Social Concerns Notes – September 2017

MP emphasizes need for more role models to help youngsters

August 24, 2017 The National
The country faces a crisis of bad role modelling by older people towards youths and this must change, Madang MP Bryan Kramer says. Speaking at the Divine Word University’s annual cultural day at the Madang campus recently, Kramer said the there were not many role models as there were in the past. He expressed concern that political leadership has been affected by poor role models setting bad examples over the years and it would take some time to fix the problem.
Kramer said the situation could change with institutions like DWU helping to shape ethical and honest professionals to enter the workforce and take up leadership roles. Kramer, who graduated from DWU with a Bachelor in Business-Accountancy, paid tribute to his former university for teaching religious education and ethics as a core subject that has shaped the character of DWU graduates over the years. He said his DWU education shaped his view of the world and gave him the moral compass to understand issues such as corruption in PNG today. He paid tribute to the Catholic religious, especially the Divine Word missionaries and Holy Spirit sisters who founded the university, the lay missionaries, volunteers and other staff for molding young people to be better citizens over the years.

16 years on: Looking back on Bougainville’s peace agreement

03 September 2017http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/09/16-years-on-looking-back-on-bougainvilles-peace-agreement.html#more
ARAWA – It was 16 years ago last week since the signing of an important blueprint that put an end to Bougainville’s civil war in Papua New Guinea. The Bougainville Peace Agreement paved the way for lasting peace on the war-torn island following the 10-year conflict which erupted as a result of disputes over the giant Panguna copper mine.
On 30 August 2001, the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in Arawa, Central Bougainville.
The agreement between the government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was intended to further the objectives of the Burnham Truce, Lincoln and other agreements brokered with New Zealand help. It was to be implemented through consultation and co-operation.
Several delegations from mainland Papua New Guinea visited Bougainville to restore the government’s trust and confidence to the people. Among them was Papua New Guinea’s former prime minister, Bill Skate, who asked hardliners and warlords to surrender their weapons. This was documented in the ceasefire agreement. Women were at the forefront of peace negotiations.
The signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001 allowed the establishment of the ABG in 2005,with Joseph Kabui elected as the first president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
It was a win-win solution, but since 2005 the full implementation of the peace accord has never been realised. One of the major issues has been unpaid grants which had been committed to Bougainville by the PNG national government.

A bumptious, unwise Peter O’Neill stirs the Bougainville pot

28 September 2017
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/09/oneill-voices-a-barely-hidden-enmity-to-bougainvilles-referendum.html#more
NOOSA – It wasn’t so much the content as the arrogance of prime minister Peter O’Neill’s airy statement about Bougainville’s political future that came as a bombshell.
Bougainville’s ‘independence’ referendum scheduled for 15 June 2019 will not go ahead unless key conditions are met, O’Neill told the Papua New Guinea parliament on Tuesday.
And yesterday, Bougainville president Dr John Momis predictably reacted with anger, and said O’Neill was dead wrong.
“The referendum is inevitable. It’s been decided. We will have a referendum,” came the sharp retort.
Addressing the PNG parliament, O’Neill had stated that Bougainville’s autonomous government will be required to meet certain criteria before the referendum can be held.
These, O’Neill said, included “a proper establishment of rule of law, proper establishment of a government structure [and] proper disposal of weapons. “All those issues are yet to be met as we speak today,” he added. “I don’t want Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans to think that it’s an easy path, that we’ll just wake up tomorrow and have a referendum. “It may be such that it’s not possible.”
Dr Momis said if O’Neill acted on his comments, it would be both unconstitutional and a breach of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. “After the referendum is a different matter,” he said, “with the international community, through the United Nations, at that stage to decide whether what is happening in Bougainville meets international best practice.”
The referendum was formally agreed in 2001 in an internationally endorsed constitutional and legal treaty which brought to a close the bloody 10-year Bougainville civil war, a conflict which cost the lives of an estimated 10-15,000 people.
In fact PNG has long been in breach of the agreement by showing itself unwilling to provide legislated reparations to Bougainville and failing to progress effective institutional arrangements to conduct the referendum.
And, as Dr Momis said, “Weapons disposal, fiscal self-reliance, good governance – all these things are not conditions. “They are considerations that we need to take into account in determining the date for the referendum. That’s all.” In fact, it has been O’Neill’s failure to provide agreed funds and his tardiness in progressing negotiations towards a referendum that represent the main stumbling blocks to progress. Indeed, O’Neill’s lack of consultation, his wilful misinterpretation of what the peace agreement says and his patronising tone may well project the Autonomous Bougainville Government into taking long-considered legal action against the PNG government.

Talk of “successful” PNG election

05 September 2017
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/09/julie-bishop-shifts-her-position-on-a-successful-png-election.html#more
… Let’s look at the reaction of PNG economist Busa Wenogo’s itemisation of the many ways in which the election was mismanaged and corrupted:
1) The appointment of returning officers and assistant returning officers seems to have been done without proper screening and/or with the appointment influenced externally. Many of these officials are of questionable character and some have been implicated in foul play in previous elections.
2) There has been a gross abuse of electoral rolls and it could be that the majority of the voting population has not been able to cast a vote. In place of this, cronies of some ‘lucky’ candidates have helped themselves to votes by being able to mark many of those extra ballot papers.
3) Pretty much proven allegations (statistical analysis is compelling) of “ghost names” and extra ballot papers have influenced the result in crucial seats. I suspect the ruling PNC party knew it might not fare well in the elimination process and it did everything in its power to ensure its candidates were declared on the first (primary) count. [Results so far indicate that most PNC candidates leading with a small margin going into the elimination process have been eliminated.]
4) The superficial ‘quality checks’ of counting favour the ruling PNC against others. Cases in point include ‘quality checks’ in Moresby South, Ialibu-Pangia and Tari- Pori compared with Moresby North West and Madang Open. These ‘checks’ were deliberately done swiftly to allow PNC to increase its numbers quickly so that it could be invited by the governor-general to form government.
5) Allowing voting to proceed on a Sunday in Ialibu-Pangia although it is against the organic law on national & local level government elections, that is, unconstitutional.
6) The resignation of the electoral advisory committee over lack of information provided to enable it to do its job.
7) Major election related problems that have lacked effective action from the electoral commission including the return of writs to the governor-general on Friday 28 July without consulting the Registrar of Political Parties & Candidates – and with 20 or so seats still to be declared.
8) The discovery of some 3,000 ballot papers in Goilala District that were been counted.
9) The deliberate delay by the electoral commission in disbursing allowances for staff conducting elections in electorates where non-PNC parties were leading. This was deliberately done to delay the declaration of candidates.
10) Conflicting announcements over who was the duly-elected governor of Hela Province after the earlier declaration of Francis Potape was rescinded. The election manager did this in a very dubious way.
11) William Duma’s declaration made while 28 ballot boxes were to be counted (this has led to violence and the lockdown of Kagamuga airport).
12) In the case of Don Polye, the reluctance of the returning to count 11 remaining ballot boxes led to tragic violence in Enga.
13) In the case of Sir Mekere Morauta, the double declaration where the returning officer declared third placed candidate Joseph Tonde in a hotel witnessed by an EMTV crew and probable relatives of Mr Tonde. A failed attempt by PNC (assisted by the electoral commission) to derail Sir Mek’s push to rally independents and form the government with the NA-Pangu led team.
14) There was more – much more – right across the country. This election will be studied in Papua New Guinea for many years to come. After analysing these events, I question the neutrality of the electoral commission. The 2017 national election will be seen by many people as a failure.
The informal estimate of the death toll relating to the election is 70-80 people. The true figure is not one that officials in either PNG or Australia care to address, at least not in public.
She should reflect on the sad words of the respected Catholic priest, Fr John Glynn, 54 years in Papua New Guinea, in a recent article in PNG Attitude:
“As our newly elected honourable members sit there in their comfortable seats I wonder how many of them give any serious thought to what it cost to put them there in terms of blood spilled, lives lost, homes destroyed, families dispersed, businesses disrupted … and, when Election 2022 comes along, will it be any better?”

Jiwaka, Enga lead country in HIV/AIDS statistics

September 5, 2017The National
JIWAKA has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, according to Cardinal Sir John Ribat, the chairman of the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV/Aids.
He was in Jiwaka yesterday to open a new regional office for the alliance at Sipil in Banz.
The other eight provinces behind Jiwaka identified as having a high number of people living with HIV/Aids are Enga, Western Highlands, Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, Northern, Morobe, Madang and the National Capital District. Provinces projected to have the highest prevalence rate in PNG are Enga, Jiwaka, Chimbu, Northern, Madang, NCD and Manus.
Sir John said the church must take a leading role in educating the people on HIV/AIDS to reduce its spread. “The church must start carrying out awareness to help stop the population from being infected and affected. You need to get tested now and know your status because the virus is spreading fast,” Sir John said. “I’m appealing to the people of Jiwaka to change their behaviour,” he said.

Profiting from sickness in PNG: The dark economy of public health

07 September 2017
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/09/profiting-from-sickness-in-png-the-dark-economy-of-public-health.html#more
BORNEO Pacific Pharmaceuticals Ltd is yet again the subject of controversy, after the company was contracted this year, at a premium price, to supply medical kits to health centres and aid posts.
Media reports indicate that Borneo Pacific has been given a one year contract worth, K57,738,982.91, to provide medical supplies to health centres and aid posts throughout the country. The alleged value of the contract is substantially higher than the three-year, K71 million contract awarded to Borneo in 2013. Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, has questioned the award, describing it as “controversial and suspicious”. It ought to be kept in mind that in addition to being a member of the Public Accounts Committee, Juffa was deputy chair of the parliamentary committee which recently conducted a review of health sector management, which uncovered worrying evidence on Borneo Pacific’s merchandise. Governor Juffa claims the new contract was signed by the government against the advice of the solicitor general’s office. Echoing concerns raised by The Global Fund’s inspector general, the solicitor general is said to have rejected the draft contract because it was awarded via an unjustifiable certificate of inexpediency, and did not meet procurement procedures set out under part seven of the Public Finance Management Act and part 13 of the Financial Instructions.
This new contract awarded to Borneo Pacific also comes despite an allegation aired in March that a two-year review by the Health Department into the three-year contract granted to Borneo Pacific in 2013, “showed that the quality of service had dropped”. This is an especially concerning indictment given that the goods supplied by Borneo Pacific back in 2013 were already viewed as poor.
Because Borneo Pacific does not publicly release detailed accounts – indeed IPA records indicate it has not submitted an Annual Return since 2011, in violation of the Companies Act 1997 – it is impossible to verify whether it is making significant profits from these deals.

Tuberculosis looms as a potential threat to Apec summit

September 11, 2017 The National
THE high rate of tuberculosis (TB) in the National Capital District poses a health risk to the Apec meeting in Port Moresby next year, according to deputy health secretary Dr Paison Dakulala.
He said NCD had 45 per cent of the TB burden in the country, with more than 30,000 people diagnosed. “PNG is on the list of high-burden countries for TB and multi-drug resistant TB and TB-HIV co-infections,” he said. “This causes a significant impact on the health system and the country’s economy. This has a health security issue for Papua New Guinea and for other countries. “This is specifically important considering the Apec Summit we will be hosting next year, where global players in the industry and firms will be coming. “For several months, they will be having meetings here. One of the big issues we have to deal with is TB.”
He said despite the efforts they had put in to reduce the numbers, they still had poor treatment outcome. He said in Western, they had set up the whole component of direct observed treatment support (Dots) which was functioning well.

4229 People Living with HIV in NCD

Post Courier, September 12, 2017
Out of the 44, 187 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country, about 4229 are reported to be living in National Capital District, according to epidemiologist on HIV and sexual transmitted infections (STI) Michelle Budwitz. She said NCD is now the target because of the high prevalence of 1.46 percent and data is very vital to addressing the issue.
She said 3000 PLHIV are on tantiretroviral treatment in the nation’s capital.
“Though we are seeing some improvements in the treatment and care services, more still needs to be done,’’ she said.
She said annually in this country, 16 percent of new infections are new born babies from mother to child transmission, however it could be more if all the clinics in the city are correctly collecting anti-natal clinic data because at the moment not all are doing this.
She said PNG supports the renewed global commitment to work towards ending the AIDS epidemic and this includes a commitment to the 90:90:90 targets.
“By 2020, 90 per cent of all PLHIV will know their HIV status, by 2020, all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; by 2020, 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
“Under the new HIV and Sexual Health Strategy 2018 to 2020, it is envisaged that to reach 90:90:90 goals requires considerable focus on assisting people with HIV to know their HIV status and access clinical monitoring, treatment care and support.’’

Babies with HIV account for 16pc of new infections

September 12, 2017The National
BABIES account for 16 per cent of the new HIV infections annually in the country, according to Health Department epidemiologist Dr Michelle Budwitz. Speaking at the opening of a National Capital District HIV surveillance training for monitoring and evaluation (M and E) focal persons and service providers in Port Moresby yesterday, Budwitz said: “Data collection is very important in the AIDS programme. “This is really critical because 16 per cent of new infections annually are newborns. “We can prevent that. There shouldn’t be any babies infected with HIV.

Contaminated water is still killing 60 PNGns a week

9 September 2017
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/09/contaminated-water-is-still-killing-60-pngns-a-week.html#more
Here are some facts about water quality in Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea has the poorest level of access to clean water in the world, with more than 60 percent of the population living without access to clean water. Since 1990, access to clean water has only gone up by 6% and improved sanitation coverage actually dropped by one percent. Of the 15 developing Pacific Island nations, Papua New Guinea has the lowest water and sanitation access indicators. The average cost of 50 litres of water (the minimum amount of water necessary for human sanitation and well-being) in Papua New Guinea’s capital is K8 a day, which is half the average daily salary of K16. Approximately 4.8 million people in Papua New Guinea do not have access to clean water and 6.2 million people do not have a basic toilet. More than 200 children in Papua New Guinea die of diarrhoea each year due to lack of sanitation and clean water.
According to Oxfam New Zealand, contaminated water in PNG kills 368 people every six weeks.
Papua New Guinea launched the national water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policy in 2015.
These facts about water quality in PNG reveal a serious issue that extends beyond just access to water.

Scourge of leprosy, a disease of the poor, returns to PNG

20 September 2017
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/09/scourge-of-leprosy-a-disease-of-the-poor-returns-to-png.html#more
PORT MORESBY – Sitting in the car I could see her in the distance – running, half limping.
After a while I got out and moved to the front of the vehicle and waited for her. Rebecca slowed down as she approached but continued towards me. I could see she was excited but, just as she came close, she turned as if to dash away and escape. I grabbed her and held her close to me. Rebecca is a 15-year-old girl who lives on the outskirts of Port Moresby. She is spending her early years living in shame because of her condition. Growing up with leprosy she can see how she is losing both of her feet and her right hand. She is worrying about being deformed. She understands the implications of her predicament and lives in shame. Leprosy and poverty feed off each other. In places where leprosy is widespread, there is often unbearable poverty. Where there is leprosy it is not hard to see disability but it is not only in the hands and feet, it affects the eyes.
PNG boasts of its modern infrastructure development but there is a group of people who will never have the opportunity to benefit from these services because of their physical condition. These people continue to live without proper nutrition, without clean water and in crowded conditions – prominent factors leading to the re-emergence of leprosy. In Papua New Guinea leprosy was announced as being successfully eliminated in 2000 however, in recent years, we have seen it resurface in Western, Gulf, Central and Sandaun provinces and in the National Capital District. The World Health Organisation reports that at the end of the first quarter of 2017, 356 new leprosy cases were recorded. Off this 140 were women and 89 children.
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Govt’s removal of powers creates ICAC ‘toothless monster’

21 September 2017
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/09/government-removal-of-powers-creates-icac-toothless-monster.html
PORT MORESBY – The Papua New Guinea government has amended draft legislation for an Independent Commission Against Corruption to remove some of its most critical powers, opening the doors to political interference. The government is watering down the powers of the ICAC and will be creating exactly the kind of ‘toothless monster’ the secretary for justice has written about.
The government changes were announced at a UPNG Seminar last week by Minister for Justice Davis Stevens. He said the government has removed ICAC’s powers of arrest and prosecution and placed the prime minister in charge of the appointments process for commissioners. Denying ICAC full powers of arrest and prosecution means it will not be able to act independently and effectively to investigate, prosecute and ensure those guilty of corruption are punished.

Independent Commission Against Corruption open

September 26, 2017
THE Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) draft bill is open to more public discussion and that is what the government wants. The public is encouraged to make comments on this important legislation, says Constitutional Law Reform Commission chairman, Dr Eric Kwa.
Dr Kwa also said there is no time frame when the bill gets to the parliament. He was speaking at a radio talkback show with TIPNG chairman, Lawrence Stephens, last week.Bo th shared general views on the draft bill and are encouraged that the government has decided to ask the people for their comments, especially on the appointment of commissioners and the clarity of arresting and prosecution powers as certified in the amended bill. Dr Kwa said the commission will still have some powers to arrest but will give the first call to those mandated by the Constitution to perform functions of arrests. He said the bill will not be rushed, and that there are suggestions the Prime Minister was running the show which was not correct. He reiterated that it is not a one-man decision.
Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Davis Steven, spoke on proposed law at a forum at the University of PNG recently, saying the consultation with civil society and broad community demonstrated the government’s intention to be open about this important legislation.
Regarding consultation, Mr Steven encouraged the involvement of higher learning institutions in discussing the draft bill apart from the general public and it is a must for the legislation to be more simplified for common people to learn and understand it.
Copies in draft form are available at the Department of Justice.

Refugee rift piques PNG’s anti Australian sentiment

27 September 2017
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/09/refugee-rift-piques-pngs-anti-australian-sentiment.html#more
SYDNEY – As Behrouz Boochani reports from Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, a number of the over 900 refugee men who have been detained there by Australia will soon fly to the United States where, under the fraught deal struck between the US and Australian governments in 2016, they will be allowed to settle. The Australian government is shutting down the detention centre on Manus while many of the refugees who have been detained there over the past four years are demanding, as they have from the beginning, that they be afforded the human right of being permitted to settle in Australia — a country where they are likely to be safe from war, poverty, and persecution.
The agreement, such as it was, is now arguably in tatters. The suffering of the refugees in detention, the abuse of their human rights, has been monumental. Manusians and Papua New Guineans more broadly have had this suffering in their faces, often finding themselves blamed for it, such as when refugees have been attacked by locals outside of detention on the island. Plans to resettle the refugees in the US have been the subject of international scandal, stopping and starting several times before the current assurance that some 50 will be flown there soon. Many of the jobs promised by Australia for the remittance-dependent Manus Island have not materialised, and Manusians (like former parliamentarian Ronny Knight) have repeatedly expressed concern about the volatility of a situation where so many men are held in poor conditions with no realistic exit point in sight.
Many Papua New Guineans feel that Australia has ducked its responsibility to resettle refugees and treated PNG like a dumping ground. Knight has suggested PNG could declare the refugees illegal residents and deport them to Australia, while the PNG Attorney-General has warned that his country is “not going to allow a situation where Australia has withdrawn”.
One senior development consultant, an Australian with decades of experience in the region, told me they’ve never seen such significant anti-Australia sentiment in PNG public discourse….

Plastic Bags – not change…

September 28, 2017
Not much has changed since the ban on the use of plastic bags in Papua New Guinea was introduced in 2005.
People still litter or throw rubbish out of moving vehicles and this creates an eyesore in cities or towns, contributes to the clogging of drains and ultimately endangers marine life when plastics get out into the sea.
Reigniting the fight against the use of plastic bags and trying to conserve marine habitats, Help PNG NGO is currently undertaking a project called “Ban the Bag” initiative.
Help PNG has a mascot called the Plastic Bag Man who goes around selling stickers to the public with the assistance of the NGO’s intern Roberta Leo to encourage people to say no to the use of plastic bags.
They are selling stickers for K5 but have put about 200 stickers for free on PMV buses in Port Moresby to get the public aware of the campaign against plastic bags.
Help PNG NGO chief executive officer Frank Butler said the plastic ban more than 10 years ago was not effective because it was a rushed decision and did not prepare many people, especially the business houses, from stopping the use of or the selling of plastic bags.
“It wasn’t a systematic approach to ban the bag…It was nice gesture but it wasn’t a systematic approach to the tapering off of plastics which is the difference between that (ban) back then and what we’re trying to do now,” Mr Butler said.
“The problem was it was introduced overnight and there was no practical or social preparation done…and that is why it failed.”
Mr Butler said building a recycling plant is unlikely but what can be done is getting people to gradually move away from the use of plastic bags.
“Everybody agrees now that there are too many plastics and it’s not being addressed and we don’t have a system (to properly dispose plastics),” he said.
“The only option is to reduce and then eventually ban the whole thing.”
“It was nice gesture but it wasn’t systematic approach to the tapering off of plastics which is the difference between that back then and what we’re trying to do now.

PNG is 10th in disaster risk index

September 29, 2017The National
PAPUA New Guinea has been ranked as the tenth most disaster-prone country in the world, according to a global disaster risk study. The report by the United Nations University highlighted that the country was exposed to hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, coastal inundation, inland flooding, landslides, cyclones, drought, frost and outbreak of diseases.
These are compounded with social and environmental issues of tribal fights, rapid population growth, urbanisation, poor land management and ecosystem degradation. Climate change is reportedly exacerbating the frequency and intensity of climatic hazards in PNG and globally. Recognising this challenge, the National Disaster Centre (NDC) is leading the process of developing PNG’s National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (NDRRF).


Witchcraft accusation based violence gets international attention for the first time

By Miranda Forsyth and Philip Gibbs
devpolicy.org/witchcraft-accusation-base…314f0a1fec-312061401
Last week, on 21-22 September 2017, a UN Experts Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights was held in Geneva. This was the first UN and international level event with a specific focus on witchcraft beliefs and practices. It brought together a range of key UN office holders, including Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, with academics, activists, faith-based organisations, NGOs and survivors of violence emanating from witchcraft beliefs and practices. This post reflects on the key learnings from the workshop of relevance for Papua New Guinea.
The workshop’s intended focus was on practical ways forward to counter the harmful practices that accompany witchcraft and sorcery beliefs, rather than just exploring the social, cultural, economic and political factors that contribute to them. These harmful practices include the torture, murder and banishment of those accused of using witchcraft or sorcery. Speakers came from many parts of Africa, India and across Europe.
PNG’s journey in challenging sorcery accusation based violence and its Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP) was also presented. PNG was favourably compared with many other countries in the world in terms of the leadership of its government, the range and comparatively co-ordinated nature of the activities being undertaken, and the evidence-based approach it has adopted. There was widespread agreement that these issues must be tackled in a comprehensive and multi-sectoral way. The workshop revealed new layers of support that PNG should draw upon going forward, including experiences from other countries in overcoming these types of violence and the international mechanisms that may be of assistance.
Widespread harm caused by sorcery practices and beliefs world-wide
There are a wide – and likely growing – range of abuses arising from the belief in sorcery and witchcraft around the world. These are particularly evident in many parts of Africa and India, but also increasingly in the UK and Europe as a result of migration and, disturbingly, sexual slavery. Many speakers referred to harmful practices “spreading like wildfire” and “hitting us like a tsunami” with the clear implication of increasing levels of abuse. Although the content and technologies of the beliefs and harmful practices varied enormously geographically and historically, there were also some striking shared themes. These include extreme levels of violence against those accused of using witchcraft, relative impunity of perpetrators, malleability of beliefs and practices, their appearance and reappearance over time, their persistence in the face of modernisation and even education, and their harshest impact being on the weakest and most vulnerable. The transmission and communication of both beliefs in witchcraft and the harmful practices associated with them occurs rapidly through migration and the internet and social and other media. Movies dramatising witchcraft beliefs and practices were argued to be a significant factor in the spread of such beliefs and practices; PNG should consider this in the regulation of its film industry.
The geographic variations of beliefs and practices within many countries gives rise to important questions about the most appropriate scale at which to regulate. In this regard, India’s approach is perhaps instructive for PNG, as legislation targeting particular harmful practices such as witch-hunting are made at the provincial level. This ensures appropriate cultural targeting and assists in ensuring that those who are most vulnerable are made aware of the laws that exist to protect them, and how to find pathways to access them.
The International community’s willingness to engage
There was active participation throughout the two days by a wide range of UN Special Rapporteurs (on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; on violence against women, its causes and consequences; on the rights of persons with disabilities; on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism) and other members of the international community (the OHCHR, the Office of Special Representative of the Secretary General on violence against children, and many permanent missions in Geneva). They conveyed the clear message that harmful practices arising from witchcraft beliefs and practices fall squarely within the purview of the UN’s mandate to protect human rights. The workshop was stated by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights to be a “much needed and overdue” opportunity to focus on intersections between witchcraft and human rights. Speakers outlined a number of mechanisms that could be used to put pressure on state governments to be more actively engaged. These included working with UN representatives and human rights institutions on the local level, utilising reporting mechanisms in a variety of international conventions, and requesting Special Rapporteurs to open enquiries into systematic abuses of human rights.
The necessity for engagement by the international level was demonstrated by the fact that in many countries national government action to counter witchcraft-related harms was largely notable by its absence. A common theme of the workshop was the impunity of perpetrators and the unwillingness of state justice systems to properly execute their duty to protect citizens from abuse where witchcraft beliefs and practices are present, either due to lack of capacity, fear, complicity or combinations of the three. Kate Gilmore argued that the abuses flowing from witchcraft beliefs and practices stemmed from a range of state failures, including the failure to provide adequate justice, health and education.
One of the key recommendations made at the event was a proposal for a UN special resolution on witchcraft and human rights to be made in 2019.
The role of spiritual entrepreneurs
A wide range of classes of people who benefit financially and otherwise from people’s beliefs in witchcraft was discussed.  Academic Jean La Fontaine has coined the useful term ‘supernatural entrepreneurs’ to cover this entire category. It ranges from traditional healers, many of whom also or mostly deliver essential primary healthcare, and those who profit by selling charms or trinkets, to those far more dangerous individuals who profit by identifying particular individuals for a fee, through to emerging linkages between witchcraft beliefs and practices and human trafficking.  There was uniform condemnation of such practices but little concrete evidence of any successful or even serious attempts by states to prosecute the perpetrators. It was widely agreed that there is a pressing need to expose and stop those who profit in such ways.  The problem of diviners has been noted in PNG and the call to target them made by many, including the judiciary who referred to them as “a scourge on society” who “fan the flames” of sorcery related killings in a recent judgment. International experience reinforces the urgency and importance of addressing this issue, and also suggests that it must be done carefully to ensure that traditional healers are not unjustly implicated.
Specific initiatives
A number of programs that offer genuine potential to address and prevent the harmful practices stemming from beliefs in witchcraft were discussed. It was noticeable that these were almost all developed by faith based organisations or civil society, with very little state involvement. Three that offer most relevance for PNG are:
• Mission Birubala in Assam province in India, which has five different components to its program: Rescue and Rehabilitation; Awareness Meetings; Sensitization Camps; Free Health Camps; and Formation of Student-Cells to mobilise youth to raise awareness.
• Train the trainer initiative led by missionary anthropologist Steven Rasmussen who coordinates regular seminars in Tanzania on Christian responses to witchcraft accusations. He has developed a monitoring system or pathway for religious leaders so members of congregations can alert others if they are creating circumstances for harmful practices to arise.
• Stop Child Witch Accusations organisation in Africa, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has developed potentially transformational roles for church agencies in changing attitudes and harmful practices associated with witchcraft.

Part II of this post will discuss some of the key issues of debate and discussion at the workshop.

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Social Concerns Notes – August 2017

Flight into the night: saving a precious Bosavi baby

1 August 2017

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/08/flight-into-the-night-saving-a-precious-bosavi-baby.html#more

I RECEIVED the call from Keith Kedekai in Tari at 2.30pm. A woman was in labour at Mt Bosavi. The people there wanted a doctor’s opinion about whether she should be referred.

Receiving the call from Tari, I said I couldn’t make a decision without more details. This type of case would need a medivac which means that an MAF plane would have to be located.

It turned out the Rumginae MAF planes were in Kiunga but the pilots had reached their maximum flying hours and were temporarily grounded. Then the community health worker at Bosavi called me. She’d had to walk a long distance to get to an area with phone reception. She said the woman had been in latent labour for nearly a week. She was 4cm dilated and her waters had broken. This was her fifth baby and all four previous babies had been stillborn. The community health worker thought the presenting part was transverse with arm or knee presentation with other complications. This mother definitely needed an emergency evacuation to the nearest hospital by MAF.

I let Dr Brandon know and she agreed the woman was for medivac to whatever hospital was convenient for MAF. It turned out MAF’s Mt Hagen based plane was in Kiunga and was able to fly to Bosavi to pick up the patient. Rumginae pilot Marcus arranged the flight which would cost k7,200 – a 50% discount because Rumginae is a church-run organisation. Keith Kedekai agreed to pay the money, saying that’s the price to save a life. I gave the community health worker at Bosavi the go ahead and she asked the sub-health centre people know to prepare the mother for travel.

I went for a 6km run and I arrived back to hear the drone of the MAF plane in its red, blue and white lifesaving colours. I couldn’t believe the plane had picked up the woman because it was so late in the day. MAF can only fly during daylight hours. It turned out that there was just one minute of daylight left as they landed, which left the pilot stranded in Rumginae for the night. After reviewing this woman and who was well overdue and with all previous children stillborn, it was decided to undertake a caesarean section. I did the caesarean assisted by our resident, Dr Sakias. And so a bouncing 3.2kg baby girl was born at 9.15pm. There was major bleeding and Dr Brandon stepped in to locate the source and managed to arrest it. Then the power went off as it was 10pm and time for the hospital generator to shut down. For a while we were in total darkness fixing the bleeder but thankfully the solar power kicked in and the lights came back on. Thanks to all the staff members, students, Dr Brandon and Dr Sakias for helping to save this woman and her child. And not forgetting MAF for going out of their way to fly her to Rumginae.

 

Woman Dies on Way to Hospital

August 17, 2017

http://postcourier.com.pg/woman-dies-way-hospital/

A pregant woman from Porgera in Enga Province died last Wednesday after travelling from Wabag to Mt Hagen to get medical treatment at Mt Hagen general hospital. Mambissanda Lutheran hospital chief executive officer, Dr Raymond Saulep said the woman travelled from Porgera to Wabag but could not get help due to its closure so she travelled to Mambissanda hospital in Wapenamanda.

She could not get help in Wapenamanda and was referred to Mt Hagen hospital to undergo surgery.

Dr Saulep said that on her way to Mt Hagen the woman died after losing her unborn child.

He said fighting between two rival candidates in Kandep had cost lives and affected the flow of government services. This has also affected the health centre and it could not do much with limited equipment, especially for surgery.

 

Hefty Transport Costs Bit Chunks out of Remote School Budgets

August 16, 2017

http://postcourier.com.pg/hefty-transport-costs-bite-chunks-remote-school-budgets/

A joint research project undertaken by the National Economic and Fiscal Commission (NEFC), in partnership with the Department of Education (DoE), has revealed that alarming transport costs are preventing schools in remote areas from fully utilizing their school fee subsidies.

The Tuition Fee Free (TFF) education policy clearly demarcates a forty per cent administration component, with the remaining 60 percent to be split equally between the infrastructure component and the teaching and learning component. However, the study, titled “Go Long Ples: Reducing inequality in education funding”, revealed that more than half the total budget of schools in extremely remote areas was being eaten up by transport costs alone. According to the study, schools in moderately accessible locations spent approximately 10 percent of their budget on transport related costs. To purchase a similar basket of goods in more remote locations subsequently increased a school’s transport cost to an estimated minimum of up to a staggering 56 percent of their total budget.

 

PNGs Challenges and Opportunities

http://www.pngblogs.com/2017/08/pngs-challenges-and-opportunities-100.html

PNG’s new government is proposing a 100 day plan. What should this consider? A good plan begins by fully understanding the challenges and opportunities facing its people. On opportunities, PNG leads the world in key areas such as its cultural richness (1st), the extent of its tropical forests (3rd for the entire island), and its extraordinary biodiversity (PNG is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world).

In going forward, PNG needs to change its self-image of “mountains of gold in seas of oil”. This myth (at least in world terms) has delivered appalling development outcomes for PNG. There are much better development paths. A better self-image would be “mountains of culture in rich seas of diversity” – or something similar.  (Suggestions would be welcome – but about people not minerals).

I hope the 100 day plan takes a much more people-orientated approach to PNG’s development. This is a key lesson from its failed economic development to date.  May PNG’s new politicians do much better.

CHALLENGES

The best comparative database source for PNG’s development progress, focused around internationally agreed sustainable development goals, is the ADB Basic Statistics publication – most recently updated in April 2017 – see here.

