Social Concerns Notes – March 2021

Rise in marijuana consumption worrying

March 3, 2021The NationalLetters

There has been a spike in marijuana sale and consumption nationwide and it’s starting to become a norm.
Marijuana is prevalent throughout our nation.
The trade and usage of marijuana is surging and many of our communities have been riddled with youths and few older folks consuming it as normal cigarettes.
This is alarming and scary.
One usual place in which the drug is sold and smoked openly is at Port Moresby’s Unagi Oval in Gordon.
Smoking, buying and selling of this illicit drug has been ongoing with people not bothered about it.
Even the police in civilian clothes turn a blind eye when seeing drug addicts smoking openly. This trend shows a clear sign of moral decay.

Maru Igabi

One Nation, One people of God

Funeral Mass for Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare

Rosemary Yambune and Abigail Seta

Port Moresby: A Requiem Mass was held at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium to honour and celebrate the life of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare on Friday, 12th March 2021. It had the theme: ‘One nation, one people of God.’

The stadium was packed to capacity with several thousands of Papua New Guineans, each braved the scorching sun for long hours to bid farewell to the founding father of the nation. The mood was somber and people chatted in low tones while the 500 strong special choir formed of representatives from the different parishes sang under the baton of Peter Kakao. The harmonious singing rendered praise and thanks to God and set the stage for the liturgical celebrations to follow. School students from various secondary schools in Port Moresby assembled on the lawn right in the middle of the stadium, each holding the PNG flag high.

Celebrating the Mass was Cardinal Sir John Ribat MSC, Archbishop of Port Moresby together with 11 Bishops as concelebrants. Masters of Ceremonies were Dadi Toka Jnr Chairman of the Motu Koita Assembly and Deputy Governor for National Capital District with Mr Samson Kaipu as the Funeral Mass Commentator.

At the start of the mass, the grand chief’s casket was escorted into the stadium by the PNG Defense Force as they solemnly played requiem tunes on their bagpipes. The entrance procession consisted of the pall bearers who carried the casket behind the Cardinal and the bishops into the stadium to commence the Eucharistic celebration. Cardinal Ribat then laid the bible on the casket that was already draped in the black, red and gold flag of Papua New Guinea.

In his homily, Cardinal Ribat highlighted the readings of the day. “The readings perfectly illustrate for us who Sir Michael Thomas Somare was and also provide a splendid summary of the life of our founding Prime Minister, the husband, loving father and a friend to many”, he said. The Cardinal spoke of the joy and enthusiasm with which he lived out his faith. “He was not only involved in the political space, but also lived out his faith in his daily life”, he said.

Connecting the gospel (Jn 17:4-8, 18-21) to the life of the late Grand Chief, the Cardinal said that he had found Sir Michael as a man of integrity and faith. “He was the salt and light for this nation and other nations, he never concealed his faith in Jesus Christ and his death helps us to promote public discourse”. The Cardinal stressed on the aspect of the unity of all people and that the life of Sir Michael should help us all to overcome divisions. “We lower our flags, we pray, we bow our heads in search of a thing, anything that might unite us”, he said.

The offertory procession was led by the New Guinea Islands dancers. Symbolic gifts from the different provinces of Papua New Guinea and the Council of Churches were then presented to the Cardinal. Following the solemn consecration Eucharistic ministers fanned out for the distributed the Holy Eucharist to Catholics across the stands.

The eulogy of the late Grand Chief was then read by his daughter, Dulciana Somare-Brush. She beautifully highlighted the highs and lows of her father’s life, stressing: Fidelity to Country, Fidelity to community and Fidelity to family and marriage… .

