Social Concerns Notes – December 2019

01 December 2019

In the National Housing Corporation corruption is rife. The stench from those who feed off the misery of evicted  Papua New Guinean families is sickening 


LAE – All the systems we put in place must serve the people. We can pull our people out from the quagmire of poor health and low literacy. We can educate more women, reduce violence, build great infrastructure, strengthen our internal and external security. We can be a learning hub for our Pacific neighbours with world class university campuses that use the research and the skills to mitigate the effects of climate change. We can pull our 10 million people out of poverty, change mindsets and build a country of wealthy families. We can build a great military that focuses on nation building and protects our national borders with pride and builds the characters of our young. The noble concepts of free health and free education can work beautifully.  We have the people, the natural resources and the means to do it. We have land enough to provide housing for all our people. We have the systems that can do it. But we can’t achieve all that if the people running the systems are selfish and corrupt. Selfishness stems from an inward looking mindset.  It puts self ahead of the rest. It prioritizes taking instead of giving. Our education system can be among the best in the world. Yet the people who run it steal from it, starving our future generations of what is theirs….

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has exposed the corruption within the National Department of Health. It exposed a department secretary who depended on and trusted bad advice by his ‘technical team.’ The PAC exposed a ring that thrived on bribes. It also showed how defective tender application documents that quoted more than K600,000 for sea and air transport for medicine deliveries in the City of Port Moresby went through.

Why would the health department choose the most expensive service providers to deliver and supply medicines, and on the other hand tell the PAC that it was trying to save a few thousand kina by not testing for the quality of drugs in Australia?

In the National Housing Corporation corruption is rife. The stench is sickening and those who feed off the misery of evicted  Papua New Guinean families walk around unpunished. They’re still doing it. Towards the end of the year is when they start issuing eviction orders again.  Don’t think we don’t know.  Their customers are foreign business owners looking for cheap properties to buy.  Documents appear legitimate and, like the health department, they are aided by NHC insiders. We can’t live like this. We can’t continue to be the butt of sarcastic jokes at diplomatic and corporate functions.  We can’t accept the corruption and continuously expect things to go wrong. We have to stand up and expose the people behind it. Name them, shame them and make them run for cover. We have to be willing to fight for our country and demand that those in positions of trust and authority do the right thing.

We can’t accept the rot and expect to continue living life in a cocoon.

Hospital out of drugs for 10 months

December 3, 2019The National Main Stories

THE Kaugere Urban Clinic in Port Moresby has been facing a shortage of medicine for more than 10 months, forcing it to buy supplies from pharmacies and resell to patients at a reduced price. Clinic administrator Josephine Mamis told the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the procurement, supply and distribution of medicine that from September last year to July this year, the clinic had no medicine supply and had to give 50 to 60 patients prescriptions daily. “Sometimes we would use our own money to buy medicine for those we knew could not afford to. “And sometimes we bought medicines from the pharmacies and resold them at half price to help our patients,” Mamis said.
“We placed orders with the Area Medical Store but every time we followed up during those 10 months, we were told there was no supply in stock.” Mamis said they needed to raise funds to purchase medicine for patients. “We have patients from Moresby South and other parts of Port Moresby, including some from as far as Central and Gulf,” she said.
Mamis said the clinic finally received a supply of medicine in July this year. “But again it wasn’t really a full order. “The 100 per cent medical kits have also been supplied twice.
“However, we do not need most of the items in the medical kits so we donate it to other clinics in the city,” she said. Mamis said the clinic faced a shortage of basic medicines such as amoxicillin, septrin, panadol and salbutamol.

Bougainville Votes and Prays for Independence

08 December 2019

LEANNE JORARI -| The Guardian | The Pacific Project

BUKA – In the coastal town of Buka a solemn procession of people makes its way from the Catholic church to Bel Isi park, where worshippers kneel before a makeshift cross. There is one subject that dominates the prayers in Bougainville today. “We are gathered here this morning in Bel Isi Park to ask you to bless the referendum. May it be peaceful and successful,” says the priest. Besides those at the ceremony, the town is almost deserted. A handful of taxi boats float next to the closed market. The vessels have brought families dressed in their Sunday best for church from other parts of Buka Island. Bernadine Perekai from Haku crossed the Buka Channel with her two sons to attend the mass. “In Bougainville, all our hope is in God.” She says. “We believe he created our land and us, so our lives and our future are in his hands.” The quiet streets and sombre procession are a stark contrast to scenes in this park the day before, which is the polling booth for Buka town, in a long-awaited referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea. Cars beeped their horns in the streets, as crowds – singing, dancing, cheering and playing pan flutes – followed the region’s president John Momis, to the polling booth to watch him as he cast the first vote in the referendum. “I’m very happy that my dream to empower people in a way that is democratically appropriate has been achieved,” said Momis, emerging from the polling booth with arms raised. “It’s obvious that the people are now in the mood for celebration and I join them as they have every right to celebrate.” This vote has been 20 years in the making, promised to the people of Bougainville as part of a peace deal reached in 2001, which marked the end of a brutal decade-long civil war that saw an estimated 20,000 out of the region’s 200,000 people killed. Over the course of two weeks more than 206,000 Bougainvilleans, living in the region, on mainland PNG, in Australia and the Solomon Islands, had their chance to vote to decide whether they wish Bougainville to remain within PNG but with “greater autonomy” or whether the voters will mark “box two” and opt to create an independent state.

