Social Concerns Notes – July 2016

No graduating doctors to put strain on health services – Health Secretary

Post Courier, June 28, 2016

Papua New Guinea public health system will feel the effect as no new doctors will graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medical and Health Sciences next year.

The country has one of the worse doctor to patient ratio in the world, a World Health Organization report showed the worrying statistics in its 2008 Report as, density of physicians per 1,000 population is 0.05.

The UPNG medical school had already resumed class but, the weeks of boycott of classes by students have affected its learning hours. Higher Education Secretary Prof. David Kavanamur revealed that “The UPNG Medical School is in full swing teaching but there will no graduates in 2017, but in 2018 because of learning hours being lost (due to the student boycott).” Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said the delay of producing doctors to serve in the public hospitals is serious.   “Any delay will mean that the health sector, which already have workers shortage become worse off,” Kase told Loop PNG.  “We need doctors to graduate on big numbers so they can address the critical work force shortage.

 

In praise of those dedicated & skilled rural health workers

29 July 2016   http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/in-praise-of-those-dedicated-skilled-rural-health-workers.html#more

WITHOUT Papua New Guinea’s rural health workers I wouldn’t be alive today.  Lavongai Island never had its own doctor during my more than 40 years connection with the place. The best we had were health extension officers who had to be able to deal with all sort of medical emergencies and were generally as good as a doctor. Here in far off Wales where I now live, if I ring for an appointment to see a doctor they ask which one. After the PNG years of my life, I always say anyone will do and give thanks. Similarly with dentists. I can recall lowly aid post orderlies living a long distance from any town who gave their services 24 hours a day if necessary. I also think of the many nurses who did lifesaving work which elsewhere in the world would be done by doctors. And, sadly, these nurses were working with few facilities nor even the right drugs or equipment. God bless them all who, even as I type, are facing unimaginably traumatised patients, perhaps by torchlight.

I was once asked to cash a government cheque for Vevien. It was his overtime payment for a month of ferrying seriously ill patients from Taskul to Kavieng in an open dinghy. Often this would be done in the dead of night with a monsoon blowing its torrential rain. A wantok would hold a waterproof torch  that Vevien had bought himself and stocked with batteries he also bought with his own money. Holding a drip in the torchlight would be a young nurse or nursing aide. Sometimes they failed to reach the beach near Kavieng Hospital before the patient died. But, thankfully, often the person would recover thanks to the dedicated rural health team that had braved the elements. Vevien’s overtime cheque was for a meagre 75 toea. I never banked it to reclaim the money but kept it as a memorial to a good man who served his country for a pittance while the spivs were busy ripping off  the nation and lining their pockets and when venerable MPs even PMs were lauded for what they did during their time in parliament.

 If you have ears and eyes, listen and see

http://www.solomonstarnews.com/viewpoint/editorial/10950-if-you-have-ears-and-eyes-listen-and-see

Published: 10 July 2016

The police commissioner Frank Prendergast on Friday last week revealed that 10 people have been arrested as a result of the first usage of breathalyzers. The first ten are going to face tough consequences under the newly passed laws. When parliament was about to pass this new traffic laws, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has embarked on a widespread public awareness regarding the use of breathalyzers and possible punishments. The police force explained the processes, how police willWhen police prepared to put to use the instrument, they even announced it and warned drivers to avoid drink-driving. Yet the first implementation exercise managed to net 10.
Congratulations RSIP for the first successful usage of breathalyzers. We do not know what else can be introduced to get people to stop drink-driving, but maximum punishment must be imposed on those caught by breathalyzers. The penalties for a driver being at or above the prescribed level or for failing or refusing a breath test are severe and include the following;
• For a first offence of being at or above the prescribed level of 0.05% BAC, $10,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence,
• For a second offence of being at or above the prescribed level of 0.05% BAC, $20,000 or 2 years imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence,
• For refusing or failing a breath test, $10,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both, and disqualification of driver’s licence.

