Social Concerns Notes – November 2011

Reading newspapers, weblogs and other material on the internet, presents a challenge as to what reflects valuable opinion and how much it reflects the “truth” of an issue. Sometimes there are quite contradictory opinions.  For example, the two daily newspapers in PNG appear to promote very different views on the SABL issue where land has been alienated for agricultural leases (and logging).  One sees differences of opinion also regarding the present political situation in PNG – for example the recent editorial in The National newspaper (29 Nov.) with headlines: “Morauta-Somare feud must stop.” The editorial continues: “The feud between Minister for Public Enterprises Sir Mekere Morauta and his predecessor, suspended member for Angoram Arthur Somare, goes back to about this time of the year in 2001. Reshuffling his cabinet, Sir Mekere sacked Arthur’s father, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare as his foreign affairs minister alleging a conspiracy to engage in backstabbing”…. Whether Sir Mekere’s allegation was fact or conjecture will never be known now but, incensed by this slight to his father, Somare called Sir Mekere, the then prime minister “an insecured little man” on the floor of parliament. And the war began … It has been intriguing these past few weeks to watch the fierce animosity flare up again between the two….” We as readers have to somehow assess what is backed up by fact and what is not.  That is not an easy task.  In these notes, I try to include articles and references to news items that are in fact “social concerns.” Often the the truth of the matter might become clearer with more research over time.  [ed.]

Consider the following headline from The National Newspaper (Oct 31st)  “Maternal, child mortality robs health system.”  The article continues, “National Department of Health manager family health services Dr William Lagani said maternal mortality had doubled according to a demography health survey in 2006 compared with the previous survey done in 1996.
“370 maternal deaths were recorded per 100,000 births in 1996 compared with 733 per 100,000 in 2006,” he said. “PNG has the highest maternal mortality rate compared with some 31 countries in the western Pacific region and among the top five in the world.”
This data can be compared with a more personal account I received recently from an anthropologist colleague regarding maternal mortality in an area of West New Britain.

“When last in the area in 2003, 2005 and 2009, I was appalled at the state of the health centre at Cape Gloucester which is 50+ km by boat and when there is no boat/fuel (most of the time). The antenatal hauskarim, originally built in 1985 was, in 2003, run-down and filthy junk filled with equally filthy discarded furniture, and not women. The recovery house, built in 2006 was now a disaster of filth and lack of hygiene. In the late 1990s, AusAid, decided to train VBAs to assist with village births; they took women to the clinic area for training and  the training was never completed and the VBAs felt used as they did not get any pay for this service whereas they were actually doing the job of the gov’t paid nurses (structural inequality!). They withdrew their services formally, although still helped in the village with childbirth according to their TBA customs when required. According to the biomedical model of birthing, all women birthing for the first time must undergo an episiotomy. This is unheard of in the village and has caused infections when women are sent back to a village where they sit on the ground (where pig , dog and even children’s urine and feces may have been recently swept away) or sit  on dirty limbun flooring. When I did my census in 2009, I recorded as I have done since 1985, where women delivered their infants: all from 2003 to 2009 gave birth in the village. Reason: the filth, treatment (or lack of it), structural inferiority they felt relative to nurses,  plus the lack of food, comfort and medication, care and family involvement during birthing that they receive at the clinic. None of these village births resulted in maternal mortality, and to my knowledge none resulted in neonatal deaths.  Women were attended surrounded by their mothers and sisters, fed properly, allowed to walk around and walk off their labour, and did not have to assume the lithotomy position. Any complications I have seen come from anaemia and low birth rate (due to malaria) but so far have not resulted in death. Can we consider the biomedical model is causing more trouble than it is worth?”

On the other hand one hears the good news of wonderful work being done at some rural hospitals such as Mingende (Simbu) with the success of their Parent to Child (PPTCT) program for HIV infected mothers. See http://www.unicef.org.nz/store/doc/TogetherWeCan2011.pdf

Not enough midwives  Post Courier 11/11/2011
FIVE thousand newborns and 1500 women die in childbirth every year in PNG. That’s five women dying in this way every day. The gloomy fact is that PNG has 152 practicing midwives. That’s a very low figure by international standards. In PNG’s major referral hospital Port Moresby General Hospital, it is the cry from the director for nursing services Loa Babona for more midwives to be trained to assist women at child birth.
Australian High Commissioner to PNG Ian Kemish, in his weekly column Open Lines highlights this alarming reality. He said a woman in PNG is 80 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a woman in Australia. Mr Kemish said. And since August this year, eight Australian midwifery trainers have been assigned to work to strengthen PNG’s four midwifery schools at the University of PNG, Pacific Adventist University, the University of Goroka and the Lutheran School of Nursing in Madang to help produce confident graduates.

