Social Concerns Notes – January 2013

104 make Honours List, awarded medals
   Post Courier 2 January

ONE of Papua New Guinea’s respected journalists, Patrick Matbob, has been awarded a Logohu Medal in the 2013 New Year’s Honour’s List.
Mr Matbob, who started his journalism career in 1985 and worked for Wantok Niuspepa, The Times of Papua New Guinea and the Post-Courier newspapers as a reporter, music columnist, and a sub-editor, launched and edited PNG’s first monthly newspaper magazine called Papua New Guinea Magazine in 1998.
He was awarded the Logohu Medal (LM) for his services to education and journalism in PNG and abroad.
The Divine Word University journalism lecturer joins the list of 104 PNG elites honoured for their services to PNG by the Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio, who has bestowed and announced their awards for 2013.
Most Reverend Anthony Burgess has been conferred with the title of Chief for services to the Catholic Church and the community. Father Monegatti Dario led a group of four conferred with Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia (CSM) for his services to the community as a Catholic priest of the Missionary Society of the Divine Word, working for more than 40 years in a number of provinces including Bougainville during the rebellion and subsequent difficult period.

Domestic Violence Rising     The National, 28th January, 2013

THERE is growing violence by Papua New Guinean men against women and children, according to the Family Support Centre.
“We treat 60-80 patients in a week from violence, particularly the intimate partner violence,” project coordinator Daisy Plana said.
“We have increasing number of patients every year.”
The Family Support Centre in Lae, Morobe, provides free and confidential medical and psycho-social care to survivors of sexual (rape) and intimate partner violence and child abuse.
The centre is operated by the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).
“Most of the cases that we have are from intimate partner violence, where women are bashed up by their husbands and partners,” Plana said.
Located at the Angau Memorial Hospital, the centre opens daily from 9am-5pm on business days and from 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

 Asylum legal fears

     Post Courier 3 January.

MANUS police have raised concerns about whether Papua New Guinea laws apply to more than 100 foreign asylum seekers currently detained at the processing centre on the island after an incident on Boxing Day – December 26 – when an Iranian woman detainee at the centre hit a G4S security guard on the head with an instrument, knocking him out unconscious for some minutes.
Police went in to the centre but could not arrest the offender. Both PNG and Australian authorities have not allowed local police to go inside the perimeter of the processing centre to conduct their normal police business.
Acting provincial police commander Inspector Eric Tawii raised this concern, saying under the MOU signed by Canberra and Waigani, the detainees are subjected to the laws of PNG, but the way things are going on there now, it appears that PNG laws don’t apply to them.
 Meanwhile Major Paul Moulds, the Director of Offshore Missions for the Salvation Army, reveals that the detainees are experiencing tension, frustration and uncertainty at the centre. He said there are some tensions within the group and some people aren’t coping well with the conditions. 
“There are some people who are just so grateful to be in a place where they feel protected. They express their happiness and their thanks to us every day,” he said. 
“(But) there are others who are really struggling with the conditions here. And I guess there’s another group who feel quite unfairly treated. They can’t understand why they’ve been transferred here while some of the people they came on the same boat with are given bridging visas in the Australian community,” Mr Moulds said.

 The Plight Of The Asylum Seekers And Refugees Continue In PNG

Post Courier 17/12/12 reports that a total of 101 asylum seekers are now detained at a makeshift centre on Manus. The fourth batch of 34 people were flown into Manus from Australia on Saturday 15 December 2012. They were accompanied by Australian Federal Police, Immigration Officials, Interpreters and Children’s Services and medical personnel. The detainees include men, women and children from Iran, Afghanistan, India and Sri Lanka. I agree with UNHCR that PNG has no legal frame work to deal with the refugees as has been the case with the West Papuans. The Migration Act does not adequately deal with refugees. Similarly the Migration Act does not adequately deal with the Asylum Seekers. PNG is in breach of the Constitutional and human rights of the asylum seekers to detain them on Manus. PNG is also in breach of it’s moral responsibility to not determine the legal status of the West Papuans living in PNG. Without a legal status, their rights are very much restricted in terms of employment, movement, education and much of the civil and political rights.

