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.

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Social Concerns Notes – October 2019

PNG Demographic and Health Survey Report

https://www.nso.gov.pg/images/DHS2016_2018/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.

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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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – August 2019

S

‘Shocking’ levels of child violence in Pacific, says new report

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/08/shocking-levels-of-child-violence-in-pacific-says-new-report.html

AUCKLAND – A report has detailed shocking levels of physical violence and neglect towards millions of Pacific Islands children, sparking calls for better-targeted aid programs from countries like New Zealand and Australia. The report team, from combined aid agencies, investigated child-rearing practices in seven Pacific countries, as well as Timor-Leste. The report found as many as four million children experience violence at home across the Pacific – a staggering 2.8 million in Papua New Guinea alone.

More than half of all sexual violence referred to medical clinics involves children in PNG, where almost one in three parents report beating children “as hard as they can”. The research also outlines a range of factors that contribute to the abuse, including Pacific societies with high levels of gender inequality; social acceptance of physical punishment of children, weak governance, and growing poverty and inequality.

The report’s authors said the research shows the critical lack of overseas aid invested in programs aimed at ending violence against children, and programs by countries like New Zealand and Australia need to be more targeted.

Carsten Bockemuehl, World Vision’s advocacy campaigns lead for the Pacific, said violence against children will make societies less prosperous and will exacerbate risks to health and criminal justice systems and that there needed to be a “rebalancing” of aid priorities in the Pacific.

“It’s actually an economic issue, it makes countries poorer, so that’s why, out of the many competing priorities in developing countries, we just advocate for violence to be recognised as a critical development issue.”

Hefty fine, jail for abusers

August 7, 2019The National

PEOPLE committing violence against children will be fined up to K5,000 or jailed up to two years or both under the Lukautim Pikinini Act, says Community Development, Youth and Religion Minister Wake Goi. He made the statement following reports of recent child abuses in Port Moresby.
Three children were beaten and locked up in the cell two weeks ago at Boroko and last week, four children were stripped, beaten and poured paint on after they were allegedly caught doing graffiti.
And recently at Gordon bus station, a grade eight student in school uniform was allegedly beaten by police officers. Samuel Kolas, 18, a grade 8 student at the Wardstrip Primary School, was allegedly beaten by three policemen while he was waiting for a bus. Goi said that these reports spoke volumes of negligence, abuse and violence perpetrated against children.
Under the Lukautim Pikinini Act section 78, for all forms of violence other than sexual violence the penalty is K5,000 fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both,” she said. “The perpetrators must be arrested and charged under the Lukautim Pikinini Act.”

Bishop slams forms of violence against children

August 12, 2019The NationalNational

THE head bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran church of Papua New Guinea Dr Jack Urame has condemned physical violence and other forms of violence against children in Papua New Guinea, adding that this is a serious issue and a sign of the breakdown of family and societal values.
He was referring to a new report on child protection crisis in the Pacific released at the United Nations High-level Political Forum in New York last month.
The Unseen and Unsafe: Underinvestment in Ending Violence Against Children in the Pacific and Timor-Leste report shows that over 70 per cent or four million children across eight countries experience violent discipline at home, including a staggering 2.8 million (75 per cent of the child population) in PNG. The report details, for the first time, the shocking levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence, as well as neglect faced by children living in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.
“If the report is true about our country, then it does not reflect well on our society, a so-called Christian country,” Urame told The National. “We will face a lot of problems in the future because we are not helping the children, who are the very future of this nation.
“I appeal to mothers and fathers to be responsible for their children.
“We must change our attitudes when caring for our children.”
He called on all churches in the country to speak out on the issue.
“The church condemns and does not tolerate all forms of violence and abuse towards children. We must all work together now to ensure our children are given the rightful and proper care they deserve.”

PNG: Look to agriculture not minerals to strengthen economy

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/08/png-should-look-to-agriculture-not-minerals-to-strengthen-economy.html#more  02 August 2019

LONDON, UK – Papua New Guinea should look to agriculture to strengthen growth as the economy recovers from a series of external shocks, the World Bank has said. Structural transformation was needed in the country to bring about the inclusive and sustainable development that would enable its economy to become more resilient, the bank suggested in a report. Real GDP growth in Papua New Guinea dropped gradually from 13.5% in 2014 to -0.5% in 2018. During this time there was a commodity price shock, a particularly warm El Niño climate cycle and a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hampered the economy, the World Bank pointed out in the report, released on Friday last week.