Does PNG want 19% of a mine or 36.4% of a conflict?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/momis-does-png-want-19-of-panguna-or-364-of-a-conflict.html.  03 July 2016

President John Momis | Edited extracts

THE Rio Tinto decision to divest its shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) is a remarkably unprincipled, shameful and evil decision. Yet this is a decision by an international mining giant, a company that holds itself out internationally as bound by quite different standards. The shame and evil does of Rio Tinto’s decision does not lie in the withdrawal from BCL. Rather, it relates to two key aspects of the way in which Rio has withdrawn from BCL.

First, Rio has directed that of its 53.8% equity, 36.4% should be offered to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and 17.4% to the PNG Government. So the ABG and the national government will be equal minority shareholders in BCL, each with 36.4%. The remaining 27% will still be held by small shareholders all over the world. The evil involved here is that it constitutes completely unwarranted Rio Tinto interference in Bougainville’s affairs, and in the complex relationships between the PNG government and Bougainville. All issues about the Panguna mine are deeply sensitive for Bougainvilleans. The mine was imposed on Bougainville for the benefit of PNG as a whole. But it was Panguna landowners, as well as other Bougainvilleans, who bore the cost, and received very little in the way of benefits. It was resentment about the unfairness of the mine that led to the terrible loss of life and destruction of the Bougainville conflict. Because of that background, Bougainvilleans are determined that they must control all future decision-making about not only Panguna but also all other mining in Bougainville. That is why, from the time that the ABG was established in 2005, it has insisted that all powers over mining must be transferred to Bougainville control. So we cannot accept the unilateral Rio Tinto decision to make the ABG and the national government equal shareholders in BCL.

In two long meetings with senior Rio officials, in July 2015 and February 2016, I made it clear to them that national government control of Panguna is unacceptable. I insisted that if Rio Tinto was to divest its majority shareholding in BCL, it must transfer the shares to the ABG at no cost.

But in their arrogance and ignorance, Rio decided that it knew better. It made its decision without discussing with us what it unilaterally decided to do.  Joint control of Panguna with the PNG government can never be accepted by Bougainville. Already, I am hearing from Bougainville of deep anger amongst my people about the BCL decision.

The second shameful and evil aspect of the Rio decision is its determination to walk away from the Panguna mine without in any way recognising the company’s contribution to the terrible environmental and social impacts of the mine. …

What I propose is fully consistent with the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Under the Agreement, the two governments have committed themselves to resolving our differences and working together cooperatively.

We seek the understanding of the National Government, and of Papua New Guineans generally, of the burning desire of Bougainvilleans to control this, the most sensitive of areas of economic activity in Bougainville.

 

No genuine government motivation to curb corruption, says survey

2 July 2016  http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/no-genuine-government-motivation-to-curb-corruption-says-survey.html#more

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has released its latest publication on levels and consequences of corruption in Papua New Guinea and the response to this of state and society. In presenting the findings of 53-page public opinion survey, TIPNG membership coordinator Yuambari Haihuie explained the report gathered data from 1,250 participants in the National Capital District and Central, East New Britain, Eastern Highlands and Morobe provinces. “Ninety-nine percent of participants think corruption is a serious problem in PNG and 90% think it is getting worse,” said Mr Haihuie. He went on to say that 81% of respondents thought that members of parliament are the cause of corruption while 25% believed everyone was to blame for the spread of corruption. Mr Haihuie said 53% of participants had paid bribes to get a service or better service in education (22%), police (18%), health (18%), courts (7%), land (7%) and 4% for traffic inspectors. Another 77% believe that the government’s effort to combat corruption was all or mainly for political gain with no genuine motivation. “The key finding from the report is that Papua New Guineans are aware of the very damaging costs and consequences of corruption,” Mr Haihuie said. “They are often paying that cost directly in terms of often unavoidable payments and degraded services.”

 

PNG’s 2015 agriculture exports less than half 2011 levels

David James | Business Advantage PNG | Edited extracts

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/pngs-2015-agriculture-exports-less-than-half-2011-levels.html#more

PAPUA New Guinea’s agriculture export income in 2015 was less than half of 2011 levels, according to recent Bank of Papua New Guinea data. Income from palm oil exports was at its lowest level since 2009, while coffee exports were less than half the value of four years ago and income from rubber exports almost halved in a year. Some of the decline is attributable to lower export prices. The bank’s most recent Quarterly Economic Bulletin says in 2015 coffee prices were down from 2014 levels by 1.2%, palm oil prices fell by 18.5%, tea by 5.8% and rubber by 16.7%. Cocoa prices rose by 14.4% and copra by 1.3%.

