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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Social Concerns Notes – June 2018

Food shortage a worry in jail
May 30, 2018 The National
WARDERS at Wewak’s Boram Prison in East Sepik had to release 35 prisoners on Sunday to go and look for food to feed themselves because of the shortage at the facility. Prison administration manager Inspector Joe Imini told The National that they had been facing food shortage for almost two months at the facility which holds 290 inmates, mostly detainees awaiting court cases.
He blamed the problem on the delay in the release of funds each month from the Correctional Services headquarters in Port Moresby to pay for food rations. Of the 35 convicted prisoners sent out on Sunday, only one, a juvenile, is yet to return. Imini said the officers and their families were also helping provide food for the prisoners but it was too much for them.
“On average, we get K56,000 to K60,000 per month. But for April, we got K24,000. “Given the size of our population, that is not enough. We are consuming monthly. Payment is not forthcoming. We are living on credit.” On why they had to release the convicted prisoners on Sunday, Imini said it was a desperate situation.

‘Unrecognised crisis’: right next door, women in serious danger
31 May 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/05/unrecognised-crisis-160km-from-australia-women-in-serious-danger.html
Australia’s near-neighbour Papua New Guinea is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a mother and there are signs the country’s health crisis is getting worse, a report has found. Women in PNG are 35 times more likely to die during pregnancy than women in Australia, according to an evaluation of maternal health by the aid agency ChildFund Australia. Despite laws and programs to encourage supervised births, only 40% of women in PNG gave birth at a health facility with a specialised birth attendant in 2016 down from 44% in 2012. In some regions the share was just 21%. And when women do manage to reach a rural clinic for the birth of a child they often find these facilities unstaffed or without electricity, running water, or essential medication and equipment.
“PNG is a dangerous place for pregnant women and their newborns, not only because of widespread poverty but because of the extremely high incidence of domestic violence,” it said.
“No woman should die giving birth. Yet in a country just 160 kilometres north of Australia, women are losing their lives every day during childbirth due to unsafe conditions and causes that are completely preventable.”
ChildFund’s report, called ‘National Health Crisis: Maternal Deaths in Papua New Guinea’, says the lifetime risk of dying during childbirth is 1 in 120 in PNG compared to 1 in 8,700 in Australia. Also, a newborn in PNG is 10 times more likely to die in the first month of life than an Australian newborn.

PNG ripe for human traficking activities
June 1, 2018 The National
Papua New Guinea is a strategic spot to facilitate international human trafficking of women and children for prostitution and child labour, says Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia. Sir Salamo, when opening a two-day workshop on how to combat human trafficking in PNG, said that the courts had dealt with some cases. He said PNG was ripe for international human trafficking due to its rugged terrain, vast sea, isolated islands, large population and multi-cultural groupings. “Human trafficking of vulnerable persons for the purpose of exploitation, especially women, girls and children is a horrible crime,” Sir Salamo said. “It is a crime against humanity that knows no territorial borders, whether international or national crime.”

Where were leaders at time of crisis?. (Letters Post Courier 4 June 18)
There is trouble brewing in the western end of the Highlands region. People are being killed like animals in public places. These brutal murders are happening in front of law enforcing agencies and the general public. The use of high powered weapons is dangerously rampant. Police officers have been killed. Soldiers are being shot at. The last line of defence – the PNG army – is brought in to perform the duties of a sloppy and scared police force. Police and criminals are eyeing each other as rival enemies and not law enforcer and offender.
Wabag and Laiagap districts have been declared fighting zones by the PEC. This is the prelude. Total anarchy is creeping into the whole western end. The national Government needs to take this ‘time bomb’ very seriously. Waigani should stop talking about LNG revenue and come home to earth and absorb the realities on the ground and act swiftly or there won’t be any LNG to discuss revenue day in day out. The post-election mayhem in Mendi was fixed by PPC Joseph Tondop and acting PA Thomas Eluh. No politician, including William Powi showed his face in Mendi to solve the chaos he created. Eluh has been replaced through political cronyism. They never learn. People are watching patiently. Mendi will explode. We started exporting LNG in 2014. The revenues are sinking into a hole the government created. PNG has borrowed more to stabilise a falling economy created by the LNG construction phase.
Tuman Kanam Kange

Disgruntled service providers keep flight grounded by parking truck on tarmac
Post Courier, June 5, 2018
DISGRUNTLED service providers in Bougainville yesterday forced the closure of the Buka airport when they barred their President John Momis from boarding an aircraft for Port Moresby.
Air Niugini’s PX253 on which an official ABG delegation and him were supposed to travel for a three-day referendum seminar in Port Moresby was diverted instead to Tokua Airport in East New Britain.
The service providers fronted up at the airport where they demanded an answer from Mr Momis on their outstanding payments. Airport officials fearing for the safety of passengers and the Air Niugini aircraft diverted it and did not allow any other flights into Buka during the day due to the tense situation. Former combatant leader Ishmael Toroama, who turned up at the airport, expressed his disappointment at the service providers saying such issues must be dealt with in the proper manner and there should be respect shown to the ABG.At the B uka airport the terminal was packed with service providers who arrived in a truck and parked on the tarmac. Police later removed the truck when they moved in to take control of the situation.

Weapons Disposal Issues Confronting Bougainville
Post Courier, June 6, 2018
THE non-disposal of all weapons on Bougainville may be the only major obstacle in the 2019 Bougainville referendum. This means if all weapons are not completely destroyed or accounted for, which allegedly poses a threat, the referendum will not go ahead. This was highlighted during the Bougainville referendum three-day conference in Port Moresby yesterday.
Concerns were raised by ordinary Bougainvilleans, stakeholders and others about the slowness of disposing weapons on the island. It was also queried that there is no specific database of weapons still on Bougainville. The conference was told by a Bougainvillean training youths on security Albert Magoi that there were seven factions to be dealt with in order for the vote to take place in 12 months time. He talked about the issue of Me’ekamui, who’s now split in four and Tonu’s Noah Musingku group. There are also those ordinary people that still kept their weapons at large.
Independent Bougainville woman leader Helen Yonny also questioned both governments what would happen if guns took precedence and used at the voting time and what the ABG was doing about the Me’ekamui and the self styled King of Papala.
But ABG’s weapons boss Dennis Kuiai assured the conference that all was under control, that they were finalising the database of all weapons still floating on Bougainville.

Medical Supplies Stranded due to no logistical funds.
Post Courier, June 7, 2018
The provincial health authority is worried about delays in medical supplies reaching some rural aid posts and health centres in Morobe Province. The delays are mainly due to the logistics contractor not receiving funding from the Department of Health on time. Health officers said the contractor, Global Customs and Forwarding Limited, was allegedly not doing a good job in distributing medical supplies and in some instance, had delivered to wrong health facilities. As a result of the delays, four districts were now facing a critical shortage of drugs and other medical consumables.
He said that during a recent malaria outbreak in the Garaina area of Wau-Bulolo district, there were no medicines to treat the sick.He said in this case the outbreak which could have been treated and controlled at an early stage affected more than 169 people.

Financial Crisis In PNG Leaves Ammunition Stockpile Sitting Unclaimed In Geelong Region
http://news.pngfacts.com/2018/04/financial-crisis-in-png-leaves.html?m=1
was sent to Australia to protect world leaders including US President Donald Trump, is sitting unclaimed in a Geelong region warehouse because the Papua New Guinea Government can’t pay for it. The huge ammunition order, which required US State Department approval to send to Australia for forwarding to PNG was, according to exporters, made specifically to arm officially designated police and security forces preparing for the APEC leaders’ forum in Port Moresby later this year. 
But for more than eight months it has sat abandoned in an undisclosed secure warehouse believed to be in the Geelong region, with a cash-strapped PNG Government unable to pay for it.
The stockpile includes 250,000 .9mm pistol bullets, 200,000 rounds of 5.56mm assault rifle ammunition and 20,000 40mm rounds. The order from America’s Winchester Ammunition Inc. was worth about $800,000 (US$621,000), with the purchase order signed in February 17 last year by PNG’s Police Commissioner Gari Baki. Winchester confirmed a consignment of 200,000 Australian-made shotgun shells had been shipped to PNG police in October last year, but the bulk of the order was being stored outside Melbourne.

Poor policy choices & budgets based on hope curse PNG
Post Courier, 07 June 2018
CANBERRA – The Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project is having a very negative impact on the PNG economy during the current production phase that began in 2014 and is expected to end around 2035. The most likely explanation for this outcome is the “resource curse.” The resource curse phenomenon occurs where countries like PNG with plentiful natural resources frequently have less economic growth, less democracy and worse development outcomes than countries not so blessed. The negative impacts of PNG LNG are expected to continue to grow and by 2020 will swamp the initial boost to GDP provided by the early gas exports after 2014. The project had a positive impact on the non-resource economy in the construction phase (2010-14) – slightly greater than the level of 5% predicted by project partners. The boost to the LNG sector was almost exactly as expected. In 2016, its direct impact on GDP was a gain of some 14.4% – more than offsetting falls in the mining sector overall. … The easy path for hitting a big overall GDP figure by 2024 is to focus on more big resource projects – the potential resource “super-cycle”. But a more sustainable and inclusive way forward is to focus policy attention on the non-resource parts of the economy like agriculture and tourism. This is harder and more indirect but a much better option than the current boom-bust experiences of PNG’s resource curse. New resource projects should be promoted if they sustainably increase PNG’s non-resource potential. If the benefits mainly go overseas, then other options should be actively explored.

ADB grants K635 million loan to support PNG health programs
09 June 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/06/adb-grants-k635-million-loan-to-support-png-health-programs.html
MANILA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of K635 million to support the delivery of accessible, affordable and high quality health services in Papua New Guinea.The financing package comprises two regular loans and a concessional loan to help PNG’s efforts in achieving universal health coverage. Despite a period of high economic growth in recent years, averaging 6% from 2006-15 but declining in recent years, the ADB said PNG failed to achieve its millennium development targets for maternal and child health. Life expectancy is low at 65 years and diseases including stroke, heart disease, pneumonia and neonatal conditions are chronic. Yesterday PNG Attitude reported UNICEF as saying that malnutrition is the leading cause of deaths among children under the age of five and that 45% of PNG children have stunted growth while 24% are underweight and 14% suffer from moderate to severe forms of wasting, which can be potentially life threatening.
The ADB said limited investment in the country’s health infrastructure and poor health sector governance are undermining service delivery.
See also: Malnutrition – the silent killer stalking PNG’s provinces http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/06/malnutrition-the-silent-killer-stalking-the-provinces-of-papua-new-guinea.html. 8 June 2018

Independence from PNG: A core belief for many Bougainvilleans
11 June 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/06/independence-from-png-a-core-belief-for-many-bougainvilleans.html.
Extract from a talk by Anthony Regan to last week’s Bougainville referendum conference in Port Moresby. You can read here the full Bougainville News coverage of the conference
PORT MORESBY – The impacts of the Bougainville conflict were severe. Varying estimates of the numbers of conflict-related deaths have been made from 3,000 up to 20,000. When it is realised that Bougainville’s population immediately before the conflict was about 150,000, and that 10,000 to 15,000 left Bougainville as a result of the conflict during 1989 and the first half of 1990, then even 3,000 deaths was an appalling outcome. The deaths include perhaps 1,000 or more from conflict, inclusive of both Bougainvilleans and several hundred PNGDF and RPNGC personnel.
In addition, there were many extra-judicial killings by all groups involved in the conflict, as well as unknown numbers caused or contributed to by the Papua New Guinea blockade of Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA)-controlled areas. These deaths, and the many more injuries that occurred, caused grave trauma for Bougainville and also for the rest of PNG. Another source of grave trauma for Bougainville was the displacement of 60,000 people from their hamlets and villages to displaced persons camps, called care centres. Trauma in Bougainville was also caused by the deep divisions amongst Bougainvillean communities caused by the conflict.
Other impacts included destruction of virtually all public infrastructure and private sector productive assets, and destruction of the capacity of Bougainville’s provincial government (which was suspended in June 1995) and of the national government agencies previously operating in Bougainville. For PNG, the deaths and injuries suffered by many PNGDF and PNGRC personnel was a source of grave trauma, and contributed to significant loss of morale in both organisations.
The extent of the divisions amongst Bougainvilleans was manifested in the establishment of opposing government structures, inclusive of a Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) associated with the BRA, and from early 1995 the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG), which was quite closely associated with the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF), which had a nominated member to represent it in the government. Amongst the BRA personnel and the extensive support base it enjoyed in many Bougainvillean communities, PNG was seen as at fault in the events involved in the origins of the conflict, and in particular in relation to the indiscriminate violence wrought initially by the police mobile squads, and later by the PNGDF. Many felt deep bitterness towards the PNG state.
As a result, the cause of independence from PNG became a deeply held core belief for many Bougainvilleans, and for many those views remain little changed by the almost 17 years that have elapsed since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed. ….

Understanding corruption, and knowing how to deal with it
15 June 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/06/understanding-corruption-and-knowing-how-to-deal-with-it.html. By Sam Koim.
PORT MORESBY – Corruption, being a very destructive societal disease, is like a cancer that eats at every fabric of society. It comes in various types and stages ranging from low-level petty corruption to high-level grand corruption. There is no single treatment for this pernicious disease, and literature shows that the best way to combat it is the application of a combination of approaches towards the same goal. To treat this societal illness, a careful diagnosis must first be undertaken. The process will determine the type of the disease and the stage to which it has spread within society. Corruption is like a multifaceted octopus that rears its ugly image in all the facets of society.
It is organised crime. Corrupt transactions can transcend territorial jurisdictions and span many different countries. They are orchestrated by very skilful people with the institutional knowledge to bypass detection.
High-level corrupt transactions are usually secretive and organised by people who have the requisite knowledge of the victim industry or agency. They therefore require skilful corruption investigators to detect. Detection may also require whistle blowers to come forward and provide relevant inside information. This may require the protection of these informants. In some cases, it might require a party to the illicit transaction to come forward in return for some form of leniency. Corruption investigators have to be vigilant and adept at investigating it.
A single corrupt transaction may pollute an entire government agency. Top-level corruption may involve a patronage arrangement. For instance, if a minister intends to defraud his department, he directs the departmental head, who in turn directs his deputy and the pressure is exerted downwards through the subordinates until the cheque is paid out.
Those lower ranking officials who execute the payment may not directly benefit from the improper payment but succumb to top-down pressure in fear of reprisals.
Proceeds of corruption may be laundered through a number of countries in a single day. In today’s technological world, conducting illicit financial transactions spanning a number of countries is possible. This is posing a formidable technical and organisational challenge when it comes to detecting and monitoring these transactions. It requires the cooperation of the victim country as well as those countries tainted by the illicit transfers.
Some forms of corruption may flourish because the society as a whole tolerates it. For instance, the line between bribery and customary appreciations in Melanesian culture is often difficult to ascertain in terms of what is a bribe and what is customary reciprocal expectation. Widespread corruption is a symptom that the state is functioning poorly. It may reflect the health of the nation’s politics. …Experts warn us that corruption becomes a major challenge if most of the key institutions of government are weak. Anti-corruption efforts will not be effective in circumstances where essentially every important institution is compromised. …

Tribal fighters turn traditional rules of warfare into modern law
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/06/tribal-fighters-turn-traditional-rules-of-warfare-into-modern-law.html . 15 June 2018
MT HAGEN – Some 34 councillors of the Nebilyer Local Level Government in the Western Highlands Province have agreed to respect and implement traditional rules of fighting to minimise consequences of warfare on people and property. “The rules are neither new nor borrowed but are the ones used in the past by our forefathers when engaging in any tribal fight,” said Gabriel Kiap, chairman of Western Highlands provincial law and order. Kiap, once a tribal leader involved in fighting during his younger days, said people engaged in conflict did not respect the rules and would not hesitate to destroy whatever came in their way. “Innocent lives are being lost” he said.
“But now the rules are clear. Civilians, especially the elderly, women, children and people with disability can’t be targeted. Women and children must not be sexually abused and healthcare providers need to be respected at all times,” he said. In addition, Kiap said the rules prohibit destruction of public property such as schools, health facilities, roads, bridges, electricity poles and religious places and discourage targeting of neutral tribes and clans…..
The Red Cross head of office in Mt Hagen, Kakhaber Khasaia, said over the past few decades, tribal fighting has become significantly more destructive due to the use of semi-automatic weapons and breakdown in traditional methods of fighting. Nebilyer is the first local government in the Highlands to make traditional rules of fighting a local law. Similar activity will follow in other districts in the Western Highlands Province. The Red Cross is also working on different stages of the same project in the Southern Highlands, Hela and Enga provinces.

Religious education to be taught in schools
June 14, 2018 The National
EDUCATION Secretary Dr Uke Kombra announced the inclusion of religious education in mainstream curriculum as one of the compulsory subjects from elementary to secondary schools. He said this during a Church-State Partnership Development Forum in Port Moresby yesterday. He said religious education would fall under the education mainstream curriculum as ‘Citizenship and Christian Values Education’. The subject is intended to be taught in all schools about human ethics and Christian principles to students in schools. Kombra said the department had been working in many education reforms under the standard based education since 2013. One of them was the reform of the curriculum itself, others were school structure, looking at the levels of schools, education system, and the professional development of teachers, staffing systems, and school governance system.

High rate of mouth cancer in PNG
June 18, 2018 The National
Papua New Guinea has the world’s highest rate of mouth cancer cases which contributes to 25 per cent of all cancer disease compared with two per cent in Australia, according to research by the Australian National University (ANU). ANU’s Dr Barry Reed said the three main causes of the disease were betel nut-chewing, smoking and heavy alcohol consumption. It has now become a common disease among young people in PNG, with women having the highest rate of cancer in the world.
If untreated, it lead to death with much pain, suffering, social isolation, loss of functions and facial deformation, Reed said. Reed said medical doctor Chris Acott stated during last year’s health symposium that if treatment was not prioritised sooner, the disease alone could consume all of the national health budget in a few years.

PLHIV in PNG is Now Estimated to be about 70,000 : Igat hope
Post Courier, June 21, 2018
People Living with HIV in Papua New Guinea are now estimated to be about 70,000, according to Igat Hope. Board president of Igat Hope and person living with HIV (PLHIV) Janet Sangopa said that not all of these people know their HIV status and not all of them understand their illness and how to manage it. “This is something we need to urgently address. “We would like to be involved in community-level HIV counselling and testing to improve knowledge of HIV status; using some of the strategies used in the recent HIV integrated bio behavioural surveillance study to reach people who have not yet been reached. “Igat Hope wants to continue and strengthen its role in helping to improve the quality of clinical care as too many of our friends are still dying,” she said.

Ambulance attacked
June 25, 2018 The National
AN ambulance team from St Johns standing by for the Trukai Fun Run in Port Moresby yesterday was attacked by rascals. Chief officer Matt Cannon said the rascals were trying to steal ambulance equipment, including a defibrillator. “These types of attacks are simply unacceptable,” Cannon said.
“We call on the police to investigate and pursue this matter to the full extent. We will continue to respond to emergencies throughout the country but call on the community to take all necessary measures to protect our ambulance officers. “A resuscitation kit and personal belongings are believed to have been stolen. Our ambulance team escaped without injury. “This is the second attack on ambulance workers in PNG in the last week. A New Britain Palm Oil Ltd ambulance driver in Alotau was shot through the chest when responding to an emergency earlier (last) week.

