Social Concerns Notes – June 2019

My message to prime minister James Marape

01 June 2019

Scott Waide – As the new prime minister, you have your work cut out for you.

You have to try to get a lot of it done within two years before the 2022 elections.

That’s a big job. Do what is right by the people.  Listen to their voices through social media. Not all of it is fake news. Take counsel from those who disagree with you, publicly and privately, in the interest of your eight million people.  Be brave enough to listen to the criticisms and find the threads of truth in them. Be truthful about the state of Papua New Guinea’s health system.  The people of Papua New Guinea deserve a Government that tells the truth. There is a severe shortage of medicine. Puka Temu did a bad job and he did not admit to it as health minister.  Many of our aid posts are closed and our hospitals don’t have medicine.  Yet the media is accused of ‘being political’ when we highlight these ‘open secrets.’

Be truthful about tuition fee free education.  It’s not working for us. Our schools don’t get the money on time.  If we have to pay for school fees, tell that to the people straight as it is.  Papua New Guineans are resilient and hard working.  They do not deserve to be lied to. Please appoint an education minister who will find out why teachers continue to have their pays cut when they do not have outstanding loans.

Remove the companies that are benefiting from the cumbersome procurement processed in the health and education at the expense of our people. Investigate and prosecute the kaikaiman and kaikaimeri who suck the systems dry.  Send them to jail.

Provide housing for our people. …

Papua New Guineans deserve government that has the guts to dump the garbage and restore integrity.

Prison infrastructure falling apart: Official

June 4, 2019 The National

SOME prison facilities still being used today were built during the colonial days and badly need to be renovated and upgraded, a senior prison officer says.
Correctional Service College commander Chief Supt Kiddy Keko said some of the infrastructures were falling apart including buildings, staff quarters and offices. He called on the Government to increase the Correctional Service annual budget to cater for the upgrading of its facilities. “There are 22 State prisons around the country with over 1000 staff and their families,” Keko said. “In order to rehabilitate convicts like murderers and rapists, officers need proper facilities to use. It is their right to be protected under a proper roof to do their jobs effectively.” He said the Correctional Service was allocated about K166 million annually which was not enough for the rehabilitation process.


Call to revisit legislative issues

June 4, 2019 The National

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has urged newly-elected Prime Minister James Marape and his cabinet to revisit five legislative issues of national interest to reduce corruption and restore good governance in the country.
There are five crucial legislative actions that are of national interest that Transparency International PNG would be urging the Marape Government to take to reduce corruption and restore good governance in the country:

  • Establish a fully-empowered Independent Commission Against Corruption, with the power to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of corruption;
  • pass amendments to the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates to ensure it follows the constitution and is ensures greater accountability in how MP’s conduct themselves;
  • address the tangible deficiencies identified in TIPNG’s 2017 Election Observation Report through reform of the Electoral Law;
  • use Open Government Partnership to pass Access To Information Legislation and strengthen accountability in service delivery through civic participation; and,
  • Establish the outstanding Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) so that benefits from the country’s natural resources can be transparently managed.

06 June 2019

Marape’s pledge of hope & reassurance to the people of PNG

Daniel Kumbon – “To all our citizens, we are prepared to work, can I ask of you one thing? “Give me a good law and order environment, stop crime, stop tribal fights (my Hela, please), stop torture of mothers and daughters, stop corruption at all levels, honour time by being punctual, do little things like stop littering and spitting the red stain of betel nuts. “Let’s all contribute. I am willing to make few hard calls going forward as the chief servant of my country, Papua New Guinea.

“Those of you who want to work with me please align here or offer me better solution to make PNG the Richest Black Christian Nation on earth, where no child in any part of our country is left behind.”

Help sought to remove implants

June 7, 2019 The National

IMPLANTS are a modern and effective method of family planning lasting up to five years and used worldwide for more than 20 years, says Health secretary Pascoe Kase.
Kase made this statement after a group of women called on the Health Department to provide avenues for them to have their family planning implants removed due to side effects. More than 20 women called on the Health Department to provide a safe avenue for them to remove their implants without being turned away or verbally abused by health workers. Spokeswoman Mary Hulova told The National that they had been trying to remove their family planning implants since the end of last year but were turned away by both the public clinics and other partner service providers. “It’s been five years now, the implants have grown into our flesh and we have been suffering from all sorts of side effects like migraines, severe backaches, itchy skin and weight problems,” Hulova said.
“We went to Susu Mamas Clinic at 3-Mile but again we were turned away and told to go back to the service providers because the implants were placed by them, so many have given up and have just continued on living with the implants. “We are now calling on the government to help us and provide avenue for us to go to and remove these implants,” she said.