There are children among the adults at the detention centre. PNG has acceded to the 1951 Status of Refugees Convention and the convention of the Rights of Children. As a member State it is under international obligation to protect the human rights and welfare of the asylum seekers and children. The CRC says that “the child by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” For PNG it is not simply a case of helping a big brother but serious issues of law and human rights of desperate and vulnerable people. It concerns serious legal and moral responsibilities that should override any inducements of money and aid and cheque book diplomacy. … The Catholic Church has always maintained both in Australia and PNG that the deal to keep this desperate and vulnerable people detained for indefinite period of time is inhumane and unlawful. [These are sections from a longer statement by Paul Harricknen. Catholic Professionals PNG]

Papua New Guinea – The Year in Review    PNG Blogs, January 7, 2013

The 2013 budget, announced in November and valued at PGK13bn ($6.2bn), is PNG’s largest-ever budget and one which the government is borrowing more than $1bn to fund. Centred on the development of core services, such as education, health and infrastructure, PNG’s budget is paving a path toward sustainable and inclusive growth, largely due to substantial gains in 2012.

The O’Neill administration has laid the groundwork for an expansion of government-led national development in the years ahead, which will largely be bank-rolled by revenues from the $19bn, Exxon-Mobil-led liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. However, the project is not set to begin delivering gas until late 2014, nor profits until at least 2018, which is why the government has reiterated a commitment to establishing a sovereign wealth fund to address the risks associated with large-scale projects such as PNG LNG. Once up and running, though, the PNG LNG project is expected to collect revenue in the form of tax and dividend payments, which are estimated to be between PGK2bn ($954.42m) and PGK13bn ($6.2bn) per year in the 2014-42 period, according to Loi Martin Bakani, the governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG), the country’s central bank. A looming real estate bubble burst now looks imminent. With Port Moresby globally ranked the eighth most-expensive city for expatriates, corrections in market supply and demand seen in 2012 will certainly accelerate throughout 2013 and into 2014.

Enga Governor Wants Cheating Claims in Schools Investigated    The National, 4th Jan, 2013

ENGA Governor Grand Chief Peter Ipatas has called on the Department of Education to immediately carry out an investigation into the alleged cheating by students in three secondary schools in his province and other parts of the highlands region.
Ipatas said he had spent all his resources on education in Enga and he was disappointed that the department had failed to inform him of the alleged cheating.
He had learned of it through the media.
He said if cheating had taken place, his provincial government condemned it.
He called on the department to immediately investigate how the cheating took place. More than 900 students would be affected by the allegation.
He said only through an investigation would parents and stakeholders know how the cheating took place and the persons responsible.
“The allegation is that everyone cheated. This is very serious.
“For me, to say that everyone cheated is unbelievable as most of the students from my province come from rural background and do not have access to answer sheets,” Ipatas said.
“The MSU is responsible for the examination package and, therefore, it should investigate

 Free tuition, kits for schools     Post Courier  7th January

PARENTS and guardians of students in elementary to grade 12 schools and vocational centres have been informed that the national government will continue to assist them by paying the full school fees for their children this year. The Acting Secretary for Education Luke Taita reassured the parents, guardians and students in a statement last week. The secretary’s circular No. 38/99 on language policy in all schools state that while children must be encouraged to learn and use English, all schools at all levels should not discourage free communication in vernacular languages.

School                                                         NEB Maximum
Level                                                                 Fee Limits
Elementary (EP, E1 – E2)                                   K100
Primary (Grades 3 – 8)                                        K270
Lower Secondary (Day)                                       K900
Lower Secondary (Boarding)                           K1500
Vocational (Day)                                                     K900
Vocational (Boarding)                                        K1300
Upper Secondary (Day)                                        K990
Upper Secondary (Boarding)                            K1500
Flexible, Open and Distance
Education (one-off payment)                              K100

5000 schools to miss out
No lists and accounts to draw free tuition    Post Courier 30 Jan

ABOUT 5000 schools throughout the country are likely to miss out on the government’s tuition fee-free funding for the 2013 academic year.
These schools have not furnished their enrolments and bank accounts for monies to be transacted into their accounts in time for the school year which begins next Monday.
Acting Education Minister and Finance Minister James Marape revealed this in Port Moresby yesterday.
In a meeting with the acting education secretary Luke Taita, Education and Treasury officials, Mr Marape announced to the media the disbursement of K238.7 million for free tuition fee this year.
The O’Neil-Dion Government has appropriated K652 million for school this year. From the K652 million, a total of K238.7 million will be disbursed as the first tranche by end of this week, in time for the school year to begin on Monday.
A total 1.3 million students throughout the country will benefit from the tuition fee payment starting next week.
Meanwhile, schools in Bougainville will still charge school fees.