SABL leases flawed  Women shocked, all agreements defective

Post Courier 10.11.2011
POMIO women expressed shock before the SABL inquiry in Kokopo yesterday when told they were signatories to the lease-lease back agreement.
They were in even more shock to learn that some of the signatories were their own children who were so young they would not even hold up an ink pen.

Pomio women cry for land (Post Courier 1/11/2011)
LOCAL women leaders say their simple way of life is not the same anymore since logging company Gilford Limited set up camp at Drina Village, West Pomio-Mamusi LLG in the East New Britain Province last year. The “land grabbing” issue in Pomio has been described as nothing less than a conspiracy between the National Lands Department and international corporations. 
Former Prime Minister and Governor of New Ireland Province Sir Julius Chan made this point during an official welcome for the Greenpeace ship MV Esperanza.

Sir Julius said that the most troubling aspect of the entire situation was that the Government of Papua New Guinea was not only turning a blind eye, but was “actively facilitating the destruction of the forests’’.
“I am especially concerned by the Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABL) to which I have spoken out (against) repeatedly over the past year,” he said.
Sir Julius condemned the SABL program as one that was “a little more than a shallow disguise for uncontrolled logging’’ “My message is very simple. I stand before you embarrassed, ashamed of my country, ashamed of the bureaucracy, of the Government that has let this disgusting practice proceed, that has let and conspired in the rape of the resources of our country.”

Here are comments on PNGexposed.wordpress.com – Rimbunan Hijau bringing us so low

What is  most disgusting about the Pomio episode is that Papua New Guineans are  allowing the Tiongs, perched on their high chairs to throw scraps at us and watch with great amusement as we maul each other to shreds. Police beatings, attempted assassinations, sexual abuse, discrimination, threats of lawsuits – all part of Rimbunan Hijau’s modus operandi – are perpetuated  by Papua New Guineans against their own brothers and sisters.  In the Western and Gulf provinces, landowners tell  of how members of the Police Southern Region taskforce (all Papua New Guineans, of course) would put the barrels of M16s near RH opponents and fire off a few shots just so they “got the message”.  In hushed whispers, their neighbors say: “He got what we deserved. He talked too much.” Any smart landowner who is brave enough to make a statement in the media is isolated and harassed. Even his family is harassed in their own village.  Anyone who stands  up to RH is marked like a lamb for slaughter and those who once stood with him are there no longer.  We turn our backs on our own and under the cloak of impotence we say:  “RH has brought  us “development” so let us  be thankful.” From out of Pomio,  company  pawns in this chess game  mouth off  Malaysian style propaganda and in the same breath call on the Papua New Guinea Media council to “take action” against ethical breaches by  the Post Courier.  Others stand proudly with placards declaring their undying love for  Rimbunan Hijau as the company uses government instrumentalities to destroy their lives.

How can we allow ourselves to be poked and prodded into an arena where a bunch of Malaysians throw bones on the ground and watch us fight over it?

And another comment in PNGexposed.wordpress.com –  Inquiry needed into how Rimbunan Hijau has brought us so low, (Nov 2) by Kanau Sion.

An effort is needed to pressure the Prime Minister, his Police Minister and commissioner to have an inquiry into the role of police personnel in the whole Rimbunan Hijau / Pomio logging / SABL saga. There is a need to fully investigate the alleged breaches of various laws and abuse of human rights of our citizens by Rimbunan Hijau since their involvement in PNG. Investigations should be conducted by reputable and eminent people and although it will be a costly exercise the government and every sane citizen of PNG owe it to the people and the future of our children. We the Pacific Islanders may be small and appear as powerless in the eyes of corrupt and abusive global conglomerates hell bent on destroying our natural environment and indigenous way of life for profit but are strong in our resolve. This is not only a fight for us the PNG people but also one for all the Pacific Island states also. Destruction of forest through logging etc. is just one aspect of our concerns. There are others which include destruction of our corals, marine life (including over fishing) and cultural heritage which are our identity.

