Social Concerns Notes – March 2019

Mum, baby spared

March 7, 2019The National

ARMED pirates attacked a dinghy but left a mother and her baby, a 13-year-old girl and eight others unharmed. However, two others are still missing after they were forced to jump into the sea. The terrifying drama unfolded at 3pm on Saturday when the dinghy, ran into six pirates armed with homemade guns, two bush knives and two catapults. The pirates ordered everyone, except the mother and her baby, to jump into the sea near the Kalibobo Lighthouse towards the Gogol River.
After carting away all the groceries that were bought from town, and handphones, cash and belongings, the pirates left in their boat. The victims then swam and climbed back onto their dinghy and a head count found that two other passengers were missing. Moka said the dinghy was running low on fuel and thus could not conduct a search for the two missing passengers.

Bishop reveals shortage of medicine causing health emergency

March 11, 2019 The National 

Many health facilities in the country are running out of medicine, says the president of Catholic Bishops Conference Bishop Rochus Tatamai. “We have been requesting the Government to purchase medicine because medicine has not reached clinics, aid posts and health centres,” Tatamai said on Friday.
“Throughout the country, there are symptoms of a profound public health emergency: young and old are getting sick and dying unnecessarily, while health facilities lack basic medicine and equipment. “Many aid posts, clinics and hospital shelves have no stocks of medicines, there were no antibiotics, bandages and anything.”
Tatamai said MPs were elected to represent people and the delivery of basic health services should be a priority when dealing with public funds. He said when it came to health service delivery, political leaders should always mandate line agencies to bridge services to the people. “What have we done with the revenue of our natural resources and the Government funding we get every year?” Tatamai said.

More women, children fleeing violence: Centre

March 11, 2019The National

At least 40 women and children a month flee their homes in Port Moresby because of sorcery-related violence and incest by stepfathers and uncles. Haus Ruth Crisis Centre for Abused Women and Children revealed that cases of sorcery and incest have increased markedly in the past decade. The number of women seeking refuge in the centre has increased.
China Railway Construction Engineering (CRCE) PNG Ltd showed its support to these women on International Women’s Day on Friday with a surprise visit. House Ruth Crisis Centre manager Monica Richards said women between the ages of 20 and 45 years were the largest group seeking help because of forced sex, jealousy, rape and other forms of domestic violence.
“What we do is accommodate them, give them skills training like sewing and small business training, so that after two weeks when their term is over, they have better knowledge to go out and sustain themselves,” she said. Victims get medical treatment and police and court clearance during their stay. Richards said many teenagers from high schools escaped from their homes because of violence.
CRCE human resources manager Athena Chow said women’s problems were everyone’s problems. “It is very important to recognise women on their special day, as it is the only time we come out to talk about issues that are affecting women in society,” she said.
“They are very important people in the society.
“They need to be protected, loved and cared for by their partners without fear.”

PNG Facing TB Crisis. Ranked 10th in the World

Post Courier.  March 12, 2019

PAPUA New Guinea is facing a tuberculosis (TB) crisis. This is because PNG is ranked 10th globally for rates of TB, with 35,000 new cases a year, of which 6000 of them are in the National Capital District alone. This is according to Businesses for Health: Tuberculosis and HIV project manager Dr Ann Clarke, who says women, while also falling ill with TB, are largely impacted by social and economic factors that need to change if PNG is to end the TB epidemic. “Thousands die unnecessarily of TB – drug susceptible TB, drug resistant TB or TB/HIV co-infection.“ Last year there were more than 2000 cases of drug resistant TB and drug resistant treatment success is less than 50 per cent, while only drug susceptible TB is 100 per cent curable,” she said.

Observing International Women’s Day last Friday, March 8, Dr Clarke said it was an opportunity for Businesses for Health to celebrate the contributions of women to the health and well-being of all who live in PNG. “However, it is also a time to reinforce the actions needed to speed up gender equality in this remarkable and diverse country.

PNG bishops attack government over corruption, incompetence

In a public statement, the Catholic bishops have asked why an Independent Commission Against Corruption had not yet been established, despite many promises over many years, and why nothing has been done to end the Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) which are said to have led to many illegal land grabs. They condemned SABLs for continuing to destroy the environment and the livelihoods of thousands of Papua New Guineans.

The statement also attacked the practice of politicians directly distributing government funds to the people themselves. The bishops called this “notoriously corrupt” and said it was an impractical and failed system.

