Social Concerns Notes – January 2012

These notes often report unfortunate happenings and negative trends, so it is good to be able to begin with some relatively good news.

PNG Best Ranked in the Pacific

Papua New Guinea is the best-ranked Pacific nation on press freedom, according to a report released yesterday. Media body Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontiers) listed PNG at number 35 in its press freedom index – three places above France which has territories in the region. Samoa (54th) ranked equal with Hong Kong, just ahead of the United States territories. Tonga was 63rd and Timor-Leste 86th. But Vanuatu, which has had some problems in the past year and the Solomon Islands, were not listed. Fiji, which has a draconian media decree imposed by the military-backed regime which seized power in a 2006 coup, dropped to 117th. The survey was completed before it lifted its Public Emergency Regulations (PER) this month but immediately imposed a Public Order Act which contained even worse conditions than the PER. Countries which have traditionally been good performers in the Asia-Pacific region did not shine last year, the report said. “With New Zealand’s fall to 13th position, no country in the region figured among the top 10 in the index, it said. “In Australia (30th), the media were subjected to investigations and criticism by the authorities, and were denied access to information.

The top 10 countries are headed by Finland, followed by Norway, Estonia, the Netherlands, Austria, Iceland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Cape Verde and Canada. [Source – The Nation 27/01/2012]

 More women to enrol at Divine Word

 The National, 12th January 2012

MORE female students are expected to enrol at the Divine Word University’s main campus in Madang this year.
University vice-president for academic and adminisrtative services Br Andrew Simpson said 783 females were expected to enrol, while males would account for 634 spaces, taking the intake to 1,417 students. He said this was for all years of study and did not include enrolments in the three other campuses of DWU and the Faculty of Flexible Learning.

Selections have been carried out on the basis of academic merit and the references given by applying students. “Preference is not given to students who do not meet the required standards,” he said.“There is the expectation that selected students enter into the community spirit and contribute towards the up-building of the DWU community. “DWU maintains a zero-tolerance on alcohol and does not accept that the community be disturbed by alcoholic behaviour.”

Female students miss out

 The National, 11th January 2012

SOME girls who did their Grade 12 last year at the Notre Dame Girls Secondary in Western Highlands have missed out on securing positions in tertiary institutions because of an error by the measurement service branch of the Education Department. Of those who completed the year, only 26 entries were correct while the rest were incorrect. Provincial guidance officer Ben Malari and school principal Sr Mary Vivette went through all the students’ transcripts and found a major error by the MSB. The parents presented a petition to the branch director Greg Kapanombo. Parents claimed that Kapanombo and the OHE were aware of this problem and yet did nothing to help the students. They said Kapanombo admitted there were errors in the processing of marks for the grade 12 Applied English but nothing had been done to solve the problem. Parents said many students with good marks had missed out on continuing their education.

An example from Fiji

Fijian villagers continue to say no to Newcrest Mining

In another unprecedented meeting that took place yesterday in Waivaka Village, Namosi, government officials led by the head of Mineral Resources Department (Malakai Finau), got gob-smacked by very clear, strong and bold Namosi landowners.

In a tag-team effort, the landowners intercepted the agenda. First off, the spokesman, demanded to know why the delegation was late. That as villagers, there is a lot to do in a day rather then sitting around waiting for a delegation who set the meeting time and they were told that if they say 10am then be there at that time and have some respect for the villagers.

The final comment of the day came from the Turaga-ni-Mataqali or the clan headman, an old catechist with a lot of passion and growing confidence who straightened himself up to sitting position, looked coldly at the police officer and said to him ‘I am the landowner, are you threatening me? If you want to remove the ban, then you remove it. But hear me today – we are not going to remove the ban and allow access, not today not ever. You want to take us to jail, go ahead and take all of us. After this statement to which he needed no response, the old man stood up and left the meeting Hall to go and have lunch.

At the end of the meeting, all that was left in the previously filled Hall were the Government delegation and two school-boys who were kind enough to stay and taki their kava. The rest of the villagers – having waited and heard nothing but threats and more NJV strong-arming, went back to their homes and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.