45 countries in the Asia-Pacific are included. For some indicators, information is not collected for every country. The following list provides some key comparative information – and it generally makes for some pretty sad reading:

  • In PNG, an estimated 39.3% of the population live below the $US1.90 per day poverty line in 2014. This is by far the lowest of the 26 countries with information (the next lowest is 21.2% in India).
  • The prevalence of stunting amount children under the age of 5 is 49.5%, ranking 29th of the 30 countries with only Timor-Leste having a slightly higher figure of 50.2%.
  • The prevalence of malnutrition (wasting) among children under 5 is 14.3%, the highest rate for the 30 countries.
  • The prevalence of malnutrition (overweight) among children under 5 is 13.8%, the 4th highest rate for the 30 countries.
  • The maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births is 215, the equal 3rd highest of 40 countries with information.
  • The under 5 mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 57, the 4th highest of 43 countries.
  • The number of new HIV aids infections in 2015 is 0.36 per 1,000 of the uninfected population, the highest of 21 countries.
  • The tuberculosis incidence per 100,000 population is 432, the 2nd highest of 44 countries.
  • The incidence of malaria per 1,000 population is 185, nearly double the next highest country of 90 in Timor Leste.
  • The death rate due to road traffic injuries per 100,000 of the population is 16.8, 18th of 44 countries.
  • The Mortality Rate Attributed to Household and Ambient Air Pollution per 100,000 population is 46.3, 32nd of 43 countries.
  • The Mortality Rate Attributed to Unsafe Water, Unsafe Sanitation, and Lack of Hygiene is 12.4, 7th of 40 countries.
  • The Proportion of Population Using Improved Drinking Water Sources is 40%, by far the lowest of the 43 countries (the next highest rate is Afghanistan with 55.3%)
  • The Proportion of Population Using Improved Sanitation Facilities is 18.9%, significantly below the next lowest ranking country of Afghanistan with 31.9%.
  • The proportion of the population with access to electricity is 20.3%, once again significantly below the next lowest ranking country of Vanuatu with 34.5%. Interestingly in the energy context, renewable energy represents 50% of energy consumption, the 7th highest share of 41 countries.

OPPORTUNITIES

PNG also has great opportunities.

  • PNG’s population of 8.48 million culturally diverse people is its greatest asset. PNG’s population is 21st largest of the 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. More significantly, PNG unambiguously leads the world with the rich cultural diverseness of this population. With 840 distinct language and cultural  groupings, PNG has an extraordinary resource in a globalising world.
  • Surely there are people smart enough in PNG to tap into this world leading resource both as an export market as well as a tourist destination. The latest display of PNG’s cultures being translated into gorgeous fashions (PNG’s Fashion Week is a small example of this potential. The actual volume of exports might not be as large as an LNG project, but most LNG revenues go to overseas bankers and investors anyway.
  • PNG’s land mass is 464 million square kilometres – the 11th largest in the region and larger than other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines – and more than four times larger than countries such as South Korea. After the Amazon and Congo, the island of New Guinea is the third largest rainforest in the world. These forests face threats from logging, mining, wildlife trade and agricultural plantations, particularly palm oil. These forest resources are being exploited with very poor returns to local communities. And most in PNG know the power behind why the SABLs where never examined under the last government (and won’t be under this one).
  • And PNG is honoured by being one of only 17 megadiverse countries in the world.

PNG of course needs to continue to use its natural resources – hopefully on better terms than in the past. But the real way forward is looking at new opportunities with greater potential for women, the rural poor and small businesses.

 

Cash politics Rampant in NCD Elections

Post Courier, August 9th.

Port Moresby police chief Benjamin Turi has spoken frankly about being offered bribes in the recently concluded National Election. Mr Turi said some candidates had even gone as far as to call him on his private number and offered bribes. “They did try to go beyond this, calling me on the phone and I said ‘no’, I will never change my course. I’ll be fair to everyone, and I told them to get lost,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Turi’s metropolitan command covers the Regional seat of National Capital District, Moresby Northeast, Moresby Northwest, and Moresby South. He also admitted that a number of police officers involved in the NCD election operations had admitted that they had been offered bribes during the course of the election in NCD.

 

PNGs Tropicl Forests Could Vanish

Post Courier, August 17, 2017

According to new studies, half of Papua New Guinea’s tropical forests could vanish by 2021.

This is due to illegal logging, manmade fires and constant farming of cash crops and food gardens.

The study conducted by the University of Papua New Guinea and an Australian University found that the loss of the world’s third-largest rain forest would destroy a wealth of unique flora and fauna and deprive the region of a natural defense against global warming.

Analyzing three decades of satellite imagery, the researchers found that 19.8 million acres of forest was lost between 1972 and 2002. Forests were being cleared or degraded at an alarming rate of 1.4 per cent a year, and researchers fear that  83 percent of the country’s accessible forest – and 53 per cent of its total forested area – will be gone or severely damaged by 2021. The report advised the government to employ forest sustainability programs, including stricter regulation of the commercial logging industry, which brings in annual revenue of £90 million but is one of the main drivers of forest destruction. It also encouraged a better sharing of resources among the population and more comprehensive land-use education for farmers.

 

Call to help people facing food shortage in Goilala

August 22, 2017  National

A PRIEST in Central is appealing for help after noticing the food shortage experienced by people living near his parish. Father Thaddeus Hoem from the Fane parish in Goilala told The National that people were becoming sick because of the lack of food. He said nurses in the parish clinic were having a hard time attending to the sick people. Hoem, who has been serving there for a year and three months, said it was hard to grow crops because the land was dry. “I visited families and their food gardens and noticed that the place was all dried up and not much food crops have grown,” he said.
Medicine supply will also become a problem if the situation is not addressed quickly, he added.
“I call on responsible government agencies like the National Disaster Centre to go there and have a look and assess themselves what I’m saying

 

Farming seen as answer to inadequate diet in prisons

August 23, 2017 National

THE Correctional Services will be launching a farming policy to support detainees, says Commissioner Michael Waipo. Waipo said that with the current issue CS was facing, the Correctional Service was looking into farming prison land to support the detainees. The National Court has ordered the Bomana jail and the CS generally to serve better, nutritious meals to detainees. “The policy is now in place and detainees in every institution are willing to work on the land five days a week. “We have land and labour but we cannot drive this important programme because of no budget to resource our Rehabilitation and Prison Industry Policy. “All we need is a little capital support to drive the programme.”
Shortage of Medicine.

Post Courier  August 30, 2017

Lack of coordination between the Health Department and its area medical stores coupled with funding hiccups by Finance is causing havoc at major hospitals throughout the country. Hospitals throughout Papua New Guinea, including the major Port Moresby General Hospital, have been complaining in the past few months about the shortage of drugs and basic medicines in their pharmacies. By close of business yesterday, Post-Courier had spoken to about 12 general hospitals, among them Kimbe, Daru, Rabaul, Mt Hagen, Buka, Kerema, Vanimo and Mendi that said they had medical drug shortages.

The Health Department was contacted, Health Minister Sir Puka Temu and Health Secretary, Pascoe Kase are on duty travel abroad and the paper could not reach acting secretary, Elva Lionel yesterday.

Sir Puka told an all-staff meeting at Health headquarters soon after his appointment early this month that fixing the medical supplies issue was one of the highest priorities for the new Government.

Post-Courier was also told later that the area Medical Stores was now full to capacity with medical supplies and drugs, but there was no coordination among the distributors to distribute the supplies.

All area medical stores contacted yesterday refused to comment on why there was drugs shortage when stores were now full.

Contractors said area medical stores were fully stocked but medicines could not be distributed to hospitals, due to lack of coordination between the Health Department and the medical stores but the underlying problem was lack of funding.

Short changed: the cost of child undernutrition in Papua New Guinea

August 24, 2017

http://devpolicy.org/short-changed-cost-child-undernutrition-papua-new-guinea-20170824/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=81602a7c57-Devpolicy+News+Aug+25+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-81602a7c57-312089549

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is facing a nutrition crisis. Alarmingly, almost one in two children in PNG have stunted growth from chronic malnutrition.[i] PNG has the fourth highest child stunting rate in the world – a rate that is more than double the global average. Not only does malnutrition pose a threat to the survival and development of children in PNG, it also poses a major threat to sustainable economic growth. Evidence shows that if a child is malnourished during the first 1000-day period from conception to their second birthday, they will suffer cognitive and physical impairments that are permanent and irreversible. These impairments limit a child’s education and employment prospects. Reduced individual earnings translate into reduced economic productivity at the national level. This is how malnutrition can trap children in an intergenerational cycle of poverty.

According to national data in PNG, approximately 33% of all hospital deaths of children under five are either directly or indirectly caused by malnutrition. However, in a new report commissioned by Save the Children, Frontier Economics estimates that malnutrition could be the underlying cause of up to 76% of total deaths of children under five across community and health facilities combined[ii] – a figure significantly higher than the global estimate of deaths of children under five associated with malnutrition at 45%. Evidence also suggests that childhood undernutrition can increase mortality risks later in life, with stunted children more susceptible to obesity, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Frontier Economics estimates that child undernutrition cost the PNG economy the equivalent of $USD508 million in the financial year 2015-16 (2.81% of its annual GDP) through three main pathways:

  1. Losses in productivity from a reduction in labour force due to increased childhood mortality, estimated at $USD46 million (0.26% of GDP);
  2. Losses from increased health care expenditure in treating diseases associated with childhood undernutrition, estimated at $USD3 million (0.02% of GDP).

These losses significantly exceed PNG’s projected health and education sector budgets for 2017 – $USD385 million and $USD366 million respectively. However, the estimated cost of $USD508 million is regarded as conservative, and Frontier Economics posits that the economic cost of child undernutrition could be as high as $USD1.5 billion per annum – 8.45% of GDP – using alternative assumptions. Despite the enormous toll of child undernutrition on PNG’s economy, little progress has been made in tackling this challenge over the past two decades. Indeed, the child stunting rate appears to have worsened from 43.5% in 2005 to 49.5% in 2015.

Contrary to popular belief, food insecurity is not the main driver of such high child malnutrition rates in PNG. Rather, these rates are largely attributable to low rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months; sub-optimal infant and child feeding practices, and a high prevalence of diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation, such as diarrheal disease.

It is clear there is an urgent need for targeted investments to improve child nutrition in PNG, particularly those aimed at increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding, and promoting infant safe and hygienic infant and child feeding practices in the critical 1000 day period up to a child’s second birthday.

 

Better Catholic Education Services

August 28, 2017

The CATHOLIC church continues to play a big role in the development of education in Papua New Guinea and is planning on delivering more and better education services. Yesterday the National Catholic Education Commission and representatives from the Education Department and various key development partners witnessed the launching of the commission’s five year (2017-2021) strategic plans. Chairman of the strategic plan committee, Fr Paul Jennings said the five-year plan is the result of thorough analysis of expectations of people who would like to see how education will be like in the future. “The plan is incorporated with its historical pillars into the modern society in bringing quality education in a culture that is complex and changing.

The strategic plan is in line with this year’s education theme ‘quality for improved education standard’ to build capacity of both teachers and education leaders and managers.

National Catholic education secretary, Michael Ova said the pillars in the plan include Catholic identity and mission, quality teaching learning, staff and student wellbeing, eadership and management.

“In national statics review there is no doubt education standard is falling. These pillars will enhance competency and skills, create and enable environment for teachers in catholic institution.

“In the long run, the plan will empower better qualification, lift standard to student’s performance and value and leadership in education.

 

How are we going in educating our kids? Backwards

21 August 2017

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/08/how-are-we-going-in-educating-our-kids-backwards.html#more

One of the positive trends of globalisation is the mass mobilisation of human labour beyond people’s cultural or ethnic demarcation and Papua New Guineans educated in PNG do – and increasingly will – live and work elsewhere in the world.

This thought leads me to consider the kind of education have we provided for our young people over the last 20 years and whether we have the best education plan for this country.

How do we measure and evaluate the success rate of PNG education policy over the last 20 years?

It may be unpatriotic to raise my voice on the shortcomings evident in national policy but the declining trend in educational quality is appalling and it demands the attention of all of us who care to find an alternative and more successful model as a priority matter.

I want to share with you the first-hand experience of a PNG classroom teacher. …..

Everywhere you go in PNG, classrooms are full to the brim. We do not have the ability in such crowded classrooms to adequately supervise individual students. So what we do is stand in front, deliver the lesson and walk out of the door when the bell rings.

Textbooks are almost non-existent in each of the departments. Those of you who went to school prior to education reform will recall that we were issued textbooks at the beginning of the school year.

But over the last five or six years, my school has not receive any new textbooks under the government’s tuition fee free policy.

So my students do not have textbooks. They come into class, sit down and listen to what the teachers tell them. They copy what teachers write on the blackboard even if it is erroneous or irrelevant. They believe it to be the truth because there’s no other source by which they can find out.

Students’ understanding of the world beyond is limited.  If you ask them to name five cities in Australia, they can’t. Moreover, the English language is too much for them to grasp. In many cases they have given up trying. Some students cannot do simple arithmetic or write a simple sentence in English and yet they are in the classroom because that’s where the government says every child must be. There is lack of motivation among students to excel academically because they know they will still move to the next level of schooling regardless of their capability. In these conditions, teachers lose enthusiasm. This leads to attitude and behaviour problems with some students. We spend much time trying to control errant behaviour. And, it should be noted, teachers are educators, not law enforcers.

Teacher absenteeism is high in some schools because headmasters themselves may not be committed – getting drunk and socialising using school funds and failing to monitor their staff or the operations of the school. If the current education policy is not working to the advantage of our children, we have to discard it. We must come up with an alternative model that is best for Papua New Guinea.

And it is my view that we have to do this soon.

PNG after the elections: reimagining the future by reflecting on the past

August 18, 2017

by Fiona Hukula

http://devpolicy.org/png-elections-reimagining-future-reflecting-past-20170818/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=81602a7c57-Devpolicy+News+Aug+25+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-81602a7c57-312089549

I would like to share some thoughts on PNG after the elections. My reflections are based on nearly twenty years’ experience as a researcher. It has been a little over a week since PNG’s 10th National Parliament convened. The last three months has been a busy time for election officials, media and security personnel. In some places elections have been relatively peaceful. People voted and life carried on, but in other parts of the country, violence and the unnecessary and unfortunate loss of lives has marred these elections. My observation of media reports and preliminary findings from research into women and elections in Morobe by my colleagues Mary Fairio and Sarah Kaut-Nasengom reveals that flawed electoral rolls have led to great disappointment for many people who have not been able to cast their vote.

On the international agenda, APEC 2018 is a key event that will help shape Papua New Guinea’s future. At the national level, the Bougainville referendum will be an important event for PNG as the outcome of the referendum will not only dictate the political future of Bougainville and PNG but it will also set a precedent for those provinces advocating autonomy.

Women leaders

Unfortunately for the next five years, we shall not be seeing any women on the floor of parliament. In her inaugural address, the United States Ambassador Ms Catherine Ebert-Grey stated that the fact that we have no women in parliament should be of grave concern. While this is a depressing outcome of the elections it also clearly indicates the need to reassess and re-strategise how we think about this issue.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture. In analysing the performance of some of the women who came in the top three places for certain seats, we can see that women are receiving votes. For example, Delilah Gore led in the first preference votes and the second preference votes. She lost by just over 200 votes in the final count.

In terms of reflecting on how to get women into parliament, the experiences of female candidates are crucial, as are the experiences of former female parliamentarians. While we may not have women in parliament now, we do know from experience that women can be voted into parliament – this has happened on more than one occasion. For example, Mrs Nahau Rooney, Dame Josephine Abaijah and Dame Carol Kidu were all elected into parliament more than once, so we know from the past that we can elect women into parliament; it is getting women into parliament at every election that is the challenge.

We also know that women are leaders in their communities. In my experience of researching both in urban and rural communities, everywhere I have worked, women leaders always turn up when research meetings are organised and they articulate their concerns clearly. The leadership capabilities of women at the local level is evident as we know from the last local level government elections where forty-five women were voted into local government, with a couple as Town Mayors.

As Papua New Guineans, we need to ask ourselves the hard questions such as, should we be talking about getting women into parliament in terms of gender equality and participation or should we be talking about what makes a good leader? Also, when we talk about getting women into parliament, are we using the right language when addressing different audiences?

Getting women into parliament is not only about discussing these issues in forums such as the PNG Update, but in my view it is also about trying our best to understand the ways in which our people think about gender. I make this comment because often this issue is viewed as a western agenda, maybe because we use words and definitions that are not familiar to the majority of our people. But if we look back to the Constitutional Planning Committee (CPC) report of 1974 we see that this was something that our leaders clearly thought about. If we take off the western gender lens that we often use to have these discussions and start to unpack gender relations in a way that allows us to see the worldview of our people, we will start to map a way forward that is inclusive of everyone.

Development

A lot of the debate around having women in parliament is hinged on the idea of gender equality and equal participation in the development of this country. We use this word ‘development’ but what does it mean to different communities? For some it means access to good roads so they can sell their cocoa and coffee and access health care. For others, it may mean access to clean water and sanitation, for some it may mean four-lane highways and a mall. This one word can trigger discussions about all kinds of things and the ways that we imagine development and our future.

As a nation, we have created some great plans and launched many policies and programs in different sectors with the future in mind and with development in mind. Many of our plans and strategies are anchored in the National Goals and Directive Principles. But how many of us know the National Goals and Directive Principles? I must admit that I am not that well versed with the National Goals and Directive Principles but sometimes when I read things about how we treat each other as Papua New Guineans or how different people imagine their future and especially when I see the growing inequalities between our people I go back and try to acquaint myself better with the National Goals and Directive Principles.

I also like to – every now and then – read bits and pieces of the Constitutional Planning Committee report just to remind myself of what the members of the CPC imagined our future to be. As a researcher whose work is now mostly in the urban sphere, there are two statements from the CPC that I often read. I will only read the first part here of paragraph 116:

We see the darkness of neon lights, we see the despair and loneliness in urban cities. We see the alienation from man that is the result of the present machine oriented economy. We see true social security and man’s happiness being diminished in the name of economic progress.

When I read this, I can see that the future was predicted accurately, but then two paragraphs later the CPC report states:

Our ways emphasise community. We exercise our rights in the context of our obligations to our community.

This sentence alone gives me some sense of hope because yes in the urban context we are now seeing increased poverty in our cities but also in my experience of growing up in this city, of living in an urban settlement as part of my PhD, and of my more recent research with urban village courts, I can see that we still hold firm many of these traits which we call our Papua New Guinean ways.

In the urban setting, we exercise these ideals by doing kinship through our street, church, sporting and work communities and it is through this sense of belonging that we need to start to address the many social issues that we face as a nation, including our high rates of violence, gender based violence (not just domestic violence but sorcery related accusation violence which many of our people suffer from) and child abuse. For when we start to harness the positive things about who we are – as people from different provinces and regions – we will build a better future for our children and their children.

Finally, my call today to you as my fellow academics, policy makers and students is to start to decolonise the way we think about development, let’s strive to understand our people better instead of resorting to calling ourselves uncivilised and uneducated when our people fail to understand concepts and words that are not in their vernacular. Instead let’s build on our strengths and work towards localising global concepts such as the SDGs, so that we can meet our international commitments, but also so that we can see the change that we want to see in our country.

 

Mr. Douglas Tennent has returned to PNG

9 August 2017

Catholic Archdiocese of Rabaul

On Friday, 9June, in the afternoon, two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr.Douglas Tennent with a “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”.

Now, exactly two months later, more or less at the same time the notice of deportation was served, Mr. Douglas Tennent will be with us again at Vunapope, ready to continue his work.

First of all, we wish to thank God for the return of Doug to PNG and to us. We also want to thank all those – and they are many indeed – who helped us in one way or another, above all for their prayers, for their moral support and for standing with us. These two months have been difficult for Mr. Tennent and they have been difficult for all of us as well. But we are grateful that this ordeal is now over.

In these last few days, quite a number of people have been asking why we have accepted conditions imposed by Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority, in order to facilitate the return of Mr. Douglas Tennent.

There are two conditions:

  • That Douglas Tennent is not to be involved in activities that are deemed to be activism in nature and create disharmony amongst land owners;
  • That Douglas Tennent is to obtain the necessary Certificate of Clearance from the Attorney-General and a Practicing Certificate from the Law Society if his work involves providing any legal advice on PNG Laws and judicial processes.

In regard to the second condition, the Archdiocese of Rabaul has no issue at all and therefore we will fully comply. 
As background information concerning the first condition, we want to make public what the Acting Chief Migration Officer wrote: “We had received by way of a complaint that you were involved in sensitive landowner issues in which landowners from the West-Mamusi LLG argued that they were grossly misled by you to sign legal documents. Your involvement as reported to us was that you provided legal advice and prepared agreement instruments to rally support of landowners against their interest for a development project. Your involvement on landowner issues is demonstrably activism and had incited discord among landowners which is a serious breach of your visa condition even though you had acted upon instruction of Archbishop Panfilo of the Rabaul Catholic Diocese”.

Both Douglas Tennent and the Archbishop are happy to comply on the basis that it is the mission of the Church to promote peace, unity and harmony. Incidentally, the motto of the Archdiocese of Rabaul is: “ut unum sint”, “that they may be one”. A strategy of dividing people in order to rule them is not a practice that belongs in the Catholic Church.

People have been asking why we have agreed to discontinue all court proceedings against the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Acting Chief Migration Officer, considering that the restraining order of 12 June was not complied with, nor was the subsequent Court Order of 7 July. It is also to be remembered that the removal of Mr.Tennent was carried out in an ambush type manner; we were given no clear explanation as to why the removal occurred; we were given no opportunity to respond; we were not able to exercise our appeal rights. Incidentally, the accusations mentioned above as background for condition number one were relayed to us only on a letter by the Acting Chief Migration Officer a week ago, on 3 August 2017.

Yes, no apology came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs nor from the Acting Chief Migration Officer, who, in the first place, should have verified the accusations lodged against Mr. Douglas Tennent and the Archbishop by a lone landowner, who was brought to Port Moresby on a charted plane for this purpose by powerful and influential people.

Our Lord Jesus has taught us to love one another, to forgive our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. If we don’t do this ourselves, how can we preach it to others?

As followers of Christ we believe in cooperation and in adopting a conciliatory approach. The Catholic Church values partnership with the Government in terms of the delivery of services and advocating for the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable. It was our involvement in this work that led to the deportation of Mr. Douglas Tennent and caused tension in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the State. Such tension only results in harm, mistrust and damage.  It is hoped that in the future, if issues arise, such as they did with the work of Mr. Douglas Tennent, there will be consultation and dialogue in order to reach a clear understanding of the matter at hand before action is taken. We do not want to see situations such as the deportation of Douglas Tennent occur again.

 

+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

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Social Concerns Notes – July 2017

No Women in PNG Parliament   NBC News

With the remaining 23 seats yet to be declared, it looks almost certain that Papua New Guinea will not have any women representation in the upcoming Parliament. Two of the three first-time women MP’s, Loujaya Kouza and Delilah Gore have already been voted out, while it is yet to be ascertained, at the time of this report, how their Eastern Highlands governor colleague, Julie Soso, is doing. 165 women were among the 3,332 total candidates who contested the 2017 national election, however, results are showing that almost none of them will come out winners.

But notable performances were that of Trust PNG Party and Central Provincial candidate, Rufina Peter, who had polled in third place with 33,221 votes when governor-elect Robert Agarobe was declared at 40,931 votes yesterday. The other outstanding performance is that of PNG National Party candidate contesting the Raicoast Open Seat in Madang, Kessy Sawang. Ms Sawang has managed to cling on to third spot as of elimination 33 last night, to see the exclusion of sitting MP and Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party candidate, James Gau. Ms Sawang was eliminated on third spot to enable the win of new MP Peter Gemungo Sapia, over local musician and National Alliance candidate, Edwin Baffe.

 

Resignation of committee prompts fears of tainted process

11 July 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/07/resignation-of-electoral-committee-prompts-fears-process-tainted.html#more

THE resignation of all three members of Papua New Guinea’s electoral committee has prompted fears from current and former officials that the process has been tainted. After two weeks of voting, PNG’s parliamentary elections are ending, with results set to be announced later this month. On Sunday, the government’s Election Advisory Committee  – Ombudsman Richard Pagen, Richard Kassman and Professor John Luluaki – resigned, citing a lack of resources to monitor the election process. The mass departure signalled a “sad day” for the country, according to former prime minister and candidate, Sir Mekere Morauta. “The members of the EAC are all extremely capable men of high integrity,” said Sir Mekere,

“They will not have taken the decision to resign lightly. They have resigned because they have been ignored by the electoral commissioner and prevented from fulfilling their obligations and their role, which they take seriously.

Sir Mekere, who served as the country’s sixth prime minister between 1999 and 2002, said Australia must take some of the blame for the chaos. “Australia has nurtured the O’Neill regime and the election process. It must take some responsibility for the chaos,” he said.

The elections were marred by violence, vote-buying and flaws in the electoral roll, observers said. Strikes in the country’s capital of Port Moresby postponed the vote for three days, while students at a university in the city of Lae complained about a lack of ballot papers.

Counting is underway and the Commonwealth Observer Group, which monitored the polling, gave a generally positive assessment. “Our group is of the view that, despite the considerable challenges with the common roll, there were some positive aspects of the process and the results should reflect the wishes of the people who participated in the 2017 national elections,” COG head Anand Satyanand said in a statement.

 

Disenfranchised at high price: PNG’s electoral roll woes

July 5, 2017   by Sam Koim

http://devpolicy.org/disenfranchised-high-price-pngs-electoral-roll-woes-20170705/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=13f683ee63-Devpolicy+News+July+14+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-13f683ee63-227683090

Nine consecutive elections held since independence and yet Papua New Guinea is still struggling to update its common roll on time for elections. As polling gets underway in PNG, complaints of common roll discrepancies are emerging from across the country. In a kneejerk reaction to these complaints, the Electoral Commissioner issued an instruction to revert to an updated version of the 2012 rolls. This is despite earlier assurances that everything was under control. …..

How much have the taxpayers of PNG paid for the common roll discrepancies? For the failed National Identification Card (NID) project undertaken by the National Statistical Office, the government allocated almost AUD 104 million. The EC was also given millions of dollars to update the rolls. This was a duplication of resources but both agencies failed. It is also understood that technical expertise was provided by Australia and New Zealand. With those resources and the availability of technology to do data-matching, this was a terrible failure.

To cover for the failure, the EC is reverting to an older version of the rolls. Arguably, the law does not restrict that. But it would be another issue if the EC is using the 2012 rolls.

In 1997, the principal common roll was not properly updated, hence the then Electoral Commissioner issued Circular Instruction No 26/97 on the eve of polling to revert to the Preliminary Listings of the years prior. 20 years on and the same problem is recurring unabated.

Dreams are shattered, resources are wasted and decisions are on halt –all because someone has failed to do his job. People’s right to vote and stand for public office is robbed by a supposedly independent government institution’s incompetence. Whatever the outcome of the election is, it will come at a high price for the country. PNG will definitely come out of this election and things will surely get back to normal as they always have been. But I wonder how much longer PNG will continue to tolerate and pay for the same mistakes over and over.

 

The big rort – 300,000 ghost voters & mathematical impossibilities

17 July 2017

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/07/the-big-rort-300000-ghost-voters-mathematical-impossibilities.html

STATISTICAL indicators suggest that Papua New Guinea’s O’Neill government used its power of incumbency to ‘cook the books’ in its favour in the current election. Comparing the 2017 electoral roll with electorate population estimates based on the 2011 census, the Electoral Commission has created nearly 300,000 ‘ghost voters’ in People’s National Congress-controlled electorates. This is 5,682 ghost voters for every PNC sitting member – more than 10 times the number of ghost voters for non-PNC sitting members. PNC members are also being declared elected based on mathematical impossibilities.

[For the rest of this article see the url above]

 

Australia was partly responsible for rigged election: Sir Mek

Post Courier, 10 July 2017

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/07/australia-was-partly-responsible-for-rigged-election-sir-mek.html

The members of the committee, ombudsman Richard Pagen, Richard Kassman and Professor John Luluaki are all extremely capable men of high integrity. They will not have taken the decision to resign lightly. They have resigned because they have been ignored by the electoral commissioner and prevented from fulfilling their obligations and their role, which they take seriously. All honest and concerned Papua New Guineans value their decision, but lament the causes of it.  It is a very sad day for Papua New Guinea, and sends shivers of fright about the future of democracy in our country. The utter chaos of this election is deliberately organised. It is rigged. What rigging and deliberate chaos do we see?

Failure to provide the election advisory committee with any of the information it requested

Failure to complete an electoral roll that in any way shape or form reflects the eligible voting population

Failure to include names of people who had registered, with particular disenfranchisement of particular groups of people, such as students and educated working people

Failure to provide copies of the electoral roll to the public

Failure to provide sufficient ballot papers in areas where there were eligible voters listed on the Roll

Provision of extra ballot papers to People’s National Congress or pro-PNC candidates

Voting numbers in PNC-held seats that far exceed the number of eligible voters

Tens of thousands of ghost names on the roll

Illegal voting on Sunday and after 6pm

Deferral of voting in many areas, causing confusion and reduced voter turn-out, especially from the working population

Deferral and slow process of counting in selected areas

The list goes on.  People have been deliberately disenfranchised.  There is a growing surge of anger and disbelief.

The behavior of electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato is deplorable. By law he does not have to listen to anyone, apart from the advice of the election advisory committee.  But he has chosen to be an outrigger of PNC. He has chosen to be a political football, kicked around for political scoring by Peter O’Neill and his henchman, Isaac Lupari. They will do anything to hold on to power, including destroying the nation.  They will do anything to prevent further exposure of their wrongdoings. The resignation of the committee is a sign of the very dangerous waters that Papua New Guinea is heading towards. Papua New Guineans must not just let these issues go.  Peoples’ rights to take part in any meaningful democratic process have been destroyed. Australia has nurtured the O’Neill regime and the election process.  It must take some responsibility for the chaos.

 

How Simbus intervened to try to secure an honest election

16 July 2017

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/07/how-the-simbu-people-intervened-to-try-to-secure-an-honest-election.html#more

THE hijacking of ballot papers and a manipulated common roll have becomes a nationwide scandal among Papua New Guinea’s voters. The arrival of polling materials in Simbu Province a week prior to the scheduled date was secretive. But speculation of hijacking and manipulating polling and counting spread among the people anyway. The Simbu people have long been suspicious of the desperation of power hungry political parties. A strong team of anti-O’ Neill and anti-PNC people fronted up at the provincial electoral office on a Monday and demanded that the election manager unlock the boxes containing the ballot papers prior the polling which commenced the following Monday 27 June.

The election manager complied and told his team to come the next day to unlock the boxes.

They duly turned up at the office and he told them to come the following day, giving as his reason a directive from the provincial police commander to sabotage the people’s request.

So opening the boxes for confirmation was deliberately deferred for four days. On a Friday afternoon, the election manager reluctantly opened the boxes with almost 700 people looking on. As the first boxes were opened, spokesman Gorua William demanded, “Let’s use Sinesine-Yongomugl electorate’s ballot papers as a sample to verify the recent common roll.

“The Ward 1 Yongomugl local level government should have papers for a population of 2,408 eligible voters.” The counting of the actual papers commenced and totalled only 880 ballot papers – a shortfall of 1,528.

“Where are the remaining papers?” Gorua William asked.

“Try to confirm the missing papers by undoing the seal for Suai LLG Ward 4, where the People’s National Congress candidate comes from.” Under the watchful eyes of the crowd, the electoral officials broke the seal, opened the box and counted the papers. There were supposed to be just 475, but there were in fact 2,003 ballot papers – the difference being the 1,528 papers missing from Ward 1 of Yongomugl LLG. “Why have 2,003 papers been given to this ward rather than the 475 papers for eligible voters?” asked Gorua William adamantly.

The response from the officials was poor. They shifted the blame to the electoral commission which they said had undermined the updated 2017 common roll.

“Redistribute the ballot papers according to the 2012 common roll since the 2017 update is a mess,” he said. The petition was faxed to the electoral commission and forwarded to the governor-general and finally it was gazetted for Simbu Province to implement according to the petition. The provincial election manager directed the officials to redistribute the ballot papers for the six districts according to the 2012 common roll. Then the boxes was sealed with the provincial stamp and signed by provincial administrator Joe Kunda as proof that any foul play had been avoided. Furthermore, the extra ballot papers were burned in front of the crowd’s eyes. This caused a two day polling delay in the province, voting finally starting on Wednesday 29 June.

Is this democracy or communism? Is this political tyranny? It is certainly manipulation of process and system. In Simbu, citizens are asking such questions with so far no answer from the government.

 

Increasing Child Abuse Concerns

Post Courier, July 7, 2017

PaternaL child abuse and juvenile perpetrators are among the causes of increasing child sexual violence (CSV) in Port Moresby says a social worker at Family Support Centre (FSC).

Clinical manager Tessie Soi revealed worrying statistics received of children as young as five months old being sexually abused mostly by relatives. In the 2016 data 248 cases of child abuse were reported under the CSV category from age 0 to 17 years. 1152 cases were consulted of which 287 were females and 47 males under 17 whilst 800 females and 18 males were seen who were over the age of 18 years.

Ms Soi said juvenile perpetrators, paternal abusers, families becoming nuclear, promiscuity and parents having sex in front of their children are contributing factors of CSV. “Juveniles are becoming perpetrators taking advantage of three to five year olds whom they are trusted to babysit,” she said. “They are young as 12 to 15 year olds who are getting exposed to pornography through mobile phones mostly within their peer groups.”

