Social Concerns Notes – August 2017

Flight into the night: saving a precious Bosavi baby

1 August 2017

I RECEIVED the call from Keith Kedekai in Tari at 2.30pm. A woman was in labour at Mt Bosavi. The people there wanted a doctor’s opinion about whether she should be referred.

Receiving the call from Tari, I said I couldn’t make a decision without more details. This type of case would need a medivac which means that an MAF plane would have to be located.

It turned out the Rumginae MAF planes were in Kiunga but the pilots had reached their maximum flying hours and were temporarily grounded. Then the community health worker at Bosavi called me. She’d had to walk a long distance to get to an area with phone reception. She said the woman had been in latent labour for nearly a week. She was 4cm dilated and her waters had broken. This was her fifth baby and all four previous babies had been stillborn. The community health worker thought the presenting part was transverse with arm or knee presentation with other complications. This mother definitely needed an emergency evacuation to the nearest hospital by MAF.

I let Dr Brandon know and she agreed the woman was for medivac to whatever hospital was convenient for MAF. It turned out MAF’s Mt Hagen based plane was in Kiunga and was able to fly to Bosavi to pick up the patient. Rumginae pilot Marcus arranged the flight which would cost k7,200 – a 50% discount because Rumginae is a church-run organisation. Keith Kedekai agreed to pay the money, saying that’s the price to save a life. I gave the community health worker at Bosavi the go ahead and she asked the sub-health centre people know to prepare the mother for travel.

I went for a 6km run and I arrived back to hear the drone of the MAF plane in its red, blue and white lifesaving colours. I couldn’t believe the plane had picked up the woman because it was so late in the day. MAF can only fly during daylight hours. It turned out that there was just one minute of daylight left as they landed, which left the pilot stranded in Rumginae for the night. After reviewing this woman and who was well overdue and with all previous children stillborn, it was decided to undertake a caesarean section. I did the caesarean assisted by our resident, Dr Sakias. And so a bouncing 3.2kg baby girl was born at 9.15pm. There was major bleeding and Dr Brandon stepped in to locate the source and managed to arrest it. Then the power went off as it was 10pm and time for the hospital generator to shut down. For a while we were in total darkness fixing the bleeder but thankfully the solar power kicked in and the lights came back on. Thanks to all the staff members, students, Dr Brandon and Dr Sakias for helping to save this woman and her child. And not forgetting MAF for going out of their way to fly her to Rumginae.


Woman Dies on Way to Hospital

August 17, 2017

A pregant woman from Porgera in Enga Province died last Wednesday after travelling from Wabag to Mt Hagen to get medical treatment at Mt Hagen general hospital. Mambissanda Lutheran hospital chief executive officer, Dr Raymond Saulep said the woman travelled from Porgera to Wabag but could not get help due to its closure so she travelled to Mambissanda hospital in Wapenamanda.

She could not get help in Wapenamanda and was referred to Mt Hagen hospital to undergo surgery.

Dr Saulep said that on her way to Mt Hagen the woman died after losing her unborn child.

He said fighting between two rival candidates in Kandep had cost lives and affected the flow of government services. This has also affected the health centre and it could not do much with limited equipment, especially for surgery.


Hefty Transport Costs Bit Chunks out of Remote School Budgets

August 16, 2017

A joint research project undertaken by the National Economic and Fiscal Commission (NEFC), in partnership with the Department of Education (DoE), has revealed that alarming transport costs are preventing schools in remote areas from fully utilizing their school fee subsidies.

The Tuition Fee Free (TFF) education policy clearly demarcates a forty per cent administration component, with the remaining 60 percent to be split equally between the infrastructure component and the teaching and learning component. However, the study, titled “Go Long Ples: Reducing inequality in education funding”, revealed that more than half the total budget of schools in extremely remote areas was being eaten up by transport costs alone. According to the study, schools in moderately accessible locations spent approximately 10 percent of their budget on transport related costs. To purchase a similar basket of goods in more remote locations subsequently increased a school’s transport cost to an estimated minimum of up to a staggering 56 percent of their total budget.


