Social Concerns Notes – April 2014

Thousands remain in evacuation centres

ABC News Fri, 11 April, 2014

Authorities in Solomon Islands say 23 people have died and 9,000 are homeless following disastrous flash floods, landslides and strong winds.
 
The Solomon’s National Disaster Council says the victims who lost their homes are occupying 24 evacuation centres around Honiara.
The director of the National Disaster Management Office, Loti Yates, has raised concerns over sanitation at the evacuation centres, which are lacking proper water supply.
 
”There is a very real risk of an outbreak of disease – including dyentry, malaria, dengue fever and other diseases related to poor sanitation,” Mr Yates said.
 
The Solmon Islands government has allocated $5million in emergency funds for the relief effort.
 
Australia and New Zealand have sent aircraft, equipment and specialist teams, as well as money, to assist in the clean up.
 
Cherise Chadwick from Solomon Islands Red Cross has told Asia Pacific thousands are still in evacuation centres in the capital, Honiara.
 
”Many of those people are not sure what they’re returning back to,” she said.
 
”They left their houses as the flooding was in process, and they haven’t gone back yet, so it’s very hard to know if they’re going back to a damaged house, or a completely destroyed house at this stage.”
 
Honiara has been effectively split in two, after the Old China Town bridge completely collapsed on Thursday, and the Mataniko bridge was reduced to one lane.
Major infrastructure including the sewerage system and water supplies have been badly damaged or destroyed.

Displaced victims welcomed at Don Bosco

Letter from Fr Ambrose Pereira, 9 April, 2014

A group of Guadalcanal displaced victims, from the Foxwood area were welcomed and have now been given a place at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Henderson.  The gymnasium, normally used for

school assemblies, games and other functions has now become the home for 194 displaced persons.  40% of them are young children below 5 years of age. They arrived late in the evening and were given a little food before they went to bed. “It is marvelous how people are ready to help those in need”, said Fr. Ambrose Pereira sdb.  Donations came in to help the victims. Island Clothing sent in bales of clothing for those at Don Bosco, Henderson and Christ the King parish, Tetere.  Rima Limited sent in a variety of food supplies – rice, tayio and noodles and Caritas Australia came along with mosquito nets and food to ensure that the people had a good meal in the evening.

“Little children need to play”, said Fr. Srimal Priyanga sdb, Principal of the Institute, and he got the boys and the carpentry students to  put together a swing, basketball rings, a sand pit and

other items to keep the little ones cheerful and happy. As the day drew to a close, the women got together the group in praise and worship to thank the Lord for the day and ask His grace and protection for a peaceful and quiet night.

 

Abandoned mine puts 8,000 at risk in Solomon Islands

http://ramumine.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/abandoned-mine-puts-8000-at-risk-in-solomon-islands/

A three-person United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has arrived in the Solomon Islands to assess a gold mine tailings storage facility following flash floods and heavy rains in the region. There are concerns rising water levels in the dam, located about 30 kilometres from the capital Honiara, may have weakened, potentially placing around 8,000 people in nearby villages at risk. In addition, the site contains chemicals common to gold mining facilities.

Following the request, the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit and the European Union Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) assembled a team of independent experts to assess the potential dangers of the tailings dam weakening, potentially resulting in a toxic spill of hazardous chemicals from the gold extraction processes, such as cyanide and arsenic.

Earthquakes in Bougainville

From Bishop Bernard Unabali, 24 April

I send a brief report on the situation of earthquake in Bougainville in the last few days

The quake first struck Friday evening 4th April quite late past 10pm. That initial quake was reported from Buin, Piano area with a house collapse killing a child. Otherwise, there were unreported  collapse  of houses, land  slides and cracks of some churches but one other one was a Ward in the Buka Hospital in the Northern part.

The third and  biggest scary one struck close to 11-12 midnight on Saturday 19th of April ; Easter Vigil hours. In the North it was felt like 7-8 on the R scale. So in the South West it was felt really more? The places where mass/services started early got caught on their return and the ones who had late starts or second mass (shortages of priests)  were caught in the churches. So imagine what happened. Some left only the priests and a few inside at elevation! Others had homilies cut short. One place was at blessing of the baptismal water and the shaking of the water had the priest ‘baptized ‘ rather than the babies! Lucky no priests ran away from the people.