New Ireland pays out nearly K2mil in pension
June 25, 2018 The National
About 4692 people above the age of 65 and people living with disabilities have received their pensions totalling K1,995,200 in Kavieng, New Ireland. It was all smiles and tears of joy for senior New Ireland citizens when they received their 2018 pension delivered to their doorstep by their government. New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan said: “though K360 may not be a lot of money it is the government’s deed of respect and value for these marginalised group of people in the society. Everything we do is for a reason, we don’t just do things for the sake of doing it. “The Namatanai District pensions will not be paid. We have to respect the people’s democratic right,” Sir Julius said.
“The majority in Namatanai District chose a different policy, which would issue a higher amount to them, so I respect their right to receive a higher amount of K1000 promised by their member.”


PNG’s first polio outbreak in 18 years as health services decline,
Post Courier, 27 June 2018
SYDNEY – The first cases of polio in Papua New Guinea in 18 years have been detected, with a six-year-old boy from the Morobe province the first confirmed case of the virus. The boy presented to health authorities on 28 April with weakness in his lower limbs and the virus – a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 – was confirmed on 21 May. Last week, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found the virus was also present in the stool samples of two children in the boy’s community; prompting health authorities to declare an official outbreak.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Papua New Guinea polio-free in 2000, along with the rest of the western Pacific region. Only three other countries in the world continue to battle the virus; Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. So far the three cases are isolated to the Morobe Province, where polio vaccine coverage is low, and only 61% of children have received the recommended three doses. WHO has assessed the risk of polio spreading to other countries as low, because travel in and out of the region is relatively limited.
The virus spreads through faecal-oral contamination, multiplies in the intestines, from where it spreads to the nervous system, causing paralysis. Worldwide, cases of polio have decreased by over 99% in 30 years, largely the result of a co-ordinated global health campaign to eradicate it.
There is no cure for polio once contracted; it can be prevented only by a series of vaccinations during childhood.

UN Launches Response to contain Polio outbreak
Post Courier June 27, 2018
THE United Nations has launched a response to contain the polio outbreak in Morobe.
The UN, along with government authorities, has surveyed the area, collected samples and carried out laboratory tests, it said in a statement yesterday. “Today, as the government declares polio outbreak as a national public health emergency. WHO will provide all the necessary technical material and logistical support to ensure that measures are in place to urgently stop this outbreak and prevent more children from lifelong polio paralysis,” said Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO representative in Papua New Guinea. UNICEF is procuring 611,000 doses of oral polio virus vaccine to immunise about 300,000 children under five years in these three provinces. UNICEF is facilitating the distribution of vaccine, cold chain equipment (vaccine fridges) and other logistics. UN resident coordinator, Mr Gianluca Rampolla said: “While the outbreak is very concerning, it is controllable if right measures are taken on time. We are fully working with the Government of Papua New Guinea to respond to the outbreak. We will take every measure possible to prevent future cases.”

Children are main targets of Sexual Offenders
Post Courier, June 28, 2018
CHILDREN continue to be the main targets of sexual offenders in the nation’s capital and the country as a whole says, the head of the police sexual offence squad. According to an updated survey carried out recently by the constabulary’s sexual offence arm, 75 per cent of sexual harassment cases in the National Capital District alone, involve children. The survey showed that children between the ages seven and 15 were the main victims of the stated heinous act and that the frequency of occurrences has increased substantially since 2015. Speaking on the matter, officer in charge Senior Sergeant Fiona Kakarere said the victimising of minors, usually under the age of 15 was a serious crime that is currently being neglected. She said that since January, more than 100 cases have been reported, the most controversial of which involved a Grade 12 student who sexually penetrated a minor in February that brought about public outcry. The senior officer explained that sexual crimes were uncomfortable solemn, offences that more often than not, are struck out of courts for lack of evidence. She added that PNG’s secretive societal tendencies and cultural systems only acted against the work of her unit and that much awareness is needed to help victims – under aged especially, in convicting and charging sexual offenders. It was also noted in the survey that courts are reporting larger numbers of rape cases where a child is victimised by a close relative, most notably of this week’s 47-year-old dad who was charged with raping his two adolescent daughters.

Decreased Literacy growth rate points to need for rural education improvement.
Post Courier, June 27, 2018
A significant deceleration in the country’s literacy rates over the past two years has brought out a high possibility of negligence to rural education in PNG says an international researcher.
Statistician Dr Irwin Macintosh of Australia’s Sunshine Coast University told Post-Courier this week that a recent study conducted by a small team of researchers for the World Bank funded ‘World Development Report 2018’ showed a decrease in literacy growth rates from 2015-2017.
Literacy growth rate being the percentage of people that can read, write and do simple arithmetic in a particular place, in this instance being PNG.
Dr Macintosh said that data analysed from other countries similar to PNG in developmental status such as Ghana and Samoa, showed a relative drop in the emphasis on rural education after major cities and towns have been adequately outfitted with educational facilities. She urged that the research indicated a need for PNG’s government to push for education in rural and remote parts of the country. “We’ve found that when a country like PNG develops at the rate that it has, more emphasis is placed on urban areas which eventually leads to neglect of rural communities and the resulting decrease in growth rates in health care, security and education. “In the study, we have a graph that shows a steady literacy growth rate from 2000 when the literacy rate was 57.3 per cent to 2014 when it rose to 63.7 per cent. “However, the elegance of the graph crumbles after this when the graph begins to bend toward flat lining at 64.5 per cent,” said the researcher. She explained that correlating PNG’s graph with literacy rate graphs from other developing nation’s points to a similar defocusing of efforts toward rural education development in favor of concentrating funds on already established education facilities in urban areas. “Our research when complete, will help your country’s government to see that there is greater need now more than ever, to push for the establishment of more educational facilities in remote and rural areas,” added Dr Macintosh.

PNG’s intractable drugs problem: the worst is yet to come
Post Courier, 28 June 2018
KUNDIAWA – Each year on 26 June we try to tell people of the danger of drugs in Papua New Guinea; without much success so far. The problem is getting bigger, much more complicated and workable solutions are not presenting themselves. Many of us working in the area of drug rehabilitation and education are fed up and frustrated.  We feel helpless and unable to do much – voices in the wilderness.
Drug related problems are a serious dilemma affecting the development of PNG. Socio-economic problems are getting worse, they are exacerbated by drugs and people no longer live in peace and harmony. Our cultural values and norms which once were our guide and discipline have been thrown to the winds. There is confusion our youth consuming more drugs – marijuana, homebrew and even harder stuff – that triggers more social problems. Cannabis or marijuana has just become like another cigarette. It is sold in the open markets in both rural and urban areas. The overall impact is an upsurge in law and order problems and increasing addiction and mental disorders, setting up a need for more specialist doctors, addiction counsellors and social workers that we simply do not have. Nor do we have the facilities that government would usually provide – like drug clinics and detoxification units. Addicts become criminals; there is no fair treatment and rehabilitation filter. Law enforcement bodies cannot do much to arrest the cultivators because most of the drugs are grown in remote places in the highlands provinces and are extremely difficult to identify and control. People need to know – but don’t – that drug issues are the main cause of social and other problems, including family problems, domestic violence, murder, rape, HIV AIDS and a range of other health issues. We have virtually lost our traditional culture, and a person without a culture has a spiritual emptiness and this vacuum is often compensated for by taking drugs.
We need to adopt a cooperative model to reach a solution, understanding that the drug problem is not an isolated issue but a communal problem that needs a collective solution. All institutions – government, non-government, church and secular – must cooperate to achieve the desired result.
We have to assist our youth to do away with drugs, to live in peace and harmony and become better citizens. If nothing is done, the worst is yet to come.

ABG Under Extreme Budget Crisis Says Momis.
http://bougainville.typepad.com/newdawn/2018/06/290618abg-under-extreme-budget-crisies-says-momis-new-dawn-fm-news-the-abg-president-chief-dr-john-momis-in-his-opening-re.html
The ABG President, Chief Dr John Momis in his opening remarks at today’s JSB in Arawa said that the ABG is in extreme budget crisis due to the National Governments failure to make payments to the ABG. He said that the ABG should be receiving seventy million kina annually under the Restoration Development Grants of which it has accumulated to nearly one billion kina. President Momis said this year the National Government budgeted for fifteen million kina to ABG but until today the ABG has not seen one toea of those RDG funds. He said he realised that the National Government has its own budget crisis. But the lack of funds being received by the ABG is leading to a desperate situation for us. President Momis said we simply do not have the money to do anything. He stressed that Bougainville is not receiving the amount of recurrent grant needed to meet salary costs, and not enough for our Public Service to do much at all. President Momis said that he hoped that we will reach agreement here on what RDG payments should be going forward and that in 2019 we will see payment at the correct level, of more than seventy million kina. Meanwhile, Prime Minister in his response said that a Trust account for the BRC has been created and funds promised will be deposited soon. He said that the National Government is committed to jointly implementing the Peace Agreement with the Autonomous Bougainville Government. He also said that he had brought five million kina with him today for the RDG from the budget of fifteen million kina for this year, with an outstanding of ten million kina still to be paid.

Mendi Diocese Needs Assistance
Post Courier, June 18, 2018
The earthquake in the Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces has left a lot of infrastructures in ruins in its wake. Bishop Donald Lippert of the Mendi Arch-Diocese says the Diocese had suffered millions of kina worth of damages to its vast network of pastoral, educational and medical facilities across the two provinces. “The Diocese of Mendi probably suffered more than any entity because it has more infrastructure than any other entity except perhaps the government,” explained Bishop Lippert. He said the repairing and rebuilding of these damaged infrastructures will take millions of kina to accomplish. “We still look to the government for assistance in the repair and rebuilding of schools, health centers and related staff housing. So far, we have not received anything,” said Bishop Lippert. Meanwhile, in the wake of the disaster the Church had received some donations mainly from church entities both here and abroad.

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2018

PNG is running out of vital HIV drugs and people could die
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/04/png-is-running-out-of-vital-hiv-drugs-and-people-could-die.html
PORT MORESBY – Advocacy groups have warned HIV-positive Papua New Guineans could die if the country’s dwindling anti-retroviral drugs supply is not replenished soon. Papua New Guinea is eating into its buffer supply of the HIV medicine after the government slashed the budget for the treatment. “We’re talking about quite a serious situation … where we are now currently eating into our three- to six-month buffer stock of anti-retroviral treatment,” said David Bridger, the head of UNAIDS in PNG.
PNG, which accounts for 95% of all HIV cases in the Pacific, has seen its budget for the HIV drug plummet in the past year. The government has allocated K3.6 million to HIV/AIDS treatment drugs, down from K8 million in 2017. And for the two years that follow, the drugs budget forecast is listed as zero. Antiretroviral treatment is an essential treatment for people with HIV. It stops the HIV developing into AIDS and reduces the risk of HIV transmission. ‘Miracle potions’ loaded with herbs and urine have been sold as methods to combat HIV in the midst of the shortage.

26,000 HIV Patient’s Lives in Hands of Missing Woman.
Post Courier May 23, 2018
THE fate of 26,000 HIV positive patients are in the hands of one woman who is supposed to make assessments to clear 500,000 antiretroviral tablets that are now stuck at Customs. Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Sir Puka Temu assured HIV-positive patients and the public that the Port Moresby
“We did an urgent emergency order and I want to assure them that 500,000 tablets are now sitting at the Customs. We are waiting for the lady to do the assessment but she has gone missing,” he said.
“So I have asked the Treasurer to find the lady at Customs to do the assessment quickly. We are requesting through a formal letter so that they can do the assessment later. They need to release the drugs immediately, today or tomorrow. “That will allow our 26 000 people to be back on the drugs. “Our prevalence on HIV is about 0.9 per cent, that means with 8 million people we have about 70,000 HIV-positive sufferers, so only 47 per cent of those who are positive are currently on the antiretroviral, and at the moment on register is 26,000 of them.”

Tragedy awaits as PNG runs out of HIV & other medicines. Glen Mola
20 May 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/05/tragedy-awaits-as-png-runs-out-of-hiv-other-medicines.html#more
PORT MORESBY – It’s not always good news. Today we heard at our staff meeting at Port Moresby General Hospital that we have run out of antiretroviral (ART or HIV) medicines. We have many thousands of HIV positive people on treatment in the National Capital District (and several more thousands 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: if they stop and start again they are very likely to breed resistant HIV.Th is is not only bad (in fact life-threatening) for the patient, but life-threatening for everybody else in the community who might catch 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 statistics – and after we started routine testing of all mothers coming to ante-natal 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 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 babies. The commonest cause of death when oxytocin is not available is post-partum haemorrhage (excessive bleeding after the birth); so, we are probably going to see a lot more mothers die even when they come to hospital to have a supervised birth.

 
Resource Curse. Double or Nothing Report. Jubilee Australia.
Flanagan states in part of the report that in 2008, Australian economics consultants ACIL-Tasman provided inflated projections of growth in employment, essential services, household income and the broader economy if the PNG LNG project went ahead. This new analysis proves just how misleading these promises were and how PNG has slipped back into the poor policies associated with previous experiences of PNG’s resource curse.
“Currently, on almost all economic indicators, the people of PNG would have been better off had the project not happened at all,” said Flanagan.
A study conducted aimed to compare the projected benefits for the early years of the PNG LNG project with the actual outcomes building an ‘underlying growth path’ based on how the economy would likely have performed without the PNG LNG project, this study made the following findings:
-Despite predictions of a doubling in the size of the economy, the outcome was a gain of only 10 percent and all of this focused on the largely foreign-owned resource sector itself;

-Despite predictions of an 84 percent increase in household incomes, the outcome was a fall of 6 percent;
-Despite predictions of a 42 percent increase in employment, the outcome was a fall of 27 percent;

-Despite predictions of an 85 percent increase in government expenditure to support better education, health, law and order, and infrastructure, the outcome was a fall of 32 percent; and

-Despite predictions of a 58 percent increase in imports, the outcome was a fall of 73 percent.
These findings are even more extraordinary given that PNG’s exports (due to PNG LNG) have actually exceeded projections (106 percent relative to the higher figure of 114 percent).

Help Comes for Teacher.
Post Courier, May 1, 2018
AT least some form of support has come to the remote teacher who walked from Menyamya in Morobe to Port Moresby to seek answers regarding her salaries. Carolyn Kai had a surprise visit from a representative from Leon Enterprises last week, a business that deals with hardware. She was given some form of help for her upkeep in the city while she awaits Teaching Services Commission for answers to her pay. She was teaching for six years without pay and came to the city 10 months ago to sort her salaries issue with the Education Department. Leon Enterprises representative Jason Choong said the company will pay airline tickets for her and her husband home via Nazab in Morobe when both are ready to leave. Mr Choong was amazed at how Mrs Kai had travelled for weeks to get to Port Moresby to fix her pay issues. “A lot of us in the city take things for granted,” Mr Choong said. “I don’t think you should walk that distance to get what already belongs to you,” he said.
PNG Teacher Association official Moses Taian said PNGTA was doing its best to assist Mrs Kai. He said this is a lesson for Teaching Services Commission to get their act right.

Property buyers in POM, be warned
I write this article to warn fellow Papua New Guineans out there who are thinking of buying property (house or land) in Port Moresby at this tough economic time.
Be warned that the house and land price bubble has burst. There are houses that have been on the market for over 12 months and have not been sold. Most of these properties are still overly priced.
Back in 2015, the average land price was up at K300 to K500 per square metre at good economic times around Tokarara, Hohola, Gerehu and 8-Mile areas. That meant that for a 450 square metre block of land you would pay between K135,000 and K225,000 in 2015. But in 2018, it has dropped to about K120 to K150 per square metre. Therefore, you would pay around K54,000 and K67,500 per block of size 450 square metres. An average house in Garden Hill that was going for K800,000 in 2015 on a 450 square-meter block is now going for under K500,000. At Gerehu and Hohola most houses true average value is K100,000 to K250,000.
The bank interest rates are going from 4.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent. If you borrow K500,000 to buy property at 4.5 per cent interest rate over a 20-year period, your loan repayment will be K37,968 per year (K3,164 per month) and also pay additional K2000 in insurance and fees per year. In Port Moresby, the average salary of a Professional worker is K40,000 to K50,000 per year.
The property loan repayment takes up to 80 per cent plus of an average professional worker’s net income per year. That is insane. Therefore, the house prices above K300,000 and K500,000 in place like Gerehu, Hohola, Tokarara, Morata, and 8-Mile are totally overpriced. Please do not buy.
If you are thinking of buying a house as an investment property, then you will be in even bigger trouble because the bank interest rates are around 8.5 per cent for investment property.
If you borrow K500,000 to buy house and land at 8.5 per cent interest rate over 20-year period, your loan repayment will be K52,068 per year (K4,339 per month) and also pay additional K2000 in insurances and fees per year.
The average professional worker will not rent your property between K3000 to K4000 per month.
Furthermore, average rental occupancy rate in Port Moresby is now at 40 per cent. Do not think about rental income from new property purchases at this stage in Port Moresby because you simply will not rent at the current bank interest rates. Therefore, please think twice before you buy. You will definitely run into trouble with banks if you are unable to service your debts. In summary, do not buy at this time because the real estate prices are still overly priced, the bank interest rates are high, insurance premium still high and rental occupancy rates at 40 per cent.
Sharing information is caring.
Regards, Real Mangi

Madang schools face closure
May 2, 2018 The National
OVER 90 schools in Madang’s Raicoast are among many others on the verge of closing down because of the delay in their tuition fee-free funds. Head teachers have approached the provincial education office since last week enquiring on when the promised funds would be deposited in to their school bank accounts.
Joe Timindi, representing head teachers from Raicoast, said 98 schools in the district have used up their TFFs and were desperately waiting for this quarter’s payment. Catholic education secretary Bruno Tulemanil said Brahman High School was the worst affected agency school since its TFF ran out a few weeks ago. “Brahman has exhausted its funds and it’s depending on assistance from patents and little funds set aside by the school” he said. “The school has 900 students and it’s really struggling.”
Tulemanil said Malala Secondary was fortunate to have the Holy Spirit sisters at the campus who are helping them out. He said Holy Spirit High School in Bogia was also struggling.
Madang education director Moses Sariki said he was aware of the situation and that officers responsible for TFF would brief him so that he could respond accordingly.

Cell at Tari police station full
May 2, 2018 The National
POLICE in Hela cannot make any further arrests because the cell at the Tari police station is full, says provincial commander Chief Superintendent Martin Lakari.He s aid there was no district court magistrate to hear the cases. Lakari said it was a big setback for the joint security forces in Tari conducting operations to maintain order and peace. He said 40 people were locked up in the small cell blocks.
They were arrested in March in an operation conducted by soldiers and police officers.
Lakari said it was overcrowded and was a health hazard to the inmates.
He said they needed a magistrate immediately to hear the cases.
The inmates were arrested for offences such as murder, attempted murder, rape, armed robbery and possession of illegal guns. He said police could not release them on bail because the crimes were serious. Those found guilty could be transported to Bei-ubi jail in Mendi to free up space in the cell.
“If one sector of the Law and Justice sector is not functioning, the other line agencies trying to do some good work to maintain order in the province are also affected,” he said. He had sent a request to the magisterial services last month for a magistrate but had received no response.

