Social Concerns Notes – June 2020

Transparency and Coronavirus

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/transparency-weighs-in-against-corruptavirus.html 31 May 2020

| Transparency International PNG Link here to the full article which includes useful tables

PORT MORESBY – As most countries have begun scaling down safety measures against Covid-19, Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has heightened its efforts in calling on the government of Papua New Guinea to implement measures to safeguard state of emergency funding against misuse and misappropriation. This call to action by TIPNG comes after concerns raised by PNG treasury minister Ian Ling Stuckey in early April regarding allegations that a bulk of the initial K23 million released by the PNG government for the Covid-19 state of emergency had been spent on hire cars and media consultants.

Although PNG prime minister James Marape and police minister Bryan Kramer have since refuted these allegations, the government has yet to provide verifiable evidence in support of their statements.

The greatest concern for Papua New Guineans is PNG’s track record of grossly mishandling government sanctioned special projects for which project funding and management are exempted from strict transparency and accountability protocols. Such protocols are normally provided under the PNG Public Finances Management Act, and include competitive bidding and the Integrated Finance Management System or IFMS.

The most recent example of exemption from these requirements was the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, hosted by PNG, during which, millions of kina are believed to have been spent by the previous government, often on questionable expenses. The debacle notoriously came to a head when hundreds of police, military and prison guards stormed and vandalised the PNG parliament over unpaid allowances. Despite calls from TIPNG and other PNG citizens, no financial reports have been made available to the public since, with many service providers still waiting to be paid.

If corruption is not prevented, Covid-19 could have a devastating effect on PNG, with the potential loss of life exacerbated by mismanagement and the misapplication of resources.

Our systems worked, so what happened?

04 June 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/our-systems-worked-so-what-happened.html 

| My Land, My Country

The quality of transport infrastructure – especially roads and bridges – determines the price of food. Apart from consumption, this single factor influences the rate of supply and demand to a large extent. Economists can argue about the theory.  But if you ask any kaukau and broccoli  seller in Lae or Madang where produce from the highlands ends up, they will tell you why their prices are high in many instances.

If a road section is damaged (which happens a lot), the bags of food have to be shouldered to the other side of the road where another vehicle has to be found. The carriers have to be paid and the vegetable dealer pays twice for transport. Where does he pass on the cost? To the consumer in Madang or Lae.

Papua New Guinea’s food security challenge has to be confronted on multiple fronts.At the top of the list of priorities should be local production and food security followed by the country’s food distribution network – roads and bridges. Food production and research hubs – if that’s what you want to call them – have to be reestablished.  I say reestablished because we had them in the 1970s and 1980s. They were called DPI (Department of Primary Industry) stations. Those stations were located in strategic locations around the country. They were nuclei for research, agricultural support and seed distribution.  Government workers lived and worked at those stations. Some still do, but without the support they used to get. Those stations were connected by well-maintained road networks managed by the Works Department, which had a similar system of works camps along highways and feeder roads. The DPI stations supported farmers by providing advice, managing disease outbreaks and attending to the impacts of natural disasters. All this was done by the government of Papua New Guinea.

We seem to be suffering from generational amnesia. It is baffling that we keep trying to reinvent the wheel when we already had systems that worked for our people. Why can’t we bring them back? ….

The bottom line is, we had systems in place. Systems that worked. We listened to wrong advice in the 1990s and look where it got us.

Lung cancer killing many, says doctor

June 2, 2020 The National

 LUNG cancer affects a significant population and is a top-killing cancer in Papua New Guinea, a doctor says. United Nations in-country physician Dr Mathias Sapuri said this during the commemoration of World No Tobacco Day by the PNG Cancer Foundation (PNGCF) on Sunday.
“It is important to know that smoking leads to the development of lung cancer,” he said.
“Children and adolescents should not pick up the habit of smoking.
“Exposure to smoking by family relations are common, where a parent or relatives currently smoke, it’s most likely that children adopt the habit.”
Sapuri stressed that passive smoking (the breathing of other people’s smoke by non-smokers) was a concern as it could affect people. He said it was important to break the cycle.

4,000-plus church health workers waiting to be paid

June 11, 2020The National

MORE than 4,000 health workers employed under the Church Health Services (CHS) are still waiting to be paid after more than four months, officials say. The CHS and the Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) are calling on the Health Department to immediately release their outstanding pay and operational grants.
Catholic Bishop Francis Meli said the salary and operational grants from February to June as appropriated in the 2020 Budget were yet to be released. He urged the Government to pay outstanding operational grants for all church-run health worker training schools from 2017 to 2020.
They are giving the Government 15 working days to release the funds. “An indefinite stop-work will commence at 8am on July 3 unless outstanding salary and operational grants from February to August are paid in full and cleared by the Banks,” he said.
Bishop Meli said the churches had their own ethics and values and to stop work or strike was always the last resort. “But health workers and training schools have run out of patience,” he said.
“We know that it does not sit well with many but we have come to a stage where we have to make a decision for fairness and justice for our health workers nationwide.”

Agency hospitals may stop

June 26, 2020The National

 MORE than 700 health facilities run by churches may stop work next week if the Government does not release all their outstanding funds, officials say. The Christian Health Services (CHS) and Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) were forced to serve a stop-work notice through the Health Department on June 10 giving the state 15 working days to release the outstanding grants from February because staff had been deprived of their salaries for four months.
Chairman of the executive and general assembly of CHS, Japalis Kaiok, told The National yesterday that the Government responded by releasing a month’s operational and salary grant of K6 million as appropriated in the 2020 Budget and it was distributed last Friday.
Kaiok said that was basically the February grant that covered two fortnights.
“Although the one-month grant was released, we still need the four months grants (March-June),” he said. “The church-run training schools operational grants since 2017 are still outstanding as well.
“To confirm with you if the government has come very clear and positive on their commitment for the four months, that’s something that we still need to hear from the Government,” Kaiok said.
The churches are an important partner in healthcare service delivery in PNG with 4,764 health workers, 745 health facilities and 19 health worker training schools.
“We are very mindful of the impact and the consequences it (stop work) will have on the population but we can’t compromise on our statement. “We will stand by the conditions of the petition until July 3.”

Momis bows out with a sense of fulfillment| Radio New Zealand

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/momis-bows-out-with-sense-of-fulfilment.html#more

AUCKLAND – In his last speech in the Bougainville parliament last Thursday, president John Momis spoke passionately about a political career that began nearly 50 years ago. He spoke of how it began in the early seventies when he was anointed by chiefs in Kieta in a cultural ritual and sent on a mission to help the people determine their own future.

Dr Momis said the success to date of the peace process is down to the unity, creativity and productivity of the people. “We are very lucky, although we face a lot of challenges, but we have also been very creative, productive and despite the  differences we have worked together to achieve so much,” he said.

The president also spoke of the coming consultations on the result of the Bougainville referendum, where the new Autonomous Bougainville Government will have to consult with the Papua New Guinea national government. He called PNG prime minister James Marape a responsible leader, who recognises the Bougainville issue is a national issue. Dr Momis encouraged both governments to continue to work together. The two term president said he will “bow out with a sense of fulfilment and a sense of gratitude that the Almighty has seen fit to ask me and you, mere humans, to share in his creative power to create something new.”

Plant More Trees campaign underway

17 June 2020https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/plant-more-trees-campaign-underway.html#more 

PORT MORESBY – A campaign to plant more trees in Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea has been initiated by Travel4Green (T4G) PNG, a not-for-profit project in partnership with Catholic Bishops Conference.The campaign has adopted the ‘Keep It Clean. Go Green’ under Pope Francis’s Laudato Si statement and the PNG Conservation and Environment Protection Authority’s recently launched ‘10-million trees in 10 years’ target.

The joint campaign is aimed at involving students in tree planting activities and monitoring PNG’s standing forests to make the environment and communities healthier and more livable.

Annual Progress Report 2019 for the United Nations in Papua New Guinea

Development Trends

The Papua New Guinea economy grew by 4 per cent in 2019 driven by commodity exports, agriculture and logging. Government expenditure prioritized free primary healthcare, infrastructure projects, and the Provincial and District Services Improvement Program.

Despite socioeconomic challenges including high rates of unemployment, especially among young people, lack of educational opportunities, underrepresentation of women in governance and decision-making, violence against women and girls, malnutrition and limited access to improved water sources, life expectancy continues to increase in PNG. Digital economic innovative intervention, and information and communication technologies (ICTs), also gained momentum in several government sectors. Furthermore, the Bougainville Referendum Commission conducted a peaceful, violence-free referendum.

Development Context

PNG, a lower-middle-income country ranked 155 out of 187 countries in the 2019 Human Development Index, is the only Pacific country in the low human development band of the Index. Population statistics indicate that 52 per cent of the population is below 24 years and 85 per cent of the population lives in rural areas.1 The country faces a number of challenges in translating economic growth into inclusive, sustainable human development, including chronic youth un- and underemployment, which remained unchanged at 2.40 per cent in 2019,2 as well as low absorption of school leavers into the formal employment sector.

Opportunities for formal tertiary education are minimal, and opportunities for paid untrained workers even more limited. Unemployment is felt, not only among the youth, but throughout the abled population. It is a substantial contributing factor to the challenge of law and order, to the continued, and indeed increasing, levels of crime and violence, and high costs of security protection. Uncertain economic conditions and rising fiscal pressure affect the country and contribute to the breakdown in the rule of law in both highland and coastal provinces. In all, there is an imperative for peace and greater social cohesion throughout the country.

The complex challenges and exciting opportunities PNG witnessed in 2019 included the change in National Government, a referendum on the political future of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, two budgets, a cabinet reshuffle, and new infrastructure such as the Coral Sea Cable communications system. A vote of no confidence in the O’Neil government in early May ultimately led to a change in Prime Minister in late May. On 7 June, the new Prime Minister, James Marape, swore in a full cabinet. Significant reshuffling followed in mid-November. Years of deflated economic and social progress, including political will, have put a considerable constraint on the progress of the new Government’s focus and other development work.

The new Government expressed its commitment to improving the quality of life for Papua New Guinean citizens by addressing health, education, and law and order. The Government proposed to grow the economy through investing in the skills, business and employment opportunities that would unlock the country’s potential, promote economic development outside of Port Moresby, and clamp down on corruption.
The Government set out to increase the country’s internal revenue by 50 per cent, from a PGK10 billion a year on-average internal revenue.

The wisdom from my culture

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/the-wisdom-from-my-culture.html#more 11 June 2020 SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE – Three years ago, I asked my dad what the role of women was in his culture and how women were treated. This was when another incident of violence came to the fore. I needed to understand how his culture dealt with women and their place in society.  My dad is a man of huge contrasts; he is an immaculately patient being with a frighteningly explosive temper. He is not someone you would easily walk over. If you did, it was because he tolerated the situation or he walked away from a fight. His restraint was and still is legendary. He was not a saint. He did extend his share of violence to poor unsuspecting souls who chose to pick on him.

Even in his worst, he never laid a hand on my mum. The wisdom in his reply has stuck with me since. His was a warrior culture, where the men pretty much ruled the daily affairs of the tribe. The decisions on where to settle, which alliances to forge, which clans to attack and destroy were made by men. However, the secret counsel and the influence came from the women. Our ancient culture understood the purpose of the man’s ego.  The women guarded it. They did not interfere or publicly embarrass their men in front of their peers.  But in decisions that were going to be disastrous, the women chided and counselled their men.

The man’s wealth came from the women who cared for the gardens and the pigs in partnership with her man. A careless woman spelled the downfall of her husband. Society understood that wars could be started because of the words of women and disastrous battles that could affect generations in the future could also be avoided through a woman’s counsel. Women were not mere property.My dad said despite the fierce reputations of the grandfathers, women were rarely beaten or abused. Shouting or fighting with your woman in front of your elders was shunned. It spoke of a man with boyish tendencies, unable to control his emotions and unable to function as a thinking, intelligent warrior in battle.

He said it was expensive to fix domestic disputes that came to the attention of older people in the tribe.  You had to pay compensation in pigs and whatever they demanded. Basically, if you are man enough to strike your woman, you must have the wealth and the emotional stamina able to fix multiple relationships affected by your actions. Diplomacy in the home and outside of it was a skill every man had to learn.

Years ago, when my mum was a feisty, hotheaded, young woman, I used to hear her say during my dad’s most frightening moments, “Noken wari, em ba no nap paitim mi.” I understood much later why, he always calmed down.  First and foremost, he loved his woman too much to strike her. Second, as per the wisdom of the ancestors, it would be too emotionally expensive to fix several relationships that came with the woman he loved. The disrespect shown to his in-laws – the young men and women who came to look up to him would be very difficult to repair.  The trust would be broken and it would take years to fix.  To restore his honour, he would work to repair all those relationships.

The parallels to the 21st century relationships remain the same.  Abuse has high penalties –emotional, financial and legal. That is the wisdom from my culture. You have to understand your own cultural context from your elders

PNG TokStret (internet)

CONCERNS ON THE PASSING OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY BILL 2020

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MEDIA RELEASE

We make this Statement as protest. Firstly for the manner the Public Health Emergency Bill 2020 was rushed into Parliament by the Government and passed on Friday 12 June 2020. There was no prior wider consultation, openness, and debate in Parliament. The law was rushed in total secrecy without justification. Secondly, the law has serious constitutional issues, lacking transparency and accountability for political expediency, which required greater consultation with all stakeholders prior to presentation in Parliament.

We are told that the Bill that was introduced in Parliament was different to the initial draft that was circulated to Members of Parliament prior to the Parliament sitting on Friday 12 June 2020. The following are our fundamental concerns.

First and fundamentally, the Bill takes away the powers and functions of the Legislative Arm to the Executive Arm. In doing so it not only compromises the supervisory and oversight powers of Parliament on the Executive, but it surrenders or delegates its powers without reservation. A State of Emergency under Part X of the Constitution is a power vested on the Parliament during an emergency. This is so especially when the rights and freedoms of people under the Constitution are to be suspended and subjected to severe restrictions and deprivations. Only Parliament through the elected Representatives of the people can, when the occasion necessitates, make those decisions. By the Bill the Parliament’s supervisory and control powers under S. 239 appears to be abrogated and divested in the Executive Arm of the Government. The Parliamentary Emergency Committee provided for under Sections 240-242 are also been abrogated and divested of its functions to the Executive Arm.

Second, the Bill creates and confers more powers to the Controller seemingly without much oversight from the Executive (NEC) or the Minister responsible. While the appointment of a Controller is with the NEC there is no set criteria and qualification for the position of the Controller, except that he or she should be a public office holder (s. 7). It does not even provide from which public office the Controller will be selected from – the police, defence, CS, Health or such other public office. It is left to the prerogative of the NEC. The functions and powers of the Controller are quite unlimited during the period of the emergency (ss. 8, 9). This is dangerous given the experiences the common people experience with the law enforcement authorities in normal times. More so, when the Emergency Act already abrogates and restricts the Constitutional rights to privacy, movement, personal liberty, free speech, etc., of the people. It imposes a double jeopardy for the people.

Third, “emergency” is not adequately defined under the Bill. Any definition must be consistent with the meaning set out under Sections 226-243 of the Constitution. The definition under the Bill does not reference the relevant Constitutional provisions. This is dangerous especially when powers are left to the Executive Government of the day.

Fourth, financial accountability of public funds is seemingly without transparency and accountability. The normal safeguards to accountability under the Public Finances (Management) Act 1995, and the National Procurement Act 2018 are also suspended. It leaves room for misuse of public funds for the emergency without scrutiny and accountability. The Act effectively removes the oversight powers of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament to the Controller.

While it is understood that the suspension of the PFMA Act and the National Procurement Act is intended to avoid the cumbersome procurement procedures in emergency situation, the oversight functions and powers of the Auditor General (SS. 213-214, Constitution) and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (SS. 215-216, Constitution) cannot be removed. The Act abrogates their powers and functions and vests on the Controller, who is not duly qualified, and who only reports to the Minister responsible and to the NEC. Emergency if at all is a good reason for use of Certificate of Inexpediency as opposed to the public tender process under the FFMA. However, a Bill that extricates itself of the whole PFMA is a sign of bad motive.

The law does not even allow for the application of the Audit Act and the powers of the Auditor General to audit the books of the Controller after the emergency period. When audit is brought under the Audit Act it will subject the Controller to the oversight function of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament. Parliament under the Bill will be totally divested of its powers to the Executive Government, which raises serious constitutional questions.

Fifth, the following constitutional rights and freedom of the people will be suspended and deprived – liberty of the person (S. 42), freedom from arbitrary search and entry (S. 44), freedom of expression (S. 46), freedom from assembly and association (S. 47), right to privacy (S. 49), right to freedom of information (S. 51), right to freedom of movement (S. 52), and protection from unjust deprivation of property (S. 53) for the cause of public interest in public safety, public order, and public affair. This is a major fear. The Constitutional implications in the deprivation of these civil rights of the people under Section 233 of the Constitution will need the interpretation of the Supreme Court.

Sixth, the Bill does not include provisions for “Extra-Territorial Application” of the Emergency law to PNG Citizens and subjects including PNG Flagged Vessels overseas; nor does it include its application to Foreign Flagged Vessels in PNG territory. The Bill does not include under the definition of “Vessel” reference to the Merchant Shipping Act and or the National Maritime Authority Act to allow the emergency law to apply to all vessels including PNG Flagged Vessels overseas and Foreign Flagged vessels in PNG territory. The role of the NMSA in this situation is not specified.

Seventh, the penalty provisions are too onerous considering the freedoms and rights being deprived on the one hand and the K50, 000.00 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years (individual) and K500, 000.00 (corporate) fines for breaches of the emergency law on the other under S. 44. While the penalties are designed to deter and enforce the emergency laws and directions it is too onerous and untenable.

Eighth, the transitional and savings provisions under sections 53 and 54 of the Bill has retrospective effect to all past actions, decisions, procurements, monies received and used under the past emergency laws and regulations. Any transparency and accountability of the funds, assets, contracts and works etc., under the repealed Emergency (General Provisions) (COVID 19) Act 2020 will be at the discretion of the Controller, Minister responsible and the NEC. There is no further oversight from the Auditor General or the National Parliament under the Bill.

