Social Concerns Notes – December 2011

Surely the biggest news in December has been PNG Supreme Court decision about whether there had been a vacancy in the position of Prime Minister of PNG, and the political struggle that followed. The constitutional crisis that Papua New Guinea is still facing will surely have deeper implications into the future. Even if the impasse is settled politically, either in favour of Sir Michael Somare or Peter O’Neill, the outcome will have far-reaching constitutional consequences that will affect future issues of similar nature and questions of good governance according to law. People, from the grass roots to supposed constitutional experts have offered varying, often conflictting solutions.  I do not intend taking sides here in these notes.  For those interested, below is a list of internet URL address that you might check to see the range of opinions.

‘PNG is most corrupt in Pacific’

The National, Monday 05th December 2011

PAPUA New Guinea has the most corrupt public sector in the Pacific, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2011. The CPI 2011 was launched in Port Moresby by the Transparency International PNG last Friday. PNG scored the lowest point at 2.2 with the Solomon Islands scoring 2.7, Tonga 3.1, Kiribati 3.1, Vanuatu 3.5 and Samoa 3.9. Fiji was not included in the Index. Ranked globally, PNG is 154 out of 182 countries surveyed in the world. The CPI ranked New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Singapore as the top five “very clean” countries with scores between 9.2 to  9.5. The countries are ranked on a scale of zero to 10 with zero perceived to be corrupt and 10 to be least corrupt. The ranking of countries and territories is based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.
Chairman of Transparency International PNG Lawrence Stephens said: “there remains a strong need to take action now by all citizens to fight corruption and for the government to practise good governance,” he said. “Evidence of lack of political will to tackle corruption has been demonstrated in the way the governments have handled some of the nation’s controversial issues.” He pointed out the special purpose agricultural business lease, the Moti affair, the Taiwan diplomacy scandal and the Cairns conservatory as examples of corruption by the government.

United Nations issues veiled censure of Australian money laundering

After two-weeks of on-line criticism of the Australian government for not doing more to stop the laundering of the proceeds of corruption from Papua New Guinea the United Nations Country Coordinator for PNG has stepped into the debate.

Speaking in Port Moresby David McLachlan-Karr has said Papua New Guinea needs to ensure that it recovers the proceeds of corruption and uses the money to improve the lives of the people. Currently Australia does nothing to assist PNG in this regard. “Developing countries have long been aware that their scarce and valuable resources are often diverted out of their country for the benefit of an elite few. UNCAC recognizes that it is important to criminalise corruption. UNCAC also recognizes that it is not only essential that corrupt people are prosecuted – it is as important, if not more so, that the actual resources that are stolen are returned. It is these resources that can be ploughed back into building schools for the nation’s children, buying medicines, laying roads and undertaking other such activities in the public’s interest,” said Mr McLachlan-Karr.

Billions of dollars is stolen from the public purse in PNG every year by corrupt politicians and senior bureaucrats and much of the money ends up in Australia. While Australia says it is committed to improving governance in PNG and helping tackle corruption it does nothing to stop the proceeds of corruption ending up in Australian banks, real estate and other investments.

Transparency International is indeed a joke in PNG!:

First Paul Barker – in defence of TI PNG

TI’s local chapter in PNG cannot go chasing much if it cannot afford to pay its staff!! Yes of course the proceeds of various crimes in PNG end up in Australia; all the more reason for Australia to help fund the local transparency chapter to probe activities at the PNG end, and that various parties (including TI here, but especially authorities and NGO transparency organisations in Australia) probe and are pushed to probe the Australian (NZ, Singapore, Samoan etc ends!! Cheap shots at TIPNG don’t really help!

Then David Joshua Martin in response

Apart from its annual Walk Against Corruption, what has TI really done? TI(PNG) is  – frustratingly – a reflection of the people within the organization –  a herd  of timid  sheep who can’t  even stand up and confront  corruption in its ugliest.  TI(PNG)  can’t to anything meaningful because that herd of pampered citizens don’t really understand the impacts of corruption in rural Papua New Guinea. How can we expect  those within TI(PNG) to have the will to speak out for the rest of us when they themselves don’t understand what it is like to live without water  and sanitation  in Kaugere or Two mile hill? How can we expect TI(PNG) to probe into  the  theft of funds when very few of them actually know what it is like to watch a mother die of childbirth complications in Simbu and the Southern Highlands?  Papua New Guineans aren’t just statistics. My mother and father, my brother and sister aren’t just the “80 percent of people” who don’t live in urban areas. Every year, TI(PNG) releases “wonderful” figures  of Papua New Guinea’s corruption perception rating that sees this great country of mine slip further into the quagmire of international disrepute.