Reports so far show another dead and churches in the south cracked, statues, tabernacles, cross, walls and floor foundations. And more people’s houses and gardens destroyed by landslides. In Torokina , West Coast Bougainville there was sea rise that went into two to three coastline villages who had to move Inland in a scramble. Some rivers are dirty as land slides damned them up.

We do not have a diocese level Caritas properly set up. It is the same In parishes but we are already making plans to do that some months down the line this year. And for what these quakes have damaged we are organizing to collect data through informants from remote areas and site visits where possible ‘ … Thanks to all

Bp Bernard Unabali, Bougainville

Judge not happy with police effort

Post Courier, 31 March, 2014

The National Court inquiry into allegations of human rights violations committed by members of the police force against 74 men in Port Moresby has expressed dissatisfaction on the responses of the police hierarchy and the Public Solicitor over the issue. It was alleged that a group of 74 men, mainly from Morobe Province, were intercepted by the police, directed to lie face down on the ground, and after those men did as they were told, members of the police force assaulted them by kicking and hitting them with weapons such as gun butts and tree branches. Some of the officers used bush knives to cut the men, mainly on the lower parts of their legs; the ankles and the Achilles tendons. He said he had named seven members of the police force as being implicated and declared that steps taken by the police Force were woefully inadequate.

“I am unimpressed by the evidence of all three office-holders. “The commissioner’s evidence was vague and did not demonstrate any detailed knowledge of this case,” said Justice Cannings. “Supt Bawa’s evidence was less unconvincing but he was unable to explain why, 10 months after this very serious incident, only two members of the force have been charged under the Criminal Code.  “There continues to be tough talk about clamping down on police brutality but where is the evidence of the charges and the claim that two members of the force have been committed for trial? “Where is the documentary evidence that members have been charged for serious disciplinary offences under the Police Act? “There is evidence before the Court that very senior members of the force, including the Gordon police station commander, Snr Insp John Tarur, was present at the incident.

“Why does it take 10 months to investigate serious human rights violations committed on a mass scale in an open public place next to the country’s biggest airport?” the judge said.

Students’ claims of ‘666’ signs stirs attack

The National, 25th April, 2014

A TEAM from the Education Department was attacked at a school in Port Moresby after its members were accused of putting satanic marks on the students.
The incident happened at the Holy Rosary Elementary School and Primary School in Port Moresby. 
Parents and students attacked the officials after accusing them of marking students with the “666” sign under the pretext of collecting data. 
A department official said the team was assigned by the department to roll-out its National Capital District Smart (i) Technology Programme. It is to update and transmit data from schools in the city to the department via internet.
Some Christians link the 666 sign to satanic and anti-Christ beliefs.
Elementary school head teacher Maro Alau said a man and woman were badly beaten at the school after students informed their parents about what the team members were allegedly doing to them.
“By-standers attacked the other members of the team and took four laptops and other data collecting equipment,” he said.
He said a teacher was also attacked and had her phone stolen.
Alau said the team first came to the school on Wednesday.

UN Women responds to girl’s death

Solomon Star 31 March.

There are several things essential to address violence against women at the village and community level. UN Women Pacific said this in response to the death of a girl in Isabel, allegedly in the hands of her father. The UN Women says to address this terrible problem at the village and community levels there are crucial things to make. “These include questions all forms of violence against women and challenge the idea that it is not a serious issue or crime, change the shaming and blaming that many survivivors of violence against women face and treat violence against women seriously with proper punishment of perpetrators and fair justice for survivors, from the perspective of the survivor.” “People change their attitudes beliefs and actions everyday based on new information, technology and knowledge. This is also true about how women and girls are valued, and the roles that men and boys have.” The organisation added that through the ‘Protecting Women’s Human Rights through CEDAW implementation project” UN Women and EU aim to strengthen women’s access to justice in Solomon Islands.

Sorcery cases hard

The National, 31 March 2014

THE increase in sorcery-related killings in Madang is a major concern but one that cannot be handled by police alone, an officer says.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the police officer said: “It is very hard to control these killings. If you talk to a sorcerer you will understand this.
“To arrest people involved in this is hard as you must have evidence.”
“All deaths have their story of how and what happened but when we take the body to the morgue it becomes another post mortem case for the hospital with a medical reason for the death,” he said.
“Where does that leave us? We cannot explain the unexplained in our reports.”
In Naho Rawa local level government in Rai Coast, 30 cases of sorcery-related killings were reported in the past few months.
A death in Ariangon, Bogia, was reported last week where a suspected sorcerer was ambushed and killed by villagers.
He was accused of causing the death of a young medical worker whose body was found after three days in a bag of garden produce.
Another sorcerer in Sogeram, Transgogol, was killed by villagers.
Provincial police commander Sylvester Kalaut could not be reached for comment.