The lower income was also the result of significantly lower production levels. The Bulletin noted that coffee export volumes declined by 11.6%, attributed to lower yield from ageing coffee trees combined with the adverse impact of the El Niño drought. Cocoa volumes also declined by 8%. Higher coffee production from Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia put downward pressure on global prices with income being only 42% of the 2011 level. Coffee accounted for 29% of PNG’s agricultural export income last year. The combined effect of the decline in prices and volumes resulted in a 22.9% decline of palm oil export sales. Palm oil constituted 61% of agricultural export income last year. Rubber performed poorly. Volumes in 2015 declined by 31.3% from 2014. The Bulletin attributed this to the adverse impact of El Niño. Prices also fell significantly.

 

Rachael’s bid to save lives

The National, Tuesday July 26th, 2016

RACHAEL Tom grew up witnessing people carry the sick from their village to Nipa station to be treated.
Tom is from Poiye village in the Nipa-Kutubu district of Southern Highlands and is the sixth child in a family of eight. Her village has two aid posts but one was closed due to landowner issues.  The aid post has one community health worker but most times they lacked medicine so they would have to travel to the station. The walk from Poiye village to Nipa station takes about two hours and in emergency cases it’s always a matter of life and death. Sometimes they would seek assistance from the Gutnius Christian Church for transport. These experiences etched in Tom’s mind and inspired  her to become a health worker, even before she started school.“I grew up witnessing my people carry the sick from my village to Nipa station to receive health service. “This inspired me to become a health worker and serve my community,” she said.
Tom’s ambition will soon be a reality as she is now studying diploma in general nursing at the Asia Pacific Institute of Applied Social, Economic and Technical in Port Moresby after completing her Grade 12 at Tari Secondary, in Hela.
She has also encouraged her cousins and her younger sister to take up biology and chemistry so they could pursue the field of medicine to become doctors or nurses.
Tom is currently on a three-month internship with Kaugere Clinic in the Moresby South electorate.
She is expected to get some hands-on experience on what she was taught in the classroom.

 

Team rescues mother, child

The National, Monday July 18th, 2016

IN the remote Karamui sub-district of Chimbu, life for a 15-year-old orphaned girl and her seven-month-old pre-mature baby has been an uphill battle. The baby boy, Kuman Bewa, was not able to feed off the mother, Noni Bewa, whose complications were compounded by a lack of motherhood knowledge.
A Medical Outreach Team from the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Kundiawa General Hospital led by director Dr John Tonar visited the Negabo health centre. They found the struggling mother and son.
“We uncovered that their lives were under serious threat because basic services like health, education and others were not available in this remote part of Chimbu,” Tonar said.  “The mother was confused because she was too young to know motherhood, we squeezed her milk into the baby’s mouth and it started to feed.”  The teenager was the firstborn in a family of four, two girls and two boys. Their parents died of a sickness she has no knowledge of.  As the eldest, Bewa took responsibilities to care for her three siblings.
“I was like the father and mother for my younger siblings,” she said. Unfortunately, she encountered an experience with a man she refuses to reveal in fear of her life. She became pregnant which resulted in the birth of Kuman Bewa. After  medical screening of mother and baby, Tonar recommended that they be airlifted to the Sir Joseph Nombri Kundiawa General Hospital for treatment and care. When the team returned last week, Kuman Kewa had passed away. “Since the baby has passed away, the mother will eventually regain strength – we cannot do anything. This is not an isolated case in remote areas like Negabo. “I am sure there are many similar cases like this in many remote areas,” Tonar said.

 

Momis slams miner’s refusal

Post Courier, July 01, 2016

BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis has expressed deep anger at Rio Tinto’s refusal to accept responsibility for the environmental and other damages caused by the Panguna Copper mine in Central Bougainville. This comes as Rio Tinto announced it is divesting its shares in Bougainville Copper Limited, former operator of the mine. Mr Momis met with two Rio Tinto officials in Port Moresby on Wednesday in what has been described by an insider as a “very tense meeting”. Mr Momis said yesterday that in previous meetings he had insisted that Rio Tinto accept responsibility for mining legacy issues.

