Social Concerns Notes – April 2019

The rigging of the 2017 election: (4) Money politics & corruption01 April 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/04/the-rigging-of-the-2017-election-4-money-politics-corruption.html

You can link to the full ANU report here

Money politics, the use of criminal elements and the engagement of security forces are a feature of elections in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, and have slowly spread into all other regions, most recently into the PNG Islands and Milne Bay.

The ANU report states:

 “Candidates across the country (in all four regions) were observed to have spent significant amounts of money securing support and offering material incentives to voters.

“Though widespread, money politics was of a different order than in earlier elections, being focused on key officials and those with the ability to influence. It was mediated by ‘strongmen’ in some communities, and well-respected leaders in others.

“There was also a significant flow of resources from voters to candidates, providing an ideal situation for ‘strongmen’ and other community leaders to consolidate their political influence at the local and parliamentary level.

Problems with the electoral roll were a feature of voter discontent. In 2017, all 35 observer teams noted serious defects with it, and the report finds that “many citizens were not provided genuine opportunity to register on a non-discriminatory basis, nor were they provided reasonable opportunity to inspect the electoral roll prior to or during the election.

Overall, very few of the 7,510 citizens surveyed pre- and post-polling had confidence in the electoral roll, with confidence dropping to just 10% in 2017.

Two-thirds (65%) of all citizens surveyed post polling considered the 2017 elections worse than the 2007 and 2012 elections, and fewer than half (46%) reported being able to freely exercise their vote.  (See the full article in the url above).

 Catastrophic failures in PNG health service delivery
By Martha Macintyre
http://www.devpolicy.org/catastrophic-failures-in-png-health-service-delivery-20190404/

Reflecting on 25 years of research into health service delivery and the health status of women and children in Papua New Guinea, it is distressing to observe the current catastrophic failures and continued decline in services for women and children. The anticipated improvements to health services from mining and liquid gas royalties have not eventuated, and the problems of corruption and inefficiency in service provision are compounded by the government’s apparent lack of concern for the health of the population. This has led to a crisis in public health. Although the budget allocation for the Department of Health has increased, most interventions in public health remain dependent on foreign aid agencies. Research assessments of population health are almost all managed or funded by outsiders.

Decades of financial and technical assistance from the Australian government, other international donors, and a range of NGOs notwithstanding, the health of PNG’s population is declining. Diseases that in the past had been brought under control through immunisation now seem to be reappearing with the reduction in fully immunised children and the increased difficulty of maintaining a reliable delivery of vaccines. Tuberculosis (TB) is now categorised as a pandemic, with PNG one of the worst-affected countries in the world. Health service delivery to rural areas is increasingly difficult, with a lack of trained staff, low wages, deteriorating buildings and frequent lack of critical drugs and dressings.

Of all the Millennium Development Goals that were not achieved by PNG, those specifying improvements in women’s and children’s health are perhaps the most egregious failures. PNG’s maternal death rate of 215 per 100,000 is the highest in the Pacific region and among the worst in the world. While infant mortality has shown a steady decline since 2000, currently it is 37 per thousand live births compared to 14 in the Solomon Islands. Women’s and children’s health is disproportionately at risk, particularly in rural areas, and TB is now the major cause of death of women between the ages of 15 and 44 years.

Digital sex found in schools

April 5, 2019The National

POLICE have found pornographic materials in handphones belonging to students in schools.
This is one of the many reasons why there is an alarming rise in the number of child sexual abuses in Morobe, police commander Supt Alex N’Drasal told The National yesterday.
N’Drasal blamed the rise in child sexual abuses in rural areas on the excessive use of mobile phones and internet to access pornographic materials.
“In schools, pornographic materials are found in the handphones of students. They view the materials freely, and practice what they see,” he added.
He said the abuses were happening both within and outside family environments, affecting girls aged between 12 and 18.

In 2015, the Government had announced it was to put in place a K2 million internet filter to block access to porn websites. It followed a report by Google Trend that PNG was the “most pornography-obsessed country in the world”. It said although PNG had a population of around eight million and a low rate of internet use, it had the highest percentage of searches for the words “porn” and “pornography” in comparison to the nation’s total “searches” online.