2000 women die every year – just giving birth
May 2, 2018 The National
CLOSE to 2000 women die during delivery in Papua New Guinea every year and 6000 infants perish before they are four weeks old. United Nations Children Fund health official Dr Ghanashyam Sethy said the deaths were preventable yet it remained a global problem. “This is mainly because we do not have a specific programme or intervention to tackle reduction of neonatal deaths,” he said.
Sethy said neonatal mortality had virtually remained stagnant for more than 20 years. According to Unicef reports, two thirds of neonatal deaths are associated with high-risk pregnancies, labour and delivery and many happen due to poor access to child health services. Although there are many factors, 80 per cent of neonatal deaths are due to birth asphyxia; infections and pre-maturity, the report say. In addition, hypothermia is a cause of death. Neonates continue to die due to lack of simple, cost-effective care such as warmth, breastfeeding support, basic care for infections and breast-feeding difficulties. About 40 per cent of rural primary healthcare facilities were closed or partially functional. Those that operate were often run by churches, non-governmental organisations or the private sector. Many rural aid posts have closed due to low motivation for staff to work in remote, financially unstable and dangerous environments. Even with the recourse to outreach service delivery for communities from existing health facilities, the high cost of transportation and lack of funding impede effective service delivery to the remote population, the reports say.

Schools Hit Hard at they continue to wait for Government TFF
Post Courier, May 3, 2018
GOVERNMENT authorities have confirmed K40 million in tuition fee funds will be remitted to schools by tomorrow to save hundreds of schools throughout the nation from closing.
Reports from East Sepik state that around 600 schools have threatened to close while in Northern Province 561 schools are affected, nine high schools and secondary schools have been worst hit.
Northern Provincial Education adviser Maino Vegoli said yesterday it was a sad situation for six boarding high schools and secondary schools in the province. He said despite the local MP Richard Masere’s assistance of K10,000 worth of food separately for two schools in the district, they are in a dire situation. The desperation has led provincial authorities to seek assistance from business houses in the province to provide food rations. In Milne Bay Province, 669 schools are affected with two main secondary schools in Alotau badly affected.

Third Country Resettlement for Refugees a myth.
Post Courier May 8, 2018
AUSTRALIA’S Homes Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says refugees on Manus Island who are not resettled in the United States will remain in Papua New Guinea. He said it was a “myth” that other countries would be willing to take them, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported yesterday. The Australian government had struck a deal with the Trump administration to settle up to 1200 refugees from offshore detention, but it was not clear whether all owed protection would be accepted. Those who are not will remain permanently in Papua New Guinea under a deal struck by the former Rudd Labor government in 2013, unless another nation is willing to accept them.
Federal Labor has been calling on the coalition to negotiate another resettlement deal, but Mr Dutton said that was no longer a realistic option.“ Let’s be realistic, when Labor talks about some mythical third country, it doesn’t exist,” he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been talking with many nations for years but there has been no breakthrough. Australia had struck a deal with Cambodia to take refugees, but so far only three people have been successfully resettled there. Mr Dutton said his staff would continue negotiating but described the prospects of success as bleak.

Surprise Hotline helping quake survivors.
https://www.irinnews.org/news/2018/05/07/dial-help-surprise-hotline-helping-quake-survivors-papua-new-guinea
More than two months after Papua New Guinea’s strongest earthquake in almost a century, stranded survivors are turning to an unexpected lifeline: a small domestic violence hotline run by a non-governmental organisation. Although the risks of violence against women rise after disasters, most callers aren’t women. They’re men reaching out for support, enquiring about how to obtain food, shelter, and other  services, or fearful of violence that has broken out in some areas after tribal clashes. The toll-free line has been ringing almost non-stop with calls from people whose lives are still upended by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck the country’s remote highlands region on 26 February. The quake triggered landslides that toppled villages, wiped out food supplies, and blocked key access roads. Authorities say the disaster killed dozens and left an estimated 270,000 in need of help. But tens of thousands of displaced people in isolated areas are still waiting for food, water, shelter, and other emergency aid.
The nine local trauma counsellors at the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain have fielded roughly 2,000 calls since the earthquake, according to ChildFund. In addition to hearing about shortages of food and other basic needs, the Port Moresby-based counsellors talk with people who are afraid of aftershocks or simply anxious about what’s happening in their communities.

Detainees depending on ‘gift’ food
May 9, 2018 The National
THE KIMBE police station in West New Britain has not been able to afford to buy food for detainees for five months. It has been depending on communities and visitors who brought in food for their family members to feed the others hungry in the police cells, station commander Senior Inspector Daniel Yangen said. “The station’s cell block can hold up to 40 detainees daily,” he said.
“Since December, we have been relying on the friendship relationship with the detainees’ visitors to bring food to feed them and their friends in the cell as we understand that the government’s budget has not been doing well.” Yangen said food was among a number of issues that the station was facing. “We do not have stationery like the charge books and other necessities that are used to record crimes that are reported on a daily basis.” Yangen said they could not use excuses to perform their mandated responsibilities as police officers. “We are working because we have sworn to serve our people in the province and country as a whole by making sure that their safety and security are guaranteed.”

As govt cash dwindles, debt-ridden Simbu schools face closure
09 May 2018
KUNDIAWA – High and secondary schools in Simbu Province are on the verge of closure due to the delay in the release of the tuition fees by the national government. At least two secondary schools in Simbu suspended classes last week. Rosary College Kondiu and Gumine secondary schools put classes on indefinite hold on Friday and students were sent home to await further notice.
“Kondiu, yes, we parents are having emergency meeting today (Monday) to discuss how parents can assist ease the delay under the tuition fee free policy of school subsidies” he said. Later in the day, Mr Kalasim reported that the main resolution of the meeting was that parents would provide food to keep the school functioning until the outstanding fees were released. He said that notable dignitaries attended at the meeting including the secretary for Kundiawa Catholic Diocese, Bishop Anton Bal, as well as the board of directors, parents and teachers.
Mr Kalasim said the school principal reported that the first term subsidy instalment of K140,000 was used to partially settle debts of K167, 000. The balance of K27, 000 remained outstanding and creditors had closed their doors making it difficult for the school to continue functioning.
The experience of Kondiu is not an isolated case. Many schools in Simbu are operating on credit facilities to keep them functioning. When the subsidy comes, it goes to paying off debt. Then schools again resort to credit facilities to operate in a never-ending vicious circle.

Child abuse in the City is alarming
Post Courier, May 10, 2018
Child abuse is alarming in Lae city. It is a war on the children ranging from ages five to 10 years says Angau Hospital family support centre nurse manager sister Anastasia Wakon. She was speaking at the commissioning of the a new state-of-the-art family support centre (FSC) predicted to provide timely and confidential medical treatment for survivors of family and sexual violence. She said they have been attending to more than 50 victims on a daily basis using a container built donga but the new building is a bonus to improve their services. “Innocent children are suffering from the ill behaviors; ‘‘We need to address the issue of drugs and pornography. We all have a lot on our plate to tackle,” Sr Wakon said.

Overcrowding at Mental Hospital
Post Courier, May 15, 2018
PATIENTS with mental illnesses due to abuse of marijuana and alcohol are causing overcrowding at Laloki Psychiatric Hospital outside Port Moresby. The hospital’s psychiatrist Dr Losavati Daugunu said that the majority of the patients at the 56-bed hospital had issues with mental illnesses due to substance abuse. “Some of them are Bomana jail prisoners who have committed crimes under the influence of this substance and have acquired mental illness,” she said. “Today, drug addiction is considered one of the most widespread psychiatric disorders.
Dr Daugunu said that in the past five years, one of the common causes of admission was mental illness due to the abuse of the substance. “Unfortunately, the hospital does not have updated statistics’ of mentally ill patients. However, today, a lot of our young people who have abused drugs are now in the episode of psychosis or encountering mental illnesses caused by the toxins in the marijuana. Toxins are mostly found in the flower tops and leaves of the marijuana plant,” she added.
According to Laloki statistics in 2013, about 211 patients were admitted with different mental disorders.
Marijuana is a factory chemical of its own, containing 421 natural chemicals. A strong-smelling Asian plant (Cannabis sativa), also called hemp. The main active ingredient in the marijuana plant is called “tetrahydrocannabinol” (THC) – delta-9 which has the strongest psychoactive effect.

Babies a part of Prison Life
Post Courier May 15, 2018
LOOKING after a child is challenging and difficult in jails. The children who are in prison with their mothers do not have many clothes but the mothers are grateful to receive supplies of diapers from the prison management for their babies. Such is the case at Buimo jail. Currently, there are three baby girls aged between three months to one year. All three were born while their mothers were serving time. The jail is their home. The three are Serah Taro, three months, Anitha Apung, nine months and Raynola Simon, one year. The mothers said raising them in a jail is challenging and difficult. “When we look after children, they disturb others who shout at us to stop the babies from crying but we can’t help it,” said one mother. “When we want to wash the children’s napkins or other things which they have used, we will be scolded at by other inmates to go wash these things at another place,” said another mother.

15 May 2018
Companies pass judgement: things are worsening in PNG
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/05/business-passes-judgement-says-things-are-worsening-in-png.html#more
Being Heard: The 2017 Survey of Businesses in Papua New Guinea by Paul Holden with Paul Barker and Steven Goie, Institute of National Affairs Discussion Paper 105, Port Moresby, April 2018. Download the report here
NOOSA – The overarching message in a fine piece of research of 287 companies by PNG’s Institute of National Affairs is that the business environment in PNG is deteriorating,
The report says the biggest change since the previous survey in 2012 is the problem flowing from the overvalued kina and lack of foreign currency availability, which are cited as damaging investment and growth and as a major impediment to business operations. Corruption is becoming an increasing problem with two-thirds of firms reporting they make “irregular payments” to government officials and more than 60% saying they are affected in some way by corruption in dealing with public officials, Less than 20% say they report solicitation of bribes to police or other relevant agencies.
“The extent of corruption reported by businesses appears to be widespread,” says the report. “While the greatest number of respondents indicated that the problems lay in either Lands or Customs/Finance/Tax institutions…. most respondents indicated that there were multiple institutions where irregular payments were necessary.”
Of as much concern is the finding that business confidence in the judiciary has declined substantially over the past 15 years. In 2002, 78% of businesses had some level of confidence in the judiciary; by last year this had decreased to 60%, with only 20% being “highly confident” in the judiciary.
The law and order situation in PNG is such that security of personnel and property is a large burden on business, amounting to 10% of operating costs. Two-thirds of respondents also say it has a negative impact on investment decisions.“If t here is one constant from the four business surveys over the past 15 years,” the report says, “it is the adverse impact of security and crime on the business environment.”

Health centre’s nurses struggling, appealing for help
May 16, 2018The National
THE two nurses serving around 30,000 people at a health centre in Southern Highlands are calling for more assistance to cope with the load. Community health worker Wendy Pugu and another nurse are based at the Sumbura Health Centre in Kagua district. She said the health centre needed more health workers. “There’s just the two of us here, myself and the other nursing officer,” she said. “Most of the health workers who were posted here have all left due to housing problems.
“There is just the two of us who have remained to serve our people.” Pugu said they got their medicine supply from Mt Hagen every three months. But they would last for only six weeks.
She said the health centre’s water tanks were damaged during the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in February and should be replaced.“ Currently we have no water and we hope that the disaster committee will fast track their duties and provide the health centres with water tanks. We have more than 30,000 people in Sumbura who depend on us.”

Govt must explain why free education is failing – & fix it
21 May 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/05/govt-must-explain-why-free-education-is-failing-fix-it.html
CHUAVE – The government component of TFFE (tuition fee free education) to schools in Papua New Guinea has been slashed to only 50%. TFFE subsidies are released to schools each term and are supposed to cover the actual cost of running a school for ten weeks. The actual school fee per student is divided into two segments: lower secondary (Grades 9 and 10) and upper secondary (Grades 11 and 12). Lower secondary students were allocated K1,300 for 2018 and upper secondary K1,600.
The Education Department under the ministry of Nick Kuman adopted the concept last year. But it was not effectively executed. There was a large amount cut from the money supposed to be paid to schools. Most people, particularly parents living in remote areas and below the poverty line in urban areas, concluded there is a loophole whereby funds have been diverted to other stakeholders. Whatever the actual policy is now, it has not been made known to schools around the country.
There has been no effective survey to analyse the real cost of running schools, but the new ‘slash funds’ policy was drafted and accepted for implementation within the Education Department.
How will remote schools in PNG like Karimui, Kairiru Island, Jimi and Telefomin manage to keep their schools open if the cost is triple that of running schools in a city or town?
Mai High School, located on the outskirts of Kundiawa, has 450 student in Grades 9 and 10. For Term 1 this year it received of K61,960. According to the calculation of K1,300 per student, it was supposed to receive more than twice that – K127,125.
….The consequences of the failure of TFFE have severely affected school operations.
The policy sounded good but its collapse has been a disaster for schools and it is hindering the quality of learning throughout Papua New Guinea.

APEC: Difficult to be enthusiastic about immense govt expenditure
22 May 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/05/apec-difficult-to-be-enthusiastic-about-immense-govt-expenditure.html
PORT MORESBY – It is not clear when the big-man politics in Papua New Guinea’s foreign policy began.
It was likely during the prime ministership of Sir Michael Somare in the early 2000s, when he pushed for PNG to be an aid donor to the region.
The Melanesian Arts Festival was a last-minute scramble, hosted in makeshift premises. The South Pacific Games, although heralded a success, went ahead with several venues incomplete.
However, this didn’t stop then sports minister Justin Tkatchenko and then Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio from announcing a possible bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Three years later, some of the South Pacific Games venues are still to be completed, others are not open to the general public and many have been closed temporarily due to unpaid service bills accumulated from the Games. This is an example of what may happen to the infrastructure being built now to host the APEC summit in November this year, which expects to see leaders from 21 economies, and potentially thousands of officials and delegates, visit Port Moresby.
In the absence of accurate government facts and figures on the economic benefits these commitments will bring to PNG in real terms, it is difficult to be enthusiastic about immense government expenditure on only a few days’ meetings. This is especially so given the bust PNG is experiencing after the heights of the LNG pre-production stage when economic growth rates were more than 10%. Some of the startling boom-to-bust figures were highlighted recently by a Jubilee Australia report which O’Neill was quick to label “fake news”.
…stated that APEC was good for PNG because it would put the country on the map, ensuring “everyone will remember where Papua New Guinea is” and not confuse it with an African country.
This may well be the most accurate statement as to why PNG is hosting APEC in 2018.

The challenging cycle of family poverty, violence & breakdown
Michelle Nayahamui Rooney, Miranda Forsyth, Mary Aisi & Dora Kuir-Ayius | Devpolicy Blog | Extracts. 25 May 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/05/women-the-cycle-of-poverty-marital-breakdown-chronic-violence.html
You can read the complete article on this important research project here
CANBERRA – We conducted research in Lae for three weeks in April to explore the connections between women’s experiences of seeking support to address family and sexual violence in their lives and their children’s wellbeing and opportunities for education.
Emerging findings from this research have highlighted the multiple financial and social considerations that limit women’s ability to seek certain types of assistance.
The research also highlighted the gap between formal systems of support and the reality for most low-income families whose children tend to fall out of the education system because of the immediate and longer-term impact of family and sexual violence. Many of the women we interviewed have extremely low incomes and low educational levels. Their experiences of violence reflect deeply-entangled cycles of poverty, marital breakdowns and chronic episodic violence – all of which reinforce each other. …..
Many women are supporting others while also dealing with their own experiences of violence, and the research revealed the critical role that neighbours, family members, other survivors, schools, and churches play in assisting those experiencing family and sexual violence. Lifetime experiences and episodes of violence can also involve multiple factors and relationships.
The economic (financial and opportunity) costs of seeking support, particularly from the state, are a major constraint on women’s ability to address the violence in their lives. Many of these costs are related to their ability to provide for their children’s housing, food, education, and other basic needs.
These costs are exacerbated by the lack of knowledge and confusion over the support services available.
Another important reason why women do not pursue the formal route for addressing family and sexual violence is the fear of losing the family income if their partner is sentenced to jail.
For those living in Lae’s informal settlement communities, even if they wish to resolve the matter locally in the community, they must pay ‘table fees’ for local leaders and komiti [committee] members to hear their cases of domestic violence.
These local mediation fees can range from K10 to K50 per party to the dispute. If there are multiple parties in the complaint such as when there is a polygamous relationship, these costs can escalate to include other costs such as compensation.
Costs include being asked to pay the police for fuel or other enticements before they will attend to a domestic violence incident. The delays in responses often mean that the perpetrator has run away.
Some women expressed concern that they are required by police to directly request a perpetrator to come to the police station to face a complaint. Others noted that police, magistrates, lawyers or local mediators were often known to both parties, making it difficult for complaints to be dealt with independently.
Many women also expressed wariness about the formal process especially because they fear the violence worsening if the process is unsuccessful or when the perpetrator is released from jail. For this reason, many women prefer to resolve matters within the family, the church or community. Many women said that they turned to religious spirituality for comfort and hope and found social support within their church networks.

Women and girls finding main bus stops unsafe
May 25, 2018 The National
WOMEN and girls find the main bus stops unsafe because of the harassment they face from petty thieves, according to a United Nations official. UN Women representative Brenda Andrias said the women and girls were often harassed while they are waiting for buses. She said criminal activities at bus stops were increasing with the attacks usually orchestrated by people loitering there. “When there is an attack, people often do not help the victim,” Andrias said.
“The attack is not being reported to authorities because of a lack of trust in people.” She said women were not safe in public transport because of the lack of trust between drivers and the passengers. She said the bus stops at Gordon, 4-Mile and Boroko where most attacks took place.
The UN Women had tried to help women and girls by providing their own buses.


Urgent need to expand services for PNG’s hidden HIV epidemic
27 May. http://asopa.typepad.com
SYDNEY – Researchers from the Papua New Guinea Institute for Medical Research and the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW say expanded health services are needed to tackle high rates of HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infection among key populations in PNG.
The study, Kauntim mi tu (“Count me too”), represents the most comprehensive understanding of PNG’s HIV epidemic among the key populations considered to be most in need of HIV-related health services. It provides crucial clinical and behavioural information to assist plan a national response to support the country’s efforts in prevention and care. The survey, the first of its kind conducted in PNG, collected data from populations considered most at risk for HIV and sexually transmissible infections (STIs): female sex workers; men who have sex with men; and transgender women.
Dr Angela Kelly-Hanku, principal investigator on the study, says the research provides clear information to guide where the country’s limited resources need to be targeted to turn the epidemic around. “HIV prevalence among female sex workers in Port Moresby was 14.9%, Lae 11.9% and Mt Hagen 19.6%. Even more concerning is that less than half those with HIV were aware they had the virus. Far more work needs to be undertaken to ensure increased access to testing,” said Dr Kelly-Hanku. The report showed that among men who have sex with men and transgender people, HIV prevalence was 8.5% in Port Moresby and 7.1% in Lae.
STI rates were similarly concerning, with more than half of female sex workers and over one-third of men who have sex with men and transgender women diagnosed with one or more STIs, excluding HIV.

