Social Concerns Notes – April 2021

Mental Health Concerns

April 20, 2021The National  

Chairman of the Directorate of Social Change and Mental Health Services (DSCMHS) board Cardinal Sir John Ribat, MSC and DSCMHS acting director Dr. Uma Ambi during the introduction of the board members and members of the mental health tribunal to the mental health fraternity last week. – Picture supplied by LULU MARK
Rising mental health problems and illnesses have placed Papua New Guinea (PNG) in a dilemma that needed immediate solutions, Health Minister Jelta Wong says.
“Currently, mental health services coverage in PNG is low, but mental health disorders and traumatic effects are increasing drastically in homes, schools, and communities, particularly in a fast-growing populace,” he said.
“The imbalance is not healthy for our young developing nation.”
Wong spoke at the introduction of the new board members of the directorate of social change and mental health services, members of the mental health tribunal, and the mental health fraternity last week.
“More than 50 percent of the country’s population of 10 million are children (who) are valuable assets of any country’s development and ought to be protected psychologically to develop well into mentally healthy adults who contribute to nation-building in one way or another, directly or indirectly,” he said.
“A mentally healthy workforce and society are vital for high work productivity in workplaces and schools.
“We must accept the truth that mental and behavioral disorders are common, affecting people sometime in their life.
“One in four families is likely to have one member with a behavioral or mental disorder.
“It is important to understand that identifying, diagnosing, and treating mental disorders are unique.”
Wong said last year’s World Mental Health Day theme was “Mental health for all, greater investments, greater access”, which the Government supported unconditionally.

Council of Churches launch Prayer plan

April 14, 2021,The National Main Stories.

MEMBERS of the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches (PNGCC) have started a 21-day prayers and fasting program in response to the Covid-19 surge in the country.

According to the council, the program started early this week.
Council acting chairman Cardinal Sir John Ribat has appealed to Christians, church congregations, fellowship groups and church institutions to join the church leaders in observing the 21-day in prayer and fasting period.
“This is a time we can all unite together as people of God to face a life-threatening challenge of the world with our theme for meditation during the 21-day prayers and fasting based on Isaiah 40: 31,” Cardinal Sir John said.
He said people should use this time to reflect on the challenges faced by many families and individuals affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Cardinal Sir John said it was evident that many people, living during the time of the pandemic, needed prayers to overcome their negative emotions created by fear, stigma and other causes and to develop a positive mindset by drawing closer to God who was the only hope and source of life in the face of a global pandemic.

“But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed,” he said. Cardinal Sir John said some churches under the Body of Christ alliance had begun their 21-day prayer and fasting program on holy Thursday.

Foreign land grab disaster in Pomio

24 April 2021,

Paul Pavlo warned his people of what would happen, but they did not listen.


POMIO The people of West Pomio in East New Britain Province lost most of their land and forest under the controversial, government-backed, Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) scheme.

Today, eight years after a Commission of Inquiry condemned the SABL program, there are still a number of active schemes in the West Pomio area with Malaysian logging conglomerate Rimbunan Hijau the major player in logging and promised oil palm.
It is only now that the people of West Pomio are feeling the real consequences of the wrong decisions made 10 years ago and of what problems they invited into their communities.
People enjoyed the first three years of logging from 2010-13, when they were receiving payments from export royalties.
In those days, I mostly stood alone and was shamed for fighting the corrupt land dealings.
Meanwhile, around me newly-monied people were drinking alcohol into the night, something never seen before. Now everyone is back to much less than square one.
The Asians have distanced themselves, married local girls and live a high standard of life. The local resource owners have been abandoned.
The promises of water, electricity and other developments have not been fulfilled.
The government-funded road from Palmalmal to Mu and Pomai villages is not maintained and has not been upgraded as promised.
Environmental issues have now become a grave concern for the local people…

Text Box: A bulldozer flattens the eath where a forest once stood

Social issues have also escalated to levels never seen before. Drug and substance abuse is on the rise and there is now a cultivation and trade in drugs in the oil palm camps.  Consumption of home brew is also on the rise…
 Other issues include non-payment of compensation to injured workers.
After the Commission of Inquiry found the SABL leases were illegal, the government promised to cancel them and restore stolen land to the customary landowners. Those were empty promises, just like the promises of the logging and oil palm companies.
In West Pomio we are suffering the consequences of the Papua New Guinea government’s ongoing collusion with foreign companies.

Paul Pavol is a land rights advocate and fought to reclaim his and his people’s land appropriated by the government-backed and court-condemned Special Agriculture Business Lease. In 2016, Paul was awarded the Alexander Soros Foundation Award for Environmental and Human Rights Activism for fighting to protect and reclaim his community’s land.