Duo kill step brother over sorcery-related case

The National 3 April, 2014

A MAN was hacked to death by his step brothers during sorcery-related arguments at Gumine, in Chimbu, earlier this week.
Chimbu police commander Supt Augustine Wampe said the 39-year-old man from Gumine had his neck cut off after he was confronted by his two step brothers at Nondri Primary School.
Wampe said the two brothers had accused the deceased of accusing their mother and other villagers of using sorcery to kill the deceased’s wife.
He said the two suspects confronted the deceased at the school after he had surrendered himself to them to explain the reasons for investigating his wife’s death.
Wampe said the two brothers, without hesitation and despite pleas from the deceased, started slashing him from the back, eventually slicing his neck off.
“The deceased was pleading with his step brothers, saying he was not accusing anybody, he was just investigating to get to the bottom of the cause of his wife’s death. But this did not deter his brothers from inflicting the fatal blow that ended his life in a brutal manner,” Wampe said.
Wampe said a police patrol received reports of the killing but could not arrest the suspects as they had escaped into the mountain range behind Gumine.

Christian Churches must step up

Editorial, The National, 24 April, 2014

About 200 men and juveniles appeared in court in Madang this week to answer to charges of murder, arson and unlawful wounding. Police believe the 129 men and 69 juveniles including a 10-year old boy, are members of a cult group and have raided a neighbouring village, killing at least eight people and destroying houses. The men from Niniko, Gomunmu and Ranara villages in the mountains of Rai Coast district, reportedly raided the village because they suspeced its inhabitants of killing people with sorcery. The sad reality of sorcery-related killings and the country’s apparent inability to deal with such violence, which is fed by fear and suspicion, is again brought into the spotlight….

The Christian faith itself does not deny the existence of sorcery. But neither do churches emphasise or demonstrate enough that faith in God and love for fellowman, the basic tenets of the Christian faith, will drive back the fear of sorcery and render it impotent or unnecessary. When the real message of the gospel penetrates the heart with such a power only some professing Christians fully understand, that alone will make a lasting difference. Dogmatic preaching from the pulpit alone has so far failed to achieve what must be possible if we hold true to the teachings of the founder of the faith and experience life-changing force. There are still far too many professing Christians attending church regularly yet keeping appointments with the glasman or keeping a special cabinet at home for a talisman or potion for protection should God fail to answer their prayers. If, we concede that the law cannot deal with spiritual matters then it is time now for our Christian churches to step up, and away from the pulpit, and tackle this pertinent issue head on.

Kids save father: Judge heeds children’s plea, suspends five-year jail term.

The National 24 April, 2014

A man who broke his wife’s leg with a hammer had his five-year jail term suspended yesterday – thanks to his children. Martin Salala’s four children told the Waigani National Court that they understood his action was wrong but they did not want to grow up without a father. If he was sent to prison, they would miss him they said, and asked the court to instead order him to pay compensation. In suspending Salaha’s prison sentence, Justice George Manuhu said he was doing so in the interest of his children and his wife. “You will be placed under good behaviour bond for five years and you are to refrain from drinking for five years”, the judge said. Salala was ordered to pay compensation of K5,000 to his wife and her family within 60 days.

State agrees to refugee visa for Manus centre detainees

The National, 4th April, 2014

THE Government has approved a refugee visa for detainees at the Manus processing centre who are determined to be refugees.
The visa will provide for work rights and freedom of movement, a statement released after Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison met in their first monthly joint ministerial forum in Port Moresby on Wednesday said.
The first refugees could be resettled in June.
Pato and Morrison agreed that all persons transferred to Papua New Guinea found to be refugees “will be resettled in PNG. No-one will be resettled in Australia”.
The statement said Australia “reaffirmed its commitment to meet costs relating to the settlement of refugees in PNG”.
They noted the process of refugee status determination was well advanced, with two-thirds of transferees having had initial interviews at the centre.
The statement said persons found “not to be refugees would be held in detention in PNG pending removal to their home country or another country where they have a right of entry”.