“When I met their officials last night (Wednesday) in Port Moresby, they flatly rejected any responsibility for their contribution to the damage done by the Panguna Mine,” he said. “Rio’s officials gave me two reasons for not accepting responsibility for mine impacts. First, Rio operated under the PNG law of the day. Second, they were forced out of Panguna by the conflict. “But the truth is Rio Tinto generated huge revenues from what we all now know were the terrible injustice of its Bougainville mining operations.”

 

Post-War Truth and Justice Still Elusive in Bougainville

http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/post-war-truth-and-justice-still-elusive-in-bougainville/

Almost every family in the islands of Bougainville, has a story to tell of death and suffering during the decade long civil war (1989-1998), known as ‘the Crisis.’ Yet fifteen years after the 2001 peace agreement, there is no accurate information about the scale of atrocities which occurred to inform ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts being supported by the government and international donors. Now members of civil society and grassroots communities are concerned that lack of truth telling and transitional justice is hindering durable reconciliation. “I believe there should be a truth telling program here and I think the timing is right,” Helen Hakena, Director of the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency, a local non-government organisation, told IPS.

“It is nearly twenty years [since the conflict] and some people have moved on with their lives, while there are others who have just cut off all sense of belonging because they are still hurting.” Bernard Unabali, Catholic Bishop of Bougainville, concurs. “Truth is absolutely necessary, there is no doubt it is an absolutely necessary thing for peace and justice,” he declared.

“There is a lot to be done on truth telling. When we talk about the Crisis-related problems our ideas are all mangled together and we are just talking on the surface, not really uprooting what is beneath, what really happened,” said Barbara Tanne, Executive Officer of the Bougainville Women’s Federation in the capital, Buka.

Judicial and non-judicial forms of truth and justice are widely perceived by experts as essential for post-war reconciliation. The wisdom is that if a violent past is left unaddressed, trauma, social divisions and mistrust will remain and fester into further forms of conflict. Failure to address wartime abuses in Bougainville is considered a factor in resurgent payback and sorcery-related violence, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports. A study of 1,743 people in Bougainville published last year by the UNDP revealed that one in five men had engaged in sorcery-related violence, while one in two men and one in four women had been witnesses.

“A truth commission must be established so people can tell the truth before they make their choice for the political future of Bougainville. Because when we decide our choice, problems associated with the conflict must be addressed,” Alex Amon Jr, President of the Suir Youth Federation, North Bougainville, declared.

Hakena believes there are repercussions if transitional justice doesn’t occur.

“It is happening now. Elderly people are passing on their negative experiences to their sons, who have not experienced that, and who will continue to hate the perpetrator’s family. Years later some of these kids will not know why they hate those people and there will be repercussions,” she elaborated.

The government is planning a review of its peace and security framework this year during which there will be an opportunity to explore people’s views on transitional justice, Elizah said.

The benefits of establishing a truth commission include a state-endorsed public platform for everyone to have their stories heard, give testimony of human rights abuses for possible further investigation and for recommendations to be made on legal and institutional reforms.

At the grassroots, people also point to the immense potential of implementing more widely customary processes of truth telling that have been used for generations.

“We do have traditional ceremonies where everybody comes together, the perpetrators and the victims and all others who are affected and they will thrash and throw out everything. That is very much like a truth commission, where, in the end, they say this is what we did,” Rosemary Moses at the Bougainville Women’s Federation in Arawa said.

Unabali agreed that durable peace should be built first on traditional truth telling mechanisms, which had widespread legitimacy in the minds of individuals and communities, even if a truth commission was also considered.

 

Environmental group fight to conserve land

Post Courier, July 12, 2016

ILLEGAL logging has sprung up over all over the country and many of the operations have gone unnoticed. Fast money overrides all even if there are laws to conserve the environment for future generations. Ignorant landowners have taken sides with illegal loggers and have multitudes of excuses to give when confronted by lobby groups and authorities. In a recent sit-in meeting over the encroachment on the wide life management area over illegal logging in the hinterlands of Kairuku and Goilala in Central Province, Post-Courier witnessed a meeting with parties; including the logging company, officers from Environment and Conservation and National Forestry office, a lobby group and landowners.

