services in conjunction with the Burnet Institute and funded by Global Fund last month in Port Moresby.
“Men should be involved more in maternal and child care because they are the main implementers in decision-making regarding finance and birth spacing,” Bogandri said.
“There is a need to better understand the benefits and harms for women, newborns and families associated with male involvement interventions in maternal and child health.”
Hospitals around the country are now encouraging the presence of men during labour to show them what women endure to help them make decisions’ regarding birth spacing.
This, however, in some hospitals are not practiced due to privacy issues.

PM shocked over true face of asylum deal

Post Courier, 15 November

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has expressed alarm that small Papua New Guineans are not benefiting from the Manus asylum processing centre deal. 
Mr O’Neill told Parliament that he will be writing to Foreign Minister and the Australian High Commission about the concerns raised by Manus MP Ronney Knight in Parliament yesterday claiming that the Manus people are not benefiting from the spin-off businesses.
“It is alarming to note that our Papua New Guinean businessmen and women are not given the opportunity to participate and that was the whole intention of setting up this centre in the first place.” Prime Minister O’Neill said in reply to question from Manus MP.
“The agreements are very clear and it’s a blatant abuse of trust. This kind of arrangements is unacceptable. That asylum centre is a permanent centre. The sooner the operators of the centre realise that they have to become part of the community, the easier it is going to become.
“This is not a one off thing; that is why they are building a permanent centre on the ground.
“I think its important that all our visitors and all the expatriate workforce must work closely with the community so they too can benefit from the spin-off businesses that are available.” He said there are a lot of good things happening though recently some bad things are starting to show on the ground.
He said guest houses and hotels have benefited from the demand until recently when a Singapore-based accommodation barge arrived and docked at Lombrum – charging K1,500 to K3,000 a night. Overnight the local hospital industry has depleted.
He said some local companies that have invested in machinery and transport now find that an Australian contractor has brought in several dump trucks and machinery – obviously to take advantage of the spin-offs. 
“What about the locals who are now burdened with bank loans to provide this service while a contractor organises accommodation at an inflated price?” Mr Knight asked
“I was also informed of a protest by local women, teachers and defence force personnel wives and daughters over harassment by drunk G4S security guards.
“Enough of boomerang aid and enough of taking advantage of the good nature of the Manus people. Can Australia keep to its commitment to help local business and hire local machines.”

Hospital staff morale drops

The National, November 15th, 2013

STAFF morale at the Port Moresby General Hospital is low after Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced that the hospital would be privatised.
A stop-work meeting is planned for today to discuss the planned privatisation under which staff, including nurses and doctors, would lose their public service jobs and be rehired under a private structure.
 O’Neill last month revealed that the hospital would be reestablished under a statutory authority by next year.

“If we meet with our members and they say strike, we will go on strike and ask the (health) minister and secretary to come and explain,” a senior health workers’ representative said.
“We were shocked when he (O’Neill) made the announcement,” he said.
“The most-important thing is service delivery for the rural people who come here.
“This general hospital belongs to the country.
“They have not said anything about how the University of Papua New Guinea will work with the hospital.
“We can’t just accept this, be forced out and come back and reapply.”

Since O’Neill’s visit, all hospital security guards have been laid off, and replaced by a private security firm Black Swan.
“They have replaced security guards and cooks,” the health workers’ representative said

Study: People do not know how to report corruption

The National, November 15th, 2013

A RECENT study has found that many Papua New Guineans are concerned about corruption and its impact but do not know how to report it.  
According to the ‘Papua New Guineans understandings of corruption’ report launched on Wednesday by TIPNG and consultant Dr Grant Walton of the Australian National University, 26% of people said they knew the process to report a case of corruption while the rest did not know or were unsure. 
The report showed that while corruption is embedded in all levels of societies, a good number of people did not know the process to report corruption. 
The survey was carried out in nine provinces in PNG where people were asked about corruption and its impacts on their lives and how they respond to it. 
Walton said: “When respondants evaluated scenarios depicting corruption, most said the scenarios were unacceptable but fewer said they would cause harm. This suggests people are concerned about corruption but many do not believe it directly impacts them.”

Dumping ground – 
Low quality imported poultry products a threat to local farmers

Post Courier, 19th November, 2013

PAPUA New Guinea has become a “dumping ground” for low quality poultry products which is threatening the livelihood of village farmers.
The imported products – mostly from Australia and New Zealand – are primarily of low quality, high fat and dark meat portions. They are mostly chicken wings, thighs, legs, cocktail and edible feet, according to the PNG Poultry Industry Association. 
“Much of this product is from culled breeders and spent layer hens – very old birds that are at the end of their economic life. These are basically products that cannot be sold in Australian supermarkets and food outlets,” the association secretary Keith Galgal said. “In essence, these products have no economic value to Australian producers.” 
Australian consumers prefer white meat portions, high protein, low fat chicken breast meat. 
“But for a PNG importer it is all profit,” said Mr Galgal.
“The ‘dumping’ of low quality poultry products is ruining village growers’ livelihoods (as they lose their jobs due to the reduced demand for PNG chicken) as PNG importers get rich ‘profiteering’ from this trade.”

“We know the cost of production of chicken in Australia is approximately AU$3.18 per kilogram (AU$0.50). 
“This cost is similar to the cost of production in PNG, therefore, this export price of AU$1.12 per kilogram is significantly below their cost of production. 
“Clearly a company cannot survive if they have to sell their products for less then they cost to produce.

Lifestyle diseases on the rise

Post Courier 19 November, 2013

PAPUA New Guinea’s economic boom is contributing to an increase in lifestyle diseases including diabetes, senior health officials have warned. 
Department of Health deputy secretary Dr Paison Dakulala warned that the failure to put in place mechanisms to address lifestyle diseases could have a “tsunami” effect on the country.
“If we are inactive, if we eat fast food like, big rooster and all the other food that contains sugar and salt and all of that – if we are not careful with that then what happens is that we are building for a tsunami that can come in and affect us so while we have our economic boom, we will also have that boom of a rise in non-communicable disease and diabetes would be at the highest level,” he told participants after they completed a walkathon.
Smoking, unhealthy diet, harmful alcohol use and lack of physical activity were the main risk factors in PNG that are contributing to the increase in diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. 
In fact, according to Dr Dakulala, PNG leads the Pacific Island states in smoking with 44 percent of the adult population and 43 percent of 13-25 year-olds smoking. 
A health survey also reveals that 98.9 percent of the PNG population ignore the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables.
“What do these figures imply to us? It shows that PNG has high risk factors of non-communicable diseases. In PNG he said the diabetes prevalence rate in PNG is estimated to be 5.44 percent which equates to about 5230 adults dying of diabetes annually.

Church-State partnerships get K25m

Post Courier, 20th November, 2013

Churches providing vital services in the country can expand on their service delivery for next year after K25 million from the national Budget was allocated for the Church-State partnership program.
At present, churches in the partnership program include Anglican, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Salvation Army, Lutheran, United and the Baptist church.
The allocated K25 million may come as a show of belief in what the partnership program can achieve and follows a pledge of support from the government made by National Planning and Monitoring Minister Charles Abel during the 2013 State-Church Partnership Program forum held in Port Moresby last month.
Mr Abel said during the forum that a strong partnership between churches and the government can result in effective service delivery.
Minister Abel said churches, being the second largest providers of basic services in the country apart from the government, have proven to be effective partners for nation building.
He had told the participants of the forum that the government may struggle to carry out service delivery effectively at times so partnering with churches can help achieve their common goals for the good of the people.
Mr Abel said, “If churches were providing services effectively, especially in health and education, then the only sensible thing would be for the government to give churches more support.”
He said the funds will be made available in the form of grants to the different churches through the Churches Development Council once all budgetary processes are done. 
Mr Abel said the amount of funding that each church will receive will be based on the number of health and education facilities that a particular church has that is effectively providing services within the communities.

Expert: More work involved in an e-ID project

The National, November 20th, 2013

THERE is a lot more work involved in the Electronic ID project than just collecting citizens’ bio-data and maintaining them electronically, a workshop has been told.
Darren Whitaker-Burnet from in New Zealand was addressing an Information and Communication Technology workshop in Port Moresby.
“The national bio-data system will  serve government agencies like the police and correctional service, the health and education departments and the PNG Electoral Commission, to name a few, who can use this system to carry out their work and deliver services to the people of Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“It is a multipurpose and cloud-based system we want to develop for Papua New Guinea. 
“It will be hosted by an appointed agency of Government in country.
“For example, the PNG Electoral Commission can use it to conduct e-voting in elections.
“Police can use it to monitor criminals using bio-metrics on smart phones.
“The health department can maintain patients’ records and the education department can maintain student and staff records.”
Whitaker-Burnet told public servants, representatives of civil society groups and the private sector that the E-ID project initiated by the Government should cost not more than K100 million to roll out.

The project must be concluded by 2016, one year before the 2017 national election.
The PNG Electoral Commission is planning to introduce E-Voting in the coming elections and is evaluating options to implement the project.

Kua: Govt will push for death penalty

Post Courier, 21st November, 2013

THE death penalty was confirmed to be the next big legislation that the Government aims to pass.
Attorney General Kerenga Kua confirmed this when answering a series of questions from Member for Lagaip-Porgera Nixon Mangape, highlighting rumours that have been circulating about the possible disaffirmation of the death penalty from its planned introduction. 
“I assure the people of PNG that we will not waiver from implementing the death penalty,” said the Attorney General. 
He said during the past few months a delegation has visited foreign countries such as the United States state of Texas, Thailand and Indonesia, where the death penalty is being enforced, to better understand the mechanics of the legislation and how to implement it.
“A full report has been compiled from these visits and I would like to ensure the people of PNG that we will be passing legislation for the extreme penalty’s usage soon.