“Paternal child abusers (father sexually abusing daughter) is increasing for instance in one case a mother trusted her husband to take care of their six month old daughter and returned to find the childcrying uncontrollably only to uncover her child been abused by the father when she removed the child’s diaper.” “As a social worker I disagree with compensation as the victim will grow up with the trauma while the parents and relatives enjoy the money.

“I am concerned with parents bluntly having sex in front of their small children some of these parents are university graduates who get drunk and force their wives to do that.

“All this worries me where is our society heading to?

New Buses For Meri Seif

Post Courier July 6

Women And Girls Freedom Of Movement Around The City Has Been Given Another Boost By The National Capital District Commission (NCDC) Transport Department After A Donation Of Two 50 Seater Buses To The Ginigoada Foundation. As part of the Safe Public Transport Programme, Ginigoada (UN Women NGO partner) has worked in collaboration with United Nation (UN) Women to provide safe transportation options for women and girls in Port Moresby. Ginigoada Foundation assistant training manager Rodney Graham thanked NCD governor Powes Parkop for his ongoing support and for the donation of the buses when receiving the keys yesterday. “Since 2015, Ginigoada has operated four women-only buses providing safe transit to approximately 650 women and girls daily.

 

Funding crisis affects hospital services

July 12, 2017 The National

THE Kundiawa General Hospital in Chimbu scaled down its services on Monday because its operational grants for the  last three months were not received, hospital chief executive Dr Harry Poka says. Poka told The National yesterday that the hospital board held an emergency meeting on Monday because of the severity of the situation that is affecting the hospital operations. “Given the circumstances that we did not receive any operational funds from the Government for almost three months, the operation of the hospital is being severely affected,” he said. “We have been using funds from the hospital trust account to purchase emergency pharmaceutical supplies from private distributors and that has been a tough time for us.
“So as part of the control mechanisms, the board has had an emergency meeting on Monday and made a resolution to put on hold all operational expenses pending availability of funds.”
He said apart from the non-release of monthly operational grants, there was also a shortage of water due to the dry weather. Poka said except for patients and guardians, the public was restricted from entering the hospital premises unnecessarily. “Additional control measures will include limiting new patient admissions and discharging and referring patients back to their respective health centres to complete treatment.”

 

Prison shooting ‘legal’: Report

July 13, 2017 The National
THE four wardens who shot dead 17 inmates who escaped from Buimo prison in May were only doing their job, according to an internal investigation by the Correctional Services.
The investigation found that the wardens’ actions were in line with Correctional Services regulations, acting Commissioner Stephen Pokanis said. “The four officers at the compound made two attempts to lock the main compound gate after the lock was broken by the detainees, but were not successful as they were being stoned by the remand and maximum convicted detainees,”  Pokanis said.
‘“One of the officers ran and raised the alarm by ringing the bell.
“The sergeant in charge made the third attempt and finally secured the main compound gate by locking it with the spare lock, but by then, the detainees had already ran out from the cells and through the dog track, over the fence and out in the open area facing the single barracks and the officers’ residential area.”
Stephen said the wardens fired warning shots but the detainees kept running. “Shots were fired to prevent further escapes and several detainees who were about to jump the fence, ran back to the main compound,” Pokanis said. “The officers recaptured three detainees alive while 17 lost their lives in their attempt to escape, whilst 38 are still on the run.” The Buimo jailbreak occurred on May 12, when 58 detainees escaped from the main compound.

 

PNG ‘not ready’ for climate change

July 14, 2017 The National

The National Research Institute (NRI) says that PNG is not well equipped to manage adverse impacts of climate change even with lessons learnt from past incidents. Senior research fellow and programme leader Prof Eugene Ezebilo told a group of participants in a research presentation in Port Moresby yesterday that government agencies responsible for managing natural disasters were not prepared well enough to adapt to climate change. “As Papua New Guinea already witnessed drought and frost incidences in 1997 and 2015, it is expected that the country would have developed a sustainable adaptation and management strategy to cope with the drought and frost issues,” he said. “The latest (2015) drought and frost incidences revealed that government agencies responsible for managing natural disasters in PNG were also not well equipped and prepared to tackle the problems faced.” Ezebilo said more than two million people at the time were reportedly hard hit and as a result it led to food and water shortages in several provinces. “Papua New Guinea has been a witness to many droughts and frost but despite this reality, the agriculture sector in the country has not been able to develop a climate adaptation strategy.” “In order to improve effectiveness in disaster management, it is necessary to improve funding of provincial disaster offices, train more citizens on planning and management of disasters and improve long-term monitoring and forecasts of climate change events,” Ezebilo said.

 

Court orders that expelled missionary can return to PNG

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/07/court-orders-that-expelled-missionary-can-return-to-png.html#more. 10 July 2017

Radio New Zealand International

PAPUA New Guinea’s national court has ordered the country’s Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority to facilitate the return to the country of New Zealander Douglas Tennent.

The religious lay worker was deported last month for allegedly breaching the terms of his religious worker visa. As a qualified lawyer working for the Archbishop of Rabaul, Mr Tennent had been advising landowners at West Pomio who were involved in a contractual wrangle with logging and palm oil multinational company Rimbunan Hijau. Mr Tennent was bundled on to a plane and flown to New Zealand despite a stay order on his deportation being presented to Immigration personnel. The court has ordered Immigration to allow for Mr Tennent’s return entry to PNG within two weeks from Friday.

Basic health care in PNG overlooked: Barter

Post Courier, July 11, 2017

Former health minister Sir Peter Barter says it is hard to come to terms that the real need at hand for specialised health treatment in the country is being overlooked. “When you consider money being used to built super freeways, hotels, fund events mainly in Port Moresby it is hard to come to terms when there is an urgent need for specialised treatment in PNG, particularly outside Port Moresby,” he said. Sir Peter remarked when expressing his deepest remorse to hear of the death of pioneer radiation oncologist, Dr John Niblett last Tuesday.

“This does not just cover cancer, the shortage of dialysis machines is another concern along with the trained specialists and consumables needed to provide treatment in PNG. Sir Peter said the community in Lae and the hospital board are raising money themselves to accommodate cancer patients and in turn he (Sir Peter) supported Dr Niblett who regardless of his own disability was very well respected as evident by the number of people who have spoken since his passing early last week.

Cardinal Ribat presents acquittal report to NGCB

Post Courier, July 20, 2017

Churches in PNG engaged in Health, HIV and education projects and programs are encouraged to continue to be accountable and transparent before God when dealing with public funds and ensure the promotion of good governance “as we continue to provide vital basic services to our people in PNG.” Chairman of PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS, Cardinal Sir John Ribat, said this when he presented the acquittal of K300,000 to the National Gaming Control Board community benefit fund this week. Cardinal Ribat said NGCB was the major sponsor who helped fund the first HIV Summit for Heads of Churches in PNG, which was staged on March 15 and 16. “NGCB supported the first HIV Summit for Heads of Churches with K300,000, and as our commitment we are honouring it by documenting our acquittals report and presenting it back to our sponsor,” he said.

“PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS and the heads of churches, who are members of this alliance, want to be accountable and transparent as much as possible.

After receiving the K300,000 acquittals from Cardinal Ribat on behalf the chief executive officer of NGCB Imelda Agon, acting director community benefit fund Ms Rayleen Kurua, praised Cardinal Ribat for his leadership and for the heads of churches for their collective effort in achieving success in the first HIV summit. “Many organisations who receive funding from NGCB fail to acquit funds, and we hardly see organisations coming in like this to present their acquittals report,” she said.

HIV increase by 4 percent: UN report

Post Courier, July 21, 2017

A new United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) report on the global HIV epidemic has found new HIV infections in Papua New Guinea have increased by 4 percent between 2014 and 2016.

And at the same time, the country has experienced a significant improvement in its HIV treatment coverage with 52 percent of all people living with HIV accessing life-saving antiretroviral medicine. But UNAIDS has urged PNG to renew its commitments and investments in the country’s HIV response and to address the difficult legal and policy issues which continue to impede the country’s prevention, treatment and care programs.

There is a need to review the architecture of the country’s response within the changing financial landscape and the evolving understanding of the country’s epidemic.

According to a statement released by the UNAIDS, (Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 90-90-90 targets) finds a slight upward trend with an estimated 2800 new HIV infections occurring in Papua New Guinea last year. “This uptick follows several years where new infections have stubbornly remained stable, recording no decline,” UNAIDS PNG director David Bridger said. “Clearly prevention efforts have stalled and Papua New Guinea needs to return to the leadership it has shown with such success in the past and re-invigorate its HIV response.

 

Prevalence of blindness rates 5.6 pc

July 21, 2017 The National

A recent survey revealed that Papua New Guinea has an estimated national prevalence rate of 5.6 per cent of blindness, says PNG Eye Care deputy chief ophthalmologist Dr Jambi Garap.
Garap said the first national rapid assessment of avoidable blindness (RABB) percentage translated into 40,000-plus adults of 50 years and over being blind in both eyes and 70,000 in one eye. “The commonest cause of blindness is cataract and the need to wear glasses.  So that means in PNG cataract surgery can be done, but if you look at the 40,000 against the 14 or less doctors there is a big task,” she said. “They need a team of doctors to work with and they need things that they need to work with, consumables which are expensive.  It will be about doing one cataract surgery for about K100, if we got everything together for one person.”
She said other challenges apart from up skilling doctors to carry out cataract surgery include infrastructure, upgrading the theatre with microscopes and instruments and a fulltime eye team. “For the people out there in PNG they just need to make sure that they bring their parents for an eye test. If you are living in a town or city where there is an eye doctor you need to bring your parents or the elderly to have an eye check.
 

Refugees forced to move as Demolition Begins

Post Courier, July 26, 2017

Refugees on Manus Island say they are stressed and worried now the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments have begun demolishing accommodation in the detention centre.
“Charlie” compound, which housed 10 men, has been taken down. The 700 refugees in the detention centre have been told to move into a new “transit” centre closer to the main town, but they fear they will not be safe there.
“It is a stressful situation, we are very worried about accommodation.”
Mr Udin said the camp’s management were also reducing services. “People are not allowed to take water, they are decreasing the water supply and they are making hard rules day by day,” he said. The Australian and PNG Governments had told the refugees another compound, Foxtrot, would be closed by the end of June, and it is expected to close soon. Immigration officials also warned refugees that if they continue to refuse to move, it could affect their applications to resettle in the United States. While a number of men have been interviewed for US resettlement, the US State Department said no decisions had been made about who would be resettled. The United States also reached its new refugee intake cap and could deny entry to new refugees until the cap resets in October.
 

A View from a Vetern in The Australian (Rowan Callick)

16th July

MANY Australians, perhaps most, merely have been shrugging at news of the shoddy administration of Papua New Guinea’s five-yearly election. Large numbers of voters were left off the new rolls and counting is still at an early stage, although it’s a week today since polling stopped. Three members of an independent electoral watchdog resigned, feeling they had been prevented from carrying out their task.

But why do Australians usually think the worst of our closest neighbours? Amazingly, few have even been there. OK, the fares aren’t cheap and the hotel prices are mostly exorbitant. But I would have imagined a sense of curiosity, at least, might have driven more just to take a look.

I arrived to work there a few months after PNG’s rushed push for independence in 1975. The mood was infectiously optimistic, the level of commitment to the new country of 812 languages, intense. Before self-government in 1973, the Australian government had invested little in PNG — of which Papua, the southern half, had been a colony since 1906, with New Guinea, the northern part, being mandated to Australia first by the League of Nations after World War I, then by the UN after World War II.

There were very few permanent roads, and none connecting the two regions of Papua and New Guinea — a plight that, astonishingly, hasn’t changed in the 42 years since then.

Most schooling and health work in rural PNG, where the great majority continue to live, was run by the mainstream churches, not by the government. Employment opportunities were scant. The limited housing in towns was supplied by workplaces, which remains common, with many of the rapidly increasing town dwellers living in scrounged or nailed-together shanties.

The adrenalin kicked in by independence and freedom pumped impressively for the first couple of years, during which the program to prepare locals for key jobs seemed to be working well. The streets of the towns were safe, though public transport pretty well disappeared after dark. Schools were neat and tidy, public libraries were available in key centres, the ABC-equivalent broadcast a broad range of quality programs. The bureaucracy largely responded in a timely way to the public — although following a victory by the public servants’ union, the government stopped work, and still does, at 4.06pm daily.

I recall the shocked conversations when the Ombudsman Commission announced its first case under the Leadership Code, leading to the dismissal as culture minister of Moses Sasakila over a wantok receiving a free airfare. Surely not in PNG, many said. It is a devoutly Christian country — certainly more so than Australia, for instance. No public occasion is complete without lengthy prayers and preferably hymns, too. But PNG is also, it would seem, a nation of many sinners.

Why is it languishing as 154th, alongside Zimbabwe, of 188 countries in the UN’s latest Human Development Index? Its living standards have improved substantially, according to the HDI, during the past 25 years. But others have improved more. Life expectancy, at 62.8 years, is almost 20 years below that of Australians, and PNG provides education, on average, for only half as long.The country faces many physical as well as social challenges. But the chief hurdle at which it appears to fall is a moral one — that of corruption. The country is 136th of 176 countries on Transparency International’s index.

This derives from a vicious circle. Living in a society that has failed to develop at the pace or to the level that they long have had a right to expect — or that even has fallen backwards — many will take a chance to pull their extended family, their wantoks, up the ladder to a better life. Indeed, they will view it as their highest moral imperative — well, a level below the Ten Commandments or the gospel, but those are viewed by many as essentially aspirational — to seize an opportunity, whether it might be labelled corrupt or not, for a windfall to help the family. Once this idea got a grip, and with diligent competence remaining only modestly or poorly rewarded, then it became more difficult to turn down payments for services.

The examples at the top were and remain crucial.

Culturally in PNG — and Australia isn’t much better — leaders tend to love deals and ribbon-cutting, and shun involvement in the nitty-gritty of competently delivering services and maintaining infrastructure. The choices involved in deal-making lend themselves to personal opportunity. Although PNG is a country of eight million, its elite circle is small, and word soon gets around about the beneficiaries of deals. A friend, for instance, told me how his uncle was a driver for a minister who used to send him weekly to pick up a briefcase containing cash from a casino run by logging interests. Lesser fish find it easier to justify to themselves feeding off corrupt earnings when the big fish often seem to do so with scant constraint.

Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister for the past six years — whose mother was from the Southern Highlands, his father a PNG magistrate originally from Williamstown in Melbourne — has vowed to introduce an independent commission against corruption. But systemic barriers, opposition from MPs and his own apparent reluctance to invest sufficient political capital have combined to prevent its establishment so far. The need is encapsulated in a meticulously detailed 812-page report into one particular nest of alleged corruption by a parliamentary-appointed commission of inquiry headed by PNG and New Zealand judges and a famously upright veteran PNG business leader. This alleged that a cabal of top public servants and lawyers, including the then finance secretary and solicitor-general, had stolen more than $300 million from their own government via sham compensation claims.

In all but five of the 783 cases it investigated, the government — whose officials were in on the scam — paid out on default judgments or out-of-court settlements so the concocted claims were never tested in court. Criminal prosecution of 57 named figures including 14 prominent lawyers was recommended. Since the report was delivered in 2010 to Michael Somare, the prime minister at the time, it has languished. None of the alleged culprits has been charged and many even have been promoted. I was sent a rare copy of the report, which for years was injuncted by some of those named in it, with my own injunction written on the cover: “Do us justice, Rowan.” Sadly, despite this newspaper’s best efforts on that front, I’ve let down the sender.

No wonder that corruption cascades down from such levels, so that many coveted official documents become available on the market — from driving licences to passports. More general crime also takes its cue from this perception of “anything goes” among many of those in authority.

In most other respects, this is a country and a people who should be going places. It is achingly beautiful. Its highlands — reaching to 4500m — have a perfect climate to grow almost anything, it has hundreds of exquisite islands, it remains highly prospective for gas, oil and metals, it retains in lively form its traditional cultures. But these are viewed by many as barriers and burdens rather than opportunities to establish, for instance, a great tourism centre.

Crucially, PNG needs the kind of jobs that booming tourism can create. The population is growing dangerously fast. Bored youngsters inevitably become troublemakers. No one is “unemployable”, although of course education is vital. People are quick on the uptake.

Irish firm Digicel drove the introduction of mobiles, which became swiftly and widely available thanks to commercial savvy, not that of the many state-owned enterprises constantly hovering on the verge of privatisation. Mainly due to government control of utilities, just 15 per cent of PNG has electricity.

My experience running a publishing firm there taught me that PNG’s women perform especially capably as managers, given the chance. But cultural barriers continue to hold them back in public life. Many women celebrated, rather sadly in hindsight, getting even three elected to the outgoing parliament — alongside 108 men.

The country has enough strong institutions to see it through rough patches.

People believe in democracy, as affirmed by the high proportion turning up to vote at this election even though incompetence or worse prevented many from actually voting.

The courts remain largely independent. Media outlets are lively and capable of speaking truth to power. The churches retain the loyalty of the majority. There are capable and focused non-government organisations.

But PNG also needs its best in the political arena that continues to mesmerise many there.

At present, a bitterness overshadows this world, between the two most prominent leaders to have emerged, aside from Somare — O’Neill, likely to retain office for a further five years relatively comfortably, looking at the results in so far, and economist and former prime minister Mekere Morauta.

The battles ahead — for starters, to manage better the economy and the public service, to host next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, to hold the 2019 referendum on Bougainville independence — require PNG’s talents working together unselfishly.

The political game of thrones of the past hasn’t worked too well, as we have seen.

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Social Concerns Notes – June 2017

Electoral corruption in PNG: caught between the law and a hard place

http://devpolicy.org/electoral-corruption-png-caught-law-hard-place-20170619/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=4974601b56-ANUUPNG_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-4974601b56-227683090 by Sam Koim, Grant Walton June 19, 2017
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is about to go to the polls. From 24 June 2017, voters will line up to choose MPs for 89 ‘Open’ and 22 Provincial electorates. If past elections are anything to go by, containing corruption will be a significant challenge. In the 2012 election there were widespread reports of bribery and fraud involving candidates, citizens and electoral officials. Electoral observers also found that bribery, fraud and ‘money politics’ were spreading from the highlands to the coastal regions.

There has been some progress around electoral corruption since the last national election. In October 2013, PNG’s Supreme Court found that all forms of exchange of goods and money by candidates during the election period amounts to illegal bribery. The ruling suggested such activities should occur prior to the election period. This stricter approach is beneficial, as it is designed to discourage candidates from participating in expensive customary obligations, and to mitigate voters being influenced by money politics.A potentially more potent law is Section 215 of the PNG Organic Law on National and Local Government Elections (OLNLGE). It vests in the National Court of PNG the authority to declare an election void if it finds that the candidate had committed or had attempted to commit bribery or undue influence to get elected. Such a finding by the court does not bar or prejudice a prosecution for bribery under the CCA.

Despite these legal instruments there is little to suggest corruption will be significantly contained in 2017. For a start the Electoral Commission is suffering from a lack of funds, as are the police. The ratio of citizens-to-police has significantly worsened– it is nearly four times worse now than during PNG’s independence in 1975. Sitting MPs have distributed their growing constituency funds over the past five years, which have been used to strengthen patronage among past and potential supporters. In many places, this is likely to increase expectations of largesse distributed during the election campaign. More importantly, there are few indications of significant shifts in the complex socio-cultural factors that drive corruption during elections. Research has found that citizens, particularly women, feel obliged to vote for local ‘big men’. Citizens also justify selling their vote due to material concerns, such as poverty and lack of state services.

Recently people have been getting around the Supreme Court’s ruling banning ‘money politics’ during campaigns by extending mourning periods (haus krai) for deaths, and scheduling compensation payments, bride prices, feasts and other festivities through the election period. Despite the ban, one of us (Sam) has observed political events that have continued through the official electoral campaign period. Given these factors it is unlikely that, in and of itself, a change of law will significantly reshape electoral practices – even though this is a step in the right direction.

Due to the inability of the PNG state to enforce its laws, many are rightly worried that this year’s election will see a rise in vote-buying, electoral engineering and other forms of corruption. For the doomsayers it’s worth remembering that PNG is one of the few developing countries that have not succumbed to military rule since independence. Democracy has been severely challenged but the country has not descended into dictatorship…

‘Corruption beyond remedy?’ Archbishop attacks deportation

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/corruption-beyond-remedy-prelate-attacks-missionary-deportation.html#more
AN expatriate lay missionary has had his entry permit revoked and was due to be deported from Papua New Guinea yesterday because of what the government alleges is a “blatant abuse” of his visa “by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”. Archbishop Panfilo said Douglas Tennent, a lay missionary from New Zealand and a former lecturer of law at UPNG, came to the East New Britain as a lay missionary with an entry permit as a ‘special exemption/religious worker’.“In the Archdiocese he serves as the Administrator,” Archbishop Panfilo wrote in a pastoral letter copied to prime minister Peter O’Neill. “The Archdiocese provides him with board and lodging and with an allowance. He is not paid an expatriate salary. “Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he works 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have.”

One of Mr Tennent’s many tasks – and the one that seems to have raised the ire of the PNG government – was to help achieve a broad consensus around landowner issues at the Sigite Mukus palm oil project in West Pomio. In his role as Administrator, Archbishop Panfilo said Mr Tennent was “tasked to carry out the decisions of the finance council and of the land board of the Archdiocese. He does not act on his own.” The Archbishop said the people of West Pomio had asked him “to speak up for them” and he had asked Mr Tennent to provide legal advice. He said he was “very grateful to Mr Tennent for his advice and concrete help.” Archbishop Panfilo said on Friday afternoon two officers from the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr Tennent with a ‘Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit’ and a ‘Direction as to Custody and Removal Order’. Mr Tenent was told that he had to leave PNG by yesterday (Sunday) or he would be “subject to be detained and removed involuntarily”. There was no provision for appeal.

“What crime did Mr Tennent commit?” Archbishop Panfilo asked, adding that, in regard to land matters and in advocacy for the people of West Pomio, the person ultimately responsible is the Archbishop. “Consequently, if anybody needs to be deported for what we are doing, then it is the Archbishop,” Archbishop Panfilo said. “Does this mean that the level of corruption reached by the government is beyond remedy? The Archbishop concluded his letter by asking people to “pray that the upcoming national elections may give us leaders who are committed to the achievement of a just and peaceful society.”

PNG owes much to its missionaries (Mr Pato please take note) (by Daniel Kumbon)

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/png-owes-much-to-its-missionaries-mr-pato-please-take-note.html#more 17 June 2017
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato should be ashamed of himself if he gave the approval for lay missionary Douglas Tennent to be deported from Papua New Guinea. Missionaries appear to be his targets for deportation. There have been a number of other cases. The minister should know that Catholic and Lutheran missionaries were the first to bring essential services like health and education to his own Enga Province in the late 1940s. Foreign Minister Rimbink himself attended St Paul’s Lutheran High, the first to be established near his village in Wapenamanda by missionaries. The very first two Lutheran missionaries to set foot in Enga were Reverend Dr Otto Carl Hintze Jr and Rev Willard Burce who settled at Yaramanda near Rimbinks village. Dr Hintze, who died recently aged 93, had to beg Rimbink Pato from his wheelchair to reverse a decision he made to deport missionaries working in Enga Province. For those interested to read more about this saga, the book is available free online. It is also sold at the University of Papua New Guinea Bookshop in Port Moresby.

‘The hospital is out of everything’: PNG crippled by drug shortage

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/the-hospital-is-out-of-everything-png-crippled-by-drug-shortage.html#more | Radio New Zealand International. 20 June 2017
ON Tuesday night, an elderly woman went to Mt Hagen Hospital after she was slashed in the forehead, but doctors had no supplies or antibiotics to stitch and treat her wound. On the same night, doctors driven to desperation having run out of gauze resorted to using patients’ clothes to soak up blood and cover wounds. The dire situation at Papua New Guinea’s third-largest hospital is a scene playing out in hospitals around the country, where health centres have been crippled by a months-long drug shortage that doctors say has been in the making for years.

“The hospital is actually out of everything,” said David Vorst, deputy chief executive of Mt Hagen Hospital. “We’ve got doctors and nurses working very difficult circumstances delivering babies, for example, without any gloves to protect them.”
As the supplies that were left dwindled, the hospital was driven to seek unused supplies from remote clinics, aid posts and charities. As they ran out, funds were cobbled together to make up for the money the department wasn’t paying. But that could only last so long and last weekend, the shelves were bare. There were no antibiotics, bandages, IV lines, anything, said Mr Vorst.

On Wednesday, a meeting was held on the hospital’s forecourt, where an angry public was told the hospital had nothing available to treat patients at a time when the emergency department was faced with a surge in injuries from election-related violence. But the situation in Mt Hagen is not unique. The secretary of the PNG National Doctors Association, Sam Yockopua, said many hospitals around the country were struggling to stay afloat.

“About eight hospitals have actually shut down their doors or partly shut down for emergencies only,” he said. “At the trend at which we are going, by the end of this month 90 percent of the hospitals will shut down.”

The crisis in the country’s hospitals and health centres had been building for months, if not years, the doctors and administrators said. In PNG, drugs and supplies are procured centrally by the Department of Health, but many of the country’s hospitals have received nothing close to what is needed. Mr Vorst said Mt Hagen Hospital only received about 30% of the supplies it asked for each year, and of that, only about 10% of the quantity requested.

“Two months ago at a board meeting, the national Department of Health rep said ‘look, we’ve got K500,000 earmarked for you guys, just send us a list’,” said Mr Vorst. “We did – very, very quickly – and in return we got a box of abdominal swabs. That was it,” he said.
“Unfortunately the patients are the victims of this, rather than the beneficiaries,” said Mr Vorst.

The plight of Little People

WARIME GUTI | Translated by Keith Jackson
See original at http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/people-know-that-peter-oneill-his-ministers-do-not-tell-the-truth.html#more 21 June 2017
TODAY I went to the pharmacy to buy a GlucoMeter. The man ahead of me in the queue looked very ill and he had a note from the hospital nurse prescribing the medicine he must purchase. He gave the note to the cashier who looked at it and said the total cost would be K31 for Mala-Wan and Primaquine. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out K20, only enough to buy the Mala-Wan but he was short of the full amount of money.
I was greatly saddened by this. I looked right at the cashier and thought he must see plenty of sick people who have little money. The cashier was sorry for these people, but what could he do? It wasn’t his shop or a public hospital. The pharmacy was a business. I nodded my head and the cashier knew what I was thinking and gave the man the medicine which I was going to purchase for him. At the time I nodded my head I felt sorry for the cashier because he was finding it difficult to tell people who are short of money that they did not have enough to buy the medicine they need.
Papua New Guinea’s free health policy…. Whatever happened to it?

How long can the sick wait?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/how-long-can-the-sick-wait.html#more09 June 2017
TODAY at the clinic I was glad to have special attention. The doctor was very nice and we talked. I shared about what I witnessed in the clinics and health centres in the last four weeks in Port Moresby, Bereina, Kwikila and Hula.Patients were turned away or prescriptions written for them due to no medicine. I saw sick people in bed, some putting their hand out for ‘quinine’. I am lost for words when I visit one sick in Port Moresby. She is already tired of being sent to the pharmacy. Too weak to sit up she didn’t want to say any more.

The big question for me as I lay in bed trying to get well myself is how many people like my sisters in Baruni and Kamali in Rigo are giving up on life just because our health system continues to fail them – the sick. I think of the doctors and nurses who dig into their pockets so that the sick can have that prescribed medicine from the pharmacy. Bless their hearts. I think of the economic woes of this country and how the sick would choose food over medicine so that their families can have a meal.
How much longer can the sick wait? Think of the doctors and nurses who dig into their pockets so that the sick can have that prescribed medicine from the pharmacy. Bless their hearts. I think of the economic woes of this country and how the sick would choose food over medicine so that their families can have a meal.
How much longer can the sick wait?

Men of honour awards on again

June 5, 2017 The National
THE hunt is on again for Papua New Guinea’s most extraordinary men. Nominations are being sought from individuals and organisations for Digicel Foundation’s Men of Honour awards which reward ordinary men doing extraordinary things to contribute to reducing violence in their societies. Men of Honour patron, former MP Dame Carol Kidu, said the awards acknowledged the efforts of ordinary Papua New Guinea men who were recognised by their communities for making positive contributions that challenged the perception that all PNG men were violent.

“For too long the view has been that PNG is a violent country and seen as a dangerous place to live in because of the perception that all PNG men are dangerous, violent and repress their womenfolk. “But we all know that not all PNG men are violent because through our Men of Honour campaign we have met some amazing men with incredible stories who are making huge impacts in the communities they are operating in,” Dame Carol said. There are seven categories for the Men of Honour awards and the nomination forms are available at the Digicel Foundation office and Digicel retail shops nationwide. Nominations close on Oct 31.

Bougainville president lays down law for his public officials

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/bougainville-president-lays-down-law-for-his-public-officials.html#more08 June 2017
BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis says his government is encouraging a culture of accountability from ministers and parliamentarians down through the public service. “We must develop a culture that promotes excellence, rewards success and penalises those who do the wrong thing,” Dr Momis said. “I can no longer tolerate stories of corruption and fraud and I intend to take action to convene an inquiry to investigate the many allegations that have been raised.” The president also made it clear that people found to have done wrong, no matter how senior, will suffer the full weight of the law. “Enough is enough – things have to change,” he said. “If they do not, then we are destined for failure.”

PNG – Change Needed to Meet People’s Potential

http://www.pngblogs.com/2017/06/png-change-needed-to-meet-peoples.html?m=1
Friday, June 09, 2017
PNG politicians are failing their people. Their poor policies have led to dramatic declines in economic well-being – an extraordinary fall of over one-third since 1980. This is revealed by applying new numbers from the PNG National Statistics Office (NSO) and International Monetary Fund to PNG’s economic history. From 2012 to 2017, the average economic well-being for the people of PNG has declined by 2.8%. This reverses positive economic gains of 8.4% from 2000 to 2012. PNG is returning to the poor economic performance it experienced during the 1980s and especially the 1990s – lost decades for development. This is a shame. From 1980 to 2017, economic well-being in PNG per citizen declined by an extraordinary 40.4%. This is a development failure.

In contrast, the resource sector has grown strongly. It is now 48.1% larger per capita than in 1980. The resource sector boomed by 62% during the 1990s when the non-resource sector went backwards by 30.8%. From 2012 to 2017, once again the resource sector has boomed by 58.1% while the non-resource sector has gone backwards by 2.8%. PNG has a development model that looks after the resource sector, but not its people.

PNG’s greatest policy mistake since Independence has been too much focus on natural resources (such as LNG or gold) rather than its extraordinary people resources. …
[See the url above for the full version of this long but very interesting article]

Election 2017 – a time for people to lead and leaders to follow?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/election-2017-a-time-for-people-to-lead-and-leaders-to-follow.html#more14 June 2017
SOMETHING interesting happened this month when Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord. Americans across the USA came out in large numbers and reiterated and reinvigorated their commitment to fighting climate change.A similar thing has been happening in Australia. While prime minister Malcolm Turnbull will not countenance putting a price on carbon, and is only grudgingly supporting renewable energy, the Australian public and private sectors are enthusiastically embracing renewable technologies while abandoning coal fired energy options.

This ‘people’s resistance’ phenomenon may also have currency in Papua New Guinea, particularly in the current election. Many thinking Papua New Guineans are deeply worried that the corrupt and incompetent government of Peter O’Neill will be returned to power and there are clear signs that a capable resistance might be developing. I can’t recall when there has been so much public criticism of a sitting government in Papua New Guinea. Even in the dark days of the Skate government criticism was muted.

In the run up to this election, social media is alive with discontent and, even if the traditional media hasn’t picked up on what’s going on, people in the streets and villages are talking about it. They are in effect reacting against what they perceive as O’Neill’s ‘plan’ for the future – more corruption and more plunder.
Recent estimates reveal that nearly 950,000 Papua New Guineans use social media and that use is growing quickly. Nearly a million people is a fair slug of the voting public. No wonder O’Neill was trying to suppress it.

Day of judgement: PNG and the O’Neill Government

June 9, 2017 http://devpolicy.org/day-judgement-png-oneill-government-20170609/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=d1ae7ae58e-Devpolicy+News+June+16+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-d1ae7ae58e-227683090
Written by Bal Kama

Papua New Guinea enters its 2017 national election at the back of one of the most contentious periods of its democracy. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s reign began unexpectedly in August 2011 after the then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was ousted by the PNG parliament following his long absence from the country due to illness.

The Supreme Court later reinstated Somare on 12 December 2011 only to be rejected by the O’Neill led parliament a few hours later, commencing a dark period of PNG’s democracy where the country appeared to have ‘two’ prime ministers for nearly seven months – O’Neill operated from the Parliament House and Somare from the Ela Beach Hotel. It was a period marked by a decline in public confidence in the judiciary, a divided police and armed forces and a perplexed public service.

The 2012 national election provided the ultimate showdown for the two warring factions. However, with an assurance to deliver the country from the misfortunes of Somare’s National Alliance government, O’Neill and his coalition partners found favour with the people. The 2011 constitutional impasse appeared to represent a change of the ‘old guard’ in PNG politics and an undesirable initiation for the new crop of leadership with Peter O’Neill hoisted to symbolise this transition.