But now, real GDP growth is forecast to be about 5.6% in 2019, and hover at just over 3% in 2020-21 – a recovery mainly observed in the resource sector, dominated by liquefied natural gas. Ilyas Sarsenov, World Bank senior country economist for Papua New Guinea, said: “PNG’s growth outlook remains positive but fragile due to rising economic uncertainties ranging from the domestic political economy to the recent escalation of trade tensions between the United States and China. “To mitigate downside risks to the outlook and better weather external shocks, it is recommended that PNG authorities adjust macroeconomic policy and focus on structural transformation of the economy, especially in agriculture as a potential economic driver for more diversified and inclusive development.” About 87% of the country’s population live in rural areas, with three quarters of them involved in subsistence and cash income agriculture – including fresh foods, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, copra and copra oil.

Pacific leaders want their summit to focus on climate, not China

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/08/pacific-leaders-want-their-summit-to-focus-on-climate-not-china.html

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Pacific island leaders insist climate change, not China, will top the agenda when they meet in Tuvalu this month as western-aligned nations push to curb Beijing’s growing influence in the region. Once regarded as a sleepy backwater of the diplomatic world, the islands are now a hotbed of aid projects and charm offensives as anxiety over China’s presence grows. Australia has labelled its campaign the Pacific Step-Up, New Zealand has the Pacific Reset, and Britain the Pacific Uplift, while the United States, Japan, and France have also intensified their efforts to court the region. But local leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu from August 13 to 16 are wary their concerns will be sidelined if they become pawns in a wider power struggle. The 16-member forum mainly consists of small island nations, along with Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand. PIF secretary-general Dame Meg Taylor said the forum, whose members collectively refer to themselves as the Blue Pacific, was at a pivotal moment in its history.”While we are the subject of the geopolitical maneuvering and strategies of others, the Blue Pacific collective remains focused on charting our own destiny,” she said.

The primary concern for island leaders – many of whom live in low-lying nations threatened by rising seas – is climate change

PNG needs to depreciate exchange rate, academic says

August 12, 2019The NationalNational

Papua New Guinea’s economy showed signs of recovery last year but it has not been sustained this year, according to survey results presented at the 2019 Update PNG Forum in Port Moresby last week. Australian National University director of development policy centre Stephen Howes told the forum PNG needed to depreciate its exchange rate.
Howes said PNG was the 10th most resource-intensive economy in the world, reliant on petroleum, oil, gas, coal and minerals, the Saudi Arabia of the Pacific.
“In order to recover after the boom, PNG needs to depreciate its exchange rate.
“Until it does that, PNG is going to suffer from foreign exchange shortages and that will drag on growth. “The rising salary bill, rising interest burden and revenue is flat which makes fiscal adjustments and management difficult. “The Government cannot pay bills because it has to pay salaries and interest obligations. State-owned entities debt and some of the guarantees were adding to the fiscal stress.”

Mobile phones have seen rapid rise in off-grid solar in PNG

CANBERRA — The use of off-grid solar products has skyrocketed over the past five years in Papua New Guinea, with 60% of households now using solar lighting — up sharply from just 2% in 2012, according to a new report by the International Finance Corporation. As a result, PNG now has one of the highest rates of use of off-grid solar lighting in the developing world, according to the report ‘Going the Distance: Off-Grid Lighting Market Dynamics in PNG’. Part of this is due to the fact that 87% of the population — or 7.2 million people — are not connected to the electricity grid. But the increased use of mobile technology has also played a major role. The report showed the transition happened at a time when mobile phone penetration was growing rapidly, but the means to charge phones was lagging. Off-grid solar products on the PNG market now include generic battery powered torches and lanterns, as well as IFC quality-verified off-grid solar products — with many providing the ability to charge a phone.  “This is because people need the energy to charge their mobiles, and there is also an attempt by mobile companies to launch initiatives for mobile charging. It is important to remember that the revenues of mobile companies are directly related to handsets being charged.”