Street kids rush for places        The National, 30th January, 2013

AS schoolchildren prepare for a new school year, 88 “street kids” rushed through the gates of the Lae City Mission early yesterday trying to secure one of the 10 places available.
They arrived as early as 7am at the Buablong hostel and waited for two hours, hoping for a good future, before the gate was opened for the recruitment of the new intakes.
Buablong hostel and Haus Claire manager Remmie Auwa said he felt sorry for the boys. Lae City Mission is part of the PNG City Mission group and it is a faith-based non-profit organisation with the mission statement of spreading the love of God and meeting human needs.
“Most of the boys at the Lae City Mission come from broken homes, and are addicted to alcohol and drugs.
“The mission tries to rehabilitate them both spiritually and physically,” Auwa added.
City Mission’s marketing and fundraising officer Dorothy Koch said they had helped 2,000 destitute boys passing through their new life skills programme.
“And they begin a new life through spiritual development and receive basic numeracy and literacy, and importantly, learn life skills to help them become positive and self-sufficient citizens in their communities,” Koch said.

Teacher: Mobile phones contributing to poor academic performances  The National, 08th December, 2013

Mobile phones are one of the major contributing factors for the poor academic performance of primary school students and teachers must not be blamed, a teacher says.
Reports that teachers were not performing after Southern Highlands’ grade eight students did poorly in their written expression examinations were not true and students should share the blame, Samson Yoanis said.
Yoanis, from Una village, Imbonggu district, said it may be true that many teachers were not teaching students properly and tending to personal matters but he said students with mobile phones often arrived in class looking sleepy.
Yoanis said many students spent most of their time on mobile phones, calling, texting and chatting on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Netlog and others.
He said most of their free time was spent on mobile phones and they did not leave enough time to study or do homework and assignments.

 Disabled females need help  The National, 07th January, 2013

WOMEN and girls with disabi­lities face many problems daily, PNG Assembly of the Disabled Persons chairwoman Ipul Powaseu says.
Powaseu said disability was not on a person’s body but it was created by people’s perceptions.
“A lot of women and girls with disabilities don’t have access to health, education and they don’t go to the public markets to sell their food,” she said.
The dean of women at the Pacific Adventist University said women and girls with disabilities were contributing to the growth and development of the nation.
Powaseu said people living with disability were untapped human resources of the country with their own creativity.
“It is the cry of our people; look at our abilities and not our disabilities,” she said.
“Because of our traditional perception, we think that the persons living with disability are the helpless people of the society; and so we pushed them to the periphery.”
Powaseu said the Lae and Madang market facilities were inaccessible for disabled people to conduct business there.
She said in traditional societies in the country, disabled people were well looked after by their families.
“Today, our society is individualised; it is a money society,” she said.

 NGO: Govt fails to protect girls   The National, 08th December, 2013

A local non-government organisation working to protect women’s rights says the government has failed to act to protect girls and teenagers from forced marriages.
Ume Wainetti, of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council PNG, told Radio Australia there were reports that girls as young as five were being sold by their parents to older men, sometimes foreigners working in the forestry and mining sectors.
“We’ve got a wide range of reports that come in on girls that are being forced into marriages or especially into sexual relationships with older men, but we don’t have data,” Wainetti said.
She said the problem happened throughout PNG and the law that criminalised such activities had not been enforced.
“The law that was amended (Criminal Court Evidence Act) that was passed in 2002 actually says that anybody who prostitutes a child will be prosecuted, but that law has not been enforced,” she said.
“There’s a lot of mistreatment of these girls because many of them are forced to marry men who are already married.
“Those girls (from a study we did with UNICEF on child abuse) were saying that they’re forced into marriages and the older women who are already married to those men do mistreat them, really mistreat them.”
She said the girls forced to marry older men and then live with them long term could be between the ages of 14 and 16.
“But then the other ones who are really forced into sexual relationships are much, much younger,” she said.
Most of the time people talk about happening in the resource areas, especially in the forestry development areas.”
She said these men could be foreigners working in PNG plus locals who work for foreign companies.