Palau & Tonga rise PNG & Solomons fall on Development Index

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/201111/s3354951.htm

While the UN Human Development Report says living standards in most countries are rising action is needed if the recent human development progress for most of the world’s poor majority is to be sustained. Knut Ostby, Resident Representative, UNDP says, “We believe very strongly if you’re going to talk about sustainability, it’s no use talking about only sustainability separately from sharing the common goods in the world with everybody. When we talk about sustainability we talk about sharing with future generations, but we need to also make sure that current generations take part in managing the resources that we have. This recent Human Development Report report talks about almost all the countries in the world, and there’s a number of Pacific countries involved, there are four more Pacific countries than it was in the last report last year, and it presents some specific data about how human development is progressing in these countries. I think the Pacific country who is doing best in this index is Palau, closely followed by Tonga.” “The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have lower indexes.” “We talk about using the non-renewable energy for future and consuming them so they’re not available anymore for future generations. But we also need to talk about how we share the current resources among the current generations. We have next year the Rio +20 conference coming up. We think it’s very important for that conference to talk about sustainable development as part of social development, not only separately for environmental protection. There are unsustainable practices going on in logging and mining across the world, but that it is not enough to think about that in an isolated sense. It’s only when all society can come along and you can have a human development covering the whole population that it can jointly manage the natural resources and all human rights resources best for the future.”

Note: Out of 187 countries, The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, are ranked 142 and 153 respectively, and form part of the low human development category.  The UNDP Human Development Report 2011, can be accessed at through the website at http://hdr.undp.org

Most of the Pacific Island countries appear in the “medium human development” category.
These include by rank Samoa (99), Fiji (100), FSM (116), Kiribati (122) and Vanuatu (125).
Three countries in the Pacific have higher than average life expectancy than other small island development states. These are Palau 64, Tonga 63 and Fiji 62 years respectively.

The Political Situation in Papua New Guinea is one also of social concern.  The Catholic Bishops Conference sent out the following Media Release.

Media Statement From The Catholic Bishops (12 November)

The Catholic Bishops Conference expresses grave concern over the growing conflict between the executive and judicial arms of the democratic division of powers enshrined in our national Constitution.

Politics and governance exists for the benefit of the common good of the country and its people. When politics and the exercise of political power is at the service of the common good, then it is an honorable profession. However, when it serves self-interest, then trust is eroded and we end up with individuals and small groups occupied with their own political survival at the expense of every other person. When public authority fails to seek the common good, it abandons its proper purpose and delegitimizes itself.

Jesus refused the oppressive and despotic power shown by some rulers (Mk 10:42), but he did acknowledge that temporal power has its place (Mk 12:13-17). As Christians we too object when political authority is abused and the common good is betrayed.  We support the life of democracy and the rights and privileges found in our National Constitution. We affirm that an independent judiciary is critical to the rule of law, and the rule of law is critical for the establishment of an orderly safe and free country.

The Constitution of PNG recognises and establishes three independent arms of Government – the Parliament, Executive and the Judiciary. Under this principle of the separation of powers the three arms of Government are expected to respect each others’ independence and to co-exist in their duties and responsibilities for the common good of the people. We see now a situation where conflict among politicians has led to conflict between two arms of Government. It is not what we want to see in this country.

The recent decision by the National Executive Council to suspend the Chief Justice appears to us and to many fair minded people to go against the independence of the judiciary. The Court should be allowed to complete its business and establish the freedom of the truth.

The country is already facing problems of corruption, poverty, unemployment, law and order, and many more. It is not a time for political instability and infighting. We appeal to our leaders to exercise power in a responsible way so as restore trust in the leadership of our nation. We appeal to all involved in this current dispute to place the peace and good of the nation above self interest.

