Report: Bribery endemic
The National, July 29th, 2013
THE majority of Papua New Guineas are paying bribes to get services, a Transparency International global corruption barometer (GCB) survey has found. And Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) chairman Lawrence Stephens says that bribery needed to be stamped out in PNG. Stephens said in a statement on Friday that 76% of the survey respondents noted that corruption was a serious problem in the public sector. “Institutions that people rely on to fight corruption and other crime are not trusted,” he said. He said most of the respondents said they were asked to pay a bribe when interacting with key public institutions such as police, registry, permit services and land services. “Eighty-five percent of the respondents viewed that the police were the most affected by corruption,” Stephens said. He said 70% of the respondents said public servants and political parties were also corrupt while 63% felt the Parliament was also affected by corruption. “Public institutions, law enforcement agencies and politicians have a lot to do to regain the trust of the citizens of PNG,” Stephens said. “The GCB shows a crisis of trust and there is a real concern about the capacity of those institutions responsible for bringing criminals to justice.” He said 1,044 people in PNG participated in the survey and nearly half of the respondents agreed that ordinary citizens had the will to combat the abuse of power, secret dealings and other forms of corruption.
Graft affects business Survey finds many firms affected by corruption
Post Courier 31 July, 2013
Businesses in Papua New Guinea have put down corruption as one of the biggest impediments to their operation, a new survey by the Institute of National Affairs has revealed. The survey, which was co-funded by AusAID, Asian Development Bank and the INA, collected views from 150 businesses throughout PNG between May and December last year. A draft of the survey findings was published recently by the Port Moresby-based INA. One of the key findings of the survey was the impact that corruption had on businesses with 28 per cent of the respondents saying they were “highly” or “very highly affected” by official corruption, whilst another 28 per cent indicated they were “fairly affected”. The frequency of what the survey categorised as “irregular payments” to officials (in order to get things done) was also highlighted with respondents’ feedback showing that 30 per cent concluded the practice “always” occurred while 13 per cent suggested it occurred “frequently”. The survey findings confirm growing concerns within the private sector at the extent of corruption within PNG’s bureaucracy and the impact it was having on businesses generally, despite attempts by successive governments to minimise and eventually eradicate it through anti-corruption reforms and institutional strengthening programs.
The National, August 2nd, 2013
Millions of kina are disappearing into thin air to pay a large number of ‘ghost employees’ in the provinces, Treasurer Don Polye says. He told a Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry breakfast yesterday that there was an ongoing problem of over expenditure in personnel emoluments in the provinces “Unfortunately, much of this overspend is on ghost employees, non-existent staff or those who retired long ago,” the treasurer said. “We have started to take action and have arrested some people for such fraudulent practices, but we must do more to address this issue.”
Billions lost : Corruption eats into K1.4 billion of our public money
Post Courier 2 August
About K1.4 billion in public money earmarked for development projects this year will be lost to corruption, says the Investigation Task Force Sweep. Sam Koim, the chair of the Government’s anti-corruption unit, took out four full-page advertisements in the Post-Courier today to give the public an update on the scale of corruption within the government machinery, his unit’s current investigations, prosecution and how the judiciary was handling the cases. While acknowledging that it would be difficult to quantify the impact of corruption in Papua New Guinea, the ITFS said it believes K3.1 billion was lost to fraud and corruption from the K12.67 billion which the Government appropriated for its development budgets between 2009 and 2012. The K3.1 billion represents 24.5 per cent of development funds, and if one is to use that trend to calculate how much from K5.8 billion (which was allocated for development projects this year) would be siphoned, the ITFS estimates that at least K1.4 billion would be lost.
Pacific Games Contract Blow Out
PNG Blogs 26 August, 2013
Pacific Games contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has been blacklisted by the World Bank for “fraudulent practices”. They have also been found by the Bangladeshi courts to have acquired contracts through bribery. So when CHEC was handed a massive roads deal (K318 million) by the NCD, PNGxposed’s eyebrows were raised. So were Governor Parkop’s when he discovered through a viral social media campaign what his auditors had not, and he duly suspended the contract.