Prime Minister O’Neill appeared at that time to represent the long awaited hope for the country. His government immediately appealed to the people through its flagship policies for free health and education services, and infrastructural development backed by a strong anti-corruption focus in the form of the Investigative Task Force Sweep (ITFS).

Projected revenues from the billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and other resource developments in the country provided the assurances that his welfare policies would be sustained and effectively delivered. On the anti-corruption front, O’Neill pledged to support the ITFS to systematically ‘weed out corruption’ in PNG.

What has happened since? [See the URL above for the remainder of this article]

Our corrosive culture of corruption – & how to start eliminating it

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/our-corrosive-culture-of-corruption-how-to-start-eliminating-it.html#more20 June 2017. By Kessy Sawang. The Papua New Guinea Woman. Extracts
Sir Mekere Morauta, our former prime minister, likened corruption to cancer, presumably the malignant type. Sam Koim, former head of Task Force Sweep, described the rising tide of corruption using the boiling frog tale – descriptive but a parable nonetheless as it is scientifically incorrect. These concerns seem apt when we consider the performance of the last term of parliament and the executive government. The last government swept into power on a wave of optimism and promises that it would tackle the problem of corruption and restore good governance.

The Alotau Accord captured the commitments made by O’Neill’s government to the people of PNG of the initiatives it would undertake. There were pledges to “continuing the fight against corruption by proper funding and institutionalisation of the inter-agency committee against corruption in particularly Task Force Sweep. Further, the government will introduce the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Bill” O’Neill failed to bring the bill to parliament.

Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. Corruption should not only be thought of wilful abuse but also if one is aware of it and does nothing to bring it to the attention of appropriate authorities then there is a crime of complicity. For instance, the Bank of PNG an independent institution by law has breached its mandate by expanding the money supply by funding the government budget by K1.8 billion in 2016 alone. Without this funding the government would have stopped functioning if it had failed to adjust the budget. The Bank of PNG shockingly paid a dividend of K102 million in 2014 when it was technically bankrupt, ….
[For the remainder of this article, see the url above]

Single-handedly Alfred Masul got conservation on the move

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/06/single-handedly-alfred-masul-got-conservation-on-the-move.html 15 June 2017
A MAN from the Ulingan-Malala area of Madang Province has been praised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a role model in the fight against the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.
Community leader and conservation advocate Alfred Masul was commended for using his own initiative to start conservation activities using local knowledge and without much assistance from others. WWF project officers learnt of Alfred’s activities as they were rolling out a project among Madang’s north coast communities. They noticed that Alfred was already rehabilitating his area which was destroyed by a tidal wave some years before. He had established nurseries and started conservation work. WWF assisted Alfred with equipment to continue his mangrove rehabilitation and adaptation work. WWF also used Alfred’s initiative to conduct training on mangrove rehabilitation and adaptation. It brought in members of communities from Malala and Ulingan for hands on training at Alfred’s project site. Alfred said he started the project in 2005 as a means to conserve natural resources when he understood the effects of climate change and population on natural resources. In 2007, when he realised the rising sea was encroaching on his land, he began mangrove rehabilitation and approached WWF to do a survey. He currently has 2,000 mangrove seedlings and has planted more than 500.

Alfred’s approach to conservation is holistic. He has planted native trees in the forest, planted mangroves and associated species at the mouth of the river and created taboo areas in the bay so fish are not disturbed and can spawn freely. As a result, fish numbers and species have increased. She said they would like to work with individuals who have passion,

Breakouts blamed on delayed cases

June 23, 2017 The National
AMONG the 58 who broke out of the Buimo Prison in Morobe last month were several inmates who had been remanded and awaiting trial for more than nine years. Correctional Service Commissioner Michael Waipo said yesterday that some had been detained on “mere allegations” and have had their cases deferred. Such issues, he said, had led to overcrowding and outbreak of diseases had led to frustration and breakouts. Waipo was revealing findings of an investigation into the May 12 breakout during which 17 inmates were shot dead. He said a large number of them caught the warders off-guard and made a dash. “They dashed for freedom because their complaints that parole and licensed releases were not effective. “Some detainees have been spending more than nine years (behind bars) just waiting for their court cases. “Some remand detainees are held in custody based on mere allegations … with no evidence. Cases have been deferred to 2018 and 2019.”

Letter from Archbishop Panfilo regarding Deportation of Douglas Tennant

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On August 15, 2015 I issued Pastoral Letter 7 on how to respond in very practical ways to the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis “Laudato Sì” on the “Care of our Common Home”.

I wrote: “Convinced as we are that ‘the earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters’ (EG 183), we need to ask ourselves: how can we as Church, in very practical ways, care for our common home and be a Church that is poor and for the poor? … The Archdiocese of Rabaul is committed to the following:
1. Disposing of the land, especially of large plantations;
2. Starting a housing project for low income earners;
3. Helping achieve a broad consensus in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio”.

We committed ourselves to these very challenging goals not only in response to the call of Pope Francis and in fidelity to the Social Teaching of the Church, but also because the Archdiocese could avail itself of the services of Mr. Douglas Tennent, a lay missionary from New Zealand and a former lecturer of law at the UPNG.

As mentioned, Mr. Tennent came to the Archdiocese as a lay missionary with an Entry Permit “Special Exemption/Religious Worker”. In the Archdiocese he serves as the Administrator.

The Archdiocese provides him with board and lodging and with an allowance. He is not paid an expatriate salary. Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he works 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have.

On Friday, 9 June, in the afternoon two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr. Tennent with the “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”.

He was told that he no longer held a valid entry permit or visa to remain in the country lawfully and that he had to leave the country immediately. The document presented to him stated: “Should you fail to comply with this instruction you are subject to be detained and removed involuntarily”.

There was no previous notice, no chance to appeal since the notice was served on Friday afternoon and he would have to leave on Sunday, 11 June.

What crime did Mr. Tennent commit? The document served to him says: “The cancellation of your entry permit by the Minister is due to the blatant abuse of the conditions of your Special Exemption/Religious Worker visa by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”.

As mentioned, Mr. Tennent is a lay missionary and is not paid an expatriate salary.

In regards to our commitments to “Disposing of the land, especially of large plantations” and of “Starting a housing project for low income earners”, Mr. Tennent is tasked to carry out the decisions of the Finance Council and of the Land Board of the Archdiocese. He does not act on his own.

As for the involvement of the Archdiocese in “Helping achieve a broad consensus in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio”, Mr. Tennent provides legal advice to the Archbishop, who was asked by the people of West Pomio to speak up for them. This, the undersigned as done and is very grateful to Mr. Tennent for his advice and concrete help.

It should be very clear that in regard to land matters and in the advocacy for the people of West Pomio, the ultimate responsible is the Archbishop. Consequently, if anybody needs to be deported for what we are doing, then it is the Archbishop.

It is sad to realize that people who are hard working, dedicated and committed to serve the people of Papua New Guinea are treated in such a way.

Does this mean that the level of corruption reached by the Government is beyond remedy?

I would like to believe that there are still decent people in Government who are trying their best, just as we are trying our best to serve and care for those who do not have voice.

Let us pray that the upcoming National Elections may give us leaders who are committed to the achievement of a just and peaceful society.

+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

12 June, 2017
THE DEPORTATION OF MR. DOUGLAS TENNENT – from Archbishop Panfilo

Who is Mr. Douglas Tennent? He is well known in the country especially by many lawyers, having been a lecturer of law at UPNG for many years. He was also a lay missionary in the Archdiocese of Mount Hagen and in the diocese of Gizo in the Solomon Islands. He came to the Archdiocese of Rabaul at the beginning of 2014 as lay missionary. Since then he held the task of Administrator of the Archdiocese.

What is his greatest fault? Yes, he is very passionate about justice, about the Social Teaching of the Church to a fault. He will go out of his way to help the poor and the downtrodden. He has done this for 30 years. According to a prominent citizen of Papua New Guiinea “he should be given the right to a dual citizenship rather than being deported”.

On Friday, 9 June, in the afternoon two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr. Tennent with the “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”, which were signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Mr. Douglas Tennent was picked up from Vunapope at about 10:45 a.m., on Sunday, 11 June, 2017 and brought to Port Moresby. Until 12:00 noon today we could not make contact with him. We finally were able to talk to each when he was already at Jackson airport, waiting to depart for New Zealand.

What is his crime? We don’t know! We don’t know who lodged a complaint against him and what the accusations against him are. The only thing we know is what is written in the Notice of Cancellation of the Entry Permit, signed by the Acting Chief Migration Officer: “The cancellation of your entry permit by the Minister is due to the blatant abuse of the conditions of your Special Exemption/Religious Worker visa by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”.

What about his involvement in sensitive landowner issues?
• In regard to land issues, whether large plantations or the land in Kokopo, Mr. Doug Tennent was tasked to carry out the decisions of the Land Board of the Archdiocese. He did not act on his own.
• As for the involvement of the Archdiocese in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio, Mr. Tennent was providing legal advice to the Archbishop, who was asked by the people of West Pomio to speak up for them.

Did Mr. Tennent blatantly abuse the conditions of his Visa as Religious Worker? Absolutely not! As I wrote in my previous letter: “Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have”. He worked exclusively for the Archdiocese of Rabaul, which provided him with board and lodging and a monthly allowance. He did not receive an expatriate salary.

As mentioned, the cancellation of Mr. Doug’s entry permit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs was due to “the blatant abuse” of the conditions of his visa as Religious Worker. With due respect, the blatant abuse of power came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as from the Acting Chief Migration Officer.

In fact, since the entry permit of Mr. Tennent was for a period exceeding 6 months, the Minister abused his power by insisting on Mr. Tennent’s removal from Papua New Guinea, thereby denying the right to be present while his appeal, under section 6(2) of the Migration Act, was being heard and processed. In support of this view, the National Court at Kokopo, at about 11:00 a.m, Monday 12 June, 2017, issued orders staying the deportation order and prohibiting any airlines to transport Mr. Tennent. The document of the stay order was handed to the immigration officer in the International Airport at Port Moresby prior to the scheduled departure of Mr. Tennent.

Even though the undersigned is not a lawyer, it is very obvious that the purported notice of cancellation and order to leave the country is legally flawed in that the officers of immigration have exceeded their jurisdiction by denying Mr Tennent the right to be present while his appeal is heard or process..

Since the reasons given for the cancellation of Mr. Tennent’s entry permit appear to be vague generalities that do not warrant its cancellation, the Archdiocese of Rabaul has a right to know who lodged the complaints and the accusations against Mr. Tennent.

Any ordinary person knows that orders of this kind cannot be given unless there are powerful and wealthy institutions and personalities behind. For the sake of the ordinary and innocent people of PNG, we ask the Government to come clear once and for all.

In conclusion, I want to inform all seating candidates and aspiring candidates for National Elections that neither the Archdiocese of Rabaul or the Catholic Bishops’ Conference will take this matter lightly as it seems to imply that to work for justice is outside of a “Religious Worker” status.

Today’s Gospel reading tells us: “Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness, the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you” (Mt 5:10-12).

+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2017

Nun assists 87 detainees home

May 1, 2017 The National

A CATHOLIC nun has helped over 130 detained Vietnamese fishermen in a number of prisons in PNG to return home. Sister Ma Theresa Trinh Vu Phuong looked after the needs of those Vietnamese detainees and served as their interpreter and mediator in court.“She has been helping these Vietnamese fishermen to be freed and repatriated to their home country.” They have been detained in the prisons of Alotau, Giligili and Bomana for illegally fishing and harvesting beche-de-mer in Milne Bay. Sr Trinh communicates with their families back home and arranges for payment of their penalties and getting all the necessary documents and tickets for them to fly back home to Vietnam. “Sr Trinh successfully processed the repatriation of 87 Vietnamese fishermen and about 18 more will soon follow and all will soon be able to re-join their families back home, thanks to the courage of this sister and the support given by her Salesian community,” said Fr Ambrose. Sr Trinh is a Vietnamese Salesian Sister working in a girls’ skills training Institute in Sideia Island, diocese of Alotau in Milne Bay. The diocese is proud of her because her charity is truly heroic and worthy of emulation.
Bishop there, Rolando Santos, said the case of the Vietnamese fishermen was disturbing. “They (Vietnamese fishermen )are used by whoever employs them to fish illegally without a proper license or any guarantee of protection or security from their employers. “It is a serious abuse on the rights and dignity of these young men to be sent out by their recruiters to fish in illegal waters without a proper licence and without any guarantee of protection or security.“Once caught, they are almost totally forgotten and abandoned. “The rights of these young men need to be respected, and a better employment worthy of their dignity be afforded to them.”

Papua New Guinea gets a dose of the resource Curse.

https://theconversation.com/papua-new-guinea-gets-a-dose-of-the-resource-curse-as-exxonmobils-natural-gas-project-foments-unrest-70780

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

Construction for the project began in 2010, and the first gas shipment was made in May 2014.

In February 2009, the economic consulting firm Acil Tasman (now Acil Allen) produced a report for ExxonMobil about the project’s impact. The report said the project has the potential to transform the country’s economy by boosting GDP and money from exports. These would increase government revenue and provide royalty payments to landowners. It claims the project could potentially improve the quality of life of locals by providing services and enhancing productivity. Workers and suppliers would reap rewards, as would landowners who would also benefit from social and economic infrastructure.

But six years on, none of this has come to pass.

In the years since construction began, Papua New Guinea’s ranking on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index has fallen by two places to 158, having been overtaken by Zimbabwe and Cameroon. Far from enhancing development indicators, the largest development project in PNG’s history has coincided with an unprecedented downgrade in the country’s development status.

Very little is known about the actual impact of the project on local landowners. This is largely due to the remote location of the gas field in the mountainous Hela Province. The dire security situation in that part of Papua New Guinea also makes any investigation a highly dangerous undertaking.

(for the rest of this lengthy article see the url above]

 

Manam evacuees receive aid

May 8, 2017 The National

RED Cross and World Vision are providing assistance to hundreds of people fleeing volcanic eruptions on the island of Manam. By last count, 887 people have left the island as lava continues to flow from the volcano after it erupted last month. “Available information indicated light ash fell in areas stretching between Warisi on the east, Dugulaba on the south and Boda and Baliab on the northwest parts of the island,” the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management said.
Madang disaster coordinator Rudolph Mongallee said everyone would be transported to the mainland.
“The islanders will be relocated at the Potsdam Care Centre at mainland Bogia,” Mongallee told The National on Friday. Ten families consisting of around 150 people had already been transported to the mainland. He said the Madang government and the National Disaster Centre were providing food to the islanders. “The Red Cross and World Vision are assisting us with canvas (tents), mosquito nets, blankets and cooking utensils,” Mongallee said.
Manam Restoration Authority caretaker Paul Akuram said volcanic lava was still flowing. “Dust has covered the whole island and destroyed gardens and properties so they need to be moved out,” Akuram said. In 2005, about  9000 people were evacuated, eventually to three principal “care centres”, because of volcanic eruptions. At the time, relocation on narrow strips of coastal land created conflicts with local people over the use of such resources as land for gardens, water, materials to build houses and access to marine resources.

 

Church Reps on Rededication. 

Post Courier 15 May

The Catholic agency of the Mt Hagen Arch Diocese has gathered its representatives from 190 catholic-run schools in Western Highlands Province and Jiwaka at Rabiamul parish to rededicate their duties to God. The representatives were principals, teachers in charge, chairpersons of board of management, members of the catholic education board, and subcommittee members of the catholic education board from Jiwaka and community leaders. His grace, Archbishop Douglas Young SVD gave three reasons for this gathering; dedicate everyone and their roles to God, clear the confusion of the agency and its practice and benefits in schools, and swearing in of new members of the catholic education board. Bishop Young said the aim is to create better sense of unity, commitment, purpose, identity and sense of family for our teachers in catholic schools from colleges to preschools. Young said many people still think that the agency means that the church is the agent for the government to do what the government tells them to do but that is not the case. “We provide education and the state likes the education that we provided so we become partners, many people in the department and teachers in catholic schools don’t understand the nature of partnership,” said Young.
Bougainville’s economic sector ‘failing miserably’, says Momis

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/05/bougainvilles-economic-sector-failing-miserably-says-momis.html#more   15 May

FISCAL self-reliance remains one of the foremost conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement as Bougainville prepares for the 2019 referendum on independence, says president John Momis.

Dr Momis called for stakeholders in the government’s economic sector and state owned enterprises to revitalise efforts to secure a viable economic climate in the autonomous province. “You must understand the level of my frustration when the very ministers and secretaries I expect to work with me and carry out the policy statements of the Bougainville Executive Council fail miserably,” Dr Momis said. “All known powers and functions have been drawn down but we have failed to understand this. We are an autonomous government and we should thoroughly understand this. “We have purposely created the Ministry of Economic Development on the premise that it would fast track economic projects and activities,” he said. “The Ministry will create favourable economic conditions that will jump-start economic activities that will transform to economic growth.

“This in turn will provide the basis for the ABG to promote fiscal self-reliance through our own taxes,” Dr Momis said. He said it was time for Bougainville to be realistic, learn to accept the realities and work for solutions and alternatives instead of dwelling on problems. He said that Bougainvilleans are aware that the ABG has been denied what is constitutionally and legally its rights on matters on national government funding. The government is working through diplomatic channels and, if necessary, the courts to demand what is due from the PNG government.

 

Mum Gives up Hope

Post Courier, May 17, 2017

SHE hears the planes arriving and departing from Tokua Airport every day bringing tourists and business opportunities to East New Britain and New Guinea Islands region. Many have experienced the luxury of using this modern mode of transport. But just across the Tokua runway, ten minutes drive into the peaceful community of Raiven within the Bitapaka LLG in Kokopo district, there is nothing to show for the much-talked about development and service delivery. Pauline Jeffery, 38, is a mother of nine children who goes through the normal struggles of a village mother who fends for her children. Mrs Jeffery goes out to fish and sells her fresh catch in Kokopo town at reasonable prices to feed her big family. A good catch will fetch between K200 and K300.  Recalling her early childhood, Mrs Jeffery said nothing has changed in the past 38 years. The road system needs major upgrading at certain areas which are always inaccessible during heavy rainfall. The entire community has given up hope in making a difference by voting this election, and it is not a concern if they do not take part in the voting. “Candidates can come and campaign here, we will hear what they have to say, but in the end it’s not a major issue that we vote for them,” she said. In the recent past the people have suffered, there has not been any government service into their area, though Raiven is only ten minutes from the main road from Tokua to Kokopo town.
The people need a clean water supply, rural electrification, aid post and a primary school for their children. Even at the back of the airport, and watching planes land and takeoff, there is no mobile phone reception, even just for sending messages. …..

 

Elections in Papua New Guinea’s dysfunctional democracy

18 May 2017

Author: Bill Standish, ANU

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/05/18/elections-in-papua-new-guineas-dysfunctional-democracy/

2016 for Papua New Guinea (PNG) was both politically turbulent and economically stressful with government revenues and currency falling, but inflation and deficit rising. The nationwide election in June–July 2017 will be a major measure of the political impact of the government’s critics, and the sustainability of Prime Minister O’Neill’s bankrolling tactics. In May 2016, a five week strike by university students called on O’Neill to resign over corruption and misgovernment allegations. Then in June, police shot at students marching to lobby parliament. After years of parliament not even considering attempted motions of no confidence, the Supreme Court ruled in July that the government must be held accountable. O’Neill survived the 22 July vote of no confidence 85 to 21, after allegedly dispersing district funds totaling many millions of kina through members of parliament (MPs). O’Neill was expanding a pattern set by Sir Michael Somare of a government largely based on allocating billions of kina each year to districts, funds which have contributed to PNG’s fiscal crisis. Unfortunately these funds — which MPs effectively control — have little positive impact on essential services.

The government acknowledges there is corruption but it’s not fighting it hard. The Police Fraud Squad director has estimated that in 2016 complaints of official fraud totaled 1.5 billion kina (US$472 million). Across the country, social media analysts have spread details of collapsing government services and corruption. …. While the constitutional rules of the game will favour the largest party in the house, only a brave observer will predict the outcome of PNG’s upcoming election.

[For the rest of this informative article, see the url above]

 

As election looms, PNG political parties should consider supporting informal economy

May 17, 2017 http://devpolicy.org/election-looms-png-political-parties-consider-supporting-informal-economy-20170517/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=579507e0f8-Devpolicy+News+May+19+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-579507e0f8-227683090

by Busa Jeremiah Wenogo

As the National General Election looms Papua New Guineans are contemplating what the future will hold for them. While important issues concerning employment, infrastructure, education and health will be a key feature for most political parties, equally important for most of the urban voting population will be the new government’s approach towards the country’s large and undeveloped informal economy. Apart from market and street vending, PNG’s informal economy includes informal settlement that is expanding rapidly due to high rental costs and limited availability of low cost housing in most urban centres of the country. In urban centres such as Port Moresby and Lae informal economy is central to the livelihoods of the majority of the population. According to PNG’s Urbanisation Policy[1], “more than 80 percent of the urban unemployed are found in unplanned settlements and villages. However, more than not, the unemployed are involved in some form of income generation as they participate in the activities of the informal economy (informal sector)”. This number is expected to increase into the near future as major cities and centres throughout the country experience further growth and expansion. Driven by promises of transformational outcome as a result of the PNG LNG and large investments, many people rushed into big cities like Port Moresby and Lae in search of useful employment as well as other benefits. However, most of these people end up in the informal economy as employment opportunities become scarce. The situation becomes dire when urban development plans run counter to or do not include the interests of participants in the informal economy.  …There is no doubt that the sector is a “sleeping giant” and if given the right support – in terms of  government policies and laws as well as provision of credit and “political voice” – it can contribute significantly towards addressing some of the country’s development challenges such as rising unemployment and poverty.

 

[For the remainder of this article, see the url above]

.

Transparency PNG says prison system needs rethink

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/05/transparency-png-says-prison-system-needs-rethink.html

20 May 2017

TRANSPARENCY International Papua New Guinea says authorities need to rethink the way correctional services in the country are run. This comes after 17 prisoners were shot dead last week during a mass escape from Buimo Prison in Lae. Chairman of Transparency PNG, Lawrence Stephens, said there had been an increase in mass jail breaks in PNG in recent years. He said it was clear the system is not working. “It looks as though there is a challenge either in the budgeting of the corrective institutions or a lack of adequate training or there could be disciplinary issues,” Mr Stephens said. “But whatever it is, when you hear that 17 lives have been lost, you have to start questioning the way in which we are responding.”Meanwhile, Amnesty International called for the officers involved in the killings to be suspended and an independent inquiry held. Amnesty’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel, said PNG security forces’ use of lethal force in response to a prison breakout was alarming.

She said the PNG authorities must hold suspected perpetrators to account without recourse to the death penalty. “It is alarming that the security forces’ first response was to use lethal force against unarmed people without any concern for their right to life,” said Ms Patel.. “Prison reforms and accountability mechanisms are crucial to stop these incidents from happening again. “Whatever the crime committed by inmates, they have the right to be treated humanely.” In February last year 12 Buimo prisoners were shot dead in a breakout by 90 prisoners who had overpowered guards at the main gate.

 

3600 still on Manam, more eruption seen

May 22, 2017 The National

EXACTLY 3693 people are still on Manam Island and will need to be evacuated if the volcano eruption affects the whole island. Baliau village which is located at the safe side of the island from the current volcanic eruption has the highest number -2187 – still on the island. The worst affected Dugulava village has only 30 men left there as security guards over gardens and properties after 785 were evacuated to Mandi care centre two weeks ago. From Warisi village on the side of the island facing the open ocean, 71 people need to be evacuated. Madauri has 147 people, Waia has 153 after 75 made their own way to Potsdam care centre last week, Jogari has 283, Yasa 130, Kuluguma 458, Boda 205, Dangale 100, Koalang 40, Bokure 39, Abaria 70 and the neighbouring Boisa Island has 765 people in 165 households.
The Manam volcano continues to erupt occasionally with the latest big blast on Saturday night. Madang provincial disaster and emergency acting director Rudolf Mongallee said Madang provincial government spent K26,000 on food supplies for Dugulava people who were evacuated three weeks ago to Mandi care centre after the volcano first erupted on April 19. Mongallee said the National Disaster Office has assisted with K31,000 but the cheque printed had an error on the account name and was sent back for reprinting.
“That matter has been fixed and when that money comes through we will look at other logistics and additional operations for the disaster.” Mongallee said he has submitted a full report regarding the eruption to the National Disaster Office last week. Dugulava ward councillor Paul Maburau said food distributed at the care centre has run out and people were now going back to the erupting island to get food from their gardens. “Last week some people wanted to fight over some left over fuel to go to the island just for food,” Maburau said. He said the volcano was still erupting and producing lava that could be seen clearly at night with more thick smoke around the crater.

 

Sorcery Issue Raises Concern

Post Courier May 24, 2017

Sorcery-related issues reported in the media recently have raised concerns with authorities and agencies that are working to implement the Sorcery National Action Plan. The government has a national core committee led by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General working to implement the Sorcery National Action Plan to address sorcery and witchcraft related violence in the country. Department of Justice and Attorney-General and Family Sexual Violence Action Committee through the Sorcery National Action Plan Committee are raising these concerns following recent news articles on the torture of four women and the eventual death of a young woman tortured in Enga province in relation to sorcery-accusation related violence. As a member for the core committee, the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee is against the brutal nature of violence that is being committed against helpless women in PNG as a result of sorcery accusations.As a sectoral committee of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council, FSVAC is mandated to work towards reducing the occurrence and suffering caused by physical, sexual and psychological violence within families. CIMC-FSVAC condemns the torturous acts of violence that is leveled against vulnerable women in the communities with the intension to harm or end their lives. The National Core Committee is aware of the issues and is working with government agencies, churches, NGOs and community advocates in the affected provinces to address the issue and help survivors of violence. Just recently the Core Committee for SNAP held a province wide Consultation in Enga and Simbu to raise awareness of the issue and work with their provincial governments to set up provincial committees to address the issue. “No one or group in a community has the right to take away a person’s life for whatever reason. “Any act of violence committed against a person with the intention to harm or kill is a criminal offence and is punishable by law. The Government has taken stringent measures to address this issue with amendment of Section 299A of the Criminal Code which now prescribes the death penalty for all willful murder cases caused by sorcery accusations.

Extreme vetting process for refugees

May 25, 2017 The National

AMERICAN officials have commenced “extreme vetting” of refugees at Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Naru, with lengthy interrogations about their associates and any links to the Islamic State, Reuters reports. Representatives of the US Department of Homeland Security left Manus Island having conducted 48 second-stage interviews, with two refugees divulging details of the process to Reuters. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection this week confirmed 268 people had completed their second-stage security interview with US officials, 220 in Nauru and 48 on Manus Island.
In a separate part of the process, the Department of Homeland Security also collects fingerprint and other biometric data. The third and final stage of the process is a medical assessment. Those assessments commenced in Nauru last week, with approximately 220 to be finished in this round, deputy immigration secretary Rachel Noble told a senate estimates hearing. “It will be some time yet before it is made clear how many people are going from Nauru and how many from Manus,” department secretary Mike Pezzullo said. But the commencement of security interviews indicated Washington would continue to honour the so-called people swap that US President Donald Trump had called “a dumb deal”.

 

Rubi Miranka and the Bougainville Healthy Community Programme

May 9, 2017  http://devpolicy.org/rubi-miranka-bhcp-20170509/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=0fe51cdeb2-ANUUPNG_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-0fe51cdeb2-227683090

The Bougainville Healthy Community Programme (BHCP) is a program run through the Department of Health of the Autonomous Government of Bougainville (DoH) in PNG. In an evaluation report of the BHCP program, it is claimed as an ‘excellent example of well-planned and well-executed public health and community’ and that it is ‘rare to see such a holistic logic and rationale in a project, which has been effectively implemented within the enormous constraints and challenges of a post-conflict setting’. BHCP’s journey is a positive example of partnership between formal and informal institutions, stories of change agents and transformational leaders and good donor coordination. BHCP, which started as an offshoot of the Leprosy Mission in 2009, has now expanded and covers 739 of the 817 villages in Bougainville with 40 full-time staff.

… Bougainville is entering into the next chapter of its history with a referendum due in 2019 to determine its independence. Irrespective of the outcome of the referendum, there is an acute need to develop its resources. While income from the Panguna Mines and other sources of natural resources are being considered, Bougainville needs to focus on developing its human resources too. Rather than relying on mining of natural resources and the uncertain market, there needs to be a greater focus on human resource development.

Ramu sorcery-related case adjourned to July 13

Post Courier, May 26, 2017

A decision on the Ramu 122, sorcery-related murders has been further adjourned to July 13, yesterday afternoon. Resident judge Justice David Cannings, adjourned the case to July 13 for further final submissions from both the state and defense, despite giving theirs on Tuesday this week. In their recent submissions, the defense argued that the state gave conflicting names and couldn’t properly identify those picked out. The state said because the accused opted to remain silent, it made extra work, but all were involved as they had a common purpose and intent when proceeding to kill armed with weapons.

Justice Cannings said he needed further submissions from both, having taken into account; the number of accused, the number of counts of wilful murder, the potential consequences of finding one or more of the accused guilty of one or more of the charges on the indictment, that submissions on verdict presented by both were not sufficiently detailed enough, and that each of the accused are afforded full protection of the law. He therefore, directed that both parties prepare detailed submissions on verdict in relation to proper identification of the accused picked out during the walk through identification in the courtroom during trial.

The Ramu 122 case is so far the biggest murder trial so far to be heard in any court in the country since Independence. The trial was a sorcery-related killing in Naho Rawa LLG in the Rai Coast area of Madang, where a group of armed men in black soot and offensive weapons of sorts, attacked and killed five adults and two children under five years of age. Medical reports showed that all five were killed, their skulls broken and their brain matter removed. The killings were at Sakiko village, three hours by foot from Ranara junction.

 

3000 stranded while transport issues stall evacuation of Manam islanders

May 16, 2017 The National

MORE than 3000 people are still on Manam Island in Madang awaiting transportation to the main land after the two recent volcanic eruptions.

Dugulava Ward Councillor Paul Maburau said the volcano erupted again on Sunday around 6pm and continued to yesterday morning.

More than 2000 people are at Baliau village and 1000 living in the small villages. They need transport to come to the mainland quickly. “They are prepared to move out but they have no means to travel,” Maburau told The National. “The islanders are waiting for the prodisaster office to transport them out.”

According to a report from Volcanological Observatory, the behavior of the summit activity seen in the past few weeks is expected to continue. It advised the people on the island to remain vigilant and to take precautions when necessary. It also advised the remaining islanders to avoid venturing into the four valleys where they do their gardening. Last week, 887 people were evacuated from the island and were now living at the Potsdam care centre. Maburau said food supplied by the provincial disaster office should last for about a week. He said the Red Cross, World Vision and a woman only identified as Maureen has provided tents, mosquito nets and other basic necessities for temporary homes.

 

PNG needs mature education policy, not unsustainable give-away

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/05/png-needs-mature-education-policy-not-an-unsustainable-give-away.html#more 16 May 2017

WE ARE going into the third week of this eight-week election campaign before polling in Papua New Guinea’s general election commences.

Unlike previous elections, this election appears more sedate. Social media is playing an important role with almost all political parties advertising their messages on Facebook and using social media more effectively. The ruling People’s National Congress has reportedly spent much money disseminating information about its polices in social and mainstream media. One of the PNC’s major pitches is the free education policy. It implemented this policy in office and it proved to haves weaknesses. In what looks like a counter attack, opposition leader Don Polye on behalf of his THE party seemed to write a political suicide note by saying he will scrap the free education policy and introduce “compulsory and subsidised education”. THE party’s policy will make it compulsory to attend school and for parents to pay fees up to Grade 12. But technical and university education will be free. Prime minister O’Neill condemned the opposition saying this was a reckless policy that would set the country back, reverse development and undermine economic growth. “This is the most reckless opposition campaign to be seen in elections for a long time,” he said.

 

Candidates are issuing weapons, teacher says

May 18, 2017 The National

A BOUGAINVILLE primary school teacher, who has been working in Southern Highlands for many years, says weapons are being smuggled in mostly by better educated people. BO, a teacher witnessed a helicopter carrying weapons landing on a sweet potato garden at the village where she was teaching.

She shared her experience during a meeting on social and security issues with key government security agencies and partners last week in Mendi in preparation for the general elections.

She said poor youths and subsistence farmers in the province were provided weapons by educated people, mostly candidates, in preparation for the elections and during tribal conflicts. “It was the poor people’s food garden that was destroyed and many people from the area thought someone important came but weapons were smuggled to the area,” she said. “The owner of the garden watched in surprise about what was going on, but it was the deal of the educated people doing all their best to smuggle high-powered weapons and that has now contributed to the build-up of firearms in the province.” She said she had been moving around the province, teaching in remote areas and during elections, and weapons were displayed and the hot topics were how to win the election and enter parliament. She said there were many awareness programmes carried out over the years on the freedom of choosing leaders and educated people should be the ones telling their people what should be done when electing leaders.