Cater for the needs of PLWDs   Post Courier,  8 January

PAPUA New Guinea has a National Policy on People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) which caters for the special needs of Papua New Guineans requiring special attention, care and support in their families and communities. 
The policy has been in place for the last four years but there appears to be a lack of progress in getting successive governments, including the current O’Neill Government to recognise and give priority to their needs.
Consequently, PNG Rehabilitation Centre director Brown Kapi has felt compelled to come out and appeal to government to recognise that people with disabilities are citizens and deserve to be equal recipients of state services provided to the country. 
Mr Kapi has made a passionate plea to building contractors to factor in designs that would make buildings in PNG user-friendly for those Papua New Guineans who are physically challenged. A recent survey of public buildings in Port Moresby, the nation’s capital, by this newspaper revealed that the Mineral Resources Authority’s Mining Haus is the only government-owned infrastructure to cater for visitors with disability. It has a ramp and a lift for wheelchairs. In the private sector, the Vision City shopping mall appears to have catered for this as well.
According to the United Nations, Papua New Guinea has approximately 600,000 people with disabilities, which comprises about 10 per cent of the country’s population. It is tragic that close to a million Papua New Guineans have difficulties accessing basic services because of successive government failures to address their needs.

 Wingti: Stop free handout mentality  The National, 15th of January, 2013

Western Highlands’ Governor Paias Wingti has described the “free handout mentality” as a social problem that needs to be stopped.
Wingti said last Friday while handing down the provinces K235 million budget at the Airport Motel, that there was nothing free and people should not expect that from others.
He said free handouts were corruptive and a social problem that destroyed the people’s ways of thinking and he would not promote it.
He challenged people in the province to be self-reliant instead of waiting for free handouts and to make use of their fertile land that could generate money for them.
Wingti said he would do his part by providing funds to help people generate money for themselves by making use of their land and announced K9,186,600 funding for agriculture.
That makes it the third biggest slice of the 2013 budget after transport infrastructure and education.
Wingti said traditionally Western Highlanders were proud people and did not beg or expect money from others.
He said people only helped each other in times of need like during bride prices, compensations and traditional ceremonies, but these were only given if it would benefit a tribe.
“But this has changed because you are now lazy and expect money for doing nothing,”
There is money in your land, your coffee plot, your kaukau garden, let us make use of it,” he said.

No trace of K59mil    The National, 16th of January, 2013

Investigators cannot trace K59 million of parliament’s funds spent between 2010 and 2012 as most of the funds were drawn in cash. An initial investigation, ordered by Speaker Theo Zurenuoc at the time of his election to the post last year, revealed “gross and massive abuse, maladministration and mismanagement of parliament funds over a long period of time”.Zurenuoc yesterday described PNG’s Haus Tambaran as a “bank” which was operated by a syndicate with only one officer in authority approving payments.
The alleged abuse covered seven accounts operated by parliament.
The compliance and audit team, as the investigation team was called, found that the Imprest Account, one held for emergency and contingency purposes, was the most abused with amounts “misappropriated in the millions”.
“Most instance,” the team report stated, “cheques drawn were written out in cash and no evidence at the time of the audit to substantiate the purposes for which the cheques were written out in cash.
“Payments of substantial amounts of public funds as temporary cash advances were made to members of parliament and serving parliamentary staff well beyond their capacity to repay,” Zurenuoc said.