Sori: Teachers having sexual relationship to be terminated

August 13, 2019The NationalNational

 Article Views: 1

TEACHERS who abuse their position of trust and have sexual relationships with female students will be terminated, Teachers Service Commissioner Baran Sori says. Sori told The National that teachers engaged in sexual relationships with their students was not just a serious offence but also criminal in nature. He made this statement after three male secondary high school teachers in New Ireland were terminated for having sexual relationships with their students. “The three teachers were charged with the offence by a senior provincial school inspector after complaints were raised and the matter was referred to the provincial education board, who recommended their immediate dismissal,” Sori said.

‘Condom’ cops jailed

August 15, 2019The NationalNational

TWO police officers were jailed 18 months by the Waigani National Court yesterday for forcing a woman to chew and swallow three condoms in 2015. Justice Panuel Mogish also ordered Joshua Yawijah and Jacklyn Tanda to be dismissed from the force. “Police officers are supposed to uphold human rights, not abuse their powers,” he said. Yawijah and Tanda, both probationary police officers, recorded a video of the woman’s ordeal of chewing and swallowing the condoms and posted the it on the Internet.
“You did not formally arrest and charge the complainant for an offence, but instead you forced her to eat and swallow the condoms,” he told the duo.
Yawijah, 25, from Pangia, Southern Highlands has two children and Tanda, 26, from Wabag, Enga, has a three-month-old baby. “Before you commit a crime, always think about your family.”

University will fix doctor shortage: Minister

August 15, 2019The NationalNational

HEALTH Minister Elias Kapavore said the issue of shortage of doctors in the country could only be addressed with a standalone medical university and the training of medical students at other major institutions. Kapavore said given the current ratio of one doctor for every 20,000 people, the Government was trying to address the shortage of doctors in the country and had taken several measures. He had instructed the new Medical Board of PNG with the support of two Australian medical professors to visit the Divine Word University next month to assess the curriculum and its facilities related to the teaching of medicine. Kapavore said while the DWU medical programme had its critics, the curriculum and training offered at Madang institution the two professors would be able to give him a clear understanding what the school needed to produce qualified and quality graduates. He said based on their report, a review of the curriculum would be done if needed to ensure the changes were made in order for DWU to graduate its first doctors in 2021 which he said would double the number of annual graduates.

Marape govt begins to address PNG’s grim cancer battle

23 August 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/08/marape-govt-begins-to-address-pngs-grim-cancer-battles.html#more

 

PORT MORESBY – We are all susceptible to cancer regardless of age, sex, race, health and socioeconomic situation. Cancer strikes indiscriminately. It takes alike the old and young, weak and robust, eliminating a former common misconception- one of many myths of cancer – that it is mainly an ailment consigned to the older age bracket.

Unlike death and its inevitability, cancer can be fatal, but is also avoidable and treatable, given the right drugs and equipment. And it can be curable as well if diagnosed and treated at the earliest stage. I was privileged to speak to the late Dr John Niblett about this in July 2013. At the time this great and selfless man was director of the Angau Memorial Hospital’s cancer treatment centre.

Dr Niblett (God rest his soul) died on 4 July 2017 – an especially tragic passing given his cruel expulsion from the treatment centre by an ingrate National Department of Health and the Health Minister at the time. In light of the Marape government’s recent announcement of a sizable capital injection of K60 million into the country’s two top hospitals to ensure cancer treatment will be available next year, I am prompted to revisit my enlightening conversation with the late Dr Niblett.

Then a leading cancer specialist and the only resident radiation oncologist in PNG, Dr Niblett said given the underdeveloped, underfunded, understaffed and under-informed cancer response by the health department, early detection was the only hope anyone afflicted by cancer had to be given a fighting chance to survive. Back in 2013, the statistics painted an almost hopeless picture of the cancer situation in the country. Of an estimated 2,000 cancer cases each year, an average of 400 were detected and referred to the cancer centre for treatment management. This was a mere 40% compared to the outstanding 60% of undetected cases, implying that some 1,200 unfortunate people suffered in what can only be described as dreadful circumstances without treatment and without hope.

26 August 2019

Peace in the valley – and it all started in the home

BRAD WATSON | Adventist Record | Edited

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/08/peace-in-the-valley-and-it-all-started-in-the-home.html

KUNDIAWA – The air is filled with smoke rising languidly above mounds of black ash. Women and children hide in the forest, terrified of those who have stripped their fields and herded away their pigs.