‘Enough is enough!’ Weekend Courier 29-30/10/2011

THE cost and consequences of smoking marijuana and the use and abuse of other illicit drugs with respect to physical and mental injuries and human lives, the economy and the society at large should be obvious to everyone. … According to Operation Stopim Drug Association Inc (OSD) Titi Kuimbakul, his research has revealed that 10 percent of the population or 60, 0000 of Western Highlands 600, 000 people are affected by drugs. ”You can see why marijuana and drug abuse is a very big and serious problem for Western Highlands,” he said. OSD began in Kindeng village in the Anglimp South Wahgi district of Wahgi Valley on December 15, 2010 when men who had smoked marijuana for up to 30 years decided to kick their habit. Others who had grown marijuana and traded it for money and guns felt enough was enough. They saw no future in drugs for themselves and their children if they continued to grow, deal in, smoke marijuana and become involved in crime,” according to chairman Nekints. “The main cause of all types of crime at the local community level, towns and cities is drug abuse; from petty offences to serious crimes like a father pulling a still-born from her mother’s womb and a father murdering his entire family,” he said. “There are many people on the streets today suffering from mental disorders caused by smoking marijuana and if nothing is done about it, there will be many more of these people on the streets in the next 20 years. “So far the results are impressive. Over 50, 000 marijuana plants have been uprooted and destroyed in Kindeng, Penda, Pulgmi, Koge and Kamel (in the Wahgi Valley) alone,” he said. “As communities moved from being dealers to healers, they have ripped up marijuana plants and replaced them by planting new fruits and cash crops,” he said. Nekints said the healing of the land will be faster than healing drug addicts but OSD is determined and confident that with the support of the police, provincial and national governments and other stakeholders, a proactive intervention program will achieve results in the short to medium term. OSD is a community driven initiative and it shows what can happen when the people get on the side of the police, local councils and other stakeholders.

Campaign against alcohol abuse    Post Courier 1/11/2011

SOUTH Pacific Brewery has launched a K100, 000 alcohol awareness campaign to curb alcohol abuse in Papua New Guinea. SP Brewery Managing Director Stan Joyce said that this campaign basically targets children under 18 years old, parents and retail shop owners to be responsible when it comes to alcohol consumption. He said that the communication materials are part of the key tools to drive the message across to the people that abuse alcohol to drink responsibly.
“Alcohol is not the problem, the problem is with the people that consume it and therefore this campaign is initiated to address that,” he said.  Mr Joyce said that alcohol abuse is a social problem faced by all countries across the globe and it is not an isolated PNG problem. This alcohol abuse campaign is part of the global strategy by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to reduce the harmful effect of the use of alcohol.

Minister: Brewer must take responsibility for effects

The National, 1 Nov 2011

MINISTER for Health and HIV/AIDS Jamie Maxtone-Graham has called on producers of alcohol to take some responsibility for the harm their products cause to the community. Maxtone-Graham said this in response to a statement by SP Brewery business relations manager Kola Geri in The National of Oct 28 that the brewery believed the problem was not alcohol but the way people consumed it. “It is a consistent argument presented by big business designed to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the effects of their products on public health and the community at large,” Maxtone-Graham said. He said this was especially so where the products were designed to target a specific market like young drinkers. “It is nonsense to suggest that the industry is not responsible for the outcome of its own marketing strategy,” he said. “While the Alcohol Abuse Advisory Board looks at the social implications of alcohol abuse, as the Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS I have responsibility for the impacts of abuse on public health.” He said he was giving notice to the industry that he intended to look at a range of measures to curb the excess of consumption of alcohol in society, especially by teenagers.

Peacebuilding in the Pacific

The National, Friday 04th November 2011

Paulo Baleinakorodawa, programme manager at the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding in Fiji, is working around the Pacific region training people to become peacebuilders in their communities. Baleinakorodawa, with other facilitators from the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding co-facilitated a three-week Pacific peace training initiative programme for peacebuilders recently in Suva, focusing on the areas of conflict resolution, conflict analysis and trauma and healing. This is the second year this programme has been convened at the Pacific Theological College in Suva, hosted by God’s Pacific People. About 60 church workers from different countries around the Pacific region have attended the training in the last two years.
Among them were seven Papua New Guineans. Baleinakorodawa, who previously worked as a teacher, visited PNG in September this year, to follow-up on the training programmes.
He said since last year, 13 Papua New Guineans have been trained to become peacebuilders.
He visited most of the main centres of PNG, running some peacebuilding programmes and evaluating the trained peacebuilders’ efforts. “The occurrence of conflicts is high in the Pacific region and there is also a changing nature of conflict within this area. The people’s culture is so entrenched in their livelihoods that it is not easy to solve conflicts,” Baleinakorodawa said during an interview after a peacebuilding session at Boroko United church in Port Moresby.
others.” Baleinakorodawa is expected to visit PNG again next week to run training sessions for the PNG Royal Constabulary. [Mr Baleinakorodawa will also be returning early next year for workshops with men with the Archdiocese of Mount Hagen and Diocese of Kundiawa (ed.)]