700 face starvation  The National, 15th of January, 2013

More than 700 people living along the Waghi River at Kondapina in Western Highlands are looking beyond their food gardens to
Their homes and gardens are under water from floods caused by continuous rain in the province.
The Waghi River burst its banks two weeks ago and flooding has continued.
People in the area
are now desperate for food and shelter.
Chairman of the Kondapina-Waghi flood cooperative society Mond Rengi said homes had been destroyed and the people were “scattered all over the place”, trying to escape the flood waters.
He also blamed Cameron Construction, which has been sealing the Kindeng-Kondapina roads, for diverting the course of the river.
“Every time when it rains for a couple of days, we are the
first to be affected.
“Now we are facing the wet season and all our gardens are covered by floods. We will starve to death.”
Rengi said most of the villagers were farmers and their income was derived from their plantations and gardens.
“We are block holders and we come from Enga, Chimbu and Southern Highlands.”

 UN, PNG to sign deals for West Papuan refugees
  Post Courier 17 Jan

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)and PNG government will today sign agreements at gateway Hotel to provide ongoing services and support to West Papuan refugees living in Western Province. 
The UNHCR in a statement yesterday said that there are some 8,000 refugees living at Iowara-East Awin in border settlements and in urban areas of Western Province, most of whom had fled neighbouring Indonesia in the mid-1980s.
UNHCR’s partnership with the refugees over the last 28 years has provided a basis for their protection and reintegration, and UNHCR has – alongside the PNG Government — helped to provide essential support such as improving roads, access to jobs, education and healthcare.
The report said UNHCR had to transit out of Iowara-East Awin and downsize its operation in PNG as of the start of 2013. This move is prompted by the need to respond to an unprecedented number of global displacement crises — notably in Africa and the Middle East . The report said while UNHCR will no longer have a role in delivering services or programmes, it will continue in an advocacy and monitoring role on behalf of the refugees in Western Province, as well as the small number of refugees and asylum-seekers in other locations in the country.

 Hospital Support  NBC Facebook News Page, 11/01/2013

The Health Department has allocated a total of 88-million-Kina to major referral hospitals throughout the country. These funds will be used to develop the hospitals’ infrastructure, starting with the country’s premier hospital, the Port Moresby General Hospital. The Port Moresby General Hospital has been neglected for too long but the O’Neil Dion Government wants to see it transformed into a modern hospital in order to meet international standards. Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS, Michael Malabag says, his ministry will support other major hospitals such as the Angau Memorial Hospital, Mount Hagen and Nonga to be developed into regional hospitals. Mr Malabag says proper design and plans for these hospitals will commence this year and are expected to be fully developed in the next seven to eight years. The Minister also wants hospitals built in Central province, Enga, Jiwaka and Hela. He says construction of a new hospital in Enga province will start this year.

 Lifestyle Diseases Rising in PNG   The National, 09/01/2013

Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancers of the digestive tract, the liver and lungs as well as the ailments of the heart are on the rise in Papua New Guinea. Deaths, attributable to lifestyle diseases, of individuals barely in their 50s in cities and rural areas are becoming so commonplace that one would assume that the country’s life expectancy has surely taken a dip since independence. At present, PNG is awash in a confluence of modern ways that has, over time, reaped a deadly remittance on the pleasures and conveniences it has provided. The consumption of unhealthy foods, coupled with mostly sedentary jobs, has no doubt contributed to mortality rates in certain age groups. What has also been a major factor in the poor state of affairs in public health has been the blasé attitude many Papua New Guineans have to healthy living. There is no strong focus (in public, in schools or workplaces) on living, eating and thinking to benefit all the aspects of the individual. The amount of harmful fats (cholesterol and trans fats), sugars and poor quality protein and carbohydrates consumed on a daily basis is truly mind-blowing. The big question here is: Are Papua New Guineans aware that how they live their lives everyday including what they eat, what they put into their bodies (smoking and drinking) and whether they exercise directly impacts their health, not just in the short term of a week or month or year but how they fare later in life? Eliminating or, at the very least, cutting back on processed foods such as canned food, white bread, white rice, soft drinks, etc … is a huge factor in living healthier lives.