The Bill has the appearance of creating Marshall law and Police State. It is a dragonian law to democratic rights and freedoms of people. This type of law cannot be allowed in a Constitutional democracy where the freedom and rights of the people are given special protection under the Constitution. It is a law that takes away the oversight powers of the Auditor General and the Parliament through its Public Accounts Committee. It will serve a bad precedent for future Governments.

The Bill extricates itself from the application of the Constitutional law, which is tantamount to altering the Constitution. This is a serious Constitutional point. To alter Constitution it requires wider consultation and over a number of sittings of Parliament over time intervals. It was not the case with this Bill.

In light of the above concerns, we had recommended for the presentation of the Bill to Parliament be delayed and allow for wider consultation with Constitutional offices, relevant State departments, think-tank groups and organisations, churches, and the civil society. We also thought it was necessary to seek a Supreme Court advisory opinion on the Constitutional implications of the Bill. There is no real or perceived threat or danger to public good and welfare to rush and push this Bill into law, especially when we do not have local data, evidence, or deaths in PNG yet for such urgency. Reliance on outside advice and situations alone is no justification for the urgency.

We are a faith-based professional organisation and we are also concerned with the extreme restrictions under emergency laws affecting our churches and religious faith and worship activities. Whatever we do God must not be left out of the planning and measures taken in any emergencies. Our churches and people have been praying and will continue to pray for the protection and end to this Covis-19 Pandemic.

FINALLY, GIVEN THE PASSING OF THE BILL WE CALL ON THE OMBUSDMAN COMMISSION TO INITIATE A CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENCE IN THE SUPREME COURT TO DETERMINE THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THIS EMERGENCY LAW.

Paul Harricknen, OL President CATHOLIC PROFESSIONALS SOCIETY PNG

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2020

PNG Heading for Recession

08 May 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/png-heading-for-recession-say-forecasts.html

| Business Advantage PNG | Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY – Economists are forecasting a recession in Papua New Guinea in 2020 as the country struggles to deal with the global crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has also downgraded the country’s debt.

A report by ANZ Bank predicts that the PNG economy will be in recession in 2020, contracting by 2.6%. It says government expenditure will increase to ‘an all-time high’ of K19.3 billion, while revenue will fall by K2.5 billion. “The PNG government will have a shortfall of K1 billion in petroleum taxes and dividends, which, in turn, is due to a collapse in oil prices,” the report said. “We believe another K1.5 billion of projected overall tax revenue won’t be realised due to a lacklustre economy.

“The shutdown of the Porgera gold mine while the operator, Barrick Niugini, pursues a legal challenge to the government’s decision not to extend its special mining lease, along with disruptions at the Kainantu gold mine due to landowner disputes, will impact revenue.

Porgera Gold Mine

Business Advantage PNG (Paul Barker)

PORT MORESBY – There will be repercussions from the Papua New Guinea government’s decision not to renew the special mining lease on the Porgera gold mine. The Porgera valley is a very complex place, with communities long vying for control. Anyone treading in it should do so lightly, with thorough consultation and knowledge of that situation and avoiding disruption.

Barrick and its predecessor, Placer Pacific, had their difficulties over the years, with criticisms on social and environmental grounds, most of which the company denied.

However, the company effectively became the authority and the provider of jobs and all government services in the valley, which had a small population when it started over 30 years back and is a burgeoning community now….

Whatever the merits of the PNG government takeover or transfer plans for the Porgera mine, they will require very considerable preparation, capital, staffing and logistics to put into effect, all of which will take time and effort, and resources, which are not in great supply right now….

The government’s aspiration for taking control of PNG resources and the economy is understandable, in terms of the major overseas (and some local) resource grabbing over forests, land, marine resources, and even small businesses and jobs over recent years, and in the face of the major disappointment over the surprisingly low revenue from the extractive sector by the mid-2010s, when the government envisaged major revenue flows and planned major public expenditure….

It seems critical that a lot more dialogue is needed and an amicable outcome that does not jeopardise the limited harmony in the Porgera Valley, does not disrupt operations, employment of revenue unduly in 2020 and which does not further undermine shaky investor confidence in PNG.

Transparency to examine bias in PNG press

04 May 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/transparency-to-examine-bias-in-png-press.html#more

The question that has been asked by the public is; to what extent is there a bias in the media on governance issues, and more importantly, will it matter in the next major national event, e.g., the current Covid-19 emergency or the 2022 general elections?

To address this question, TIPNG looked at media trends on how the daily newspapers in PNG report on governance.

In PNG, most people rely more on print media than social media for their daily dose of current affairs and information. For this reason, understanding local print media story choices and general trends is important.

While PNG has enjoyed a relatively free media this has been under threat in recent years.

For instance, the 2020 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) world press freedom index assessed PNG to have a press whose independence is ‘endangered’, with a corresponding drop of eight places in rank since last year. Interestingly one of the reasons cited by RSF for the diminished ranking is that “Journalists nonetheless continue to be dependent on the concerns of those who own their media.”

The threats to PNG’s media freedom are most obvious when it comes to major national events that require objective reporting in the public interest.

Recent instances where the ability of the media to report have been hampered by other interests (often political) include the 2017 national election, the 2018 APEC leaders’ summit, the 2019 political transition and the 2020 Covid-19 public spending issue. Journalists in PNG are further disadvantaged by the lack of Right to Information (RTI) legislation to enable them to obtain public documents from the State. In the absence of a RTI law in PNG the media outlets are further beholden to political interests as sources of information – which further erodes public trust in news outlets.

Multi-drug resistant TB (MDRTB)

Facebook 15 May. Jimmy Drekore 

20th March PNG Reported First Covid-19 Imported Case

22nd March I stated MDRTB was more lethal than COVID-19

11th May Six Mile Clinic alone recorded 291 confirmed TB cases (last 4 months).

IF we are not vigilant it will lead to MDRTB and that PNG you can embrace yourself.

Marape Government Fails to tackle Corruption

20 May 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/marape-government-fails-to-tackle-corruption.html

James Marape was elected as prime minister on the back of a growing wave of discontent about political corruption and the misuse of public funds – and the initial signs from the new government were promising.

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee emerged from the shadows to hold televised hearings into the procurement of medicines and medical supplies in Health Department secretary Kase was quietly removed.

A high-powered commission of inquiry was appointed to investigate the disastrous UBS loan scandal. Vocal corruption critic Bryan Kramer was appointed police minister and ex-Task Force Sweep boss Sam Koim took command at the Internal Revenue Commission.

Meanwhile, the legislation to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption was dusted off and brought back to parliament.

But the initial wave of optimism that the Marape government would decisively tackle the chronic corruption that is undermining service delivery and impoverishing the nation has been dashed in the face of overwhelming evidence that in Papua New Guinea it is business as usual.

Government minister William Duma, who managed to walk away from the Manumanu land scandal without facing charges despite the weight of the evidence, seems just as immune from any sanction over the Horizon Oil scandal.

The Australian chief executive of the oil company has been terminated after the board described his position as ‘untenable’ but Duma has not even been made to step aside while Australian and local police investigate.

Meanwhile 38 of the 40 Maseratis which sell for around $140,000 each in Australia are still sitting idle in a warehouse in Port Moresby. Yet the Minister responsible for the purchase, Justin Tkatchenko, who falsely claimed firstly that the cars were being imported at no cost to PNG and then were ‘selling like hot cakes’ has not answered for misleading statements or the waste of upwards of K20 million.

To make matters worse, while some APEC vehicles are sitting idle, the government is again spending millions of kina on hire cars to help with the COVID-19 response.

Nowhere is the lack of accountability more apparent than at the very heart of the prime minister’s own department……

While some people may point to the current COVID-19 crisis and state of emergency as having stalled progress on the ICAC and the UBS commission of inquiry, the truth is things were moving at a glacially slow speed even before the pandemic. In the last 10 months, despite a smattering of arrests and charges, there has not been one prosecution of a high profile leader for corruption or misappropriation and not one minister has been forced to resign or even temporarily step aside.

Group calls for lowering of flag

May 22, 2020The National

THE Catholic Professionals Society of PNG has called for the LGBTQ (lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer) flag to be lowered, saying that it was a threat to the country’s moral standing as a Christian nation. The society’s president Paul Harricknen said PNG was founded on the preamble of a Christian foundation and local tradition. “We have nothing against the LGBTQ community, our forum here today (yesterday) is about foreign governments pursuing their interest in our country,” he said. “It’s about the flag been raised, such an action makes a statement and we are against that statement because marriage is a union between a man and a woman.” “We call on our leaders of Government, civil service, churches and people to be vigilant against any blind reception of advices and terms and conditions from foreign aid givers and funding donors which are aimed at eroding and destroying our founding values, beliefs, faith and morality.
“We have a duty to safeguard these values, beliefs and principles for the present and future generations. We hope the Government can take heed of this issue. If PNG is to pursue the dream of becoming the richest black Christian nation, then issues of moral values and principles, beliefs and faith must be vigilantly safeguarded.”
Harricknen said they were not trying to incite any hate or violence against the community but only wanted the flag to be lowered.

Be vigilant: Doc

May 27, 2020The National

THE daily increase of the coronavirus cases in West Papua is a great threat to Papua New Guinea, says the State of Emergency (SOE) deputy controller and acting Health secretary Dr Paison Dakulala. The Papua region of Indonesia has seen an increase of 65 new cases, bringing a total of 686 confirmed cases.
Dr Dakulala said this week that the alarming increase meant that PNG was still in the danger zone and people should not be complacent.
In the Western Pacific region, countries worth noting are: Indonesia – 22,271 (1,372 deaths); West Papua – 130 (2 deaths); Papua – 556 (8 deaths); Singapore – 31,616 (23 deaths); Australia – 7,114 (102 deaths); Fiji – 18 (no deaths) and New Zealand – 1,504 (21 deaths)
For PNG citizens and residents stranded abroad, the Government is working to bring them back and this includes the 127 in Fiji.

PM presents over K1.8mil to bushfire victims

May 25, 2020The National

PRIME Minister James Marape presented a cheque for more than K1.8 million to the Australian government on Thursday to help those affected by bushfires earlier this year. The funds were raised through the PNG Hearts for Australia Fire Appeal 2020 by the PNG Government, business houses and individuals. In conveying PNG’s sympathies for those affected by the bushfires, Marape said it was not the amount that mattered but the goodness and kind gesture of our hearts. “We owe it to each other as neighbours, friends and wantoks,” Marape said told Australian High Commission Jonathan Philp. He said PNG’s relations with Australia was not by choice but by “our geographical location and dates back many centuries”.

The State of Emergency Cannot Fix Years of Negligence  — Michael Kabuni

Department of Pacific Affairs, In Brief 2020/15

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has registered eight positive COVID-19 cases across five different provinces since March 2020, though all have recovered. A two-week nationwide state of emergency (SOE) and lockdown to curtail the movement of people were initially declared on 23 March when the first case was reported. The SOE was extended for another two months when it expired, whilst the lockdown was lifted. The lockdown restricted travel between provinces and mandated a complete shutdown of non-essential services, whilst the SOE prevents international travel and travel to selected provinces. Despite these efforts against the spread of COVID-19, seven of the domestic cases were from local transmission. The cases of local transmission in Western Province — despite the restrictions on travel and the military deployed to monitor the borders — point to an ineffective monitoring of provincial borders, which was intended to restrict internal travel as well as travel between PNG and Indonesia, and highlight how a long-neglected health system could be put to the ultimate test during the pandemic.

This In Brief argues that PNG’s reliance on the SOE and lockdowns to contain COVID-19 is proving difficult due to years of government negligence that have led to both poor health infrastructure and limited police and military capabilities, including the ability to adequately police unauthorised movements across PNG’s borders.

DWU students, staff receive masks sewn by volunteers

May 28, 2020The National

STUDENTS and staff of Divine Word University (DWU) in Madang are beneficiaries of washable face masks sewn by a group of volunteers led by Sr Monika Steinberger. This was one of the measures DWU took to safeguard the university community from the coronavirus pandemic.
The project was supported by non-government organisation Bread for the World.
Sr Monika, who works as a counsellor at DWU, said the project began early last month and 3,400 masks were completed and distributed to students free while staff paid K3 for one. She said: “By May 11, all students received one mask each and we aim that by June 1 all students will be provided with a second one. “Thus, in case the virus reaches Madang at any time, students are prepared to wear the protective masks.
“A total of 400 masks have been sold to DWU staff and employees of Diwai Enterprise Ltd, the business of the university. “We hope to complete our project by June 5.” The masks are being made from household materials.
Precautionary measures are taken to ensure the materials are good enough to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 in lecture rooms, students’ mess and other public places on campus. “Bread for the World is covering the cost for the students’ masks.” The volunteers sewing the masks include DWU staff, female students, sisters from the Catholic Church and Catholics from the communities.

Who’s financing deforestation in Papua New Guinea? A new report follows the money.

By Rachel Ramirez on May 18, 2020

Papua New Guinea has one of the largest expanses of tropical rainforest on the planet. But in recent years the island nation just north of Australia has seen a surge in deforestation from logging and mining, which has threatened to release large stores of carbon into the atmosphere.

Deforestation has left behind patches of bare land across the country, and indigenous communities bear the brunt of the environmental consequences. Many are wary of companies that clear the land without providing something to the local community in return. So in 2017, when the Malaysian timber company Maxland secured a permit to clear rainforest on the country’s Manus Island, it promised to plant three to five million rubber trees and said it would benefit nearby communities through jobs, royalty payments, and improved infrastructure.

Critics say that Maxland is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. According to a new report released this month by the human rights and environmental watchdog Global Witness, Maxland has not planted a single rubber tree, despite being two years into its five-year contract. Instead, the report claims that the company has prioritized illegal logging and exporting the island’s valuable hardwood timber, raking in millions of dollars in the process…..

Can coronavirus bring positive change?

28 May 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/05/can-the-middle-class-reform-the-economy.html#more   Philip Fitzpatrick

History tells us that more often than not the educated middle class are the change agents in society. This is why the Australian administration in Papua New Guinea was keen to establish an educated middle class prior to independence.

The theory goes that while the lower classes are busy concentrating on survival and the upper classes on protecting and increasing their wealth only the educated middle class has the inclination, wherewithal and time to think about social issues.

What is recognisable as the middle class actually contains two sub-sets, the educated and the aspirational. The former is largely made up of the caring professions, doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists and the like, while the latter is made up of business people. Aspirational thinkers among the middle class usually spend their days trying to climb up social ladders and tend not to be too concerned about social conditions except where they affect them directly.

It is unfortunate when the educated sub-set of the middle class becomes too comfortable and complacent because that makes change difficult. This has become blazingly obvious in places like Papua New Guinea. In Papua New Guinea the distinction between the educated and the economically aspirational disappeared very quickly. The result is a single hybrid middle class whose main interest is looking after its own interests….

An old French saying is “plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes” (the more things change the more they stay the same).

Right now, various governments across the world are grimly determined that things will indeed stay the same.

They are bending their will and resources to exactly this end: a return to normality.

Normality means a neo-liberal world in which the interests of the powerful and the wealthy take precedence over those of the poor, the weak and the helpless.

The relentless exploitation of the environment and people must be allowed to proceed at all costs, so as to fulfill the endlessly repeated mantra of “jobs n’ growth”.

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2020

Vigilant Nurse

Health system unprepared for virus

10 April 2020

Human Rights Watch

SYDNEY – Even before the coronavirus, the fragile health system in Papua New Guinea was underfunded and overwhelmed, with high rates of malaria, tuberculosis, and diabetes among its population of more than eight million.

Access to hospitals is extremely limited, with 80% of the population living outside urban centres. Prime Minister James Marape has acknowledged the country has only 500 doctors, less than 4,000 nurses, and around 5,000 beds in hospitals and health centres. The country reportedly has only 14 ventilators. A Covid-19 outbreak would be catastrophic.

To date, there have been two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in PNG. It could be that PNG will be spared the scale of the pandemic seen elsewhere such as Wuhan, a dense urban area with a mobile and older population. But Police Minister Bryan Kramer has acknowledged the country has a limited capacity to test people, raising concerns that the actual number of cases is higher.

Despite Marape’s assurances that personal protective equipment would be made available to health workers, the Ministry of Health released a situation report on 13 March detailing chronic deficiencies, as well as inadequate training on use of such equipment

Broken health system braces for Covid-19

12 April 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/04/broken-health-system-braces-for-covid-19.html#more

 KOKOPO – The first that staff at Nonga General Hospital in Papua New Guinea heard that they had been treating someone with coronavirus, was when they saw the country’s prime minister announce it in televised press conference on Monday. They had been treating the patient, a volunteer health worker at the hospital, for pneumonia. She originally came into the hospital in late March, but recovered and was discharged, before her symptoms worsened and she was readmitted.

“This person wasn’t put into isolation or even a different ward. She has been walking around freely in the past few days and talking with us, so we are scared. We all left the hospital and are waiting for someone to come and explain what is happening,” said Margaret Melke, a nurse in Rabaul district, where Nonga Hospital is located.

The woman, who is now recovering at her home, is the second confirmed case of Covid-19 in Papua New Guinea. The first was an Australian mining worker, who had flown into the country. But this time the infected person is a local, who had not recently travelled abroad. The case was detected in a village near Rabaul, a harbourside town on the island of East New Britain.

The prospect of the arrival of coronavirus in a country with just 500 doctors and around 5,000 hospital beds and which struggles to deal with even routine illnesses has terrified the public. Health workers are asking how the nation’s fractured health system, which routinely leaves clinics without soap or disinfectant and where nurses report using nappies as gauze to mop up blood and rice packets in lieu of gloves, would deal with an outbreak. The country is already dealing with outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever, drug-resistant tuberculosis and polio.

“When one [Covid-19 case] is confirmed, it is a disaster for us. It is already an outbreak,” said Melke, who has spent more than 40 years working in Papua New Guinea’s beleaguered health system and is the Nursing Union leader for New Guinea Islands. “We are the frontline, but we do not have safety equipment to protect us, so how can we save others? We put our own families at risk.”…

Charles Abel‎ to Alotau District

Facebook 18 April

I’ve spent the last two days going from door to door in the settlements and in town. It’s is really just a continuation of our efforts over the last 2 months to do awareness , send people home and now deliver some rice . I’ve also spent much of my time as a leader in our villages in this electorate as shown on this page. The reality is that most of our people live in settlements and villages . In these conditions it is practically impossible for them to practice social distancing or wash their hands with soap or sanitiser on a regular basis.