Alcohol abuse affects hospital budgets 

Post Courier 5 January

THE consumption and abuse of alcohol that results in alcohol violence and even death is really putting a strain on hospital budgets.
It is also causing hospitals to run out of resources.
This was revealed by Acting Chief Executive Officers of both Alotau and Mt Hagen General hospitals and also Chief of Emergency Medicine and Director of Emergency Department at the Port Moresby General Hospital Dr Sam Yockopua.
Mt Hagen General Hospital Acting CEO Dr Michael Dokup said that the Accident and Emergency (A&E) unit was full and was not a good story to tell. He said that most cases seen there were alcohol related incidents where drunkards get into drunken brawls and slash each other with bushknives and also injure themselves and turn up at the wards to be treated.
He said that he hoped that something was done by the authorities to control the sale of alcohol because the number of cases seen at the A&E ward was alarming and already the hospital was running out of basic supplies such as gauzes, plasters and basic medicines including panadols and amoxicillins.

2012 PNG Budget

The theme of the 2012 Budget is “Sharing the Wealth and Empowering our People”.

The Government views this as a ‘people budget’ with a view towards ensuring the benefits of strong economic growth are shared more fairly. It also attempts to lower the cost of living for the people.

Key components of the 2012 Budget include:

 It is expected this 2012 balanced budget will be PNG’s biggest ever at K10.6 billion.

 Economic growth is forecast to decline slightly to 7.8% in 2012 (the revised 2011 estimate is 8.9%), while inflation is forecast to drop slightly to 7.6% in 2012.

 As with the prior year, the 2012 Budget continues to recognise the significance of the PNG LNG Project as a driver of economic growth.

 The Government has reiterated its commitment to the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund to address the downside macroeconomic risks associated with large scale projects such as the PNG LNG Project.

 A focus on free education, the 2012 National Elections, the 2015 South Pacific Games, and improving the road infrastructure.

 K900 million of domestic debt securities to be issued to fund the State’s share in the PNG LNG project.

Key budget assumptions

The major assumptions on which the budget has been based are summarised in the following table. Historic indicators are also included for reference purposes.

Principal Economic Indicators 2006 (actual) 2007 (actual) 2008 (actual) 2009 (actual) 2010 (actual) 2011 (estimate) 2012 (projection)
Real GDP Growth (%) 2.3 7.2 6.6 5.5 7.6 8.9 7.8
Non-mining GDP Growth (%) 3.9 8.1 7.6 6.3 8.5 10.8 7.4
Inflation (year average) (%) 2.4 0.9 10.8 7.0 6.0 8.7 7.6
Oil price (US$ per barrel) 64 71 97 62 79 90 85
Gold price (US$ per ounce) 604 697 881 973 1,225 1,566 1,884
Copper Price (US$ per ton) 6,731 7,132 6,963 5,100 7,538 8,800 8,819
Interest rates % (yearly average T-Bill) 5.0 5.0 5.9 7.3 5.5 7.5 7.5 (8 January)

THE Indonesian military scrambled two aircraft to track Air Niugini’s Falcon jet last November as it was returning home from Malaysia with VIPs on board, including Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, it has been disclosed. According to the Indonesian journalist, Indonesian authorities were tipped off that the aircraft was carrying substantial amount of cash in US dollars. Indonesia, which has very strict laws on money laundering, scrambled two military jets to “escort” the PNG carrier through its airspace until it reached PNG airspace. Namah has vehemently denied that he or his group were carrying substantial amount of US dollars aboard the Falcon.