Video captures corruption  Post Courier 21 Dec

THE Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea (OCPNG) won an Award of Excellence for its 60 seconds anti-corruption video footage that portrays how corruption contributes to lack of service delivery to the people of PNG. The OCPNG won the award recently from the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) on Public Service announcement video competition and workshop held in Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region (SAR) from December 7 to 9. The video footages were of the main Government sectors of education, health, infrastructure and law and justice.
Joycelyn Wasas, who represented OC and attended the workshop, said in a statement yesterday that OCPNG presented a 60 seconds video which captured how corruption hampered the delivery of basic services to the ordinary citizens of the country. Ms Wasas said that the OCPNG presented the video titled ‘Corruption: Don’t Support It, Report It’ and was selected among some professionally produced videos from 21 countries that participated.

Reminder of earlier findings of fraud and incompetence in Dept of Lands:

While the Commission of Inquiry into Special Agriculture and Business Leases continues, revealing the layers of corruption and incompetence in the allocation of the 99-year SAB leases, the PNGExposed blog has republished the findings of an earlier Commission of Inquiry which reported in 2009 the Department of Lands was corrupt and incompetent. Its recommendations for a full Commission of Inquiry into DoL were ignored….

The Department of Lands and Physical Planning is riddled with “gross incompetence”, a state of affairs that is compounded by  “extremely irresponsible and dishonest State officers” says the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance.

The Commission has recommended a separate inquiry be set up to into the management of the Department of Lands to “identify and rectify the systematic failings and misconduct”.

The Commissioners, Justices Sheehan and Davani and businessman Dan Manua, identified a long list of serious failings in the Department of Lands (List available on the above website).

Govt hires jet for K47,000 plus to fly in Nape from Cairns.  Post Courier 5 Dec.

The National Parliament Speaker, Jeffery Nape was flown to Port Moresby from Cairns, Australia two weeks ago at enormous cost to our taxpayers for the recent session of Parliament that lasted for a week. The Government opted to charter the controversial Falcon jet for more than K47,000 to bring Mr Nape to Port Moresby – a trip that would cost a minimal K2697 on economy class and K3900 on business class for both ways on commercial flights.
The jet, now nicknamed “airborne PMV” is owned by Air Niugini and not the Government and is hired for use while Air Niugini sends the bill every month like any other commercial arrangement to Finance office for payment. Treasurer Don Polye has said that the jet was owned by Air Niugini and not the National Government, therefore the airline had all the powers to charge its charter fees and the Cabinet members also had the privilege to use the Falcon jet so long as they had funds to charter the plane.
On a trip back from Fiji recently, PM O’Neill told a press conference at the Jackson’s International airport that the Government was paying for the lease of the plane and it was a business arrangement with Air Niguini. “We hire the jet to use and Air Niugini sends us the bill every month like any other commercial arrangement. We are not using it free of charge,” O’Neill said.

Sweep ‘uncovers’ syndicates  The National, Tuesday 06th December 2011

THE Task Force Sweep has uncovered what it terms “systematic syndicates that collude to corrupt while huge sum of public monies have been misappropriated by persons in power for personal gain”, chairman Simon Koim said in a statement. Koim, in a two-page paid advertorial last Friday, said the proceeds of crime had been converted into private investments within Papua New Guinea and abroad. He claimed that foreign countries like Australia were seemingly becoming another Cayman Islands where the perpetrators were readily allowed to invest their proceeds of crime. He said the Task Force Sweep needed more time and the continued support of the government to complete cases, recoup the proceeds of crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. Koim said so far, two members of parliament, one former member and businessman, five senior public servants, one ministerial staff and one consultant had been charged with offences relating to their alleged involvement in the misappropriations of public funds. He added that the police financial intelligence unit and the public prosecutor’s office were also working to recover a number of properties which were identified as proceeds of crime and, once determined, would be forfeited to the state.

Police ordered to withdraw from PNG logging camps

The Papua New Guinea police commissioner has withdrawn all police from logging camps after allegations that police were abusing their powers in dealing with opponents of logging.
There are claims police in logging camps have been involved in bashing people with iron bars and fan belts, raiding villages in the middle of the night and drunkenness.
Commissioner Tom Kulunga says the move is to try to minimise and manage complaints against the police.