Prison faces overcrowding

April 5, 2019The National

THE women’s wing at Bomana prison in Port Moresby is overcrowded with 54 inmates, including three children, crammed into a dormitory meant to hold only 35. Senior Inspector Agnes Kunjil told The National yesterday that some inmates had to sleep on the floor because there were not enough beds. “There are 31 convicted inmates, 18 on remand to await their court cases and five children below five years old all crammed into the dormitory,” she said. Because of the lack of space, inmates are allowed to keep only a few personal items. Kunjil said more women were being sent to the prison by the courts although there had been no additional space had been provided to cater for the extra detainees.

Papua New Guinea state fails to wrest control of US$1.4b stake

The government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has lost its protracted battle in the Singapore High Court to wrest control of an entity with assets worth about US$1.4 billion (S$1.8 billion) that were spawned from a deal inked with the “largest mining company in the world”. Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy has ruled in favour of PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) company, saying the state of PNG had failed to prove it had a deal with PNGSDP’s co-founder BHP Minerals Holdings, for joint control to develop PNGSDP assets.

It also failed to prove that there was a charitable trust that allowed the state to intervene.

“I have found that neither the agreement nor the trust exists. The pleaded breaches of the agreement and the trust must correspondingly fail,” Justice Vinodh said in decision grounds on Tuesday.

The outcome means PNGSDP is free to carry out its objectives under the control of its independent board according to the 2001 contractual framework, without interference from the state.

Marai tackles violence in settlements

April 5, 2019The National

GENDER-based violence is a cross-cutting and sensitive national issue which many people cannot easily handle at home.
I met Rose Marai at Port Moresby’s Kaugere clinic during one of my news runs. I walked into her office nervously when she gave her best smile and I could see from her eyes that she really wanted to me tell untold stories she had been dealing with, knowing I was a media personnel.
Being female and knowing that she will be the only one to make changes in her surrounding communities, she stood with confidence amongst more than 5,000 people in Sabama, Kaugere, Kokeva, Joyce Bay, Horse Camp, Kirakira village, Kila Barracks, Gabutu, Badili, Korobosea, 2-Mile Hill and Koki market. She is passionate about change and creating awareness on gender-based violence is something she does from the heart.
Every day she sees more than 10 women walking into her little room with bruises and cuts all over their bodies, being physically hurt and emotionally tortured. She takes them in for counselling and many of them have progressed and have seen changes in their homes and communities.

Hospital Closes Doors

GOROKA’S water crisis remains unsolved.

As the Goroka General Hospital closed its doors on Sunday and sent patients away.

Only emergency cases were being treated while general patients had been referred to the district hospitals while the sick have been discharged from their wards, some with medical supplies.

Eastern Highlands Provincial Hospital Authority chief executive officer Dr Joseph Apa said yesterday that patients were sent home after water in the reserve tanks ran out.

“Water is required for all the operations of the hospital and we cannot keep patients here for the safety of other patients and to avoid the risk of other infections,” said Dr Apa.

“We currently do not have the statistics of patients affected by the closure of the hospital but mothers at the labour ward and new-born babies will be greatly affected by the situation.”

Dr Apa said the hospital has bought water bottles from shops for nursing staff and patients to use for washing hands and drinking medicine on Saturday, Sunday and yesterday as well.

“Patients were also not fed yesterday (Sunday) and we had to supply patients with biscuits,” Dr Apa said yesterday….

Bus-Stops No Longer Safe For Women and Girls: Commuter

Post Courier, April 9, 2019

WOMEN and girls are harassed, face barriers as a result of these harassments, says commuter Jean as she speaks of her experience. She said she witnessed an incident last month and shared her experience in light of the Anti Street Harassment week that was launched by UN Women NCDC yesterday. She (Jean) travels the route from Manu Autoport to Koki before changing bus to get to Konedobu.

“According to Jean, a Badihagwa student had his school bag snatched by a thug in front of everybody. The boy thought he would find safety inside the busy market place as the public watched without doing anything,’’ she said.

Jean felt furious and could not believe what she had witnessed. When she got out of the bus to transfer, she shouted at the top of her voice to men loitering with a quick lecture.

“When women are running away, you can understand that. But when it is a man, a boy, a school student on his way to school, you men watch and do nothing.

