Social Concerns – July 2019

Jiwaka police gets training to deal with sorcery violence

July 1, 2019 The National

PERPETRATORS of sorcery accusation related violence (SARV) in Jiwaka are increasingly likely to face the law after local police received some intensive training. Thirty-two police officers in Jiwaka were briefed on the latest laws and legal framework regarding SARV crimes at a recent workshop in Minj. Participants took part in discussions and activities on efficient ways to identify and charge alleged perpetrators in sorcery accusation related violence cases.
Constable Alice Bureng, from Banz Police Station, said they attended to SARV cases on a weekly basis. “After attending the workshop, I now understand that it is important to attend to minor complaints of SARV such as calling someone a sanguma (sorcerer) before it escalates into arson or murder,” Bureng said. She added that witnesses in most SARV cases did not give statements or turn up to court in fear of retribution, making prosecution difficult.


Overcrowding cause of outbreak

July 1, 2019 The National

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is spreading among prisoners in Buimo and it is getting worse because of overcrowding, jail commander Supt Judy Tara says. Tara this said on Thursday in Lae that after the death of an inmate , caused by TB, a few weeks ago. “I am calling on the authorities to allow parole for detainees who are eligible for this release to free up space,” she said.
Buimo prison reduced the number of its inmates by sending some to prisons in other centres last month.

Bishop wants fair deal for customary landowners

July 18, 2019 The National 

A CATHOLIC bishop has called on the Government to tell companies both foreign and local to renegotiate agreements relating to customary land. Archbishop Francesco Panfilo told the annual Singkai Lecture on July 5 at the Bomana Catholic Theological Institute that it must be done to “Take back PNG” which the Government has to do.
Panfilo said most Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) were not fair on indigenous owners who had little or nothing to gain despite the use of huge portions of their land and the harvesting of its resources.
He urged the Government to push for renegotiation to ensure:

  • A fair rental payment for the land;
  • fair royalties paid for the export of resources;
  • environmental devastation is addressed;
  • policies are in place to ensure sound environment practices;
  • the respect for sacred sites; and,
  • An appropriate contribution to sustainable community services by the company

Panfilo said Papua New Guineans as Melanesians depended on the land as it was their life.

At least 15 women and children killed in tribal massacre in Papua New Guinea

Joe Chandler

Australian National University anthropologist Dr Chris Ballard, who has spent many years living with and researching the area’s dominant Huli population, agrees with local observations that the massacre falls outside even the eroded rules of tribal warfare. Before European contact, these constraints “managed fighting quite effectively,” he says. “Even in the worst cases of warfare where entire clans were forced off their territory, casualties were pretty minimal and they were almost always fighting men.” Given dense webs of social connection and strict requirements around paying compensation for deaths, random killing were considered “truly dumb”.“Nobody was interested in mass death. The cost of having to fork out pigs for compensation for death placed limits on what people were prepared to even envisage.”

Explosive anger over broken promises

Today locals live in constant fear and Hela is a virtual no-go zone to outsiders despite the fact that the recent atrocities played out barely 30 kilometres, as the helicopter flies, from the fortified compounds that are the heart of the nation’s largest resources project, the $US19 billion Exxon-Mobil led PNGLNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).

There is widespread distress in the highlands over unrealised promises around this enterprise and explosive anger at the failure of royalties to flow to landowners in the gas fields despite five years of operations. The Huli, famous for their elaborate wigs and face paint, are also fearsome fighters. Sharing, caring and loving, says Janet Koriama – just don’t take what is ours.

The maelstrom of the LNG fallout, old enmities, new jealousies, deteriorating basic services and, last year, a devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake, underwrites a spiralling social emergency in which tribal fighting has razed villages, closed schools, displaced communities and caused an unknown toll of casualties. The old rules constraining warfare have broken down in recent decades, , Ballard says. By 2008 – when the PNGLNG building phase was at its height – Medecins Sans Frontieres installed a surgical team at Tari Hospital because casualties from tribal and family violence were equivalent to a war zone. Janet Koriama says traditional protections for women have eroded notably over the lifetime of the LNG project.

Patients urged to report hospital staff charging fees

July 3, 2019The National

PORT Moresby General Hospital acting chief executive officer Paki Molumi wants the public to report any staff, nurse or doctor who demands fees for services. He said the admission fee for the hospital was K5, surgery K15 and K50 for CT scan. “However, the charges have been waived for children and senior citizens. “Doctors may also use their discretion to waive the charges for those who could not afford to pay,” he said. Molumi said it was illegal for any staff, nurse or doctor to collect fees for hospital services. “Please report immediately any staff who demanded payment so that we can make the system better for our patients,” he said.
Molumi also said a new policy had been implemented for accepting donations to the hospital.
“Food donations are not accepted due to the risk of contamination while donation of clothes and toys will go through the Department of Social Works for distribution.
“However, charitable donations for pharmaceuticals, equipment or infrastructure are most welcome.”

Priest: Better options available than death

July 8, 2019 The National

A CATHOLIC church priest is calling on the Government not to consider death penalty as an option for punishment but to fund rehabilitation programmes to change the people.
Chaplin of Baisu Jail in the Western Highlands Fr Robert Nolie said the Correctional Services was established to rehabilitate offenders and Government should focus on that aspect of the penal system. He said the death penalty was not the solution for penalising law breakers.
Nolie said he supported Prime Minister James Marape for suggesting a way forward for prisoners. Nolie said everyone made mistakes and rehabilitation through the state correctional system as well as faith and social programmes were better alternatives than ending a life.
He said leaders could not impose laws to kill wrong doers but rather help change those who broke the laws. Nolie said he was currently running rehabilitation programmes at Baisu and had seen firsthand the positive impact on a wide range of prisoners including serious offenders.
He said the rehabilitation programmes had prisoners engaged in were piggery, poultry, goat farming, agriculture and now the Baisu Technical Education Vocational Training (Tvet) centre.
“After working with the prisoners for six years I can see that they can change if they are taught to live better lives through the rehabilitation programmes,” he said. “I make prisoners feel at home, after they leave they go as changed person, this is why the Government should consider funding these programmes to help law breakers.”

He said the Catholic church of the Archdiocese of Mt Hagen was willing to work with the Correctional Services department in developing and running rehabilitation and reintegration programmes in jails.

06 July 2019

Part of the solution or part of the problem? Private security in PNG

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/07/part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem-private-security-in-png.html

SINCLAIR DINNEN & GRANT WALTON | DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA – In a surprise move, Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister, James Marape, appointed member for Madang Open, Bryan Kramer, as the country’s police minister.

Soon after his appointment Kramer promised to reform PNG’s police force, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC). The one-time member of the opposition and critic of the O’Neill government has outlined a range of measures, including providing more opportunities for women, addressing corruption and improving discipline. He is also encouraging citizens to report crime and police misdeeds through social media, which has already resulted in an arrest.

While Kramer’s promised reforms are encouraging, improving security in what is often depicted as one of the world’s most dangerous countries will not be easy. PNG’s police force is massively understaffed, poorly resourced, ill-disciplined and heavily factionalised. Even if reform were to improve the state’s police force, PNG’s serious fiscal crisis means that Kramer, and the still-to-be-appointed new police commissioner, will need to look beyond the RPNGC to find answers to PNG’s security problems.

One possible place to start looking will be PNG’s private security industry, which although intersecting with many areas of public policing has been largely ignored in policy and development discussions to date. The private security industry has become the largest provider of security in the country. According to PNG’s Security Industries Authority (SIA), which is the designated regulator under the Security (Protection) Industry Act 2004, the number of licensed companies grew from 173 in 2006 to 464 in 2016, with a total workforce of around 27,709 security guards.These official figures don’t include what are believed to be the much higher number of unlicensed security companies and personnel operating in different parts of the country.

The industry is a major employer, with some claiming that it is now the country’s third largest source of employment. While available figures are rubbery, the SIA estimated the value of the industry in 2016 as between K833 million and K1 billion.

New curriculum brings mixed reaction from officers

July 11, 2019 The National

THERE have been a lot of discussions, including mixed reactions, about the new curriculum citizenship and Christian values education (CCVE) at the senior education officers’ meeting in Eastern Highlands this week. However, most of the participants agreed to the introduction of the new curriculum as a compulsory subject due to moral breakdown in the PNG society.
CCVC has come about because of widespread concern regarding lack of prominence in teaching and learning of CCVE in school curriculums. Acting Education secretary in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Mary Remi raised an implementing issue on how the department could address teachers with attitude problems to teach Christian values education. Church education representative Michael Ova also agreed and said earlier aspects of confusion of CCVE was cleared during the conference presentation. First assistant secretary curriculum and measurement with the Education Department Annmarie Kona, when updating senior education officers about the curriculum said: “CCVE came about due to evidence in society about the disrespect for law, disrespect and denial of human rights, disrespect of environment, non-appreciation of cultural beliefs and values, growing practices of corruption and total breakdown of civic participation. Kona also shared that Christian religion education that was being taught currently by church representatives was about Christianity, unlike CCVE for which teachers are trained to teach.

Power elites behind brutal Highlands slayings must be targeted

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/07/behind-the-brutal-highlands-slayings-power-elites-must-be-targeted.html 12 July 2019

PORT MORESBY – Sixteen children and women slashed to death by warlords and their tribesmen were laid to rest in Hela yesterday.

And towards the eastern edge of Southern Highlands in the Kagua-Erave area, a massacre said to be much larger continues unabated, perhaps 50-100 victims have lost their lives as warring tribes ransack villages and orchestrate guerilla warfare. With limited reliable reporting, the number of deaths is likely to be much higher. Roads have become dangerous to travel and as a result schools, aid posts and other basic government services have come to a standstill.

With the use of high powered guns and hired hit men, tribal fights are much more deadly than those fought in traditional times. In the Highlands where the payback system and bigman mentality are still dominant, battles among the elites for power quickly spiral into all-out tribal and ethnic war. It gets complicated when political differences and tribal conflicts intertwine. Lurking behind the images of men with guns and piles of bodies is a battle among the elites for power, prestige and wealth. Money and drugs are used to procure high powered guns for the foot soldiers who follow orders from the top. It’s continuing warfare, there’s no sparing the innocent and there’s no contemplation of peace. As aptly described by one observer, the situation in Hela and other parts of the Highlands is not just chaos, it’s organised chaos. The killing of women and children is an emerging trend in tribal warfare and may reflect a change in the rules of engagement. It seems warring tribes are after children, especially male children and their mothers, in the hope of exterminating future threats. However, we all know that will only lead to a vicious cycle of revenge, death and continuing violence in the future.

Churches, community leaders, ward councillors, village court magistrates, tribal leaders and police all have an important role to play in ensuring that peace prevails. The organising elite must be held accountable. They are the ones bankrolling these battles and killings. They are responsible and they must act to stop the slaughter.

 PNG tops Pacific in child abuse

July 31, 2019 The National

PAPUA New Guinea has the highest number of child abuse cases of the estimated 2.8 million children facing violence in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, according to Unseen and Unsafe report.
Save the Children acting head of policy and author of Unseen and Unsafe, Kavitha Suthanthiraraj, says the report reveals the child protection crisis in the Pacific and Timor-Leste and the devastating lifelong impact this has on children. “Violence against children has been ignored and there has been inadequate levels of funds and policy measures to address this epidemic,” she said. “Children who face violence and abuse often suffer from serious physical injuries, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, mental trauma and even death.”
A research, conducted by Save the Children, World Vision, Plan International and ChildFund, demonstrated that in PNG:

  • More than half of all sexual violence cases referred to medical clinics in Port Moresby and Tari were against children;
  • 27 per cent of parents or carers reported beating their children over and over as hard as they could;
  • physical violence against adolescent girls is between 30 per cent and 25 per cent; and,
  • sexual violence against adolescent girls is between 15 per cent and 10 per cent.
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Social Concerns Notes – June 2019

My message to prime minister James Marape

01 June 2019

Scott Waide – As the new prime minister, you have your work cut out for you.

You have to try to get a lot of it done within two years before the 2022 elections.

That’s a big job. Do what is right by the people.  Listen to their voices through social media. Not all of it is fake news. Take counsel from those who disagree with you, publicly and privately, in the interest of your eight million people.  Be brave enough to listen to the criticisms and find the threads of truth in them. Be truthful about the state of Papua New Guinea’s health system.  The people of Papua New Guinea deserve a Government that tells the truth. There is a severe shortage of medicine. Puka Temu did a bad job and he did not admit to it as health minister.  Many of our aid posts are closed and our hospitals don’t have medicine.  Yet the media is accused of ‘being political’ when we highlight these ‘open secrets.’

Be truthful about tuition fee free education.  It’s not working for us. Our schools don’t get the money on time.  If we have to pay for school fees, tell that to the people straight as it is.  Papua New Guineans are resilient and hard working.  They do not deserve to be lied to. Please appoint an education minister who will find out why teachers continue to have their pays cut when they do not have outstanding loans.

Remove the companies that are benefiting from the cumbersome procurement processed in the health and education at the expense of our people. Investigate and prosecute the kaikaiman and kaikaimeri who suck the systems dry.  Send them to jail.

Provide housing for our people. …

Papua New Guineans deserve government that has the guts to dump the garbage and restore integrity.

Prison infrastructure falling apart: Official

June 4, 2019 The National

SOME prison facilities still being used today were built during the colonial days and badly need to be renovated and upgraded, a senior prison officer says.
Correctional Service College commander Chief Supt Kiddy Keko said some of the infrastructures were falling apart including buildings, staff quarters and offices. He called on the Government to increase the Correctional Service annual budget to cater for the upgrading of its facilities. “There are 22 State prisons around the country with over 1000 staff and their families,” Keko said. “In order to rehabilitate convicts like murderers and rapists, officers need proper facilities to use. It is their right to be protected under a proper roof to do their jobs effectively.” He said the Correctional Service was allocated about K166 million annually which was not enough for the rehabilitation process.


Call to revisit legislative issues

June 4, 2019 The National

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has urged newly-elected Prime Minister James Marape and his cabinet to revisit five legislative issues of national interest to reduce corruption and restore good governance in the country.
There are five crucial legislative actions that are of national interest that Transparency International PNG would be urging the Marape Government to take to reduce corruption and restore good governance in the country:

  • Establish a fully-empowered Independent Commission Against Corruption, with the power to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of corruption;
  • pass amendments to the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates to ensure it follows the constitution and is ensures greater accountability in how MP’s conduct themselves;
  • address the tangible deficiencies identified in TIPNG’s 2017 Election Observation Report through reform of the Electoral Law;
  • use Open Government Partnership to pass Access To Information Legislation and strengthen accountability in service delivery through civic participation; and,
  • Establish the outstanding Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) so that benefits from the country’s natural resources can be transparently managed.

06 June 2019

Marape’s pledge of hope & reassurance to the people of PNG

Daniel Kumbon – “To all our citizens, we are prepared to work, can I ask of you one thing? “Give me a good law and order environment, stop crime, stop tribal fights (my Hela, please), stop torture of mothers and daughters, stop corruption at all levels, honour time by being punctual, do little things like stop littering and spitting the red stain of betel nuts. “Let’s all contribute. I am willing to make few hard calls going forward as the chief servant of my country, Papua New Guinea.

“Those of you who want to work with me please align here or offer me better solution to make PNG the Richest Black Christian Nation on earth, where no child in any part of our country is left behind.”

Help sought to remove implants

June 7, 2019 The National

IMPLANTS are a modern and effective method of family planning lasting up to five years and used worldwide for more than 20 years, says Health secretary Pascoe Kase.
Kase made this statement after a group of women called on the Health Department to provide avenues for them to have their family planning implants removed due to side effects. More than 20 women called on the Health Department to provide a safe avenue for them to remove their implants without being turned away or verbally abused by health workers. Spokeswoman Mary Hulova told The National that they had been trying to remove their family planning implants since the end of last year but were turned away by both the public clinics and other partner service providers. “It’s been five years now, the implants have grown into our flesh and we have been suffering from all sorts of side effects like migraines, severe backaches, itchy skin and weight problems,” Hulova said.
“We went to Susu Mamas Clinic at 3-Mile but again we were turned away and told to go back to the service providers because the implants were placed by them, so many have given up and have just continued on living with the implants. “We are now calling on the government to help us and provide avenue for us to go to and remove these implants,” she said.

Election flawed to an unforgivable extent: Report

June 7, 2019 The National

THE 2017 National General Elections were “flawed to an unforgivable extent” according to a published report. Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) chairman Lawrence Stephens said the nation had allowed far too many of its people to be robbed of their basic rights during the election. The report also stated that voters were not able to vote as their ballot papers were used by other persons or groups without their permission; many instances of threats and intimidation and vote buying was observed to have been common place during the elections. Stephens said that PNG needed to stop making excusing for failing to honour its own Constitution and laws.

Three years on: Let’s not forget the brave students of 2016

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/three-years-on-lets-not-forget-the-brave-students-of-2016.html

10 June 2016  Scott Waide – This week marks three years since students at the University of Papua New Guinea were shot at a public gathering. In the days leading up to the shooting they were belittled, scorned and told their opinions on good governance and corruption did not matter. The students were campaigning for greater transparency in government, a stop to overseas borrowing and the resignation of the prime minister.

Ideas whose time has come three years later.

… ‘Adults’ mocked them. The public servants told them to go back to school and forget about politics because they were ‘not qualified’ to talk about what was happening in the seat of power. On Wednesday 8 June, police shot into a crowd of students wounding a number of them, some badly. It was fortunate there were no deaths. Students were chased and teargassed and NBC journalist Rose Amos, reporting on the protest, was assaulted by police. The university administration later penalised students for being part of the protest even as their comrades lay injured in hospital. Some were told they would not graduate that year. They stood up for democracy when everyone else was too afraid.

Papua New Guinea on the chopping block

By Roberta Staley June 10, 2019

Eight members of the Kimadi tribe stand, crouch or sit on the hard ground, knotty with exposed tree roots, enjoying the relative cool offered by a verdant canopy of leaves overhead. Just a few metres away, the quiet clear waters of a Bismarck Sea lagoon, filled with small schools of striped tropical fish, lap against the grassy bank. The setting is tranquil and bucolic – but not for the Kimadi, who have travelled from their traditional territory in Madang province in Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific to consult with an NGO, the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG). Founded in 1996 and headquartered just outside the town of Madang, BRG provides consulting services and advice to Indigenous groups like the Kimadi who are fighting ever-growing threats from logging and palm oil development on their lands. …

Signs that the Kimadi’s subsistence lifestyle is under threat first appeared last July when Malaysian company Woodbank Pacific began logging about 10 kilometres upstream. Roads were cut into the steep, hilly wilderness to allow logging-truck access. Then, clear cutting began of softwood and hardwood trees, such as the kwila, which grows up to 50 metres high and is used in a variety of products, from furniture and musical instruments to building bridges. But the loggers were cavalier as they felled these forest giants, letting some logs fall into the waterways and leaving them to rot, contaminating the water flowing downstream to where the Kimadi villagers live, says Lawun. “All the communities downstream are being affected.” …

The Kimadi have reason to be worried about the pernicious ubiquity of logging in their home province. In 2010, Madang province had 2,000,000 hectares of tree cover extending over 76% of its land area. In 2017 alone, it lost 15,900 hectares of tree cover, Global Forest Watch reported.

In PNG, the roots of the deforestation problem lie with Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), which have weakened Indigenous Papua New Guineans’ claims to customary landownership. Before the Land Act (1996) came into existence, about 97% of PNG was controlled by Indigenous peoples. However, provisions in the act enabled the state to lease land from customary owners, then re-lease it to private companies or individuals. According to Father Philip Gibbs, a professor and vice-president of research and higher degrees at Divine Word University in Madang, this “lease-leaseback scheme” has resulted in 10% of the country’s total land area ending up in private hands. The national and provincial governments of Papua New Guinea encouraged landowners to enter into the strategy, giving up their land, often based upon false promises of community enrichment or employment, Gibbs says.

Kwa: ICAC Bill awaiting endorsement

June 11, 2019 The National

DEPARTMENT of Justice and Attorney-General Secretary Dr Eric Kwa says the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) Bill is with the National Executive Council for their endorsement. “We are hoping that the ICAC office will be established soon to fight corruption,” Kwa said on Sunday during the Sir Anthony Siaguru Walk Against Corruption in Port Moresby. “We are ready to fight corruption and Prime Minister James Marape wants to push through the ICAC Bill so I want to say that we have cleared the bill and it is now with NEC and hopefully we will have this organisation to help fight corruption.” Kwa said the bill was first tabled in 2009.


Plea to Marape: New PM asked to reinstate sacked whistleblower

12 June 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/test-for-marape-new-pm-asked-to-reinstate-sacked-whistleblower.html#more

PORT MORESBY – “Dear Prime Minister,” wrote Martyn Namorong in an open letter on Monday. “Please reinstate Brian Alois or, even better, appoint him as the secretary for works so we taxpayers don’t get ripped off.”

Now in case you don’t recall this matter, Alois was suspended by the Works Department last year after he blew the whistle on how the Papua New Guinea government was being cheated on inflated road contracts. At the time, Alois was the Momase regional works manager and also president of the PNG Institute of Engineers. Speaking as Institute president at a national planning summit, he had highlighted how the government was paying well in excess of what it should for road construction and maintenance projects.

In doing so, he mentioned a 300-metre stretch of road in the National Capital District which had cost K80 million to construct. In the audience was works secretary David Wereh and a number of government ministers and departmental heads. Within hours Brian Alois had been suspended from his job. More than a year later he remains sidelined.

Paul Barker, director of the PNG Institute of National Affairs, commenting on Namorong’s letter this week, commended Alois as a “capable and honest talent that PNG cannot afford to miss out on. “His message on overpriced contracts must be heeded and addressed,” Barker said.

Can the Marape government reverse PNG’s ‘resource curse’  Paul Flanagan

Link here to the full version of Paul Flanagan’s latest article

It is too early to tell whether the new government will make the important and politically difficult policy changes required to reverse the ‘resource curse’ approaches of the O’Neill government. Recent PNG National Statistics Office figures confirmed that the PNG Treasury was over-estimating the health of the PNG economy in 2016. The new figures increase the gap between PNG LNG promises and actual outcomes relative to if there had been no PNG LNG project at all.

The average outcome remains that PNG’s industries were just over one-fifth worse off in 2016 than if they had simply continued ‘business as usual’ growth prior to the PNG LNG project. Overall, the PNG LNG project massively over-promised and then failed to deliver. This is not because of the fall in oil prices – indeed LNG export returns are higher than predicted. Resource projects should be good for development – but this requires good policies. The PNG LNG project induced poor policies under the O’Neill government. These poor policies overwhelmed potential PNG LNG benefits….

Uphold laws, live in harmony & achieve prosperity, says Marape, 12 June 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/uphold-laws-live-in-harmony-achieve-prosperity-says-marape.html#more

James Marape

I am motivated by leaders who refuse to accept money to see change and good governance. They are offered money, they are offered jobs but they stick to their commitment for the good of the people and country.

I appeal to Papua New Guineans, the least you can do is to respect your children, the girls and women amongst us.

You respect society by living peacefully, respecting each other despite our ethnic differences, our political differences, our religious differences.

You will realise where we are. We need greater incursion into how we harvest our natural resources.

Many of our corporate citizens will feel a little bit doubtful, will feel a little bit intimidated, a little bit insecure. But you must not feel that way.

When PNG is safe, when PNG is secured economically, when PNG is robust and growing, businesses will flourish and reap deserved rewards.

You need PNG to be strong, stable, prosperous and wealthy. And that is why I am in the business of making huge decisions in as far as resource laws are concerned.

We will do it very slowly. I’m looking at 2025 in which we will migrate to a new legislative framework.

Whatever changes we intend to do in the next one or two years will be prospective.

I appeal to Papua New Guineans to respect and uphold the laws so the country can prosper harmoniously.

Every extra kina spent on maintaining law and order could otherwise be saved and spent on schools, education, health and infrastructure.

I appeal to everyone nationwide, especially my people of Hela and the region, to help transform communities into peaceful and law-abiding citizens who can contribute to nation-building unabated.

30,000 TB cases a year makes PNG a regional health issue

17 June 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/30000-tb-cases-a-year-makes-png-a-regional-health-issue.html

PORT MORESBY – Investing in health is one of the best ways to build a better future. Healthy societies are more stable and equal and have stronger and more productive economies. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, improving public health is a global common good.

Since the turn of the century, there has been significant progress in the fight against HIV and malaria in PNG. Investments by international donors and partnerships with faith-based organisations and other civil society groups have reduced the number of malaria cases and deaths through national mosquito net distribution campaigns. The country has also made big strides against HIV by making lifesaving treatment available to thousands of HIV-positive people.

However, PNG’s 8.5 million people continue to face very serious development and public health challenges. We have the highest malaria burden in the world outside Africa, with the entire population at risk, affecting primarily pregnant women and children under five. We also have the highest number of new tuberculosis cases in the Pacific Island region – around 30,000 new cases each year, with TB now the leading cause of death in PNG. We have alarming rates of drug-resistant TB, a more aggressive form that does not respond to existing medications, resulting in fewer treatment options and increasing mortality rates for illnesses that would ordinarily be curable – including TB.

Marape’s dream

June 18, 2019 The National

PRIME Minister James Marape is getting up and close with Papua New Guineans by sending messages through social media – Facebook. He highlighted the target of being economically self-sufficient.

  • Key economic benchmarks and tasks to undertake includes:
  • Re-assessment of the 2019 budget and deliver state of economy statistics to ensure our budget for the rest of 2019 and going forward is anchored on solid achievable numbers;
  • make redundant lesser priority areas in budget, including taking control of salary overrun and office rental expenditures;
  • stop non-economic stimulant programmes, including loans to projects of insignificance;
  • ramp up access to international grant facilities already open to PNG like the EUs and other global grants available as well as drawing down on productive loans already secured;
  • do a forensic audit into all levels of companies operating in the country to ensure they are all tax and fees compliant;all resource projects coming up for reviews to be negotiated with the view to gain now for our country with no more concessions, tax deductions or wavering of fees etc; and,
  • Promulgation of policies and legislations to ensure downstream processing of our natural resources be given highest order of priority and all resources companies in all sectors that want to participate in harvest of our resources must come up with clearer and quicker ways to do downstream processing. Gone are the days when someone was telling us you can’t do gold bullion in the country or you can’t process timber in the country or we can’t have petro chemical industries in the country, or we can’t grow rice and cattle in the country. (These) are some examples of adding value to our resources.