The meeting ensued after constant illegal operations over the past years despite the area- Inaina wildlife management area declared a protected site by the Environment and Conservation Authority.

Wildlife Management Areas are established on customarily owned land on the request of the landowners for the conservation and controlled utilisation of the wildlife and its habitat.

“What is environment,” one irate landowner told an environmental lobby group to get out. He was referring to the protected site when he said there were no benefits if the protected site was to go ahead.

“I get money from logging for school fees and for my bread and butter.

“What government services do you have for me here,” he asked.

 

 Homebrew lead cause of disorder: Leader

The National, Tuesday July 12th, 2016

Homebrew is the main contributing factor to social disorder in rural communities, a prominent woman leader from the Highlands region says.  She told The National that villagers were getting drunk every day because homebrew was cheap and “available in every corner and that is very dangerous.”  That led to immense law and order problems, she said. Women in Politics regional president Dere Cecillia from Kerowagi in Chimbu, said mothers and young girls were no longer feeling safe in the area  or even in their own communities.  She said they were being harassed and intimidated by young people under the influence of homebrew every day. “I do not know when we womenfolk will settle down well in our community without fear and be able to move around at any time of the day or night,” she said.
Cecillia said many villages in her district and other parts of the province that she visited suffered from similar problems.
She said community leaders, with the support from police, tried their best over the years to stop the cultivation of marijuana and production of homebrew but people had stopped only for a while.
She said some leaders were afraid to report the matter to police for fear of retaliation.
Cecillia said they should not allow the drunken and marijuana addicts to control their lives.

 

Archbishop urge politicians to unite for the nation

Post Courier, July 14, 2016

ALL leaders of the National Parliament need to remain united for the good of the nation and its people, says Catholic Archbishop of Port Moresby Sir John Ribat. In light of the current political situation in the country, Sir John said leaders involved should set aside their differences and work together for the betterment of the country. “On behalf of the churches in the country, I call on our leaders to put our nation first and all the issues happening should be set aside and think of ways, how, they want PNG to be like from now on and in the future.” The archbishop said leaders should work together despite their differences for the good of the people. “There are many people suffering in parts of the country and such situations do not create something important but delay in service delivery. “With all these court cases and recent situations in the political arena, let the judiciary make its decision and let’s hope it will be the best decision for the nation and its people. “All leaders should focus to see how they want PNG to be like through their leadership and see what is best for the country. “Let us hope and see what will be the best that will come out of such political situations that the country is facing,” he said. He is also encouraging other churches in the country to continue to pray for our wonderful country and the leaders of parliament as they continue to represent the people in their various provinces and districts to serve the people in the several services they deliver.

 

GOOD News for People Living With Disabilities in the Hela province

Post Courier, July 13, 2016

After living in the dark and struggling with their discomforts for many years without any devices to aide them, a truck load of very needy aiding devices are now on the way to Tari for distributions to People Living With Disabilities (PLWD) in the Hela Province. Mr Don Waipe, officer in charge (OIC) of Deafness and Hearing Services with the Mt Sion Center for the Blind in Goroka today transported the devices to Tari. Mr Waipe said over 27 000 devices were purchased for distribution throughout the country by Strongim Pipol Strongim Nation (SPSN) under AusAID after being approached in 2014 by the National Board for Disabled Persons (NBDP). He said Hela missed out on the first delivery of these devices as the devices were delivered to Mendi and never reached Tari. Mr Waipe said the second lot of supplies for Hela arrived in Lae wharf early last year and he made it his business to travel from Goroka to Lae to pick them up and stored them at his office in Goroka. Mr Waipe said due to lack of funds for vehicle hire, fuel and other logistical support, the 250 plus devices bound for Hela remained idle at his office for nearly a year until Hela provincial administrator William Bando intervened.

Mr Waipe said the devices include elbow crutches, crutches, walking sticks, eye glasses and hearing aids.