PNGs Challenges and Opportunities

PNG’s new government is proposing a 100 day plan. What should this consider? A good plan begins by fully understanding the challenges and opportunities facing its people. On opportunities, PNG leads the world in key areas such as its cultural richness (1st), the extent of its tropical forests (3rd for the entire island), and its extraordinary biodiversity (PNG is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world).

In going forward, PNG needs to change its self-image of “mountains of gold in seas of oil”. This myth (at least in world terms) has delivered appalling development outcomes for PNG. There are much better development paths. A better self-image would be “mountains of culture in rich seas of diversity” – or something similar.  (Suggestions would be welcome – but about people not minerals).

I hope the 100 day plan takes a much more people-orientated approach to PNG’s development. This is a key lesson from its failed economic development to date.  May PNG’s new politicians do much better.


The best comparative database source for PNG’s development progress, focused around internationally agreed sustainable development goals, is the ADB Basic Statistics publication – most recently updated in April 2017 – see here.

45 countries in the Asia-Pacific are included. For some indicators, information is not collected for every country. The following list provides some key comparative information – and it generally makes for some pretty sad reading:

  • In PNG, an estimated 39.3% of the population live below the $US1.90 per day poverty line in 2014. This is by far the lowest of the 26 countries with information (the next lowest is 21.2% in India).
  • The prevalence of stunting amount children under the age of 5 is 49.5%, ranking 29th of the 30 countries with only Timor-Leste having a slightly higher figure of 50.2%.
  • The prevalence of malnutrition (wasting) among children under 5 is 14.3%, the highest rate for the 30 countries.
  • The prevalence of malnutrition (overweight) among children under 5 is 13.8%, the 4th highest rate for the 30 countries.
  • The maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births is 215, the equal 3rd highest of 40 countries with information.
  • The under 5 mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 57, the 4th highest of 43 countries.
  • The number of new HIV aids infections in 2015 is 0.36 per 1,000 of the uninfected population, the highest of 21 countries.
  • The tuberculosis incidence per 100,000 population is 432, the 2nd highest of 44 countries.
  • The incidence of malaria per 1,000 population is 185, nearly double the next highest country of 90 in Timor Leste.
  • The death rate due to road traffic injuries per 100,000 of the population is 16.8, 18th of 44 countries.
  • The Mortality Rate Attributed to Household and Ambient Air Pollution per 100,000 population is 46.3, 32nd of 43 countries.
  • The Mortality Rate Attributed to Unsafe Water, Unsafe Sanitation, and Lack of Hygiene is 12.4, 7th of 40 countries.
  • The Proportion of Population Using Improved Drinking Water Sources is 40%, by far the lowest of the 43 countries (the next highest rate is Afghanistan with 55.3%)
  • The Proportion of Population Using Improved Sanitation Facilities is 18.9%, significantly below the next lowest ranking country of Afghanistan with 31.9%.
  • The proportion of the population with access to electricity is 20.3%, once again significantly below the next lowest ranking country of Vanuatu with 34.5%. Interestingly in the energy context, renewable energy represents 50% of energy consumption, the 7th highest share of 41 countries.


PNG also has great opportunities.

  • PNG’s population of 8.48 million culturally diverse people is its greatest asset. PNG’s population is 21st largest of the 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. More significantly, PNG unambiguously leads the world with the rich cultural diverseness of this population. With 840 distinct language and cultural  groupings, PNG has an extraordinary resource in a globalising world.
  • Surely there are people smart enough in PNG to tap into this world leading resource both as an export market as well as a tourist destination. The latest display of PNG’s cultures being translated into gorgeous fashions (PNG’s Fashion Week is a small example of this potential. The actual volume of exports might not be as large as an LNG project, but most LNG revenues go to overseas bankers and investors anyway.
  • PNG’s land mass is 464 million square kilometres – the 11th largest in the region and larger than other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines – and more than four times larger than countries such as South Korea. After the Amazon and Congo, the island of New Guinea is the third largest rainforest in the world. These forests face threats from logging, mining, wildlife trade and agricultural plantations, particularly palm oil. These forest resources are being exploited with very poor returns to local communities. And most in PNG know the power behind why the SABLs where never examined under the last government (and won’t be under this one).
  • And PNG is honoured by being one of only 17 megadiverse countries in the world.