“And look at you! You’re discussing what happened when you watched everything that happened before your very eyes, and especially when it is all over. Did you do anything? No! You all ought to hang your heads in shame,” she said.

The thugs who rule Koki bus-stop are free to ply their trade and law-abiding citizens have to protect themselves in a community that does not care.

“There are good things like the Meri Seif bus (women only safe bus for women) the good governor organised which is highly successful.

“But for all other city buses, the women go prepared, they carry some kind of weapon, a pocket knife for instance or a lime bottle for the betelnut which they hold ready to throw in the face of their attacker to blind him.

“When they are approaching bus- stops they wind up the windows,” she said.

She is now asking why the police are not doing their job affectively by patrolling the bus-stops.

Pride of the force – How we grew Lae’s rapid police response unit

Anthony Wagambie Jr

The Lae Police Sector Response Unit (SRU) was launched to deter criminals who took advantage of weak policing in Papua New Guinea’s second largest city. Since it was set up, Lae police command has been monitoring the results. Average response time is now between five and ten minutes.

LAE – I took a gamble in forming the new unit. We selected a bunch of very young probationary constables with just over a year in the field.

We put them in with experienced non-commissioned officers, the majority of whom were former Mobile Squad and Lae Rapid Response members.

I told them, “You guys will make it or break it. If you fail and I fail, I will be dealt with!”

We nurtured them, me being in the field and taking command myself to make sure the SRU operated the way I wanted. Now my boys are very experienced and everything is in place.

I am proud of all of them. Yes we have one or two who step out of line. But the guys have done me proud.

It’s like a father watching his child take his first steps until he can walk unaided.

We took Inspector David Kumayon, who was Commander Mobile Squad 13, and moved him to command SRU Lae. We then increased the strength to the current 74 men.

Never before have we had 24/7 police armed response coverage of the city.

Sections of SRU have also been deployed out of the Lae to Morobe rural, Kurumbukari (Madang), Madang town unrest, Bogia (Madang) and Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands.

Now I don’t personally take command of the unit as much as I used to. I do that only for major incidents or operations.

It gives me personal pride when I see and hear people praising SRU for all that they do. Yes, they do extremely well.

SRU has become the strength of Lae Metropolitan Command and they are here to stay even after I leave my beautiful Lae City.

Anthony Wagambie is the Police Metropolitan Superintendent of Lae

Psychiatric hospital releases 100 patients

April 10, 2019The National

Laloki Public Psychiatric Hospital outside Port Moresby has released 100 patients and closed all its services to the public as staff members protest over an unresolved chronic water supply problem.
The hospital staff started a sit-in protest today following the expiry of a 14-day notice by the Department of Health to fix the water supply contamination problem.
The hospital did not have the resources to get Eda Ranu to connect water to the hospital to replace the water wells.
The staff decision, backed by the hospital management, to stop work comes after Hepatitis A, a waterborne faecal disease, broke out at the hospital six weeks ago.
The disease affected both staff and patients with laboratory tests confirming bacterial contamination of the two wells that had been used the past 19 years.
Since the outbreak of Hepatitis A on Feb 27, acute ward manager Sr Dianne Rambe said six patients and two staff members contracted the disease.
“The management had no choice but to release most of the 80 patients to contain the disease, not forgetting the high risk these psychiatric patients pose to the community.

In PNG, doctors warn botched penis enlargements have become a ‘nationwide problem’

Doctors in Papua New Guinea have warned of a “nationwide problem” of men injecting foreign substances, including coconut oil and silicone, into their penises in an attempt to make them bigger. A doctor at the Port Moresby General Hospital said that over the last two years his clinic has treated at least 500 men with penile disfigurement and dysfunction as a result of injections.

“I have seen five new cases every week for the past two years and these are the ones that have come forward for treatment. We don’t know how many of them are out there,” said Akule Danlop, a surgeon at the hospital. “I saw seven today.” The substances injected include coconut oil, baby oil, silicone and cooking oil and the side effects are serious, sometimes irreversible.

17 April 2019

Australian media (but not NZ) is missing in action on Bougainville

Bougainville, the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea which suffered a brutal 10-year civil conflict in the 1990s, was due to have a referendum in June to decide if it would separate from PNG. But because funding and arrangements for the plebiscite were well behind schedule, the voting date has now been postponed to October.