Now to take the cake is Belden Namah, Sam Basil, and John Boito flying over Indonesia with US$250 Million. Now they are threatening the President and Ambassador of Indonesia. So Belden gives them 7 days to respond!!!! Ooooooo I can see the Indonesian President shaking in his boots!! Now how silly and stupid can you all be Mr Sam Basil. Explain yourself Sam Basil. Tell us the story from the beginning. …

Compo for dead cat set at K12,000  

The National, 10th January 2012

A MAN from Nipa in Southern Highlands is claiming K12,000 compensation from a trucking company for causing the death of his cat on the highway. Pulim villager Jeffery Kopeap claims that the cat was run over by a truck belonging to the Traisa trucking company in the early hours of Dec 30 last year. In a letter to the company, he says he wants the money to be paid as soon as possible. “I strongly demand Traisa company for K12,000 to compensate my cat. The life of human beings and animals are same, not different,” Kopeap wrote in his letter to the company. In his letter he said: “If nothing is done, there will be another story. The Traisa company and their escort cars will never travel on this road.” Drivers using the highway are concerned that the compensation culture is now getting out of hand with companies being forced to pay out cash they have not budgeted for.

Kavieng to try out new anti-malarial 

The National, 12th January 2012

KAVIENG district health services, New Ireland, will join others in implementing the new malaria treatment protocol in Papua New Guinea as directed by the Department of Health. Kavieng district health manager, Paterson Marengas, said the distribution of Artemethre-Lumefantrine (Mala-1) for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in health centres within the district started on Jan 3. Coordinated by the New Guinea Islands malaria logistics officer Leo Lagarand and implemented by Marengas and other officers in the district health service, the rollout has been well-received by the medical fraternity. The new line of treatment replaces the prescription and administration of chloroquine and carmoquine tablets. Marengas said before prescribing the Mala-1 treatment it was  a requirement that patients undergo rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) using RDT Kits and/or microscopic/laboratory tests for malaria diagnosis. Marengas said the Mala-1 was fast, effective and prevented further transmission and was easily digested. He said malaria was endemic in the country and was experiencing a high drug resistance strain that was being countered by the introduction of Artemethre-Lumefantrine.To complement the new line of treatment, Mala-1 is administered free of charge in all health centres.

Rice monopoly a dangerous move

THE Americans would like us to believe the Arab Spring came about because the people wanted democracy. That is untrue. The people wanted food at a reasonable price and the Americans and other wanted their oil.

Put up the price of rice and there will be rioting in PNG.

The French Revolution was about Equality and Democracy and Fraternity but it was triggered by a lack of food. When Queen Marie Antoinette was supposedly told that the peasants were revolting because they could not afford bread (which is our equivalent to rice) she is supposedly, incorrectly to have replied … “then give them cake”… and peasants (workers) took her out and cut off her head. If your people are starving they will cause problems. There were no fat Egyptians or Libyans on the TV screens.

The government cannot go down the path of previous governments in allowing outsiders to take control of food like was done so corruptly with Ramu Sugar and the planned Indonesian takeover of the cocoa industry. While we do not eat cocoa directly the proposed Indonesian takeover of the cocoa industry would have had long term disastrous effect. The sale out of our oil industry is another tale of corruption and woe but nothing affects everyone as much as unaffordable rice. No government can allow anyone from anywhere to have a monopoly over food otherwise there will be riots. There is enough rice on the foreign markets to make sure no one in PNG goes hungry as long as the price is low. We consume about 200,000 tons of rice every year. World rice costs in 2004 were about K1.25 per kilo and you can ask why we pay K4 in shops and the would-be monopolies are saying prices will increase to more than K11 per kilo. In fact rice prices fell 3 % in 2011.

‘Local’ Rice firm owned by International Fugitive Djoko Tjadra

 Naima Agro Industries Limited, the rice company that will grow rice at Bereina Central Province is owned by International fugitive Djoko Tjandra. Tjandra is the owner of Mulia Group, an Indonesian Multi-National Company that owns Naima Industries. Papua New Guineans were misled by our Government to believe that a PNG Citizen Eleana Tjandranegara was the sole owner of Naima Agro Industries.  Naima will recieve a tax holiday from the Government of PNG to get the Bereina rice project underway. What has until now been the only cause of uproar has been a proposed import tariff on all rice in PNG, virtually driving the rest of the rice industry in PNG into the ground as all rice in the country right now is imported. The import tariff will virtually tilt the rice market to Naima’s advantage and has the potential to drive Trukai, Mulia Group is owned by Djoko S. Tjandra, wanted by Indonesia and Interpol (The International Police) for tax fraud which cost the state Rp 500 million in financial losses.