PNG of course needs to continue to use its natural resources – hopefully on better terms than in the past. But the real way forward is looking at new opportunities with greater potential for women, the rural poor and small businesses.


Cash politics Rampant in NCD Elections

Post Courier, August 9th.

Port Moresby police chief Benjamin Turi has spoken frankly about being offered bribes in the recently concluded National Election. Mr Turi said some candidates had even gone as far as to call him on his private number and offered bribes. “They did try to go beyond this, calling me on the phone and I said ‘no’, I will never change my course. I’ll be fair to everyone, and I told them to get lost,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Turi’s metropolitan command covers the Regional seat of National Capital District, Moresby Northeast, Moresby Northwest, and Moresby South. He also admitted that a number of police officers involved in the NCD election operations had admitted that they had been offered bribes during the course of the election in NCD.


PNGs Tropicl Forests Could Vanish

Post Courier, August 17, 2017

According to new studies, half of Papua New Guinea’s tropical forests could vanish by 2021.

This is due to illegal logging, manmade fires and constant farming of cash crops and food gardens.

The study conducted by the University of Papua New Guinea and an Australian University found that the loss of the world’s third-largest rain forest would destroy a wealth of unique flora and fauna and deprive the region of a natural defense against global warming.

Analyzing three decades of satellite imagery, the researchers found that 19.8 million acres of forest was lost between 1972 and 2002. Forests were being cleared or degraded at an alarming rate of 1.4 per cent a year, and researchers fear that  83 percent of the country’s accessible forest – and 53 per cent of its total forested area – will be gone or severely damaged by 2021. The report advised the government to employ forest sustainability programs, including stricter regulation of the commercial logging industry, which brings in annual revenue of £90 million but is one of the main drivers of forest destruction. It also encouraged a better sharing of resources among the population and more comprehensive land-use education for farmers.


Call to help people facing food shortage in Goilala

August 22, 2017  National

A PRIEST in Central is appealing for help after noticing the food shortage experienced by people living near his parish. Father Thaddeus Hoem from the Fane parish in Goilala told The National that people were becoming sick because of the lack of food. He said nurses in the parish clinic were having a hard time attending to the sick people. Hoem, who has been serving there for a year and three months, said it was hard to grow crops because the land was dry. “I visited families and their food gardens and noticed that the place was all dried up and not much food crops have grown,” he said.
Medicine supply will also become a problem if the situation is not addressed quickly, he added.
“I call on responsible government agencies like the National Disaster Centre to go there and have a look and assess themselves what I’m saying


Farming seen as answer to inadequate diet in prisons

August 23, 2017 National

THE Correctional Services will be launching a farming policy to support detainees, says Commissioner Michael Waipo. Waipo said that with the current issue CS was facing, the Correctional Service was looking into farming prison land to support the detainees. The National Court has ordered the Bomana jail and the CS generally to serve better, nutritious meals to detainees. “The policy is now in place and detainees in every institution are willing to work on the land five days a week. “We have land and labour but we cannot drive this important programme because of no budget to resource our Rehabilitation and Prison Industry Policy. “All we need is a little capital support to drive the programme.”
Shortage of Medicine.

Post Courier  August 30, 2017

Lack of coordination between the Health Department and its area medical stores coupled with funding hiccups by Finance is causing havoc at major hospitals throughout the country. Hospitals throughout Papua New Guinea, including the major Port Moresby General Hospital, have been complaining in the past few months about the shortage of drugs and basic medicines in their pharmacies. By close of business yesterday, Post-Courier had spoken to about 12 general hospitals, among them Kimbe, Daru, Rabaul, Mt Hagen, Buka, Kerema, Vanimo and Mendi that said they had medical drug shortages.