Election flawed to an unforgivable extent: Report

June 7, 2019 The National

THE 2017 National General Elections were “flawed to an unforgivable extent” according to a published report. Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) chairman Lawrence Stephens said the nation had allowed far too many of its people to be robbed of their basic rights during the election. The report also stated that voters were not able to vote as their ballot papers were used by other persons or groups without their permission; many instances of threats and intimidation and vote buying was observed to have been common place during the elections. Stephens said that PNG needed to stop making excusing for failing to honour its own Constitution and laws.

Three years on: Let’s not forget the brave students of 2016

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/three-years-on-lets-not-forget-the-brave-students-of-2016.html

10 June 2016  Scott Waide – This week marks three years since students at the University of Papua New Guinea were shot at a public gathering. In the days leading up to the shooting they were belittled, scorned and told their opinions on good governance and corruption did not matter. The students were campaigning for greater transparency in government, a stop to overseas borrowing and the resignation of the prime minister.

Ideas whose time has come three years later.

… ‘Adults’ mocked them. The public servants told them to go back to school and forget about politics because they were ‘not qualified’ to talk about what was happening in the seat of power. On Wednesday 8 June, police shot into a crowd of students wounding a number of them, some badly. It was fortunate there were no deaths. Students were chased and teargassed and NBC journalist Rose Amos, reporting on the protest, was assaulted by police. The university administration later penalised students for being part of the protest even as their comrades lay injured in hospital. Some were told they would not graduate that year. They stood up for democracy when everyone else was too afraid.

Papua New Guinea on the chopping block

By Roberta Staley June 10, 2019

Eight members of the Kimadi tribe stand, crouch or sit on the hard ground, knotty with exposed tree roots, enjoying the relative cool offered by a verdant canopy of leaves overhead. Just a few metres away, the quiet clear waters of a Bismarck Sea lagoon, filled with small schools of striped tropical fish, lap against the grassy bank. The setting is tranquil and bucolic – but not for the Kimadi, who have travelled from their traditional territory in Madang province in Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific to consult with an NGO, the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG). Founded in 1996 and headquartered just outside the town of Madang, BRG provides consulting services and advice to Indigenous groups like the Kimadi who are fighting ever-growing threats from logging and palm oil development on their lands. …

Signs that the Kimadi’s subsistence lifestyle is under threat first appeared last July when Malaysian company Woodbank Pacific began logging about 10 kilometres upstream. Roads were cut into the steep, hilly wilderness to allow logging-truck access. Then, clear cutting began of softwood and hardwood trees, such as the kwila, which grows up to 50 metres high and is used in a variety of products, from furniture and musical instruments to building bridges. But the loggers were cavalier as they felled these forest giants, letting some logs fall into the waterways and leaving them to rot, contaminating the water flowing downstream to where the Kimadi villagers live, says Lawun. “All the communities downstream are being affected.” …

The Kimadi have reason to be worried about the pernicious ubiquity of logging in their home province. In 2010, Madang province had 2,000,000 hectares of tree cover extending over 76% of its land area. In 2017 alone, it lost 15,900 hectares of tree cover, Global Forest Watch reported.

In PNG, the roots of the deforestation problem lie with Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), which have weakened Indigenous Papua New Guineans’ claims to customary landownership. Before the Land Act (1996) came into existence, about 97% of PNG was controlled by Indigenous peoples. However, provisions in the act enabled the state to lease land from customary owners, then re-lease it to private companies or individuals. According to Father Philip Gibbs, a professor and vice-president of research and higher degrees at Divine Word University in Madang, this “lease-leaseback scheme” has resulted in 10% of the country’s total land area ending up in private hands. The national and provincial governments of Papua New Guinea encouraged landowners to enter into the strategy, giving up their land, often based upon false promises of community enrichment or employment, Gibbs says.

Kwa: ICAC Bill awaiting endorsement

June 11, 2019 The National

DEPARTMENT of Justice and Attorney-General Secretary Dr Eric Kwa says the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) Bill is with the National Executive Council for their endorsement. “We are hoping that the ICAC office will be established soon to fight corruption,” Kwa said on Sunday during the Sir Anthony Siaguru Walk Against Corruption in Port Moresby. “We are ready to fight corruption and Prime Minister James Marape wants to push through the ICAC Bill so I want to say that we have cleared the bill and it is now with NEC and hopefully we will have this organisation to help fight corruption.” Kwa said the bill was first tabled in 2009.