EHP pays K1.7m in tithes  The National, 21st January, 2013

JULIE Soso has created history by being the first Eastern Highlands governor to give 10% of her provincial revenue as tithes to churches.
Soso said her government had generated K17 million from internal revenue last year and as a “Christian governor” she gave K1.7 million of that revenue to churches.
“I see so many blessings in my personal life and tithe is always part of my life,” she said. 
“I believe that tithes must always remain part of my government policies.”
Soso said she had this idea long before she became a politician.
“All my 24 LLG presidents and eight open members did not oppose me for the tithe that I proposed for my government,” she said.
She said not all the LLG presidents and the open members were Christians and she thought they would oppose but they had not.
“I thank God that His Spirit worked through them and they agreed that we should give the tithe.”
Soso tightened sales of alcohol in black markets and tucker shops in the province to cut down on law and order problems.
She said people who wished to drink alcohol should go to clubs and hotels to do so.

Families homeless after care centre razed   The National, 22nd January, 2013

Several families are homeless and forced to live out in the open after a makeshift care centre they called home was burnt down as an act of revenge at Kamkumung in Lae, Morobe, on Sunday.
Thirteen canvas shelters housing more than 200 men, women and children were razed along with their contents at about 9am on Sunday.
According to father of two, Simon Wagi, from Gumine district in Chimbu, a drunk local youth entered the centre last Friday and swore indiscriminately at the residents.
“Feeling offended, some men at the centre chased the youth away unharmed,” Wagi said.
“But at about 9am on Sunday, some local Kamkumung men and youths came with weapons and started setting fire to the homes.
“We didn’t want any confrontation with them and stood aside while they burnt our homes and our possessions,” Wagi said.
“For some of us this is the third time in two years to be displaced by violence and we are fed-up

Climate change impacts reefs   Post Courier 23 January

Climate Change impacts on reefs are here and will change what reefs look like in the future, warns a PNG scientist at the University of PNG.
Head of Environmental Science and Geology at UPNG Professor Chalapan Kaluwin says impacts of a warming climate on reefs is not a future event as complex changes have already begun that could fundamentally change what reefs look like in the future.

“Tropical coral reef waters are already significantly warmer than they were and the rate of warming is accelerating,” he said. 
“With or without drastic curtailment of greenhouse gas emissions we are facing, for the foreseeable future, changes in the physical environment of present-day coral reefs are real.’’
He said over the past century global temperatures had warmed by 0.7 degrees C and those of the surface tropical oceans by 0.5 degrees C. 
This raising of baseline temperatures have already resulted in widespread coral bleaching and outbreaks of coral diseases. Current projections indicate that the tropical oceans could be 1.3oC warmer by the end of this century.
“Changes to coral reef habitat caused by climate change will also potentially lead to changed fish populations. The direct impacts, which are already occurring, are reduced coral cover and less habitat structure for fish. That will mean fewer species and lower fish abundance.
He said these changes would ultimately have severe impacts on the millions of people worldwide who depended on reefs for food, income and storm protection.

Kua opts for death penalty  The National, 23rd of January, 2013

Attorney-General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua says the crime situation in the country is forcing him to implement the death penalty.
“Because of the upsurge in serious crimes, I decided to revisit the death penalty law. I really do not want it but I am left with no option,” Kua said.
He said law and order problems at the villages, towns and cities were increasing at an alarming rate, especially very serious and violent crimes.
“When I invited debate on the death penalty on the floor of parliament, I have not heard one against the death penalty up to now. No Papua New Guineans have opposed me,’’ he said.
“Those who oppose me must come to me with better choices and alternatives to stop the law and order problems. Only then will I withdraw what I am saying. But don’t stop me without giving me an option.”
He pointed out that the opposition to the implementation of death penalty came from foreigners, not Papua New Guineans.
“I think they (foreigners) have a vested interest. They want our law and order problems to continue to deteriorate without any solution so that we will remain vulnerable and we look to foreigners for support.
“Then they will come and do whatever they want to do in our country.

Catholic Church opposed death penalty  The National, 25th of January, 2013

The Catholic church says a suggestion from the Attorney-General Kerenga Kua to implement the death penalty to address the high crime rate in PNG is wrong.
General secretary of the Catholic Bishop Conference in PNG Fr Victor Roche was concerned about the influential Kua’s plan to implement the death penalty to discourage serious crime.
Roche said the church supported the dignity of a human or person and a death penalty would deny that if implemented.
“The death penalty is not the answer to the law and order problems in our country,” he said.
The view against death penalty is also shared by NCD Governor Powes Parkop.
The human rights lawyer argued that there was no proof that capital punishment was the model to successfully monitor the law and order problems in a society.