Panel works on refugee policy

The National, 9 April, 2014

THE Government has convened a panel of six social policy experts to give guidance on how best to settle refugees in the country.
The panel is led by former politician Dame Carol Kidu, lawyer Ester Monty, Catholic Archbishop John Ribat, former ambassador Peter Eafeare and senior public servants Dominica Mai and Chris Kati. 
At its inaugural meeting yesterday the panel was briefed on its roles and responsibilities by Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura.
“The panel will focus on settling refugees in a Melanesian way,” Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato said in a statement.
“It will address all refugees, including West Papuans, people transferred from Australia and refugees who have come here independently.”
Pato said one of the key principles of refugee settlement must be that refugees should have access to a similar level of services, accommodation and support as ordinary Papua New Guineans.
He said they should not be perceived as being privileged or receiving special treatment and the Government must ensure that access to essential services or jobs for Papua New Guineans was not degraded by giving access to refugees.
“If this requires additional development of infrastructure or services, it is envisaged that there will be a broader benefit for communities in which refugees are settled.”
“Refugees have much to contribute to PNG. Many have useful skills and qualifications that can help us to build our nation and our economy.”
He said refugees had demonstrated resilience and determination to escape from situations of persecution.
He said the panel would provide practical advice on how to enable refugees to use their strengths to rebuild their lives as quickly as possible in safe and secure environments within PNG.
The panel will submit its report to the Chief Migration Officer in 30 days. This will form the basis of a National Refugee Settlement Policy that will be considered and endorsed by Government. …

Please clarify family status of Manus asylum seekers.

Yu Tok, Post Courier 14 April, 2014

Can someone in the know give some clarification on this aspect of the asylum seekers situation on Manus Islands? As a family man, I am trying to come to terms with this specific aspect of these human beings on our soil; a foreign land to them and far away from their loved ones, if they have any at all. We hear now that some of the asylum seekers on Manus will be granted refugee visas to enable them to settle here in Papua New Guinea. Freeing the so-called “detainees” from detention seems a step in the right direction. Many of these asylum seekers are married with children. We do not know if their families are back where they came from, or perhaps detained with other women and children on Nauru? Will the freed detainees here in PNG be permitted to apply for refugee visas also for their wives and children so they can be reunited as families? If not, will their wives be granted visiting rights? Or does it mean that refugee visa and the chance to settle here in PNG – but with no chance of being reunited with their families — mean that these men will marry our daughters and start new families? We must know. Basil Peutalo, NCD

Vendors go ‘mobile’

The National, 1st of April, 2014

Market vendors in Port Moresby will now be able to pay their daily fees, make deposits and check balances on their mobile phones.
The Safe Cities Programme, a UN Women’s initiative in partnership with the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) and funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has partnered Nationwide Microbank to provide Gerehu market vendors with bank accounts that were accessible by a mobile phone. 
UN Women’s project officer for the Safe Cities Programme Samson Yaki said that a survey last year demonstrated that about 80% of Gerehu market vendors were women.
He said they were working to create safer, secure and convenient ways for women to do their marketing.
“Many women vendors told us that on their way home from the market they had been robbed previously, and many were violently assaulted as part of the robbery. 
“Our mobile banking scheme aims to empower women and protect them from violence.  By banking their earnings prior to leaving the market, the women begin  saving and the risk of being robbed and attacked is lessened,” Yaki said.
Nationwide Microbank trained members of the Gerehu Market Vendors’ Association as banking agents, helping vendors open MiCash accounts, make deposits and pay the NCDC daily market fee of K2 through mobile banking. To register for a bank account, vendors require an NCDC vendor registration identification card, a Digicel mobile telephone (cannot be shared with another vendor) and a K10 deposit.

Prisoners to earn money

The National, 2 April, 2014

PRISONERS should be allowed to make some money while in jail by learning new skills as part of their rehabilitation process, West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel said.
“They should be engaged in productive activities where they learn new skills which should condition them to face life after they complete their terms,” Muthuvel said
He made the comment at Lakemata Prison, outside Kimbe town. He said as a pilot project, he would be ordering the production of 1,000 desks by the inmates.
He asked the prison officials to supervise the work. All materials would be provided by the Government, he said.
Muthvel said by doing this, inmates would be identified and put on the project.
He said a certain amount of money should be kept in a trust account for each prisoner assigned to the project.