In the distance, a decrepit school stands idly, empty of laughter or the sounds of teachers scolding students. A small church, recently filled with sounds of song and praise, is the only building that is untouched. Over a ridge, a widow watches a sweet potato roasting on a bed of glowing ash. She is worried. Her hands tremble. Recently a man in her clan died after a long illness. Some of the relatives are saying she is responsible.

They huddle together and whisper. A witch, one says. A sorcerer, says another. A Dracula. For that is the new word they use for the likes of her. She has done nothing but fears what will happen when the relatives of the deceased man return to her house.

She is still grieving, for her own husband died two years earlier, and a daughter died recently in childbirth. It was too dangerous to go to the hospital.

This was the recent, harsh reality of life for the 3,000 people of the Guna-Goreku tribe in Papua New Guinea’s rugged and beautiful Simbu Province. According to Benjamin Kola and his wife, Agnes, few Guna-Goreku people had gone to school because of constant fighting for more than 25 years. [See the above url for the full article]

Progress may be inevitable but human dignity should prevail

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/08/progress-may-be-inevitable-but-human-dignity-should-always-prevail.html#more

PORT MORESBY – The fate of about 100 families residing in 64 units of National Housing Commission flats at Gordon in Port Moresby hangs in precarious balance as they face eviction from their homes of 20-30 years by a private property developer.

The matter is the subject of a bitter and protracted legal battle that has taken up the better part of the last 12 years and is still awaiting a final court decision.

But the political leadership of the National Capital District (NCD) must be lauded, and loudly, for standing up for the families who are agitated and distressed about the future. Governor Powes Parkop and the MPs of Moresby South and North-East have made considerable efforts to address the adverse effects of physical developments on affected communities in and around the city.

Moresby North-East MP John Kaupa recently told the affected Gordon families that, if an eviction is compelled to happen by law, it will take place, but that it is incumbent upon leaders to ensure it occurs in a just, orderly and humane manner.

Essentially, the MP captured and amplified the collective view of local political leaders led by Governor Parkop.

In the last two years alone, there have been a number of NCD-sanctioned relocation of entire communities displaced by commercial developments.

A human rights lawyer prior to taking up politics, Governor Parkop consistently champions the cause of powerless people caught in the aggressive cross currents of progress and development. That is certainly the sentiment of Francis Irai, an elderly man of about 70, living with his family in a makeshift home constructed of rusted metal sheet walls and canvas for a roof. The squalor in which the family is living is shocking and degrading, but the family has no place else and the future is devoid of hope as far as Mr Irai can see, which unfortunately is not too far as he is losing his sight. They are victims of progress taking the form of a brand new four-lane road linking Gerehu and 9 Mile, purportedly to reduce the traffic congestion on the nearby main highway.

Irai is now a broken man without a job, without a home and without hope. He sought me out to air his story in his firm belief that Governor Parkop will heed his plea.

Kase’s admission of health system failure 10 years overdue

14 August 2019. . https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/08/kases-admission-of-health-system-failure-10-years-overdue.html#more 

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country..LAE – For the last five years, I have been repeating the same story: ‘We have a crisis in the health system.’The rest of the country can see it. The people who are victims of the medicine shortages all over the country keep speaking out about it. Health workers have cried while being interviewed because they simply can’t save lives. And we’re not talking about the expensive cancer treatment and operations families have to pay for. 

It’s the basics that are lacking. Antibiotics, malaria drugs, family planning drugs and consumables. The clinics don’t have them. Or even if they have them, the supplies are not enough for their catchment areas. Personally, I have emailed the health secretary, Pascoe Kase, about the cancer unit in Lae, the ill-treatment of the late Dr John Niblet and the medicine shortages. I have called and sent text messages. No reply.

I found that the only way  get the (former) government’s attention was to produce a series of live videos on Facebook berating the health minister and the ‘higher ups’ until the issue got discussed on the floor of parliament. It took a change of government before health workers truly felt free to openly discuss the medicine shortages.  When the new PM, James Marape, travelled to Lae on his second visit, he came with health minister Elias Kapavore and secretary Kase. We put the question of medicine shortages to him yet again. The health secretary was indeed quick to defend saying the medicine shortage was a “broad” assumption and that the problem was with the area medical stores.He went on further to state that a lot of the blame lay with staff at the clinics.