 PMGH short oxygen 

Post Courier 17 Jan

There is a ship sitting out in Port Moresby harbour full of oxygen bottles.
There is a hospital full of patients and a severe shortage of oxygen.
Last night, one concerned Port Moresby medical professional decided to take matters into her own hands. Paediatrician Mary Paiva used social media website Facebook to appeal for emergency oxygen to be supplied to the Port Moresby general hospital. She wrote: “I’m oncall at the PMGH in the paediatric wards and watching helplessly as the sick are getting sicker because of lack of oxygen in the wards.
“It’s the same story in all the wards in the last 3 days. Any sharpie that is able to help bring in oxygen to PMGH, please help.” The hospital is supplied oxygen by BOC Gas but last week, the hospital was informed the ship carrying the bottles was sitting out in the harbour waiting to be cleared to dock.

PNG Power forces doctors into hotels

 The National,17 January 2012

SIX doctors and their families at the Mendi General Hospital have been forced to live in a hotel because PNG Power has not connected electricity to their homes. The doctors had recently accepted to work at the hospital in the Southern Highlands capital. The doctors came from Port Moresby, Lae, Kavieng and Goroka. Hospital chief executive officer Joseph Turian said the doctors were accepted to work in the hospital but the delay by PNG Power had forced the hospital to put them up in hotels.Turian said the Works Department office in Mendi had paid the connection fees last October but nothing had been done by the power supplier. He said he personally went to the PNG Power office and reminded them many times but they always made empty promises. Turian said the doctors had children and baby sitters and it was not right to squeeze them into hotel rooms.

Blindness a major concern says WHO 

Post Courier 17 Jan

IT is estimated that a 44,000 people over the age of 50 in PNG are blind and a further 146,000 people suffer from poor vision. Visual impairment is among other issues that is a major concern, according to a recent WHO meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Visual impairment includes cataract, pterygium, untreated eye infections and refractive error. Recent official data is not available for the general population.

Index ranks economy 128th freest

  The National, 17 January 2012

PAPUA New Guinea’s economic freedom score is 53.8, making its economy the 128th freest in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, a publication by the US Wall Street Journal. Its score is 1.2 points better than last year, primarily because of a significant improvement in the control of government spending. This meant that PNG ranked 26th out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score was lower than the world and regional averages. The Index is an annual guide published by the Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, Washington’s No. 1 think tank, covering 10 freedoms from property rights to entrepreneurship – in 184 countries since 1995.
The Index also found that PNG was seemingly mired in the “mostly unfree” category. It noted that the economy remained divided between a formal sector based on exports of natural resources such as the mining of rich deposits of gold, copper, oil, and natural gas, and a large informal sector that relied on subsistence farming and other small-scale economic activity.
The fragility of prospects for long-term economic development was reflected in the very low score for property rights and a level of corruption that undermines the rule of law.

Free medicare policy rushed   

Post Courier 27/1/2012

The government’s Free Medicare Policy was made in haste without proper consultation with key players in the health sector; hence, it was termed as a mere political statement.  This was raised by senior health managers in the highlands region yesterday who said the Public Hospital’s Act of 1994 which calls for the User-Pay policy governed operations of hospitals and patients would still pay for treatment unless proper dialogue was reached between the department and the government and amendments made. Major hospitals in the region are not sure what the K10million for the government’s free medical care policy would be used for, as they believe it was not enough to run their operations. Most hospitals depend on patient fees, which amount to hundreds of thousands, to continue operations when Area Medical Stores run out of drug or when their medical equipment breakdown.

