Social Concerns Notes, September 2019

Chinese-owned Ramu Nickel plant spills 200,000 litres of ‘toxic’ slurry into the sea
A Chinese nickel mine operator has apologised after accidentally spilling an estimated 200,000 litres of toxic slurry into a bay in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province, turning the water bright red and staining the shore.
Mining authorities in PNG said the spilled material was a mineral-rich slurry that had been piped to the processing plant at Basamuk Bay from a nickel mine site 135 kilometres inland.
Mineral Resources Authority managing director Jerry Garry told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program the slurry was “very acidic”.
“The people from the village they went down to the beach … and they realised the water was contaminated and the colour had turned to red,” Nigel Uyam, a local villager who took the first photos of the spill, told the ABC.
“They are angry … we are trying to control the angry people and we are trying to control the situation.”

Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago
Scott Waide | My Land My Country | 25 August 2019
Ten years ago, a small group of Papua New Guineans made a decision to fight the construction of multibillion kina Chinese owned nickel mine in the Madang province.
The reasons were simple:
1. Land was going to be taken away from its traditional custodians in Kurumbukari in the Usino-Bundi electorate and…
2. the sea, a vital resource for the people’s survival, was going to polluted by the dumping of tailings into the Basamuk Bay.
In 2011, in the course of the campaign, we produced one of several documentaries warning of the destruction that was about to happen. We hoped that in the process, people would be educated and would make the right decision and stop the dumping of tailings or the construction of the processing facility.
While filming the documentary UPROOTED, we travelled to Kumumbukari, where old Benny Mangua, a chief in his own right and chief custodian of the land wept because he was going to lose his land forever. Months earlier, he was told by the Chinese company workers that their village was going to be removed because it was going to become the mine site. They gave him K500 as a resettlement payment.
Months later, his sons were evicted from their village by police. Benny Mangua, didn’t survival long after that. He passed on, a broken man separated from his land. His family was told not to plant food on land that was later turned into a dumping area for the mine.
His son Peter Peter continued to resist attempts by police and the company to remove him. One morning, armed police, acting in the interests of the Chinese mine management, broke down his house and forced him off his land. He died about two years later.

Govt closes Manus refugee centre, stops services
September 3, 2019The National
THE Government has closed down the controversial Manus refugee processing centre on Manus Island and terminated the service of a major Australian government service provider there as of yesterday. The Government through the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA) is also looking at transferring all the remaining refugees to the Port Moresby refugee processing centre and process them from there, with the possibility of allowing some to live in the country if they are willing. Immigration and Border Security Minister Petrus Thomas said the decision to end the processing centre follows directions from Prime Minister James Marape.

Hospitals need equipment
September 3, 2019The National
WORKS and Implementation Minister Michael Nali says the government should allocate funds to purchase basic medical equipment for provincial hospitals and health centres.
Nali told Parliament yesterday that health workers and doctors were unable to deliver services due to lack of equipment and facilities.
“We need to allocate some money to buy some basic medical equipment for the hospitals and health centres,” Nali said. “We can train a lot of health workers and doctors but it’s like sending a mechanic to do his job without tools. “A lot of our health workers and doctors were facing challenges of delivering services because of the facilities and lack of equipment.
“They have the heart to serve the people but without the facilities they are unable to deliver services. “For us to send doctors out there without equipment – we can’t blame them.”

Judges urged to use media to talk about sorcery cases
September 12, 2019The NationalNational
JUDGES and magistrates have been asked to speak out on sorcery-related violence and not to keep such cases hidden. PNG Tribal Foundation director Ruth Kissam said majority of the population in the country were not fully aware of sorcery-related cases appearing before the courts. “We need the judges to come out and say something,” Kissam said.
“Use the media to talk about your judgements on sorcery related cases and help educate the public about the law on this issue,” she said. Kissam spoke during a panel session at the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association Conference in Port Moresby.
She outlined the work that Tribal Foundation had done as a non-government organisation (NGO) in advocating about sorcery accusation related violence and other social issues.
“There is a great need for information dissemination,” she said. “We work with the police, student volunteers and other NGOs, but we need to work with the judges and magistrates.
“Most times judges make very important statements in court that only a few people hear about and the statements go down into your files and the public know nothing about it.
“Those statements should go out to the media because that is the only way people will fully know about the law on this issue.”