Does this matter beyond PNG? One would think so.

This referendum is a celebrated element of the 2001 peace agreement that finally brought the bloodshed to a close and could result in Bougainville becoming another independent but under-developed, economically struggling small island state in the Pacific, with a population of 350,000 people.

If it achieves independence, this small archipelago just over 1,000 kilometres from Cairns will have as its legacy a still festering internal debate about the future of its fabulous mining wealth that was at the heart of the conflict that claimed around 20,000 lives.

And whether independent or not, Bougainville remains an area of intense geo-political interest for Australia particularly as other nations, including China, seek to access that fabulous wealth. Yet judging by Australia’s recent media coverage of this volatile rich island, it is just about invisible aside from some reporting in the business media about Australian mining interests in Bougainville. All this is doubly strange, given it’s not as though nothing has been happening. In a year not yet four months old, there has been a flurry of discombobulating developments already in 2019 in what was already set to be an important year for Bougainville. These threaten to impact on Bougainville’s ability to weather the political and massive economic challenges ahead.

Officers found guilty in condom-swallowing case

April 17, 2019The National

TWO police officers were found guilty of forcing a woman to chew and swallow condoms in 2015. Justice Panuel Mogish, who found the duo guilty of one count of unlawful deprivation of personal liberty, two counts of forcing a person to do indecent acts and one count of abuse of office and set April 25 for sentencing.
“The woman alleged that she was attending a party at Sky 9 Club at Boroko the previous night and was on her way to catch a taxi home in the early hours of the morning when she met two men. “They were dressed as civilians and asked if she had any money. She said she did not have any money. They then told her that they were police officers and brought her into the station. “They told her to sit while they emptied her purse and found some condoms. “Yawijah then asked her if she was a sex worker and how many men she had slept with. He then forced her to eat a condom and swallow it. She said it was not for eating and she would not do as they say. “Yawijah then grabbed an iron bar and hit it on the table and threatened her, so she ate the first one. Tanda did not do anything to stop it but instead laughed and filmed a video clip. “The woman was then told to chew and swallow another condom and she did while Tanda laughed and took videos of her.

Children warned to stay away from Porgera’s open pit

April 23, 2019 The National Business

CHILDREN from the special mining lease villages surrounding the Porgera mine have been warned to stay away from the operation areas, especially the open pit.
According to a statement from the Porgera Joint Venture, trespassing by children continues to be a problem for the mine operation. Of the number of illegal miners entering the mine in a month, it is estimated that 5 per cent are children.
The mine’s community development section carried out a school outreach programme recently to educate children on the dangers of illegally entering the mine pit.
It targeted seven schools. Children enter into the mine area to look for food or scrap materials.
The four messages communicated were:

  • The mine is a dangerous place. You can get killed, badly injured or risk living with a disability for the rest of your life;
  • not everyone who gets injured on the mine site dies;
  • the Government has laws to punish parents who do not protect their children from danger; and
  • That communities need children who will stay in school and become good leaders in future.

At the Aumbi Elementary School on April 10, community development manager Jacqueline Nen told the children that there were many other options for a playing field and the open pit was not one of them.

Maternity ward ‘close to collapsing’

April 24, 2019The National

PORT Moresby General Hospital’s maternity ward is close to collapsing due to lack of maintenance and support, a doctor says. “The hospital was built in 1955 by the colonial government when the city’s population was about 50,000 but 65 years later it is serving more than 500,000,” head of obstetrics and gynecology Dr Glen Mola said.
Mola said the 24 delivery suites and 100 beds at the postnatal care were not enough because 40 women delivered each day and mother and baby could not leave the hospital the next day. He said about 15,000 women gave birth at the hospital every year of which 5000 cases were complicated and 10,000 were normal. This meant that daily, about 13 women out of 40 who gave birth faced complications. A common complication involves a Caesarean birth and Mola said one in every 10 women needed a C-section to save the baby or mother. He said they had to do three C-sections in the same evening so “by the time we came to the third, we were late which resulted in losing the mother or the baby”.
“We have three operating theatres but there is staffing only to keep one operating theatre working in the night,” Mola said.

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