 

How decentralised funding became decentralised corruption

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/how-decentralised-funding-became-decentralised-corruption.html#more

Centralized funding becomes decentralized corruption. 20 June 2019

Over the years, successive Papua New Guinea governments did well in decentralising power from Waigani. The establishment of District Development Authorities signified the completion of the decentralisation process, and also showed that the distribution mechanism for funds was ready to roll. Disbursements of K10 million each year to the districts was the highlight of decentralisation. These funds not only enabled districts to implement their development goals without having to face the Waigani bureaucracy, it also gave them financial power and, ultimately, the freedom to choose and fund projects and deliver services according to home-grown plans. With this freedom and power, rather unfortunately, followed endless impairments of virtue and moral principles.

The K10 million became everyman’s object of envy: district government officials, local businessmen, village leaders, church pastors, recent graduates, and village illiterates. In fact every Tom, Dick and Harry. Beyond the scrutiny of government departments, which themselves are allegedly corrupt beyond measure, abuse in broad daylight grew.

Evidence of this is seen in the half completed classrooms that litter many rural schools across the country. In addition, many other projects didn’t see the light of day.

People who succeeded in obtaining a portion of the K10 million suddenly became household names and role models. Imagine the impact this connivance and greed had on children, who are the future of Papua New Guinea. If corruption was bad in Port Moresby, at the district level it was worse. If corruption was secretive in Port Moresby, in the district it was in plain sight. Decentralisation of power had also become the decentralisation of corruption. …And this will continue if the established system is allowed to continue. …

What life is really like in (very expensive) Port Moresby 21 June 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/what-life-is-really-like-in-very-expensive-port-moresby.html#more

Scott Waide

Anyone living in Port Moresby without institutional housing, or support from relatives or parents, knows it’s an absolute nightmare. Port Moresby is the most expensive city in the Pacific. The rental price structure is like that in Australia and yet the wages employers’ pay don’t match the cost of living and housing is skewed towards the high end market. Real estate companies charge a minimum K1,000 – K5,000 a week in rental. The vast majority of Papua New Guineans don’t see that kind of money in a fortnight or even six months.  A salary of between K35,000 and K50,000 is next to impossible to live on if you have a family. The figure looks great on the payslip. But it can’t pay rent. You can’t save enough unless someone else is paying the rent or your company pays for accommodation. In Port Moresby, the buying power of an K80,000 a year salary is limited if you pay your own rent. Quality of life diminishes once reality sets in after the first year of work. It’s a painful reality that many young graduates have to face. What appears to be a big salary is ripped to shreds by the reality of big city life. …

Becoming a rich black nation: Are we not rich already?

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/becoming-a-rich-black-nation-are-we-not-rich-already.html 21 June 2019

Many of us feel deprived of certain opportunities and privileges and therefore miss or forget that we are rich already. As a country we didn’t have to struggle to become an independent democratic nation….Our land holds rich mineral and natural resources that today, in some parts of the country, have become the cause of our various divisions and tensions. What we need is to appreciate this richness. …

Papua New Guinea needs to distribute its wealth equally so that our children can have free good quality education that is relevant for our sustenance and growth and that our sick can access good quality health care in our country and at no cost.

We are rich when our women are appreciated as equals and are free from violence and our youth are an integral part of our decision making. …

We cannot continue to rely on foreign consultants to tell us how to run our country.

Our ways are unique, diverse and deep and only we understand why we do things as Papua New Guineans. We must stop relying on borrowed concepts and ideas.

… We have adopted a belief system that commands us to look after our God’s creation. And when our forests, rivers, sea and land are free from abuse and exploitation, we will know we will be rich forever. We are rich already. We just need to care more and look at our distribution mechanisms and make decisions responsibly.

Triads threaten new government’s desire to ‘take back PNG’

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/triads-threaten-new-governments-desire-to-take-back-png.html#more

Daniel Kumbon 26 June 2019

While the ‘Look North’ policy introduced by the Wingti government was good for the economic prosperity of Papua New Guinea, a sinister development has hijacked those good intentions. The policy has evolved into a Pandora’s Box of counterfeit goods, gambling, prostitution and drug trafficking.

This threatens to negate the bold declaration made by the Marape-Stevens government to ‘Take Back PNG’ and make it “the richest black Christian nation on earth”.

Drug trafficking is already entrenched in PNG, which is reported to have become a transit point for international drug cartels helped by poorly policed, open borders, isolated islands and outdated drug laws.

Seven foreigners experienced how weak our laws were when they were deported last month after spending just 18 months in jail for drug trafficking and illegally entering the country. One of the men, Lam Tse Lik, was wanted by Hong Kong police after his name appeared in Interpol’s international criminals’ wanted list. Of the others, five were from mainland China and one from Montenegro. They were caught on Budubudi Island in Milne Bay province in May last year with 55 kilograms of cocaine worth about A$1.5 million (K3.4 million). On Saturday 15 June they left Jackson’s International Airport with broad smiles on their faces and high-five victory signs. Imagine if they had been caught in Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Philippines or Singapore where the ultimate penalty for narcotics offenders was death. People caught in these countries with more than an ounce of drugs are considered drug traffickers. But in PNG, police enforce the Drug Act of 1954 which allows a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

According to The Age newspaper, the Chinese mafia has infiltrated and corrupted the highest levels of PNG’s police force, crippling the nation’s attempts to tackle law and order problems. The report said an investigation had uncovered alleged links between 16 of PNG’s most senior police and Asian criminals implicated in people smuggling, money laundering, prostitution, illegal gambling, fraud and theft. The police minister at the time, Bire Kimisopa, refused to discuss the report but acknowledged that PNG faced an organised crime crisis that implicated senior police.

“It goes right to the top,” the minister said. “Chinese mafia have bought off officials throughout the system…. they are operating illegal businesses, they are siphoning money out, corrupting government officials, colluding with police and making attempts to kill officials as well.”

Asian organised crime syndicates include groups from Vietnam and Japan (generally referred to as yakuza or boryokudan), Taiwan and China (sometimes referred to as triads). They are nothing like the opportunistic raskol gangs in Port Moresby.

Triads trace their history to secret political societies formed in China during the 17th century to restore the Ming Dynasty to power and who used secret forms of identification and communication.

The ‘Look North’ policy must be revisited to ensure a more suitable program is adopted to deal with importation of defective products, prostitution, drug trafficking and other illegal activities. If not, Asian organised crime syndicates can very easily cripple this country in its efforts to ‘Take Back PNG’ and make is “the richest black Christian nation on earth”

Mt Ulawun erupts -135,000 to be moved

June 28, 2019 The National Main Stories

KIMBE disaster officers and volunteers are working round the clock to mobilise the evacuation of some 15,000 people in East Nakanai following the eruption of Mt Ulawun in Bialla, West New Britain (WNB), on Wednesday morning. Papua New Guinea (PNG) National Disaster Centre has declared a Category 2 volcanic eruption, making evacuation mandatory for all villagers.
More than 120,000 other villagers staying further away from the volcano are also expected to be affected and evacuated as Mt Ulawun continues to spew thick black ash with growing intensity by the hour. Hoskins Airport is reported to be covered in 4mm of thick volcanic ash and both Air Niugini and PNG Air had cancelled all flights since the eruption at 7am Wednesday. The WNB highway to Kokopo, East New Britain, is also closed to traffic due to thick black ashes. Disaster officers and volunteers and six trucks of food and water supplies have been mobilised to leave Kimbe town for Barima, Bagara, Mandi and Soi. However, the supplies would only last for about a week. Governor Muthuvel is also appealing to opportunists not to take advantage of the situation to loot abandoned residential houses or business houses.

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2019

Press Statement from Catholic Bishops Conference

30 May 2019

An appeal to the new government of Papua New Guinea

The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea appreciate the peaceful development of the political debate on the floor of Parliament and hope it immediately turns to the benefit of the vulnerable people, of our society, and our environment:

  1. The rural poor and the urban poor expect improved public services, better education for children, medicines in the health centers, farm to market roads, jobs, entertainment and sport facilities to reduce the impact of alcohol and negative behavior among the youth. Resources and assets must now benefit the marginalized and the peripheries rather than the wealthier and the centers.
  2. The illegal detention of asylum seekers and refugees in Manus and Port Moresby since 2013, at the request of the government of Australia, is a cause of shame and embarrassment that the new PNG government must denounce in its first day in office. The Regional Resettlement Arrangement has proven to be unsustainable with people getting sick, depressed, suffering mental illness, and dying. Their transfer to properly equipped Australian on-shore processing facilities has to be effected immediately.
  3. The protection of the environment and the country’s natural resources needs a legislative review, particularly of the Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) and agreements with foreign companies in the mining, logging and extractive sectors. People and communities come first; capital and business follow!
  4. The legislation to establish an Independent Commission against Corruption should not be further delayed. The perception of systemic and systematic corruption in PNG is very damaging to the image of the nation and to the morale of its citizens. We renew our appeal for the restoration of the separation of powers so that our MPs can focus on making good laws and the public servants on the provision of services.

The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea also ask from the new government an effective partnership in the planning and managing of the Education and Health sectors in the country. Other Churches share the same expectation.

It is with the contribution of everybody and the acceptance of public scrutiny that true wellbeing and prosperity is promoted and corruption defeated!

May God bless the new executives of Papua New Guinea and give them wisdom and steadfastness!

The Central Committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG-SI:

FR. GIORGIO LICINI, PIME. General Secretary

First public human rights report into PNG gas industry

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/04/first-public-human-rights-report-into-png-gas-industry.html#more

BRISBANE – University of Queensland researcher Associate Professor Nick Bainton has co-written the first publicly available human rights impact assessment for a proposed gas project in Papua New Guinea.

You can download the full report here

Dr Bainton and Nora Götzmann from the Danish Institute for Human Rights were commissioned by Total Exploration and Production PNG to identify potential impacts on gender, security and conflict for the joint venture Papua liquefied natural gas project.

The assessment involved extensive desktop research, and interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders in Port Moresby and local communities in the project’s area of influence in PNG’s remote Gulf Province. The researchers met with some 400 Gulf Province community members over the course of their study, including about 160 women.

 Political meddling & poor training spur corruption in PNG

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/04/political-meddling-poor-training-spur-corruption-in-png.html#more. 27 April 2019

SARAJEVO – A newly-published discussion paper on corruption in Papua New Guinea’s public sector has found that low-level officials are often poorly informed about laws and regulations. They are also under intense pressure to grant favours to businesses, politicians and clan affiliates, contributing to existing patterns of corrupt behaviour in the developing country.

The paper, ‘Governance and Corruption in PNG’s Public Service: Insights From Four Subnational Administrations’, was published this month by the Development Policy Centre, an aid and development policy think tank based out of the Australian National University in Canberra. Its author, Dr Grant Walton, drew on interviews with 136 public servants across four provinces in PNG in an effort to fill the empirical data gap on why public officials may support or resist corruption and poor governance.

PNG is one of the poorest countries in the Pacific, with nearly 40% of its population living below the national poverty line. While the country recently has started reaping the benefits of oil and gas extraction, its public health system is rapidly deteriorating—two-fifths of health centres and rural health posts have no electricity or essential medical equipment, according to the United Nations Development Program.

Political interference is also a great concern among officials, Walton found. In recent years, PNG has been pursuing a policy of decentralization, and in 2014 the parliament passed the District Development Authority Act, giving greater autonomy to local governments over how they allocate resources. However, as members of parliament are now “often personally involved in deciding how this money is allocated and implemented,” lower level officials have grown frustrated. “We may plan for something else but when political interference comes we need to divert our efforts to suit what [MPs] want,” one senior female public servant said.

While PNG improved its rating on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index last year, at 28 out of 100 (with 100 signifying “least corrupt”), it still scored well below the Asia Pacific regional average of 44.

Kidnapping reports affect classes

April 30, 2019 The National

TOKARARA Secondary School suspended classes yesterday because parents feared their children could be kidnapped for their organs as speculation continued on Facebook.
The school said Grade 12 student numbers had been down since last week because the fear was real.
Tokarara Secondary principal Gabriel Manga told The National that the school board had decided to send students away at 10.40am because parents were calling the school to pick up their children.
Manga said the school would assess the situation and see if the students should continue classes..
“Many have stayed (home) because of the fear they had from kidnapping – increased in the city,” he said.
Another Grade 12 student Abel Makele said absent students caused teachers to delay giving out tests and assignments which was dragging the whole process of term two assessment schedules.
“Our education is a priority and authorities need to assure us we are safe,”Makele said.

Moresi said the school had 2,046 students from grades three to eight but only 970 attended classes.

MP Hits 10% Drop In Living Standard

Post Courier May 3, 2019

The National Statistical Office (NSO) has revealed that on average, living standards in PNG have fallen by an extraordinary K516 per person between 2012 and 2018. This was revealed by Shadow Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey who described it as “a shocking result”.

“This represents a 10 per cent drop in living standards in just five years under the incompetent economic policies of O’Neill’s PNC government,” Mr Ling-Stuckey said.

“The Prime Minister continues to talk up the economy and keeps promising that things will get better – but his record simply indicates he cannot be trusted.”

Digicel’s overdue tower debts impoverish & anger landowners

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/05/digicels-long-overdue-tower-rent-debts-impoverish-landowners.html#more

PORT MORESBY – This is my seventh month of complaining about the failure of the Digicel PNG Ltd telecommunications company to pay the rent money it owes to the landowners of its digital tower locations. Some Digicel employees feel sorry for us and have said the people in charge of payments will ignore us and never try to help. The clauses of the agreement we made with Digicel are clear. No such thing should happen to any of us landowners. But because landowners are simple people and can easily be tricked, they continue to ignore us and cheat us. Only a few landowners who have help from their families and clansmen are now seeking legal advice while the one hope of the rest of us is to continue to complain at the Digicel office. But we cannot break through by complaining and therefore are losing hope….

The problem began when Digicel and its officers did not devise a proper plan for illiterate landowners to collect the rental payments. At first, Digicel should have found out who they were the legitimate owners of the land where the Digicel tower would stand.

This was not done. Digicel and its officers never put their feet on the ground to locate the boundaries and never even asked the people to confirm who the legitimate landowners were. Some landowners are paid through their bank accounts but not in full. It is clearly indicated in the agreement signed with landowners that payments will be made every six months. Digicel and its officer should know what the outstanding funds are and when they must be paid. To get their unpaid rental payment, landowners use their own funds to come to Port Moresby or, if they live in remote places, travel miles and days to reach their Digicel branch. This is despite the agreement with Digicel clearly indicating that the lessor will not need to spend funds due to the existence of the tower on their land.

Another problem is that Digicel is supposed to employ four security guards for the towers and to pay them every fortnight – two security guards should protect the towers for the night shift and two for the day shift.

But many of the guards are ghosts who are never seen, security is left to the landowners who live near the towers. So what happens to this money that would be paid in wages to protect more than 1,000 towers across Papua New Guinea?

St John bus robbed at gunpoint, staff attacked

May 8, 2019 The National

A ST John Ambulance bus was yesterday robbed by a group of men at Morata Two in the Moresby North-West electorate. It took place at about 5.40am, eight officers were on board. According to a statement from St John, the group of men blocked off the main road and threatened the driver with a gun to the head. They then smashed the window and helped themselves. They grabbed items including mobile phones, bank cards and money among other things. Two St John female officers were punched and kicked several times and indecently assaulted while being dragged out of the bus. They were ordered to lie face-down outside the bus and left there. “According to our team, the group of men appeared heavily intoxicated,” the statement said.
“As a result of this, St John will be suspending all services to the suburb of Morata for an indefinite period until safety of all our St John team can be guaranteed.”
St John Ambulance commissioner and chief executive Matthew Cannon condemned the actions of the gang, saying St John did not discriminate when attending to patients, whether hoodlums or not, and such actions by a few show a complete lack of human decency and respect for emergency service workers.

St John in the first quarter of the year responded to 670 emergency calls from the Moresby North-West electorate. Three-quarters of the calls were from Morata.

Bishops: Legal action an option

May 13, 2019 The National 

THE Catholic bishops annual meeting last week heard that legal action is probably needed to prompt the Government into action to meet its obligations in education through the church.
“If the demands are not met the following year, there will be an appropriate legal action taken to protect the rights of the people for quality education that has been destroyed by the current Government,” Bishop Rochus Tatamai told a press conference on Friday.
The president of Catholic Bishops Conference from PNG and the Solomons Islands and Kavieng diocese said sensitive issues discussed at the meeting affected people and the work the church used to do in PNG and the Solomons.
“One of the issues that really needs to be highlighted is regarding our partnership with the Government in providing basic services like education to the people,” he said. “We accordingly call for a fundamental re-orientation of our attitudes and the institutions of government, commerce, education and religion towards PNG forms of participation and consensus.
“We also call for a continuous renewal of the responsiveness of these institutions to the needs and attitudes of the people.
“These are the values that we believe should be the basis of our
partnership with the State in providing education services to our people.
“However, in the past six years, our experience in the field of education is that there has been no consultation, very little consensus and lack of participation in decision-making.”
Among many of the issues faced by Catholic church education agencies, Tatamai said, included:

  • Teaching council had not met since last year;
  • no consultation about the new school structure and cost analysis;
  • grand in aid to help church agencies with administrative costs not met since 2011; and,
  • Mistreatment by the Government and the Education Department of church schools regarding Tuition Fee Free funding.

In regards to those issues, Tatamai said that as a church, it is now asking the government to deliver what it needs to be.

Nurses in rural areas still working despite threats

May 13, 2019  The National

NURSES in rural areas continue to provide patient care responsibilities under extreme pressure and threat from patients due to inadequate drugs supplies, deteriorated facilities and without enough staff, an official says.
Nurses in remotest Huon Gulf and other districts are faced with difficulties in drug supplies, rundown facilities and not enough workers.
“Nurses continue to use kerosene lamps and torches at night to treat patients using local herbs and prayers to stabilise patients,” Paru said.
In Huon Gulf, out of 47 aid posts – 12 were closed, five were in Salamaua and four each in Wampar and Morobe patrol post. “These nurses walk for days or travel by dinghies or dugout canoes to buy drugs in Lae. “When clinics are closed over no drugs, nurses face the consequences being attacked by patients,” Paru said.
He said complications of pregnant women, critical axe or knife injuries, snake bites, bows and arrow injuries over land issues or adultery cases were a common problem.

Kenmore Catholics’ trash buys a new boat for Milne Bay priest

19 May 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/05/kenmore-catholics-trash-buys-a-new-boat-for-milne-bay-priest.html

BRISBANE – Kenmore parish has furthered its commitment to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home by turning recyclables into foreign aid donations. The parish has collected more than 4,000 recyclable containers like bottles, cans and cardboard, which earn 10 cents per unit under the Queensland government initiative Containers for Cash. The funds collected by the parish were used to buy a boat for a Papua New Guinean bishop. “We had a parishioner come to us last year about helping buy a small boat for Fr Sam Phasz, a priest of the Province of Milne Bay in the Diocese of Alotau-Sideia,” said parish priest Fr Mark Franklin.

“The parish is mainly water, so it would enable the priest to get around the islands and see his diocese. “The boat is also used for delivery of food and medical items and taking people to hospital.” Fr Franklin said he started the project about two months ago as part of a communal partnership with Kenmore Rotary Club. “One of our parishioners who is a member of Rotary came to us a while ago about being in partnership with the Kenmore Rotary regarding (the parish) being a distribution point for Containers for Cash,” he said.

“There are distribution points all over the place in the city, but because we’re a bit isolated out here the Rotary (club) decided to take it on as a collection point in Kenmore.

“The parish keeps 50% of the funds, which we then hand on to the Diocese of Alotau-Sideia.” Fr Franklin said the Containers for Cash initiative was a practical way to raise money while also raising environmental awareness in the parish.

Call for apt facilities for disabled, homosexuals, foreigners

May 22, 2019 The National

THERE are no facilities and rehabilitation programmes in Buimo jail to cater for people living with disabilities (PLWD), homosexuals or foreigners, an official says. Outgoing Buimo commander Chief Supt Felix Namane said that the government and relevant agencies – Department of Correctional Services, Law and Justice Sector, Community Development and various stakeholders should draft policies to enable apt facilities and rehabilitation services and programmes. He said this in response to the National Court decision in Lae by Justice Frazer Pitpit who sentenced one Steven Bumang, 45, a PLWD to four years in prison.
Bumang was charged with raping an 8-year-old girl on Feb 27. “In Buimo, we have no facilities to cater for PLWD, lesbians, gays and foreigners and it is a great concern for lack of such facilities and services in jails,” Namane said.
Namane said Buimo had no separate cell block with toilet, shower and kitchens to accommodate various types of PLWD including rehabilitation activities. Namane said a gay who was sentenced to six months in Buimo was accommodated with female prisoners.
“However, people may think that accommodating gays and lesbians in a female inmate wing is possible but some of their characteristics varies and never suits normal female inmates”.

A new government must restore confidence in the law

28 May 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/05/a-new-government-must-restore-confidence-in-the-law.html

Francis Nii – “Laws must be strong, respected, upheld and they must work fairly in the interests of every citizen”

FRANCIS NII. KUNDIAWA – Public confidence in the police force and judiciary as independent and impartial state agencies of the state has drastically declined under the leadership of Peter O’Neill. Meddling in appointments and in the operations of the police and hard-to-understand decisions of the courts has raised serious doubts and mistrust in the minds of the people.

Increasingly the independence and integrity of the two institutions are being questioned.

As the political numbers game in the lead-up to a possible vote of no confidence intensifies and as a mass exodus occurs of government MPs to the opposition, prime minister Peter O’Neill had no choice but to relinquish his position.

Whether he actually does this in favour of Sir Julius Chan or thinks of some other escape tactic, it will be a last minute do-or-die manoeuvre for his own survival.

That O’Neill has not resigned but stepped down “for a few days” means he could resume his position anytime.

As of yesterday, the opposition had 63 members and the government 47. There were more defections expected from those who still remained in the government but the opposition said it had shut its doors to them.

As D-Day gets nearer, perhaps today, the formation of a new government looks certain.

Should this occur, one of its first tasks needs to be the restoration of the integrity and independence of the nation’s law enforcement institutions.

Under the O’Neill government, these vital state institutions have been severely impaired

There has been the dismantling of the corruption-busting Investigative Task Force Sweep and the termination of its members, Peter O’Neill’s parachuting of Gary Baki into the job of police commissioner and the Supreme Court’s quashing of the UBS loan case against O’Neill.

There has been the continuous suppression and eventual closure of the Parakagate affair by O’Neill and Baki without a proper trial, the storming of parliament by the ‘disciplined’ forces, never properly investigated and a much-promised anti-corruption commission never delivered.

These are just a few examples of malpractice that have contributed to the decline in public confidence of two vital state institutions.

If and when a new government takes office, one of the first items of businesses must be to restore the independence, credibility and integrity of the judiciary, the police and the public service.

This means that all heads who took political sides and practiced nepotism during O’Neill’s tenure should be replaced with neutral personnel through proper and transparent appointment processes.

All allegations of corruption that have not gone to trial must be resurrected and justice meted out.

Those found guilty must be punished by law both to restore confidence in the judiciary but also as a wholesome bid to rid Papua New Guinea of corruption.

To give credence to this effort is the passing of an ICAC – Independent Commission Against Corruption – bill into law. The bill must be looked at again to ensure it is totally free of political interference and manipulation both in the appointment of its personnel and in its operations.

The unpopular and unnecessary dual citizenship law must also be repealed to prevent law breakers escaping from PNG.

If the economy is to grow and civil society is to enjoy prosperity, peace and harmony, the country needs a vibrant, independent and impartial justice system and related law enforcement agencies.

The laws of a nation not only protect its citizens but they are the compass that directs the course of the nation. The laws must be strong, respected, upheld and they must work fairly in the interests of every citizen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – April 2019

The rigging of the 2017 election: (4) Money politics & corruption01 April 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/04/the-rigging-of-the-2017-election-4-money-politics-corruption.html

You can link to the full ANU report here

Money politics, the use of criminal elements and the engagement of security forces are a feature of elections in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, and have slowly spread into all other regions, most recently into the PNG Islands and Milne Bay.

The ANU report states:

 “Candidates across the country (in all four regions) were observed to have spent significant amounts of money securing support and offering material incentives to voters.

“Though widespread, money politics was of a different order than in earlier elections, being focused on key officials and those with the ability to influence. It was mediated by ‘strongmen’ in some communities, and well-respected leaders in others.

“There was also a significant flow of resources from voters to candidates, providing an ideal situation for ‘strongmen’ and other community leaders to consolidate their political influence at the local and parliamentary level.

Problems with the electoral roll were a feature of voter discontent. In 2017, all 35 observer teams noted serious defects with it, and the report finds that “many citizens were not provided genuine opportunity to register on a non-discriminatory basis, nor were they provided reasonable opportunity to inspect the electoral roll prior to or during the election.

Overall, very few of the 7,510 citizens surveyed pre- and post-polling had confidence in the electoral roll, with confidence dropping to just 10% in 2017.

Two-thirds (65%) of all citizens surveyed post polling considered the 2017 elections worse than the 2007 and 2012 elections, and fewer than half (46%) reported being able to freely exercise their vote.  (See the full article in the url above).

 Catastrophic failures in PNG health service delivery
By Martha Macintyre
http://www.devpolicy.org/catastrophic-failures-in-png-health-service-delivery-20190404/

Reflecting on 25 years of research into health service delivery and the health status of women and children in Papua New Guinea, it is distressing to observe the current catastrophic failures and continued decline in services for women and children. The anticipated improvements to health services from mining and liquid gas royalties have not eventuated, and the problems of corruption and inefficiency in service provision are compounded by the government’s apparent lack of concern for the health of the population. This has led to a crisis in public health. Although the budget allocation for the Department of Health has increased, most interventions in public health remain dependent on foreign aid agencies. Research assessments of population health are almost all managed or funded by outsiders.

Decades of financial and technical assistance from the Australian government, other international donors, and a range of NGOs notwithstanding, the health of PNG’s population is declining. Diseases that in the past had been brought under control through immunisation now seem to be reappearing with the reduction in fully immunised children and the increased difficulty of maintaining a reliable delivery of vaccines. Tuberculosis (TB) is now categorised as a pandemic, with PNG one of the worst-affected countries in the world. Health service delivery to rural areas is increasingly difficult, with a lack of trained staff, low wages, deteriorating buildings and frequent lack of critical drugs and dressings.