He said 22 wheel chairs are also at Tari hospital now after being transported by Tari hospital CEO Dr Hamiya Hewali.

 

Over 600 in Manus get refugee status

The National, Tuesday July 19th, 2016

MORE than 600 asylum seekers in Manus have been processed and given refugee status.  That was made known in the Supreme Court yesterday by lawyer Laias Kandi. Kandi, representing Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato and Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura, also informed the court that 203 asylum seekers were yet to be determined.  He said out of the 203 asylum seekers, 129 had been assessed and were awaiting the minister’s decision while 74 were still undergoing a merit review process. The court has given the respondents 14 weeks to process the remaining 203 asylum seekers, including 30 who are in Australia for medical treatment. The respondents were told to provide a report to the court. Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia told lawyer Ben Lomai, who is representing the asylum seekers and the refugees, to produce five cases from the 636 refugees granted refugee status to be tried as test cases on Monday.  Sir Salamo instructed parties to inform the court on Monday on jurisdiction issues regarding the resettlement of the confirmed refugees.
According to the  information given to the court yesterday, 636 from a total of 1010 asylum seekers in Manus were given refugee status, 128 identified as non-refugees, 43 were in Australia for medical treatment of which 13 were refugees.

Court strikes out rape case involving handicapped girl

The National, Tuesday July 19th, 2016

THE Bomana Committal Court struck out a rape case on Friday because police failed to provide files on time. The case of Mathew Tusala, who allegedly raped a girl with disabilities at 9-Mile in Port Moresby, started on March 9. Magistrate Cosmas Bidar said police had failed to serve files on the defendant although more than three months had elapsed. Bidar said offences against disabled people  in the form of sexual harassment had become prevalent. He said it was also the constitutional right of the defendant to have his case dealt with in a reasonable time.

 

Family support is truly priceless

The National, Wednesday July 20th, 2016

Ever wonder why people from villages in and around Central province camp outside the Port Moresby General Hospital?  Under brightly coloured tents, they faithfully and tirelessly bear the cold and heat.
I ponder about it every time I passed by them but just didn’t have the time to sit and  ask questions.
I didn’t think it would be difficult to get answers until I enquired. “We are going through a situation right now, please, no stories,” was one of the first response I got.
I was still curious so I walked up and asked a woman but she too refused to share her story with me.
Finally, I came across an elderly man who was sitting outside his blue tent, casually chewing betel nuts.
I met Tau Dairi Hehuni last month. He is from Gaire village just outside Port Moresby. He said he was living outside the hospital for more than a month. He did not mind the noise and every other annoying things. He was sacrificing the comforts of home to wait for his son Belesa Dairi to recover.
“I’ve been living here for a month. I’m taking care of my child who has liver problems. I’ve asked my friends and relatives to come so we can donate 10 bags of blood to my son for an operation at the Pacific International Hospital),” Tau explained to me. The first and perhaps the most important reason why Tau is here is because of his family. For Tau to be there for his son was a sign of hope and faith that Belesa would recover and although his illness was grave, there was still light at the end of the tunnel.
Tau worried about his son but he was blessed with the company of his family, relatives and friends who had visited him. Not only that, but it’s  part of the custom of the Central people. “When I’m in trouble or one of my family members is sick, my wantoks and fellow tribesmen or family members visit me at the hospital and buy food and I would do the same for them. This happens every day,” Tau said.
“If my wantoks or family members don’t visit me now and when they fall sick, I will not visit them.
“That’s life in Central province. It’s a norm in Central.” A month later I called Tau and found out that Belesa had passed away.

Peter O’Neill lied to me about Rio’s decision to quit BCL

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/peter-oneill-lied-to-me-about-rios-decision-to-quit-bcl.html#more 22 July 2016

WHEN I met prime minister Peter O’Neill on Saturday 2 July, I was not aware that the national government had already accepted the transfer of 17.4% equity from Rio Tinto.