Plea to Marape: New PM asked to reinstate sacked whistleblower

12 June 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/test-for-marape-new-pm-asked-to-reinstate-sacked-whistleblower.html#more

PORT MORESBY – “Dear Prime Minister,” wrote Martyn Namorong in an open letter on Monday. “Please reinstate Brian Alois or, even better, appoint him as the secretary for works so we taxpayers don’t get ripped off.”

Now in case you don’t recall this matter, Alois was suspended by the Works Department last year after he blew the whistle on how the Papua New Guinea government was being cheated on inflated road contracts. At the time, Alois was the Momase regional works manager and also president of the PNG Institute of Engineers. Speaking as Institute president at a national planning summit, he had highlighted how the government was paying well in excess of what it should for road construction and maintenance projects.

In doing so, he mentioned a 300-metre stretch of road in the National Capital District which had cost K80 million to construct. In the audience was works secretary David Wereh and a number of government ministers and departmental heads. Within hours Brian Alois had been suspended from his job. More than a year later he remains sidelined.

Paul Barker, director of the PNG Institute of National Affairs, commenting on Namorong’s letter this week, commended Alois as a “capable and honest talent that PNG cannot afford to miss out on. “His message on overpriced contracts must be heeded and addressed,” Barker said.

Can the Marape government reverse PNG’s ‘resource curse’  Paul Flanagan

Link here to the full version of Paul Flanagan’s latest article

It is too early to tell whether the new government will make the important and politically difficult policy changes required to reverse the ‘resource curse’ approaches of the O’Neill government. Recent PNG National Statistics Office figures confirmed that the PNG Treasury was over-estimating the health of the PNG economy in 2016. The new figures increase the gap between PNG LNG promises and actual outcomes relative to if there had been no PNG LNG project at all.

The average outcome remains that PNG’s industries were just over one-fifth worse off in 2016 than if they had simply continued ‘business as usual’ growth prior to the PNG LNG project. Overall, the PNG LNG project massively over-promised and then failed to deliver. This is not because of the fall in oil prices – indeed LNG export returns are higher than predicted. Resource projects should be good for development – but this requires good policies. The PNG LNG project induced poor policies under the O’Neill government. These poor policies overwhelmed potential PNG LNG benefits….

Uphold laws, live in harmony & achieve prosperity, says Marape, 12 June 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/uphold-laws-live-in-harmony-achieve-prosperity-says-marape.html#more

James Marape

I am motivated by leaders who refuse to accept money to see change and good governance. They are offered money, they are offered jobs but they stick to their commitment for the good of the people and country.

I appeal to Papua New Guineans, the least you can do is to respect your children, the girls and women amongst us.

You respect society by living peacefully, respecting each other despite our ethnic differences, our political differences, our religious differences.

You will realise where we are. We need greater incursion into how we harvest our natural resources.

Many of our corporate citizens will feel a little bit doubtful, will feel a little bit intimidated, a little bit insecure. But you must not feel that way.

When PNG is safe, when PNG is secured economically, when PNG is robust and growing, businesses will flourish and reap deserved rewards.

You need PNG to be strong, stable, prosperous and wealthy. And that is why I am in the business of making huge decisions in as far as resource laws are concerned.

We will do it very slowly. I’m looking at 2025 in which we will migrate to a new legislative framework.

Whatever changes we intend to do in the next one or two years will be prospective.

I appeal to Papua New Guineans to respect and uphold the laws so the country can prosper harmoniously.

Every extra kina spent on maintaining law and order could otherwise be saved and spent on schools, education, health and infrastructure.

I appeal to everyone nationwide, especially my people of Hela and the region, to help transform communities into peaceful and law-abiding citizens who can contribute to nation-building unabated.

30,000 TB cases a year makes PNG a regional health issue

17 June 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/30000-tb-cases-a-year-makes-png-a-regional-health-issue.html

PORT MORESBY – Investing in health is one of the best ways to build a better future. Healthy societies are more stable and equal and have stronger and more productive economies. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, improving public health is a global common good.

Since the turn of the century, there has been significant progress in the fight against HIV and malaria in PNG. Investments by international donors and partnerships with faith-based organisations and other civil society groups have reduced the number of malaria cases and deaths through national mosquito net distribution campaigns. The country has also made big strides against HIV by making lifesaving treatment available to thousands of HIV-positive people.

However, PNG’s 8.5 million people continue to face very serious development and public health challenges. We have the highest malaria burden in the world outside Africa, with the entire population at risk, affecting primarily pregnant women and children under five. We also have the highest number of new tuberculosis cases in the Pacific Island region – around 30,000 new cases each year, with TB now the leading cause of death in PNG. We have alarming rates of drug-resistant TB, a more aggressive form that does not respond to existing medications, resulting in fewer treatment options and increasing mortality rates for illnesses that would ordinarily be curable – including TB.