Of all the Millennium Development Goals that were not achieved by PNG, those specifying improvements in women’s and children’s health are perhaps the most egregious failures. PNG’s maternal death rate of 215 per 100,000 is the highest in the Pacific region and among the worst in the world. While infant mortality has shown a steady decline since 2000, currently it is 37 per thousand live births compared to 14 in the Solomon Islands. Women’s and children’s health is disproportionately at risk, particularly in rural areas, and TB is now the major cause of death of women between the ages of 15 and 44 years.

Digital sex found in schools

April 5, 2019The National

POLICE have found pornographic materials in handphones belonging to students in schools.
This is one of the many reasons why there is an alarming rise in the number of child sexual abuses in Morobe, police commander Supt Alex N’Drasal told The National yesterday.
N’Drasal blamed the rise in child sexual abuses in rural areas on the excessive use of mobile phones and internet to access pornographic materials.
“In schools, pornographic materials are found in the handphones of students. They view the materials freely, and practice what they see,” he added.
He said the abuses were happening both within and outside family environments, affecting girls aged between 12 and 18.

In 2015, the Government had announced it was to put in place a K2 million internet filter to block access to porn websites. It followed a report by Google Trend that PNG was the “most pornography-obsessed country in the world”. It said although PNG had a population of around eight million and a low rate of internet use, it had the highest percentage of searches for the words “porn” and “pornography” in comparison to the nation’s total “searches” online.

Prison faces overcrowding

April 5, 2019The National

THE women’s wing at Bomana prison in Port Moresby is overcrowded with 54 inmates, including three children, crammed into a dormitory meant to hold only 35. Senior Inspector Agnes Kunjil told The National yesterday that some inmates had to sleep on the floor because there were not enough beds. “There are 31 convicted inmates, 18 on remand to await their court cases and five children below five years old all crammed into the dormitory,” she said. Because of the lack of space, inmates are allowed to keep only a few personal items. Kunjil said more women were being sent to the prison by the courts although there had been no additional space had been provided to cater for the extra detainees.

Papua New Guinea state fails to wrest control of US$1.4b stake

The government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has lost its protracted battle in the Singapore High Court to wrest control of an entity with assets worth about US$1.4 billion (S$1.8 billion) that were spawned from a deal inked with the “largest mining company in the world”. Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy has ruled in favour of PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) company, saying the state of PNG had failed to prove it had a deal with PNGSDP’s co-founder BHP Minerals Holdings, for joint control to develop PNGSDP assets.

It also failed to prove that there was a charitable trust that allowed the state to intervene.

“I have found that neither the agreement nor the trust exists. The pleaded breaches of the agreement and the trust must correspondingly fail,” Justice Vinodh said in decision grounds on Tuesday.

The outcome means PNGSDP is free to carry out its objectives under the control of its independent board according to the 2001 contractual framework, without interference from the state.

Marai tackles violence in settlements

April 5, 2019The National

GENDER-based violence is a cross-cutting and sensitive national issue which many people cannot easily handle at home.
I met Rose Marai at Port Moresby’s Kaugere clinic during one of my news runs. I walked into her office nervously when she gave her best smile and I could see from her eyes that she really wanted to me tell untold stories she had been dealing with, knowing I was a media personnel.
Being female and knowing that she will be the only one to make changes in her surrounding communities, she stood with confidence amongst more than 5,000 people in Sabama, Kaugere, Kokeva, Joyce Bay, Horse Camp, Kirakira village, Kila Barracks, Gabutu, Badili, Korobosea, 2-Mile Hill and Koki market. She is passionate about change and creating awareness on gender-based violence is something she does from the heart.
Every day she sees more than 10 women walking into her little room with bruises and cuts all over their bodies, being physically hurt and emotionally tortured. She takes them in for counselling and many of them have progressed and have seen changes in their homes and communities.

Hospital Closes Doors

GOROKA’S water crisis remains unsolved.

As the Goroka General Hospital closed its doors on Sunday and sent patients away.

Only emergency cases were being treated while general patients had been referred to the district hospitals while the sick have been discharged from their wards, some with medical supplies.

Eastern Highlands Provincial Hospital Authority chief executive officer Dr Joseph Apa said yesterday that patients were sent home after water in the reserve tanks ran out.

“Water is required for all the operations of the hospital and we cannot keep patients here for the safety of other patients and to avoid the risk of other infections,” said Dr Apa.

“We currently do not have the statistics of patients affected by the closure of the hospital but mothers at the labour ward and new-born babies will be greatly affected by the situation.”

Dr Apa said the hospital has bought water bottles from shops for nursing staff and patients to use for washing hands and drinking medicine on Saturday, Sunday and yesterday as well.

“Patients were also not fed yesterday (Sunday) and we had to supply patients with biscuits,” Dr Apa said yesterday….

Bus-Stops No Longer Safe For Women and Girls: Commuter

Post Courier, April 9, 2019

WOMEN and girls are harassed, face barriers as a result of these harassments, says commuter Jean as she speaks of her experience. She said she witnessed an incident last month and shared her experience in light of the Anti Street Harassment week that was launched by UN Women NCDC yesterday. She (Jean) travels the route from Manu Autoport to Koki before changing bus to get to Konedobu.

“According to Jean, a Badihagwa student had his school bag snatched by a thug in front of everybody. The boy thought he would find safety inside the busy market place as the public watched without doing anything,’’ she said.

Jean felt furious and could not believe what she had witnessed. When she got out of the bus to transfer, she shouted at the top of her voice to men loitering with a quick lecture.

“When women are running away, you can understand that. But when it is a man, a boy, a school student on his way to school, you men watch and do nothing.

“And look at you! You’re discussing what happened when you watched everything that happened before your very eyes, and especially when it is all over. Did you do anything? No! You all ought to hang your heads in shame,” she said.

The thugs who rule Koki bus-stop are free to ply their trade and law-abiding citizens have to protect themselves in a community that does not care.

“There are good things like the Meri Seif bus (women only safe bus for women) the good governor organised which is highly successful.

“But for all other city buses, the women go prepared, they carry some kind of weapon, a pocket knife for instance or a lime bottle for the betelnut which they hold ready to throw in the face of their attacker to blind him.

“When they are approaching bus- stops they wind up the windows,” she said.

She is now asking why the police are not doing their job affectively by patrolling the bus-stops.

Pride of the force – How we grew Lae’s rapid police response unit

Anthony Wagambie Jr

The Lae Police Sector Response Unit (SRU) was launched to deter criminals who took advantage of weak policing in Papua New Guinea’s second largest city. Since it was set up, Lae police command has been monitoring the results. Average response time is now between five and ten minutes.

LAE – I took a gamble in forming the new unit. We selected a bunch of very young probationary constables with just over a year in the field.

We put them in with experienced non-commissioned officers, the majority of whom were former Mobile Squad and Lae Rapid Response members.

I told them, “You guys will make it or break it. If you fail and I fail, I will be dealt with!”

We nurtured them, me being in the field and taking command myself to make sure the SRU operated the way I wanted. Now my boys are very experienced and everything is in place.

I am proud of all of them. Yes we have one or two who step out of line. But the guys have done me proud.

It’s like a father watching his child take his first steps until he can walk unaided.

We took Inspector David Kumayon, who was Commander Mobile Squad 13, and moved him to command SRU Lae. We then increased the strength to the current 74 men.

Never before have we had 24/7 police armed response coverage of the city.

Sections of SRU have also been deployed out of the Lae to Morobe rural, Kurumbukari (Madang), Madang town unrest, Bogia (Madang) and Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands.

Now I don’t personally take command of the unit as much as I used to. I do that only for major incidents or operations.

It gives me personal pride when I see and hear people praising SRU for all that they do. Yes, they do extremely well.

SRU has become the strength of Lae Metropolitan Command and they are here to stay even after I leave my beautiful Lae City.

Anthony Wagambie is the Police Metropolitan Superintendent of Lae

Psychiatric hospital releases 100 patients

April 10, 2019The National

Laloki Public Psychiatric Hospital outside Port Moresby has released 100 patients and closed all its services to the public as staff members protest over an unresolved chronic water supply problem.
The hospital staff started a sit-in protest today following the expiry of a 14-day notice by the Department of Health to fix the water supply contamination problem.
The hospital did not have the resources to get Eda Ranu to connect water to the hospital to replace the water wells.
The staff decision, backed by the hospital management, to stop work comes after Hepatitis A, a waterborne faecal disease, broke out at the hospital six weeks ago.
The disease affected both staff and patients with laboratory tests confirming bacterial contamination of the two wells that had been used the past 19 years.
Since the outbreak of Hepatitis A on Feb 27, acute ward manager Sr Dianne Rambe said six patients and two staff members contracted the disease.
“The management had no choice but to release most of the 80 patients to contain the disease, not forgetting the high risk these psychiatric patients pose to the community.

In PNG, doctors warn botched penis enlargements have become a ‘nationwide problem’

Doctors in Papua New Guinea have warned of a “nationwide problem” of men injecting foreign substances, including coconut oil and silicone, into their penises in an attempt to make them bigger. A doctor at the Port Moresby General Hospital said that over the last two years his clinic has treated at least 500 men with penile disfigurement and dysfunction as a result of injections.

“I have seen five new cases every week for the past two years and these are the ones that have come forward for treatment. We don’t know how many of them are out there,” said Akule Danlop, a surgeon at the hospital. “I saw seven today.” The substances injected include coconut oil, baby oil, silicone and cooking oil and the side effects are serious, sometimes irreversible.

17 April 2019

Australian media (but not NZ) is missing in action on Bougainville

Bougainville, the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea which suffered a brutal 10-year civil conflict in the 1990s, was due to have a referendum in June to decide if it would separate from PNG. But because funding and arrangements for the plebiscite were well behind schedule, the voting date has now been postponed to October.

Does this matter beyond PNG? One would think so.

This referendum is a celebrated element of the 2001 peace agreement that finally brought the bloodshed to a close and could result in Bougainville becoming another independent but under-developed, economically struggling small island state in the Pacific, with a population of 350,000 people.

If it achieves independence, this small archipelago just over 1,000 kilometres from Cairns will have as its legacy a still festering internal debate about the future of its fabulous mining wealth that was at the heart of the conflict that claimed around 20,000 lives.

And whether independent or not, Bougainville remains an area of intense geo-political interest for Australia particularly as other nations, including China, seek to access that fabulous wealth. Yet judging by Australia’s recent media coverage of this volatile rich island, it is just about invisible aside from some reporting in the business media about Australian mining interests in Bougainville. All this is doubly strange, given it’s not as though nothing has been happening. In a year not yet four months old, there has been a flurry of discombobulating developments already in 2019 in what was already set to be an important year for Bougainville. These threaten to impact on Bougainville’s ability to weather the political and massive economic challenges ahead.

Officers found guilty in condom-swallowing case

April 17, 2019The National

TWO police officers were found guilty of forcing a woman to chew and swallow condoms in 2015. Justice Panuel Mogish, who found the duo guilty of one count of unlawful deprivation of personal liberty, two counts of forcing a person to do indecent acts and one count of abuse of office and set April 25 for sentencing.
“The woman alleged that she was attending a party at Sky 9 Club at Boroko the previous night and was on her way to catch a taxi home in the early hours of the morning when she met two men. “They were dressed as civilians and asked if she had any money. She said she did not have any money. They then told her that they were police officers and brought her into the station. “They told her to sit while they emptied her purse and found some condoms. “Yawijah then asked her if she was a sex worker and how many men she had slept with. He then forced her to eat a condom and swallow it. She said it was not for eating and she would not do as they say. “Yawijah then grabbed an iron bar and hit it on the table and threatened her, so she ate the first one. Tanda did not do anything to stop it but instead laughed and filmed a video clip. “The woman was then told to chew and swallow another condom and she did while Tanda laughed and took videos of her.

Children warned to stay away from Porgera’s open pit

April 23, 2019 The National Business

CHILDREN from the special mining lease villages surrounding the Porgera mine have been warned to stay away from the operation areas, especially the open pit.
According to a statement from the Porgera Joint Venture, trespassing by children continues to be a problem for the mine operation. Of the number of illegal miners entering the mine in a month, it is estimated that 5 per cent are children.
The mine’s community development section carried out a school outreach programme recently to educate children on the dangers of illegally entering the mine pit.
It targeted seven schools. Children enter into the mine area to look for food or scrap materials.
The four messages communicated were:

  • The mine is a dangerous place. You can get killed, badly injured or risk living with a disability for the rest of your life;
  • not everyone who gets injured on the mine site dies;
  • the Government has laws to punish parents who do not protect their children from danger; and
  • That communities need children who will stay in school and become good leaders in future.

At the Aumbi Elementary School on April 10, community development manager Jacqueline Nen told the children that there were many other options for a playing field and the open pit was not one of them.

Maternity ward ‘close to collapsing’

April 24, 2019The National

PORT Moresby General Hospital’s maternity ward is close to collapsing due to lack of maintenance and support, a doctor says. “The hospital was built in 1955 by the colonial government when the city’s population was about 50,000 but 65 years later it is serving more than 500,000,” head of obstetrics and gynecology Dr Glen Mola said.
Mola said the 24 delivery suites and 100 beds at the postnatal care were not enough because 40 women delivered each day and mother and baby could not leave the hospital the next day. He said about 15,000 women gave birth at the hospital every year of which 5000 cases were complicated and 10,000 were normal. This meant that daily, about 13 women out of 40 who gave birth faced complications. A common complication involves a Caesarean birth and Mola said one in every 10 women needed a C-section to save the baby or mother. He said they had to do three C-sections in the same evening so “by the time we came to the third, we were late which resulted in losing the mother or the baby”.
“We have three operating theatres but there is staffing only to keep one operating theatre working in the night,” Mola said.

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2019

Mum, baby spared

March 7, 2019The National

ARMED pirates attacked a dinghy but left a mother and her baby, a 13-year-old girl and eight others unharmed. However, two others are still missing after they were forced to jump into the sea. The terrifying drama unfolded at 3pm on Saturday when the dinghy, ran into six pirates armed with homemade guns, two bush knives and two catapults. The pirates ordered everyone, except the mother and her baby, to jump into the sea near the Kalibobo Lighthouse towards the Gogol River.
After carting away all the groceries that were bought from town, and handphones, cash and belongings, the pirates left in their boat. The victims then swam and climbed back onto their dinghy and a head count found that two other passengers were missing. Moka said the dinghy was running low on fuel and thus could not conduct a search for the two missing passengers.

Bishop reveals shortage of medicine causing health emergency

March 11, 2019 The National 

Many health facilities in the country are running out of medicine, says the president of Catholic Bishops Conference Bishop Rochus Tatamai. “We have been requesting the Government to purchase medicine because medicine has not reached clinics, aid posts and health centres,” Tatamai said on Friday.
“Throughout the country, there are symptoms of a profound public health emergency: young and old are getting sick and dying unnecessarily, while health facilities lack basic medicine and equipment. “Many aid posts, clinics and hospital shelves have no stocks of medicines, there were no antibiotics, bandages and anything.”
Tatamai said MPs were elected to represent people and the delivery of basic health services should be a priority when dealing with public funds. He said when it came to health service delivery, political leaders should always mandate line agencies to bridge services to the people. “What have we done with the revenue of our natural resources and the Government funding we get every year?” Tatamai said.

More women, children fleeing violence: Centre

March 11, 2019The National

At least 40 women and children a month flee their homes in Port Moresby because of sorcery-related violence and incest by stepfathers and uncles. Haus Ruth Crisis Centre for Abused Women and Children revealed that cases of sorcery and incest have increased markedly in the past decade. The number of women seeking refuge in the centre has increased.
China Railway Construction Engineering (CRCE) PNG Ltd showed its support to these women on International Women’s Day on Friday with a surprise visit. House Ruth Crisis Centre manager Monica Richards said women between the ages of 20 and 45 years were the largest group seeking help because of forced sex, jealousy, rape and other forms of domestic violence.
“What we do is accommodate them, give them skills training like sewing and small business training, so that after two weeks when their term is over, they have better knowledge to go out and sustain themselves,” she said. Victims get medical treatment and police and court clearance during their stay. Richards said many teenagers from high schools escaped from their homes because of violence.
CRCE human resources manager Athena Chow said women’s problems were everyone’s problems. “It is very important to recognise women on their special day, as it is the only time we come out to talk about issues that are affecting women in society,” she said.
“They are very important people in the society.
“They need to be protected, loved and cared for by their partners without fear.”

PNG Facing TB Crisis. Ranked 10th in the World

Post Courier.  March 12, 2019

PAPUA New Guinea is facing a tuberculosis (TB) crisis. This is because PNG is ranked 10th globally for rates of TB, with 35,000 new cases a year, of which 6000 of them are in the National Capital District alone. This is according to Businesses for Health: Tuberculosis and HIV project manager Dr Ann Clarke, who says women, while also falling ill with TB, are largely impacted by social and economic factors that need to change if PNG is to end the TB epidemic. “Thousands die unnecessarily of TB – drug susceptible TB, drug resistant TB or TB/HIV co-infection.“ Last year there were more than 2000 cases of drug resistant TB and drug resistant treatment success is less than 50 per cent, while only drug susceptible TB is 100 per cent curable,” she said.

Observing International Women’s Day last Friday, March 8, Dr Clarke said it was an opportunity for Businesses for Health to celebrate the contributions of women to the health and well-being of all who live in PNG. “However, it is also a time to reinforce the actions needed to speed up gender equality in this remarkable and diverse country.

PNG bishops attack government over corruption, incompetence

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/03/png-bishops-attack-government-over-corruption-incompetence.html

In a public statement, the Catholic bishops have asked why an Independent Commission Against Corruption had not yet been established, despite many promises over many years, and why nothing has been done to end the Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) which are said to have led to many illegal land grabs. They condemned SABLs for continuing to destroy the environment and the livelihoods of thousands of Papua New Guineans.

The statement also attacked the practice of politicians directly distributing government funds to the people themselves. The bishops called this “notoriously corrupt” and said it was an impractical and failed system.

The church is one of the key providers of education in PNG but the bishops said their services were increasingly interfered with by politicians and the government.

They criticised the government’s so-called Fee Free Tuition as not effectively implemented and not providing funds and materials to schools.

The O’Neill government is also not adequately supporting Catholic health centres where staff are not receiving wages and medicines and equipment are not reaching the clinics. Saying they were talking on behalf of the people of PNG, the bishops called for answers from the government and said they are expecting change.

Work on resettlement project for Manam Islanders begins

March 25, 2019 The National 

WORK on the land in Bogia allocated for the Manam resettlement project has begun with machines being moved in, an official says.
Acting chairman of the Manam restoration authority John Bivi said the government had allocated K6 million for the project. Bivi said the resettlement of the Manam people fleeing the volcanic eruptions on their island had been an outstanding issue. The land clearance will begin at Andarum in Tangu of the Almami local level government.
Manam people have been living in the care centres for nearly 13 years with no land to grow crops, no sea to fish and no forests to hunt in. Some had died waiting to be relocated while some had returned to their island.
“The Government allocation of K6 million as mobilisation funds will be prioritised to help our people,” Bivi said. Manam people were moved to the care centres at Potsdam, Suaru, Bom, Asuramba and Mangem when the major volcanic eruption took place in 2006.
Baliau villagers who lived at Suaru and the Dugulava people who lived at Bom had to return to Manam after clashes with the Bogia landowners. They receive relief assistances every time the volcano erupts and destroys food gardens. Those staying back at the care centres survive on what they have.

‘Australia over a barrel’: PNG official sought K20 million ‘donation’

24 March 2019. https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/03/australia-over-a-barrel-png-official-sought-k20-million-donation.html

MELBOURNE  – An Australian government contractor on Manus Island was asked by a senior Papua New Guinea official in 2017 for a multi-million-dollar donation to the ruling party of prime minister Peter O’Neill. When the company, which was working for the Home Affairs department on the offshore detention regime, refused the request, the company’s senior managers began to encounter problems with visas for staff to enter or remain in PNG.

The contractor, which asked that its name not be used to protect the welfare of its Manus Island-based staff, rejected the donation request and reported it to senior department officials in late 2017. It’s understood more than one contractor has experienced similar problems.

If the company had made the donation of K20 million to the People’s National Congress party, it would have likely committed a criminal offence under Australia’s foreign bribery laws.

While Australian government agencies and departments refer to PNG as a “difficult environment” to operate in, an internal 2018 AFP report seen by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald is more direct and describes PNG as having “significant corruption issues”.

Government stole funds from logging communities.

http://pngicentral.org/reports/govt-stole-development-funds-from-logging-communities?fbclid=IwAR2gitWH2K9gI7Qx8i2SCfAPnsDfmN67YD4LQeoeBSi8st3iXc8WS7ftK9sby Staff Reporter
26 Mar 201912 

More than K100 million collected by the government from logging companies to fund community development projects has been stolen or misused. Senior departmental heads appointed as trustees have failed in their duties and the biggest beneficiary has been the government itself, which has unlawfully taken more than K80 million of community funds.

These are findings contained in a scathing Auditor General’s report recently released to the public.

It is now well-documented that large-scale logging by foreign-owned companies does not bring lasting development to the communities who suffer the often devastating environmental and social impacts. This fact was acknowledged by government more than a decade ago when the Log Export Development Levy (LEDL) was introduced.

The levy is an additional tax paid by logging companies on every cubic metre of timber they export.  All monies collected is then supposed to be used by government to fund the agriculture and infrastructure development projects in communities impacted by logging that the companies so frequently promise, but so rarely deliver.

Unfortunately, government has proven to be no more reliable than the foreign logging companies in upholding its side of the bargain. Between 2012 and 2015, more than K100 million in levies was collected by government and placed into a trust account. However, in a devastating set of findings, the Auditor General has revealed how those funds, intended to alleviate suffering in logging communities, have been stolen and misused.

Electoral Commission Needs Help For LLG Elections

Post Courier March 28, 2019

THE PNG Electoral Commission says that it needs extensive collaboration with provinces to deliver the local level government (LLG) elections. The PNGEC says it needs collaboration with all the 20 provincial administrations to ensure the 2019 LLG elections is conducted successfully. Early this year, the national government made the decision and asked the Electoral Commission to administer the 2019 LLG elections in partnership with provincial administrations to pool resources, save money and promote provincial ownership of the process.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said though it is an exciting potential partnership, the dilemma is that the commission has yet to conclude agreements with the 20 different provincial administrations. “PNGEC has engaged in conversations with provincial administrations since 2018 and has concluded a memorandum of understanding with only nine provinces in all at this time,” he said.

“This model ensures increased complexity of implementation as many of the personnel and materials needed to run the LLG elections do not fall under PNGEC’s control.” Mr Gamato said PNGEC’s budget for the 2017 national election was K279 million, whereas for the LLG elections, the total budget line of K100 million is being split between the commission and provincial administrations.

 “I am calling on the national government to provide adequate resources to PNGEC in a timely fashion for us to be able to play our role in these important LLG elections.”

The rigging of the 2017 election: (1) You were very wrong Australia

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/03/the-rigging-of-the-2017-election-1-you-were-very-wrong-australia.html29 March 2019. Mark Davis

Journalist Mark Davis has abstracted the main issues from the Australian National University’s report on the 2017 Papua New Guinea national election. Beginning today, we present Mark’s summary in four parts. The ANU report documents a scandalous election replete with threats, malfeasance and corruption. You can link to it in full here

The report calls into question the legitimacy of the current regime of prime minister Peter O’Neill and the future of the nation’s parliamentary democracy. The long-awaited ‘2017 Papua New Guinea Elections – Election Observation Report’ reveals the systematic corruption of the election by Mr O’Neill’s ruling People’s National Congress Party, other parties and candidates, the PNG Electoral Commission, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the PNG Defence Force and other elements of society.

It is an extraordinarily detailed report who’s unique and invaluable data is based on direct observation by a team of 258 including 32 PNG academics and researchers as team leaders, 31 ANU-based academics and students, 192 PNG observers and three support staff. It is unprecedented in detail, scope, and intensity, covering all four PNG regions, and 69 of the 111 electorates, including detailed studies of 44 electorates. Detailed observations were conducted of 945 of the 10,825 polling stations, and 7,510 citizens were surveyed individually.

Observations were carried out over three months from the start of the campaign period to post-polling, amounting to more than 6,500 person-days, and were recorded in template journals kept by each observer. The report is a showpiece of election data and analysis – it is delivered in lay language and clearly based on a foundation of well-coordinated and comprehensive field coverage by a qualified and knowledgeable team. It has the ring of absolute authenticity and it pulls no punches.

The report gives the lie to claims by Mr O’Neill, then Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and Australian officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that the election was free, fair and successful. It was not.

Cult activities taking on satanic character, says academic

March 29, 2019The National Main Stories

CULT activities, which are seen as increasing more satanic, are so entrenched in our education systems that it will need everyone to find practical solutions, says University of Goroka Dean of Education Dr James Aiwa. He was contributing to discussions at a seminar on cult and generation activities in schools. Dr Kainaro Kravia, a lecturer at the School of Education, and Priscilla Sakopa, the head of the mathematics and computing department, also took part.
Kravia said there was an element of “strange happenings” within the dormitories which amounted to the belief that cult practices and their undercurrents were rampant at the university and tertiary institutions near it. Kravia said the initial cult groups were formed as a result of forming “bonds” with each other, to make the alienated feel part of a social grouping and to have each other’s interests at heart as a means to survive in national high schools. But he said all that had changed.
“What we have now are hierarchical groups where generational names are given and with it comes the attitudes, character and personality changes which affect the coerced innocent student,” he said. With it comes the expected roles. If you don’t comply you are punished, most often severely nowadays, but previously it was a way to bond students and help each other succeed”, he said. Sakopa said she had been privy to the inside of a cult working some years ago and most of what happened were satanic and took on the cultist ideology where others looked up to a “godfather”.