Their main concern on a day to day basis is what they will eat for dinner on that particular day. A settlement dweller will rely on one of the wage earners living in the settlements or the informal cash economy in most cases. This informal economy is where the wage earners in general will buy betelnut, market food, cooked food, and resale items like cigarettes, noodles etc. There is also prostitution, sadly. The village people sell their crops to buy essential items like soap, medicine, garden tools, kerosene.

I often put myself mentally into the position of these people. Imagine if you did not get your fortnightly pay for one, two or three months. I just worry so much about the children especially. It has been four weeks of SOE now and soon five weeks. It looks like it will go much longer. We have other medical requirements that continue regardless of covid-19 such as tb, cancer, child birth etc. Access to health services become restricted by SOE.

We need to think about the wider consequences as people are put off jobs, markets close, no sports – an idle population with no income, no food and lack of access to other basic services. We are not like modern countries that can lock up in their houses or units and have savings and food stores. We are talking about the majority of our people here.

David Jah Blum‎ to Sharp Talk

#Reality
I saw a mother hiding in the flower garden with a packet of Cambridge cigarettes. The profit from the sale will guarantee her a 1kg packet of rice. The last thing on her mind is the dreaded COVID-19, she is more afraid of the police than some incurable disease. Personal hygiene is only for those that can afford to waste the precious water she keeps for only cooking and drinking.

An elderly man with a waist bag slung over his shoulders pretending to look at on coming vehicles discreetly pitches to anyone passing. “2 kina full buai stap” In his waist bag a handful of betelnuts with mustard to go with. Precious cargo that ensures he gets by a day with a simple meal. When you can’t afford firewood you depend on kai bars and shops for daily sustenance. He will gladly shake hands and share the lime (kambang) to any potential customer. He is more afraid of the rogue reservist policemen that occasionally beat him stealing whatever he earns because they know how he makes a living and on a good occasion will have enough cash on him to buy a 6 pack of beer. A few meters off his female partner and their malnourished half-naked children wait patiently for hopefully their first meal of the day.

Whilst politicians and bureaucrats sit in air conditioned rooms talking about the welfare and wellbeing of communities. The SoE lock down is either totally ignorant or just too plain selfishly arrogant to realise the most basic traits of human behavior. Not Papua Niuginians… What kicks a human being into survival mode. Humans beings are controlled by our instincts. We always have been, and we always will be.

Whether we realize it or not, our basic instincts govern our every decision. We like to believe that our big brains and free will grant us the freedom to be free thinkers, but in reality, the power of our primal urges is more powerful than many of us care to admit. The most developed civilised countries in the world acted like uncivilised fools over toilet paper. You won’t have to worry about PNGeans fighting over toilet paper. But when you make a mother act like a thief to feed her family, when families have no option but to become become scavengers.

“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”
— Aristotle, Greek philosopher

Fees! Fees! Fees!  (Bank of South Pacific)
1. Branch Withdrawal Fee K3.00
2. Acc Maintainence Fee K3.00
3. Branch Deposit Fee K3.00
4. Checking Balance Fee K0.50
5. Transfer Fee K2.00
6. Mini Statement Fee K0.75
7. Deposit Fee K3.00
8. Withdrawal (ATM) Fee K0.50
9. Withdrawal (Counter) Fee K4.00
10. Cheque Deposit Fee K7.00
11. SMS Banking K1.50
12. Account maintainence Fee K10.00

By looking at all this rates and surcharges imposed on customers I am thinking where’s the security of the ordinary citizens of our country. Something has to be done and it has Has To Be Now!

#ActNowBPNG
#BSPRethinkUrRates
Goodness already.

18 April 2020

MONICA MINNEGAL & PETER DWYER
| DevPolicy Blog

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/04/god-covid-19-remote-health.html#more

CANBERRA – The first Covid-19 case reached Papua New Guinea on 13 March 2020, though it was several days before it was unambiguously confirmed. On 17 March the pandemic was declared a national security issue, and a state of emergency came into effect on 24 March.

….Jacko lived in and accessed the outside world in ways that were impossible for most of his kin. His learning, and his messages, influenced their understandings. Kiunga became quiet. Airlines throughout PNG were grounded. Port Moresby residents were now stranded in Kiunga, and Jacko filled his hours exploring the web and posting to Facebook.

Late in the morning on 24 March he posted a simple message: ‘PNG people will not be impacted by Corona virus disease’.

We were concerned that this might be the sort of message he would convey to the village people we knew. Though we seldom do this, we intervened. We wrote:

“Jacko. That is wrong. That is dangerous advice. If you love your friends and family, take this post down. You are spreading false information. People must follow the advice of the PNG health department to help prevent the spread of this dangerous virus that is killing people all over the world.”

Jacko replied: “Yes, we can advise our PNG People to take extra precautions measure to follow WHO advise from spreading the virus. Bottom line is PNG Christian country which God had placed in the center of the equator where it is consistent with a temperature of up to 26-27 degree Celsius.”

Jacko tells us that God placed the Christian country of PNG at the equator where moderately high temperatures would protect the people from the ravages of the virus. He agrees, however, that it would be sensible to take extra precautions with respect to hygiene……   (See the url for the full story….)

The prayer from next door

17 April 2020

Daniel Kumbon. https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/04/the-prayer-from-next-door.html#more

PORT MORESBY – With Papua New Guinea under a state of emergency, I haven’t been able to return to my home in Wabag and, here in the national capital, I continue to hear the lady next door pray to God every morning.

Today’s prayer, translated from the Enga and Pidgin languages, went something like this.__________

Thank you God Almighty for giving us Papua New Guinea.

It has oil, gas, gold and coffee and other rich resources but why we remain poor, only you know.

May this time of pestilence be a time when PNG can acknowledge you as our God and Saviour.

May it be a time when everybody repents and turns away from our bad ways. Forgive us our sins. Take us back. Guide our government.

Thank you for keeping us safe thus far. Destroy the yoke and set us free.

Protect our leaders and give them wisdom in our time of need.

Let them bow down before you.

This tiny germ has forced them to their knees. From there, let them see you as the only one who can give them strength to face this tiny germ.

Other countries have many doctors, nurses and money but PNG lacks everything. But God you have kept us safe.

You are a merciful God, the God of Abraham, Jacob and Esther. You are the God who sent manna from heaven, the God who gave your people water in the desert.

You are the God who fed multitudes with only five loaves of bread. You are the God who healed the sick. Let PNG see you, the God of Miracles…..

And on she prayed….and like for the last three weeks, my ears were turned in the direction of her humble home.

And the birds continued to sing providing the background choir every morning, perhaps praising God as they’ve done for millennia.

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2020

Disparity in a global pandemic.

Patients per Doctor
Italy – 240:1
S. Korea – 300:1
Spain – 300:1
USA – 390:1
Australia – 400:1
New Zealand – 420:1
China – 950:1
Papua New Guinea – 20,000:1

Penalty rejected: Steven

March 2, 2020The National

ACTING Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Davis Steven says it is difficult to push for the implementation of death penalty in the country.
Steven told The National that the report on death penalty was submitted to National Executive Council (NEC) seven times but it had continued to be rejected.
“I took the report to NEC but after seven attempts or so it got rejected finally because people don’t want death penalty,” he said.
“I thank the NEC and Prime Minister because we could have rejected it and forgotten about it and the gap would have remained.
“The last thing we want is to be blamed for somebody’s death. People accuse us of passing too many laws and not enforcing them. This one law if we allow it will to go ahead, it will work as a deterrent,” he said.

Police violence is alienating youth

15 March 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/03/police-violence-is-alienating-youth.html#more

KIMBE – The common practice of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary picking up youths going about their legitimate business in the street, throwing them in the back of a police 10-seater and belting them to try and get information (torture), that they may or may not have, has to stop.

Police Minister Bryan Kramer, your officers cannot expect our youth to respect the rights of others, and not steal from them or harm them, if they themselves are victims of illegal violence from police officers.

Please have police trained to perform their duties within the law. Their violence just leads to more violence and crime as the cycle spirals out of control.

Three young members of Youth For Change were ‘abducted’ by police off the street in Kimbe one afternoon recently. They were on their way home from a week-long training workshop for youth on Family Violence and Community Healing. They were “interrogated” in the back of the vehicle and then released.

They had spent the whole week with more than 70 others finding solutions to youth crime and violence, including alcohol and drug misuse. They had contributed their ideas to strategise genuine change. Then this.

PNG: Where Your Kinas Buys More

http://www.pngblogs.com/2020/03/png-where-your-kinas-buys-more.html

It is amusing to watch our politicians continue to become researchers researching into international financial schemes like WB, IMF, Exim Bank, ADB, EU, Ausaid, UBS, EU for soft loans development funds, financial aid to survive. Virtually for almost 45 years these financial institutions have been the proud sponsor for Papua New Guinea existence.

The reason why Papua New Guinea, lag behind in terms of development is because our politicians have come to love ‘handouts’ more than formulating self sufficient policy platforms of their own. It is the same mental laziness and myopia that makes Papua New Guineans to blindly follow false prophets and pyramid schemes in spiritual marketplace, and in politics we worship the most corrupt thieves of public funds.

The presence of handouts mentality legalizes and normalizes the plundering of countries’ natural resources. Our Mineral Laws become the source of economic exploitation. Moreover, foreign assistance legalized plunder and accelerates the exponential exploitation of our resources. Henceforth, the roots of our underdevelopment are neither poverty nor corruption but Politicians handouts mentality drains Papua New Guinea of its resources at the expense of ordinary citizens. Even worse, it deprives ordinary folks of their God-given right to self-determination….

Law, order & Planning for resilient island communities

26 March 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/03/planning-for-resilient-island-communities.html#more

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is implementing a K93 million Climate Investment Fund grant to secure greater climate resilience in small islands and atolls. The project started in 2016 and will end in 2021 in Bougainville, Manus, Morobe, East New Britain and Milne Bay. Some 24 islands and atolls were selected from these provinces to mainstream climate resilience in development plans focusing on vulnerable communities.

There will be three main components, firstly, climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning for the targeted communities.

A climate change vulnerability assessments uses scientific information to describe the degree to which resources, ecosystem and other sectors are affected adversely or beneficially by climate variability in the selected islands and atolls. The assessment also includes an assessment of the sectors’ ability to adapt.

The project will establish a small grant facility to finance community-based projects including the installation of 200 water supplies and 100 sanitation facilities. There will also be training of locals from the targeted islands.

The second component covers sustainable fishery ecosystems and food security. A sustainable fishery is one harvested at a rate where the fish population does not decline over time. Sustainability can be threatened by changes in climate patterns.

Experts warn of PNG health catastrophe

30 March 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/03/experts-warn-of-png-health-catastrophe.html#more

PNG has so far confirmed just one coronavirus infection (an expatriate later evacuated to Australia and later found to be negative) but public health specialists and development workers caution that PNG’s high rates of poverty, poor nutrition, threadbare health services and pre-existing health problems such as tuberculosis mean the country of eight million is highly vulnerable to the disease.

Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program director Jonathan Pryke said there were only about a dozen ventilators in Port Moresby and only a couple in other parts of the country.

Mr Pryke said the country’s health system was already stretched to the limit dealing with serious endemic health problems including malaria, tuberculosis and diabetes.

Ann Clarke, project manager for the non-government organisation Businesses for Health: TB and HIV, said an outbreak of Covid-19 in PNG, particularly in Port Moresby and other large centres, would be “an absolute catastrophe”. Dr Clarke said respiratory problems and diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and asthma were prevalent, accounting for a third of the country’s total health burden. The most recent available data show that in 2018 there were 37,000 active cases of tuberculosis alone, resulting in 4700 deaths.

Water Aid PNG country director Rachel Payne said in settlements in major urban centres like Port Moresby and Lae it was not uncommon for up to 15 people to live in a house, and access to water was very limited. Ms Payne said 60% of people lack access to safe water and just 2 per cent have somewhere in or near their home where they can wash their hands.

African Swine Fever Hits Mendi.

Post-Courier – Monday, March 30, 2020

While the coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on the world, the African Swine Fever (ASF) has arrived in Southern Highlands Province and has already killed as many as 1500 pigs in Mendi, Upper Mendi and Nipa districts.

Deputy provincial administrator Febik Simon said, “We urge the people of Mendi and nearby provinces to immediately report any sick pigs in your area. Likewise, do not move your pigs or carry pig meat out of your respective districts and provinces. “This will prevent the further spread of the virus,” he said.

 “Pigs are not just a source of protein but are also a commodity and we have to address this issue immediately. I request support from the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, NAQIA and other development partners and stakeholders to help SHP fight the disease so we can contain a breakout in the country.” Community leaders from the Waparaka ward Osborne Kiluwa said the disease is threatening pigs in the Highlands.

https://kalangfm.com/news/african-swine-fever-in-png-449

Let’s learn important coronavirus lessons

25 March 2020

SCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/03/lets-learn-our-important-coronavirus-lessons.html#more

LAE – So it’s a global pandemic with well over 16,000 dead already, 380,000 infected and less than 103,000 recovered.

It was a national health worry. But within days, it became a national emergency.

The prime minister taking advice from the National Security Council, a state of emergency declared and police commissioner David Manning appointed emergency controller.

For the first time in Papua New Guinea’s history, all the politicians and all the top bureaucrats are in the country. None of them want to be overseas.

Even the crooks who stole from Papua New Guinea’s health system and made millions from bribes want to be here in a country which is largely COVID-19 free (at least for now).

The irony of it all just gives you warm fuzzy feelings. What a beautiful example of poetic justice.

Australia, Singapore, China and the rest of the world are the least attractive places for anyone right now.

Every public official who thumbed their noses at PNG’s health system and went overseas for medical treatment now expects our underpaid doctors and nurses to build facilities that will be COVID-19 ready in weeks.

Big ask.

Oops! Why didn’t we invest in the health system and build it up for our people? Maybe, just maybe, one day we would need to use it. That day has come. A bit early, I must say.

Here is another piece of irony for you. The safest places in PNG right now are the villages where up to 70% of health facilities are closed because of lack of funding and lack of medicines.

Hundreds of villagers have been in ‘self-isolation’ for decades. They don’t have to maintain ‘social distancing.’

A lead team member in Morobe’s COVID-19 response team, said on Saturday, “the safest place right now is in the villages; they can easily self-isolate.” I didn’t say that, he did.

While there are reports of urban dwellers panic buying, food security in the villages remains constant.

The Western Highlanders will be complaining about having too much kaukau, potato, broccoli and cabbages because interprovincial travel has been drastically reduced and the Lae Market is closed.

I’d rather complain about having too much healthy food than about too many deaths from COVID-19.

The Papua New Guinea Defence force has been called on to provide security with the police. They have a funding shortage, planes that are grounded, facilities that have been screaming for government attention for decades.

They’ve been put on alert to be battle ready against COVID-19. Big ask. But I don’t doubt their abilities.

But let’s buy them the equipment, uniforms, vehicles and training. With our money. Let’s make them a force to be reckoned with. Give them the planes and the choppers so they can support us with pride.

Let’s not wait for a global crisis to do that.

We face an economic crisis brought on by COVID-19. If there was any time in history to invest in agriculture (and I don’t mean oil palm), this is the time. This is the time to plant for the next 6-12 months to increase food security.

But at the same time, we should be building systems for the future when the rest of the world collapses around us.

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Social Concerns Notes – February 2020

So PNG, What is a Fair Deal

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/so-png-what-is-a-fair-deal.html

PORT MORESBY – The politics of bigman, the economy of wastage and a public service that has become ‘private service for a tip’ all combined to deliver prime minister James Marape’s ground breaking announcement last Sunday rejecting the P’nyang gas deal.Mr Marape’s speech rejecting the P’nyang gas deal had been written over the years. It was a speech really aimed at an audience close to home. And if we didn’t get it, we have a problem. The irony is that I’m not even sure the PM himself gets it. Our criticism of Exxon Mobil and other development partners in the resources sector is as much a criticism of ourselves. If we think we are fighting them for a ‘fair deal’, we are barking up the wrong tree. So what is a fair deal? From where I stand, a fair deal to me as a taxpayer is when my tax is spent in the right manner without caressing some bigman politicians’ egos, without the money disappearing into ‘private service’ pockets and without wasting it on nonsensical economic projects with no clear return to the community. That is a fair deal to me. And only the PNG government and its machinery are capable of delivering a fair deal to taxpayers and citizens. …

PNG manufacturers face tough year

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/png-manufacturers-face-tough-year.html#more

PORT MORESBY – It is shaping up to be a difficult and frustrating year. Manufacturers, like anyone else, require people to be spending money to buy our goods and there is just not much money going around. If you go to the supermarkets there is nobody in line and everyone has a small basket because they can’t afford to fill up a trolley. In the rental market there is a 40 to 50 per cent vacancy rate. One of most pressing things at the moment is the liquidity of the government. Their cash-flow problem is terrible and that has flow-on effects. When the landlords of government have not been paid for up to five years their business, and all of its employees, will be under significant duress. When the government is nine to 12 months behind in paying their utilities provider that means the utilities provider can’t even look at reducing the cost of its services. So this government cash-flow problem is having a huge inflationary impact on the rest of the market. … We need to address why it is so expensive to do business in PNG. It is not expensive because people are chalking up large profits. It is expensive because security is a nightmare, law and order is terrible, and our ports and road infrastructure is falling apart. In PNG, you are paying 10 to 20 times more for your monthly operating costs, so how can you be competitive?

Will PNG get serious about corruption?

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/will-png-get-serious-about-corruption.html#more

PORT MORESBY – With the resignation of former prime minister Peter O’Neill last May after a seven-year tenure, many citizens hailed the resulting appointment of the Marape-Steven government as an opportunity to start afresh. A staggering K26 billion mountain of debt and an inefficient and incredibly costly public service has forced the new government to implement a number of unpopular, yet arguably more fiscally responsible, initiatives. This includes a 50% reduction in O’Neill-era popular subsidies for primary education, with potential savings directed towards university education. While there has been much debate about new measures to address national debt, little has been done about the waste created by corruption at virtually every level of society in Papua New Guinea. …

With a score of 28 out of 100 on the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), PNG finds itself among a majority of countries that show little to no improvement in tackling corruption.