Chaos in Enga continues
May 25, 2018 The National
TEN people were killed, a soldier was shot and two police vehicles burnt as tribal fighting continues to cause mayhem in Enga. Enga police commander Acting Supt George Kakas yesterday said Wabag had been declared a fighting zone. He is requesting for an additional 60 soldiers to help police deal with the “worst tribal fight”.
Members of a police mobile squad based in Hela were already in Wabag.
The ongoing fight between the Kii and Kala tribes in Wabag had resulted in the loss of lives and destruction to properties.
Calls by police for an end to fighting to allow peace talks have not been heeded.
Kakas said the soldier shot was in a critical condition at the Mt Hagen Provincial Hospital.
Police could not move into the fight zone because they were outnumbered and the tribesmen were using high-powered guns.

Female principals join march to end tribal war in Wabag
26 May 2018 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/05/female-principals-join-march-to-end-tribal-war-in-wabag.html#more
WABAG – It was a rare sight to see two women – the principal of a nursing school and her deputy – marching to petition the Papua New Guinea government to stop the warfare on Wabag’s doorstep with a more effective intervention. Principal Noelyn Koutalo from New Ireland and deputy Janet Nakore from West New Britain said they joined in the protest march because Enga is now their home and they were sad to see the suffering, death and destruction resulting from the prolonged tribal war between the Kii and the Kala tribes on the edge of town. Both were very near the fighting zone and experienced the effects of the tribal fight.
So they decided to join hundreds of people including the principal of Kopen Secondary School, Dominic Lawton, and church and community leaders from Kopen, Kamas, Kaiap, Sopas, Lakaiyok and many other areas to ask the authorities to stop the fighting and restore services.

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2018

Church Leaders Concerned with low ART Drug Stock levels.

Post Courier, April 3, 2018

The heads of churches who are members of PNG Christian leaders alliance on HIV and AIDS secretariat have expressed concern about the level of anti-retro viral treatment (ART) drugs currently available. In a meeting last week, they expressed this saying that people living with HIV (PLHIV) were experiencing shortages in relation to accessing a full ART drug supply and intake in some centres. “With the current situation where PLHIV are not accessing full medical supply of ART is not good for our national HIV response because the viral load of people living with HIV will increase as a result of not getting it. “The government must act now before our PLHIV will become resistant to ART as a result of not taking the prescribed amount of ART drugs on a daily basis,” chairman of the PNG Christian leaders alliance on HIV and AIDS secretariat Cardinal John Ribat said.

Sir John said when people become resistant to ART it would be very expensive to pay for their drugs and that would even become more worrying problem for PNG. He said the government must act quickly before the situation creates more drug resistant PLHIV.

 

Children’s rights in prison a concern

April 3, 2018 The National

A JUDGE has questioned why two toddlers forced to live with their mothers in prison are deprived of appropriate food and facilities. Justice Panuel Mogish, who visited Bomana Prison in Port Moresby on Wednesday, told The National that human rights advocates and non-governmental organisations should be raising their concern over the rights of such children to be cared for properly, especially what food they are given to eat. Justice Mogish said there were 30 female inmates in Bomana and among them were two innocent children. He  said the child could be taken away and looked after by relatives after turning three years old. “But in the meantime they are not given enough nutritional requirements that their bodies require. “They just eat the common food that every other convict or inmate eats, so if it’s rice and tinned fish, they all eat rice and tinned fish.
He said the innocent children were forced to be living against their will because under PNG laws, a child can live with the inmate mother until the child reaches three years. “Most of the mothers do not want to leave their babies outside for others to look after and insist on taking them in the prison. It comes naturally for mothers to do that but there are no facilities to properly care for the child.”
Justice Mogish said the plight of convicted mothers with children in jail was “a very big problem”.

“We see people who promote gender-based violence against women and breaches of human rights but they are not doing anything about the rights of the children.
Child abuse ‘part of life’ in PNG

April 3, 2018 The National

CHILD abuse has become so common in Papua New Guinea that it is part of everyday life, a workshop at the University of PNG heard. Pikinini Watch PNG told the workshop that the rate of abuse is among the highest in the world outside a conflict zone. Most children in this country are brought up seeing their mothers and siblings being regularly beaten, the organisation said. According to the organisation, child labour is different from child work. Child labour is seen as loads of work given to a child that is not fitting or appropriate. For example, a six-year-old child taking care of a baby is child abuse but in most cases in PNG it is very common.
Child work on the other hand is work given to a child that is appropriate for their age, like asking a five-year-old to put away his or her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, the workshop heard.
More than half of all Medecins Sans Frontiers consultations for survivors of sexual violence in Tari and Port Moresby in 2014 and 2015 were with children.

 

Court to review cases of inmates with mental health problems

April 4, 2018 The National

TWENTY-two inmates with mental health issues who have been undergoing psychiatric treatment in Port Moresby since 2015 will have their cases reviewed by the Bomana National Court this week.
Justice Panuel Mogish told the media after visiting Bomana Prison with other members of the legal fraternity last Wednesday that the 22 people indicated that they had completed their check-ups and were awaiting repatriation. “These 22 people are the forgotten people. We bring them here and we forget about them,” he said. Justice Mogish said courts outside Port Moresby had ruled the inmates in question had psychiatric disorder. He said the Bomana National Court was supposed to review their cases on Thursday but constant power supply interruptions in the area forced the court to defer the matter to this week.
He said his jail visit was purposely to follow up on such groups of people who had been forgotten.
He said under the law, a person should be mentally fit and sane to be able to plead to charges.
“He must also be able to understand the charge and be mentally fit to understand and think,” he said.

 

Pomio landowners have a major court victory over logging giants

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/04/pomio-landowners-breakthrough-court-victory-over-logging-giants.html#more

LAE – A group of customary landowners in Papua New Guinea has regained access to their land following a significant legal victory against supporters of a Malaysian logging company. Seven people from Pomio in East New Britain were barred from entering their land for the past six years after a restraining order was issued against them in 2012. The landowners include Paul Pavol Palusualrea and Nobert Pames who have been vocal against ‘land grabbing’ and widespread deforestation in the remote district. The National Court in Kokopo set aside the restraining orders after finding there was a lack of evidence. The landowners were represented by lawyers from the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR). “We are happy to have won the case for our clients, who are from the forested communities of West Pomio whose resources have been exploited through SABL [Special Agriculture Business Leases],” said lawyer Everlyn Wohuinangu.

The Pomio District is the site of a controversial SABL where large tracts of rainforest have been logged and replaced by oil palm plantations. The dispute over the logging and land grabbing triggered the six-year legal battle between the landowners and local companies sponsored by the Malaysian logging company.

 

Church group helping inmates gain new skills

April 9, 2018 The National

A CHURCH organisation is visiting prison inmates to teach them trade skills as part of their rehabilitation. Members of the Catholic organisation Mercy Works in Mt Hagen have been teaching inmates at Baisu prison things like sewing, music, and how to prepare stock feed. It is hoped that the inmates can use those skills to find work then they are released. Mercy Works coordinator Sister Mariska Kua said they were making regular visits to the women’s prison, juvenile’s prison and the minimum security prison. She said inmates who had been released were already putting the skills into good use. “We provide food for the prisoners and right now I see that this visit is not a waste but has bigger impacts,” Kua said. “These people have skills and talents.” Kua said God created everyone for a purpose and Mercy Works was using that principle to educate the inmates to look after themselves

 

Children in quake-affected areas face ‘serious health risks’

April 9, 2018 The National

CHILDREN face serious health risks because of the trauma they suffered from the earthquake last month, according to a United Nations agency, Karen Allen, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) representative in PNG, said the earthquake had left families devastated, homes destroyed, and victims displaced and traumatised in the four Highlands provinces. “Children are still being confronted by fear, loss, confusion, family separation, deteriorated living conditions and disruption of social and school activities,” she said. She said children in such conditions faced greater health risks such as mental health disorders, delay in brain development, anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide. Even before the earthquakes, she said children in PNG had already experienced a high risk of violence and abuse. “Available data indicate that girls and boys in PNG experience some of the highest rates of violence in the Asia-Pacific region. “About 75 per cent of children report experiences of physical abuse and 80 per cent experience emotional abuse during their lifetime.”
A recent Medecins Sans Frontieres report showed that 12,000 cases of family and sexual violence are treated each year at the Tari Family Support Centre in Hela.

.

Problems of addiction are blighting many of our families

16 April 2018. The National

KUNDIAWA – Alcoholism and drug addiction are progressive and fatal diseases that undermine the family unit. Addiction is a family problem with every member, not just the addict, suffering from its effects. In our highlands society, families operate as a system and family members interrelate to each other for a common purpose. When there is no food, all family units work to find some. When there is no money to pay school fees, the family rallies to get it. When a family member is sick, the others provide care and comfort. However, in families where a member is an alcoholic, drug addict or gambler, this balance is lost and there looms a great risk of dysfunction including divorce or separation, child abuse, sexual exploitation, economic manipulation, intimidation, psychological abuse and much more.

Children of alcoholics and drug addicts exist in a dubious moral environment and frequently lack a full understanding of the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, lawful and unlawful.

Juvenile delinquency or youth crime is increasing especially in urban areas.  Psychological and spiritual problem are common among the children of alcoholics, who become confused and lose a sense of who they are.

 

Risk just grown for HIV kids

April 13, 2018The National

MORE than 300 children living with HIV/AIDS in the earthquake-affected areas cannot access anti-retroviral treatment drugs due to tribal fighting, United Nations AIDS consultant Dr Shinsuke Miyano says. Before the earthquake, 7000 people living with HIV/AIDS were receiving treatment from the 39 clinics in four provinces. It included 300 children. It is estimated that about 9800 people with HIV/AIDS live in four provinces – Hela, Southern Highlands, Enga and Western.
“Those below the age of 15 are considered children and above are adults,” Dr Shinsuke said.
“For the younger children below five years, they got the virus from their mother during childbirth or breastfeeding. “Some children contacted HIV by abuse, gender-based violence and rape.”
The recent earthquake damaged five ART (anti-retroviral treatment) clinics serving more than 100 patients. “We are concerned about the people. A month is too long to live without the drug,” he said. “It will surely have a big effect on their wellbeing.

Climate leads Catholic agenda

April 13, 2018 The National

Catholic bishops have been urged to become advocates of climate change in the Oceania region.
A conference for the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) is underway in Port Moresby with at least 80 bishops from across Oceania taking part.
The focus was the effects of climate change on nations and their economies.
Speaking at the opening in Port Moresby yesterday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, from the Vatican, conveyed a message from Pope Francis calling on the bishops to focus on climate change.
Cardinal Pietro is second to the Pope in the Catholic Church.
“We all share a common home which we call planet Earth,” he said.
“While this may be obvious on one level, if this truth is accepted, then there are ethical implications for everyone as to how we use the treasures of the land and sea.”
The Cardinal pleaded for a deep-seated conversion of attitudes towards God’s gift of creation. In particular, he named politicians and policymakers to put into practice a life of responsible and modest living.

Care centers still at high risk of disease

https://postcourier.com.pg/disaster/

Although things have quieted down in most of areas affected by the earthquake last week, paramedics from an emergency medical team have highlighted that the critical phase of medical relief operations is far from over.

New South Wales based St John Ambulance paramedic, Ben Fisher told Post Courier last Friday that the risk of communicable diseases now increases exponentially as locals begin to congregate at care centers. “Like anywhere where there’s been a disaster, a lot of people have been displaced from their homes and they are now living together in large groups whether it’s in a church or a school yard or whatever. The big problem now is sanitation, infection and nutrition,” said Fisher.

“It’s likely that they will be exposed to Typhus, Diphtheria and Diarrhoea; because they are a tight group they are very communicable and easily spread due to sanitation issues.”

“Especially in some developing countries, things like diarrhoea in children and fluid loss is still unfortunately a life-threatening problem.

 

Hey men – let’s make our streets & buses safe for women and girls

7 April 2018. http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/04/hey-men-lets-make-our-streets-buses-safe-for-women-and-girls.html#more

PORT MORESBY – It was busy Friday and I was amongst the people walking through the Ori Lavi building when a stranger whispered to me, Hey, lush you, perfume stap olsem yu iet.’’

Before I could react he had disappeared into the crowd; frustratingly because it was third time in a week this had happened to me and I could have slapped the guy with force and give him a lesson to think about a thousand times before doing it to anyone else.

This is not a new or unusual incident for any Papua New Guinean girls in public places or who use public transport in our urban areas. It’s the kind of daily challenge to our safety that occurs whenever women and girls step out of their homes.

A stupid remark like “Hey stack one, nogat makmak,” being spat out on the street by a stranger is something many women and girls experience. It may seem like just a bit of harmless fun but street harassment is really about power and control and I know from personal experience that it can easily turn to violence. It’s upsetting to see women and girls being harassed by name calling, unwanted comments or touching when they pass a group of strangers on the street of Boroko or around Gordon’s market. If young girls walk to a bus stop in their shorts, men will leer and start whistling, catcalling and making demands. Taxi drivers follow them around, hooting their car horns. Lewd comments are hurled from all angles..

Most women in PNG experience this form of harassment and they feel unsafe in public places and take steps to avoid harassment by varying their routines, changing the way they dress, refusing eye contact or even avoiding make-up. Others travel in groups or are always accompanied by men while some even employ their own defence mechanisms such as walking with keys between their knuckles. [For the rest of this article, see the url above.]

 

104 arrests made in 1107 family, sexual violence cases last month

https://www.thenational.com.pg/104-arrests-made-1107-family-sexual-violence-cases/

April 17, 2018 The National

PROVINCIAL police commanders are the ones to recommend the establishment of Family and Sexual Violence Units in their provinces, an official says. Police family and sexual violence unit coordinator Job Eremugo made the statement after releasing last month’s statistics on the reported cases of family and sexual violence in 15 provinces.
“A total of 1107 cases were registered, and 104 arrest were made,” he said
He said 70 interim and permanent protection orders were served to the perpetrators, 120 cases were treated as civil, 143 were attended to by the village court, 157 were referred to welfare, clinics and counselling, and 517 cases were pending. According to last month’s report, Manus, Western, East Sepik, New Ireland, Chimbu, Gulf, Hela and Jiwaka did not submit their reports
Jiwaka and East Sepik have not properly set up their units. Gulf, Manus, Western and New Ireland are out of communication. Chimbu did not provide its statistics due to a change in the management.
Hela is closed because of the natural disaster and tribal fights.

It is in times of crisis the true worth of a leader is measured

19 April 2018. http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/04/it-is-in-times-of-crisis-the-true-worth-of-a-leader-is-measured.html

FRANCIS NII KUNDIAWA – Madang, a town once dubbed as ‘Beautiful Madang’ and in even earlier days ‘The Pearl of the Pacific’ because of its scenic beauty has been experiencing serious civil unrest including murder and destruction of businesses and state property in recent times. This crime and disorder has disturbed the tranquil blue waters, large furry flying foxes, arrays of colourful crotons and hibiscus, pleasant hotel facilities and, perhaps most regrettably, the renowned friendliness of the local people. The latest incident involved the death of three local youths believed to have been murdered by settlers, a tragedy that led to further public panic, civil unrest and disruption to the town’s water supply. But, unlike major unrest in other years that continued for weeks, last week’s unrest was quelled in reasonable time with services and businesses quickly restored thanks to the presence and leadership of Bryan Kramer, the Member for Madang in the national parliament, along with police and other community leaders. Bryan Kramer played a decisive role in restoring peace and reinstating the water supply, a vital utility in an urban area which had been damaged during the unrest. Kramer went to the site of the water supply with police, PNG Water and PNG Power and assessed the damage to the water pump. PNG Power went to collect parts to replace those that were damaged, but didn’t return. Kramer didn’t leave. He stayed at the reservoir cajoling PNG Power personnel to return with the parts and get the pump fixed, only departing with the police after the water started flowing again.

 

Dept: Drug, alcohol abuse rising

April 19, 2018 The National Main Stories

ABUSE of alcohol and drugs has increased drastically in the country, Department of Justice and Attorney-General Secretary Lawrence Kalinoe, says. Kalinoe said the abuse of marijuana, especially among young people in villages, towns and cities had resulted in the upsurge in crime, violence and corruption. He was speaking during the opening of the two-day induction workshop by the National Narcotics Bureau on data and information collection in Port Moresby. “Drug abuse has spread to various age groups and the trend that it is spreading is very frightening and is a big threat to our future,” he said.
“Abuse of drug has led to the destruction of individual life, family units and the entire communities and it undermines national economies.” He said another consequence associated with intravenous drug abuse was the high risk of spreading HIV/AIDS. “The scope of the narcotics problems today in Papua New Guinea has only begun to be realised on the socio-economic front and there is no longer a question of social consequences of widespread drug abuse,” Kalinoe said. According to the coordinator of Rehabilitation, Treatment and Counselling, John Mark, there were new methods of consuming drugs already in use in some parts of the Highlands. Mark said people were preparing it with food and eating as well drinking them.

 

20 April 2018

The lure of the ‘kaikaiman’ – and the courage to speak & write truth

LAE – The greatest challenge facing journalism in Papua New Guinea is that there is no freedom of the press. Journalists need much courage to speak and write the truth and to know how to use the right medium to express their views. Almost everything that is printed in the press is scrutinised and controlled by the government or an agent in the newsroom – usually the editors. Every day, Papua New Guinean journalists face a big challenge as they have to write according to what their editors will accept, or they can get sacked for insubordination. In PNG, the term ‘kaikai man’ is used to refer to someone who writes propaganda in return for favours.

This syndrome is already deeply rooted and one cannot get away from it, even the reporter with full knowledge that someone is corrupt or lying will continue to write good about them. Glorifying parliamentarians and government bureaucrats is common in PNG. So how do we expect a graduate journalist to deviate from this trend, which continues year after year? The what, when, where, why and how questions we were trained to use have gone to the bunker. No journalist has the courage to ask such questions anymore. Journalists in PNG get assaulted and some get taken to court. Not because they did the wrong thing but because of standing up for the truth. And of course the truth hurts. The media has been suppressed by the very people it is supposed to keep in check and balance. So where stands democracy and media freedom in Papua New Guinea?

All in all, the media in PNG cannot be defined as free. We face a lot of challenges to find our worth in this society of ours.

 

B’ville HIV cases double in 5yrs

April 20, 2018 The National

THE number of people infected with HIV in Bougainville has doubled in the past five years.
This was highlighted by Catholic coordinator for HIV Stella Morokana during an HIV/AIDS awareness and testing event at Pitpit in Wakunai district on Monday. The diocese team conducted a HIV voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) on employees of the Raibro Construction Ltd, a firm undertaking a major road sealing project. Morokana said there were 53 registered cases at the Mary Mother of Hope VCT facility in Hahela Parish while Our Lady of Mercy VCT Facility in Arawa had 25 registered cases. The figures for St Vincent De Paul VCT facility in Buin and Buka General Hospital were not included. Morokana said in 2012, there were 23 HIV cases registered at Hahela.
By 2017, it had risen to 53. She said in most cases men were infecting their wives. She said more children were born with HIV as a result of infected couple not getting up-to date HIV/AIDS treatment. Catholic church health service in Bougainville as one of the key organisation combating the HIV/AIDS had been faced with funding and not enough HIV counsellors in past years.