Four million drink water with faeces    Post Courier 9/11/2011
ABOUT four million Papua New Guineans are drinking water contaminated with their own faeces or ‘pekpek’. This is the startling revelation by engineer Stuart Jordan who is working with Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program (RWSSP) that is building safe and clean water projects for rural PNG. The sad fact is most Papua New Guineans are not aware of the contamination. Mr Jordan said in a study carried out a village in Central Province, his team discovered faeces contamination in water that was well over World Health Organisation sphere standard of 0-10 ppm (part per million). In this particular village, it was discovered that the river contained contamination of 240 ppm, rain 1100 ppm and household 2400 ppm.
He was totally alarmed at seeing women wash babies with water using a bucket and the same bucket was used to keep water for drinking or cooking. Mr Jordan released these findings at a two-day water stakeholders meeting in Port Moresby. He said the estimate of four million was based on the rural population. In the 17 different provinces where RWSSP safe water projects are located, it was discovered that nearly all villagers put faeces anywhere in the village, either in the bushes, next to a water source or just outside their doorsteps, resulting in the waste getting into water systems through run offs or is carried by flies. Because of this appalling situation, he concluded that faeces is everywhere.

Ethnic tensions serious in PNG  Post Courier 9/11/2011

PAPUA New Guinea faces a serious problem that is adding to the already serious law and order problem throughout the country. It is ethnic tension. Ethnic tension is not confined to just one part of the country but is widespread and poses a serious threat to the security of the country.
The violence in Lae confirmed a rise in ethnic tension in the city and Morobe Province that have been building up over a long period of time. It was between people from the Highlands region and Morobeans themselves. In Bulolo not so long ago it involved the local Bulolo people and the Sepik people, many of whom have lived in the mining township for generations.
Back in Lae recently there were violent clashes between a Morobean group and Sepik settlers at the Bumbu Settlement. The Bulolo conflict has not been properly investigated by the provincial and national government authorities and it remains a problem today. Now we have the situation in Lae. It was like a time bomb ticking away and waiting for the right time to explode. It did explode last Thursday.

[But the PNG Government reply to the UN Universal Periodic Review  (UPR) denied that we had ethnic tensions…! (ed.)]

Missionaries in PNG for God’s work, not government’s

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/201111/s3361771.htm    Nov. 10, 2011

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill recently indicated he’d like more foreign missionaries to help deliver services. It’s a comment that you’d think would be welcomed by foreign missionaries. But Brandon King an American Baptist missionary working in PNG’s third largest city of Mount Hagen says the government has plenty of money and should be delivering services itself. He says local people are fed up with sub-standard services and infrastructure, and deadly riots like those that recently broke out in Lae could happen anywhere because people are at boiling point.

Focus on root cause of Lae riots  Letter – Post Courier 11/11/2011

THE events of the last days in Lae are a concern to me so much that for the first time in my life I decided to write a letter to the editor. My thoughts and observations are (based on six years of work with street children in Lae and 12 years as a Catholic priest working in settlements and top-town in Lae): The deeper cause of the riots is the tremendous change in PNG society such as poverty; rapid growth of population (in Lae estimated 7 per cent per year); unemployment; breakdown of family structures, Christian and traditional values; a sense of hopelessness among the youth in the settlements; uproot; and the failure of the educational system. The so-called street-sellers are predominantly of “highland origin”, but most of all they are children from the ever growing number of broken or dysfunctional families being abandoned or neglected by parents focusing on their second or third marriage. With the majority of young people in the urban settlements being uneducated or even illiterate (out of various reasons) they will never find employment as there are hardly functioning and consistent literacy or training programs in place. “Grass cutting” and “Rugby” are placebos and no cure for the true illness. There are very few individuals and organisations working with and for street kids, unemployed youth etc. (City Mission, Salvation Army, Fr John Glynn). They receive no funding or support from Government side.
The churches respond to the need of a growing army of unemployed, hopeless youth now again alone with the call for prayers. Even though, it’s good to give a bible to young persons and to bring them in contact with Jesus Christ, this is not enough as they have not only spiritual needs. They will also need food, education, and a chance to prove themselves. I am sorry to say, but we should concentrate on the next generation of very young children in the settlements. They need not only free education, but school meals, teachers who take a personal interest in them and have time to do so, and a change in the education of boys in the families. Begin to demand from them what you demand from your daughters! We all have to overcome the “wantok-thinking”, i.e. we have to take an interest also in (young) people who are not from our clan, village, or family. By Christ’s blood we are all wanblut and wantoks.
Bulolo was the beginning of “ethnic cleansing” in PNG. When the Government responded weak and did not defend the rights of all citizens, this encouraged others. In the same line of thinking, it is wrong when the State pays the funeral expenses of persons shot by police as looters and rioters in defence of helpless people. The task force units are to commend on their brave stand at the Bumbu bridge in front of 3000 men armed with bush-knives, stones and sticks.
We, as a society have to focus on the roots of the Lae riots or someone will come, organise the armies in the settlements, and give them a dangerous ideology. This we have to prevent.
Fr Arnold Schmitt,  Parish priest,  St Mary’s, Lae