 

El Nino to hit us again

May 31, 2017 The National

THE people have been warned to brace themselves for another El Nino-induced drought soon, similar to one two years ago which badly affected thousands of citizens.
The National Disaster Centre is leading the planning for the natural disaster forecast for August this year so that the mistakes in 2015 and 2016, especially the lack of preparation, are avoided.
Centre director Martin Mose said planning was underway for the El Nino conditions predicted by global and regional climate agencies to happen in August.
It is likely to bring drier-than-normal conditions to PNG.
“In the past when El Nino happens, everybody starts going out and responding everywhere. We don’t like to do that (again) because we can miss the areas heavily affected and we can waste too much time on areas less affected,” Mose told The National.
He said their planning was based on scientific information from the regional integrated multi-hazard early warning system and the National Weather Service.
“It will show us exactly what area in the country is going to be affected and so we can focus our response effort accordingly,” he said.
The Government in its 2016 national budget allocated K220 million towards the drought recovery programmes. It also had to table a 2015 Supplementary Budget to address the shortfalls in revenue caused by factors including the closure of the Ok Tedi mine in Western.
Mose said the El Nino in 2015 and 2016 was challenging because they were still organising themselves when it struck.
“But because of our responsible Government, we were able to mobilise resources with the help of the United Nations,” he said.
He said for this year, they would be more prepared. National Weather Service assistant director Jimmy Gomoga said so far, the El Nino thresholds had not been reached.

 

No plans yet for Manam

May 31, 2017 The National

THE National Disaster Centre is awaiting word from the Madang provincial administration on the future of Manam islanders evacuation because of the recent volcanic eruptions.
Centre director Martin Moses said there were no plans yet for the islanders who were evacuated to the mainland after two eruptions early this month.
The Government through the disaster centre had allocated K31,000 to assist in the evacuation plus other expenses for their stay at the care centres in Madang.
“We haven’t got any plan or arrangements yet but they are our people and we cannot just leave them there,” Mose told The National.
“They (provincial administration) have to give us some indication as to how long they are planning to keep the people at the care centres.
“That will depend on the scientific advice from the Rabaul Volcanic Observatory. For the budget, we expect the Madang provincial administration to give us information so we can ask the government through the treasury and finance departments to make funding available. I’d like to know how much they need.”

 

 

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2017

Cash Aid or Program Aid – A Delicate Balance – Sam Koim

http://www.pngblogs.com/2017/03/cash-aid-or-program-aid-delicate-balance.html?m=1

At the 25th Papua New Guinea–Australia Ministerial Forum held recently in Madang, the Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) surprised the Australian Government Ministers in attendance by requesting the Australian Government to take a paradigm shift from its program and project based aid to direct budgetary support as was during early days of PNG’s statehood. Two reasons publicly given by the GoPNG for the request are that firstly, it is claimed that the Australian aid programs are running parallel to the GoPNG development agendas and secondly, it is perceived that a lot of middlemen are chewing up most of the funds that could otherwise be spent on tangible projects. It is understood such requests were made previously and Australia rejected it, but this time, the Australian Government had undertaken to consider it in an upcoming review on aid to PNG. Although the GoPNG denies the request is driven by the cash flow crises the country is facing, it is an open secret that the GoPNG is desperate for cash. The fruitless search for cash included a $US1 billion sovereign bond and a $US250m loan facility from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation through the Central Bank of Papua New Guinea.

[For the rest of this lengthy article, see the url above]

A budget and economic scorecard for the O’Neill government

Separating the Truth from the Lies by Kessy Sawang

An edited version of a speech she gave at the PNG National Party Convention.

I will start with the key indicator of fiscal management – the level of debt. From there I will then discuss the budget deficit and then touch upon the economy.   I’ll walk through what I call the headline issues but from this you will see that it has been an unprecedented scale of financial mismanagement, mistruths and a recklessness that almost seems to be a deliberate sabotaging of the national interest. This is a sad story of failure and the true costs are yet to be revealed. The adjustment required will be painful for our people.

As I said I have been selective in the topics I talk about today because of time constraints but the key message is one of a failed government that is driving our proud country to its knees. We see evidence of this already when this Government went cap in hand to the Australian Government to beg for budget support. This disgraceful begging was met with a stern rebuff from the Australian Government. This is a national embarrassment.

Let me start with this chart. What is shown is public debt for the years 2002 to 2016. The numbers on the vertical axis show the value of public debt in billions of Kina. I have separated the years with a red box. The years that appear within the red box are the years when Peter O’Neill has been the Prime Minister. What stands out clearly from the chart is that over the first nine years the level of public debt remained more or less steady. In fact the value at the end of 2002 was 8.4 billion Kina and up until 2011 it did not go higher than that level. So when O’Neill entered the office of the Prime Minister of PNG in 2011 he inherited a public debt level lower than that at 2002.

What is so clear if you look at this chart of public debt you can see that it has grown faster over O’Neill’s term than it did in the last term. On average, under O’Neill the level of debt has grown by 25% each year. This is an extraordinary growth and is unsustainable – in fact it has brought us closer to a major economic crisis.

[For the rest of this revealing article, see the url above.]

Paying compo not justice: Nili

March 31, 2017 The National

PAYING compensation, practised in many parts of the Highlands region, is a hindrance to the effective administration of justice in  communities, a senior police officer says. Senior Inspector Epenes Nili told a conference on sorcery-related violence in Wabag, Enga that there were laws in place to deal with compensation cases. Nili said it was used to maintain peace and order in the community, however, should not stop the prosecution of those who broke the law. He said a criminal case did not end when the perpetrator gave some form of compensation to the relative of the victim. He said some people resorted to compensation payments to the victims of a crime because they were afraid of being arrested and ending up in court. He said the culprits must be brought before the law and be  dealt with.
Police in the province are also focusing on curbing sorcery-related violence and urge victims to lodge their complaints. “If you shy away from this, how can we help you? It is a two-way thing.
“My fundamental duty is to protect lives. “If your life is in imminent danger, no one will kill you if you come and seek protection from the police.”

Malala students required to sign deal in cult crackdown bid

April 12, 2017 The National

STUDENTS at a Madang school are required to sign an agreement that they will stay away from any cult practices at the school. This follows a fight among students at the Malala Catholic Secondary School in Bogia, Madang.Bruno Tulemanil, the Catholic education secretary in Madang and a school board member, said the agreement was to stop cult practices which created other social problems in the school. Last month, he said a Grade 10 student got drunk and caused a rampage in school which led to its early closure for the Term One break. When the Grade 10 student was suspended, other Grade 10 pupils protested against the suspension and went out of control, he said. They were confronted by some Grade 11 and 12 students and led to a fight which damaged one of the boys’ dormitories. “This cult practice makes them stay silent and not report drinking habits in school,” Tulemanil said. He said students who reported drinking by other students were often beaten up. Tulemanil said part of the agreement was that boys returning to school were to pay K100 each to repair the damage they caused. “All the students will come with their parents to sign the agreement and bring K100 with them,” Tulemanil said.

 

PNG medical supplies contract comes under proper oversight

The National 17 April 2017

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has welcomed the announcement by the Central Supply and Tenders Board chairman, Dr Ken Ngangan, that the medical supplies contract will be subject to the results of a public tender. Since 2013, TIPNG – through its Community Coalition Against Corruption – consistently asked for an investigation into the award of the contract to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals after tendering rules were changed and the company was awarded a contract which cost the people of PNG nearly K100 million. “A reasonable explanation was never given and this money could have been better used,” Mr Stephens said.

“It is good to see the chairman of the Central Supply and Tenders Board reject yet another attempt by that company to be given preferential treatment and to oblige it to compete fairly.

Mr Stephens said strong signals need to be given and he welcomed Dr Ngangan’s signal that the “rights of the people be placed ahead of the demands of companies and their co-conspirators in decision-making positions to push PNG down paths it should be avoiding.”

 

Manam volcano erupts

The National, April 18, 2017

THE volcano on Manam Island in Bogia, Madang, erupted on Sunday evening, forcing many who had moved back there fleeing for safety. Paul Maburau, the ward councillor for Dugulava village on the island, said they saw flames coming out at around 7pm when many villagers were preparing to have dinner. He said fire was coming out of both craters of the volcano – the one between Bokure village and Kualang village, and the one between Dugulava and Warisi villages.
Maburau said more blasts came during the night and continued through yesterday.
“Every time there was a blast, the ground would shake,” he said.
“The place is very dark with the smoke from the volcano.
“We are taking refuge where we think is safe.”
He said some had left the island on the three available dinghies at Dugulava.
“Many of us left behind are now confused and scared of what will happen next,” Maburau said.
The provincial disaster office confirmed receiving the report from the island and would make plans to assess the situation today and assist the people.
Maburau said the people needed to be evacuated but fuel was the problem.
People from seven village in Giri confirmed seeing fire and smoke from Manam Island. “The volcano is now giving off dust and soon all our gardens will be spoiled,” Maburau said.
“This is my biggest fear because we will starve again.”

More ash spews over Manam

April 19, 2017 The National

THE Manam Island volcano in Bogia, Madang spewed more ash yesterday following eruption on Sunday.
Ward councillor for Dugulava village Paul Maburau said people who had access to transport left for Potsdam care centre on the Bogia mainland since Monday but some others needed help to be evacuated.
“We have dinghies but our problem now is fuel,” Maburau said.
The acting director for Madang provincial disaster and emergency office Rudolf Mongallee could not be reached for comment yesterday but a source from his office said the office was aware of the situation and had taken steps to communicate with authorities to help the people on the island.

Martin Ururu, the president for Iabu LLG representing the Manam islanders, said the people were neglected by the Government for as long as they lived in care centres.
He said those who had fought with landowners of care centres on mainland Bogia had no choice but moved back to the island and were now facing their fears and seeking refuge from the erupting volcano.

 

Response to Manam relief slow

Post Courier, April 21, 2017

WHILE panic and desperation have set in for the people who are on Manam Island, they can only hope and pray someone will come to their rescue. Today (Friday) will mark five days since the craters on the island erupted, spewing stones and heavy ashfall. Immediately, they are in need of fresh water, with their water sources, which are tanks and wells, most probably contaminated by the ashfall. However, government authorities in the province say cash flow is an issue and are depending heavily on the National Disaster and Emergency office to intervene. Provincial administrator Daniel Aloi, when contacted yesterday, said the provincial finance office had warrants, but these were without value, which meant there was no cash to back them. Mr Aloi said any assistance would be dependent on cash availability. Madang’s Provincial Disaster director Rudolf Mongalee also confirmed with local reporters that the office was without funds. Madang governor Jim Kas earlier this week said his office was without funds as he had not received the balance of the provincial services improvement program (PSIP) funds owed by the national government. His appeal to the National Disaster office was for urgent assistance with food rations and fresh water. Mr Kas had stressed that many islanders had moved back in spite of the dangers it posed, adding that those the government was likely to assist were only those from Baliau.

Meanwhile, a ward counsellor has expressed frustration over the lack of urgency by the government to their plight. He said, though it may be argued that the islanders should not have gone back to the island in light of the risks. Villagers from Dugulava who had been residing at the Tobenam and those from Baliau village from care centers were forced back due to the ethnic clashes with the mainlanders.

 

Bomana inmates take part in Way of the Cross

April 19, 2017 The National

FIFTEEN prisoners from the Bomana Prison Camp participated in carrying of the Way of the Cross in Port Moresby on Easter Friday. The prisoners, who were accompanied by three Correctional Services officers, carried the cross from Ela Beach to Down Town Fire Station and later participated in the programme all the way to Mary Queen of Pacific Parish in Waigani. Speaking on their behalf the prisoners, Sam Tom, a prisoner serving his 18th year this year, told The National that it was privilege for them to participate with the community. “Easter is the remembrance day for our Lord Jesus Christ, who came and died for our sins, so to participate with the community outside of prison to remember this day is a privilege for us.”
Tom’s message to youths, students and every Papua New Guinean was to think twice about everything they did. “Every individual must try to do what is good and abide by the laws because the consequence of wrongdoing in the prison is not good,” he said. Tom thanked Correctional Service Commissioner Michael Waipo and officers for allowing them to celebrate Easter outside prison.
Officer accompanying them Sergeant Thomas Gamuna said carrying of the Way of the Cross was an event in which prisoners from the low security unit were allowed to participate in. Among the 15 prisoners was convicted former Pomio MP Paul Tiensten.

Magistrate throws out one of two charges against refugee

April 19, 2017 The National

A COURT has dismissed a case against a refugee, charged with providing false statements to obtain a PNG passport enabling his travel to Fiji, because the prosecution could not prove its case. Waigani Magistrate Mekeo Gauli dismissed the case against Iranian refugee Loghman Sawari, 21, because the prosecution failed to establish the essential elements in the charge. The court found that the arrest of Sawari on Feb 3 was flawed because he was not accorded his rights under Section 42 of the Constitution before a recorded interview was conducted between him and the police. The court also found that the passport used by Sawari to travel to Fiji on Jan 20 was not submitted to court as evidence.
Gauli ordered that his bail of K1000 be refunded. Sawari is facing another charge under the Migration Act which is still pending in court. Sawari was among the asylum seekers sent by the Australian government to the processing centre on Manus three years ago.

Child labour worry

March 20, 2017 The National

THE country has been warned to protect its children against child labour and sexual exploitation, as most of the 186 million cases in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region. During the launching last week in Mt Hagen of the national action plan to eliminate child labour, Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Benjamin Poponawa said current laws on child labour were ineffective and must be updated. International Labour Organisation director of the Pacific Island countries Donglin Li thanked the Government for launching its action plan “to protect the right and freedom of children” He said of the 186 million around the world engaged in child labour, the highest number was in the Asia-Pacific region. Li said around 85 million children were engaged in hazardous work, 5.7 million in forced and bound labour, 1.8 million in commercial sexual exploitation and 600,000 involved in other illicit activities.

First Home Owner Scheme out of reach for average Papua New Guineans
Post Courier, April 12, 2017

A research paper published by the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (NRI) has raised concerns that the First Home Owner Scheme (FHOS) might be unrealistic for low income earners in the country. In 2013 the PNG government allocated K200 million into the FHOS which is managed by the Bank South Pacific (BSP). This was one of the government initiatives undertaken at the time to address the need for more affordable housing in the country, especially in some of the more populated urban areas. However, according to the study conducted by associate professor Eugene Ezebilo, any household that spends more than 30 per cent of their income on housing will have housing affordability problems.

Prof Ezebilo says considering the 30 per cent benchmark and the 4 per cent annual interest compounded on the loan, it would take the average low income earner in Port Moresby 60 years to repay the money sourced from the FHOS for a house in the lowest price range of about K300 000. Unfortunately FHOS conditions stipulates a forty year repayment period, which means that low income earners may not be able to benefit from the home ownership scheme. As of April this year, BSP has approved 534 home loans valued at K270 million under the FHOS.

 

Enga, SHP prone to violence
Post Courier, April 12, 2017

Enga and Southern Highlands have been identified as two provinces most prone to human rights violation during the National Election. This was highlighted during the recent Highlands Human Rights Defenders training in Mount Hagen in which 15 participants from the Highlands provinces raised concerns about possible human rights abuses in the coming months. The Defenders said that violation of human rights during the election period was very real and huge, but they mostly go unnoticed, or is not addressed seriously. Facilitator and adviser to the United Nations Office of the Human Rights Commission, Kedar Poudyal, told participants to identify the hotspot provinces for abuses and plan strategies that could be used for corrective actions to address human rights violation. Participants identified problems during elections as isolation of polling booths, women and girls threatened and forced to vote against their will and discrimination of the marginalised and vulnerable population during voting.

The training for Highlands Human Rights Defenders was held on March 27-29 at Hotel Kimininga jointly organised by the Religion, Youth and Community Development Department, UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Oxfam.

 

Children appeal for Mother’s Release

Post Courier, April 21, 2017

FOUR children whose father was killed in a recent car accident in Mount Hagen, have appealed for their mother to be released from prison. Jonah Samuel, the elder son of the late Samuel Goi, made this appeal representing his three siblings, Lydia, Levai and Boss, who have been living with their father for the last ten years.Their mother, Grace Samuel, is serving time in Barawagi Jail, Simbu Province. The mother of the four children was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for killing another woman. Twelve-year-old Jonah, who is in grade four at Ogelbang Primary School, said the burden of looking after Lydia, 10, Levai, nine and six-year-old Boss is an enormous. Jonah will be the one to take charge after the passing of his father as their grandparents died a long time ago. “We don’t have anyone to take care of us. My mother is from Eastern Highlands Province and all my uncles, aunties and bubus are at Asaro,” Jonah said.He made an appeal to the Department of Correctional Service (CS)and Justice Department to release his mother even though she has three more years to serve in prison from the 10 years sentenced.

“We are appealing to the CS and the courts to release our mother. I am only in grade four, Lydia and Levai are in grade two and Boss is in elementary. “We are all in school and we don’t have someone to cook for us, wash our clothes, buy our clothes and meet our needs. Our father died and mother is in prison. Their absences in the house leave a vacuum that breaks our hearts every moment.

Jika Delemp community leader Afike Kunai said the children’s father had a disability, and he raised the kids all his life without their mother until he was allegedly killed and pushed into the river by a car.

 

Do anticorruption messages work?

Findings so far and what they could mean for Papua New Guinea

By Caryn Peiffer on April 20, 2017

http://devpolicy.org/anticorruption-messages-work-findings-far-mean-png-20170420/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=7e0591dc1d-Devpolicy+News+April+21+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-7e0591dc1d-227683090

Most anticorruption programs now include an awareness-raising element. The hope is that anticorruption messages – whether shared via posters, radio or TV, for example – will inspire citizens to refuse to pay bribes and to report any corruption they encounter. But there is so far little evidence available to tell us how effective these messages are. Some scholars have argued that they might even backfire and discourage the reporting of corruption. Could such messages simply prompt people to recall preconceived views that corruption is a widespread, insurmountable problem?

Together we recently also looked at PNG citizens’ willingness to report corruption. Using 2010-2011 household survey data and quantitative analysis, we asked which factors influenced willingness to report several different types of corrupt acts, and to what extent. A key finding was that citizens were less likely to be willing to report corruption if they lacked trust that the authorities would take action as a result. This suggests that in PNG an awareness-raising approach may have little effect. In the 2010-11 household survey, 38% of the 1,825 respondents agreed with the statement, ‘There is no point in reporting corruption because nothing useful will be done about it.’ [See url above for the full article]

 

PNG at 40: reflecting on the past to build a solid future for Papua New Guinea

http://devpolicy.org/png-40-reflecting-past-build-solid-future-papua-new-guinea-20170406/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=84da678560-ANUUPNG_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-84da678560-227683090

By Paul Barker on April 6, 2017

By the global standards of newly independent nations, Papua New Guinea experienced a relatively smooth transition to nationhood and comparatively untraumatic, or at least peaceful subsequent years. Although some observers predicted turmoil and breakup of the country upon Independence from Australia in 1975, instead PNG has remained intact and sustains a vibrant democracy, despite ongoing stresses and some clear aberrations from most political norms (not least the pursuit of politics seemingly oversubscribed, and not entirely for altruistic reasons). Although much has certainly been achieved in PNG over the past 41 years, the optimism that overtook much of the population around Independence has morphed for many into a level of disappointment and frustration over aspects of the country’s economic, social, political and cultural development.

Maybe the expectations at Independence were unrealistically high, and have been further fuelled by constant promises of wealth emanating from the country’s resources, which for much of the population (including those termed ‘resource owners’) have not converted into reality. Instead, access to economic opportunities and quality public goods and services has proven limited, especially in rural parts of the country seemingly deteriorated, whilst violent crime, and particularly violence against women and children, remain a constant threat in the major urban centres.

Often referred to as PNG’s ‘paradox of development’, resource wealth and periods of strong economic growth have failed to date to deliver broad-based and sustained economic and social opportunities, including strong and satisfactory improvement in social indicators. PNG is not alone in experiencing such travails of development, aspects of which are sometimes termed the ‘Resource Curse’, but the country should be able to achieve more meaningful improvements for the lives of its population into the future without forfeiting its cultural or environmental heritage, which are featured strongly in the National Constitution.

The PNG at 40 Symposium was organised by the Institute of National Affairs (INA) to bring together a team of dedicated persons with an immense wealth of experience of policy making and its application in PNG, to reflect on lessons and experience from the past and to contribute to preparing for and addressing the challenges of the future. The Symposium, held in March 2016 in Alotau, was intended to develop a home-grown, constructively critical and useful analysis of PNG’s forty years of independence, and to extract what can be learned from that experience to address current issues and inform future planning. It is hoped the symposium’s output will make a significant and practical contribution to the challenging and continuing task of nation-building. The three-day, by-invitation symposium was attended by 40 men and women who have been, are and intend to be engaged in shaping PNG’s political and economic development. They came from all walks of life: political, governmental, non-governmental, private sector, academia and the churches, and almost entirely Papua New Guineans.

Nine papers were commissioned from participants for presentation. The subjects fell within four broad themes – (i) PNG as a nation-state, (ii) PNG as a developing economy, (iii) PNG as an ethnically diverse society, and (iv) PNG in the Pacific, Asia and the world. Participants debated the issues raised by the papers, shared observations and insights, analysed lessons from past experience, and collectively reached reasoned conclusions about what lies ahead, and how PNG can best manage and influence current and foreseeable problems and issues.

A final session was devoted to Shaping and Building PNG’s future. Here, the participants built on the conclusions reached in the prior nine sessions and narrowed these down to Five Strategic Priorities:

  • Repair the Broken Political System
  • Shift the Focus from Monetary GDP to Broad Based and Sustainable Economic Growth
  • Restore a Professional, Accountable, Public Service and Institutions
  • Comprehensively and Effectively Apply the Rule of Law
  • Recognise and Promote PNG Culture

A central concern of the Symposium was the declining adherence to the rule of law and established systems and processes, including the National Constitution, both in government and across society. There was considerable discussion over the suitability of the Westminster system, as currently applied, and the vacuum associated with the shift from traditional Melanesian leadership and accountability arrangements to new and relatively alien systems of government (despite the recognition for traditional ways highlighted in the Constitution). However, it was emphasised that whatever system of government applies or is adapted over time, respect and adherence to the rule of law and accepted rules for society form the basis of a working society. Much needs to be done to reverse the slippage from that principle that has occurred over the years in most spheres of public life and accountability, both at the political and public service levels and more widely through society, in order to ensure the necessary and steady improvement in social and economic opportunities for the nation’s entire population.

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2017

Yuri peace building activities focus on mobilising youth

01 March 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/yuri-peace-building-activities-focus-on-mobilising-youth.html#more

AT the heart of all the activities of the Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association (YAKA) are the 4Rs – reunion, reconciliation, rebuilding and restoration. YAKA – established to bring the Yuri people of Simbu peace and development – has quietly celebrated many achievements over the last three years. Cultured Yuri people understand that these achievements are the seeds of a continuously peaceful society. It is their gift to ensuing generations. Unfortunately, there are uncultured people who don’t understand and appreciate YAKA’s achievements.

In these three years, there has been renewed tribal unity. It can happen over beer, shared cigarettes, chatting on Facebook, email, cultural events, youth camps or just walking and talking along the bush tracks of home amongst the never ending gorges and mountain ridges.

These are some of the manifestations of tribal unity and celebration.

In the last week of December and on the first day of January each year, YAKA members come together to celebrate. The Yuri people are scattered all over Papua New Guinea, looking for a better life just like other Papua New Guineans. A few work and live in other countries.

They are hard-working people, who contribute tirelessly to nation building: some at tribal level, others at government level and others using the churches as a vehicle to unite the tribe and expose it to development challenges. [for the full article, see the url above]

 

TB rate skyrocketing

March 3, 2017 The National

THE rate of new infections for tuberculosis (TB) per year in Papua New Guinea has increased from 3000 in 2005 to 30,000 in 2015, an official says. Businesses for Health (B4H) TB project manager Dr Ann Clarke said at a project launching: “Business for Health TB project aims to engage the private sector to support the Department of Health’s efforts to end the TB epidemic and reduce the high rates of drug resistant TB, particularly in the National Capital District. “Around 20 per cent (more than 6000 of the nearly 30,000 new TB infections in PNG were detected in National Capital District in 2015.”
“I am not here to try and turn you into TB experts and TB doctors. I am here to change behaviours and to provide network and information necessary for you to make use of the world class facilities that can be found in 15 locations around the NCD. “If we can stop people getting sick, after one year and two years and start attending to people coughing up to two weeks we can change the pace of this epidemic.”

 

B’ville independence depends on Panguna
Post Courier, March 03, 2017

THE Bougainville Government’s position on Panguna mine had always been clear – to re-open it, says Bougainville Vice-President Raymond Masono. Mr Masono said that the region would have fiscal self-reliance and also the majority of Bougainvilleans would enjoy a better life again when the mine re-opens. He said there was opposition to the mine re-opening but they were a minority. “We need Panguna to finance independence for Bougainville,” he added. Mr Masono said that the mine would bring quick development and it still had a large known reserve yet to be mined. Last week in Buka, K5 million was paid to four landowner associations. The cheque payment by Bougainville Copper Limited was done at Kuri Village Resort and was witnessed by Mr Masono, ABG Ministers, senior government officers and staff. “It is not the devil that we used to know, but it’s now the devil that we own,” Mr Masono said in reference to BCL, adding that it would be foolish go out looking for other developers when BCL was available. Six landowner associations that were established before the Bougainville Crisis (1988-1998) and another three were established after the conflict, bringing the total to nine landowner associations. More than K14 million will be made to the Panguna landowner groups when Bougainville Copper Limited completes outstanding claims are settled.

 

BCL compensation payments trigger disputes in Bougainville

09 March 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/03/bcl-compensation-payments-trigger-disputes-in-bougainville.html#more

LAST Saturday morning at around 10 o’clock two vehicles passed my hamlet at the entrance of the Panguna mine’s pit drainage tunnel. On them were faces I knew from Konnuku Village, downstream from the Panguna tailings carried along in the Kabarong River. All the faces were angry and showed there was a purpose to their run. That purpose became clear on Monday. An entire family homestead was torched. The victims lost all their property and valuables, including money, to the fire. The reason for the raid was that the father of the family was said to have received K50,000 in compensation from Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) for land blocks owned by his matrilineal family and he was not sharing it with his matrilineal uncles and nieces. Such anti-social quakes are now rocking the entire Panguna mine affected areas as they receive outstanding compensation owed to them by BCL since 1990 when the Bougainville conflict interrupted mining operations. During the heyday of BCL on Bougainville, landowners with legal title to land affected by company operations received monthly royalties. My grandmother said she received about K170 a month.

After almost 25 years she will get K7,000. This is because some of the blocks of land were under her name and legal ownership devolved to her children and grandchildren but not my mother, who did not want us to have title to any piece of land belonging to our extended family. My mother claims too many Bougainvilleans have suffered as a result of the Panguna mine thus, for her, this is blood money. We do not want to benefit from blood money.

My mother’s stand is not an isolated one. Within the benefiting communities people’s social bonds are being axed by this process. ….

What belongs to the landowners of the mine affected areas belongs to them. It is their business with BCL. But maintaining a harmonious co-existence within our community is paramount for Bougainville as a whole.

 

Caritas Coodinators opposes sea bed mining
Post Courier, March 06,2017, 10:00 am

CARITAS Coordinators from 19 Catholic Dioceses of the Catholic Church of PNG have opposed the decision to experiment deep sea mining in PNG. The organisation held its Annual Caritas PNG Forum 2017 in Madang last month and among others opposed and called to put a stop to experimental seabed mining in PNG waters. The group said in a statement that the negative impacts of the mine greatly outweigh the anticipated benefits. “Therefore, in solidarity with Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Bismarck Ramu Group, and other concerned organisations, we are compelled to speak out on behalf of the affected silent majority in the rural coastal and island communities,” the group said. The group added that the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the Mining Minister Byron Chan to order an immediate ban on experimental seabed mining. We call on all governors and Open Members of Parliament of Maritime Provinces to support this call on behalf of their people.

 

Converting illegal leases makes people slaves on own land

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/03/converting-illegal-leases-makes-people-slaves-on-their-own-land.html#more 07 March 2017

COMMUNITY advocacy group Act Now has condemned plans by the Papua New Guinean government to convert unlawful land leases to another form of land tenure using Incorporated Land Groups. Act Now says converting the so-called SABL leases will not only repeat injustice and human rights abuses, it will give control of vast tracts of land to a small number of people overseen by a corrupt and dysfunctional Department of Lands. Act Now says the plan is an attempt by the government to appease the foreign owned logging industry and oil palm companies and ensure a continuation of their illegal occupation of customary land.

“If the land ends up being registered then it could be sold, leased or mortgaged again and again,” Act Now said. “It is the next step in making people slaves in their own communities and excluding them permanently from their land.” Act Now said the only proper course of action is for the government to cancel the leases and return the land to customary landholders. It will then be for the people to decide on the future of their land. It said that over the past 10 years fraudulent Special Agriculture Business Leases have been used to steal rights to more than five million hectares of customary land from local communities. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had promised the government would implement the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry and cancel the leases; but now the Lands Minister wants to convert them to another form of land tenure.

 

‘No safety gear on Rabaul Queen’
Date: March 10, 2017, 5:08am News.com.au

SAFETY equipment were non-existent on the vessel the night the Rabaul Queen sank in the waters of Morobe Province on February 2, 2012, claiming more than 170 lives. A State witness Elvin Lunagau said this during the trial of the owner of the ship, Peter Sharp.

Mr Sharp and Peter Tsiau, the captain of the vessel the night it sank, are facing several charges of manslaughter before the Kokopo National Court in East New Britain Province. Mr Lunagau told the court that the vessel had no life jackets on board when it left Kimbe wharf in West New Britain Province. He is the first of more than 10 witnesses who will be giving evidence in the first week of the trial. Mr Lunagau gave evidence that the ship was overloaded, making it impossible for passengers in the lower decks to escape when it started sinking..

 

No dialysis treatment to cure chronic kidney disease in PNG
Post Courier, March 10, 2017

CHRONIC kidney disease (CKD) is becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, and Papua New Guinea is no exception. According to data collected by the PNG Kidney Foundation in 2016, around 40 per cent of deaths in PNG are because of the diseases and 60 per cent of patients suffer from chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis, but cannot afford to get treatment. Only 40 per cent of patients are able to seek further treatment.

Mr Poh said currently, in the foundation, they have seen more than 70 patients who have been diagnosed with chronic kidney failure and undergo hemodialysis treatment three times a week. “So far we have provided 2000 sessions of hemodialysis treatment,” he said.

“It’s a problem I’ve noticed from the last couple of years where many patients have come in to the Port Moresby General hospital but we do not have proper facilities and we lose many of the patients. “Because we do not have much to offer, and we continue to tell the patients that if you do not have this amount of money to go overseas for kidney transplant, this is the end of the road to life,” he said.

 

PNG surprises Australia with request to change structure of aid

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/03/png-surprises-australia-with-request-to-change-structure-of-aid.html#more

AUSTRALIA’S increasingly tricky relationship with Papua New Guinea could be about to get more difficult. The PNG government has asked Australia to directly fund its health and education spending after it suffered a severe economic downturn and was forced to make major budget cuts. PNG used the 25th ministerial forum between the two countries to ask Australia to shift its $500 million of annual aid away from narrowly-focused programs into helping fund its health, education and infrastructure priorities. Australia has given $5 billion in aid over the last decade, but has been changing its approach for the past few years.

Some comments: I’m quite happy for my Australian taxes to go towards helping PNG solve its Health and Education problems. The Health problem is huge. People are dying everyday from curable illness. The future of PNG relies on its Education.

Here is a comment from a Health Worker in Maprik in the Sepik, one of my friends, made yesterday….

“We are now facing the problem of the decisions made by the top people and the government of that time and now we are using some of the sub standard drugs.

“For example the current Lignocaine vial for injection to stop pain before suturing a wound is not working, but we suture the patients with pain which is unethical and unprofessional.

“Still worse, all Health facilities in PNG are facing serious drug shortages than all the previous years before 2013. “Currently all Health workers are referring their patients to pharmacies to buy their own drugs or for those who cannot afford to buy are asked to use herbal remedies to treat themselves. “The people are being told to look after themselves as all Health facilities are facing the problem of drug shortage while the country is facing cash flow problem.

 

Papua New Guinea gets a dose of resource curse

By Michael Main from the Australian National University

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/png-gets-a-dose-of-resource-curse-from-exxonmobils-lng-project/8343090

The Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is the largest resource extraction project in the Asia-Pacific region. Constructed at a stated cost of US$19 billion, it’s operated by ExxonMobil in joint venture with Oil Search and four other partners. The project extracts natural gas from the Papua New Guinea highlands, where it is processed before being sent via some 700 kilometres of pipeline to a plant near the nation’s capital, Port Moresby. The gas is then liquefied and transferred into ships for sale offshore. Construction for the project began in 2010, and the first gas shipment was made in May 2014.

 

In the years since construction began, Papua New Guinea’s ranking on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index has fallen by two places to 158, having been overtaken by Zimbabwe and Cameroon. Far from enhancing development indicators, the largest development project in PNG’s history has coincided with an unprecedented downgrade in the country’s development status. But very little is known about the actual impact of the project on local landowners. This is largely due to the remote location of the gas field in the mountainous Hela Province. The dire security situation in that part of Papua New Guinea also makes any investigation a highly dangerous undertaking.