As with many countries that score below the global CPI average of 43, PNG experiences a link between the perceived prevalence of corruption in a country and a lack of political integrity….

A Nursing Officer Shares

http://www.looppng.com/png-news/struggle-real-shares-nursing-officer-90078#.XkRitim8TCQ.mailto

 

Churches need funds to help victims of violence

February 19, 2020The National

THE Government is expecting churches to respond more to issues of violence against women and girls, sorcery-related accusations and killings and input into issues, the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands says.
Its president Bishop Rochus Tatamai said the churches were doing the best they could to help victims move to safe environments, but they were also facing difficulties in funding and accommodating the large number of victims they received daily.
He said 70 per cent of the population and victims in Port Moresby were from outside provinces and the Government had not funded anything yet to date.
“Centres that run out of funds and food were going out and doing small fundraisings just to continue to look after victims in their safe houses,” Tatamai said.
Tatamai said the Safe House Association launched in June would be another way they would work together and support each other.
“We don’t want to be labelled as a violent nation. Every time we are in other countries, people always ask about continuing killings and fights, labelling us a violent country,” Tatamai said. He said more could be done if the Government and other partners came together and supported each other.

Death Penalty under Review

Post Courier 25 Feb

New safe house eyed to assist victims

February 19, 2020The National

THE Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands will be launching a Catholic Safe House Association in June to build a network among agencies to provide further services to victims of violence. Madang Safe House representative Sr Thecla Gamog addressed the Catholic Bishops, agencies and media, saying the association linked four safe houses run by Catholic Mission in the country. These safe houses were located in Wewak, Kokopo, Bougainville and Madang.
The church will be looking into building one in Port Moresby, Lae and move onto the Highlands region because of increasing number of violence against women and girls.
Gamog said the association was a network of small agencies that had been providing temporary shelter for battered women and their children and victims of family and sexual violence. The church is calling on international and non-governmental organisations and Catholic houses with potential for true justice for women who often struggled to access paralegal service.

Cooking to Feed the Needy

Post Courier 24th February

Roads need fixing now: Bishop

February 19, 2020The National

ROADS in Brahman and Bundi in Madang need to be fixed quickly to allow students attending a high school to go to classes, a church leader says. The Catholic Archbishop of Madang, Rev Anton Bal urged authorities to fix the problem. “We have two mines (MCC Ramu Nickel and Marengo Yandera) here, and we have politicians from this area, so it is surprising to see the road in such a bad condition,” he said. “The provincial government and the district must put money into fixing the roads and bridges.” Bal said it was scary to see the Baia Bridge on the verge of collapsing. “If we have heavy rain up in the mountains, this bridge will be swept away. People living on the Bundi and Brahman side will be cut off. The schools will shut down and the people will suffer.” There are more than 700 students attending the St Michael’s High School in Brahman. It will be forced to close if supplies do not reach the school by today.
Missionary Max David said the road condition was so bad, vehicles transporting students could not reach the school. “One more flood and we may lose our bridge, and our primary school, secondary school, health center and all the needs of the community in Brahman and Bundi will be cut off and shut down. It is important to us that the roads and bridges be maintained,” he said.

Sir J talks against illegal logging

February 19, 2020The National

NEW Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan has declared war on illegal logging and wants such loggers to be prosecuted for treason.
“They destroy our land, rivers, bridges and roads by using trucks that weigh two or three times more than the limit,” he said.
“They even hire policemen, so the very people who are supposed to protect our people are attacking them.
Sir Julius alleged that even provincial police commanders were doing nothing about it, denying that was happening.
“That is treason, they should be called to account for it. I hope the prime minister protests the rights for the weak and those less fortunate,” Sir Julius told Parliament last Friday.
He said although all the logging operations were approved by the PNG National Forest Authority, “most are illegal”.


Safe houses lacking funds to help victims

February 20, 2020The National

SAFE houses are facing many challenges, from repatriating clients (victims) back to their families to shortage of staff, funding, counsellors and experts or specialists in most provinces. Madang Safe House representative Sr Thecla Gamog said they could only provide accommodation. But they had to find money to look after the victims, including children, through fundraising and donations. Money was needed for food and to repatriate the victims back to their families and community.
She said at times, police would leave victims with them without a proper care plan of when they would process the investigation and follow up on the perpetrators and court.
“We look after them, find ways to take them hospital and other necessities,” she said.
“Victims who stay longer – we need more support for them and provide food.
“Sometimes when the perpetrator is not arrested, we pay for fuel so that police can go and make arrests.”

PNG passes historic whistleblower law

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/png-passes-historic-whistleblower-law.html#more

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s parliament passed historic whistleblower protection legislation on Tuesday following a commitment made by prime minister James Marape last month. The passing of the Whistle Blower Act coincided with the tabling of enabling legislation for the creation of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Commenting following the vote, Mr Marape thanked both sides of parliament for supporting the bill.

 “Parliamentarians are doing our job by passing relevant laws, it is now up to those of you with evidence of corruption to rise above fear, wantok system, nepotism, bribery, hearsay, politics etc and report corruption and assist prosecuting corruption.”

Mr Marape said he looked forward to the operationalisation of ICAC.

“We will appoint credible non Papua New Guineans and known corruption fighters in PNG into ICAC to make it work,” he said.

Elisabeth Determined to give back to PNG

Post Courier 25 February

Debate on prostitution

February 24, 2020 The National

 JUSTICE Minister and Attorney-General Davis Steven says the position of the law on prostitution in PNG is not clear. Steven, currently acting as prime minister while James Marape is overseas, plans to seek the advice of the State Solicitor on the matter.
“As the Attorney-General, I’m very much dependent on the State Solicitor to give me specific legal support on matters like that,” he said.
He, however said that assuming there was a law against prostitution, those who breached it should expect the penalty.
Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands Bishop Rochus Tatamai told The National that life was a gift from God and no one should use it as an object to satisfy one’s pleasure and receive money for it.
He blames the current “economic crisis” as one of the reasons behind the increase in prostitution.
He said women selling their bodies for money was against the rules of the church.
“The church’s role is to promote the family and marriage.
“Once a man is married to a woman, they become one and live as a family.
“Using a person’s body as an object for pleasure shows no self-respect.
“It is against the church and us as a Christian nation.”

Comparing poverty in Oz and PNG

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/02/comparing-poverty-in-oz-and-png.html

 MORRISET – A recent report by ACOSS [the Australian Council of Social Service] and the University of NSW highlighted the rates of poverty in Australia, particularly for children.

Two years ago the Asia Development Bank and the Borgen Institute produced a similar report for Papua New Guinea. I in no way wish to diminish the work of ACOSS but I think it is important to put things into perspective by making a comparison to our nearest neighbour in PNG.

The poverty line in Australia is set at 50% of the median household disposable income. That’s around $433 a week for a single adult and $909 a week for a couple with two children. School attendance rates in Australia average 92% (82% for indigenous children) and public schools are free. More than 13% of Australia’s population – that is about 3.2 million people – live below the poverty line, according to the report. About 774,000 children under 15 (17.7% of Australian children) live in poverty. The infant mortality rate is 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Meanwhile in Papua New Guinea….

An estimated 40% of Papua New Guineans live below the poverty line, which was established by the Asian Development Bank at $9 a week. PNG has fewer than 400 doctors, with an estimated 51 of these working outside Port Moresby. Similarly, there is a shortage of nurses, with recent figures suggesting only one nurse per 2,270 people. An estimated 25% of children are unable to attend school, with current figures suggesting 600,000 children do not receive an education. School attendance rates average below 75% and schools are fee paying. Only seven percent of Papua New Guineans have access to both electricity grid and properly treated water. The infant mortality rate for Papua New Guinea is 41.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.

That’s quite a comparison.

Safe house for women, children closed for maintenance

February 26, 2020The National

A SAFE house in Port Moresby where woman and children fleeing “domestic violence” seek refuge in has been temporarily closed for maintenance. The management of Haus Ruth said the building badly needed repairs as water had been leaking from the top floor wetting the kitchen area and floors, gas stoves were not working and walls broken.
It had to be closed “for the health and safety of children and mothers”.
Haus Ruth opened its doors in 2003 under City Mission.
It offers to help women and children but now men too are also coming in for counselling

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2020

Centuries-long Hela war gets deadlier

08 January 2020
https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/a-violent-centuries-long-war-gets-deadlier.html

Tribal fighting in the last 30 years has become more akin to conventional warfare on the battlefields of the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa than the pitched battles using the bows and arrows that characterised pre-colonial confrontations in the Highlands. In the last 30 years, modern weapons, along with other accoutrements of modern technology, have made their way into Papua New Guinea. They have disrupted the traditional rules of tribal fighting that had historically limited the effects and consequences of the fighting and restrained fighters from going too far.

While in the past a decision to go to war with an opposing clan or tribe would have been taken collectively, now young and disillusioned men with access to modern weapons can unleash devastation on their enemies and their own communities almost single-handedly.

The presence of these modern weapons and their destructive firepower has also meant that the number of casualties is much higher, making it harder for opposing sides to reconcile (and the traditional exchange of compensation prohibitive) and leading to completely unprecedented tribal fighting dynamics.

Instead of pre-arranged battles between warriors in designated areas as in the past, villages are now attacked under cover of darkness as part of a scorched earth policy to kill and destroy with abandon. And while previously fighting was restricted to the geography of the tribes involved, targeted killings can now occur against random members of either side almost anywhere.

Schools and clinics are frequently attacked and destroyed, and most recently in Hela pregnant women and children were killed and some burnt alive. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been present in PNG since 2007 and opened its offices in Mount Hagen and Bougainville in 2012. Since then, we have progressively grown our presence. Today, most ICRC staff and resources are focused on protecting and assisting people affected by the tribal fighting in the provinces of Enga, Hela and the Southern Highlands….

More Doom and Gloom – Ken Fairweather

http://www.pngblogs.com/2020/01/more-doom-and-gloom-for-png-in-new-year.html

The Reserve Bank of PNG has run out of money, that is, foreign exchange, and that has been the case for some years. This has happened because they’re using the country’s cash reserves to prop up a small currency that is not really recognised internationally — for no apparent reason other than to protect the imports of rice and other products people want, although there are clear alternatives around like sweet potato. Rice is easy although there is an abundance of local vegetables that could take its place. This propping-up of the Kina also protects the interests of Chinese importers, who delight in this half-hard currency because they use it to run their own black market. And no-one else is onto that but the Chinese. So, you’ve got the PNG Reserve Bank protecting people that shouldn’t be protected.

So, there is that and, internally you have this extraordinary system where, if you ask the bank for an overdraft, they will charge you 15%. If you have 2 million Kina to put in the bank on a fixed deposit, they will give you 1%. Such a spread of rates is fraudulent. And the finance companies, although they pay more for their money, probably around 5%, lend it out at 17%. That needs to be investigated….

There are also the massive charges made by the banks when sending money overseas. In Australia it is around quarter of a point of 1%, in PNG it might be as high as 8%. It’s just fraud, and this needs to be investigated.

Cash crunch as debt repayment soars

13 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/cash-crunch-as-debt-repayment-soars.html#more

 

Papua New Guinea’s annual debt repayments to China are forecast to increase 25% by 2023, new budget figures show, at the same time as the Pacific nation falls to its largest ever deficit.

The resource-rich country, which is at the centre of a diplomatic tussle between China and the United States, has blamed extravagant spending by the previous administration for its souring finances, which will require the government to borrow even more to pay the bills. Balancing its books has been made more difficult by recalculations to the country’s outstanding debt. It has soared 10% since the last annual budget to 42% of gross domestic product, above the legal limit of 35%. “You have some of those loans clicking in; the repayments are going to be a problem,” said Paul Barker, executive director of Port Moresby-based think tank the Institute of National Affairs.

PNG’s total expenditure in the 2020 budget is forecast to reach a record K18.7 billion against an anticipated K14.1 billion in revenue, creating the largest deficit it has ever faced, according to budget documents.

Sarawak loggers deforest PNG

12 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/sarawak-loggers-deforest-png.html#more

 

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian companies from Sarawak are allegedly trespassing while carrying out logging activities in Papua New Guinea and contributing towards deforestation in the island nation, says Sarawak Report. The online investigative portal accused Sibu-based Rimbunan Hijau Group (RHG) and WTK Group as well as Amanab 56 Timber Investments Limited as among those stripping the resources of PNG.

It then claimed that the biggest player in PNGs logging industry is RHG, headed by tycoon Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King. It claimed that local environmentalists were outraged when Tiong was awarded an honorary knighthood in 2009 for “services to commerce, the community and charitable organisations in PNG” and demanded that he be stripped of the title. “In 2016, The Oakland Institute published a report on the financial records of 30 RHG subsidiaries involved in various activities and services related to logging or agri-business in PNG. “According to the financial records of 16 of the companies they scrutinised, RHG has been working at a loss for over a decade. The report questioned how the largest logging operator in PNG had managed to operate at a loss for such a long period yet remained in business. “The report also exposed ‘massive tax evasion and financial misreporting’ allegedly resulting in the non-payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes by the group.

The expose also pointed out that the extent of RHG’s investments in PNG — including a 12-page list of companies it owned that are operating there.  “Evidence of such bad practices were also exposed in the 2016 documentary ‘Bikpela Bagarap’ (‘Big Damage’) by French director, David Fedele.

Ordeal of sorcery survivors

LAST Wednesday, the bodies of two women and a man were found by the banks of Mendi River in Southern Highlands. Police believed the dead were victims of sorcery-related mass killings whose remains were carried downstream from Karintz. The bodies were recovered on Dec 31, Jan 4 and 5.
Western End police commander Asst Comm (ACP) Kaiglo Ambane had urged villagers to help keep a lookout for possibly more bodies floating downstream. The National reproduces below a FLASHBACK of sorcery-related violence survivors reported by ABC and a latest court proceeding of a sorcery-related violence conviction in PNG. One woman survivor of sorcery-related violence, who requested anonymity, was accused of sorcery following the death of a child in her community.
“When the child died, they went to where I was riding back from the garden and they bashed me up on the way,” she said through an interpreter. “After beating me up, they took me to see the child lying dead. They told me I was the one who killed the child, and people were saying I am not from around here, I have no people to protect me — so kill me.” But the woman, who did not hail from the local area, was rescued by a bystander who took her to hospital to receive treatment for her wounds.
A male survivor of sorcery-related violence said he was exiled by his family following the death of a cousin in his community.
“My relatives got together and they said I was the one who used the sorcery on my family member to kill him,” he said through an interpreter. Community leaders in PNG said they are at a loss to explain a recent upsurge in sorcery-related violence that most often targets women, in some parts of the country.
Key points:

  • ATTACKS on women accused of sorcery usually take place in remote areas;
  • SIX women have been killed over witchcraft allegations in the more densely-populated Enga province since September (2017); and
  • CHURCH leaders have raised concerns over a lack of resources and education to tackle the problem

Attacks and murders of people accused of practising witchcraft have spread from remote areas in the country’s highlands to large towns and cities, alarming policy makers trying to address the problem.
Anton Lutz, a Lutheran missionary in PNG’s Enga province, said there had been seven attacks on women accused of witchcraft — known locally as sanguma — in the province since late September.
Six of those were fatal. “In each of these cases, they were precipitated by an unexplained death or illness in the community, and the community then turned on the local scapegoat and started torturing her,” Lutz told the ABC’s Pacific Beat. “And under torture, the women are saying things that incriminate themselves and reinforce these beliefs. “One of the things that people believe about these so-called witches or sanguma is when they’re not being tortured they’ll lie, and if they are being tortured, they’ll tell the truth.”

Mori Reassures that Madang Waters are Safe

Post Courier, Jan 15, 2020

Residents of Madang Province, especially those living along the coastline can now eat fish and use the sea. Minister for Environment and Conservation Wera Mori gave the clearance following the investigation done by the Office of Conservation and Environment Protection Authority.  This was after the slurry spillage from the Ramu Nickel Mine at Basamuk Bay last year. Since that time all fish markets have been closed in the Madang area.

Tribal Conflict Threatens Porgera Mine

January 13, 2020  http://www.pngblogs.com/2020/01/tribal-conflict-threatens-porgera-mine.html

PORGERA Gold Mine in Enga Province is under a serious threat as law and order problems escalate dramatically at present due to the spin off effects of a half-a-decade old severe tribal conflict emanating from the neighbouring Hela Province. The tribal rivalry between two known warlords in Tagali LLG in Tari, Hela has resulted in killing close to 100 people and raged about 90% of the volatile area that once enjoyed peace and prosperity. Now, the effects of the conflict has slowly creeped into Porgera, which hosts a world-class mineral resource project that significantly contributes to the national government coffers…
The principal motive behind every tribal fight is to kill an enemy, to kill men. So when Pujaro, Ekanda and Paijaka areas in Tari are literally deserted with no men living there, what is the point in staging a guerilla style warfare there. The tribal warlords are now following the human trails, they are smelling the fresh bloods, and eventually entering Porgera where there are subjects to be slaughtered as sacrificial lambs….

Under Marape, rights getting worse – report

16 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/under-marape-rights-getting-worse-report.html#more

Human Rights Watch’s annual report reveals rates of violence, domestic abuse, corruption and foreign debt haven’t improved over the past year, where weak enforcement and a lack of accountability fostered a culture of impunity and lawlessness. Its deputy director for Asia, Phil Robertson, said despite a change in prime minister, progress was still slow and the key findings were dire.

“We are talking about a very desperately poor country. One where there is a lot of violence that’s committed with impunity … where women are particularly affected, as well as children.

“Forty percent of the population still lives in poverty, and this is a very resource-rich country. Twenty five percent of the children are not in school, and our estimate is that one in 13 have died of preventable disease.” The report found more than two-thirds of women and girls were subjected to domestic violence, while 75 percent of children surveyed across 30 communities experienced violence at home. “PNG has an underfunded health system and children are particularly vulnerable to disease. An estimated one in thirteen children die each year from preventable diseases, and large numbers of children experienced malnutrition resulting in stunted growth,” it said. There was little chance of redressing it with the culture of corruption and impunity that had been fostered, the report said, with corruption convictions rare and prosecutions for brutality at the hands of the state and military few and far between.