Mum fined K800 for selling son for K800

March 28, 2019 The National

A MAGISTRATE has ordered a mother who sold her two-week-old son for K800 to pay the same amount to the court as a fine. Mt Hagen Magistrate Jacinta Doa also ordered the arrest of the husband, and the woman who bought the child.
She warned mum Yawama Kuna, 29, that she would serve two months in jail if she failed to pay the K800 fine. The court was told that Kuna was having difficulties looking after her two children because her husband Amos Hari was not supporting them.
Kuna, from Sembriki in the Kagua-Erave district of Southern Highlands, was arrested last Wednesday and charged with selling her son to a woman. She told the court she had to sell her son because her husband did not provide her and the two children food and money.
She told the court that her husband was aware of what she did but did not object.
They continued to live together until last week when he came home drunk and asked her for money.
She gave him the only K20 she had. The husband lodged a complaint with police that she had sold their son. Police prosecutor Sam Nili submitted that the husband was not concerned about the son his wife had sold and had not make any attempt to get him back until last week. Nili told the court that just because Kuna’s family demanded that he paid bride price before taking his son and wife back, he went to the police.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – February 2019

PNG government’s appalling human rights scorecard

19 January 2019. https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/01/png-governments-appalling-human-rights-scorecard-in-2018.html

Despite an economic boom led by extractive industries such as mining, an estimated 40% of people in Papua New Guinea live in poverty. The government has not taken sufficient steps to address gender inequality, violence, corruption, or excessive use of force by police. Rates of family and sexual violence are among the highest in the world, and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted. The government has been the focus of sustained protests, including student boycotts and acts of civil disobedience, over allegations of corruption. Reports of mob violence, especially against individuals accused of sorcery, continue to be reported. Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, visited PNG in February 2018 and called on the government to tackle a long list of abuses, including corruption, land rights abuses, gender-based violence, and attacks on activists and journalists. In June, authorities confirmed that the country was facing its first polio outbreak in 18 years, prompting an emergency vaccination campaign. Chronic problems continued to plague the criminal justice system in PNG, including abuses by police. Overcrowding and dire prison conditions led to prison breakouts. PNG continues to see high levels of violence and political unrest since the 2017 election, which was marred by widespread electoral irregularities and violence. In June, in the Southern Highlands, a mob set alight a passenger plane in an election-related protest.

Scott Waide – Blog on Cancer Treatment

https://mylandmycountry.wordpress.com/…/cancer-treatment-b…/

Many Papua New Guineans don’t know about the cost of cancer treatment until one member gets sick. The diagnosis alone is problematic. In rural districts and outstations, many community health workers are not equipped with the awareness which would trigger a referral to a major hospital. But that is just one problem.

Take for example, a place like Baindoang in the Nawaeb District of Morobe province. It is only accessible by plane. A young mum with the early stages of cervical or breast cancer will not be able to get the proper diagnosis until the disease is in its late stages.

If the community decides to send her to Lae, they will have to raise at least K2000 for airfares and treatment in Lae City. It is big money for a village community. There is no certainty of the time it will take for them to remain in the city. I’ve come across wives separated from their husbands and children for weeks and months. Many give up and die lonely deaths surrounded by strangers who become family. Many are left with no means of talking with their families either because of the lack of mobile network coverage or no means of buying a plane ticket back home. There are unclaimed bodies at the Angau hospital morgue. Some came from remote outstations.

Today, I learned that a pack of four vials of morphine costs K100. For a cancer patient the family needs to spend K100 a day to ensure some level of comfort for their loved one. That’s K700 a week, K1400 a fortnight and K2800 a month.

Leprosy Highly Endemic in Southern Region

Post Courier January 28, 2019

LEPROSY is highly endemic in the Southern region, according to The Leprosy Mission.

The Leprosy Mission country leader Natalie Smith said, at the end of 2017, 587 new cases were detected in the country where 74 per cent of all new cases were reported in the Southern region. “The six high endemic provinces reported more than 87 per cent of new leprosy cases in the National Capital District, Gulf, Central, Western, Sandaun and East New Britain provinces.

 “587 cases of leprosy is too many cases in PNG. “We want the number to come down to zero, so our aim is to fight against this disease,” she said.

Rapacious loggers & bewildered people – the taking apart of PNG

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/01/rapacious-loggers-bewildered-people-the-taking-apart-of-png.html#more

In late October 2017 I was in Kavieng when I was handed a copy of Government Gazette G161 notifying the gazettal of a SABL over almost 80% of my wife’s island of Lavongai for 99 years free of any land tax. It was one of three SABL that had been foisted onto semi-illiterate rural people as a clever trick to get around the tighter legal requirements of a normal logging permit. SABLs weakened Forestry Department’s regulation of the granting of leases because their intent was alleged to be agriculturally motivated. This gave the developers the wonderful opportunity not to log according to normal forestry rules but clear fell for a monoculture of cocoa, rubber or most likely oil palm with all the inherent environmental dangers a single crop can experience. Over the years coffee and cocoa borers spread worldwide, rhinoceros beetles in Indonesian palm oil migrated into South Pacific plantations and later banana Black Sigatoka. None of these serious agricultural impacts ever slowed down the rapacious loggers. …

Corruption of PNG’s political system infects economic statistics

30 January 2019 https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/01/corruption-of-pngs-political-system-infects-economic-statistics.html#more.  Flanagan

Unstoppable youth crime is destroying our social fabric.

30 January 2019. https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/01/unstoppable-youth-crime-is-destroying-our-social-fabric.html#more

CANBERRA – PNG’s economic statistics have been corrupted. Even the most basic economic statistic of “how big is the PNG economy” has been manipulated to tell stories convenient to the O’Neill/Abel government. An extraordinary gap of 18% has opened between measurement of the size of the economy (‘gross domestic product’ or GDP) by the PNG government compared with measurements by independent outside observers, led by the International Monetary Fund.

The gap in this most basic economic measure will be 34% by 2023. Specifically, the PNG government claims the PNG economy will reach K125 billion while the IMF estimates it will more realistically reach 93 billion in that year. The NSO 2015 GDP figure was released on 9 March 2018 – a date that marks the clearest point from which the government started manipulating statistics, although there have been questionable practices in the past….

Like any PNG town, Kundiawa is full of unemployed youths, psychopaths, street kids, street sellers, drug dealers, street preachers, pickpockets, beggars, prostitutes and parasites.

the whole town of Kundiawa has become a market place with rubbish everywhere and town authorities and police seem powerless to do anything about it.

On street corners and in public places you can see youths drinking, smoking and gambling. Some sell plastic bottles filled with ethanol or home brew alcohol for K5 or K10 a container. You can see youths selling drugs rolled in pieces of newspaper. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify because marijuana is mixed with tobacco leaves.

When youths are drunk, they demand or steal from anybody: money; mobile phones and other valuables. You will see youths running to catch a thief but they don’t catch him as they are feigning. They all cooperate to execute illegal activity. Long hours are spent in town doing nothing and at night hanging around in front of stores, beer clubs and night clubs looking for opportunities to steal. A lot of strange things happen in town; you can hardly believe them.

There is no quick solution to solve these problems but one way to assist juvenile delinquents is to avoid labelling them as bad people in society. They are troubled human beings and imposing tough penalties is not going to solve their problems. We have to be empathetic and show interest in them as human beings who have the potential to become people. We need to look at how we can provide options to change their lives….

Transparency International  – PNG Highly Corrupt

https://www.transparency.org/country/PNG

PNG rating 138/180 Post Courier.  January 30, 2019

A new report by the global watchdog Transparency International has again classified Papua New Guinea as one of the most highly corrupt countries in the world.

The 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), a worldwide examination of perceptions of levels of corruption suffered by individual nations published by TI yesterday, has revealed that PNG is highly corrupt with a ranking of 138 out of the 180 countries that were perceived.

Under the theme ‘Corruption and the crisis of democracy’, the 2018 CPI revealed some crucial areas of the public sector corruption that are contributing to the weakness of democratic institutions and the stagnation to their performance must be addressed by responsible agencies like the government departments and non-government organisations as well.

According to a press statement released by TIPNG, some of the areas that contributed to the rank of corruption in PNG are the deteriorating respect for democratic principles.

“Simply said: There is a massive disrespect for the rule of law,” TIPNG said.

The statement went on to condemn public servants and citizens’ lack of integrity to adhere to proper processes and respectful ways of conduct. And taking the 2017 National Election as an example, the statement expressed great distaste about the way the election was conducted. This was evident in the 2017 National Elections with discrepancies and electoral roll inaccuracy, bribery, and intimidation by voters and candidates, double voting and blocks voting. There was also a lack of enforcement of laws by official agencies responsible during the election providing an opening for citizens to disregard measures to ensure a free and fair election, TIPNG said.

However, when corruption seeps into the democratic system, particularly at the higher levels of power, democratic institutions that keep the government in check suffer.

The O’Neill regime is dumbing down a whole generation

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/02/the-oneill-regime-is-dumbing-down-a-whole-generation.html#more

PORT MORESBY – High profile journalist Scott Waide’s recent article about the high cost of his daughter’s university fees highlights a conundrum Papua New Guinea faces in terms of the quality of its education system. Scott was shocked about the high cost. But let us reflect on what is a major crisis in the sector. When the O’Neill government introduced the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) education system for primary and secondary schools, it failed to account for capacity constraints. Schools were flooded and schools lacked and continue to lack learning resources, infrastructure and staff numbers to cope with the influx. Primary and secondary schools in PNG have essentially become child-minding centers as opposed to centers of learning. In terms of TFF, the government contribution is K20-K50 a child and it warns schools not to charge fees.  Schools are then expected to turn this miserly level of fees – five loaves of bread and a couple of fishes – into something to feed knowledge to thousands of students. Universities also continue to be grossly under-funded leading to massive fee hikes. However when one considers the true cost of providing university level education, the fees are a drop in the ocean.

The member for Menyamya recently highlighted in parliament the rural-urban technology divide and how rural students are disadvantaged in terms of securing places at university.

While the predatory elite in government is dumbing down the general population, their children are being trained overseas to rule over a dumb population in the future.

The O’Neill government, whether by design or accident, is increasing inequality and making social stratification much more pronounced. The constitution of the independent state of Papua New Guinea calls for integral human development as its first national goal and directive principle. The way things currently are under the O’Neill regime, this national goal is ignored.

PNG’s constitution also calls for equality and participation as another national goal. Whilst the TFF policy can be seen as being reflective of this, the poor quality of education means many students leave school unable to equally participate in the economy. They become a liability.

The rural-urban divide also means rural students don’t have the same level of opportunity to attend university, thus furthering social inequality. A poorly educated population that lacks capacity to engage in the modern economy becomes reliant on political patronage.

This is a politician’s dream because, as long as people keep waiting for handouts from politicians, politicians can control voting behaviour.

Solomon calls for churches to help kids

February 7, 2019 The National

COMMUNITY Development, Youth and Religion Secretary Anna Solomon has called on churches in the country to help vulnerable children. She expressed appreciation for the efforts of two Catholic churches in the Highlands region for partnering her department to provide “out-of-home care” for disadvantaged children last year.
“The department wants to partner with more churches in the country in taking care of these children who come from broken families and homes, orphanages or whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS, sorcery-related killings, and those living with disabilities,” Solomon said.
“The two care centres that have been given licence in April recognising them as state partners to care for vulnerable children are under the Diocese of Mendi in Southern Highlands and Archdiocese of Mt Hagen in Western Highlands.”
Solomon said the Lukautim Pikinini Act has allowed the inclusion and provision of the out-of-home care centres by churches in partnership with the government.
“The out-of-home care centres are mandated through the licence for removal of endangered children from within the community and having them given due care in the temporary shelter until they are returned to a permanent home.
“These two care centres have each assimilated about 15 children and may take in more as vulnerable children increase in numbers coming from broken homes, or orphanages whose parents have died and those living with disabilities.
“We have all the data for the churches in PNG, especially seven mainline churches.”

The picture of a grieving mum that told a million stories

08 February 2019 https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/02/the-picture-of-a-grieving-mum-that-told-a-million-stories.html#more

 

Ezekiel’s mum weeps over his body (Sally Lloyd)

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE – A few days ago, I asked Sally Lloyd about the picture she posted on Facebook of a distraught mother weeping over the body of her baby who had died.  This is the story behind the picture. They are from Fomabi Village near Nomad. …middle Fly in Western Province. The child got sick with pneumonia, I believe, and Nomad Health Centre could not help them. The facility there has been very run down and ill equipped for a very long time. 

They then had to make the long walk to Mougulu health centre for many hours to get further help. Unfortunately, the child died the following afternoon, and without any helpers with them the parents had to walk back to their village with the dead child….

 “This evening they have the long walk back (6 to 8 hours at least) to Fomabi Village with a very heavy burden – almost too much to bear. “The father offloaded some heavy food items and we gave high protein food and fish, a torch and umbrella- it’s going to storm tonight. “God knows how much we need that emergency vehicle – to bring patients more quickly, but also for parents who should not have to walk a day (or all night) to get home and bury their child. “RIP Ezekiel.”

Kieta Flights Suspended

Post Courier February 11, 2019

Air Niugini has suspended its services to Aropa airport, Kieta in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) this week due to removal and theft of the solar panels which power the Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) lights at the airport. PAPI lights are a visual aid that are generally located beside the airport runway that provides guidance information to help pilots maintain the correct approach to an airport. They are a requirement for jet operations. PAPI lights at Aropa airport were only installed recently, allowing the resumption of jet operations into Kieta in January this year.

Report Saying Loggers Declaring Losses But Increasing Exports

Post Courier February 13, 2019

A high-end investigative report has revealed that despite decades of operating in PNG, logging companies barely declare profits. Furthermore, the report reveals an odd financial contradiction where loggers have reported doubling their losses while continuing to increase their exports of tropical timber. In a comprehensive report furnished by renowned international researching group The Oakland Institute, new evidence of financial misreporting and grand scale tax evasion in the PNG logging industry have been unearthed.

Titled “The Great Timber Heist-Continued: Tax Evasion and Illegal Logging in PNG”, the institute makes public a host of new case studies that have been ascertained through the study of sixteen subsidiary logging exporters.

Following a 2016 report of the same nature which alleged that financial misreporting by foreign firms resulted in nonpayment of hundreds of millions of kina in taxes, the new report reveals an apparent worsening of this pattern in recent years.

According to financial records, the 16 studied subsidiaries of a logger that court injunctions hinder us from naming, have doubled their financial losses in just six years while increasing their exports of tropical timber by over 40 per cent….

After the decline throughout much of 2017, the volume of logs exported returned to their upward trend in October. To date, the abolished special agriculture and business leases which added 5.5 million hectares to the 10 million hectares remains a mystery.

Family Protection Law Not Understood: Kamit

Post Courier February 14, 2019

FOUNDATION chairperson of the Coalition for Change (CFC) Incorporated, Lady Winifred Kamit, has expressed grave concerns regarding the general consensus surrounding provisions of the Family Protection Act 2013. Lady Kamit made this comments yesterday after reading media reports which paraphrased a Mount Hagen District Court magistrate in saying that the new law was “biased towards women” and that it “destroyed the family”.

As the head of the organisation instrumental in the drafting of the law through to when it was passed, Lady Kamit said she was disappointed that a member of the PNG Judiciary would express an understanding of the law which was so fundamentally flawed.

“The statement, if true, is not only wrong, because that’s not what the law is, but it also shows that the provisions of the Family Protection Act are not understood,” said Lady Kamit.

“The Family Protection Act is a law which gives protection to both female and male survivors of domestic violence, who can go before a magistrate for a protective order and other orders which are sanctioned by the act.” Lady Kamit added that the public needed to have a better understanding of the law and its role in the protection of oppressed survivors of domestic violence which was prevalent around the country.

Loloho Digital Tower Equipment Torched

Post Courier February 15, 2019

Communications equipment at the Loloho Digicel Tower situated on the mountains overlooking Loloho was burnt on Wednesday morning allegedly by disgruntled landowners.
This has now resulted in a total Digicel network outage in Arawa and the surrounding communities. Although details are still sketchy, the burning of the tower equipment is alleged to have stemmed from a dispute over the distribution of rental payments amongst family members of people who own the land where the tower is situated on. This act of sabotage is the latest of a number of acts of vandalism targeting Digicel communication towers on Bougainville. This also comes amidst recent revelations from the mobile telco that it was struggling to maintain its services on Bougainville due to the frequent acts of vandalism and burning down of its communication equipment.

“The banks, the easy pay power system, mobile banking and even EFTPOS machines all depend on the Digicel network here and people cannot hold others to ransom by destroying vital communication equipment,” a town resident who did not to be named said.
“Is this the type of behaviour we want to portray to the outside world especially in the lead up to referendum?”There were long queues at the Arawa BSP Bank yesterday as people; especially public servants struggled to access their monies through the ATMs as EFTPOS services in shops have been affected by the network outage and police are investigating.

Troubling Insights On Referendum From NRI Report

PO February 15, 2019

THE final report on the forthcoming Bougainville Referendum was released yesterday and brought out some broad successes with a few peculiarities that cannot be ignored.

Authored by Dr Kylie McKenna and titled the “Status and implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and implications for referendum”, the research document contained just that. As the sixth and final paper of a research endeavor conducted by the PNG National Research Institute into how far the Bougainville Peace Agreement has come and what remains to be done for a smooth transition, many insights were given.

While the document mentioned that significant achievements have been made and named a few in the likes of the implementation of the Weapons Disposal Plan and the successful holding of the first Autonomous Bougainville Government and subsequent structuring, it also detailed many troubling realities. Therein, the report identified that progress on a number of provisions in the Bougainville Peace Agreement have not been met. It stated that ‘weak collaboration with the National Government’ by the ABG and the delayed payments of grants had now resulted in the process’ delay. It also mentioned that there were still an unknown number of weapons still in circulation and a number of groups and individuals that still posed a threat to the ongoing peace process. Furthermore, key risks identified that could harm the peace process included the finding that human and financial capacity was still not where it needs to be for a referendum. The findings also suggested that there was inadequate information on autonomy and its outcomes to inform voter decision-making, continued proliferation of misunderstandings about the referendum and localised conflict.

Panel discussion organised for refugees to raise concerns

February 15, 2019 The National

A panel discussion organised by the Catholic Bishops Conference was held in Port Moresby on Wednesday for refugees to raise their concerns. The panel discussion was attended by church representatives, media personnel from across the country, students, and refugees.
The theme of the panel discussion was ‘Listening across borders’. Participant Sam Kaipu, who summarised the highlights of the speakers, said it was evident that refugees lived in fear for their lives, and have lost their rights and freedom. “They have left their countries at great risk to themselves and their loved ones,” Kaipu said. “They are in search of a better and safer life.
“All the five speakers are young men who have been in PNG for five or six years.
“Despite being from different countries – a Pakistani, a West Papuan, a West African, a Sudanese and a Central African – their stories had a very important decision. “Either risk long imprisonment or even death, or abandon their beloved country, family and friends in order to find safety and freedom in another country. “It was not simply a better life they were looking for, but their very existence as human beings deserving of respect and enjoyment of their rights and freedoms. “As young men they had made traumatic decisions to abandon their families and friends and countries and lands. The suspense of waiting for their cases to be determined for settlement in another country has aggravated their trauma.”

Our daily bread: How scarcity drives the Mosbi mob mentality:

18 February 2019 KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN

PORT MORESBY – It was on a Saturday that the mob stormed into view, alleging that a dog bit a woman on the leg. There were no witnesses and the incident was not reported to the owner of the dog. The table mamas who erect stalls and sell betel nut along this stretch of the street did not witness a dog bite. These table mamas report everything that happens in the neighbourhood to those returning from work because they tend their stalls 24/7 to make ends meet in this unforgiving city. A heavily bandaged woman was carted in a wheelbarrow escorted by men, women and children to the unregulated hostel in the street where Kol stayed. A grubby man representing the mob came straight up to Kol, pointing at his face. He knew Kol was not the owner of the dog but acted as if he was.

“Your dog bite off a piece on her calf muscle. We took her to the hospital and the doctor said that her leg will be amputated if not properly treated,” was the line. Kol listened politely because he was a loner and the mob were ready to devour anybody who opposed their story cooked up to make some money. There were no medical papers presented as proof of a visit to the hospital. It was also unusual that the injured woman was not given an opportunity to tell of her experience. The leader of the mob resolved that Kol would reimburse the cost of the medical treatment and compensate them to ‘fan their stomach’, as is part of their custom.

Kol said he did not own a dog, or a house or land but he was shouted down by the men and women. The mob insisted that Kol owned the dog and all they wanted was compensation and he should not divert from that. A neighbour, a leader in the area, endeavoured to confirm that Kol was not the owner of the dog but the mob told him to back off. Kol, in his second attempt to defend himself, said dogs being dogs come here to scavenge in the rubbish but he and others here do not who owns the dog that bit the woman. In fact, the dog was owned by Gemo who he lived in an adjacent block.

The mob knew Gemo owned the dog but decided to hook Kol into the problem so he could partly own the dog. The primary reason was that Kol came from the same area as Gemo (though they were not related) and besides, unlike Gemo, he had a permanent job.

Kol and the Gemo were outnumbered in that stretch of the street so Kol had to raise the white flag of surrender. Without going to Gemo, Kol contributed K200 and other people living in the neighbourhood had the courtesy to donate smaller bills adding up to K550.

He handed the K550 to the leader and the guy took the money and stated that if the woman’s leg developed an ulcer he would come back to Kol for greater compensation.

The next day, a Sunday, the thugs went to Gemo, coerced him and got K300 from him.

On Monday morning, the woman sloughed her bandages, chopped her walking stick and without flinching marched to town to sell her betel nuts. This mob had felt the sharp pain of scarcity that makes them insane and unsafe to mingle with and live alongside.

Although a few of them are law abiding and have a mountain of civic virtue.

Hundreds of families without water supply for five years

February 22, 2019The National

Hundreds of families living in Madang town have had no water supply for more than five years, a survey report said. Madang’s ward seven councillor Bonny Solomon said most families had their water supply disconnected years ago and were using other sources of water for their needs. Solomon said he submitted a report and list of residents in the New Town area to see if the government would assist them pay their outstanding water bills last year but nothing happened. Sharon Halo, living at Kuperu Road, said Water PNG disconnected her water supply yesterday. Halo said high water bills were incurred by previous residents and she was paying K1000 every month to reduce it. She appealed to Water PNG to assess the situation and weigh out reasons before disconnecting water supplies.

Settlers Stand their Ground

Post Courier, February 27, 2019

ABOUT 500 homes have been destroyed in an eviction at Gerehu in the Nation’s Capital on Monday. Women and children were at home when six police vehicles and two excavators moved into the Red Hills and Goroka Block areas between Gerehu and Nine-Mile between 9am and 10am.As  police spoke to the families, the two excavators started their destruction of the homes. In the confusion that followed, houses were destroyed with families unable to remove their personal belongings before the excavators moved on their homes.

The families managed to get representatives from National Capital District Commission to intervene but 10 minutes after they left, the bulldozing and destruction of the houses continued. As of yesterday, families had camped outside their wrecked homes, without electricity and water as many used a single hose for their cooking, washing and drinking water. School children were not able to attend schools amongst the issues that arose.

Robina Yambu and Janet Kuso, both from East Sepik province, said that the actions taken by the person who was claiming to be the landowner was uncalled for as there was no prior notice of an eviction given to the families. “The landowner came just before Christmas of 2018 and showed a court order but did not issue any eviction notice.

Other – Looking back at 2018 https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/01/png-governments-appalling-human-rights-scorecard-in-2018.html

Women’s and girls’ rights

Sorcery-related violence has continued unabated, with women and girls the primary targets. In May, in the Southern Highlands, one woman was killed and another two seriously injured after a mob attacked the women following accusations they had used sorcery to kill a man. The government’s 2013 Sorcery National Action Plan is inadequately funded and has yet to be implemented.

In December 2017, the PNG government announced A$4 million (US$2.9 million) of funding for sorcery awareness and education programs. In July, the National Court sentenced eight men to death for their involvement in a sorcery-related killing of seven people. PNG continued to impose the death penalty, although authorities have not carried out any executions since 1954.

In 2013, the Family Protection Act was passed, which criminalizes domestic violence and allows victims to obtain protection orders. In 2017, the government passed regulations to implement the law, but enforcement remains weak and inconsistent.

Police and prosecutors rarely pursued investigations or criminal charges against people who commit family violence—even in cases of attempted murder, serious injury, or repeated rape—and instead prefer to resolve such cases through mediation and/or payment of compensation.

There is also a severe lack of services for people requiring assistance after having suffered family violence, such as safe houses, qualified counselors, case management, financial support, or legal aid.

PNG continues to have one of the highest rates of maternal death in the Asia-Pacific, and the number of women and girls who give birth in a health facility or with the help of a skilled birth attendant has reduced in the last five years.

Police abuse

The PNG government failed to address abuses by security forces. Few police are ever held to account for beating or torturing criminal suspects, a common occurrence. In September, the government indicated it would introduce new measures to give immunity to police and defense force soldiers on special operations supposedly to “curb lawlessness.”

Despite the ombudsman and police announcing investigations into the 2016 police shooting of eight student protesters in Port Moresby, at time of writing no police had been charged or disciplined and neither body had issued a report.

In July, prison officers shot and killed four men who escaped from Buimo prison in Lae. This followed a similar escape in 2017, in which 17 prisoners were killed. Corrective Services ordered an inquiry in 2017, but at time of writing no investigation had begun, allegedly due to lack of funding.

Children’s rights

Police often beat children in lock-ups and house them with adults, despite a child justice law that states children should be kept separate from adults during all stages of the criminal justice process.

In August, a video showing two PNG police officers brutally assaulting a teenage boy in West New Britain was widely circulated on social media. Minister for Police Jelta Wong ordered an immediate investigation and promised to hold those responsible to account. The two officers have reportedly been suspended and charged under the Criminal Code Act, but neither had been prosecuted at time of writing.

Children’s access to education improved from 2012 to 2016 following the introduction of the Tuition Fee Free Policy in 2012 but was still low, with only 76 percent of children enrolled in primary school and 33 percent in secondary.

Land rights

More than 5 million hectares of land has been awarded to PNG-based subsidiaries of foreign companies on Special Agricultural Business Leases, resulting in loss of ancestral land and forest for rural Papua New Guineans. The leases represent over 10% of the country’s total landmass and potentially impact more than 700,000 people.

Government corruption

Corruption in PNG is widespread. In December 2017, the Supreme Court quashed a long-standing arrest warrant for corruption against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, finding that the warrant failed to meet a number of requirements and was issued without jurisdiction.

That same month, anti-corruption police arrested and charged the country’s deputy chief electoral commissioner with corruption for allegedly manipulating votes, for perjury and making a false declaration.

In April, media reported that anti-corruption police are investigating the Governor of Port Moresby Powes Parkop, after a former official revealed the city council was paying K2.8 million a year to a yoga and health company run by his alleged partner.

Asylum seekers and refugees

About 570 male asylum seekers and refugees live in PNG, most on Manus Island. Nearly all were forcibly transferred to PNG by Australia in 2013. Following a 2016 PNG Supreme Court decision that detaining asylum seekers is unconstitutional, in November 2017, the Australian and PNG government closed the main centre on Manus and relocated refugees and asylum seekers to other accommodation facilities on the island.