 

But the reality — after four years of operation and windfall profits for the project’s joint venture partners — is that the project has delivered almost nothing of benefit to landowners.

The most terrifying aspect of life in Hela province has been the proliferation of weapons. The This pre-existing context of intense inter-clan rivalry has been made worse by the frustrations of a population hammered by the broken promises of the nation’s largest resource development project. Much of this fighting is a direct result of payments made to landowners displaced by the project. Compensation money paid to affected clans invariably ends up in the hands of individuals who fail to distribute the funds properly or support their own families, and the money is always paid to men. Papua New Guinea now faces a situation where it’s compelled to send its army to an area where a major resource extraction project has failed to deliver on its promises to landowners. It may be time for all parties involved — both state and corporate — to consider development as a more effective path to peace.

 

All SABLs unlawful
March 14,2017, 01:28 am

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has confirmed that the National Executive Council has cancelled all licences and SABLs are illegal. He said this in response to a community advocacy group Act Now which had been vocal about the land grab issue in relation to SABL – special agriculture and business leases. “I have made a decision that I can make that is legally required of me and NEC, that is that we have cancelled all the licences, all the SABL licenses are illegal in this country.” PM O’Neill said.

“I think that its best that you ask the agencies like Lands and Physical Planning Department why are these licenses are still operating, that’s a very good question, you should ask them why they are still operating, somebody is not doing their job.”

“SABL licences are illegal in this country, but some people have disregard for the decisions that we are making and this is where Police and Lands and Physical Planning Department and agencies of our government should work together and stop these people”

“Most of them are not Papua New Guineans so why are they still in the country, they should be put on a plane and sent back home,” Mr O’Neill said.

 

Sir Salamo: Processing of refugee status fair

March 14, 2017 The National

CHIEF Justice Sir Salamo Injia says that 69 per cent of asylum seekers receiving refugee status at the Manus regional processing centre shows that there is a fair and merit-based process in place. Sir Salamo was part of a panel of three judges from the Supreme Court who refused to stop the deportation of asylum seekers classified as non-genuine refugees.
“The high number of refugees has now placed the Government of PNG and the government of Australia under enormous and onerous responsibility to settle them in a new home country of their choice, including Australia and PNG,” Sir Salamo said.
He said the respondents in the matter, the State and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister “At the peak of the transfers (of asylum seekers to Manus) in November 2013, the number of transferees reached 1339,” Sir Salamo said.
“On March 6, the number was reduced to 888. I would have to assume that the difference of 451 transferees has already been processed and no question arises in respect of them.
“The respondents (State and Pato) say some of those have returned to their home countries voluntarily. “Of the 888, a total of 819 transferees have been processed of which 614 (69 per cent) have been determined to be genuine refugees, 205 (23 per cent) determined to be non-refugees and 69 (3 per cent) still remain asylum seekers and their applications are under processing.”Sir Salamo said that the processing of asylum seekers’ refugee status should remain the responsibility of the PNG Government through the application of PNG law and international law on refugees.

 

MP urge churches to challenge Govt
Post Courier, March 15, 2017

CHURCHES have been accused of being compromised because they do not criticise the Government over serious issues affecting the people. They have also been blamed for not keeping the government in check.nThis is according to Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil who was speaking at a policy awareness gathering at the Mutzing Station in Morobe Province. Mr Basil also said despite bringing a Bible into Parliament, Members had no respect for it and were creating deals everywhere when they should be repenting. Mr Basil praised the Catholic Bishop’s Conference as the only Christian entity that prominently spoke out on issues affecting the people. “Churches must question the government,” Mr Basil said.

He said the churches are a body that can question the government in the interest of the people.

“I commend the Catholic Bishop’s Conference because they are vocal about issues affecting our people,” Mr Basil said. He said the leaders of this nation are abusing the Christian title that PNG has.

 

Shortage of medicine due to administrative delays
Post Courier, March 14, 2017

The Governments failure to renew the contract for medical supplies has health facilities feeling the pinch of medicine shortage. Finance secretary and acting chairman for CSTB Dr Ken Ngangan said yesterday that an administrative delay has led to an interim arrangement (Certificate Of Inexpedience) with State Solicitor seeking  the extension of the current 100 percent medical kits contract with Contractor Borneo Pacific for one year. This means that the medicine contractor Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals will continue to supply medical drugs for one year. (Beginning November 2016). Dr Ken said sent a letter to the health secretary requesting that his department fast tract the new contacts so that delays may not occur again.

 

Domestic violence increasing, says Police

March 15, 2017 The National

CASES of domestic violence reported in the suburbs of Waigani are alarming and need to be addressed, an officer says. Chief Sergeant Andrew Geluwa of the Waigani police station said at least 25 cases were reported to the station each day.
“There are lots of reported cases of domestic violence in other stations but for Waigani alone, it is scary,” he said.
“It is at an alarming rate and we have to do something to address it because the media do not see what is happening to the people.” Geluwa said most of the reports received were from highlanders living around Waigani. He said the traditional belief that men own their wives after paying bride prices was one of the reasons for the increase. He said men attacked their wives after paying the bride price without realising that wife-bashing was a crime.
Senior Constable Marlton Bessie said the figures were alarming. “In 2016, when we looked at the statistic in the first two months, it was terrible. Every day, we are receiving reports of about 25 cases,” Bessie said. “That happens every single day in a week and it is scary to see that most of the cases received from the front desk all are related to family issues, whether it is assault or rape.”

 

Churches urged to help fight HIV hike
Post Courier, March 16, 2017

HEADS of churches have been encouraged to make proactive recommendations on how they will address the root causes of HIV transmission and sensitive issues associated with it.

Catholic Archbishop of Port Moresby Cardinal John Ribat said this at the first HIV Summit for Heads of Churches at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby yesterday. “As heads of churches, we will have to report back on our HIV Statement of Commitment which was signed on May 5, 2010. “It is also a time for us to learn about the current HIV situation at the country, regional and global level and to see where the response gaps are and how we as churches can respond to addressing those gaps,” he said. “This summit is not about solving the problem of HIV and AIDS but it is more about finding a solution through collective effort that will impact on distorted values, attitudes and behaviors of people. “We must focus on building relationships with our people through Christian love and service so that we may be able to lead them to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said. Cardinal Ribat urged the Government to increase domestic funding to support church programs driven to address the root causes of GBV and HIV transmission. He said in order to build and maintain that relation, the Christian leaders have to effectively communicate with the people through provision of programs and services at the community level.

 

Ex-inmates invited to mentor city youth
Post Courier, March 16, 2017

EX-prisoners of Hope Association in Lae are inviting youths and ex-prisoners, convicts to refrain from crime and illegal activities and join their association. Ex-prisoners and founders of the Ex-prisoners Association Levi Ateike Bata and Richard Mongofa, in an interview, told Post-Courier it is time the prisoners preach and conduct awareness on the ‘life in the fast lane’ so that today’s youth can understand better.

Mr Ateike said minimising crime activities in the city can be fulfilled with the Ex-prisoners of Hope programs to change the mindset of youths and prisoners and give them a hope for a better future. He said today’s generations or gang groups must come to an understanding that police forces and laws and ways of organised crime activities in the past is not an exception compared to today’s disciplinary and law system. “I am now calling on the ex-prisoners and youth who are still involved in criminal activities to starting making the choice to join us and leave ‘the life of the fast lane,’” said Mr Ateike. He said crime will never take you anywhere but you will always end up at the prison and that is how crime is designed by the world.

 

Women with Disability still feel threatened
Post Courier, March 15, 2017

Access to public transportation for women with disability is non-existent and something must be done about it, says PNG Assembly of Disable Persons national executive treasurer and spokesperson Benson Tegia. “Women with disability feel threatened, unsafe and vulnerable to discrimination attacks when they try to access basic services,” he said.

He added that discrimination was another issue that most women with disability faced because many able bodied people are scared or have attitude problems. “We need to educate and create more awareness for able bodied people to understand that PWD’s are normal human beings like anyone else and deserve the same treatment, either it be security at home, accessing shops, hotels or being able to walk down the street without anyone giving that person the eye,” said Tegia. “Our city environment is built in a way that everything is at a disadvantage for persons living with disability, the foot paths are narrow, there’s no ramps for PWD’s to have access to shops, buses, clubs, hospitals and the list goes on,” said Tegia.

He added that as tax payers, PWD’s had the right to access basic services.

 

PNG tops HIV statistics in Pacific

March 16, 2017 The National

PAPUA New Guinea has the highest HIV prevalence among the Pacific island nations – with the concentration highest in the Highlands provinces, an official says.National Aids Council Secretariat regional manager Valentine Tangoh told a summit of church leaders in Port Moresby discussing HIV/AIDS in PNG, that HIV prevalence was around 0.8 per cent among men and women between 15 and 49 years of age. Enga recorded 1.7 per cent, Jiwaka 1.6 per cent, Western Highlands 1.3 per cent and Eastern Highlands one per cent. He said studies showed a high prevalence of HIV among female sex workers (19 per cent), male sex workers (8.8 per cent) and transgender males. Tangoh said the HIV prevalence rate in other provinces was also increasing. The key groups were men and women involved in the sex industry, he said. He also told the church leaders that the key groups were often discriminated against.
“Even the police refuse to file cases, (public sector) staff refuse to provide services which the key population need, and most commonly, family rejection,” Tangoh said.
 

How rural women can become Papua New Guinea’s agribusiness entrepreneurs

14 Mar 2017

http://www.businessadvantagepng.com/women-transforming-agribusiness-in-png/?utm_source=Business+Advantage+PNG+weekly+update&utm_campaign=8bb560e82e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_02084d248f-8bb560e82e-414187405

Women in rural Papua New Guinea are keen to engage in agribusiness but many have traditionally struggled to take leadership roles. That is beginning to change, Curtin University researcher Dr Gina Koczberski tells Business Advantage PNG.

Operating small-scale agribusiness financially empowers women by giving them greater control of household income and expenditure, according to Dr Gina Koczberski, who is researching ways women in rural areas of Papua New Guinea can take up more leadership roles in agribusiness. It also results in a range of benefits for the wider community. On average, 75 per cent of income generated by women is used to meet family needs, compared with 25 per cent of men’s income. …

 

‘Causes of HIV remain’

March 17, 2017 The National

THE factors that cause the rise in HIV transmission remain today, according to National Catholic AIDS coordinator Sister Tarcisia Hunhoff. Hunhoff told the church leaders’ HIV summit in Port Moresby it appeared that “the same warnings that prompted concern in the past, including high level of sexually-transmitted infection and high level of sexual risks behaviour, social urban drift are evident today”. “An added factor in recent years is the resource boom that is bringing money and mobility to many people particularly in the remote areas,” she said. “The church is challenged by this situation in more than one way. What then is the church responses? Can we identify ourselves as bystanders, onlookers or judges or somebody who tried to understand what was happening?
“How then did you and I perceive the epidemic?” She said the change in lifestyle and behaviour remained the main cause of gender-based violence which was a root causes of the spread of HIV/AIDS. “I have lived 47 years in PNG and I have seen so many changes in lifestyle in behaviour. One of the contributions to the HIV epidemic in my opinion is the problem of social disintegration,” she said. “Society has disintegrated which is a very sad story. And out of this integration, all the problems we are seeing with HIV and gender-based violence.

High cost of living causes poverty

March 17, 2017 The National

THE rapidly rising cost of living in the country appears to be a major contributor to the high poverty rate since 2009, an official says. Martyn Namorong is the national coordinator of the PNG Resource Governance Coalition and Secretariat for Institute of National Affair Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council. “Poverty levels in PNG have gotten worse over the last decade. This indicates that being able to get out of poverty for those people who are poor are near impossible,” he said. He said urban poverty was likely to become one of the most important development challenges facing PNG and threatened progress. A study by the Waikato University, New Zealand found that between 1996 and 2009, there was no evidence of poverty decline in PNG (John Gibson 2013). It found that poverty instead had become more widespread with the rapid rise of urban living being the major contributing factor. Poverty in Port Moresby worsened because a larger share of six percent of the national poverty tally joined the poor. “Definitions of poverty in PNG tend to be debates over semantics. But the work by the Waikato University presented evidence of the child not growing as an indicator of nutritional poverty.”

 

Manam settlers facing school fees problems

March 17, 2017 The National

The people of Manam Island in Madang, who are living in care centres are facing school fees problems, their council president says. Iabu LLG president Martin Ururu said apart from other problems faced by the Islanders, school fees were a major concern for all parents.
Around 12,000 people of Manam Island were forced to evacuate the island in 2004 when a volcano erupted and they are now living in care centres in Bogia and Sumkar districts.
“My officers have been bombarded with request for school fees but my LLG cannot help because there is no money,” Ururu said. He said the Manam Resettlement Programme should assist the parents. “The LLG has been trying its best to pay school fees for university students, vocational and technical students but unfortunately we are running out of money because last year the Government didn’t give us our funds and now the LLG cannot assist,” Ururu said. Other problems faced by the Manam people include food shortage, poor housing, lack of clean drinking water, shortage of medical drugs and conflicts with landowners.

 

Australia on Manus: ‘Tough luck PNG, the refugees are your problem

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/03/australia-on-manus-tough-luck-png-the-refugees-are-your-problem.html

I CAN tell you what the Australian government is going to do about the refugees on Manus Island who won’t be resettled in the United States. Nothing.

There are potentially hundreds of men on Manus Island who could — if the figure of 1,250 refugees to be taken by the United States is correct — be left behind.

Parliamentary Library figures show there are at least 1,616 refugees on the two islands — 941 on Nauru and 675 on Manus. The US government has said it is assessing them for resettlement on the basis of vulnerability, which suggests the women and children on Nauru will take priority over the all-male population of the Manus Island centre. That could mean hundreds of refugees will remain on Manus Island. Their only option to leave Manus is resettlement elsewhere in Papua New Guinea — something most have steadfastly resisted.

The PNG government wants to know what plans Australia has for those men, given it wants to close the centre by the end of October. Planning Minister Charles Abel outlined PNG’s concerns after the annual ministerial forum between PNG and Australia recently.

“Some [of the men] are caught in the middle and that’s the difficult piece that needs to be addressed in this short time frame,” he said. “What happens to those people that don’t want to settle here and are unable to return home for some reason? That’s an issue that both parties have to resolve.” The number of refugees working and living in the PNG community — those who are considered “resettled” — fluctuates, but is usually less than two dozen. Many find it too hard, or too dangerous, to live in PNG and return to Manus Island.

 

Church requests govt to assist health workers
Post Courier, March 23,2017

MARY, Queen of Peace sub-health centre will provide other services if government steps in to pay some health workers. This was the request from Vicar General Father Arnold Schmitt during the opening of the K850,000 Mary, Queen of Peace sub-health centre at Lae’s Back Road area over the weekend. Fr Arnold said health accessibility in some parts of industrial city of Lae is lacking and the Catholic Church has stepped in to provide the health facility, equipment, medical supplies and workforce. “We are ready to open our doors to patients with four nursing officers, a cleaner and receptionist. “Two of the nurses are on the National Department of Health payroll while the other two nursing officers will be paid by the Catholic Health Services temporary while waiting for the government to take over,” Fr Schmitt explained. He said the challenge of expanding clinical services provided at the hospital will depend on government intervention with funding for additional manpower and health programs and activities roll-out.nFr Arnold said the services that will be provided is diagnosing patients and prescribing treatments but for blood testing of malaria, tuberculosis, sexual transmitted diseases and other testing services will be referred to other medical centers.

“This sub-health centre was promised K400,000 by the government but that commitment never comes in so we now don’t want that money because the sub-health centre is completed.

“We now request for more positions created for our health workers under the church partnership program so more services can be offered at the hospital,” Fr Arnold added.

 

Hospital to specialise in cancer, MDRT, orthopedics

March 23, 2017 The National

CANCER patients can now seek treatment at the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Kundiawa General Hospital in Chimbu. This follows the announcement this week by the Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Michael Malabag on the hospital’s status being elevated from a level five hospital to a level six hospital. Malabag said that the level six hospital would be specialising in cancer, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and orthopedics. He said he was impressed that the hospital has been quietly providing quality health care not only to the people of Chimbu but the Highlands region and other parts of the country for many years.
“I commend the board and management and the staff for providing quality health care to the people.” Hospital acting chief executive officer Dr Harry Poka said that the board of the hospital has already allocated funds to purchase an MRI and CT scan equipment.
Poka said that the staff was prepared to work in line with the Government to accomplish the vision and mission for the people of Chimbu and the country.

 

47,000 HIV infections in PNG concerns UN AIDS agency

24 March 2017

ACCORDING to the United Nations, the latest statistics in Papua New Guinea estimate that almost 47,000 people are infected with HIV in a country whose population is about eight million. UNAIDS’ country director Stuart Watson says that there’s been an increase of 10,000 of people with HIV in the past two years. “In 2015 we estimated that the prevalence in the population was 0.7%. Just last week we completed the most recent estimations and projections for the epidemic in Papua New Guinea and we’re now at 0.91%.

So contrary to the trends in many parts of the world, unfortunately in PNG, which has roughly 95% of the epidemic burden in the Pacific region, is trending in the wrong direction. So in PNG, those figures translate into just under 47,000 people living with HIV; roughly 3,000 new infections in the last year, of which nearly a quarter were children and youths. So it’s definitely not a good situation. In the past year we also estimate that roughly 1,500 people died unnecessarily from AIDS-related illnesses in the country.

We’ve had some near and complete stock-outs of anti-retroviral medicines, we’ve had a complete stock-out of rapid-testing kits, many other supplies and commodities in the health system, so it means we’re not able to test people. We’re not getting people on to treatment. Treatment is prevention.

 

Principles of Family Law in Papua New Guinea: a reflective review

By Michelle Nayahamui Rooney on March 3, 2017

http://devpolicy.org/principles-family-law-papua-new-guinea-reflective-review-20170303/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=4d1188feb7-Devpolicy+News+March+10+2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-4d1188feb7-227683090

First published by the University of PNG Press in 1985 with a second edition published in 1994, this book remains important foundational reading for anyone interested in issues of social safety, and family and intimate partner violence in PNG. With new laws passed in recent years to address family violence (Family Protect Act 2013) and other family issues such as the rights of children (Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act 2009 [amended in 2014]), this book also provides a baseline for understanding the historical and social context for the transformation of family law in PNG.

This is an important book that needs to be updated and complemented with further publications based on more recent developments in family law in PNG. This is important because of the persistence of gender inequality and violence against women, and the pace of social change occurring in PNG. Furthermore, given that new laws have been introduced, a new publication should emulate the approach of this book to present a nuanced discussion of the outcomes, unintended consequences and inconsistencies in new legislation. For example, two questions that arise include: How are recent laws like the Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act and the Family Protection Act being implemented in the context of PNG? How will the pikinini courts (children’s courts) envisaged under the Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act interface with the existing and prevalent village courts?

Another major positive development in PNG in recent years has been the establishment of services such as women’s refuge centres, case management centres and Family Sexual Violence Support Centres in police stations to support families and victims of violence. The experiences of these service providers are an important part of understanding how laws are implemented in PNG. For example, how do local customs determine the provision of services and the outcomes for families, children, and victims of violence? What are the unintended outcomes for children, women, and families? How do these all overlap or come into conflict with the Customs Recognition Act? Without an analysis of concrete case studies these questions will be difficult to answer.

Owen Jessep and John Luluaki. 1994. Principles of Family Law in Papua New Guinea (2nd ed.) Port Moresby: University of Papua New Guinea Press.

Michelle Rooney is a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre.

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Social Concerns Notes – February 2017

Call for govt to clear confusion on school fees
Post Courier, February 08, 2017

INADEQUATE funding from day to day management of Catholic Agency schools had been brought to the attention of the Government last year. The National Catholic Education Board chairman Fr Paul Jennings said this yesterday. “These facts were pointed out to the Prime Minister, Education Minister and Education secretary in a letter from the Catholic Bishops Heads of Catholic Agency schools in July last year,” Fr Paul said. He said Peter O’Neill had directed the Education Minister Nick Kuman and secretary Dr Uke Kombra to respond to the Bishops’ concerns. “So far there has been no response,” he said. Fr Paul said that such disregard for the Catholic Bishops and Education agencies which they lead and educates more than 25 per cent of children, was one reason for going public.

The National Catholic Education Board has taken out paid advertisement in the newspapers this week to clarify its stand on current confusion about school fees. “It’s about finding the best legal way to educate our children,” he said. “There are several underlying issues which we believe the general public needs to understand in the current confusion about school fees.”

 

‘Manus does not need a brothel’
Post Courier, February 06, 2017

MANUS provincial police commander Senior Inspector David Yapu is concerned about a local landowner suggesting the establishment of a brothel on Manus Island. A brothel is a place where people may come to engage in sexual activity with a prostitute, sometimes referred to as a sex worker. Mr Yapu said it will be illegal and also against Papua New Guinea’s Christian principles. “The brothel will become an issue affecting our traditional family morals and values with young girls and mothers servicing those asylum seekers for the sake of easy money,” Snr Inspector Yapu said. He admitted being aware of asylum seekers engaging local youths to buy home brew for them, however, he said he had not received any reports of local youths soliciting young girls for sexual favors with asylum seekers. “This is news to me. I have not received any such reports,” Snr Insp Yapu said.

He said the asylum seekers outnumber the local police with a total of 911 at the Manus regional processing centre at Lombrum while there are 68 refugees at the East Lorengau transit centre. “We only have 55 police personal in Manus and should there be any unrest or riot, the police will be out-numbered,”

 

Movement of asylum seekers in Manus now a concern: Yapu
Post Courier, February 08, 2017

MANUS police commander Senior Inspector David Yapu is seriously concerned about the movement of the asylum-seekers in the province. He said since the Supreme Court ruled that the refugee centre is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional it has given them the freedom to move around including beyond the town boundaries into villages and outer islands. “I am concerned about their safety and the consequences that may arise if the asylum seekers are assaulted, injured or killed. “We are seeking 15 new police recruits from the Police College at Bomana to beef up manpower on the island province,” he said. He said accommodation for the new recruits was being arranged with PNG Immigration Department at the centre. Mr Yapu said that 39 cases were reported to police last year involving asylum seekers and refugees in consumption of homebrew, drugs, possession of pornographic materials, disorderly and resisting police arrest. “The court has convicted those found guilty in a form of fine, others were cautioned and discharged, while some cases were struck out because of lack of evidence,” he said. Mr Yapu said PNG Immigration officers were responsible for the movements of the asylum seekers, but they are currently under staffed. “The general feeling among the public is the movement of refugees and especially at night which is not safe and they should be back in camp by 6pm. “The police have conducted awareness for the asylum seekers to respect the locals and the laws of PNG. But it seems to have fallen on deaf ears and social problems are now an issue with local police and the asylum seekers,” Mr Yapu said.

 

Manam settlers facing problems

February 14, 2017 The National

ABOUT 15,000 Manam Islanders who are living in care centres are faced with land problems, according to Manam Resettlement Project caretaker Paul Akuram. The islanders were evacuated from Manam when the volcano erupted in Dec 2004 and Feb 2005. Akuram said the people were currently living in the Asuramba and Topsdam care centres in Bogia and the Nangen care centre in Sumkar.
He said 3000 Baliau villagers who had been living in the Bon Kelawa care centre in Bogia returned to Manam in 2009. Akuram said they were facing a lot of problems. “Shortage of land, the land they are using now is useless because they use the same land over the last 12 years,” he told The National yesterday. He said they also faced food and water problems, run-down schools and health facilities.
Akuram said the people could not afford school fees because they did not have cash crops or ways to earn an income. “They can’t afford school fees at all levels from primary to secondary to tertiary institutions,” Akuram said. He said the food supply from the Government and donors had stopped after six months when they moved in and they had been surviving on their own. “They plant taro, banana and other food crops on the land given to them by land owners but they had confrontations with land owners and fight with them sometimes,” Akuram said.

 

Red Cross kits sent to Enga

February 13, 2017 The National

THE International Committee of the Red Cross has carried out its first distribution of relief items at Pilikambi LLG in Enga last week. The items issued are essential tools to hundreds of families displaced by tribal fighting. A total of 757 kits were distributed to 527 households from the three clans (Talyul, Sikir and Andati) that were involved in a recent tribal fight that lasted almost six months and saw more than 500 houses burned and 20 lives lost. Each kit also contained a set of tools intended to help families rebuild their homes. Head of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Mt Hagen, Kakhaber Khasaia, said he was delighted with the success of the operation, which was carried out with the help of the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society. “We spent almost five months in preparation, which resulted in a very good distribution,” he said. The ICRC, which is working to protect and assist victims of tribal fights in the Highlands, began operations in Enga in Sept last year.
The distribution is one of the largest the Geneva-based humanitarian organisation has carried out in PNG. The ICRC’s mandate is to protect and assist victims of armed conflict. In PNG, it provides assistance to victims of tribal fights in Southern Highlands, Hela and Enga. It also provides first aid training in areas affected by fighting and works to ensure people in these zones have access to health care and clean water.

 

Tuition fee free policy leads to disengagement with schools

08 February 2017. http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/tuition-fee-free-policy-leads-to-disengagement-with-schools.html

THERE are differing views among parents and teachers about Papua New Guinea’s tuition fee free policy. The government’s policy is well-intended and should be seen as heavily subsidising tuition fees, which does leave some responsibility for tuition fees with the parents. But this is not the case now. The government wants to pay full fees and has told parents to ensure this direction is complied with by schools. Since its inception the tuition fee free policy has placed schools under stress. Some of the best schools in the country, which were held in high esteem, are no longer excellent as a result of the policy. Schools are struggling and deteriorating rapidly in all aspects. It’s a shambles. School management and boards are confused on how they can reinstate them to effectiveness. The policy, as you might expect, saw an influx in student enrolment. Some schools thought that hosting high student numbers would increase allocated funds. But the fund was never enough to expand the required infrastructure development in schools. In some schools, students spill out of classrooms built two decades ago to hold 30 pupils and now forced to accommodate 60. Realising this predicament, schools decided to charge ‘project fees’ to address the infrastructure shortage – and now the government is telling schools to stop this. The incredible message is that schools should shut up and keep enrolling students without considering infrastructure.

Some parents, not wanting to pay any charges, have aggressively supported the government in creating what is a chaotic school environment. Removing parental responsibility for children’s fees also disengages parents from participating in the development of their children and their school.

The outcome – when parents see children’s education and infrastructure deteriorating, they will remain quiet because they do not have a hand in the schooling process.

In a highly illiterate society like ours, the people do not clearly understand the relationship between themselves as taxpayers and the government. The school authority controls the cheque book and commits schools to spending – scrupulous or unscrupulous. What used to be checks and balances on school expenditure at the weekly parents and citizens day are no more. Some schools incur more debts than the tuition fee free policy allows. Blame is externalised – often on a former principal or head teacher. It seems there is no way of stopping such shady practices or of holding the culprits accountable. Most teachers are quiet on this. A few of them share the loot between themselves and are always looking for the next opportunity. The whole area of this policy needs to be reconsidered and some responsibility for tuition fees thrown back at parents who, with their money at stake, are likely to engage more with their schools and teachers.

 

People make selves crazy by cannabis abuse, says drug dealer

13 February 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/people-make-selves-crazy-by-cannabis-abuse-says-drug-dealer.html#more

IN Papua New Guinea, it is illegal to cultivate, groom, store, consume and trade marijuana. Marijuana, or cannabis, is the main illegal drug produced and consumed in large amounts in PNG. It is cultivated for private use and for sale locally and overseas. Reports suggest it is also bartered for weapons.

Medical research show the effects of smoking marijuana fade quickly, but the drug can be detected in the body for weeks, sometimes longer. It depends on how often it is used or how much the user has consumed. The most common effect upon a user is that, as a result of prolonged use, it alters the mind.

A user for over 45 years, who requested anonymity when I was writing this article, supported the results of medical research. He said the effects are real and that it has affected a lot of lives of PNG users. However, he argued that whether a person becomes affected mentally depends on the person themselves and the way they use marijuana. He added that young people should stop smoking cannabis because their bodies and minds are developing and have not reached maturity. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse in the USA, the brain of young people continues developing until they reach their mid-20’s. Thus the consumption of marijuana at an early age can have damaging effects on the teenager’s ability to progress normally. Cannabis abuse can also affect a teenager’s emotional development, education and social interaction. The drug user I spoke to also said he has seen people who smoke marijuana show signs of psychosis or wild mood swings which have affected their lives and their families.

 

It’s Friday night, & Port Moresby General has no bandages

20 February 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/its-friday-night-port-moresby-general-has-no-bandages.html#more

THERE was something of a crisis at the Port Moresby General Hospital early last Friday night.

The weekend had arrived – not to mention the onset of the usual Friday night procession of smashes, clashes and crashes – and Dr Sam Yockopua, the hospital’s chief of emergency medicine and a 18-year public health veteran – was alarmed. So alarmed, in fact, that he took to Facebook with a public appeal for help. “SOS call for kind donations,” he wrote. “As at 6:35pm, after supervision of the pm shift work, at POM Gen Emergency Department; we have none of the following….” And there followed a rendition of some of the most basic hospital necessities including face masks, gloves (“last box left!” wrote Dr Yockopua), alcohol swabs, urine bags, cervical collars, plasters, bandages, nebulizer cups, glucostrips, ECG/defib gel, ECG dots, 16. phenytoin iv, crepe bandages – and there was more. “Friday night chaos is anticipated,” Dr Yockomua continued, “and we know we are not ready and will not give our best. We do, however, have solid manpower. “Inbox me or simply drop by at PMGH ED and offer anything you can. Help save lives. God bless you.” This is more dire than “praise the lord and pass the ammunition”. It’s more like “go to the medicine drawer and bring me what you’ve got”.

Facebook reader Sally Proctor commented on Dr Yockomua’s cry for help: “The national referral hospital shouldn’t have to rely on donations. This is unacceptable. Where is the health minister and his secretary?” Good sentiments and a pertinent question. And corruption fighting lawyer Sam Koim, who drew my attention to this dreadful predicament, commented simply, “Frightening!” It’s an outrage. You can only hope that such total dereliction of duty by the responsible politicians and bureaucrats led to no avoidable deaths. But, whatever the outcome in human lives, it must have resulted in a desperately turbulent and trying weekend at PMGH emergency for staff and their patients.

 

POM Gen CEO refutes claims
Post Courier, February 21, 2017

PORT Moresby General Hospital chief executive officer Dr Umesh Gupta says the country’s biggest referral hospital has not run out of specific medical consumables. He was responding to a doctor who had sent out an urgent help for donation for certain consumables that were needed at Port Moresby General Hospital accidents and emergency department. Meanwhile, Dr Gupta said like all public hospitals, Port Moresby Hospital runs out of medical drugs and consumables, but whenever the area medical store in the national capital runs out of medical supply, the hospital procures elsewhere under its operational budget. He added that there are specific consumables not available in the country but the hospital makes available alternatives. He assured the public that the hospital was currently stocked. “The hospital is doing what it can,” Dr Gupta added.

 

PNG has lost the power to pay its bills as cash runs out

18 February 2017. http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/png-has-lost-the-power-to-pay-its-bills-as-cash-runs-out.html#more Rowan Callick in The Australian

ELECTRICITY supplies to Papua New Guinea’s parliament house, the national police headquarters, and government house have been disconnected for non-payment of bills. PNG Power Ltd — the country’s monopoly, state-owned company responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution and retail of electricity — said these institutions owe it about $450,000. The bills have not been paid since last November. The institutions have been closed since they were disconnected on Tuesday, leaving them without lighting, air-conditioning and telecommunications. The parliament building has its own standby generator — as do many private businesses in PNG, since PNG Power’s supply is often disrupted by blackouts. But the acting clerk of the parliament, Kala Aufa, told the Post-Courier newspaper that the building lacked a store of fuel for its generator, and so he had to make such an order before this alternative source of power could be switched on. Mr Aufa conceded that the parliament owed PPL $245,000, but said the payment of utilities had become centralised by the Finance Department, which took over that responsibility for all state agencies at the start of the year.

“We just get the bills and give it to them,” he said. He expressed concern that the parliament might also find its telecommunications and water services discontinued, if those bills were not settled.

 

Women get it – walk to equality must be a joint project with men

02 February 2017

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/women-have-it-right-walk-to-equality-must-be-a-joint-project-with-men.html

Her Excellency Ms Winnie Kiap has been High Commissioner for Papua New Guinea in the United Kingdom since 2011. Ms Kiap is also chair of the Commonwealth Secretariat Board of Governors. She was previously secretary to the PNG National Executive Council. Her earlier career was in PNG’s Department of Trade and Industry and Investment Promotion Authority.

My Walk to Equality, edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell, Pukpuk Publications, 278 pages. Paperback $US10.53 or Kindle $US1.00. ISBN-10: 1542429242. ISBN-13: 978-1542429245. Available here from Amazon through Pukpuk Publications

THESE stories give me a sense of exhilaration as well as respect for these women writers and poets.

This group of mostly young writers has the courage to use literature as a means to participate in the conversation on a topic important not only in Papua New Guinea but around the globe.