Now we learn CHEC has been given the contract to build the 2015 Pacific Games village at the University of PNG. According to the Good Governance Advocacy Forum the project is costed at K190 million, yet CHEC was allegedly awarded an astronomical K263 million, that is a K73 million excess. Other contractors we are told bid around K190 million.
The argument that CHEC are a ‘world class’ outfit worth the extra splurge has been definitely torn apart by the Jamaican Minister for Transport, Works and Housing, who following an audit inquiry, reported that CHEC had, “wanton disregard for conventions and procedures established by the Government of Jamaica for projected implementation, administration and management. These breaches of existing procurement guidelines have drained precious budgetary resources and undermined the very foundation of public institutional integrity”. So why would the PNG government allegedly pay an extra K73 million to a company blacklisted by the World Bank and slammed for shonky work by the Jamaican government?
Of course, the Pacific Games is being organised under the watchful eye of Justin Tkatchenko. Should we be worried, surely he would not allow untoward graft to take place? If past anti-corruption inquiries are anything to go by, be worried. …. Perhaps [investigation of such inquiries] could explain why a blacklisted Chinese company was gifted K73 million by the PNG government, a gift its own citizens are much more in need of.
High price tag in aid of solution
By Rowan Callick From: The Australian July 23, 2013
IN the short term, the asylum-seeker deal is a winner for both Australia and Papua New Guinea, if it works swiftly to deter people from attempting to come by boat. The cost-benefit analysis deteriorates, however, the bigger the burden of people who are caught up in the scheme, and the more it has to be prolonged. For PNG, on the cost side, implementation will be difficult, and the longer it continues the tougher the task. The assessment of the asylum-seekers will be conducted by Papua New Guineans. But the immigration department there has been created only recently, spun out of Foreign Affairs, and is already at full stretch. About 8000 asylum-seekers have been living in refugee centres at Iowara-East Awin, close to the 750km border with Indonesia, across which they have come in periods of instability and conflict, most arriving about 25 years ago. But the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has taken chief responsibility for managing these centres, which will not be the case under the new deal with Australia.
Australia stands second in the UN’s human development index; PNG 156th. “Housing, education, healthcare, jobs. How can we supply these things for any number of settlers? How could Mr O’Neill sign up to such a ridiculous idea?” asks John Glynn, an Irish Catholic priest who works with street children and disabled people in Port Moresby. But, politically, the scheme would have to go devastatingly wrong to threaten Peter O’Neill’s dominance. He has the backing of 101 of the 111 MPs, and parliament adjourned last Friday until September, relieving him from answering questions in that often visceral arena. … The benefits for PNG come principally from Kevin Rudd’s concession that the aid budget will be spent within the core priority areas for the O’Neill government, rather than on a broader range of projects that AusAID identifies as important. This has procedural benefits – giving Port Moresby a greater say in aid targets – and immediate budgetary benefits.
But a cost is also attached. It is the unquantifiable cost of having the nation of PNG presented as a place that is sufficiently unattractive that it can act as a deterrent even to people desperate to flee their home countries.
Asylum case back in court
The National, August 2nd, 2013
THE Supreme Court will again be asked to decide whether or not the asylum seekers processing centre on Manus contravenes the Papua New Guinea Constitution. Opposition Leader Belden Namah, through his lawyer, Henaos Lawyers, yesterday applied to the Supreme Court to determine whether or not Section 42 of the Constitution had been breached when the PNG and Australian governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2012 to divert all asylum seekers to Manus island for processing. Yesterday’s application requests the court to declare the proper interpretation and application of Section 42 of the Constitution which guarantees all persons in PNG including foreigners their personal liberty. Namah argues that bringing the transferees to Manus was contrary to the Constitutional rights to personal liberty. And that all those brought to the island are denied the rights conferred all individuals by the particular right. He said in the application: “It should be noted in respect to the implementation of the MoU that:
Transferees are transferred to PNG by the Australian government against their will and subject to security escort;
Transferees are detained against their will at the relocation center on Manus island; and
Transferees are liable to be transferred from PNG to other destinations against their will.