Many asylum seekers and refugees suffer complex health problems including mental health conditions that have been exacerbated by long periods in detention and uncertainty about their futures. In May, a Rohingya refugee died by apparent suicide having jumped from a moving bus, the seventh asylum seeker or refugee to die on Manus Island since 2013.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs has acknowledged that medical services have been reduced since the men were forcibly removed from the main center in 2017. There have been urgent calls, including by Australian doctors, to improve healthcare standards on Manus Island.

Australia pays for refugees’ living expenses but refuses to resettle them in Australia, insisting they must settle in PNG or third countries, such as the United States. US resettlement from Manus remains slow, with 163 resettled as of October.

Refugees and asylum seekers do not feel safe on Manus due to a spate of violent attacks by locals in the town of Lorengau and ongoing disputes with the local community. In January, neighbouring residents blocked access to living compounds in a protest about leaking sewage. In May, a fire in Hillside Haus forced the relocation of 120 residents.

Since June, a 12-hour curfew has been imposed on the refugees and asylum seekers in violation of their freedom of movement, following a car accident in which a woman died; an allegedly drunk refugee was driving the car. In October, a local man violently assaulted an Iranian refugee who was hospitalized with serious injuries to his head and eyes.

In June, following a class action settlement, the Australian government paid K164 million in compensation to asylum seekers and refugees for their illegal detention on Manus Island.

In July, the Queensland Coroner ruled that the death of Manus detainee and Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei in September 2014 was preventable and the result of “compounding errors” in health care provided under Australia’s offshore immigration detention system.

Disability rights

Despite the existence of a national disability policy, people with disabilities are often unable to participate in community life, go to school, or work because of lack of accessibility, stigma, and other barriers. Access to mental health care is limited, and many people with psychosocial disabilities and their families often consider traditional healers to be the only option.

Sexual orientation and gender identity

The PNG criminal code outlaws sex “against the order of nature,” which has been interpreted to apply to consensual same-sex acts, and is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Key international actors

In March, then-Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop visited Port Moresby and met with PNG foreign minister Rimbink Pato to discuss health and immigration. In November, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill signed a joint defence agreement to deepen relations and security cooperation, partly to curb China’s growing influence in the Pacific.

China is set to overtake Australia as the largest donor to PNG, though most assistance is in the form of infrastructure loans rather than aid. China is committing approximately K13 billion to developing a national road network. Australian government aid to PNG for the year 2018-19 is K1.3 billion.

In November, PNG hosted the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum which was overshadowed by growing tensions between China and Australia for regional dominance in the Pacific. China provided significant infrastructure support—including the K82 million convention centre—and President Xi Jinping invited Pacific Island leaders to a special summit ahead of APEC.

Australia spent K305 million on security costs for APEC, and provided 1,500 Australian Defence Force personnel.

The PNG government drew criticism for its purchase of 40 new Maserati cars for visiting APEC dignitaries, when the impoverished country struggles to pay teachers and faces a health crisis. The summit ended in disarray when Chinese officials physically forced their way into the office of the PNG foreign minister and refused to sign the final joint statement.

Bishops appeal for refugee action in open letter to O’Neill

02 February 2019
https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/02/bishops-appeal-for-refugee-action-in-open-letter-to-oneill.html#more

Fr Giorgio Licini – ‘I appeal to your sense of humanity and the responsibility of your high office’

FR GIORGIO LICINI | General Secretary, Catholic Bishops Conference

WAIGANI – Dear Hon Prime Minister: It is with heavy heart and an intense sense of sadness that I report to you on my recent visits to Lorengau town in Manus Island and to the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby. At the two locations, I had the heartbreaking experience of making contact with an appalling level of desperation in which refugees and asylum seekers live. I am not referring to the logistic conditions in which the men are kept, which appear to be decent with security, cleanliness, and respect by national and expatriate personnel. My concern is rather about their fast deteriorating health status, which is making now acts of self-harm and attempted suicide a daily occurrence: three cases only for the two days I was in Manus on 20-22 January.

While travel to Manus and to the detention centers may prove hard to your busy schedule, I warmly invite you to make a quick visit to the [Intensive Care Unit] ward of Pacific International Hospital at 3 Mile.

You will come across well-kept health facilities and extremely kind and professional personnel, but you will also meet about twenty refugees and asylum seekers in a deplorable state of mental health compounded with other ailments affecting their cardiac and respiratory system, kidney failure, fractured bones, etc.

Pacific International Hospital and the PNG health system in general cannot cope with these types of diseases and the men are prevented by their status from seeking independent and autonomous medical attention elsewhere.

Needless to say, Hon Prime Minister, that the foreigners hosted in Manus, at Pacific International Hospital and other locations in Port Moresby have never committed any offense against the people or the State of Papua New Guinea.

Their detention, mainly at the hand of the government of Australia was organised between July 2013 and February 2014 because of their irregular arrival by boat on the shores of that country and as an attempt to deter additional asylum seekers from taking to the sea.

The people of Manus expected the offshore processing of those more than one thousand men taken to their island at Lombrum naval base to last two or three years at the most. Now half of the initial number of those men are still there after six years.

The uncertainty about their future, the rejection of claims and applications for resettlement, the length of the review process has brought to a significant breakdown in their mental health conditions.

From the information I gathered the situation has begun to become alarming by September 2018. Self-harm and attempted suicide, due to depression and hopelessness has now practically become a daily occurrence.

You may see by yourself the men admitted at Pacific International Hospital, and there will be no need for me to supply additional details and information.

I am therefore appealing, Hon Prime Minister, to your sense of humanity and the responsibility of your high office.

As you accepted in 2013 to offer help to the Kevin Rudd government of Australia and the refugees themselves to have their status processed in Papua New Guinea and begin a new life elsewhere, I am now humbly asking you to give a very close deadline to the authorities in Canberra for the removal of all refugees and asylum seekers from our country on the basis of strongly compelling medical and humanitarian reasons.

Having achieved the objective of “stopping the boats” their detention now amounts to cruelty and plain mental and physical torture.

Without this decision, the mentally impaired people will grow by the dozens in the next few weeks and months. Who is going to care for them?

They risk outright rejection by any third country. They will be unproductive and a burden to Australia if that government is eventually forced to take them in. It is unthinkable that they are treated in Papua New Guinea and spend the rest of their lives here in total abjection and poverty.

Dear Prime Minister, the photos I attach to this letter are indeed distressing and painting a picture of the country that may easily appear of complicity, injustice and irresponsibility. The people of Papua New Guinea, your people, are of a completely different stock and do not deserve this bad international publicity.

I am sure that everybody will appreciate you demanding from the Prime Minister of Australia that any offshore processing in Papua New Guinea is ended within sixty days at the most, and these men immediately receive proper medical treatment in Australia while waiting for the final decision on their future in any safe country.

Thank you very much and may God bless all your efforts!

Most cordially,

REV FR GIORGIO LICINI, PIME

General Secretary, Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands

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Social Concerns Notes – November 2018

The Catholic Church and APEC

https://www.pngsicbc.com/press-release-4-apec

The primary task of the Catholic Church in PNG is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of PNG. As such the church adopts no particular position on political or economic issues except to bring gospel values to this part of life.

However, since the Catholic Church is known and expected to speak for those without a voice, and has a reputation for its concern for the rural poor of PNG, many have asked us for our position on APEC. We have addressed this issue many times in the past and more recently appealed for a return to the division of powers that could ensure that political power and eh equitable distribution of wealth are kept separate.

We share the concern of many about the huge amount of our limited resources being expended on this event which seems designed to entertain and impress the rich and powerful.

Given its inevitability, we can only hope for its “success”, which can only mean that the welfare of the poorest people of PNG will somehow indirectly be improved. Although we all would like to make a good impression on our visitors, this cannot be at the expense of the truth.

So we must now look to “life after APEC”. This has to be a life where we will see a return to the principles and values of our national constitution and the national goals and directive principles on which our nation was built. In our 43 years we have seen a serious decline in implementing of the principle of equity and participation. There is simply not an equitable distribution of the national wealth to all. Despite all the rhetoric, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. APEC seems to be a manifestation of this gap as the whole of PNG watches billions being spent on appearances in Port Moresby while we experience teachers and health workers without pay and health centers without medicine, while all departments are to expect less than 60% of their official budgeted allocations. It is a fact that many people in the remote areas of Papua New Guinea, including those in the cites who are still economically “remote”, are suffering and dying on order to make APEC a “success”.

As we present ourselves to the world as a nation capable of pulling of major international event, we must still ask ourselves to what extent we are truly sovereign and self-reliant. We are very much aware, and our informal off the record conversation with some of our national leaders confirms, that PNG is now longer in control of its own economic enterprise and production. Those of us in the forefront of Provinces with extensive logging and oil palm know exactly how much we have sold out to foreign interests.

The big show of APEC is not the experience of the majority of Papua New Guineans. Though they may rightly hope to make a good impression on visitors, they also rightly hope for a return to true normality when it is all over and we are able to count the cost, start repaying our debts, and re-establish our priorities, that is to prioritize the rural poor and not the urban rich.  CBC 7 November 2018

It wasn’t meant to be like this: PNG’s hosting of APEC

When Papua New Guinea (PNG) put up its hand to host APEC in 2013, its economy was booming. Prospects were bright. And reform was underway, in particular to clamp down on the corruption that has been the country’s curse.

Fast forward five years and the environment could not be more different. PNG’s highly effective corruption investigator Taskforce Sweep no longer exists. It was abolished by the very same Prime Minister who set it up, Peter O’Neill, after it started pursuing O’Neill himself on corruption charges. The anti-corruption effort more broadly has been undermined via reducing the funding and/or autonomy of the remaining anti-corruption actors, such as the police fraud squad and the Ombudsman.Econo mic growth has stalled. Formal sector employment (the only sort of employment that is measured in PNG) has declined for each of the last four years. Excessive borrowing in the boom years has now come back to haunt the government following a collapse in revenue. The government has done well to avoid a debt crisis, but its economic mismanagement has intensified the downturn. PNG’s biggest economic problem is its overvalued exchange rate. The value of the Kina is set by the Central Bank, which has prevented significant depreciation for more than two years now. So far this year, the official Kina/US dollar exchange rate has fallen only by four per cent, a fraction of the 20 per cent or more depreciation called for by analysts and researchers alike.

What has really caught the public’s attention is the return of polio, eliminated in PNG about 20 years ago. PNG is one of only five countries in the world to be experiencing a polio comeback. That the other members of this club are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia — all four wrought by violence — shows the extent of the health crisis that PNG is facing. The most recent symptoms include the resurgence of malaria and leprosy and reports of worsening drug shortages.

It is hardly surprising then that the hosting of APEC has become controversial in PNG, with accusations of both waste and corruption. After all, PNG is an extremely poor country. It is the second most rural in the world. Poverty is high and not falling, and child stunting rates are the fourth highest in the world (every second child under the age of five is stunted due to malnutrition). The opportunity cost of hosting APEC is high. Much of the financial cost is being covered by other countries, most notably Australia and China, but the meeting cycle is a heavy one for any country, and a significant tax on PNG policymakers, both elected and official….

PNG is one of only four countriesworldwide whose parliament contains no women, a symptombut also a cause of extreme gender inequality. Several years ago, it started tointroduce reforms to ensure female representation, but these have not actually been implemented, nor is there anycommitment to implementing them. [See the url above for the full article.]

2017 election was hijacked; ‘unprecedented violence & fraud’

Post Courier, 01 November 2018

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/11/2017-election-was-hijacked-unprecedented-violence-fraud.html#more.  Chandler

Analysis of the vote, led by the Australian National University, found failures in the electoral roll, the theft and destruction of ballot boxes, and “money politics” – payments by candidates for votes – on a scale that was“qualitatively different to previous elections”.

“The 2017 elections were marred by widespread fraud and malpractice, and extensive vote rigging,” Nicole Haley, associate professor at ANU and the lead author of the study, told a recent gathering of Pacific scholars in Canberra. The findings, to be published early next year, are based on records collected by258 election observers at 945 polling stations around the country. Many voters were denied genuine choice through block voting, coerced collective voting, violence, intimidation and pre-marked ballot papers in many locations.

One third of citizens surveyed reported intimidation, one quarter reported that they did not vote – significantly higher rates than in 2012. Less than half reported they voted freely.

Women fared the worst. Only two in five women reported voting freely, with about the same number reporting intimidation. Not a single woman was elected in 2017 to the 111-member parliament.

Call for fast processing of asylum seekers on Manus

November 2, 2018 The National

THE Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC) of Papua New Guinea is pushing for a date for Australia and PNG to settle the remaining 133 asylum seekers in Manus. The CBC said social and health issues and psychological, moral and physical issues in delaying the processing of refugees were of concern to the Catholic Church. The CBC and panel comprising of representatives from the Department of Immigration, United Nations human rights, human rights lawyer of the Catholic Professionals Society, NCD Governor Powes Parkop and Fr Clement Taulam, of the Manus Diocese, called on both countries to properly settle the asylum seekers.
Fr Clement said the process was taking too long for the refugees to be permanently settled.
“Now is the sixth year we are holding them in Manus. Some are getting frustrated, impatient and had taken their lives and the process is still going on.
“So what are we going to do?” Parkop said PNG did not have a culture to detain and confine people. “We helped Australia but she took us for granted and left the problem with us,” he said.


Polio cases confirmed, total now 22

November 2, 2018 The National

JIWAKA has confirmed three cases of polio, bringing the total number of cases detected and treated in the country to 22. The provincial polio awareness and surveillance team revealed this yesterday at a review of round two routine immunisation and campaign. Provincial surveillance officer and field epidemiologist Augustine Kumba said the three persons that tested positive were two boys and a girl under the age of five. Kumba said the two boys were aged two while the girl was four. They tested positive in the Banz 1 catchment area at Dumbola Health Centre in North Waghi.
Kumba said one of the boy had been treated and was now living a normal life.
The other boy was using one side of his limbs while the other had gone totally numb.
The girl was walking on one leg while the other is supported by a walking stick.

PNG Cathoics urge Australia to resettle refugees

http://cathnews.com/cathnews/33528-png-catholics-urge-australia-to-resettle-refugees

The Conference along with the Catholic Professionals Society of PNG, hosted a panel discussion in Port Moresby last week about the refugees’ plight.

The panel, which featured about 100 people, including the governor of Port Moresby and students, teachers and professionals, declared Australia has a moral obligation to look after all refugees and asylum-seekers. The secretary of the conference, Fr Ambrose Pereira SBD, said Papua New Guinea is not able to care for the refugees. “We are hoping for an end to this refugee situation where all will be sent into Australia or to any other country. But it needs to be Australia’s responsibility to ensure that this happens.”

 “While Australia would hide behind the fact, saying it is now the problem of Papua New Guinea, and they also issued a statement before the panel which said, ‘We are ready to help PNG and this is an issue for PNG to handle,’ but I think what was stated very clearly was Australia needs to put an end to this because it is an issue they have, in fact, started.”

Fr Pereira said having the refugees resettled by Christmas would be a gift for all.

 

PNGmen find comfort in seeking help from online counselling

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/11/png-men-find-comfort-in-seeking-help-from-online-counselling.html#more

06 November 2018

Papua New Guinea’s first national telephone counselling hotline has had to broaden its service to cater for demand after receiving more than 15,000 calls over the past year.

The hotline was established by the non-government organisation ChildFund PNG as a service for survivors of gender-based violence, predominately women and children.

ChildFund’s Wesh Siku said more than two-thirds of women in PNG experience domestic violence.”When the project was actually designed, [it was] designed to assist survivors of gender-based violence and it just complemented those services that have already been established,” Mr Siku said. “The primary focus was to support survivors of gender-based violence, mainly women and even children.” But he said the service had allowed men to get assistance that they otherwise would not seek. Now more than half the callers are males who call as witnesses or perpetrators of violence. “A lot of men do not feel comfortable talking to a woman in a face to face scenario,” Mr Siku said. “So when this project was put up, it became comfortable for them to pick up a phone and call a counsellor for the issues they are going through. He said the hotline has eight staff on the phones but this may have to increase as the workload has doubled since last year.

China in the Pacific: Is China engaged in “debt-trap diplomacy”?
By Rohan Fox and Matthew Dornan on Nov 08, 2018 06:00 am

http://www.devpolicy.org/is-china-engaged-in-debt-trap-diplomacy-20181108/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=db8ad0e508-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-db8ad0e508-312089549
Recent media coverage has touted the rise of Chinese aid and lending as a threat to Pacific nations’ sovereignty and to the West’s influence in the Pacific. China, so the narrative goes, is aggressively lending to smaller nations who do not have the capacity to pay back the loans. Some commentators have even described such lending as “debt-trap diplomacy”, implying that lending forms part of an intentional strategy by the Chinese state to pressure Pacific island governments….

Most advocates of this argument have pointed to anecdotal evidence – high debt levels in Tonga, the case of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka – rather than to hard data. In this piece, we look at international debt data to explore: (i) whether Pacific island countries are in debt distress, and (ii) whether this is the result of lending from China.

One issue we consider is whether Pacific island countries are at greater risk of debt distress than in the past. Using IMF and Asian Development Bank (ADB) risk ratings, we do see a rise in debt distress over the last five years (see Figure 1). We also see that over 40% of Pacific island countries are now classified as being at high risk of debt distress (see Figure 2, with countries singled out). So debt certainly appears to be a problem in the region.

Now for the second question: is this debt distress the result of lending by China?

The short answer is “no”.  [See url above for the full article]

Informal economy’s suppression driving people into poverty

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/11/informal-economys-suppression-driving-people-into-poverty.html

Informal Economist

PORT MORESBY – With recentfigures showing that poverty reduction is decelerating globally, a recent World Bank report urges governments aroundthe world not to slack off in their efforts to combat it. However, critics argue that poverty measurement should not only be confined to the standard $US1.90 a day imposed by World Bank but should also include health indicators, education levels and standard of living.

The government’s policy to crackdown on the informal economy is a classic example of this as it directly affects the only source of livelihood for the majority of the jobless poor.

The implementation of anti-informal economy policies have seen widespread harassment and beatings of vendors coupled with a substantial loss of business. The loss of business means families are deprived of income to meet household needs and improve their wellbeing. Consequently, it takes a toll on people and induces them into poverty.

At a time when prices of basic goods and services are rising and formal sector job opportunities are declining, suppression of the informal economy can drive many families into destitution. The ramifications are huge for Papua New Guinea which is estimated to have 85% of its total population engaged in the informal economy.

That said, the government has introduced some reforms into its informal economy. The national informal economy policy of 2011-15 and its accompanying law (Informal Sector Development & Control Act of 2004) are landmark achievements that aim to nurture the positive aspects of the informal economy whilst tackling its problems.

Sadly though, the government has not been able to achieve this fine balance, opting instead to focus on curtailing the informal economy’s growth.The  implication is that, if the government continues to take a hardline stance towards the informal economy, many Papua New Guineans will not escape poverty in their lifetime. …

Papua New Guinea Is Rich in Resources but Poor in Health

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/13/world/asia/papua-new-guinea-apec-polio-health-crisis.html?fbclid=IwAR2bI3t1vStUdCu3iospBsL3xCnh28YRQuc3WxpUWQanxVPZVlcPTMfhSh0.  ChandlerNov. 13, 2018

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — Polio was vanquished by the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea 18 years ago. Now, as world leaders gather there for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting this week, polio has returned — on top of raging drug-resistant epidemics of tuberculosis, malaria and H.I.V., and deadly flash points of preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles.

All over the country, there are symptoms of a profound public health emergency; young and old are getting sick and dying unnecessarily, while facilities lack basic medicines and equipment. Doctors and experts say the unfolding crisis is the realization of their worst fears after years of deterioration and neglect. “We were expecting something like this,” Dr. Anup Gurung, a public health specialist with the World Health Organization, said of the polio outbreak at a news conference in the capital, Port Moresby, in September. He pointed to the erosion of vaccination rates, which are down to 30 percent in some parts of the country. “It’s like someone lit a paper castle where everything is on fire,” he said.

The return of polio is a clear indicator of the failures, with Papua New Guinea accounting for 21 of 109 cases found globally this year. …

Local and international experts point to three interlinked causes of the country’s health crisis: the collapse of the medical supply chain; changing relations with the country’s biggest aid donor, Australia; and rampant corruption….

Despite its immense resource wealth, Papua New Guinea has the lowest life expectancy in the Pacific at 62.9 years, according to the World Health Organization. And it may be getting worse. The number of people infected with malaria parasites, for example, grew almost ninefold to 432,000 in 2017 from 50,309 in 2014, according to the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research. The survey blames the lack of treatment drugs in many parts of the country, together with a decline in international support.

Similarly, a decade ago, Papua New Guinea was being congratulated for its efforts against the spread of H.I.V.; now, infection rates are rising. A survey has also exposed “alarming rates of H.I.V. drug resistance,” said Dr. Angela Kelly-Hanku of the Institute of Medical Research. This is largely because H.I.V. patients are unable to secure reliable supplies of antiretroviral medications, she said.

Professor Mola said a colleague with extensive experience in Africa had observed that while corruption was common there, in Africa “they skim off the cream and still leave some milk for the people. In Papua New Guinea, they take the lot.”

 [See the url above for the full article]

Glimmers of change in the land that #MeTooforgot

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/11/glimmers-of-change-in-the-land-that-metoo-forgot.html

PORT MORESBY – Ask people inPapua New Guinea about #MeToo and you are likely to get blank stares, but in a country with a reputation as the worst place in the world for women to live, attitudes to domestic and sexual violence are slowly changing.

The beatings started before Lucy Sausiniaka was married and didn’t stop even when she was pregnant with her daughter. Today the gentle 23-year-old and her quiet doughnut-munching toddler live in a women’s shelter by the shore of Port Moresby’s Ela Beach.

The paint is flaking and old bedsheets are slung as curtains, but the Haus Ruth refuge is peaceful and, more importantly, it is safe.

“He would beat me up, even in public” says Sausiniaka, her eyes darting around as if searching reluctantly for memories. “Usually under the influence of alcohol.”

It is estimated that two-thirds of women in Papua New Guinea experience domestic violence. But behind the shocking statistics and harrowing testimony, attitudes and behaviour appear to be slowly changing.

The shelter’s ebullient manager Monica Richards says 2013 legal reforms — imposing tougher prison sentences, fines and protection orders — have made a real difference.

“Five or six years ago” the police would not always take domestic and sexual violence seriously, she said. “That has changed a lot. The police are now helping us.”

Elsewhere in Port Moresby, trailblazing women are taking the initiative in other ways, including driving women-only buses. They offer a safer alternative for women who fear robbery, abuse, harassment or assault. “The city is not safe for women to get around,” said Gorame Momo, one of four female bus drivers in the capital. “We provide safe transport for them.”

As yet there are scant few Harvey Weinsteins in Papua New Guinea — powerful men felled for their bad behaviour. But there are plenty of Alyssa Milanos or Tanushree Duttas, women brave enough to speak out and try to nudge their society forward.

Increase in Security Companies

…The manifest inadequacies of state-provided security, pervasive feelings and perceptions of insecurity, and the economic opportunities presented to domestic and transnational companies in this field, have driven the massive growth of private security in PNG over recent decades. Figures from PNG’s own Security Industries Authority indicate that the number of licensed security companies increased from 176 in 2006 to 462 in 2014, with a workforce of around 30,000 guards. While omitting the large number of unlicensed operators, this number exceeds the combined workforce for the Royal PNG Constabulary, PNG Defence Force and the Corrections Service. Some estimates make private security the third largest employer in PNG. The industry has flourished around elite urban enclaves, the extractive industries and, albeit temporarily, APEC.

The tough job of fighting a polio outbreak inPNG

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/11/the-tough-job-of-fighting-a-polio-outbreak-in-png.html

PORT MORESBY – After a long morning of organised chaos inside a crowded government compound in Papua NewGuinea’s capital Port Moresby, hundreds of health workers and volunteers are finally wrangled into teams, issued with instructions, and piled into a fleet of hard-worn four-wheel drives. As the first of four mass vaccination waves scheduled over October and November begins to push out across the Pacific nation, emergency teams are rolled out in the capital. The vehicles are loaded up with loud hailers and ice boxes full of oral polio vaccine. Before they head into the surrounding settlements, posters are hastily taped to the windows and doors: ‘Stop Polio in PNG’.

Just half of PNG’s more than eight million people have access to clean water and less than one-fifth to a toilet that disposes of waste in a way that it does not pose a disease risk.

Genetic analysis of stool samples taken from the victims reveals the virus has been circulating undetected for more than two years, Gurung said. “If you have one case, there would be 200, maybe 500,000 people circulating the virus.”

Waide dumping electrifies & outrages global admirers

26 November 2018

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/11/waide-dumping-electrifies-outrages-global-admirers.html#more

NOOSA – Readers of PNGAttitude have joined hundreds of Papua New Guineans and people internationally in voicing strong support for journalist and blogger Scott Waide who was suspended from his senior job with EMTV after the television station management received instructions from the Papua New Guinea government to do so.

Waide was linked to a story broadcast on Saturday 17 November which originated in New Zealand and mentioned that prime minister Jacinta Ardern would not be travelling one of the 40 Maseratis imported by the PNG government for use at APEC.

The purchase had generated great controversy and much criticism in PNG and in the overseas media. In a message to staff, the state-owned broadcaster said it had been forced to suspend Waide and told staff not to discuss the matter.

In the days before APEC, Waide, with the help of his audience, had investigated drug and medical equipment shortages in PNG hospitals. During the summit he had reported on Chinese restrictions on the media.

Radio New Zealand reports that in recent days he wrote about the police minister assuring disciplinary forces that no action would be taken against personnel who stormed parliament over APEC related payments, although this decisions has since been said to have been overturned.

Waide reinstated! People power gives PNG govt a wake-up call

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/11/waide-reinstated-people-pressure-gives-govt-a-wake-up-call.html#more. Scott Waide. 26 November 2018

LAE – Over the last 48 hours, I have been very  humbled by the incredible support my family and I have received from people  both here and abroad. Support also came from friends in the media, academia, law enforcement, the military and many other circles too many to name. I have since been reinstated to my job as deputy regional head of news at EMTV. …

I was suspended on Sunday 18 November, on the last day of the APEC meetings.  The  reasons for the suspensions are now public knowledge and I do not wish to dwell too much on them. However, I do wish to make the following points:

Papua New Guinea is a democracy and the media is free to hold those in authority to account. This means highlighting flaws in policy and making sure mistakes are pointed out and corrected. It is an essential part of our democracy.