Homebrew worry in Mendi

The National, November 21st, 2013

Homebrew production and consumption is widespread in Mendi town as a result of the alcohol ban in the province.
Lekson Posu, a youth leader from Mendi, said he was worried that the trend of drinking homebrew may lead to an unhealthy and problematic society.
“Youths are the ones that resort to these harmful substances, commonly known on the streets as “fire wara”. They are vulnerable to it and may pay the consequences of consuming it in health terms as well as they may lead to law and order situations going out of hand,” Posu said.
“The youths are our leaders of tomorrow and the relevant authorities in the province must step up and work together to eradicate the use and production of this illegal substance in the town and province as well.
“It is sold on the streets of Mendi town, market and even small villages located within the outskirts of the town.
“People are drinking it publicly in town and everywhere and this is not good.”
Provincial police commander for Southern Highlands Chief Insp Sibron Papoto confirmed homebrew was a problem and Posu’s story was real.

SB$20,000 Fine for Smokers

Solomon Times. 18 November 2013

Communters in Honiara will be subject to a crackdown of smoking in public transportation as police, health and public transport officials join forces. The joint initiative is aimed at protecting commuters from second-hand cigarette smoke.  Smoking has been banned at all public-transport under the Tobacco control Act since January this year.  Smoking was already prohibited on buses, taxis and passenger boats, as well as in any enclosed area where people catch public transport.  On the spot fines of SB$20,000 apply for anyone who fails to comply with the law.

Document paves way for family support centres

Post Courier, 22 November, 2013

A document to assist provincial health authorities and hospital boards to set up functional family support centres in hospitals was launched in Port Moresby on Wednesday evening.
The document contains guidelines on how to establish hospital based family support centres and describes the target population and their particular care and treatment needs. 
It also describes the services needed by those who have suffered, are suffering or are at risk of suffering family and sexual violence. 
The document lays out guidelines for how these needs can be met in a provincial hospital setting. It identifies some of the issues related to the ongoing operation and management of the centres that need to be considered in the set up phase.
These centres will have a comprehensive care package for survivors of this kind of violence. 
This includes early and ongoing psycho-social support through appropriate emergency counselling to help them deal with trauma. 
And it explains how survivors can access legal help if they choose to. According to the Deputy Secretary for Health, Dr Paison Dakulala, who launched the guidelines, there were 12 centres in operation but several have closed and only very few remain. 
The national co-ordinator for the Family Sexual Violence Action Committee, Ume Wainetti, said the meeting should develop a plan of action so survivors have access to medical, justice and protection services.

Statistics show increase in violence

Post Courier, 25 November, 2013

Very disturbing statistics show that Medecins Sans Frontieres has treated more then 18,000 individual survivors of violence against women, with emergency medical and psychosocial care in Lae, Tari and Port Moresby. 
Medecins Sans Frontiers reported that the total patients treated at Lae family support centre from December 2007 to June 2013 was 13,305. 
Other reports include treatment of child survivors of violence (2,800), direct death threats (5,350), abduction and confinement (557) and weapons used (5,458).
The United Nation reported that rates of family and sexual violence in the Papua New Guinea are among the world’s highest.
National program officer for the Family Sexual Violence Action Committee, Ume Waineti, said: “A lot of young girls going to school are raped on the way and they have babies. One of the villages we went to, every girl 14-17 had a child. And these children were conceived by school girls walking to school or coming home from school.”
In PNG, the rates of sexual violence are significantly high. In the 1980s, reports showed 66 per cent of husbands interviewed said they had beaten their wives while 67 per cent of women interviewed said they had been beaten. 
“Violence is common here, most of us experience this. But forced sex by our husbands, that is the harder thing to deal with. It is very common,” a Sepik woman who requested anonymity said.

 ‘I survived’
 Survivors of violence find hope

Post Courier 25 November, 2013

THE smile on the face of 60-year-old Mama Rasta said it all as she waved her prosthetic hand showing her new lease of life.
She survived a savage attack in the Jiwaka Province for alleged sorcery, following the death of a young man in 2003 but minus her arm. Early this month, Mama Rasta underwent an operation at the Kudjip Hospital, Jiwaka Province to have a prosthetic hand fitted on her arm.
“Everything is okay now but the ‘new hand’ is heavy but I know my continuous use of it will make it a normal part of my body. My family is happy that my ‘new hand’ is giving me a new lease of life. In fact other women with amputated arms are also coming forward and asking me on how to get one for them,” she told the Post-Courier from her Ariran village in the Jiwaka Province last night.
During the funeral for a young man 10 years ago attended by all the villagers, the crowd surrounded Rasta and began to beat her severely, strangling her with a rope and wielding axes, bush knives and wooden sticks. She managed to escape and ran into her house, where she was caught by one of the attackers who tried to cut off her head with a bush knife, but she managed to protect herself with her arm, which was chopped off. 
Ten years after the attack Mama Rasta underwent an operation at the Kudjip Hospital, Jiwaka Province to have a prosthetic hand fitted on her arm.

The images of Mama Rasta, and other Papua New Guinean women whose lives were turned upside down by gender violence have taken on an international dimension, courtesy of Russian documentary photographer Vlad Sokhin. 
His photo collection portrays harrowing images of ordinary Papua New Guinean women with broken lips and chopped off arms. But a smile after surgery and surrounded by family members who care about them shows that there is life after the beating and all the abuse.
When asked by the Post-Courier on what he hopes to achieve from his work, Mr Sokhin said: “My mission, my job is to expose what has happened and then people can try to do something about that and from what I see it is already happening”.

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Social Concerns Notes – October 2013

Law passed to protect family

The National, October 17th, 2013

THE Family Protection Bill was passed by Parliament to protect families and individuals from domestic and sexual violence, says a non-government organisation.
The Eastern Highlands Family Voice in Goroka has been addressing family and sexual violence issues by providing counselling, advocacy and awareness programmes. 
About 100 cases had been reported to the organisation between January and December 2012. 
The Goroka Base Hospital’s accident and emergency section reported about 800 cases of family and sexual violence from 2008 to 2011. 
The Eastern Highlands Human Rights Network Committee commended the government on the enactment of this new law. 
Chairman John Ericho said there was an increasing number of family and sexual violence cases reported to the Eastern Highlands Family Voice office and other service providers in Goroka.
He hoped that the new law would arrest, reduce and eventually rid of such cases.

Reconciliation in PNG Prison System

PNG Blogs, October 15, 2013 by Sonja Barry-Ramoi

The good news for the government and the private sector in Port Moresby is that Theo Yasause – as the Chairman of the Peace Committee at Bomana – recently helped organize a Peace Ceremony at the prison in which gifts were exchanged by inmates representing different regional factions – following ‘several fights’ over a number of years between inmates representing the Highlands and Southern region. The Parties to the Peace Agreement recognised ‘the need for a comprehensive settlement of peace to bring an end to the conflict that existed within the prison’ and affirmed their ‘commitment to agreed basic principles which calls for individuals to portray a spirit of brotherhood, loving kindness, and overall spirit of love and forgiveness as set out in the Word of God the Bible – as in love others as you love yourself’. Importantly, the inmates also gave ‘assurances to the management that there shall be no prison break-out and escape from the prison premises’ and the Correctional Services officers agreed ‘to conduct themselves ethically when dealing with prisoners’.

“You all must be thankful to be here and take the opportunity to reflect on your past life. You all must thank God to be in prison otherwise you would have been killed by the law enforcement agency”, Opposition Leader and self- made successful logging millionaire Belden Namah, who had served time in Bomana for sedition over his role in the Sandline Affair, reportedly told the inmates after he paid a belated surprise visit to Bomana on December 30th 2011 to celebrate his 42nd birthday during which he donated K25, 000 to the prison staff and K20, 000 to the prisoners.

Free health care policy not reliable

Post Courier,
 September 27

THE much-talked about free health care policy comes with uncertainties says one policy expert from the National Health Department.The policy will be launched by the Government next month.

Generally, there will be an increase demand by clientele;

* Affecting the moral performance of staff, supply and consumption of drugs and medical supplies;

* There will be exerted pressure on limited number of facilities, such as beds and equipment;

* Rural health facilities will revert to charging user fees if funds do not reach them;

* Quality services will be affected when funds are delayed;

* National referral system will be abused, such as patients will bypass Provincial health centre facilities to seek hospital based care;

* Large church run hospitals and health centres may be forced to adopt emergency measures such as shutting down facilities if operational grants from the government are inadequate in replacing the revenue.

OTML Uproar

The National, September 26th, 2013

LEADERS of mine villages and Community Mine Continuation Agreement communities in Western have rejected the Government’s takeover of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.
At a press conference in Port Moresby yesterday, the leaders warned they will take legal action against the State for the takeover, as well as for the massive environmental damage, given that it now has full ownership of the mine.
But last night, a spokesman for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill urged the “selected” CMCA leaders not to allow themselves to be misled by PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) or its agents.
Parliament last week approved the Government’s takeover of the mine.
The leaders, representing 162 villages in the mining area in North Fly, Middle Fly and South Fly, told journalists that the Government was only asking for trouble by expropriating the 63.4% shareholding in Ok Tedi held on their behalf by the PNGSDP.
“All 63.4% shares in OTML held by PNGSDP must be transferred immediately to the CMCA communities and mine villages so we become the major owner of the Ok Tedi mine,” spokesman Joel Dangkim said.

Men stand against violence

The National, September 26th, 2013

A GROUP of 30 male public servants are championing gender equality under a new programme tackling causes of violence against women. The men, from 19 government departments, volunteered to be part of the cause to eliminate violence against women by being role models. They signed a pledge recognising gender inequality as a root cause of violence against women. They promised to advocate for fair and equal rights for women and all people and will form a network to cooperate on changing behaviour.
The Personnel Management Department established a network of male advocates across the public service, funded by Australia through the economic and public sector programme.
Department secretary John Kali said men had an important role to play as strong and responsible advocates in helping to reduce violence against women. 
“It is time for men to take responsibility for sexual violence, financial and emotional abuse in the workplace and in homes and communities,” Kali said.