Crime rates drop

Post Courier, 3 April 2014

Serious crimes have dropped sharply since 2012, with police expressing confidence that the trend is likely to continue because of the many changes taking place in the force. Chief of Police Operations and Deputy Commissioner, Simon Kauba, revealed this on Monday when providing an overview of police operations and crime statistics to the newly appointed police minister Robert Atiyafa.

The results, according to Mr Kauba, may be attributed to the success of the modernisation program. The program has seen community policing activities such as organising community consultative meetings to discuss law and order issues affecting the community. They focus on how the community can get involved in minimising crime in their respective communities. The low figures have also been attributed to the recent assistance of the Australian Federal Police. There has also been a steady improvement in in-house police discipline and a commitment at the work place. Mr Kauba also revealed that robbery is by far the highest and most prevalent crime in major towns and cities.

Three quarters of these robberies are committed by people who have access to firearms, factory made or otherwise, stolen motor vehicles and who are often under the influence of alcohol.

Hold up: Saira villagers apprehend log ship for intrusion.

Solomon Star 1 April 2014

IT was not piracy, although it looked like one. People of Zaira village in Marovo Lagoon were merely protecting their resources and environment when they held a log boat a fortnight ago. Secretary of Dokoso tribal land resources management conservation Jino Here Hanz said it took a whole day of negotiations before villagers could release the boat filled with round logs. “The huge boat intruded in our customary owned area which is a conserved site,” Mr Hanz said.

He said the area was far from the logging operation site and why loading was carried out miles away from the site was interesting.

“But we have no interest in such fishy loading activity because the logging operation is not happening on our land.

“It became our business when the huge boat entered our protected area and conducted loading of logs there.

“What surprised us villagers when we overtook the boat was, there were no government officials onboard during the loading.”

Mr Hanz said on March 17, village elders, rangers and other community leaders were all onboard, demanding that the loggers pay compensation for intruding into a Marine Protected Area (MPA) which prohibits activities such as loading of logs. “Why were there no government officers present? We allow our resources to be easily tapped and removed.

“The actions of the Zaira rangers and leaders may be seen as illegal by Western Laws but according to our customary rights laws which the state miserably fails to uphold, we are protecting our protected territory.”

The logging boat Yong Ping 5 departed that evening after paying $30,000 to the community.

Churches continue to provide services in rural areas.

Post Courier, 31st March, 2014

Churches continue to be at the forefront of service delivery in most rural areas of the country. The Australian Government has acknowledged their efforts and has, since 2004, been allocating funds to support some of the programs run by seven mainline churches which are Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist and United Church. Representatives from these churches attended a forum in Port Moresby this week with their counterparts in Australia. John Kaewa, General Director of the Baptist Union of PNG, one of the churches under the Churches Partnership Program, says he was thankful for the support. “I think the program has a tremendous impact on communities. We’d like the national government under the state-church partnership to seriously look at how best to deliver services through the churches network to the communities throughout PNG,’’ says Mr Kaewa. The Australian Government -funded program is now in its second phase which will end in 2016.

PNG Economy continues to grow

BPNG Press Release, 1 April, 2014

The Papua New Guinea economy has maintained a 13-year continued growth curve in 2013, performing above National Budget expectations of 5.1 percent, with inflation rates remaining at a low of 4.7 percent, says Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) Governor Loi Bakani. He says the growth curve would be bettered in 2014 with economic growth expected to perform over National Budget expectations of 6.2 percent by landing at a low of 4.4 percent, again beating projected budget expectations. “The bank projects a growth of 4.4 percent in 2014, lower than the budget forecast of 6.2 percent. This growth is expected to be supported by the production and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and Government fiscal stimulus,” says Bakani. He says inflation would continue with its upward trend from 4.7 percent in 2013 to 6.5 percent this year, as a direct result of imported inflation and depreciation of the kina which fell by 12.6 percent against the US dollar between March 2013 and March 2014.