Kokopo women get more justice  

Post Courier 27/1/2012  

THE Kokopo Police Station yesterday launched the newly established Family and Sexual Violence Unit which will cater for the demanding need Kokopo has for family and sexual violence related cases. Provincial Police Commander Sylvester Kalaut said that public concern has been raised for some time now in regards to the inability of the police in East New Britain to provide an effective frontline response to the community in terms of police service delivery, more particularly to support and assist to victims of family and sexual violence. In a first for the New Guinea Islands region, the specialised office is established through the sponsorship of Mr Kalaut and the strong support and the strong support of NGO groups, police as well as groups and stakeholders from the law and justice sector.

President of the ENB Council of Women and family and sexual violence action committee chairperson Ruby Matane was emotional during the launching, saying that it is a dream come true for her as she has been working for 15 years to actually have the office set up.
She said that most women do not access justice because most police personnel do not know how to deal with issues of such nature. “I am overwhelmed that the office is set up and I know for sure that a lot of women can, and will access this service,” Mrs Matane said.

Link to report:

Parliament dumps Environment Act amendments

Reports coming through from Parliament House that the O’Neill government has made good on its promise to repeal the Environment Act Amendments which have been unanimously dumped.

Thompson Haroqaveh, the Environment Minister, took the legislation to Parliament today and got the Amendment Act removed. The Amendments were bulldozed through Parliament in May 2010 by the Somare regime as a response to landholder concerns about the marine dumping of toxic waste from the Ramu nickel mine. The amendments gave the government the power to approve any activities on customary land without consulting the landholders and exempted foreign companies from any liability for environmental damage. The amendments were drafted by Australian law firm Allens Arthur Robinson at the behest of MCC, the Chinese state owned corporation that operates the Ramu mine, and pushed through the PNG Parliament in a single afternoon by the Somare government with no prior disclosure or debate.

PNG LNG project was a rush: Officials 

Post Courier 19 Jan

The problems associated with the PNG LNG project are bigger than what was earlier anticipated by the landowners. Department of Petroleum officials have now revealed that the Somare Government breached Section 47 of the Oil and Gas Act which stipulates that a full-scale social mapping and landowner identification study must be done by the licensee prior to granting of new petroleum Development License and also prior to the development forum.
Confirming this to the Post-Courier, the officials said without the satisfactory fulfillment of Section 47 of the Oil and Gas Act, it is illegal for the Minister of Petroleum or the government to invite affected landowners, affected LLG’s and affected provincial governments to the development forum. “A petroleum licence is granted only after section 47 and section 48 of the Oil and Gas Act are fully and satisfactorily met.

British American Tobacco’s corporate greed

BAT sells on average per month 100 million sticks of tobacco and annually 1.2 billion sticks of Tobacco. It is estimated that in Papua New Guinea the adult smoking population is approximately 3 million out of a population of 7 million. If you do the math, this is really scary.

BAT’s overall goal and objective is to grow volume through increased distribution, they do this by making cigarettes available in every outlet, street market, and clubs, with no concern for the exposure it has on our children. The real reason why prices of cigarettes went up in December and in early January was because management had decided to hold back stock, because they had already hit their final year end Target in November 2011, which guaranteed them fat bonuses. They also held back the stock because they wanted to manage their shareholder expectations down in Australia. If they had gone over target, this year 2012 shareholders will be putting more pressure and demand more from them, hence no guarantee for another fat bonus.

Deserving students left out, editorial

The National, 19 January 2012

ACCORDING to figures released by the Department of Education, 39,750 students sat for the grade 10 national examinations last year. But, of that number, only 14,079 of those high school pupils are eligible for selection into grade 11 this year. That is just over a third or 35% of the total student numbers at that particular year level which our schools nationwide are able to accommodate. This, however, is not the only dilemma which faces this group of young Papua New Guineans post Grade 10 exams.
Not all of those eligible students are guaranteed a place in the next grade because only 12,674 of them can expect to secure a place in the following year. The remaining 1,405 students are basically left to fend for themselves. Many will enter private institutions – secondary or vocational and technical schools – to continue to the next stage of their learning while others, if fortunate enough, find employment in one form or another. The majority, one can safely assume, are caught in an educational and career limbo. With no viable options for continuing their formal education, save for expensive tuition at privately-run colleges, they invariably end up at home, or worse, on the street.