The church is one of the key providers of education in PNG but the bishops said their services were increasingly interfered with by politicians and the government.

They criticised the government’s so-called Fee Free Tuition as not effectively implemented and not providing funds and materials to schools.

The O’Neill government is also not adequately supporting Catholic health centres where staff are not receiving wages and medicines and equipment are not reaching the clinics. Saying they were talking on behalf of the people of PNG, the bishops called for answers from the government and said they are expecting change.

Work on resettlement project for Manam Islanders begins

March 25, 2019 The National 

WORK on the land in Bogia allocated for the Manam resettlement project has begun with machines being moved in, an official says.
Acting chairman of the Manam restoration authority John Bivi said the government had allocated K6 million for the project. Bivi said the resettlement of the Manam people fleeing the volcanic eruptions on their island had been an outstanding issue. The land clearance will begin at Andarum in Tangu of the Almami local level government.
Manam people have been living in the care centres for nearly 13 years with no land to grow crops, no sea to fish and no forests to hunt in. Some had died waiting to be relocated while some had returned to their island.
“The Government allocation of K6 million as mobilisation funds will be prioritised to help our people,” Bivi said. Manam people were moved to the care centres at Potsdam, Suaru, Bom, Asuramba and Mangem when the major volcanic eruption took place in 2006.
Baliau villagers who lived at Suaru and the Dugulava people who lived at Bom had to return to Manam after clashes with the Bogia landowners. They receive relief assistances every time the volcano erupts and destroys food gardens. Those staying back at the care centres survive on what they have.

‘Australia over a barrel’: PNG official sought K20 million ‘donation’

24 March 2019.

MELBOURNE  – An Australian government contractor on Manus Island was asked by a senior Papua New Guinea official in 2017 for a multi-million-dollar donation to the ruling party of prime minister Peter O’Neill. When the company, which was working for the Home Affairs department on the offshore detention regime, refused the request, the company’s senior managers began to encounter problems with visas for staff to enter or remain in PNG.

The contractor, which asked that its name not be used to protect the welfare of its Manus Island-based staff, rejected the donation request and reported it to senior department officials in late 2017. It’s understood more than one contractor has experienced similar problems.

If the company had made the donation of K20 million to the People’s National Congress party, it would have likely committed a criminal offence under Australia’s foreign bribery laws.

While Australian government agencies and departments refer to PNG as a “difficult environment” to operate in, an internal 2018 AFP report seen by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald is more direct and describes PNG as having “significant corruption issues”.

Government stole funds from logging communities. Staff Reporter
26 Mar 201912 

More than K100 million collected by the government from logging companies to fund community development projects has been stolen or misused. Senior departmental heads appointed as trustees have failed in their duties and the biggest beneficiary has been the government itself, which has unlawfully taken more than K80 million of community funds.

These are findings contained in a scathing Auditor General’s report recently released to the public.

It is now well-documented that large-scale logging by foreign-owned companies does not bring lasting development to the communities who suffer the often devastating environmental and social impacts. This fact was acknowledged by government more than a decade ago when the Log Export Development Levy (LEDL) was introduced.

The levy is an additional tax paid by logging companies on every cubic metre of timber they export.  All monies collected is then supposed to be used by government to fund the agriculture and infrastructure development projects in communities impacted by logging that the companies so frequently promise, but so rarely deliver.

Unfortunately, government has proven to be no more reliable than the foreign logging companies in upholding its side of the bargain. Between 2012 and 2015, more than K100 million in levies was collected by government and placed into a trust account. However, in a devastating set of findings, the Auditor General has revealed how those funds, intended to alleviate suffering in logging communities, have been stolen and misused.

Electoral Commission Needs Help For LLG Elections

Post Courier March 28, 2019

THE PNG Electoral Commission says that it needs extensive collaboration with provinces to deliver the local level government (LLG) elections. The PNGEC says it needs collaboration with all the 20 provincial administrations to ensure the 2019 LLG elections is conducted successfully. Early this year, the national government made the decision and asked the Electoral Commission to administer the 2019 LLG elections in partnership with provincial administrations to pool resources, save money and promote provincial ownership of the process.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said though it is an exciting potential partnership, the dilemma is that the commission has yet to conclude agreements with the 20 different provincial administrations. “PNGEC has engaged in conversations with provincial administrations since 2018 and has concluded a memorandum of understanding with only nine provinces in all at this time,” he said.