Sir J lauds police recall

The National, Monday 12th December 2011

NEW Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan has commended the recall of police personnel from logging camps. He said the police force had overstepped its primary responsibility of protecting the rights of people and enforcing peace and good order in communities.
Sir Julius said it had become a common practice for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to provide security for multi-national corporations, including logging and mining companies, who then subjected local people to heavy-handed treatment.
“It is not the role of our police force paid for by the people of PNG to protect the interests of profit-oriented foreign investors ahead of its prime constitutional charter,” Sir Julius said.
“Time and again, we witness the police force assuming the tasks of private security firms and drafted to logging camps and mining sites and subjecting our ordinary people to kamikaze-type tactics and suppress their rights, even to presidents and elected LLG councillors and chiefs.”
Sir Julius said one clear example was in a recent incident at New Hanover where some people suffered serious injuries and were hospitalised after police, providing security at a logging pond, fired at a bunch of local people who confronted company officials over their rights to timber harvests.

SPC/SOPAC project on experimental seabed mining disenfranchises Pacific people

By Effrey Dademo:

The Deep Sea Minerals Project of the SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community) disenfranchises indigenous people and promotes the interests of big mining companies at the expense of local communitiies. The project, which aims to develop a ‘viable and sustainable marine minerals industry’ is focused on the development of experimental seabed mining across the Pacific region. The project key objectives are to deliver the necessary legislation, regulatory framework, national policies and management and monitoring systems for the untested mining of minerals from the sea floor. The project is being funded by the European Union and implemented by the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC) of the SPC.

Rather than listening to indigenous voices, SOPAC and the SPC are dancing to the tune of the foreign owned mining industry which is keen to start mining as soon as possible, which could be as early as 2013 in the case of Papua New Guinea.

Trying to use legislation to effect positive environmental and social outcomes hands control to the mining companies and further disenfranchises indigenous people as access to the law and the courts is not a level playing field. Just compare the scientific and legal resources of BHP or Rio Tinto versus those of even the government’s of Tonga or Nauru let alone communities living in isolated rural communities. Is the SOPAC project going to provide indigenous communities with access to the best scientists and lawyers when contracts are negotiated and disputes arise? Of course not! And then there are the problems of enforcement. Good laws do not prevent environmental disasters or provide justice for the people.

With their Deep Sea Minerals Project, SOPAC and the SPC are ignoring the realities of governance in the Pacific, unequal access to the legal system, the power of large corporations and their record of environmental and social destruction.
Nautilus claims on experimental seabed mining risks ignore the facts:

Claims by Nautilus Minerals that its experimental seabed mining will be safe are not credible. As well as a flawed scientific analysis the company is not being transparent about its proposed systems, is not discussing the risky shipment and transshipment of the mined deposits and is not disclosing how and where the toxic processing wastes will be dumped.

On Friday, Nautilus’s Vice President for Corporate Communications, Joe Dowling went on radio to defend the company’s experimental seabed mining. He claimed that Nautlius has created a closed mining system that will not affect the upper levels of the ocean. But scientists say there is no such thing as a closed system in the marine environment.  The ocean is one interconnected space.  What happens on the bottom of the ocean will affect the surface layers – its just a matter of time. Scientists also want the systems developed by Nautlius to be released into the public domain so they can be subject to proper scrutiny. Scientists and academics are also pointing out that as well as the risks from the seabed mining operation itself, Nautilus is yet to say where and how the deposits dug up from the seabed will be processed and how the toxic wastes will be disposed of. Papua New Guinea has controversially allowed toxic waste from the new Ramu nickel mine to be dumped straight into the ocean and Nautilus have not ruled out that they could do the same.

Little to show from benefits made, says exec

The National, Monday 05th December 2011

DESPITE many years of mineral and petroleum activities in PNG, the host provinces have very little to show for all the benefits derived from the projects, the mining and petroleum seminar was told in Port Moresby last week. General manager, community and external affairs for Oil Search Ltd Willie Kupo said this when talking about social programmes and development.
He said half of the children aged between eight and 14 years old did not attend schools and a third of births took place outside of a medical facility. He said the people were still without clean water supply and other basic infrastructure.
Kupo said proper planning and coordination were key factors in ensuring that development funds generated from mining and petroleum activities were put into proper use.
He said there should be coordination to ensure that there was sufficient planning and project management capabilities at all levels of government, as at present this was almost non-existent in most areas. “Real social programme development would only happen if there is proper planning at all levels of government,” Kupo said.