Namah’s application was filed yesterday as the first 40 Iranian, Pakistani and Afghan men arrived in Papua New Guinea.
Asylum deal may spark religious conflict, says churches
The National, July 31st, 2013
HEADS of mainline churches in Lae say the country faces the possibility of conflicts between Christians and Muslims if it goes ahead with plans to re-settle refugees. The Lae Minister’s Fraternal, consisting of leaders of Christian churches, said in a statement that the Constitution was formulated to make the country a base for Christianity. But this seems to have been forgotten with the new asylum deal with Australia it said. “The O’Neill government has set PNG into a very dangerous trend and our children will feel the brunt of this very foolish decision signing a deal which has nothing to do with PNG,” the statement said. The churches questioned why Indonesia was keeping quiet on the refugee matter as the refugees sailed from there. “Why is Indonesia not being asked by Australia to process these refugees and even ask to re-settle them there?” The church leaders said O’Neill was going back on his words when, after being concerned about the fast growing population, he urged young Papua New Guineans to marry after they turned 25. “What about our Melanesian brothers on the other side of the border with Indonesia? Can we accept them into our land and resettle them?” The church leaders said they were concerned that O’Neill could be getting bad advice and that money and projects were being used to lure PNG into signing the asylum deal.
Solomon Islands rejects plan for asylum seekers
Solomon Star 11 August 2013
The Pacific nation of Solomon Islands has rejected Australia’s request to play a role in the federal government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement. The country’s Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo has been in talks with Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr on the matter. This follows last month’s announcement that no asylum seeker who reach Australia by boat will ever be resettled in Australia, instead they will be sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and, if found to be refugees, will be resettled there. “No we will never consider that. It was informally put to us and I rejected,” PM Lilo said. “I basically said No to them.” “They made a choice to go to Australia and not to come to Solomons that is the first issue” PM Lilo told Fiji journalists in Nadi while attending the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) inaugural meeting. PM Lilo bluntly rejected the idea of the Pacific Solution that is invented in Australia saying the issue must be first consulted amongst leaders of the region. “Pacific Solution has to be discussed broadly with all the Pacific Leaders. You cannot invent something in Australia and say that is a Pacific Solution.
Last week, Fiji’s foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola launched an acidic broadside against Australia’s government’s plan to send all asylum seekers coming by boat to Papua New Guinea for processing and possible resettlement. He said Australia used its economic muscle to persuade a Melanesian country to accept thousands of people who are not Pacific Islanders into the region.
PNG Suspends Asylum talks
The Weekend Australian, 24 August, 213
In a confidential letter obtained by the Weekend Australian, PNG’s chief migration officer Mataio Rabura told Australia’s Department of Immigration and Customs that Australian access to the building site at Manus and discussions on resettlement had been suspended. Mr Rabura complained about Australian officials not consulting him; tenders for work only being advertised in Australia; effectively delivering a snub to the PNG Defence Force that ‘can put up tents’; PNG Companies not receiving the business suggested by Mr Rudd and PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill; and hasty decision making.
Close Manus until deal sorted out, says Knight
The National, August 28th, 2013
MANUS MP Ronny Knight has called for the Australian-run Manus Island detention centre to be closed until after the Australian federal election. Knight, the Vice-Minister for Trade, said yesterday Manus residents were preparing to “explode” over the deal, which he said had seen mainland PNG and Australian companies brought in at the expense of locals.“I met with DIAC (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) officials,” Knight said.“I told them I wasn’t happy with the situation and I want the whole thing closed down until after the election. We will not be stepped on. Speaking to locals in Lorengau on Monday, Knight said he would refuse a proposal to build a permanent centre next to a primary school and demanded a halt to all construction. Board members of East Lorengau Primary School told the ABC last month that school buildings would be knocked down to make way for a 30m wide access road to the new facility. “We like Australia, we want to help Australia,” Knight said. “But we wouldn’t do this to Australia. We want a fair go.” Meanwhile, Australia continued to shift its asylum seekers to PNG, sending another 40 to Manus.