[See the above url for the full review of several pages]

 

Buimo Jail overcrowded
Post Courier, February 16, 2017

AUTHORITIES from the Correctional Services Buimo jail in Lae have raised concerns of overcrowding at the prison compounds. There are currently 860 prisoners at the facility which has a holding capacity for only 400 inmates. Jail commander Felix Namane said on Tuesday that the overcrowding situation posed a huge health risk to the prisoners and has tripled its monthly spending on prisoners’ rations. Mr Namane also said they had already spent three times over the usual budget on monthly rations, now between K160-170,000 per month. He said there is an urgent need for more infrastructure to accommodate increasing prisoner numbers which is being compounded by the delay in prisoners’ court cases.

Mr Namane said the courts are separate bodies, but is appealing for them to fast track the cases to help address overcrowding at the jail. “The women’s cells are ok but the men’s are overcrowded,” he said.

Mr Namane suggested the courts put some of the prisoners out on bail and wants the Public Solicitor’s Office to consider the inmates’ bail applications.

 

Baisu inmates face starvation
Post Courier, February 22, 2017

Prisoners at the Baisu jail in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province, have been without food for the past five days. The company contracted to supply food ration to the jail stopped its operation over non-payment of services by the Correctional Services (CS). This was confirmed yesterday by the Baisu jail commander Timbi Kaugla. Mr Kaugla said the supplier discontinued its service on Friday, February 17, but the jail managed to use its own funds to buy food for the prisoners until Monday. “We were able to cater for food for the prisoners last weekend but we fell short as of Monday and the prisoners have been without food,” he said. But a senior warder at Baisu, who requested anony­mity, gave a different story, saying the prisoners, numbering more than 170, had been without food since the weekend. “The prisoners were fed with biscuits at the weekend and some of us concerned officers decided to contribute money from our own pockets to go to the market and buy kaukau (sweet potato) for the prisoners,” the officer said. He said the situation required immediate attention from the CS management. Several attempts to get comments from the Correc­tional Services Commissioner Michael Waipo since Monday were unsuccessful. The Correctional Services media unit could not comment because it had not been briefed about the Baisu jail food shortage. Berry Maip, who is the managing director of Whisky Fresh Ltd which supplies food rations to the Baisu prison, said yesterday when contacted that he stopped the food supplies due to non-payment of his services. “My company was not paid for three months – from December to February. How can I go on supplying rations when I am not paid for my services.” He said he needed funds to run his company operations and he could no longer sustain it when payments were not forthcoming.

 

At home with my Melanesian values; no matter where I am

17 February 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/at-home-with-my-melanesian-values-no-matter-where-i-am.html#more

AS we do in today’s dynamic employment environment, I recently updated my professional profile or curriculum vitae (CV). Having gone through this exercise, I realised that I’d omitted a major part of my life. Like with most people, my CV emphasised the educational institutions I’d attended, the positions I’d held, my career successes and influential people I’d crossed paths with. It focused on the learning, skills and qualifications an employer might be interested in. It captured what I can do and how I do it. But it was void on the matters of who I am and why I do the things I do. The parts I had left out were the experiences that formed the basis for who I am. They were from the stage in my life that I walked rough tracks to fetch water for the family, shepherded pigs, chopped pandanus nuts 30 feet up with one hand (and no safety harness), climbed rocky peaks with the skill of a mountain goat, and hunted and trapped cuscus. I walked through tropical rain forest in pitch darkness relying on the moon and stars and identified each bird by sound, not sight. When the elders wanted to speak, we youngsters gave up our seats, kept quiet and did not engage in argument even if they were wrong.

These experiences have little value to a prospective employer in today’s economy. Even if I explained them, the listener would not understand their relevance. I am at a stage in life where I am reasonably comfortable placing value on these latter qualities. Like many Papua New Guineans, my life has been a journey from a mountain home across a social divide of religion, race, culture, and hierarchy.

My childhood experiences are embedded in me and I feel comfortable sitting with friends cross-legged around a fireplace in my village or inside a modern work environment in a country far away.

Even if others don’t share my experiences, I embrace them. They represent a unique, enjoyable, once in a lifetime opportunity which can never be replicated. I am comfortable with what I do based on the strength I draw from my Melanesian values.I am at peace with myself. It takes time and a measure of self-acceptance to reach such point.

 

 

Women scared of approaching police for help

February 22, 2017 The National

SOME women in Madang are scared of lodging complaints with police following the alleged sexual assault of a woman at the station. The issue was discussed by a committee, for change and progress in law and order, made up of representatives from non-government organisations including women groups. Chairman of the civil society organisation at the Madang government Andrew Mapio said women were now scared of approaching police officers for help because of the alleged rape by two officers two weeks ago at the town police station. “I have told my daughters: If you have problems with your husbands, don’t go directly to police. Come to daddy and I’ll take it to the police myself,” he said Women representative Angela Bugata said most women were now scared to approach police with their problems. Mapio said police officers had been implicated in criminal activities including brutality and were viewed as the enemy of the public. He said the civil society organisation had planned a protest march against the police for the various cases against them. Bugata said the proposed new mobile squad for Madang should comprise members of established mobile squads in the country and exclude any new recruits. She said Madang needed police officers to effectively carry out real police duties and not instill fear amongst the people.

 

Special ‘lease’ exploitation leads Malmal without land & bereft

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/special-lease-exploitation-leads-malmal-bereft-without-land.html#more

THE Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) practice is having a direct impact on the environment and cultural values, says customary landowner Anna Sipona. Anna comes from Malmal village in East New Britain Province where logging has exploited the environment. She explained that their forest has disappeared under SABL and the people in her village live as if they don’t own land.

The land in Malmal is under a 99-year lease agreement and the people have been told by the developers that their land is now state land. Sipona highlighted that drinking water and fresh water creeks have been contaminated because there are no buffer zones to protect them. “In reality, what was once our land, we now feel that we are settlers on a land that is no longer ours. “Our right to life has been severed and our way of surviving has been destroyed and we are no longer benefiting from the land as someone else holds the title “Our land has been acquired in the name of development, however we cannot see any development happening instead there is displacement of villages, destruction of forests and food gardens and destroying of cultural values,” she said.

Promises by prime minister Peter O’Neill since June 2013 to cancel the leases, stop illegal logging and return the land to its rightful owners, recommended by a Commission of Inquiry, have never been honoured.

 

Itching for money, gold digger parents compromise their daughters

13 February 2017 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/02/itching-for-money-gold-digger-parents-compromise-their-daughters.html#more

IN this modern era, most parents discharge their parental duties with diligence and aspire that their children complete school and craft a career in life. But conversely, some mothers chew tons of betel nut, smoke like highlands fires and gamble the family’s savings to deficit. And some fathers fall for the lure of sex workers, fleecing their mates, drink their heads off and leave nothing behind in the trough of life. In fact, it does seem that many parents sit on their backsides and care little about giving their children a decent formal education. It’s an attitude that leaves their sons at the mercy of whimsical government policy while they coerce their daughters to forage for men with money.

These indecorous parents forbid their daughters to court village boys because they think villagers lack money and will not build a decent future. “If you marry these village boys you will carry loads on your heads and walk the long tracks to and from the gardens,” they say. “Your hair will wane and fall. Open your eyes and marry men with money and shop with Save Card, cook with electricity and sleep with a stash of cash.” Anyhow, the real motive for such sermons is about parental gold digging using their daughters as a bridge to economic capital. Such parents are misfits who cannot cope with toiling the land like the other hardworking village folk.

 

One such senseless couple sold their 15-year old daughter in marriage to a tycoon from an economic enclave. Dessy, the couple’s first daughter was in her twenties and the boys trembled to ask for her mobile number, or what we call ‘like’. Ailana, the second daughter was only 15 but had already surpassed Dessy in terms of sheer beauty. If Ailana was given a decent education and a few more years, the mere sight of her would make boys skip heartbeats. But when the parents saw how beautiful their daughters had grown, they started talks with a tycoon for an upfront dowry in order to be given Dessy in marriage. From then on, the father received cash from the tycoon and consumed unending crates of beer in town. Word reached Dessy of the imminent plans for her to marry the tycoon. In the dusk of night she packed her clothes and ran off to her village boyfriend, vowing never to return.

When news of Dessy’s village marriage reached her parents, they feared the tycoon’s reaction and agreed that Ailana would take her sister’s place. However, Ailana refused. The tycoon was much older than Ailana’s father and had many wives. Being heavily indebted, the parents coerced and demanded Ailana take heed and enter the marriage regardless of what she planned for her life. The stunning Ailana, a girl village boys yearned to hear sing in church and referred to as the Empress of Alimapara, was to marry a stranger. Before she was led to the waiting five-door Toyota LandCruiser, she pulled a small girl to the side and muttered something in her ear to be passed to Ailana’s village boyfriend.

The boyfriend collapsed when he returned from a village rugby league game that afternoon and got the message from the small girl. His peers gathered around and consoled him. As Ailana’s parents still feasted on the dowry, news reached them that Ailana – taken away into a far-off land – had been attacked and bashed by the tycoon’s meri-brua (co-wives) who had chopped off her long hair.

A few months later Ailana rang home, sobbed and told her mother that she had been sold into slavery and constantly lived in fear of being slashed and killed. “You can’t return because you have married a ‘money man’ and he paid a massive dowry,” the mother replied. “Besides, you have to repay me for begetting you so stay put.” A couple of years passed and recently Ailana returned to Alimapara but she was not the girl the villagers knew and referred to as Empress. She was frail and ill. The symptoms looked obvious, so she was told to do an HIV antibody test and the result was positive. The parents then cooked up a reason and told of how Ailana had married a tycoon and jealous village folk had performed black magic on her. The couple refused to heed the medical result. The witch doctors received a stash of cash. They narrated a feel good sermon to the gullible parents. But fortunately Ailana was identified as requiring treatment. However, she has suffered permanent harm to her health and has been placed on anti-retroviral treatment for the rest of her life. Whatever the witch doctors and the parents cooked up won’t help her. The gold digging parents have abused human rights and inflicted enduring pain on Ailana, her village boyfriend and Dessy. We all know there is a better way than this.

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2017

A love letter to PNG, where it was my destiny to be born

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/01/a-love-letter-to-png-where-it-was-my-destiny-to-be-born.html#more  by Emma Wakpi

MY motherland, I am writing this letter on the eve of Christmas to let you know how much I love and appreciate you. This time of the year reminds us of what we should be thankful for and of what love is really all about.Often times we argue so much about what is wrong and right and how it’s supposed to be done nowadays but at the end of the day, you are family, you give me my identity and I find my comfort in your coarse gruffness which conceals a heart so fiercely loyal to me.

At times I pine for things other nations can offer their children and am ashamed to admit that in my youth I’ve oft rued the fact that destiny saw fit to make me a Papua New Guinean.

But as I have grown and experienced what life has had to offer – as opportunities have allowed me to visit other countries and cultures; I have discovered that no one is perfect and even the most ideal of situations have their faults. Looking back I realise the privilege of growing up as a Papua New Guinean and the unique traits that helped create my identity.

Nowhere else on earth can I find a family so diverse and realise the feat it takes to congregate hundreds of nations into the single entity known as PNG and to keep it functioning.individual identities are not smothered but like jigsaw puzzles are being pieced together to complete a picture. How this picture will turn out, only God knows. ….. [See the url above for the complete article….]

 

2016 saw a lot of achievements in combating Gender Based Violence
Post Courier, December 31, 2016

SOME of the greatest achievements in getting gender based violence to zero tolerance by 2050 have happened this year  (2016) alone. Despite the argument that gender-based violence is prevalent in the country and a growing epidemic, collaborative and extensive efforts by many stakeholders to address this issue continues to grow. This year has seen some fruits of the hard work from the Youth, Religion and Community Development (implementing department), Department of Justice and Attorney General, UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, Family Sexual Violence Action Committee, academia, faith-based organisations and other relevant Non- Government Organisations.

Only recently the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence (2016 -2025) was approved by Cabinet last Thursday. It aims to strengthen and institutionalise the work on GBV in order to achieve zero-tolerance towards GBV as per Papua New Guinea’s Vision 2050.

The strategy captures four key objectives;

  • To ensure long-term ongoing high level national and sub- national government commitment and accountability to end GBV aligned with the PNG Development Plan, Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 and with the Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030.
  • To standardise and institutionalise data collection, and facilitate ongoing in-depth research to support evidence based planning, budgeting and programming to end gender based violence.
  • To ensure quality, continuity and sustainability of coordinated responses, referrals and service delivery for survivors of gender based violence, and
  • To scale-up, decentralise, and standardise inclusive, quality initiatives and messaging for prevention of gender based violence at all levels and in all sectors of society.

Mid this year, Parliament passed the Lukautim Pikinini Act. This act ensures children are protected and have access to their rights. It also emphasises parental responsibility and duty to maintain a child.

This law states that ‘all children have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, neglect and maltreatment and have access to equal opportunity and access to education’.

Addressing the scourge of gender based violence is a communal, clan, family, national, social and individual responsibility. When everyone plays their roles in ensuring the policies are implemented, gender based violence can be reported and addressed.

 

Agnes has a heart to serve

January 9, 2017 The National

BEING a true Christian does mean one is present in church every Sunday for service but to practice the teachings of the Bible. This is what charity worker Agnes Haro Harihi was told when she was growing up in Leseoalai village in the Malalaua district of Gulf province. Her Catholic upbringing hatched in her the love and patience to help others. For 12 years she dedicated her time, resources and heart to serving her people in the remote villages of Malalaua. She brings with her a team of dedicated and committed women who share a similar faith as her and youths who also help them. These youths are drop outs who have nothing to do so assisting the mothers keeps them busy. They travel long distances, climb mountains and ride high waves to bring small gifts and the Gospel to share with the villagers.
Each year she makes four to five visits to mostly remote villages in the district not accessible by roads. She has connections with mothers on the ground who assist her along the way.
During their pastoral work her team came across people who desperately need basic government services such as health (access to medical assistance), infrastructure development like roads and bridges. Upon arrival they pray together with the villagers and later have meetings to find out what problems and concerns the people have and have discussions on how to address it.

Deserted health centres were not the only thing they came across; there were also schools with empty classrooms and play grounds. They believe the teachers left because life was difficult for them or because of landowner issues. Some school children of Lakekamu, another remote community in Malalawa, use the ground as books and they write on the dirt using sticks as pens and pencils.
Agnes and her team wish for government and relevant authorities to help these children so they can have access to education resources just like other children in the country…..

 

Kuvi: Citizens have right to privacy
Post Courier, January 12,2017, 02:58 am

CITIZENS have the right to resist raids if the police personnel show up at their doorsteps without search warrants. Magistrate Laura Kuvi emphasised this yesterday when a defendant told the Boroko District Court that such was her situation but she allowed policemen to enter her home “because they were policemen.” On December 22, they told Medii Morehari, 23 of Lese in Gulf Province that they were looking for several male suspects so she allowed them access to her parents’ house at Taurama Bay. Inside, they confiscated eight 330ml containers of steam and charged her with being in possession of illicit spirit and later released her on a K500 bail.

According to Magistrate Kuvi, this also is wrong. A search warrant should state items that are expected to be found, and if a search produces other illegal items, it is not to be confiscated.

Instead, another search warrant should be taken out for that. Magistrate Kuvi said unless there was an immediate pursuit or search warrant, citizens have the right to deny police access to their properties. This is a constitutional right. “Broken english, spelling errors, no warrants. What are we teaching them up at Bomana?”

 

Manus Island refugee who had mental breakdown found ‘hungry and homeless’
Post Courier, January 11,2017

Behaviour of Hamed, who has been released from Lorengau prison following an acute mental health episode, described as erratic and bizarre. Hamed’s deteriorating mental health came to authorities’ attention as long ago as June, when he was found wandering the detention centre, distressed, naked and screaming incoherently. He was put into “managed accommodation” where he was allegedly assaulted by, and assaulted, guards, before being put in the Lorengau jail for the first time. Leaked “psychological support” files from within the Manus Island detention centre refer consistently to Hamed’s “chaotic presentation” and report he was “agitated, aggressive, verbally abusive, pushing boundaries constantly, and has required police presence on numerous occasions”. He has since been jailed several times after suffering severe mental episodes and behaving unpredictably or aggressively. Detention centre staff have told Guardian Australia Hamed is “a very sick man. He needs serious help”. Manus MP Ron Knight, who arranged for Hamed to be released from prison so he could access mental health care, said he was receiving none. “To be blunt, the guy is dangerous to all around him and he needs psychiatric help. There is none for him here.” Knight said he approached the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby about Hamed being committed to a psychiatric facility. “The response to me was basically that our authorities should handle it.” A spokesman for Australia’s department of immigration and border protection said Hamed was housed at the East Lorengau refugee transit centre, and his care was the responsibility of PNG’s immigration authorities.

The political solutions to the crisis may be complex, but that does not mean we should abandon our humanity

 

The beginning of the end of “free education” in PNG?

http://devpolicy.org/beginning-end-free-education-png-20170112/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=4c875d7a8d-Devpolicy_News__Jan_13_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-4c875d7a8d-227683090

The government has done its best to protect its flagship Tuition Fee Free (TFF) policy during the current fiscal crunch in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Despite substantial funding cuts to many core government services in recent years, government funding of around 600 million kina for the TFF policy has been maintained in the 2017 budget at much the same level (in nominal terms) since its introduction in 2012. But there is a difference between budget allocations and actual release of government funds in a timely matter, as is becoming increasingly apparent in PNG.

Cash flow problems have meant that salary payments to public servants have been late, teacher holiday leave fares unpaid, road funding delayed, and payments of MP funds delayed. TFF payments to schools have not been immune; for example the Department of Treasury only released the warrants for the release of the last quarterly TFF payment of 2016 in December, only days before the end of the school year. The problem is that schools in PNG have been directed by the National Department of Education (NDoE) to not charge school fees, and so delayed TFF payments to schools have resulted in reports of schools closing and students sent home.

In May 2016, one of us – Grant – witnessed the impacts of problems with school funding first hand in Central province. On the way back from fieldwork in Gulf province, he and other researchers came across a throng of young people clutching bags and slowly walking along the Hiritano highway, which links Port Moresby to the capital of Gulf province, Kerema (see photo above). In response to questions about why they weren’t in school, students said that their teachers had sent them home to collect money for school fees from their parents. Students in lower secondary school were asked to bring back 50 kina, and those in higher grades were to return with 100 kina. According to the students, the school had run out of money; this, it was suggested, was likely due to late payment and poor management of TFF subsidies.

There is some dispute about the ability of provinces to themselves set school fees independent from the national government. A letter contesting NDoE’s ban on any imposition of schools fees was published in the Post-Courier newspaper by the Catholic Church in May this year. The letter – addressed to the prime minister and signed by the President of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of PNG, Bishop Arnold Orowae – argued that NDoE’s order transgressed the national Education Act, and Provincial Education Acts in the 13 provinces where these are in place.

The TFF policy’s unravelling would likely impact on post-election wheeling and dealing associated with forming a coalition government. The current TFF policy was a key part of the government’s 2012 Alotau Accord [pdf] (which laid out the priority areas for the new then government), and was a likely (but certainly not the only) factor in current Prime Minister Peter O’Neill securing a strong coalition of MPs to form government in 2012. The TFF policy also helped O’Neill differentiate himself from his predecessor, Sir Michael Somare. If the TFF policy is seen to be failing, this may give MPs one more reason not to back O’Neill to head the government after the 2017 election.

 

College construction delayed due to funding
Post Courier, January 16, 2017

THE Milne Bay Teacher’s College which was supposed to be completed last year has been delayed due to funding issues. According to Bishop of Alotau-Sideia, Rolando Santos, work has ceased on the buildings. Government funding has temporarily stopped since there are no funds left to pay contractors for the completion of the classrooms.Presently, some preliminary work is being done for the provision of water and electricity. The St Mary’s Teachers College project was initially established to provide a teachers college that would serve the people of Milne Bay Province so they would not incur expensive air fares and difficulties associated with living far away from family and community.

The project initially cost about K22million. The Catholic Diocese of Alotau and Milne Bay provincial government entered into a partnership agreement where the Church would provide the land and administer the college while the government would provide the funding.

Bishop Santos said to date the funding received was approximately K4 million from the provincial government and the Church-Government Partnership Program for education.

“With this money we were able to put up a concrete two-storey female dormitory with 50 individual rooms, a two storey concrete building with four classrooms which is 85 per cent complete, do site clearance and put up roads, and pay maintenance and consultancy fees.

 

Slight progress in corruption rate

January 26, 2017The National

PAPUA New Guinea’s ranking in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) – showing the world’s most corrupted nations – has changed from 139 out of 176 countries in 2015 to 136 last year.
According to the CPI, the new ranking indicates that PNG has taken a step forwards in being rated as one of the highly corrupted countries in the world. CPI scores countries on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 perceived to be very clean and zero perceived to be highly corrupt. PNG was ranked 136 with a score of 28 out of 100 compared with a score of 25 out of 100 in 2015 during the launch of the CPI by Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) yesterday.
“Countries emerging from wars and civil strife have made great advances in the CPI while PNG remains where it has been for years,” Take the example of Timor Leste in the Asia -Pacific region which had improved by seven points – scoring 28 out of 100 in the 2015 CPI to 35 out of 100 this year. Stephens said TIPNG believed that failure to protect national assets was likely to be one of the reasons PNG was not ranked higher. “The Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) was promised and it has still not been delivered,” he said. “K8 billion from trust funds have gone missing and our government has no sign of any plans to recover it.” Meanwhile, Stephens said that the Government had taken steps to improve PNG’s ranking and promote accountability and transparency in development by recently passing laws to fight money laundering and terrorist-financing activities.

 

Yuri tribe continues peace-building after a history of conflict

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/01/yuri-tribe-continues-peace-building-after-a-history-of-conflict.html#more

A TRIBE in Papua New Guinea is like a nation. The tribe shares common language, territory, history, myths and culture. The people of the Yuri tribe of the Gumine District in Simbu Province, Papua New Guinea, speak Yuri, share the rivers Mon and Maril, walk across the plateaus of Pildimna, Dia and Yoya, and know all the gorges and gullies.

Yuri people share land borders with the Golin, Dom, Era, Bari, Nauro and Kumai tribes of Simbu. The exact number of years the Yuri have occupied this part of the world is unknown. However, Yuri people know they are a warring tribe.

The first tribal war laid a foundation for destruction. Revenge and payback became an accepted way of life in Yuri tribal territory. Homes and gardens were destroyed. Many people were killed. Schools and health centres were forced to close. Roads and bridges fell apart.  Cash crops like coffee became useless due to lack of transport. People walked long hours to reach town. These long walks carrying household goods landed the Yuri a nametag. They might be called ‘white horses’ or ‘back page’.

‘White horse’ was coined because the Yuri people carried white bags on their backs and resembled white horses. ‘Back page’ was a reference to the back page of a book that is last to be read. The nickname referred to the government’s trend of service distribution where the Yuri were the last to be considered – or were neglected altogether. A back page that was never read.

Many Yuri people fled their tribal lands in search of peace, better schools and health care. Some even sought peace in the ghettos and peripheries of urban areas or among other tribes.

The beauty of the rivers, ranges, flora and fauna was disregarded by a tribal people who became disillusioned by their own destructive action and lack of basic services such as roads, bridges schools and health. Law and order was almost non-existent. The churches struggled to hold a bunch of disillusioned people together. The people feared building permanent houses in their villages; their minds were preoccupied with revenge and they did not want to see their houses torched by an enemy clan.

People did not make gardens and young people stole from other people’s gardens. Hard working people were discouraged and disillusioned. Weak and vulnerable members of the community were blamed for the deaths of others. In some instances, Yuri people could not accept that their members were shot dead in a tribal fight and shifted the blame to sorcerers. The number of uneducated people increased. Many people in their thirties and forties had left school never to return. Their children followed the same pattern. A few children attended school in the last 10 years but the schools in Yuri were branded remote and did not attract good teachers. There were many school drop-outs at Grades 10 and 12. These students joined their peers in the village to gamble all day, smoke marijuana, abuse alcohol and often turn to violence; screaming, threatening, using abusive language.

The village authorities lacked the capacity to deal with them. The men’s and women’s houses, that used to provide guidance and counselling for young people  and promote tribal norms and values, ceased to exist. They were replaced with kas (cards) and video houses. The small kids watched movies with their parents and lay on their laps while the parents gambled after the video show. The smoke from rough tobacco rolled around the faces of sleeping children.

It was this destruction, pain and suffering of the Yuri that laid the foundation for the birth of Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association (YAKA) in 2013. YAKA is committed to promote reconciliation, reuniting, rebuilding and restoring – our 4Rs Yuri. Every Yuri person across space, culture and time has a duty to contribute to this cause. It is about saving their community from the scourge of tribal fighting, fear and disillusion. In the last week of December and on 1 January each year, YAKA initiates activities that promote the 4Rs and celebrates its anniversary.

 

House tax moves in
January 27,2017, 01:13 am

THE PNG Trade Union Congress has now joined in expressing serious concerns on the new housing tax which will come into effect next fortnight. The new taxation measures was supposed to be effected as of January 1, but most companies got the notification from the Internal Revenue Commission on January 20 and will take effect next pay day, which is next week. Hundreds of working class Papua New Guineans living in company-provided housing could lose up to two-thirds of their fortnightly salary. This is because the rent value of the employer-supplied accommodation will be included with the actual salary component. So, if a worker earns K600 a fortnight and lives in accommodation valued at K700 a week in any of the country’s larger cities like Port Moresby, Lae or Goroka, for example, the worker will be taxed on the sum K2000 (total benefits of K600+K1400) – even though he or she does not actually receive the extra K700 in cash every week. PNGTUC general secretary John Paska said it was unfair. He said the Government had failed to provide housing for workers and is now passing the cost to private sector provided housing.

“It cuts deeply into the savings ability of workers. The housing tax is not well thought out or calculated” He said all revenue measures place a burden on workers’ pay which trigger off a ripple effect that force on claims for wage rise, industrial action of wage claims are not settled, disruption to services and a hike in prices of goods and services. “The cruel irony to all of this is that, the state and much of the private sector have absolved themselves from providing homes to employees and they want to tax workers living in homes.”

 

PNG in 2017: a year of redefining democracy?

By Bal Kama on January 27, 2017

http://devpolicy.org/png-2017-year-redefining-democracy-20170127/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=62adf571b5-

The Papua New Guinea national elections, due in June this year, promise to be momentous. Like many democracies, the people have always looked forward to the opportunity of choosing their political leaders through a process of free and fair elections. But elections in PNG over the years have fallen short of this ideal standard. Those who believe in this ideal demand an election based on policy-driven ideological contests, rather than material wealth and tribal allegiances that often create disharmony.

Yet these latter practices have increasingly been part of PNG’s political system, rendering the notion of trouble-free democratic elections a facade. But controversies surrounding the electoral system are not unique to PNG. Many countries, including the established democracies as demonstrated in the recent US elections, face similar challenges.

Some challenges for the PNG Electoral Commission

The PNG Electoral Commission (PNGEC) has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks for some of its decisions. For instance, its recommendation for changes to electoral laws that sought to increase the 2017 candidate nomination fee from K1,000 ($450) to K10,000 ($4500) has raised concern among potential candidates. A primary reason for this proposed law is to offset the high cost of running elections. PNG is known for having one of the most expensive elections in the world.

However, the proposed law may be argued as unconstitutional on the basis that the increase in the nomination fee is unreasonably excessive and suppressive of the constitutionally guaranteed right of ordinary citizens to stand for public office. A fee of K5,000 may be more reasonable.

The Electoral Commissioner’s decision to print the ballot papers in Indonesia also warrants scrutiny. It is the first time electoral ballot papers are fully outsourced to private companies overseas. The Commissioner argued that PNG Government printery is nearly three times more expensive when compared to the costs in Indonesia.

But the Commission’s cost saving measure is open to risks. There are concerns of electoral fraud such as printing of extra ballot papers. The government printery is not immune to this concern as it has been an issue observed in previous elections but the use of private companies overseas, and away from public view, may heighten the risk.

Stability, community awareness and social media

The call out of police and defence force personnel to curb tribal fights in the resource-rich Hela Province at the beginning of this month indicate the kinds of challenges law enforcement officers may face more of this election year. With the suspension of police recruitment in 2017, apparently due to funding issues, there could possibly be a strain on law enforcement officers during the election period.

Public activism and protests marred much of 2016. While the O’Neill government is commended in some quarters for leading development in areas like mining and resource exploration, building infrastructure and organising international sporting events, it is mostly criticised for significant setbacks in the economy through over spending and maintaining a deficit budget, and a lack of respect for rule of law.

The bloody protests of 2016 exemplified the growing discontent. Whether this will lead voters in the coming election to oust O’Neill’s People’s National Congress party (PNC) is yet to be revealed. But if history is anything to go by, both the Somare and Mekere governments, under similar spotlight, lost power after the 2011-2012 impasse and the 2001 shooting of university students respectively.

The new cybercrime legislation comes into effect this year. It will be interesting to see how this is enforced against PNG’s active social media community whose activities will mostly likely intensify during the election period. Depending on how this law is enforced, its compatibility with the constitutional right to freedom of speech may be a subject of future court proceedings.

Voting

Traditionally, tribal allegiances often played a critical role in deciding voters’ preferences. People align with a candidate in their own tribe or clan despite the candidate lacking meaningful leadership qualities to successfully represent them in parliament. This was predominant during the ‘first past the post’ system where a voter has only one preference.

However, the introduction of preferential voting in 2007 saw a shift in this practice. A voter now has three preferences. It has certainly allowed greater freedom for voters to choose a better candidate. But in some areas, the comfort of having three votes means voters can auction two of their three preferences to the highest bidder (an intending candidate), shrewdly encouraging bribery. The increase in DSIP funding over the last five years might give the incumbent MPs an advantage in this election either if they have invested in development or if they are able to siphon off the funds as ‘campaign money’. Normally, only about one half of PNG’s incumbent MPs are returned. It will be interesting to see if this ratio increases this time round.

Conclusion

Papua New Guineans have long waited for the year 2017. It promises challenge as well as change. Will the people reinstate Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the PNC party to government despite the serious allegations of corruption that are yet to be cleared by the courts? In the absence of the anti-corruption team, Task Force Sweep, some have even wondered if the Prime Minister will ever get prosecuted. O’Neill is confident that PNC will return to power.

 

IMF analysis shows PNG has overstated economic growth

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/01/burying-the-truth-png-suppresses-official-imf-report-on-economy.html#more

Until last week, Papua New Guinea was the only country in the East Asia-Pacific region, and one of only a handful of countries worldwide, refusing to release its 2016 IMF Article IV report in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assesses each country’s economic health. The Bank of PNG (the reserve bank) offered six “critical issues” for refusing to release the IMF’s review but recently changed its mind – KJ

A JUST released IMF report reveals the O’Neill government has overstated the growth rate of the PNG economy by 12.7% since its election in 2012.

The IMF analysis indicates the PNG economy is K6.3 billion smaller in 2017 than claimed by the government. This means, according to the IMF, that the debt to GDP ratio is 33.5% – which is above the 30% limit set in PNG’s Fiscal Responsibility Act. The greatest concerns about economic management relate to the Bank of PNG’s control of the foreign exchange rate and reserves, with more breaches of international norms than previously admitted. While commending the government for its actions in the 2016 supplementary budget and a “prudent” 2017 budget, the IMF expressed a number of concerns. These included the areas in which expenditure cuts have been made, the lack of effort to raise revenue (particularly from the resource sector) and the need to improve public financial management. The IMF’s forecast is that short-term risks are tilted to the downside, although there are medium-term prospects of further resource projects that may balance this out.

Even if countries disagree with IMF assessments the accepted international norm is that they release them along with their own alternative views.

 

Accountant gives up career to help homeless kids

Post Courier

Over a hundred underprivileged street kids living in Port Moresby will be given a chance at a decent education thanks to the efforts of a local nongovernmental organization. Life PNG Care announced over the weekend that it will be sending 106 street children to school this year as part of its ‘Strongim Pikinini Education Program’. Over the Christmas period the NGO gave over six hundred street children a hot meal and a Christmas present giving them a small but memorable taste of what children in stable homes experience. Indeed, it goes without saying that Life PNG Care has since its conception, done wonders for the seemingly forgotten children of PNG. Yet all this work could not have been done if not for the efforts of the organization’s founder; a humble man with a big heart who dropped his professional career to try to alleviate problems associated with street kids. Collin Pake founded Life PNG Care in November 2013 after ten prior years of volunteer work with various Church based organizations. Back then and as a young CPA certified accountant, he had a well demanded skill set, the papers to go along with them and a good attitude; traits that could have got him a job anywhere. Yet, even with the ability to get a decent job and a comfortable life, he chose a life of selflessness and an interest for others; in particular under privileged children and orphans. Mr Pake said when interviewed by Post Courier yesterday that most of his life he has seen the struggles of children on the street and as a professional starting out his life as an accountant, he was baffled at the way society ignores homeless and orphaned children. “These children have a right to an education and a future but more importantly, they are our children. The you, me, the doctor in hospital, the taxi driver doing his rounds, the Government of the day. Us,” said Mr Pake. “We should give a damn when we see a five year old standing at the traffic light selling peanuts, or a ten year old seating on the curbside begging for food.” Mr Pake said it was sights like the mentioned that gave him the passion and desire to make a difference that ultimately resulted in him leaving accounting practice to start Life PNG Care. “Life PNG Care can only do so much and I am not the savior of the street kids. “There is only so much I can do with the limited resources at my disposal, but as long as I have the energy and support of donor companies and agencies who have supported Life PNG Care’s work in the past, I see no reason why more and more street children can’t be helped,” said a determined Mr Pake. He said that Life PNG Care’s main focus is giving underprivileged children an education. “You give a child education, and you give him or her the world,” said Mr Pake. The nongovernmental organization started by sending 14 children to school in 2014, almost tripling this number to 45 the following year and raising the number to 75 children last year. With over 200 hundred street children now registered pending placement under Life PNG Care’s ‘Strongim Pikinini Education Program’ Mr Pake said his organization would see that 106 of the 200 get an education for the 2017 academic year. He reported that k70,000 was used last year for the 75 children, all of whom did well and are adjusting to a life of normalcy. “This year it will cost K95,000 for education and housing fees for the 106 children,” said Mr Pake.