 

Peace committee records 100 reported sorcery deaths

April 20, 2018 The National

THE peace committee of the Nahu-Rawa local level government in Raicoast, Madang, has recorded up to 100 deaths since 2012 related to sorcery. Committee chairman Vini Arihafa said the figure was for the killings reported to them. There were others killed and their homes burnt in the inland villages which were unaccounted for. Arihafa, a former primary school teacher, told The National that sorcery-related killings were ongoing despite a surrender ceremony between the Hausman and suspects’ factions held at Ramu Sugar Township in February last year. While waiting for the reconciliation ceremony to be held by the Nahu-Rawa local level government administration, four more people were killed. Arihafa said occurred at the Ranara Primary School on Tuesday last week.
“The incident occurred at the school grounds and forced the teachers and students to close the school indefinitely. Some teachers vacated the school in fear of their lives,” Arihafa said.

 

More Midwives Needed in the Country

Post Courier April 24, 2018

PAPUA New Guinea needs more midwives to save lives. This is for mothers and children during child birth, says University of Goroka’s (UOG) bachelor of midwifery program co-ordinator Paula Puawe.

“Child birth is not a disease and yet we continue to hear of big number of women dying during child birth because we do not have enough skilled midwives. “At the same time, there are a high numbers of infants dying from preventative diseases,” she said. Currently at UOG, there are 38 midwifery students studying under the program. According to Mrs Puawe, the midwifery program started in 2012 and has enrolled students from all over PNG. “Midwifery in the country is low so when we started this program, which is funded by DFAT, we started with 500 midwives being registered.

“Over the five years, we have trained more midwives and according to the PNG Nursing Council, there are more than 800 midwives registered in the country, however this is not enough,” she said.

She said the situation in the country is that there are 733 maternal deaths per 1000 live births which are too many PNG women dying every year and many more continue to die in the rural areas.

“Neonatal period is the period from birth to 28 days of life or the first month of life. This period is crucial for the mother and her baby as this is where midwives are required not nurses….

 

Funding cuts affecting church health services, says official

April 24, 2018 The National

SOME church health service centres are facing problems because of the cuts in their funding, an official says. Representatives of the centres around the country are attending their annual conference in Port Moresby. The church health service secretariat manages all church-run health facilities and training schools in the country. Chairman of church health service board Japalis Kaiok said cuts in funding were affecting their operations. “Most of us are experiencing issues with keeping the students and training going. Shortages in funds might affect the training programmes for this year,” he said. He, however, thanked the Minister for Health and HIV-AIDS Sir Puka Temu for supporting the church health services. “We thank the government for the continuous recognition of the Christian training institutions and church health funding,” Kaiok said.
Sir Puka said the government was prioritising health systems to meet the issues. “Our priority area is health and health systems, and we will be putting funds for all health programmes whether run by the government or a church,” he said.

 

Cult activities force school to suspend enrolment

April 24, 2018 The National

A HIGH high school has suspended grade 11 enrolment this year because of cult activities. The school is Aiyura National High School at Goroka, Eastern Highlands. Karl Puluma said the suspension of grade 11 was part of an effort to eradicate cult activities in the school. The suspension of grade 11 was among the three recommendations by a committee.
The recomendations are:

  • A complete shutdown of the school;
  • converting Aiyura into a college; and,
  • Stopping grade 11 enrolment for a year and allowing grade 12 students to leave without influencing the younger pupils.
    “We adopted the third recommendation and have now eradicated cult activities in Aiyura. We are a new, fresh and free Aiyura National High School,” Puluma said.

95% of PNG Population Live in High-Risk Malaria Areas

Post Courier, April 24, 2018

Nearly 95 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s populations live in areas of high risk for malaria transmission and Kuriva community in the Central Province is no exception, according to the health department. In commemorating World Malaria Day today, students attending the Kuriva Primary School were given access to early diagnosis and treatment at the school grounds. During a visit to the school today, Health Department’s Central Public Health Laboratory Quality Assurance officer Dorothy Abala told this paper that since the start of the screening program at the school ground on Monday this week, out of more than 70 children tested, about 27 were tested positive with Malaria parasites. “Many of these children did not look sick but after being tested, we found out that many of them had Malaria,” she said.

 

 Tightening the belt? Chinese soft power in Papua New Guinea
Development Policy Blog. By Sarah O’Dowd and Grant Walton on Apr 26, 2018
As PNG prepares to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has stated that his administration is entering “very tough negotiations” with Beijing to ensure that PNG’s interests are put first.

Concerns about Chinese investment in PNG are not new. Some argue that the increased flows of non-conditional and commercial investment from China have exacerbated corruption and mismanagement. Investments by Chinese companies in PNG, such as the controversial Ramu nickel mine, have received particular criticism. A small number of researchers, including the ANU’s Dr Graeme Smith (see here and here), are asking questions about the implications of growing Chinese investment on governance and development outcomes in PNG.

Their concerns are supported by analysis of data from the China Global Investment Tracker, which monitors Chinese investments of over US$100 million. It reveals that between 2005 and 2017, only two Chinese companies were awarded multiple contracts worth over US$100 million by the PNG government. These two companies, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), share one concerning trait: they were both blacklisted by the World Bank for fraudulent, corrupt, collusive, coercive or obstructive practices.

It must be noted that the World Bank blacklist has no impact on national or private deals and only prevents blacklisted companies from securing contracts that are financed by the World Bank. PNG is also far from the only country that has procured the services of CCCC and CSCEC, which are two of the largest companies in their industries globally. Yet the blacklisting casts doubt over their accountability and effectiveness.

CSCEC was blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud, corruption or collusion from 2009 to 2015 but was still engaged for a project in PNG in 2014; this was in addition to another project in 2016, the year after the ban was lifted. These projects were cumulatively worth at least US$430 million. While neither of these CSCEC projects generated significant controversy, the same cannot be said for CCCC investments in PNG.

Although CCCC and its subsidiaries were blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud from 2011 to 2017, it invested at least US$590 million through three separate projects in 2012, 2013 and 2015. While the latter two projects are reportedly on target, PNG is still suffering the fallout from the CCCC’s first project in PNG: the Lae port. While construction was ostensibly completed in late 2014 by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), a subsidiary of CCCC, the discovery of significant structural defects prevented the port from becoming fully operational. Government reports allegedly found that CHEC’s defective work will cost more than US$62 million to rectify, but the O’Neill administration has refused to publicly release the findings of government inquiries into CHEC’s mismanagement. By failing to do so, the PNG government has prevented the public from knowing about how mistakes occurred and what measures are needed to prevent similar errors in the future. [See the url above for the rest of this article]

 

Short on funds

April 26, 2018 The National

THE Government is yet to pay out to schools K97 million in tuition fees for the final term last year, plus another K50 million for the first term this year. Education Minister Nick Kuman said this was because of the increase in the number of enrolments caused by the TFF policy. He said while the allocation in the national budget remained at K600 million, the number of students enrolled in schools was continuing to increase. “When there is an increase in the enrollment rate, it is really hard for us to accommodate that K600 million. And it is all paid on a quarterly basis,” Kuman said.
Some schools have complained that they have not received their allocation last term and are pressing the education department to pay it. Kuman said the ministry had to take into consideration “elementary all the way up to the boarding schools” in allocating was being made available….
Lutheran missionaries

April 20, 2018 The National Letters [Responding to order that some Lutheran missionaries be deported or not permitted to return to PNG]

THE newspaper article, “No support for deported missionaries”, in The National on Monday (April 16) raises many questions and concerns. Our day-to-day contact with pastors, members, and churches of the Gutnius Lutheran Church is quite different than what was reported.
Our experience reveals that there is a high level of support for the missionaries, both past and present, of the Concordia Lutheran Professional Mission Services rather than “No support” as indicated by your headline. The Concordia Lutheran Professional Mission Services (CLPMS) was established in 1991 under the laws of Papua New Guinea to serve the people and churches of PNG.
It is the successor of New Guinea Lutheran Mission (NGLM) which was founded in 1948 to serve and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of the Enga. The NGLM helped found the Wabag Lutheran Church which eventually became the Gutnius Lutheran Church. As independence came in 1975, the NGLM was dissolved and ultimately became the CLPMS. The missionaries labelled as bad missionaries in the article have served the people in PNG in many capacities for many, many years: Pastors, translators, teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. They have engaged in many areas including theological education, Bible translation, creating literature for churches and schools, providing books and educational materials for churches and schools, providing training for pastors and teachers, AIDS awareness, human care, building airstrips in remote areas, construction and maintenance, addressing the sanguma problem and rescuing victims, earthquake relief, among many other things.
One American missionary who they attempted to deport in 2014 had spent his entire life translating the Bible into Ipili, a language of the Porgera area. But he had already died earlier that year after a long battle with cancer. One CLPMS missionary who is overseas and has been blocked from returning to PNG was even recognised by the Queen for her services to PNG. Was the Queen wrong when she recognised this woman for her services to PNG?
Do we have disagreements with some people in PNG? Yes, of course, as might be expected when people work together, especially when waste of resources or fraud are involved. Please understand: We have a responsibility to our sponsors and financial supporters in America and Australia.
But we will always stand for what is the best for the nation and the people of PNG and for our mission: to proclaim the Good News of our salvation through Jesus Christ.

Concordia Lutheran Professional 
Mission Services

 

Why the Church speaks on social and political issues

http://cbcpnews.net/cbcpnews/why-the-church-speaks-on-social-and-political-issues/

WHY does the church speak on social and political matters? This question betrays the belief that the spiritual has nothing to do with the mundane, with the worldly. The church’s sphere is the spiritual, so they claimed, so it should keep silent and be aloft over such worldly matters as politics, business and society in general. This way of thinking, however, is foreign to the mission of Jesus, because he has come to save the world—to renew everything, including social realities! In fact the end game of the plan of salvation is “the New Heavens and the New Earth”.

The Holy Book tells us: “According to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pet 3:13) All things came from God and all things have to be brought back to him. So all reality, including the temporal order or the order of this world, will have to be permeated with the Spirit of God. “Our redemption has a social dimension because ‘God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person, but also the social relations existing between men’. To believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone means realizing that he seeks to penetrate every human situation and all social bonds.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 178)

Therefore the Holy Father clearly teaches: “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 183)

There are values that are needed in social life. These are truth, justice, peace and love. We need these in order to have a human society, that is, a society that is worthy of human beings. These virtues are to be implanted in all institutions in order that people can live and work together in harmony. These virtues are needed not only in the church and in families. They are also needed in politics and in business. Woe to us if there is no truth in politics. No business will prosper if there is no justice. There will not be peace if there is no justice. Love makes people at home not only in their homes but also in their workplaces. Not only are these virtues or values needed but they cannot exist alone. They all come together. The absence of one will not make the others effective. There can be no love if people are not truthful to each other. There is no justice if there is no love and vice versa.

These values—truth, justice, peace and love—are all kingdom values, that is, values of the kingdom of God that Jesus has come to bring about. All institutions therefore, including the Church have to strive to operate according these values.

In the light of this, we have the marching orders of Pope Francis: “The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 182)

Religion has a role in political debate, not in providing concrete political solutions, which lies outside the competence of religion, but to recall to society the objective moral norms as the basis of justice, truth, peace and love.

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2018

Death Toll Rises

Post Courier March 6, 2018

People of Hela have been living in fear since the magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck on February 26 followed by more than 50 aftershocks, Tari-Pori MP James Marape said yesterday. “People in the electorate and other affected areas are not sleeping in their houses but spending nights in open fields in fear of tremors that might cause their shelters to collapse on them,” Mr Marape, who is Finance Minister, said. “Last two nights I witnessed people out in cold and rain fearing to go into their houses in case earthquake strikes again. I call on responsible agencies of state to establish the cause of this continues earthquakes and inform our people as to the possibility of future occurrence.

“There also a lot of speculation on the cause of it hence the need for appropriate government authority to ascertain the cause, present in ordinary languages to our people to recover from the trauma associate the shake,” Mr Marape said from Tari. While acknowledging National Government and partners like ExxonMobil and Oil Search for their commitment for big help to the affected areas, due to various assumptions that the continuous quakes might have links to the LNG project operations, Mr Marape asked for answers in relation to these questions by people.

 

Youths Caught in Act of Cult Initiation

Post Courier, February 26, 2018

A cult initiation was busted by police and the University of PNG security last Saturday resulting in the arrest of 39 boys. The boys, aged between 14 and 18, were caught drinking hombrew and were in the middle of an initiation ceremony near the back road at Eight-Mile, behind the university Waigani campus in Moresby’s North West. The boys are from the same school and were in the process of producing and consuming homebrew when Waigani police and Uniforce arrested them. A green wheelie bin that was used to mix their homebrew was also confiscated in the raid. Police station commander Jerry Yawa said that the boys were in a big group but only 39 were caught. “The younger boys were scared with a lot saying that they were coerced by the older boys to join. “It was only because of intimidation that the younger boys joined the drinking session,” Mr Yawa said. The boys spent a night in the police lockup while police were questioning the group.

Mr Yawa said parents must know at all times that their children are safe in school and also the fact that discipline begins at home.

 

Stranded Students Hike Back to School

Post Courier March 5, 2018

Mendi School of Nursing that was damaged in last Monday’s earthquake has its final year students on nursing practical still out in remote parts of Southern Highlands and Hela awaiting evacuation back to the school. Some began to walk back to their damaged school because the school cannot reach them as no other help was on its way. For instance, three female students at Inu Health Centre in Kutubu could not get back to Mendi after roads and bridges linking to their school were damaged. Two of the students decided to walk for help while another sought assistance with Oil Search that flew her out of Moro to Port Moresby yesterday. One of the students who wanted to remain unnamed had her horrors to tell of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit Southern Highland and Hela provinces last Monday morning. She said students on their eight-week long practical could not be rescued and many started walking back to Mendi in search for help. “We could not remain in the health facility and assist anyone because it was damaged. I was hungry for three days because we ran out of rations after we had a few biscuits from teachers at the nearby damaged Kutubu Secondary High School. “Our advice from the school was to wait. We could not wait. The house we were living in was damaged and water sources were also destroyed. The sewer was broken and sewerage spilled everywhere. We could not wait around in such area,” she said.

“Everyone was in fear and needed some sort of help,” she said. “We decided to find our own way out.

 

State to Pay K42,000 for Human Rights Breaches

Post Courier, March 6, 2018

The National Court has ordered the State to pay four individuals a total of K42,400.80 for breach of their human rights by police 10 years ago in Port Moresby. Justice David Cannnigs handed down the decision on the assessment of damages at the Waigani National Court in favour of Michael Wafi , Efete Max, Petrus Magabe, and Samuel Arawe following a successful trial that determined that the State as the employer of the police officers was liable for the breaches.The plaintiffs claimed damages for property losses, breach of human rights, personal injuries, and exemplary damages. “The claims were generally excessive due to the lack of corroboration. However, there was sufficient evidence to defeat the State’s proposition that nothing should be awarded, and the court proceeded to make an assessment in respect of each category of damages for each plaintiff,” Justice Cannings said while also ordering the State to the pay the plaintiffs’ cost of the proceedings. The four were among seven other traders who were subjected to physical assault by police and suffered the destruction and confiscation of their trading items including betelnuts, mustard, cash, cigarettes, playing cards, cigarette lighters, prepaid mobile phone cards, lollies, matches, and umbrellas at Gerehu market in Port Moresby Northwest in 2009. The members of police who were armed with firearms and bush knives raided the market looking for people who had earlier started a fight in the market, the court said.

In another decision Justice Cannings ordered the State to the pay one Charlie Kogora K32,814 inclusive of interest for breach of his human rights after he was remanded in custody for five days in an overcrowded, and unhygienic police lock-up in Buka, Bougainville, in 2011. The lock-up was an intimidating, inhospitable and threatening environment, that also had convicted prisoners and Mr Kogora was traumatised and genuinely feared for his physical and mental well-being and his life, the Judge said.

 

Station shuts as cell runs out of food

March 6, 2018, National

THE Popondetta police station in Northern was closed yesterday and officers will not respond to public complaints because there is no money to feed prisoners in the cell, provincial police commander Chief Inspector Lincoln Gerari says. Gerari told The National that the shortage of funding has been a problem since beginning of this year. “I made contact with police headquarters and I was informed that there were cash flow problems in the department,” he said. “We have closed the doors as of today (yesterday) because we are unable to feed the prisoners and we cannot get any more into the cell.” Gerari said more than 30 prisoners, some of whom were being held for very serious offenses including murder and rape, would not be released to the community for the safety of the public.
Gerari said detainees held for minor offences were released.
He said a court of law would decide their cases, however, police were in a desperate situation because the prisoners have not been fed.
“The prisoners were not fed the whole weekend.”
Gerari called on the Government to intervene because they could not keep the hungry prisoners in the cell for too long.

 

Delay Critical

Post Courier, March 7, 2018

A rescue helicopter pilot has painted a grim picture of delays in critical relief supplies to some of the areas worst affected in last Monday’s earthquake and continuing aftershocks.

Veteran Heli-Solutions pilot, Captain Eric Aliawi, said yesterday that many disaster-affected communities have not yet received any relief supplies, in the nine days since the earthquake. The Government is slowly pooling together relief efforts in the wake of the massive earthquake.

Having conducted more than 100 flights in and out of disaster-affected areas since last Monday, Captain Aliawi made specific mention of the communities in Homa and Pawa that had not received relief supplies despite being only about four minutes by air from Moro Airfield.

“What we have done so far is we have taken the crew from the disaster emergency people and the provincial government around to the affected areas. We’ve carried the administration and our political leaders around to these places to assess the extent of the damage. We have taken a few doctors, around to the disaster areas as well, basically to check and declare people clinically dead, but without any medication,” he said.

He said that the death toll had continued to climb during the past few days, with another nine people being reported dead in the Bosavi area on Monday.

“Amid threats of landslides and liquefaction in some areas, other factors such as the lack of portable drinking water, food and medical supplies continue to endanger lives in disaster areas. “Every night we are getting reports of people being killed. Yesterday, I believe about nine or 10 people were reported dead in the Bosavi area. “I flew the provincial heads or the political team across there.

 

War on Sale of Betelnut goes wrong for Police

Post Courier, March 8, 2018

A Port Moresby police operation against betelnut vendors yesterday went horribly wrong when a church-run school in Hohola became the target instead. National Capital District police have launched an investigation to determine how a gas canister aimed at the vendors caused four children to be sick at the nearby Sacred Heart Primary School. One child was reportedly still under observation at the Port Moresby General Hospital yesterday afternoon.

The police had opened and left the gas canister near a bakery store about noon for the wind to blow the gas towards the betelnut sellers at the Hohola Market to remove them.

The offending policeman was observed strolling on the road towards the market as the gas gathered momentum and moved in the opposite direction to the school yard. The gas affected four students, causing dizziness, shivering, watery eyes and difficulties in breathing. School headmaster Pokatou Litau said that a student from Grade Five ran to the administration building to warn of the smell.

“The school was warned over our PA system and students who were experiencing headaches and watery eyes were applied water to their eyes and moved to another part of the school where there was no smell of the gas. “A little boy was seriously affected by the smell and rushed to Saint Therese Clinic and on to Port Moresby General Hospital. “After we stabilised the students we called their parents, who rushed over and took their children home,” Mr Litau said. A parent who was made aware of the incident described the police officers involved as callous, unqualified and stupid.