There should NEVER be any interference at the operational level by board members. The media is an institution of democracy and must remain free and independent.  It is our constitutional right to report AND be critical.

Journalists of ‘state owned’ media are NOT government public relations officers nor are media organisations PR machines.

EMTV is ‘state owned’ which means the PEOPLE own this company through their elected government.

Journalism is an art… and art and creativity cannot operate in an environment of suppression and fear.

Papua New Guinea is a critical moment of its history with the growth and influence of China, US-China trade tensions and  challenges within our own country.

We are a largely rural nation. Many of our people still have no access to basic services.

We will continue to promote critical, proactive and transparent journalism.  The people’s voice has to be heard and the media must remain as the conduit and platform for opinions and debate and those who cannot accept it MUST step aside and let progress happen.

Note:  I will be on leaveDecember and January so the next edition of Social Concerns Notes will probablybe at the end of February 2019.  Peace, 

Philip Gibbs SVD

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Social Concerns Notes – October 2018

K200-K600 pay deductions for teachers all over the country and they want to know why https://mylandmycountry.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/k200-k600-pay-deductions-for-teachers-all-over-the-country-and-they-want-to-know-why/

This morning, I was informed that  a number of teachers in Lae had not received their full salaries.  On average, each teacher mentioned had about K200 deducted from each of  their salaries over two consecutive fortnights. I didn’t know how bad the situation was. So by 7am, I posted an alert on Facebook asking teachers in Lae to provide some leads. Almost immediately, the Facebook messages and text messages came flooding in.  And I am not exaggerating here.  Teachers from primary and secondary were sending messages from all over the country telling me that they had pay cuts which affected their families in a big way.

Most teachers don’t get much in terms of a salary.  So a K200 deduction can sometimes amount to a third or even half their pay.

A great (but ignored) way to include everyone in development

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/this-is-a-great-approach-including-everyone-in-pngs-development.html01 October 2018

In cities such as Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen, the growth of informal settlements has been so rapid and pervasive that it has reached a point where urgent action needs to be taken to arrest what has become out-of-control development. It is estimated that by 2030, one-third of PNG’s population will be living in urban centres with an annual growth rate of 1.6%. In Port Moresby alone it is estimated that over 45% of the 700,000 plus population of the National Capital District live in the unplanned areas and settlements. Most of these people will not be able to secure formal jobs and will take up livelihood activities within the urban informal economy to get by. The National Informal Economy Policy for 2011-2015 estimates that 80-85% of the total population is involved in the informal sector. In Port Moresby alone it estimates that about K2 million changes hands every day in the urban informal economy. That is about K750 million a year. In most developing economies, the informal economy has outgrown the formal sector to the extent that governments are being urged to embrace the informal economy to combat rising unemployment. This points to an urgent need for the PNG government to integrate informal economy into its urban development plans and priorities, as it has often been advised to do.

Lifestyle diseases on the rise in PNG

Post Courier, October 3, 2018

PAPUA New Guineans are urged to live a healthy lifestyle because lifestyle change and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases are rising. This was the message that Health Minister Sir Puka Temu conveyed to the United Nations last week. Sir Puka told the UN General Assembly that PNG was experiencing an increase in blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and cancer which is the leading non-communicable disease.

While significant effort has been placed on managing communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and polio, Sir Puka said that effort is also directed at managing con-communicable diseases, including, for example:

• implementing the Tobacco Control Act and developing regulations to support a stronger public response against smoking;

• drafting a Radiation Control Bill to regulate radiation sources in PNG and allow the import of cobalt for our radiation treatments for cancer patients;

• Launching a multi-sectoral plan to help address lifestyle factors in non-communicable diseases;

• undertaking an Organic Law Review, Provincial Health Authorities Review and implementing District Development Authorities, all of which could provide the foundation for a better functioning health system; and

• implementing the Cancer Control Policy and a National Multi-sectoral Strategic Plan 2015 to 2020 for Non-Communicable Diseases.

TB is being keenly felt in PNG and it remains a public health threat and kills more people in the country than any other infectious disease.

Govt’s failure to address poverty is driving TB’s spread in PNG

Post Courier, 03 October 2018

CANBERRA – Tuberculosis is such an old disease, such a normal part of the landscape in many countries, that many governments fail to recognise the extent to which it is a major driver of poverty, with a devastating impact on individuals, families, communities, and the country. In countries with weak health systems, the dangerous symbiotic relationship is even more obvious.

Papua New Guinea is one of those countries where neglect of the disease through the years has caused the number of cases to spiral exponentially and allowed new drug-resistant strains to develop, resulting in many communities being trapped in a vicious cycle at the interplay of poverty and tuberculosis – one driving the other. According to the 2017 World Health Organisation Global TB Report, TB kills more people in PNG than any other infectious disease. There were 30,000 new cases of TB in PNG in 2016. As the numbers continued to increase. The irony is that PNG is resource-rich. Yet it ranks 153 out of 185 countries on the Human Development Index

The longer we wait, more people die

Post Courier, October 4, 2018

“I have been here (national cancer centre) for almost 10 weeks, other patients have been here longer, six months, 12 months and one to two years, waiting for radiotherapy treatment.” These are the heart-felt words of a man-stricken by cancer and no immediate relief in sight. The patient, who refused to be identified, continued: “I have witnessed a total of 11 patients die in the past eight weeks (up to mid-September). “While sitting on my sick bed, I saw four patients who were admitted before I was admitted die and four new patients admitted, replacing the four who had just died. “And I am still sitting here on my sick bed and the four who were admitted died with three other women cancer patients.

“The longer it takes for Parliament to pass the Radiation Safety Bill, patients are dying and will continue dying.” This patient is now living at the national cancer centre at Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae, speaking on behalf of the other patients.  “We appeal to the government to pass the Bill as soon as possible. “The struggle we face with no radiation treatment available here at the National Cancer Centre is killing patients.

Two out of three suffer violence, says study

October 5, 2018 The National

 A STUDY has shown that two in every three local women suffer from physical, sexual and psychological violence at the hands of their partners. The Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council has therefore urged all agencies dealing with family and sexual violence to observe this month’s campaign against domestic violence. The committee’s national coordinator Marcia Kalinoe said domestic violence was no longer a private matter. “(It) is a crime punishable by law. It affects the rights of individuals and restricts their access to wealth, opportunities and privileges in society. It is a social injustice,” she said. It includes punching, slapping, kicking, and use of objects to hurt another person, yelling, swearing, coercion and threats.
Also included is stealing money, stalking, continual texting or phone calls, sexual abuse and degrading someone and making them feel useless and isolated.
The committee advocates for a nationwide awareness this month to end domestic violence in the country. The campaign suggests:

  •  Standing up for a mother, daughter or sister experiencing violence;
  •  Telling someone about the 1-Tok Kaunseling Helpim Lain 7150 800, or calling the number to report any form of family and sexual violence in the community;
  •  Wearing a purple or black ribbon to support survivors and remember those who died as a result of domestic violence;
  •  Making a donation in cash or kind at a Safe Haus or a Family Support Centre;
  •  Speaking up for the safety and protection of women, girls and boys.

Thirteen polio cases affected with limb paralysis

October 5, 2018 The National

Thirteen of the confirmed polio cases are affected with limb paralysis and can no longer use their legs, says national coordinator polio response Sibauk Bieb. “The only different paralysis is the one on the nine-year-old boy from Enga who had paralysis in his breathing muscles but lost his life last month,” he said in an update. “We have the 13 remaining.
“For the 13 with paralysis of the leg, the polio virus has affected their lower limbs and sometimes their upper limb and they cannot walk or move their legs easily.”

Serious questions as PNG malaria infections increase ninefold

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/serious-questions-as-png-malaria-infections-increase-ninefold.html#more. 10 October 2018

CANBERRA – A recent report from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research shows almost a ninefold increase in the number of cases of malaria in PNG between 2014 and 2017. The key result of the report is that there has been “an increase in the size of the total population infected with malaria parasites from 50,309 in 2014 to 432,000 in 2017”.

According to the April report, the national prevalence of malaria is now 7.1%. This is up from 5.1% in 2010-11 and a remarkably low 1% in 2014-15. In many ways, the 7% prevalence underestimates the severity of the problem. The national figure is 10% for children under five. Malaria prevalence among all ages is as high as 16% in Madang, 10.8% in Milne Bay, 8.8% in East Sepik and 8.7% in New Ireland. For children under five, some of the reported provincial prevalence rates are terrifying: the highest is 20.5% in Sandaun.

What has gone wrong? We know from international research that success in malaria control can be fragile. In the case of PNG, the report points to three factors: a decline in Global Fund support after 2013; a simultaneous decline in PNG public expenditure in the health sector and the lack of availability of drugs.

It’s pretty simple, although the report also suggests that changes in mosquito biting behaviour (from night to early evening) may have reduced the effectiveness of bed nets.

The earlier drastic reduction in malaria was held up as a PNG success story, as indeed it was.

The reversal raises some very serious questions. These have to be directed first and foremost to the PNG government. Our own 2017 economic survey showed that health funding increased in the years to 2014, but was sharply cut between 2014 and 2016 – by 37% after inflation.

New independent corruption commission has no independence

10 October 2018  http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/pngs-new-independent-corruption-commission-has-no-independence.html#more

PORT MORESBY – The Papua New Guinea government’s announcement of a so-called Interim Independent Commission Against Corruption is an insult to the nation and an abuse of the ICAC name. An ICAC must be independent from government and free from any political interference, but what the prime minister has announced fundamentally fails both tests. What PNG urgently needs is a truly independent, full resourced and properly empowered ICAC. It is vital that ICAC is an independent constitutional body with powers to investigate complaints, arrest suspects and prosecute cases of corruption in both the public and private sector while working alongside existing law enforcement agencies. It is over 10 years since PNG ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption yet we are still waiting for an ICAC.

Police Record increase in car jackings

Post Courier, October 10, 2018

AN EVIDENT increase in carjacking incidents around the country has citizens and authorities alike on edge. According to Police reports, a staggering 140 stolen vehicle incidents have been logged since 1 January 2018 around the country. In NCD alone, as many as 76 cars have been reported stolen since January. NCD Metropolitan Superintendent Perou N’Dranou said that the increase in hold-ups and related carjackings was not a new thing and that while the numbers were discouraging, recent policing developments in the second quarter of the year have drastically improved crime stats in general. In Madang, Provincial Commander Ben Neneo told this paper yesterday that Jomba Police station had received over 20 stolen vehicle reports this year, with Lae, Rabaul and Mt Hagen all reporting stats just shy of ten each.

APEC Cost to PNG to Date approaching K2 BILLION

http://www.pngblogs.com/2018/10/apec-cost-to-png-to-date-approaching-k2.html?m=1

by APEC INSIDERS
Insiders at APEC Authority have estimated the following costs to the nation to date over the last 2 years:
1. APEC Haus construction – K300m.
2. Hilton Hotel construction contribution – K200m.
3.  Sealing of Jacksons airport (old terminal area) for 767 aircraft to park – K70m.
4. Cruise Ship hires – K90m.
5. Joint Security task force costs including cars and bikes and boats and related cost under Police Comm etc. – K60m.
6. Hire cars –  K65m.
7. Hotels and venue hire for all the lead up meetings so far – K90m.
8. Motor vehicles including executive Praods – K50m.
9. New Maserati sports sedans – K40m.
10. Salaries for staff and consultants for staff and foreign consultants for years for both APEC Authority and APEC secretariat – K90m.
11. Travel and allowances for attending meetings etc over 2 years – K60m.
12.  Staff accommodation – K30m.
13.  Uniforms and attire we see littering Pom – K50m.
14. Banners and flyers and signages by a certain Lady’s company- K30m.
15. Computers and meeting registration software – K20m.
16. Medical Services to PIH for meetings so far- K10m.
17.  Work on wharf to accommodate cruise ships – K30m.
18.  Water supply piping with Eda Ranu to Motukea for cruise ships – K10m.
19. National Weather Service Upgrade  – K10m.
20.  PNG Air Safety Ltd equipment upgrade – K20m.
21. Staff meals and allowances during meetings for all State Agencies including Police and govt departmenta- K10m.
22.  Fuel and maintenance costs for over 120 vehicles for 2 year – K30m.
23. Cost of hosting several lead up meetings in certain provinces- K20m
23.  Other administration costs like mobile phones and internet and stationery etc etc  – K40m.
These exclude all aid funded projects like the Poreporena Freeway upgrade for K30m and Convention centre upgrade for K25m.

 Hilton and Western

http://www.pngblogs.com/2018/10/one-big-fked-up-deal-by-pekato-man.html

The Hilton Hotel in Port Moresby was opened last week – string quartets, acrobats, three tenors and other carnivals were there. The Governor of Western Province –made a very good speech apparently.  But he ended it with……”as I look at this magnificent building I think about my people in Western sitting around fire, scraping for food, suffering TB and dying of other diseases and with no electricity or medicine”.  And walked off the stage.

Citizens react in anger as govt tries to explain Maserati purchase

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/govt-says-cars-will-be-sold-to-private-sector-citizens-react-in-anger.html#more

SYDNEY – Papua New Guineans have reacted with anger at its government importing a fleet of Maseratis to drive international delegates around the APEC conference next month, amid a health and poverty crisis, struggling economy, and ongoing efforts after a devastating earthquake. The PNG government has defended its decision, expressing confidence that all 40 luxury cars will be bought by the “private sector” after the two-day event, leaving the government with no financial burden. The cars, which cost between $200,000 and $350,000 each in Australia, were flown in from Milan on two Boeing 747-8F charter planes this week, with the costs covered by “the private sector”, according to the minister for APEC, Justin Tkatchenko. “Maserati Quattroporte sedans have been secured and delivered, and are being committed to be paid for by the private sector,” he said.

Australia this year announced an extra $16m in aid to address the polio outbreak and assist PNG’s vaccination program. Recently there have also been pay cuts across multiple sectors, including to teachers, and unexplained resealing of Port Moresby roads while rural areas are often inaccessible.

Transparency demands full disclosure on APEC vehicle purchases

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/transparency-demands-full-disclosure-on-apec-vehicle-purchases.html#more

PORT MORESBY – The Papua New Guinea chapter of Transparency International (TIPNG) has said the only way to stop allegations of corruption is for the government to be honest and transparent in its procurement processes. Late yesterday TIPNG called for the government and the APEC Authority to publicly disclose the total cost involved in the purchase and import of 40 Maserati and three Bentley sedans and other luxury vehicles which generated controversy in PNG and internationally this week after it was estimated the purchases amounted to at least 40 million kina.

The statement said that the Government had recently passed the National Procurement Act along with other recent public finance reform legislation which was intended to strengthen public trust in procurement. “However it is difficult to see how the general public can have confidence in a system which, in the absence of transparency, is so readily made to support what are seen to be impulsive and extravagant purchases by state entities,” the statement said. It added that this was especially so “in the face of declining service delivery, a depressed economy and severe hardships being faced by ordinary Papua New Guineans”.

Is the clock finally ticking for PNG’s illegal loggers?

http://www.devpolicy.org/is-the-clock-finally-ticking-for-pngs-illegal-loggers-20181016/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=18e8902887-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-18e8902887-312089549

A time traveler from 1988 visiting Papua New Guinea’s forestry sector today would find it distressingly familiar territory. Three decades ago, Commissioner Tos Barnett was conducting his Inquiry into aspects of the forest industry, published as a two-volume survey of the corruption and illegalities allowing PNG’s forests to be felled wholesale and exported, to the country’s economic and environmental loss. Barnett’s famous pronouncement that logging companies were operating in Papua New Guinea with the “self-assurance of robber barons” is as relevant now as it was then. (Indeed, hardly a think piece on the industry can be published without repeating the quote.) What has changed in the interim is that those mostly foreign-backed companies have cut and sold off many millions more cubic meters of PNG timber, in a process that has signally failed to bring meaningful development to the country’s rural and forest-dependent communities. PNG’s ongoing crisis in forest governance has been meticulously documented since Barnett’s day, including in a flurry of research published in the last several years. All of it tells the same story. Chatham House estimated in 2014 that 70% of the country’s timber may be produced illegally…. [See url above for the whole article.]

Report highlights govt’s multiple breaches in SABL land grab

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/report-highlights-govts-multiple-breaches-in-sabl-land-grab.html

PORT MORESBY – The appalling human rights abuses being suffered by the victims of the huge SABL land-grab in Papua New Guinea are the focus of a report published yesterday.

‘The SABL Land Grab: Papua New Guinea’s Ongoing Human Rights Scandal’ highlights the devastating impacts on people living in rural communities and gives a voice to those who have suffered the illegal loss of their land to logging and oil-palm plantations. One of them is Peter Tai, who says people were threatened, beaten and turned away by armed police and the army when they tried to stop the logging and oil palm planting on their traditional land

“When the company uses the police and army, they twist the law and beat us up very badly, to the point where we are afraid to attempt stopping the company again,” Mr Tai said.

It is not only violence that people have suffered. The report highlights how the SABL land grab, as well as breaching PNG’s own land laws and Constitution, has breached a whole raft of international laws and conventions. These include the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and many of the fundamental human rights protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Facts trump Government spin in Maserati furore

http://pngicentral.org/reports/facts-trump-government-spin-in-maserati-furore [See the url for the full interesting article].

 Bel Isi PNG: a world first
Development Policy Blog.

Can family and sexual violence (FSV) be more than the humanitarian concern that we know it to be? The answer is yes. In Papua New Guinea (PNG) FSV has been quantified as a significant cost to business. For example, for one company recently surveyed in Port Moresby the cost was three million kina in one year alone.

The operation of Bel Isi services by Femili PNG, a PNG NGO, will assist survivors and support the existing network of services. So, how does Bel Isi PNG work? Companies pay a subscription fee, and can steer their staff who need help towards targeted individual support such as medical care and counselling, police and legal resources, and shelter if necessary. This allows those experiencing family and sexual violence to better cope with their circumstances and return to work sooner and more focused. Bel Isi services will also assist public clients, with the case management centre open to all. Bel Isi PNG also offers the potential for longer-term, deeper influence, as it gives companies help in drafting and implementing their own policies defining their response to family and sexual violence.

Bel Isi PNG is a potential game changer. It’s a public-private partnership that could bring about real change in PNG and could set a positive example and precedent for the rest of the world.

Letter From Dr. Glen Mola…

Today we heard at our PMGH staff meeting that we have run out of antiretroviral (ART or HIV drugs) medicines. We have many thousands of HIV positive people on treatment in NCD (and several more thousand around the rest of the country) and they may not have any medicine to take unless new supplies arrive in the very near future. People on ART must take their medicine every single day: they they stop and start again they are very likely to breed resistant HIV. This is not only bad (in fact life-threatening) for the patient, but life-threatening for everybody else in the community who might catch the HIV from them.

We also don’t have any Syphilis test kits in the country. Syphilis used to be the commonest cause of stillbirth (babies dying inside their mothers) in our audit stats.- and after we started routine testing of all mothers coming to AN clinics (and treating the positives) we virtually eliminated this scourge from our pregnant mums. But now with no test kits available, the syphilis problem will come back again and many babies will die.

And this week we ran out of Oxytocin, the drug that prevents women from losing too much blood when they deliver their babies. The commonest cause of death when oxytocin is not available is post partum hemorrhage (or excessive bleeding after the birth); so we are probably now going to see a lot more mothers dies even when they come to hospital to have a supervised birth. And we are very short of surgical sutures – the special thread and needle that surgeons use to sew up their patients during and after operations….

What should be the values of the people running PNG?

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/what-are-the-values-of-the-people-running-png.html#more

Martyn Namorong. – At independence, Papua New Guinea adopted Christian values from missionaries who said Jesus was our saviour who would provide for us heaven. Post-independence, the miners and loggers came along with other neoliberal capitalist missionaries from the World Bank, the IMF and other multilateral institutions and told us capitalism was the way to heaven. Our forefathers believed in the message of Christ and gave their land and resources to the churches. Today their children believe in capitalist economic development and are giving PNG’s land and resources to the capitalists.

Whereas Christian missionaries called for repentance and behavioural change to attain salvation, nowadays we talk of foreign direct investment and economic growth to attain deliverance. Who is to say, that if are rid of the O’Neill regime that it will be replaced with something better? We once rejoiced when Peter O’Neill replaced Michael Somare. If the mindsets of those who run PNG now, and who will do so in the future are enslaved by pathological ideologies, we will continue to face the same issues. The challenge now is to change the narrative and articulate an alternative model of development that is relevant to PNG….

Big health donors defraud patients by ignoring corruption

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/big-health-donors-defraud-patients-by-ignoring-corruption.html

You can read the complete PNGi article here

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s health system is in crisis. Tuberculosis is at epidemic levels, polio has re-emerged, maternal and child mortality rates are among the worst in the world, malaria infections have increased nine-fold in just three years, no radiology treatment is available for cancer patients, rural health clinics lie empty and abandoned….

The list goes on and on. Yet this is a health system that for decades has been financially and technically supported by some of the world’s largest multilateral agencies, the World Bank, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and many others. Why is their assistance so manifestly failing?

This year Australia will provide $572 million in overseas direct aid to PNG, 18% or $103m is being targeted at the health sector. In addition, Australia has just announced an extra K24 million in funding to combat vaccine preventable diseases, starting with Polio.

Australian Minister-Counsellor based in Port Moresby, Benedict David says, “under the leadership of Minister Temu and the National Department of Health, this additional support will help protect PNG’s children from polio and other childhood illnesses”.

Just last week, PNGi revealed a GAVI [the global vaccine alliance] investigation that found NDoH staff engaged in sophisticated and widespread financial fraud.

Now, another report has emerged from the same organisation. It is a program audit of the government’s expanded program of immunisations. The expanded program of immunisations is managed by a unit within NDoH. It was established in 1977. It is considered by the national government to be “an important, cost-effective intervention for reducing the morbidity and mortality of children from communicable diseases”.

The GAVI audit strongly disputes this assessment, labelling the programs overall performance ‘unsatisfactory’ [the lowest possible rating] and concluding its objectives are unlikely to ever be met. The unsatisfactory rating applies across the whole spectrum of the program’s operations. The majority of issues identified in the audit as contributing to the unsatisfactory ratings were deemed to be “critical risk” [the highest possible grading], meaning a failure to take remedial action could result in ‘major consequences’ affecting ‘overall activities and output’. The GAVI audit found that over a two-year period (2014-15) more than 25% (US$720,000) of GAVI funded expenditure by the expanded program of immunisations was misused or wasted and over 250,000 doses of vaccine (worth a further $50,000) were rendered useless through shelf expiry or inadequate temperature controls.

But what is even more shocking is that the audit only examined expenditure funded by GAVI….

Three more confirmed Polio Cases in Madang, Enga EHP

Post Courier, October 19, 2018

THREE additional polio cases have now been reported giving a total case count to 18 in Papua New Guinea. The Health Department of Health announced this yesterday that these three additional polio cases have been confirmed in Madang, Enga and Eastern Highlands provinces. To date, there have been 18 polio cases in the country affecting seven provinces: six in Eastern Highlands, three in Morobe, three in Enga, three in Madang, one in the National Capital District, one in Jiwaka and one in East Sepik.

Delay in Supply of Drugs a Concern for WHP TB Patients.

Post Courier October 24, 2018

Tuberculosis (TB) patients are fearful of their lives. In the Western Highlands Province TB sufferers are now living on the edge due to the delay in the arrival of drugs that were expected two weeks ago. This was the scenario that TB patients were faced with when they fronted up on Monday morning to get their usual dosage. They crowded the TB outpatient ward only to hear from Mount Hagen health authorities that there is a drug shortage and were advised to wait. For many, having to wait and extra day of two for the drugs to arrive from the Department of Health can be dertimental towards their livelihood. This is because if they miss a daily doze for a week it can lead to the development of Multi Drug Resistance TB, which is difficult to treat, and the drug is expensive to buy.

Women as peacemakers much needed at this time, says Momis

Momis – ‘Through women’s joint efforts peace in Bougainville was attained and maintained’

BUKA – The traditional roles of Bougainvillean women have been as custodians of the land and providers of the safety net within the community. In more recent times these roles have been redefined to include peacemaker, to mark their contributions to the post-civil war Bougainville peace process. Bougainville president John Momis congratulated the women of Bougainville during five days of celebrating their social contribution to the autonomous province last week. “Women are an important stakeholder in peace building on Bougainville,” Dr Momis said. “It was through your joint efforts with our leaders, ex-combatants and government that peace was initially attained. “I once again call upon your resilience and unwavering support to continue to play a vital role in preparing our people before the referendum [on Bougainville’s political future] is held next year. “I am of the firm belief that our people will not fail but before that happens we must work hard for it to happen,” he said. He reminded the women that the referendum is a privilege that only Bougainville has in Papua New Guinea. “This means we are a highly favoured people presented with a rare opportunity to decide our own destiny,” he said.

A letter to the prime minister about the women’s cancer ward

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/10/a-letter-to-the-prime-minister-about-the-womens-cancer-ward.html#more

PORT MORESBY – Dear prime minister, greetings to you and your cabinet. This morning (Monday 23 October), I visited the cancer ward at Port Moresby General Hospital at 1.13 am. The purpose of my visit was to see and feel the life in this ward. Hon prime minister, the first feeling that engulfed me as soon as I opened the door was similar to walking into a morgue.

There was no life in this building except for the light from fluorescent tubes. I will bring to you the realities of this place. Hon prime minister, if you stand where I stood, you will see a stretch of corridor. If you look to your left and right, you will see curtains hanging lifelessly on the doors. I believe you would vividly know what is behind those curtains.

If you peep through those curtains you will see our mothers, wives and sisters awaiting their deaths. Looking at their lifeless faces, you see Death is inevitable. They expect it to come to them at any moment. There are about 36 innocent patients awaiting their death. Their cancer has reached Stage 3 which requires radio therapy to cure. There is hope in the dimness of their faces – if only they are able to secure K60,000 for radio therapy treatment overseas. This mother of two children has cancer. The only therapy available to her is Panadol. However, from my brief interview, none of them can afford that money. This they just pray with hope that there could be a miracle.

Hon prime minister, these women have no choices in life. Hon prime minister, cancer is curable at our doorstep if only we had these treatments available. The obvious questions are who and why. Who is to provide this treatment for these innocent mothers? If there is someone to provide it, why is it not provided?