Achieve MDGs with resource boom: Clark

The National, 7th April 2014

UNITED Nations (UN) programme administrator and chairperson of the UN Development Group Helen Clark is encouraging the Government to maximise progress to achieve Millennium Development Goals in health and education by using revenue from the petroleum sector. 
“When I came four years ago, I could see that PNG was in the early stages of a resource boom with a lot of construction going on and a lot of potential,” she said at a media conference in Port Moresby, last Friday.
“Coming back now, I see a Government with the confidence to make very big investments in health and education and in basic services and infrastructure knowing that there will be a revenue flow coming in through the LNG extraction.”
She said the Government was faced with challenges in capacity.
Clark said as revenues from extractive industries flowed into the country, there was a huge opportunity to take major steps in human development.

Monitoring social media

The National, 9th April, 2014

A STATE agency will closely monitor the use of social media once relevant legislation is passed in Parliament, an official says.
National Information and Communication Technology Authority chief executive officer Charles Punaha said a cyber crime policy was before the National Executive Council. It is expected to be tabled in Parliament to be passed as law once the NEC endorses it.
Punaha said it would spell out the penalties for those who misused and abused social media.
He said the intention was to address cyber crime and security. 
“The cyber security policy is to safeguard the storage of data – for government to have access to the data, in the event that we have reason to believe that certain offences have been committed,” he said. 
“The law enforcement agencies must have access to the data in the event that offences have been committed.
“For cyber crime, we are going to make it an offence for people to use pen-names, not using their real names and abusing the social 
media and making defamatory statement – you have to be answerable for it
“You have to be accountable for you actions.” 
For example, he said law enforcement agencies would be given powers “to access laptops should there be reasons to believe that your laptops have been used to commit the offence”.

Church appeals for funds promised for health services

The National, 9th April, 2014

THE Archbishop of the Madang Catholic archdiocese Stephen Reichert has called on Governor Jim Kas to release promised funding to the church’s health services.
Reichert sent an “urgent” email to Kas last week on behalf of the 20,000 people in remote Josephstaal, in Middle Ramu electorate.
He said the stretched-out church health workers were unable to cope with demand for health services.
He said the provincial government promised to pay the salaries of the church’s health workers and provide additional funding in 2009 but this had not been done.
“The health of the people in the Josephstaal area, all 20,000 of them, is in your hands,” he said in his message to Kas.
“The Catholic Health Services (Archdiocese of Madang) runs the Josephstaal Health Centre, Katiati Health Sub-centre, Misivindi Community Health Post and eight rural aid posts in the surrounding area.  
“All these facilities were renovated, maintained or rebuilt through a PNG Incentive Fund project which was completed in late 2013.  “Aside from a skeleton staff at Josephstaal and Katiati, there are no health care officers at any of the other sites. 
“Salaried positions for nurses and community health workers – about 26 of them – promised in 2009 have not been transferred to Catholic Health Services as of this time.  Funding promised in 2009 has not been given either. 
“People in the Josephstaal area are dying for no good reason.  Others are suffering from curable illnesses that are not treated

Silencing comments and views made by researchers and academics condemned

Post Courier, April 17, 2014

National Research Institute (NRI) Director Mr. Thomas Webster expressed grave concern over the views expressed by Politicians regarding the comments and views made by researchers and academics, with a view to silencing them. Mr. Websters stated that in some countries where democracy is not supported and valued, those with critical views based on sound analysis are exterminated or deported if they are foreigners. This would be bad for the development prospects of Papua New Guinea (PNG) if we want to develop into a wealthy, wise and prosperous nation. The current comments made by politicians in regard to contributions to discussions attributed to Paul Barker, the Executive Director of Institute of National Affairs (INA)at a National Research Institute (NRI) hosted Budget Forum last week is uncalled for. The Budget Forum was looking at the implications of the PNG Government Budget for the sound development of our country. The forum is a venue where the public was invited to hear the views of experts who carried out sound analysis of the 2014 budget. It seeks to inform the public and decision makers such as Politicians to understand some of the dynamics and the possible outcomes of the budgets that are passed by Parliament. he said that the point made by Paul Barker as I understood was about the “Opportunity Costs of Capital”, where if you do one thing with the money you have, you cannot do other things. So the question is, on what basis were decisions made on building of some new infrastructure in the National Capital District such as the Paga Ring road project when the maintenance of other roads and services in the city and the country were in dire need of maintenance. “Who would benefit from that road and who is missing out?”