Address GBV, honour legacy

April 13, 2021, The National

PARLIAMENTARIANS met on March 23 united to end gender-based violence (GBV) and to honour the nation’s founding father Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare’s legacy and vision on equal, just, unified, and peaceful Papua New Guinea.
“As elected members of parliament, we commit to using our political platforms to promote women in leadership positions in our country, particularly parliament,” Parliamentary GBV committee co-chairman and National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop said at the meeting in Port Moresby.
“Women are leading change everywhere in our country.
“Why are they not in Parliament?”
Parkop said women leaders in Parliament would bring PNG together to address the ongoing scourge of violence against girls and women.
“Violence has continued to hurt us all,” he said.
“We commit to stand beside our sisters, to make room for them at the table of national governance, and to play our role in voicing their needs in a parliament that is currently void of their presence.”
Co-chairman and East Sepik Governor Allan Bird said: “As the 2022 elections near, we commit to working with our brother MPs to balance our next Parliament with the equal inclusion of women’s voices.
“I call on all PNG citizens to honor Sir Michael by continuing his legacy and achieving his dream of equality, one people, one nation, united under God.”
Committee chairman and Alotau MP Charles Abel said: “As a first step, we need reserved seats for women immediately.”

Punishments should be reasonable

April 19, 2021The National Letters     

Kukum (Morning Cloud)

The enforcement of the emergency orders vested on the National Pandemic Response Controller’s office by the Constitution is abused by rogue cops and officers.
The citizens have the right to protection of law under section 37 of the constitution.
They should not be punished with punishments that are not described under law.
This is not happening because people are reluctant to abide the emergency orders. Ordering people to do push-ups and hugging the opposite sex in public places is uncalled for. The application of law should be clear. People who break the law have rights and deserve to be treated with dignity.
That’s why punishments for breaking the law shouldn’t degrade someone’s dignity.

The emergency orders should be reviewed and law enforcers should do right by the people.

Justine Pendene,
UPNG Law Student

Debate needed about polygamy

April 1, 2021 The National Letters

POLYGAMOUS marriages happen in custom-oriented societies in the world.
Polygamy is the practice of marrying multiple spouses.
When a man is married to more than one wife at the same time, sociologists call it polygamy.
When a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry.
A marriage including multiple husbands and wives is a group marriage.
The term refers to a man or woman having multiple wives/husbands depending on their local norms.
Papua New Guinea is no exception. It is an accepted norm where a man can marry more than one wife. There are no restrictions on the law.
In the West, marriage is strictly monogamous, which means there is only one husband for one wife.
Marrying more than one wife is a crime of bigamy. There are strict rules regarding marriages in countries such as Australia, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom.
Polygamy is alien to the West. If someone wants to remarry, that person has to divorce the first wife or husband.
That person cannot remarry if he/she is still married to the first spouse. This system of divorce and remarriage is known as serial monogamy. Any child born outside of the family is considered illegitimate. Property succession laws recognize the legitimate child in the family in an event of the death of the father. Illegitimate children are excluded and not considered in property distribution…
(To continue, refer to:

James Litai,

Citizens urged to protect themselves

By Carmella Gware
15:13, April 6, 2021


A bleak picture was painted of Morobe’s health landscape by nurses and health extension officers, who are overworked, lack resources and manpower but are forced to work in inadequate, cramped facilities.

With doctors standing down from their jobs at the ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital, the COVID-19 hospital lacking emergency drugs and other critical medical supplies, the Nurses Association Morobe president, Siling Awasa, is urging citizens to protect themselves against the virus.
She outlined that sunlight (heat) contributes to the healing of multiple health conditions, including severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Eat a lot of fruits, garden food, do small exercises around your house and steam – steam every day,” she said.
Awasa stated that with COVID-19 having a general protein and fatty layer, high temperature destroys the structure. This is why COVID-19 patients steam themselves on a daily basis.

She stressed on taking precautionary measures before the virus attaches itself to an individual’s lungs.
Meantime, the nurses and HEOs are looking forward to an audience with the Morobe Provincial Health Authority on Wednesday, the 7th of April. If they are not satisfied with the outcome of the gathering, an ultimatum will be issued that may include them stopping work as well.