Hon prime minister, Papua New Guinea is hosting APEC in a couple of weeks’ time. We talk and walk luxuries from the floor of parliament to APEC Haus and into the settlements. We are forking out millions of kina from the bags and bilums of these suffering mothers, who are on death row, to fly in, all the way from the other side of the world, luxury cars costing millions of kina – Maseratis and Bentleys to be used for only three days.

Hon prime minister, it’s because of our mere ignorance that these innocents are suffering. This is just one hospital I am referring to but let us project it to the entire country. I believe there are hundreds or thousands of people suffering nationwide. Do we have a remedy for them or do we just let them perish where they are? We are very capable of combatting cancer but our ignorance and negligence destroys innocent lives. I fear the Good Lord will hold us accountable for our deeds. Therefore Hon prime minister, please can we just sell two of the 40 Maseratis after APEC and buy radio therapy equipment for our mothers, wives and sisters? I believe this approach would be taken by the men and their sons to save their mothers, sisters and wives. Tomorrow it could be our mothers, wives and daughters who might face the same fiasco. Hon prime minister, please do something to save the mothers of this great nation.

 

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Social Concerns Notes – September 2018

Couple mark 50 yrs of marriage
Post Courier August 31, 2018
Lina Koro and Gabriel Yombonakali met, strange as it might seem in the days of no mobile phones and ‘selfies’, via a photograph without ever setting eyes upon each other in 1968.
Hearing of her existence via relatives, Gabriel sent Lina a photograph of himself at Lae.
Lina saw her future husband in the uniform of a warder with the sea in the background and decided he was the man for her.
Bride price was paid by Gabriel’s relatives again without one setting eyes upon the other and Lina arrived in Lae where both made their nuptial vows to remain faithful and true until death parted them at Lae’s Top Town Catholic Church on August 22, 1968.
Last Saturday, three days past the 50th anniversary of that day, Lina and Gabriel again rededicated themselves to each other for the balance of their natural lives at Gerehu’s St Charles Lwanga Church.
A Golden Jubilee mass was celebrated by friends from every church in the Capital followed by a feast. At an age of broken marriage pacts and loose morals, how, you might ask, had this marriage stuck for half a century? “In the custom you have strict rules that a man and woman must follow in marriage. We followed them. As Christians there are strict rules you have to follow. We followed them. There is no magic.”“A nd another wife, polygamy, it is customary, is it not?” he was asked on the day. “Marrying many wives is for the big man,” Yombonakali said. The big man has wealth. He can pay the bride price for many wives and look after extra sets of in-laws. I cannot and I do not want to be bothered by squabbling wives and their relatives.” Lina Koro hails from Monokam and Gabriel Yombonakali from Lakamanda in Ambum Valley, Enga.
They have five surviving children who have blessed them with 17 grandchildren.

Travel Ban for PNG
Post Courier, August 31, 2018
PAPUA New Guinea has reached the highest international security alert of Level 4 as one of the world’s “no-go-zone” countries. PNG is now among North Korea, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Syria that the United Kingdom and United States have placed a Level 4 alert on. Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Emil Tammur is now calling for urgent intervention by relevant government authorities, stakeholders and local communities to curb law and order issues which are seriously affecting the country’s tourism sector. Mr Tammur expressed grave concerns that criminal activities such as armed hold-ups on tourists and tribal fighting in tourism hot spots were already having a negative impact with increased holiday cancellations and on PNG generally as a desired tourism destination. He condemned the armed robbery of 20 tourists at Tawali Dive Resort in Alotau recently, where criminals took wallets, mobile phones, cameras and other personal items from tourists who had come from as far away as Europe, Asia and North America. This is the third time one of the top dive resorts in PNG has been attacked, Mr Tammur said….

Massive land scandal has been delayed, shredded & buried
30 August 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/08/massive-land-scandal-has-been-delayed-shredded-buried.html#more. Act Now
PORT MORESBY – The Papua New Guinea government has tried to bury and forget the SABL land grab scandal in which more than five million hectares of land has been stolen from rural communities. The government is using a well-tested formula that is employed almost every time a new corruption scandal is exposed. First, there is a long-drawn out official inquiry that is then delayed by funding and other logistical problems. There is subsequently a further deferral before the inquiry findings are tabled in parliament. Next, a public promise of action is made and it is announced that a committee will be established to implement the inquiry findings. And then nothing. No resignations, no prosecutions, no corrective action, no compensation. Stone cold silence. In the case of the SABL land grab, the official commission of inquiry took more than two-years to complete its investigations (March 2011 – June 2013) and, due to political interference and funding problems, reported on only 42 of the75 leases investigated. The prime minister then instituted a further three months delay before presenting the 42 commission reports to parliament in September 2013. Since then, a number of different committees have been announced to supposedly implement the findings, which included recommendations for criminal prosecution of public servants involved in the most egregious and fraudulent leases.Most la ndowners affected by the SABL land grab still wait for their land to be returned while the forest authority is still issuing logging licences in affected areas.

Dramatic revelations on tax evasion & illegal logging in PNG
02 September 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/dramatic-revelations-on-tax-evasion-illegal-logging-in-png.html#more. Oakland Institute
The full report on ‘The Great Timber Heist Continued’ is available at https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/great-timber-heist-continued-papua-new-guinea
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – In a just released investigative report, ‘The Great Timber Heist-Continued: Tax Evasion and Illegal Logging in Papua New Guinea’, the Oakland Institute has made public new evidence of financial misreporting and tax evasion in the logging industry in Papua New Guinea.
Following its 2016 report, which alleged that financial misreporting by foreign firms resulted in non-payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, the new report reveals drastic worsening of this pattern in recent years. According to the financial records, the 16 studied subsidiaries of PNG’s largest log exporter, the Malaysian Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Group, have doubled their financial losses in just six years while increasing their exports of tropical timber by over 40%. Despite decades of operations in PNG, logging companies barely declare any profits. The official tax filings of most firms report losses year after year. How is it then possible for these companies to still remain in business if they don’t make profits? Any other business under such circumstances would have shut down by now. Even more puzzling is that the more Rimbunan Hijau subsidiaries harvest and export timber, the more money they declare in losses. Not only do they almost never pay any income tax, but their continued losses allow them to accumulate an astounding volume of tax credits – making it likely that they won’t pay any income tax for years to come.”…
The full report on ‘The Great Timber Heist Continued’ is available at https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/great-timber-heist-continued-papua-new-guinea

Literacy Rate Remains Low
Post Courier, September 4, 2018
THE country celebrates literacy week beginning this month yet struggles to address literacy and numeracy in the country. Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra said nine of the 22 provinces have not reached an acceptable literacy rate. From 2015 literacy report, PNG’s literacy rate is low at 63.4 per cent. The adult literacy rate increased from 57.3 per cent in 2000 to 63.4 per cent in 2015, growing at an average annual rate of 5.28 per cent. The national literacy rate for women is at 61.77 per cent and male at 65.06 per cent as recorded in 2015. According to the secretary, the government’s effort to elevate the national literacy rates has introduced the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) to educate school children from elementary to secondary starting in 2012.

More doctors needed
September 4, 2018The National
CONCERN has been raised over the need for more doctors in the country, with some heavily populated areas in Gulf and Western having none at all, a medical symposium has been told.
PNG Society of Rural and Remote Health president Dr David Mills told the week-long national medical symposium, which began in Madang yesterday, that the country had a ratio of one doctor to 20,000 people. Mills told the symposium, which is focusing on rural health, that half the total number of the doctors in the country were based in the National Capital District. Others were spread around the country. “PNG’s health story is a rural health story. We need more doctors and we need to train more doctors,” he said.
Mills said certain local level governments, which had more than 20,000 people in provinces such as Gulf and Western, did not have any doctor.
Meanwhile, Health and HIV-AIDS Minister Sir Puka Temu also launched a book titled The last doctor, by Dr Rebecca Williams, 28, of Kompiam Hospital in Enga. Sir Puka said he was inspired by the inspiriting stories of doctors which Williams complied. He said the book would “inspire our young and upcoming doctors to serve our people in rural aid posts”. Williams said many doctors underwent training at the Kompiam Hospital and she put together the book “to encourage and inspire young doctors to love their profession more and serve wholeheartedly”.
Bougainville Peace Agreement
Post Courier, September 5, 2018
What is the Bougainville Peace Agreement and what are the key elements of the Document?
By Dr Thomas Webster
The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) was signed in August of 2001 after nearly three years of negotiations between leaders from Bougainville and the PNG National Government. The BPA followed a successful cease fire agreement, i.e. “Lincoln Agreement” that was brokered by the New Zealand Government and signed in Lincoln in January of 1998, which brought to an end the ten-year civil war that began in 1988.
The Agreement has three pillars. They are as follows;
Autonomy
The Agreement provides for arrangements for an autonomous Bougainville Government operating under a home-grown Bougainville Constitution with a right to assume increasing control over a wide range of powers, functions, personnel and resources on the basis of guarantees contained in the National Constitution.
Referendum
The agreement provides for the right, guaranteed in the National Constitution, for a referendum among Bougainvilleans on Bougainville’s future political status.
The outcome of the referendum will be subject to ratification (final decision making authority) of the National Parliament.
Weapons Disposal Plan
The agreed weapon disposal plan will proceed in stages, area by area around Bougainville, beginning as soon as is practicable. After the constitutional amendments implementing this agreement have been passed by the National Parliament and by the time they take legal effect, remaining Defence Force and Police Mobile Unit personnel will have been withdrawn from Bougainville and weapons will be held in secure containers. The containers will have two separate locks with the key to one held by the United Nations Observer Mission on Bougainville (UNOMB) and the other by the relevant ex-combatant Commander….

669 prison escapees since 2016
September 6, 2018The National
CORRECTIONAL Services Minister Roy Biyama told Parliament yesterday that 669 prisoners had escaped since 2016 and only 123 were recaptured, leaving 546 still at large. Biyama was responding to questions by Ijivitari MP Richard Masere on the number of prison breaks in the country contributing to increased law and order issues. He said communities had not cooperated for the recapture of those inmates. The minister said this year 78 had escaped and three were recaptured while the rest remained at large.
Biyama said the population of remands in Correctional institutions totalled 3424 and the convicted 2021, bringing the total to 5445 in June.
“There are 20 Correctional institutions in the country.”

A putrescent Moresby loses control of its appalling waste problem
06 September 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/a-putrescent-moresby-loses-control-of-its-appalling-waste-problem.html#more
PORT MORESBY – Managing solid waste is one of the biggest problems in Port Moresby and it is strange that it receives so little attention compared to other urban management issues.
The yellow and green coloured 44-gallon drums placed along streets and in suburbs and markets have been bent and broken over time. Truth be told, there are no suitable rubbish bins and public toilets in the city. There is also no routine collection and disposal of rubbish.
Port Moresby’s long dry season intensifies the stench of human faeces and urine and the sour odour of heaps of rubbish. For more than 20 years, I foraged Waigani swamp for supertala (fish) and wild ducks and have gradually witnessed dismantled car parts, tyres, containers, plastics and much more engulf my hunting ground. Solid waste dumped into drains in the northern part of the city accumulates for months until finally the rains come and sweep it into the Waigani swamp. In the south the rains drive the waste into the sea. [for the rest of this interesting article, see the above url.]

30 patients await radiotherapy
Post Courier September 10, 2018
An 11-year-old girl is among 30 cancer patients currently at the Angau national cancer centre (NCC) awaiting radiotherapy which is unavailable in PNG. One of the 30 is a male with breast cancer. The oldest of the 30 is a 60 plus year-old female, according to the PNG Cancer Relief Society awareness co-ordinator, Grace Ruddaka. National Cancer Centre registrar oncologist Dr David Kundi also confirmed the above statistics on Friday. Of the 30 patients with various cancers including ovary, breast and mouth cancers, alongside the man are seven women with breast cancer, Ms Ruddaka said. She said two women have cancer of the ovary and seven have cervical cancers, while the rest are other types of cancers, including mouth cancer.
She said the last batch of chemotherapy drugs for the NCC arrived last Tuesday, but are still not enough.

Kuman admits shortage of teachers
Post Courier, September 10, 2018
EDUCATION Minister Nick Kuman has admitted there is a shortage of teachers throughout the country. Mr Kuman said in Parliament on Friday that there are 56,000 teachers’ currently available but only 46,000 are in class while most are on the streets, being displaced because of politics after the 2017 national election. “My position is very simple, I do not want to see teachers on the streets, they must be on the payroll and in the classroom,” Mr Kuman said. He appealed to leaders in the provinces and districts not to play politics over the education of the children. “Let’s be fair and honest and make sure that our teachers are in school to take some responsibility in the provinces.”
He said teachers have resigned to contest the elections and some have been accused of supporting certain political leaders and are made to pay for their actions.“Th e teachers’ that we have now is not enough to cater for 2.2 million children in our school system right throughout PNG.
“What is the required total number of teachers we need in their country, both for primary and high schools, TVET vocational schools…it’s around 70,000, do we have positions for the 70,000, the answer is yes, we have got 85,000 positions in the country. “From today to the end of this term of parliament, we must train at least 24,000. Do we have the capacity in our teacher training colleges? The answer is ‘no’. That’s why Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had made an announcement that we are going to put a lot of emphasis to ensure we build capacity in our teacher training colleges.”

PNG needs more nurses
Post Courier September 7, 2018
PAPUA New Guinea still does not have enough nurses to cater for the ever growing population, said PNG Nurses Association president Frederick Kebai. “We still have a shortage of nurses because the population keeps on growing at a faster rate and new facilities are being built and we are unable to meet the manpower demand. “Currently there are 4000-plus financial members of the PNGNA, other 4000 in the public sector while in the church-run health service facilities and the private sector, there are 12 000 nurses,” he said. Mr Kebai said nurses comprise of 80 per cent of the health workforce in terms of health service delivery. He said despite social, economic and political challenges faced by nurses daily, the love and compassion demonstrated by the nurses is always constant.

K2 million for unattached public servants
September 13, 2018
Papua New Guinea has a staggering 6167 unattached officers with a corresponding total cost in terms of salaries and allowances around K2 million per fortnight. This was revealed by Minister for Public Service Elias Kapavore who said that these officers are currently unattached while waiting to be redeployed or substantively appointed to vacant positions through the normal selection and recruitment process. Unattached staff, within the public services, are still part of the total staff on strength until such time they are dealt with through appropriate provisions under their terms and conditions of employment. “From the 6167 unattached employees on the ascender integrated HR payroll system 1305 have been dropped through redeployment and termination, the remaining 4961 will be dealt with through the ongoing internal selection redeployment and retirement process,” Mr Kapavore said. “Unattached refers to officers who have been detached from their positions while an agency is implementing a new or refined structure, or those who have not been appointed a position.

To Mine or not to Mine, Bougainvilles Big Question
Post Courier, September 12, 2018
A report furnished by an Australian humanitarian group has just been released detailing the many other ways that Bougainville could prosper post independence.Com piled by a handful of dedicated researchers and community workers attached to Jubilee Australia, the report titled, “Growing Bougainville’s Future: Choices for an Island and its People” examines the choices facing the people of Bougainville and asks the question ‘to mine or not to mine’? The report brings out the unspoken notion among the Bougainville populace that large-scale mining is the only developmental path for small soon to be independent island nation. It covers the positives of mining, but focuses on findings of alternative economic strategies other than extractive endeavors. Furthermore, it reflects on the possibilities and realities of an extractives-led development path for Bougainville and examines the availability of an alternative path concluding that alternatives to large-scale mining do exist and that many Bougainvilleans are already participating in and developing these alternatives.
The report identifies findings like that of land being of central importance to Bougainvilleans that must be considered in all decision making. Also highlighted in the document are findings that agriculture is the single most important source of livelihood and food that if encouraged and developed could prove to have economically transformative potential. Furthermore, the report is being published along with a short film titled, ‘Bougainville: Long Han Blong Yumi’.  The film specifically made for Bougainvillean audiences exploring many of the same issues explored in the report.

DFAT health sector report pulls punches on a critical situation
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/pulled-punches-in-png-health-sector-evaluation-arent-helpful.html. 18 September 2018
The report by Ian Anderson and Renee Martin was presented to DFAT last December, well before the recent outbreak of polio confirmed a shocking reality that many of us suspected – that health services in PNG are going downhill fast and have now reached a danger point.
The report, which you can read in full here, assesses the efforts of six multilateral development partners – the Asian Development Bank; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria; the World Bank and three United Nations agencies, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO – over a six year period.
Anderson and Martin have done what many consultants do when reporting upon big and powerful organisations – intimating problems while pulling punches about some of the most inimical reasons and about where real responsibility lies. And they’re more than challenges; they are realities that are killing people. As commentator Matt Morris tweeted wryly, “….challenges like endemic corruption in drug procurement, funding cuts to pay for APEC, a collapsing health system and now polio.”
… Unwittingly pre-empting the polio disaster, the report says that “immunisation rates have essentially stagnated for decades and in some cases declined” and “policy dialogue with [the PNG government] has had only modest success.” In other words, it is rather cavalier in taking notice of what we advise. The report continues with a register of despair: PNG has the fourth highest rate of stunting in the world; maternal mortality remains one of the highest in the world; there are “stubborn weaknesses” in health financing and the provision of essential drugs to front line services; essential drugs run out of stock; and there is the “double burden of controlling communicable (including drug-resistant) diseases alongside the rapid rise of expensive to treat non-communicable diseases”. Meanwhile, health is decreasing in real terms with a strong suspicion intimated that the PNG government is using donor funding not to add to its own funding but as a substitute for it – thereby depriving the health sector further.

Police provides escort to highway travellers
September 19, 2018The National
HELA police have advised commuters on the Highlands Highway to travel in groups with a police escort to avoid being robbed. Hela provincial commander Chief Superintendent Martin Lakari said police were noting the increase in the number of armed robbery cases. Police will now provide escort from Tari town, in Hela, to Magarima then to Mt Hagen. He said vehicles would have to travel together and escorted by police.
He advised commuters travelling from Mt Hagen to Tari to wait at Magarima for the police escort.
“When they (criminals) see no police escort travelling with other vehicles, they quickly contact each other and set up roadblocks to rob people,” he said.He s aid the criminals contacted each other on mobile phones on the movement of vehicles along the highway. “It is very hard for the police to catch them because they communicate among themselves to avoid the police,” he said.
“Now, no vehicle is travelling along in isolation and crimes have slowly been reduced.”

Health complacency; unsanitary conditions caused polio outbreak
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/health-complacency-unsanitary-conditions-caused-polio-outbreak.html. 19 September 2018

Eighteen years after Papua New Guinea was declared polio-free, the virus has come to plague the children of this island nation in Oceania. In May, lower limbs of a six-year-old boy from in the city of Lae became paralysed.
After samples were sent to the US for testing, the fear of polio outbreak was confirmed. Since then 12 children across five provinces in Papua New Guinea have been diagnosed with this debilitating disease. The children affected by polio are aged between 12 months and 10 years. All of them have experienced paralysis, with some unable to walk and others comparatively less affected.
The outbreak has prompting an emergency vaccination campaign. The first case in Lae is a vaccine-derived form of polio wherein the weakened form of the virus used in vaccines mutates and spreads. Samples of other children in the same region have confirmed they had the strain of mutated virus in their systems. The loc al authorities suspect that the outbreak happened when water supply was contaminated by faeces that contained the mutated virus. According to several reports, ever since Papua New Guinea was declared polio-free, the authorities adopted a lackadaisical approach to vaccines. This is true for other preventable diseases like measles. The nationwide polio vaccine coverage has reportedly fallen from about 80% to 30% in the last two decades. Some children in Papua New Guinea did not receive the full dose of vaccine. As opposed to the three courses of droplets needed to be fully immunised, some children received only one course. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries where polio has not been eradicated yet. In 2017, only 22 cases of polio were reported worldwide. …

Can the ADB solve the corruption crippling PNG’s health system?
19 September 2018
http://pngicentral.org/reports/can-adb-solve-the-corruption-crippling-pngs-health-system
PORT MORESBY – The Asian Development Bank says it will assist Papua New Guinea address the systemic failings in its health system through a new $195 million program, but can this externally driven project successfully address the chronic problems of corruption and mismanagement in the sector? Over the last 10 months PNGi has repeatedly exposed the systemic problems in the procurement and supply of medicines in PNG that is ultimately causing unnecessary deaths and incalculable suffering across the country. ‘Profiting from Sickness’ Part 1, Part 2, and  Part 3 focused attention on the abusive commercial transactions that are leading to the circulation of overpriced and substandard medical goods in our hospitals, health centres and aid posts, while Part 4 looked in detail at the problems on the logistics side of the supply chain. In one instance, a senior Health Department official is alleged to have been paid more than K250,000 to facilitate payments to a logistics company involved in distributing medical kits. Despite the clear documented evidence of the payments, no action has been taken by the Health Secretary to refer the matter to the police.
In another, a service provider with a history of ‘poor performance’, whose ‘deliveries have been delayed by months’, who overcharges and refuses, in some instances, to provide proof that deliveries have actually been made, is continually ‘rewarded’ with new contracts while the National Department of Health refuses to take any steps to monitor the company’s performance. ….

TB Crisis Looms
Posts Courier, September 21, 2018
WE NOW have a major health crisis waiting to explode, with deadly tuberculosis on the prowl that is akin to the HIV/AIDS scare of 10 years ago. Since TB is an airborne infection it can be easily transmitted and that’s what makes this threat deadly serious. Last year, there were more than 35,000 TB cases nationwide. In the National Capital District alone there are now 6000 cases.
The startling revelations were made on last Wednesday night by Dr Ann Clarke, project manager, Businesses for Health Papua New Guinea (B4H) while receiving a cash donation of K10,000 from law firm, Ashurst in Port Moresby.
The rise in drug-resistant TB was first highlighted nearly two years ago by Newton Orowari of the Anglican Health Service based at Dogura in Milne Bay Province. Mr Orowari said then the change of policy from cure to prevention was responsible for the closure of aid posts in Alotau district.
PNG ranks in the top 20 for rates of drug resistant TB and HIV co-infection. If you are HIV positive you are most likely to die for TB.

Fight continues unabated in Daru – a world TB hot spot
24 September 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/09/the-fight-continues-unabated-in-daru-a-world-tb-hot-spot.html
DARU – “Hurry up and come! The health workers are here!” With the help of an enthusiastic community member and a megaphone, the tuberculosis screening team announce their arrival in Bamu, a small community on Daru island in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province. Within minutes, community members emerge from homes, gardens and fields to make their way towards the makeshift clinic. By the time the first people take their seats at the registration desk, the team is already hard at work preparing for another day in the fight against TB. They are there with a clear mission: to screen as many people as possible, educate the community about the disease and link suspected cases directly to treatment services.
The challenge is immense. In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that the entire population of Daru be screened because of alarmingly high rates of tuberculosis, especially the even harder to beat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Health services on this island in the remote south-west corner of PNG have struggled to cope with TB for many years, compounded by the challenging terrain that makes it difficult for people to travel to the central hospital for diagnosis and treatment. To combat this challenge, the TB van – a custom-built, all-terrain, mobile x-ray screening vehicle, complete with a giant photograph of PNG’s most famous rugby player, Ase Boas, and the slogan ‘let’s kick TB out of PNG’ – hit the road with the mission to test the entire population of Daru for TB. “In Daru the hospital is quite far and most of the people are not going to the hospital until they are really sick,” said Natalie Fimbuvu, the x-ray technician on board the van. “We help them by providing services at their doorstep.”
Natalie is a vital part of the 10-person health team that has so far screened around 6,500 people across Daru in a little under a year. Natalie calmly and expertly guides each and every person through the two-minute x-ray process inside the van. “We know it’s a big fight but if we can all stand together and do as much as possible, to the best of our potential, I’m sure we can do it. We can kick TB out of PNG,” says Sandra.

Court Strikes out Rape Case for want of Police Prosecution
Post Courier, September 25, 2018
POLICE engagement in APEC security operations has resulted in an alleged rapist walking free yesterday after his case was struck out at the Waigani Committal Court.Tw enty-year-old Benny Martin, who was charged with the abduction and rape of a young girl at the Kesi 2 settlement in Port Moresby, has now had his case struck out after the arresting officer failed to serve any instructions on the case in the past four months since the matter was first brought before the court. Further inquiries by senior magistrate Cosmas Bidar revealed that the failure by the arresting officer in question to serve instructions was largely due to the fact that she had been preoccupied with the APEC Leaders’ Summit security operations.