Covid-19 is real, take it seriously

March 8, 2021 The National Editorial

The best defence to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the coronavirus is to strictly follow all Covid-19 health protocols.
The Covid-19 is real.
It knows no boundary and does not discriminate.
The Government last year imposed a lockdown, followed by a state of emergency, in its effort to have an isolation strategy so authorities could pinpoint if the virus was present after the first breach of security.
The Government, last March 24, declared a 14-day partial lockdown after the first coronavirus case was confirmed on March 20.
The purpose of the lockdown was to allow the Government to assess and put in place mechanisms to control and prevent any further spreading of the virus.
The announcement then caused confusion, anxiety and fear among the public with many describing the directive as harsh despite the restrictions being more relaxed compared to the lockdown but it had to be done.
The fight to contain the Covid-19 pandemic is global.
All nations are working together on this.
It was for everyone’s benefit that these measures were put in place – from social distancing to getting into crowded areas and the simplest reminder of personal hygiene.
The message of practicing hand hygiene (wash your hands regularly with soap and water), respiratory hygiene (cover your cough) and social distancing as a prevention measure was the new rule.
At one time…
Two glaring areas of concern that popped up during the state of emergency was the need to disseminate accurate information in order to maintain order and for people to remain calm.
How we communicate about the Covid-19 is critical in supporting people to take effective action to help combat the disease and to avoid fuelling fear and stigma.
Another was the failing health facilities and system.
PNG does not have the capacity to deal with this virus if there is an outbreak.
PNG has less than 500 doctors and less than 3,000 nurses for a population well above 8 million.
We, have, in place, the “Niupela Pasin” document which is the new way of living that makes basic hygiene and safe distancing a part of our new culture – as individuals, as families and as communities.
It means adopting behaviors and actions that are consistently practiced to reduce risk of the Covid-19 and other infectious disease.
It involves a society where people take responsibility for their own health and their families.

Sand mining proposal defeated

08 March 2021

PORT MORESBY – A controversial plan by the Singapore based Powerplus Group to mine sand along a 38 kilometre stretch of coastline in Madang has been defeated.

The government regulator, the Mineral Resource Authority (MRA), has written to mining opponents informing them of the withdrawal of the mine exploration application. This comes after the application met with strong opposition from local communities and environmentalists and concern from tourism operators.

Local people accused the MRA of having been co-opted by the mining company and hurriedly forcing through a consultation process without allowing local communities to have their voices heard.
Communities were worried they would have to relocate their homes and lose valuable fishing rights which they rely on for food and income.

There were also fears for the endangered leatherback turtles that nest along the coastline and the future of the Karkum Conservation Area.
Community opposition to the mining plan and the potential impacts gained national and international media attention.
The background of the company and business people involved were the focus of two investigative reports by the anti-corruption initiative PNGi.
Locals were also supported by former chief justice and politician Sir Arnold Amet, who is from Madang.
Amet had promised to support court action to challenge the MRA approval process.
According to the MRA, the amount of negative publicity generated by the mining proposal “caused the parent company to review its position” and withdraw its application.

Block access to porn sites

March 9, 2021 The National Letters

PAPUA New Guinea is a Christian country and we have a strong cultural taboo on obscenity and explicit content. Obscenity in our societies is becoming a norm.
As a result, kids in primary school now have easy access to porn via their smartphones.
It is polluting their minds. This is bad as they are the future minds of this country.
From that, we can see they type of generation we will have in the future. We had a lot of sex crimes committed in the last couple of months.
I call on the Government block access to porn just as Muslim countries are doing to save our future generations.

Patex Lukas,

Speed up corruption investigations

March 16, 2021The National Letters

Heads of public institutions should be held accountable for everything that goes on within their organizations.
If an alleged corrupt act is exposed, the employer (State) should investigate the head without hesitation.
This does not happen in most cases due to the intertwined bureaucratic responsibilities executed corruptly by a network of cohorts who delay the outcomes of investigations to frustrate the concluding process to the National Executive Council.
The scapegoat is always the suspected whistle-blowers who are terminated for no cause. There should be a disciplinary watchdog unit created at the Prime Minister’s Department to crack the whip on agencies such as the Department of Personnel Management, Public Service Commission and Department of Justice and Attorney-General to speed up investigations on any pending allegations of misconduct against a head of a government agency.
By mid next week when normalcy returns, the Public Service minister will be under the spotlight to crack the whip on his department and the Public Service Commission for delaying the termination of certain political cohorts of the previous government.

New website reveals secrets of the loggers

24 March 2021

PNGi Forests

PORT MORESBY – For more than 25 years, deep in the remote and inaccessible tropical forests of Papua New Guinea, a huge industrial complex has been operating.
Foreign owned companies have been bulldozing tracks, felling huge trees, cutting logs and dragging them to the coast to be loaded onto ships and sent overseas.
According to official records, since 1993 at least 78 million cubic meters of unprocessed logs, with a declared value of around K28 billion, have been exported from the forests of PNG.