Knight: Wait until after Aussie polls
The National, August 30th, 2013
RONNIE Knight, one of two parliamentarians representing Manus island, said yesterday he wanted the asylum seekers processing centre to be closed until after the Australian elections. Knight made the comment while responding to Australian media reports that access to the centre was blocked off by angry landowners. He attributed any such action to local companies not getting the spin-off business they had anticipated from the construction of the centre, and because workers brought from elsewhere in Papua New Guinea were being paid more than Manus Islanders. He said Manus residents would meet today to consider blocking access to the centre, which was developed at the Lombrum Naval Base. There was discussion yesterday about taking this further step, but the residents held back. Knight said he would prefer that “the whole thing is closed down until after the (Australian federal) election”. An immigration spokeswoman said: “The entrance to Lombrum is not being obstructed, and ongoing operations at the centre are not being affected.” Australian opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said if the coalition was elected on Sept 7, it would “immediately” seek clarification of the deal struck between prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Peter O’Neill on July 19. “There appear to be different expectations on the part of PNG from what the Rudd government announced.” Bishop said after learning the details of the deal – in which all asylum-seekers to arrive after July 19 would be processed in PNG with no hope of resettlement in Australia – “we shall then review the position.”
A whole new set of questions: asylum seekers in PNG communities?
The August Economic Statement tells us that ‘support for unauthorised maritime arrivals living in community based arrangements’ in PNG will cost $236 million over four years, and that this will be charged to the aid budget (Box 2, page 40, on the Australia-PNG Regional Resettlement Arrangement). This strangely vague language raises several questions.
First, does it imply that asylum seekers in PNG might be released into the community before their refugee status is determined, as happens in Australia? The use in the Budget Statement of the phrase ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’, rather than the term ‘refugees’, tends to suggest that something like Australia’s community detention regime is being contemplated in PNG. Second, is the $236 million an entirely new bite out of the aid program? The government has already allocated, in the May budget, $375 million from this year’s aid budget to support asylum seekers living in the Australian community and awaiting determination of their refugee status. It is now pursuing a policy that, in theory, will eliminate all such costs except those associated with people who arrived before the PNG ‘solution’ was announced. A possibly large share of the $375 million is therefore no longer required for the intended purpose and could presumably have been reallocated for spending in PNG. But there is no indication in the August Statement that the $236 million just announced includes any funding from the $375 million previously allocated. …
Third, and most importantly: how many people do we think PNG can absorb into its communities? The August Statement seems to imply that there will be a lot of asylum-seekers and/or refugees living in PNG communities pretty soon. Only $13 million is budgeted for this year but let’s say it is $75 million next year (about a third of the remainder). The median DAC per-refugee, per-annum cost claimed by OECD donors when refugees are living in their own countries is around $12,000. Applying a similar figure in the PNG context would suggest that 6,000 asylum seekers and/or refugees might move into PNG communities. Even half that is a very large number. …
The August Budget Statement, with its implication that a large number of asylum-seekers will be released into PNG communities at some point after their arrival in PNG, and its hint that an offshore community detention policy is being contemplated, raises very substantial questions.
Tertiary institutions lack spaces
The National, 31st July, 2013
TWENTY-nine tertiary institutions throughout Papua New Guinea will not have enough spaces to cater for students coming out of secondary schools, a government official says. Office of Higher Education coordinator for national selection Timon Bune said this in East New Britain recently during a visit to secondary schools. The visit was to look at the province’s selections for tertiary institutions last year and to advise teachers and students to re-assess their performances and strategies to secure spaces in the institutions. “We are in a bottle-neck situation where secondary schools are springing up everywhere in PNG while the number of students allowed into tertiary institutions is still low, Bune said. “We are producing more students but there is less space at the higher education institutions. “We are encouraging students to study hard and commit their time so that they can be in the top bracket to be selected. “This year, the number will increase to 18,000-plus students who will be competing for very limited spaces in higher education institutions. “The 29 institutions will not accommodate the 18,000.” Bune said 15,565 students sat for exams last year but only 4,500 were accepted by tertiary institutions for scholarships purposes while 11,100 missed out.