PNG must change its spending systems

19 January 2020 

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/png-must-change-its-spending-systems.html#more

Allan Bird. Governor, East Sepik Province.

WEWAK – Our country is overrun with corruption because we do not have effective checks on power. There is a complete lack of checks and balances in the system. In fact I would say that there aren’t any checks and balances at all. We negotiate for an opportunity to spend money. Everyone spends public money, from the prime minister all the way to the local level government presidents, ward members and public servants.

Who checks on the provincial governments? No one.

Who checks on the district development authority? No one.

Who checks on the local level governments? No one.

Who checks on the national government? No one.

The only check and balance is the goodwill of those who are in those positions. We work on consensus. We have consensus in parliament to spend money, we have consensus in the assembly to spend money, we have consensus in the development authority to spend money and we have consensus in the local level government to spend public money on projects we desire.

Right now the only real check and balance is the individual. And if the individual feels he is doing the right thing, the nation is at the mercy of the individual in a position of power to negotiate his opportunity to spend public money. We need strong mechanisms of checks and balances that will say ‘no’ to those spending money and jail them if they don’t comply.

Such a system does not exist in Papua New Guinea right now.

Bougainville govt to change name

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/bougainville-govt-to-change-name.html#more

BUKA – The Autonomous Bougainville Government is set to change its name to the Bougainville Constitutional Transitional Government to reflect the people’s vote for independence.

Bougainville’s post referendum minister Albert Punghau told The National newspaper that because 98% of Bougainvilleans had voted in favour of independence in last year’s referendum, the Bougainville government felt the need to change its name to reflect the overwhelming result.

“The name change by the Bougainville’s government is based entirely on the virtue of the majority of the Bougainvilleans who have voted for independence,” Mr Punghau said. “Bougainville Constitutional Transitional Government reflects Bougainville as the name of our island, the constitution that governs us and the transition we are making to independence.”

Call for more dialogue on ban

January 22, 2020 The National 

Businesses need more dialogue with the Government in regards to the ban on plastic bags which comes into effect from Feb 1, according to the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Chamber president Rio Fiocco told The National that the Government had refused to hold proper talks with businesses and stakeholders on the issue.
“(It) means there is some confusion among many as to what the new regime will actually be,” Fiocco said.
“No one knows what the appropriate materials, specifications and definitions of reusable bags are going to be allowed or not allowed.” Fiocco said they had been told that from March 1, bags should meet certain requirements “which potentially means there could be more, rather than less, environment impact”. “There is no policy in place to tackle the real issue which is to encourage and educate our people to reuse and properly dispose of used bags and packaging waste as a whole,” he said.

Deputy prime minister Davis Steven says NGO has been premature in its judgement of PNG’s human rights and change is now very close (PNG PM Media Unit)

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/png-defends-human-rights-effort.html#more

AUCKLAND – Papua New Guinea’s government has defended its efforts to protect human rights.

This follows a damning international NGO report into the state of human rights in PNG.

Human Rights Watch’s annual summary on PNG says little was done in the past year to tackle corruption, police abuses and domestic violence.

But PNG’s justice minister and attorney-general, Davis Steven, said he was concerned the NGO had ignored various efforts on human rights by a new government which was working to usher in reforms.

Mr Steven, who is also deputy prime minister, said concerns about corruption played a part in the change of government. According to him, the new administration is continuing to work with the United Nations and the European Union on areas concerning human rights.

“Also, there is a very concerted effort with our development partners, including Australia and New Zealand, on certain fronts to build capacity within the law and justice sector to be a lot more focussed on our human rights efforts.” Mr Steven said he was saddened by the negative implications in the report by the NGO, which he said should know that PNG was also preparing to establish a national Human Rights Commission. PNG’s long-mooted Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is also set to become a reality. “Our government in the past six months has actually pushed it to the point where it is now before parliament. It (parliament) sits in February, and I’m very confident that this group of leaders will pass the ICAC bill,” Mr Steven said. Last year’s change in government leadership presaged a change in leadership of the country’s troubled police force. In an effort to eradicate politicisation of the force, as well as abuses by police, the outspoken government critic and opposition MP Bryan Kramer was appointed police minister.

Yet Mr Steven suggested the NGO lacked understanding of the cultural context in PNG when criticising it for treatment of females. The deputy prime minister cited gains made by the O’Neill-led government to have more girls enrolled in schools, saying this drive was continuing under the new administration. “Through our government’s education policy drive, we’ve now started to see a balance in the attention being given to our female children where education is concerned. “Our budget focus for example under the law and justice sector now has the biggest spending on the challenge that we face to deal with complaints of violence against women.” The minister said it was misleading to say the government was ignoring – or complacent about – human rights issues. No one is saying that change on these issues can happen overnight in PNG, but the government and Human Rights Watch clearly have different ideas about the required rate of change.

PNG rated low

January 24, 2020 The National Main Stories

PRIME Minister James Marape yesterday vowed to introduce major reform policies and legislation this year to address the country’s continuing low ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
It will include the establishment of the long-awaited Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Whistleblowers Act. “I announced when I first took office (in May 2019) that ICAC and Whistleblowers Act would be key vessels in reforming our country for the better,” he said.
“The 2020 parliamentary year will be filled with reform legislations that we will bring in.”
According to Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) chairman Peter Aitsi, PNG had shown “little improvement” in its ranking, scoring 28 out 100 and ranked 137 out of 180 countries surveyed. The CPI measures public sector corruption including bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain and nepotism in the civil service.


Momis accuses mining company of lying

26 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/momis-accuses-mining-company-of-lying.html#more

SYDNEY – The president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has accused an Australian-linked mining company of lying to the Australian Securities Exchange over its plans to reopen one of the world’s largest copper mines.  In a scathing statement, ABG president John Momis accused the Australian-linked RTG Mining of “lies and deceptions” and said his government “will not rest until all RTG and their executives are banned for life from Bougainville and Papua New Guinea”.

Dr Momis was referring to a statement issued by RTG Mining to the ASX last Tuesday in which the company sought to clarify recent press reports, which have alleged that RTG staff are banned from entering PNG. In December, after the results of a referendum that saw almost 98% of Bougainvilleans vote in favour of independence from PNG, Momis issued a warning banning people affiliated with certain foreign mining companies, including six from RTG and one from Kalia Group, from entering Bougainville. Momis said they were creating “disharmony” in the region and that he had sought the assistance of the PNG prime minister and office of immigration and border security to assist with keeping them out of Bougainville.

 Asylum seekers released

January 27, 2020The National

EIGHTEEN asylum seekers from Manus Island imprisoned at the Bomana detention centre have been released, according to a report. But refugee advocates say many will never recover, according to a report in Guardian Australia newspaper last weekend. In August, PNG authorities arrested 52 men who had previously been detained on Manus Island on behalf of the Australian government after seeking asylum by boat. As of this year, just 18 of the 52 men remained in the detention centre, after the others had been removed having agreed to return to their country of origin. Many of those who were detained had spent up to seven years in Australia’s offshore detention system, but say the conditions inside Bomana broke them into signing the agreements. The 18 men were moved to three boutique hotels in Port Moresby, Guardian Australia understands. Refugee advocate and Port Moresby Catholic priest Father Giorgio Licini told Guardian Australia he had attempted to visit one of those who had been detained last Thursday night. Even though he is now in a hotel where conditions are better than in Bomana, the man was too tired and weak to see him. “In the hotel, I think, they have good rooms and everything is OK,” Licini said. “What we hope is one way or another through UNHCR they will be resettled somewhere, because they can’t be resettled here.”

PNG, a haven for human trafficking syndicates: Report

January 27, 2020The National

A UNITED Nations report says PNG is a haven for Asian-operated human trafficking syndicates, according to Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven. “Successive governments have failed to address this transnational criminal activity for the last 30 years, since the United Nation, World Bank and the United States government produced a joint report highlighting our vulnerability,” he said.
“They have monitored us over the years and I’m saddened to say that the 2018 report by UN has given PNG a very bad rating whereby we are one of the few countries in the Asia Pacific region that is very vulnerable to human trafficking syndicates.” “And that is an indication that if we do not start improving on our poor enforcement and prosecution of human traffickers, it can affect our international reputation and relationship, especially where support of the Government in terms of foreign aid is concerned.”

Is sustainable forestry a fantasy?

28 January 2020

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/is-sustainable-forestry-a-fantasy.html#more

 

Two years ago my tribe in the Prince Alexander range of East Sepik Province obtained a Roadline TA licence from the PNG Forest Authority. The intention was to commercially harvest logs along a 40 metre road corridor as a way of enticing private investors to build a main road into our hamlets and open up access to the outside world. I produced an investment flyer of the opportunity and shared it with one investor from the United States and another from Australia who was a former colleague with connections to wealthy Indian business people.

We also met with a wealthy Chinese businessman to discuss the opportunity.

All three investors looked at the proposition from a disinterested point of view and considered only the commerciality of the available volume. All three said the volume was not commercially viable.

So the response was a unanimous no. None of them knew each other so could not have possibly colluded against us. Given these two cases, can we harvest our forests in both a commercially viable and environmentally sustainable way? Indeed, should we even attempt to harvest them on a large scale at all?

UBS – the unnecessary loan

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/ubs-the-unnecessary-loan.html#more

29 January 2020

David Kitchnoge – explains the loan should never have been

PORT MORESBY – As the infamous UBS loan inquiry commences here in the national capital, let’s take a quick look at how we got here. The Papua New Guinea government had a 17.6% interest in Oil Search when Oil Search merged with Orogen Minerals in 2002. When the PNG LNG project crystallised in 2009, and the final investment decision had to be made, the government’s legislated funding obligation kicked in. But the government needed to first repay 19.5% of the sunk cost to exercise its so-called ‘back-in-rights’ and hence acquire equity in the massive project.

And then, once it was in, the government needed to fund its share of the construction costs.

To be able to meet these huge funding obligations, the government entered into an exchangeable bond arrangement with the Middle-East based IPIC to raise US$1.1 billion.

At this time, PNG effectively sold its 17.6% stake in Oil Search. This point needs to be made clear. This was when we sold our Oil Search shares.

A press release announcing the IPIC bond on the Oil Search website clearly spelled out IPIC’s intention to convert the bond to Oil Search shares upon maturity.

So IPIC had always intended to own the shares in Oil Search once held by PNG government.

The reason the deal was transacted as a bond rather than as an outright sale and purchase of shares was because the value of our Oil Search shares wasn’t sufficient to provide the amount we needed (US$1.1 billion) but there was potential for the shares to grow to that amount over time.

The bond was structured to limit the downside risks for the Arabs whilst allowing PNG to pre-sell its shareholding in Oil Search. It was a smart deal. Anyone who says they could have done a better job than Arthur Somare and his team at that time would be lying.

Given the intent of the IPIC exchangeable bond as I’ve explained, there was no need to refinance it upon maturity. The Arabs were always going to grab our Oil Search shares to redeem their bond. That had been their intention from day dot.

And by some stroke of luck or ingenuity, the value of those shares had increased over that time to sufficiently cover the bond principal as originally envisaged in the deal. Stars were aligned and it was a case of tok idai!

On our part, we leveraged a less valuable asset (Oil Search shares) with an uncertain dividend stream to acquire a more lucrative asset (a share in PNG LNG) with an excellent dividend stream.

So we never lost anything. It was a smart move that created real value for PNG. There was no need to keep our Oil Search shares once they were taken by the Arabs under the terms of the IPIC bond.

Given all this, the UBS loan should never have been negotiated in the first place.

Even if PNG had negotiated it in the hope of redeeming the IPIC bond, the loan should simply have been cancelled when it became clear that the Arabs weren’t giving up the Oil Search shares. It was that simple.

When Peter O’Neill ran out of excuses for the disastrous UBS loan that was unnecessary, he used the nonsensical argument that the PNG government needed to remain a significant shareholder in Oil Search because it was the largest employer in PNG and needed to be protected from outside interests.

Well guess what? We are no longer a shareholder, the Arabs are now a substantial shareholder, and Oil Search is still going strong.

Papua New Guinea Church Against Social Ills

http://www.heraldmalaysia.com/news/papua-new-guinea-church-against-social-ills/51620/2

Caritas PNG and the “Justice and Peace” Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands expressed their concern in a note to the Vatican’s Fides news agency. According to Caritas, human trafficking in Papua New Guinea is a very complex problem given its variety of forms, the situation of the victims and the nature of criminals who perpetrate the abuses.  A recent report, published by the local newspaper, “Post Courier”, showed that several foreign multinationals carry out activities not foreseen in their licenses and even contrary to the laws of PNG. A note from Caritas PNG, sent to Fides, suggested two practical solutions. Firstly, it calls for prompt judicial proceedings against traffickers and those who benefit from them at different levels.  Caritas also calls for greater cooperation and awareness on human trafficking and the defence of victims, both at the national and international levels through cooperation among government networks, businesses, religious communities and civil society.

Generosity is what counts

https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/01/generosity-is-what-counts.html#more

30 January 2020

Ordinary Simbu people and some business people have donated money to the bushfire appeal, saying this is one way of repaying Australia for all she has done for them

FRANCIS NII

KUNDIAWA – In a critical economic situation like now in Papua New Guinea, when even a single kina matters a lot to many families, the generosity shown by the Simbu people toward the Simbu for Australia bushfire fundraising appeal is amazing. Simbus from all walks of life poured their hearts out for the fundraising effort to help the people of Australia affected by devastating bushfires.

Incredibly, elderly mothers clambered up the rocky Simbu mountains to give some money, so did young children, as did market hawkers in Kundiawa, public servants, educated elites in faraway places and small business entrepreneurs. And it wasn’t only the people of Simbu making donations but the neighbouring Jiwaka people, including political icon and Jiwaka chief Sir Philip Kapal and his daughter Debbie, who donated K500 and K1,000 respectively. The generosity of people has been so amazing and the fundraising committee wondered why that was so? One phrase frequently uttered, particularly elderly donors, was “Australia em mama” (‘Australia is our parent’).

An old woman placing a handful of coins in the donation box said in perfect Tok Pisin, “Astralia i lukautim yumi taim yumi no save long rit na rait. Ol i bringim lotu, school na hausik. Ol i wokim ples balus, rot na bris. Na bihain ol i givim independens long yumi tasol ol ino lusim yumi. Ol i givim moni yet. Nau ol i gat hevi, em taim blong yumi long helpim ol,”

‘Australia looked after us when we did not know how to read and write. They brought churches, education and health services. They built airstrips, roads and bridges. Later they gave us independence but they didn’t leave us. They continue to give us money. Now that they face problem, this is our time to help them.’

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Social Concerns Notes – December 2019

01 December 2019

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/12/png-we-cant-go-on-like-this.html#more

In the National Housing Corporation corruption is rife. The stench from those who feed off the misery of evicted  Papua New Guinean families is sickening 

SCOTT WAIDE

LAE – All the systems we put in place must serve the people. We can pull our people out from the quagmire of poor health and low literacy. We can educate more women, reduce violence, build great infrastructure, strengthen our internal and external security. We can be a learning hub for our Pacific neighbours with world class university campuses that use the research and the skills to mitigate the effects of climate change. We can pull our 10 million people out of poverty, change mindsets and build a country of wealthy families. We can build a great military that focuses on nation building and protects our national borders with pride and builds the characters of our young. The noble concepts of free health and free education can work beautifully.  We have the people, the natural resources and the means to do it. We have land enough to provide housing for all our people. We have the systems that can do it. But we can’t achieve all that if the people running the systems are selfish and corrupt. Selfishness stems from an inward looking mindset.  It puts self ahead of the rest. It prioritizes taking instead of giving. Our education system can be among the best in the world. Yet the people who run it steal from it, starving our future generations of what is theirs….

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has exposed the corruption within the National Department of Health. It exposed a department secretary who depended on and trusted bad advice by his ‘technical team.’ The PAC exposed a ring that thrived on bribes. It also showed how defective tender application documents that quoted more than K600,000 for sea and air transport for medicine deliveries in the City of Port Moresby went through.

Why would the health department choose the most expensive service providers to deliver and supply medicines, and on the other hand tell the PAC that it was trying to save a few thousand kina by not testing for the quality of drugs in Australia?

In the National Housing Corporation corruption is rife. The stench is sickening and those who feed off the misery of evicted  Papua New Guinean families walk around unpunished. They’re still doing it. Towards the end of the year is when they start issuing eviction orders again.  Don’t think we don’t know.  Their customers are foreign business owners looking for cheap properties to buy.  Documents appear legitimate and, like the health department, they are aided by NHC insiders. We can’t live like this. We can’t continue to be the butt of sarcastic jokes at diplomatic and corporate functions.  We can’t accept the corruption and continuously expect things to go wrong. We have to stand up and expose the people behind it. Name them, shame them and make them run for cover. We have to be willing to fight for our country and demand that those in positions of trust and authority do the right thing.

We can’t accept the rot and expect to continue living life in a cocoon.

Hospital out of drugs for 10 months

December 3, 2019The National Main Stories

THE Kaugere Urban Clinic in Port Moresby has been facing a shortage of medicine for more than 10 months, forcing it to buy supplies from pharmacies and resell to patients at a reduced price. Clinic administrator Josephine Mamis told the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the procurement, supply and distribution of medicine that from September last year to July this year, the clinic had no medicine supply and had to give 50 to 60 patients prescriptions daily. “Sometimes we would use our own money to buy medicine for those we knew could not afford to. “And sometimes we bought medicines from the pharmacies and resold them at half price to help our patients,” Mamis said.
“We placed orders with the Area Medical Store but every time we followed up during those 10 months, we were told there was no supply in stock.” Mamis said they needed to raise funds to purchase medicine for patients. “We have patients from Moresby South and other parts of Port Moresby, including some from as far as Central and Gulf,” she said.
Mamis said the clinic finally received a supply of medicine in July this year. “But again it wasn’t really a full order. “The 100 per cent medical kits have also been supplied twice.
“However, we do not need most of the items in the medical kits so we donate it to other clinics in the city,” she said. Mamis said the clinic faced a shortage of basic medicines such as amoxicillin, septrin, panadol and salbutamol.