Alcohol leads to 70 per cent of accidents: N’dranou

December 12, 2019 The National

ACCORDING to a police report, 70 per cent of accidents that they attend to in Port Moresby were all alcohol related problems, National Capital District Met Supt Perou N’dranou says.
“A lot of clashes we attended to, especially in the outskirts of the city where people fighting, burning houses and killing each other is alcohol related,” N’dranou said. “It seems that people cannot live together with little or no consideration because of bad behaviour and poor attitudes.” He said violence also flared around celebrations, holidays or major sports events such as the State of Origin games. The St John Ambulance service which attended to several incidents reported that most were alcohol related.

Victims of crime: 10 officers attacked in Madang over 24 months

For the past 12 months, the media’s attention has focused on Madang, not as a tourist destination, but as a hotspot for crime. At Jomba station, where the provincial headquarters is located, Provincial Police Commander, Manuc Rubian, reveals that the crime statistics are worrying. A lot of it stems from widespread alcohol abuse and a general breakdown in law and order. “In a month, we get between 50 and 60 alcohol related crimes,” he says. “It’s not just the adults who are drinking ‘homebrew.’ It’s kids as well. And when they drink, they don’t stay at home. They go out on the road and start harassing people.” But it is not just the citizens of Madang who are bearing the brunt of this surge in crime. Being on the frontline, police officers are also being targeted by criminals and opportunists. Up to 10 policemen in Madang have been attacked in the last 24 months. Their situation is compounded by a critical housing shortage that remained largely unaddressed for a decade.

 “For 10 years, I lived with my in-laws at the Nagada settlement. People broke into my house and later when we tried to address the problem, I was attacked. It was difficult for my family. We had to move around a lot,” says Senior Constable Solomon William, the taskforce commander in Madang. He was later moved from a settlement where he resided to a condemned house at the Kusbau Police Barracks. Outside, Constable John Solala, a taskforce member shows the injuries he got when he was attacked earlier this month. His head is still bandaged and he shows the tear in the uniform where his attackers tried to stab him with a sharp bamboo. But it didn’t stop there. His daughter and wife were also threatened days after he was attacked. At Nagada settlement, Constable Tika Aso, shows the scars from an attack earlier this year when he was stabbed and slashed by a mob after he and two other officers tried to arrest troublemakers drunk on steam at a school graduation. “I was lucky that I was wearing a vest and the knife did not go through as far as it could have. I was cut on the hand and the face and I received several stitches. We were outnumbered.”

About two weeks after the attack on Constable John Solala, another constable, Franko Horake, was stabbed the Mildas Market about 100 meters behind the Provincial Police Headquarters and the Madang Governor’s office. Constable Horake later died in hospital and his death triggered a police raid on the Wagol settlement whose residents were accused of harboring the suspects.

 “We can’t stop work,” says Senior Constable Solomon William. “We are supposed to work for eight hours a day. But we know, that’s not going to happen. We work up to 16 hours a day. If we don’t do it, who will? “We have people willing to work. All we need are good vehicles, fuel, a boat, housing and additional manpower.”

Deactivation of mobile phones in Papua New Guinea imminent written by Amanda H A Watson

The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has this week declined to answer questions asked of it regarding the SIM card registration regulation of 2016. The direct impact of this court hearing is that unregistered SIM cards currently in use in mobile phones around the country will likely be deactivated in coming days. A recent news article suggested that 40% of SIM cards in use are unregistered. Unless the regulator, the National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA), grants the users of these unregistered SIM cards additional time, these people will find themselves no longer able to make phone calls, send text messages and so on.

The judges conferred amongst themselves and then announced that they had decided to decline to give an opinion on the three questions put to them. They said that the questions have no immediate relevance to circumstances in PNG.

The outcome of this court hearing could have a very real impact on the many people who live in rural and remote communities across PNG, where mobile phones provide the only available form of communication. There is now no legal impediment to NICTA imposing the regulation, which means that telecommunication companies will face large fines if there are unregistered SIM cards in use. Deactivation of SIM cards in the days before Christmas seems likely. I hope that NICTA will choose to grant additional time for SIM card registration.