Transparency International is part of the corruption problem  An opinion from PNGexposed.wordpress.com, November 17, 2011

Transparency International, which claims to be global watchdog on corruption, is in fact part of the corruption problem. TI misdirects attention away from many of the causes, beneficiaries and potential solutions to the theft of public monies. TI labels countries like Papua New Guinea (currently ranked 154 out of 178 countries) as among the most corrupt while countries like Australia (currently ranked 8th) are lauded as among the least corrupt.

But scratch beneath the surface and what do we find?

  • Millions of dollars stolen from the public purse in Papua New Guinea being ‘invested’ in real estate across Queensland
  • Australian banks like Westpac and ANZ helping syphon billions of dollars out of PNG
  • Corporations that profit from the misery they cause in PNG through illegal logging and other activities, investing their ill-gotten profits in shopping centres, cattle ranches and other businesses in Australia
  • Australian mining companies taking advantage of lax enforcement in PNG to extract huge profits while causing terrible environmental damage and human rights abuses.

But none of this, according to Transparency International, should be blamed on Australia, instead it is all Papua New Guinea’s fault.

TI’s attitude is colonial, racist and insulting to Papua New Guinea and its people.

Papua New Guinea is labelled as corrupt because its people suffer the impacts of corruption. Australia is lauded as not corrupt yet it profits from the corruption.

Illegal activities on the rise in Hela  Post Courier, 22 Nov.

The large amount of money floating around the LNG project in the Hela province has attracted many illegal activities into the once little known region. 
Top on the list are the increase in number of alcohol, prostitutes, marijuana, criminals and opportunists who go into the remote part of Hela to illegally cash in on the LNG project generated money, a Catholic Priest and a Resource Consultant raised this week. 
The St Joseph Tari Secondary School run by the Catholic Church has recently seen a rise in the number of visits by vehicles from the LNG works, who come in and pick up female students after hours and on the weekends. It is the same scenario at the Dauli Teachers College and other high schools. 
Administrator of the Catholic Church in the Southern Highlands Province Fr Eki Kaluza yesterday said this was a new experience in the school as the new province was faced with a major social problem. 
“There are a lot of illegal activities soaring up with the LNG project in progress. We’re seeing an increase in roadblocks, the recent attack on students at the Dauli Teachers College, and almost every day, we have reports of vehicles from the LNG Project picking up school girls. The situation in the school is not settled. People put money above everything else. Peter Koim, a consultant dealing with the LNG pipeline project said Tari and the little known Komo areas were now faced with a big social issue. 
He said employees in the project from outside were able to fly out and spend their money while locals had nowhere to spend. The huge amount of money in the hands of locals attracted marijuana, illegal alcohol, prostitutes, criminals and opportunists – a good recipe for a major law and order breakdown.