Bigger state control of assets won’t help PNG grow

Rowan Callick, The Australian, September 27, 2013

… Many believe corruption has been the main cause of the debilitating levels of more general crime, which in itself inhibits broader-based economic growth including job creation, beyond the resources sector. Standard & Poor’s sovereign ratings associate director Craig Michaels says that “because of the law and order problem [in PNG], resources is the only sector that attracts foreign investment”. Ultimately, O’Neill chiefly will be assessed, as he well appreciates, not by how cleanly he governs — though this of course does matter — but by whether living standards at last start to rise to meet people’s rightful expectations. If he can keep driving the economy at pace, then the benefits may start to flow more broadly at last. And this will bring the added benefit that members of the PNG elite may feel that if there’s enough in the pool for them, whether they have their hands on the political levers or not, they can work together, or at least, to cease their constant internecine struggles. To date, O’Neill has done well, setting up the country for a more determined drive towards faster and broader development, hopefully one that can deliver jobs at last. That’s what makes his move last week to nationalise Ok Tedi mine — without yet naming any compensation payment — the more puzzling….

Australian National University professor Stephen Howes, lists five risks resulting from the unprecedented nationalisation: to the operation of the mine under state control; to the credibility of the government, which has been planning a long-term sovereign wealth fund; to the use of Ok Tedi dividends; and to the SDP projects and its $1.5 billion long-term fund for the people of Western Province for when the mine closes. It would be odd, and unrepresentative of O’Neill’s own views and his undoubted qualities, if he were to become sidetracked into carving out a bigger role for the state, which has fouled up so much of its core responsibilities in PNG.

Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and World Bank Release Report on Local-Level Justice in Solomon Islands

HONIARA, 18 October 2013 –The Government of Solomon Islands and the World Bank has launched a major research report outlining the key causes and consequences of disputes  in rural communities and the experiences of citizens in managing their problems and seeking justice. The report, Justice Delivered Locally: Systems, Challenges and Innovations in Solomon Islands, outlines findings from extensive village-level research conducted across Guadalcanal, Isabel, Malaita, Renbel and Western provinces by a team of Solomon Islander and international researchers. It is the first time a study of this nature has been carried out in Solomon Islands and is intended to assist government and others working to improve local-level justice service delivery. The research shows that while there has been a gradual withdrawal of state justice services in rural Solomon Islands since independence, especially court services and policing, the state is still viewed as a legitimate and important player in justice service delivery. The overwhelming consensus of the over 3000 rural citizens involved in the research was that a more present and proactive state is essential.

* Research participants identified various common causes and consequences of disputes:

Social order problems related to substance abuse, in particular the drinking of alcohol and consumption of drugs, mainly marijuana. In some locations visited, the drinking of kwaso, homebrew or beer and the smoking of marijuana was seen to overshadow all other community problems and frequently lead to antisocial and criminal behaviour.

* Land-related disputes and arguments that arise from government, donor or NGO spending, most typically in the form of projects. These disputes often relate to who will benefit financially from proposed developments. The presence or otherwise of logging was seen to be the single most significant predictor of community cohesion and disharmony.

* Family and marital disputes, particularly adultery and domestic violence.

The report discusses the systems in place to address local problems – kastom, the church and the state. Where it is working, the kastom system – mainly through chiefs – is the most commonly used mechanism to address community arguments and problems, with churches also playing a significant role. However, the report describes the increasing difficulties that chiefs and local leaders are having in dealing with some issues, including substance abuse and land disputes. A key finding is that no one system, including the courts, is able to deal effectively with disputes arising from logging activities.  (12MB)

Murky Waters Run in Solomons Mining Boom

Stefan Armbruster | SBS

The Solomon Islands is at an economic cross roads. Ten years after the end of the ethnic conflict, investors are now looking at the country’s mineral riches, from which it also takes its name. Political and business leaders are meeting in Brisbane to weigh up the prospects, but it is a challenging investment environment. As Stefan Armbruster reports, in the Solomons land owners are also taking stock. The path of the once powerful Metapona River in Guadalcanal is blocked with a mass of dead trees.

Ben Afuga from the civil society group Forum Solomon Islands International has a stark warning, recalling the “tensions” and the trouble mining has caused in neighbouring Bougainville. “The government has to listen to the people, we have seen it happening around the world when resources that were suppose to be given to the people are not distributed fairly, people tend to cause problems,” he says. Dr Simon Albert from the University of Queensland is also critical of the Solomon Islands government approach. “The principle driver of major social and economic disasters at the mining sites, where you ‘haves’ at the mine site and the ‘have nots’ downstream, suffering the impacts by not receiving the benefits,” he says. “That’s exactly what’s happening at Gold Ridge and decades after other countries have learnt that lesson, the Solomon Islands and Gold Ridge particularly still haven’t learnt that lesson.” What of the environment and the blockage at the Metapona River? Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo is cautiously sceptical. “I wanted to find out the validity of such a report because if you go to the land owners, they will give you lots of claims, brain sickness will always find opportunity,” he says. “They might be absolutely legitimate but what I’m saying is that we need to have good and credible technical and scientific to verify those claims.”

Parish will discuss social issues

The National, October 2nd, 2013

ALCOHOL, drugs and sexually transmitted infections are serious human issues affecting many people in Southern Highlands and need to be addressed urgently, a clergyman said on Monday.
Rev Walai Were, of the Tiripini Lutheran Circuit in South Wiru, Pangia, Southern Highlands, told of plans his Undiapu parish was taking to host a conference to discuss the issues.
“The gathering is basically to help people live a life free of alcohol, drugs and HIV and AIDS,” Were said. Were said many young people had become slaves to destructive habits.

Concerns over cult activities in primary schools.

The National, October 2nd, 2013

PRIMARY school students in East New Britain are engaged in cult activities, provincial guidance officer Philip Son says.
He said in Kokopo recently that while Grade Eight, 10 and 12 students were preparing for the annual national exams, “generation names or the cult movement” was active.
He said it involved senior students passing generation “nick names” to junior students so the names could live on. 
Son has sent out a warning to senior students in the province to stop engaging in such activities.
He said students caught would be banned from sitting their national examinations.
He urged head teachers, principals, deputy principals and staff of all schools to keep a close watch on their students in the next three weeks.
“I am asking all of you be alert and ensure that students are not left alone. This is to stop them from passing the generation names in the cult movement,” he said.

Sex offenders target minors

The National, October 2nd, 2013

SEX crimes against minors have increased lately in the country’s second largest city, police say.
Lae police chief Iven Lakatani said they were trying to find out why but police were attending to at least one reported case daily of sexual assault of children.
“It is actually going up,” Lakatani said. 
“Children aged 15 and below are being sexually abused by adults.”
Lakatani could not provide the latest statistics on sex crimes against minors but warned parents in Lae to take extra caution in looking after the safety of their children.
“We’ve found that people who commit these crimes in most instances are known to the victims,” he said.
“Parents must be very vigilant. They must not trust the people who they live with.”
Lakatani is discussing the issue with sex offences squad detectives in Lae.
He said police had also recorded an increase in break-and-enter cases in the city lately.
“I urge home owners to always leave someone in the house all the time to keep watch when they are away,” Lakatani said.

Sexual offences involving children a concern

The National, October 3rd, 2013

POLICE in Milne Bay are concerned about the number of sexual offences mostly involving children that are being suppressed by family members.
Milne Bay is the second province this week to raise concern over sex offences against children. Police in Lae this week also raised their concern over the rise in the number of sex-related cases involving children.
Milne Bay police commander Chief Supt Joseph Morehari said many sexual offences were not reported to police.
He blamed this on the reluctance of family members to report them because they feared losing breadwinners.
“Cases of child abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence,  mainly against women and young children, have gone unreported to police in the province and I am concerned about the issue,” he said.
“Last week, I sent a group of police officers from Alotau to Rabaraba, on the north coast, and they returned with eight cases of incest.”
Morehari said every week there was at least one case of rape reported to police while others were suppressed.

Five year old Girl Pack-raped

EMTV, Saturday 26th October 2013

A 5 year old girl has miraculously survived a horrible ordeal in Port Moresby, after she was pack-raped by a group of men at Gerehu Stage 6.  The incident occurred on Wednesday when the girl was kidnapped from her auntie’s home at Stage 5 and taken to another residence a few hundred meters away.  It is alleged she was kidnapped by a PMV operator, allegedly from the Western Highlands.  She was taken to this residence at Stage 6, which houses PMV drivers and crews, and where she is believed to have been pack raped by the tenants overnight. Miraculously, the young girl escaped her captors when they were asleep, crawling out of the locked gate.  The young girl’s uncle, who is a police officer, took her to the police station where they reported the incident and apprehended four men and a female.  Another male suspect is on the run.  The father said he was deeply hurt when he found out about what had happened to his daughter.  Early this year, the Government approved the death penalty as the minimum sentence for rape cases.  The relatives have demanded for that to be enforced onto the suspects in jail, once found guilty.  Meanwhile, the young girl is recovering from her serious injuries at the Port Moresby General Hospital.

Callan supports special needs student

The National, October 3rd, 2013

AMONG the 161 students sitting for their Grade 10 national examinations this week is special needs student Noel Amtie.
Amtie, from Western Highlands, is deaf but will not let that stop his desire to sit for the exam with his classmates.
Callan Services for Persons with Disability in Kiunga has been supporting him. 
Among the external invigilators is his special teacher, Bernadine Tagen, from Callan Services, who ensured that Amite received the correct information using sign language. 
Tagen visited Amtie often at school to help him with the subject teachers. Most special need students attend St Gabriel’s Technical Secondary School for their secondary education and have achieved good results.
With the consistent support from Callan Services, Amtie started his schooling in Goroka before going to Mt Hagen.
He is sitting for his Grade 10 national examinations in Kiunga. 
Amtie’s parents and teachers have supported him in every way to aim for similar things in life as students without disabilities.