He concluded by issuing a warning to our politicians and leaders on a growing culture of surrounding themselves with “Yes, Yes” people as advisers and appointment of bureaucratic leaders. “There are also many carpet beggars who praise and continue to praise our leaders for every decision they make, whether it is good or not. I am reminded of the fairy tales about the “King with No Clothes”. If you do not hear and appreciate dissenting views, you will not see the fallacy of some of the ideas and decisions that you make, ,” he said. Silencing critics is not the answer. Engage in the debate of the ideas – shoot the message, not the messenger.

Prisoners find relief in Good Friday march

Post Courier 22 April, 2014

Six inmates from Bomana prison in the National Capital District walked with the thousands of Catholics and other Christians on Good Friday. Four males and two female prisoners took part in Way of Cross procession from East Boroko to Gordon then to Wagani, Tokorara, Hohola and finally to Murray Barracks. The prisoners expressed gratitude and sense of relief to be united with many pilgrims in a completely fulfilling experience – spiritually, mentally and physically. Leo Aiya, serving two-life sentence for serious crimes committed since 1991, said it was his first walk for many years and he would treasure that moment. He said though physically locked up in cell, his spirit was free.

“In prison we have devotions every day of the week and my coming here and taking part in the walk which I never had for so long is breathtaking and the fact to know Christ suffered and died on the cross for me a sinner is something special I will keep close to my heart,” Aiya said. Other prisoners, including Tedi Mausau, Sam Tom, Andrew Koya, Mary Kovei from Goilala and Anna Kakame from Gulf Province expressed the same sentiments. The two women took the opportunity to wish their family a peaceful Easter. As they physically cannot hold their children in their arms, their thoughts and hearts are with them, they said.  Kakame committed a serious crime and over the years, the nightmare has haunted her so she filled her life with church activities while in prison. She now sees things differently, she said. There was overwhelming relieve for these Catholic prisoners as, watched over by their wardens, they waited patiently for their transport to pick them up and take them back to jail.

Dangers of climate

The National, 3rd April 2014

CLIMATE change is here to stay and it is important to have vulnerable communities adjust to its effects, an official said.
Jacob Ekinye, acting director of the adaptation division of the Office of Climate Change and Development, said communities which implemented adaptation skills and practices would be in a better position to face the effect of climate change.
“Communities should acquire new skills and adapt to different technologies or approaches,” he said.
“For instance, protection of food security and livelihood, growth of coastal communities to maintain healthy coral reefs and agriculture communities to adapt new farming techniques and hybrid food crops.
 “We want to see climate adaptation action increased in communities. 
He said the impacts of climate change were obvious around the country which people must adapt to.
Ekinye said the highlands communities were experiencing more intense rainfall causing landslides.
He said the coastal communities faced  challenges such as coastal flooding, salt-water intrusion, coral bleaching and climate change-induced migration.

El Ninoa alert for PNG

The National, 22 April, 2014

THE country is likely to experience a devastating weather situation it last faced in 1997 with another “extreme” El Nino forecast to hit the Pacific region this year, according to the National Weather Service office.
Assistant director for Climate and Special Services Kasis Inape said: “The tropical Pacific Ocean is currently in a state of rapid transition. The waters have warmed considerably in recent weeks.”
Inape said international climate models surveyed indicated continued warming of the central Pacific Ocean in the coming months.
El Nino is a prolonged warm climate which results in prolonged droughts. 
The last time PNG experienced that extreme weather pattern was in 1997 which resulted in a severe drought across the country. 
Port Moresby and major centres were severely hit by water shortages and extreme hot weather conditions.
Inape said most models predicted that from April to June or during the southern hemisphere winter season in June to August, the sea surface temperature would reach the El Nino threshold.

Human trafficking evident in PNG

Post Courier, 23, 2014

Domestic servitude, forced labour and sexual slavery or forced prostitution are most common and serious forms of exploitation of human trafficking in Papua New Guinea. These forms of human trafficking may not be seen as serious because they are  also entwined in PNG’s cultures, for instance; forced marriages and domestic servitude. Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both of the parties are married without his or her consent or against his or her will. In PNG this may happen because of bride price. Domestic servitude refers to performing personal tasks for a dominant partner, also as part of a submissive role, if there is a relationship such as a sexual one. Joe Saferius from the International Office of Migration (IOM) says human trafficking is quite new in terms of information and awareness but it is here and is happening.