 Introduce food subsidy policy, (reduce crime)

April 19, 2021The National Letters

PAPUA New Guinea is known for its petty crimes.
Criminal activities such as pick-pocketing, breaking and entering and shoplifting are prevalent in our towns and cities. This paints a bad image of the country. We need to understand what triggers such activities.
They don’t just happen because a person has bad intentions to ruin someone else’s life. Many steal in order to survive. That’s why the Government should subsidies food.
When people have sufficient food, they won’t need to steal.
Majority of the Papua New Guinean households do not have balanced meals a day.
The average Papua New Guinean would be able to afford a balanced diet on a daily basis only if the prices of basic foods are low. The country needs to implement a food subsidy policy now.
I don’t think people will need to steal if rice can be bought at a lower price.
Subsidizing food works for others countries and can work for us as well. The Government can conduct a nationwide research to gather views of its citizens about food consumption.
Let’s try it out.

Maru Igabi

(PNG Family Health) Association revives operations to address issues

April 21, 2021 The National

THE Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) has revived its operations in East New Britain to help address issues affecting the people.
“We will need to have a good working relationship with the governments and other stakeholders to advocate health-related issues afflicting communities,” association executive director Michael Selani said yesterday.
“We are focusing on issues of sexual reproductive health, family planning, gender-based violence and other issues affecting communities.
“We have a health clinic in Kokopo that is providing sexual reproductive health services and also a youth centre that is specifically for the young to access information on various issues that they face.
“We believe our youths need a safe space to access safe information and services but we are facing challenges and cultural barriers.
“We are trying to work with community leaders, institutions and the government to try to convince them that the issues need to be transparent and be discussed openly at community, district and the provincial levels.
“Only then the people can access the information and the services that they need.
“We also want to work with stakeholders, such as police so that we can convince leaders and the people that we care for their welfare.”
Selani said the range of issues affecting communities in East New Britain were unwanted pregnancies, peer pressure, family problems, rape and incest and many others that needed immediate attention.

Focus on Rural Areas

April 13, 2021The National Letters

IT is a dream for all rural communities around the country to have permanent classrooms, health centers, church buildings, bridges, roads, and other infrastructure developments.
But those dreams and wishes are never achieved due to the failure and negligence of those in power.
Most times, leaders and Government agencies focus more on receiving praise and honor instead of getting the real work done.
They give away huge amounts of money for already-developed infrastructure in towns and cities instead of focusing on rural areas.
This is a big slap in the face for those in rural areas.
Money and resources should go where they are needed the most.
Why spend money on schools, hospitals, and church infrastructures in urban areas that are already in permanent materials? …. (To continue, refer to:
Nim Yekagol,

Doctor warns of (Covid 19) mutation

April 20, 2021,The National

A MEDICAL doctor has warned that the Covid-19 virus has a tendency to mutate and spread among people who had not displayed any symptoms.
Deputy director for PNG Institute of Medical Research Dr. Clare Rock said during a panel discussion in Port Moresby on Saturday that people should exercise the safety measures in place.
“The symptoms easily spread between people who do not have it, but this is a manageable risk between people if safety protocols are adhered to,” she said.
“The vaccine boosts the immune system.”
Dr. Rock was among other health experts who spoke at the Covid-19 talk session at the Catholic Bishops Conference in Port Moresby.
The talk organized by the Catholic Professional Society of PNG was themed: “Informed for our well-being” and focused on testing and vaccines.
It was held virtually through the online platform “Zoom” to connect with participants in the country and abroad.
Several other speakers connected via the Facebook page of Radio Maria PNG.
Speakers included Dr. Moses Laman, deputy director PNGMRI Dr. Clare Rock, associate professor of medicine from the John Hopkins School of Medicine, US, and pediatrician from the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine Prof John Vince.
Moderating discussions throughout was consultant and member of the Catholic professionals association Simon Anakapu.
Prof Vince stressed that the benefits of using the vaccine far outweighed its disadvantages and countered any moral dilemmas that people might have, particularly now that its younger generation was contracting the virus.
“Papua New Guinea is a young country and the bulk of its population is comprised of young people, and through whom the Covid-19 was silently circulating and now it has struck,” he said.
He revealed how our people, even in the prime of their working lives, had died from the Covid-19 virus.
“These were perfectly healthy people who died from the infection in the age range of 24 to 60s, and this makes the situation more serious,” Prof Vince said.