Tok Ples key to uniting religions   The National, 23rd of January, 2013

USE of local dialects or Tok Ples could bring religious understanding to a whole new level, the Summer Institute of Linguists (SIL) reports.
SIL said participants at a recent conference were passionate about the need for Tok Ples translation throughout the country, including some of their own communities.
“It was the first time that some leaders heard how they could get involved in the process of developing their own languages and the enormity of the task in PNG.”
The conference was held in Ukarumpa, Eastern Highlands, and attracted about 70 church leaders.
“It is bringing the whole body of Christ together, that is the thing that we need to build on. I think it lays a foundation for all the churches,” PNG Council of Churches chairman Denny Guka said.
With nearly 300 language groups still awaiting translating work, the conference found that unity among churches was the way forward.
Archbishop John Ribat of the Port Moresby Catholic archdiocese shared similar sentiments.  “The word of God is the uniting factor. We are all working together, referring to the word of God as a way of uniting us.”

The banks are milking from our simple people  Letter Post Courier 24 Jan

I would like to express my frustrations over the banks attitudes regarding their services to the people who give them business. 
Most of all, it is the small people who deposit in small sums that adds up to the banks declaring multi-million kina profits in PNG which adds to the multi-million dollar profits declared worldwide. In the banking situation, it makes life for the small people more difficult by making them stand in lines for hours to deposit more money for the banks to use or withdraw their money from their savings. 
The service sector of the banks are down to zero or below zero when comparing with banks overseas and using a scale factor to ten(10). The government of the day seems to be living in oblivion unaware of the situations the people are going through. All the fees when one takes out his or her money from the bank using the ATM or withdrawing from the counter is just too much. Just for letting your money in the bank incurs fees also. On top of the tax the people are paying from their salaries or from purchasing we pay the GST tax, we are again burdened with these usually unscrupulous fees. 

Riwi Rindi Kiunga, W.P

Yanis: Street kids emerging problem   The National, 24th January, 2013

Thw Child Welfare Office (CWO) under the Department of Community Development says the issue of street kids is indeed an emerging problem but it is underfunded to deal with it adequately.
Director Simon Yanis, responding to comments by an academic about street kids posing a threat to the national security of PNG, said money was the main issue to finding a solution. 
Associate Prof Garry Sali, of the department of communication for development studies at the PNG University of Technology, said the children were emerging with no cultural connections and “will become adults in our society doing unproductive and illegal things such as strikes, civil unrest and petty crimes”.
Yanis said: “We receive no funding from the government but as social workers we just do our jobs as an obligation to the community.”
He said the CWO had a children’s programme but they were done in partnership with other non-governmental organisations and international humanitarian partners due to funding constraints.
“For instance, we have the vulnerable street children programme with Unicef,” he said.
The programme aims to identify vulnerable children and assist them.
Yanis, who took office last July, said although there were programmes in place, the current infighting for the top post in the department had affected the morale of staff and their commitment towards work.

DWU all set to start academic year
   Post Courier 25 Jan

Divine Word University in Madang believes in starting the academic year on time and they are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students to the 2013 academic year soon, says the university’s vice president.
Vice President Academic Br Andrew Simpson said they expect students to arrive for registration and orientation and lectures wil commence on Monday, February 4.
“We believe in starting on time and we do follow our academic calendar,” he said.
A formal ceremony for all students to open the year’s academic year will be held on February 8.
The academic theme for the year is ‘Total Quality Assurance’.
“We will continue to implement the recommendations of the 2011 external academic audit and we will maintain our policy to strengthen the quality of research within the university. This year’s fee for diploma students is K7840 with K5140 as the payable registration fee.
If a student is on Higher Education Contribution Assistance Scheme (HECAS), the remaining balance of K2700 will be met by HECAS.
For degree students, the total fee is K8500 with K5800 payable on registration and the balance of K2700 to be met by HECAS by the beginning of the second semester.
However, for self sponsored students and those who lost 
their scholarships, the balance of K2700 will have to come from their own pockets.