I was initially reassured that he understood the serious dangers involved in the national government accepting the equity. I believed he understood our concerns and was ready to consider the shares coming to Bougainville. But later that day, I received the information that the national government had already accepted transfer of the shares. I immediately wrote to the prime minister, demanding that the shares be transferred to Bougainville. I became much more concerned by the statement of the former minister responsible, Ben Micah, reported in the Post Courier of 12 July. He alleged that the negotiations with Rio Tinto about equity transfer had been under the direction of the prime minister. Micah said that he had “been in discussions with Rio together with the prime minister and we have kept Mr. Momis abreast of our discussions”. If there was cooperation between the prime minister and Mr Micah, that would be very worrying. But more importantly, it is completely untrue that the prime minister and Mr Micah have kept me advised of their discussions. To say so is a complete lie…..

 

How our country is run: A government that lies to the people – Sir Julius Chan

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/how-our-country-is-run-a-government-that-lies-to-the-people.html#more  21 July 2016

MY POSITION on the current political situation is very simple, and very firm. I stand for the good of the nation. I stand for the good of my province. And above all; I stand for the good of the people.

I support good government. I support the opposition. I support the people. I ask all other members of parliament to do the same. For the last few years, I have seen governments mad for power, spending their money buying support but forgetting the needs of the people. The Constitution says, “All power belongs to the people.” It says “our national wealth, won by honest, hard work, shall be shared equitably by all.”

We must never betray the Constitution or crave for power. Whether the government or the opposition wins this filthy battle, we must see change. The words of our leaders cannot be trusted. In 2009, Vision 2050 was launched with great promises – “By 2050 PNG will be in the top 50 countries of the world in the UN Human Development Index.”

But just seven years later PNG has dropped from 145th in the world to 158th, from the medium human development category to the low human development category. We are on the same level with basket cases like Rwanda and Burkina Faso. The national government never keeps its promises. Just look at New Ireland. In the 1995 Lihir memorandum of agreement, the government promised a Kavieng international airport, a Kavieng international wharf and a fully sealed Boluminski Highway. They promised Namatanai Power, Namatanai Water, Kavieng Power, Kavieng Water and 18 other projects. In 20 years not one was delivered. Not one! The entire nation was promised tuition fee free education, but the money is always too little, too late. Education in PNG is in chaos. We were promised free primary and subsidised secondary health care. Where is it? Government cannot even pay the DSIP and PSIP on time. Districts and provinces have no funds for services and infrastructure. Meanwhile our resources continue to be stolen, enriching foreign companies, filling the pockets of politicians, but bleeding the people.

Our royalties are among the lowest in the world. Billions of kina flow out, but only liklik toea comes back to the province, to the people. And look at our forests. A 2013 commission of inquiry on special agriculture and business leases (SABLs) reported fraudulent contracts to companies who clear-felled our forests, undercounted and underpriced the logs to avoid tax, and never developed a single agricultural project.

The commission of inquiry recommended most SABLs be revoked. Cabinet agreed in 2014. The prime minister then said the revocations would be done. What has happened since? Nothing! This is how our country is run. The national government simply lies to the people and spends their money. The bureaucracy sucks up money but has no idea what is happening on the ground. Meanwhile in the provinces we try our best. In New Ireland we have spent hundreds of millions on services and infrastructure the State promised but failed to provide. Other provinces have done the same.

So you ask what is my position? My position is clear. I support honest government, not one for sale to the highest bidder. ….

 

It is time to heal and build a better Papua New Guinea

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2016/07/it-is-time-to-heal-and-build-a-better-papua-new-guinea.html#more 23 July 2016   Martin Namarong

YESTERDAY I was disappointed. Not because the opposition didn’t win the vote of no confidence, but because of the lack of a better alternative to the status quo.  I’ve noted how some have demonised the speaker of parliament for quelling debate but let’s be realistic – the opposition did not have the numbers on the floor. Many commentators may have their opinions on why the status quo wasn’t changed. To my mind, change did not occur because there was no better alternative. Change did not happen because the whole of Papua New Guinea wasn’t inspired by a better alternative, to move for change. The challenge presented to the opposition and critics of the current government is to articulate a better alternative that everyone (including the crooks) can believe in. The default attitude that some may take following the failure of the vote of no confidence may be to create further obstacles. Whilst this may generate headlines and cause disruptions, as we have seen from previous experience, such efforts have been futile. Indeed, ordinary Papua New Guineans have paid are high price without a single dent on the current regime.