Psychiatric facility a national shame, PAC told The National,  22nd November 2011

THE country’s only mental institution, Laloki Psychiatric Hospital outside Port Moresby, is a national shame, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee heard yesterday.
It was in an appalling state – a sordid institution with poor living and working conditions for the employees and the patients who were all immune to communicable diseases such as TB, the committee heard.
The PAC was told that the hospital had no beds for the patients while young children were also living together with the mentally ill adult people.
It was revealed that specialist doctors were lacking at the facility which had more than 100 patients.
PAC chairman Ma­lakai Tabar said during the inquiry that Laloki was more like a prison than a hospital, with poor water and sanitation facilities, a serious threat to patients and workers who were likely to contract diseases due to the poor health facilities.
The inquiry into health was suspended last month after the sudden death of Dr Likei Theo but resumed yesterday.
Tabar said yesterday that the PAC visited the hospital and witnessed the sad and poor state it was in.
He described it as a disgrace that there were no plans for its improvement and that it was totally ignored and forgotten.

Dangers of mobile phones  The National, 22nd November 2011

TECHNOLOGY, like every­thing else, brings along with it all the advantages and the shortcomings.
Take the mobile telephone, for instance.
It has created instant communication through the length and breadth of formerly mostly inaccessible Papua New Guinea.
In so doing, it has created an instant link up of good as well as bad information, welcome as well as unwelcome information if you like.
Many townites and city  sleekers do not answer calls from numbers they cannot recognise, fearing the call might be requests for money from some family member.
Those who owe money suffer nightmares when the phone starts ringing. And there are the extremes.
Fourteen-year-old Seri Erara, a community schoolgirl of Hanuabada in Port Moresby, is dead now for the simple reason that she did not answer her father’s frantic calls when she did not turn up at home after 7pm.
…
Not too long ago, a policeman was arrested and charged when it turned out that he had been recording on his mobile phone his sexual tryst with a colleague’s wife in Kokopo, East New Britain.
The husband needed to make a call and his unsuspecting colleague loaned him his phone with the incriminating evidence in the phone’s memory. And the rest is history.
Many more domestic fights are initiated and
marriages torn up because of some incriminating text message left undeleted
on a phone.
Many more violence and social upheaval will result yet as a result of this simple innocent machine.
Theft or open snatching of phones will now have overtaken purse and wallet picking if somebody is keeping a record.
Mobile phone bills are now some of the biggest expense items in many a home.
 Children’s education is affected as they can now play computer games or chat or text discretely without the teacher ever finding out. Communication at home is affected as children and even parents tend to stay on the phone to their friends, colleagues and class friends.
Fearing parents’ refusal, children are today stealing from their parents to buy phone cards.
Pornography is easily accessed via the mobile phone and then transmitted, with or without the permission, to others.
It is time that everybody gave some thought to the proper use of the mobile phone. What exactly is its use and is it being used for that purpose?
Or, is it being abused?
Does the government have any role in this, particularly where children are concerned?
It requires a group or think-tank to be formed to look into the effects of this technology upon a population such as PNG has and, particularly, upon children.

Report raises serious concerns about Nautilus and experimental seabed mining:

http://ramumine.wordpress.com/

A further report has surfaced that raises serious questions about the propriety of the  experimental seabed mining project Solwara 1 and points out that it is not supported by local people and has the potential to be socially, economically, and environmentally destructive.

The report, Nautilus Minerals Inc,  prepared in 2008, finds that it is abundantly clear that local and regional leadership have inadequate information regarding both the Nautilus company and its explicit technical plans. The report also finds that the awareness of local biological diversity and its documented (and in some cases, expropriated) uses is inadequate to insure any appropriate oversight and management of indigenous resources by the Government of Papua New Guinea. The report author, Dr David Martin, concludes: There is sufficient opacity so as to preclude entering into full-disclosure binding agreements regarding Nautilus access to land and sea resources to commence operations.  The leadership of the Komgi Village has unanimously voiced its opposition to authorizing any use of, or access through, lands under their common control at this time pending the adequate addressing of all concerns regarding guaranteed and absolute preservation of all marine and terrestrial ecosystems. On Friday a separate report, “Out of Our Depth” was published which details the serious environmental and social impacts expected as a result of the unprecedented experimental mining of the ocean floor in PNG. Professor Richard Steiner has also published a devastating analysis of Nautilus Minerals deeply flawed Environmental Impact Statement – “EIS not fit for its purpose.”