“This model ensures increased complexity of implementation as many of the personnel and materials needed to run the LLG elections do not fall under PNGEC’s control.” Mr Gamato said PNGEC’s budget for the 2017 national election was K279 million, whereas for the LLG elections, the total budget line of K100 million is being split between the commission and provincial administrations.

 “I am calling on the national government to provide adequate resources to PNGEC in a timely fashion for us to be able to play our role in these important LLG elections.”

The rigging of the 2017 election: (1) You were very wrong Australia March 2019. Mark Davis

Journalist Mark Davis has abstracted the main issues from the Australian National University’s report on the 2017 Papua New Guinea national election. Beginning today, we present Mark’s summary in four parts. The ANU report documents a scandalous election replete with threats, malfeasance and corruption. You can link to it in full here

The report calls into question the legitimacy of the current regime of prime minister Peter O’Neill and the future of the nation’s parliamentary democracy. The long-awaited ‘2017 Papua New Guinea Elections – Election Observation Report’ reveals the systematic corruption of the election by Mr O’Neill’s ruling People’s National Congress Party, other parties and candidates, the PNG Electoral Commission, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the PNG Defence Force and other elements of society.

It is an extraordinarily detailed report who’s unique and invaluable data is based on direct observation by a team of 258 including 32 PNG academics and researchers as team leaders, 31 ANU-based academics and students, 192 PNG observers and three support staff. It is unprecedented in detail, scope, and intensity, covering all four PNG regions, and 69 of the 111 electorates, including detailed studies of 44 electorates. Detailed observations were conducted of 945 of the 10,825 polling stations, and 7,510 citizens were surveyed individually.

Observations were carried out over three months from the start of the campaign period to post-polling, amounting to more than 6,500 person-days, and were recorded in template journals kept by each observer. The report is a showpiece of election data and analysis – it is delivered in lay language and clearly based on a foundation of well-coordinated and comprehensive field coverage by a qualified and knowledgeable team. It has the ring of absolute authenticity and it pulls no punches.

The report gives the lie to claims by Mr O’Neill, then Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and Australian officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that the election was free, fair and successful. It was not.

Cult activities taking on satanic character, says academic

March 29, 2019The National Main Stories

CULT activities, which are seen as increasing more satanic, are so entrenched in our education systems that it will need everyone to find practical solutions, says University of Goroka Dean of Education Dr James Aiwa. He was contributing to discussions at a seminar on cult and generation activities in schools. Dr Kainaro Kravia, a lecturer at the School of Education, and Priscilla Sakopa, the head of the mathematics and computing department, also took part.
Kravia said there was an element of “strange happenings” within the dormitories which amounted to the belief that cult practices and their undercurrents were rampant at the university and tertiary institutions near it. Kravia said the initial cult groups were formed as a result of forming “bonds” with each other, to make the alienated feel part of a social grouping and to have each other’s interests at heart as a means to survive in national high schools. But he said all that had changed.
“What we have now are hierarchical groups where generational names are given and with it comes the attitudes, character and personality changes which affect the coerced innocent student,” he said. With it comes the expected roles. If you don’t comply you are punished, most often severely nowadays, but previously it was a way to bond students and help each other succeed”, he said. Sakopa said she had been privy to the inside of a cult working some years ago and most of what happened were satanic and took on the cultist ideology where others looked up to a “godfather”.

Mum fined K800 for selling son for K800

March 28, 2019 The National

A MAGISTRATE has ordered a mother who sold her two-week-old son for K800 to pay the same amount to the court as a fine. Mt Hagen Magistrate Jacinta Doa also ordered the arrest of the husband, and the woman who bought the child.
She warned mum Yawama Kuna, 29, that she would serve two months in jail if she failed to pay the K800 fine. The court was told that Kuna was having difficulties looking after her two children because her husband Amos Hari was not supporting them.
Kuna, from Sembriki in the Kagua-Erave district of Southern Highlands, was arrested last Wednesday and charged with selling her son to a woman. She told the court she had to sell her son because her husband did not provide her and the two children food and money.
She told the court that her husband was aware of what she did but did not object.
They continued to live together until last week when he came home drunk and asked her for money.
She gave him the only K20 she had. The husband lodged a complaint with police that she had sold their son. Police prosecutor Sam Nili submitted that the husband was not concerned about the son his wife had sold and had not make any attempt to get him back until last week. Nili told the court that just because Kuna’s family demanded that he paid bride price before taking his son and wife back, he went to the police.

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