Capital punishment to be soon implemented in PNG
By Fr. Giorgio Licini PIME, CBC Communications, 8 August, 2013
Death sentences will really soon be carried out in Papua New Guinea. This was confirmed this morning at a Symposium on Capital and Corporal Punishment at Divine Word University in Madang by Justice Minister and Attorney General Kerenga Kua and the Secretary of the Department Lawrence Kalinoe. A technical team is travelling at this moment outside the country to Texas, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to acquire know-how on the practice and technical procedures. The PNG national Parliament voted in May this on four possible options for the implementation of the death penalty: lethal injection, oxygen deprivation, hanging and firing squad. It is believed that the PNG option will likely fall on the lethal injection as the least “inhumane” and most commonly practiced procedure in developed countries that still uphold the death penalty.
DWU students and staff present at the Symposium, along with other panel members such as former Justice Secretary and Atty. General Amet Arnold and psychologist Br. Hough expressed serious reservations about the reliability of the justice system, the real deterrence effects of the death penalty and the fact that it will be probably applied only to the poor and uneducated offenders. But Kua and Kalinoe reiterated the fact that the government’s decision it is really to implement the law as it is and as it reads.
Education in crisis: Report
The National, August 9th, 2013
A COMPREHENSIVE report on the Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) has painted a damning picture of the entire education system in Papua New Guinea. The report, prepared by a government task force, contained 48 recommendations for a complete overhaul of the system, including a new standards-based curriculum focused on increasing the teaching of English and Mathematics at elementary and primary school levels. It found that teachers had very low reading and writing skills, and should be given additional training in reading, writing, and Mathematics. The report noted that there were striking similarities between the South African and PNG experience of OBE. Both countries had inadequate teacher training and support, leading to poor implementation, and more alarmingly, a decline in standards of literacy and basic Mathematics. The task force, while concluding that an outcomes-based approach should be retained, suggested that recently-published text books should be used and adapted. The report was presented to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in May and approved last week by Cabinet, which has directed the Education Department to implement it. Earlier this week, O’Neill said it was now up to the department to take the lead in implementation of the report. “We are now referring it to the bureaucrats to implement the recommendations. “They (task force) have made 48 specific recommendations. Cabinet has accepted all the recommendations made by the task force. “We have directed the department and their officials to implement that fully,” the PM said. The task force summarised the failure of the OBE as:
originated by ‘outsiders’;
hard to lead and manage;
inadequate resourcing and planning to implement;
teachers did not understand the framework; and
parents did not understand the changes.
Mapai freights medical equipment for free
The National, August 12th, 2013
TRUCKING company Mapai Transport has offered to freight hospital equipment to hospitals in the Highlands for free. Mapai Transport spokesman Jacob Luke said in a statement the company’s vision was based on “living a life to serve others and giving unconditionally to the disadvantaged and the least fortunate people”. Luke said the company had in its 26 years in the trucking business helped disabled people, the PNG Cancer Relief Society, Angau Hospital and other organisations. “This is another event where the managing director has decided that we cart these medical supplies free of charge to show to the people that Mapai is truly committed to serve,” Sako said. “It is going to be an ongoing thing for the years to come, it is not only a company that is here to make money but is also here to make contributions to benefit the disadvantaged.”
Post Courier 14 August.
AN AUSTRALIAN non-government organisation report has revealed shocking levels of violence against women and children in the country. The report Stop Violence Against Women and Children in Papua New Guinea by ChildFund Australia is based on a field research conducted in Rigo District, Central Province and features candid interviews with women and children who have suffered severe physical assault and sexual abuse. The report also includes interviews with men who are showing leadership in their community and standing with women in the fight for change. While there is no official data on violence against women and children in PNG, earlier studies indicate that violence occurs in more than two-thirds of families. Many researchers believe this is just the tip of the iceberg, a view supported by ChildFund’s research. Most women interviewed in Rigo District had experienced violence and said their children were often present when their partners were violent towards them. Monica Richards, who manages the Port Moresby-based women’s shelter Haus Ruth, says about 60 per cent of children who come to the refuge with their abused mothers have also been hurt. “Most [men], when they touch the women, they touch the children as well,” she said. Alarmingly, children younger than 16 represent half the people who seek medical help after being raped. One in four is younger than 12 and one in 10 is under eight.