Marape’s dream

June 18, 2019 The National

PRIME Minister James Marape is getting up and close with Papua New Guineans by sending messages through social media – Facebook. He highlighted the target of being economically self-sufficient.

  • Key economic benchmarks and tasks to undertake includes:
  • Re-assessment of the 2019 budget and deliver state of economy statistics to ensure our budget for the rest of 2019 and going forward is anchored on solid achievable numbers;
  • make redundant lesser priority areas in budget, including taking control of salary overrun and office rental expenditures;
  • stop non-economic stimulant programmes, including loans to projects of insignificance;
  • ramp up access to international grant facilities already open to PNG like the EUs and other global grants available as well as drawing down on productive loans already secured;
  • do a forensic audit into all levels of companies operating in the country to ensure they are all tax and fees compliant;all resource projects coming up for reviews to be negotiated with the view to gain now for our country with no more concessions, tax deductions or wavering of fees etc; and,
  • Promulgation of policies and legislations to ensure downstream processing of our natural resources be given highest order of priority and all resources companies in all sectors that want to participate in harvest of our resources must come up with clearer and quicker ways to do downstream processing. Gone are the days when someone was telling us you can’t do gold bullion in the country or you can’t process timber in the country or we can’t have petro chemical industries in the country, or we can’t grow rice and cattle in the country. (These) are some examples of adding value to our resources.

 

How decentralised funding became decentralised corruption

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/how-decentralised-funding-became-decentralised-corruption.html#more

Centralized funding becomes decentralized corruption. 20 June 2019

Over the years, successive Papua New Guinea governments did well in decentralising power from Waigani. The establishment of District Development Authorities signified the completion of the decentralisation process, and also showed that the distribution mechanism for funds was ready to roll. Disbursements of K10 million each year to the districts was the highlight of decentralisation. These funds not only enabled districts to implement their development goals without having to face the Waigani bureaucracy, it also gave them financial power and, ultimately, the freedom to choose and fund projects and deliver services according to home-grown plans. With this freedom and power, rather unfortunately, followed endless impairments of virtue and moral principles.

The K10 million became everyman’s object of envy: district government officials, local businessmen, village leaders, church pastors, recent graduates, and village illiterates. In fact every Tom, Dick and Harry. Beyond the scrutiny of government departments, which themselves are allegedly corrupt beyond measure, abuse in broad daylight grew.

Evidence of this is seen in the half completed classrooms that litter many rural schools across the country. In addition, many other projects didn’t see the light of day.

People who succeeded in obtaining a portion of the K10 million suddenly became household names and role models. Imagine the impact this connivance and greed had on children, who are the future of Papua New Guinea. If corruption was bad in Port Moresby, at the district level it was worse. If corruption was secretive in Port Moresby, in the district it was in plain sight. Decentralisation of power had also become the decentralisation of corruption. …And this will continue if the established system is allowed to continue. …

What life is really like in (very expensive) Port Moresby 21 June 2019

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/what-life-is-really-like-in-very-expensive-port-moresby.html#more

Scott Waide

Anyone living in Port Moresby without institutional housing, or support from relatives or parents, knows it’s an absolute nightmare. Port Moresby is the most expensive city in the Pacific. The rental price structure is like that in Australia and yet the wages employers’ pay don’t match the cost of living and housing is skewed towards the high end market. Real estate companies charge a minimum K1,000 – K5,000 a week in rental. The vast majority of Papua New Guineans don’t see that kind of money in a fortnight or even six months.  A salary of between K35,000 and K50,000 is next to impossible to live on if you have a family. The figure looks great on the payslip. But it can’t pay rent. You can’t save enough unless someone else is paying the rent or your company pays for accommodation. In Port Moresby, the buying power of an K80,000 a year salary is limited if you pay your own rent. Quality of life diminishes once reality sets in after the first year of work. It’s a painful reality that many young graduates have to face. What appears to be a big salary is ripped to shreds by the reality of big city life. …

Becoming a rich black nation: Are we not rich already?

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/becoming-a-rich-black-nation-are-we-not-rich-already.html 21 June 2019

Many of us feel deprived of certain opportunities and privileges and therefore miss or forget that we are rich already. As a country we didn’t have to struggle to become an independent democratic nation….Our land holds rich mineral and natural resources that today, in some parts of the country, have become the cause of our various divisions and tensions. What we need is to appreciate this richness. …

Papua New Guinea needs to distribute its wealth equally so that our children can have free good quality education that is relevant for our sustenance and growth and that our sick can access good quality health care in our country and at no cost.