 

 

Resource curse as ExxonMobil’s LNG project foments unrest

Post Courier 09, March 2018

You can read the complete article here

The Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is the largest resource extraction project in the Asia-Pacific region. Constructed at a stated cost of US$19 billion, it’s operated by ExxonMobil in joint venture with Oil Search and four other partners…..

It claims the project could potentially improve the quality of life of locals by providing services and enhancing productivity. Workers and suppliers would reap rewards, as would landowners who would also benefit from social and economic infrastructure.

But six years on, none of this has come to pass. … Papua New Guinea now faces a situation where it’s compelled to send its army to an area where a major resource extraction project has failed to deliver on its promises to landowners. It may be time for all parties involved – both state and corporate – to consider development as a more effective path to peace.

(For the rest of this interesting article, see the url above).

 

Jiwaka’s young people top the list in shocking HIV figures

March 13, 2018The National

JIWAKA is the worst-hit Highlands province in HIV/AIDS infection among school-aged people, according to provincial HIV response coordinator Kuk Gola.
He said youths between the ages 13 and 25 were the most affected group in Jiwaka, which was the highest among the Highlands provinces although all the figures were not available.
“The province is only six years old but seeing the trend in which our young people are in danger of HIV is worrying,” Gola said. “The future of the province is at stake. We can no longer keep it confidential.”
The HIV programme in Jiwaka has received some funding support from Unicef, Baptist Union PNG, Family Health International 360 and the Jiwaka government over the last four years. Gola thanked them for the support which has enabled them to run some programmes.
He said the increase in the HIV prevalence rate among the young population was detected through pregnant girls and young people who went for treatment.

 

Severe Sea level Rising Expected

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

Papua New Guinea is among 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific that will experience a severe rise in sea levels during this century, according to World Bank studies.

The studies say the sea level is rising, and will continue beyond the year 2100, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stabilized today.

Sea levels are expected to rise by at least one meter during this century, according to the current scientific consensus. It is envisaged that sea levels may even rise by three meters by 2100, in light of the new evidence on ice-cliff instability of the Antarctic.

Dangers of sea-level rise include but are not limited to:

  • land loss from the permanent inundation of low-lying coastal areas;
  • intensification of inundation from cyclonic storm surges;
  • loss of critical coastal wetlands, for example mangroves; and
  • progressive salinisation of soil and water.

World Bank has warned that tens of millions of coastal inhabitants of East Asia and the Pacific must prepare for the rise in the sea-levels.

A World Bank study identified coastal areas with low elevation, and assessed the probable consequences of continued sea-level rise for 84 developing countries, using satellite maps of the world overlaid with data on population growth (assuming that the current locational distribution is unchanged). Including 12 countries – Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, D.P.R Korea, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – the study’s findings indicate that the impact of sea-level rising will be particularly severe for this region. The other study projected that the loss of mangroves in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Palau, Solomon Islands, and Fiji, heightens the countries’ vulnerability to cyclones – and catastrophic losses of lives, property, habitat, and infrastructure.

 

26 Care Centres in 5 Affected Provinces

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

THERE are 26 care centres in the five affected provinces identified by the United Nations as aid reaches remote communities cut-off by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake – Hela and Southern Highlands the worst hit. Emergency Controller Dr Bill Hamblin said yesterday that rescue workers are grappling with landslides, blocked roads and downed power and communications to reach isolated villages but all these being addressed amidst geographical and weather conditions. Dr Hamblin also said that Australia and New Zeeland’s air assets would cease operations mid next week which would cause logistics problems however, the Government would revert to Oil Search to provide air assets as well as a few commercials airlines. “There’s about 26 care centres that the UN has identified around the region where people have gathered and we trying to supply water and materials etc … and we make sure we got health people there in there,” Dr Hamblin said.

“What we are trying to do now is support those centres where the people are until such time as they feel they can go back because some of them are very, very reluctant to go back,” he said. “We are going to look at how we get the supplies to these areas longer term by roads, that creates us with hell lot of problems as we working on how to solve that and maintain supply over the weekend. “All the air assets from Australia and New Zealand will go mid next week. Also that’s the issue with food, but we also have Oil Search Limited that have gone beyond the call of duty.

 

New Life-saving Device

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

A LIFE-saving device for newborn babies will soon be available throughout Papua New Guinea after being successfully trialed in three hospitals.

The tiny device, a bracelet on a baby’s wrist, will alert doctors, nurses and parents when a new baby loses body heat (neonatal hypothermia) which normally causes death if undetected.

The PNG findings were revealed yesterday by a team from the Disease Control Centre in Atlanta (USA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Health Department, the University of Goroka and non-governmental group “Touching the Untouchable” in partnership with the Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority that trialed the devise with 448 newborn babies.

The first-of-its-kind research was carried out at the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH), Goroka Provincial Hospital and Henganofi Health Centre in the Eastern Highlands Province.

According to UNICEF’s health specialist Dr Ghanashyam Sethy, the hypothermia bracelet, locally dubbed ‘Bebi Kol Kilok’, is a simple, innovative device which detects and alerts in the event of neonatal hypothermia, enabling improved thermal care of newborns. He said this device is put on the baby’s wrist immediately after birth and it monitors the baby continuously for one month both at the health facility and at home. “PNG has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world and this is one of the efforts to help address this issue,” Dr Sethy said, adding that between 5000 and 6000 newborns die in PNG every year from preventable diseases. He said that while pneumonia was a common killer, hypothermia was another killer not widely known and happens when the body temperature of the baby falls below 36.5 degree celsius as against the normal body temperature of between 36.5 degrees and 37.5 degrees. When an alarm on the bracelet goes off, the mother will do a skin-to-skin transmission of body heat by holding the naked baby to her chest initially, later covering the body while the heat is transferred until the alarm stops to indicate that the child has regain his or her normal body temperature, Dr Sethy said. He said if the alarm continues on sounding after doing that then it indicates that the mother should get the baby to the nearest aid post or health centre.

 

TB up by 70pc in 5 years

March 22, 2018The National

NEW cases of tuberculosis increased by over 70 per cent in the past five years despite the national strategic plan to control the disease implemented by the Health Department in 2015.
Director for Public Health Dr Niko Wuatai said the increase was mainly due to patients’ failure to complete their treatment. Wuatai said when people did not complete their six-month treatment, it eventually led to multi-drug resistant TB, more expensive to treat and harder to overcome. “The hotspots in the country include National Capital District, Western and Gulf,” he said. National Capital District had the highest increase in the country with 3.3 per cent every year, he said. Wuatai said TB was a disease associated with poverty, and with living conditions in settlement areas had supported the spread of the disease.
With yearly increase, the Health Department had implemented the national strategic plan to control TB in 2015 and result showed:

  • An increase of over 70 per cent of new cases of TB in the last past five years;
  • medicine supply from WHO was in stock and in good quality;
  • TB patient receiving HIV tests had increase from 13 per cent in 2011 to an average of 24 per cent in 2016, some provinces recorded about 40 per cent;
  • children made up more than a quarter of TB caseload in the country; and,
  • TB is among the top five causes for hospital admission.

 

76 college students face expulsion

March 26, 2018 The National

SEVENTY-six students from Enga Teachers’ College found to have defrauded the college of more than K120,000 in fake school fee receipts since last year will be expelled today.
The final decision was reached by a 13-member governing council of the college in their meeting on Saturday after a Criminal Investigation Division unit from Wabag gave their report. Led by Enga police commander George Kakas a team went to the college and interviewed each student who was implicated last week after being invited to investigate.
Kakas said each student who was in their first to third year and elementary teachers admitted to the offence of conspiring with a syndicate, that falsely claimed to be provincial education officials trying to help students meet their full fees. According to Kakas, the syndicate crime as testified to by the students during the interview, started last year, the masterminds collected certain upfront payments as well as pigs and goats before producing receipts of full payment.
“It is a massive fraud, a criminal offence committed against Enga Teachers College. We cannot tolerate it. We’ve presented our reports to the school witnessed by two education officers who came from Port Moresby. “The penalty against such crime (conspiracy to defraud) is a maximum of seven years imprisonment. But we leave it to the school board to decide which course of action to take as we further assist them.”
Those that are facing termination are Year 1: eight students; Year 2: 26; Year 3: 37; and Elementary: 5 students. The students produced fake school fee receipts and got enrolled in 2017 and 2018, amounting to K122,180.
College bursar Odilia Turuk showed all the fake school fee receipts which were identified after making cross checks with the bank (BSP) branch in Wabag.

 

Quake described as a “curse” from God

Post Courier March 8, 2018

THE multi-church group Body of Christ has described the recent natural disasters experienced in the country as a “curse.” In his capacity as the chairman of the Body of Christ that is made up of Evangelical Churches and few mainline and Para church groups, Pastor Joseph Walters said this in light of the recent United Nations vote by Papua New Guinea on United State of America’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. “We believe that there is a connection between these two issues because the Church that where Jesus Christ is the head and we are the body has its roots in Israel and as a Christian nation, our faith is rooted and originates from Israel.

“Vote against USA is a vote against Israel and God because according to the Book of Genesis verse 12 Chapter 3: “If you bless Israel, I will bless you and if you curse Israel, I will curse you. “We therefore, view and believe that the disasters we are experiencing now are a direct consequence of that vote.

“We fear that many more will follow if no one steps in and avert it quickly by saying sorry and stick to the promises in 2 Chronicles 7: 14 which states: if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, repent their sins and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land,” he said. He said they consider this as dangerous because for any country or person for that matter, tempers with the roots, he or she is inviting trouble and especially when he is a leader, he is bringing trouble to the people that he leads.

“This is what has happen to the extent with the recent UN vote by PNG on USA’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem on Dec 21 by the ambassador as well as the foreign affairs department.

“This vote was taken against a friend that we cannot dare to turn our backs against as it is not a physical, bilateral, political and economical friend, but a friend who is deeply connected to our faith and that is the nation of Israel.

“Despite much animosity and hatred against this nation by different groups of people all over the world, as long as time existed, Israel has become a genuine friend of PNG.

“We want to affirm Prime Minister O’Neill for his stance and support for Israel because PNG has seriously betrayed this friendship,” he said.

He said those heartless and thoughtless people who make decisions like that do not know that dire consequences it will bring upon the nation. He said it is so dangerous when you deal with scriptures and nations that are tied with God’s Word, Will plan and time. He said the Government has violated its own policy of friends to all and enemies to none. “The best thing that can happen to overrule and over ride the vote is for PM and his Government to come out clearly and tell the nation that PNG will definitely build its embassy in Jerusalem.

“The Church leadership is ready to raise the funds to contribute in building the embassy,” he said. He said in any future dealings to implicate spiritual consequences, the Government must consult the Church so they can play their roles as prophets and they as Kings and Rulers so that together, they can bring in that balance and build security for the welfare and well being of the nation.

 

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Social Concerns Notes – February 2018

7000 positions still unfilled at government health centres
February 12, 2018 The National
PAPUA New Guinea has more than 7000 positions still vacant at Government-run health facilities in the country. According to the 2016 annual health report tabled in parliament last week by Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Sir Puka Temu stated that out of the 17,878 positions available in government-run health facilities, only 9985 positions were occupied.
The report said the number of vacancies were due to many reasons, which included funding constraints, rural-urban migration, shifting from clinical to administration and sometimes remoteness of rural health centres which did not attract health workers. “Another reason is that the country has only one medical school that produces only 50 doctors a year, so from 2010 to 2016 only 316 doctors graduated,” the report said. “Also from 2010 to 2016, only 1364 nurses graduated and 2326 community health workers graduated in the country.”
The report said that the country had only 446 registered medical officers of which 421 were in government-run health facilities.
“The National Capital District has the highest number of health workers with more than 15 per cent of the total population of the health workforce practising at the Port Moresby General Hospital, followed by Central.” “And Hela has the lowest with only one per cent of the health workforce practising in the province,” the report said.
Better development alternatives (Letters Post Courier, 29 January)
I support the call by one Alphonse Roy to ban all logging operations in PNG (Post-Courier, December 22, 2017). There are now better development alternatives for our forest resources. Consequently, there is no need for landowners to pursue an outdated development option like logging. We can do forest conservation to mitigate climate change and benefit through climate funding. A tree is now worth more money standing than dead, so it is worthwhile to conserve our forests and attain more social, economic and environmental benefits than to earn a few lousy kina from a cubic meter of wood.
The Managalas Plateau, an area of 360 thousand hectares in the Oro Province, has recently been declared a biodiversity conservation area along with Yus in Morobe Province. So biodiversity conservation is no longer a myth in PNG but a development option that promises more than just the preservation of peoples’ culture and natural environment.
The Rottock Bay landowners of Kandrian-Gloucester in West New Britain Province are now calling on the PNGFA to action recommendations of an audit that was carried out on logging operations in their forests. They claim they are owed millions of kina by the developer, having been paid in part or not at all since 1991 for many of the development benefits.
If the benefits of 60 per cent for infrastructure and the collective 40 per cent levies for education, business, agriculture, spiritual and shelter have been partially paid or not paid at all, then something is really wrong here. We bet Rottock Bay had been utterly exploited for timber in the last 21 years without any meaningful development.
Forest development audits in PNG are pathetic. They actually have no teeth to bite the offender, so the forest developer feels no urgent need to fulfill its social, economic and environmental obligations to its stakeholders.
ANTI-LOGGING

Many Students miss out
Post Courier January 29, 2018
12,234 grade 12 students have been selected for further studies at tertiary institutions this year, according to the Online selection system. The successful ones were out of the 25,848 school leavers who had applied to further their education. According to Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Minister Pila Niningi, all students with a grade point average of 2.3 and above that met respective GPA and subject to related entry requirements were allocated space within a higher education institution. He said 3204 school leavers will continue their studies at a study program at the six major universities.
According to initial data compiled from the 2018 selection document published on the higher education website, University of PNG selected 1002, PNG University of Technology selected 599, University of Goroka selected 561, University of Natural Resources and Environment selected 200, Divine Word University selected 565 and the Pacific Adventist University selected 277 for the 2018 academic year. The other 9030 grade 12 students were awarded a study program in various government-recognised tertiary colleges.
Last year’s school-leavers total was 25,848. Students continuing were 12,234 (47 per cent), non-continuing students: 13,614 (53 per cent), universities: 3204 (12 per cent) and colleges 9030 (35 per cent).

Sisters working on safe house for victims of violence
January 31, 2018 The National
NUNS in East New Britain are establishing the first safe house for victims of violence in province. The FMI Sisters are setting up the safe house in partnership with the Archdiocese of Rabaul, ENB Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) and Roar 4 PNG, a non-governmental organisation which supports survivors in crisis. The safe house will provide a sanctuary for women and children who have experienced family or sexual violence. Survivors will be able to access services such as healthcare, police and legal aid.
The project began a few years ago when the ENB FSVAC decided to build a safe house as a priority for the province. The Archdiocese of Rabaul provided land and donors have supplied shipping containers which will be used to build the safe house. The FMI Sisters are being trained as fulltime staff, and the ENB FSVAC is working on a referral pathway network between service providers to ensure holistic care for survivors.

Teachers without pay for 12 months
Post Courier February 5, 2018
Teachers who graduated and were posted to schools around the country last year have not been paid their wages for the 2017 Academic year. This was revealed by PNGTA General Secretary, Ugwalubu Mowana last week. Mr Mowana blamed the Department of Education for the delay, adding that it is not only new graduates who are affected but also includes teachers who have transferred from one school to another. He said the Department of Education through Teacher Education has the responsibility of registering teachers, issuing each teacher a file number which will then be provided to the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) for admission and payment. He added that this has however not been done and the delay in payment has continued. “All graduates from 2017 and teachers who have transferred from one province to another or have left and come back into the teaching service have not been paid,” he said. Mr Mowana asked why the affected teachers have not been paid their salaries; further adding that there are a lot of problems within the teaching service and these outstanding issues need to be settled. Mr Mowana said that teachers sacrifice a lot and these issues must be settled to give them relief.

Senior hospital staff ordered not to talk about medicine shortage (Scott Waide)
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/02/senior-hospital-staff-ordered-not-to-talk-about-medicine-shortage.html
MADANG – The CEO of Modilon Hospital in Madang and the hospital’s Director of Medical Services have been issued directives barring them from talking about a medicine shortage at the hospital, EMTV’s Madang correspondent, Martha Louis, has reported. This is not the first time senior health staff have been threatened and intimidated through orders from above,
Earlier last year, the health minister also issued directives barring staff and senior management from Angau Hospital from speaking out about the state of the cancer unit and a medicine shortage.
It is good that we still have doctors like Dr Sam Yockopua who are unafraid to speak out when there is a shortage of medicines and consumables. We all need to do the same.
While we understand that there are protocols that need to be followed, the ultimate aim of government is to serve the people of this country. The suppression of important ‘voices of conscience’ like health workers and teachers when the problems are so obvious is detrimental to both the people and democracy. I know of both older and younger public servants who are hardworking. They serve with an unrivalled passion in their fields. I know of health workers in Lae who serve with dignity despite the difficulties they face every day.
They don’t get paid as much as they should. Yet, they know they cannot shut down the clinic just because there is a shortage of medicine.  Their senior representatives should not be suppressed. How can we fix a problem if we hide it? How can a doctor treat a patient if the patient doesn’t say what’s wrong?
Martha Louis reported that the hardest hit by the lack of medicines and the suppression of our voices are the patients. “Papi Kalupi travels from his village at Ono in the Usino-Bundi District to get treatment in Madang,” she writes. “But he says because of the cost of travelling he only comes to the hospital when he is very ill. We have to ask why our people are being forced to buy the most basic medicines – anti-malarial and antibiotics – at pharmacies.

Backlog of Bench Warrants Troubling
Post Courier, February 9, 2018
A massive 6493 bench warrants were not executed in 2016. This is according to the 2016 Judges Report which was presented in Parliament yesterday. The report was presented in Parliament a day after it was given to Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia who had complained that judges’ reports in the past had not been tabled on time in Parliament. Yesterday’s report detailed that these cases were still pending citing lack of resources by the police force to execute the cases.
But for these specific unexecuted bench warrants, the report stated that 50 per cent of these outstanding cases were criminal matters. “Bench warrants, that is warrants issued by the court for arrest of persons who have not turned up to court for mention or trial of the matter, continues to be a large and troubling issue in the overall context of disposal of criminal matters. “It represents more than 50 per cent of all outstanding criminal matters. Bench warrant matters also increased significantly in 2016 to 6493 from 5083 at the end of 2015.
“While judges can and do take into account the prospects of an accused person not attending when required, it is also necessary to take into account the situation in remand facilities which are mostly overcrowded,” the report said. It said that the only likely long-term solution was more resources for both Correctional Services and the Police. The 2016 report said that there were 5395 “poor returns on executed bench warrants” by the police in 2013. In the body of the report a chart graphically demonstrated the tripling of the court files and workload that has occurred in the years 2008-2016.
“The average number of days to complete a criminal case from committal for trial until judgment is 585, or 20 months,” the report also noted.