Mental illness rife in PNG: Doc
September 17, 2019The National
MENTAL illnesses are rife in communities as a result of substance abuse but health facilities lack the capacity to treat them, a doctor says.
Social Change and Mental Health Services director Dr Uma Ambi said it was crucial to develop the capacity of the workforce at the level where the problem started so that early intervention could be made to prevent people getting ill.
The mental health fraternity in Port Moresby and the World Health Organisation (WHO) held a workshop last week based on the Mental health global action plan humanitarian intervention guide and the psychological first aid guide for field workers guide.
Ambi said the guide was used by WHO around the world in humanitarian interventions during natural or man–made disasters where people could develop acute stress, psychosis or depression.
She said anyone sent to a disaster area should have psychological first aid knowledge to minimise issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and grief which would develop later.
At a health facility, she said, a health worker should be able to assess and manage mental, neurological and substance abuse conditions. Therefore, the WHO guide was contextualised to suit PNG setting and master trainers were trained to visit every province and train more people in mental health.
WHO mental health technical adviser to PNG Dr Yasuko Shinozaki said alcohol and drug abuse were causing mental health issues.

Hand-outs to politicians for development purposes are being abused and need to be abolished say Catholic bishop – and many other people
MICHIGAN, USA – The District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) and Provincial Services Improvement Program (PSIP) are both valued highly by members of parliament in Papua New Guinea because they allow MPs considerable discretion in how the money is used.
For the last several years I’ve been paying particular attention to this DSIP and PSIP spending.
While DSIP and PSIP have great potential for development at the same time both programs can suck MPs into corruption.
In a good year, every one of the 111 members, including governors, receive K10 million from the government with the funds intended for development purposes in their respective districts or provinces. Some of the MP’s have used the funds well, building roads and bridges, establishing new primary and secondary schools, purchasing cell phone towers to facilitate communication, that sort of thing.
Other MP’s travel to Cairns or Brisbane and decide to use between one and five million kina to purchase a house or unit down under.
As long as the national government held the MPs accountable, the funds were used well But when the cat’s away, the mice will play.
In the 17 August 2017 issue of the Post-Courier, Gorethy Kenneth wrote a stunning article which can be summarised this way: In 2013 95 MPs acquitted their DSIP/PSIP funds; in 2014 the number dramatically dropped to 50; in 2015 another steep decline to only 30. And it gets worse: in 2016 a mere 11 MPs accounted for how they spent their K10 million.
That’s one billion kina unaccounted for.
The 31 March 2017 Post-Courier stated that in 2016 the non-reporting MPs failed to acquit K1.1 billion. And what was the consequence?

Response to Petition by Joseph Walters. – Letters to Editor Post Courier, 2nd Sept
Those who presented the petition to the Prime Minister on Monday may claim to represent churches with over a million members, but that is still a minority, and some churches, in particular the Catholic Church, would like to distance themselves from the petition and the whole approach to Christianity that the petition represents.

Jesus repeatedly warns that he did not come to bring peace and prosperity as this world understands it, but to open to us the Kingdom and eternal life with God. Jesus died poor and accursed on the Cross; the Bible does not offer us a guaranteed way to the blessings of this life, but invites us to take up our cross and follow Jesus, to set our hearts on heaven where our treasure cannot be stolen or destroyed. This true treasure is promised to us through the new covenant that God made with us through the blood of Jesus; here is our hope, and the power that draws us on.