Bougainville Votes and Prays for Independence

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/12/bville-votes-prays-for-independence.html#more

08 December 2019

LEANNE JORARI -| The Guardian | The Pacific Project

BUKA – In the coastal town of Buka a solemn procession of people makes its way from the Catholic church to Bel Isi park, where worshippers kneel before a makeshift cross. There is one subject that dominates the prayers in Bougainville today. “We are gathered here this morning in Bel Isi Park to ask you to bless the referendum. May it be peaceful and successful,” says the priest. Besides those at the ceremony, the town is almost deserted. A handful of taxi boats float next to the closed market. The vessels have brought families dressed in their Sunday best for church from other parts of Buka Island. Bernadine Perekai from Haku crossed the Buka Channel with her two sons to attend the mass. “In Bougainville, all our hope is in God.” She says. “We believe he created our land and us, so our lives and our future are in his hands.” The quiet streets and sombre procession are a stark contrast to scenes in this park the day before, which is the polling booth for Buka town, in a long-awaited referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea. Cars beeped their horns in the streets, as crowds – singing, dancing, cheering and playing pan flutes – followed the region’s president John Momis, to the polling booth to watch him as he cast the first vote in the referendum. “I’m very happy that my dream to empower people in a way that is democratically appropriate has been achieved,” said Momis, emerging from the polling booth with arms raised. “It’s obvious that the people are now in the mood for celebration and I join them as they have every right to celebrate.” This vote has been 20 years in the making, promised to the people of Bougainville as part of a peace deal reached in 2001, which marked the end of a brutal decade-long civil war that saw an estimated 20,000 out of the region’s 200,000 people killed. Over the course of two weeks more than 206,000 Bougainvilleans, living in the region, on mainland PNG, in Australia and the Solomon Islands, had their chance to vote to decide whether they wish Bougainville to remain within PNG but with “greater autonomy” or whether the voters will mark “box two” and opt to create an independent state.

Alcohol leads to 70 per cent of accidents: N’dranou

December 12, 2019 The National

ACCORDING to a police report, 70 per cent of accidents that they attend to in Port Moresby were all alcohol related problems, National Capital District Met Supt Perou N’dranou says.
“A lot of clashes we attended to, especially in the outskirts of the city where people fighting, burning houses and killing each other is alcohol related,” N’dranou said. “It seems that people cannot live together with little or no consideration because of bad behaviour and poor attitudes.” He said violence also flared around celebrations, holidays or major sports events such as the State of Origin games. The St John Ambulance service which attended to several incidents reported that most were alcohol related.

Victims of crime: 10 officers attacked in Madang over 24 months

https://mylandmycountry.wordpress.com/2019/12/25/victims-of-crime-10-officers-attacked-in-madang-over-24-months/?fbclid=IwAR03vOShyygWGXaX9W42niDhpIn0g_rt1vrDpsQll5mFvW7-B39YbzAY-BY

For the past 12 months, the media’s attention has focused on Madang, not as a tourist destination, but as a hotspot for crime. At Jomba station, where the provincial headquarters is located, Provincial Police Commander, Manuc Rubian, reveals that the crime statistics are worrying. A lot of it stems from widespread alcohol abuse and a general breakdown in law and order. “In a month, we get between 50 and 60 alcohol related crimes,” he says. “It’s not just the adults who are drinking ‘homebrew.’ It’s kids as well. And when they drink, they don’t stay at home. They go out on the road and start harassing people.” But it is not just the citizens of Madang who are bearing the brunt of this surge in crime. Being on the frontline, police officers are also being targeted by criminals and opportunists. Up to 10 policemen in Madang have been attacked in the last 24 months. Their situation is compounded by a critical housing shortage that remained largely unaddressed for a decade.

 “For 10 years, I lived with my in-laws at the Nagada settlement. People broke into my house and later when we tried to address the problem, I was attacked. It was difficult for my family. We had to move around a lot,” says Senior Constable Solomon William, the taskforce commander in Madang. He was later moved from a settlement where he resided to a condemned house at the Kusbau Police Barracks. Outside, Constable John Solala, a taskforce member shows the injuries he got when he was attacked earlier this month. His head is still bandaged and he shows the tear in the uniform where his attackers tried to stab him with a sharp bamboo. But it didn’t stop there. His daughter and wife were also threatened days after he was attacked. At Nagada settlement, Constable Tika Aso, shows the scars from an attack earlier this year when he was stabbed and slashed by a mob after he and two other officers tried to arrest troublemakers drunk on steam at a school graduation. “I was lucky that I was wearing a vest and the knife did not go through as far as it could have. I was cut on the hand and the face and I received several stitches. We were outnumbered.”

About two weeks after the attack on Constable John Solala, another constable, Franko Horake, was stabbed the Mildas Market about 100 meters behind the Provincial Police Headquarters and the Madang Governor’s office. Constable Horake later died in hospital and his death triggered a police raid on the Wagol settlement whose residents were accused of harboring the suspects.

 “We can’t stop work,” says Senior Constable Solomon William. “We are supposed to work for eight hours a day. But we know, that’s not going to happen. We work up to 16 hours a day. If we don’t do it, who will? “We have people willing to work. All we need are good vehicles, fuel, a boat, housing and additional manpower.”

Deactivation of mobile phones in Papua New Guinea imminent

 https://devpolicy.org/deactivation-of-mobile-phones-in-papua-new-guinea-imminent-20191219/ written by Amanda H A Watson

The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has this week declined to answer questions asked of it regarding the SIM card registration regulation of 2016. The direct impact of this court hearing is that unregistered SIM cards currently in use in mobile phones around the country will likely be deactivated in coming days. A recent news article suggested that 40% of SIM cards in use are unregistered. Unless the regulator, the National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA), grants the users of these unregistered SIM cards additional time, these people will find themselves no longer able to make phone calls, send text messages and so on.

The judges conferred amongst themselves and then announced that they had decided to decline to give an opinion on the three questions put to them. They said that the questions have no immediate relevance to circumstances in PNG.

The outcome of this court hearing could have a very real impact on the many people who live in rural and remote communities across PNG, where mobile phones provide the only available form of communication. There is now no legal impediment to NICTA imposing the regulation, which means that telecommunication companies will face large fines if there are unregistered SIM cards in use. Deactivation of SIM cards in the days before Christmas seems likely. I hope that NICTA will choose to grant additional time for SIM card registration.

Capital punishment in PNG

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/12/capital-punishment-in-png.html#more

23 December 2019 | DevPolicy Blog

PORT MORESBY – Capital punishment is a sensitive issue in Papua New Guinea. While laws have been put in place to introduce the death penalty, they have not been used.

In July 2019, prime minister James Marape said the PNG Parliament would continue to debate whether the death penalty is maintained in the criminal code. The last execution in PNG was carried out in 1954. In 1970, the Australian government completely abolished the death penalty in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

The death penalty was reintroduced in parliament on 28 August 1991 as an amendment to the Criminal Code 1974 (Consolidated to No 12 of 1993), specifically for wilful murder.

This was in response to worsening law and order problems, including a high rate of violent crimes particularly rape and murder. Despite opposition to the death penalty and the bill introduced by then prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu, then justice minister the late Sir Bernard Narokobi and a few other parliamentary leaders, it passed into law with 48 members of the parliament voting in favour and 19 against; 42 members were absent.

In 2013, the government amended the Criminal Code Act (Amendment No 6 of 2013) by introducing three additional forms of serious crimes punishable by death, namely killings related to accusations of sorcery (section 299A), aggravated rape (section 347C), and robbery (section 386). The amendments were made in response to rising levels of crimes in these categories.

Despite these amendments, no executions have actually been carried out in PNG. However, in 2015 it was reported that cabinet had endorsed guidelines for the implementation of the death penalty. Internationally, PNG has consistently voted against or abstained from UN General Assembly resolutions calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Currently, there are 16 people on death row in PNG.

The PNG Council of Churches has stated that the death penalty is not a solution and other means must be considered by the government to deter crimes. Churches have argued that PNG is a Christian country, and such laws are against biblical principles.

Whatever one’s views on capital punishment, experience suggests that the death penalty is not a real option in PNG. It can be introduced on paper, but not in reality.

Other ways need to be found to deter serious crimes.

After years of struggling, Nautilus officially went bankrupt as of last month, leaving the Government of PNG K81.5 million in debt.

https://ramumine.wordpress.com/2019/11/27/nautilus-minerals-officially-sinks-shares-still-trading/

Nautilus Minerals officially sinks, shares still trading

Nautilus Minerals, one of the world’s first seafloor miners, officially went bankrupt this week, its court-appointed monitor, Price Waterhouse Cooper reported.

Nautilus filed for protection from its debts in a Canadian Court in February 2019. The company tried to restructure but it failed to find any buyers for its assets. In August 2019, court approval was obtained for creditors to liquidate the company to get back a fraction of what they were owed. In the process, nautilus has left the papua new guinea government facing a debt equivalent to one-third of the country’s annual health budget

The Vancouver-based company was trying to develop its Solwara 1 deep sea gold, copper and silver project, off the coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG), but the project was plagued with community opposition and financial setbacks.

Vergil Narokobi Elected as Judge

Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Christmas of unity and courage

Fr. Giorgio Licini

The people of Bougainville went the polls over the past few weeks to choose between independence and a greater autonomy. It is a new chapter in a long lasting search for identity and their own journey as a community, possibly as a nation. It is the duty of every individual and every group to define a purpose and a path, to offer a positive contribution, to live, grow and die living behind things a bit better than the way they were found.

More generally, it may help looking back at the end of the year at our weaknesses and our strengths, the successful stories and the failures, the achievements and the broken promises. December is a month full of inspiration and hope. Not only schools close down and the students take a bit of rest and some celebrate their graduation, but everybody looks at Christmas and a few days of holiday as a new start inspired by the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Papua New Guinea witnessed a change in government and the emerging of new leaders this year. As expected, this was accompanied by great hope in renewed attitudes and policies especially at the level of the country’s political leadership: honest and effective planning of projects and administration of funds; stamping out of corruption; more equal distribution of resources and improvement of services for the remote areas; housing for the poor and the middle class, and not only wide roads for Port Moresby; final departure of all asylum seekers and refugees so unwisely brought into Papua New Guinea by Australia in 2013, and subject to indescribable psychological torture and medical neglect.

At Christmas we celebrate being a community and a family. This can only be seen in an effort for unity, cooperation, solidarity, mutual support, forgiveness, and closeness of individual and groups. The possible birth of Bougainville as a nation highlights the common longing for independence and respect. It should also guaranty a more meaningful dialogue and cooperation with the already existing nations in the same area of the Pacific, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, for the good of individuals and communities who have so much in common.

Our Catholic Bishops Conference, which extends from Daru and Kiunga (PNG) to Auki (SI) through Bougainville, will certainly continue to think and to act beyond barriers and boundaries. To all Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2020!

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Social Concerns Notes – November 2019

Cardinal Ribat: Let’s protect our islands

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/11/cardinal-ribat-we-must-protect-our-islands.html#more

02 November 2019

Pope Francis and Cardinal Ribat, who asks: ““Where will we be after all these islands are gone?”

Cardinal Ribat, the Archbishop of Port Moresby, said that there are many similarities between Papua New Guinea and the Amazon region and many topics resonated with what is happening in PNG. “They (people of the Amazon) are faced with a development that is coming in, taking their land, facing a situation where they are not recognised and sometimes not respected and not being seen as part of that development,” Cardinal Ribat said. When this happens, he said, people sometimes have no voice apart from that of the Church. Cardinal Ribat came away from the Synod more convinced than ever that the world needs to pay attention to indigenous people and their cultures wherever they are situated. He pointed out that “people look to the Church as their only hope for recognition and support.”

For Cardinal Ribat, the Synod was inspiring not only for the people of the Amazon region but for other parts of the world such as the Pacific Islands. “In the Pacific and in PNG many islands are becoming small, we are surrounded by the sea, and we are confounded by what is happening around us during storms and the rising sea level,” he said. “This kind of situation risks our life and makes us ask questions. “Where will we be after all these islands are gone?” the Cardinal wondered. He said that islands in the Pacific do not have vast areas of land as other continents, and that is why the little is so precious. “The land is life to the people, the land is everything, so when you take it away, you deprive people of their lives,” Cardinal Ribat said. …

Cardinal Ribat said, in keeping with Catholic social teaching, the Church in PNG will continue to speak out in defence of the rights of the poor and vulnerable. “We don’t have weapons; our weapon is the faith. “Our faith is our hope in the Lord, and our hope is that there should be due justice for the people.” …

“As I go back home, I will go and encourage our people to understand that in collaboration with our people of the Amazon region, we are facing the same situation. “What is happening to them is also our story.

We’re women, not witches

03 November 2019

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/11/were-women-not-witches.html#more

Roberta Staley | Ms Magazine | Extract

WASHINGTON DC – Paul Petrus speaks softly about the part he played in the rescue of an accused witch. Anna (not her real name), a young woman in her mid-twenties, was being tortured by villagers outside Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands Province. After a 2015 outbreak of tribal violence in neighbouring Enga, Anna had fled approximately 130 km to escape the conflict. But some members of the opposing tribe recognised Anna at the Mount Hagen marketplace.  “[They] kidnapped her … took her to an isolated place and raped her,” says Petrus, who is on a team of more than 100 human rights defenders from Mount Hagen that rescues people accused of witchcraft. The attack took place on a Friday night. Anna managed to escape her attackers around 3am. In shock, with her clothing shredded, she staggered through the dark and stumbled into a village. Ordinarily everyone would have been asleep, but some villagers had just interred a family member in the community cemetery and were keeping vigil over the burial site, watching for malignant spirits that might snatch the body away, Petrus says. To the family holding vigil, Anna’s brutalised form, emerging like an apparition out of the dark, was precisely what their imaginations feared. Some of the villagers grabbed her. They “started making a big fire and started burning her private parts by heating up machetes,” Petrus says. At 4am, he received an urgent phone call for help from the village pastor.

Petrus ran to the police station and arrived at the scene shortly after 6:30am in a cruiser driven by a woman officer. Together, they bundled the victim, now reeking of burned flesh, into the car and drove her to Mount Hagen General Hospital. Part of Petrus’ rescue work involves training the public in how to react when an individual is in imminent danger from witch hunters; the pastor was one of those trained by Petrus. More people should take part, Petrus says, because the “issues of sorcery [are] starting to escalate.”

A study, ‘Ten Preliminary Findings Concerning Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in Papua New Guinea’, released this year by the Australia National University indicated that since 2016 there have been 357 incidents of sorcery accusations in Enga and Bougainville as well as some in the capital, Port Moresby. Of these 357 incidents, 117 led to violence against 185 victims.

Human Rights Watch corroborates the reports of violence, stating in 2016 that “PNG is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman, with the majority of women experiencing rape or assault in their lifetime.” In 2018, the organisation further reported that sorcery accusation-related violence was “unabated, with women and girls the primary targets.”

Sex trade in city

November 8, 2019The National Main Stories

PORT Moresby residents have been urged to report to police any illegal activities such as prostitution in their neighbourhood so they can be investigated immediately.
Met Supt Perou N’dranou was responding to concerns raised about the increasing cases of prostitution in the city, mostly during the day. The issue resurfaced last week after police warned foreign-owned nightclub owners to stop employing women for the purpose of prostitution.
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Donald Yamasombi said police had been made aware of what had been happening in some nightclubs in Port Moresby and other urban centres.
He said they were closely monitoring activities and would arrest club owners if they were found to be involved in such illegal activities. In Port Moresby, areas around 4-Mile are frequented by girls and “clients”. They have their own time and area of rendezvous. A female resident at 4-Mile told The National she had been “approached” a few times by male “clients” who thought she was involved in the illegal practice too. Another female said some women and girls in Boroko were afraid to walk alone along the road. They now walk in the company of others to do their business in Boroko.

Bougainville’s referendum. Uncertain journey

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/11/bougainvilles-referendum-uncertain-journey.html#more

14 November 2019

CANBERRA – From Saturday 23 November, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will conduct a referendum on whether it will remain within Papua New Guinea with greater autonomy or establish an independent state. The referendum is part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement between the government of PNG and the leaders of Bougainville that was signed in August 2001. The peace agreement culminated a peace process that began in 1998 after nine years (1988–97) of civil war between the PNG Defence Force, its local militia allies and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA).

The conflict has its origins in grievances over a lack of shared benefits from the mining of gold and copper deposits in Panguna and consequent social and environmental issues. It resulted in an estimated 20,000 deaths and significant displacement, including migration to other parts of PNG and the neighbouring Solomon Islands. Operated by Australian-owned Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), the Panguna mine was one of the world’s biggest copper, gold and silver mines before the conflict.

The peace agreement comprised three steps: a United Nations-supervised weapons disposal program; greater autonomy for the Bougainville provincial government; and an eventual referendum to determine Bougainville’s political future. The first two steps have mostly been achieved. The focus now is on the third step – a referendum to determine Bougainville’s independence.

Bougainville’s aspiration for self-government was evident as early as in 1968, prior to PNG’s independence from Australia in 1975. As part of a German and later Australian colony, Bougainville was one of the regions in PNG that resisted the inequities of colonial rule and refused to be part of the greater PNG state. Its refusal was based on a strong sense of a separate Bougainvillean identity and what it deemed a misuse of its land from European plantations and exploration, and the later mining of copper and gold deposits. Their resentment led to a unilateral declaration of independence just days before PNG’s independence in 1975. PNG and the international community did not recognise the unilateral declaration. …

The 2002 amendments provide that the PNG government and the AGB will ‘consult over the results of the Referendum’ and the PNG Parliament will decide on the final outcome subject to the consultation. Independence is therefore not an automatic possibility and there is ambiguity as to the effect of this provision. While the provision is generally understood to mean that the outcome of the referendum is not binding, as it is subject to the decision of the PNG parliament, the actions of the PNG government in reaching a decision would not be unilateral and are subject to ‘consultation’ with the AGB….

If the majority of Bougainvilleans vote ‘yes’ to independence, a key consideration for the PNG government in its final decision will be the likely impact of Bougainville independence on other provinces….