Anti-Corruption Capsules: Address Policing to curtail corruption.

PNG Blogs.com, April 23, 2014

By SAM KOIM

It is no doubt that law and order are the foundation for economic growth and prosperity for our country. One of the major institutions that maintain law and order is the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC). Holding the police accountable will in turn hold the criminals accountable.

It is increasingly becoming a major concern around the country that police accountability is dissipating faster than the speed of a jet.. In a democratic society such as ours, the Government must seek to keep the police accountable and that they reflect the “will of the people” as given to them through the Constitution. In turn, holding police accountable is important for maintaining the public’s “faith in the system”.

Papua New Guineans are no longer feeling safe to resort to police for law and order issues they face. Every day, the local media is filled with stories of police misbehaviour.

A number of chronic problems with the RPNGC are highlighted in the Police Review Report which includes:

• drunken behaviour, particularly on afternoon and night shifts

• extortion and theft from motorists by way of illegal on-the-spot fines

• extortion from suspects of crime including corrupt persons

• emotional retaliation against the public when a police officer is attacked by civilian

• bailing prisoners without issuing a bail receipt

• excessive and unprovoked violence when arresting suspects

• disregard of the law by, for example, conducting raids and seizing property without a search warrant

• rape or sexual assault, in some cases in Police stations or cells

• misuse of Police vehicles

• absence without leave

• destruction and theft of the property of citizens

• destruction and theft of Police property

The situation is getting far worse each year despite the genuine attempts of the Government.

The Police Review Report identified numerous problems and recommended corresponding solutions. In this paper, only two main causes are considered pivotal to this issue:

• Lack of Proper Training

• Lack of Discipline

 

Easter Message, 2014

Archbishop Douglas Young, Archbishop of Mount Hagen

This year my thoughts turn to a passage from the New Testament that forms part of every Easter Vigil, St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, chapter 6, verses 3-11.

In the liturgy of the Eater Vigil, several readings from the Old Testament take us through the history of our salvation, from the creation, through the election of the Jewish people, and their hopes for a Messiah who would free them from all bondage. At the end of the Old Testament readings we sing the ancient hymn, the Gloria for practically the first time since Lent began. Then we have this reading from Romans followed by the joyful Alleluia, also marking the end of Lenten penance and restraint, and we listen to the gospel story of Jesus’ resurrection. In the passage from Romans, St Paul reminds us that through our baptism we die with Christ in order to rise with him to an entirely new life. Our old sinful self is ended and we are truly born again, entirely new people. We are to think of ourselves as dead as far as sin is concerned, but living in a new community with God through our risen brother Jesus. Paul goes on to explain that this new life and new relationship is a pure gift, not something we could ever earn by our own efforts.

This message means a lot to me as we face the reality of the situation in our country. Although we have many signs of new life in active church life and many acts of kindness and generosity, we also have many very serious signs of death and dying. The most serious of these must be the creeping corruption that we now begin to face almost daily. Where there is corruption there is bribery. Apart from those who pay bribes to get something they have no right to, we increasingly have to pay bribes to get what we are actually entitled to. Bribery flies in the face of the authentic Christian attitude of generosity which St Paul is speaking about. Bribery must have no place in a Christian country which celebrates the fact that the greatest gift of all is given freely to those who ask for it in faith.

A few years ago Pope Benedict wrote a letter to all people of good will, called “Charity in Truth”. In that letter he argued that economic and political life needs the attitude of free gift, not just the laws of the market and rights and duties. Without an attitude of gratuitousness, giving for the sake of giving, there cannot be a fair economy or a stable political life. That is why bribery and corruption are the enemy of the common good of all, the incrreased well-being of the whole of society, and of trust in human relations.

I have only one prayer this Easter, that all who call themselves Christians, born again in the waters of baptism, would truly turn from sin daily more and more, especially the sin of bribery, asking for bribes or “incentives” and giving them. May we all begin to live truly the life of someone who is born again to a new life, who not only carries out their duties and responsibilities honestly but has space left for the same kind of generous loving kindness towards others that has been shown to them in the free offer of new life in Christ. Easter celebrates the fact that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and sin and death have no more power. Why would a disciple of Jesus want to return to the path of death characterized by bribery and corruption? Happy Easter!

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