It is an industry that has attracted much criticism. Rampant corruption was first laid bare in the seminal Barnett Commission of Inquiry, but a new Forestry Act that followed did little to stem the tide.

Allegations of illegal logging, human rights abuses, violence, trespass, environmental damage and unsustainable logging have all be born out in numerous court cases, published reports and even television documentaries; but nothing seemingly has ever changed.

More than 150 different companies have been involved in the plunder. Some of them, like Rimbunan Hijau and WTK have become household names, but most remain anonymous and unknown.

Who are the companies that have been involved in the industrial logging of PNG forests? Where have they operated? How much timber have they exported? And on what legal basis?

These are all questions that until now have had no answer; the anonymity of the logging industry is one factor that has allowed it to operate with impunity. But a new online forest portal, PNGi Forests, changes that.

The new portal combines data collected from a number of different sources shines a light on PNG’s industrial logging industry.

PNGi Forests, which you can link to here, allows the user to search and filter information on logging companies, their ownership, their logging operations and their exports.

Lack of funds forces hospital to scale down operations

March 23, 2021The NationalNational

The Western Highlands health authority does not have enough funds to support its normal operations, says an official.
Acting chief executive officer Jane Holden said the Mt Hagen General Hospital closed most outpatient services and by Wednesday (tomorrow) hope to reduce inpatients from 250 beds to 100.
Holden said the hospital had been working on this for 10 days and currently have 138 patients.
This excludes the Covid-19 isolation beds.
Holden said the cuts applied to drugs and medical supplies meant they were being asked to buy the increasing volumes of the supplies and drugs.
She said if the hospital gets funding, they will try and maintain a service at 80-100 beds, if not, they will need to close.

Priests hospitalized after group of rascals broke into their house

March 23, 2021The NationalNational

Three Catholic priests have been hospitalized after a mob allegedly broke into their house and attacked them in Milne Bay last Thursday morning, Southern Region commander acting assistant commissioner Negi Riga said.
“The mob entered their house in Alotau at about 1am with guns and knives and attacked them. They also ransacked their house and escaped with valuable items,” he said.
“The priests are admitted to the Alotau General Hospital and are recovering.”
Riga said he has not received full details yet and is not aware of the motive behind the attack on the priests.
Meanwhile Alotau MP Charles Abel also posted on his Facebook page confirming the attack on the priests.
According to sources in Alotau, more than 30 suspects had broken into the house and assaulted the priests.
“Prior to the attack on the priests’ house, this mob also attempted to attack the Alotau Police Station but police open fired at them and they escaped,” Riga said.
“They then unleashed their frustration at the priests and attacked them.
“The priests’ house is about 50 meters away from the police station.”

Nurturing vital, says Dr. Ambi

March 23, 2021The NationalMain Stories

The increasing number of sexual abuse of minors reported in Papua New Guinea is a concern and it goes back to the upbringing of the perpetrators, an official says.
Directorate of Social Change and Mental Health acting director Dr. Uma Ambi said there were many ways of looking at the causes of such abuse.
She said to perform the act abuse on minors depended on ones choices, the person’s choices which could be influenced by other activities the perpetrator engaged in such as watching or viewing pornographic materials.
“It always depends on the person’s (perpetrator) upbringing which includes his or her home and family, peers, culture and the environment,” Dr. Ambi said.
“It may also depend on the person’s sexual desires.
“Some choose to do that because they have issues in their upbringing.”
Dr. Ambi said the perpetrators in these abuse cases were bad people (man or woman).
“The person (perpetrator) is sick, physically sick or psychologically sick,” she said.
“These are people with psychological and personality disorders.”
Dr. Ambi said these people were not mentally ill because people with mental illness could not do that.
“It has nothing to do with mental illness – it’s to do with their personality and their intensions (motives) and what they want to gain out of doing this,” she said.
Dr. Ambi said it all came down to morality and a person’s principles.
She said ultimately each family had to take the responsibility and parents needed to ensure that children were raised in the right way.