Group, cops clean market
The National, Friday August 16th, 2013
GORDON market, one of the filthiest and most dangerous in Port Moresby, is looking to shake off its notoriety. In an amazing transformation in the space of a few days, the local community and police joined forces to clean the market of betel nut sellers, marijuana and homebrew dealers, prostitutes, pick pockets, and drunkards who terrorised innocent men, women, and children. Gordon “home boys” – men who were born and bred in Gordon and now raising their own families – could no longer sit back and watch the safety and wellbeing of their wives and children being compromised. “Our wives and children were harassed, they didn’t feel free,” spokesman James Tore told The National. “Drugs and liquor were sold just like any other item in the market place. ‘This forced us to go and see NCDC if we could start this clean-up campaign. “They agreed to help and support us, and from there on, we started cleaning up.” Trying to clean Gordon market is no mean feat, especially trying to tell a hardened betel nut vendor or marijuana and homebrew dealer, to pack up and leave. The Gordon “home boys” needed help, and when they needed it most, in stepped Insp Mark Mosinakave and his young and enthusiastic crew from NCD Police Beat Patrol. “We wanted to show our presence in the area because Gordon Market is infested with thugs,” he said. “It has a very bad image. We want to help clean up the place.”
Oil Palm just a coverup New study shows oil palm as a screen for logging in PNG
PNG Blogs 23 August.
DEVELOPERS are using oil palm as a cover for logging in Papua New Guinea, say Australian-based researchers. The new research by the James Cook University’s Dr Paul Nelson and Jennifer Gabriel in a paper titled “Oil palm and deforestation in Papua New Guinea” was published recently in Conservation Letters, the journal of the Society of Conservation Biology. Its findings will not surprise Papua New Guinean landowners who have been victimised in recent years by the Government’s Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL), which saw large tracts of their land given away to developers under controversial 99-year leases, often without their informed consent. Oil palm is the commodity of choice for the developers but conservationists have charged that it is a guise for logging. Studying 36 oil palm proposals planned for close to 1 million hectares of land in PNG, Dr Nelson said they expect only five plantations covering 181,700 to eventuate and little of the land targeted for the development will be converted to agricultural use. “Logging in Papua New Guinea is a major driver of deforestation, not oil palm plantations. We studied 36 oil palm proposals with plantings planned for 984,000 hectares but we expect that only five plantations covering 181,700 hectares might eventuate. The most likely scenario in years to come is large-scale clearing and extraction of time with little of the land being converted into sustainable agricultural production,” he said in a statement. In what could be a chilling message to Papua New Guinean landowners already caught up in the SABL saga, the JCA-based researcher further alleged that most developers were “clearing forest with no intention of cultivating palm oil” as it enabled them to bypass restrictions on logging within the country.
Women’s bus project under say
The National, August 19th, 2013
A SURVEY is being carried out for the Women-Only Bus Programme at Gerehu market, Gordon market and primary schools in the National Capital District. The Women-Only Bus Programme aimed to provide safer transport for women and girls in NCD and help reduce violence against them. It is designed to complement the NCDC-UN Women Safe Cities project that is working to make Port Moresby’s markets safer. Rachel Terrell-Perica, an intern with UN Women, has been working closely with ward councillors Mato Posu and Patricia Mamele in coordinating and executing research in Gerehu and Gordon. Terrell-Perica said women and girls faced high risk danger when using public transport. “These risks range from drivers not completing their route to women being sexually harassed when getting on and off the PMVs.”