Churches want O’Neill and Sir Michael to talk

 The National, 23rd January 2012

THE Papua New Guinea Council of Churches has written to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Sir Michael Somare expressing the people’s disappointment over the political impasse. In a letter dated Jan 19 and signed by Catholic Archbishop of Port Moresby John Ribat and Anglican Bishop of Port Moresby Peter Ramsden, they said they were willing to arrange a peace meeting between the two leaders. “We are unhappy about the situation we are in. “The issue of prime minister and police commissioner are not resolved yet. The people of PNG watched helplessly, the MPs quarrelling in the floor of the parliament on Jan 18,” they said in the letter. “We, the members of the PNG Council of Churches, under the chairmanship of moderator Samson Lowa, are ready to facilitate a forum for a dialogue of both the leaders to resolve the issues amicably. “We are ready to arrange the place and the facilitators for this dialogue if both of you agree.”

Caritas in poll awareness 

Post Courier 24 Jan

CARITAS PNG’s electoral Awareness and Education Program on the 2012 elections will be in full swing throughout the country after its launch in Port Moresby yesterday.
With an aspiration similar to vision 2050, as an ultimate goal through which people everywhere will be smart, wise, fair, healthy and happy.
The Electoral Awareness and Education Program has been running prior to the launch but it was acknowledged officially yesterday.
The motive for the program is to promote a just and fair environment for the 2012 elections so that it will have a positive outcome for the next government term. 
The national director for Caritas PNG Raymond Ton, said the main goal of Caritas PNG was to educate the citizens, both rural and urban and weigh out the political decision they were about to make. 
“Central to the key message of the program is; it is not about, who, but what they should vote for why.
“So they realize, their vote is their voice of power, not something to be traded with or converted to monetary or material value. And they should vote with responsibility and respect each others rights,” he said.

Call for PNG to repeal sorcery act after West Sepik deaths

Papua New Guinea’s Constitutional and Law Reform Commission says it wants the Sorcery Act repealed by the end of this year. Last year, the Commission released a review of the Act, after an increase in the number of false accusations of sorcery were slammed by human rights groups.
But it’s making headlines again as six people accused of sorcery or witchcraft were killed in West Sepik Province by people who had taken the law into their own hands.
ZOCCA: The government is happy that people don’t complain about their service, about the lack of medicine and the lack of doctors because people they accuse eachother for everything.
ARNOST: But he says even the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission has faced divisions on how to change the Act and handle sorcery accusations.

ZOCCA: Because currently, the head of the commission – a lawyer, highly respected – died! You can just imagine how the people interpreted that death, you know. A prominent person, chairman of the commission. So I know that the commission is divided.
Some people, because they know how the others believe, they would like to make the law even stronger, in the sense there is no need of evidence. Once a person is accused he’s accused – even if you cannot provide evidence, he should be put to prison, which is really against any kind of human rights.

Dame Carol Kidu quits politics

Someone who is anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s session of parliament in PNG is Dame Carol Kidu. Dame Carol has made no secret of the fact that she would bow out gracefully after three terms. She will not be running in the elections scheduled for this year but hopes to see the reserved seats for women passed into law.
Speaker Dame Carol Kidu