The Health Department was contacted, Health Minister Sir Puka Temu and Health Secretary, Pascoe Kase are on duty travel abroad and the paper could not reach acting secretary, Elva Lionel yesterday.

Sir Puka told an all-staff meeting at Health headquarters soon after his appointment early this month that fixing the medical supplies issue was one of the highest priorities for the new Government.

Post-Courier was also told later that the area Medical Stores was now full to capacity with medical supplies and drugs, but there was no coordination among the distributors to distribute the supplies.

All area medical stores contacted yesterday refused to comment on why there was drugs shortage when stores were now full.

Contractors said area medical stores were fully stocked but medicines could not be distributed to hospitals, due to lack of coordination between the Health Department and the medical stores but the underlying problem was lack of funding.

Short changed: the cost of child undernutrition in Papua New Guinea

August 24, 2017

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is facing a nutrition crisis. Alarmingly, almost one in two children in PNG have stunted growth from chronic malnutrition.[i] PNG has the fourth highest child stunting rate in the world – a rate that is more than double the global average. Not only does malnutrition pose a threat to the survival and development of children in PNG, it also poses a major threat to sustainable economic growth. Evidence shows that if a child is malnourished during the first 1000-day period from conception to their second birthday, they will suffer cognitive and physical impairments that are permanent and irreversible. These impairments limit a child’s education and employment prospects. Reduced individual earnings translate into reduced economic productivity at the national level. This is how malnutrition can trap children in an intergenerational cycle of poverty.

According to national data in PNG, approximately 33% of all hospital deaths of children under five are either directly or indirectly caused by malnutrition. However, in a new report commissioned by Save the Children, Frontier Economics estimates that malnutrition could be the underlying cause of up to 76% of total deaths of children under five across community and health facilities combined[ii] – a figure significantly higher than the global estimate of deaths of children under five associated with malnutrition at 45%. Evidence also suggests that childhood undernutrition can increase mortality risks later in life, with stunted children more susceptible to obesity, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Frontier Economics estimates that child undernutrition cost the PNG economy the equivalent of $USD508 million in the financial year 2015-16 (2.81% of its annual GDP) through three main pathways:

  1. Losses in productivity from a reduction in labour force due to increased childhood mortality, estimated at $USD46 million (0.26% of GDP);
  2. Losses from increased health care expenditure in treating diseases associated with childhood undernutrition, estimated at $USD3 million (0.02% of GDP).

These losses significantly exceed PNG’s projected health and education sector budgets for 2017 – $USD385 million and $USD366 million respectively. However, the estimated cost of $USD508 million is regarded as conservative, and Frontier Economics posits that the economic cost of child undernutrition could be as high as $USD1.5 billion per annum – 8.45% of GDP – using alternative assumptions. Despite the enormous toll of child undernutrition on PNG’s economy, little progress has been made in tackling this challenge over the past two decades. Indeed, the child stunting rate appears to have worsened from 43.5% in 2005 to 49.5% in 2015.

Contrary to popular belief, food insecurity is not the main driver of such high child malnutrition rates in PNG. Rather, these rates are largely attributable to low rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months; sub-optimal infant and child feeding practices, and a high prevalence of diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation, such as diarrheal disease.

It is clear there is an urgent need for targeted investments to improve child nutrition in PNG, particularly those aimed at increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding, and promoting infant safe and hygienic infant and child feeding practices in the critical 1000 day period up to a child’s second birthday.


Better Catholic Education Services

August 28, 2017

The CATHOLIC church continues to play a big role in the development of education in Papua New Guinea and is planning on delivering more and better education services. Yesterday the National Catholic Education Commission and representatives from the Education Department and various key development partners witnessed the launching of the commission’s five year (2017-2021) strategic plans. Chairman of the strategic plan committee, Fr Paul Jennings said the five-year plan is the result of thorough analysis of expectations of people who would like to see how education will be like in the future. “The plan is incorporated with its historical pillars into the modern society in bringing quality education in a culture that is complex and changing.