 

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Social Concerns Notes – December 2016

Respect builds safe society, says Parkop

December 13, 2016 The National

NATIONAL Capital District Governor Powes Parkop says respect is the value that can build a safe society. “In the past, men respect women as it is part of our culture,” he said. Parkop said this was no longer the case today as men had adopted a culture of not respecting women and girls. “Women are human beings. They are not subjects or some kind of creature that can be accused of sorcery, raped, or you do things to them at any time as you please,” he said.
“We are not fruits that fell from a tree or people who came from animals,” he said.
“We came from women and we should show them the greatest respect.
“Our culture is to respect women. “We have adopted a culture that is unacceptable and contrary to human dignity and we need to put an end to it.

Police yet to quell Tari fighting due to lack of funds
Post Courier, December 15, 2016

THE under siege Tari, capital of Hela Province, remains in a stalemate with police unable to mobilise firepower and resources as yet to quell uncontrolled tribal fighting, mayhem and destruction to property there. Police Commissioner Gari Baki yesterday held urgent meetings with his operational commanders citing lack of funding and logistics preventing any rapid deployment by personnel to deal with the situation. The National Security Advisory Council has also discussed the situation and given directions on what urgent actions the police should take. The National Airports Corporation is not budging in re-opening the airport because of the chaotic situation and unpredictability of safety of commercial aircraft and staff. Acting police commander Inspector Daniel Yangen confirmed the stalemate issuing cautions that combatant groups were re-grouping to continue fighting. “Rumours have also spread that the other factions are regrouping and police are keeping watch on possible areas the warring tribes may attack. “Injured victims are scared to receive treatment at Tari Hospital as they feared being attacked and killed,” he said.

 

Volunteer programme leaves a lasting legacy for young people

Post Courier, December 12, 2016

In Papua New Guinea, young people make up almost half of the urban poor population. Within the region, the World Bank has estimated that 70-80 per cent of young people were unemployed, with studies indicating that urban youth were adversely affected by high levels of poverty.

Studies also showed that young people engage in risky activities such as crime, drugs, alcohol and violence as a result of inequalities. As part of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup legacy, young people from 20 settlements in Port Moresby were engaged in a three-month training and work experience programme, which has given them hands-on work experience, exposure to a workplace setting and life skills training in health and hygiene, financial management and communication.

As part of the training, volunteers engaged in a workshop on ending violence. The training was part of a broader campaign being delivered alongside the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with the aim of developing respect, understanding and tolerance among girls and boys, women and men and the community as a whole, with the overall goal of reducing risk factors associated with gender-based violence in the Pacific. Fifty of the 1,000 volunteers will be selected following the tournament to be #ENDviolence ambassadors in their communities. They will receive further training and support a broad-based community awareness campaign in the 20 shanty towns of Port Moresby in the months following the competition.

 

NEC approves bid to tackle GBV
Post Courier December 16, 2016

THE National Executive Council (NEC) has approved the long-awaited National Strategic Paper on Gender-based Violence, drawing praise from gender advocates and women leaders. The document is a framework to guide the Government to tackle the problem in the country where GBV rates remain some of the highest in the world.

The paper was presented to the NEC by the Community Development Minister Delilah Gore. She confirmed when contacted by the Post-Courier yesterday afternoon that the Cabinet had approved the paper. The establishment of a special parliamentary committee on GBV and a national GBV council and secretariat – with similar functions to the National AIDS Council Secretariat which was set up to coordinate government and donor efforts to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS– is part of the national strategy.

 

PNG LNG landowner royalties – why so long?

By Sam Koim and Stephen Howes on December 16, 2016

http://devpolicy.org/png-lng-landowner-royalties-long-20161216/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=88251da2d4-Devpolicy_News_December_16_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-88251da2d4-227683090

The recent protests by Hela landowners and their latest ultimatum in relation to their non-receipt of royalties and other benefits have the potential to derail PNG’s prestigious and important LNG project. But they also beg the question: how did it come to this? How is it that after more than 200 ships of LNG have left PNG’s shores no royalties have been paid to landowners? How can the situation be resolved, and what are the implications for future projects?

For the rest of this interesting article see the url above. It treats topics such as social mapping and landowner identification studies, clan vetting process, the judicial process, and the present stalemate.

 

Advocating for women in Porgera: an interview with Everlyne Sap

By Camilla Burkot and Everlyne Sap on December 9, 2016

http://devpolicy.org/advocating-for-women-in-porgera-an-interview-with-everlyne-sap-20161209/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=88251da2d4-Devpolicy_News_December_16_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-88251da2d4-227683090

It is well known that gender-based and sexual violence are major problems facing Papua New Guinea. What is less widely recognized are the grassroots efforts underway to combat these problems, and the individuals leading those efforts. Everlyne Sap is one of those individuals. She is a gender advocate and chairperson of the Family and Sexual Violence Steering Committee of the Restorative Justice Initiative Association (RJIA) at Porgera in Enga Province, PNG. Camilla Burkot interviewed Everlyne during the State of the Pacific 2016 conference. You can listen to the podcast here, and read the full transcript here [pdf].

 

Quality education? It’s a thing of the past in most of PNG

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/quality-education-its-a-thing-of-the-past-in-most-of-png.html#more   15 December 2016     Bomail D Witne

STRUCTURAL and curriculum reforms at lower levels of the education system have established a foundation that will shatter the dreams of children in public schools. Elementary schools were introduced in the absence of a proper curriculum and a sufficient number of trained teachers. Many elementary school students in public schools just sing Christian songs all day. Not even their own songs; teachers don’t know them. Some elementary students graduate without being able to understand the difference between a ‘tree’ and ‘three’. They’re often taught in three languages – English, Pidgin and the local vernacular – which seems progressive but it’s done in an unsystematic way. And then the children move on to Grade 3, leaving the teachers at that level to pick up the pieces.

 

What used to be community or primary schools were rebranded ‘top-up primary’, meaning they were permitted to continue to Grades 7 and 8 and take students from other primary schools.

Prior to the ‘reform’, these students would sit a competitive national Grade 6 examination to graduate into high schools – and they were taught by teachers trained at that level. Since the ‘reform’, the Grade 6 examinations are no more. What the so-called reform did was to allow primary teachers to instruct at Grade 7 and 8, which used to be the province of trained high school teachers. This was the beginning of a new learning experience for both teachers and students. Increasing enrolments as a result of the government’s ‘tuition fee free’ policy led to a shortage of classroom space as well as learning materials. So the ill-trained, ill-equipped Grade 8 teachers do what they can. They have a deadline to meet and so the students graduate are left to the Grade 9 teachers in secondary schools who are expected to pick up the pieces.

 

Forgotten – the vulnerable populations of Papua New Guinea

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/forgotten-the-vulnerable-populations-of-papua-new-guinea.html#more

The majority of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas and spend most of their time involved in subsistence gardening or fishing or other economic activities to sustain their livelihoods. They have access to safe drinking water, food and a place to sleep. But this way of life changes drastically when a natural disaster occurs and what is normal is no longer there to sustain their existence. PNG is situated along a volatile seismic band known as the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ which makes it susceptible to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. Other disasters include droughts, floods, landslides, tropical cyclones and king tides. When natural disasters occur, sometimes affected communities adapt to the conditions but in other cases life is never the same. These are the vulnerable populations in emergency situations.

In PNG’s history, one of the worst natural disasters occurred on 17 July 1998 when a tsunami struck near Aitape in the West Sepik Province and proved to be one of the deadliest on record. The tsunami devastated the villages of Sisano, Warupu, Arop and Malol and more than 2,000 people lost their lives. The 10,000 people who were affected and survived were clearly vulnerable. While many moved on with their lives, others had to make the bold decision to move.

Tavurvur and Manam are PNG’s most active volcanoes. Mount Tavurvur, erupted in 2014 and also recorded eruptions in 2013, 2011, 2010, 2006, 2005 and 2002. The most notable eruption occurred in 1994 and affected many people living in East New Britain. It was a devastating time in which people lost their homes and food gardens and had no access to safe drinking water. Evacuation programs were implemented which assisted people recover and make new homes away from their traditional villages.

Manam Island in Madang Province experienced similar devastation in 2004 when its volcano erupted. The Manam islanders’ situation was far from being a success story. Almost 10,000 residents were evacuated to care centres on the mainland where they have now been living for over nine years.

Many social issues have also emerged as they struggle to live their lives – an example of a vulnerable population. The natural disasters experienced in PNG mostly occur unexpectedly and nearly all have devastating effects.

 

PNG’s 2017 Revenue Forecasts – A Detailed Analysis

http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/12/pngs-2017-revenue-forecasts-detailed.html.   Paul Flanagan.

PNG’s revenue collapse is likely to continue with estimated additional shortfalls of K1.5 billion for both 2016 and 2017. This will add to the budget deficit, debt levels and financing pressures.

The major reason for this collapse in revenues is not the fall in international commodity prices The reason is the fall in domestic tax collections as a result of PNG’s domestic recession.There have already been enough expenditure cuts in key sectors between 2015 and 2017 (a 52% real cut in infrastructure, 45% in education and 40% in health with large on-going cuts already planned in future years).

Better policies are needed to restart growth and additional tax measures should be considered.

In 2014, it was forecast that 2017 PNG revenues (so excluding international grants and after adjusting for accounting changes) would total K15.2 billion. This has fallen in each subsequent budget so that by the time of the 2017 budget these were K4.7 billion lower than initially forecast – a drop of 31%. And if we look at 2018 figures the fall is K6.3 billion or 38% from expectations of 2014.

The 2015 budget removed K3.3 billion in resource revenues even prior to the fall in commodity prices. This is the K3.3 billion “missing revenues” referred to in the much condemned but broadly accurate blog (see here) predicting the fall in oil prices would hurt revenues and the balance of payments. This early diversion accounts for 22% of the total revenue fall. Too much emphasis has been placed on cutting expenditures in key sectors such as health, education and infrastructure (and not enough on administrative costs or constituency funds).

[For the rest of this article, see the url above]

 

Bougainville youth have historic role in building its future

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/bougainville-youth-have-historic-role-in-building-its-future.html#more 19 December 2016

BOUGAINVILLE’S future depends on the ability of its young generation as it will increasingly engage with the global community, says chief secretary Joseph Nobetau, who is encouraging young Bougainvilleans to play a bigger role in the province’s future.

“You are not tarnished by history or prejudice – your journey is just beginning,” Mr Nobetau told a recent graduation ceremony. “As young people you each have a role in writing part of our future. “You have the opportunity to take on leadership roles and help build a stronger, united and more prosperous future for us all. “You can do this regardless of the path that you choose to take, whether as young corporate leaders, public servants, community leaders, academics, members of your church and so on.” Mr Nobetau said that by committing to a collective future, youth can play an important role and he was confident they will make a significant contribution. “Ask yourselves what you have done to demonstrate leadership and ask yourselves what you can do in the future. “As young Bougainvilleans I have faith that all of you will make a very significant contribution.”

 

The sad story of Investigation Task Force Sweep

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/the-sad-story-of-investigation-task-force-sweep.html#more 20 December 2016   Bal Kama

A LETTER to prime minister Peter O’Neill on the morning of 16 June 2014 started off what would become the most controversial anti-corruption story in the history of Papua New Guinea. Then police commissioner Tom Kulunga requested that O’Neill attend a police interview on allegations of fraud regarding payments of an estimated K71 million by the State to a national law firm, Paul Paraka Lawyers. But the scheduled interview never happened.

For many years, PNG has faced allegations of corruption and often ranked unfavourably in corruption indexes. In 2012, O’Neill promised to address the issue and, to his credit, established the Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITFS). ITFS was an inter-organisation agency that included the Police Fraud Squad. Little did the prime minister know that he himself would become a person of interest, engulfing a considerable amount of ITFS work. But the case against O’Neill was never going to be easy. Since it began, two and a half years ago, a series of convoluted legal cases have jammed the path of the investigators. An interview, let alone any resolution of the serious allegations of fraud against the prime minister, now looks unlikely in light of recent national court judgements against ITFS.

I want to briefly reflect on the most significant court cases against the ITFS this year and assess their implications for anti-corruption efforts in PNG.

The first significant case was in February 2016. The issue was whether or not members of the Fraud Squad (itself part of ITFS) should engage the service of private lawyers instead of the state prosecutors. The prime minister argued that members of the Fraud Squad should engage the service of state prosecutors because they are acting in their capacity as police officers. Further, it was argued that the Attorney-General Act 1989 (PNG) prevents brief-outs to private lawyers unless approved by the Attorney-General and that approval was not given. The Fraud Squad, however, questioned the neutrality of the state prosecutors in light of the successive appointments of Police Commissioners and the consensus among the lawyers acting for the police and the Prime Minister as evidence of a concerted effort to frustrate the case. They argued, inter alia, that the engagement of private lawyers was to ensure that the case against the PM is not derailed or suppressed as often seen in many high-profile cases in PNG.

[For the rest of this instructive article, see the url above.]

600 neglected and homeless children

Post Courier, December 23, 2016

PORT Moresby, capital of PNG with a population of one million people, shockingly has 600 homeless children. This ugly truth came to light when local humanitarian organisation Life PNG Care conducted its annual “Kilo of Kindness Christmas Programme”. The program is an annual event where the organisation go out to certain locations in the city and invite unfortunate children to go to them and have a hot meal and receive a Christmas gift. Life PNG Care director Collin Pakerevealed this yesterday saying many organisations had endeavoured to help the growing number of unfortunate children who live on the streets but few actually go out to assess and bring out changes in the lives of these neglected children. These children, more than 5000 of them, are the invisible generation that our government is neglecting. “There are so many children on the streets now and the number is only growing with each year.

“The Pikinini Act of 2009 clearly highlights that children unattended to should by right, be taken care of by the government. “We cannot keep on lying because the evidence is irrefutable and at our door step,” MrPake said. Post-Courier found – boy in the tunnel- Jerry Owaamong the other children who happily had a meal at Five-Mile recreational park. The program started at Five-Mile at 4pm, then Boroko at 5pm and Koki-Ela Beach at 6pm.

 

Cuban doctors to assist ten district hospitals
Post Courier, November 28, 2016

UP to 30 primary health doctors from Cuba will be deployed in 10 district hospitals during the next three months. There would also be an immediate deployment of a cancer specialist at Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae, and employment of some biomedical technologists. Cuba would also provide professors to the proposed new stand alone and revived School of Medicine and Health Science that would be done by the Government and be called “PNG Medical & Health Sciences University”.

These arrangements and more were made possible through a Cuba-PNG Health Diplomacy; a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed last Wednesday between the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the governments of PNG and Cuba in Havana during Mr O’Neill’s official visit.

The MOU also includes other following categories:

  • Cuba would assist in health research and collaboration. Assist PNG in training PNG Medical University post-graduate students in Masters and Post-Masters training. Assist to train our biomedical technologist and others in health;
  • Cuba to assist PNG with medical drugs and vaccines for general medical diseases and non-communicable drugs in diabetes, cancer and hypertension. Assist PNG with medical supplies and diagnostic technologies;
  • Cuba to assist PNG with health information and technology; and
  • Cuban to assist PNG with asset and infrastructure development.

 

Transparency needed on Seabed mining
Post Courier, November 25, 2016

Some non-governmental organisations are concerned about the lack of transparency behind the world’s first seabed mining project set to begin operations in 2018 in the Bismarck Sea. It was claimed yesterday that Canadian company Nautilus Minerals, responsible for the project dubbed Solwara1, had kept its operations and plans secret from the Papua New Guinea public.

“We are not saying that the project is some evil thing that is utterly bad, all we hope to have is a report and if possible a second opinion on what environmental impacts could be wrought from the project,” she said. Ms Tony said that there remained strong opposition to the project among local communities and environmentalists, the World Bank included.

According to Mr Mesulam, “Nautilus does not have the consent of local communities. We still don’t know what the impacts of this experimental mining will be.

According to Minster Chan, PNG stands to gain US124million from the mining project, and describes the expected environmental impacts of the project to be “relatively small”.

 

Doctor calls on govt to upgrade rural maternal facilities

December 1, 2016 The National

A SENIOR doctor has urged the Government to upgrade birth units in rural health facilities and to equip them properly. Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at PNG’s School of Medicine Professor Glen Mola said the Government’s plan to address maternal and newborn deaths by making it compulsory for women to give birth in proper health facilities needed to be carefully thought through.
He said it was important that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill discussed such issues more with local maternity care professionals to help strategise the goal of supervised births to reduce maternal and infant deaths.
“There are about 260,000 births every year in PNG,” Mola told The National via email.
“Of these, about 104,000 women come to health facilities to have a professionally supervised birth.
“But this also means that 156,000 women deliver their babies in their villages without professional assistance. “If we are to reduce the risk of maternal and newborn deaths, the parts of the health system that the prime minister says he is planning to bring the women for supervised births in (urban) hospitals are already overstretched and many are unable to cope with the numbers.”
Mola said the Government should up-skill community health workers and nurses to provide quality birth care for women in rural health facilities. He said more doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers should be trained to provide quality healthcare for the expanded rural health service to enable the majority of women to access supervised care close to their villages.

5000 bench warrants pending
Post Courier, December 01, 2016

FIVE thousand bench warrants are outstanding in Papua New Guinea. This was revealed by the country’s Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia who said that bench warrants did not include the warrants of arrest issued by the district courts of the Magisterial Services.

Sir Salamo said that 60 to 70 per cent of these 5000 bench warrants were from National Court crime cases. “The oldest bench warrant goes back to 1983 and 1984.

 

More than 40,000 living with HIV

Post Courier, December 01, 2016.

MORE than 40,000 people are living with HIV and at least half of them are receiving lifesaving antiretroviral drugs provided free of charge by the Government. The Health Department said that between 2001 and 2011, the rate of new HIV infections in PNG fell by 53 precent and the death rate among people living with HIV are on antiretroviral drugs (ART) earlier. Despite this, more than 2000 people are diagnosed with HIV each year while many people still do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others and stigma and discrimination remained a reality for many people living with the condition.

Health Secretary Pasco Kase says while HIV and AIDS remained a health problem and the risk factors for contracting the virus still existed, the number of people affected by HIV had not reached the very high levels initially feared. This was due, in part, to an increasingly co-ordinated and co-operative approach to responding to HIV. Health Minister Michael Malabag said early PNG projections estimated that the HIV prevalence among the adult population would reach more than 5 per cent but improvements in the scale up of our HIV testing and surveillance in the past 10 years had demonstrated that HIV had had limited impact as a whole with the current national prevalence rate of 0.8 per cent reported last year. Further recent evidence suggested that the epidemic was concentrated in key populations with HIV prevalence among this group estimated at more than 15 times the national average. There was also recent evidence showing the prevalence in certain provinces like the National Capital District and Highlands provinces going over the 1 per cent mark. This meant that the epidemic was generalised in these provinces.

 

Trump and the PNG 2017 elections

By Bal Kama on November 25, 2016

http://devpolicy.org/trump-and-the-png-2017-elections-20161125/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=93818d5143-Devpolicy_News_December_02_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-93818d5143-227683090

Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of America took the world by surprise. It was certainly one of the defining moments of the 21st century. Many assumed the United States would continue to herald liberalism, led by the ‘establishment,’ an almost unassailable cohort of conglomerates and political high flyers apparently interested in safeguarding the status quo and advancing the ideals of the democratic world. By their standards, Trump is an outsider. But he unexpectedly found favour with those disenfranchised with the liberal ideal. His election may not be one of celebration for those in the Pacific region, especially given his reluctance to act on US commitments to climate change and regional treaty obligations. But it should rouse some rethinking in our traditional assumptions of domestic politics.

Papua New Guinea’s 2017 National Elections will be an event to watch closely. How will it affect the current political ‘establishment’? PNG has always had a high turnover of politicians [pdf] and this trend will certainly continue, but this time with more zeal and purpose. It will be a test especially for those who have clung to political power and have well-established links. Trump’s election is an outcome of voters disillusioned with the status quo.

Unlike previous elections in PNG, many voters in 2017 will be more informed. Politicians have often been accused of maintaining their grip on power by bribing or deploying ‘sweet policies’ to entice the voters. While both strategies will undeniably be at play, voters will mostly likely be persuaded by a deeper conviction for change. Like the US elections, many PNG voters will most likely call for change on the back of someone ‘new’, someone who appears to be free from corruption. That is already evident in social media discussions.

At the district and provincial level, voters may be reminded of the complacency of their political leaders on these national issues and question the continued lack of development despite much-increased funding allocations under the District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) and Provincial Support Improvement Program (PSIP). It remains a serious question whether security would be sufficient to allow a free and fair election given the lack of funding for the PNG electoral commission. And the massive DSIP and PSIP allocations may give incumbents a greater advantage than they earlier enjoyed.

The 2017 PNG election is an opportunity for change. Like the Trump story, it is likely that the election will breed a new generation of leaders for PNG. Breeding new leadership is not always bad if it serves as a reminder to those already in power not to get too comfortable in their seats and forget the very purpose of their mandate.

 

PNG one of world’s most ‘fragile’ nations says report

05 December 2016

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/12/png-is-one-of-the-worlds-most-fragile-nations-says-oecd-report.html#more

THREE of the world’s most fragile countries are on Australia’s doorstep, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development that implores the international community to maintain its aid commitments. The OECD’s States of ‘Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence’ report identifies 56 countries or regions as being fragile based on how exposed they are to risks like economic shock, youth unemployment, disease, corruption, crime and violence. Three of Australia’s closest neighbours – Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste (East Timor) – are assessed as fragile.

PNG is rated as more fragile than countries that have endured recent coup attempts such as Egypt, Libya and Burkina Faso. The report calls on the international community to provide adequate, long-term development assistance for these countries and focus funding on the real drivers of fragility. It also wants countries to develop better financing strategies. According to the report, PNG and Timor-Leste are more vulnerable to political risks, while the Solomon Islands most substantial vulnerability is to environmental and health risks. Together with Indonesia, these three countries represent the largest four recipients of Australian aid. PNG was given $554.5 million in 2015-16, the Solomon Islands $175.9 million and Timor-Leste $95.3 million.

Despite ongoing conflict from West Papuans over Indonesian rule, Indonesia was not deemed fragile by the OECD.

 

Church decries demand for land compensation

December 5, 2016 The National

THE Catholic Church does not entertain or pay compensation to landowner groups for services it is providing on their land, according to Mt Hagen archdiocese’s archbishop Douglas Young.
He told the Kumdi tribe, which owns the land on which the Notre Dame Girls Secondary School in Baiyer, Western Highlands, is located, that people must stop thinking that the church would pay compensation for their land. The tribe organised a reconciliation ceremony last Tuesday to say sorry for locking the gates to the school. They apologised to Young, the Catholic Church, parents and students for demanding land compensation.
Their demand for compensation began in 2010.
This year, after the Term One break, the landowners refused to allow anyone into the school.
Young explained to them that the church had never paid compensation to landowners.
“I’m talking about the world, not only here. The Catholic Church does not pay anything to anyone as land compensation,” he said. “Anyone who thinks that the Catholic Church will pay compensation for the land at Kumdi is wrong because the Church does not get involved in that.” He said people must understand that the church was helping the Government by providing schools, health services and job opportunities. “You should raise your concern with the Government – not with the church,” Young said.

Evicted settlers face difficulty in resettling

December 5, 2016 The National

MORE than 3000 settlers from Morata One in the National Capital District were forcefully evicted by the city authority to allow construction of a new road from Gerehu to Waigani. The evicted settlers were now finding it hard to resettle and start a new life again after their homes and properties were destroyed by the city authority last week. Morata One committee leader Eric Steven said National Capital District Commission (NCDC) failed to allocate new land or pay them compensation to start a new living prior to destroying their homes and properties and forcefully evicting them. “We have been living in that piece of land for almost two generations now because it’s a customary land and not state land,” Steven told The National. “However, we were issued a stop- work notice by NCDC on Aug 23, 2016 and a week later on Aug 30, 2016 we were issued a demolition notice. “There was no eviction notice and now more than 120 houses were demolished, which include rent houses and about 3500 people are displaced and we are helpless.

Disability does not stop young Cornelius

Post Courier, December 7, 2016

HE was born with a medical condition known as cerebral palsy, but that did not stop him from developing his passion in computer graphics. Twelve-year-old Cornelius, also known as Datii Yalamu, from Lae-Madang-Goroka parents, may have difficulty in walking but he has dreams, hopes and ideas he wanted to share on the International Day for Persons with Disabilities at Cheshire disability Services compound at Hohola, in Port Moresby. According to his father Philemon Yalamu, Cornelius was taught how to use a computer at the age of three, and although not at school is familiar with anything to do with digital graphic artist programs, Photoshop, and other office work programs to do with typing. He knows them all, very well. “As parents, it was a challenge for my wife and I but we never gave up and thought beyond his disability to make him do things like an able bodied child would do, think out of the box and try to come up with creative ways to help Cornelius.

“He does all this with his legs and toes because we believe that he has the potential and ability to do so,” he said.

Cornelius can create invitation cards for birthdays and other events using the graphic design software, Adobe Photoshop and other programs. He uses his toes to do all the typing for the various programs that are in the computer.

 

Arawa hospital in dire need of medical supplies
Post Courier, December 07, 2016

ARAWA hospital in Central Bougainville is in dire need of medical supplies, Dr Joe Vilosi said yesterday. Dr Vilosi said that the hospital is also unable to attend to emergency cases as whatever limited stock left is being reserved only for desperate cases where a patient is about to lose his or her life. He iterated that the Government must respond quickly to the matter and see health as a priority because without proper health facilities in Bougainville, the dreams and aspirations of Bougainville will turn to dust. Dr Vilosi said the full autonomy depends on a healthy workforce therefore without a healthy workforce there will be a sick Government. The onus is now on the Government to intervene and address the situation in which the Arawa Hospital is in without medical supplies and see it fixed immediately.

 

Muddle to leave hospital

Post Courier December 07, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea’s biggest referral hospital has transformed during the past three years under the leadership of chief executive officer Grant Muddle as he prepares to leave this month.

The hospital will regret his departure over suggestions that he was too expensive to keep. Mr Muddle spoke yesterday of how he had changed the hospital by enforcing existing rules that had not been enforced before for various reasons. He said that from 2013, when he arrived, to this year, hospital admissions were 23,000 and in 2016 admission has climbed to 45,000. In 2013 the hospital saw 66,800 hospital outpatient consultants and in 2016 consultants numbers increased to 170,000, that is, 100,000 more consultants. Roughly, the hospital sees 680 patients at its outpatient clinic daily.

“Patients are fixed faster, we have gone from an average length of stay of 20 days to 8.6 days, which is less strain on the public health system, people are much healthier and return home or work to become more productive,” he said. “Death rates at the hospital were 5.2 per cent in 2013 and in 2016 the rate is at 2.8 per cent. It is important to remember that the people that come here are very sick, extremely medically and surgically unwell and the hospital tries their best to keep everyone alive,” Mr Muddle said.

 

TFF funds has not been paid as planned
Post Courier, December 07, 2016

THE Government’s ambitious Tuition Fee Free (TFF) money have not been received freely and on time as planned. A lot of school administrations are confused about partial dispatches of fees during the year as the last dispatch is due this Friday when many schools have already closed for the academic year. Last week, the Government announced that it would remit the last lot of TFF money – that is K113 million – for schools. This announcement comes late as many schools have rising debts to pay and others are still looking into their accounts for the arrival of any money.

In Kimbe, West New Britain, Catholic Education Secretary Silpaga John Francis said yesterday that as far as the Catholic Church agency in the province was concerned, more than half of the 300 schools in the province had not received their full tuition fees promised. He could not specify the exact amount owed to the schools. The Catholic Church agency in the province has the biggest number of schools which is 163. These schools have not received their fees for the last batch and the earlier batch.

 

Child sexual abuse high

Post Courier, December 09, 2016

SHOCKING increase in the number of child sexual abuse in the National Capital District has raised concerns for more strategic approaches to address the situation. In addition, there have been increases in gender-based violence or intimate partner violence reported at Port Moresby General Hospital Family Support Centre. Social worker and clinical manager Tessie Soi and head of the support centre said yesterday that up to 70 per cent of patients who are received at the day centre are sexually abused children under 18 years old. Mrs Soi also reported that the centre receives and treats 100 survivors of intimidate partner violence or gender based violence cases every month. In a day the support centre sees 12 new cases and offer among other essential services physiological first aid to those who need it.

“We see survivors for two to three hours, just imagine the workloads my staff have but they are fighters in their own rights and rights against gender based violence and HIV.”

Health Department’s Technical advisor gender and men’s health Sebatian Robert said there are 17 Family Support Centres in 15 provinces, two in Simbu and two also in Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

 

Article from the New York Times on Manus detention

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/opinion/sunday/australia-refugee-prisons-manus-island.html?_r=0

 

Asylum seekers riot after death at Papua New Guinea detention camp

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/25/asylum-seekers-riot-death-papua-new-guinea-detention-camp/   Post Courier, 25 December 2016

Asylum seekers held at a Papua New Guinea detention centre briefly took control of two compounds and expelled guards following the death of a refugee who fell ill at the centre, Papua New Guinea police said on Sunday.

A 27-year-old Sudanese man, who was identified as Faysal Ishak Ahmed by refugee advocates, collapsed at the centre and was evacuated to hospital in Australia this week. Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said he died on Saturday.

The man’s death is not being treated as suspicious by Australian authorities, but detainees and refugee rights groups have claimed the man was seriously ill for months and had made repeated requests for medical assistance before the emergency.

A total of 872 asylum seekers are held on Manus despite Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruling in April that their detention was illegal and ordering the camps to close.

 

How not to address maternal mortality

By Camilla Burkot on December 2, 2016

http://devpolicy.org/how-not-to-address-maternal-mortality-20161202/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=93818d5143-Devpolicy_News_December_02_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-93818d5143-227683090

Papua New Guinea is often referred to as the ‘land of the unexpected’. I sometimes wonder whether it might be better referred to as the ‘land of the extreme’. Extreme is certainly an appropriate adjective to describe the country’s maternal mortality ratio, which is the highest in the Asia-Pacific region: 215 deaths per 100,000 live births. To put this in perspective, in Australia the maternal mortality ratio is 6 per 100,000 nationally, and 14 per 100,000 among Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Extreme also seems an apt descriptor for PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s plan to address maternal and infant mortality in his country. As reported by the ABC on Tuesday, O’Neill plans to introduce legislation in early 2017 that will make it mandatory for women to deliver their children in a clinic or hospital. To enable this, women will be paid to attend those clinics or hospitals.

What I assume to be the underlying impetus of this hasty policy announcement – the desire to ensure that all women have access to skilled attendance at birth – is a sound one. The most recent data available from the WHO (2013) indicate that less than half of women in PNG deliver their children with the assistance of a trained midwife or doctor. Globally, about 15 percent of women will encounter unexpected complications during or shortly after birth which require emergency obstetric care (EmOC). Skilled attendance and EmOC save lives.

The key question that policymakers must grapple with, then, is how best to enable access to those services in their particular context. While encouraging women to deliver at health facilities is key, doing so cannot be interpreted as a magic bullet for reducing maternal mortality. Indeed, pushing women to give birth in overcrowded and under-resourced facilities may put them at an increased risk of potentially life-threatening infections, such as sepsis.

Even in the face of a strong, evidence-based plan for improving the rates of supervised births in PNG, it’s difficult to see how the government will be in a position to implement it. As noted on this blog last month, PNG’s health budget was cut by 21% (K315 million) in the 2017 budget (this followed cuts to health of more than 30% between 2014 and 2015). The number of health facilities that are fully operational in PNG, particularly at the aid post level in rural and remote areas, has dwindled. Health professionals are also few and far between; PNG has just 0.5 nurses/midwives per 1000 people, while the WHO now advocates for a minimum 4.45 skilled health professionals (midwives, nurses and physicians) per 1000. Glen Mola, a professor of obstetrics at UPNG, confirms that the main problem facing the PNG health system is a lack of funding for health staff and facilities; “If we’ve got the money, let’s see it please… we desperately need it,” he told the ABC. In this context, requiring women to travel to facilities to deliver their children simply cannot be automatically equated to their accessing skilled attendance.

 

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