We are rich when our women are appreciated as equals and are free from violence and our youth are an integral part of our decision making. …

We cannot continue to rely on foreign consultants to tell us how to run our country.

Our ways are unique, diverse and deep and only we understand why we do things as Papua New Guineans. We must stop relying on borrowed concepts and ideas.

… We have adopted a belief system that commands us to look after our God’s creation. And when our forests, rivers, sea and land are free from abuse and exploitation, we will know we will be rich forever. We are rich already. We just need to care more and look at our distribution mechanisms and make decisions responsibly.

Triads threaten new government’s desire to ‘take back PNG’

https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2019/06/triads-threaten-new-governments-desire-to-take-back-png.html#more

Daniel Kumbon 26 June 2019

While the ‘Look North’ policy introduced by the Wingti government was good for the economic prosperity of Papua New Guinea, a sinister development has hijacked those good intentions. The policy has evolved into a Pandora’s Box of counterfeit goods, gambling, prostitution and drug trafficking.

This threatens to negate the bold declaration made by the Marape-Stevens government to ‘Take Back PNG’ and make it “the richest black Christian nation on earth”.

Drug trafficking is already entrenched in PNG, which is reported to have become a transit point for international drug cartels helped by poorly policed, open borders, isolated islands and outdated drug laws.

Seven foreigners experienced how weak our laws were when they were deported last month after spending just 18 months in jail for drug trafficking and illegally entering the country. One of the men, Lam Tse Lik, was wanted by Hong Kong police after his name appeared in Interpol’s international criminals’ wanted list. Of the others, five were from mainland China and one from Montenegro. They were caught on Budubudi Island in Milne Bay province in May last year with 55 kilograms of cocaine worth about A$1.5 million (K3.4 million). On Saturday 15 June they left Jackson’s International Airport with broad smiles on their faces and high-five victory signs. Imagine if they had been caught in Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Philippines or Singapore where the ultimate penalty for narcotics offenders was death. People caught in these countries with more than an ounce of drugs are considered drug traffickers. But in PNG, police enforce the Drug Act of 1954 which allows a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

According to The Age newspaper, the Chinese mafia has infiltrated and corrupted the highest levels of PNG’s police force, crippling the nation’s attempts to tackle law and order problems. The report said an investigation had uncovered alleged links between 16 of PNG’s most senior police and Asian criminals implicated in people smuggling, money laundering, prostitution, illegal gambling, fraud and theft. The police minister at the time, Bire Kimisopa, refused to discuss the report but acknowledged that PNG faced an organised crime crisis that implicated senior police.

“It goes right to the top,” the minister said. “Chinese mafia have bought off officials throughout the system…. they are operating illegal businesses, they are siphoning money out, corrupting government officials, colluding with police and making attempts to kill officials as well.”

Asian organised crime syndicates include groups from Vietnam and Japan (generally referred to as yakuza or boryokudan), Taiwan and China (sometimes referred to as triads). They are nothing like the opportunistic raskol gangs in Port Moresby.

Triads trace their history to secret political societies formed in China during the 17th century to restore the Ming Dynasty to power and who used secret forms of identification and communication.

The ‘Look North’ policy must be revisited to ensure a more suitable program is adopted to deal with importation of defective products, prostitution, drug trafficking and other illegal activities. If not, Asian organised crime syndicates can very easily cripple this country in its efforts to ‘Take Back PNG’ and make is “the richest black Christian nation on earth”

Mt Ulawun erupts -135,000 to be moved

June 28, 2019 The National Main Stories

KIMBE disaster officers and volunteers are working round the clock to mobilise the evacuation of some 15,000 people in East Nakanai following the eruption of Mt Ulawun in Bialla, West New Britain (WNB), on Wednesday morning. Papua New Guinea (PNG) National Disaster Centre has declared a Category 2 volcanic eruption, making evacuation mandatory for all villagers.
More than 120,000 other villagers staying further away from the volcano are also expected to be affected and evacuated as Mt Ulawun continues to spew thick black ash with growing intensity by the hour. Hoskins Airport is reported to be covered in 4mm of thick volcanic ash and both Air Niugini and PNG Air had cancelled all flights since the eruption at 7am Wednesday. The WNB highway to Kokopo, East New Britain, is also closed to traffic due to thick black ashes. Disaster officers and volunteers and six trucks of food and water supplies have been mobilised to leave Kimbe town for Barima, Bagara, Mandi and Soi. However, the supplies would only last for about a week. Governor Muthuvel is also appealing to opportunists not to take advantage of the situation to loot abandoned residential houses or business houses.

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