Sepik SABL rights traded for millions on the international market :

Timber rights in the Nuku Maimai SABL (Portion 26C) in West Sepik have been traded for hundreds of millions of dollars on the international market as the newswire story below reveals

“Pacific Plywood Acquires Harvest Rights for 65,800 Hectares of Forest in Papua New Guinea.” Total Investment Involves HK$310 Million

Pacific Plywood Holdings Limited (“Pacific Plywood” or the “Group”, HKEx Stock Code: 0767) today announced that it has signed a sale and purchase agreement with a member company of I-Sky Group (Holdings) Limited (“I-Sky Group”) to acquire 30% equity interest of a member company of I-Sky Group which holds the rights to harvest logs in the Vabari Timber Authority Area covering approximately 65,800 hectares (“PNG Forest Project”) in Papua New Guinea (“PNG”) (“Target Company”). It involves an investment of approximately HK$310 million, and the rights last for 99 years. The PNG Forest Project involves a 65,800-hectare virgin forest in the Central part of the southern coastal area of Papua New Guinea, Pacific Islands. The area is sparsely populated and mostly covered by forest, of which 68% or 44,504 hectares is dense forest. It has abundant quality lumber which has yet to be exploited, and it is estimated that 24,885 hectares of forests can be developed (around 38% of the total area).

About Pacific Plywood Holdings Limited:

Pacific Plywood Holdings Limited was listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in 1995 with stock code of 0767. The Group primarily engages in the business of money lending, provision of credits, securities investment and corporate secretarial and consultancy services. The Group has been exploring investment opportunities in the forestry industry and actively seeking business partners to expand into the forestry business.

Hospital runs short of drugs due to roadblock  Post Courier 8 December

THE Tari District Hospital (TDH) is fast running short of basic medical supplies and life-saving drugs due to the roadblock at Poroma along the Mendi into Tari section of the Highlands Highway. Poroma villagers have set up the roadblock in anger over an innocent attack on a first year Dauli Teachers College student Jack Wambol from Poroma at the college early last month.
Mr Wambol was chopped with a bush knife on his left arm after the locals invaded the college and attacked the male students on November 15, 2011. Mr Wambol was taken to TDH where doctors from international medical organisations Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders based at the hospital managed to stabilise his condition after a hectic two and half hours of surgical operations.  Tari hospital boss Dr Hewali Hamiya said yesterday that among the basic medical supplies fast running out included replenishing of oxygen cylinders, intravenous (IV) fluids, antibiotics, needles for injections and others. Dr Hamiya said the hospital was placed in an awkward situation as it also could not send its vehicle to collect the medical supplies and also for administrative visits. He said in April this year, the hospital ambulance was stoned and attacked at Nipa and the hospital had to meet extra expenses from its very limited budget to repair the vehicle. He said it was not an appropriate action taken by the Poroma people to block the road and hold it in ransom to deny every Hela people the freedom of movement. Dr Hamiya said when the young Wambol was attacked, the hospital stabilised his condition and it was injustice and unfortunate for the hospital to be denied access to get its basic supplies and make patient referrals.

Marat reminds police of duty amid questions on incest

The National, 08th December

PARLIAMENT was told yesterday by Mi­nister for Justice and Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat that the police force was the law enforcement agency responsible for arresting and char­ging perpetrators of the “abominable crime of incest”. Marat said there were no exceptions for anybody, including those involved in pornography and alcohol-related abuse and crimes.
He said all perpetrators must face the full brunt of the law and he stood by his morals in denouncing the offen­ces. Marat was answering questions from Pomio MP, Paul Tiensten, who questioned the minister’s positions on incest offences which were on the rise, especially in East New Britain. “It is common knowledge that there are serial incest offenders roaming our streets, preying on innocent victims, especially when the trust between child and these unsuspecting offenders is violated,” Tiensten said.

Focus on abuse of taxi drivers at PNG human rights film festival

A freelance web designer and photographer is hoping Papua New Guinea’s second annual Human Rights Film Festival will raise awareness of police abuse of taxi drivers. The five day event being held at Moresby Arts Theatre in the capital will coincide with Human Rights Day celebrations on Saturday.