Effects of Resource Curse


There are various new theories of the state emerging from what is happening in PNG: for example, the extractive-based state, the state that is focused primarily protecting extractive industries such as logging and mining, so that all government sectors, including the police, armed forces, treasury, immigration, judiciary, fishing and forestry, etc., are focused on protecting extractive industries, from which only the overseas investors and national political elites benefit. Thus ordinary citizens do not benefit from the state. Parts of the government that do not protect the extractive industries (education, health, environment and other social services) receive minimum government funding, hence their very poor services. I think this is what is now happening in the Solomons. This is why so much government money is spent on supporting real or potential extractive industries, while the education and medical sectors are in great trouble. Income from these industries does not go to supporting social development but into the bank accounts of the overseas investors and national political elites. Somehow this movement has to be critiqued and checked by the voters who should elect candidates committed to getting the control of the government away from logging, mining and oil palm extraction private beneficiaries and restoring basic public services such as the hospitals, schools and human resource development (scholarships).

New church-state partnership forged

Post Courier 7 October, 2013

THE national Government has announced the details of a new PNG church-state partnership program.
The revamped program would be renamed as the “PNG Church-State Partnership Program”. 
It will include K50 million in annual project funding to be used by churches to improve their health and education service delivery in infrastructure and human capital.
Each partner church involved in delivering health and education services will receive a share of the annual project funding in line with their share of service delivery relative to other partner churches.
From 2014 onwards, each partner church will be provided with a funding ceiling based on their share of service delivery. Previously, requests for funding have been unco-ordinated and were made on ad-hoc bases. The new process will provide fair funding to the churches and allow them to better plan their activities.

Mr Abel, who announced this decision said:.“As a government we are committed to improving service delivery, and we are continuing to look for innovative ways to do that. The churches are our longstanding strategic partners who deserve our support.

New wages board to review national rate

The National, October 7th, 2013

THE newly-appointed minimum wages board will start conducting public hearings in Mendi, Southern Highlands, to review and set wage determination for the country.
The national wage rate set in 2008 was K2.29 per hour.
Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Mark Maipakai said last Friday the board would review and decide on the appropriateness of all allowances including heavy duty, rural hardship, housing, industry and risk.
The last wage determination was in 2008 and its decision handed down in January, 2009. 
The determination lapsed three years later.
Maipakai said the Government recognised the important role of the board and he hoped that all stakeholders, particularly industry leaders, employee and employer organisations, could attend the public hearings.

Uni will get K100m

The National, October 7th, 2013

MINISTER for Higher Education, Science and Research David Arore has challenged Divine Word University to expand its Flexible Learning Centre to cater for the increasing number of school leavers. 
Arore spoke at the second mathematics and computer science mini-seminar at the Divine Word University’s Madang campus last Friday. 
He announced that the school was among six other national universities that would be receiving K100 million each year. 
“The government’s commitment in this funding emphasises on the tuition-free policy,” he said. 
“We’re not just talking but putting money where the mouth is.
“The Government has allocated K700 million for the seven national universities. 
“And for Divine Word University, our paramount objective is to expand in the course that caters for the demanding population. Arore commended the Catholic Church-run university’s mathematics and computer science departments for their part in promoting online education and examination. 
“This illustrates the positive changing trend in the higher education sector,” he said. 
“As the minister responsible, I would like PNG universities to grow to be competitive at international level.’’

Mum sees children for first time after surgery

The National, October 8th, 2013

MOTHER of three Adua Makasi is seeing her children for the first time – after undergoing an eye surgery.
And she will be forever thankful to the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) outreach health programme, which recently conducted eye surgeries at Daru Hospital in Western.
Makasi, 27, suffered from congenital cataracts, a clouding of the lens that is present at birth. It caused her eyesight to deteriorate , making her blind 10 years ago at the age of 17.   
Since they got married, husband Wiesa did the family gardening, made sago, provided for the family and took care of the children.
Makusa remained most of the time at home because she needed help to move around.  When they heard about the free eye checks provided by the YWAM medical ship at Daru, they paddled in a canoe for two weeks from their village in South Fly to reach Daru with their children aged five, three and one.

When the YWAM team first met Makasi, she could not see a hand waving a metre in front of her, let alone read an eye chart. 
Optometrist Julie Jones, a volunteer from New Zealand, recalls meeting the woman.
“When Makasi walked in the room she had to be led in by her husband. Her eyes were downcast and her face was expressionless,” she said. 
“When we asked her to sit down, she had to put her hand out to feel where the chair was.”
After undergoing testing, the ophthalmic team concluded that Makasi was a surgical candidate. The two 30-minute procedures to remove cataracts from both eyes produced immediate results.
And Makasi saw her three children for the first time.
“When Makasi came in the day after her surgery for post-op, she was a completely different person,” Jones said.
“She didn’t need anyone to guide her around the room. She was independent and could read almost to the bottom of the eye chart.”
Makasi was one of 65 patients who received eye surgery at the Daru Hospital in the past two weeks.

Centre: Bilum industry important for women

The National, October 8th, 2013

SMALL Business Development Corporation acting managing director Henry Marasembi says the bilum industry is viable and an important project for women
He said this while farewelling a technical team from the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva.
The team was in the country for research purposes with the National Consultative Working Group and state departments and private agencies.
“The bilum industry has a very high viability and that women, as better entrepreneurs, will now be involved with this very important project that will be rolled out,” Marasembi  said. ITC’s  aim in PNG was to harness the untapped potential of bilum to increase the economic situation of bilum producers. The acting deputy executive director for ITC, Ashish Shah, in a letter to Maru, said he was pleased to work with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry to ensure that the bilum trade in PNG developed rapidly and contributed to the economic empowerment of women involved with the bilum design, production and marketing.

Refugees to decide future

The National, October 8th, 2013

SEVEN West Papua asylum seekers will have to decide whether to return to Indonesia or live in Papua New Guinea as refugees.
They were brought to Port Moresby by the Australian immigration from Horn Island, in Australia, on Sept 26.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Jacob Mandayam said that they had no intention of coming to PNG and were unhappy with the manner in which they were being treated by the Australians.
“It took us about two weeks by land and sea to go to Australia and to be brought to PNG is unacceptable,” he said.
“Right now we have no plans on what we are going to do because we were dumped here without any further advice from the Australian immigration about where to go or what sort of action to take,” Mandayam said.
The seven are from Meroka, in West Papua, and had made their way to the PNG-Indonesia border where they met two fishermen from Kalu village, in West Sepik, who helped them with their boats to travel to Australia. Included in the group was  a woman and a 10-year-old.
The asylum seekers are now staying in a hotel in Port Mort Moresby.

PNG schools short of 10,000 teachers

Post Courier 9th October.

Most teachers are leaving their jobs while others are resigning and retiring every year, leaving 10,000 vacancies for teachers in the Education Department.
Brian Gaius Monie, from the Department of Education revealed this at a workshop on the development of national youth employment framework in Port Moresby yesterday. 
Mr Monie said the teachers are leaving for better jobs with better salary packages.
 Mr Monie said from the record, there are about two million school-aged children from four to 14 years old in the country. 
From these, 1,500,000 are currently enrolled at various schools from elementary to secondary schools. 
The remaining are still in the villages or doing nothing in towns and cities. 
The number of unemployed youths is rising every year, Mr Monie said. 
But the Department of Education is working with the Office of Higher Education to address this issue through technical education and vocational training. Mr Monie said the department has already certified 4,860 certificates and diplomas to technical education and vocational students who completed their trainings to find jobs. Mr Bopi said many training institutions are training people where there are no jobs in the labour market.

Survey: Large number of youths unemployed

Post Courier, 10 October, 2013

A youth unemployment survey conducted in six urban areas has discovered that there is a large number of unemployed youth in cities and towns.
The National Youth Commission survey, conducted in conjunction with the University of PNG and the University of Western Sydney, Australia, stated that many PNG youth migrate into urban centres in search for employment or studies. 
Out of a total of 318 respondents, 44 per cent arrived in towns and cities in search for a job while 33 per cent migrated for study. More than half of the respondents were primary and secondary school drop outs and just over 10 per cent had tertiary qualifications. Interestingly, only 32 per cent of the youth in the survey were employed while 68 had no formal jobs.
The vast majority, aged between 18 and 30, agreed that most social issues come as a result of unemployment. Most of the youth in the survey want the government to put more emphasis on education, employment, training and social services.

CEO: Blackouts costing hospital thousands of kina

The National, October 10th, 2013

CONSTANT power disruptions in Vanimo town, West Sepik, have forced the hospital there to use its standby generator, costing more than K11,000 a week.
Hospital chief executive Elias Kapavore said since last week  blackouts in the town had caused financial problems for the hospital.
“A drum of fuel in Vanimo costs more than K1,000 and our standby generator is supposed to be operating for four to five hours, not eight hours,” Kapavore  said
“Two thousand kina each day starting from last week is a problem.
“We would like PNG Power to look into this problem and fix it immediately.” Kapavore said it was not in the hospital’s budget to spend that much on fuel and he was unhappy with the service provided by PNG Power.
Constant outages from 6am to 7pm meant technical problems as well.

Mental health a growing concern

Post Courier 11 October

MENTAL health in PNG is a growing concern and can be a cause for minor stress or a major depression. 
Mental Health Advisor with the National Health Department Dr Umadevi Ambihaipahar said as the population increased, older people, 60 years of age or above, faced special health challenges, including under-identified mental health problems.
Older people are often reluctant to seek help. 
Their problems are associated with a multitude of social, demographic, psychological and biological factors that contribute to mental health.
Dr Umadevi said factors like poverty, social isolation, loss of independence, loneliness, disability and mistreatment could all affect mental health and general health. 
Dementia, involving memory loss, and depression often affect many older people. 
Meanwhile, mental health problems can be helped. 
Dr Umadevi said the PNG wantok system, social support and family interactions that boosted the dignity of older people and were likely to have a proactive role in the mental health outcomes of the population.
“Primary health, community care and social service sectors need to be sensitised to better deal with elder abuse,” Dr Umadevi said.