We do not hope, therefore, in any covenant made with any group or state. We do, of course, acknowledge that the people of Israel were chosen by God long ago as a source of blessing for the world. But that blessing was Jesus the Saviour who came from them. To make a covenant with the modern state of Israel (which is not the same thing as the Biblical people of Israel) in the hope of sharing in material blessings is to reject the real gift that God. We have already received our Saviour from Israel and can expect nothing greater; it is now our turn to be a source of blessing for them as our renewed lives help them to believe in Christ (cf Romans 9-11).

Jesus fulfils the Law and the Prophets; he brings us freedom to rejoice in God for God’s sake. If we follow the Bible for the sake of anything else than being united with God, then we have worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, and we are under the yoke of the law. The Gospel can only work by bringing us freedom. The welfare of PNG does not depend on a particular Bible being enthroned in Parliament House, but on its message living in the hearts of believers.

Nor should the Bible be degraded to the status of a legal text, to be enforced through the threat of police action and prison sentences; St Paul would not have wanted disputes about its interpretation to be conducted in civil courts. The Bible is at work when it sets people free to follow God.

This country will be Christian in reality and not just in name to the extent that men and women of Gospel freedom serve in parliament and the public service. This is how churches truly influence the running of the country, not by having their pastors employed by the Government and compromised thereby. One of the failings of the kings of Israel was to have prophets who were fed at the royal table, who only prophesied good of the king (cf 1 Kings 18:19, 1 Kings 22:5-8, Amos 7:12-13).

There are many matters here that Christians must discuss in open dialogue. We urge the Prime Minister to listen to what other Christians have to say about the true blessings to come, the new and eternal covenant, the Gospel of freedom, and the high calling of pastors that demands their freedom from government office.

– Fr Joseph Vnuk, op
– Catholic Theological Institute, Bomana

Australia should lead through kindness
Fr. Giorgio Licini
Papua New Guinea is a developing country suffering from budget shortages. Still it occupies a central position among the family of nations in the Pacific. As such the government in Port Moresby and the civil society in the country should not hesitate to raise their voice regarding the current most pressing issues. Papua New Guinea stands between Australia and Indonesia when it comes to the West Papua unrest and divisions, both internal and with the central government in Jakarta, which is rejected by many. Our country is also bearing the brunt, and that way highlighting the issue of people seeking asylum and protection far from their place of birth and troubled spots of the world. Six years of Australian off-shore processing center in Manus (and Nauru), however, are leaving behind a legacy of mental health and bitterness among vulnerable people, who rather needed care and healing. The assault on natural resources also has Papua New Guinea defend its portion of last remaining rainforests on the planet and try to resist the first ever experiments of seabed mining in the world right off its coasts.
Political ambition and corporate greed pose the greatest risks to social harmony in the Pacific. The richest and biggest nation, Australia, should rather lead the region through solidarity and inclusiveness. It will not be a military basis in Manus Island to keep people like the Chinese at bay. They are equipped with financial resources and skills, clearly showing industriousness and hunger for new geographical space and financial opportunities for an immensely bigger population, and not completely abstaining from corrupt and unconventional practices to get their way into business and profit. A costly naval facility will not win the hearts and minds of smaller Pacific nations, who may still surrender their natural resources to China in exchange for ordinary budget needs. It will rather further promote the idea of a new West colonial attempt, which relies on estranged military strength rather than empowerment of local human resources and assets.
The people of the Pacific value cooperation, respect and harmonious relationships with fellow humans and the environment. If Australia wants to lead, it can only do so through compassion and kindness. Arrogance and refusal to listen will isolate the big island south, leaving the smaller ones in the vast ocean with no choice but to turn to Asia. Nobody intends to infringe on the rights and boarders of Australia; but their citizens will not be loved if their government keeps on picking on a few hundred refugees on off-shore detention centers; or if they refuse to acknowledge the negative impact of coal burning on the environment; or make access and work in their country difficult for other members of the Pacific family. A true leader supports and inspires, rather than lord it over and show muscular strength.
(PNG Catholic Reporter, September 2019)

Bougainville (John Momis – 3 part presentation)

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