Part of Robert Weber’s documentary Teksi is being screened with the aim of giving audiences a snapshot of how the police treat taxi drivers. “I find a lot of them are talking about how the police when they pull them over they abuse their rights and then ask the taxi drivers, they pull them up for anything just to get money. And every taxi driver that I’ve recorded, they’re very passionate about that and they want their voice heard now because it’s just not right that they’re getting abused by the police in that sense. They’re just over-using their power. It’s extortion almost to get money out of the taxi drivers.” Robert Weber says taxi drivers in Port Moresby have been nicknamed ATMs, or automatic teller machines, by officers who demand money from them.

We are being informed but we are not acting on the information:  (by Scott Waide)

We as a nation have so many outstanding issues that we need to address. Yet we keep creating new problems for ourselves.  We haven’t solved Ok Tedi’s environmental problems and yet  we’ve allowed another foreign company to  dump it’s waste into  the Basamuk Bay. While dozens of teachers in Port Moresby and other major centres live in classrooms because of the lack of accommodation and high rentals, we give ourselves hefty increases in accommodation allowances and we say it’s justified. Why does a  father in remote Sandaun have to accept the death of his son when our leaders have access to  the best doctors in  a foreign country.  Why do we buy a jet  to be used by  just a few when we don’t want to subsidize rural air transport for ordinary people? We all have solutions to the ills of our society. For ethnic violence, we say send them back to where they came from.  But send them back to what?

To a village that has no road access?

To schools that have no teachers?

To health centres that have no medicine?

It is sometimes difficult to understand why we choose to  nurture dissatisfaction and anger amongst our people?  In a sense, we are fortunate that the vast majority of Papua New Guineans do not draw the link between decision makers and poor service delivery.  Maybe it’s because they’re too busy just trying to survive  because of those bad decisions. But I tell you this that void of ignorance is diminishing at a very rapid rate.  Soon every Papua New Guinean with a mobile phone will know exactly what Waigani is doing though mobile internet access and they will have every right to be angry.

What to do:

Each of us has a responsibility. Every person has the job of fixing this great country of ours.

If a teacher taught for eight hours a day, five days a week. Wouldn’t we have better educated people? And if that one person in authority made sure medicine got from point A to point B,  wouldn’t we have less people dying?

We can write a hundred stories about illegal immigrants and human smuggling…

We can write about disappearing millions and investigations by the Public Accounts Committee… But the media is good only if ordinary people and those in authority take the information that is supplied  and act on it.  If the systems and authorities don’t take steps to address the problems we expose, then our attempts amount to very little

Ramu mine to test pipeline and refinery

The Chinese owned Ramu nickel mine will test its slurry pipeline and refinery plant on Tuesday this week. The mine is still unable to fully commission its mining operation due to an outstanding Supreme Court decision on the legality of plans to dump the toxic mine waste directly into the sea. Earlier this year the National court ruled the dumping would breach Papua New Guinea’s Constitution and cause both a public and a private nuisance. MCC and their junior partner, Australian based Highlands Pacific have appealed that decision – although marine dumping of mine waste into the sea is expressly forbidden in China and would never be authorised in Australia.

Papua New Guinea “Especially Vulnerable” to the Resource Curse

Monday, 19 December 2011:LNG Watch

A recent report produced by Oxford Policy Management’s Extractive Industries team, suggests Papua New Guinea is “especially vulnerable” to the resource curse, as a result of growing dependence on minerals. The report claims mineral dependence negatively impacts on economic growth, “non-fuel, mineral dependent countries are more likely to have lower economic development than other countries”. It also argues: “Countries that depend on either non-fuel or fuel minerals are also more likely than other countries to suffer from institutional governance problems such as corruption and political instability”.

However, perhaps most disconcerting from Papua New Guinea’s perspective is the following finding: “More than 20 mineral-dependent countries are especially vulnerable to the ‘resource curse’ – the risk that substantial changes in commodity prices will severely affect their development. Non-fuel, mineral-dependent countries that are most at risk of the resource curse includes Papua New Guinea”.

Hopefully this report will be picked up and scrutinised by those in the mass-media and government who are at the forefront of the mining = development brigade – however, given that it raises uncomfortable facts which question this assumption, its findings might be tactically avoided.