It is likely that the United Nations will not support a ‘yes’ vote prior to the decision of the PNG parliament in accordance with the PNG Constitution. Further, responses from the international community may mirror the contesting regional powers that are closely monitoring developments in Bougainville, notably Australia, New Zealand, as well as China and the United States.

3,000 drowned so far this year

November 14, 2019The National

AROUND 3,000 people have drowned so far this year, according to the National Maritime Safety Authority. This was revealed during a two-day workshop in Port Moresby last week.
Water Police deputy director Chief Insp Christopher Smith said many lives had been lost at sea and urged people to take safety measures.
He said there were two instances last week in which two boats ran out of fuel and had to be rescued by the water police,
“Basically when travelling at sea it is important to have safety equipment on board and sufficient fuel, we have too many incidents of boats going out and having insufficient fuel and they run out on their return.
“Do not overload your vessels. Most of the accidents that we see happening is due to over-loading and insufficient life jackets on board, especially for children,” Smith said.
He said the directorate and the National Capital Distract-Central command would do more awareness on water safety. Focus will also be given on safety equipment needed when travelling to sea leading up to Christmas and the New Year.

Who gives PNG how much?

23 November 2019 

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/11/who-gives-png-how-much.html#more

In 2020 PNG will receive close to K1 billion in free development funds to assist us in our development goals. Topping the list was Australia contributing K745 million while China only contributes K7 million.

Here are the top six donors:

Australia                             K745.0 million (81%)

European Union                K80.0 million (8.7%)

United Nations                  K41.7 million (4.5%)

New Zealand                     K22.9 million (2.5%)

China                                 K7.0 million (0.8%)

USA                                    K5.0 million (0.5%)

In contrast when you look at it from how much we borrow, China tops the list:

China                                 K446.2 million

Asian Development Bank    K437.6 million

World Bank                        K185.5 million

Japan                                 K181.3 million

India                                  K7.7 million

Australia                            nil

Some countries are happy to lend us money where they benefit from the interest earned and conditional on their companies being awarded contracts.

Why did the PNG government allow the pipeline from Hela to be constructed without a first class road alongside it? That would have been available for the developers’ vehicles used for maintenance but more importantly as a vital link from the coast to the highlands heart of the nation.

Why was Komo airfield, the longest in the region, only this past week opened for ANG to use?

Why did the government allow the proceeds from selling the gas abroad to be kept off-shore?

Why did PNG have to pay the Singapore wholesale price plus freight to use the oil drilled from PNG’s land.

Why was Exxon allowed to demand import tax concessions on construction materials, tax-holidays etc to over-contribute to its profits in the low cost production oil and gas fields of PNG?

All these factors have impacted on the need for debt by PNG the richest resource island nation in the Pacific

Health, Corruption, Incompetence Exposed.

27 November 2019

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/11/health-corruption-incompetence-exposed.html#more

Scott Waide  | My Land, My Country | Edited

PORT MORESBY – Inside a packed conference room on the first level of B-Wing at Papua New Guinea’s parliament house, the Public Accounts Committee awaits senior members of the health department. Already present are representatives from the logistics  and pharmaceutical companies who have been summoned to give evidence in this investigation into a health system in crisis.

Arriving half an hour late, health secretary Pascoe Kase walks into the packed conference room, smiling sheepishly and nodding an apology to the committee headed by chairman Sir John Pundari and his deputy, Governor Gary Juffa. They’re not impressed by his lack of punctuality. Over the past six years, Kase has earned a reputation for dodging the media at every occasion. But in October his evasive manoeuvres were halted and his arrogance cut down to size by the parliamentary committee summons that compelled him to attend this week’s investigation and give evidence as the star witness.

Kase’s mood quickly shifts as a barrage of questions hits him. Deputy chairman Juffa is relentless and unforgiving. Kase is asked about logistics, pharmaceutical standards and the contract bidding process that the committee will come to find is riddled with corruption and ‘insider trading.’ Juffa squeezes out vital pieces of a puzzle that show how PNG’s health department lowered standards by ditching international quality management systems to allow pharmaceutical companies to qualify for the tender bidding process.

“I want to go back to the ISO 9001. What’s your understanding of a specific set of standards? What does that mean according to your knowledge?” Juffa asks. “My personal knowledge? Or my….” Kase is cut off by the frustrated Juffa. “Well, your professional knowledge. You’re the secretary for health so I’m assuming you would know about this.” Kase gives a long-winded response about how there are technical officers who give him advice about various operational areas of the department, but falls short of answering the question. Juffa again cuts him off.

“Sir…sir… what does the acronym ISO 9001 stand for? Do you know? “I don’t know. I would want some of the technical people to tell me,” Kase replies. Juffa lectures the Health Secretary about the meaning of the ISO 9001, about international standards, and asks why the requirement was removed prior to the bidding process for a pharmaceutical tender. This was just one of many examples of incompetence at the management pinnacle of the health department, shamelessly demonstrated in front of thousands of Papua New Guineans watching the proceedings live on Facebook

A litany of irregularities continues to be highlighted during the three-day hearing. One of the logistics companies – L & Z – owned by a Chinese national with no experience in drug distribution was nevertheless awarded a K17 million contract because of the owner’s links with a former health department staff who wrote the tender application. Another logistics company, operating without a formal contract, was paid more than K20 million with Kase using his authority to make part payments of up to K500,000. Then the bombshell came when the owner of another logistics company named a senior manager to whom he had paid bribes of about K100,000. Issue after issue has been raised and exposed:

Medicine shortages still exist. There are chronic shortages of medicines in nearly all rural clinics. The most expensive bidder was chosen. Borneo Pacific’s bid of K71 million was K20 million higher than the second bidder, City Pharmacy Limited. Winning tenders had no prior experience. At least two logistics companies awarded drug distribution contracts had no prior experience in drug distribution. No electronic tracking. One Chinese-owned logistics company admitted it did not have an electronic tracking system because it was “too expensive.”

Collusion with logistics companies. Former and current health department staff alerted individuals and companies to upcoming drug distribution tenders and assisted them in drafting tender documents. Operating without contracts. LD Logistics operated without a contract for three years after its contract expired and was paid more than K20 million in portions of K500,000 to avoid payment ceiling provisions of the finance management act.

Standards lowered. The health department removed the ISO9001 compliance requirement prior to the bidding process, lowering standards to cater to the demands of tendering companies that could not meet the international quality standard. The committee has found that health compliance standards were deliberately lowered so companies could qualify. It has also found that a drug used to induce birth had failed laboratory tests yet may have been distributed. The health department team, when grilled, could not say if the drug had been recalled and removed. They didn’t know.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – October 2019

PNG Demographic and Health Survey Report

Click to access PNG_DHS2016-2018_KIR.pdf

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) National Statistical Office (NSO) recently released the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2016-2018 key indicators report. The survey on which this report is based was implemented by the NSO, the National Department of Health and other PNG agencies with support from Australia’s aid program, the DHS program, UNFPA and UNICEF. There are positive aspects to this particular PNG report. First, the survey on which it is based is relatively comprehensive, collecting information on, “fertility, awareness and use of family planning methods, breastfeeding practices, nutritional status of children, maternal and child health, adult and childhood mortality, women’s empowerment, domestic violence, malaria, awareness and behaviour regarding HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, and other health-related issues.” The DHS also collected information on household agricultural activities and household food security. Second, the vast majority of the tables in the report disaggregate the survey data by age brackets, sex, residence (rural vs urban), region (for example, highland provinces vs island provinces), education levels; and wealth quintiles, thereby providing some insight into equity of access and outcomes in the health sector. Third, the use of a standardised methodology provides the evidence base for PNG officials to themselves track progress over time (and compare trends with other countries.

A decent education is a human right

01 October 2019 

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/10/a-decent-education-is-a-human-right.html#more 

I am not trying to compare the Australian system with our Papua New Guinea system. And Australia is not perfect. PNG has the potential to invest in education as a critical tool to enable our country to become economically viable and healthy. Regrettably, we take education for granted in the way we set up our systems, distribute our resources, teach our children and reward our teachers. Education is a basic human right for all individuals regardless of where they are in the world.

I would argue that the education system in PNG has deprived our right and our children’s right to gain the education we deserve. If you stand back and take a thorough look at the way our children learn, you discover that the education system has pushed out many young people with ability and potential to be leaders. They roam the streets. Our school system has many drop-outs – children who fail exams and return to the community. In PNG, what paid employment can anyone get with a minimal education? I doubt there is any. The multinational, multimillion dollar developments such as oil and gas projects have opened up roads and access to nearby towns and cities and our children develop the tendency to explore city life, which is perceived to be better than village life.

Obviously with no proper education, dreams for a better life are thwarted. Many of these young people go on to steal, vandalise, take drugs and alcohol and even end up in jail. Then these young people are blamed as bad and evil. We have created bad people in our society in the way we manage our education system. All humans are the same regardless of gender, age or behaviour because we all have a soul. So where does the blame really lie?

The festering wounds of Manus and Nauru

30 September 2019

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/09/the-festering-wounds-of-manus-and-nauru.html#more

FR GIORGIO LICINI

PORT MORESBY – Yesterday was World Migrant and Refugee Day and a message from Pope Francis to mark the day was particularly meaningful for our part of the world. The words of the Pope help uncover a sense of truth about what has been going on for the past six years in Nauru and Manus. “Migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion,” he said.

“In addition to the hardships that their condition entails, they are often looked down upon and considered the source of all society’s ills. “That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture.” So let me mention here some critical language and facts associated with the festering wounds of Nauru and Manus.

Regional Processing  Not a bad idea in itself, but not credible. New Zealand, New Caledonia and possibly Fiji are not involved, only the very remote, hot and mosquito-infested islands of Nauru and Manus. Besides that, nobody knows what the agreements for ‘regional processing’ in these two countries include in terms of the duties and conditions of the contracting parties. It is probably not a ‘regional processing’ exercise, but a punitive measure against less fortunate individuals made unwelcome by the better off white tribes of the continent, more precisely of Australia.

Mental Health. It is outrageous what is being done in Manus, Port Moresby and Nauru by actively inducing mental health issues into young and vulnerable people. People are driven into anxiety, depression and, in a number of cases, permanent insanity by the unexpected turn their lives have taken, the traumas they experienced at home, indefinite detention, tough conditions of life in the camps and the distance from their families. The medication offered is cosmetic. It makes no sense to spend about $A1,400 per person per day in off-shore detention with the outcome of ruined human beings.

Medevac Law  This Australian legislation allows for medical transfer to mainland Australia of asylum seekers and refugees requiring medical care outside Nauru and PNG. It was passed narrowly – and against the government’s wishes – by the Australian parliament in February this year. The legislation covers the 90% of offshore refugees whose conditions have remained unattended for many years. Given the new composition of the Australian government since the May election, refugees still in PNG and Nauru, and the Samaritans who care for them, now live in terror that the provision may be repealed with the support of a handful of Australian senators in exchange for electoral favours. This would be another instance of the detainees in Nauru and Port Moresby falling prey to money and de facto human trafficking.

Stopping the Boats  I am someone who believes nobody should board a people smuggler’s boat, although occasionally, and in very dire circumstances, it may be the only way to escape death. The international community should establish procedures that put human smugglers out of job. But it is not being done, and that’s why those individuals still exist and are probably growing in number and power. The Nauru and Manus asylum seekers and refugees have served the purpose of stopping the boats at high personal cost; 12 having so far paid with their lives. It’s time to say that they have been used (and abused) enough for very highly questionable deterrence proposes. Why still pick on them?

Since 12 August this year, 53 of these men have been detained at the new Bomana immigration facility on the outskirts of Port Moresby under heavy security and in total isolation.    [See the url above for the full article…..]

Rich paradise or poor third world nation?

05 October 2019

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/10/rich-paradise-or-poor-third-world-nation.html#more

 

LUFA – There’s disagreement about whether Papua New Guinea is rich or impoverished. Many people, including leaders like Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and current prime minister James Marape, support the view that we are in fact rich. Many others, including myself, differ. We believe Papua New Guinea is a poor nation. Perhaps the difference in opinion stems from the definition of ‘rich’ that each group subscribes to. Let me refer to the two groups as Group_Rich and Group_Poor, where the former supports the rich PNG view and the latter supports the poor PNG view. The Group_Rich definition of being rich sees Papua New Guinea as a nation with fertile land that sustains lush tropical forests and great biodiversity. In their eyes its land has, without fail, fed its growing population for over 40,000 years, perhaps 50,000.

In recent times, minerals and hydrocarbon wealth have been discovered across the breath and length of the land, giving it the unofficial title of an ‘island of gold floating on a sea of oil’. Simply put, in this more optimistic view, the land provides sufficient free food and its people own the land and everything on and in it. So by virtue of this, Papua New Guinea is rich.

The Group_Poor definition of being rich is very different. It perceives Papua New Guinea as a part of the modern world that relies on complex international trade and economics. Its place and value in this world is determined by international standards and rules. And these set out clearly the criteria that defines how rich or poor a nation (and its people) really are. Simply put, a nation is rich if its people not only have assets like natural resources, education, skills and capital, but are able to meet their basic daily needs of health, education, water, and food security without difficulty. Now, if one uses the Group_Rich definition alone, Papua New Guinea is a filthy rich country. But is this true? Consider the plight of countless people seeking medical treatment who die trying. How about those people who continue to face countless adversities just to get an education despite the low quality it comes with? Do we even care about the long walks mothers and daughters take almost every day to fetch water for drinking and cooking? Perhaps the most honourable thing to say is not that Papua New Guinea is rich, nor is it poor, but rather challenged in every way possible.

Abuse of minors a concern

October 7, 2019The National

POLICE say sexual abuse of children aged 16 and below is growing significantly and crippling society. “That is the reality and of grave concern.
“Reports have been received daily nationwide,” acting Asst Comm (Northern region) Peter Guinness said. He said in an interview on Thursday that “this is now a very big problem in Papua New Guinea” and called for stiffer penalties to help curb the crime. “Heavier punishments will at least help deter such criminal-minded individuals,” he added.
He said another measure to help check the growth of such crimes “is raising public awareness”.
“Raising public awareness is not only about the impact of such crimes on children, family or community,” Guinness said. “It must include the punishments and the laws.”
“Awareness campaigns and projects should be targeted at schools, settlements and workplaces to drive people to understand the issues. “Currently, only a small number of perpetrators were prosecuted successfully but the majority of them got away. “Those in remote areas find it difficult to report. “They are being suppressed by compensation payments or by fear.
The young and fragile victims of sexual abuse then fear to report their assailants.
“This, in a way, emboldens perpetrators,” he said. Guinness urged individuals and communities to help curb or eradicate cases of child sexual abuses by reporting such crimes against minors so that the police can act swiftly.

Wagambie says alcohol-related violence ravaging city

October 22, 2019The NationalNational

THE majority of violence in Papua New Guinea, including Port Moresby, is alcohol-related, National Capital District (NCD)/Central acting Asst Comm (ACP) Anthony Wagambie Jr says.
“Alcohol consumption and intoxication are also the main causes of ethnic feuds and violence in the city,” he said. “Such alcohol-related violence is on the rise and the problem is posing a big challenge to law and order and the police.”
Wagambie said some parts of the city had seen on-going fighting and drunken brawls that needed police to quell such violence. “In the past three weeks, alcohol-related fights were reported in the ATS settlement, 2-Mile Hill, June Valley and 9-Mile. “But quick police action managed to stop the fights from deteriorating into serious and tense conditions.”
Wagambie said that was why NCD Met Supt Perou N’Dranou had initiated a special operation targeting drunk and disorderly behaviour in the city. “The operation, code named Drunk Patrol is aimed at arresting and locking up drunkards causing public nuisance and unrest in public places.
“Every Friday night, NCD police will continue to patrol the streets of Port Moresby to contain drunk and disorderly behaviour. “Some drunkards are locked up for their own safety and for the safety of others as well. “In some cases, due to the high number of arrests, drunkards fill up police lock-ups.
“When they are sober, they are cautioned and released. People who are overly intoxicated and clumsy to a point where their own safety is at risk in a public place, we detain them for a short period and release them when they sober up.“We understand their rights, but we have a duty to protect lives and properties too; that’s exactly what we are doing.”

The Challenge of Tribal Conflict

30 October 2019

AHMAD HALLAK | Australian Institute of International Affairs

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/10/the-challenge-of-tribal-conflict-in-png.html#more

CANBERRA – It is often said that tribal fighting in the Papua New Guinea Highlands is part and parcel of the socio-cultural fabric of the region. With a history stretching back hundreds of years (if not more), it can be seen simply as an indivisible feature of the Highlands way of life.

While to some extent true, tribal fighting in the last 30 years has become more akin to conventional warfare on the battlefields of the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa than the pitched battles using the bows and arrows that characterised pre-colonial confrontations in the Highlands. In the last 30 years, modern weapons, along with other accoutrements of modern technology, have made their way into PNG. They have disrupted the traditional rules of tribal fighting that had historically limited the effects and consequences of the fighting and restrained fighters from going too far.

While in the past, a decision to go to war with an opposing clan or tribe would have been taken collectively, now young and disillusioned men with access to modern weapons can unleash devastation on their enemies and their own communities almost single-handedly. The presence of these modern weapons and their destructive firepower has also meant that the number of casualties is much higher, making it harder for opposing sides to reconcile (and the traditional exchange of compensation prohibitive) and leading to completely unprecedented tribal fighting dynamics.

Instead of pre-arranged battles between warriors in designated areas as in the past, villages are now attacked under cover of darkness as part of a scorched earth policy to kill and destroy with abandon. And while previously fighting was restricted to the geography of the tribes’ involved, targeted killings can now occur against random members of either side almost anywhere. Schools and clinics are frequently attacked and destroyed, and most recently in Hela pregnant women and children were killed and some burned alive.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been present in PNG since 2007 and opened its offices in Mount Hagen and Bougainville in 2012. Since then, we have progressively grown our presence. ……..

S[ee the url above.  It concludes with description of work of the Red Cross working with the challenge of Tribal Fighing.]  “Our teams spend countless hours listening, conversing with and persuading widows and community leaders, policemen and tribal fighters, provincial bureaucrats and church leaders to become partners in an age-old struggle to lessen the inevitable human suffering arising from conflict.”