The strategic plan is in line with this year’s education theme ‘quality for improved education standard’ to build capacity of both teachers and education leaders and managers.

National Catholic education secretary, Michael Ova said the pillars in the plan include Catholic identity and mission, quality teaching learning, staff and student wellbeing, eadership and management.

“In national statics review there is no doubt education standard is falling. These pillars will enhance competency and skills, create and enable environment for teachers in catholic institution.

“In the long run, the plan will empower better qualification, lift standard to student’s performance and value and leadership in education.


How are we going in educating our kids? Backwards

21 August 2017

One of the positive trends of globalisation is the mass mobilisation of human labour beyond people’s cultural or ethnic demarcation and Papua New Guineans educated in PNG do – and increasingly will – live and work elsewhere in the world.

This thought leads me to consider the kind of education have we provided for our young people over the last 20 years and whether we have the best education plan for this country.

How do we measure and evaluate the success rate of PNG education policy over the last 20 years?

It may be unpatriotic to raise my voice on the shortcomings evident in national policy but the declining trend in educational quality is appalling and it demands the attention of all of us who care to find an alternative and more successful model as a priority matter.

I want to share with you the first-hand experience of a PNG classroom teacher. …..

Everywhere you go in PNG, classrooms are full to the brim. We do not have the ability in such crowded classrooms to adequately supervise individual students. So what we do is stand in front, deliver the lesson and walk out of the door when the bell rings.

Textbooks are almost non-existent in each of the departments. Those of you who went to school prior to education reform will recall that we were issued textbooks at the beginning of the school year.

But over the last five or six years, my school has not receive any new textbooks under the government’s tuition fee free policy.

So my students do not have textbooks. They come into class, sit down and listen to what the teachers tell them. They copy what teachers write on the blackboard even if it is erroneous or irrelevant. They believe it to be the truth because there’s no other source by which they can find out.

Students’ understanding of the world beyond is limited.  If you ask them to name five cities in Australia, they can’t. Moreover, the English language is too much for them to grasp. In many cases they have given up trying. Some students cannot do simple arithmetic or write a simple sentence in English and yet they are in the classroom because that’s where the government says every child must be. There is lack of motivation among students to excel academically because they know they will still move to the next level of schooling regardless of their capability. In these conditions, teachers lose enthusiasm. This leads to attitude and behaviour problems with some students. We spend much time trying to control errant behaviour. And, it should be noted, teachers are educators, not law enforcers.

Teacher absenteeism is high in some schools because headmasters themselves may not be committed – getting drunk and socialising using school funds and failing to monitor their staff or the operations of the school. If the current education policy is not working to the advantage of our children, we have to discard it. We must come up with an alternative model that is best for Papua New Guinea.

And it is my view that we have to do this soon.

PNG after the elections: reimagining the future by reflecting on the past

August 18, 2017

by Fiona Hukula

I would like to share some thoughts on PNG after the elections. My reflections are based on nearly twenty years’ experience as a researcher. It has been a little over a week since PNG’s 10th National Parliament convened. The last three months has been a busy time for election officials, media and security personnel. In some places elections have been relatively peaceful. People voted and life carried on, but in other parts of the country, violence and the unnecessary and unfortunate loss of lives has marred these elections. My observation of media reports and preliminary findings from research into women and elections in Morobe by my colleagues Mary Fairio and Sarah Kaut-Nasengom reveals that flawed electoral rolls have led to great disappointment for many people who have not been able to cast their vote.

On the international agenda, APEC 2018 is a key event that will help shape Papua New Guinea’s future. At the national level, the Bougainville referendum will be an important event for PNG as the outcome of the referendum will not only dictate the political future of Bougainville and PNG but it will also set a precedent for those provinces advocating autonomy.