HIV trend shifts

Post Courier 14 October

PAPUA New Guinea’s HIV infection rate has moved from a generalised epidemic to cluster groups, says the chairman of the National AIDS Council Dr Banare Bun.
Speaking recently in Lae, Morobe Province, Dr Bun said the high risk populations included female sex workers, men having sex with men and transgender. 
“This cluster groups are hidden in our society because of stigma and discrimination,” he said and indicated that the council would allocate resources over a five-year period in a bid to contain the spread of HIV in the high risk population. 
“We have a middle group which is the key affected population. These men, from the middle group, get the HIV from the most at risk populations and spread it to their faithful wives,” Dr Bun said.
The “middle group” are mobile men with money, mobile phones and multiple sexual partners. 
These included public servants, businessmen, policemen, soldiers, warders, seafarers, mine workers, politicians, parliamentarians, landowners, truckies (highway drivers), PMV drivers and university students.
“Our interventions are now targeted on the most at risk populations and the middle men,” he added. Dr Bun said the general population in the country must be protected from HIV infection.
“We have a .08 per cent prevalence rate and 98.2 per cent of population is not infected with HIV but are affected one way or another,” he said.
PNG as of last year reported a total of 37,000 HIV cases with 95 per cent getting infected through unprotected sex.

Kua blasts EU envoys

Post Courier 15 October

The Government has slammed the EU, United Kingdom and France for being critical of its push to implement the death penalty. 
The Attorney General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua issued a statement yesterday condemning diplomats from the EU, the UK and France after they criticised the government in a joint opinion piece published in the daily newspapers last week.
Ambassadors Martin Dihm and Pascal Maubert of the EU and France and the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner Jackie Barson stated that re-introducing the death penalty as a measure to curb crime in PNG was a “disturbing” development and one discussed at length in their own countries. 
In response to the article, Mr Kua called on the foreign diplomats “not to implicitly threaten and intimidate this country in the way it should be designing its social development agenda. The message that we seem to be getting from the comments made suggest that Papua New Guinea and its leadership and the government should break their own laws.”
 He pointed back to European history to defend the PNG Government’s stance on the death penalty. 
“Tell me quite frankly and honestly whether they never had such an exercise by generations of government past in their own country,” he said.

Students with HIV on rise

The National, October 15th, 2013

THE Western Highlands provincial committee on HIV/AIDS is concerned about the growing number of students infected with the disease.
The provincial AIDS council issued a strong warning to students to be mindful of their movement and refrain from going to parties and social activities after completing their national examinations.
Apollos Yimbak, the technical officer with the provincial AIDS committee, said many Grade 10 students in the province, who completed their national examination last Friday, organised parties and ended up getting drunk.
He said such social activities contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people in the province and resulted in unwanted pregnancies.
“Your parents and guardians invested more money and resources in you students to become somebody useful and look after them when they grow old,” he said.

“The best option is to refrain from having sex at an early stage, but wait until they complete their education, find a job and get married.”
He urged Grade 10 students to stay at home with their parents and help them.
“When you go around with your peer group, they will force you into all sorts of things and eventually will spoil your life, which you will regret later,” he said.

Disabled girl wins awards

The National, October 18th, 2013

Isabella Kila, 18, a student at St Charles Lwanga, in Port Moresby, who was born with a disability, won two awards at the school’s graduation ceremony.
Kila was part of the 187 students who passed out from  Port Moresby’s  only high school yesterday.
Kila, from Rigo, Central, was one  student in her class who never missed a day of school this year. 
She  received a role model award for her class. 
Kila expressed great satisfaction attending the school, saying she had enjoyed the company of staff and students in her two years there.
“Coming to this school was not a mistake. I thought it would be difficult but you all helped me and the love and care is the greatest blessing in my life,” she said when thanking the school on behalf of the Grade 10 class. 
“The teachers are the best, they spend time with you and laugh and wipe your tears,” Kila said.

Health gets Mobile Phone Boost

Post-Courier, 16 October, 2013

Mobile phones have brought about many positive changes in remote areas in this country. The remarks were made during the presentation of a second phase report on a toll free line called the maternal hotline in Port Moresby. The maternal hotline used by Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority is having positive results – saving lives of mothers and babies. The AusAID funded pilot project launched last October aims to reduce PNG’s high maternal death rate. The maternal hotline described in the report as mhealth (mobile health) connects existing health resources by making human contact more efficient. Health officers using the project described it as an effective communicative tool in especially remote areas when coverage is possible. Mr Dakulala praised MBP for taking lead in maternal reduction and moreover for having to sustain the project.

Nandex urges dads to be responsible

The National, October 23rd, 2013

FORMER world kickboxing champion and father of three, Stanley Nandex, has called on dads to take responsibilities at home seriously by taking equal part in child welfare and raising them. 
He said women were largely left to mind the house and children but that had to stop because the world was changing quickly and men had to assume full responsibility as well.
Nandex spoke yesterday at a conference to encourage greater participation of men in maternal and child health. 
“The norms and cultural beliefs that were taught to us served different purposes that were to occur at different times,” he said.
“A father’s involvement in the family is significant as it provides a sense of security for the children and the mother,” he said.
“We are always reacting to law and order issues but we don’t see that our own children are the main actors.
“We tend to blame it on service providers, yet the child’s wellbeing and upbringing starts at home, and it’s with us parents.  “As a sportsman and a champion, I enjoy playing my part as a father, I help bathe my children and I cook for them too,” Nandex said.
“In the eyes of the public we maintain our status but back at home, we must bring ourselves down and get dirty. 
“A father and mother should maintain respect for each other and play their role as parents equally because we were put on earth as equal partners.”

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Social Concerns Notes – September

Solomon Islands – Social Concerns…

The editor recently spent time speaking with people about social concerns in Solomon Islands.  What did people say?  The most common concern is logging.  People see their trees being cut and the huge logs shipped away overseas, but they experience little or no advantage, and there are many associated problems.  Their heritage is being destroyed and they feel powerless to stop it.  Among the many other social concerns expressed, the following were mentioned many times:  Land problems and land disputes, Alcohol and drug abuse, prostitution (solfish), pick-pockets (beliga), corruption (in government and with individual and structural issues too, low pay and unemployment, family problems and domestic violence, teenage pregnancies, abuse of mobile phones, poison/sorcery.  Many of these concerns are connected.  For example unemployed youth can become involved in substance abuse and those looking for money can get start going out to the boats and getting into prostitution, or stealing around the towns. These problems seem to be on the increase with modernisation, and they present a challenge to the Churches and communities to work together to find ways to allieviate such problems.  The first thing of course if that people are really “concerned” about the common good.

New Zealand to send more police to Bougainville

The National, September 2nd, 2013

NEW Zealand will be sending more police officers to Bougainville in response to the region’s request for further training. New Zealand officer and team leader of the Bougainville community policing project Rob Lemoto said it was rewarding, mentoring their Papua New Guinean counterparts. 
“It’s been a wonderful experience to immerse ourselves in the culture here, and to support the Bougainville police service into becoming a more professional and more trusted police organisation.” 
He said the challenges were rebuilding the police service there and developing good leaders as the region struggled to establish its autonomy ahead of an impending referendum over its independence. 
Speaking to New Zealand media, Bougainville President John Momis said he was hopeful New Zealand would provide more police “Because they’ve done a very good job with community auxiliary police. Police here (in Port Moresby)are trained to bash heads and kill people and so on and so forth, not to serve,” he said. 
“Police training in Port Moresby is not the best so we are seriously looking at asking Australia and New Zealand to train our policemen.

Human rights a challenge, uni told

The National, September 2nd, 2013

PAPUA New Guinea faces the challenge of translating human rights into its local context, a symposium at the Divine Word University (DWU) was told last week.
DWU president Fr Jan Czuba told the human rights symposium that another challenge for citizens was to work towards bridging the gap between the theoretical and practical aspects of human rights.
“When talking about human rights, we are good in theoretical but fail in practical; for example the right of a disabled person to have a normal life like everybody else,” Czuba said.
He said the PNG constitution emphasised all areas concerning human rights such as right to life, freedom of speech, religion and voting and freedom from inhumane treatment.
The theme of the symposium, which was organised by the social and religious studies department, was “Human Rights at the Cross Roads”.
Special guest was former governor-general Grand Chief Sir Paulias Matane, who presented his latest published book titled, “Understanding Papua New Guinea” to the university.

Leader asks for recognition

The National, September 3rd, 2013

VILLAGE birth attendants or voluntary village midwives should be put on the government payroll, a former health union president says.
Former Southern Highlands Health Workers’ Association president John Wasis commended the O’Neill government, which had recognised the efforts and contribution of government workers in the rural areas, such as councillors and village court magistrates.
“But we cannot leave out the village midwives who also perform an endless task to make sure children are born in the villages, some are now holding big positions,” he said.
He said these women never received anything in return for their hard work but worked hard in good faith. Meanwhile, lower Mendi village court magistrate Hones Somolu expressed gratitude that they were finally recognised. About 30,000 village based government workers will be soon earning fortnightly salaries following the Government’s decision.

Locals fed up

The National, September 4th, 2013

THE traditional landowners of Lombrum in Manus have shut down the rubbish dump used by workers at the asylum-seekers centre.
The temporary processing centre is at  Lombrum, one of the eight wards in the Los Negros local level government in Manus.
John Lou, the chairman of the landowner group, said they decided to close the dump because it was a health hazard to the villagers. Lou said the rubbish was producing a bad smell and attracted blow flies to Lombrum and surrounding villages in the Los Negros LLG. 
“Already some of the villagers have contracted diarrhoea, a sickness we never experienced in the past,” Lou said.
“Our sagos and creek have been polluted.”
A visit by The National on Monday at the processing centre saw huge piles of garbage in black plastic bags dumped beside the road in front of the facility.
Medical practitioner on the island Dr Powesiu Lawes of Loniu village, one of the neigbouring villages to Lombrum, said no health studies had been conducted before the centre was set up.
He said everything was rushed by the PNG and Australian government and “health and environmental problems, including land issues, were becoming obvious”.