I said: “You have to go to the clinics and talk to staff because the information you are giving me here is wrong.”  (I have the video).  It turned into a tense exchange which we later had to cut short. After more than five years, secretary Kase is now ‘admitting’ that there are problems.  I could say better late than never.  But…no.  We wanted that admission earlier. We wanted an acknowledgment of the problem and it is almost 10 years overdue. Senior doctors like Sam Yokopua, Ludwig Nanawar and Alex Peawi have all threatened to resign over the unresolved problems that continue to hurt their patients. 

PLUS ÇA CHANGE, PLUS C’EST LA MÊME CHOSE

I liked the last sentence of Scott’s article. Luckily in my sojourn in PNG I didn’t spend too long living in the capital but the few years remain etched in my memory-bank.

I can still the recall the delightful appearance of the Waigani public servants and ministerial bag-carriers or ‘gofers’.

They looked quite sharp in their nice clothes complete with an air of officialdom that impressed the peasants who sought answers in shabby government offices or when these so called public servants accompanied their ministerial masters often helicoptered into the sweaty backwaters of the nation and thus avoiding nasty spray from a dinghy trip or inhaling the road dust and pothole bumps along neglected mud roads.

Having been a mostly rural inhabitant for my 32 years in PNG I had witnessed the terrible shortcoming of the Health Department at first hand:

The lovely dental building at Taskul with no electricity connection and the second-hand dental chair which would send you somersaulting backwards onto floor as it had a damaged rear support. Two officers stationed there to carry out 19th century extractions.

Daughter with cut finger arrived at 1610 so no treatment until next day.

Never ending lack of correct tablets so aspirin for malaria.

No antiseptic.

On and on it goes with the poor old aidposts having rundown buildings with even less medial necessities. Not even a water supply for some as collecting gutters broken or tank rusted and leaking.

Reports in PNG media now in my health file continue to grow and every year appear articles on the failure of the health ministers and their secretaries to solve the greatest problem of drug supply in their fiefdom.

011203 Medical drugs run out in NG Islands region:

INTRAVENOUS fluid, an essential medical drug, is reportedly running short in the New Guinea Islands Region. Saint Mary’s Vunapope Hospital paediatrician Dr Pomat told of one patient, who was very sick and needed IV treatment but hospital staff could not administer IV because they did not have the fluid in stock and the patient died. “It is a crisis situation. We are out of intravenous fluids,” Dr Pomat said.

020624 THE Port Moresby General Hospital is critically short of drugs There are no anaesthetic drugs and laboratory reagents.

020102 Goroka needs steriliser to fight typhoid epidemic

040114 Cancer, silent killer -UP to 10,000 Papua New Guineans die every year as a result of cancer

060721 Moresby hospital runs out of drugs

080608 2nd hand cancer machine that Lae hospital bought in 1979 eventually gave up ghost in 1999

081212 Tari hospital runs out of drugs

081231 In dire straits POMGH forced to accept donations to stay in business

090107 Babies miss out as drugs run out at Well Baby Clinic in POM

091016 Drug supply short at urban clinics

100223 Drug shortage in Lae clinics for newborn babies

100520 Last three months before ART drug supply ceases

119221 The acute shortage of basic medical drugs in rural aid posts in Madang and Karkar is now into its second month as the province’s medical store and supplier remains closed.

110722 Drugs shortage kills nine in Kandrian

111107 A$1.4 million given to pursue snake-bites study

110130 Papua New Guinea Health Report – The worst state of health in the Pacific region

120217 No immunisation vaccines for babies in Lae

120412 Nonga Base hospital short on oxygen supplies

120418 Wewak General Hospital is sending away patients seeking X-rays because its machine is not working.

131201 Internal DFAT documents identify Borneo Pacific as PNG’s largest provider of drugs from manufacturer North China Pharmaceutical Group, a known offender in China’s fake drugs crisis.