Crime increases at Bus Station (Monitor bus stops at Badili, Koki)

April 13, 2021The National Letters

AROUND 5.40 p.m. last Sunday, a woman was stabbed in the hand by a thief who snatched her bilum in a PMV bus at Badili bus stop opposite the police station.
As the thief hurried away, a brave man retrieved the bilum from him and handed it over to the woman who was bleeding.
She then sought help at the police station.
No police officer was in sight.
I am worried that despite the police station being nearby, bag-snatching and violence has been happening frequently for many years and a lot of women and men have become victims.
Last year, a thief attempted to snatch my waist bag but failed as I kicked him out of the bus. …(To continue, refers:

Concerned Citizen

Come together, end tribal fights

April 13, 2021 The National Letters

BEFORE the 2011 massacre in Kainantu, the town was known for law and order problems.
It was referred to as a “cowboy town”.
Since the 2011 massacre, law and order issues have been going out of control.
The current rising tribal conflict and violence shows how ineffective Kainantu authorities are in handling law and order issues.
After 45 years of independence, issues relating to law and order remain the district’s biggest worry.
It is time to gather public opinion on how best to address this issue.
Comparatively, Mendi town, in Southern Highlands, and Wabag town, in Enga, are facing similar challenges with law and order issues despite resources spent in ensuring safer communities.
I see that the issue is beyond the authorities’ control.
The authorities, police, warring tribes and leaders should agree to sit down and discuss how best to put an end to all these fights.
These tribal fights are having negative effects on businesses and affecting development.
I understand that it will be difficult to totally stop tribes from fighting against each other but if they can come together and agree upon something, things will change.

Alex H Jafa,
Chairman, City Watch Inc

Defiant company ordered to shut down in Giregire

April 15, 2021,

By Poreni Umau
A Kokopo based balsa processing company was forced to shut-down their operations yesterday in the East New Britain Province.
Environmental health and safety officers from the Kokopo-Vunamami Urban Local Level Government (KVULL) effected the closure of the facility at Giregire.

The officers, with the help of the Kokopo police response unit and detective Senior Sergeant Hillary Sirinjui of the transnational crime unit, directed the company to close down operations until further notice.

This was because the company, Eternal Investments Ltd, allegedly breached several laws, including operating without a trading licence, operating in a residential area, no safety workplace policy, no protective gear for employees, operating in a filthy and unsafe workplace and no proper waste management plan.

Last week Kokopo Urban gave the company a one month grace period to complete processing what they have in stock and directed the manager David Chan at a meeting not to take in any new stock and shut down.
However, Mr Chan did not take heed of the agreement and proceeded to take in more balsa which was discovered by the Kokopo Urban officers Relvie Tapla and Benson Marubat.

The joint operation by the police and Kokopo Urban has seen the confiscation of passports of the company’s manager and other foreign staff, a directive to cease operations, the premises locked and workers sent home until while the company, police and Kokopo Urban will meet next Tuesday at the Kokopo police station to ensure all requirements are met by the company.

Snr Sergeant Sirinjui said other necessary fines will be imposed against the company next week after all investigations are completed while the Kokopo Urban officers have remained firm that Eternal Investments Ltd must face the consequences of seriously breaching of the country’s laws.

Social safety net saves us, but we need more

12 April 2021 PNGATTITUDE

JOHN KURI PORT MORESBY – Ten years ago, a bag of 10kg rice cost something like K20. Today, stores sell a 10kg rice bag for between K31 and K35.

PNG Consumer Price Index 2018-2021, Ten years ago a live chicken cost K20. Today it’s K40. By the look of  things, the price of live chickens will go all the way to K50 – my
prediction  for 2023. And we probably wouldn’t notice it.
That’s the way of things in life. The price of goods and services always goes up.
Ten years ago, the bus fare for municipal stops in Port Moresby was 50 toea. Today, anywhere you want to go, short or long, one kina.
Seldom do prices go down. The best we can hope for is that prices will remain steady as long as possible.
The chart above shows the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over a four year period in Papua New Guinea.
In simple terms, the CPI measures the cost of living. This chart shows you what you already know. The cost of living is increasing quite steeply.
To appreciate the impact of increases in cost of living consider this. The Teaching Services Commission payroll covers around 85,000 employees, the biggest payroll in PNG.
Add this figure to the employees of all government agencies and the total is around 200,000. This government payroll consumes around 30% of the PNG national budget every year.