Women leaders

Unfortunately for the next five years, we shall not be seeing any women on the floor of parliament. In her inaugural address, the United States Ambassador Ms Catherine Ebert-Grey stated that the fact that we have no women in parliament should be of grave concern. While this is a depressing outcome of the elections it also clearly indicates the need to reassess and re-strategise how we think about this issue.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture. In analysing the performance of some of the women who came in the top three places for certain seats, we can see that women are receiving votes. For example, Delilah Gore led in the first preference votes and the second preference votes. She lost by just over 200 votes in the final count.

In terms of reflecting on how to get women into parliament, the experiences of female candidates are crucial, as are the experiences of former female parliamentarians. While we may not have women in parliament now, we do know from experience that women can be voted into parliament – this has happened on more than one occasion. For example, Mrs Nahau Rooney, Dame Josephine Abaijah and Dame Carol Kidu were all elected into parliament more than once, so we know from the past that we can elect women into parliament; it is getting women into parliament at every election that is the challenge.

We also know that women are leaders in their communities. In my experience of researching both in urban and rural communities, everywhere I have worked, women leaders always turn up when research meetings are organised and they articulate their concerns clearly. The leadership capabilities of women at the local level is evident as we know from the last local level government elections where forty-five women were voted into local government, with a couple as Town Mayors.

As Papua New Guineans, we need to ask ourselves the hard questions such as, should we be talking about getting women into parliament in terms of gender equality and participation or should we be talking about what makes a good leader? Also, when we talk about getting women into parliament, are we using the right language when addressing different audiences?

Getting women into parliament is not only about discussing these issues in forums such as the PNG Update, but in my view it is also about trying our best to understand the ways in which our people think about gender. I make this comment because often this issue is viewed as a western agenda, maybe because we use words and definitions that are not familiar to the majority of our people. But if we look back to the Constitutional Planning Committee (CPC) report of 1974 we see that this was something that our leaders clearly thought about. If we take off the western gender lens that we often use to have these discussions and start to unpack gender relations in a way that allows us to see the worldview of our people, we will start to map a way forward that is inclusive of everyone.


A lot of the debate around having women in parliament is hinged on the idea of gender equality and equal participation in the development of this country. We use this word ‘development’ but what does it mean to different communities? For some it means access to good roads so they can sell their cocoa and coffee and access health care. For others, it may mean access to clean water and sanitation, for some it may mean four-lane highways and a mall. This one word can trigger discussions about all kinds of things and the ways that we imagine development and our future.

As a nation, we have created some great plans and launched many policies and programs in different sectors with the future in mind and with development in mind. Many of our plans and strategies are anchored in the National Goals and Directive Principles. But how many of us know the National Goals and Directive Principles? I must admit that I am not that well versed with the National Goals and Directive Principles but sometimes when I read things about how we treat each other as Papua New Guineans or how different people imagine their future and especially when I see the growing inequalities between our people I go back and try to acquaint myself better with the National Goals and Directive Principles.

I also like to – every now and then – read bits and pieces of the Constitutional Planning Committee report just to remind myself of what the members of the CPC imagined our future to be. As a researcher whose work is now mostly in the urban sphere, there are two statements from the CPC that I often read. I will only read the first part here of paragraph 116:

We see the darkness of neon lights, we see the despair and loneliness in urban cities. We see the alienation from man that is the result of the present machine oriented economy. We see true social security and man’s happiness being diminished in the name of economic progress.

When I read this, I can see that the future was predicted accurately, but then two paragraphs later the CPC report states:

Our ways emphasise community. We exercise our rights in the context of our obligations to our community.

This sentence alone gives me some sense of hope because yes in the urban context we are now seeing increased poverty in our cities but also in my experience of growing up in this city, of living in an urban settlement as part of my PhD, and of my more recent research with urban village courts, I can see that we still hold firm many of these traits which we call our Papua New Guinean ways.

In the urban setting, we exercise these ideals by doing kinship through our street, church, sporting and work communities and it is through this sense of belonging that we need to start to address the many social issues that we face as a nation, including our high rates of violence, gender based violence (not just domestic violence but sorcery related accusation violence which many of our people suffer from) and child abuse. For when we start to harness the positive things about who we are – as people from different provinces and regions – we will build a better future for our children and their children.