Now is not the time to further polarise the country but to heal the wounds and build bridges. Now is the time for more moderate voices articulating a better alternative? One cannot bring about change using the same methods that have failed previously. Our people want change but it’s not just the change of personalities but a holistic change that improves their livelihoods and wellbeing. Such change does not just come from removing a prime minister but from redefining Papua New Guinea’s model of development. It’s about social, economic, political and cultural reforms that create an inclusive and just society. Critics of the current regime have been experts at highlighting its sins but have yet to convince the people of Papua New Guinea how they can lead the country into a brighter future.

Sure we have overcrowding in classrooms but how do we address the issue without borrowing to build more infrastructure? Do we increase government spending by building more hospitals and buying more medicines or do we empower our people to prevent themselves from getting ill?

To replace some individuals with other individuals without redefining the underlying model of development is a band aid solution.  Wholesale changes to the philosophy of government, investments in human capital and institutional reforms are needed alongside changes to faces.

Yes we can talk about the abuses and terrible things our nation is going through but we must also give our people hope about the future. We must empower our people so that they themselves are capable of participating meaningfully in all aspects of national development so as to maintain national sovereignty and promote self-reliance. Our people don’t just need stories about how bad things are in PNG but also empowering stories about Papua New Guinean ways of achieving sustainable human development and creating a nation of which they can be proud.

 

Buk bilong Pikinini makes book donations to rural and remote schools to increase literacy across PNG

Post Courier, July 27, 2016

Buk bilong Pikinini (BbP) is currently producing a documentary to highlight the great need for books and literacy materials in rural and remote schools across Papua New Guinea.

The documentary will showcase Buk bilong Pikinini’s work to get books to the most remote part of PNG and will also feature the inspirational personal stories of Eric Morova (Kanabea) and Grace Mungkaje (Tarawai), who have collected books in Australia and have received assistance from BbP and donors to bring the books back to their respective villages. Buk bilong Pikinini, which usually establishes libraries and conducts Early Childhood Literacy classes has introduced a new program Buk bilong Komuni-, which seeks to assist schools to re-establish libraries with high quality book and literacy material donations. BbP receives the donation of books in Australia from publishing houses, schools and individuals and is able to make donations to schools across PNG upon request. The donation kits consists of; children’s picture books, readers, teachers reference books, young adult books, dictionaries, activity books and stationery.

Media enquiries Contact: Elizabeth Omeri, PR & Marketing Manager elizabeth@bukbilongpikinini.org Phone: 73771224

 

Concerns raised by the CBC-PNG/SI on Deep Sea Mining (DSM)– 19 July 2016

The bishops of the Central Committee of the Catholic Bishops conference of PNG/SI met in Port Moresby on 18-19 July 2016. In this two day meeting, they discussed, among other things, about the proposedDeep Sea Mining (DSM) called Solwara1 and Solwara2 close to the shores of Papua New Guinea.

Following are the concerns raised by the Central Committee on the DSM:

  1. Why was PNG chosen as the testing place for DSM and why not a developed country such as the US or UK, Canada or Australia? Seabed Mining is a 30 month project and is only an experiment on the technology. There have been many other experiments in the Pacific that have brought no benefit for PNG. It appears this one won’t either.
  2. Critics maintain that Deep Sea Mining will cause a direct physical destruction of unique ecosystems; noise generated by the intended 24 hour per day operation will have a negative effect on the dolphins, sharks, tuna, whales and leatherback turtles in the area. We don’t know whether or not this is true, but why allow a project that offers no perceptible benefit for PNG to go ahead in PNG waters?
  3. It is alleged that the Government of PNG borrowed money to buy shares in DSM. It is incurring a high financial cost expecting high returns. PNG does not need to add more debt burden to our already struggling economy.
  4. How will DSM benefit communities in the region. We see potential negative outcomes for the people and environment in the area of DSM but no positive ones given the scope and nature of the experimental project. In addition, the DSM project is already dividing communities which disagree concerning Solwara 1.
  5. There is no act of Parliament governing DSM in Papua New Guinea. Rich sponsoring countries are shifting the responsibility of care to small countries such as Papua New Guinea.
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