PNG ‘resource curse’ site

The National, Wednesday 21st December 2011

PAPUA New Guinea has been identified as among 20 countries in the world that is “most vulnerable” to fall under the “resources curse”. Countries whose mineral and oil/gas exports account for 25% of their total exports were likely to become victims of the resources curse.
In PNG’s case, mineral, oil and gas account for over 60% of export revenue.
Six types of minerals were considered, including crude fertilisers, metalliferous ores (ores containing metals) and metal scrap, non-ferrous metals, pearls and semi-precious stones, non-monetary gold, and minerals fuels including natural gas.
The most dramatic changes in the number of mineral-dependent companies occurred from 2005 to 2010, when commodity prices started to soar.
Dan Haglund,  a political economist focused on natural resources policy, generated two matrices which defined countries most at risk from the “resource curse” due to critical reliance on minerals exports for foreign exchange earnings and therefore most vulnerable to international commodity markets. “They are also the most severely constrained in terms of economic resources and effective institutions,” he observed. “These countries have limited industrial diversification that would enable either ‘upstream’ supply industries to develop or ‘downstream’ value addition.” The matrices identified the non-fuel, mineral-dependent countries most at risk were Bolivia, Burkina Faso, the DRC, Ghana, Guyana, Laos, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Zambia.

Report: Alcohol abuse costing K78m a year

The National,  20th December 2011

ALCOHOL abuse in PNG costs the state more than K78 million annually and a national alcohol policy needs to be put in place, a new report from the National Research Institute (NRI) says.
Damage to infrastructure, loss of lives, injuries and compensation for accidents made up the bulk of the damage while some costs were hidden and unquantifiable.
The report, Addressing alcohol abuse in Papua New Guinea, was an issue paper compiled by NRI researcher Dr Michael Unage at regional symposium on alcohol abuse. The report said medical costs of treatment for alcohol abuse-related cases at Port Moresby General Hospital were estimated at between K4 million and K20 million annually. Infrastructure costs to the state were difficult to determine as information provided at the symposiums was insufficient and the Works Department lacked dated information regarding damage as a result of alcohol abuse.
Statistics from the National Road Safety Council showed the number of vehicle
accidents in the country had increased by 23%.It said there was frequent anti-social behaviour in schools from 2005-10 as a result of alcohol abuse.
At least 17% of upper primary school boys and 39% of lower and upper secondary school boys admitted to drinking alcohol regularly. The report said there was a need for a national alcohol policy, reviewing and effective enforcement of the Liquor Licence Act of 1963 and increased public private partnership initiatives to address alcohol abuse.

Women’s bill fails second attempt

The National, 21st December 2011

PARLIAMENT failed to pass the equality and participation enabling bill for the second consecutive day yesterday.The vote was taken after the leader of government business Moses Maladina rescinded the voting on Monday when they could not get the numbers to pass it.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said several new amendments were made to the bill before the vote. Six of the 74 members voted against the bill. They were Lae MP Bart Philemon, Western Governor Dr Bob Danaya, Madang Governor James Gau, Usino Bundi MP Samson Kuli, Madang MP Buka Malai and Wewak MP Dr Moses Manwau.Nipa-Kutubu MP Philemon Embel left before the vote for the women’s bill was taken leaving the government with only 67 votes. Members of the Somare-led faction stayed out although four of their members including Dame Carol Kidu attended parliament by sitting in the middle bench. The house managed only 67 votes, much to the disappointment of women representatives watching from the public gallery.“Some members in government have indicated to me they would vote against the bill on conscience, and they did. This bill was introduced when Somare was in government. But they decided to sit on it for months, and our government moved quickly to bring it to the floor of parliament for a vote.” After failing to muster the required number, parliament rescinded the vote. They will attempt another vote today.Among the new clauses inserted were to remove the women’s electorate by 2027 – which meant that the women’s electorates would exist only in the 2012, 2017 and 2022 elections. O’Neill said the creation of seats specifically for women was to reflect the difficulties faced by the women in gaining seats in parliament. However, he said the government was working to address the underlying issues and by 2027, women’s roles would have changed as they could be able to contest seats on an equal footing with men without any difficulty.