From Nation builders to thugs and destroyers
Monday, September 24, 2018
http://www.pngblogs.com/2018/09/from-nation-builders-to-thugs-and.html?m=1

…. Facts speak for themselves; United Nation’s rating of PNG in the past 37 years in terms of delivery of basic goods and services in areas of infrastructure, health and education services among other world nations:
• 1975 PNG ranked 77th;
• 2004 PNG dropped to 139th place;
• 2008 PNG plummeted to 149th placing; and in
• 2012 PNG further plummeted to 156th placing in the world.
This is stunning. In 37 years we were passed by 79 countries. From 2012 – 2018, past six years, our performance made little difference on the development index. We failed in all facets in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. We failed in meeting the envisaged targets in the Vision 2050 while our Medium Term Development Strategy stands only as a resemblance of our discursive nature of ‘many policies, little results’ nation. We have become a nation where ‘people ain’t breaking the law, it’s the law breaking them’.
Away from the conventional practice of measuring development and economic growth based on GNP and GDP indexes, we should consider the Basic Need Approach where we measure presence or absence of minimum basic human requirements for life as well as services; food, safe drinking water, suitable shelter, clothing, basic household equipment and essential services such as sanitation, public transport, health and education facilities.
During the 43 years journey, we have written many laws, repealed and amended many, designed many more new ones but hell little was achieved at the end. We spent millions in hosting many workshops, meetings and forums in high places and attended thousands of international conferences, talk shows and road shows but failed to convert these experiences into tangible PQL results in our people. The pendulum is swinging between Absolute Poverty and Relative Poverty 43 years on.
We are liberal in our political design pronouncing our allegiance to individual liberty, free trade and moderate reform but liberalism has created more self-style millionaires out of our commonwealth over 20 years. Annually, around AUD $250 million in ‘stolen’ money find its way out to foreign destinations. It is inevitable that the gap between the ‘have’ and the ‘have not’ is widening and yet nothing is said or seen to be done to address it. Dangerous!
All of us who inhabit the land share in the common fact that our very existence depends on the shared availability of our commonwealth. But this ought not to be as the economy has been engineered only to create an illusion that it is creating wealth and sharing the wealth. In fact, it is not but concentrating on the declining pool of wealth into fewer and fewer hands who control power, money and the elite class.
Liberalism has created a polycentric oligarchic system in the guise of democracy. The existing majoritarian regime engenders the top 5% who control power, money and decision making to further harness their course with little regard to fellow citizens.
Over the past 20 years, we have created a selfish and greedy country where every man is for himself. As if a person would say ‘if I had an opportunity to steal a million, I will for me, my wife and kids, forget about the rest’. PNG has become a fat milking cow, an ATM machine where anyone – national or foreigner – with a debit card can swipe to withdraw cash at will.
We depend on the elite ‘think tank’ to intervene but only to find them encumbered in their ‘comfort zones’ leaving no one to blow the whistle and action to save PNG.
Individual liberty has created self-style mannerists who can at will; smoke at public places and in PMVs, chew and spittle betelnut anywhere everywhere, drink alcohol and play music to late night, carry one metre bush knives and using it on others, throw rubbish anywhere everywhere, using and abusing law to encroach on other persons property and land, with little regard to health and individual liberty of others around them. What blend of generation are we having in stock to lead in the next 40?
Free trade has cost us big time in 43 years yet we failed to notice. Even if we noticed it and trying to un-tag, global capitalism has already taken its prowess and grip on us and on every emerging economy like devil’s own ramification on earth.
Capitalism, in the form of all transnational corporations, has monopolized the production of manufactured goods using high tech machinery and equipment, commerce and marketing, banking, information and mass media. It is maintained that they use not only their enormous economic but also corruption and unfair or immoral practices to eliminate competition and preserve their dominance.
Third world countries like Papua New Guinea are therefore forcefully made dependent on developed countries for capital, technology and markets. These rich countries using WTO as shield set interest rates, terms of trade, the tariffs and import barriers generally, through their economic power and drain off surpluses in the poor countries. In the making, the world is polarized into the rich and powerful ‘haves’ and the poor and dependent ‘have-nots’.
They have defined the New World Order as a vehicle for multinational consolidation of commercial and banking interest by ceasing interests of the political governments. It represents a skilful coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four (4) centres of power; political, monetary, intellect, and ecclesiastical.
Opponents of the WTO say that negotiations conducted without public scrutiny end up benefiting wealthy nations. They say the organization infringes on the sovereignty of member states and trade deals don’t consider the impact on the environment. Developing countries, which often have uncompetitive industries that rely on government support, can be hurt by opening up to global trade as their companies struggle against more efficient foreign rivals. Many economists view this dislocation as a temporary setback that reverses developing countries like PNG into global control using tough competition.
Our export commodities are organic and among the best. Despite this, we do not price it, they price it. Prices are subject to world market trend which is controlled by international banking elites who control WTO.
APEC is no different. Except that it houses trade and development interests of member countries in the Asia Pacific region of which PNG is a member. In the coming APEC Leaders’ Summit in November, it is an opportune time for PNG to voice its concerns.
Trade meetings like the APEC and WTO are avenues where emerging trade-dependent economies must take advantage. On priority, agenda must be unfair pricing, high tariffs, among others.
When our gold, copper, oil, gas, timber, fishery, and other such resources are traded and not getting real value for the money, it results in lack of capital to service its debts and fund operations of the budget. Due to increasing population pressure every year, demand for goods and services increase also every year so the Government is forced to borrow to meet the deficit gap. Each time money is borrowed, a second borrowing follows to service the first, the third to service the second, the fourth to service the third, and so on so forth until PNG enters a “debt trap”.
Remember, loans are acquired on the basis of collaterals or security meaning the Government commits our mines, gas fields, and other investments as collaterals when picking loans. Basing on the Singaporean Government’s Temasek model, State silo companies were consolidated into Kumul Petroleum Ltd, Kumul Mineral Ltd, and the Kumul Consolidated Holdings Ltd which comprises some 10 other State enterprises including Air Niugini, Water PNG, PNG Ports, Post PNG, Telikom PNG, and others and together amass around a K50 billion balance sheet, such assets are used against loans.
With too much confusion caused by a continuous deluge of ‘foreign advice and influences’, our national performance output has been mediocre.
What is needed now is to admit, accept and sacrifice for changes in the entire statecraft or our children will curse us for our inaction today.

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Social Concerns Notes – July 2018

Church: DSIP, PSIP Funds Encourage Corruption and must be abolished.
Post Courier July 19, 2018
ONE of the oldest and biggest churches in the country, the Catholic Church through its powerful mouthpiece, the Catholic Bishops Conference, has called on Parliamentarians to do away with MPs’ DSIP and PSIP funds because these have only attracted greed and corruption and overshadowed the real role of an elected MP. The church, through the president of the Bishops Conference, Bishop Rochus Tatamai, made the appeal, saying while the funds may have assisted some MPs to develop their electorates, they have also attracted corruption and made many people in their electorates perceive their MPs as money men.
Bishop Tatamai said: “Since the introduction of the funds in the 1970s, the CBC PNGSI has warned that this confusion in the separation of powers central to any democracy was not in the best long-term interests of the nation. We have consistently appealed for a reversal of this trend.”
He gave an example of the violence in the recent national election, especially in the Southern Highlands Province, and said “we repeat this appeal even more urgently”. “It does not require any great gift of prophecy for us to say that the nation is headed for disaster as long as the nation’s wealth is seen to be directly administered by Members of Parliament, especially those who are in government and not just in parliament. “Why are people so desperate to have their own man or woman elected? Is it because they will be the best legislators, the best servants of the people, and the best custodians of the wealth of the nation? Or is it because if their man or woman gets into power, by whatever means, they will have access to unimaginable wealth? But if he or she fails, they will be in the financial wilderness for at least the next four years. Given the capacity of a sitting member to cement his or her position, this could be even longer.
“If this trend continues, the next election – its lead up, its conduct, and its aftermath—will see even greater violence, death and destruction than we have seen to date.
“We therefore appeal to all our parliamentarians to halt and reverse this trend. …
Recently we heard that a good reason for defecting from Opposition to Government is so that they will have access to funds for the development of their electorate.” Bishop Tatamai said in order to help these MPs and to back up their stand, they want to inform the MPs that Catholic Church leaders do not expect to receive any payments, budgeted or unbudgeted, directly from MPs.
“In fact we prefer not to take part in any event where this is likely to happen. We appeal to other churches, NGOs, and community organisation to similarly inform their Members of Parliament.
“We must communicate to our leaders that we do not expect and do not want them to be financial administrators. If this return to a proper separation of powers is achieved by the next election, we may have a better chance of defusing the dangerous elements of greed-fueled violence and of electing genuine legislators,” Bishop Tatamai said.

Wounded Policeman rescued by fellow officers in remote village
Post Courier, July 4, 2018
THREE Wabag based policemen are being hailed as heroes after rescuing an injured colleague who was held captive by armed tribesmen in the Kompiam district, Enga Province on Friday. Constable Pendao Usukini, Senior Constable Joe Aikel and First Constable Colin Thomson put their lives on the line to rescue their colleague Sgt Peter Heovo. Enga Provincial Police Commander Superintendent George Kakas hailed all four as heroes. The trio drove through three roadblocks, risked being shot and killed in an effort to reach their wounded comrade who had also been taken hostage.
Last Friday morning, Sgt Heovo from Menyama in Morobe Province had responded to a distress call in the Kompiam district from a Chinese company operating an alluvial gold mine at a village called Yaumanda. The Yaumanda villagers had demanded K400,000 from the Chinese company for using their area to establish a communication network. When the Chinese offered K4000, the Wakumale tribesmen were infuriated and allegedly threatened company workers. Sgt Heovo, a 23-year police veteran, led a small force to the site to negotiate with the landowners. Mr Kakas said Sgt Heovo was injured when a villager allegedly shot him. The shotgun pellets struck Heovo in the thigh and buttocks. He was losing a lot of blood,” Mr kakas said.
“The three rescuers arrived and had to cut their way through various roadblocks made of fallen threes, stones and logs which they had to cut through and remove quickly, they went through three roadblocks, they arrived at the foot of the village and using their knives, they cut through thick bush with the assistance of local villagers they picked up along the way and arrived at the village at midnight. “The three mediated and when Sgt Heovo was released they applied First Aid and carried him to the vehicle, he was losing blood and going in and out of consciousness. “They left the district and arrived back in Wabag at 5am on Saturday, Sgt Heovo was already unconscious. “He was operated on and the pellets were removed, he is now recovering at Wabag General Hospital.”

Pomio logging & oil palm damage estimated to be ‘billions’
04 July 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/07/pomio-logging-oil-palm-damage-estimated-to-be-billions.html
PORT MORESBY – Communities affected by three Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABLs) in the West Pomio District of East New Britain Province have assessed the economic damage caused by logging and oil palm planting at more than K2.4 billion. The damage assessment was compiled by 17 communities that have lost 42,400 hectares of customary land under the Pomata, Ralopal and Nakiura leases.The assessment of K2.4 billion comprises both the damage already suffered since the leases were issued and the future loss that will accrue through to 2110 if the leases are not cancelled and the land returned. Community spokesperson Ana Sipona says the communities never agreed to the loss of their customary land or the logging and oil palm planting. “There was never any proper awareness conducted by government departments and people did not give their free, prior and informed consent,” Sipona said. “The SABL commission of inquiry revealed the same thing happened across the country, with more than five million hectares of land being illegally acquired.”
Spokesperson Norbert Pames says the size of the damage assessment is a powerful reminder of the value of customary land to local communities and the damage they can suffer when the State facilitates or encourages customary land alienation. “Too often our leaders are fooled by false promises of the development and government services that will follow if they sign over our land and they do not stop to think about what will be lost in the process,” he said.
“The big differences between our own sawmilling business and the Rimbunan Hijau operation is that ours was owned by the communities themselves and used the forests in a sustainable way while RH is a foreign multinational and has cleared large-areas of forest for oil-palm planting,” said Kene.
“It is a tragedy that the government has favoured foreign-owned destruction over sustainable locally-owned uses and left our communities to suffer the damage”.

Childhood vaccines destroyed in aircraft fire
July 4, 2018The National
THE aircraft burnt at the Mendi airport last month was carrying 13,200 doses of vaccines and 12,000 syringes for the childhood vaccination programme, says Emergency Controller Dr Bill Hamblin.
The United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) is currently trying to have the replacements brought from overseas as they are not available here. The vaccines and syringes were procured by Unicef through Government funding and were being transported through Mendi to Hela for the immunisation programme. “I want the people involved in destroying these vital relief supplies and warehouses arrested, charged and face the full force of the law. They cannot go unpunished,” he said.
Hamblin said the 13,200 doses of vaccines and 12,000 syringes were still inside the plane when it was set on fire. “People involved in those acts do not belong in society,” he said. “They need to be locked behind bars.

Churches Join Forces to Combat Sorcery Accusation Related Violence
Post Courier, July 5, 2018
Churches are joining forces to address sorcery accusation-related violence as part of a national effort to stamp out such attacks. Almost 50 leaders from 14 denominations in the Momase region have contributed to the development of a national church strategy to tackle sorcery accusation-related violence following a workshop in Lae by the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC).
CLRC Secretary Dr Eric Kwa has condemned sorcery accusation-related violence, saying it is usually directed against isolated and vulnerable people in the community, particularly women.
Dr Kwa said the three-day workshop was the first of a series of regional consultations to be held around the country to aid the development of a National Churches Strategic Plan on Sorcery Beliefs and Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence. The National Churches Strategic Plan is a key component of the Sorcery National Action Plan, which aims to break the link between accusations of sorcery and violence.
“Churches speak with a strong voice, and the messages they convey will be heard, that is why they are an important partner in helping reduce and eliminate such violence,” he added.
The National Churches Strategic Plan is being developed to help ensure churches act and speak against sorcery accusation-related violence in a consistent and coordinated way.

US government slams PNG for failure to combat people trafficking. Children as young as 10 being forced into prostitution
06 July 2018
Read the US State Department’s full 2018 trafficking in persons report here
WASHINGTON DC – The government of Papua New Guinea does not fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of people trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, according to the United States government.
This year’s annual report on trafficking by the US Department of State says that, as a result, PNG has been downgraded to the lowest of four tiers as a country which does not fully meet minimum standards and is not making significant efforts to do so. The report says the government took some steps to address trafficking, including initiating the first investigation of a government official under the country’s anti-trafficking law. But it said progress was hindered by an acute lack of resources dedicated to eliminating trafficking as well as very low awareness of the problem among government officials and the public. The PNG government did not provide or fund protective services for victims, did not systematically implement victim identification procedures and did not identify any trafficking victims in 2017. It also did not initiate any prosecutions and did not achieve a single trafficking conviction for the fifth consecutive year. In fact, the government decreased law enforcement efforts in 2017 despite partnering with an international organisation to conduct training for officials.
In other cases officials did not apprehend any vessels for illegal fishing and trafficking in 2017, and logging and mining sites operated in remote regions with “negligible government oversight and authorities did not make efforts to identify sex or labour trafficking victims”. For the sixth consecutive year, the report identified PNG as a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. It cited international NGO research which found that 30% of sex trafficking victims were children under the age of 18, some as young as 10. The report also revealed that Malaysian and Chinese logging companies arrange for foreign women to enter PNG voluntarily with fraudulently issued visas. After their arrival, many of these women—from countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, and the Philippines—are turned over to traffickers who transport them to logging and mining camps, fisheries and entertainment sites, and exploit them in forced prostitution and domestic servitude

Care centre releases 45 orphans back to community
July 10, 2018The National
THE El Rafa Care Centre in Minj, Jiwaka, released 45 orphans back into the community last week.
The centre caters for orphans whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS. It is run and operated by the Evangelical Brotherhood Church and supported through the Swiss Evangelical Brotherhood Mission.
Since opening in 2004, the centre has cared for about 200 orphans altogether.
In a small but moving ceremony on Wednesday, most orphans, who are now young men and women, spoke highly of the centre and how it had helped them over the years. Johnny Boma, now a father, said he met his wife at the centre. “I lost both parents at an early age,” he said.
“Without El Rafe, I don’t think I will be who I am today. “The centre gave me a chance in education and life. “My school fees since fifth grade were always met by these generous people.”
Counsellor Rachael Kiman said the centre was releasing those who were 15 years old or older.
“We have trained them well to take care of themselves in this challenging world,” she said.
“They leave today armed with a Bible as their guide, and tools and seedlings that will help them start something for themselves.” She said the orphans leaving the centre were trained to be self-reliant and to work hard.

Five PNG women die everyday giving birth: UN
July 12, 2018The National
IT is estimated that five women die every day when giving birth in the country, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA Asia Pacific Regional health economist Anderson Stanciole urged the Government to increase its investment in voluntary family services.
“It is a critical area to think about in the economic development of the country. There is a lot at stake. (There are) about 1000 deaths per year, or five maternal deaths in PNG every day,” he said.
PNG’s high maternal mortality ratio at 733 per 100,000 live births is among the highest in the world, according to the UNFPA. About 88 per cent of the deaths are due to the lack of skilled birth attendants and life-saving medicine. “One maternal death is one too many,” Stanciole said. “No women should die giving birth.

Plight of Psychiatric Inmates always Forgotten
Post Courier. July 17, 2018
Psychiatric inmates at Bomana prison are the most forgotten people in jail. This was the statement made by Justice Panuel Mogish today at the Bomana National Court during his order to the Papua New Guinea Correctional Services to review the psychiatric inmates who had been discharged but are still behind bars. Justice Mogish said that the psychiatric persons are not just prisoners but are citizens of PNG and thus deserved humane treatment. “The se people have human rights, that should be respected,” said Justice Mogish. “We must make it our responsibility to protect these people.”

Total of 194 years for murder
July 18, 2018The National
NINE men from Pomio district in East New Britain who killed a man last year accusing him of practising sorcery have been jailed for 194 years in total.
The nine were convicted for murdering Francis Tangaliurea. Justice Susame told Willie Lote, Wilfred Lote, Lobau, Tolepuna, Ailas and Kangeri that as young offenders they could not come to court and justify their criminal act by hiding behind the cloak of youthfulness when they had brutally murdered an innocent person. “A strong punitive or retributive sentence is justified to stress the need for personal and public deterrence against sorcery-related violation of human rights,” Justice Susame said. The court heard that on Aug 17 last year the men went to the home of the victim and pelted it with stones. Tangaliurea came out with a bush knife to investigate. He cut the hand of one of the men and was chased by the men and assaulted a short distance from his home. He was carried on a stretcher to the Pomio Health Centre – about a kilometre away but died later.

Breaking the Grip of RH over PNG
July 16, 2018
http://www.pngblogs.com/2018/07/breaking-grip-of-rh-over-png.html
OAKLAND, Apr 20 2016 (IPS) – James Sze Yuan Lau and Ivan Su Chiu Lu must be extremely busy men. Together, they are listed as directors of some 30 companies involved in various activities and services related to logging or agribusiness in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The former is the managing director of Rimbunan Hijau (RH) PNG and son-in-law of RH’s founder Tiong Hiew King; the latter is executive director of RH PNG Ltd.. All but two of these 30 companies have the same registered address at 479 Kennedy Road, in the national capital, Port Moresby–the headquarter of the RH group in the country.
Their ability to magically fit into a relatively small office space on Kennedy Road is not the only puzzling fact about the subsidiaries of the Malaysian group, Rimbunan Hijau. Out of the 30 above mentioned companies, 16 subsidiaries that are directly involved in logging or agribusiness have one other thing in common. According to their financial records , they don’t make a profit. Most of them have been working at a loss for over a decade. During the 12 years for which financial records were available to the Oakland Institute’s researchers, all together, the subsidiaries declared an average loss of about US$ 9 million every year. ….
[For the rest of this article see the url above]

PNG promises come to nought, & Bougainville is getting anxious
24 July 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/07/png-promises-come-to-nought-bougainville-is-getting-anxious.html#more
AUCKLAND – Bougainville’s president John Momis has raised concerns that the Papua New Guinea government is not pulling its weight as the autonomous region prepares for next June’s referendum on its political future. Momis recently met with PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill at a meeting of a joint supervisory board to discuss preparing for the vote. However, outstanding financial commitments of hundreds of millions of kina which PNG owes to Bougainville remain an obstacle to preparations. PNG finally made a minor payment of $US1.49 million to Bougainville last week, but the cheque bounced, although this embarrassment has been denied by PNG treasurer Charles Abel.
Momis said in an interview with Radio New Zealand that PNG was continually failing to deliver on commitments and he was considering approaching the United Nations, New Zealand or Australia for advice…. “It’s frustrating. I am saying what is Australia going to do, what is New Zealand going to do? They were the witnesses [to the peace agreement]. What is the United Nations going to do?”

New study reveals dangers inherent in land registration
25 July 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/free-michael-dom-book.html
BOROKO – Customary land registration processes can easily be captured by local ‘big men’ and companies with disastrous consequences for local people. This is the conclusion of a study on recent oil palm expansion in Papua New Guinea by academic Caroline Hambloch from the University of London. Hambloch’s findings are based on three months field research in East and West New Britain and are presented in a paper titled ‘Land Formalisation Turned Land Rush’ presented at a World Bank conference in Washington earlier this year. The paper demonstrates how land registration processes, rather than protecting customary land, can easily be used to disenfranchise local communities and alienate them from their land. This is because of an environment of weak governance and huge power and information imbalances. Hambloch details how PNG’s weak or non-existent capacity for regulation and enforcement of laws has been exploited by logging and oil palm companies who have surpassed various government agencies.
The results have been disastrous for local communities, which are experiencing worsening poverty, increasing wealth inequality, increased conflict and a lack of basic service provision such as roads, schools and health centres. The study is important for PNG as it exposes and debunks the myth that land registration or ‘formalisation’ is necessary to generate income, improve productivity and drive development. This is a theory that has long been backed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Bank and foreign governments and has therefore dominated the development discourse in PNG.It is frequently repeated by government ministers, industry bodies and ‘think tanks’. But it is not supported by the evidence. Hambloch’s study reveals that, rather than increasing agricultural activity and national income, customary land formalisation has had the opposite effects, deepening poverty and retarding economic growth.

Big timber buyer China is ignoring destruction of PNG forests
27 July 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/07/big-timber-buyer-china-is-ignoring-destruction-of-png-forests.html#more
LONDON – Anti-corruption NGO Global Witness has today released research revealing how many logging operations in Papua New Guinea appear to be breaking the law and selling illegal timber overseas. This destruction of irreplaceable ancient rainforest is driving climate change and damaging the livelihoods of indigenous communities. A significant majority of timber from PNG is shipped to China – representing 29% of China’s tropical log imports in 2016. Yet China has no regulation to keep illegal timber from entering its borders. The risk of illegal timber flooding China’s markets can damage its reputation and major trade relationships as many countries which ban illegal timber imports take action to stop the trade. On paper, the legal system in PNG guarantees that Papua New Guineans have control over their forests. In reality, however, the PNG government is responsible for a catastrophic failure to uphold these laws and the forest sector has been plagued for decades by allegations of corruption and law breaking.
In its new report, ‘A Major Liability’, Global Witness uses satellite imagery to show hundreds of apparent violations of PNG’s Forestry Act in major logging operations which hold government permits and which continue to export timber. Seventy percent of PNG is covered by forest ecosystems that are home to some of the world’s rarest plants and animals. Almost all of PNG’s eight million people rely directly on the land for their sustenance, livelihoods and culture.
But this forest and the lives it supports are under threat. The deforestation rate in PNG has been unusually high in recent years – in the past five years, 640,000 hectares of forest have been lost.

PNG, entwined in Chinese expansionism, exports it illegal timber
31 July 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/07/png-entwined-in-chinese-expansionism-exports-it-illegal-timber.html The Guardian
SYDNEY –  Millions of tonnes of illegally logged timber, felled from forests across Papua New Guinea, are being exported to China and from there to the world as finished wood products, a new report from Global Witness has revealed. Global Witness’s investigation has found that the majority of logging operations in PNG are underpinned by government-issued permits, which are often illegally “extended” and which fail to enforce laws surrounding logging in prohibited and ecologically sensitive areas. PNG is one of the latest signatories to China’s one trillion dollar belt and road initiative, and its economy is increasingly entwined in Chinese expansionism throughout the Asia-Pacific. One-quarter of all of PNG’s debt is owned by China and Beijing has announced agricultural and transport projects worth several billion dollars across the developing nation.

Same-sex marriage shouldn’t be allowed: Eoe
July 27, 2018The National
Community Development, Youth and Religion Minister Soroi Eoe says Papua New Guinea is a Christian country and believes that same-sex marriage should not be allowed here.
“Personally, I find it hard to understand (same-sex marriage) and I think for me as a person, my decision is mine and is personal and that is that God created men and women to procreate and that is the institution that as Christians, we should uphold.
“I think PNG is a Christian country and most of our behaviour and conduct are defined by our Christian belief system and being a Christian country. It is defined in so far as man and woman and that has always been cherished and known of marriage and family.
“And then we are mindful of what is happening in other countries. And recently a law was passed in, I think in New Zealand and Australia, for same-sex marriage which raised the question of the very norms of what the churches preaches and in particular Christian countries.
“However, it is a difficult question to answer. But then one of the issues that I will bring to the attention of the Parliament is the issue of declaring this country a Christian country. And that issue will come before the National Executive Council and eventually to Parliament. So I think in terms of our decisions and our behaviour, it is already being defined in our move to address the issue of marriage, particularly when it concerns same-sex marriage. ”
Daulo MP Pogio Ghate said that he was against same-sex marriage that was being legalised in neighbouring countries and he wanted to know if PNG would allow it. “This is very serious to this country. This is a Christian country. And this same-sex practice that is coming from outside of this country and minister, are you aware that it will come to PNG and it does not look good.”

Deferral of elections is assault on democracy, says Transparency
29 July 2018
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/07/deferral-of-local-elections-assault-on-democracy-says-transparency.html#more
PORT MORESBY – Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) says the on-off-on and now, finally it seems, off again 2018 local level government elections in Papua New Guinea is both unconstitutional and will disrupt basic services in local communities. “The decision by prime minister Peter O’Neill to defer the elections to 2019 is unconstitutional and an assault on democracy,” said TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens. O’Neill has justified the deferral by claiming that funds set aside for the election need to be used to provide outstanding allowances to councillors. “This is deplorable,” said Stephens. “It indicates that it is the government’s view that constitutional rights can be violated on the basis of poor fiscal management by state agencies. “Financial matters, such as outstanding allowances, is an administrative issue and shouldn’t be used as an excuse by the government for the delay.”

Persistent Sexual Abuse common
Post Courier July 31, 2018
Sexual abuse of children by family members is common in PNG, says an officer with the Public Prosecutors Office. Prosecutor in charge of the Family and Sexual Offences Unit with the Office of the Public Prosecutor, Mercy Tamate, said the office receives an approximate 70 to 80 per cent of these cases. “We receive a lot of cases for sexual assault, sexual penetration, sexual touching of children, indecent assault and these are some of the common cases and also one that is common is persistent sexual abuse offences, a continuous abuse over a period of time,” said Ms Tamate.
She said because these are the family member who are the perpetrators, children are not likely to report these cases either because they are traumatised or are fearful for various reasons.
“It’s prevalent, it’s happening on a daily basis and it’s really up to us the law enforcing agency to be able to reach that level so that we deliver quality justice for vulnerable boys and girls,” she said.
The challenge for prosecuters, she said, comes with the skills to understand how to interview child survivors and not “generalise cases” depending on their background. Meanwhile, Milne Bay and East New Britain have reported the highest in sexual offences against children, but Ms Tamate said it could be due to their effective reporting system, otherwise other provinces would have recorded even higher statistics.

Eight get death penalty over PNG sorcery killings in 2014 https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/362643/eight-get-death-penalty-over-png-sorcery-killings-in-2014. Eight of the 97 Papua New Guinean villagers convicted of killing seven people in a sorcery-related attack four years ago in Madang have been given the death penalty. The National Court judge Justice David Cannings imposed life sentences on the remaining 88 after one of the accused died last month in hospital. The 97, from villages on Madang’s Rai Coast, were found guilty of the murders of three elderly men, two children and two young men at Sakiko village near Ramu Sugar town. They were each charged with seven counts of wilful murder. The eight on death row were found to be directly involved in the murders. Justice Cannings said the 97 villagers had marched into Sakiko village on April 14, 2014, motivated by concerns about the number of deaths in the area attributed to sorcery. He said a genuine belief in sorcery cannot be regarded as an extenuating circumstance to lessen the gravity of the crimes.

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