Allow women to prosper

March 9, 2021 The National Letters

IT is unimaginable and disturbing that the space for women to thrive is still shrinking despite the evangelical zeal for equal opportunities, justice and fairness.
The progress that has been made in opening up environments that nurture and cultivate women’s emancipation is still questionable.
From political arena, company directorships, science and technology to business and leadership, the representations of women are still far too low than should be.
Women’s full and effective participations and leadership in all areas of life drives progress for everyone.
Women in developed countries or developing countries are still facing some man-made insurmountable obstacles which prevent them from unlocking their potentials.
In some countries women are still oppressed on the pretext of traditions and culture.
They experience rape, forced marriage, genital mutilations and lack of access to education.
It is also a disgraceful that gender stereotypes are often used to justify violence against women.
Everyone should be involved in creating environment where women flourish.

Handsen Chikowore,
United Kingdom

People Displaced  by Flood

#pngnews #looppng #tvwannews

More than 50 people have been displaced after floods destroyed their homes and gardens at Tiri Village, Ialibu-Pangia District in Southern Highlands Province.

Community leader, Julius Kimba, said the continuous rainfall caused the River Mambu to flood, covering the houses and gardens along the river bank and locals who live along the Mambu River have lost much of their food gardens, homes and the footbridge.

The recent disaster has further worsened the situation on ground as Siwi-Utame has been lacking basic government services for years.
Kimba said it gets very difficult to reach out for assistance when natural disasters hit them.

Meanwhile, community leaders at Tiri are appealing to the Southern Highlands Provincial Disaster Office and the Ialibu-Pangia District Development Authority to provide relief to the displaced people.

Youth need role models, lecturer says

March 8, 2021 The National Education

YOUNG people who waste their time on social media or on the streets tend to find purpose if they have a role model to look up to, a university lecturer says.
“Every human being has the potential to do something great with their lives and if young people find their purposes or are directed to the right path, they will do something great that will contribute to the country’s development,” John Kaupa Kamasua, social works strand leader and lecturer at the University of PNG, who is leading a book project that has a collection of successful stories of Papua New Guineans, said.
The book, Eight million possibilities, compiles stories of triumph and excellence from Papua New Guineans around the country and abroad.
Kamasua said he came up with the idea to start the book project in 2018.
He said story collections had been done and a committee was set up.
“The aim of the project is to change the mindset of people because when people change, the society change and that would ease a lot of social problems that we face,” Kamasua said.
“Story telling is still considered as one of the most effective ways of bringing across messages, inspiring people and selling ideas or concepts.
“A child from remote Karamui, Telefomin, Kaintiba or Baining will read the stories from the book and be inspired.
“A youth completing college or university education will read the stories and see themselves doing something with their lives, by developing confidence and self-belief.
“Everyone’s life is a gift that is meant to be shared with others.”
Kamasua said success stories of Papua New Guineans would have more impact if they were shared to the younger generations.

PPC: Cops facing rape charges

March 9, 2021 The National Main Stories


SIX policemen are under investigation for allegedly kidnapping and raping a 27-year-old woman in Western’s Daru last Tuesday, Acting South Fly commander Sr Insp Ewai Segi says.
“The policemen allegedly took the woman from the Samari settlement at about 9pm to the back of the airport where she was raped,” he said.
“The woman has already lodged a police report against the policemen. They will be dealt with criminally and administratively upon the conclusion of the investigations.
“The Daru police station commander and the Office-in-Charge of Internal Investigation Unit were instructed last week to conduct a thorough investigation because the case is now of public concern and interest.”
Sr Insp Segi said the case was about individual policemen going rogue and tarnishing the image of the force.
“They will have to be dealt with individually,” he said.

Police: Crime rate rising

March 23, 2021The NationalMain Stories

CRIME rate in Madang is apparently rising fast because police visibility has dropped during the weekends because police vehicles have been locked up by the Madang district officer.
Police officers told The National that they felt unsafe and it was risky to respond to night calls of armed robberies and burglaries even just a few metres from the police station.
A police officer said the vehicles that were donated to Madang police were taken away and locked up at the Madang district office.
“I thought the vehicles belonged to the police because the money that were used to buy the vehicles were from the people and not our local MP’s personal money,” he said.
“If he says that the vehicles are overused, he should help the police service the vehicles and not take them all to his office when the crime rate in Madang is deteriorating fast.”
A resident in the New Town area said burglaries were becoming a daily and nightly nightmare.

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