Kaunim mi tu….
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/02/government-stalls-on-supplies-of-drugs-as-death-toll-rises.html. 11 February 2018
Government stalls on supplies of drugs as death toll rises. Media reports from around Papua New Guinea have drawn attention to the critical shortages of vital medicines in hospitals, health centres and aid posts. These shortages are causing unnecessary suffering and even death – especially among the most vulnerable; young children, pregnant mothers, the elderly and disabled. All of which could be prevented.
PNGi has discovered that the government has to hand a detailed report setting out solutions that would tackle critical failings observed within the National Department of Health and its private contractors; yet is failing to implement the recommended reforms.
The report, dated 6 November 2017, which is sitting on the Health Minister’s desk, is from a wide ranging ‘special’ audit, ordered by the Prime Minister, coordinated by the Chief Secretary and conducted by the Internal Audit Branch of the Prime Minister’s Department.
The, auditors damning findings, reveal widespread failures throughout the medical supply and distribution chain which, they claim, have persisted and not been addressed over several years. The report contains details on a specific instance of alleged high-level corruption, widespread opportunities for fraud, overpayments to contractors totalling as much as K80 million a year, and delays in orders and distribution which can last not just months but years.
It also reveals widespread violation of proper management and accounting principles within the Health Department and a complete failure to monitor the performance of companies on multi-million kina contracts.
The audit report recommends a number of immediate, short-term and long-term reforms to deal with the most critical failures, including the outsourcing of the procurement function away from Health Department in order to address the “urgent need to have an effective and efficient procurement and distribution of medical supply system”.
Three months later its recommendations have not been acted on.

Momis urges more urgency for Bougainville referendum readiness
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/02/momis-says-bougainville-remains-unready-for-referendum-urges-unity.html#more 12 February 2018
President John Momis says that, although many Bougainvilleans will opt for independence, being ready for the referendum is another matter. “We are not prepared simply because we are too lazy, we are too individualistic,” he said. “We are not prepared to work in unity to create a conducive environment for us to be independent if we so choose.”
Efforts to create a financially self-reliant Bougainville through developing primary and extractive industries have met opposition, especially from landowners around the Panguna minesite. Dr Momis said landowners are resistant to working with the Bougainville government, opting instead to bring in developers that are unwilling to operate under the government’s rules. Although financial self-reliance is not a pillar of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, Dr Momis has stressed it is a precautionary move to ensure that, when Bougainville reaches the ratification stage for self-government, its people will be ready for it if they so choose. The three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement – autonomy, the referendum and weapons disposal – set a clear target Bougainville must work towards.
The current administration under Dr Momis has encouraged unification, improving the welfare of Bougainvilleans through economic development, securing Bougainville’s future by fully implementing the peace agreement, promoting good governance and the rule of law, and raising awareness. But the vexing question of referendum preparedness remains, driving the government to reassert itself to make sure the people are ready. Dr Momis said despite the seemingly bleak future Bougainville faces, its people must unite with one voice and ensure Bougainville is ready for 15 June 2019. The peace agreement expires the following year.
“We must stamp out corruption, get rid of weapons and ensure the rule of law prevails in our communities,” he said.

K3.2 million Child protection Project mysteriously stopped
Post Courier, February 15, 2018. Frank Kolma
The government’s child protection effort that commenced in 2017 has derailed less than a year into its operation. According to 2018 Budget books, the Child Protection project under the Integrated Community Development Scheme of the Department of Community Development has ceased operations for lack of funds. Tabled in the ‘2018 Budget estimates of Revenue and Expenditure’ which was released during the 2017 November Budget session, K3.2 million was afforded to a mysterious child protection project. Efforts to find traces of tangible outcomes of this multimillion kina child protection project were in vain, but it was gleaned from the expenditure report that the sole project was funded by a donor agency in collaboration with the government.
It was confirmed that the Australian Agency for International Development provided funds for this ad hoc project that tackled a rather vital societal issue but that funding ceased due to the lack of government drive. While the now discontinued child protection project was a foreign intuitive both financially and operationally, it would seem the government of the day did not take heed of community deficiency indicators to do with childcare and protection.
The Asian Development Bank’s Aaron Mathews said recently while commenting on child protection in the country that security starts with ensuring youngsters and children are safe.
“It is not only logical but practically proven that the foundation of dealing with security in any capacity is by first having a decent enforcement entity. “You have that in the RPNGC, your Defence Force and relating enforcement authorities. “All the country needs to do is back such initiatives like the child protection project that is now unfunded and abandoned as these are societal gaps that analysts have identified as potholes that need to be filled,” explained Mr Matthews.

Mendi Catholics host workshop to promote children’s safety
February 23, 2018 National
FOURTY-two participants received certificates after a weeklong workshop on the Lukautim Pikinini Act – Child Protection Training – in Mendi, Southern Highlands, recently.
Mendi diocese Bishop Donald Lippert said: “When it comes to children’s issues, it is everyone’s business and responsibility. “I am grateful that you all have sat through the week-long Lukautim Pikinini Act Training. “The challenge now rests with you.
“To be good volunteers in child protection, your mindset must change completely.
“When your mindset changes, your character changes too, so you are prepared to make a change in your communities.” The acting chief executive of the Office of Child and Family Services, Simon Yanis, told the participants that the government was serious about addressing child protection and the churches played an important role in delivering those services.
“I want to congratulate Bishop Donald and the Mendi Catholic diocese for hosting this training and it’s a milestone for the district itself as for too long we have been out of contact with this province,” he said. Yanis emphasised that children were the government’s responsibility and he would ensure that those living in care centres had their data collected and registered.

Opportunists prey on ills in education. Letter Post Courier 20 February.
While the Education Department continues to struggle to improve the failing quality of the country’s education system, opportunist had preyed on the department’s weaknesses by establishing many illegal primary school teachers colleges in the country, as reported in the two dailies in recent weeks.
With the thousands of school leavers dropping out from the formal education system under the government’s TFF policy, many business people and church organisations’ with vested political affiliations are now focusing on making millions of money from the ever increasing school leavers by establishing many substandard teacher colleges around the country today.
Regrettably, this is a sad chapter in the history of our country’s education system where we now see direct political influence in almost everywhere. Hence, obstructing the education department from implementing their delegated roles and responsibilities without fear or favour….
With the thousands of graduate teachers coming out from these colleges, the quality of education in the country in the next 10 to 20 year will be far beyond manageable. Thousands of incompetent teachers will be flooding many of our primary schools with equal number of teachers without jobs.
Worse yet, unlike the formative years where appointments were done on merits, through teacher inspection and performance reports, today’s appointments are determined by the amount of money a teacher give to the education appointment officers as a bribe to secure a teaching position, regardless of experience or new graduate. A common predicament experienced in the Southern Highland Province where huge amount of money and pig is involved to bribe provincial and district education officers.
In the next 10 to 20 years’ time, I predict that applying for teaching positions will be like bidding for a used vehicle auction where a teacher with the highest bidder secures a teaching position. These are already happening in closed doors in every education office in the country where appointment officers and district education officers alike are running the education office like a family business….
Ken Nandawa
Yaporolo Weki

More Refugees off to US
Post Courier. February 20, 2018
More refugees have been sent to the United States of America from the Manus regional processing centre. Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas and Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha said 19 more have been sent and departed Port Moresby for the United States of America (USA). The 19 refugees left on February 13 transiting through Manila. They were the third group who were successful in their interview and screening process carried out by the US Department of Homeland Security.
The 19 refugees who left last Tuesday brings to total 84 who departed to US so far. The first group of 25 men left in September last year followed by another 40 early in January.

Despite repeated promises, PNG’s greatest ever scandal continues
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/02/despite-repeated-promises-pngs-greatest-ever-scandal-continues.html#more
Today is the first anniversary of the presentation of a 10,000 signature petition to the Department of Lands demanding the cancellation of the SABL (special agriculture and business) leases. 2018 also marks five-years since the SABL Commission of Inquiry exposed the full extent of the illegal land grab, which affects more than 10% of the whole country.
But, despite repeated promises from the O’Neill government to cancel the leases, stretching back to 2013, almost nothing has been done. The government’s response to the illegal SABL land grab is the greatest scandal this country has ever seen. Even the brave landowners who have struggled through the courts to have leases declared illegal, without any help or support from the government, or have stood up and defied the logging companies despite attacks from the police, still have foreign companies occupying their soil.
A list released two weeks ago by the Lands Department revealed that of 75 SABL leases examined in the Commission of Inquiry, only 10 have been cancelled, five of those were at the direction of the courts and four voluntarily surrendered. Meanwhile, as the government delays get ever longer, most of the SABL files have disappeared from the Department of Lands. Fifty thousand square kilometres of land, more than 10% of the entire nation given away illegally yet the government does almost nothing to undo the wrong and indeed is still allowing logging companies to plunder the forests. With APEC leaders now preparing to visit PNG, the SABL land grab is a huge embarrassment for the nation.
If the government wants to show we are still a sovereign nation, they must immediately give the land back to local people, evict the foreign companies and pay compensation to the communities for the losses and damage they have suffered.

Corruption Index shows improvement
Post Courier, February 23, 2018
The launching of the Transparency International 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index yesterday has revealed a four point increment in PNGs’ score since last year.
In spite of this slight increment however, PNG still ranks among the top 25th percentile of the most corrupt countries in the world, placing 135 out of 180 countries ranked in the index, with a score of 29 out of 100.
Out of the 180 countries surveyed, New Zealand has snatched the top spot from Denmark this year, although both countries registered lower scores than in last years’ index, with Somalia retaining its position at the bottom of the index.
TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens acknowledged that the increment showed some signs of improvement for PNG. However, he stressed that more consistent efforts needed to be made to combat the global scourge of corruption, which for PNG means greater participation of citizens in public affairs. “2018 is the year of APEC for Papua New Guinea and the eyes of the world are already shining a spotlight on us. This is not just a government matter. All sectors; churches, businesses, civil society and citizens must make it their business to improve PNGs’ ranking,” said Mr Stephens.
“We call on the government to enable greater participation of citizens in public affairs and we encourage relevant legislative changes to make this work. Equally important is that citizens need to demand accountability from public officials and speak up and report corrupt dealings in the public and private sector,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel said he accepted PNG’s ranking on the index and acknowledged that much more needed to be done to improve the country’s standing in the global community….

Legislative Changes threaten Independent Commission Against Corruption
Post Courier, February 23, 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel has highlighted that amendments to the enabling legislation for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) have threatened to “water-down” the functions of the proposed government agency.
During the launch of the Transparency International 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index yesterday, Mr Able said questions were raised about amendments made to the ICACs’ powers to prosecute perpetrators of corruption, which now risks turning the institution into yet another duplicate government agency.
“There were questions around the ability or not, of the ICAC to prosecute and to make arrests. Of course, if you remove those sorts of powers, does it effectively become another Ombudsman? Which already has a function and is already in existence,” said Mr Abel.
“We need to make sure that there’s clarity around the intent of ICAC and the corresponding tools to implement that intention. There were questions around that happening, which has led to a sort of re-examining of it and emphasising that we want ICAC to be a solid organisation. Otherwise, what’s the point of having it?” he said.
Apart from the subsequent powers and jurisdiction of a future ICAC, there has also been much debate over the functions of an ICAC. Attorney General, Davies Stevens in a public seminar last year, clarified that the Prime Minister, as Head of State, would be responsible for the appointment of ICAC commissioners. The announcement has left many citizens question the political independence of such a body. Mr Abel also said that it was this current dilemma which has stalled the progress of the ICAC enabling legislation.
He added that the government was particularly wary of creating a duplicate institution, which would only constitute further financial strain on an already stretched government budget.
He said other cost-effective alternatives would include not establishing an ICAC, but instead reinforcing existing agencies like the Ombudsman Commission.
Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) chairman, Lawrence Stephens also said that there needed to be an effort to reinforce existing government institutions. He added that a future ICAC will only be as strong as the institutions which support it.
“An ICAC alone does not solve the problems of a country. If you look at the countries where the ICAC is working effectively, you’ll see it’s working effectively because of the institutions that are also working effectively within that country,” Mr Stephens said.

Free education policy is destructive (Letters Post Courier 23 February.)
THE Government’s free education policy is the most destructive policy against education in this country. This policy budgets K600 million annually for education. Of that sum, K360 million trickles into schools or never get there and nobody cares. Schools all over the country get to see K240 million paid in dribs and drabs from February to the following February.
I live within a secondary school with up to 1500 students. Assuming the government is paying a conservative figure of K1500 for each child in their TFF, that means about K675,000 of the annual TFF fund for that school is sent to the District for infrastructure.
In the last three years, this school would have had K2.025 million allocated for school infrastructure. Now this is a reasonable sum of money for a school of average size like this school.
As I write this letter, about 60 per cent of this school, teachers live with wantoks at blocks and settlements and catch bus to school and return. The girls dormitories are in such shameful state of disrepair, one will soon collapse over the poor innocent girls. Thank God for the wisdom of one of the former school principals, the classrooms were lifted and another built underneath otherwise there will definitely be no space to take in all the students that get selected to this school.
The question is, has the school received all this money and spent it on things other than infrastructure. If not we want to know what happens to these funds that are tied funding to schools?
The other component called the curriculum component get another K675,000. From the content of the issues given to students, the package contents are similar to a package sold in one of our stationery shops for K40. That will mean in real value, students from this school received K60,000 worth of curriculum materials.
Where is the remaining K615,000? Who is receiving it and for what?
This school is forced to provide quality education with K900,000 paid in intermittent payments spread over 10 months, while K1.35 million rightly for the school is sent elsewhere under complex circumstances, nobody gets to ask if these funds actually arrive at the school in whatever form or state?
And the most learned minister for education vehemently argues that no school must charge any project fees.
Can Papua New Guinea see how this government is providing “quality” education?
Manning Forepe

How should peace be measured in Papua New Guinea?
By Michelle Nayahamui Rooney on Feb 16, 2018 06:00 am
Development Policy Blog
For most of us our raison d’etre for seeking to understand violence is the need for peace. If we understand violence then we can reduce it and thereby have peace. For many people working on the frontlines, it is not a career choice but a labour of love and life often unpaid or involving great sacrifice. PNG women like Dame Carol Kidu, the late Josepha Kiris, Ume Wainetti and many others have paved the way for legal reform, national action and policies like the recently approved National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence and the Sorcery National Action Plan. National actors, in partnership with development partners, have also been instrumental in paving the way for the emergence of new initiatives like the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee, PNG’s first case management service Femili PNG, and much needed counselling services. Through these and other initiatives such as work in the Law and Justice sector, the next generation of actors are also being trained.
I proceed with deference to this extraordinary body of knowledge generated by scholars, national actors, and development partners leading action to reduce violence in PNG. This work unequivocally informs us that violence in PNG is multilayered, gendered, involves multiple actors, and is fast changing. It also counsels that there are no silver bullets, that our responses need to be multifaceted but may also have unintended consequences that may exacerbate violence.
Media narratives, often sensationalised and essentialised for Western audiences, mask the breathtaking diversity, breadth and the depth of issues that the term ‘violence in PNG’ canvases.
For example, media reports that cite the statistic ‘2/3 of PNG women have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime’ paints the majority of PNG women as victims rather than as remarkably resilient and vulnerable at the same time, actors seeking to secure themselves while simultaneously being the vanguards of peace in their families and communities. Another typical headline ‘Why is Papua New Guinea still hunting witches?’ reinforces the demonization of particular women and community responses yet tends to fall short of explaining why this phenomenon appears to be spreading. With among the highest homicide rates in the world, the lawlessness and crime in two of PNG’s largest urban centres, Port Moresby and Lae, rank them among the least liveable places on earth. The human cost of ongoing tribal warfare exacerbated by the proliferation of modern arms in the Highlands Region cuts across all aspects of daily life. Such entrenched ethnic-based conflicts extend their tentacles to the urban setting where ethnic violence engenders collective security at the cost of subjugating action on domestic violence. Election-related violence and contestation of resources are often resolved through violent means. The images of bashed up asylum seekers on Manus Island reinforce the demonization and marginalisation of Papua New Guinean men.
We have come to take for granted these portrayals of a violent PNG.
Oversimplified narratives of violence carry the risk of conflating different phenomena. For example, work on gender based violence may conflate domestic family violence with sorcery related violence targeting women. These are extremely different phenomena requiring different solutions. In the case of sorcery, Miranda Forsyth and Richard Eves highlight the complicated legal issues and that ‘understandings about what the actual problems are differ widely depending upon the world view of the person concerned’ (p. 2). How do we reconcile a community’s sense of security (that they feel threatened by a woman they believe to be a sorcerer) with the worldview of those trying to measure SDG16.1.4, which seeks to measure the proportion of people who feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood?
Nor are formal laws and institutions a simple answer. The entanglements between Western laws and customary norms mean that families trying to address domestic violence must navigate complex webs of jurisdictions and actors. See here for a discussion on some of these complexities. Or, as Christine Stewart’s research shows, formal laws can work to reinforce violence against those whose choices on consensual sex – prostitutes and homosexuals – are deemed criminal acts under PNG law.
Understandings of security in the PNG context diverge significantly from Western notions of security. In PNG, belonging to social and ethnic groups are important for security. The nuances and cross-cutting nature of this can be seen in Vicki Luker and Sinclair Dinnen’s edited collection of papers in Civic Insecurity: Law, Order and HIV in Papua New Guinea. How do we reconcile inter-ethnic violence that engenders collective security with policing when the police lack capacity or are non-existent? Where they exist, police often deploy their monopoly power on violence in ways that violate human rights. Stephanie Lusby’s research shows that the formal and male dominated security industry can work to reinforce gender based violence.
To conclude, I draw your attention to Aletta Biersak, Margaret Jolly, and Martha Macintyre’s edited collection on Gender Violence and Human Rights in the Western Pacific. Inspired by Sally Engle Merry’s work on Human Rights and Gender Violence, and ‘translation’ and ‘venacularisation’ the authors examine the interface between universal human rights regimes, from which the SDGs (particularly SDG16) emerge, and local understandings and responses to gender based violence in the Western Pacific. Amongst an immensely rich terrain of issues, the collection reminds us of the contradictions inherent in universal concepts of human rights. For example, on the one hand, universal human rights concepts are based on universal rights and equality of persons. On the other hand, they promote cultural diversity. These contradictions raise questions like whether there can be ‘universal’ human rights. Or, as Margaret Jolly discusses in the conclusion, what do universal human rights mean when notions of individualism and person-hood change alongside PNG’s rapid social transformation?
If violence is so expansive and complex. If violence has multiple faces each wearing multiple masks evading our search to understand it. If violence can conceal itself within the world views of communities to provide them clear logics to harm their own. If violence has such power and agency, then surely the same must be said of the dynamics of peace – our raison d’etre – for understanding violence.
This blog only touches the surface of the wealth of scholarship and nationally produced knowledge on the complexities of violence to highlight the challenges of applying universal measures of peace to the PNG context. Nonetheless, PNG is a signatory to these universal goals and has an obligation to both its citizens and the international community to measure progress towards the goals. The work being undertaken by the Institute of Economics and Peace on ‘Measuring Peace in the Pacific’ is an important start and should complement these existing works. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge important work being undertaken to achieve peace and security in PNG. After all, as this study by David Craig, Doug Porter, and Fiona Hukula shows, Papua New Guineans work every day to make their communities safer places.
This is an edited version of a talk given at the launch of the Institute for Economics and Peace report ‘Measuring Peace in the Pacific’ on 1 February 2018.