Sorcery Act reviewed

The National, Wednesday 21st December 2011

THE Sorcery Act of 1971 is currently under review by the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC). It is to make recommendations for law reform. Enacted in 1971, the act was to prevent and punish those who practise sorcery. But people who practised sorcery ended up being protected by the law when the victims’ relatives take the law into their own hands and ended up being punished for killing those who practised sorcery.
Commission secretary Dr Eric Kwa, said the review would: Assess the effectiveness of laws; see what should be done if sorcery laws were mandated; propose amendments or new legis­lation if sorcery and sorcery-related killings were to be amended; and see how best associated laws and practices could be modified to achieve reforms. He said CLRC organised teams which visited 18 of the 20 provinces to get the views of the people so a proper draft report of the reviewed law to bring sorcery killers to justice could be made. The report draft showed that from 2000 to 2006, 116 sorcery cases were published in the dailies, 55 from the highlands, 30 in Momase, 23 in southern and eight from the New Guinea islands. Out of the 166 cases, 75 involved the torture and killing of 147 victims, 52 of which were males and 69 females.  The final report will be finalised in February before it is given to the minister in March to bring up to cabinet before a new government takes office next August.

Suspect kills and eats woman  

The National, Wednesday 28th December 2011

POLICE in Enga have arrested a man for allegedly killing a three-month pregnant woman and eating part of her body.
Police said the gruesome murder took place in Mona­kam village in the Kompiam-Ambum electorate last Tuesday.
Police believe the man had been high on marijuana when he allegedly cannibalised the woman.
Police described it as a first of its kind in the province – one which was known more for tribal fight and not cannibalistic practices.
Provincial police commander Martin Lakari said the man drank the woman’s blood and then started cutting her throat and ate it before locals were alerted and stopped the man.
He said the man allegedly smoked marijuana and when his throat turned dry, he attacked the woman with a knife, killing her instantly.
Lakari said as the woman lay dead on the ground the man licked her blood and started eating her throat.
Lakari warned people, especially women whose husbands were known for smoking marijuana, to avoid them when they were alone.
He warned mothers not to let their children stay home with their fathers because such an incident could happen.

Schools to get cheques  Post Courier 30 December

ELEMENTARY to secondary schools will have their free education funds deposited next week in preparation for the 2012 school year.
An Education Department spokesperson said yesterday that the department was working around the clock to finalise everything for the schools throughout country and would get everything done by week one of January 2012. She said that the workers were on holiday and would resume work on January 3, 2012 to finalise this.
“By January 3 and on wards the department will finalise everything,” she said.
The Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has said on December 23 2011 that the money to pay the school fees for students committed by his government under its free education policy would be going to bank accounts for all the schools before the enrollment and start of academic year 2012.
The Prime Minister added that the cheques had been drawn for 6000 accounts for schools in the country and the processing of cheques would continue for the next two weeks. The spokesperson said that at the moment there was nothing confirmed but would get everything done before the schools’ academic year starts on February 6, 2012.
In the 2012 budget, education received the largest funding of K649 million which will pay for free tuition education, including K47m for education infrastructure.g

Magistrate advises prisoners to make better decisions in life

The National, 30th December 2011

A MAGISTRATE has told a group of prisoners she was visiting to learn how to distinguish between good and bad.
East New Britain senior provincial magistrate Dessie Magaru urged inmates at Kerevat jail to learn how to decide for oneself what is good and what is bad.
She was part of the delegation visiting the prison with businesswoman Sandra Lau with gifts and food for the 335 inmates.
Lau has, for the past few years, been visiting the prison bringing the spirit of Christmas to the inmates who look forward to her visits.
Magaru told the inmates that every time she sent somebody to prison, she always reminded them to have the courage to say no to things that were not right and yes to those that were right.
“If you have God in your life, you should not be able to go wrong,” she said.
She urged the prisoners to seek help when they had problems.
Magaru asked for forgiveness from the prisoners who she had sent to jail at Kerevat saying someone had to do that job.
She said her team of magistrates had to do what they did to maintain law and order in communities.
Magaru told the inmates that Lau was showing them compassion – something that must be a part of their lives.

The management of the Accident and Emergency Department at Port Moresby General Hospital in Papua New Guinea have threatened to shut it down unless a liquor ban is immediately put in place for this weekend. The Post Courier reports that the tough stance has been taken by the chief of emergency medicine, Dr Sam Yockopua. He made the call after his unit attended to more than 30 emergency trauma cases, mostly resulting from drunken brawls, in just three days during last weekend’s Christmas festivities. This included two people brought to the A&E who died, four who are in life threatening states after being admitted with knife wounds and several people treated for knife slash wounds, bruises and other minor injuries.Dr Yockopua says such cases are unnecessary and preventable and the alarming surge in such violent injuries over the festive season is a direct result of excessive consumption of and abuse of alcohol. He says he cannot allow his staff to be abused, overworked, outnumbered and under resourced.

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