KIDU: Well I’m leaving behind a situation where I’ve ended up in a fairly angry state, angry about many things I see around me, but I also have to take time and take a deep breath and look back and I am leaving behind some very solid policies that I hope will be implemented and at the electorate level, I’m leaving behind some programs that are being based really focusing on trying to improve the lives of marginalised people, like an organisation called .Gime go Business Development which has trained thousands of marginalised women and youth and many of them have found employment, and an early childhood program and I could go on and on. So I have to move out of the present kind of angry space about the way politics has evolved in PNG and reflect on the positives as well. …
COUTTS. I can’t imagine Dame Carol just going home and crocheting though. What have you got lined up?
KIDU: No, well nothing specific, but I will have to work because I have not accumulated anything in politics. But I hope things do come up. I’m playing with the idea of establishing a Community Development Foundation and, of course, that would not be my income, that would be a foundation to really work with government on implementing some of the policies I’ve worked so hard on with a good secretary and a good department. In terms of me, I hope that may be I’ll find some consultancies in the area of community development and women and those areas, but it’s a bit of an unknown and its a little bit unnerving, but I mean I’m sure things will pan out. It will be concerning the areas I’ve been working in, not just women, but the total area of integrated community development, building the country from the bottom up.

People’s watch must begin

editorial The National, 24th January 2012

WITH the general election looming large on the horizon it has become incumbent on citizens who wish for a fair and free electoral process to be ever vigilant. Unlike the other major event on a national scale, the national census, the choosing of parliamentary representatives by popular vote is the single most important activity that has the country’s undivided attention for several weeks in June. But the rules of the contest must be followed in order for every participant to have an equitable and amenable role in the drama that unfolds every five years. Unfortunately, contestants and their supporters, when entering the fray, are wont to use whatever means and methods available to them, to give them the upper hand in a competition that in many regards is basically for the reins of power both political and financial.
It is not uncommon to find intending candidates and seating members wielding their influence and position to gain a crucial advantage over their fellow contestants. This is unethical and quite plainly cheating. As has happened in previous election years, early campaigning and “vote buying” will become rife in many electorates.
People power must rise up against this form of corruption as, logically, a process mired in impropriety and illegality cannot hope to produce leaders of a high calibre or, at the very least, ones who will come out untainted by the stench. Papua New Guinea’s Melanesian culture lends itself to this form of pandering and self-aggrandisement. However, the challenge is on our so-called leaders to act responsibly and compete on a level playing field and let the people decide whether their accomplishments are worthy of a term in office.

Census results due in April 

Post Courier 26/1/2012

PAPUA New Guineans should know the population of the country by April this year when the summary data is released. The country’s top statisticians will release the summary data when all procedures are complete. In Parliament last week, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah backed by several other MPs accused the Census office of not having confirmed the population of Papua New Guinea. The country’s statistician Joseph Aka and director Hajily Kele have defended their office saying that since 1966 the presentation of the census figures are as follows:
In 1966 the population was 2,184,986, then in 1971 the number of people increased slightly to 2,489,935, when Census conducted the population count in 1980 they had 3,010727 then in 1990 the population rose to 3,761,954 and in 2000 the population stands at 5,190,786.
The two assured that the 2010 – 2011 figures should increase because for the first time in 20 years the census was conducted in many parts of Bougainville after the crisis and throughout the rural areas of PNG because of availability of funds and logistics to carry out the operation.

SP drives home responsibility message

Post Courier 26/1/2012

PNG’s leading brewery and maker of the global award winners of under the SP Brewery brand continued its ‘Responsible Service’ with the turn of the New Year. The program was launched in October last year with support from the National Liquor Licensing Commission to assist drinkers and servers of alcohol to be responsible when drinking and serving alcohol. Mr Geri said the ‘Drink Responsibly’ message is targeted at discouraging drinkers from binge and careless drinking that could lead to disastrous results. He said as SP Brewery is a major partner in the Vision 2050, it has identified that the major problem is attitudes which needed to be changed for the better. Mr Geri said this includes knowing one’s limit of drinks, decline to drive when drunk, respect other people when drunk, spending less money and time drinking and other important things that people must accept.