Finally, my call today to you as my fellow academics, policy makers and students is to start to decolonise the way we think about development, let’s strive to understand our people better instead of resorting to calling ourselves uncivilised and uneducated when our people fail to understand concepts and words that are not in their vernacular. Instead let’s build on our strengths and work towards localising global concepts such as the SDGs, so that we can meet our international commitments, but also so that we can see the change that we want to see in our country.


Mr. Douglas Tennent has returned to PNG

9 August 2017

Catholic Archdiocese of Rabaul

On Friday, 9June, in the afternoon, two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr.Douglas Tennent with a “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”.

Now, exactly two months later, more or less at the same time the notice of deportation was served, Mr. Douglas Tennent will be with us again at Vunapope, ready to continue his work.

First of all, we wish to thank God for the return of Doug to PNG and to us. We also want to thank all those – and they are many indeed – who helped us in one way or another, above all for their prayers, for their moral support and for standing with us. These two months have been difficult for Mr. Tennent and they have been difficult for all of us as well. But we are grateful that this ordeal is now over.

In these last few days, quite a number of people have been asking why we have accepted conditions imposed by Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority, in order to facilitate the return of Mr. Douglas Tennent.

There are two conditions:

  • That Douglas Tennent is not to be involved in activities that are deemed to be activism in nature and create disharmony amongst land owners;
  • That Douglas Tennent is to obtain the necessary Certificate of Clearance from the Attorney-General and a Practicing Certificate from the Law Society if his work involves providing any legal advice on PNG Laws and judicial processes.

In regard to the second condition, the Archdiocese of Rabaul has no issue at all and therefore we will fully comply. 
As background information concerning the first condition, we want to make public what the Acting Chief Migration Officer wrote: “We had received by way of a complaint that you were involved in sensitive landowner issues in which landowners from the West-Mamusi LLG argued that they were grossly misled by you to sign legal documents. Your involvement as reported to us was that you provided legal advice and prepared agreement instruments to rally support of landowners against their interest for a development project. Your involvement on landowner issues is demonstrably activism and had incited discord among landowners which is a serious breach of your visa condition even though you had acted upon instruction of Archbishop Panfilo of the Rabaul Catholic Diocese”.

Both Douglas Tennent and the Archbishop are happy to comply on the basis that it is the mission of the Church to promote peace, unity and harmony. Incidentally, the motto of the Archdiocese of Rabaul is: “ut unum sint”, “that they may be one”. A strategy of dividing people in order to rule them is not a practice that belongs in the Catholic Church.

People have been asking why we have agreed to discontinue all court proceedings against the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Acting Chief Migration Officer, considering that the restraining order of 12 June was not complied with, nor was the subsequent Court Order of 7 July. It is also to be remembered that the removal of Mr.Tennent was carried out in an ambush type manner; we were given no clear explanation as to why the removal occurred; we were given no opportunity to respond; we were not able to exercise our appeal rights. Incidentally, the accusations mentioned above as background for condition number one were relayed to us only on a letter by the Acting Chief Migration Officer a week ago, on 3 August 2017.

Yes, no apology came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs nor from the Acting Chief Migration Officer, who, in the first place, should have verified the accusations lodged against Mr. Douglas Tennent and the Archbishop by a lone landowner, who was brought to Port Moresby on a charted plane for this purpose by powerful and influential people.

Our Lord Jesus has taught us to love one another, to forgive our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. If we don’t do this ourselves, how can we preach it to others?

As followers of Christ we believe in cooperation and in adopting a conciliatory approach. The Catholic Church values partnership with the Government in terms of the delivery of services and advocating for the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable. It was our involvement in this work that led to the deportation of Mr. Douglas Tennent and caused tension in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the State. Such tension only results in harm, mistrust and damage.  It is hoped that in the future, if issues arise, such as they did with the work of Mr. Douglas Tennent, there will be consultation and dialogue in order to reach a clear understanding of the matter at hand before action is taken. We do not want to see situations such as the deportation of Douglas Tennent occur again.


+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

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