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2018

Compulsory SIM card registration in Papua New Guinea
By Amanda H A Watson on Jan 24, 2018 Devpolicy
The SIM card registration deadline in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has now been extended to April 30. The deadline was to be today, but over a million mobile phones are not yet registered. If consumers do not register in time, either their SIM card will be deactivated or the operator will receive a fine from the regulator NICTA for continuing to operate unregistered SIM cards. A SIM is a Subscriber Identity Module linked to a user’s phone number and usually looks like a small computer chip.
In various countries, SIM card registration has been legislated. Governments often adopt such a policy in order “to help mitigate security concerns and to address criminal and anti-social behaviour”. In PNG, similar motivations for the policy have been expressed, including the need to have increased security in time for the APEC meeting in Port Moresby later this year. A concern though is that “to date, there has been no empirical evidence that mandatory SIM registration directly leads to a reduction in crime”. Indeed, in Mexico, the theft of handsets increased after a similar policy was introduced, likely because “criminals stole handsets to avoid the risk of being traced”. Mexico subsequently abandoned their SIM registration policy and later introduced a scheme for registering handsets. Several countries in Latin America have opted for handset registration in order to address handset theft.
Proof of identity issues are a major concern, as the majority of people in PNG live in rural areas and do not have written identification such as a drivers’ licence or passport. …
There may be a risk that vulnerable or socially marginalised people are excluded from the opportunity to own and use mobile phones. This policy could lead to an absence of two-way communication in disadvantaged communities in PNG. If the few active mobile phones in certain remote villages are cut off, this could have negative implications regarding time-critical emergency communication, such as for childbirth complications and natural disasters. Citizens in such places may need to overcome further hurdles in order to ensure that they are not left even further behind. (See Devpolicy.org for the full article)

No fees assistance program
January 12, 2018 Post Courier
The Enga provincial government’s flagship school free education sponsorship program will be hindered in 2018 due to the current economic situation in the country. The program has been a hallmark of Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas political leadership over the last 20 years, however, the education advocate says the current financial situation has affected this year’s rollout. On average the Enga provincial government assists around 400 of its students, annually, attending various tertiary institutions in the country. Also the onset of increase tuition fees in major universities like the University of Papua New Guinea has affected the situation. “It is a sad situation. The country doesn’t have money so when the national government doesn’t have money then it has a flow on effect where the provinces all don’t have money,” Sir Peter said. “So it will be very difficult for us to even sponsor. We normally make sacrifices from other grants to give priority to education but this time there is nothing on the table. “So I have sent word out to our province and told them that it looks like we have all got to dig deep as parents and relatives to pay for our kids.” “For my PSIP for the province we only received 1 million out of K5 million. That is how serious it is.

97 convicted of murder
January 15, 2018 The National
NINETY-SEVEN people have been convicted of murder and detained in the biggest trial in Papua New Guinea in recent years. They will appear again for a sentence hearing in the Madang National Court at a later date. All 97 were on Friday found guilty of killing seven people in Ramu Sugar in 2014 in what is believed to be one of the first convictions in a sorcery-related case. Judge David Cannings said the 97 were each arraigned on seven counts of wilful murder.
The State alleged that all were members of a group of about 189 males (120 adults and 69 juveniles) who marched together along public roads for at least 10km with faces painted warlike to Sakiko village with the intention of seeking out and killing sorcerers who were living there. “It was alleged that on their way to the village, some members of the group attacked and killed a bystander and intended to cause his death,” Cannings said. “The group then proceeded to the village and raided it, destroying properties, including houses and food gardens.” “They threatened and chased away many residents from that village, some members of the group attacked and killed six residents and intended to cause their deaths.”

50 prisoners, four wardens get TB due to overcrowding
January 15, 2018 The National
MORE than 50 prisoners and four wardens at the Buimo prison, in Lae, have contracted tuberculosis (TB) as a result of overcrowding, jail commander Supt Felix Namane says. He said the TB outbreak was affecting the main prison compound where remandees and high-risk prisoners were kept.
Namane said last Friday that about 700 prisoners were kept at the prison’s main compound. He said 52 of them have tested positive for TB. He said the group was part of a total of 986 prisoners currently held at the prison. Namane said the TB outbreak started some years back before he became jail commander. “Last year the number went up to 68 but we have managed to reduce it down to 52,” he said. “I have talked to the Morobe health people and they have agreed to come and visit the prison.
“I have been here for two years now but this sickness was here for some time. We are doing our best to manage it. “We work in a confined environment with little air and sunlight so it is quite risky when disease outbreaks such as this occur.”
He said a shortage of medicines at their clinic last August aided the spread of TB but the Catholic Church assisted the prison with drugs and they were able to contain it. Namane said that apart from TB, a dysentery outbreak last September resulted in the deaths of two inmates and the infection of 60 others who were taken to Angau Hospital for treatment. “Two died last year,” he said.

O’Neill wants churches to lead sorcery fight.
January 9, 2018The National
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has called on churches to take the lead in the fight against sorcery accusations and violence against women in villages. O’Neill said the old mentality and belief in sorcery was affecting the nation in rural and urban areas. He said the most affected were always women and girls. O’Niell called on churches to lead in driving awareness in the villages because the government could not go there. “Our churches must identify solutions and address these social issues in our villages and communities, and address it through mission and the word of God,” he said.
“The church has an important role to play among our population by influencing people’s behaviour.”
He said the government was ready to work with churches to address sorcery and gender-based violence.

State focused on church partnership, says Basil
January 15, 2018 The National
Minister for Communications Information Technology and Energy Sam Basil on Friday reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to government-church partnership in the country to address sorcery accusations and gender-based violence. Speaking at the close of the 31st synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG at Mogl village in Sinasina-Yongomugl, Chimbu, he highlighted the importance of the partnership in delivering much-needed services to the people. Opening the synod early last week, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill called on churches to take the lead in the fight against sorcery accusations and gender-based violence.
“Relatives of those who die naturally, or from illnesses, are finding ways to accuse people of sorcery.
“I am afraid they may capitalise on it to torture them.” Basil said instances of sorcery accusation and related torturing were common in both rural and urban areas. He challenged the church to take ownership of the issues and find ways to provide solutions.

Illegal gambling rife in parts of Highlands
Letters. Post Courier 16 Jan
Papua New Guinea needs a tougher law on the illegal hi-low game rife in the Highlands provinces.
This contributes to escalating law and order and illicit activities such as alcohol, homebrew, prostitution, robberies, pick-pocketing and stealing. The regulator, PNG National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is turning a blind eye on the illicit activity that lures mostly school children, men and women to actively participate. Hard earned cash from daily sales or through savings are recklessly spent on gambling in the pretext of making huge profit for a day.
Western Highlands Yamka’s community leader Timbi Kagul said children mainly students are hi-low addicted followed by adult men and women. Mr Kagul said the illegal hi-low game is discouraging people from active agriculture and commercial farming or people are simply lazy to work in their garden. “People are playing hi-low to make quick bucks; it’s like free cash handouts but at the end of the day, they are wasting valuable time and effort associated with law and order problems where people steal from other people’s gardens and hi-low venues turn into brothels,” he said. He said illegal hi-low operators are smart people who establish strong networks and collaborated well with police to keep the game in operation. “Law enforcement agencies like police are being bribed, they are also recipients of proceeds from the hi-low game and not enforcing the law by arresting and charging the operators. “There is no control mechanism in place because police are part of the hi-low syndicate,” Mr Kagul claims. According to a research conducted recently, the illegal hi-low game is operating in the heart of Enga’s Wabag town opposite Wabag police station where Enga Provincial Police Commander’s office is followed by Porgera station, in Tari town, Kawi in the Western Highlands, Banz, Kundiawa, Goroka and Kainantu towns.

Female victims of violence filling up morgue at Angau hospital
January 16, 2018 The National
The Angau Memorial Hospital morgue has received more female bodies than male bodies over the past two years, according to a hospital staff. Morgue attendant Naru Koria said female deaths were related to domestic violence and other related issues. He said there was also an increase in the number of infant deaths during childbirth and the bodies were left in the morgue and the parents had then failed to claim them. “Some bodies are in the morgue for far too long and more are coming in every week so the morgue cannot hold the bodies,” he said.
Koria said there were two deep freezers and one cooler which have a holding capacity of 35 bodies each. “Now it is over that number and we are piling the bodies one on top of the other and that is not good,” he said. “Those who know that they have bodies of relatives still in the morgue must make an attempt to get them and do proper burials. “It is like sending someone to prison to serve their term in jail, so we have to take them out and make a proper burial for them in order to release them.”

Medical check can clear sorcery claim, says pastor
January 18, 2018 The National
THE Body of Christ is urging people to go for medical check-ups before accusing anyone of sorcery and resorting to violence. “When you are sick, first things first, go to the hospital to find out the cause of the sickness,” BOC deputy chairman Ps Michael Wilson, who is also a medical doctor, said.
“We want to release this to the nation right now that there may be sicknesses and through illness that you are going through you are saying that I may be poisoned or some sorcery thing is happening in my life. “The first thing you should do is go to the hospital and check whether you are sick or not.
“If you are proven sick then there is no need to go around thinking somebody has made sorcery on you or has done something wrong in you. “And that is the fear that is going around in the whole country.
“We have experienced people taking off from the hospital thinking that sorcery has been done on them. Even though they are under treatment they just take off.
“They say we are going home to fix something and I say what do you want to fix? And they say you don’t know, we are going to fix something and come back and I say to them you may never come back. “So this is something I want to truly release to the nation that if you are truly sick, don’t go around thinking you have been spat on or somebody has given you buai or somebody has given you lunch. Go to the hospital and get yourself checked and treated. “Secondly, if you have a suspicious mind as well, go to a pastor and have him pray over you. “Only the power of God will set you free.”

PNG’s informal economy is dreading the Year of the APEC
|PNG Informal Economist, 23 January 2018
PORT MORESBY – 2018 looks set to be a make or break year for Papua New Guinea as the country prepares to host the APEC summit in the midst of a looming economic crisis. The summit will be by far the biggest global event that PNG has hosted. Media reports say preparations are on track and PNG is set to deliver. Like a bride getting ready for wedding day, Port Moresby is buzzing with construction activities to uplift its image. While the country’s elite is planning to dazzle more than 10,000 delegates from 21 countries and hordes of journalists; a large proportion of PNG’s population who rely on informal economic activity for their daily sustenance fear the worst. Already observations on the ground are showing that police are stepping up a campaign to rid the city of street traders. Recently, Governor Powes Parkop announced he would re-introduce the ill-fated buai (betel nut) ban to clean up the rubbish created by its consumption. The addictive nut has a huge following (an average of one person in every household chews) and significant impact on the PNG economy but there is still no adequate policy to deal with the problems it creates. Women who make up a large proportion of the urban informal economy are already feeling the pinch. Another school year is about to begin, the country’s biggest market (at Gordons) is closed and the national economy is topsy-turvy. An already tough going is certain to get tougher for most of Port Moresby’s unemployed and struggling middle to average income earners who rely on the informal economy to supplement their fortnightly wages.
‘Hiding the informals’ is a storyline synonymous with our government hosting major events in recent times. For instance, before the Pacific Games informal economic activities were flushed out from streets, walkways, byways and various odd locations in the city as they were seen to be a blight to the visitors’ eyes. A few years ago, when Prince Charles visited Port Moresby to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee; the famous Erima candlelight market was forced into hiding to resurface once HRH left town. And now, even though the initial buai ban claimed lives, damaged property and deprived livelihoods of unemployed and struggling Port Moresby families, it is about to be re-introduced.
The law was meant to provide a balance between regulation and development of the informal economy. Unfortunately, the government has failed to undertake this obligation. Instead it has opted to impose bans or use police to stamp out these activities. Now a revised Informal Economy Development & Control Bill is awaiting government endorsement. The bill is a wonderful opportunity for the government to show visiting leaders and the world at large of PNG’s commitment towards addressing women’s empowerment. The government should immediately endorse and certify the bill to protect and support the countless women and working in the informal economy. These are people trying to put food on the table, pay school fees, buy lunch or pay medical bills.
The least we can do is to be honest and help them.

Push for minimum wage hike.
Post Courier, January 24, 2018
Workers in PNG will be demanding a 43 per cent increase in minimum wages from the current K3.50 per hour to K5.00 per hour.
Congress general secretary John Paska said the new rate when awarded will directly inject K500 million into the domestic economy. “That’s the economic power of wages that drives the economy,” Mr Paska said. “Alternatively if it is not awarded, businesses which are foreign dominated will siphon it out of the country – simple as that. He said despite being the biggest economy in the Pacific PNG lagged behind the smaller regional nations in minimum wages.
Mr Paska said formal sector workers comprise 10 per cent of the national population, however their value to the national economy is staggering. “Tax receipts to the national revenue is K3 billion by comparison to business tax receipts of K2 billion,” he said. He said workers’ superannuation funds in Nasfund and Nambawan Super combined net asset value was about K12 billion. In addition, bank deposits, savings and loan, insurance, micro finance and other schemes and assets are all inundated with workers money.

Justice is a right for all and everyone
Post Courier, Letters 24 Jan.
Just last week in Goroka, a female employee of an Asian shop was ordered by the owner to do a thorough body check. The body check was done by a female Asian woman. The body check was done in an inappropriate manner. The Papua New Guinea woman employed by the Asian shop was accused of stealing some cash. At first a check was done from the security cameras that revealed nothing. Then the body check followed also revealing nothing. Sadly the traumatised woman was not released she was threatened by the Asian shop owner that she would be arrested and charged after going through two different methods of search with no proof of stealling. She was detained in their custody at that Asian shop until 7.45 pm and released. After being found out that she did not take any money whatsoever, she had to walk a long distance braving incidents that might happen to her as she walked alone that night. She arrived home at 8.30pm. While all this was going on, her baby back at the house was suffering from hunger and deprived of breastfeeding.
Hence this case was promptly reported to the police to handle on Thursday 18/01/2018.
An officer on duty that day who handled this case was ordered by a senior officer who arrived in a white ten seater LandCruiser to drop the case. Our guess is the superior officer may have been in contact with the Asian shop owner concerned. This incident leaves us questioning and gives the impression that this is a common scenario throuhout the country where justice is not served when necessary. More importantly women and youth are victims of such behavior and incidently, another female employee faced the same mistreatment prior to this case.
Aponegita Mota, Goroka

Rapist taunts the law
Post Courier, January 3, 2018
A series of posts on a convicted rapist’s Facebook account have revealed a shocking truth about how wealthy criminals have been exploiting a provision in the Correctional Services Act to enjoy freedom while simultaneously serving their sentences. Paul Pisa, who was jailed for 15 years for the rape of a 14-year-old girl, was arrested by Port Moresby police last Thursday after he was sighted outside the Waigani National Court building by the primary witness in his trial. This is not the first time that convicted criminals have been sighted walking the streets and in nightclubs and hotels throughout the city in civilian clothes and without the supervision of Correctional Services warders. During the past six months, Post-Courier has also received confirmed sightings of many high-profile criminals, including disgraced former Western governor Ati Wobiro, former Laigaip-Porgera MP Philip Kikala, businessman Eremas Wartoto and death row convict Arua Maraga Hariki (the fifth person in PNG to be sentenced to death on two counts of first degree murder in 2011). After a brief interrogation, police found that Pisa had been granted a leave of absence (LOA) from Bomana jail in order to receive medical treatment at Pacific International Hospital (PIH); his LOA lasted about seven months until he was arrested. This was confirmed by a series of posts made on Pisa’s Facebook account, dating back as far as July 26, 2017, which was only 20 days after he was convicted on July 6 last year.
Mother of the victim in Pisa’s trial, told Post-Courier that she was shocked and disgusted to see the man who had been the source of so much pain and suffering for her family walking free after being convicted. “I am very upset that the court system can be manipulated by people who have money. Those who cannot afford to bribe are locked behind bars. “They don’t have the luxury to come for medical treatment and they cannot do what these people can do. Those who have the money are able to get out of Bomana under the pretext of being sick and once in hospital, they have the freedom to go wherever they want,” she said.

Fed up with atrocities related to sorcery
Letters. Post Courier, 9 Jan
I write because am fed up with atrocities like this, “Tortured –Woman accused of practicing sorcery” recently in the papers- and similar happenings across PNG.
And what about the arrest of the child abusers who attempted to burn and torture the girl whose mother was murdered, in Enga?
May I appeal to the leaders of the country (PM included) to make a public statement on where we stand on this issue that continues to make front page – whether PNG is for or against it? Parliament has a treasured Holy Bible which reiterates all citizens , including offenders, victims, witnesses, police officers or public servants do not have the power to kill but only the Courts. No one is above that law !
Death penalty must be investigated by the courts, to apply to the perpetrators who afflict death on innocent persons, and this needs to be addressed aggressively.
We need to understand also that we have gross poverty in many settings, which is a huge factor, to many avoidable diseases and medical complications, for all ages and gender, yet we keep on blaming each other. Our lifestyles are a major cause to our own demise, and that to help prevent such experiences we need to start addressing poverty. Alois Nomenda, POM

Families Hit Hard by Price Increase.
http://www.pngblogs.com/2018/01/png-families-hit-hard-by-nine-hundred.html
by IAN LING-STUCKEY MP
Since forming government in 2017, the National Government has organised to increase prices on 918 items. These price increases will start coming through early in the new year. A government more in touch with the high cost of living facing our people would not deliberately increase prices that mainly suited their business besties” said the Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey.
“The biggest negative impact will be on family food budgets. There have been a massive set of price increases facing families – 518 areas where family food budgets will face increases. The major ones are the 25% increase in milk products, the huge jump in chicken prices of K1.70 per kilo (and this the wholesale price, so the retail price may increase by even more),15% increases in a range of fish products and juice concentrates, and the 60 toea per dozen increase in egg prices. 56% of the tariff increases focus on the struggling food budgets of PNG families. PNG families deserve to be able to feed their children without these massive and widespread price increases” said the Shadow Treasurer.
“There will also be major increases in the costs facing families and businesses in their costs of travel. The increase in diesel excise by 13 toea per litre – and the government plans to increase it by a further 38 toea per litre in future budgets. On top of this is an increase in all imported petrol and diesel of 10 toea per litre. Experience indicates this will eventually be passed onto motorists as the reduced competition almost always leads to price increases.
“There are major increases in 47 types of family household products such as 15% increase in the costs of laundry detergents, plastic kitchenware, buckets and tableware, as well as 10% increases ranging from toilet paper to shampoos and tissues and tablecloths and detergents.
“The government also doesn’t understand how expensive it is to build a new house in PNG, or renovate one and there are major increases in the costs of building products. Some of these particularly concern me. For example, PNG has the poorest levels of access to safe water in the East Asia region according to the World Bank. So why does the government increase the wholesale price on imported plastic water tanks by 15%? Families on many of our island communities in kavieng & namatanai and in all other maritime provinces do not have year-round access to enough clean water. During the dry season from april to October, which is over half the year, we fetch water from holes dug into the beach shoreline many of which are not accessible during daily high tides and we regularly bath in salt water! This is how we still live today. Access to affordable short term solutions like plastic water tanks will be taken away with the 15% tariff increase. Why are my maritime people punished like this? ” asked Mr Ling-Stuckey.

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