How Can This Be Happening on Manus?  PNG, Jan 30, 2013

We may be outraged by the conditions on Manus Island – but are we prepared to face the truths about why our government continues to treat asylum seekers so abysmally, asks Zoe Krupka (In Australia). As legal proceedings against the processing centre on Manus Island begin, and Sarah Hanson-Young prepares to visit to the detention centre, we’re asking a lot of questions about the terrible conditions people seeking asylum in Australia are now forced to face. As the evidence of repeated suicide attempts mounts, we keep hoping for lessons to be learnt. Is it possible that we have learned the lessons from past human rights abuses? Can we face the possibility that what we are seeing in action is not ignorance but well-rehearsed cruelty?
There is a recipe for suicide. The message is clear. You may die trying to come here. When you get here you will be unwelcome, unwanted and uncared for. If you stay here, you will be isolated, destitute and of no value. The message of “no advantage” really translates as a message that there’s no point. No point in asking, no point in living.

This full article was first published by the New Matilda on the 29th of January 2013

Planning for a more productive informal economy in PNG

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During the recent 2012 Pacific Update at the ANU, Bart Philemon observed that while LNG projects promise jobs, they are likely to benefit only “top graduates who constitute a mere 20-30 percent of those seeking work”. The former PNG Treasurer posed the question: “what will other job seekers do in a saturated market where there is up to a 60 percent unemployment rate”.

Mr Philemon was pointing to a real problem; however, his reference to unemployment appears to imply that the solution must be found in the creation of jobs. This is unlikely to happen, and certainly not in sufficient numbers to absorb the job-seekers to whom he refers. Framing the problem in terms of formal job opportunities misses the potential of non-formal income sources. PNG needs more sources of self-employment; it needs a wider range of activities which enable people to earn money. In other words, it needs a larger and more productive informal economy.

An informal economy will be found in both urban and rural areas and will be supported by strong rural-urban links, with mobility of people, commodities and money between town and countryside. In the developing world the great majority of small farmers are not fully commercialised. Instead, they get most of their income from a portfolio of economic activities, taking advantage of multiple income sources. Typically, smallholder livelihoods combine formal and informal, farm and off-farm, urban and rural activities. Such flexibility is facilitated by improved roads and rapidly growing flows of people between rural and urban areas, which further assist in linking low income rural producers with low income urban consumers. Mobile phones now facilitate rural-urban linkages by providing better access to information about markets and employment opportunities.

In PNG there is evidence of both positive rural change and increasing rural-urban links, as well as some of the socially undesirable phenomena noted above. Movements of produce to urban markets have greatly increased over time, and new roadside markets have emerged spontaneously at strategic places in the countryside. Meanwhile, the producer-sellers who used to dominate marketplaces are giving way to specialised traders and distributors. These trends are nowhere more apparent than in betel nut marketing. This trade may be the prototype for a modernising and productive informal economy in PNG, notwithstanding some knotty problems connected with the consumption of buai (as distinct from its production and distribution).

The adoption of a National Policy for the Informal  Economy by PNG in 2010 marked a recognition that informal economic activity has the potential to yield both macroeconomic and distributional benefits, with the latter of particular significance in light of the resources boom.

The retirement of Dame Carol Kidu, the principal driver behind the policy, together with some subsequent administrative inertia, has slowed down the necessary follow-up planning and activities. However, the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC) have continued to push the informal economy agenda forward.

Proposed changes include: the creation of a model marketplace to serve as a benchmark for authorities around the country; the improvement of the collection of market vendor fees; cooperation with NCDC and UNWOMEN in the ‘Safe cities market programme’; and the establishment of a phone ‘hotline’ for market participants to report crime and other abuses. This will also be trialled as a means of connecting vendors with commercial buyers. In recognition of the need for market operators to have a voice, it is suggested that a Chamber of Informal Economy be established to operate at local, provincial and national levels.

These are useful starting points, but they also suggest that the informal economy is still seen largely in terms of physical marketplaces. If so, this is a less than adequate understanding of the full potential and extent of an urban informal economy and of the public measures needed to encourage it.

[Feel free to share these Social Concerns notes.  The Archive over the past 2 years can be found at  ed.]

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