Election officer hails awareness results
The National, August 20th, 2013
AWARENESS programmes prior to the elections in Chimbu resulted in a successful electoral process, provincial elections manager Gore Kaupa says. No local level government election in the province was declared failed by the Electoral Commission.“Dissemination of very important electoral information to every voter was one of the first priorities of the provincial electoral office,” Kaupa said. “We engage civil society organisations, police and churches to conduct awareness in every corner of the province. “We also conduct mock elections and demonstrations of how counting and voting under the Limited Preferential Voting system is done in public. It really educates the voters.” He said every eligible voter in Chimbu knew exactly what to do and what to expect at different stages of the electoral process. He said he used the local radio station in Kundiawa to the fullest – disseminating electoral information through the radio. The use of Radio Simbu also made a lot of impact. Kaupa praised the support from the provincial government through administrator Joe Kunda. Kaupa said the provincial election steering committee ensured the electoral process was completed.
LLG spillover shuts market
Post Courier 30 August, 2013
The famous Mt Hagen vegetable market was closed as of Wednesday afternoon following an LLG election related rampage on the facility. The attack, believed to be carried out by supporters of a prominent leader and candidate contesting the Mt Hagen Rural LLG, sent the crowd fleeing in all directions with garden and other products, worth hundreds of kina, scattered all over the premises. The Mt Hagen Market is operated and run by the Mt Hagen Rural LLG. The mad group beat up the sellers and anyone inside the market and their items were thrown everywhere. During the chaos, opportunists grabbed people’s bags, wallets and anything they could lay their hands on and disappeared into the commotion. One woman from Enga province who was buying vegetables reportedly lost K1500 in cash and other personal items that were in her bilum. Mt Hagen police could not contain the situation and support from police personnel from outside, including Baiyer, was called in to help quell the situation. The police fired tear gas and warning shots in the air. Nobody was reported to be seriously hurt but farmers and sellers inside the market lost everything. Two opposing groups — one against the electoral commissioner’s call to fail the election and one for Mr Trawen’s call — have created havoc in the province.
Democracy in question
Post Courier, 23 August, 2013
THE democracy of Papua New Guinea is in limbo with people freely manipulating and hijacking the election processes which is the cornerstone of democracy in the country. This was stressed by more than 15 councilors from Hagen Urban and Rural Local Level Governments in the Western Highlands Province who strongly supported the electoral commissioner’s decision to declare failed elections in 19 LLGs in the highlands region. The councilors said PNG’s democracy is based on free and fair elections and that must not be hijacked by people with vested interests. “We have seen and heard of many illegal and corrupt practises by a minority who have used threats, force and intimidation to get become ward councilors and LLG presidents, which are representative positions dealing with thousands of people,” the leaders said. “These type of actions are a direct threat to the democracy of this country and the government must not tolerate them.”
Complete SABL inquiry report
PNG blogs 20 August
The revelations from research by the James Cook University on oil palm being used by developers as a cover for logging should not come as a surprise to Papua New Guineans.
“It is crucial that the real intentions of developers are understood and highlighted so the PNG Government can manage the property appropriately. At present a lot of people around the world think that buying products containing palm oil encourages deforestation, but boycotting those products at the supermarket is not going to stop loss of forest in PNG,” he added.
The controversy relating to the Government’s Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) is well documented in PNG, compelling the government of then acting Prime Minister Sam Abal in 2011 and a year later PM Peter O’Neill to support and establish a commission of inquiry.
It is a pity that the commission of inquiry into the SABLs is yet to hand a final report to the Government as the findings of the research co-authored by the JCU’s Dr Paul Nelson and Jennifer Grain could have easily complimented the inquiry’s recommendations. Dr Nelson is of the view that only five out of the 36 oil palm proposals could eventuate with the researcher concluding that it is likely the developers will only extract the timber and not convert the land into agricultural use.
Revealing the dirty business of the logging industry, Dr Nelson makes reference to the PNG forestry guidelines and how it bans the export of raw logs from areas covered by new timber permits versus the same companies being granted the lease which enables them to export logs. It is a loophole that logging companies continue to capitalise on. Papua New Guineans have in recent years been affected by the SABL policy of the past and current Governments and it is only correct that they be accorded that right to see the commission of inquiry report completed and its findings and recommendations acted on.