Including the private sector, the total workforce in formal employment in PNG is about 300,000 which is just 3.3% of the total population of about nine million.
So you can see how many people are left – they’re either babies, at school or in the informal economy.
People in the informal economy don’t have a guaranteed income. Price increases affect all of us, but informal economy workers are the most vulnerable of all.
So the question is: how can the government help the majority of Papua New Guineans meet the demands of the increasing prices of goods and services?… (To continue, refers to:

Catholic Health Australia injects $270,000 into Caritas funds for PPE in PNG as corona-virus cases increase

9 April 2021

CATHOLIC Health Australia members said they will match Caritas Australia’s funding to bring the total amount raised to over $500,000 to fight COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea.
It amounted to an immediate injection of $270,000 earmarked for urgent distribution of personal protective equipment in remote areas.
At the start of the pandemic in March last year, Caritas Australia purchased $250,000 worth of PPE and partnered with Caritas PNG to distribute to 19 dioceses, which reached 235 health facilities and an estimated 1,462 health workers.
CCHS PNG program manager Graham Apian said the help was desperately needed. “There is much uncertainty and fear about COVID-19 leading to community discrimination,” Mr Apian said. “We have seen disruption to the normal supply of goods and services. The health facilities we have will be forced to close if there is a shortage of PPE.”

PNG faces a potentially catastrophic outbreak of COVID-19, with nearly 100 new cases reported daily… (continue reading :

 (Logging) Companies warned to pay up

April 14, 2021The National l
Walter Schnaubelt

FOREST Minister Walter Schnaubelt has warned timber operating companies in Papua New Guinea to immediately pay their outstanding levies and royalty payments to both the landowners and the Government.
Schnaubelt sounded the warning following failure by most companies and operations to meet their obligations under various agreements.
“They are fully aware of the legal ramifications associated with non-compliance of their legal obligations as stipulated under the agreements and the underlying laws of the country governing the forestry sector,” he said in a statement. Schnaubelt said many companies were not new to the fact that they had to abide by the legal requirements of the operating and export sales agreements.
“These companies have signed agreements with the landowners and the State to pay various parties on time,” he said.
“Many have not complied with the provisions of their respective agreements under which they operate and therefore have outstanding payments.”
Schnaubelt called on operators to take action and pay their outstanding amounts.
“This is critical to the economy,” he said.
“That is why we cannot allow such serious fiscal anomalies to undermine the revenue flow and foreign exchange earnings for the country through the forestry sector.”
Schnaubelt said landowners and communities needed to be remunerated.
“Considering the landowners were mostly rural or remotely based and had difficulty accessing Government services, the needed to be paid their royalties from the resources harvested from their land,” he said.

Disappointed with alleged fund abuse

April 1, 2021The NationalLetters

IT is disheartening to read and hear about funds earmarked for the Covid-19 operations being abused by the mandated authorities.
We hear of hospitals and health workers complaining about lack of personal protective equipment and other relevant equipment to combat the Covid-19, but, yet, some people see fit to gain at the expense of the people.
So much funds were given by donor partners and other countries and they will be interested to know if these funds were used for their intended purposes.
Some countries may refuse to help us in the future because of this.
People in authority misusing funds should know that they are dipping their hands into something that is not theirs.
To gain dubiously at a time of famine, sickness or natural disasters is inhumane. It is only the wicked and heartless who do such deeds.
Sir Creek

Women rescued

April 26, 2021 The National Main Stories

POLICE yesterday managed to rescue two women from torture by a group of men who had accused them of practising sorcery in Port Moresby.
Police Commissioner David Manning condemned the “primitive behaviour” which “has no place in society”.
He told The National that those who witnessed the ordeal of the two women must assist police in their investigation.
“If we are to aspire to be anywhere in the future as a society and country, we need to allow the rule of law to take its rightful place,” Comm Manning said.
“Law and order break down when people take it upon themselves to dispense their corrupted version of justice.
“I encourage the witnesses and the families of the two women to assist with the investigation by giving statements, and more importantly, assist in seeking justice for the two women.”
Police staged the dramatic rescue exercise yesterday afternoon after being tipped off on what was happening at the Mango Mine settlement at 5-Mile, Port Moresby North-East electorate.
One of the two women managed to escape from the group of men and was running away when police arrived.
Police said the two women had been tied and assaulted. They had severe burns and knife wounds. They were treated by St John’s Ambulance officers at the scene before being taken to hospital.
Police noticed around 20 men fleeing the area when they arrived.
They managed to free the second woman who was tied up and lying in a garden.
National Capital District/Central police commander Assistant Commissioner Anthony Wagambie Jr and Metropolitan Superintendent Gideon Ikumu described the incident as a heinous and vicious act of torture which would not be tolerated in Port Moresby.
Wagambie called on the people from various districts living in the capital city to change their behavior and attitude.
“I condemn this vicious act of torture on two helpless mothers.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
        Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
                                       where there is discord, unity;
where there is error, truth;
                                                             Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
                                                                           where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy. 

(St. Francis of Assisi)

Compiled by James WAU
Acting CBCPNGSI Social Concerns Officer

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