Capital punishment in PNG

23 December 2019 | DevPolicy Blog

PORT MORESBY – Capital punishment is a sensitive issue in Papua New Guinea. While laws have been put in place to introduce the death penalty, they have not been used.

In July 2019, prime minister James Marape said the PNG Parliament would continue to debate whether the death penalty is maintained in the criminal code. The last execution in PNG was carried out in 1954. In 1970, the Australian government completely abolished the death penalty in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

The death penalty was reintroduced in parliament on 28 August 1991 as an amendment to the Criminal Code 1974 (Consolidated to No 12 of 1993), specifically for wilful murder.

This was in response to worsening law and order problems, including a high rate of violent crimes particularly rape and murder. Despite opposition to the death penalty and the bill introduced by then prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu, then justice minister the late Sir Bernard Narokobi and a few other parliamentary leaders, it passed into law with 48 members of the parliament voting in favour and 19 against; 42 members were absent.

In 2013, the government amended the Criminal Code Act (Amendment No 6 of 2013) by introducing three additional forms of serious crimes punishable by death, namely killings related to accusations of sorcery (section 299A), aggravated rape (section 347C), and robbery (section 386). The amendments were made in response to rising levels of crimes in these categories.

Despite these amendments, no executions have actually been carried out in PNG. However, in 2015 it was reported that cabinet had endorsed guidelines for the implementation of the death penalty. Internationally, PNG has consistently voted against or abstained from UN General Assembly resolutions calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Currently, there are 16 people on death row in PNG.

The PNG Council of Churches has stated that the death penalty is not a solution and other means must be considered by the government to deter crimes. Churches have argued that PNG is a Christian country, and such laws are against biblical principles.

Whatever one’s views on capital punishment, experience suggests that the death penalty is not a real option in PNG. It can be introduced on paper, but not in reality.

Other ways need to be found to deter serious crimes.

After years of struggling, Nautilus officially went bankrupt as of last month, leaving the Government of PNG K81.5 million in debt.

Nautilus Minerals officially sinks, shares still trading

Nautilus Minerals, one of the world’s first seafloor miners, officially went bankrupt this week, its court-appointed monitor, Price Waterhouse Cooper reported.

Nautilus filed for protection from its debts in a Canadian Court in February 2019. The company tried to restructure but it failed to find any buyers for its assets. In August 2019, court approval was obtained for creditors to liquidate the company to get back a fraction of what they were owed. In the process, nautilus has left the papua new guinea government facing a debt equivalent to one-third of the country’s annual health budget

The Vancouver-based company was trying to develop its Solwara 1 deep sea gold, copper and silver project, off the coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG), but the project was plagued with community opposition and financial setbacks.

Vergil Narokobi Elected as Judge

Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Christmas of unity and courage

Fr. Giorgio Licini

The people of Bougainville went the polls over the past few weeks to choose between independence and a greater autonomy. It is a new chapter in a long lasting search for identity and their own journey as a community, possibly as a nation. It is the duty of every individual and every group to define a purpose and a path, to offer a positive contribution, to live, grow and die living behind things a bit better than the way they were found.

More generally, it may help looking back at the end of the year at our weaknesses and our strengths, the successful stories and the failures, the achievements and the broken promises. December is a month full of inspiration and hope. Not only schools close down and the students take a bit of rest and some celebrate their graduation, but everybody looks at Christmas and a few days of holiday as a new start inspired by the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Papua New Guinea witnessed a change in government and the emerging of new leaders this year. As expected, this was accompanied by great hope in renewed attitudes and policies especially at the level of the country’s political leadership: honest and effective planning of projects and administration of funds; stamping out of corruption; more equal distribution of resources and improvement of services for the remote areas; housing for the poor and the middle class, and not only wide roads for Port Moresby; final departure of all asylum seekers and refugees so unwisely brought into Papua New Guinea by Australia in 2013, and subject to indescribable psychological torture and medical neglect.

At Christmas we celebrate being a community and a family. This can only be seen in an effort for unity, cooperation, solidarity, mutual support, forgiveness, and closeness of individual and groups. The possible birth of Bougainville as a nation highlights the common longing for independence and respect. It should also guaranty a more meaningful dialogue and cooperation with the already existing nations in the same area of the Pacific, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, for the good of individuals and communities who have so much in common.

Our Catholic Bishops Conference, which extends from Daru and Kiunga (PNG) to Auki (SI) through Bougainville, will certainly continue to think and to act beyond barriers and boundaries. To all Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2020!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s