Labour ward under water – nurses deliver babies in water with human waste
The National, 20 August, 2013
Nurses at the maternity ward of Madang’s Modilon Hospital stood in water to deliver babies last weekend following a downpour. The ward was flooded last weekend because of poor drainage system. Hospital’s director corporate services Albert Sika said the drainage problem at the maternity ward had existed for five years. Dirty water from the storm drain flooded the ward carrying with debris and human waste, according to nursing working that shift. A nurse in the maternity ward said they had to deliver babies standing in knee-deep water until the water level decreased. She said water from the heavy rain last Friday flowed back into the maternity ward and blood bank facilities. A new maternity wing for the hospital has been planned for next year.
Alcohol abuse growing
Post Courier 27 August, 2013
The recent news about Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s decision to quit alcohol has received praise from a local NGO in Goroka. Eastern Highlands Family Voice is a national NGO and operates in Goroka town, serving many victims of sexual and domestic violence strongly advocating against all forms of abuse and violence against women. The Eastern Highlands Family Voice (EHFV) chairman, Mr Walter Nombe, commended the Chief Executive Officer of the nation for his decision. He said that this is a role model message for men and particularly for leaders at all levels of our society, to take the cue from him and make drastic lifestyle changes to fully commit themselves to serve the nation, adding that it is really encouraging to see this kind of attitude and is hoping other leaders can take some bold stand on various issues like corruption and sexual and domestic violence. Mr Nombe said: “We should not pretend that alcohol is not affecting and impacting on the lives of our people. It is affecting this country in a very big way. “We must recognise that and take some very radical measures to control the use and abuse of alcohol. The people have a right to a safe and violence free environment to live and grow, and if alcohol abuse is denying that for the people then it is time for us to act on it.” According to the Law & Justice Sector Division of Eastern Highlands Province, 85% of matters in the village courts relate back to domestic violence and assaults to children and women, which in turn stems from consumption of alcohol.
Betelnut blamed for surge in mouth cancer
The National, August 28th, 2013
A SUDDEN increase of mouth cancer cases in the Highlands has been associated with the extensive chewing of betelnut. Dr John Niblett, the country’s only radiation oncologist and director of the Angau Hospital cancer treatment unit, said the sharp increase was related to an increase in the chewing of betelnut in the region, he said. Dr Niblett said although not clinically proven yet, there was a strong correlation between the chewing of betel nut and mouth cancer. Mostly heavy chewers get cancer. Dr Niblett said it was most likely that lime used in the chewing of betel nut caused burns in the mouth which led to mouth cancer. Dr Cathy Timothy, a physician with Angau’s medical oncology department, said “We say smoking causes lung cancer and betel nut chewing causes mouth cancer but there is no clear-cut clinical proof of what actually causes cancer,” Dr Timothy said. In order of prevalence in the country, cervix cancer leads with mouth cancer and breast cancer following. Dr Niblett said there had been a dramatic increase of cancer cases in PNG since the ‘70s and attributed it mostly to drastic dietary changes. He recently said of an estimated 2,000 cancer victims in PNG, fewer than 400 get treated annually while the rest succumbed to the disease. In the meantime, cervix cancer patients now have hope with a new brachytheraphy unit at the cancer unit to
‘Lateral’ violence rife in PNG
Post Courier 28 August, 2013
Lateral violence is a type of violence that is happening everyday in Papua New Guinean societies. It may sound new but it is not. It has been ignored for far too long and not addressed, according to former MP, Dame Carol Kidu. Lateral violence occurs within marginalised groups where members strike out at each other as a result of being oppressed. The oppressed become the oppressors of themselves and each other. Common behaviours that prevent positive change from occurring include gossiping, bullying, finger-pointing, backstabbing and shunning. It is further described as displaced violence directed against one’s peers rather that one’s true adversaries. Yesterday Dame Carol came out publically, advising women leaders in the National Capital District Women’s Council together with Motu Koita council leaders to stop back biting, shunning, shaming or gossiping and finger pointing at each other and work together for the good of women and communities. Describing the type of violence exerted by women and women groups, although not only found in women groups, lateral violence, she says has gone too far in the country and has to be addressed. “It is destroying development and individual people,” she said.