Fresh doubts on asylum deal

The National, September 24th, 2013

FRESH doubts have been cast over the validity of the Papua New Guinea asylum seeker deal struck by the previous Australian government, a SBS television report says.  Under the plan, which remains central to the new government’s strategy, asylum seekers would be processed on Manus Island and resettled in Papua New Guinea. But video obtained by SBS suggests the government of PNG was telling its own people a different story. PNG government officials were telling concerned Manus Island residents something different.“Resettlement does not mean that those found to be genuine refugees will be resettled in Papua New Guinea or they can become citizens at all,” PNG government representative Clarence Parisau told a public forum with the Australian High Commission in late August. “Those who are found to be refugees, they can be sent to another country, a third country.
“Those who are willing to take them, they can take them,” Parisau said.
Australian Deputy High Commissioner Margaret Adamson and a senior Immigration Department official were present at the meeting. PNG suspended discussions with Australia during the election campaign after cracks emerged in the agreement.
The problem has now landed in the lap of newly sworn-in Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
The Manus Island detention centre is still a key part of his strategy.

O’Neill: Life is a gifts from God

The National, September 4th, 2013

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has made a passionate plea for Papua New Guineans to respect and protect life as a precious gift from God.
 O’Neill made the plea when he visited the grieving family and relatives of former Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Peter Waieng, who was murdered outside Port Moresby last week.
“Many times we hear and read about violence and killings in many parts of the country. It’s as if people have lost respect for life.
“Life is precious. It is a very special gift from God to each and every one of us. We must protect it. We must respect life and look after ourselves. We are losing lives in senseless ways. This must stop.”
O’Neill thanked the Naraku tribe for giving Papua New Guinea an intelligent young leader who was full of energy and always eager to find ways to deliver to his people.

Vendors call for end to street fights

The National, September 11th, 2013

REGULAR street fights are disturbing vendors and customers using the K7.5 million Mt Hagen market in Western Highlands.
Market vendor and mother-of-two Maria Tet from Tambul said she had suffered bruises on her back by a flying missile and also lost three bags of broccoli last Saturday during a fight instigated by street sellers. 
“The fight started from the main bus stop and lasted for more than two hours.
“It turned into a missile-throwing contest that spilled into the market, sending vendors and customers scurrying for cover. Some people were hurt,” Tet said.
She said a lot of vehicles had near-crashes.
“Police in the area could not do much and watched helplessly as the youths fought on.
“They did fire some shots and teargas but nobody paid attention. Fighting continued.”
Tet said many similar incidents had happened in the past but city authorities had done little or nothing at all to address the issue.
“Many mothers have stopped coming to the market because their safety is not guaranteed.
“We sell food in the market to make a living and pay for our children’s school fees.
“But our life is being threatened by such street fights so we have to stop what we are doing,’’ Tet said.
Jenneth Siru from Wabag, a long-time resident in Mt Hagen, also expressed similar sentiments, saying that she had lost two peanut bags in last Saturday’s incident.

Bougainville and the Mining Question

Ramu Mine Blog

Bougainville is grappling with a series of challenges that will set the course for the island’s long-term future. What economic model of development will they adopt? How will this model gel with aspirations for independence? And perhaps most controversially how does the mining question fit into this equation?

Given the haste with which mining was initially imposed on Bougainville during the 1960s, and the bloody conflict the mine subsequently provoked, now is not the time to indecently rush the latter question, much less is it time for those in positions of power to confront communities with threatening ultimatums.

At a recent community consultation forum in Bana. New Dawn reports that the ABG Minister for Veteran Affairs terrified his audience with a range of farcical claims: Mr. Sisito said that for Bougainville to move into economic recovery and economic self-reliance, the ABG must raise a total of seventy-two million Kina which can only happen when Panguna mine is re-opened. 
He said that if the Bougainville Peace Agreement lapses in 2020 all their talk of Independence and landownership would be forfeited to the State of Papua New Guinea. 
Mr. Sisito said when this happens all Bougainville leaders and Ex combatants will be held for treason as all agreements with PNG will become null and void … On calls by women leaders to be given the chance to negotiate, Mr. Sisito said that one hidden plan was that all Bougainville single women will be married by outsiders to own the land. 
Mr. Sisito said one plan was that if Bougainville fails to get independence a military base will be based on Bougainville to stop any future uprisings on Bougainville.

While it is perhaps simplistic to characterise large-scale resource projects as a universally detrimental, it is a much more defensible argument within the specific context of PNG. The employment it has provided, and the knowledge transfer it has facilitated, grate against the other realities of mining. For instance, significant chunks of the wealth generated flow abroad, while that which remains in PNG is frequently pocketed by local intermediaries and a ‘mobocracy’ that wields control over state finances, leaving those in the mine area to deal with environmental damage, growing inequality, the fracture of custom, police violence, military repression, crime, mass migration, rapid urbanisation, settlements, gambling, alcohol, and the gamut of spivs and rent-seekers who invariably follow in the wake of mineral developments. It must be asked, what alternative perspectives are being offered communities on Bougainville? Are there experts with field experience in analogous economies from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa being flown in to share their experiences of mining, agriculture, tourism and other rural industries? Are a range of development models being discussed? Are a variety of economic perspectives being introduced for community discussion? Or are the people of Bougainville being dished up large plates of pro-mining propaganda like in the 1960s? If recent reports from Bougainville mining forums are anything to go by, the signs are not good.

Solomon Islands is Better Prepared for Disasters through Gender Awareness

Source: World Bank

Workshops on gender in emergencies are helping the country develop a better disaster risk management plan to meet the different needs of its population.When a large earthquake and tsunami struck Solomon Islands in 2007, the country was caught off guard. There were no disaster management plans to deal with the scale of the disaster. Earthquakes and tsunamis are not the only natural hazards that pose danger to its population of over half a million people scattered across the archipelago. Cyclones have been the usual visitor. Sea level rise and tidal surges, which are occurring at an increasing and unusual pattern, are a new type of hazard the country is now coming to terms with. Fast forward five years, and a national disaster management plan is now in place. Work is underway to get the country’s nine provinces to have their own provincial disaster management plans and standard operating procedures. Efforts are also being made to consider the different roles and needs of women and men in emergencies. This year, with World Bank support, Fred has helped deliver a ‘gender and protection in emergencies’ training program, in partnership with the Solomon Island’s Government through the National Disaster Management Office. The workshops were designed to give a solid understanding of the different needs and abilities of the participants to help design standard operating procedures for provincial emergency response.The workshops also alerted participants, especially men, to the special vulnerabilities women might face during an emergency, for example pregnancy or lactation, which translate to different needs such as separate bathrooms, enforced security or access to female doctors.

“The training enabled me to understand and define my relationship with other people, especially women, because we are equal. So, decision making becomes more important when I understand gender,” says Enley Saeni, a young man who had participated in disaster response activities in Temotu province earlier in the year.

‘K100 bet’

Post Courier 13 Sept

POKER machine gamblers nationwide have been hit hard with a new K100 minimum bet fee.
Gaming inspector team leader, David Ali, said “the increase of bet from K50 to K100 is mainly to discourage low income earners and people in the informal sector from losing their money on pokies and are left with nothing to feed their families,” he said.
According to the official many low income earners spent all their salaries on pokies, hoping to win more money to feed their families as well as meet other expenses.
“But their (gamblers) chances of winning are limited. Some gamblers spend all their money on pokies and are left with nothing the next day. All they earn is gone so they start to borrow money from people and wantoks,” he added.
According to the NGCB chairman Quentin Cholai, over 70,000 people in the middle and low income bracket are frequent gamblers. He said the NGCB has increased the minimum bet and also introduced a law that would require gamblers to produce passports before accessing gambling and poker machines.
“I’m appealing to all middle and low class Papua New Guineans to stop trying a game of pokies,” he said.
He said too many people are spending their hard earned cash on gambling rather 
than invest in family or business, creating many social problems in families and communities.
“This call is to discourage you from playing poker as it would destroy your lives, your future and the lives of your families,” he said.
Mr Cholai said approximately 65,000 to 70, 000 people in the country gamble, spending an average of K150 in five seconds and K1, 000 in five minutes. 
“This is how the hard-earned wages of around K600 to K700 is gone, leaving the family without money and food for the next two weeks,” he said.

Rape increases in Asia, Pacific

Post Courier 12 Sept

A United Nations report has revealed nearly a quarter of men surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region say they’ve raped a woman at least once in their life.
The study is based on anonymous interviews with more than 10,000 men aged between 18 and 49-years-old in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea.
One of the report’s authors, Dr Emma Fulu, has told Asia Pacific the figures are shocking, but not necessarily surprising.
“I think this study reaffirms perhaps what we have known by interviewing women in the past,” she said.
“What’s new about this study is that it tells us for the first time, by speaking to men, about what some of the underlying causes are of that violence.”
Around the region, 11 per cent of respondents reported having raped a woman who was not their partner and nearly a quarter – 24 per cent – when their partner was included.
Of those men who said they had committed rape, just under half (45 per cent) said they had raped more than one woman.
Roberta Clarke, regional director of UN Women, says the survey highlights the need for a change in culture.
“Violence against women is a harsh reality for many,” she said.
“We must change the culture that enables men to enact power and control over women.”
The highest prevalence of rape was found in Bougainville, in Papua New Guinea, which may be linked to the decade long civil war on the island.

As we get to September 16, who do we look for deliverance?

PNGExposed Blog

We can talk and shout and fret in such beautiful prose all we like. The thing is, if the relevant authorities do not do anything, this and similar swindles will just continue and get better, not worse. Corruption is worse than HIV and AIDS. At least with HIV-AIDS them that suffer and die from it inflict the curse upon themselves and others unknowingly in most cases. With corruption, a few culprits afflict and affect the curse, suffering and injury upon the whole population in the country, including babies and those yet to be born. So, who do we look to for redemption and deliverance?