140109 Health is PNG Government’s priority says Sir Puke Temu Minister for Public service
https://health.onepng.com/news/health-is-png-governments-priority

140115 Central Supply & Tenders Board backs NEC award to Borneo because it is not a manufacturer and did not require the ISO 9001 accreditation

140522 Burst pipes rats taint Modilon, Madang hospital food

140605 Medical kits here next week from Borneo Pharmaceutical Company in Indonesia

140722 Hospitals receive 300 second hand beds from John Hunter Hospital in OZ

150331 Shortage of BCG vaccine for babies at POM G Hospital is unacceptable

151106 PM seems to be deluded when he says ‘no drug shortages in PNG hospitals’

160413 Critical drug shortage at POM G Hospital for six months

160415 ‘Hospitals not short of drugs’ says Secty. Pascoe Kase

160517 Laloki short of vital mental drug Olanzepine

160623 K50 Millions owed to suppliers and distributors of medical drugs acknowledged by health Minister Michael Malabag & his Secty. P Kase

160926 Hospitals lack cancer drugs

170103 Nogat marasin

170315 Lack Of Anti Venom In PNG A Concern at www. news.pngfacts.com

170320 Shortage of pap smear tests because of lack of pathologists

170412 Half a million funding for drugs not enough for 6 months

170609 Drugs crisis being fixed says Secty. Kase

170808 K15,000 anti-venom fee will cause deaths says Dr Sam Yockopua

180222 Medicines running out as supplies stuck without distributor as Sir Puke dithers

180525 Sir Puke Tuma Health minister NOW admits medicine, needles, gauze, cotton often run out

181031 Oro Clinic serving 2000 people: No antibiotics, no painkillers or other basic supplies such as gauze, gloves and adhesives.

190319 Ways sought to improve supply of medicine says Sir Puka Temu

These mere headlines tell a sad tale of political neglect either from idiots, uncaring or corrupt elites who turn up to work in their nice clothes but often disdaining to answer the pleas of the masses crying out for a decent health system throughout the nation.

We are all aware how the top lot somehow afford trips to overseas hospitals or at the very at least access private medical care.

Sadly May 2019’s misnamed ‘change of government’ saw O’Neills recent supporters who had just publicly railed against him happily coalescing into almost the same political swamp dwellers.

Nothing new under the sun in politics: ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’

If you’re pregnant, very unwell, suffering from cancer, TB or with mental illness don’t hold your breath waiting to see improvements in your rural health facility.

Posted by: Arthur Williams | 14 August 2019 at 09:48 PM

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns – July 2019

Jiwaka police gets training to deal with sorcery violence

July 1, 2019 The National

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


Overcrowding cause of outbreak

July 1, 2019 The National

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

Bishop wants fair deal for customary landowners

July 18, 2019 The National 

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

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

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

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

Joe Chandler

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

Explosive anger over broken promises

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

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

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

Patients urged to report hospital staff charging fees

July 3, 2019The National

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

Priest: Better options available than death

July 8, 2019 The National

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

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

06 July 2019

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

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

SINCLAIR DINNEN & GRANT WALTON | DevPolicy Blog

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

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

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

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

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

New curriculum brings mixed reaction from officers

July 11, 2019 The National

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

Power elites behind brutal Highlands slayings must be targeted

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

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

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

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

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

 PNG tops Pacific in child abuse

July 31, 2019 The National

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

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

My message to prime minister James Marape

01 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Provide housing for our people. …

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

Prison infrastructure falling apart: Official

June 4, 2019 The National

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


Call to revisit legislative issues

June 4, 2019 The National

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

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

06 June 2019

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

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

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

Help sought to remove implants

June 7, 2019 The National

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

Election flawed to an unforgivable extent: Report

June 7, 2019 The National

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

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

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

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

Ideas whose time has come three years later.

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

Papua New Guinea on the chopping block

By Roberta Staley June 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

Kwa: ICAC Bill awaiting endorsement

June 11, 2019 The National

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


Plea to Marape: New PM asked to reinstate sacked whistleblower

12 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Marape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 June 2019

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

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

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

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

Marape’s dream

June 18, 2019 The National

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

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

 

How decentralised funding became decentralised corruption

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

Centralized funding becomes decentralized corruption. 20 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Waide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Kumbon 26 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mt Ulawun erupts -135,000 to be moved

June 28, 2019 The National Main Stories

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

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