Speed up free education

Post Courier 26/1/2012  Editorial

The Government’s much publicised free education has hit a snag. From reports we are getting, schools in Port Moresby are refusing to accept students until the fees are paid in full, either by the Government or the parents. We are told that some schools are turning away students because they have yet to receive their share of the K350 million that was released by the Government. What we are told is that the Government has already put the money into the bank and it is now up to the Department of Education and Bank South Pacific to speed up the work so that all the schools should get their money by the end of this month. It is true that some schools do not have bank accounts and for these schools, the management should make it a priority to open up new bank accounts and give the details to the Education Department and the BSP bank.
It is now obvious that the students are going to be victimised for something they are not responsible for. For many parents, they do not have the money to pay the fees because they believed that the Government was going to pay and they did not bother to save money for the fees.

Melanesian way will end impasse

Post Courier 26/1/2012 

DICTATED by the PNG Constitution and the adopted-Westminster system, the O’Neill-Namah regime and the Somare-Agiru regime have used and applied the three arms of government – legislature, executive and judiciary – in attempting to resolve the current political impasse.
But the legislative, executive and judicial measures and resolutions have produced only 50 per cent – 50 per cent (half-half) outcomes.
The 50-50 outcomes and resolutions have resulted in two prime ministers, two attorney generals, two police commissioners, and two of everything including two different and opposing legislative, executive and legal rulings, appointments and opinions – these fully undermining the legitimacy and integrity of the PNG government and State institutions. This 50-50 impasse period have given the lawyers, advisers and consultants a field day – including them laughing all the way to the bank, while at the meantime, PNG citizens and businesses are being demoralised unnecessarily and PNG’s national and international image undermined.
Amazingly, the same PNG Constitution, which advocates for and promotes PNG and Melanesian Ways (5th national goal and directive principle) as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) strategies, have not been readily taken advantage of by the two regimes in seeking an amicable resolution to the current political impasse.
The PNG and Melanesian consensus principle and practice – used and applied by the Constitution founders in resolving past political differences and conflict in the early independence years – has been completely left off the political radar of both the O’Neill-Namah regime and the Somare-Agiru regime. Even the main-line churches and civil society organisations have encouraged such ADR approaches for the two regimes in resolving the current political crisis and averting a major crisis. But to no avail.
For the two regimes, practical round-table PNG-Melanesian consultations, discussions and accords are called for now, otherwise the unexpected in the “land of the unexpected” is expected.

Catholics query health funding 

The National, 30th January 2012

THE Catholic Health Services is questioning the distribution of the K350 million allocated by the national government for free medical services. Catholic Health Services secretary Magdeline Dokup said they provided about 25% of health services in the country by operating 223 health facilities in 18 provinces. “Where do we fit in? “Church health services in general provide more than 45% of health care and, therefore, should be seen as an equal partner,” she said. “CHS provides 70% of nursing schools and 100% of community health workers training schools and serve 80% of the rural majority. “CHS operates 716 health facilities. Out of this, 526 are registered and funded while 190 are unregistered and not funded.” Dokup said some of these unfunded facilities were in fact government facilities, which were handed over to the church who were not being supported. She said some of the pending issues such as wages disparity for health workers and tutors of training schools had not been addressed. “Of the recent K10 million approved under the supplementary budget for CHS, only K1 million was given to CHS and K9 million has been diverted elsewhere, or, what happened to it, we do not know. “How do we justify ourselves to be equal partners in the delivery of health care in this country?”

Some Website addresses.

ADRA PNG |  Anglican Health Service |  ATprojects |  ATCDI |  ACIL |  Australian Business Volunteers | Australian Volunteers International |  AusAid |  Christian Radio Missionary Fellowship (CRMF) |  Coffee Industry Corp |  CDI Foundation |  CIMC |  Conservation Melanesia  |  Eco-Forestry Forum |  FORCERT |  Hope World Wide PNG |  ICRAF |  Medical Aid Abroad New Zealand |  Melanesian Institute |  NARI |  NRI |  Partners with Melanesians |  PNG Forest Conservation |  PNG-Australia Targeted Training Facility |  POM City Mission |  Timber and Forestry Training College |  Transparency International |  Vida Volunteers |  Village Development Trust |  Volunteer Service Abroad |  World Vision PNG |  VSO |  UNDP Papua New Guinea |  Wildlife Conservation Society |

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