What’s Ombudsman Commission doing? Every indication is the Commission is dying slowly but surely from euthanasia. There is no cure for euthanasia because it is self-inflicted, a death by one’s own voluntary choice.

Is Auditor-General going to look into this? May be not because all foreign and national employees need their jobs. And anyway, they do compliance audits for the past years which is stale and almost history by the time their reports are tabled in Parliament.

And the Public Accounts Committee? The Chairman has been rather boisterous recently, otherwise it is a silent and timid fiefdom. The Chairman’s timidity only explodes in the face of helpless public servants, including females that cannot defend themselves. Every inquiry by PAC has been but a slap on the elbows of corrupt heads of departments and other public and statutory bodies. Elected leaders are hardly implicated in AG’s Reports.

What about the CID? I think we all know the answer to this and the Sweep Team. Allegations against some leaders are more likely to be swept under the carpet than make and build cases to prosecute the culprits in tribunals or courts.

TI-PNG. These initials stand for This Is Papua New Guinea, a country where you can get away with murder and corruption in broad daylight. Transparency International PNG chapter has gotten a bit too long in the tooth. Occasionally they come out from the crevice to say something or other almost as a perfunctory exercise.

And PNGexposed? We can talk until the cows come home. Or wait until mother duckling lays a golden egg. In the mean time the two legged human beings get more robust, better and smarter but may be not elusive. The only reason why they may be elusive is because our oversight agencies, bodies and authorities are not doing their job. Some of these bodies and authorities are mentioned above.

PNG National Parliament: the Parliament with 111 MPs we send there every five years is potentially the most potent and powerful institution and a single body of people that can best scrutinise and hold the Executive to account. But we all know that over the years the Executive has cannibalised and diminished the role of the Legislature to a rubber stamp. The Parliament has become impotent almost to the extent that it has lost it’s visibility and legitimacy. The bulk of the MPs are horded, huddled and sat on one side of the House. They are singing from the same hymn book, drinking from the same chalice and are stirring and eating from the same wok. The back-bench member is an extinct species. The Opposition is but just a voice in the wilderness no matter how loudly or how often Belden or Sam might shriek or shout. Without serious, proper and deliberate scrutiny of the Government by Parliament the people’s voice is silenced. And the silence has been deafening not just with this Parliament but many past Parliaments as well. The Executive rules the roost. It can’t be put or seen any more clearer than this – and therein lies the problem including the beginning and any possible end of corruption.

‘End Fiji’s patron-client politics’, Archbishop of Suva says –

FIJI’S system of patron-client politics must end if the Pacific nation is to resolve its coup culture and facilitate a path towards democracy, says the Archbishop of Suva, Peter Loy Chong.

Archbishop Chong said interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama used the patron-client political strategy to gain support, particularly with the grassroots iTaukei (indigenous people).

In an unexpected warning from a church long seen as supportive of the regime, Archbishop Chong who was appointed this year, said there would be little hope of building a democratic Fiji if patron-client politics was not displaced. The Catholic prelate told a World Association of Christian Communications workshop in Suva that the church must address the question of how to remove the current political system. “I propose that our key messages must include the removal of patron-client politics and the education and empowerment of peoples so that they can participate responsibly in the political affairs of our country,” Archbishop Chong said. His predecessor, Petero Mataca, and two priests – social activist Kevin Barr and language expert Father David Arms – joined Commodore Bainimarama’s National Council for Building a Better Fiji in 2007. The council formulated a policy that led to Fiji’s new constitution, which became law last week. Father Barr has since been threatened with deportation after highlighting continuing poverty while Abp Mataca has expressed disillusionment with the regime.

Archbishop Chong – Jesuit-educated, of mixed Chinese and Fijian ancestry with strong views on justice and an admirer of the assassinated El Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero – has shown he will not continue his predecessor’s once comfortable relationship with the regime. “Bainimarama may have removed a corrupt and racist Qarase government but he has maintained the old iTaukei patron-client politics,” Archbishop Chong said. “He has merely replaced the traditional chiefs with his military chiefs.” Archbishop Chong said studies showed that in the Bainimarama patronage, loyalty to the chiefs and traditional systems had shifted to the army. “The military had become the institution of patronage. In other words, the form of power, namely patron-client politics exercised by former Fijian governments, has not changed. “The only recognisable change in Bainimarama’s regime was the change in personnel. Instead of chiefs dominating the system, military officers now headed the important governmental institutions.” More than 40 military officers have been appointed to senior positions within the civil service and statutory bodies since 2006, replacing those whose loyalty Commodore Bainimarama has questioned.

Health in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia: changes since 1990 and likely causes

The country profile for Papua New Guinea makes an interesting contrast to Indonesia. Lower respiratory infection is estimated to be the leading cause of premature death in 2010, as it was in 1990. But diabetes has now risen to the second leading cause of premature death in 2010 (a 171% increase) from its ninth place ranking in 1990. Protein energy malnutrition has fallen from the fifth leading cause of premature death in 1990 to 15th in 2010. HIV and AIDS was the fifth leading cause of premature death in 2010 but was ranked just 60th in 1990: a 2791% increase. Lower respiratory infections, diabetes mellitus and tuberculosis are the three leading causes of ill health and disability. High fasting plasma glucose (a predictor of diabetes), tobacco smoking and household air pollution from solid fuels are the leading risk factors for premature deaths and illness. The leading risk factor in 2010 for children under five years of age is being underweight, and for adults 15-49 years was alcohol use.

Wounded veteran porter dies in hospital

The National, September 17th, 2013

VETERAN Black Cat Trail porter Lionel Aigilo died on Sunday night after five days of waiting for medical care and treatment at the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae.
He is the third to die after a gang killed two local porters, injured others and attacked eight expatriate trekkers along the Black Cat Trail last Tuesday.
Aigilo, from Logui village in Salamaua, had both his legs slashed and was awaiting amputation when he died.
He had been an active guide and porter along the Black Cat Trail since 2003 when trekking companies started operating there.
Bulolo MP Sam Basil, who visited the injured in hospital, said there was a lack of medicine and drugs to treat them. Both overseas and local media also reported of the shortage of medical staff and operating theatres at Angau to cater for the eight Black Cat Trail porters.
EMTV last week showed footage of the badly injured porters lying on the floor because there were no beds.
Black Cat Trail Association chairman Ninga Yawa told The National yesterday that it took the death of Aigilo to spur operator, PNG Trekking Adventures, into action by moving the seven remaining survivors to the Lae International Hospital.
“Lionel and the other porters were in hospital for almost a week, however, the treatment given to them was not good,” Yawa said.
“I wanted PNG Trekking to put them in a good hospital, as they worked hard to make money for the company. But it was only this (yesterday) morning, after the death of Lionel, that they were moved to Lae International Hospital.
“We need some assistance from the government.”

Man sets wife alight

The National, September 17th, 2013

A MAN in Southern Highlands poured petrol and set his wife on fire after accusing her of taking a lover.
Former Nipa-Kutubu district administrator Ambopa Ekai told The National by phone from Poroma that on Wednesday last week, the man from Undu Kopa tied up his wife with a mosquito net and set her on fire.
He said the man had accused the wife of having an affair with a man from Upper Poroma.
He said the woman was badly burnt on one side of her body and was left untreated for two days. She was later taken to the Catholic-run health centre at Det, a few kilometres away.
Ekai said one side of her body was badly burnt.
“This kind of wife-beating is unheard of in the Poroma area. We have never seen this kind of treatment in our society. This is a new kind of crime,” he said.
“Meanwhile the people have decided not to take the law into their hands by retaliating but take a peaceful approach by demanding compensation.”

Media Statement from National Research Institute

PNG Budget Forum: PNG’s lost decade? Preliminary results released from PEPE survey

Preliminary results were released today from the 2012 PEPE (Promoting Effective Public Expenditure) survey of 214 schools and 147 health clinics in eight provinces throughout the country undertaken by the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (NRI) and the Australian National University (ANU).

By comparing these results with those from a survey of the same health clinics and schools undertaken a decade ago, the analysis is able to address the question of whether PNG has so far been able to translate its booming mineral wealth into services for ordinary people.

The results are revealing. Both sectors showed some challenges in common. For example, about 40% of staff homes and 25% of class rooms and clinics require rebuilding due to a lack of maintenance.

But there were also some clear differences. Some notable improvements in the delivery of primary education are apparent: the number of children attending school at the time of the survey increased from 2002 to last year. The number of teachers and classrooms increased, the quality of classrooms also improved, and teachers reported greater adequacy of school supplies, such as textbooks.

Rural health clinics showed far less improvement, and overall a decline. Despite population growth of 25-30%, the number of patients attending a clinic on a typical day fell, and there was a decline in the availability of some key drugs and medical supplies. While many staff working in the rural health sector are clearly dedicated (three-quarters contribute from their own salary to running costs), there has actually been a slight fall in the number of staff working at clinics. Given that the number of rural health clinics has also probably fallen over the last decade, these are worrying indicators.

Explaining these differences requires further analysis. It is clear that the policy of abolishing school fees has boosted school attendance, but the number of clinics charging fees has also fallen, so the new policy of free health care will not be enough to turn around performance.

Study: Education has improved

Post Courier 20 Sept

There have been significant changes over the past 10 years in the education and health sector, according to a preliminary survey finding.
The findings were highlighted at a development policy forum on a discussion project called Promoting Effective Public Expenditure Project (PEPE). 
The findings state that education sector experiences much change with increase improvements compared to health. 
The changes are due to massive increase in revenue, changes to funding mechanisms such as growing function grants, abolition of school fees, school subsidies with direct financing, District Service Improvement Program (DSIP), Donor interventions and the growing population.

In education, students enrolled and present (at the time of survey) have increased by much more than the student age population, increased in availability of teachers and numbers of classrooms.
There are fewer books available per student now, but still more than one text book per student in grades five and six. 
Also teachers and head teachers reported improved but still low availability of resources.
In comparions there is a slight increase in the number of schools over this period, and corresponding decline in the number of health facilities.
Schools also show improved availability of resources such as posted teachers per school grew by 16 percent; number of health workers posted to clinics grew by only one percent with likely decline in health centres, absolute decline in rural health workforce.