The report Rural Poverty in PNG: case study of Obura-Wonenara district, recently released by CARE and the Australian National University, provides an overview of rural poverty in PNG and a more detailed look at the situation of the people of Yelia, in Obura-Wonenara in the Eastern Highlands. The statistics collected by the Yelia survey confirm the situation of extreme disadvantage which confronts the people who live in this isolated part of PNG. The data on nutrition suggests chronic malnutrition is rife. 25 per cent of people surveyed had only eaten one meal the day before. Nine out of ten households surveyed had not consumed animal protein, and three quarters had not eaten vegetable protein. 75 per cent of households indicated that food security – that is knowing where your next meal is coming from all year round – is an issue. Due to isolation, there are very few opportunities to earn cash. When asked about income earned in the preceding month, which coincided with coffee sales for the year, 76 per cent of households reported earning less than 100 Kina (around A$45). Health and education levels are worryingly low. The under five mortality rate for children based on deaths reported was 191 per 1,000 live births.  This means that almost 1 in every 5 children in Yelia will die before their fifth birthday – a terrible statistic and significantly worse than the national average. Overwhelmingly, the data from Yelia describes a community that is extremely disadvantaged and vulnerable.While the number of people covered by this survey is relatively small – 262 families including around 1,700 people – other studies suggest there are around 1 million people living in remote, disadvantaged areas in PNG which lie on the fringes of the highlands and in inland, lowland areas.Ultimately, this report is more than good research. It is a call to action to government and civil society in both PNG and Australia, and a powerful reminder that the dire circumstances of people in remote communities cannot be overlooked just because they are out of sight.   To download the document, go to http://www.care.org.au/Document.Doc?id=666

PM: Women seats not easy

Post Courier 25 Nov.

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has said that women have cause to celebrate, but a lot remains to be done before women’s seats are created in Parliament.
Mr O’Neill said the Government he led acted decisively to get the first part of the equality bill approved in Parliament this week after they were almost dead and buried by the Somare Government.
“The Somare Government was dragging its feet with the bills. We made it one of our priority legislations when we got it, and the first hurdle was passed yesterday,” he said.
The PM explained that what was passed yesterday was an enabler, an amendment to Section 101 of the Constitution.
This provision provides for the types of electorates in Parliament; the vote yesterday authorised the creation of women electorates in PNG.
A simple majority of 55 was required. Parliament voted 72-2, underlining overwhelming support for the bill.
“I’m pleased with the vote, and the resounding response from the public,” he said.
Parliament must now deal with the second part, which are the organic law amendments.
The organic law amendments give details of how many womens’ seats will be created, and will specify the boundaries for these women electorate. This bill requires a 2/3 majority of 73 votes, and must pass two separate readings.
This bill is on notice paper, and is ready for debate in Parliament.
“This bill will be brought to Parliament as soon as certain details being worked on are finalised.
“I want to assure the women folk that our Government is not about mere rhetoric, like the past regime has demonstrated on many occasions.
“The vote this week underpins our Government’s resolve to have women participate equally in leadership, and in all forms of economic and social activity. That is what the farmers of the constitution want, and that is what our Government will deliver,” he said.

Shredding the spirit of our nation

Asopa.typepad.com  BY GANJIKI D WAYNE

I’m depressed
I see them shred our Constitution on every side

I turn to the right, to the left, I see they’ve lied

Interpret it selfishly
Apply it abusively
Change it recklessly

I see us constantly using its letter to destroy its spirit

My heart bleeds, as it loses its feet

Oh Narakobi, you must be turning in your grave!

See how we lose ourselves in these ideas the white man gave?

That Melanesian Way you tried to help us see.

It’s drowned out in our modern humanity

I’m confused. Why can’t they see?

It’s right there; look and let it be!

The spirit of our Nation, our Sovereignty

Our guide no longer has a heart
They ripped it out that vital part

How can we who can’t define ourselves,
Expect to stop this rotting mess?

How can we of a thousand tongues,
Claim basic conscience on which all hangs?

That dear House standing on a Hill

Ruled by a master who does not yield

To this dear Mama Lo, our Nation’s Word

He rules by his chair, if only he had his sword…

I see more chairs, carrying worthless bodies

Puppets who love to tickle our ears

They put on a show and the world laughs

I hang my head in shame…in my fathers’ house?

I see good men fall, respect tumbles

Integrity sold, no longer humbles
I see good women…no I don’t see them

So now they stake their claim

Momis please make a stand, give us sight

Tell us we’re not doing this right

Tell us we need to talk to the people

Isn’t that what you did when you wrote the fundamental?

Leave that Document alone
Let it guide us, I say

Stand by its spirit
It’ll show the way…

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