Illegal acts in clubs: Police

October 29, 2019The National

POLICE have warned people involved in luring young girls into prostitution to stop as such illegal activities are being monitored around the country. Acting Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations) Donald Yamasombi told The National police were targeting foreign-owned nightclubs. “We already have reports of illicit activities taking place in nightclubs which employ young girls as prostitutes under the guise of employing them for genuine jobs,” he said. He recently issued a notice to be distributed to all foreign-owned nightclub owners warning them to stop exploiting young unemployed girls. “Such illicit activities are not allowed in this country,” he said.
“It is against PNG laws to conduct such activities.” He said the activities were not confined to only metropolitan centres such as Port Moresby because they had been detected too in other town and cities. “We have reports that these foreign-owned nightclubs are operating as brothels,” he said.
“There is also illegal gambling and use of hard drugs.”
Prostitution is illegal in the country, although there have been moves to have it legalised.
In October 2016, a Private Member’s Bill was introduced to Parliament by then Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather to instigate legalisation.
The concern is about the exploitation of young local girls who may be looking for money.
“I am now warning these nightclubs to stop enticing young girls to use them as prostitutes in your nightclubs to promote your businesses. Such illicit activities are done in nightclubs overseas, not in PNG.”

Magic hands & a vision for peace

06 October 2019

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/10/magic-hands-a-vision-for-peace.html#more

 

WILLIE KERENGA
KUNDIAWA – A new era dawned for the United Nauro-Gor tribe in 2002 when Fr Jan Jaworski, a medical surgeon-cum-priest, responded to a divine call for the purpose of serving humanity and entered a place many called a ‘no-go zone’ because of the warring clans. Fr Jaworski, dubbed ‘the man with magic hands’, has made an outstanding contribution as a medical doctor throughout Papua New Guinea where he has conducted many medical surgeries and procedures on many patients. His former patients speak of him in admiration and awe and to a certain degree believe the work of his hands is miraculously aided by a supernatural power as well as his wealth of experience and specialised knowledge in medical procedures.

Fr Jaworski is renowned for conducting complex surgeries and procedures, particularly mending fractured bones and cartilage, cutting off flesh from different body parts and stitching them on another, treating cancers, hernias, bowel infections and neurological problems, and expertly performing surgeries on newborns with congenital malformations and women with obstetric emergencies.

Professor David Watters, chair of surgery at Geelong Hospital and a former professor of surgery at the University of Papua New Guinea, describes Fr Jaworski as “a remarkable and wonderful man who has served the people of Kundiawa and Simbu Province well and whose breadth of surgical ability would be hard to match anywhere”. Watters has written about the priest in a book on the history of surgery in Papua New Guinea, recognising him as “a true general surgeon, who could plate bones, perform laparotomies or open a head”. Fr Jaworki is loved and respected not only by the people of United Nauro-Gor but right across Simbu and PNG. But leaving a legacy in medicine and surgery was not enough for this intelligent and hardworking man, so at the age of 55 he became a social entrepreneur and a peace builder.

His initial posting was to Yombar Parish, located in the heart of Nauro-Gor, a place of warlords and gruesomely uncompromising warriors; an area exposed to the use of high-powered guns and bows and arrows that caused massive destruction in human lives and property over three decades. This mostly emanated from the regular political upheavals occurring every five years during national elections and took the form of overwhelming jealousy, greed and pursuit of power amongst the factions that existed within different clans. Fr Jaworski’s astute leadership clearly manifested the scriptural words, “Go therefore and save those that are lost and in need”. He demonstrated with certainty and passion, the serenity and humility needed to serve a community that had become victims of their own actions. So he served as the Yombar priest through fierce and bloody tribal conflict. He saw his entire congregation damaged by the fighting, their homes razed, girls raped, women and children go hungry because food gardens were destroyed and school children miss their education for many years.

As he watched their suffering and patched their physical wounds, he wondered deeply about his mission and about what good he might achieve and he would prayerfully encourage his parishioners and others to believe in his vision and ambitions for sustainable peace, equality and economic development in the tribe. Against the backdrop of his own psychological and spiritual trauma, Fr Jaworski focused on trying to ways to stitch together this brutalised community to help it heal and find new ways of survival.

And about a year after the 2002 national elections, the Nauro-Gor people did begin to regather their botched lives, and start building new houses, schools and aid posts, maintain roads and bridges, and encouraging each other to put away their guns, bows and arrows and talk about making peace and uniting the tribe for a better tomorrow. In January 2006, with the help of church elders and clan leaders and support from the police and the Catholic Diocese of Kundiawa, Fr Jaworski arranged for a reconciliation ceremony (‘katim suga’) in which the warring clans came together and made peace amongst themselves. With his guidance, a community-based association, United Nauro-Gor, was incorporated and successfully introduced the concepts of community-based laws and community policing. Young men and women were selected to become community protection officers or auxiliary police officers. The associations interim directors and management adopted the 32 community laws to guide their conduct and ensure peace. The laws covered major areas: peace and stability; politics and national elections; witchcraft (sorcery); drug and alcohol (home brew); rape and adultery; domestic violence and child abuse; compensation payments; gambling; stealing; and much more.

The people remained steadfast in the belief that they would be guided by the laws that they introduced themselves and accorded with their own local customs. It was the foundation of the community-based law we still take pride in today. The association pioneered numerous community projects particularly in coffee, agriculture and farming, poultry and inland fisheries; skills training, carpentry, sawmilling, sewing, cookery, mechanics and muany others. Fr Jaworski’s main aim was to build a highly resilient community driven by peace, cooperation, tribal unity and success for a once dilapidated community. The people believed that a stable, caring and respected population can create an agile environment, breeding law-abiding citizens who are hard-working, responsive and lead better lives.

The first notable breakthrough made by United Nauro-Gor was our fight against sorcery and we continue to maintain peace, harmony and a carefree community. As a result, cases of rape, drug abuse, stealing, bushfires and destruction to schools, health clinics and bridges have enormously diminished. In 2014, United Nauro-Gor won the Tomorrow’s Peace builders Competition Award from Peace Direct, a global peace building organisation based in the United Kingdom. We were the first Pacific organisation to win this prestigious award. As a consequence of Fr Jaworski’s work, both social and surgical, he is spoken of with such deference that he seems more myth than a man. His work has reverberated to transform this tormented and war torn community to an enviable place with peaceful people united in their beliefs and aspirations and a model community in the Highlands region and PNG.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes, September 2019

Chinese-owned Ramu Nickel plant spills 200,000 litres of ‘toxic’ slurry into the sea
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-30/chinese-owned-mine-in-png-spills-200000-litres-of-toxic-slurry/11464108
A Chinese nickel mine operator has apologised after accidentally spilling an estimated 200,000 litres of toxic slurry into a bay in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province, turning the water bright red and staining the shore.
Mining authorities in PNG said the spilled material was a mineral-rich slurry that had been piped to the processing plant at Basamuk Bay from a nickel mine site 135 kilometres inland.
Mineral Resources Authority managing director Jerry Garry told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program the slurry was “very acidic”.
“The people from the village they went down to the beach … and they realised the water was contaminated and the colour had turned to red,” Nigel Uyam, a local villager who took the first photos of the spill, told the ABC.
“They are angry … we are trying to control the angry people and we are trying to control the situation.”

Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago
https://ramumine.wordpress.com/2019/08/27/mine-pollution-at-basamuk-bay-we-warned-about-it-10-years-ago/
Scott Waide | My Land My Country | 25 August 2019
Ten years ago, a small group of Papua New Guineans made a decision to fight the construction of multibillion kina Chinese owned nickel mine in the Madang province.
The reasons were simple:
1. Land was going to be taken away from its traditional custodians in Kurumbukari in the Usino-Bundi electorate and…
2. the sea, a vital resource for the people’s survival, was going to polluted by the dumping of tailings into the Basamuk Bay.
In 2011, in the course of the campaign, we produced one of several documentaries warning of the destruction that was about to happen. We hoped that in the process, people would be educated and would make the right decision and stop the dumping of tailings or the construction of the processing facility.
While filming the documentary UPROOTED, we travelled to Kumumbukari, where old Benny Mangua, a chief in his own right and chief custodian of the land wept because he was going to lose his land forever. Months earlier, he was told by the Chinese company workers that their village was going to be removed because it was going to become the mine site. They gave him K500 as a resettlement payment.
Months later, his sons were evicted from their village by police. Benny Mangua, didn’t survival long after that. He passed on, a broken man separated from his land. His family was told not to plant food on land that was later turned into a dumping area for the mine.
His son Peter Peter continued to resist attempts by police and the company to remove him. One morning, armed police, acting in the interests of the Chinese mine management, broke down his house and forced him off his land. He died about two years later.

Govt closes Manus refugee centre, stops services
September 3, 2019The National
THE Government has closed down the controversial Manus refugee processing centre on Manus Island and terminated the service of a major Australian government service provider there as of yesterday. The Government through the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA) is also looking at transferring all the remaining refugees to the Port Moresby refugee processing centre and process them from there, with the possibility of allowing some to live in the country if they are willing. Immigration and Border Security Minister Petrus Thomas said the decision to end the processing centre follows directions from Prime Minister James Marape.

Hospitals need equipment
September 3, 2019The National
WORKS and Implementation Minister Michael Nali says the government should allocate funds to purchase basic medical equipment for provincial hospitals and health centres.
Nali told Parliament yesterday that health workers and doctors were unable to deliver services due to lack of equipment and facilities.
“We need to allocate some money to buy some basic medical equipment for the hospitals and health centres,” Nali said. “We can train a lot of health workers and doctors but it’s like sending a mechanic to do his job without tools. “A lot of our health workers and doctors were facing challenges of delivering services because of the facilities and lack of equipment.
“They have the heart to serve the people but without the facilities they are unable to deliver services. “For us to send doctors out there without equipment – we can’t blame them.”

Judges urged to use media to talk about sorcery cases
September 12, 2019The NationalNational
JUDGES and magistrates have been asked to speak out on sorcery-related violence and not to keep such cases hidden. PNG Tribal Foundation director Ruth Kissam said majority of the population in the country were not fully aware of sorcery-related cases appearing before the courts. “We need the judges to come out and say something,” Kissam said.
“Use the media to talk about your judgements on sorcery related cases and help educate the public about the law on this issue,” she said. Kissam spoke during a panel session at the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association Conference in Port Moresby.
She outlined the work that Tribal Foundation had done as a non-government organisation (NGO) in advocating about sorcery accusation related violence and other social issues.
“There is a great need for information dissemination,” she said. “We work with the police, student volunteers and other NGOs, but we need to work with the judges and magistrates.
“Most times judges make very important statements in court that only a few people hear about and the statements go down into your files and the public know nothing about it.
“Those statements should go out to the media because that is the only way people will fully know about the law on this issue.”

Mental illness rife in PNG: Doc
September 17, 2019The National
MENTAL illnesses are rife in communities as a result of substance abuse but health facilities lack the capacity to treat them, a doctor says.
Social Change and Mental Health Services director Dr Uma Ambi said it was crucial to develop the capacity of the workforce at the level where the problem started so that early intervention could be made to prevent people getting ill.
The mental health fraternity in Port Moresby and the World Health Organisation (WHO) held a workshop last week based on the Mental health global action plan humanitarian intervention guide and the psychological first aid guide for field workers guide.
Ambi said the guide was used by WHO around the world in humanitarian interventions during natural or man–made disasters where people could develop acute stress, psychosis or depression.
She said anyone sent to a disaster area should have psychological first aid knowledge to minimise issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and grief which would develop later.
At a health facility, she said, a health worker should be able to assess and manage mental, neurological and substance abuse conditions. Therefore, the WHO guide was contextualised to suit PNG setting and master trainers were trained to visit every province and train more people in mental health.
WHO mental health technical adviser to PNG Dr Yasuko Shinozaki said alcohol and drug abuse were causing mental health issues.

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/09/time-to-crack-down-on-mps-stealing-public-funds.html#more

Hand-outs to politicians for development purposes are being abused and need to be abolished say Catholic bishop – and many other people
ERIC SCHERING
MICHIGAN, USA – The District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) and Provincial Services Improvement Program (PSIP) are both valued highly by members of parliament in Papua New Guinea because they allow MPs considerable discretion in how the money is used.
For the last several years I’ve been paying particular attention to this DSIP and PSIP spending.
While DSIP and PSIP have great potential for development at the same time both programs can suck MPs into corruption.
In a good year, every one of the 111 members, including governors, receive K10 million from the government with the funds intended for development purposes in their respective districts or provinces. Some of the MP’s have used the funds well, building roads and bridges, establishing new primary and secondary schools, purchasing cell phone towers to facilitate communication, that sort of thing.
Other MP’s travel to Cairns or Brisbane and decide to use between one and five million kina to purchase a house or unit down under.
As long as the national government held the MPs accountable, the funds were used well But when the cat’s away, the mice will play.
In the 17 August 2017 issue of the Post-Courier, Gorethy Kenneth wrote a stunning article which can be summarised this way: In 2013 95 MPs acquitted their DSIP/PSIP funds; in 2014 the number dramatically dropped to 50; in 2015 another steep decline to only 30. And it gets worse: in 2016 a mere 11 MPs accounted for how they spent their K10 million.
That’s one billion kina unaccounted for.
The 31 March 2017 Post-Courier stated that in 2016 the non-reporting MPs failed to acquit K1.1 billion. And what was the consequence?

Response to Petition by Joseph Walters. – Letters to Editor Post Courier, 2nd Sept
Those who presented the petition to the Prime Minister on Monday may claim to represent churches with over a million members, but that is still a minority, and some churches, in particular the Catholic Church, would like to distance themselves from the petition and the whole approach to Christianity that the petition represents.

Jesus repeatedly warns that he did not come to bring peace and prosperity as this world understands it, but to open to us the Kingdom and eternal life with God. Jesus died poor and accursed on the Cross; the Bible does not offer us a guaranteed way to the blessings of this life, but invites us to take up our cross and follow Jesus, to set our hearts on heaven where our treasure cannot be stolen or destroyed. This true treasure is promised to us through the new covenant that God made with us through the blood of Jesus; here is our hope, and the power that draws us on.

We do not hope, therefore, in any covenant made with any group or state. We do, of course, acknowledge that the people of Israel were chosen by God long ago as a source of blessing for the world. But that blessing was Jesus the Saviour who came from them. To make a covenant with the modern state of Israel (which is not the same thing as the Biblical people of Israel) in the hope of sharing in material blessings is to reject the real gift that God. We have already received our Saviour from Israel and can expect nothing greater; it is now our turn to be a source of blessing for them as our renewed lives help them to believe in Christ (cf Romans 9-11).

Jesus fulfils the Law and the Prophets; he brings us freedom to rejoice in God for God’s sake. If we follow the Bible for the sake of anything else than being united with God, then we have worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, and we are under the yoke of the law. The Gospel can only work by bringing us freedom. The welfare of PNG does not depend on a particular Bible being enthroned in Parliament House, but on its message living in the hearts of believers.

Nor should the Bible be degraded to the status of a legal text, to be enforced through the threat of police action and prison sentences; St Paul would not have wanted disputes about its interpretation to be conducted in civil courts. The Bible is at work when it sets people free to follow God.

This country will be Christian in reality and not just in name to the extent that men and women of Gospel freedom serve in parliament and the public service. This is how churches truly influence the running of the country, not by having their pastors employed by the Government and compromised thereby. One of the failings of the kings of Israel was to have prophets who were fed at the royal table, who only prophesied good of the king (cf 1 Kings 18:19, 1 Kings 22:5-8, Amos 7:12-13).

There are many matters here that Christians must discuss in open dialogue. We urge the Prime Minister to listen to what other Christians have to say about the true blessings to come, the new and eternal covenant, the Gospel of freedom, and the high calling of pastors that demands their freedom from government office.

– Fr Joseph Vnuk, op
– Catholic Theological Institute, Bomana

Australia should lead through kindness
Fr. Giorgio Licini
Papua New Guinea is a developing country suffering from budget shortages. Still it occupies a central position among the family of nations in the Pacific. As such the government in Port Moresby and the civil society in the country should not hesitate to raise their voice regarding the current most pressing issues. Papua New Guinea stands between Australia and Indonesia when it comes to the West Papua unrest and divisions, both internal and with the central government in Jakarta, which is rejected by many. Our country is also bearing the brunt, and that way highlighting the issue of people seeking asylum and protection far from their place of birth and troubled spots of the world. Six years of Australian off-shore processing center in Manus (and Nauru), however, are leaving behind a legacy of mental health and bitterness among vulnerable people, who rather needed care and healing. The assault on natural resources also has Papua New Guinea defend its portion of last remaining rainforests on the planet and try to resist the first ever experiments of seabed mining in the world right off its coasts.
Political ambition and corporate greed pose the greatest risks to social harmony in the Pacific. The richest and biggest nation, Australia, should rather lead the region through solidarity and inclusiveness. It will not be a military basis in Manus Island to keep people like the Chinese at bay. They are equipped with financial resources and skills, clearly showing industriousness and hunger for new geographical space and financial opportunities for an immensely bigger population, and not completely abstaining from corrupt and unconventional practices to get their way into business and profit. A costly naval facility will not win the hearts and minds of smaller Pacific nations, who may still surrender their natural resources to China in exchange for ordinary budget needs. It will rather further promote the idea of a new West colonial attempt, which relies on estranged military strength rather than empowerment of local human resources and assets.
The people of the Pacific value cooperation, respect and harmonious relationships with fellow humans and the environment. If Australia wants to lead, it can only do so through compassion and kindness. Arrogance and refusal to listen will isolate the big island south, leaving the smaller ones in the vast ocean with no choice but to turn to Asia. Nobody intends to infringe on the rights and boarders of Australia; but their citizens will not be loved if their government keeps on picking on a few hundred refugees on off-shore detention centers; or if they refuse to acknowledge the negative impact of coal burning on the environment; or make access and work in their country difficult for other members of the Pacific family. A true leader supports and inspires, rather than lord it over and show muscular strength.
(PNG Catholic Reporter, September 2019)

Bougainville (John Momis – 3 part presentation)

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/09/the-making-of-bougainvilles-referendum-part-1-the-history.html

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/09/the-making-of-bougainvilles-referendum-part-2-the-status-quo.html

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/09/the-making-of-bougainvilles-referendum-part-3-the-future.html

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