SABL Policy ‘failed miserably’

The National, 19 Sept 2013

Only four of the 42 special business and agricultural leases had landowner consent and viable agricultural projects undertaken, a report by the Commission of Inquiry into SABL revealed.  The report was tabled in Parliament yesterday by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. “The 42 leases that are reported reveal a shocking trend of mismanagement and corruption in all stages and processes. The only conclusion that I can draw is that the policy on SABLs has failed miserably. This is not acceptable. Something drastic needs to be done.” O’Neill told Parliament that the Commission of Inquiry was tasked to examine 75 leases but only covered 42 in the report. He said this was because Commissioner Alois Jerewai failed to provide material to the final report which had directly affected its outcome. He however said the commission had recommended to improve the SABL process to protect the land rights of the people. He said there would be a taskforce appointed by the minister for lands and physical planning to identify a new policy framework to convert customary land into leasehold land for the benefit of landowners. It will protect the interests of landowners and ensure sustainable land use. The Prime Minister said: “The primary consideration will be protecting the interests of landowners and the environment. For too long, landowners have been taken advantage of and had their land stolen from under them.

Recruit foreign doctors to save lives

Post Courier Editorial 20 Sept.

IT is tragic that it had to take the killing of two Papua New Guineans and an attack on expatriate trekkers for the shortcomings of the country’s public health care system to be exposed.
The Black Cat Trail saga a fortnight ago put the country under the international spotlight with reports on the attack of the trekkers and the brutal murder of their two Papua New Guinean porters got global media attention.
But the bigger tragedy lies in the inability of the Angau Memorial General Hospital to perhaps respond effectively to emergencies following the attack on the trekkers and their Papua New Guinean helpers.
Angau, the country’s second largest public hospital after the Port Moresby General Hospital, is a shadow of its former self and this was confirmed by the hospital’s CEO Polapoi Chalau yesterday in a press conference.
“Many of our doctors and nurses are going to the corporate sector. We are advertising for the nurses and doctors but we still have vacancies due to shortage of health workers all over PNG,” added Dr Chalau.
The movement of medical professionals (including doctors and nurses) from publicly-funded health institutions to the private sector is occurring at a very quick rate. In fact it could over the long-term period impact on the ability of public hospitals and health centres to effectively provide medical services to our people and communities. 
We believe the time has come for the Health Minister Michael Malabag to revisit plans by one of his predecessors in the 2002-2007 Somare government to recruit foreign doctors and nurses. Cuba, a global leader in the provision of quality health services, was to be targeted in the ambitious program but it did not eventuate due to heavy criticism by unions. 
However, the frequent loss of lives at most of our public hospitals and health facilities warrants an urgent rethink on the part of the Government.

MPs back new law on domestic violence

The National, September 19th, 2013

EFFORTS to address domestic issues received the overwhelming support of MPs yesterday when they passed the Family Protection Bill. Attorney General Kerenga Kua told Parliament that it was important to have the law in place as the level of domestic violence on women and children was alarming. 
“The legislation will give teeth to the current interim protection orders issued by the District Court,” he said.
“The highly sought-after interim protection orders by destitute women do not have a legislative backing. Victims find themselves in situations where these interim protection orders are not enforceable. 
“When a breach occurs, there is no penalty in any law. So the cycle of violence within families continues.”
Kua said according to reports from the Office of Public Prosecutor, domestic violence affected women of all status and sexual crimes were frequently committed against children of both sexes.

Free Education: “A Cargo Cult Policy, by Lucas Kiap

PNG Blogs, September 24, 2013

The people of Papua New Guinea must not be continuously misled and fooled by the government’s “Free Education Policy”. It is important for people to know that every citizen has the right to basic education and the government has an obligation to uphold that right, regardless. For a developing nation, to have a fully illiterate society is critical to change the country with time and with the rest of the world. No government should take the credit for that very “simple policy”.
However, the concern is that the free education system is a “bottled neck system” where it produces more failures than success. We have a lot of young men and young women coming through the system who are not taught skills but instead are taught with maths, science, and social science courses, which in practical have very little use or no use at all when one exits out of the education system.
Are we teaching our children to become rocket scientists with maths and science or are we trying to build a fully literate society with useful skills they can use in real life situations for them to live a better life? The free education system is a catalyst for destruction of the country as it is producing people with no skills, less opportunities, increase in unemployment and worsening of law and order problems. This policy of providing free education is a conspiracy or a “cargo cult policy” that does not reflect visions or goals for the country to achieve but confuses the poor rural people into thinking that basic education is a privilege and is not a right when it should be a right regardless. By letting people live in poverty and making education expensive, the government can then exploit the people’s desperation of getting their children educated when the government too has that obligation. If the government wants to fund free education, then it should build a lot of technical high schools, technical colleges and technology and research universities and put students there and provide free education for them to learn skills and knowledge that will be useful in nation building and also help them be self-reliant when they drop out of the education system.

 PM O’Niel Has to Demonstrate to the Nation that He is Not What Sir Mekere Thinks He is

PNG Blogs, Sept 24th By Lucas Kiap
Over the last few days, the people of PNG have been caught surprisingly in a crossfire of war of words between two prominent figures in the country with Sir Mekere Morata claiming to represent the interest of the people of Western province while Peter O’Neil claiming to represent the interest of the country. The two men are different persons with different personalities. But both have one thing in common. Sir Mekere Morata was the former Prime Minister of PNG and Peter O’Neil is the current Prime Minister.
As the war of words rages on between the two men, at the centre are the landowners and people of Western Province. Their livelihood has been destroyed beyond repairable by the catastrophic and unforgiveable environmental damage due to the operations of the Ok Tedi Mining Limited. Knowing what was brewing at home and afraid one day it could spillover when he was no longer around as Prime Minister, Sir Mekere decided that the funds under PNGSDP were to be located offshore and independently manage under strict regulations and guidelines, far from political interference.
Now with a whopping US$1.4 billion cash in the offshore trust fund, Sir Mekere Morata is claiming credit over the decision. But it is not clear what the real benefits of his decision are to the Nation as the resources belong to the Independent Sate of Papua New Guinea with any cash derived from it after BHP exited. However, he did prevent political interference and corruption.
Now the Prime Minister has to prove himself what he preaches as some people, including Sir Mekere are accusing the Prime Minister’s move of taking back PNGSDP as sinister, only after the US$1.4 billion to have his dirty hands on the long term funds.
Despite the good intentions and assurances from O’Neil and his government, most people are fearing that the takeover of a profitable mine by the government with more than US$1 billion in its trust funds, the funds would disappear quickly and Ok Tedi would end up like the struggling Tolokuma mining and other State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). These SOEs are all State liabilities and have been used as cash cows by any government and manage by their political cronies over the years.
Sir Mekere Morata is critically right by pointing out to the Prime Minister that there is no cure in sight for these SOEs as millions of Kina have been reportedly stolen every year under the watch of political leaders in the country, most of them in the current O’Neil government.
Now Prime Minister Peter O’Neil has to demonstrate that he has the cure for these SOEs. Before he leaves office, the Prime Minister must turn all SOEs into profitable, well manage and performing State owned enterprises and prove to Sir Mekere Morata that he is not what the former Prime Minister thinks he is.

Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea about Legislation concerning Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) and PNG Sustainable Development Program

23 SEPT 2013. Were he alive today, would not the great Papua New Guinean from the Western Province, the late Ebia Olewale, be overcome by an immense sadness at what has transpired over the past few days?  In his biography of this revered first generation leader of a newly independent nation, Jonathan Ritchie writes: “…Ebia’s participation in the work of the PNG Sustainable Development Program gave him his first real opportunity to become involved in the developing opportunities for the beneficial participation of the people of this country, as a whole…  Now, with the SDP, he was able to help contribute by making use of the revenue coming from the mine…to carry out a range of activities that supported business, infrastructure, health and education.  His time with the SDP was one of happiness and satisfaction… The greatest cause of his unhappiness was what he regarded as the failure of government, both national and provincial, to respond to the needs of the people.  The Sustainable Development Program allowed him a way to continue his lifelong mission of doing something for his people…” (Ebia Olewale: A Life of Service, Jonathan Ritchie, University of Papua New Guinea Press, 2012, pp. 262-263).

The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea, in solidarity with the thousands of ordinary people throughout PNG who, over many years, were beneficiaries of PNG Sustainable Development Program projects, want to express profound disappointment with what our leaders in Government have done by appropriating OTML, which could result in the cancellation of PNG Sustainable Development Program.  What the late Ebia Olewale felt about this program, we too have experienced in it, as we have worked to promote human development that fosters community participation, self-reliance and partnership.  Papua New Guinea will lose one of its most important and effective development agencies if PNGSDP is shut down and its funds diverted to government programs.

PNG Sustainable Development Program has supported hundreds of projects nationwide, partnering with organizations and communities to bring assistance where it is most needed, particularly in disadvantaged remote rural areas largely overlooked by government.  It has done this with integrity, avoiding the stain of incompetence and corruption.  Local organizations and communities know that if they are honest, willing to work hard and do their part in a spirit of self-reliance, they are likely to attract the attention of PNGSDP and receive assistance.  Now it seems this will end.

In contrast, government, by itself, often struggles to successfully carry out community-based and even larger development projects.  Why is this so?   People who read the daily newspapers are able to form their own opinion. Politics plays a large role in this and corruption is a truly serious problem.

Development and community-minded NGOs, charitable foundations, as well as faith-based organizations (the churches), even big-hearted individuals, who have as part of their mission a fervour for promoting development, integral human and economic development, are extremely important for the progress of a nation.   Government should be happy to have many such organizations and individuals operating within the country.  PNGSDP is one of the premier development organizations in PNG.  It has done so much good.  It would be foolish to terminate it. The people at PNG Sustainable Development Program should fight to continue their good work and we should support them.

The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea

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